Barringer Crater
I.M.C.A #2215

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ARE YOU A METEORITE ADDICT?
And So it Begins
by Jim Murray
February 2007

Bob Haag has a lot to answer for, pimping stardust to the masses. I can emphatically declare that its because of him, I am in the state I am today.

Trained many years ago as a pharmacologist I am well familiar with signs, symptoms and morphology of a full-blown addiction.

It started one Thursday night, browsing through the TV channels, I came across a story about a man and his rocks. Holding up a thick slice of shiny metal, Bob was explaining the nature of iron meteorites, but most of it managed to pass right by me because I was mesmerized by the patterns shown on the metal slice. I didnít know it then but I was hooked!

Later I was to learn all about exotic phrases such as "Widmanstštten" and "Neumann lines", but at this stage I was just fascinated about how structured a piece of sky rock could look inside, and it was right then I decided that I just had to get me a piece of the action.

"Seek and ye shall find". EBay came immediately to mind and right after the show ended I searched for "meteorite" and was inundated with hits. I had no idea that there would be so much of it out there going around.

Well it appeared that everyone was doing it and one hit couldnít do me any harm, could it? So I plunged headlong into a bidding war for a slice of iron with pretty patterns. Got it! And then the wait, it had to come all the way from the USA. Hoping that it would pass through the border authorities unnoticed it finally arrived. Unwrapping it like a three year old at Xmas my first dose was unveiled in all its glory and it looked even nicer than I had hoped.

Fascinating symmetry and asymmetry in one and all this in a simple chunk of iron.

And so it began. One after another, pieces, slices, fragments, chunks and complete stones start to arrive in my letterbox from all over the world.

We have two methods here by which normal post is delivered, either by the normal postie or by contracted courier. Both came to know us very well. Knock, Knock another parcel. Many times Iím sure the two would vie to see who could deliver the largest number of parcels to us in the one day.

Even one day, while I was watering the front garden, the courier van passing by, stops and our trusty courier gets out to profusely apologize. "Sorry but thereís none for you today!"

They really must wonder what was going on, but as professional as they are, never once did they ask just what it was they were continually delivering to our front door from all corners of the planet.

I suppose as a number of the packages would arrive with the "Inspected by Quarantine" taped all over them, the postie could at least re-assure himself that he was not acting as an unsuspecting runner of prohibited substances! He was, in a manner, helping feed a habit as addictive as any of the drugs I learned about in my pharmacology days!

Starting off with the "soft" stuff, irons, the buzz quickly attenuated, especially after seeing some of my beautiful slices start off pristine and fairly quickly, before my very eyes as it were, form disfiguring spots of rust. I could have weaned myself off right then and there, and perhaps should have, but then I discovered the other non-earthly delights.

I progressed through common chondrites to the harder stuff, eucrites, aubrites and diogenites and all sorts of other "ites". The hardest stuff I have gotten into so far is carbonaceous rock. Thankfully I couldnít get up the resources to get some of the really hard stuff, lunar and mars dust. I can thank the stars for small mercies; for I believe once hooked on these insidious compounds, the cost of getting the next fix can send you and your family to the skids.

Not that there is any shortage of the stuff or of the dealers out there that will readily tout it. Brazenly and without remorse they display their goods on the World Wide Web, selling to anyone with enough funds to pay.

I have even heard that a number of these dealers have been seen in schools, extolling the virtues of these heavenly, or is that demonic, substances and selling inexpensive hits to children as young as ten to get them hooked on their merchandise.

The annual "WoodStock for Rock-Fiends" in Arizona, is yet another place where you can see these dealers blatantly and shamelessly flaunting their goods. Slices, cubes, blocks, crystals, rocks and dust change hands in the dark corridors of the innocent looking shows.

In the all-night raves, a major part of the festivities, it is not unusual to see zip-locked bags of capsules of moon-dust travel from pocket to hand to hand to pocket without a word being said.

But in some ways I feel sorry for these unfortunate creatures, the dealers. Most starting off as simple users themselves, find that to get enough funds together to satisfy the almost mind-numbing cravings they need to deal in the stuff themselves. There, but for happenstances of fate, go I.

Then even the proceeds from selling doesnít meet the financial obligations of the habit, and so evolves the rock-runner, that retched individual who smuggles the goods OUT of the country, recklessly flaunting laws and regulations put in place to try to keep some of this valuable, heritagely significant material where it was found.

But the financial stakes are too high, and while the demand is there and there exists shameless buyers with the full knowledge of these laws who will still buy at any cost, the rock-runner will flourish.

The trade is not without its danger. Large sums of money are at stake, so sometimes territories are encroached and tempers flare.

In the back-alleys of the web we call blogs and mailing-lists, a raging war is fought unnoticed by the public at large. At the end, bloodied corpses of once vital reputations lay still and abandoned. But life goes on.

And so it goes, new stuff arrives from the depths of the Saharan golden triangle, rumoured to be traded in a Moroccan caravanserai and couried unnoticed through umpteen border crossings. Dealers vie with each other for a piece of this new action, then on-sell cut or pure to us the hapless victims.

You canít fight it. There is a well oiled propaganda and marketing engine at its centre, knowing exactly what the user is craving and making sure that they get just enough at prices they can just afford.

Over time I found peering at my cut slices under the microscope, although interesting enough, no longer as satisfying as it used to be. I had to find a more satisfying fix.

In my travels I had heard of a technique that was guaranteed to give you an even greater high. Buying the appropriate gear off the web I set myself up to cut rock.

Finer ever finer before I knew it and before I could control it I was mainlining, creating thin sections that, under the microscope sent me on wild psychedelic trips. Day in, day out pondering the micro universes that were the brightly coloured chondrules I could see in front of my eyes.

By now my wife was getting concerned, I had lost interest in every thing else, especially my maintenance duties around the house. All of my spare time was taken up looking for more stuff to feed my habit, and when some new stuff was found, spending hours on end quietly transfixed staring into the inner space of those cosmic visitors.

But I think I have finally plateaued, thankfully before hitting the real hard stuff, and can now get on with my life.

You rock-lords and rock-barons out there, you know who you are. Have you no compassion? Do you not see what you are doing to us, and even worse, to our young and families?

Unable to gather the strength to go cold-turkey, I have been gradually weaning myself off. Things are starting to get back to normal and I can proudly say I am now purely a recreational user only! Now where did I hide that chunk of Murch?

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