AMERICAN FEDERATION OF MINERALOGICAL SOCIETIES
Volume 55, Number 9
IN THIS ISSUE
from Steve Weinberger, AFMS President
This October message is my last as President of the AFMS. It has been quite a year with much accomplished and several items of an on-going nature.
My sincere thanks go to all of the very dedicated AFMS officers, committee chairs and committee members, regional officers and committees. Without their help and advice, it would not have been possible to accomplish what we did, nor make the decisions which had to be made. If I thanked each of them here individually and listed their accomplishments, there would be no room for any other news. Needless to say, the AFMS owes a debt of gratitude to all of them.
People often ask what the purpose of the federations are. The ultimate goal is to assist clubs and club members wherever we can by providing information, programs, insurance help, advice, contests to improve individual achievement (editors, slide program developers, exhibitors), recognition of outstanding rockhounds, guidance for the juniors program, and keeping everyone up to date regarding safety issues. In addition the AFMS Website provides a contact for the general public with information about the various facets of our hobby.
Another purpose, not always stressed, is the ability to speak to issues, not as an individual, but as 50,000 concerned citizens. There is a constant battle in Congress pitting those wishing to close various land areas and those wanting them kept open for recreation or collecting. Although the AFMS cannot engage in political activity such as contributing to campaigns, we can advise those responsible for enacting and administering laws and regulations, and we can inform our membership of issues which are coming to the forefront. The American Lands Access Association, Inc. can take a more direct and involved role in these happenings.
I have been very pleased with the work of our committees this year. I know that some chairmen will be retiring to move on to other commitments and I wish them well in their endeavors. Our committees are actually the closest link to the many clubs in the country. It is the committees which provide help for juniors, programs, editors, etc. The reason we revised the Operating Procedures this year was to insure that committees could function to their optimum level by not only having all duties spelled out, but also to coordinate their expenditures and requests for budgetary funding with the office of the President-Elect who prepares the upcoming budget and administers it during his or her term.
The on-going items will be exciting to see unfold. Our new ad-hoc Collecting Site Committee will look into the feasibility of the AFMS owning or leasing land on which club members can collect. If the conclusions are positive, the second phase could be the establishing of an endowment fund for that purpose. Our Lewis and Clark Committee has set its schedule for the completion of its project. The final product will be for the general public of all ages, not just for rockhounds. Look for more in the upcoming year.
The Scholarship Foundation investigation is coming along nicely. Although I cannot report a conclusion at this time, we will get the word out as soon as we can.
Finally, I want to wish our incoming President, Ron Carman, the very best for the upcoming year. If Ron can get the advice and support that I had this year, his job will be made all that much easier.
Our travels around the country this past year have provided us the opportunity to meet many people, and I can tell you that rockhounds are a fantastic bunch of people. It has truly been a pleasure and a privilege to serve all of you this year, and although I can't ride off into the sunset (I still chair several committees as past-president), I look forward to getting back to doing more faceting and micromounting in the coming months.
from Ron Carman, AFMS President-elect
This is my last message as President-Elect; the next one will be my first as AFMS president, and I hope everyone will give me as good support as they gave to Steve during his tenure. Some unforeseen problems made his job unusually difficult, and he did very well despite the troubles. Hopefully this next year will run a little smoother. Thank you, Steve, for a job well done.
Right now I haven't much to say and will try to keep this article short, which for me isn't always easy. During August I attended the show in Shreveport (good job, folks!) and in September my own club in Houston has their annual show which promises to be another fine one. I want to try to visit as many shows as time permits. The trouble is that there are only so many usable weekends in a year, and there are a lot more clubs with shows than there are weekends. However, no matter where you live I encourage all of you to visit another club's show near you whenever you can. Try to take along an exhibit to contribute to their show if you can. Most clubs welcome exhibits from members of other clubs as well as their own.
Another event that happens at many shows is the "unofficial" Rollin' Rock Club (RRC) meeting you may have heard about. The RRC was founded to accommodate interested persons who may not live near a town or city large enough to have an organized club of its own. Since it was first formed in Texas, it is officially affiliated with the South Central Federation, but it welcomes members from all over, and is an international organization. Their "official" meeting takes place at the South Central Federation convention each year, but they can have unofficial meetings anywhere three or more members gather to enjoy the hobby. At many shows these unofficial meetings are held on Sunday morning, and they always are lots of fun, which is one of their purposes. If you haven't attended an RRC meeting, try it at the next show you go to. Also, as a member of the RRC you will have all privileges of Federation membership, no matter where you may live!
