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Rocks In My Head

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geology et al
some days are pretty good
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Rock Shop
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new shop
This blog was working quite right the last time I tried to post so it sort of slipped my mind.  I think I was posting about my new rock shop.  It's not really a shop, just a shelter for the equipment, which has been scattered in various buildings and sitting outdoors.  Now it is one neat place on a cement slab...all three saws, tumblers, vibrolaps, the trim saws and all.  There is even a small corner for the fluorescents and black light, and a small display.  It has been laid out similarly to my grandfather's workshop except smaller.  Now customers can see a place where the processing is actually done.

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 8:24 AM CDT
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party's over

I spent quite a lot of last week prepareing for a Polynesian party, a fundraiser at church.  The money will go to Habitat for Humanity.

I wore a lavalava, a garment from Samoa which is really just a length of fabric, and a necklace made of a stone from New Zealand.   The Maori call it Pounamu, translated greenstone.  It is nephrite jade, a stone reserved for their use only.  They make it into jewelry...mostly pendants in fish, swirl and twist design.  My piece was not any particular shape so I used a bellcap to suspend it from a chain. 

 Jade is quite tough so ancient peoples used it not only for decoration but also for tools and weapons.   

I also included on the display for Polynesian and South Pacific items that I set up, two pictures of Hawaiian  volcanic activity, geodes from the volcanic activity center at Taupo in NewZealand, and some generic volcanic tuff.  I also loaned out a beautiful hematite necklace from Vanuatu.  The small piece of petrified wood from Fiji escaped me.  

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 5:37 PM CDT
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back to minerals

I guess I am still struggling through this book of less than familiar minerals.  The next on the list is the enargite group, consisting of enargite and famatinite.  These are copper sulfides and important ores of copper esp. in places like Butte Montana.  I see the enargite occurs with pyrite and quartz.  

It is terribly hot today.   I am finding more and more rocks I didnt know I had.  Today so far I have put out for sale a quart of what I call spotted agate (not sure of its origins), a dish filled with small pieces of olivine, and another container filled with polished mini Lake Superior agates.  I have increased the floor space of my shop by one third by using the back-of-the-counter area for display. 

After a hiatus of several years, I am starting to think about tumbling again.  I have quite a lot of material and two small tumblers right now, and pieces of big ones lying here and there in the woods.  I have all the grits but will have to refresh my memory on their sequence.  IT HAS BEEN SO LONG....

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 4:09 PM CDT
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another hot day

Just brought the siamese home from her spay surgery.  The tom cat has been neutered.  I still have four kittens (one disappeared, despite my best efforts to keep them safe).  They have turned out calico in color which might be a plus as far as giving them away is concerned.  I wanted to keep all of them but it's just not practical. 

I am pricing more of the rocks in my shop with individual tags.  Also making note of what I am short on so I can order if it's something I can't manufacture on my own.  We have the saws going now.


Yesterday I started with sulfosalts.  The tetrahydrite group includes tetrahydrite and tennantite.   A few others are listed: jamesonite, boulangerite, stephanite and zinkenite.  The chief metal in these is usually copper but sometimes it's iron or zinc.  They are found chiefly in mining areas.  Appearance is dark gray and they are brittle.


Was just reading about a vicious predator type dinosaur that may have been warm blooded.  :( 



Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 2:40 PM CDT
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No Blog Yesterday

Today is beastly hot and the heat and humidity have drained most of the energy out of me.  The book I am reading now deals with sulfosalts.  Sulfur is combined with both metals and semimetals.   The ruby silver group consissts of two minerals, pyrarggyrite and proustite.  These are deep red-silver in color and are found with argentite, or native silver.  Thse are dark red in color and are actually quite pretty.  But I am really too miserable to care.

Back again tomorrow. 

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 6:05 PM CDT
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feldspar under microscope

I saw something really cool last night....a picture of feldspar under a microscope.  It was breathtaking.  The colors would make a lovely silk fabric.    Really piqured my interest in mineralogy.  I guess quartz is out of this world. 

Ok, let us consider the krennerite group of minerals.  These include calaverite, sylvanite, and krennerite.  When these gray metallic minerals are dissolved, they release gold.  And THAT is interesting.  


I am just not up to contemplating dinosaurs today.  

I have been writing short articles about popular stones, including their history as gemstones if applicable, a little about the formation and chemical structure, and a sentence or two about how metaphysicists regard them for those who are interested.  This is making my rock shop and website more interesting, and I also use these articles a couple of more places online.  It's a slow process.


Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 12:48 PM CDT
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Another Day With Rocks
Topic: geology et al

There is a very good site which has endlessly fascinating articles about dinosaurs, and other items of scientific interest.  If you are a rockhound you have probably accessed Bob's Rock Shop.  Don't neglect the article section. 

 Today I was reading about Gigantoraptor, a bird-like creature that stood sixteen feeet tall.  It looks like a bird but has thrown off the theory of shrinking descent from Archaeiopteryx to the modern sparrow.  It is primitive but big.  


And now back to the study of mineralogy.  The next group is called skutterudite, named for the town of Skutterud in Norway.  I will admit that I asm more curious about the town of Skutterud than this mineral group, which includes smaltite and chloanhite.  It is a source of cobalt and can be found in numerous locations around the globe.  I really should go back and explain the molecular structure of minerals.  That aspect of the subject is beginning to intrigue me very much.   

But each day has only 24 hours and I have much to do.



Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 10:28 AM CDT
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Resuming a consideration of mineralogy and dinosaurs
Topic: geology et al

I really shouild resume my reading in the book of mineralogy.  Some of this stuff doesnt't interest me much but I am determined to plow  through.  Sometimes a concept or two will strike a chord.  I wait for those moments

  I don't remember where I left off but I think it was with marcasite.  The next group is cobaltite.  It includes three minerals similar in appearance to pyrite.  They are cobaltite, gersdorffite, and ullmannite.  These are major ores of cobalt and nickel.  The composition is arsenic, antimony and sulfur.  


D inosaurs are more interesting I think.  I was just reading about a six inch coprolite found in Saskatchewan.  A coprolite is petrified feces from any species.  This one was supposed to come from a tyranosaurus and contained bone fragments which it was somehow surmised came from feeding on a juvenile herbivorous dinosaur about the size of a cow.  A picture accompanies the article.  And it looks about like you would expect it to look. 

Posted by oh5/ojhoff at 1:41 PM CDT
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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