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geology et al
some days are pretty good
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Rock Shop
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07/18/07
RETURN OF THE BLOG
Topic: geology et al

It has been ages.  I finally got my rock shop cleaned up.  It was a real mess for a long time.  And I have quite a bit of the new stromatolite on hand. 

I was just reading about stromatolites.  They were more common during precambrian times, but they still exist today.  My grandfather used to say they were the earliest known life form, but really there is an ongoing discussion about whether or not they were a real life form or the forerunner thereof.  This is a question I am going to research.

I am going to add pics of kittykats to my photo page.  I got what I thought was two female cats last spring and one turned out to be a tom.  I grew up on a farm so it will be difficult to live this down.  The mother cat is Siamese and the dad cat is orange striped.  Am taking steps to see this never happens again.

As far as writing is concerned, I just now finished a story about my dad and the war and Okinawa.   I should have been working on something more publishable, but this is the story I felt I had to write.


Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 8:07 PM CDT
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11/30/06
COLD DAYS
Topic: geology et al
In spite of the fact that I was going to put mineralogy on the back burner, I find myself reading in this discipline again.

I got a letter from someone who saw my website and is looking for a piece of minnesotaite. Now I have lived in MN all my life and my family owned a rock shop since...probably before I was born...but this one was new to me. It is an iron rich talc found in Saint Louis County. There are over 4000 named minerals, the biggest percentage of which are rare or extremely rare.

Another one I was reading about today was either new to me or I hadn't thought about it in a while. Electrum is a natural alloy of gold and silver and was used by the ancients to make coins. Sometimes there are other metals such as copper in its composition. It is a good conductor of electricity, hence the name..

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 10:55 AM CST
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11/22/06
It has been a while......
Topic: some days are pretty good
It has been ages. I have been hospitalized, and before that, I didn't feel well and was trying to carry on. I feel a thousand per cent better but I don't remember where I was in the blogging scheme. Mineralogy I think. Sulfides? I think I will take a break from that.

I am a big fan of dinosaurs and will probably intersperse observations from my reading on that subject with the mineral types.

I had an article accepted for publication on my grandfather's early days in the rock business. It is for Good Old Days magazine.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 6:52 AM CST
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09/25/06
It's been a while
It has been a while since I posted. The days are getting cooler. There is so much to do before winter.

As far as the rock business goes, CarolAnn wants to teach a class on the healing and metaphysical properties of stones and I just thought that I could research what I don't know about the geological and mineralogical aspects. It might generate a little business. Maybe.

I am going to order a few items when I have sufficient open credit. These items will add interest and color to my shop. I remember ulexite from years ago, and coprolite. TV rock and dinosaur dung in lay terms. I would like to fix up my shop so it is in apple pie order and jam packed with interesting colorful items, like the new aurora crystals which are lab created and bombarded with titanium. Craft items I make myself. Some of Perk's jaspers, which I am moving as soon as time allows. Am laying blocks so that the outdoor rocks will be off those rickety tables and on the ground.

But anyway, reading on in the mineral book: marcasite and related minerals. Marcasite is iron sulfide like pyrite but it has a different crystal structure. The crystal habit is described as cockscomb. There are also loellingite, rammelsbergite, safflorite and arsenopyrite in this group. I wonder where some of the names originated.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 9:09 AM CDT
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09/04/06
tired of sulfides
Mood:  special
Topic: some days are pretty good
There are sssooo many sulfides. I would abandon my study of them but I am coming upon one of my favorites. The pyrite group.

Pyrite itself is iron sulfide. The proverbial fools gold. It fascinates kids and adults alike. The cubic shape of the crystals is amazing. I sell granulated pyrite masses and the perfect cubes from Logro?o Spain. Other minerals in the group are hauerite, penroseite, sperrylite (which is the only known natural compound of platinum) and laurite.

