COVID-19 is only the beginning…

My sinuses and eyes are dry, my lungs feel congested, I have an occasional dry cough, last night I felt weak and “under the weather.”

No, it is not covid – I’m vaccinated for that damn plague.

My respiratory symptoms are due to the horrible air quality we are experiencing from the smoke we are receiving from all the wildfires on the north American continent mixed with all the pollution from burning fossil fuels for energy in our automobiles, power plants, and factories.

In my classroom I’m running the air filter on turbo mode so my students have cleaner air while in class…

…and all the while people seem to only be talking about the pretty sunsets while continuing to deny anthropogenic climate change and carry on like nothing is wrong.

It boggles the brain.

We are our own limiting factor.

In my opinion and experience, many politicians and religious leaders are nothing more than openly (or under the table) highly paid businesspersons who are adept at saying exactly what you want to hear so you will willingly feed them more of your support, time, and money.

They do not care one bit about you and are nothing more than charlatans and leeches feeding upon the fears and tears of the masses. They have nothing to offer me when it comes to making the important decisions that support us all.

The lessons of history show that many politicians and religious leaders are out for only personal gain or the betterment of only their chosen “side” or agenda. This side-taking helps only a very few and it only servers to widen the gap of division, doubt, fear, and hate.

To think that a politician, a religious leader, (or a random loudmouthed citizen on social media) would have better health, science, or environmental suggestions/recommendations than those learned individuals who have devoted their entire careers, lives, and passions to the betterment of human health, understanding the environment, energy matters, and the progress of everything moving forward – would be the ultimate in senseless, futile, self-sabotage.

Therefore, in great matters of health, environment, evolution, adaptation, life, and death, I will always first and foremost choose to listen to and follow the careful recommendations of the experts. If however, a politician or religious leader chooses to ignore the lure of money, status, power, prestige, and instead choose to actually listen to and act upon the guidance of the experts – then I might choose to give them a chance to live up to their claims.

So far this has not happened yet and we are spiraling down toward our species demise.

If we do not adapt – nature will have its way with us because in nature there are only two options: adapt or die.

In this case adapting means putting aside toxic politics and dusty ancient dogma in favor of following the evidence, logic, and listening to and accepting the findings and recommendations of the planets unbiased experts. Then, with this knowledge in hand we must all work together to do the following:

We must transition as fast as possible away from a fossil fuel based energy economy and replace it with a renewable energy based economy.

We also need to end single use throw away items.

We need to learn to eat far less animal protein – unless we buy locally and ethically produced meat or raise, or legally hunt/fish for them ourselves.

We stop having litters of children just because we can.

We all need to go get ourselves vaccinated when faced with planetary plagues.

We must work together to be more accepting of each others ethnicities, nationalities, choices, and differences – we need to be more humane humans.

We need to plant more trees, flowers, and vegetables.

We must help animals and humans in need.

We must help the young get a good start and help the old find friendship, support, and rest.

If we can find the will power to do these things – our species will thrive.

If we cannot do these things I fear that we will end up living on only in the fossil record.

Make good choices.

Do good things.

Be the change.

Are you air aware? www.purpleair.com

Another trip around the sun

Another trip around the sun completed successfully.


Some perspective: On this day in 1968 I came into this reality – whatever this reality really is – and as of today, I have existed in this reality for 53 earth years.

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 greatest scientific achievements humankind had and 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 was on TV…and it still is!

I have been alive (whatever that means) for ~464,280 hours and climbing. I have orbited our closest star Sol – 53 times. I have now traveled around 30,952,000,000 miles (49,812,415,488 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 7.25 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 while at the same time passing through the icy blackness vacuum of space at around 67,000 mph in our orbital path around the sun while also orbiting around 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 230 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 the last Apollo astronauts bouncing about the lunar surface in the early ’70s. I have since watched in awe, great appreciation, and hope as the incredible Space Shuttles flew and 15 nations set aside their differences to build the international space station – a castle of science, discovery, and international cooperation in the sky. Today I am elated at the rapid evolution of non-governmental space travel organizations and I hope to see us back on the moon and then Mars before too long. Go SpaceX!

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 microscopic festering armies of “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 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.

I came closest to feeding the soil, worms, and trees when in 2014 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 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 🙂


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 🙂 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 undiscovered by science mystical energy field or omnipotent ancient and possibly extraterrestrial/interdimensional intelligence that, for some strange reason, many individuals/cultures/factions on the planet have coined different names/stories/belief systems for – yet cannot ever seem to agree upon…and often even choose to childishly take sides, argue, fight, and even kill each other over…so bizarre 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 exists it might be studying us as we study the animals and it cares not one single bit about the 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…

At an early age I became tired with all the factions telling me what to do, how to believe, how to think, how to live my life, 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 the findings 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 this is my path and I will never try to force it on you or anyone. You must find your own path.

I learned to drone a didgeridoo.

I fell in love with a wonderful beautiful 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 knowledge with at-risk amazing 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 guides in life – my students, interns, volunteers, amazing friends Jim and Bob, and I all worked together 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!

Around this same time, my wife and I started phasing out almost all our connections to nature and life-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 EV’s and local renewable energy sources.

Relatively recently the amazing findings of the science of genetics and DNA sequencing allowed me to connect with my wonderful biological father 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 above all other randomly repeated, vociferous, evidence-lacking, emotional, opinions and options. I rolled up my sleeve and gladly accepted the expertly recommended vaccinations against this microscopic attacker and 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 beautiful 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, thrive.
Live long and prosper.
Bring the change.
Be the change.
Do good things.

Happy Independence Day


It is July 4th.

As I write this post it sounds like my neighbors across the cove to the south and down the mountain to the north are are launching an all-out war on everything and I am caught in the crossfire – and fireworks are supposedly illegal in my state…

About 5 years ago those same neighbors launched fireworks that dropped on my rooftop. I had to climb up on the roof around midnight to be se sure the rocket remains were not smoldering – and it was in the middle of a drought!

