We All Get Stressed

My dentist doesn’t want to treat me any more. The anxiety and difficulty I have with procedures is causing him stress. The dental office manager says a patient’s stress produces stress on a dentist, making it more difficult to care for the patient. Perhaps, says, the manager, another dentist will do?

Stress? Really? Or maybe the real reason is that the practice overbooks, not giving the dentist enough time to deal with an occasional phobic patient. Or perhaps the dentist didn’t have any patience to begin with. Here’s an idea: the dentist should get professional, get back to work, or get out of his damned trade.

Stress. We all deal with it. A mom raising kids by herself is stressed around the clock. She can’t neglect her children or pass them on to someone else because she is stressed. An EMT or a tow truck driver sees horrible things at an accident. They have jobs to do, however, and they all get on with their work. We all have to deal.

I had a  badly needed job that was so stressful it gave me anxiety diarrhea before every shift. For three years I took a double dose of Imodium before going to work. That prevented having any “accidents” on the job. When I  could finally quit that job, I did. But during that time I managed. I had to. We are all stressed at different times.

I didn’t handle that office call well. I blew up. I ended up yelling at the office manager. Stress? My Dad and his colleagues handled stress trying to save people’s lives. They were even more stressed, perhaps, when they had to tell a family that their loved one had died. That’s stress. But professionals carry on.

My Dad referred many patients to specialists or others when treatment required care or knowledge beyond his ability. Although I was not in his office throughout his career, it is inconceivable to me that he passed off a patient to another doctor because he was stressed. You finish what you start. That may be the first rule for engineers, but it applies to medical practitioners as well.

I am now in the difficult position of finding another practice to take on my case, my dental implant procedure now incomplete. I’m not sure another dentist can do that. They may become liable for a problem they didn’t create. My former dentists are in San Francisco, so I’d have to fly from Las Vegas to get treatment there. I am considering this. Stress. Again, get professional and get on with it. Like the rest of us.

Instagram: tgfarley

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Darkest Performance by Johnny Cash

With his voice giving out, Johnny Cash gave a rousing, sometimes joyous rendition of Cocaine Blues in his famous 1968 Folsom Prison concert. Best known from that concert was Folsom Prison Blues, with Cash delivering its signature line, “I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.”

Much darker than that song is Cocaine Blues, originally written by T. J. “Red” Arnall, and reworked by Cash to fit his convict audience. I was not aware of this performance until recently, probably because it never received air play.

Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, and Soundgarden have all performed songs about killing women; perhaps it shouldn’t shock me that Johnny Cash did, too. Those other songs, though, are tinged with regret and melancholy. The only regret Cash’s character expresses is at getting caught.

I’m not aware that any film of this performance exists.

Posted in Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized, Writing by others | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Minerals Unlimited in Ridgecrest, California

What do the best bars and rock shops have in common? They all have a gravel parking lot. Whenever you hear gravel underneath your wheels in the desert, you know you’re going to have a great time. Don’t fear for your vehicle though, as you only have to go fifty feet off pavement. And that distance will take you very, very far into a wonderful rock, mineral, and jewelry world.

 

Wendi “Ace” Elkins, singlehandedly owns and runs Minerals Unlimited in Ridgecrest, California. It sits next to a Salvation Army thrift shop and is one the finest rock and mineral stores in the Southwest. Its been operating for seventy years, always family owned. Minerals are neatly arranged in alphabetical order in dozens and dozens of wooden drawers, all of them inviting you to tour our rocky planet without leaving Ridgecrest.


A tremendous rock yard exists outside, with rough of all kinds and descriptions.

Working under the moniker of “Jewelry by “Ace,” Wendi fashions jewelry as a creative outlet for herself and to show off the many rocks and minerals her store offers. This description and picture is from her website:


“This lovely slab of native silver in calcite was mined from the Alhambra Mine, in Grant County, New Mexico. I used sterling silver wire to compliment the design. I had to let this one “talk” to me for several months, to make a complimentary wrap, but I think it was worth the wait.”

