Don’t be your own limiting factor

It is a very sad fact that the toxic, tribalism-focused, divisive, narrow, me-first way of thinking that some humans practice is their prime limiting factor.

In the end, they will probably do themselves in (taking many of us along with them) as they cling to their ancient emotion and fear-driven ideas, ideals, idols, crystals, horoscopes, and divisive, evidence and reason-lacking ancient dusty tablets and texts – all while the real miracles come from the readily available peer-reviewed and often freely offered findings of science, application of engineering, and acceptance of reality.

Sad indeed but it seems this fact may be one of the ways natural selection is exhibited in the human species.

Improvise, adapt, overcome, evolve, survive, thrive.

“Science the shit out of it.”

Dare mighty things.

Do good things.

Be the change.

One Love.

Peace.

Another orbit completed successfully

Another trip around the sun completed successfully.

Some perspective: On this day (July 15th) in 1968 I came into this reality – whatever this reality really is – and as of today, I have existed in this reality for 54 earth years.

Some perspective and observations.

I was premature so I had to cook in an incubator for a while until my body took over and I could support myself without the assistance of science and technology.

I was soon adopted by two amazing people Cathy and Clayton – who accepted me into their home as their own child. They later adopted another child in need and named her Lesly who then became my wonderful sister. She met Jonas and they raised two wonderful children – Cody and Ashlyn – who I just know will go above and beyond and do great things. I am lucky and proud to be a part of this family.

I was born in the middle of one of the times of the greatest scientific and engineering achievements humankind has ever experienced: the Apollo-era moon missions and landings…and, fitting the space exploration and cultural turbulence of the times, the first incarnation of Star Trek – my favorite TV series – was on TV…and it still is and all of its incarnations and I love them all for the messages they bring to all of us – if we have the capacity to understand and accept them and put them into practice.

I have been alive (whatever that means) for ~473,040 hours and accruing. I have orbited our closest star Sol 54 times. I have now traveled around 31,536,000,000 miles (50,752,272,384 kilometers) through space in an ever-spiraling circle around a rather remote and average little yellow star while riding on a water-soaked living rock along with you and over 7.9 billion other naked, bi-pedal, mostly hairless, multi-colored, fire and tool-using, thinking apes, and countless other amazing life-forms – while spinning at an equatorial rate of around 1000 mph (1,609.3 kph) while at the same time passing through the icy blackness vacuum of space at around 67,000 mph (107,826 kph) in our orbital path around the sun while also orbiting around Sagittarius A* the supermassive black hole in the center of our home galaxy at a rate of around 514,000 mph. At this rate, it will take me, you, our wet rock, and our star – about 229 million years to make one trip around the galactic center thereby completing one Galactic Year. And all of this, all of us, everything, our entire Milky Way galaxy – is traveling through intergalactic space at around 1.2 million mph (1.9m kph) relative to the cosmic background radiation.

Ponder it.

So far, I have had an amazing existence full of tons of excitement, exploration, friendship, laughter love, and light as well as periods of loss, pain, hardship, and a little bit of darkness.

I was here the last time Haley’s Comet passed by our pale blue watery rock of a dot in 1986 (and I plan to be here to see it again when it comes back around again in 2062).

I rode along in spirit and in support of every space exploration mission humanity has launched since I can remember way back as a 4-year-old kid watching it happen live (well, almost live since round trip communication time between the earth and moon is 2.6 seconds) on TV and then running outside in the yard to look up at the moon where the last Apollo astronauts were bouncing about the lunar surface in the early ’70s. I have since watched in awe, great appreciation, and hope as the space programs of planet earth sent many amazing interplanetary probes to the Sun, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Titan, Neptune, Pluto, asteroids, comets, asteroids, and more. I watched as the incredible Space Shuttles flew on huge pillars of flame and 15 nations set aside their differences to build the International Space Station – a castle of science, discovery, and international cooperation 249 miles above all of us in the “sky.” Today I am elated at the rapid evolution of non-governmental space exploration and travel organizations and I hope to see us back on the moon soon – and then sometime before I kick off – great shiny Starships landing on Mars. Go SpaceX! Just a few days ago I witnessed the mind-blowingly beautiful and deeply data-rich images from almost the beginning of time and space come beaming down to all of us overly encephalized hairy tit-sucking mammals living upon this pale blue dot from the incredible James Webb Space Telescope – and I look forward to seeing more that will come to us over the next 20 – 30 years and am so excited for how much the JWST’s imagery will increase our knowledge of our own cosmic evolution.

