Sunday, September 28, 2008

2008 Monterey Gem & Mineral Show Pt. 3

This morning to start the day we checked out of the Travel Lodge after partaking in their "continental breakfast" again.

We then headed across the street to the fairgrounds and parked for the day and went in and did what little set-up was required, to wit, remove the covering put on our booth for the overnight period and turning on the lights and replacing a few gaps where material sold with fresh material.

The day started typically slow for a Sunday morning so nobody punched any panic buttons.
Unfortunately for me, things never really got going to the degree they had the day before which was the reverse for Mike as he did not so great yesterday but cleaned up today.

I had hoped to match yesterday's success today so that I could justify purchasing that Gibeon meteorite the Richter's are selling at their Rocks & Relics booth but no dice.
If I'm to have it God will make everything line up for me.
Certainly nobody has bought it during or since the June Cayucos Show where I first spotted it and fell in love at first sight so maybe there is a chance for me to get it yet.

The Air Force Thunderbirds passed over again today which triggered in me the usual reponse of anxiety and exhilaration.

As the day drew to a close things slowed down prematurely it seemed with only a few small sales for me although Mike was having a great day compared to yesterday for him.

I wasn't the only one having an unsatisfying day as at least one other vendor who shall go unnamed sat glumly in their chairs as I walked up to compare notes: misery loves company!

Despite the slowness of this day for me I was overall extremely pleased with the show, both in my own success but also in Mike's as well as in how the overall show played out and the host Carmel Valley Gem & Mineral Society did a great job promoting and carrying out the show and we earnestly hope to be invited back next year.

They did their usual breakdown of the show at the end of the weekend with military-like precision and coordination with most of the displays being removed before Mike and I were even done breaking down our own booth and by the time we left there was not much left in the show hall.

We left after dark just like last year and headed home via Fairgrounds Road to Garden Road to Olmstead Road to Highway 68 to US101 and on home with a short break for gas and a bite to eat at a fast food join in Salinas which was interesting after dark.
Fortunately, nothing bad happened there nor at any other point along the home and we got home safely each to our respective abodes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

2008 Monterey Gem & Mineral Show Pt. 2

Having worked late last night preparing our booth we were able to sleep in just a bit.
It was nice having a room across the street from the show so that I simply walked leaving my truck parked at the Travel Lodge.
What little work was left to do to prepare for the show was quickly accomplished and we were ready to go.

For me it was a good thing I was ready at the opening buzzer as my first customer was a hard-bargaining Asian gal from the Chinese Cultural Center in Monterey who dropped a large sum on me purchasing ocean jasper slabs and an egg and a sphere along with some other things.
Normally, I don't mention the race of people unless it is relevant to the story I am relating as is the case here.
She was one of the most abrasive customers I ever dealt with and drove such a bare-knuckle bargainer that I was starting to get put off but each time she nearly nearly caused me to snap at her she seemed to sense it and drew back.
She whittled me down to the bone price-wise but I still turned a modest profit, but I only let her walk out of my booth with the items as I needed the money wanting to start off on a good pace and I was tired of lugging around for well over a year the items she got so I was mildly contented with the outcome.

Had I not needed her money I might have employed a tactic Jack Daggett of Bend, Oregon, once employed at the Tuscon Show where an Asian-American feigning to be an Asian-non-American came up to him and started putting down his material but actually was interested in it but hoped to low-ball him. Jack got really pissed and started moving the price up on the guy to his shock and horror and rattled him and said "you crazy" and left. Later on they kissed and made up and Jack realized the guy was an American and spoke English just fine.

However, what this experience highlighted for me was something I before now had only heard anecdotally from other dealers and that is the cultural difference between Americans and non-Americans, particularly Asians and most particularly East Asians when it comes to negotiating.
What we Americans would consider rude is not only not rude in their culture, but expected.
The problem is that this is America and America is best as a melting pot, not a multi-cultural entity. Multi-culturalism does not work: just look at Islamicization of Europe.

Anywho, that did get me off on the right track which carried success on throughout the day as traffic was fairly evenly busy all day and folks were apt to spend money. It appeared everybody was doing well at the show thus reenforcing the concept of rising tides lift all boats.

