Archive for the ‘Tucson Educational Opportunities’ Category

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show…Education too is a big part

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is not only a feast for the eyes, it is also a smorgasbord for attendees with the variety and abundance of classes offered during the two week period.  The theme of this year’s show at the Tucson Convention Center is “Minerals of California” .

Experts will speak about California minerals and these lectures are for the true professional mineralogists and gemologists.   This show begins Thursday, February 10 and runs through February 13.  Doors open at 10 am.  It is at this show that specimens from private collections and museums are exhibited, including minerals from the National Park Services, the Mineralogical Association of Canada, Flandreau Science Center from the University of Arizona in addition to hundreds of worldwide exhibitors.

American Gem Trade Associations hold their annual meetings at the Gem and Mineral Show and there are numerous by invitation only cocktail parties and dinners. This is a place where business is transacted for many of the associations.

The huge show book details classes available, when and where at each of the shows.   Most of the classes carry a fee, but generally that is for the price of the kit being used.

Beginner instruction as well as ultra advanced instruction is available.  The topics are diverse from beginner stringing for beads to “Off loom weaving and circular peyote stitch, intermediate level” for a crystal beads and buttons bracelet.

Technical sessions such such as forensic gemology and how to identify gemstones using gemological tools you can carry in your pocket are well attended.

Classes for gem and lapidary enthusiasts are available throughout the show.  Lampwork Beads and Donuts, Macrame, Flameworking, as well as classes in cabochon pendants, and wire crochet necklaces are available for the novice and expert alike.  All day workshops on beading which cover a myriad of methods are a favorite.

I think it would be grand to take three or four days and a bucket load of money and not be concerned about working or money;  then take a week’s worth of classes starting from the baby beginner class in some aspect of jewelry making, practicing throughout the week until I could create a piece of jewelry which is more than passable.  I would then take another bucket load of money and run unbridled  throughout the shows, pondering the selections, picking and choosing  my colors, facets, and designs for my grand masterpiece which would  culminates the week’s “education”.


72 Degrees Today…Wander the Gem and Mineral Show and Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

The sun is glinting off of the huge mesquite and eucalyptus trees providing little lacy patterns against the azure sky.  It’s a perfect day for combing the Gem and Mineral Show, temps about 72 degrees, warm enough to wander about without a cumbersome jacket, and comfortable enough to want to stay for hours.

The frontage road which parallels I-10 is awash in all types of vendors from throughout the world.  They arrive with huge trunks and crates of goods and spend days setting up their displays.  After all, this is the largest Gem and Mineral Show in the world, emulated by many.

It’s history is fascinating, a dream of a small group of mineral and rock enthusiasts.   They got together for an exhibition which was free to the public, and the rest is history!

Arizona is a state famous for its minerals, most particularly, copper.  But the mountains of the Grand Canyon State have yielded silver and gold, and turquoise-the minerals most often depicted in the Old Wild West movies because of their assumed value.  Those of us from Arizona know of the Bisbee mines and the Morenci mines because of the employment they provide for miners, and we hear of other mines because of the controversy environmentally by groups which oppose them.

But the lands of Tucson have yielded blue azurite from Ajo, a blue copper mineral which fades in the sunlight, and related to the verdent malachite.  The red-yellow-orange colors Wulfenite from the Red Cloud Mine in La Paz County are a favorite of collectors because of the deep red color. Turquoise from Kingman has the greatest value and the Sleeping Beauty Mine in Globe is one of the world’s most important producers of turquoise.  Stunning quartz from New River  and from Pima County, Vanadinite,  with red hexagonal crystals is considered a secondary mineral.  Used in jewelry and industry, these minerals not onlyt radiate their own beauty, but have found usefulness in products we use daily.

This is an opportunity to see the minerals “up close and personal”.  The variety, colors, and shapes are astounding.  There are minerals from all over the world, enjoy Tucson weather, wander and marvel!


University of Arizona Mineral Museum

History of the Gem and Mineral Show Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show

Minerals of the Sonora Desert Sonora Desert Museum

“Oro Valley A Desired Place to Live and Raise a Family”…Jerene Watson Town Manager

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

With five new town Council members, fresh priorities are focusing on being a “business friendly” community, Jerene Watson, Town Manager of Oro Valley,  told the Tucson Association of Realtors Summit last week.

