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It's a Matter of Professionalism

Director's Corner

During the last couple of months Mary and I have been remodeling our house — a very interesting experience, to say the least.

Although most of the workers we hired were good, we had strange encounters of the weird and expensive kind with the appliance repairman and a roofer.

The appliance repairman came to replace a small part on the refrigerator (15 minutes), and while he was there, Mary asked him to set the oven thermostat, replace a screw in the dishwasher and check the coolant in our garage refrigerator/freezer. He worked for a total of 30 minutes, took three calls on his cell phone and charged $150 — plus the cost of the parts.

I agreed to pay the roofer $350 to replace most of the shingles on the crown of my roof. He worked for just less than one hour and replaced about 15 shingles.

When asked to explain their invoices the repairman said he charged that much because he did four separate jobs and charged a service call for each. Hmm …

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During the last couple of months Mary and I have been remodeling our house — a very interesting experience, to say the least.

Although most of the workers we hired were good, we had strange encounters of the weird and expensive kind with the appliance repairman and a roofer.

The appliance repairman came to replace a small part on the refrigerator (15 minutes), and while he was there, Mary asked him to set the oven thermostat, replace a screw in the dishwasher and check the coolant in our garage refrigerator/freezer. He worked for a total of 30 minutes, took three calls on his cell phone and charged $150 — plus the cost of the parts.

I agreed to pay the roofer $350 to replace most of the shingles on the crown of my roof. He worked for just less than one hour and replaced about 15 shingles.

When asked to explain their invoices the repairman said he charged that much because he did four separate jobs and charged a service call for each. Hmm …

The roofer explained that the bundle of shingles cost about $50 and the remainder was to pay for his expertise and speed in doing the job. Ok … ? That's a little over $23 per shingle!

These were both interesting explanations. I guess it justified their going rate of $300 per hour — or $2,400 per day.

It made me realize now how underpaid I was as a consulting geologist for 20 years. You know, I never thought to use those explanations when I was explaining my consulting fees.


I was contemplating the repairman and roofer's explanations when I received a note from one of the Foundation Trustees concerning funding at the Dinosaur National Monument. The note said:

"The Superintendent of Dinosaur National Monument, who has been on the job for a grand total of eight months, announced to all park staff that he will be abolishing the two paleontology positions at Dinosaur National Monument because paleontology is not a significant resource issue for him (!!!) This will mean the end of a 50-year old paleontology program which has produced the spectacular wall of fossils within the visitor center as well as the abundant Mesozoic fossils from elsewhere in the Monument."

Paleontology "is not a significant resource issue" at the Dinosaur National Monument? I am as flabbergasted about this as I am about my repairmen.

The note went on to say that "there will be no paleontology program in the soon-to-be-built museum and exhibit facility and collections building." As a result the nation's premier fossil park will no longer have an active exploration, excavation and research program.

Needless to say, we are rallying the forces to provide support for paleontology at the park to protect the resources for which the Monument was established in 1915.


Now that the new year is on us, I am once again in contemplative mood considering the value of our profession. Article II of AAPG's constitutions begins with "The purposes of this Association are to advance the science of geology ..." and it ends with "to provide the public with means to recognize adequately trained and professionally responsible geologists; and to advance the professional well-being of its members."

Professionalism and public outreach are two key areas of emphasis this year for AAPG's president Dan Smith. AAPG volunteers and staff are working hard to increase the benefits of AAPG membership. Dan's mantra this year is "Value, Value, Value!"

This year you will be receiving more information on AAPG's new Membership Enhancement and Development Program. You also will be receiving your dues statements soon.

We encourage all members to take an active role in AAPG in developing its future value. I guarantee you will get a lot more "bang for your buck" from your AAPG dues than I did from my repairmen.

Maybe along the way we can convince the public of the value of our profession.

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