I’m all about celebrating Independence Day but I have never understood how blowing things up is anything more than intentional littering/air/noise pollution, a waste of resources, creates a huge fire hazard, and puts unreasonable unneeded stresses on wildlife, pets, and people/veterans with PTSD/sensitivities to sound.

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

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 🙂

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.

You could add some solar panels to your roof/property to lessen your reliance on dirty energy (fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas) 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.

You could trade in that old gas guzzler for a new or used electric vehicle (EV). Even 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, maintenance – oh and you can charge it up with those solar panels I mentioned earlier and have zero fuel costs.


True freedom and self-reliance come 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 and dirty politics. 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 the toxic, health, earth, life and future-destroying pollution that comes with every single step of the process?


For a moment why not just try and forget all your preconceived notions about this idea and imagine never paying for gas/oil/tune-ups and all those random bits that legacy automobiles often need repair or replacement – ever again.

Wow. What a grand concept. What would you do with all that money?


Imagine quietly making your own clean fuel/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 oily teat of the twisted, toxic, corrupt, destructive energy system we have created over the last ~200 years…all while accepting/believing without question that it is the only option…


There is a better way to source our energy and get from point A to point B and it leads to true energy independence – I know how good it feels because I have done it.

My 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV – the “Mighty Bolt”

I have been driving a fully electric car for almost 8 years – my first EV was a 2012 Nissan LEAF – and I charge it with “homegrown” solar-produced electricity so my fuel costs are only around 1 cent per mile! I never stop at gas stations, never worry about tune-ups, exhaust pipes, mufflers, catalytic converters, belts, hoses, fluids, filters, transmissions, etc…driving electric is free from all these things and it is an amazing feeling of freedom and it is a great feeling in every way. If I can do it, so can you.

Here are a few fun freedom facts:

Yesterday my wife and I took a close to 300-mile road trip. We needed to stop for fuel and were happy to discover that the Electrify America fueling stations we chose to use – were all offering free fuel to all patrons in honor of Independence Day!

Charging costs for the entire journey – $0.00!

During our sojourn, we met many other holiday travelers who were stopping for fuel as well.

They were voyaging in many different makes of vehicle but they all shared two things in common: they were all powered by electricity and none of their owners had to pay for fuel for this entire holiday weekend!


We also passed by a Tesla Supercharger station where several Teslas were charging up. I heard through the EV grapevine that some Tesla Supercharger stations were also offering free charging in honor of Independence Day.

So cool.


Thank you Electrify America, Tesla, and the USA for making all this possible.
This is energy freedom and energy security.

On the road in the Bolt EV

High above the solar array my students, volunteers, supporters and I built at my science and nature center classroom.

July 4th is my classroom’s “Energy Independence Day” – it is the anniversary of that wonderful day in 2019 when we energized our classroom solar array and achieved Energy Independence from fossil fuel-produced electricity!

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/water/energy 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 just raise 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 energy and food comes from, respect for other life forms, and self-reliance – aka freedom.

Besides all of the obvious benefits I have suggested above – getting outside in nature, be it for farming, gardening, hunting, fishing, planting trees, installing solar, driving your solar-charged EV, or taking a hike in the forest with your kids, family, or dog – 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 🙂

Learn more about my 501c3 at: http://www.earthshinenature.com

MASK TEST

Yes, I am posting this one twice – it is that important.

In the early summer of 2020, as the world went into lockdown during the early days of the SARS CoV-2 (Corovavirus/COVID-19) global pandemic – I noticed many individuals declining to wear masks stating personal reasons and evidence-lacking “reasoning” as to why they would not comply with the recommendations of infectious disease experts all over the planet.

I also noticed several stories of different scientists testing masks to show how they were effective in reducing the spread of respiratory droplets/aerosols between people therby reducing the spread of the potentially deadly virus (as well as far less deadly but yet still annoying viruses such as the common cold).

I decided to perform a similar mask test for my students in my science education classes.

To do this I acquired some Petri dishes (from an Amazon supplier), then – with the mask off and a petri dish held at arm’s length – I coughed, sneezed, sang, and yelled at the open dishes. I then put on a two-layer cotton face mask and repeated the demonstration using a new petri dish. I labeled the dishes and let them incubate for a few days in a warm area – I did not have an incubator at the time but it was June so it was warm in the classroom, therefore – growth happened…LOTS of growth, far more than I expected…it was really gross and it smelled really funky.

The odd thing was that, while the dish that was exposed to my respiratory droplets/aerosols without a mask did in fact have more colonies of growth – so did the plate I had coughed on while wearing a mask. At first, it appeared that the mask did little to stop the spread of respiratory droplets.

I wrongly assumed the error was in the growth media of the Petri dishes so I acquired some new dishes (Amazon) with the same growth media used by many of the other researchers – 5% sheep’s blood – and I repeated the demonstration. This time I also added a table and placed several dishes out at .3, .9, and 1.5M (1′, 3′, and 6′) in an attempt to show how droplets travel outward from the body.

Again, the results were the same – not much difference between masked and unmasked.

I was perplexed.

I compared my results to the others and came to the only possible conclusion: my samples had been contaminated by the classroom environment. The natural dust and dirt on our feet, bodies, and hair that the students and I bring inside with us from the nearby forest and garden, our sloughed off human skin cells and hair, animal/bird dander (we have several free-range chickens), the fact that the building is an old log cabin. Along with all this fun with particulates – the classroom is host to many different species of reptile, amphibian, fish, arachnid, and sometimes even an Opossum. Then there are the billions of free-floating fungal spores and pollen grains from the forest all around us as well as the occasional wandering house fly or gnat – and all the fun little friends that hitchhike on their feet and faces. All these contaminants and contaminant vectors were, well – everywhere. So, my first two experiments were contaminated by the nature of nature.

