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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My silent auction purchases at a geology reunion

Doing the post on the Gem and Mineral show reminded me of the things I got at my Geology Reunion silent auction.  I've been meaning to write this up since April, my how time flys.
    Just look at all the nifty stuff I got:

The first thing was this mounted Ordovician fossils of the Cincinnati arch area.  I used to collect here a lot and have a lot of fossils from this area - now its so neat to have this on my wall as a quick and handy reference. I just love it and walk by it a couple of times everyday and look at it still.
 This was labeled as a Ammonite from Madagascar.  Other info it had with it -  pink calcitic steindern! (now I wonder what a steindern is since its not in my geologic dictionary or in Wikipedia.  Well looking on the internet there isn't a steindern but there is a steinkern which this fits the definition "of STEINKERN: a fossil consisting of a stony mass that entered a hollow natural object (as a bivalve shell) in the form of mud or sediment, was consolidated, and remained as a cast after dissolution of the mold."  Merriam Webster dictionary.   I do like learning new words and will have to remember this.

Wikipedia - Ammonite
Ammonite from Mdagascar
 .wikipedia - Carpopenaeus 
An ancient prawn or shrimp.
Carpopenaeus - Cretaceous;  Lebanon
 This one I thought I was bidding on a large piece of hornblende so I was surprised when I actually got it to see it was called edenite. wiki/Edenite .  The label said it was  from Cardiff Twp. Ontario Canada which is in keeping with where edenite comes from.
Edenite from Cardiff twp, Ontario Canada.
This was labeled  Beudantite on quartz.  Black Pine Mine, Granite Co Montana.
Beudantite from Black Pine Mine-  Granite Co, Montana
They messed up the labeling on this one, but then when they were packing things away they found a slip that said celestite and since the first label was obviously wrong we figured that this had to be it - since none of the other stuff fit.  
Celestite from Ohio
 At first I thought this mineral hexagonite was mislabeled because when I looked it up in my Dana manual of mineralogy it was not there.  Nor was it in my Geologic dictionary or listed in Wikipedia.  I thought they must be getting it mixed up with those Petoskey stones that's scientific name is Hexagonaria percarinata But then when I was like okay what is it?? and got out some of my rock identification books and started to search for what it could be- low and behold I did find it in the National Audubon Society "Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals - North America" (1979) pg 538. It's a form of Tremolite Wikipedia -.Tremolite.   Then when I was doing some more investigation of tremolite I found Balmat NY as a place for obtaining it.  So I guess this was right after all.  Tremolite is a calcium magnesium hydrous silicate.
Hexagonite;  Balmat, New York
 Petosky Stones (here at Wikipedia Petoskey_stone )  are a type of coral.  Here's the other info on it - Hexagonaria percarinata, usually found in Gravel Point Fm of the Traverse group Devonian - Michigan USA.  They had the stones spelled different from Wikipedia don't know which to go with. 
Petoskey Stones; -
 Years and years ago I had collected some stones like these and forgot to write the name down.  I was kicking myself because I could never remember it.  So when I saw these I just had to get them to find out there name.
Here's a better picture of one of them. I always loved the way they looked especially if they had been polished. 
Petoskey Stone from Michigan
Native Copper; Michigan
 This piece was rare for its size.   And boy was this thing heavy.  I was glad I had my car and not having to transport it on an airplane. Here's a different view of it.
Native Copper from Michigan
I was very pleased with all of what I got.   I tried to go for things I wouldn't run across in other places.

Monday, August 19, 2013

2013 Pilgrimage to the Gem and Mineral Show

It's hard for me to believe another year has gone by and it was time for the annual Gem and Mineral Show in our area.Here's the link to last years show 2012 gem & mineral show,   
and the link to 2011 show (I didn't start to blog until after the 2010 show so I don't have any other posts about the Gem and Mineral shows.) 
  Every year I love to go and look forward to seeing all these wonderful specimens and this year was no different. I got to see some stuff I hadn't seen before and enjoyed getting the pictures of them.  Now if I just had more money to spend.  Here's some of the images I left with wishing I could have taken them home with me.  But then again where would I have put them??? I guess they're better of where they are.