I want to thank you all for your support and friendship in the past, and look forward to serving you all as your president in the next year. Come tell me hello at a field trip or a show sometime.
from Mel Albright, AFMS Safety Chair
Is your club ready for some safety? Has safety been discussed in your meetings in the last year? Is your Safety Chair silent? Anyone hurt in the last year?
If you answered yes to any of the questions - perhaps it is time to start pushing safety. First, of course, you need a Safety Chair. First you must find one. You might receive objections like "I don't know anything about safety". The answer is "THE OBJECT OF THE SAFETY CHAIR IS TO REMIND PEOPLE TO DO THINGS THEY ALREADY KNOW THEY SHOULD DO." It is not to teach a new safety idea every time they talk or write, So, a Chair doesn't need to be a safety expert. They just need to look at what the club and its members are doing and remind them about the dangers they face. I would recommend a 3 to 5 minute safety reminder at each meeting as a good approach. Or perhaps a short paragraph in the club newsletter. Or both.
If your safety Chair needs some ideas, they can get on the internet (or someone can do it for them) and go to the AFMS web pages (http://www.amfed.org) and find many safety articles previously published in the AFMS Newsletter.
Having a Safety Chair in each club is important. We have a hobby that includes indoor work, outdoor field activities, machinery, dangerous chemicals and solvents, and rocks that may be dangerous under certain situations. Over time, most members have picked up habits about safety. They may be good or they may be bad. For example, consider safety glasses or face shields. We have many activities where they should indeed be used - EVERY TIME. Some of us have the habit of doing so. But some of us have the habit of NOT doing so. And some of us have the habit of only using them sometimes ("Heck this is only a 2 minute job. I don't need safety precautions for that.") A periodic reminder from your Safety Chair might make everyone remember every time since that they should.
from Dee Holland, AFMS Uniform Rules Chair
The Uniform Rules Committee and the Board of Directors has approved the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee to oversee a new "Judges Training" program. Dee Holland was appointed to chair the committee.
The purpose of the new program is to bring about more uniformity in judging at shows from region to region. It will be up to committee to select judges and/or rules committee persons from each of the regional federations attend the famous Eastern Federation's Wildacres judging class. One person from each of the Regional Federations will be chosen to attend the class either at the Spring (May) or Fall (September) session in 2003. The committee will select the session which will depend on the dates given to the Eastern Federation for the Wildacres sessions. Because of the American Federation's show the first week in June, 2003, in Ventura, California, it may have to be the Fall Session. Letters will be sent to the President of each Federation with copies to the rules chairmen asking for a list of at least two suitable candidates available from their rules or judges list for the class. The Ad Hoc Committee will choose one from each list, plus a member of the AFMS Uniform Rules Committee for a total of eight people. These individuals will then be invited to attend the Wildacres Judging Class during the selected workshop.
With the approval of the Board of Directors, funds from the AFMS Endowment Fund have been set aside to pay for the tuition, board and room during the session. It will be up to the recipients to pay their transportation to and from the session. Wildacres is situated near Little Switzerland / Spruce Pine, North Carolina. The nearest airports are Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham, Winston/Salem and Asheville, North Carolina.
This is a much needed program that will have judges from all regions reading the rules in the same way. This will not only have a consistency, but will also help the exhibitors as well. It is hoped that after attending this class, the recipients will go back and share their knowledge with the judges and exhibitors in their respective regions. A work session just before the regional shows would be of utmost help to everyone. Encouraging additional attendees to Wildacres would depend on a first come, first served for Eastern Federation's own people, and additional space available. Spouses could attend at their own expense, but would have to take craft or lapidary classes offered.
For the second year, 2004, a new group of judges from each region would be selected, and the same for 2005. At the end of 2005, there would be at least three judges and/or rules committee people from each region who would be given a certificate of participation. If the program is as successful as we hope, the committee would be considered by the Board of Directors as a permanent committee and would come under the Uniform Rules Committee in 2006.
All this couldn't have been accomplished without the support of the AFMS President, Steve Weinberger and President-Elect Ron Carman. Our sincere thanks to both for encouraging this project.
by Marge Collins AFMS Program Competition Coordinator
Three excellent programs scored 95 or more points to earn 1st Place Winners with "Highest Honors" and $200 each in the 2002 Program Competition.
