Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fluorite in the Treasure Room

Hello from Grandpa's Attic!

Our school is already out for Thanksgiving break, so I got up extra early today and rode the elevator down to the kitchen to grab a frozen waffle, then I hopped back in and rode up to the fourth floor where Grandpa has his fabulous collection. My little brother, Mica, is still asleep and the last thing I want to do is wake him up so he can ruin my absolutely perfect morning. He annoys me to death all the time. OMG, he's soooo immature!

I love it up here in Grandpa's Attic, aka the Treasure Room! It's a room on top of our underground house that is carved up into the mountain. A few years ago Grandpa had to paint the natural stone ceiling to keep the moisture out of here. So, I asked for a night sky mural. And Mica, with the only good idea he's ever had, thought we should paint the stars with glow-in-the-dark paint. It's pretty cool, although I won't be in here in the dark, alone. If Grandpa, or Mom and Dad aren't up here, I'm not turning off a perfectly good light! There are just a few too many creepy stones and artifacts in here mixed in with the rocks, minerals, and fossils.

Some of them I have yet to figure out. I teach geology classes at the local university so I know a thing or two about rocks and minerals. But Grandpa has some freaky stuff up here, I mean, things that probably shouldn't even exist. Whenever I ask him about them, he just says they were acquired during his youth. Okay, fine, but do you think maybe he could tell me where he acquired them?? For some reason, he never has much to say when I try to find out about the odd pieces of the collection. It's like he knows — but he's not talking. But then, grown-ups are weird.

I brought a tray of fluorite crystals over here to the desk so I could look for one to have made into a necklace. I really need a new necklace. Fluorite is the crystalline form of calcium fluoride. Interestingly, it is also the Illinois state mineral. Its name comes from the Latin fluere which means "to flow." Now, I know what you're thinking - crystals don't flow. But fluorite melts easily, hence the name. The mineral comes in many colors depending on which other elements are formed with it. My favorite fluorite color is purple, I guess, because it looks so much like another one of my favorites, amethyst (which is actually a variety of quartz).

Here is a link to more info on fluorite: http://geology.com/minerals/fluorite.shtml

Oh, snap! I hear the wooden staircase creaking ever so slightly. I already know it's Mica for three reasons:
1) the creaking is slight, so the person is light
2) the person on the staircase is trying to be sneaky like a brat, and is tip-toeing
3) Mica prefers the spiral stairs to the elevator

Anyway, it was fun while it lasted. I'm logging off of here and heading down into the cavern - on the elevator!


Friday, November 20, 2009

Maddy's Conducting a Cavern Tour

I'm giving a tour of our backyard cavern this coming weekend, and I was just making some notes on the talk I'll be giving during the tour. Here is a link to one of the resources I've found for great cave information: http://www.nps.gov/archive/wica/Speleothems.htm

I have several major topics on my cave tour. The most important one is cave safety, but the most fun one is speleothems. Speleothems are the different types of formations found in caves. I try to include information on the science behind how speleothems are formed. Also, I remind everyone on the tour not to touch the formations because the oils in our skin create a barrier on the formations and prevent them from growing.

We have lots of awesome speleothems down in our family's backyard cavern. My very favorite one of all is called "cave popcorn." Check out the link below for a great picture of cave popcorn. http://www.nps.gov/wica/naturescience/speleothems-cave-popcorn.htm


Sunday, November 15, 2009

We had a blast!

Halloween was a blast!

Grandpa Rocky had a haunted party planned down at the abandoned rock quarry he used to operate on the edge of town. And crazier yet, my mom and dad were able to keep it a secret from me and my brother. They had decorated the place with moving, colored spotlights that were shining onto the quarry 's rock walls and making the minerals sparkle like glitter. I could see the light beams shooting into the sky and reflecting off of the clouds while I was in town and I thought aliens had landed.

No one in Cavern City knew anything about the party until just before dark when signs started turning up all over town on store fronts and lamp posts telling of the party. There was a map and everything! By the time Mica and I got down there, the place was really rocking. There was a lot of food and pop, a big screen tv with video games to play, good music, and a dance floor where my pet gopher, Digby, was actually trying to dance. He's a crazy little fur ball!!

I guess my parents are pretty okay for old people. They're in their thirties, you know.

And the best part of it all? Jacin was nowhere to be seen. I guess having to read the map and follow instructions was too much of a challenge for him. Part of me wants to feel sorry for him, but then I remember how mean he is and the feeling quickly goes away.