I chased nature and wild animals, first as a child for personal interest sake, and later in the name of science, education, and conservation of species. My favorites being the misunderstood creatures of the world such as reptiles, amphibians, bats, Opossums, and vultures.

On a few occasions, my body was invaded by festering armies of microscopic “wildlife” that tried to use me as a replicator for more of their kind and/or end me, and yet, my own immune system as well as the findings of many, many great scientists that came before allowed me to boost, augment, and bio-hack my body through the use of antibiotics and vaccinations thereby giving me a “force field of science” inside and out so I could continue awkwardly onward into the future.

In 2014 I came closest to feeding the soil, worms, and trees when a rather archaic and not that useful part of my internal anatomy (my appendix) malfunctioned and suffered a massive R.U.D. (Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly) – so I had it removed by a robot that was designed by science and piloted by a scientist we all call a doctor so I could continue in my present state of gangly existence.

In 2016 I had an encounter with a wild venomous serpent (Timber rattlesnake) who was only defending himself due to my accidental stupidity and, while I was in no danger of meeting my end – it did really hurt a bit and slow me down for a few weeks (yes, the snake still lives in the wilds of the forest 🙂 ) The only way I was able to overcome this one without losing a finger and possibly suffering lasting damage to my body was through the findings of science. Yep, there is that science thing again. Ain’t it wonderful 🙂

This past year the current plague impacting humanity (SARS CoV2) finally caught up with me. It was no fun at all and took me out for a week or so but I recovered – again thanks to science and my science-augmented immune system.

On all these close calls (and many I have not even been aware of due to my science augmented/trained to recognize and destroy the “bad guys” immune system via all the vaccinations I have gladly rolled up my sleeves to receive since I was a small child 🙂 ) I was given another chance at existing in this reality through the findings of science, miracles of modern technology and engineering…and possibly a little bit of some as yet to be discovered by science mystical energy field or omnipotent ancient and possibly extraterrestrial/interdimensional intelligence that, for some really disturbingly strange reason, many individuals/cultures/factions on the planet have coined many different names/stories/belief systems for – yet cannot ever seem to agree upon…and often even choose to childishly take sides, argue, fight, and believe it or not even murder each other over…so bizarre and childlike is the proudest monkey.

IMHO – if this intelligence exists – it is as far “above” us as we are “above” our closest relatives the Chimpanzee and Bonobo…or maybe the bacterium…or the virus. Whatever the case, I’m pretty sure that if it does exist it might be studying us as we study the animals…or the virus…and it cares not one single bit about our posturings on its behalf, the myriad of books we write about it, our childish bickering on who/what it is, who or what is “right” and “wrong,” who uses which bathroom, who’s skin is what color, who is “left” and “right,” etc. – just like we do not care about the comings and goings of bacteria and viral organisms…until they invade our personal space and become overpopulated…hmmmm…something important to ponder if you are able to see deep enough or large enough to ponder it…

At an early age, I became tired of all the factions telling me what to do, how to believe, how to think, how to live my life, and how to be a human – so I chose to follow my own path. I chose to listen to nature, to the evidence and logic and teachings of the wilderness, and to the findings and ponderings of the great minds and philosophies of history. Some may call me a “free spirit” – nice! – thank you! Some have called me “lost” – really, how rude! But whatever the case may be this is my path, no one can choose it for me and likewise, I will never try to force it on you or anyone. You must all find your own path.

I learned to drone a didgeridoo – so very ancient and cool!

I fell in love with a wonderful, beautiful, and intelligent human female called Marian and we settled down a bit…but not too much 🙂

A few years later I fell into a wonderful career inspiring, leading, and sharing nature, science, and reality knowledge with amazing at-risk youth on the connections, beauty, and joy of nature, wildlife, science, and life the universe, and everything.

While working to inspire tomorrow’s youth to better themselves by connecting with nature, wilderness, wild things, and to trust science and let it be their guide in life – I have connected with so many amazing human beings in my students and my coworkers – my life has been so deeply enrichened from my time with all of you amazing people and I am so grateful for all of you and your lasting contributions to your classroom and to my personal journey.

My incredible students, interns, volunteers, amazing friends Jim and Bob, and I all worked together over many solar orbits with many more amazing project supporters to build a photovoltaic solar power plant that benefits not only our classroom and campus but the entire local community with clean, locally-produced renewable energy from our nearest fusion reactor in space – the sun! Update: During my most recent solar orbit we all – and some wonderful and most-generous new friends – worked to create a solar-powered mobile outreach classroom called the SS NaSA PoD (Science Steve’s Nature and Science Adventure Pod of Discovery) – that will allow us to bring our nature, wildlife, and science messages to our students and to the region – so cool!

