the first one

March 6, 2023

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Well, I made this newsletter, and a few people subscribed, so I guess now I have to write some of them. This will probably include "formal" "things" that are "new" with me and my creative/life practice, but it will probably also include a lot of rambling thoughts about whatever's on my mind, whatever I've been interested in. Be warned: it might be boring. But then again, you subscribed to this newsletter because you said you wanted to hear about rocks and radios, so maybe you won't find it boring. If you do, it's easy to unsubscribe using the directions in the footer anyway. I won't be offended in the least.

Though these are old news at this point, there are a few things into which I have recently put work that I do want to share:

I wrote a bunch of scene reports on open pit mines across the Great Basin for Hypocrite Reader. Not only was this fun to write -- a revelation that I can combine the tone of writing I admire with the content that fascinates me -- I also learned hella much. Did you know that 21% of gold we mine in the United States (most of it in Nevada) is literally only mined so that it can be made into big bars and sit there in a warehouse being worth money? It blows my mind. Anyway, read more (probably more than you ever wanted to know) here:

I also got to spend some time thinking and writing about the relationship between the oil industry and the "conservation ethos", particularly as it relates to the National Parks system, for the Syllabus Project. My great grandfather worked for Standard Oil of California (now known as Chevron) here in the Bay Area, and I've been really curious about the meeting at the crossroads between wilderness-dedicated environmentalists (the ideology I come from -- one of my most vivid memories is the first off-trail hike I took with my Dad) and the fossil fuel industry. Again, read more here:

Taking off a bit from the above, if you've talked to me lately you probably know that I've been going on endlessly about radio. One of the areas in which this has been grabbing me is listening to oil-industry radio communications. The great grandfather mentioned above worked on radio for Standard Oil -- he was "superintendent of telephones and telegraphs," a honorific if ever there was one -- and so it feels like this is some weird transtemporal electromagnetic connection to him in a way. It's complicated, because obviously I feel like he also really screwed us all over by helping people get the stuff out of the ground so efficiently. But another thing that fascinates me about listening to oil-industry communications is that you are listening to workers, taking care of each other and keeping each other safe. As I've learned from the incredible work of Megan Milliken Biven and True Transition, there will be no energy transition for us without the help of oil workers. Anyway, I've only just gotten started on this project, but holler at me if you ever want to talk about listening to oil radio and/or you happen to have the encryption keys to the Chevron Richmond Refinery P25 system (Corporate Lawyers: I'M KIDDING).

Two images, side by side, of a computer and a radio in the back of a pickup truck listening to radio transmissions.

One other thing that I'll say about this is that I've been studying to get my General Class amateur radio license, and I've been so lucky to get to hang with an awesome group of friends who are all doing studying for similar things and who've taught and shared so much -- shoutout Willow, Carolee, Megan, and Rick. If anyone else is wanting to join this rad community of radio weirdos get in touch, we want more people to talk to on the airwaves!

(This is in parentheses because I don't know how much it fits with anything else in this newsletter, the magic of punctuation: I'll be presenting at a symposium on Archiving COVID-19 at the Cedars-Sinai Program in the History of Medicine. Slightly more details here, and though I'm not entirely certain how to register I think you start by contacting the program through this page and then they should point you to where you need to go.)

Oh and also I quit my job. This is a huge step for me, and also scary, so if you have good recommendations for career counselors or just want to talk about the relationship between work and worth in this society then get at me. I've been really moved by the way that the Five and Nine podcast (and more?!?) talks about this, if you haven't seen this amazing project by Dorothy Santos, Xiaowei Wang, and AX Mina.

//// ROCKS ->

I decided that every newsletter I'm going to include some rocks. Rocks rule right? But also there's so many memories, facts, emotions, and documents that come along with them, which is what I hope to demonstrate with this installment.


A rock containing the mineral purple fluorite, being held between 2 fingers. Flowers are in the background

I collected this on the 2nd #notableholes trip, where Alison Jean Cole, who, by the way, taught me every single thing I know about rocks ever, shared this spot with us. It's an abandoned mine called the Kaiser Mine (what didn't that guy have his hands in?), north of the town of Gabbs, Nevada. Not only is this rock dope as hell, it's also been on my mind lately because the site where we collected it is slated to become part of a new bombing range expansion for the Fallon Naval Air Station (Home of Top Gun: thanks Tom Cruise) that was placed last-minute real sneaky like by the wack Nevada Senate delegation into the National Defense Authorization Act. You can read more about the Navy's stupid plans in their Environmental Impact Statement for the range expansion. I will say that as much as I hate the fact that this vast swath of land has been tossed into the trash heap of acreage to throw explosives at, military environmental impact statements are absolutely some of the most fascinating windows into the operation -- at all levels -- of that behemoth.

Next it's QUARTZ with GOLD (!?)

A rock containing the mineral gold, being held between 2 fingers. Flowers are in the background

Is it gold? To be honest, I don't know at all (it's in the top right corner). But it looks like gold, and I do at least know the difference between gold and pyrite (fools gold, fool). I would ask Alison, but she'd probably tell me that gold is boring so who cares, and she'd be right. I collected this rock on the Mokolumne River outside the town of Pioneer, California (what a name). There's so much to say about the Mokolumne -- water source for us here in the East Bay, power source for various Central Valley Cities -- but for now I'll just say that the reason we were there is that Liat was doing a residency at the Pony Farm, and it was great, and they're currently accepting applications so you should probably consider putting one in. You can do that here:

That's it for now, thanks for reading!

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Charlie Macquarie's newsletter. Sent from Oakland, California, Lisjan Ohlone Land.

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