In the Educational Class, "Datolite: Crystals, Diversity and Color" a slide program by Wayne W. Sukow (EFMLS & MWF) presents a close-up look at datolite specimens from around the world. Samples from each location have unique characteristics. Some are attractive cabinet specimens while others are best appreciated under magnification. You will have a better appreciation for this somewhat unusual mineral after viewing this presentation.
In the Field Trip Class, "In Search of South Dakota's Fairburn Agate" a slide program by Doug Moore and Don Kelman (MWF) takes you on a journey to find another colorful, rare species found in areas around the Black Hills. There are several other colorful 'rocks' from the same vicinity, that are sometimes mistaken for Fairburns. Doug and Don show where to hunt, what to look for - and what to look out for - if you want to add this unique agate to your collection or just know more about them.
In a 'Special Class', "Recovery of the Hyde Park Mastodon" by Jay Tinker (EFLMS) shows the detailed process and complications encountered while extricating and preserving mastodon remains from a backyard pond - not far from the Hudson River, north of Poughkeepsie, NY. Originally prepared as a Power Point presentation on CD-ROM it will be available as a 35mm slide program, on VHS video or CD-ROM.
These programs will be available from your Regional Program Library before the end of the year. Contact your Librarian to reserve a date for your use. Anyone interested in entering the 2003 Program Competition can watch for the Rules and Entry Form in this Newsletter; contact your Regional Librarian or AFMS Program Competition Coordinator - Marge Collins, 269)695-4313 or firstname.lastname@example.org for information or suggestions.
From George Loud, AFMS Conservation & Legislation Chair
AFMS Annual Meeting in Port Townsend, WA
Karen (my better half) and myself thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to the Northwest on the occasion of the AFMS Annual Meeting in Port Townsend, Washington this past July. The members of the Port Townsend Rock Club were great hosts and hostesses and we very much enjoyed the whale watching expedition which they had arranged, our trip to Victoria, British Columbia, visits to Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier and touring and shopping in Seattle.
The business meeting of the AFMS Board of Directors resulted in adoption of two initiatives of significance with regard to the work of this committee, i.e., adoption of an AFMS Land Use Policy and establishment of an ad hoc committee to investigate the possibility of establishment of a fund for the purpose of financing the purchase and/or leasing of significant collecting sites.
The AFMS Land Use Policy as adopted by the Board of Directors in Port Townsend is on page 8 of this newsletter.
The resolution passed to establish the ad hoc committee reads as follows:
"The President shall appoint an ad hoc committee to explore the feasibility of establishing a new fund for the purpose of purchase and/or lease and maintenance of collecting sites on a nationwide basis. The filing of mining and other claims on lands containing collectable rocks, minerals or fossils could also be financed by the fund. Optionally, our goal might be to operate it as an endowment fund. Should the ad hoc committee decide to recommend establishment of such a fund, certain guidelines for management of the fund would be required." For example:
1. Guidelines for purchase price in terms of cost per acre, anticipated productive life of the property, etc.
2. Guidelines for responsibilities to be assumed by a club or group of clubs nominating a site for funding. (Contract?)
3. Guidelines for disposal of property at end of productive life, i.e., when the property can no longer yield collecting material in a safe and feasible manner.
4. Guidelines for permissible maintenance costs, to be taken into account in deciding whether or not to buy a given piece of property, including but not limited to real estate taxes and liability insurance, with attention to what costs, if any, are to be borne by a nominating club or group of clubs.
5. Guidelines for fairness in geographical distribution and types of sites to be purchased, bearing in mind the varied interests of AFMS members (minerals, fossil & lapidary materials) and that many collectors are willing to travel and, indeed, enjoy travel to remote collecting sites within the continental United States.
6. Guidelines for permission to use the funded areas. The committee should also consider what impact if any the new fund would have on existing scholarship and endowment funds.
The committee might do well to consult resources including our own clubs which have had experience in the leasing and/or purchase of collecting sites, e.g., the Denver Council of Mineral Clubs, as well as organizations such as the Gold Prospectors Association and the Nature Conservatory which have had experience in the purchase and holding of lands for non-commercial purposes.
BACKGROUND: Sometime ago the then editor of the AFMS Newsletter, Reivan Zeleznik, wrote a letter suggesting that the AFMS has received scant return from its scholarship program in terms of assistance from the recipients of the scholarships awarded in the past and further suggested that such money could be better used for the lease/purchase of collecting sites and their maintenance. More recently, in conversation with Dr. Jim Cole, former State Representative for the State of Tennessee of the Southeast Federation, Dr. Cole suggested that the AFMS should purchase collecting sites where the land is available at a reasonable price, e.g., a geode collecting site on farm land currently for sale in east Tennessee.
