CalGeo E Newsletter

February 11, 2011

Attend the 2011 Annual Conference for a Chance to Win a Trip to Maui

By Larry Taylor
Taylor Group, Inc.

Artist Rendition of Maui

There are a lot of great reasons to attend this year's CalGeo Annual Conference at The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa in Berkeley. The conference features excellent speakers, interesting and timely topics, and a unique and beautiful venue providing the opportunity to meet with colleagues and affiliates from across the state.

Now there's another good reason to attend: With each full conference registration, member firms have a chance to win a prize package that will include full registration and round-trip airfare (up to $750) to the 2012 Annual Conference at the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa on Kaanapali Beach on the amazing island of Maui! Each full registration equals one chance to win. So don't delay and don't miss it. For full information on the 2011 Conference, Click Here.



Win a Trip to Maui »

Annual Conference »

January Board Meeting »

Bylaws Update »

Member News »

Student Chapters »

Atterberg Cup »

Student Outreach Silent Auction »

Technical Corner »

Counsel's Corner »

CalGeo On Your Side »

Jim Foley Remains on BPELSG »

Loss Prevention Seminars »

Writers Needed »

Safety First »



Annual Conference Registration Deadlines Coming Up!

Don't miss out on early bird registration to our Annual Conference in Berkeley April 14-16, 2011. Deadline to get this special rate is February 21 and it will save you a lot of money! If you do miss that date, you can still register up to March 21 at the regular conference rate. For registration forms and to pay by credit card, Click Here.

CalGeo is celebrating our 40th anniversary (1971-2011) this year and we hope you'll join us for this special conference.


Hotel Reservations - No Daily Facilities Charge!

CalGeo's room block at The Claremont Hotel Club & Spa will be open for reservations until March 18, so please make your reservations with the hotel early. Your reservation confirmation from the hotel will indicate that there is a daily facilities charge of $24. However, this is not the case. CalGeo negotiated a special conference rate of $189 per day (does not include taxes) and that includes free overnight parking and free use of the facilities! Unfortunately, the hotel cannot change its standard confirmation form to indicate that.


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CalGeo January Board Meeting

By Danny Cohen
Hetherington Engineering, Inc.

The CalGeo Board of Directors held its quarterly board meeting on January 20 in San Diego at the NTC Promenade Command Center in Point Loma. Executive Director Marsha Myers and 11 of the 12 board members were present for the meeting.

Topics discussed included the association's present finances (good), our ongoing strategic planning and affiliations with other similar organizations (strong), and future non-technical and technical programs, including topics and speakers for upcoming regional dinners (exciting). Also discussed was the board's commitment to increasing our membership by contacting non-member firms and letting them know who and what we are, and what services we provide. So if you know any firms out there that are not members, please send Marsha that information at The minutes of the board meeting will be posted on the CalGeo website once they have been reviewed and approved by the board.


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Bylaws Update

New Procedures for Election of CalGeo Officers

At their January 20 meeting, the CalGeo Board of Directors approved a bylaw change to allow the election of officers and directors by mail-in ballot. In the future, member designees will no longer have to attend the Annual Meeting of Members to vote for new directors and officers. Ballots will be mailed to the voting members along with the package of information noticing the Annual Meeting. Ballots must be returned by mail or hand delivered to the Executive Director by the start of the Annual Meeting of Members.

The Nominating Committee will vet and select a list of candidates from those names submitted during the nominating period. Nominations from the floor of the Meeting of Members will no longer be allowed. Click Here to see the changes to the bylaws.


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Member News

CPT Short Course Offered

Dr. Peter Robertson of Gregg Drilling & Testing will be presenting two one-day CPT short courses in Northern and Southern California for geotechnical professionals.

CPT short courses

Click Here for information on enrolling.


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Student Chapters

Rising Star Award

By Hannes Richter
Stoney-Miller Consultants, Inc.

CalGeo's very active student chapters at Cal Poly Pomona, UCLA, Cal State Fresno and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (as an ASCE affiliation) will be competing for the Rising Star Award again at the Annual Conference this year in Berkeley. We have a new chapter being formed at Cal State Fullerton; hopefully they will attend as well and participate in the poster session! The chapters will be judged on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Field trips - construction sites, research facilities, historical engineering sites (20%)
  • National competitions/events (Geo-Institute), successful entries/awards (20%)
  • Speakers (20%)
  • Poster session (10%)
  • Student presentations/forums (10%)
  • Volunteer activities (help at conferences, EWOB?) (10%)
  • Membership/attendance /growth (5%)
  • Social events (5%)


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Cal Poly Pomona Students Aim to Win Prestigious Atterberg Cup

MSE Wall

Trevor McGuckin
President, CalGeo Student Chapter,
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona

MSE Wall
ASCE hosts an annual student Geo-Challenge competition. The competition requires students to design and build a mechanically stabilized earth wall model using paper reinforcement attached to poster-board facing. The design objective is to use the least amount of reinforcement needed to support the retained soil plus vertical and horizontal surcharge loads.