Two economic development summits resulted in the town’s ability to knock off a year in the development and permitting process.  “We are open for business and are continuously reaching out” to entice business to the community.

Ventana Roche is bringing 500 new jobs to OroValley and the town is courting new corporations in the bioscience, high tech and educational areas, Watson said.

The University of Arizona Bio 5 Oro Valley opened and is a research arm, developing potential new medicines.  Basis Charter School Oro Valleyhas students and took only five months with the new approved development plans.  Additionally Pima College Oro Valley campus is operational.

Private/public partnerships are being explored for potential leases of town owned property which will benefit the residents. Focus is on arts, recreation, and culture.  The Town Center development will offer incentives for potential entertainment or businesses and county bike and pedestrian trails provide recreational facilities for residents.

Like the other town managers at the summit, Watson said general fund revenues are down 20%.  Oro Valley does not have a property tax, but relies upon the sales tax.  Single family residential building permits decreased to 50 is fiscal year 2010 compared to 285 in 2008.  This represents a 50% drop in construction sales tax.  The construction sales tax was 40% of the budget and is now at 19%.  Belt tightening is the order of the day.

Unlike federal and state governments, towns cannot resort to gimmicks and tricks and need to come in with a balanced budget.  The town has courted new business to bring in local sales tax revenues.  Financial dash boards are on the website, she said.

The town is also looking at strategic annexation, and in particular 14 acres to the north bordering state land.

“We are positioning Oro Valley as a desired place to live and raise a family” she concluded.


Town of Oro Valley:

Basis School:

Bio 5:

Tucson…Starry Starry Night…Kitt Peak Observatory

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

There is magic in the air in Tucson, the air is crisp and clean, oh yes, we have measures of particulate matter, but not as much as Phoenix,  which bode well for air quality.

We are home to several observatories which need clean air in order to see the galaxies millions of miles in the distance.  Clear skies are a requisite to building an observatory.    And  Kitt Peak, located about an hour west of Tucson, is preeminent amongst observatories, hosting the observatories and telescopes of several nationally recognized colleges as well as NOAO.

“Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), supports the most diverse collection of astronomical observatories on Earth for nighttime optical and infrared astronomy and daytime study of the Sun. Sharing the mountaintop site with the National Solar Observatory, KPNO, founded in 1958, operates three major nighttime telescopes and hosts the facilities of consortia which operate 19 optical telescopes and two radio telescopes. (See the Tenant Observatories list.) Kitt Peak is located 56 miles southwest of Tucson, AZ, in the Schuk Toak District on the Tohono O’odham Nation and has a Visitor Center open daily to the public”

I had an “amateur” astronomy client once tell me, he only wanted to purchase land west of I-10 and I-19 because Tucson had prevailing westerly winds.  The particulate matter from the cars traveling the highways blew eastward and that he could see the heavens better from the west side of town because there is less highway pollution.

Kitt Peak is located west of Tucson on Route 86, also known as Ajo Highway, which is the road to Why, a much traveled road leading eventually to Rocky Point.    Farms and fields dot the landscape  and when I was there last, I thought “this looks like Connecticut”.  A white farmhouse was set back from the road and the fields with raffia like pumpkin vines held deep orange pumpkins, gone unpicked by pumpkin hunters.

A country store, a gas station, and a few  buildings mark Three Points, otherwise known as Robles Junction.  This is where the road to Sasabe, Highway 286, forks and wends its way to Sonora, Mexico.  The Baboquiari and Quinlan Mountains loom in the distance and the telescopes of Kitt Peak beckon.  We enter Tohono O’Odham land where the site of Kitt Peak is considered a sacred mountain.

The winding uphill road to Kitt Peak offers beautiful views of the surrounding areas, Tucson to the northeast, the Tumacacori Mountains and the San Luis Mountains around Arivaca to the south southeast, the Altar Valley and Mexico to the south, and the Santa Rosa Valley to the northwest.