This is what it looked like when you first come in and are looking to the left. 
 But of course when you look straight ahead you got to see this booth with all this lovely jewlery. 
 But I come more for the minerals and unique things that you don't see every day.  Like this specimen of quartz/ amethyst. It was huge but the price was also huge so I just settled for the picture.  I must apologize for the lack of a good scale on this piece - the best thing to go by was the yellow price tag which  was about 1 inch and as you can see the price on it too. If I had to give it a size I would say it was about the size of a regulation soccer ball.
 This next one was my all time favorite thing to see.   This slab with more than one complete crinoid. The price was also huge and so once again I had to settle for a picture.  Plus the person selling it didn't know much about it and if I got something like that I would want to know more than it came from Morocco.  Again I must apologize for not having a scale.  It was on a stand and there were signs saying do not touch so I couldn't put anything on it for scale.
Cirnoids with calyx attached
Here was another pretty amazing cirnoid that was out of my price range too.
 This pyrititized circular piece which I think is a sand dollar was also pretty spectacular with its gold hue against that dark almost black shale/limestone. This was about 4-5 inches in diameter. The yellow dot is 3/4ths of an inch.
 This piece of beryl/ aquamarine was pretty amazing too. Biggest piece of beryl I've ever recalled seeing even in a museum.   I didn't see a price on it but I could only imagine how much they were asking since they kept it in a locked case and since it was in a case there was no way to put a scale next to it. As I recalled at first I thought this was petrified wood since it was so big then I looked at it closer and realized what it was.  Scale wise I would say it was bigger than a basketball.
I thought there was something good for scale in this picture but there wasn't. The green dot is 3/4ths of an inch. This fish was about2 feet long.  A good size by anybodies standard. Around here anything over 12 inches is a keeper and this was bigger than 12 inches for sure - yes a definite keeper.   It was fascinating to see it all together like that and so well preserved..
This trilobite was something else too.  I'm not too sure what this one is but if I had to venture a guess I would say it was related to "Odontochile".  Again the dot is about 3/4 inch long.
I wasn't too sure what this was.  A stingray of some sort maybe? But still pretty well preserved and fun to see. Look also at the fish that were on the slab with it.  
One of the things I like about the gem and  mineral show is that they like to do demonstrations and here the kids were learning how to polish stones.  They were given a piece of red jasper held in place by was on a stick  and were taught how to hold it as the sander was moving.  Then the demonstrator would switch out  the different grades of sandpaper getting finer and finer for a more polished look.
Another view of the show. 
One of my kids favorite thing to do was to get a geode and to have it cracked open.  I just loved seeing the wonder in their eyes when they get to see whats inside.  And here it is being cracked open. 
I should have taken a picture of the open geode but I forgot to and this one wasn't for me.
But here's the geode I had gotten a couple of years ago.
clear quartz geode
   I guess now I have a reason to go to the show again next year to get another geode. I do love going to the show and look for excuses to go more than once.

As usual I can't leave the show empty handed and this is the specimen I couldn't resist and felt it needed a good home.  At least with this one I did get a scale in it on the bottom - its about 3 1/2 inches. 
Sulfur from El Disierto, Bolivia

This year I mostly just got more beads and things to make jewelry with.  When I do make pieces I'll post some of them later.  But this is it for this post.
Once again I must apologize for the lack of scales in some of these images. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Becker Vineyard, near Fredericksburg Texas

   The last weekend in July my husband and I planned a weekend get away.  We had never been to Fredericksburg Texas but have been hearing about the vineyards they now have in the area.  We thought this would be a perfect place to go to and so we went.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    The area is know as the Hill Country region and I could understand why.  Driving to it we had to go through the Texas coastal plains region and it was pretty flat.  Going down we decided to spend the night just north of Austin in Georgetown since we felt it would have been too long to do all at once.  We were leaving after a busy day and didn't want to spend too much time driving since we knew we would already be tired.   We ended up taking I-20, to Highway 43, then highway 79 to highway 84 and finally getting onto I-35 to Georgetown.  Most of the way was pretty flat so it was exciting to get near to Austin and to start to see some relief and actual outcrops.
    This was heading back home we saw a rainbow and decided to get a picture of it since it was staying with us for so long.  This was near Henderson TX on hwy 79.
 another view and you can see how flat and open things are.