About 10 orbits ago my wife and I started phasing out almost all our connections to nature, life, and future-harming dirty fossil fuels. We have been driving mostly electric since 2013 and intend to soon go fully electric with most of our transportation, energy, and fuel needs coming from EVs and local renewable energy sources.

Just a few solar orbits ago the amazing findings of the science of genetics and DNA sequencing allowed me to connect with my wonderful biological father, sister, brother, and other awesome family members and answer many of the questions about my genetic roots and my connections to nature that I have had since an early age.

And now I find myself near the end of a global viral pandemic that has sadly ended the lives of many and upset the lives and plans of most. As before, I will follow and trust the science as I ignore all the other randomly repeated, vociferous, evidence-lacking, overly emotional, opinions and options and roll up my sleeve and gladly accept the expertly recommended vaccinations against this microscopic attacker (but I did still get the virus – only not as bad as some I know who did not or could not roll up their sleeves). I will continue to trust in science, even with its changeable and incomplete nature, to give me guidelines and support during this global human emergency. I hope you will choose to join me and in doing so, together, you and I will get through this thing – and hopefully, I will still be here to rewrite this yet again next year on this day.

Whatever all the facts and reasons may be, I am very glad to still be here on this incredible and sometimes bumpy but always interesting wild ride through the cosmos with all of you other crazy wonderful, and beautifully mixed-up mosh pit of humans and always wonderful animals.

I’m not sure where we are going or when, where, and why we exist – but wherever, whatever, whenever, and whyever – at least we are making good time and it has been and will continue to be one heck of a wild ride through the cosmos on this one strange rock we all call home.

Thank you all for being here and for riding along on this roller coaster called life with me 🙂 Now let’s all take another spin around the sun together on spaceship Earth!

Improvise, adapt, overcome, evolve, survive, and thrive.

Live long and prosper.

Bring the change.

Be the change.

Do good things.

Coexist.

One Love.

Peace.

Dreams are fun

My dreams are usually bizarrely twisted versions of reality – but they are usually not anything to share…until now. I’m sharing the next two dreams purely due to the bizarre comedic nature of their freaky fun content.

Dream 1: I find myself in a vehicle traveling dangerously fast along an autobahn-like superhighway. I am in the back of the vehicle. It is a boxy, obviously an off-road “Jeep” type vehicle. It has many features that remind me of the 1960’s Series Land Rovers that I once owned and drove. A truly off-center difference is that the entire interior is carpeted in plush, deep, black shag carpet. It was really quite nice – in the dream. I then notice that I am sitting, not in a vehicle seat – there are no standard back seats or inward-facing jump seats as in some jeep-style two-door vehicles – I am facing forward and sitting in an old folding aluminum lawn chair with green plastic webbing. There are no seat belts and the seat is not attached to the floor as it should be. It and I are just at the mercy of physics should this wild ride abruptly end.

Weird. But it is about to get even weirder.

There is someone in the driver’s seat and someone in the passenger seat.

The driver turns to say something to the passenger and I recognize him – it’s Elon Musk. Then I recognize the passenger- it’s Neil DeGrasse Tyson. They are chatting about this new truck – so it must be that we are in Elon’s Cybertruck.

Cool.

But it sure does not look like a Cybertruck on the inside. Anyhow, Elon then says into the air “Autopilot Engaged” then he gets up, climbs over the seats, walks past me, and gets a drink from the built-in bar, the bartender is a shiny stainless steel (probably 304L) robot who reminds me of Bender from Futurama – only chrome plated and more menacing with a HAL 9000-like huge red camera-lens-like eye and many more arms – I would guess at least 6 but he is waving them all around like Dr. Octopus so it was hard to count them. The bizarro-bartender-Bender-bot then handed Musk the drink – I believe it was a Mojito…but it was bubbling and glowing blue and had a mad scientist-like smoke-like vapor sublimating from its bubbling surface – Musk passes it to DeGrasse Tyson who thanks him and is laughing while sipping his drink and acting as if all this is nothing new.

All the while the Cybertruck is expertly navigating around all manner of speeding swerving cars that are smashing into each other, exploding into conflagrations of twisted metal and flesh, running off the roads, and smashing head-on into trees and careening off cliffs…suddenly the Cybertruck abruptly swerves and takes an exit onto a dirt road not much wider than the truck itself, it then accelerates to an unbelievable warp-like speed and everything out the windows is an unrecognizable blur – yet its electric drive train is noticeably and eerily silent…and somehow the Cybertruck is staying attached to the road – I think to myself “maybe it is using its cold-gas thrusters and/or Elon and team have invented anti-gravity technology…”

Cool.