Suddenly the telescopes appear, looming big, larger than life, and we have completed the ascent.  It is chilly.  We are more than a mile above sea level at 6875 feet.  People attending the evening sessions are warned to bring a warm jacket, mittens or gloves and to wear a hat.  We are ready to embark upon an out of this world experience and learn about the galaxies, some of which is difficult to fathom.  The Kitt Peak program is an education and brought to you by some of the most knowledgable astronomers in the nation, a “not to be missed” experience!


CRS Leadership and More…

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

The last ten days have been a whirlwind.   Attending the Certified Residential Specialists (CRS) Leadership Conference for Presidents and President Elects at the Wild Horse Resort in Phoenix stirs a wealth of ideas; programs presented by Brian Copeland and Frank Serio tweak my brain while giving me an abundance of homework. Copeland’s seminar the previous Wednesday adds more fuel to the cyber section of my grey matter. 

A working Realtor®, Copeland is an internet guru with an uncanny method for presenting information in a most entertaining fashion.  Building on the concept of television game shows, he slickly slips into his alter ego as a game show host and simultaneously drives his points home regarding leadership while we wildly applaud amidst laughter. 

“Edgecrafting”, taking an extreme idea and scaling it back one notch elicits a variety of creative ideas.  Frank Serio, a CRS instructor and California working Realtor®, takes front and center stage and as President Elect of National CRS, encourages us to think outrageously, brainstorming in the most vehement sense of the word, then takes us to the cyber world dimension with ideas about to how to market CRS. It’s a great ride. 

The nuts and bolts are attended to by Rachel Tristano, from CRS National in Chicago.  Realtors® from nearly all 50 states and the Bahamas share their love for the real estate industry and swap ideas on how to bring more education and professionalism to industry. Culminating the three day event, the Arizona CRS Chapter hosts a wine and cheese reception, which is a smashing succes, prior to dinner Saturday. 

Three stellar Realtors® and an appraiser share their knowledge about pricing properties in today’s market, presenting unique ideas to the CRS attendees at the Arizona CRS breakfast Wednesday morning.  And wrapping up this eight day whirlwind of activity is the Tucson Association of Realtors® Superhero Expo at the Convention Center.  More cyberspace and internet tricks of the trade roll off the tongue of Amy Chorew, technology expert and educational speaker for the show.  And Realty Trac shares Tucson numbers about short sales and foreclosures. 

Ahh, now the weekend…time to get back to work and sell some property!


Once again I am up and running, no not literally, but figuratively.  I was infected and rather than continue blogging, I stopped completely because I did not want to spread my virus to you, my reader.  I didn’t know if I was contagious, but I didn’t want to hazard a chance. “Good grief, she gave me the plague” I envision people saying. 

But alas!  Lynn Ruby, a dedicated virtual assistant, has corrected all of that and I can begin once again to spout my words of wisdom, which of course are a matter of interpretation. 


Arizona Certified Residential Specialist:

National CRS :

Brian Copeland:

Frank Serio:

Amy Chowrew:

One of Top Five Worldwide Mineral Museums….

Thursday, January 21st, 2010


A sheet metal worker quiety assembled specimens of minerals during his lifetime as an avocation, and donated the extensive mineral collection to the University of Arizona.  Hubert C. Monmonier was instrumental in putting the Arizona Mineral Museum on the international platform, donating a collection conservatively valued at eight million dollars, according to Mark Candee, curatorial museum specialist.

One of the top five mineral museums in the world is located on the campus of the University of Arizona in Tucson at the Flandrau Science Center on the lower level.  The Mineral Museum is 115 years young and originally was housed in the Geo-Science and engineering buildings.  It was originally established to showcase the minerals from Arizona, also known as the copper state.  More than 2500 pieces of minerals are currently on display.

The Museum is a research museum and has an extensive database with the DNA of thousands of minerals.  Technology today is such that an ruby from Burma  can be distinguished from an ruby  from India or South Carolina, Candee said.  The University of Arizona has one of the best labs in the world for identification and ten to fifteen new minerals are identified each year.  The Museum works in conjunction with the space program in an effort to determine the DNA of “space materials”. 

