|The President's Corner
Paleophiles & Mineral Enthusiasts
New IRS Filing Requirements
From the Editor
Earth Science Studies
ALAA April 2007 Report
All American Awards Program
Progress at Red Mountain
May and June are two full months of rockhound activities for Betty and I. Since Quartzsite in January we have already exhibited at 5 shows and have attended 2 others. We start out May with 5 days at the Snyder's Pow Wow then off to Reno, NV for the Reno G&MS Show. We leave for Roswell NM following the Reno Show and spend time sight seeing and collecting as we wind our way through Nevada, Utah Colorado and New Mexico. In Roswell the Chaparral Rockhounds will host the combined Rocky Mountain Federation/AFMS show and meetings. We have attended AFMS shows all around the country the last few years and look forward to seeing our rockhound friends from the other Federations again.
This gathering is a busy time for AFMS. It is about the only time each year that we meet face to face to conduct the business of the AFMS. We start on Wednesday with the annual business meeting with reports from each of the AFMS officers, from each of the Directors (the President and 1st Vice President of each of the 7 regional federations) and all of the committees. By my count over 50 reports. There are many committee meetings throughout the week, as well as, the ALAA annual meeting. This year is the 60th anniversary of the founding of AFMS and Shirley Leeson (AFMS President Elect and Historian) has arranged a event for the Cracker Barrel as we had last June for the CFMS 70th anniversary.
Since this is a combined show there are 2 separate Case Competitions - the Rocky Mountain Federation and the AFMS Competitions. I will enter my educational case on "Collecting in the Wiley Well Dist." in both. At the Banquet on Saturday evening we will recognize the efforts of the Case Competition, the accomplishments of the clubs and societies with the All American Club Awards, we will recognize accomplishment and service of the Scholarship Honorees and install the new officers for the coming year. At the Editors' breakfasts many awards will be presented for the endeavors of the club bulletin editors and the authors, both adults and juniors.
The Show closes on Sunday evening. We will take down our cases, pack up our truck and trailer and get ready for a quick 1000 mile, two and a half day trip to Lancaster. Not much time for sightseeing or collecting, but I do have planed stops at 2 rock shops with fine petrified wood near Holbrook, AZ.
And thing will be just as busy at Lancaster. The Palmdale G&MC is hosting our Federation Show and Convention at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds in Lancaster, CA. We hope to arrive by noon on Wednesday so we can rest up for a busy day of setup on Thursday. The Show opens on Friday with much to do and much to see. Friday evening is the Cracker Barrel and everyone is invited. This is an informal, social get together to see old friends and meet new ones. On Saturday we hold our Directors meeting. I hope all committee Chairs can attend and that many club Federation Directors are able to attend. Our meetings are open and every club and society member is welcome.
Like the AFMS, CFMS will have a banquet Saturday evening to recognize the efforts of the Case Competition, accomplishments of the clubs and societies with the All American Club Awards; and we will recognize accomplishment and service of the Scholarship Honorees. At the CFMS Editors' breakfasts we will present awards and recognize endeavors of the club bulletin editors and the authors, both adults and juniors.
I hope to see a big turn out and a great show in Lancaster.
Your help is needed! Newcomers to the Earth Science hobby want to learn more about all aspects of this hobby. Why not share and explain your special interest to others in a presentation? First you can show it to your Club and others that aren't far away. Then share it with a wider audience - by entering the AFMS Program Competition.
You can inspire and inform current and future generations of neophytes about your favorite fossil or mineral species, about a classic location, a special museum, a notable field trip, etc. There are so many stories to share.
You make the choice! First make an outline to organize your thoughts, then start taking pictures to illustrate your "story" with that new digital camera whether still or video (or a good 35mm camera.) If you've gone digital, you don't have use a "professional" software program - you can simply make a collection of images on a CD with a written script. (35 mm slides and a typed script are still acceptable.)