Please take a look at my website:

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 7:02 PM CDT
Updated: 11/01/06 11:57 PM CST
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09/02/06
under the weather
Mood:  suave
Topic: some days are pretty good
I've been under the weather and ended up in ER. Nothing life threatening. But I don't feel like reading in books of science. So I will relate an anecdote of something that happened yesterday.

I went to an art show. The featured artist was a watercolorist, but the gallery also carries the work of a friend who makes gemtrees. She buys her rocks from me. This elderly lady, who I will call Wilma, asked me, "Where do you get your rocks?"

Fair enough. I thought of all the ways one can obtain rocks. We can buy them, trade with someone who has excess, go out into the field and collect, inherit them from family....

I gave her a hasty answer and she asked, "Do you have a place you can go and gather them?"

I hesitated, because I really didn't know how to answer that. I suppose I should scout out some locations and go for it. When I have time.

She must have read into my hesitation some reluctance to share my "secrets" for she quickly reassured me that she had no interest in going there and taking all the rocks.

If only it were that simple. I didn't explain that you can't get all varieties of rock in one place. Right offhand I have access to one mine because a friend in the industrial stone business has a claim on it, and a ranch out west. It's owner wants to make a little to subsidize his farming operations. He has two or three varieties, one of which I don't think is salable. The friend with the mine claim has quite a few varieties of jasper.

I don't mind answering questions but I feel people carry around some basic disinformation or misinformation about the rock business.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 5:19 AM CDT
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08/29/06
getting tired of minerals
Mood:  surprised
Topic: some days are pretty good
Today I am defrosting the refrigerator that is older than I am. Somewhere in the mineral field guide, ice is described as a mineral.

Most of the rockhounds I grew up with were not terribly interested in mineralogy. A few studied geology. Others took an interest in paleontology. Most were lapidaries. Nowadays there is knapping, crafts, metaphysical interest in crystals. Truthfully, I am getting a little tired of the sulfides.

The next group the book takes up are the niccolites. These are ores of nickel and the ones listed are niccolite, pyrrhotite, and pentlandite. The pyrrhotite is magnetic. These all have a metallic appearance. Closely related are millerite, covellite, breithauptite and klockmannite. It looks like I could get some of these at Butte, Montana. If I wanted them......

I'm wondering how much interest there would be in minerals. Kids like rocks but they seem to be fascinated by "pretty" stones, and by fossils.

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 10:31 AM CDT
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08/28/06
picking up where I left off....
Mood:  vegas lucky
Topic: geology et al
It has been ages. I can only blame it on confusion in my life, including health issues.

Not sure where I left off. I think it was with the sphalerite group of sulfides. The copper sulfides include chalcopyrite, stannite, and bornite. As a collectible ore, bornite is popular because of its appearance. It is called peacock ore and has a purplish blue tarnish. The chalcopyrite is an important copper ore and it alters naturally to malachite, azurite and limonite. These are extremely popular sulfites. Personally I find their colors too strong and lacking in sublety. And these are soft stones.

Writing. I got nowhere on my endeavors to hold a writers workshop at church but since failing miserably, two women have offered to prepare a supper and try to entice the facilitator back.

Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 10:06 AM CDT
Updated: 11/02/06 12:00 AM CST
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08/07/06
time to order a new book
Mood:  hungry
Topic: geology et al
Geology texts aren't written in stone. That is to say, an old book is just that. It's valid to a point, but the study of the earth is ongoing. I like my books but sometimes I feel I am stuck in the past, and it's not the geological past.

I live in one of the counties that is not mentioned in the book I am reading. Although I feel it is quite significant that springs on this farm feed into the Bungashing, which in turn feeds into the Mississippi. Lake Itasca is recognized as the source of the Mississippi but who knows what the true source is?