Wendi and I commiserated over static photographs being unable to convey the sparkle of jewelry and of rocks in general. You have to see in your hands the play of light from her designs  to see how special they are. Another reason to go in person.

You never know what you’re going to find at this store. I pulled out a drawer at random and it produced a stunning display of violet fluorite with cleaved octahedron shapes.

Stop in Ridgecrest whenever you’re in Southern California or traveling to nearby Death Valley. You may want one thing but you’ll carry out many more. She sells online, too, so check her website or give her a call. Make sure to phone before visiting in case she is out of town at a distant rock show.

And if you want to buy an entire rock shop, not just a rock, talk to Wendi. Running the store has become tiring and Wendi is considering serious offers on her business. She has worked at Minerals Unlimited since she was eight, on the payroll from 16, the owner since 2003. During this decision making time, however, the store remains fully open and operating and there is no thought of closing. There is a tremendous inventory here,  built up over decades with a great deal of material no longer available and unique to this shop. If you buy the store, you’ll have a head start on running it because everything is labeled!

Ridgecrest is centrally located to the historic mining districts around Randsburg to the south and Ballarat to the east. Nearby Sequoia National Forest to the west offers great rockhounding, especially along Highway 178, and the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range is revealed by heading north on U.S. Route 395. Starting at Ridgecrest itself, guided tours organized by the Maturango Museum go out in spring and fall to visit Little Petroglyph Canyon. There, rock art images by the thousands were etched into canyon walls and boulders by native people long ago. Plan well ahead for this bucket list tour.

Ridgecrest is a relatively small, quiet town, supported economically in large part by the Naval Air Station called China Lake. Its role is ongoing and vital, its decommissioning practically unthinkable, lending stability to this tranquil desert community. If you are near base at twilight, you may hear the lilting sound of “Retreat” over loudspeakers. This marks the lowering of the flag for the day. Cars on base stop and park for this short interlude. People get out of their cars and face the flag or the direction of the music.

A unique shop. A unique town.

Minerals Unlimited
127 N Downs Street
Ridgecrest, CA 93555
760-375-5279

wendi@mineralsunlimited.com

Posted in rocks and lapidary, southwestrockhounding.com, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wallpaper Magazine: The Trailblazing Women of Bauhaus

While I know something of Art Nouvevau, The Arts and Crafts Movement, and Art Deco, Bauhaus has always eluded me. It’s out there somewhere, intriguing but phantom like, not really defined, not really settling into my consciousness. Just what is Bauhaus?

Metmuseum.org puts it this way:

“The Bauhaus was founded in 1919 in the city of Weimar by German architect Walter Gropius (1883–1969). Its core objective was a radical concept: to reimagine the material world to reflect the unity of all the arts. Gropius explained this vision for a union of art and design in the Proclamation of the Bauhaus (1919), which described a utopian craft guild combining architecture, sculpture, and painting into a single creative expression. Gropius developed a craft-based curriculum that would turn out artisans and designers capable of creating useful and beautiful objects appropriate to this new system of living.”

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/bauh/hd_bauh.htm

Although not illuminating the German art school of that name nor the movement itself, Wallpaper Magazine says that a new book by Taschen introduces the women of Bauhaus, without, unfortunately, documenting their works. Perhaps this book will lead to another title that does that.

https://www.wallpaper.com/art/bauhaus-pioneering-women-artists-taschen-book

Taschen subtitles Bauhaus Girls as Pioneers of Modernity: A tribute to Bauhaus’s women artists:

“Meet trailblazers like Marianne Brandt, Gertrud Arndt, and Lucia Moholy in Bauhausmädels—or “Bauhaus girls”, a term that expressed admiration for the young women who bravely eluded traditional gender roles to build a different future. With never-before-seen portraits and biographies, this is a unique celebration of the Bauhaus centennial and a long-overdue tribute to the school’s women artists.”

Patrick Rössler

Clothbound, 6.7 x 9.4 in., 480 pages US $40

Click here for the link to Taschen

Wallpaper says the book is often too much portraiture, too many pictures of the women themselves, without information on what they did. The book is in English, French, and German, although the preview pages I saw at Taschen seemed mostly German.