What to do? How could I reduce the natural contamination factor of my classroom environment to produce a more un-contaminated result? A room air filter you say? Yes, I already had one of those – a big one. Obviously, it could only do so much.

Since it would be next to impossible to make my classroom free of natural contaminants – the only option was to build a Cleanroom to rule out some of the contamination in the hopes of obtaining a better result – so, that is what I did.

The video below shows the results of my efforts and I hope it serves to demonstrate the how and the why of why masks work and why it is important to wear them during a global pandemic. Watch to the end if you are interested in learning how I built the Cleanroom.

This video is long because I choose to be thorough and transparent. To demonstrate this requires procedure and patience. If you are in a hurry and want to bypass all the “meat” of the video and go directly to my findings – then feel free to do so by skipping ahead to the time index of 39:17

Special Thanks to Hardy Diagnostics for assisting us with this demonstration: http://www.hardydiagnostics.com

More special thanks to my inspirations for this demonstration:

Dr. Rich Davis, the Clinical Microbiology Lab Director at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/a-microbiologist-used-a-germ-filled-petri-dish-to-show-how-a- mask-catches-droplets-that-spray-from-your-mouth-when-you-talk-cough-sing-and-sneeze/ar-BB16dT0D On YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIpHCptKZUg&t=39s

Dr. Nwadiuto Esiobu, microbiologist, Florida Atlantic University https://wsvn.com/news/investigations/mask-test-fau-microbiologist-checks-face-coverings-for- protection-against-covid-19/

Lourdes Aguilar of UMC of El Paso, TX: On YouTube: https://youtu.be/Q1YOHTP5IrA

Dr. Joe Hanson of It’s Ok To Be Smart On YouTube: How Well Do Masks Work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tp0zB904Mc&t=1s COVID-19 & Mask Myths DEBUNKED!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npXP5wqNzaI

My Outdoor Research Mask: https://www.outdoorresearch.com/us/face-mask-kit-283298

COVID-19 Resources

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/about-face-coverings.html

https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/covid-19-vaccines

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

https://news.ncsu.edu/2020/12/vaccines-koci-101/

https://www.factcheck.org/issue/covid-19/

https://www.snopes.com/collections/new-coronavirus-collection/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus_disease_2019

Even more special thanks to Matt Piper for graciously allowing the use of his wonderful song: Orbital Horizons Please Support Matt via https://mattpiper.bandcamp.com/music https://www.amazon.com/Orbital-Horizons-Matt-Piper/dp/B07KPPW42K https://open.spotify.com/artist/5SH8bpbRuHtzrwqlE6zZdc

THANK YOU ALL!

My mask protects you, your mask protects me. 

Wear your mask.

High Gravity

A remote waterfall near my home

As a naturalist and trail ranger at many private, state, and national parks in the 1990s and early 2000s, I lost count of how many times I had to stop people – adult, seemingly intelligent, aware, thinking people – from climbing over fences (and doing other daft things) – usually just to get photos – but not always. More often than not these fences were at the top of sheer cliffs and waterfalls that were hundreds of feet in height.

These scenarios would almost always go something like this:

I would be quietly making my rounds on the park’s trails/beaches/backroads/highways, and byways when I would come upon a person on the other side of the fence holding a camera up to their face taking a photograph of the view. I knew the gravitational danger so I would quietly stand by and wait until they had finished their photo taking session and were starting to cross back over the fence and, therefore – as my reasoning went – they would be less likely to be startled. The absolute worse thing I could have done in these situations would have been to call out from behind them during their photography session, potentially startling them causing them to lose their footing/balance and topple over the cliff falling to their death on the rocks below. So, I would wait patiently and quietly until they were in a more stable position and then I would move forward making some slight noise with my feet on the rocks of the trail below to attract their attention, then, when I knew they had seen me, I would calmly ask them to come back over to the safe side of the fence. They would usually do so – while apologizing for climbing the fence. It was obvious they knew they were in the wrong and were not supposed to cross the fence. Maybe they just thought they would be able to get away with it… maybe because they did not see any obvious enforcement of the “Please do not cross the fence” warnings posted all over the place. For me, gravity – and the abrupt body-breaking, life-ending, sudden stop, on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff was all the enforcement I needed to tell me to not cross the fence…well, unless I had the appropriate authorization/climbing gear/PPE.

I would then ask them why they had ignored all the warning signs they would almost always reply – “The photos are better on the other side.” I would then reply “Really, how exactly does that work? You must have far better vision than I do because I am unable to see any difference in the view on this side or that side of this fence. The eye does not notice a difference and neither does the camera. The only difference is that you were on the unsafe side of the fence standing on a mat of moss/lichen that is very loosely attached to the rock and, had it or your shoes lost its grip on the rock, you would have fallen to your death hundreds of feet below – and I would have to clean up the mess.”

With this new knowledge the blood would often drain from their face and they would become silent as they realized the true gravity of the situation and the massive error in their recent decision making process. At this time they would then shakily apologize, and quickly move on – hopefully, never to make that same mistake again.

One of my most fond memories of this type of incident happened when I was working at Chimney Rock Park (now Chimney Rock State Park) in western North Carolina, USA. One warm spring day I found myself walking the trail near the top of 404′ tall Hickory Nut Falls – that’s it in the below photo.