Many field collectors question what, if anything, the AFMS does for them. Access to the collecting sites has been and remains one of the motivations for collectors to join an organized club. The trend of the status quo is less access.
The SVP Sponsored "Paleontological Resources Preservation Act"
On July 12th of this year Senate bill S2727 was introduced by Senator Daniel K. Akaka of Hawaii. This Senate bill is a companion to HR2974 of the same title earlier introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives and which was the subject of several previous reports in this column.
The Senate bill is definitely an improvement over the House bill but I do have objections.
One of my objections to the House bill was Finding No. 10 in Section 2 which reads "Some paleontological resources, including all vertebrate fossils, are rare and should only be collected under permit." In my view, the statement is simply untrue. The Senate bill contains no such erroneous finding. However, the casual collection exception of Section 7 allows for collecting of "abundant invertebrate and plant paleontological resources" only, excluding vertebrate fossils.
I recognize that current BLM and Forest Service Regulations do not allow for collecting of vertebrate fossils without a permit and, in a sense, the "casual collecting exception" might be viewed as doing no more than maintaining the status quo. However, while federal regulations are law, they are not statutory and are more easily changed. I see no logical reason for prohibiting the collecting of common vertebrate fossils such as bone fragments and sharks teeth. I would not want to see the prohibition against the collecting of all vertebrate fossils enshrined in the statutory law. If the real concern is the protection of fossilized skeletons in situ, the bill should be so limited.
I had also objected to the prohibition against "false labeling" in Section 9 of the House bill. The Senate bill also specifies "false labeling" as a prohibited act in Section 9. Of course, the intention of the provision is to prevent the trafficking of fossils illegally removed from federal lands. Our concern is the exposure to criminal penalties in cases where the mislabeling is simply an honest mistake. In both the Senate and House bills a misdemeanor penalty attaches only where a person "knowingly" violates the false labeling offense. However, a felony is defined by a fair market value in excess of $1000.00 without reference to whether or not the false labeling was made "knowingly." I believe that the intent is to penalize a fraudulent locality attribution, i.e., a label or record for a fossil illegally collected on federal lands attributing the find to a location other than public land.
However, the provision does not mention locality attribution and, given the manner in which the penalty is worded, it seems to be directed to a misidentification of the species, a mistake of no real connection to the purposes of the proposed legislation. The penalty provisions of both bills regarding "false labeling" require revision.
With revision, these bills might be made palatable to most rockhounds.
Amateurs Continue to Contribute
The August 21, 2002 issue of the Washington Post contained a feature article on the recent discovery of two Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons in Hell Creek, Montana which were excavated this Summer. The more complete skeleton is going to the Museum of the Rockies at Montana State and the second skeleton is going to the Smithsonian. While the excavation was by workers from the two museums, the discovery of the skeleton is attributed to "hobbyist Nathan Myhrvold."
"California Wild Heritage Wilderness Act of 2002"
Please help in the fight against further loss of collecting sites by new wilderness designations. There would seem to be no limit to the appetite of some green groups for additional wilderness designations. We humans are part of the environment and we have need for recreational opportunities. Wilderness designations all but eliminate most recreation. Please write your state Senators to express your views on the subject. Direct their attention to the AFMS Land Use Policy reproduced on page 8. You can write your Senator (or Senator on the Senate National Parks and Public Lands Subcommittee):
Office of Senator (Name)
Alternatively, you can contact your Senator by e-mail through the Senate web site at: <www.senate.gov>.
from Mike Kokinos
Does your Society have a tax exemption? If so, do you know the section of the Internal Revenue Code the exemption was granted? Do you know where the exemption letter received from the Internal Revenue Service is located? Is your State exemption equivalent to the federal exemption? If you answered no to any of these questions, you are one of many gem and mineral societies in the same situation. If the Society has a tax exemption, find the exemption letter. The letter states the section of the Code that exemption was granted. If you cannot locate the exemption you can obtain the Internal Revenue Service address to obtain a copy of the letter. The Service's telephone number will be in the government pages of your telephone directory.
Gem and mineral societies that applied for and received tax exemption with the Internal Revenue Service were granted exemption in one of three sections of the Internal Revenue Code. Unfortunately, years ago the Internal Revenue Service when reviewing applications for exemption usually decided that membership organizations such as gem and mineral clubs were social and recreational and granted exemption under Section 501(c)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Let's explore the three possible sections that exemption might have been granted and the primary features of each.