   The first part of this trip is in another blog post. 
The whole purpose of the trip was to see the vineyards.   A lot of the vineyards are located between Austin,Texas and Fredericksburg along Highway 290.  There is a brochure that we used that was called "Texas Hill Country Wineries."  You can also look it up at  There are 36 vineyards currently listed with them.  When we looked at the brochure we didn't want one that was too close to Fredericksburg or Austin since we figured those would be the ones most people would go to first.  We wanted something a little away from the main highway too.  So we were driving along looking for a different winery that we had picked simply by its name when we saw the signs for this winery- Becker Vineyards ( near Stonewall and felt it would meet our expectations.  Years and years ago we had gone out to California and had seen the vineyards in Napa and Sonoma valleys  California wine country .   We really enjoyed the tour and found out that not all the wineries were the same.   It was fun going to the different ones and thought that it would be the same in this area.  So we decided to go ahead and turn into this one.
    When we pulled in we saw a tour bus there and figured this must be a good one since they were bringing tours there too.   We were please also to see the tour was leaving so we figured it wouldn't be too crowded too. We decided to go ahead and check it out.  As we were walking along we noticed the lovely flowers along the walk way.  There were some butterflies flying around and I tried to get a picture but it flew away before I could.  I was fun just to see the different butterflies they had there.
    We walked into the main building and they had a very nice store up front with a lot of lavender products.  Apparently they also grow lavender in the area too.  (I have lavender growing in my garden and know it does very well with the harsh summers in this area.)  The sign at the register said to go back into the wine tasting room.   So we did.
   It cost $10 to get 6 one ounce tasting tickets and a keepsake glass so we did.  The first one they give to you free and they also give you suggestion of what to taste and the order to taste them on based on what you tell them you like to drink.  My favorites are usually white wines with pino grigios at the top of the list.  We tasted 4 wines and decide to take a break and so we went on the tour that was just starting up, that they seem to run every half hour.  It was only 20 minutes long but it was very informative.
  Here are my impressions of it.
We came to see the vineyards and here's a photo of them as we drove by.
 By the time we got there to the vineyard it was pretty hot outside and we hardly went outside at all to see the operation out side since it was so hot.  Most of the people wanted to stay in the temperature controlled environment.

 This place uses the steel fermenting vats.  That was different from California but it also could be its years and years later and the technology has changed so much.  What I thought was interesting was they had two different vats.  Some had metal band around them and some were dimpled.  The metal band were used to freeze the wine to stop the fermenting process. The type of wine that they wanted to make determined what vat it would go into.
   All the wine was transported using those rubber hoses once the wine was read to be transported into storage barrels.
   Here is a better picture of the dimpled ones.  As you can see there were over 27 of these devices in that one building alone. 
 We found out that the winery has only been around since the early 90's and this was one of the first wineries in the area.  Like any new business it took awhile for people to find it and appreciate it.  Now its got its following and does million of dollars in sales every year.
    Because the picking of the grapes is so critical for the flavor of the wine the Becker's have invested in these grape harvesting machines.   The amount that can be harvested in a day was mind boggling but I can't remember how much it was.  This was a definite change from the time we were in Napa. Back then it all had to be picked by hand. 
 This is the store room.  They do store there wine in oak barrels until it is ready to be bottled.  In places those racks were five high.  That's a lot of wine there!!! They told us how much each barrel held and how much they each weighed but I've forgotten it. 
 A different view of how it was stored.
 This was another part of the building.  The red barrels are new ones to be used.  The guide did tell us that they use the barrels 3 times and each barrel costs $600.  After they are used they then turn around and sell them for $100.  After that seeing all those barrels you could tell the Becker's had a lot of money invested in this place.  We then found out that the owner is a doctor and that is how he got his capital to start this business.
 This is the bottling equipment.  They go with the traditional cork plug to the bottles.
 We went back to the tasting area and were allowed to go downstairs to see their private reserves. Just look at all those barrels. 
  After the tour we decided we needed to get on the road so we could get back home at a decent time.  We both really liked the pino grigio and ended up getting a case.  I can hardly wait until next Friday night when we both like to pop a top and relax and drink a bottle of wine together.

