Friday night. The last full day of my big geological roundtrip, and I made it count. I went to three different locations that were relatively close to one another. The first was a series of holes dug into the side of a rural road. At some point, there were some cool rocks there, but all that’s left now are ridiculously deep holes dug underneath hundreds of pounds of rock by rogue geologists whose risk/reward ratio is very different from mine. (See the first pic below.) I looked inside the holes, then at the “no trespassing” sign, and skedaddled.

The second location was the jackpot: a major old mine that got filled with rock a few years ago, lest folks go in and hurt themselves. The upside is that the entire slope was absolutely filled with shiny gems (mostly quartz and calcite) of varying sizes. I filled up my prospecting bucket with some goodies and stumbled on a gigantic triangular quartz boulder just hiding in tall grass. (Pic #2 below.) The third pic shows random quartz rocks just chilling on a hill in their natural habitat. There is beauty in this world…

I got a little lost on the way back, but my incredibly high-tech (heh) navigation tools finally got me back to the road, even if I had to annoy several guard dogs by walking far too close to local backyards. Got mildly sunburned but hey, that might have been my last opportunity in quite a while to soak up that vitamin D.

The very last place I visited was a bit disappointing, but still interesting: a graphite highway road cut that had contained some interesting minerals once upon a time. Not a whole lot left there after all these years, but it was still fun to see what some determined folks armed with chisels and hammers can do to a big rock given enough motivation. (The last pic on this post.)

Tomorrow will start off far too early: if I get up at 6am and have some quick breakfast, I’ll have just enough time to swing by the local farmer’s market, buy the local donut-smith’s famous pastries, drive 200 miles back home, unload the hoard of gems from my rental car (I know, I have the most terrible problems in life), and return it by noon. Should be interesting.

In covid news: my gym has reopened after a very long shutdown. Wynn Fitness closed its doors on March 16th, and didn’t reopen until… well, technically, they still haven’t reopened. The big day is Tuesday, August 4th. The new rules are atrocious: they’ll close at 6pm on weekends (discrimination against night owls!) and you have to book your 75-minute slot in advance. (There goes my pre-pandemic plan of spending an entire day in their pool to get progressively better at not drowning.) Incidentally, they’ve been charging my credit card for their relatively pricey membership the entire time… That’ll make for a fun phone call. As much as I miss the gym, I’m not going back until (at the very earliest) Ontario goes a full week without any new infections. Gonna have to cancel ye olde membership. Maybe it’ll give xgf something to distract her if I ask her to design a specific workout routine for me. (She may be frail, but she works out like a champion.)

In Georgia, an overnight YMCA camp became a cluster, as 260 campers contracted covid. Georgia is another southern state that has remarkably poor leadership: their governor made a number of moves that indicate either intellectual dimness or straight-out self-sabotage. I’ll leave the verdict to historians.

Vietnam fell off its pedestal with their first recorded covid death: an old man with severe pre-existing kidney issues. They put up a damn good fight, and in a way, they’re doing about 150,000 times better than the US. I doubt there’s any part of the world left that hasn’t had a single death. Well, except maybe for the folks on the North Sentinel Island, who shoot any approaching traveler (missionaries and such) full of arrows on sight. That’s a rather severe containment measure, but you can’t deny its efficiency when it comes to keeping the pandemic at bay.

The US Congress has adjourned for the weekend without finalizing the financial relief package. Now, barring some extraordinary intervention, millions of Americans will lose their $600/week unemployment benefits, and it appears that the eviction freeze will also expire. I’m not sure if landlords around the US will actually follow through, because evicting that many people will result in genuine riots. If 2020 has taught us anything, however, it’s that we can’t trust any of our prior assumptions.

And finally, the economic data released yesterday was downright apocalyptic: the US GDP plunged 32.9% in Q2. The silver lining for this mushroom cloud is that the official expectation had been 34.7%, so hey, that was a 180 bps win. The stock market reacted poorly, but not as poorly as you’d expected: a relatively small drop yesterday, followed by a small gain today. One of my stocks has actually gone up by 8% after they announced they’d buy out a competitor. A lot of the bad news is already priced in – it’s just a matter of sitting and waiting, which is a concept that’s hard to grasp and harder yet to implement. Wu wei, eh.