Hickory Nut Falls Photo Source: https://www.visittheusa.com/state/north-carolina

After stopping at the cascade above the top of the falls to cool off in the natural creek shower, I then made my way along the Cliff Trail – a very narrow trail that hugged the edge of the cliffs following the mountainside all the way back to the area near Chimney Rock – the namesake of the park. After leaving the waterfall area I walked a short distance into the forest – approximately half-way between the waterfall and the outcropping left of center in the above photograph. I passed through a tunnel of Rhododendrons and was just about to pop out of the woods onto a more exposed section of the trail when suddenly, I noticed what appeared to be a female human crouching in the woods about 10 feet downhill on the cliff-side of the trail. Her back was to me and she was bracing herself against a small tree while holding something out of my view out in front of her. There were several small trees and shrubs between her and the edge of a cliff a few feet away so she must not have recognized the danger. She did not notice me as I silently made my way along the trail to investigate what she was doing. Then it came into view – she was holding a naked toddler! I stared in disbelief and then said – “Excuse me ma’am, may I ask what you are up to?” She looked up from the dangling child and snapped angrily back – “Can’t you see she is going to the bathroom!” I said, “No ma’am, I just arrived and was just curious because I have never seen someone dangle a child so close to the edge of a 400 foot cliff before.” She stopped, pulled the child against her body, and quickly clambered back up onto the trail, put the child down on the trail, hurriedly put on its diaper, picked it up, and started to head off down the trail without another word. I said to her back – “Excuse me ma’am, would you please return and pack out your used diaper? Not only is it smelly, unsightly, and an unsanitary danger to wildlife, but it could potentially spread diseases – and along with all that it is littering.” She had dropped the child’s soiled diaper on the side of the trail near where she had been dangling her kid near the edge of the cliff. She stopped dead in her tracks, shot me an eat shit and die stare, and went back to get the diaper without ever saying a word. She picked it up, shoved it in her bag, and stomped off down the trail. I followed her all the way back to the parking area because I feared she would just toss the diaper – or maybe even the kid – into the woods or over the cliff if I let her out of my sight. I wonder how long the trail of dirty diapers littering the woods and roadsides is for her and many more like her? Once in the parking area she jumped in her car and sped off down the mountain. While she seemed to clearly realize her serious safety error and was embarrassed by her mistake, at least she chose to keep most of her feelings to herself.

Sometimes, however, the individuals I would encounter and reprimand for their, often intentional infractions – would puff up, and strut and crow like a mojo-filled rooster, clucking loudly of this being a free country and/or an infringement on their personal freedoms, how much they paid to get into the park, and sometimes even cuss/insult my authority as a park ranger – or even insult me personally. When this happened I could only smile and calmly wish them luck because luck is all they had going for them – they clearly had zero intelligence/common sense and/or a great big chip on their shoulder – or all of the above.

On one of these crazy occasions, I was again working as Trail Walker ranger at Chimney Rock Park. I was again strolling quietly along the rugged, and wild, Cliff Trail on a beautiful summer day and I noticed what appeared to be several 20 something-year-old young men standing on a rocky outcrop I affectionately called “Turtle Head Rock.” Turtle Head Rock was about the size of a VW Beetle and it stuck precariously out of the side of the mountain and under it – open air all the way down for several hundred feet to the bottom of the cliff. On the top of the turtle’s head stood this troop of young men, one of them – the largest of the troop – let us call him Biff – stood upon a mat of the same type of moss I spoke of earlier (for those of you botany nerds out there it was Twisted-hair spikemoss (Selaginella tortipila). Biff then started to move forward on the moss mat…and then he started to lean out to get a look over the edge. One false move and Biff would have died a horrible death as his body impacted on the rocks hundreds of feet below. Outrageous! In this rapidly evolving situation, I had no other choice but to call out to stop him from continuing forward and making a huge mistake that ended only in a dead-end – so I forcefully said – STOP!

Biff and his comrades stopped, looked up, perplexed at the voice that came from seemingly out of nowhere. I stood in the middle of the trail, about 50 feet or so away, with the open-air gap between the cliffs and “turtle head rock” in between us. Biff stared with a glare of hatred that I felt might ignite me. I then said. “You are all in a very unsafe location. Please, everyone move back off the rock the way you came and cross back over the fence and onto the trail.” Biff stood up straight, put his hands on his hips, and said something insulting and guttural under his breath that I could not fully understand and then he said loudly – “WHY SHOULD I!?!?” I calmly said – “Gravity.” Biff looked at me in silent, beady-eyed, mouth-breathing, stupidity. Then, he and his troop of brainless bipedal primates turned and reluctantly started to make their way back over the fence to the trail. While they were clambering over the fence I quickly made my way to their location and waited for them to all cross onto the trail. Finally, the ape-like Biff crossed over the fence at which point he turned, and squared up with me – he was a head taller, a foot wider, and mighty muscled – his fists were clenched, his face was bright red, and he started spitting venomous words and insults directly in my face. I could smell the alcohol on his breath and this revelation helped me understand more about his recalcitrance. I let him finish his toxic diatribe and in answer to his final question of “Who gives you the right to tell me what to do!!??” Again, I calmly said – “Gravity.” He stared blankly at me and his face turned another shade of red. He then said, “What the fuck man, – are you some kind of know-it-all egghead!!??” I replied – “Yes, I suppose I am and thank you for the compliment.” He grunted, fumed like an enraged bull, with the veins in his neck popping out as he started moving even closer to me and at that moment I thought he was going to pile drive me into the trail with one of his meaty, sledgehammer-like, clenched fists. I backed against the cliff wall and had nowhere to go and simply said – “The moss you were standing on is not well attached to the rock. Had I not stopped you when I did, your dead, broken body would be bleeding on the rocks at the bottom of that cliff right now and your own stupidity – and gravity – would have been to blame.” He stopped, backed away from me, became very quiet, and stared at me for what seemed like a very long moment, a moment in which I could almost hear the tiny wheels turning in his minuscule, alcohol-soaked, monkey brain, pulsating somewhere in the dark void behind his squinting little eyes and his tomato-red, sweat-beaded face – he then backed off, turned, and said to his troop of muscle-bound monkey boys – “Come on team, this asshole is not worth our time.” They all then laughed at Biff’s lame comment and as a group then turned and started lurching like troglodytic cavemen along the trail. As I followed at a safe distance I could not help but notice that they looked like a troop of testosterone-fueled teen-aged baboons hell-bent on getting themselves into any and all mischief and mayhem they could find. Soon, we came to a fork in the trail where I found the group gathered around Biff looking at a park map. I asked if I could be of any assistance and Biff turned and yelled at me “Hell No! – you wimpy little MF!!”