   As I was leaving I was so pleased to see some more butterflies again.  This time I saw one that seemed to pose for us and liked having its picture taken.
 I was surprised it let me get so close to it and get this shot.  I did not have to crop or enhance this picture.  Isn't it beautiful?
   If you ever want a get away place I do recommend the Fredericksburg area.  The only downfall is you seem to need reservations for hotel accommodations. When I was setting this trip up I had to call around quite a few places to find a place that had a room available.
    Also I would highly recommend you visiting the Becker vineyards because the staff was all so friendly and nice and helpful.  Their wines also seemed reasonable priced too.  I'm not much of a wine connoisseur like my brother was -  all I go by is what I like and don't like and I do like their wines. In fact we liked it so much we bought a case and that's rare for us. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

National Museum of the Pacific War, Fredericksburg Texas

My husband and I went on a weekend retreat to Fredericksburg Texas and while we were there we visited  the 'National Museum of the Pacific War' (WWII)
Outside the National Museum Of The Pacific War

Both my husband and I had family members that were involved with World War Two and have always been interested in things relating to it since most of the time the living survivors really didn't want to talk about it. After visiting these museums I could understand why.  To me all those who were involved with the war were hero's and should be respected for it.  Unfortunately most of the people that we knew that were involved are now dead but if anyone sees this and was involved with WWII I give you my sincere thanks and respect.
    Connected with this museum was also the Admiral Nimitz Museum, the George H.W. Bush Gallery and the Pacific Combat Zone.  My husband had seen the Nimitz Museum before and we looked at it but we got there at about 4 and things closed at 5 so we hurried through it to get to other things.  Fortunately the tickets were good for 48 hours and we were able to come back and see the things we missed.  The museum was dark inside and I did not take any photo's.

To get to the Pacific war museum we went through the
George H. W. Bush Gallery
and I got these shots.

George H.W. Bush Gallery, Fredericksburg Tx

It was a nice tribute to the presidents that were involved with World War 11 and other people that served in it too and made contributions to its victory.

We then went to the National Museum of the Pacific War and got into it for about 20 minutes when we just plain pooped out and it was so close to closing time we knew that there was no way we could see thing in it since we were still in the first galleries and decided we'd come back in the morning to finish it.  I was glad we made that choice because there was so much to see and do in it, plus when we came back they had wands to give us that gave us an audio tour of the place.  I guess they were all in use when we got there the 1st time and those wands made such a big difference in enjoying the museum.  If you ever do visit the museum please allow at least 2-3 hrs for it and more time if you do the other things too. 

Also we were told that at the Pacific Combat Zone you could only see it with a tour guide and the best time to see it would be when it open at 10.  So the next morning we were there at the

bright and early for the 10 am tour.  As it turned out we were the only ones there and ended up with a private tour which was great for us since the guide let us go behind some things that most people don't get to see.   The guide really loved his job and was very knowledgeable about things and did an excellent job explaining things.
    Here are some of the stuff you got to look at while you were waiting for the tour to begin.
One of my children is named Mark and he was always a little torpedo after seeing this now I know why we called him that - only thing is this isn't so small as I thought it was. 
 Here's the stats on that Mark X1V torpedo.

 This was a water depth charger mine.

 Nothing like seeing a couple of bombs to wake you up in the morning.
 or depth chargers.

The guide came and took us into the room.  He explained that this is what it looks like inside the hanger of a aircraft carrier.
But first I'm going to show what an aircraft carrier looked like during WWII.  It was pretty long and flat.  
 It amazed me that anything could land on something like this.