I had the privilege of meeting a fine young American soldier named Stephen Covell who is a local guy (grew up in the Monterey area) visiting from his current home in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he serves our nation as a medic in the 573rd Cavalry of the 82nd Airborne Division.
Stephen is quite a young man who chose to enter the military and serve his nation for a variety of commendable personal reasons.
He has already served one tour in Iraq and awaits being sent back there or going to Afghanistan in the near future.
I marveled at the degree to which this guy really seemed to have his shit together for one so relatively young and I was quite impressed and heartened to know such young men are still out there despite the general decline of our society and civilization.
Stephen plans not to follow the medical slant of his current career but after the service pursue a career in journalism.
He is also a musician whose work can be experienced on and

Speaking of the military, the Air Force Thunderbirds flew their F-16's over us again today in a rather unnerving fashion as well as some civilian passenger aircraft.
In spite of the unnerving nature of such powerful jets flying so forcefully right over us at such low altitude there is something rather exhilarating about it, too.
One of the planes on one particular fly-over was so low that his backwash stirred up dust and leaves lying on the ground in and around the fairgrounds which caused something to get picked up and blown into my eye.

I learned today that what I thought was a lazurite crystal I am selling may actually be a pseudomorphed Afghanite crystal that is now composed of lapiz lazuli per dealer Claud Huber.
As usual he had an amazing display of beautiful minerals.

The Richter's Rocks & Relics booth was busy all day and all weekend per usual which is no surprise given all the cool stuff for great prices they offer there. They have an amazing Gibeon meteorite I am coveting and hope to buy if I make as much money tomorrow as I did today.
This thing is somehow naturally flat having shattered along some sort of internal crystaline plane.

At the end of a fruitful day we all packed up for the night which didn't require much as this is a very safe venue overnight with Carmel Valley Gem & Mineral Society officer and show dealer chair Matt Beiwer spending the night in the room with all the booths so we all left feeling secure.

Mike and I decided to have Mexican food for dinner and have it where we had dinner last year with one of his friends the middle night of the show so we drove down to Seaside and looked for that place and found Marisco's Puerto Nuevo which was great once again.

After that we retired to our motel where I blogged and emailed before joining Tequila in bed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

2008 Monterey Gem & Mineral Show Pt. 1

Last year the Monterey Gem & Mineral Show hosted by the Carmel Valley Gem & Mineral Society was the most profitable two-day show I have ever done.

Consequently, this year I had high hopes going into it the second time around and that in spite of the current economic distress.

I came into this show very well prepared despite unwittingly leaving a few things at home I would like to have brought with me to sell.

After getting my pickup loaded this morning I met up with Mike Lyons at Staples in North Atascadero to get some more receipt books and then we hit the road following US101 to
Arroyo Seco Road between Greenfield and Soledad and then without a single break followed my old shun-piking route into Monterey via Arroyo Seco Road to Fort Romie Road to Mission Road to River Road to Highway 68 to North Fremont Street in Monterey and on into the Monterey County Fairgrounds a block over from there.

As we neared Highway 68 I could see aircraft doing practice maneuvers at the Salinas Airport but didn't know what it was about or what type of aircraft they were other than they appeared to be older-style aircraft like biplanes and used smoke streamers.

Anywho, the drive only took us about two and half hours and covered about 130+ miles.

We rolled into the fairgrounds and surveyed the situation finding many dealers already well into their set-up but with others not yet on scene. It was nice to see many of our friends there like Bob and Helen Olson of Nature's Collectibles as well as Claude Huber and his wife and of course cranky old Steve Shears and all his wonderful display and storage stuff he sells and last but not least our friends and booth neighbors Bill Head and his wife.

After hooking up with dealer chair Matt Biewer and touching base we proceeded to set up for the show which went very smoothly.

Not long after arriving as I walked my dog Tequila around the fairgrounds I was greated with a shockingly unnerving and unexpected experience, to wit, a duo of mighty F-16 fighters flying in tight formation flew right over the fairgrounds at extremely low altitude.
On this first fly-over while I was there they had their smoke streams going and they were so low the two trails of swirling smoke came down intact right into the fairgrounds proper.
I had forgotten that we were in the flightpath of Monterey Airport and that the Salinas Air Show was this weekend and that the Air Force Thunderbirds were in attendance.
I certainly didn't know they could only use the Monterey Airport as the Salinas Airport runway is too short for them to use.
Anywho, they repeatedly buzzed the fairgrounds in route to the airport where they were doing touch and goes.

I took a break in the work to walk across the street and check into the Travel Lodge.
Last year we stayed at the Motel 6 a block or two down the street as I thought they were the only nearby motel that allowed dogs as Tequila accompanies me to most shows.
Apparently, I was wrong and Travel Lodge is not only dog-friendly but closer to the show and cheaper if you can finagle the "crew rate" which I did with the assistance of the clerk I made the reservations with. They also don't charge you for wifi access the way Motel 6 does.

On a side-note: the person who checked me in was this rotund gay guy who was shall we say, quite gay, fussy and prissy and lispy and all.

A bit later Mike and I took a break from our set-up to go get some dinner.
After walking around a little bit on North Fremont Street we settled with a wonderful family Italian joint named Caruso's Corner Restaurant which has apparently been around since 1953.
The service was excellent (very personal service with family atmosphere) and the food was to kill for (they have wonderful chicken parmigiana).