Taschen describes Bauhaus this way:

“Uncompromisingly influential, Staatliches Bauhaus, or known simply as the Bauhaus, was an art and design school in Germany that developed the seeds of modernism and what would become known as ‘international style.’ Bauhaus synthesized traditional crafts and the fine arts, and received recognition for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. Indeed, the movement’s pedagogical philosophy is perhaps one if its most enduring characteristics. The quest for a total work of art, or Gesamtkunstwerk, drove the principles and practices of Bauhaus.”

“Taking place from 1919 to 1933, between the two world wars, Bauhaus developed a pioneering fusion of fine art, craftsmanship, and technology to be applied across painting, sculpture, design, architecture, film, photography, textiles, ceramics, theatre, and installation. Between its three successive locations in Weimar, Dessau, and Berlin, each featuring specially designed Bauhaus buildings, the movement grew out of the German national designers’ organization, Deutscher Werkbund, and the more general movement of German architectural modernism known as Neues Bauen. Ultimately, Bauhaus embodied the apolitical new objectivity in vogue, a rejection of the emotional expressionism which had preceded in German culture.”

https://www.taschen.com/pages/en/search/bauhaus

Investigating this topic may lead to learning more about the Weimar Republic, the German State from 1918 to 1933, destitute but hopeful until the rise of Hitler. There is so much to know.

Posted in art, books, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Destination Rock and Mineral Shop Opens in Arizona!

Rolf and Mary Luetcke are back in business, after a five year hiatus. The store was open as a rock, gift, jewelry and art store for over 23 years in southeast Arizona. Located only three miles from Benson, Arizona on Highway 80 on the way to Tombstone.

Being in the mineral business for almost fifty years, stock on hand is in a few thousand flats of minerals and piles of outside material for collectors and cutters alike. The store also houses a number of museum displays of natural history items, which are not for sale and a small black light room with colorful minerals under UV lights.

If you plan a trip to Southeastern Arizona, stop in and say Hello.

Sunshine Gallery and Gifts
1313 North Highway 80
St. David, Arizona 85630

+1 (520) 586-4560

marieluetcke@hughes.net

 

 

Dear Thomas,

We had a shop for 23 years before we retired for a while and reopened only last year. Over the years we accumulated a few thousand flats of material and so far have priced and labeled over two thousand flats and more still in several sheds to do. After 50 years of collecting have a ton of material to sell as we go. How did this all get started?

Well, I have been a collector as far back as I remember. As a kid in Germany I picked up fossil crinoids in my grandmothers’ back yard area where they had brought in a load of crushed rock.

As a child I collected butterflies, lizards, snakes and about anything critter. I did photography for years and worked at a zoo and ran a nature class. I got into rocks because a fellow I knew in about 1972 in Bisbee was going to a small rock shop in Mexico. The fellow who ran the rock shop was an old gentleman who reminded me of my grandfather. He sold mineral specimens and I had no idea what they were. In his yard he had piles of minerals, mostly discards he tossed out when he got a new batch of minerals. My friend happened to see this one pile and since I ran the nature class and was looking for things to give the kids, he thought I could get those piles for next to nothing.

I asked the old gentleman what he wanted for the one pile and he said $40. I got a bunch of boxes and loaded my station wagon. Turned out to be a thousand pounds of minerals. Tons of different kinds of things, copper, black tourmaline and a large number of other minerals. I ended up buying three piles, each about a thousand pounds and each pile a few bucks more. All three about $150. I didn’t know what they were and luckily I had met the geologist for the Bisbee mines. He helped me with identifications and suggestions of books and such.

That got me going and I ran with it. Started buying a reference collection at various sales and at the Tucson show. Ended up pretty much learning all I now know just by doing. Got pretty good at it and then about ten years later, started the rock shop we had. Just kept soaking up knowledge like a sponge and I guess after about 50 years, know a thing or two about minerals.