 They had these charts on the wall to help them identify the different aircraft that was being flown.
 Now for what it looked like inside the hanger.  The room was built to the exact dimension of a hanger section.  They had big huge steel doors to keep them separate in case a fire ever broke out it wouldn't sink the whole ship.  It amazed me that these things were all built before computers and everything was figured out on a slideruler.  
     Noticed how the wings collapsed - pretty ingenious if you ask me. By doing that they were able to increase the number of planes that could be on each ship.
 Here's how they moved those bombs around.
 A frontal view of it.
 From the left side.  The pilot would get in on this side.
 While the rest of the crew would use this small door down below.
 Another frontal view. 
After we saw the hanger they took a to another building.  There was some stuff in between the buildings too.
In the next building they had an actual PT boat that was used during the War.  President Kennedy had a PT boat under his command during the war and they built a model that looked like his.
 The one that was in the building.
 The building was so small you really couldn't get a good angle to capture its profile and to show it in its entirety.
 This was the engine that propelled it through the waters. I forgot which auto manufacture made it.  We came to find out that the American car manufactures made the engines that were used for so many different vehicles during this war with General Motors and Ford being two of the major ones.
I thought we were now down with this part of the museums but I came to find out I was wrong.  The guide took us out a back door to a huge area that was built like an actual combat zone setting.  He explained to us that about once a quarter they have live reenactments of certain pacific war battles there.   All the machinery there was the actual machines that were used during some of the battles.  They were even able to recover some Japanese machines that were used too.
It's so different from reading about the stuff verses being up close and touching and seeing the real things.  I just all came to life and made such an impression on me. 
 A Higgens type boat used for unloading soldiers.

 Wouldn't you enjoy something like this to tootle around town in?  The guide said that there is actually a man in town that owns a Sherman tank that he sometimes brings to these reenactments.   All I could think was "only in Texas".
 This was one of the Japanese tanks that was captured.  What surprised me was how thin the armor was.  The guide said at first the thin armor was a problem because the shells were going right through the tanks and not disabling them.  They had to use less powerful shells to inflict maximum damage to stop them.

 This was a Japanese gun that caught the US off guard.  The gun could be totally dismantled and reassemble any where.  The Japanese were able to transport these massive gun through the jungle just by each man carrying a piece of it.  He pointed out the carter type pins that held it in place. 
 The last building we went into was what  a typical medical unit would look like.
And finally we saw this memorial to the different forces.  On each cross was how many were killed  and how many were injured.  The numbers were very sobering to see.
That ended our tour of the Pacific Combat Zone.  It was well worth the effort to come back and see and I was pleased that we did see it.

Now we  moved back to the National Museum of the Pacific War.
As we were walking to the entrance there were a lot of different things to be seen on the outside too.  we saw this interesting thing outside.  It's a device for loading torpedoes.

This was the first gallery and it was very nicely done.  You could tell a lot of thought and effort went into designing this museum.  This section was all about Japan and the Orient explaining the politics that was going on before the war and why they ended up getting involved with it.  It was very informative and different from some of the other war museums we've seen by giving the enemies point of view. 
   As we were going around this time we did have the wands and those helped tremendously because you didn't have to read everything but could listen to the narratives as you looked at the displays.

They actually had really vehicles in it too.
and airplanes.  I think this may have been a plane that George HW Bush flew at one time.

This was a captured Japanese gun that actually shot down something that was across from it in the museum. The lighting wasn't the best and I did not get a picture of the vehicle.  What was nice in the museum there was a lot of videos of the actual people talking about what happened and why it happened the way it did.

This was one of the first remote flying drones used during the war.
 This was just a model of the flying sharks that were fighting over in China.
 Here's the uniforms of the different serves during the war.
 The was a battleship during the war. 
 And finally this is a bomb casing you never want to see except in a museum.
 Do you recognize it?   Its the shell to the atomic bomb "Fat Boy".

 So if you ever see something like this you know its too late to take shelter and just hope for better things in the hear after.
I really liked the museum and would highly recommend it if you are a war buff like my husband is.  The only thing I did not like about it was the layout was confusing.  We got separated and had to find each other by using our cell phones.  If they just would have painted a white line with arrows on it showing which way to go it would have helped a lot.  I noticed I was not the only person who got separated from there group so it wasn't just me that was having that problem.  Also if you go make sure you allow plenty of time to thoroughly enjoy it. This one museum not to be rushed through.