That was it. These individuals – mainly Biff – were clearly unstable and a possible danger to themselves and to other park visitors so I calmly said “That’s it. It is time to go. Everyone head down that trail to the left and then to your cars. It is time to go home.” Biff turned and again squared up to me, his face even redder than before – and bellowed “you and what army!” I put my hand on my radio and said – “Just try it. In moments you will have a swarm of rangers, maintenance men, and police all over you and your “team” – and, by the way – there is only one way in – and out – of this park.” At this new knowledge, Biff chose wisely and backed down, turned, and they all headed down the trail to the parking area. I followed close behind – but at enough of a distance so I could discretely call ahead to the staff managing parking and let them know what happened. I gave them a description of the toxically masculine alcohol and testosterone fueled gorilla Biff and his troop of yes men and I asked them to escort them safely out of the park. When we arrived at the parking area Biff and his “team” got into their vehicles and sped off down the mountain – with the parking chief following not far behind. She later radioed me to report that Biff and his boys had stopped and tried to take off on another trail but she stopped them and made them get back in their cars and move along. By the time they reached the park entrance a few miles below, a local police officer was waiting to escort them out of town – just to put the fear of the long arm of the law into them and make them think twice about ever again acting like knuckle-dragging, slack-jawed, sub-human, primates* when visiting private property. *I know, this is an insult to respectable primates everywhere – but it is the best descriptivism I can come up with without getting really nasty.

Yet another example…

Once, again while I was working at Chimney Rock Park, I encountered a man and woman hiking down the trail in front of me – very slowly. This would not normally be an issue – people are free to hike at whatever speeds they want to. The issue on this particular day was the massive gray-green cumulonimbus cloud towering thousands of feet overhead and now starting to sink down under the mass of all the water it was carrying and about to unleash as fury on the countryside and all the tiny creatures therein. As I approached the slow moving individuals I could not help but notice that the male of the couple was a towering mass of tan, rippling human muscle with a neck thicker than my body, tattoos on his bulging, sweaty biceps, a tight mesh tank top, shorts that were several sizes too small, a buzz cut, and wrap-around mirror style sunglasses. The female was drop-dead gorgeous – maybe a model – with greatly enhanced centerfold/Barbie-doll proportions, a very revealing in all the right places red sundress, she had long flowing shiny-black hair reaching down to her waist, her hands ended in shiny black long fingernails, and her silky legs ended in red stiletto heels. Ah, that was it – the heels – that is what was slowing them up (why on earth would anyone try to hike this rugged, unimproved, mountain trail in stiletto heels – it is a wonder she had not already broken an ankle!) I ran up to them and said something like: “You folks need to get moving, the park is closing soon and you are the last ones on the trail and we are closing things up for the night.” The woman shot me a glare and the man turned his gorilla-like bulk toward me and said “What gives you the right to speak to us in that way!?” I just pointed up at the sky and said – “That massive storm and the fact that I am a park ranger and what I say, goes.” Then I said “Ma’am, if you don’t take off those heels right away and get moving a bit faster – we may all end up casualties when this storm unleashes its energy on us!” They both looked up and at that moment there was a huge clap of thunder and an icy wind screamed across the exposed cliff face where we were standing. Both of them looked instantly terrified and the woman struggled to keep her tiny dress from revealing too much – but the wind had other ideas. As she fought to keep her dress on she braced against her mountainous male partner, quickly removed her shoes – and they both took off running down the trail with me in hot pursuit. All the while I was hoping neither of them tripped and fell and broke a bone and I would then have to call for a carry-out in this kind of wild weather. Soon, we came to a great dark crack in the rocks known as the “Needles Eye” – if you have never ventured through the Needles Eye I will attempt to describe it for you – imagine a giant rock, several stories in height, with a narrow crack running through the middle of the rock. In that crack is constructed a precarious set of stairs with a spiral staircase at the midway point – it is probably one of the steepest spiral staircases in the world.

The Needle’s Eye from above
The Needle’s Eye from below

No two steps in the spiral are the same size – it was an amazing feat of engineering but sadly, it is no longer in existence due to safety code requirements. But on that day in the late 1990’s it was – and when we reached the top of the staircase we started down just as the clouds opened up and started dumping giant cold drops of rain – with embedded tiny ice crystals – all around and upon us. It was a beautiful show of nature’s power – but I also knew then that we were in for a monster of a storm. As we made our way carefully down the staircase we could hear howling winds and sheets of rain moving over the mountain and huge claps of thunder echoing throughout the gorge and the rocky crevice we were making our way through. None of us spoke, we just moved as fast as possible down the stairs and through the crack in the mountain – terrified at what was coming and hoping that we were not about to get washed out of the crack like the spider in the drainpipe. As we soon exited the relative safety of the Needle’s Eye the rain was now coming down in a torrent and our clothes were instantly saturated – I could not help but notice that “Barbie’s” tiny red dress was now clinging to her in a way that – even with the life-threatening storm screaming all around us – burned a mark forever in my brain (I blame my testosterone for that last comment). We all ran faster and made it to the trailhead at the parking lot just as larger hailstones began to fall. The couple thanked me, jumped in their Hummer, and sped off into the growing storm.