Back to the minerals. Sphalerite is also a sulfide, and an ore of zinc. Sphalerite crystals are attractive but I have not heard of anyone using them for lapidary purposes. In this group are also metacinnabar (an unusual mineral that when heated in the laboratory changes to regular cinnabar), tiemannite, and the poisonous coloradoite. I think the old time rockhounds were less inclined to collect these minerals because they were not as useful for lapidary purposes, that is unless they had a special interest in mineralogy. My grandfather had quite a few as he was interested in geology. He had a geiger counter and a black light (not as easy to obtain as nowadays). I remember asking for a chemistry set for Christmas but it was not forthcoming. Instead, I got a microscope. I don't remember asking for a telescope. As of right now, I would llike all of these things and a spectroscope besides.

I'm working on my confession. The person who gave me the idea for this story didn't tell me enough to write a vivid story. I am making it up and telling it from a man's point of view, wondering all the while if it doesn't still sound like a woman wrote it.


Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 3:47 PM CDT
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08/06/06
headaches
Mood:  hug me
Topic: some days are pretty good
The cool breeze felt good this morning but it's heating up pretty good this afternoon.

I had a headache yesterday and this morning when I got up. At present I feel ok but like it could come back. I worry that my bp medications aren't working. I brought the kittens in the house this morning. The siamese is fairly aggressive but the little orange one is holding her own. The old cat doesn't like either of them.



Concretions can look like just about anything. The ones I found in a box are irregular and very much like the Minensota concretions in the book.concretions Technically, the septarian nodules are concretions. The definition is a nodule formed in sedimentary rock when a cementing material is deposited in the spaces around grains of sand. Wish I could obtain some more.

The sulfides in the chalcocite group are a bit more familiar as they occur with malachite, pyrite, milky quartz, etc. They are related to the argentite group. They are important ores of silver and copper. Names of some of them are chalcocite, acanthite, stromeyerite, digenite, and berzelianite.


Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 3:24 PM CDT
Updated: 11/02/06 12:01 AM CST
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08/03/06
flint again
Mood:  happy
Topic: geology et al
The archaeology guy showed up again. He owed me $2, He gave me some Knife River flint. Still confusion over terminology.

I'm reading in the Minnesota geology book again. One of the final chapters. It is about southeastern Minnesota. It is a rugged area with hills formed by stream erosion, glaciers, wind and the solvent work of groundwater. The gradient out of the Mississippi river from Fort Snelling down is much lower than the northern portion which received a huge volume of water from Lake Agassiz. This glacial meltwater that cut a steeper gradient.

The sulfides (and selenides and tellurides) of the argentite group are argentite, aguilarite, naumannite, hessite and petzite. These occur with copper and sulphur. The minerals of this group vary in cleavage, brilliance and color. Most are blackish or silver. I did sell a sample of argentiferous galena recently, from Montana but I couldn't locate a source for more.

Am writing a confession that MIGHT require a few words of bislama, the way I have conceived of it. It's a form of pidgin English but it's a legitimate language.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 11:16 PM CDT
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07/29/06
Stories I am dying to write :)
Topic: some days are pretty good
Today wasn't a good day. Spilled coffee into a keyboard so it doesn't work, forgot to take my meds, it was hot. But there are two or three confessions I just have to write.

The galena group of sulfides is a little more familiar to me. Galena is the chief ore of lead, and often occurs with pyrite. It's cleavage is cube shaped and so are some of its crystals. Some minerals in the galena group I am not so familiar with: altaite, clausthalite, alabandite, oldhamite. I've seen galena with pyrite, and with dolomite.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 11:54 PM CDT
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07/28/06
reading two books
Mood:  happy
Topic: geology et al
 
Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 5:47 PM CDT
Updated: 12/21/08 4:51 AM CST
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07/23/06
cats cats cats
Mood:  flirty
Topic: some days are pretty good
I brought home another kitten. Now I have a geriatric alley cat, a Siamese, and an orange striped cat. All female. The old cat doesn't like either of the kittens. The Siamese, about 12 weeks old, bullies the tiny kitten, about eight weeks old, something terrible. I can't let a flock of cats rule my life.