This is the most difficult exemption to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service. The main reason is the deductibility of contributions by the donor. In my experience, I have never received this type exemption without at least one or two follow up letters. However, in my opinion, it is the proper exemption for gem and mineral societies.
An article on what constitutes influencing legislation was published in the past. If any interest is shown in a repeat of the article, it can again be published. The definition of benefits exclusively for members is a question of facts and circumstances and generally can only be answered on an individual basis. Some examples of benefits are listed below.
Any society, that holds an exemption under this section of the Internal Revenue Code, needs to consider applying for a change of exemption.
Dedication and dissolution clauses
Since organizations exempt as charitable/educational or social welfare have to dedicate their assets they are considered charitable trusts. Most states require some form of reporting beyond the reporting to the department of revenue. Contact your State's Attorney General or department of revenue to determine if you are subject to registration as a charitable trust.
from Bonnie Glismann, AFMS Chair
It's a pleasure to announce the names of this months AFMS Club Rockhounds and it's wonderful to read of their dedication and involvement to their clubs.
I'd like to encourage each AFMS affiliated club to select an individual or couple to recognize via the AFMS Newsletter. If your club does not want to do this, any individual can. Just send your regional ACROY chairman the name of the person (or couple), club and federation name along with a brief (50 words) narrative telling why this person or persons should be recognized. Maybe your club person will be recognized here next month!
Rocky Mountain Federation
The Flatirons Mineral Club of Boulder, Colorado nominates Charlotte Morrison as our 2002 Rockhound of the Year. Since joining our club in 1976, she has held every office in the club, except president. She has assisted with every club show for the past 25 years. Currently, she serves as the club newsletter editor, oversees putting together the club grab bags to generate money for our scholarship fund, helps plan the yearly club picnic, plus runs weekly lapidary classes in her home. Charlotte continues to share her rockhounding knowledge and enthusiasm.
Submitted by Dennis Gertenbach
The Driftless Area Gem & Mineral Club of Tomah, Wisconsin would like to honor Marjorie and Howard Niles as their AFMS Rockhound of the Year for 2002. They have been dedicated to our club since they joined in 1976. Howard has held the office of president for two years, secretary for four years, served as delegate to the MWF Council meetings and has helped out by bringing displays to our shows and door prizes to our meetings. He has gone to schools to show rocks and has given many talks. Marjorie has served as president five times and has helped in the kitchen and at registration at our shows. They are true Rockhounds and have done much to further the hobby.
Submitted by Luella E. Devoe
Our 2002 Rockhound of the Year is Fred Williams of the Greater Cincinnati Lapidary & Faceting Society. Fred joined our club in 2000. He is our teacher for faceting, the club handyman and club's Vice-president. When you need something fixed he gets the job done. Fred is an important part of our show; demonstrating faceting, talking to people about our club and many of the other things the club does and when the need arises for something out of the ordinary, he has the skills and spirit to invent whatever is needed. The kind of person you can truly rely on; that's our Fred Williams.
Submitted by the club members
The Cincinnati Mineral Society has selected Jim & Judy Budnik as their Rockhounds of the year. Jim is the current president and Judy is the current club liaison. Both are on the Show Board and Field Trip chair. They both go out and put about 10 library displays up before the show. They are so busy helping out the two days prior to and during the show that they don't get to see the show. They both are award winning editors for the newsletter. If asked to talk about minerals and geology subjects to groups they are right there. They have not yet learned to just say NO!
from Dee Holland, AFMS Endowment Fund Chair
This year the AFMS Endowment Fund will be selling tickets for a commemorative Lewis and Clark limited edition, cast iron dutch oven. This is a special heirloom dutch oven with a reproduction of Lewis and Clark in a canoe, shown in relief on the lid with dates, 1803-1806-2003-2006. If you're not an avid outdoors person, with lots of camping as part of your current life style, you'll still want a chance to just put this on your hearth. It's a wonderful conversation piece.
Since the Lewis and Clark celebration will begin in 2003, this cast iron dutch oven will be of special interest to you. This will be a significant item for years to come. You might even want to win it so you can take it to your club and auction it off again. The ideas are endless. OR, you can keep it yourself…
Tickets will be available at the AFMS/CFMS show in Ventura. A limited amount of tickets will also be available before the show, but you must make arrangements to have someone at the show to pick up the prize if you can't attend personally.