Whilst we were perusing the menu right after we first got there I received a call from an unfamiliar phone number so I stepped outside and answered it and it turned out to the gay guy at the Travel Lodge front desk who checked me in.
It was hard to hear him given the street traffic next to me but he seemed to say in a very curt and prissy manner that I was to come down to the front desk immediately and it sounded like he told me he'd need to take my card which he said was no good.
Perhaps I heard the wording wrong but I'm not so sure about that.
I new I was close to being over the limit on that card not to mention a few days late with the latest payment which was due earlier in the week.
However, no biggie, all he needed was for me to give him a different card which is perhaps what he said but that is not how my ears heard it.
Consequently, I was both a bit rattled but also pissed off so I got Mike and we left the restaurant before we'd even ordered and walked down the street to the Travel Lodge.
There was a line at the front desk so I patiently stood in line while coldly eyeing the gay guy with a "don't **** with me" demeanor.
When I finally got to the front of the line there was one more person behind me and I let her and her significant other go ahead of me with an explanation that sounded as ominous as the gay guy's remarks to me a short time earlier.
When finally I stepped up to the desk I politely and calmly told him I had trouble hearing him on the phone and said "now carefully repeat every word you said to me" to which he breezily responded the card I gave him was not accepted and he'd need another one which Mike quickly provided and that was that.
Maybe I heard him wrong the first time, but I'm not so sure.
I think he got uppity with me and my demeanor pushed him back in his place which is to treat the customer with respect and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Finally we headed back to the restaurant and ordered our food and proceeded to enjoy our salads when lo and behold my cell phone rang again.
My first thought was "oh no, not again" but it turned out to be an Atascadero number I recognized as familiar but could not place so I answered it and it turned out to be my friend Alice Porter.
She didn't realize I was out of town and in the middle of a meal and I didn't want to hurt her feelings so I let her talk my ear off for a little bit and then let her know my situation when she asked where I was to which she apologetically let me go.
The purpose of the call was to see if I knew if the Santa Lucia Rockhounds had seen Ernie and Alice's underwater slides of the jade hunting they did decades ago.
My belief is they did already show those the last time they did a presentation there last year.
The Porter's memories are going away quickly which is sad to watch.
They've also had a number of bad falls lately which concerns me.
After hanging up I returned to our booth and found dinner waiting and jumped right in.

After a delicious meal we returned to working on our set-up at our booth and pretty much finished the job leaving very little to do in the morning.
This was a nice change of pace as most of my shows this year I left quite a bit to do on Saturday morning before the start of the shows which adds a lot of stress.

After watching some television and getting caught up on emails and Yahoo Group management I turned in for the night at an unusually reasonable for me and slept very well.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2008 Paso Robles Rock, Gem & Mineral Show Pt. 3

Since we were entirely set up for this show by this morning and this was a Sunday morning we slept in until about 7:30ish and then got up and had breakfast and headed for this year's Paso Robles Rock, Gem & Mineral Show.
We arrived in time to find things pretty quiet and despite getting there about 15 minutes before the show began at 10 a.m. we were ready to roll when the show opened for the day.
There was a surprising amount of activity early on albeit still fairly quiet compared to yesterday morning at the same time. Over the course of the day Mike would do quite well in contrast to yesterday and we would about equal yesterday which means this year we did great and beat last year's total.

I picked up a gorgeous specimen of Elmwood Spalerite for a very reasonable price from Tom DeMaris which I will turn around and offer for sale at a significant profit at my shows and on Ebay.

Yesterday we picked up from Tom and his wife a couple of T-shirts commemorating the fires up their way in Trinity County this past Summer that they picked up for us at our request when we last talked to them at the Nipomo Show last Summer.
That marks the second time this year they have remembered to bring something to a show months after I requested it at a previous show. As you may or may not recall they brought that Canyon Diablo Meteorite to the Nipomo Show in August that I had placed a hold on at the April Bakersfield Show. With all they have to think about I'm duly impressed!

Later in the day I managed to track down Wes Lingerfelt to give him my membership application and dues to the Orcutt Mineral Society.

Yesterday, the Carmel Valley Gem & Mineral Club's Matt Biewer who is the dealer chair of this coming weekend's Monterey Show dropped in to visit yesterday while the Antelope Valley Gem & Mineral Club's Vivian who is the dealer chair of their April show dropped by for a visit today.

We received Santa Lucia Rockhound's President Gene and his wonderful wife Barbara Bilyeu at our booth this weekend (albeit at different times) which was really nice.