Still reading in the Minerals of the World book and discovering how many common minerals are missing from my collection.

There are many families of sulfides. The stibnite group includes stibnite, bismuthinite, and guanajuatite. These are similar in appearance but bismuthinite is rare. According to the book, stibnite is spectacular in appearance. A must have if I ever have a museum. Bismuthinite is rare, and guanajuatite is poisonous. I will let that one go.

I'm writing a mystery for a contest. It's a shortie. First prize is one thousand dollars.




Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 8:46 PM CDT
Updated: 11/02/06 12:02 AM CST
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07/21/06
sulfides
Topic: geology et al
Sulfides are complex and valuable. Scientific understanding of their origins is incomplete. Sulfides are deposited in cracks in the earth's crust. Igneous rock (usually granite) forms the core of folded mountain ranges. It has been formed from crystallizing magma, the hot stuff that forms the earth's core. As the magma cools, its minerals form, starting with iron, magnesium, calcium silicates, and so on. The last one to form is quartz. As the granite formation cools, cracks form. Hot water left over from the process moves through the cracks and elements precipitate out, with metals and semi metals combining with sulfur and forming veins. As the less soluble elements crystallize at higher temperatures, those are found near the source and more soluble elements are found further away. These deposits are called hydrothermal veins. It is not so easy to understand the crystallization sequence.

Some of these sulfur compounds are realgar, orpiment, cinnabar and greenockite. To my knowledge I don't have any of these in my collection.

I am finishing up my confession story today. It's sort of funny...humorous type funny I mean. At least I hope it is.





Here's my rockshop siteHoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 1:36 PM CDT
Updated: 11/02/06 12:03 AM CST
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07/19/06
back to blogging
Mood:  energetic
Topic: some days are pretty good
I am going to put aside the book I was reading about Minnesota geology for a while and take up that study again when I get a more current text. Not that I regret reading this one. Just because Minnesota doesn't have a lot of gem material doesn't mean there isn't a lot to ponder. I love mysteries. A big one is, what's under all that glacial drift? Diamonds? Maybe something we can't even imagine.... But now I think I will scan the field guide to minerals for a while, and maybe later read a book about tektites.

I am thinking more about purchasing molds for making fossil replicas, and growing crystals.

Most "rockhounds" (there's that detestable word again) have a special field of interest. I guess I like odd things. Curiosities. Fossils, crystals, rocks used for tools by human beings. I am not completely turned off by the metaphysical aspects. Some beautiful objects have been made or discovered that satisfy the natural healer's needs. And sometimes I think it would be challenging to pound rocks and glass into little pieces and make mosaics.

But the average person (and I'm quite average) needs a grounding in the basics, and needs to review now and then. And so I open this book called Minerals of the World....

The first few chapters are about igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, crystal habits, atoms, and lunar rocks. I am more interested in keeping the nomenclature straight. It has always confused me.

The chemicals that occur in pure, uncombined form in the earth's crusts are called native elements. These are divided into three groups: metals, non-metals and semi-metals.

The metals considered in the book are gold, silver, copper, mercury, lead, platinum, tin and iron. The non-metals are carbon (both diamonds and graphite are forms of pure carbon) and sulfur. The semi-metals have properties between metal and non-metal and include antimony, arsenic and bismuth. Have you got that straight? I am considering what I have in my collection that falls into the native elements category. I sold my silver ore but I can get more...somewhere. I have gold and pyrite in a polished slab. Some copper ores. No platinum, plenty of iron but perhaps not the native iron except in one meteorite. I don't know where my mother's diamond ring went to but it might be around somewhere. It was small and not worth a lot of money. Sulfur crystals would be a fine addition to my collection, as would synthetic bismuth crystals (they're cool) and botryoidal arsenic. Time to get cracking if I want a comprehensive collection......