The best minerals from Bisbee and part of the private collection from the Graham Family will be on exhibit for six months beginning February 6. Additional minerals from the Smithsonian will also be displayed.  American Indian jewelery, made with local minerals, are also on exhibit.

 Minerals in today’s economy are definitely not loosing their value, Candee said.  All one has to do is look at the price of gold, silver, and platinum.  Those may be the most popular investment minerals for the general public, but people who know minerals invest in them for capital appreciation as well as their beauty. 

Rare and amazing minerals are on display at the Museum and for those lay people, wandering around the Gem and Mineral show, with eyes open, will provide a brief on the multitudes of minerals, their colors, facets, and pricing. 

A trip to the Mineral Museum on the UofA campus may be in order after touring the show, as well as spending time at the Main Show February 11 – 14 at the Tucson Convention Center. The theme is “Gems and Minerals”., verry appropriate!

of A Mineral Museum:

Tucson Gem and Mineral Society:  

Weekend Wanderings…Look to the Skies—Kitt Peak

Saturday, September 13th, 2008

   The clear air of Tucson, the dark night skies, and lack of light pollution are contributing factors for placing Kitt Peak Observatory on the Tohono O’Odham Nation, just 52 miles southwest of Tucson.      

       Traveling from Tucson center westerly along Ajo Highway- Route 86- (which is also the road one takes to Pueto Penasco aka Rocky Point in Mexico), one leaves behind the newer pointy Tucson Mountains.  The road is flat and fairly straight.  One passes Ryan Airfield, an adjunct facility of the Tucson International Airport and home to several private planes; small communities of homes and mobile homes; and uninteresting level land where one can see occassional bores from the rain runoff during the monsoon season.   Dust devils rise from this sandy land like minature tornados whirling in the wind.

    Onward to Three Points, also known as Robles Junction, past Diamond Bell Ranch which some day will be developed and emerge as a  thriving community much like communities now within the borders of Tucson which fifteen years ago, people believed were “in the boonies”.   The Comobari Mountains loom in the foreground and as we travel, we can see some of the 25 telescopes atop Kitt Peak in the Quinlan Mountains.   We pass a huge pumpkin field, and a few farms, and more homes which seem to sit in the middle of noplace.

     Not too far after entering the Tohono O’Odham Nation is a turnoff to the south and we begin our winding ascent to Kitt Peak.  Up, up, up we travel until the telescopes are in full view.  The vegetation changes.   We have magnificient views of all that lies below us.   We are at an elevation of 6,875 feet above sea level, not quite as high as the Catalina Mountains (9,157 feet above sea level)  which also house telescopes.

       Kitt Peak is home to 25 optical telescopes including two radio telescopes,  and is part of the  National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO).   By day there is study of the sun at the Solar Observatory. 

      The September cooler temperatures in Tucson provide an excellent time to visit Kitt Peak either during the daylight guided tours, or the Night Sky tours at night.   The temperature differential on top of Kitt Peak may be uncomfortable if you go in January or February, especially to the night presentation.  Bring a sweater and maybe a hat to keep the warmth within your body, or a heavy jacket if you are going at night during the winter months.  The temperature differential can be 20 degrees or more.

     The personnel at Kitt Peak are eager to answer questions and the tours are thorough and interesting in explanation. Both novice and professionals alike will have something to take away from one of these tours.  And if you hail from an area which has severe light pollution, you will marvel at the numbers of stars in the sky.  Kitt Peak is a very definite stop for people visiting Tucson … and those in Tucson who have never visited.

     Additional information is provided in the Resources including a virtual tour of Kitt Peak.  Enjoy!


Kitt Peak:   


Visitors Center:

Virtual Tour:

Solar Observatory:    NASA Link:



The Tucson Arizona Medical Scene…

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008


    Some of the discovery of Tucson by people from throughout the United States is tied to Tucson’s medical history.  With it’s clean air and dry climate which bodes wells for “outdoor” living, Tucson was an ideal location for tuberculosis recovery facilities.  

    In the early 1900’s, people came to Tucson to experience the fresh air which aided in healing respiratory illnesses, especially tuberculosis.  These facilities, some of which were the foundation of today’s hospitals, at the time were situated on the outskirts of town.  Today they are in the center of the hub-bub of activity.  