Two years ago Gene purchased a thick, large slab of silver-laced onyx from Mule Canyon in the Calico Mountains (old collection stuff I got years earlier from Tom DeMaris).
A year ago Gene purchased from me a nice-sized chunk of Mexican amethyst which he polished with his wet grinder and now sits in his home.
I had hoped this year he'd grab something else but alas he didn't which really hurt me. ;-p
Actually, he got something from us following the Nipomo Show and Barbara gave us a handsome purchase so they have actually been very faithful supporters of our business over the the past few years of this fledgling enterprise for which we are extremely grateful.

Santa Lucia Rockhounds club member Dennis Vance dropped by to visit us and talk meteorites for a short time. He had originally been slated to sell his meteorites in our booth but had to back out as he is preparing for some upcoming craft fares. This is now the third consecutive year he has visited our booth at this show.

We also had the privilege of being visited by another esteemed member of the Santa Lucia Rockhounds, to wit Jr. Director Ralph Lawless for whom I'd been holding some choice obsidian pieces since getting back from our Alturas trip last Summer.
As those of you following this blog may remember I picked up some choice pieces from Frank Newman at the rock shop at the CA-OR border.
Anywho, Ralph gratefully accepted them and purchased a few others which I offered him for free but he insisted on paying for them.

Throughout the weekend there was this black kid of about age twelve or so hanging around the show who I believe was there last year, too, who clearly lives in the neighborhood.
Anywho, later in the day he came and hang out with us after earlier in the day or yesterday receiving some freebies from us. He even purchased an inexpensive stone with what meager monies he possessed.
He turned out to be one cool little kid and even helped us break down our booth at the end of the day. We repaid him for his labor in stones. I'm sure we broke a child labor law somewhere. ;-p
We came to find out his name is Ronnae and he lives a few blocks away and had to leave us to go home at a certain point but he promised to try to make it back next year although he doesn't think he'll be living in the same part of town.
My heart goes out to the kid and I hope is life works out despite the broken home he comes from which we learned of from talking to him.
I have hope for him as he showed a good deal of character to us.

I tried to get an earlier jump breaking things down and getting them back to my storage unit this year. I loaded up all the lapidary rough first and got down to my storage unit only to discover they close earlier this year than last so I still just missed the cut-off which was frustrating but then drove home and dumped everything in front of my house and drove back up to Paso.

While doing all of that I received a phone call from an unfamiliar phone number and answered it.

Apparently, I had agreed to pick up the contents of the display case the San Luis Obispo Gem & Mineral Club used for their display at the show but I had forgotten and the Paso people were waiting for that stuff to be removed from their case so I agreed to get up there ASAP.
By the time I did they had already boxed it and left it at your booth.
Not realizing they had done that I went into the Pioneer Museum to remove said items and found it done so I took the opportunity to belatedly sign up for the cool members-only field trip up to a ranch at the top of the summit of Highway 46 to hunt biconoids early next month.

To my surprise we were able to squeeze everything into our pickup and thus avoid having to make a third trip between Atascadero and Paso late in the day.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

2008 Paso Robles Rock, Gem & Mineral Show Pt. 2

On this morning we had to get up early as in 6:30ish early.
We had much to do before we would actually be ready for the show.
Yesterday we got most of the material that would comprise our booth transferred from my storage unit as well as my home in Atascadero to Pioneer Park in Paso Robles where the show venue is located.
Yesterday I made two runs and this morning we'd need to drop by my storage unit to pick up one final load on the way up to Paso Robles which we did.
We arrived at our booth early in the 8 a.m. hour and got right to work transforming a pile of boxes and crates into the decent-looking display seen below.

Although we were not entirely ready at 10 a.m. when the show started and were surprised by how many people arrived in the first half hour I doubt we lost much money as folks seemed to be walking around looking at what was available first before shopping and we did do some decent sales during that period. Nonetheless, we were fully ready to roll by no later than 11 a.m.

This show is the one show I bring all my lapidary rough, hence the three trips up to Paso Robles with material for the show. Although K&K Earthwerks does have some slabs and other rough from areas outside the Central Coast we mostly have petrified whale bone and beach agates and stream and ocean tumbled jasper and jasper-agate and jasper-quartz and brecciated jasper and a wee bit of orbicular jasper all from San Simeon Creek and Inlet. We also carry a good bit of petrified myrtle wood from Bandon, OR, as well as even more obsidian from Lake and Modoc Counties in Northern California. In the future we hope to expand beyond that into other material.

This day went pretty well business-wise leaving us extremely satisfied in contrast with last year's show which was dismal on Saturday and even worse on Sunday.
Each show is different and one never knows what to expect. We do know the Santa Lucia Rockhounds did a great job of promoting this show but then we also know the Orcutt Mineral Society did a great job of promoting the Nipomo Show which was a stinker for us this year like the Paso Show was last year for us.