I went to a church meeting last night to propose a writers' workshop facilitated by a professional outsider. The idea was ok but there is no money for it except if the participants pay tuition. One person said he hated poetry. Somehow I have the feeling that even after the church loan is paid up, there won't be money for anything that "they" don't feel is important....


Hoffs Rock Shop




Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 9:16 PM CDT
Updated: 11/02/06 12:05 AM CST
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07/12/06
more geology
Mood:  down
Topic: geology et al
Now I'm reading about an area of Minnesota with which I have more affinity than the eastern part...northwestern Minnesota. The Red River Valley. It was once the bottom of Lake Agassiz. That must have been quite a lake. 600-700 feet deep in places. The Red River is quite young, having been formed soon after the last glacier retreated. Glacial activity has left several hundred feet of drift in places. Where it has been possible to drill down to bedrock, Cretaceous shale has been found on top of pre Cambrian granite, slate and schist. There are no outcroppings and I know that the area is very dry as far as rock hunting is concerned.

I had a customer at my real life rockshop today who purchased stones for healilng. This happens quite often. She bought a clear quartz crystal, two apache tears, and my last elestial.

The medication I take makes me drowzy so I didn't get my writing done yesterday.

Have to work at the church Friday I guess, and try to observe a writing class tomorrow if I am up to it.


Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 12:07 PM CDT
Updated: 11/02/06 12:06 AM CST
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07/11/06
The Minnesota Iron Range
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: geology et al
The iron range is of great social and cultural interest as well as geological, esp. for rock collectors, but that is not the focus of this blog. As someone whose grandfather was once known as "the binghamite king" and as someone who owns or has access to several ton of the algal material of the upper cherty division of the Biwabik formation, part of the Mesabi range, I am very interested in this.

These are mostly open pit mines rather than underground, because the deposits are just under the glacial drift. (An exception to this has been at Ely). The extraction of high grade ore is not as profitable as it once was. Taconite is another name for the lower grade iron bearing rocks.

A complex series of events over the eons resulted in deposits of the high grade ore that for the longest time made this area the greatest iron producing area in the world. Mining was begun in 1884. I am eager to see what a more recent books says about this subject.

I sell drill cores at my shop.

Hoffs Rock Shop


Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 12:33 PM CDT
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07/10/06
cloudy day....cat flatulence
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: geology et al
According to that Minnesota geology book I'm reading, Carlton County deserves special attention and is an entity in itself. To make a long story short, mud turned into shale and compacted into slate. Due to movement and pressure, the slate buckled and folded and molten rock forced its way into the folds. Streams have eroded the bedrock so all of this has been exposed and created a rugged, interesting terrain, esp. in the Jay Cooke state park, which I have not visited. Another must do. Have driven through this area so I'm vaguely familiar.

That kitten smells really bad sometimes. I still haven't named her.

I'm working on three stories. Wish I could spend the day reading, writing, and painting. Hoffs Rock Shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 8:11 AM CDT
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07/09/06
A Sunday Alone
Mood:  crushed out
Topic: some days are pretty good
I got tired of that Minnesota geology book but I'll go back to it later. Right now I'm reviewing a field guide to mineral identification. That's akin to a bird book for rockhounds. Not that I appreciate the term "rockhound" In many instances, though, it is apropos.

Now that the cabin is gutted out and in the process of repair, I have a perfect rough workshop for doing neat things like growing crystals, or pouring plaster of paris replicas of fossils. I could even have a dinosaur party.

There are a lot of interesting fossils for sale online, and in all prices ranges. I can envision starting a museum or interpretive center. Using my grandfather's collection as an anchor, I would add new items and show how the rock business has evolved, including my own involvement. I even have the building picked out. It's a small trailer or modular home that looks like a log cabin with a verandah. I wouldn't need plumbing in it and I think they can build them to specifications. I'm not yet brave enough to inquire about the price. I wouldn't need a building permit because it's not a permanent structure.


More later......Hoffs Rock shop

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 10:08 AM CDT
Updated: 11/02/06 12:08 AM CST
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