I have also written over 50 articles on my Mindat.org page so did a good bit of writing too. Also wrote sci-fi stories and much more. Now I do articles for an online Australian mineral magazine.

My interest in all of nature has not changed but my main focus is on minerals now.

As for the shop, you can list address and phone number if you like. Number is 520 586-4560. We are open most of the time since we live on 5 acres and one building is the store and one our mobile home. So, hours are open most of the time unless the gate is locked.

Today was a busy day in the store so had to stop often to go and wait on customers.

We are not at the store all day but live right by it so when the buzzer says someone drove in I go over. Generally open from 9 to 5 in winter and 9 to 6 in summer. I am a person who likes doing something most of the time so keep busy with all kinds of things. Don’t know what the word bored means.

Well, that is a bit about us here.

Hope it gives a bit of info.

I did write up the one story I told you about getting started with minerals on the Mindat.org article Mexican Rock Shop. That was one great way to start with minerals.

Take care,

Rolf

 

This morning my project was to put the Rock Shop sign on the front of our place. Had picked out a bunch of the smaller slabs we had in boxes to use for the letters and made the words in the house and then took each letter out on a beer flat and then used hot glue to mount the letters on the wall. So, that was our morning project.

Posted in rocks and lapidary, southwestrockhounding.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Revising, Style and Time

Tighter writing is better writing by making reading and comprehending easier. That writing, though, takes time and alters the style of a piece. In revising other people’s writing, crisp writing costs.

Before:

There are various underlying causes as to why our state’s elder care facilities function poorly. For-profit residences are especially noted for their rigid business competition, which may lead some to take shortcuts in their service. These may involve disregarding industry guidelines, cost-cutting on equipment, hiring untrained staff, and reducing staff levels altogether. A 2018 study actually found that 280 facilities in Illinois have low staff levels.

After:

Our state’s elder care facilities function poorly for many reasons. For-profit residences face rigid business competition, leading some to shortcut service. Residences may disregard industry guidelines, spend little on equipment, hire untrained staff, and reduce staff. A 2018 study found 280 Illinois facilities have low staffing.

The second paragraph is better but it could be improved with more time. As Montaigne or someone like him once said, “If I had more time I would write you a shorter letter.” Exactly.

This revision took five minutes to seven minutes to complete. A twenty paragraph work might require an hour or more. Given deadline pressure, revising the entire document might not be possible. To save time, excellent revisions could be applied to only a few paragraphs. That, however, would introduce two different writing styles into the piece, wordy and non-wordy.

A compromise must be reached. To get this revising assignment out the door, minor changes are made throughout the writing, not the best possible choices, but better than the original. My challenge with my own writing, particularly with my book, is to stop chasing perfection by endlessly editing. Deadlines can’t be met that way. I must instead adopt a workman-like style and let that be good enough. That makes perfect sense. And it bothers me.

Update: Thinking it over, for many writers it is challenging enough to produce content, never mind writing it with style or brevity. Just producing a story or a 750 word article may be all that a deadline allows, leaving finishing to editors. At some point, though, we must all improve. We must all work at getting better at what we do, be that writing, revising, editing, or all three. We can’t be the writers we were years ago. Something must have been learned and applied in that time.

Posted in non-fiction writing, southwestrockhounding.com, Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized, Writing by others, Writing tips | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Unknown Orwell

Although Orwell is best known for 1984 and Animal Farm, his greatest writing may have been his first novel, Down and Out in Paris and London. (external link) It is rarely reviewed or mentioned yet it is powerful, hammering work. Rarely do I go more than a few days without thinking about Orwell. He presents vivid and alarming writing impossible to match. I am a professional writer but nothing I have written or will write will ever come close to Orwell’s first effort. Just a few hundred words from that book:

This put an end to my plans of looking for work. I had now got to live at the rate of about six francs a day, and from the start it was too difficult to leave much thought for anything else. It was now that my experiences of poverty began — for six francs a day, if not actual poverty, is on the fringe of it. Six francs is a shilling, and you can live on a shilling a day in Paris if you know how. But it is a complicated business.