Anywho, we did great this day doing about as well if not better than Saturday two years ago but this time I was entirely read for this show unlike then when I was on standby as a last minute replacement and got the call on set-up day and scrambled to be ready and really wasn't.
The feeling of being overwhelmed and under prepared has haunted me since and drives me to be always ready.

We were delighted to see so many familiar faces at our booth including a wonderful surprise, Bob Hurless, former President of the San Luis Obispo Gem & Mineral Club dropped by and gave me a big hug. He has been busy in Idaho all Summer and looks better than ever.
Sandie and he are back for the season while they weather out the Winter here on the Central Coast.

We saw a lot of repeat customers from both this show in the past as well as other shows elsewhere like the Cayucos Show and the Nipomo Show. It is these people who are our lifeblood and we appreciate both their friendship as well as their business.

We also saw a lot of club members be it the club hosting this show, to wit the Santa Lucia Rockhounds, as well as the San Luis Obispo Gem & Mineral Club as well as the Orcutt Mineral Society as well as Carmel Valley Gem & Mineral Society. These people not only make good friends but they are reliable if not more discriminating customers as well as excellent sources for the latest local rockhounding information.

Lastly, it was nice to see the many fellow dealers/vendors there, many of whom are our friends.
Keith Olivas was there along with his cool wife as was Gary and Janice as well as Tom DeMaris and his wife as was Manny and his wife and Susan Chaison-Walblom and her husband and last but not least, Dale "the more you buy the more you save" Harwood with all his minerals.
Sammy and his wife didn't make the trip for Henderson, Nevada, this year which bummed me and I miss Mr and Mrs. Covert from over in the Valley and hope they are doing okay as I have not seen them the past couple of years at this show.

Speaking of dealers, Andy you-know-who showed up which meant more interesting incidents and stories of which I will mention none this time around other than to say I heard some interesting new stories of past incidents and one knew but small thing was spoken by him to one of the other vendors at the barbecue tonight.
I won't mention the details of anything but that which I personally observe or experience so my lips are mum but tonight's comment was mildly interesting given his history with whom he spoke it and the other stuff I heard about regarding incidents prior to this show were extremely interesting as well.

Speaking of barbecues, the Santa Lucia Rockhounds feted us with an awesome barbecue done up Santa Maria-style with all the fixings. The company was also good as we sat with Wes Lingerfelt and his wife as well as with Mike Doherty of the Paso club who is the Chair of this show.
We discussed among other things, the origins of Deedeeite a.k.a. Avila Rhyolite (which I will soon be blogging about) as well as Wes' fascinating career in the Military-Industrial Complex.

Following that barbecue we headed back to Atascadero where we picked up some yogurt at Yogurt Creations in the Adobe Plaza and then headed home and crashed.

Friday, September 19, 2008

2008 Paso Robles Rock, Gem & Mineral Show Pt. 1

The 2008 Paso Robles Rock, Gem & Mineral Show marks the first time in my fledgling career as a gem, mineral, fossil, and artifact dealer that I have done a show three times as this was the first show I ever did when I first did it back in 2006.
This show is also the club show for the Santa Lucia Rockhounds, the first rock club I ever joined.

Anywho, while preparing for the show at home this morning I received a call from outgoing Show Dealer Chair Joyce Baird in which she informed me we would not be having our usual spot at the southeast corner facing the folks coming in from the back parking lot off of 19th Street which annoyed me to hear this late in the game.
She wondered which of two other spots we wanted and I told her I'd meet her up at the venue in 45 minutes so I could look at the situation and give her an answer.
Privately, I hoped I could negotiate my old spot back in addition to seeing what the hell was going on with this.

After gathering some things for the show both at both my house and storage unit we headed up to Paso Robles to set-up and deal with this unexpected drama relating to our booth location.

When we got there I saw my business partner Mike Lyons talking to Manny Hernandez of the Kern County Mineral Society who is a dealer in our show.
Mike quickly related to me how that Joyce had the show lay-out diagram used the past couple of years or longer but didn't show up until later in the morning.
Unfortunately for us, those who physically chalked out the outline of the show had needed to go ahead and do that before she finally showed up and they did so using an older diagram that was a bit different.
This resulted in our newer spot getting consumed by Manny and his older spot and we were thus forced to find another location.
Luckily for us, we were given several options which included the spot Rocks & Relics used last year which was the eastern-most spot on the outside adjacent to 19th Street which was across the aisle to the southeast from our spot last year.
The advantage for that for us is its proximity to where we were last year as we now have a following and want to be in or near where people remember us being in the past along with the visibility this spot will give us as everybody coming in from the back parking lot where the skate park is will reach us first.
We could have taken location #1 up front by the Pioneer Museum which would have been good but it would not have been where folks expect to see us and I just feel better being at the other end.
Besides, now I won't have to be next to Manny and his wife giving me crap about keeping my dog's water bowl full as they like to harassingly do to me each show we do.