I made my way up the elevator to the Sky Lounge where I joined the other park staff to watch the storm unfold from the safety of the lounge. After the power blinked a few times and the storm did not let up, I and the other employees were dismissed to head home. As I drove down the mountain and through the gorge in my 1965 Series IIa Land Rover, I realized that this was not your average late summer storm – it was a real monster. Not only was the rain falling so fast and hard that my windshield wipers were useless, but the sheer volume of water falling from the sky and running across the road was unimaginable and truly frightening to witness. About a mile west of the park’s main gate I saw headlights shining up from the left at an odd angle – I slowed and peered through the torrent of rain to see a car half submerged in the Rocky Broad River! Its driver’s door was open and I could see that no one was inside as raging waves of water were crashing over the submerged trunk of the car. There was also no one around so I could only hope they had made it safely to shore. Then I heard one of the most frightening yet amazing sounds – a sound that I have only heard one other time in my life – the sound of huge car-sized boulders being pushed around in the river by the rapidly building flash-flood. Both frightening and amazing because the power of nature is both of these things. This was when I decided it was time to get the hell out of the gorge as fast as possible – or I may not be able to get out because I still had travel several miles of twisting narrow mountain road and cross one more bridge over the rapidly swelling river. After slowly making my way up the remainder of the road – and crossing several torrents of water gravity was pulling down the steep mountainsides from above – I finally came to the place where the bridge was supposed to be – and luckily, it was still there. I slowly drove over the bridge and started up HWY 64 towards home. The higher I climbed the lighter the rain became. When I topped out in the small community of Edneyville the rain had stopped and it was a beautiful afternoon. I pulled off the road and looked back toward the gorge only to see a massive towering anvil of a cumulonimbus cloud – one of the largest ones I had ever seen in the mountains. It looked more like a cloud one would see associated with a tornado on the Great Plains or a Hurricane out in the Gulf of Mexico – not sitting stationary over the Hickory Nut Gorge. It was truly a freak storm. As the hours passed that storm ended up being one of the most terrifying and terrible flash flooding events the Hickory Nut Gorge had ever seen. It dumped over a foot of rain in just a few hours and, due to the steepness of the terrain, it laid waste to almost the entire gorge area, destroyed several bridges, homes, and businesses, and shut everything down for several weeks until the damage could be cleaned up and repaired.

More on the storm of ’96 can be found here: https://www.weather.gov/media/gsp/localdat/cases/1996/Hickory_Nut_Gorge_Flood.pdf

On that wild wet day I listened to the warnings of nature, helped two absolutely oblivious individuals move along (possibly saving their lives in the process), and, as fast as possible, took measures to get myself out of what was becoming a very bad situation.

Similarly, in many other situations, I have had to separate countless people from potentially dangerous self-imposed situations with snakes, bears, alligators, deer, thorny and toxic plants, moving water, wind, sand, and even sunlight, heat/cold, ice, snow, and rain. It boggles the brain how so many people can be so incredibly stupid so often – and it is almost always just to get a unique photo or “not have their vacation ruined by the weather.”

After seeing this kind of crazy exhibited by so many humans at so many separate locales and situations I, and many of the wonderful rangers, naturalists, and officers I have worked with in these locations and circumstances – have come to the conclusion that, at least with a portion of the weekend-warrior type segment of the human population of this country, it seems that some of these individuals may, in fact, develop a syndrome we ranger and naturalist-types call the “amusement park mentality.” This is the idea that if one has to pay for access into a private, state, or national park – then that this area must be safe – like an amusement park is presumed to be. Somehow to these people, it seems nature must somehow be “tamed” in these areas, or fabricated, fake, a show, and nothing can hurt you – apparently not even gravity. The animals are friendly and tame, the snakes are all non venomous, the bees can’t sting, and – yes, even the bears are friendly and are put up in their cages for the night along with the waterfalls which are turned off when the park closes its gates. This – nature cannot hurt me amusement park mentality – has been the cause of many an injury and death of countless individuals in countless wild places all over this country and possibly the world. Oddly, from my observations of people from almost three decades of personal experience, it seems that – for whatever the reasons – it is primarily Americans who exhibit this bizarre, common sense lacking trait. I wonder why that is?

And today I find myself wondering if some of the people that I – and all of us park ranger types – have asked to step back from the edge, cross back over those fences, distance themselves from the wildlife, get out of the weather, etc. – are these now some of the same folks who choose to ignore the experts and not wear masks, not stay out of crowded places, not get vaccinated, open up their businesses, cities, and states too early, and/or believe all the conspiracy “theory” nonsense such as but not limited to the erroneous belief that the virus was manufactured in a lab as a bio-weapon or as a way to control the population, tracking devices in vaccines, 5G will give you COVID and/or allow the government to track you via your vaccine – instead of listening to the actual experts, the peer-reviewed evidence, and good old common sense during a global pandemic?

Sadly, and to put it bluntly – many of today’s big brained bipedal primates do not seem to be in any way fit for survival on this gravity-created, water-soaked, rock we call home. The only things keeping them alive are dumb luck, laws, and those who enforce the laws therefore keeping those who lack intelligence and common sense from making the stupid decisions that would have quickly weeded them out of the gene pool.

From a purely Darwinian perspective – could it be that by asking a certain some of them to cross back over to the safe side of the fence – we may have unintentionally spawned many of the problems we are facing today…

Nature is a harsh mistress.

She does not care about us, so if we want to survive, we must care about ourselves and care about each other. We must learn as much as possible about how things work and become naturally and scientifically literate – we must listen to those who know and trust their knowledge until better knowledge comes along.

Nature only gives us two choices in life: adapt or die.

Improvise, adapt, overcome, survive, thrive, live!

Please consider supporting my nature and wildlife conservation nonprofit organization Earthshine Nature Programs.

