Photograph © by Suzanne Morrison
It was 5 or 6 o’clock one day in March 2001 when I had to be at a portfolio presentation. It was my last day at Gibbs College, and like always, I was not particularly looking forward to showing my work for a critique. I set out on my thirty-minute drive there at the very last minute, thinking that if I was late, I wouldn’t have to get critiqued by so many outside Art Directors. There were only two art directors there that I remember—one I remember because he gave me his business card. The other was Geoffrey Notkin. It was a bit intimidating knowing that I was about to have my work critiqued, and I was sweating, just waiting to see what was to be said. When it came time for Geoff to assess my portfolio, as expected, he critiqued my work, but in doing so, managed to give me inspiration, and the motivation to get even better. It was his passion that I was most drawn to, as he is a Typographer, and typography is also a passion of mine. After that short critique, I immediately thought that I wanted to do more with Typography, seeing it from a brand new perspective. Seeing as I had only finished my studies with a Certificate in Visual Communications-Graphic Design/Animation, I sought out a great typography book for my continued self-study.
My graduation day was on an extremely hot day in June 2001. After graduating, I remained at the same job I had for a few months. There was a wave of lay-offs, and I made up my mind to temp for a while, until something more permanent came along in my field of study.
Throughout this time, I e-mailed Geoff Notkin, particularly to ask his opinion on typography resources. He kindly e-mailed me back with the name of a good typography book. I managed to locate his website page, and promptly bookmarked it as there were tons of great articles of his to read. It was then that I learned of his other passion—meteorites! After reading a number of articles on his resource page, I was soon interested in meteorites myself, going as far as purchasing an issue of “Meteorite” magazine (February 2001 Volume7, No. 1) to read Geoff’s article on the “Legend of Glorieta Mountain.”
Several years passed, and I was no longer as active on the internet. I worked 7-day weeks, working in an office Monday through Friday, and at a Salon on weekends.
After years of following this harried schedule, I found myself back on the job hunt. More than once, I fleetingly thought of submitting my resume to STANGATE/Aerolite (Jersey City office) but was hesitant. I thought that it would be GREAT to work for Geoff. I was sure that it would be hard work, and as a perfectionist, I felt that if given the opportunity, I’d be sure to not disappoint. But knowing that Geoff is/was just as much of a perfectionist was very intimidating, to say the very least.
It wasn’t until some time in 2008 that I managed to get back online. I had purchased a new computer that made accessing the Internet far less cumbersome.
It was approximately September/November of 2009, while out of work due to medical issues, when I found Geoff Notkin on Facebook, and e-mailed him to ask if he remembered me. He assured me that he did, and we became Facebook friends. I was able to keep abreast of all of the things he’d been up to, and was pleased to see the level of success he had achieved.
I was ecstatic to hear that he was finishing up/had finished filming a TV series called “Meteorite Men,” as I knew he was a meteorite hunter, and generally, a meteorite enthusiast from all the reading I had done previously. I’m always pleased when people manage to make their dreams a reality.
Geoff Notkin is an awesome person to know, albeit from afar, as with his passion, he manages to light up peoples’ interests. It’s like igniting your own passion when one hears Geoff, or reads Geoff’s articles.
Through him I’ve met, or have connected with, a number of wonderful people online. These are Gary Fujuhara, John Humphries, Timothy Arbon, Twink Monrad, Steve Arnold, Leigh Anne DelRay, Tavi Anne Greiner, Suzanne Morrison, Anne M. Black, Lisa Marie Morrison, Arlene Schlazer, Jim Clash, and Bernd Pauli (just to name a few)! Oh, and last but never least—Neil Gaiman. He is incredibly gracious and attentive to his fans. And as much as I like reading about science, that’s how much I like reading fantasy. It is clear that Geoff has surrounded himself with many passionate and interesting people, and I am happy to have had the opportunity to have crossed paths with them all.
And now I leave you all with two of my favorite quotes of Geoff’s… Enjoy!
“If something is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”
“What could be more mysterious and exciting than looking for lost bits of the universe that have landed on Earth?”
©2010 Isabel Cristina Alvarez
1- Deisha: How many meteorites do you currently have in your collection?
There are hundreds of meteorites in my collection, but I have to qualify that. When my Meteorite Men co-host, Steve Arnold, and I made our first expedition to Chile back in 1997 we each found hundreds of pieces of the Imilac meteorite at one location, so based on that—and some of our other finds—it’s easy to say: “Oh, I have hundreds of pieces.” There are also certain meteorites that hold a particular interest for me and those would include Sikhote-Alin (Russia), Henbury (Australia), and Canyon Diablo (Arizona, USA). As I find these (and several other) meteorites to be particularly alluring, I have numerous examples of each. My collection also incorporates a diverse range of types and sizes. The smallest meteorite I ever found weighed in at a paltry 0.2 grams (Park Forest, Illinois) and the largest piece in our current inventory—an iron meteorite from South America—weighs over 200 pounds. I am particularly interested in meteorites that I have found myself, specimens from historic collections, and iron meteorites that have unusual or sculptural shapes. I’ve been finding, buying, selling, and trading meteorites for 16 years, so many, many pieces have come through the Aerolite Meteorites offices, and—now and then—I’ll decide to add one to my reference collection.