After taking care of that and dumping what we brought with us the first trip, to wit, the infrastructure of our booth such as tables, cloths, tarps, clamps, displays and some flats of material we headed over to Great American Antiques at 13th & Spring Streets in Paso Robles in order to raid the booth of David Richter's Rocks & Relics for stuff to sell this weekend which we did purchasing a large polished piece of Indonesian petrified hardwood for $65 which we will sell for $85.
I also purchased a polished up crystal of rutilated quartz for $14 from Richter along with three mineral specimens (Illinois fluorite, kyanite, Tampa Bay Brain Coral) from another vendor there to sell at the shows this weekend and next weekend in Monterey.

After that we headed on home to have some lunch and ready another load for the show which we did. We also dropped by the bank for cash for the show and shipped an eBay order.

Following that we headed back up to Paso Robles for our final run of the day.
After loading up for this run I realized we would need to drop by my storage unit for one more load on the way up tomorrow morning which will consist mostly of lapidary rough from San Simeon Creek (jasper/quartz and jasper/agate and just plain jasper) and Bullard's State Beach at the Coquille River in Oregon (petrified myrtle wood).
I'll also need to track down some glass cleaner and paper towels for Mike's display case.

I have sold so many of my gemstones on eBay this Summer that I won't have to fool with taking them out and displaying each and every one of them in the glass display and end up selling few if any to my discouragement as happened for too long over the past nearly year and a half.

I have had so little luck with gemstones that I'm getting out of the gemstone business altogether.
Contrariwise, I have had so much luck with lapidary rough despite having so little of it that I am going to focus more on that in the future as well as on my other successful venture: selling rare and obscure minerals on eBay.
I hope to pick up some such material from Dale Harwood and Tom DeMaris at this show.

Speaking of which, we purchased a few things from Dale today even before he had finished his set-up, to wit, two Almandine Garnet clusters and one awesome little Illinois Fluorite cube.
Tom remembered to purchase and bring to this show a couple of t-shirts commemorating the wildfires this Summer in Trinity County that he picked up for us after we asked him to do so at the Nipomo Show last month. Tom has an amazing ability to remember such things despite all the things he has to think about in his life.
He did something similar earlier this year when he offered me an amazing Canyon Diablo Meteorite for a mere $150 at the Bakersfield Rock & Gem Rendezvous last April.
The show was so horrible for me I could not afford to pay him so he kept it for me until the Nipomo Show last month in which he remembered to bring it for me.

On our second trip to Paso Robles today we dropped everything off and got our tables arranged the way we wanted and put things generally where they will go without actually setting anything out for security reasons, something that will be more of an issue this year as we are outside next to the street instead of in an interior spot surrounded by folks in travel trailers with yip-yip dogs that bark at every sound throughout the night.

After that we walked around and looked at what the other dealers/vendors had out and visited with those whom we consider friends like the aforementioned Tom DeMaris as well as Gary and Janice Robertson of Gary's Jewelry not to mention Ernie DeFever of the Salinas Valley Rock & Gem Club.
From Gary and Janice we learned that Andy D. will be at this show which means more wonderfully bizarre Andy stories will be created I'm sure.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Santa Lucia Rockhounds Meeting For September 2008

Tonight I actually managed to attend this month's Santa Lucia Rockhounds monthly meeting.

It was nice reconnecting with the other members there after having missed more meetings with year than I'd like.

I felt it doubly important to attend given that I will be in that club's show this coming weekend.

The show was focused a lot on the planning for the show as one would expect but we did get around to discussing what we members had done interesting over this soon-to-be-past Summer.

We also touched on the upcoming field trip (members only) that will occur early next month in a biconoid bed on a private ranch for which we have special permission to visit.

This will be a probationary visit as the last time this was set up some former members showed up a day early and trespassed and got the entire visit canceled the club never invited back until that rancher died of old age and his son now owns it.

Member Dave Murray confirmed that one specimen I found at the Klau Mine is probably metacinnabar which is cool and I was able to donate a couple of calcite specimens from the adjacent Buena Vista Mine to the club for purposes of the raffle.

We learned from member John McCabe that there used to be a Paso Robles Mineral Society that was mentioned in a little profile in an old mineralogical magazine from 1956 which club died in the 1970's.

All in all it was a great little club meeting and I hope others who read this who live in the North County of San Luis Obispo or Southern Monterey County join us.

We meet the third Monday of each month in Paso Robles at 7 P.M. at Centennial Park in the community room.