Stop Rattlesnake Roundups


It’s that time of the year again.

Timber rattlesnake – photo by Steve Atkins

This weekend, in Sweetwater, Texas – thousands of Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes and other rattlesnake species will be ripped from their home habitats – often using gasoline pumped into their hiding places which causes the snake to vacate the safety of the hide allowing it to be captured. The dozens of other animals that share the hole with the snake are then overwhelmed by the fumes and die. The toxic nature of the gasoline then goes on to poison the environment – and possibly even the local groundwater supply – the captured snakes are then put on display/parade then publicly slaughtered and eaten without hesitation.

This is the largest wildlife massacre happening on any single day.

The weekend starts with a “Sweetwater” beauty pageant where the winner gets to kill the first snake of the season. Then it’s followed up with two days of non-stop torture and death as snakes have their mouths sewn shut for grotesque “selfies,” and are then decapitated by people and yes, even children – who are told the snakes are “overpopulated,” “evil,” “bad,” “demonic,” “the devil” etc. – then the snakes are skinned, chopped up, deep fried, and eaten for public dollars.

Something also tells me that this being Texas, and this being 2021 – I would also predict that many of those who visit the roundup will be mask-less, in close proximity, drinking, cheering, preaching, and unvaccinated – making this another COVID-19 super spreader event…

Please do not support these disturbingly sick, destructive, events in any way, they are the last vestiges of a brutal practice that needs to end immediately.

Evidence follows – some of it is very hard to watch if you are sensitive to blood and/or animals being slaughtered. Some of the videos are age restricted and viewable only on YouTube via the embedded links.


Visit the Sweetwater Jacyees Rattlesnake Roundup Homepage: http://www.rattlesnakeroundup.net/

This last link has a map showing all the locations where rattlesnake roundups are held. Some of these events – such as the Whigham, GA Rattlesnake Roundup and the San Antonio, Florida Rattlesnake Festival – have stopped the collection and killing of wild snakes and instead, use their public platform to educate attendees on the unique biology, beauty, and environmental value of rattlesnakes. If those in Sweetwater and the others would just convert to this format…

https://www.rattlesnakeroundups.com/

I do not have any issues with hunting as long as it managed scientifically to support the health of the wildlife and the ecosystem, and it is carried out legally and ethically. The Sweetwater Texas rattlesnake roundup is none of these things. It is time we end this type of Rattlesnake Roundup as fast as possible. Just imagine if this were a roundup, slaughter, and feast of dogs, cats, dolphins, manatees, Bald eagles, horses, rabbits, goats, turtles, – whatever – the public outcry would be unbelievable and the perpetrators of those acts would be arrested and heavily fined under animal abuse/cruelty charges and obviously wildlife protection laws. However, because it is rattlesnakes and because it brings so much precious money into the community of Sweetwater – so many people just look away, sit on their hands, and stay quiet ignoring the heinous animal cruelty and abuse that happens in this horrible mass murder of wildlife. On top of all this madness the perpetrators of this insanity, the Sweetwater Jaycees and all others who support them with their support of this mass murder event or through their inaction to stop it, are using this horrible program to teach children that this is an accepted way to treat wildlife.

I was bitten by a wild rattlesnake and yes, I still support their conservation.


If you do not see a problem with this sickness then my friend, you have a serious problem.


This needs to stop now.


Do all in your power to fight this madness.


DO NOT support rattlesnake roundups, coordinated animal cruelty/poaching/ wildlife/ecosystem destruction, and trafficking in threatened and endangered wildlife.

Unless.

Recently I read this article in The Guardian that really hit home with me how urgent the need is to stop burning things for energy.

Sadly, until our species stops burning long-dead life-forms – fossil fuels – as our primary sources of energy for our homes, businesses, and transportation systems, this trend will only continue. More people will sicken and die due to atmospheric, land, and water pollution directly and indirectly due to burning fossil fuels for energy. Then there are the anthropogenic climate change implications – but that is another can of worms for another day.

If you do not understand the issues and the connections between burning fossil fuels, pollution, climate change and the health and continuation for humans and wildlife then it is possible that:

– you may not understand the problem.

– you may understand the problem but feel that it is hopeless and that nothing you do will change anything.

– you may have the desire to make a change, but do not believe you have the ability or the means to start the change.

or

– you may not want to understand the problem.

– you may for some bizarre reason actually believe the rhetoric of the corrupt politicians who are in bed with fossil fuel corporations.

– you may be listening to and trusting those with agendas.

– while choosing to ignore those with the peer-reviewed evidence.

– you may have money invested in fossil fuels that you do not want to loose.

– you might be comfortable in the way things are – or were – and you do not want to change – even if that change would make you more comfortable, happy, wealthy, and provide your children and grandchildren with a better world.

– you may actually believe the ancient scribblings in a dusty old story book that tells you the earth and its resources are somehow “imperfect” “corrupt” or “evil” and are here for us to dominate and squander without any consideration for future people, wildlife, or the balance of nature.

– you may even somehow believe all of the above.

This is all really very sad.

These limiting, restrictive, erroneous, and destructive beliefs will only serve to make problems such as this far more malignant and deadly.

The cold, hard, inconvenient truth is this: our species must stop burning things for energy and transition as fast as possible to local, energy secure, clean, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, gravity, tidal and wave energy, and eventually – fusion. We must keep the majority of fossil fuels in the ground and use them only as fuel for systems and projects that do not play well with renewables such as rocketry – as well as keeping them in reserve as backups for when emergencies happen and as feedstocks for reusable, recyclable products that are made from them – such as plastics.

If we want our species to continue much longer into the future – we must listen to those with the evidence.

We must follow the evidence wherever it leads.

We must listen to the science.

This is the only way we will ever evolve.

The Zombies are Coming!

Ok, so here it is.