Schools around the nation will gather at the Geo-Institute's Geo-Frontiers 2011 conference in Dallas, Texas on March 14 with hopes of winning the Atterberg Cup. A regional competition will also be held during the ASCE student conference at Cal State LA on March 26. After several months of research, testing, design and construction practice, the Cal Poly Pomona team feels confident they will be victorious in both competitions.

For more information,Click Here to download the technical paper. If you are interested in assisting the team, please contact team captain, Brian Diaz, at


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Student Outreach Silent Auction

Donations Needed

Hannes Richter
Stoney-Miller Consultants, Inc.

It is time to again ask for donations for the student outreach silent auction, a favorite activity of the closing night banquet at the Annual Conference. This is our primary fundraiser for the student chapters, and it's always a lot of fun for everyone! We need good prizes for the auction, anything from gift cards to libations, electronic toys to gift certificates to fun places! Use your imagination, but please don't wait until the last minute. You can contact me at or Marsha Myers at to let us know how you would like to help. We would be happy to make transport arrangements if needed. Thank you in advance for your support and generosity!


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Technical Corner

Ooops... Why It Saves Money When You Hire A Soil Engineer

Why It Saves Money When You Hire A Soil Engineer

Send this video to your reluctant prospective clients!


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Counsel's Corner

Are General Notes Important To You? You Bet They Are!

Niv V. Davidovich, Esq
Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, LLP

Engineers and geologists usually use some form of "General Notes" on their drawings. These notes are intended to relay important information to contractors. Many contractors, however, do not read these notes. As an engineer or geologist, you have no statutory or other duties to provide construction supervision unless you are contractually obligated to do so. Accordingly, if you're not paid and/or asked to observe construction, there's really no way for you to ensure your plans are being interpreted and correctly executed. The General Notes, therefore, act as your most effective way to protect yourself from contractor error in the field, and from potential claims years down the road.

The only disadvantage to the General Notes is that they don't always get you completely off the hook. So how do you make them stick? The answer is to include the General Notes as part of your CONTRACT LANGUAGE. Click Here to read more.


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CalGeo On Your Side

CBC/CRC Code Changes

By Danny Cohen
Hetherington Engineering, Inc.

Doesn't it make you crazy that just when you finally figure out the latest version of the building code, knowing where all the sections are that you rely on and understanding what they say (and what they mean), they go and change it on you. Well you are not alone in your frustration. Hopefully most, if not all, of you are aware by now there is a new 2010 California Building Code and a 2010 California Residential Code that are being adopted by most municipalities, generally effective as of January 1, 2011. There is also a new ASCE 7-10 that is referenced in the Building Codes. CalGeo is working on creating a code comparison chart that will provide information on which sections have been replaced and what sections have been added or deleted. We hope to have this ready for distribution shortly.


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Jim Foley Remains on BPELSG

To paraphrase Mark Twain, the report in last month's e.Geo of Jim's departure from BPELSG was an exaggeration. Governor Schwarzenegger failed to appoint Jim's replacement. Governor Brown now has that honor and CalGeo member Jim Foley will remain on the Board until a replacement is made, or until June 30, 2011.


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Loss Prevention Seminars

CalGeo held its annual Loss Prevention Seminar on January 22 in Southern California and February 5th in Northern California. This year we again dropped the cost of the seminars to make these important sessions more accessible to our members, and .we were happy to see that many of our member firms participated.

CalGeo thanks our presenters Jorge Sandoval (Diaz Yourman & Associates), Tom Blackburn (Blackburn Consulting), Jan Erik Jansson (Soil Retention), Eric Hilmer (Taber Consultants) and Jeff Wharton (DBM Contractors, Inc.), as well as all those who attended the seminars. We hope those who were able to attend found the discussions worthwhile and informative.

CalGeo very much appreciates your feedback on our seminars and events to enhance the presentations and get suggestions for future topics. If any members, including staff of member firms, would like to volunteer to give a presentation at a future seminar, or have suggestions for speakers and/or topics for future seminars, please contact the CalGeo office at (530) 344-0644 or


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Writers Needed

You're all writers. Why not write something for the e.Geo, such as a short, interesting article on what your company has been up to. Also include a photo. To make this easier, we've prepared helpful standards for e.Geo articles. Click Here to download the e.Geo Standards of Publication.


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Safety First

Don't Stand for Problems

"Courtesy of the California State Compensation Insurance Fund"

Workers who stand for long periods of time can often experience muscle fatigue, low back pain, neck and shoulder stiffness and sore or swollen feet and legs. But, because some jobs require workers to maintain a standing posture, there are some ways to prevent or ease potentially negative physical conditions. Encourage workers to:

- Do some gentle stretching exercises before beginning work to warm and loosen muscles
- Face the work area and keep the task close to the body
- Organize work so it's within easy reach; avoid extreme bending, stretching and twisting
- Adjust the height of the work area; elbow height is most comfortable
- Stand on rubber, cork or wooden surfaces rather than on concrete or metal floors
- Use a footrest or footrail to shift body weight from one leg to another to take pressure off the lower back
- Change working positions periodically
- Relax shoulder and arm muscles when they become tense or still

It's important for workers to use their rest periods to relax or exercise other muscles. And, when returning to work after a vacation or illness, workers should give their body a change to readjust to the standing activities their job requires.


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