Friday, September 12, 2008

California Disasters Reaches 1,000th Member Mark!

This week California Disasters reached the 1,000 member mark for the first time.
We invite everybody to join us if they want to keep abreast of the latest California disaster coverage and discussion.

Tonight we are monitoring the tragic train collision in the Chatsworth area involving a Metrolink passenger train and a Union Pacific freight train.
For those of you familiar with the route of the Amtrak Coast Starlight this occured near the tunnels.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Orcutt Mineral Society Meeting For September 2008

Tonight I finally made it to a meeting of the Orcutt Mineral Society both as a prospective new member as well as representing the San Luis Obispo Gem & Mineral Club for whom I'm Veep.

Actually, the club meets in adjacent Santa Maria and in reality represents the entire Santa Maria Valley and Northern Santa Barbara County area.

They are the largest, oldest and most organized of the three clubs representing the Central Coast.

They meet as a club on the second Tuesday of each month (except June and December) at the Mussel Senior Center at 510 East Park in Santa Maria.

I have been talking about joining for a couple of years or so now but this month I finally actually remembered it in time to not miss it and actually had enough gas money to do it as the 100 mile round trip drive is not terribly cheap.

It was nice seeing some familiar faces I know like President Wayne Mills and President-elect Debbie Hood and of course Treasurer and Show Chair Wes Lingerfelt.

I felt very welcome and have decided to join the club and will be handing my membership form and dues to one of the aforementioned three people (whichever one I see first) later this month at the Paso Robles show.

One frustrating detail: they will be conducting an extremely awesome field trip onto one of the Dana Ranches for which they have special permission to hunt for Nipomo Agate (marcasitic, sagenitic, and bean field) the same weekend as the Paso Robles show so meaning I will miss out.
My newest obsession is Nipomo Agate so I feel sick about that detail but perhaps they will do that again next year but on a different weekend.


Monday, September 8, 2008

85th Anniversary of the Honda Point Disaster

On this evening eighty-five years ago, US Navy Destroyer Squadron 11 (DESRON-11) was conducting exercises off the coast of Central California.
The group of 14 ships was cruising in a single line formation in the fog utilizing dead reckoning and radio silence simulating wartime conditions.

Due to the dangerous nature of the coast of Santa Barbara County along with the fog and strange tidal currents along the coast that day the ships erroneously turned into the coastline believing they were turning into the Santa Barbara Channel.

One by one each ship steamed through the murky fog and into the maw of the rock outcroppings known as the "Devil's Jaw".

Of the 14 ships in DESRON-1, seven were lost (USS Delphy, USS S.P. Lee, USS Young, USS Woodbury, USS Nicholas, USS Fuller, USS Chauncy) with 23 sailors killed with three more ships making it into the area of the rocks but avoiding being sunk (USS Farragut, USS Percival, USS Sommers) and four ships stopping in time to avoid the rocks altogether (USS Kennedy, USS Paul Hamilton, USS Stoddert, USS Thompson).

Subsequent court martials of Commodor Edward H. Watson and each of the ship captains whose ships were lost were later overturned.

The US Navy hired a private contractor to conduct a salvage operation on the wrecks and then blow up whatever remained visible of them.

My friends, Ernie and Alice Porter of Atascadero later conducted another salvage operation on what remained of the ships during the period 1949-1951.
I had the privilege of viewing and handling and ultimately acquiring from them some of the last remaining items they had leftover from that salvage operation.

To this day this remains the worst peace-time disaster in US Navy history.

For additional information and the source of the info in this anniversary reminder check the following links:

Honda Point Memorial

Honda Point Disaster Wiki

Honda Point Disaster Image Archive

For additional reading I recommend these books:

"Jaws of Honda" by Mary Hoag Copyright 2001 ISBN 0-9707277-0-4

"Tragedy at Honda" by Charles A. Lockwood and Hans Christian Adamson Copyright 1997 ISBN 0-9655527-2-1


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

SLO Gem & Mineral Club September 2008 Meeting

Tonight I as Vice President of the SLO Gem & Mineral Club stood in for President Noah Doughty who is a teacher and had an educational commitment up in the Monterey Bay Area.

I did an adequate job although not as smoothly conducted as Noah does.

Whereas Noah runs a meeting like a legislative speaker of the house, I run a meeting like Roy Bean ran a court session.

We mostly discussed plans for the upcoming club show next month as well as touched on the pending opening of the club website for which I am overseeing the development.

I once again failed to come up with a program for this meeting as finding good people to do a program are hard to find something that I hope will end now that Summer is almost over and folks are back from rockhounding trips.

Nonetheless, I suspect I will be stripped of that duty next year regardless if I get renominated as club Veep or not.