This special three legged, 7.5 quart, deep dish pot is designed for maximum cooking versatility. It also has three short legs on the lid so you may use the lid as a fry pan or hot serving platter. The high lid creates the space required for hot air to circulate, allowing for more even cooking. Cooking in the outdoors with this dutch oven just doesn't get any better.
As usual, all proceeds will go to the AFMS Endowment Fund. Please do your part, contribute to this very worthy cause. You'll be getting an heirloom you will cherish and will be able to pass something of significance on to your children.
from Izzie Burns, AFMS President 2000-2001
It gives me great pride to announce the Million Penny Scholarship Goal has been reached and exceeded thanks to all of you who saved and collected pennies for this worthy cause. A total of 1, 1 22,530 Pennies ($11,225.30) had been deposited with Arlene Burkhalter, AFMS Scholarship Foundation Treasurer before the Show. At the AFMS Show this year I received more checks and pennies. Rocky McCall, whom I had heard held a penny search of every member at every meeting, converted the pennies and presented me a check for $160.00. Several others had donations. A little four year old girl had a plastic bag of pennies that she and her brother had found and taken to her grandmother's, Kathy Sahli's, house to add to the penny jar for lzzie's Fund. Many people tossed their change and pennies into The Port Townsend Rock Club Fountain at the AFMS Show. They told me that I had to wade out into it to collect it, but at the last minute they told me they would take care of that.
It was an interesting year of exciting things happening, such as, when George Browne grabbed the brass bucket in our wishing well and brought it back filled to the brim with not only pennies, but folding money, too. A little girl at the Arlington Show, who put pennies in the wishing well and hesitated on tossing in her quarter, but I suggested that she might want to buy something with it. She returned in a few minutes with a handful of change to say that her father had reached in his pocket and given her all of his change when she told him what it was for. The CFMS Vista Club wrote that their group voted to donate 20 cents each when that only came to $14.00 they passed the hat and collected another $30.00. They challenged other clubs to beat their donation. Some clubs had never donated to the AFMS Scholarship Funds made a donation. An artist drew some darling bees to be used for promotion posters.
A lady from Anchorage sent her pennies with a note that she was so pleased that we were collecting pennies as they mean so little to people - many just toss them away or do not even pick them up. I thought that you might enjoy some facts about their value. It costs the government 0.8 of a cent to make a penny. Last year 14,277,421,000 pennies were made and distributed; so the US mints made -$283,548,520.00. This also, keeps some of our copper and other mines in operation. A Bill was introduced in Congress to eliminate the penny, but there was an opposition of over 70%. Without the penny we would spend over $600 billion more due to the rounding off of prices and sales taxes. Just one more penny fact. We have deposited the amount equal to over twelve miles of pennies laid side by side.
Again I want to express my appreciation to the success of this project that was started as a tribute to Luellen Montgomery for all the editorials that she has supplied us with through the years, for all of the letters she mailed to honorees, scholarship recipients, and schools of learning. Many ask me if the fund was going to continue. Maybe we should suggest that if clubs so desire that they collect the month of the founding of the AFMS Scholarship Foundation which is March. Arlene, our Scholarship Foundation Treasurer, has not heard of this, but I am sure that she will gladly take our donations. Bob Backus, Assistant Show Chair for next year was not at the -convention, but when The Penny Fountain was mentioned to him, he immediately said we will have a fountain next year.
from Millie Heym
I was just in the middle of putting together my September newsletter, browsing through possibilities for "borrowed" newsbits from other newsletters, and there it was again - that ubiquitously wrong spelling for the possessive pronoun "its."
If I had a dollar for every time I see this used incorrectly in the print media (including professional newspapers and magazines), it wouldn't matter that the stock market has plunged - I'd be rich.
Here's the grammar rule, and it's (note spelling!) a simple one:
If you are using a contraction of "it is" - then you use the apostrophe. Hence the correctness of "it's" in my above sentence.
This is the ONLY time you use an apostrophe.
If you are referring to the possessive pronoun, as in "this is its best usage" - there is NEVER an apostrophe.
That's a pretty simple rule - NEVER an apostrophe, unless it's a contraction!
We've had a lot of grammar advice and editorials running through bulletin editor literature in the past couple of years. To my knowledge, nobody has noticed this constantly-occurring mistake.
If we're going to be such sticklers for grammar that we criticize the placing of a period outside of quotation marks (which is a punctuation error, but so commonly used in today's literature that it may be on the way to becoming accepted), why do we continue to let "it's" slide?
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