Elon and Neil are laughing and drinking their bubbling blue smoking Mojitos and Neil says “How is it that physics isn’t coming into play here – by my best calculations we should be dead in the pool of glacial meltwater at the bottom of that giant crevasse?” I look left and yes, a giant crevasse – we are now on a glacier that is melting fast due to anthropogenic climate change brought on by excessive fossil fuel consumption…Musk says “It’s bad-ass Tesla technology Neil.” he laughs and Neil laughs with him and they drink more of their strange blue mojitos and all the while the Cybertruck is just carrying on without any issue as all hell is breaking loose around us…wait, are we flying?

All I can think about is how I am in a lawn chair, not wearing a seat belt, and the shag carpet was a nice choice – and then I wake up. WTF? I really wanted to see how that one ended.

Now I am worried that when I finally do get my Cybertruck – it won’t have the shag carpet or a bizarro-bartender-Bender-bot.

Dream 2: I’m in a public place. It seems to be a festival of some sort. I see a very buxom woman with long brown hair and a very low-cut tank top running a hot dog stand specializing in vegan brats – her sign reads “My wieners have all the length and girth you can stand.” Woah – really! That’s bold.

I then notice she seems upset. I move closer and she leans down to tell me something – when she does her massive breasts almost fall out of her tiny pink tank top and I notice she has sweat beading up all over her body and she is trembling with fear. She then says something about a snake. For a moment I wonder if her “snake” comment is just her way of coming onto me. My query is answered by her total fear-based reaction – she is clearly terrified of something. Obviously, I investigate further to see if I can assist her with her snake issue. She tells me there is a snake under her hot dog cart and she points in the direction – and I notice she has 2-inch-long electric-blue fingernails.

I look where she is pointing under the cart and discover a smallish snake. It is coiled in the grass near one of the cart’s tires. It is about 2 feet long. At first, it seems to be a Copperhead. Venomous, yes – but not anything to worry that much about as long as you do not get too close. So I get ready to go in and move the snake to a safe place so she can get back to selling her oversized phallically themed sweaty vegan brats.

As if all that was not strange enough…

Suddenly, the snake starts to rapidly grow! It grows and stretches to thousands of times its earlier size to become a monstrous snake-like creature about 20 feet in length with a girth like an elephant’s trunk. It has several rows of unusual crab leg-like venomous talon-tipped appendages below its head and dozens of black, unblinking eyes, and a huge venom-dripping stinger on the end of its whip-like tail. As it is writhing around above the hot dog cart the buxom woman and all the people nearby run off shouting in absolute terror…

I stand there watching the carnage and then say to myself: “This is just not possible, this is not reality – so this must be a dream and I am the dreamer. That is the only logical explanation of this event.”

Then I wake up.

Dang. I really wanted to see how that one ended.

No drugs, alcohol, or unusual foods were ingested before I went to bed. These are just the natural drugs produced by my own brain and some wild drugs they must be.

Dreams are fun.

Happy Independence Day

A few years ago on this very same night, I was trying to go to sleep and my next-door neighbor across the holler had other ideas – so he shot my roof with fireworks! I listened as at least four mortar shells launched, soared into the sky, exploded, and then their spent shells impacted and rolled down my roof! I do not believe it was intentional but then again one never knows. I had to climb up on the roof in the middle of the night while fireworks exploded all around me – just to be sure the spent noisemakers did not light my house on fire!!

Grrrrr…there he goes again…I may have to have a talk with him…or better yet have the sheriff pay him a visit.

Luckily, my house did not burn down. However, my warmongering pyromaniac neighbor ran out of fireworks and started shooting his guns into the air around 11:30 pm all while cranking ’60-’80s music over his overbuilt car stereo so loud I could hear it inside my house over 1200 feet away – even with a thickly forested buffer between us.

While I totally support celebrating Independence Day – damn, I really hate fireworks. There was a time when I liked them but that was long ago. Now that I’m older and wiser and I have cultivated a reverence for all life, I see fireworks as only a celebration of littering, war, and bloodshed and a garish waste of money and resources that needlessly scare wildlife, pets, people, create unnecessary pollution and cause fires and loads of other issues when used incorrectly.

It is no wonder they are illegal in many places. Grrrrr!!!