We enjoyed each other's company and got caught up with each other did our usual show and tell, but I neglected to do the Find of the Month segment Noah has started and specifically entrusted me to conduct in his absence.

We also neglected to discuss a field trip for this month, something both myself and our Club Field Trip Coordinator both neglected to think of during the meeting.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool X

Hurricane Gustav

Mercifully, Hurricane Gustav didn't live up to its potential as it got hit with some dry air and some sheering along with the west coast of Cuba being more disruptive to it than originally projected.
It ultimately made landfall near Grand Isle, LA, as a Category Three storm with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph.
Earlier in its life it was a Category Four storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it approached Cuba.
Despite not being the monster originally feared, having never fully regained its strength after passing over Cuba, Gustav may still be in the top ten of most costly storms in U.S. history.
It remains a tropical storm at this late hour and it remains to be seen what the storm will ultimately inflict upon our nation as its story is still being written as its rotation lashes Louisiana and parts of Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
However, it already has a deadly pedigree having killed 97 people in the Caribbean Basin which includes the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Given that fact, it is all but certain the name "Gustav" will be retired from use again.

R.I.P. Tanker 09

Tanker 09, a P2V based in Montana, crashed late Monday near Stead Airport outside Reno, NV.
All three crewmembers aboard were killed.
Witnesses report it coming down on fire and exploding upon impact creating a small mushroom cloud.
The aircraft had been fighting the Burnside Wildland Fire in Eastern California.


The lovely Leftist Liberal news media today seemed all too eager and earnest to report this shocking "news". I'm sure it hurt them to have to do it.
Larry King devoted his hour-long show to it this evening as if it mattered at all.
This follows right on the heels of the wild internet rumour making its rounds throughout the internet in recent days regarding Alaska Governor Sarah Palin allegedly not being the biological mother of her youngest child but its grandmother instead with its biological mother being Sarah's 17-year-old daughter now 5 months pregnant . Conspiracy theorists can't have it both ways!

Motorcycle vs. Deer

Saturday night I was driving in my neighborhood after dark heading into town when I passed a male pedestrian holding a motorcycle helmet. Something about his gait caught my attention but I wasn't sure what.
When I got to the next intersection I encountered a motorcycle wedged up under a guard rail at the intersection with a long set of abrasion marks crossing the intersection leading to the bike.
I drove on past that scene and pulled into Atascadero Fire Department Station #2 and drove up to a firefighter talking on his cell phone and told him all I observed and then left and drove on up town to get yogurt.
I then turned on my scanner and listend as I drove to find out what became of that situation.
By the time I arrived at Adobe Plaza to get said yogurt Atascadero City was dispatching police and fire to an "unknown injury motorcycle 't-c'" and one of Atascadero's finest was screaming Code Three down US101 en route.
I felt almost embarrassed to have triggered such a rucus but I knew I had done the right thing.
I soon discovered over the scanner that they had run the motorcycle's plates and found the house on my street its registered owner lived at and went and talked to him and determined he was not drunk, but had encountered a deer, instead, and was uninjured and awaiting help to get his bike unwedged.
After that the police were then sent on to a loud party they had been on their way to prior to my phone call. However, before they could get to that incident they received another call of a person backing into a large light pole at In-&-Out Burger which caused said pole to fall partly over.
Ah, just your typical Labor Day Weekend nighttime hijinx.

A Difficult Chore

This morning I got a call from mom that there was an injured squirrel in her yard so I went over to help and found it in really bad shape but not apparently injured but sick.

It could not stand and mostly just lay in the grass without responding but at regular intervals tried to stand up and walk but ended up merely dragging itself several inches and then collapsing again amidst loud gaspy and labored breaths.
It being a holiday weekend I knew getting help from the Pacific Wildlife Care Center would prolly not happen given our experience trying to get help through them the last time a wild animal issue came up during a holiday weekend.
Don't get me wrong: Pacific Wildlife Care Center is wonderful but they are an all-volunteer operation and most folks aren't available on weekends.
Besides, this animal was clearly dying and needed help with dying, not being kept alive.
I found it just about impossible to kill it with a shovel but ultimately I did that knowing it was unkind to leave the critter alive and suffering.
It helped that Mom was there to encourage me on.
Even before I killed the teenage gray tree squirrel, I contemplated the meaning of my being in this situation and "got it" nearly immediately.
God in essence killed His Son Jesus Christ for our sins
If I found it nearly impossible to put this cute little defenseless creature out of its misery when it was terminally ill or fatally injured how might it feel for God to essentially kill His Son for our sins so as to reconcile us to Him?
Modern life is designed in part to get us to lose focus and forget the important things we already know but sometimes forget on a day to day basis.
This object lesson helped me refocus.