2- Me: How many Ammonites (in England you must have found quite a few, right?) do you currently have in your collection?
I am afraid the answer to that one is also hundreds. Some years ago, I became aware of some remarkable sites in England. One of them is a muddy stream, hidden in a forest in England’s West Country. The stream is fed by a mud spring that propels deeply-buried Jurassic-era sediments to the surface, and those sediments are rich in fossils, especially small ammonites that have been preserved in an amazing manner. The shells have a multi-colored, iridescent, metallic texture and are among the most beautiful fossils I’ve ever seen. All of the pieces I found were small—most of them not even the size of a quarter—but they are dazzling. I’ve kept the location a secret all these years, and have made four trips to the site. That reminds me, I really need to get back there one of these days! The largest ammonite I’ve ever found came from Lake Texoma in northern Texas. It weighs 70 lbs and I received some strange looks from the airport staff in Dallas-Fort Worth when I flew home with it. No way was I leaving that monster behind in Texas.
Chambers Fit For A Queen
Hunting For Fossils In The English Rain.
-Story by Geoffrey Notkin
Photo by Geoffrey Notkin ©Aerolite Meteorites LLC
3- Deisha: Where did you find your first meteorite?
My very first find was near the famous Meteor Crater site in northern Arizona. The crater lies on private land and, many years ago, collecting was allowed. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case, so any meteorites that may remain near the crater are slowly rusting away.
4- Me: Do you use the ‘Doodle Bug’ (Divining Rod) on all your hunts/searches? Does it help you a lot? Would you say that’s a valuable tool for your hunting expedition?
As a scientist who regularly uses cutting-edge technology to assist in the search for meteorites, I am naturally skeptical that Doodle Bugs or divining rods work. That being said, I’ve heard stories—from reputable sources—about old prospectors who used Doodle Bugs with great success. It doesn’t make sense to me that you could hold a little metal top over a printed map and have it “tell” you were to look for riches, but I know people who swear that it works.
I must also admit to an extraordinary event that I witnessed in Sweden, earlier this year. I was hunting for deeply-buried irons in the Muonionalusta strewnfield with my co-host, Steve Arnold, along with a very accomplished Swedish meteorite-hunting family. Thomas, our local expert, and I were working together in the woods with a giant metal detector. At one point we received a weak audio reading, indicating either a small target, or something larger at considerable depth. At first, Thomas didn’t think it was a meteorite, but then he said: “Let me try something.” He found a y-shaped branch (much like a big wishbone), held it lightly in his hands and walked over the target. As he moved, the twig bent so sharply in his hands that it almost touched the ground. It was incredible, and he repeated this surprising demonstration several times! Then Thomas got a big smile on his face and said: “Yes, now I am quite sure it’s a meteorite.” So we dug down four feet, and it was real meteorite—the largest we found on the entire expedition. I believe in empirical observation and experimentation, so I of course immediately tried the divining rod for myself. I held it just the way Thomas did, walked over the same spot, and not a damn thing happened. I can’t explain how or why Thomas was able to do this, but I witnessed it with my own eyes. I remain puzzled, skeptical, and somewhat amazed by the whole thing, but I will stick with my Fisher and Pulse Star metal detectors.
Photograph ©by Aerolite Meteorites
5- @Secoh2000 (Jeff): What’s the most exciting meteorite adventure you (both) have had? and…What’s your greatest find? I/we know Steve’s was the 1,430 lb. Brenham, Kansas Pallasite Main Mass, in October 2005…but what’s yours (I’ve seen quite a few great ones)?
Well, Steve and I have made some quite remarkable finds working together. In our Meteorite Men pilot, we found two monsters at the Brenham site: 230 pounds and 273 pounds, but it’s not always the biggest that delight me the most. A 35-lb pallasite that we found at Steve’s secret Alpha site is not much larger than a basketball, but it has an extraordinary shape, and natural indentations that are reminiscent of a face. A small meteorite from Glorieta Mountain in New Mexico that I found while filming Cash & Treasures for the Travel Channel with Becky Worley is another favorite, and it only weighs a couple of ounces. In the spring of 2009, my great friend Lisa Marie Morrison and I flew to Saskatchewan to hunt for stone meteorites from the then-recent Buzzard Coulee fall. The winter snows were melting, and—in two days—we found over a hundred meteorites, all with a rich black fusion crust. After paying the landower a share and gaining export permits from the Canadian Government we sold some of them, but I kept the ones with most interesting shapes for my collection. Steve and I also made a major find in the upcoming first episode of Meteorite Men Season Two, and you can see exactly what that find was on November 2 on Science Channel.
We’ve had so many grand adventures that it’s difficult to pick a favorite, though our wintertime visit to Canada’s snow-filled Whitecourt meteorite crater in Season One was one high point of my career, as was our trip to the Henbury crater field in Australia’s Northern Territories, which will be a Season Two episode. And in February of last year I hunted with a group of friends in and around the town of West, Texas, searching for fragments from the famous February fireball that was seen over Austin. I found 13 small meteorites, with rich, black fusion crust. And the most exciting part? They’d only been on our planet for a few days!
Photograph ©by Suzanne Morrison
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