    As a retirement destination, medical facilities are an important consideration for people thinking about relocating.  And for people working within the medical profession, job opportunities abound.  The Tucson area has ten acute care hospitals and plans are on the books for several more facilities:   one in Rita Ranch, one at Passages of Tucson,  and one in Sahuarita. 

   Tucson is  home to the University of Arizona’s School of Medicine which has extensive research facilities including world class cancer research.  U of A also boasts one of the best Schools of Nursing in the United States as well as a School of Pharmacology.   Because of the medical facilities, Tucson is the choice for many biomedical start up firms.

     Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine is situated in Tucson.  “The mission of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine is to lead the transformation of healthcare by creating, educating & actively supporting a community of professionals who embody the philosophy & practice of Integrative Medicine,” according to the website.  Spurred by Dr. Andrew Weil, the Center combines the best of western medicine with eastern medicine and concentrates on healing rather than treating disease.

   Over the next few days, I will highlight the various medical facilities which include the Carondolet network of hospitals:  St. Mary’s, St. Joseph’s, and Tucson Heart Hospital;  University Medical Center; Northwest Hospital Oro Valley and  Northwest Hospital Tucson; Tucson Medical Center;  Southern Arizona VA Health Care System; and University Physicians Healthcare at Kino.    There will be links to job opportunities also for readers in the medical field considering relocation to Tucson.

Resources:  History 

University of Arizona School of Nursing, School of Medicine, and School of Pharmacology

Unversity of Arizona School of Integrative Medicine

A Gem for All … Pima Community College

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

    Tucson is home to the University of Arizona campus and also home to the twenty five educational centers for Pima Community College.  Registration is currently taking place both on the campuses and on line at  .  The course catalogue can be accessed also from this website.

     The 16 week traditional fall semester begins August 27 and ends December 21.  Pima also has two 8 week sessions which run from August 27 through October 22, and then October 23 through December 21. 

   Additionally there are classes which can be taken on line, weekend accelerated classes which meet Fridays, Saturdays and/or Sundays and cover the entire course content in a few successive weekends, and then there are regular weekend classes which span the course of the regular semester.   Self paced independent classes are also available.

    Pima truly is a community college.  I have taken several classes there and I am a “senior citizen”.    Classes can be taken for credit or audited.  Classes are generally small and it is energizing to be among many college aged students.  

    I am an afficiando of the FSS 185 class, technically  called “Beginning Weight Training and Cardiovascular Fitness”.  The class is classified for “the beginner”.   I have been a beginner about six times.   The gym on the West Campus is full of shiny equipment, weights, treadmills and elipticals and the staff is extremely knowledgable and always willing to help.   In truth, their credential are very impressive!

   The West Campus has a Senior Fitness and Conditioning class which meets twice a week from 7 am to 7:50 am for “mature individuals”.  But or anyone wanting yoga classes, spinning classes, dance classes, aikido, tae kwon do, or t’ai-chi chuan classes, Pima has it!   You can learn to play tennis or golf, or perform water aerobics.  There are Plus-Sized exercise classes, aerobics, stretching and toning classes and classes in strategies for weight management.   Why belong to a gym when you can go to Pima?

   I am most familiar with the West Campus, but many of these classes are given at other campuses.   Want to learn Spanish or another language?  Pima offers a multitude of courses.  The course catalogue is more than 150 pages and offers everything from Accounting to Non Fiction Writing. 

    Are you thinking about changing careers and want to learn a new skill?  There are classes in Aviation Technology, health services, Veterinary Technology, as well as Radiologic Technology and Nursing to name a few. 

   I know people who have had very successful careers but had a yen to learn a new subject.   They begin their new quest with classes at Pima.  Retired people keep their minds vibrant;  I had a friend who always wanted to be an artist who took classes at Pima and subsequently earned a degree at the age of 70 at the U of A. 

     Pima is perfect for the student who wants a two year degree, a student who will transfer to a four year institution or the person like myself who wants to take classes for personal enjoyment and leisure.  Check it out!  Pima College offers so much for so very little.