Just two warnings: first, if you use presentation software, don't be tempted to use transitions, animation, etc. An audience watching an otherwise boring business presentation might appreciate some of these gimmicks for variety, but engaged viewers find them distracting. Second, don't overload the audience with images or information. You don't need to show every image and tell "everything" you know.
The goal is to whet viewers' appetite, and inspire them to search for more information on their own. In other words, a relatively short presentation - 35 to 40 minutes is good.
There are a few more tips and suggestions that can lead to a prize winning presentation. They're listed on the AFMS website (www.amfed.org) as are deadline, entry form, etc. You can also contact Bill Gissler: 408-241-0477, email@example.com or Marge Collins: 269-695-4313, firstname.lastname@example.org (If you don't receive a prompt reply, phone - gremlins can mysteriously snag email!)
Sharing your passion for our hobby can lead to many rewards: a cash prize, recognition and best of all, the satisfaction of knowing you are inspiring others.
The Internal Revenue Service recently announced new annual electronic filing requirement for small tax-exempt organizations.
Beginning in 2008, small tax-exempt organizations (almost all our societies) that previously were not required to file returns may be required to file an annual electronic notice. Form 990-N Electronic Notice (e-postcard) for tax-exempt organizations not required to file Form 990 or 990-EZ. This filing requirement applies to tax periods beginning after December 31, 2006.
There are some exceptions but they do not apply to our societies.
The IRS will mail educational letters starting in July 2007 notifying small tax-exempt organizations that they may be required to file the e-postcard, with the IRS annually. The IRS is developing an electronic filing system (there will be no paper form) for the e-postcard. The IRS will publicize filing procedures when the system is completed and ready to use.
Please make sure Treasurer's and other officers are aware of this new requirement. The new requirement requires the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of any organization that fails to meet its annual filing requirement for three consecutive years.
The California Franchise Tax Board has not indicated they will adopt this new requirement.
Part of an obligation to our status as 501(c)(3) organizations is a mandate to educate. One way we do this is with our annual shows when we share our private collections and lapidary work with the public. I'm constantly impressed by stunning material you see exhibited at local shows. But I'm also often baffled when some of these same stunning exhibits come with a complete lack of educational value, whether it's no name tag to guide you to the exhibitor should you wish to learn more about the material on display, or a lack of labels identifying what you're seeing, or no explanatory text to set context.
I call such displays "eye candy." While unquestionably attractive, they leave you unfulfilled, lacking as they are in the nutritional value that helps a brain grow. Thus, I encourage everyone not just to stimulate but to educate with text and labels that transmit helpful information. Sometimes, the story-how a specimen was found, the process by which a beautiful gem was crafted, a description of the time period when a particular fossil animal lived-is even more fascinating than the item displayed.
Another way to make exhibits more than "eye candy" is to intentionally lead folks to them. I've seen good examples of this at the Carmel Valley, Ventura, and Oxnard Gem and Mineral Society shows. As families with kids enter the show building, the good folks managing the hospitality table provide kids with packets that include a quiz with a dozen questions. By successfully answering the questions, a child might win a free tumble-polished stone or perhaps a free turn on the spinning wheel for a prize.
The only catch: the quiz is intentionally tied to various cases in the exhibit hall, requiring kids not just to gawk at the pretty rocks, but to study them, often with the help of parents or other adults. I call this "stealth learning." When the Del Air Rockhounds hosted the 2003 CFMS show, they had great displays which they intentionally designed and numbered to enhance learning value via an "Educational Tour." Some exhibits and stations were further color-coded, with specific colors matched to Webelo, Boy Scout, and Girl Scout badge requirements supported by hand-outs to help kids earn their badges via self-guided tours and hands-on displays such as mineral identification and the Moh's scale, the three rock types, and everyday uses of different sorts of rocks and minerals.
I encourage all clubs to engage in efforts like these that will make their exhibit halls environments for "stealth learning." When you make your exhibits more than "eye candy," you'll find kids and other visitors to your show inadvertently learning when all they thought they were doing was just having fun!
Are you ready for a party!?
I hope everyone reading this is planning to be at the CFMS show in Lancaster this June!It should be a darn good show, and I hope to see lots of people there from all of the clubs throughout California and our neighboring states!
If you notice that this newsletter is a bit on the slim side? That's cuz I did not get as many articles this month!
C'mon folks! It's your newsletter, fill it up!
This is way too important NOT to revisit it again. I was watching the news on TV the other day and a lady had her gas tank catch fire while she was refueling her car.
Terrible, right? But not THIS time. She was not hurt badly. Her car could have exploded.
It was her fault! Yes, absolutely her fault.
She had gotten out of her vehicle, removed the hose from the pump and placed it in her tank. Then she sat back in her car (I didn't catch why she did that) and then got back out of her car. As she touched the nozzle (almost touched it) a flame shot out from static electricity on her body.
Somehow the flame did not feed down into the tank so she only had a very bad scare.
Why did this happen. Some cars and or the clothing of the drivers as a person slides across the seat generates static electricity and the spark can be quite powerful.
When I used to drive a bus in Seattle, people would hand me money to pay for their bus fare and an electric spark would jump an inch or more. If they were grounded (holding on to a metal rail) they would holler "ouch" or I would. I became so "shell shocked" that I would flinch and tended to jerk my hand back. I solved the dilemma by putting my left hand on a piece of bare metal, grounding myself the bus and Walla! No more sparks. And I did not move much on my seat but a lot of little tiny movements generated the Static.
Static electricity is powerful. When I worked on submarines at Mare Island after I retired from the Air Force, the electronic companies would ship us the electric diodes used in our computer systems and we would receive them blown out. Just a little movement of the diode in its plastic wrap was enough to create a spark that ruined the diode.
Anyhow, the solution to our gas tank fire. First, when you get out of you car, stay out. Even then before you remove your gas cap, touch some metal before you remove the cap. NOT THE NOZZLE! It is metal but it is connected to the rubber hose and IS NOT GROUNDED.
Secondly, if you just must get back inside your vehicle for whatever reason, touch some metal as you slide across the seat and again after you get out before you touch that hose.
That lady was extremely lucky because she had the cap off long enough for the vapors to flow out of the tank before the spark ignited what little fumes were near the opening. If the fumes were still coming out the whole tank could have exploded.
BE SAFE! Ground yourself.
I have what sounds like good news from Camp Paradise. There is a new director for the camp and I had a 20 min. conversation with him that was very productive sounding. With this information we may be able to look forward to a nicer situation than we had anticipated last month. I'm encouraged and hope for a good turn out for both weeks so get signed up now.
Moving on to Zzyzx; I have the confirmed dates of March 23, 2008 to March 30, 2008 for our spring program, but don't try to register now as no applications will be accepted until after Camp Paradise is over. You can at least make arrangements for your vacations.
I also want to thank all of the 2007 Zzyzx participants, who I hope had a good and productive time. Also our kitchen crew who fed us well and friendly.
A special thanks to the really wonderful instructors who do a great job of passing on their skills and to our field trip leader and helper who seams to send everyone home with a beautiful piece of the desert. All of these things produce a very successful session.
Again, my heartfelt thanks.
The U. S. Congress and the Government Land Management Agencies, US Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) continue to make progress on several fronts of interest to the ALAA and "rockhounds" interested in access to public lands.
The U. S Congress is moving ahead with two identical Fossil Preservation Bills (S 320 and HR 554. The Senate Bill S-320 is listed on the Senate Calendar and will be voted on in the next few weeks. Very likely shortly after the Senate resumes from the Easter Break. The House Bill HR 554 is being reviewed by two Committees; House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests & Public Lands; and House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry.
These committees may review the Bill and report on it. However the Speaker of the House of Representatives has the authority to place the Bill as introduced on the House calendar without comment or consultation with the committees. Comments by rockhounds on these Bills should go to your Congressional Representative immediately if they are to have any effect on the Bills passage which seems likely. Congress is also considering 14 new Wilderness designations which will be reviewed in the next report.
The US Forest Service is continuing to push forward with land sales under the 2008 Federal Budget and the National Forest Land Adjustment for Rural Communities Act. There recent actions have been to add additional land parcels for sale. The purpose is to raise funds for use by local communities affected by Forest Service curtailed logging activities.
Information on the parcels of land being offered for sale can be found on the Internet at http://www.fs.fed.us/land/staff/spd.html. Though most of the parcels are small isolated lands, several are not and could effect rock collecting. The ALAA urges interested rockhounds to review these parcels and report back to the ALAA on any that contain known collecting locations.
The Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service continue to review roads open for use by ATV's and have been holding meetings open to the public for public input. These are great opportunities for interested rockhounds to let the public land managers know their feelings on road closures. As Congress continues to reduce the funding for roads and road maintenance by the public land managers the more roads will be closed. To have an input into which roads will stay open and which will be open to ATV access you need to attending these meetings. One of our best sources of information on these input opportunities has been our association with the Blue Ribbon Coalition. They publish a wealth of information on their web site at http://www.sharetrails.org/. The information can also be by researching the information on the Federal Register.If you don't speak up and take advantage of these meetings and public input opportunities, someone else will be speaking instead of you and they may be saying something entirely different from your views.
With only one club entering a book in the All American Awards Program for 2006, there appears to be either a lack of enthusiasm or understanding.
Perhaps the California clubs do not understand the objectives of this program. Now is the time to review once again.
"Established in 1967 by the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies and the seven regional federations, the All American Club Award is meant to:
Just as the award is focused on quality effort that enables members to grow and clubs to flourish, it is also focus on quality that the All American Club Award judges seek in evaluating applications for regional and national honors. Completeness of the report is important, and quality is valued over quantity.
This is not a competition of one club against others. This is an evaluation of quality based on a standard of excellence. Gold, Silver and Bronze awards are granted for achievement of points in the appropriate scoring range. Only the top regional and national awards are determined on a high point basis. To allow more equality, separate top awards will be given for large clubs (100 or more members), small clubs (up to 99 members) and organized junior divisions (5 or more members)."
Progress is being made to remediate the impacts of arsenic contamination from historical mining operations on the public lands near Randsburg and Johannesburg in northwestern San Bernardino and northeastern Kern County, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
BLM Desert District Manager Steve Borchard said since the problem of high arsenic levels was detected onsite, BLM has taken significant steps to reduce impacts, provide the public health advisories, and plan for long-term remediation projects on the site of the Kelly Mine site and adjacent public lands.
Removal of waste piles from near residences, posting signs reminding off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders to stay on designated routes, covering mineshafts, and planning for a detailed human health risk assessment in cooperation with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry are among the accomplishments to date, he said.
Borchard said the next step is to identify a safe alternative for OHV access into Randsburg by relocating a portion of Route 110. "We are conducting the necessary surveys now for rerouting this critical access so the public can travel into Randsburg, a popular historic mining town, while minimizing dust from the old arsenic mine tailings," Borchard said. "We hope to have that work done so we can start the reroute work in May."
Borchard also reinforced the importance of OHV riders staying on designated routes and obeying signs onsite for that purpose. "This is important for both health and environmental reasons" he said, and stressed that BLM rangers will enforce these restrictions. "We hope the public will continue to cooperate as we near the end of this recreation use season."
BLM held open houses for the public in May and October of 2006 and more will be held as significant developments occur. He advised the public to continue to follow health advisories for arsenic contamination published by ATSDR and available online. More information is available from the BLM's Ridgecrest Field Office, 300 South Richmond Road, Ridgecrest, CA 93555, telephone (760) 384-5400 or online at [www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest/red_mountain.html].