I was just about to call the sheriff when he powered it all down and all went quiet.

I can only imagine the scene – his house and yard littered with spent fireworks, shotgun shells, and beer cans, a bare-chested, drunk, passed out male bipedal primate – or possibly female …or both…or an assortment of drooling, inebriated, bipedal primates…I have no idea since I have never seen the house where the fireworks originate or the primates that live within it – reclining in a lawn chair with a smoking shotgun in one flaccid pale white hand, a bud “dumber” can in the other spilling warm beer into a puddle being lapped up by a filthy mongrel of a dog while another stinking drunk canine sleeps upside down – tongue and gonads hanging out – on a moldering couch covered in beer cans, cigarette butts, and empty firework and shotgun shell boxes, in the middle of the driveway while a dollar store likeness of a “murican” flag hangs limp in the clearing smoke.

A sad scene to be sure and a scene that is becoming all too common in some parts of this country. In my opinion, this blatant disregard for public safety, wildlife, and nature has little to do with patriotism and more to do with childish machismo, dangerous patriotism, and inane stupidity. Our brave forefathers would be sad and disgusted at the level at which many of us have fallen.

At least the bozo has good taste in music.

Here are a few ideas for a meaningful, lasting celebration of our independence that can improve our communities, our country, and our connections with each other and with nature:

1. Plant some trees that will provide oxygen, shade, and sequester carbon. You could make it an annual tradition and call them “Freedom Trees” and over time you would have a “Freedom Forest.” If you and your kids planted fruit trees you could produce some of your own “Freedom Fruit” and before long you would have a “Freedom Orchard” – you get the idea 🙂

2 – Plant a vegetable garden to produce some of your own food. You could call it the “Freedom Garden” or as they did in WW2 a “Victory Garden” – whatever you called it, it would be a great way to grow some of your own food and teach your kids where their food comes from and how to be more self-sufficient and therefore, truly free.

3. You could add some solar panels to your roof/property to lessen your reliance on coal and foreign oil and in doing so you would become more energy secure and self-sufficient by farming the sun and producing your own “Freedom Electrons” to power your personal energy needs.

4. You could trade in that old gas guzzler for a new or used electric car. If you only used it to go to work/town and back as a daily driver for even just a few times per week – it will save you loads of money on fuel, oil, and maintenance – especially with fuel prices as high as they are now – oh and you can charge it up with those solar panels I mentioned earlier and have zero fuel costs.

True self-reliance comes when you are not tied to the grocery stores and fuel pumps – which are tied to corporate farms and oil fields of the Gulf of Mexico and the Middle East by several hundred to thousands of miles long supply chains. Operating and protecting these supply chains – especially the petroleum “umbilical cord” without which all gas/diesel vehicles would be useless – costs billions of our hard-earned tax dollars, the lives of our loved ones in the military who work hard and give their lives to protect it, and what about all the toxic, health, earth, life, atmosphere, and future-destroying pollution that comes with every step of the process?

For a moment just forget all your pre-conceived and/or religiopolitical notions about this idea and just imagine never paying for gas and oil ever again. What would you do with all that money? Imagine quietly making your own clean fuel and energy at home and being able to unplug from the subscription to dependency at the gas pump and the local monopolistic power plant and not needing to feed off of the teat of the twisted, toxic, destructive fossil fuel-based energy system we have created over the last 200 years.

There is a better way and it leads to true energy independence – I know how it feels because I have done it. I have been driving a fully electric car for almost 9 years and I charge it with “homegrown” sunshine so my EV electron fuel costs are around 1 cent per mile! I never stop at gas stations, never worry about tune-ups, exhaust pipes, mufflers, emissions inspections, etc…driving electric is an amazing feeling of freedom and it is a great feeling in every way. If I can do it, so can you.

5. Here is another good idea – what about eating less meat even if only for one day a week.

Aside from the obvious health benefits, eating less meat means less land and resources will be used up for industrial animal farming – “Factory Farms” – and all the problems they create. If you just cannot fathom that move then maybe you can choose to raise and/or ethically hunt and fish for your own meat instead of supporting dirty, unhealthy, industrial animal farms – like gardening, it teaches the next generation where their food comes from, it teaches respect for other life forms, and it teaches self-reliance – aka freedom…and besides, getting outside in nature, be it for hunting, fishing, farming, gardening, planting trees, installing solar, driving your solar-charged EV, or taking a hike in the forest with your kids, family or dog or alone – is just so good for you and your loved ones and it is a great way to celebrate our country’s and maybe your own independence day 🙂