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Donald B Peck's Mindat Home Page

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Hexoctahedral Dodecahedron w/ Trapezohedron & Hexoctahedron

Minerals and Me

Registered member since 21st Aug 2014

Donald B Peck has uploaded:
139 Other Photos

Donald has published 16 articles on mindat.org
 
Ledge at Greene's Farm, Southbury, CT, USA (P. Cristofono photo)
Almandine from Greene's Farm (P. Cristofono photo)
Adit at Roxbury Iron Mine, Roxbury, CT, USA (Adam Berluti photo)
Siderite w/ quartz, Roxbury Iron Mine (Harold Moritz photo)
Ledge at Greene's Farm, Southbury, CT, USA (P. Cristofono photo)
Almandine from Greene's Farm (P. Cristofono photo)
Adit at Roxbury Iron Mine, Roxbury, CT, USA (Adam Berluti photo)
Siderite w/ quartz, Roxbury Iron Mine (Harold Moritz photo)
Ledge at Greene's Farm, Southbury, CT, USA (P. Cristofono photo)
Almandine from Greene's Farm (P. Cristofono photo)
Adit at Roxbury Iron Mine, Roxbury, CT, USA (Adam Berluti photo)
Siderite w/ quartz, Roxbury Iron Mine (Harold Moritz photo)


I was introduced to minerals by family friends when I was 17. On a Sunday afternoon, they took our two families to the Greene's Farm garnet mine in Southbury, Connecticut and then to the Roxbury Iron Mine a few miles away. Seventy years later I still have a few of the garnets.

After college and a degree in chemistry, I accepted a position as a high school teacher of chemistry and physics in Connecticut. There was also a class in General Science and it included a little on minerals and geology. That prompted me to join the Litchfield County Mineral Club. I enjoyed field collecting, especially at Strickland Quarry and in Trumbull. I was building a remarkable collection of lumps and pieces. But it was a slide presentation of his micromounts by Neil Yedlin that really captured my imagination. My reaction was "That's for me!" Neil helped out by passing on duplicate material. A few years later I was head of the science department and one day in a curriculum meeting with the school principal, I told him that the General Science course was a mish-mash of nothing. He asked what I would suggest and I replied, "Earth Science". To which he responded "Fine, you teach it." (I suffer from "Hoof in Mouth Disease")

Then followed a stint in graduate school ending in an MS with a concentration in geology. That led to teaching chemistry and geology for the University of Connecticut (in addition to high school chemistry, physics, and for 2 years, earth science). This was when Thomaston Dam was a collectible site, so I took my geology classes there. Some of my students collected a lot better specimens than I did. A couple of them even went on to major in geology.

Then my work took me to New Jersey. I soon was spoiled by collecting at Prospect Park, Paterson, Franklin, and Sterling Hill. I put my training in chemistry to use qualitatively analyzing micro crystals to ID them. And I cobbled up a near petrographic microscope and attempted to learn optical techniques. Nearly ten years later I returned to graduate school where I took courses in mineralogy and crystallography. I was working for a PhD but I am a dropout (I never finished my dissertation). Instead, I was invited to write . . .science textbooks for use in elementary schools. I did that through two series titles, eight editions. two publishers. and twenty years. I soon started using computers, and I learned to program them. The large number of minerals that look pretty much alike caused me to write my first MinSearch program. Feeding it data on a few properties resulted in a list of minerals that matched . . .eventually. Version 1 was written in BASIC. I could watch the grass grow while it searched. Today, version 4 is fully compiled in Borland Delphi with optimized search code and is lightning fast (up to 20 properties, more than 5000 minerals).

I finished my active career in administration and teaching at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. The administration part was in science education. The teaching, in geology. After I retired I turned some short articles I had written on mineral ID (for a club newsletter) into a book, Mineral Identification: A Practical Guide for the Amateur Mineralogist. Wendell Wilson and the Mineralogical Record kindly published it. It is now in its 2nd edition. In 2015 I took my last field collecting trip with a couple of friends. We drove up to the Keeweenaw Peninsula and dug in the dump piles of several mines. I learned some things about myself on that trip. At 87 I could still swing a hammer, I should not climb on rock piles, and I could no longer tie my own shoes.

In 2012, I moved into an apartment in Geneva, Illinois. Regretfully, it was necessary to sell my macro collection of about 1000 pieces, and most of my books (that hurt the most). My micro collection came with me. Today, my micros number about 1000 and my "mine" is a closet in which there is enough unprocessed rough to keep me busy to the end of my days. Oh, and I still enjoy writing.









 

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