It is altogether curious, your first contact with poverty. You have thought so much about poverty — it is the thing you have feared all your life, the thing you knew would happen to you sooner or later; and it, is all so utterly and prosaically different. You thought it would be quite simple; it is extraordinarily complicated. You thought it would be terrible; it is merely squalid and boring. It is the peculiar lowness of poverty that you discover first; the shifts that it puts you to, the complicated meanness, the crust-wiping.

You discover, for instance, the secrecy attaching to poverty. At a sudden stroke you have been reduced to an income of six francs a day. But of course you dare not admit it — you have got to pretend that you are living quite as usual. From the start it tangles you in a net of lies, and even with the lies you can hardly manage it. You stop sending clothes to the laundry, and the laundress catches you in the street and asks you why; you mumble something, and she, thinking you are sending the clothes elsewhere, is your enemy for life. The tobacconist keeps asking why you have cut down your smoking. There are letters you want to answer, and cannot, because stamps are too expensive.

And then there are your meals — meals are the worst difficulty of all. Every day at meal-times you go out, ostensibly to a restaurant, and loaf an hour in the Luxembourg Gardens, watching the pigeons. Afterwards you smuggle your food home in your pockets. Your food is bread and margarine, or bread and wine, and even the nature of the food is governed by lies. You have to buy rye bread instead of household bread, because the rye loaves, though dearer, are round and can be smuggled in your pockets. This wastes you a franc a day. Sometimes, to keep up appearances, you have to spend sixty centimes on a drink, and go correspondingly short of food. Your linen gets filthy, and you run out of soap and razor-blades. Your hair wants cutting, and you try to cut it yourself, with such fearful results that you have to go to the barber after all, and spend the equivalent of a day’s food. All day you are telling lies, and expensive lies.

You discover the extreme precariousness of your six francs a day. Mean disasters happen and rob you of food. You have spent your last eighty centimes on half a litre of milk, and are boiling it over the spirit lamp. While it boils a bug runs down your forearm; you give the bug a flick with your nail, and it falls, plop! straight into the milk. There is nothing for it but to throw the milk away and go foodless.

You go to the baker’s to buy a pound of bread, and you wait while the girl cuts a pound for another customer. She is clumsy, and cuts more than a pound. ‘Pardon, monsieur,’ she says, ‘I suppose you don’t mind paying two sous extra?’ Bread is a franc a pound, and you have exactly a franc. When you think that you too might be asked to pay two sous extra, and would have to confess that you could not, you bolt in panic. It is hours before you dare venture into a baker’s shop again.

You go to the greengrocer’s to spend a franc on a kilogram of potatoes. But one of the pieces that make up the franc is a Belgian piece, and the shopman refuses it. You slink out of the shop, and can never go there again. You have strayed into a respectable quarter, and you see a prosperous friend coming. To avoid him you dodge into the nearest cafe. Once in the cafe you must buy something, so you spend your last fifty centimes on a glass of black coffee with a dead fly in it. Onc could multiply these disasters by the hundred. They are part of the process of being hard up.

You discover what it is like to be hungry. With bread and margarine in your belly, you go out and look into the shop windows. Everywhere there is food insulting you in huge, wasteful piles; whole dead pigs, baskets of hot loaves, great yellow blocks of butter, strings of sausages, mountains of potatoes, vast Gruyere cheeses like grindstones. A snivelling self-pity comes over you at the sight of so much food. You plan to grab a loaf and run, swallowing it before they catch you; and you refrain, from pure funk.

You discover the boredom which is inseparable from poverty; the times when you have nothing to do and, being underfed, can interest yourself in nothing. For half a day at a time you lie on your bed, feeling like the jeune squelette in Baudelaire’s poem. Only food could rouse you. You discover that a man who has gone even a week on bread and margarine is not a man any longer, only a belly with a few accessory organs.

Posted in books, non-fiction writing, Thoughts on writing, Uncategorized, Writing by others | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment