In this time of in-home sheltering, and thinking that my age puts me in the at-risk group, I certainly have given thought to “my life.” Part of this remembering is probably a normal process when one ages and starts to think about their mortality; however, the coronavirus pandemic sort of exacerbates the situation and moves it on the front burner. So far, I have made it OK, and hope for a well future.
I essentially have stopped watching most TV news and conferences except to check the local weather. I want the country to leave disease control to the medical personnel and research scientists. My only hope for our country, and the world, is THAT SCIENCE WILL WIN IF WE GIVE IT A CHANCE.
I also have reshaped my time to restack and “clean” my office, refile the books and magazines, and sort the minerals. That has been a pleasant sort of exercise and has brought back many fond memories but:
You can't reminisce too much. Because you've got to keep pushing forward, you know? Daniel Caesar
My pushing forward is trying to understand the mineral chemistry of boron, and the boron minerals. I am having troubles with the chemistry (even after help from Yooper Pete in Denver), so sometimes I must take a break and revert to reminiscing about youth, especially the geology aspect of “growing up.” I often wonder how my younger years affected my career choice and then think that my entire life choices are probably due to: 1) growing in in a rural area with nurturing parents who let me explore the “outdoors” and tune into nature; 2) caring and enthusiastic primary and high school teachers (47 students in high school) where four years of English, four years of math, four years of science, and four years of history/civics and social science, prepared me for college (and life); and 3) geology instructors who mentored me all those years, even during the times I was greatly confused with crystallography and stereonets (still am).
The VO4 vanadium anion that is an integral part of the vanadate minerals.
At any rate, each optical student had to keep a notebook describing the thin sections we observed and information we could use to identify different minerals. Now, my artistic abilities floundered here but I struggled along using drafting and colored pencils to sketch minerals. I thought of this notebook when I learned on the Rockhounds List that Donald Bloss, the author of my text An Introduction to the Methods of Optical Crystallography recently passed away at the ripe age of ~100. I am certain that geologists of my age, and later, cut their optical mineralogy teeth with this book.
Speaking of older gentlemen, Bob Dole (now closing in on 100), was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives when I was growing up in Kansas. He knew my parents from their mutual interest in the American Legion, an organization that World Wat II vets joined by the tens of thousands after the conflict ended. My parents were “proud as pie” when Rep. Dole wrote them a letter about their son!
When I reveal to young persons some of my mineral/fossil collection, I always pull out an item and tell them “this is the reason I did not become an engineer.” I show them a slide ruler and tell them it is a mechanical analog computer, yes a computer. In college I just did not have the brain power to function well with this computer. In some math and physics courses I had no choice since trig functions, logarithms, square roots etc. were essential to “passing the test.” I just was not very skilled and certainly was not a geek who carried his (not many hers) ruler in a case clipped to his belt and called it a slipstick. Most students of my age remember the science classrooms where a six- or seven-foot slide ruler hung on the wall above the blackboard and was used by the instructor for teaching.
The middle section of the slide ruler slide back and forth, left and right, while the clear cursor moves along the entire ruler, usually about 10-12 inches.
|Plane table and alidade. The surveyor/geologist is looking toward his partner holding a measuring stick (stadia rod). Photo from sale items on EBAY.|
The pocket Brunton transit for taking directions and reading slopes and angles. It took some skill and a steady hand to use a Brunton accurately. The Brunton could also be used as a hand level.
The center hand lens was my original from the 1960s, the one on the right has both LED and UV lights, the left one is also lighted can easily lay on your desk or be carried in a jacket.
On geologic mapping projects we often used air photos obtained from federal agencies. In order to see three dimension landforms on the photos a pocket stereoscope was used in the field while a larger mirror scope was available in the lab
What is left of my hardness kit with points of different hardness minerals mounted. I also used a steel pocket knife and a quartz crystals and an unglazed piece of porcelain served as a streak plate. A small bottle of acid (HCL usually) finished off the tools.
Estwing pick and chisel head hammers (from their website).
My first rock hammer in Kansas had a chisel point with a leather handle. The chisel was good for breaking shale. Before heading to Field Camp (see Posting June 19, 2015) I purchased a blue handle, pointed pick for the hard rocks I would find in Colorado. I have gone through several loupes but still have the original, along with a new one that is lighted with LED and UV. My notebook with all of my dissertation field notes is filed with other books; however, earlier notebooks were misplaced (another word for lost). I am not certain that air photos are still in use with computer programs such as Google Earth, widely available (and free).
One of the reasons that I became a paleontologist is due to the first, really nice fossil I picked up in a gravel pit. The lower jaw of Bison sps., probably Bison bison, came from a deposit of Pleistocene gravel (a pit) along the Solomon River in Ottawa County, Kansas (my home county). Now I had collected other miscellaneous items such as Cretaceous leaves (Dakota Formation outside of town) and Cretaceous clams and shark teeth (Greenhorn Formation on the numerous rock fenceposts) but this jaw was really, really nifty to me. Wow. What a find. There was even a small article in the county newspaper about the discovery (somewhere in my files) by the”local kid”. I believe this was a critical point in my life, a star guiding me to a career.
And finally, a textbook from my graduate days at the University of Utah. Probably the finest instructor that I had in my higher educational experience was Armand J. Eardley. Dr. Eardley was a geologist/gentleman in the old-time sense with khaki pants, often a tie in the field, and a gentle demeanor that led to a fantastic relationship between Dr. Eardley and his students. He also was a tremendous help when it came time for my dissertation. But perhaps the best advice I received from him was something like the following: As a geologist and University instructor I spent much time attending meetings and working in the field. Always mentor your students and take them along to meetings. And, I never forgot Mrs. Eardley at home, and she was particularly fond of silver jewelry. Remember that as you move on in a career—I did.
Mentoring students Uinta Mountains, Utah.