The GemHunter

Professor Hausel's Guide to Finding Gemstones, Diamonds, GoldRocks & Minerals 

Rocks Are For Breaking

I break rocks! I don't fix them. My wife won't let me touch extension cords anymore. She handed me a pair of electric clippers and told me to  trim the bushes. Four extension cords later (in about 15 minutes) I had yet to finish a single bush, but I finished all of the extension cords. 


Thank God for duct tape. I can fix most things with duct tape, but give me a tool and you will soon wish you had done the job yourself. It must be why some of us are geologists and others engineers.


You should hear those cords when you cut them. Boy do they make a "pop". Next, she sent me out to trim a cactus. Luckily, no one called the cops when I stepped out front with my katana (samurai sword) and traditional samurai hakama, but you could hear the neighbors gossip for months. In one slice, the cactus was lying on the ground begging for mercy.


When I was a small boy, I remember my teacher asked "what do you want to do when you grow up?" 

"Break rocks", I answered.


I sensed she misinterpreted what I wanted to do. Deep down inside she visualized me wearing stripes with a ball and chain attached to one foot while breaking rocks with a sledge, especially after I buried her 45 RPM records in the sand pile. But what the heck - any teacher should be able to take a joke.


I signed up for karate classes as a teen. I was playing in an rock n' roll band and few people in the early 60s respected long hair, so our entire band took up karate for self-preservation. When I graduated from high school, I went to a local university and then got a job first as an astronomy lecturer at the Hansen Planetarium. While in grad school, the Apollo astronauts brought back rocks for me to conduct mineralogical and geochemical research. Boy, were these boring rocks!


On some geology field conferences, geologists stand around with cans of beer under shade trees and compare rock hammers like one would compare guns or body parts. "Mine's bigger than yours!"  In the geology profession, social status revolves around rock hammers and hand lenses. 


On one trip to the outback of Australia, members of an international diamond conference were impressed by how most termite mounds were so solid and silicified such that even the biggest rock hammers were turned away by a loud "clang" as the sledge bounced off the mound. Those little suckers are engineers! We had some Japanese geologists who were also black belts who attended the Aussie conference, so a challenge was issued. Who could take the top off these termite mounds with a shuto. A shuto, is the classic karate chop.


Now this was fun. Being a lifelong martial artist, I got a "kick" out of this. The termite engineers provided mounds for the contest. We were up to the challenge: we broke off more mound tops with our karate chops than other geologists could break with their mighty hammers. So we proved the adage, 'the hand' is mightier than the hammer.  


While I was working for the Wyoming Geological Survey, I build up enough vacation time to run off to search other places around the world for diamonds and gold. In 1988 and 1989, WestGold hired me to do gold work and geological mapping in Alaska. And while working in Alaska, I found it challenging to practice karate in the evenings amount ten billion mosquitos.

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