Thursday, July 8, 2010

Beach Reading and Catching Up

Not enough time to read? Give up something to find the time? Is it practical and feasible to do so? Not always. The past couple of summers, a week at the beach has proven for me to be a great opportunity to catch up.

It's that time again, only this year we're not at the beach. Meanwhile, two stacks of reading material neatly piled up on the floor in the corner of my office had both reached a height of over a foot. I recently knocked a couple of inches off by removing about a dozen Mineralogical Record's with articles I had been waiting to revisit.

For a few months last year, Mineral Bliss offered a podcast that attempted to briefly summarize the contents of Mineralogical Record and Rocks & Minerals soon after they arrived through our mail slot. To produce this podcast in a timely fashion, I found myself skimming through these periodicals and moving on before enjoying them in the manner for which they were intended. Ultimately, the podcasting went by the wayside.

Any beach time this summer will not be long enough in any one place for very much reading. However, finding myself with an unexpected block of time during the relentless heatwave that is baking Baltimore, the confines of a well air-conditioned office proved more appealing than nearby beaches for revisiting some of the features in Mineralogical Record that most intrigued me over the past several years going back to July, 2007.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I've long enjoyed Wendell Wilson's editorials in Mineralogical Record. The one that left the strongest impression was entitled "Photographs: A Priority for Museums" from July-August 2007. It ranted about the myriad specimens stashed away at various museums, never to be seen, admired, studied or researched. Is this what those who donated or bequeathed them intended? Or is it what the museums intended by accepting them? Wilson makes his point as to the value for all concerned that phtographic documentation can provide. Is it that the museums lack the time or human resources? Give me a place to stay and a couple of unwanted specimens to take home, and we can talk about it.

  • Most collectors have their varied quirks and niches. Vintage micromounts are one of mine. What a pleasure once again to drool over the pictures and re-read the article in the March-April Minrec by Wendell Willson, Rock Currier, Carl Francis, and Sugar White: "George Washington Fiss (1835-1925) and his micromount collections."

  • The "American Mineral Treasures Issue" of June, 2008 recalled some great memories plus a lot I'd missed when an emergency on the home front mandated an early departure from that year's Tucson Show, which was one of the best, perhaps the best ever. Of course, now both a book as well as a movie have been produced about this amazing exhibit of the known best minerals from the 44 greatest localities in the United States.

  • The five part series spanning Mineralogical Record's last two editions of 2008 and first three of 2009 by Rock Currier entitled "About Mineral Collecting" is in my opinion a masterpiece. It covers all the bases of the hobby and the different kinds of players involved in it. No way I ever could have described myself as accurately as Rock did, even though we'd never met.

  • Being from the East Coast, I particularly like the way Mineralogical Record has kept readers abreast of productive localities in New Jersey. There was the Wendell Wilson piece with amazing images from May-June 2007 regarding the magnificent zeolites being collected at Millington traprock Quarry in Somerset County. More recently (November-December, 2009), and soon thereafter (March-April, 2010) appear picture packed articles(zeolites once again) by Frank A. Imbriacco, II covering the Braen Quarry in Passaic County and the Fanwood Quarry in Somerset County. With so little---at least that I'm aware of--- coming out of the classic Northern Virginia localities once known for similar material, it's great to know about recent action in New Jersey.

My next day-long read will lighten the piles in my office by about the same number of Rocks and Minerals editions. If the heatwave continues, this will probably happen sooner rather than later.

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