I just learned of another “event” that is predicted by many “woke” “thinkers” and “researchers” to happen on Feb 21st. 2021.

A zombie apocalypse.

Yep, you read that right.

A friggin zombie apocalypse.

I am not ready for this.

(LOLROTFL)

If you go to Wikipedia and search for “end of the world predictions” you will find a treasure trove of hundreds of terrible, horrible, violent, “evil” civilization-ending disasters that were certain to occur.

You know what?

They didn’t happen. None of them.

The prophets (profits), doomsayers, soothsayers, and end times gurus were wrong every single time.

No, zombies aren’t real. They are fiction. They are, in fact, biologically impossible.

No, there won’t be a zombie apocalypse this year – or any year…well, except on TV, at the movies, and in the brains of some people who have never opened their mind to reality…oh wait, I forgot about that small cadre of walking dead brainless zombies who followed the insane dictates of their idiocy-tweeting führer and stormed the Capitol on January 6th, 2021 in a lame attempt to start a “civil war” or some other such nonsense.

If there had been “real” zombies (who are far more intelligent than any of the Capitol rioters or their führer) they would not have promoted their “civil war” on many social media outlets and taken selfies and videos of themselves and their friends in “action” – then post them all over the internet as an invitations to identify, locate, and arrest they and their comrades – then toss them in the jailhouse to rot like the gray matter lacking, putrid, slimy, worm-ridden filth that they are.

…oops, sorry…where was I…zombies, right.

Source: http://www.jeffzoet.com/

As the gang from Scooby-Doo found out – the real monsters are always us.

Nope, zombies are not real so there will be no zombie apocalypse this year…or any year.* However, I’m pretty sure it won’t be the only apocalypse and/or other bizarre conspiratorial evidence-lacking fabrications predicted this year (“Jewish space lasers” anyone) and, like this one, all the others have been or will be revealed to be total fabrications and/or non-events as well. (Except for all the book-writing and DVD/movie “documentary” producing, prepper product selling, soothsayers, doomsayers, and end times preaching pontiffs, charlatans, swindlers, and conmen – for them, it’s all just more of your money on their pockets.)

See you on the 22nd for just another day on this water-soaked rock we multi-colored primates call planet earth.

*There is one sure way we could create an apocalyptic situation for the population of our planet: not listening to the findings of the world’s experts and scientists, putting myth, magic, mysticism, and money above common sense and reality. I believe Carl Sagan said it best:

“I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…

The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance”

― Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

MASK TEST

I test several common protective face masks in a cleanroom of my own design.

This video is long because I choose to be thorough and transparent. To demonstrate this requires procedure and patience. If you are in a hurry and want to bypass all the “meat” of the video and go directly to my findings – then feel free to do so by skipping ahead to the time index of 39:17

The back story: in the early summer of 2020 I noticed many mask tests being conducted by different scientists to demonstrate the effectiveness of wearing masks to protect us from COVID-19 (and other nasty infectious diseases such as Influenza). Below is an example of one of these mask demonstrations from Dr. Rich Davis -the regional director of microbiology at Providence Health Care in Spokane, Washington.

Dr. Davis’s example along with others (listed below) inspired me to attempt a similar mask test in my classroom for my students in the attempt to show the effectiveness – and the necessity – of wearing a mask during a global pandemic.

To do this I acquired some Petri dishes (from an Amazon supplier), then – with a mask off and a petri dish held at arm’s length – I coughed, sneezed, sang, and yelled at the open dishes.  I then put on a two layer cotton face  mask and repeated the demonstration exactly as the first time. 

I labeled the dishes and let them incubate for a few days in a warm area – I did not have an incubator at the time but it was June so it was warm in the classroom, therefore – growth happened…LOTS of growth, far more than I expected…it was really gross actually and it smelled really funky. 

The odd thing was that, while the dish that was exposed to my respiratory droplets/aerosols without a mask did in fact have more colonies of growth – so did the plate I had coughed on while wearing a mask.  At first it appeared that the mask did little to stop the spread of respiratory droplets. 

I wrongly assumed my error was in the growth media of the petri dishes so I acquired some new dishes with the same growth media used by many of the other researchers – 5% sheep’s blood – and I repeated the demonstration.  This time I also added a table and placed several dishes out at 1′, 3′ and 6′ in an attempt to show how droplets travel outward from the body. 

Again, the results were the same – not much difference between masked and unmasked. 

I was perplexed. 

I compared my results to the others and came to the only possible conclusion: my samples had been contaminated by the classroom environment.  The natural dust and dirt on our feet, bodies, and hair that the students and I bring inside with us from the nearby forest and garden, our sloughed off human skin cells and hair, animal/bird dander (we have several free-range chickens), the fact that the building is an old log cabin.  Along with all this fun with particulates – the classroom is host to many different species of reptile, amphibian, fish, arachnid, and sometimes even an Opossum. Then there are the billions of free-floating fungal spores and pollen grains from the forest all around us as well as the occasional wandering house fly or gnat – and all the fun little friends that hitchhike on their feet and faces. All these contaminants and contaminant vectors were, well – everywhere.

So, my samples were contaminated by the nature of nature.

What to do? How could I reduce the natural contamination factor of my classroom environment to produce a more un-contaminated result?

A room air filter you say?  Yes, I already had one of those – a big one.  Obviously, it could only do so much.

Since it would be next to impossible to make my classroom free of natural environmental contaminants – the only option I could see was to build a Cleanroom myself in the hopes of ruling out some of the environmental contamination in the hopes of obtaining a better result – so, that is what I did.

The embedded video shows the results of my efforts and I hope it serves to demonstrate the how and the why of why masks work and why it is important to wear them during a global pandemic.

Watch to the end if you are interested in learning how I built the Cleanroom.

Special Thanks to:

Hardy Diagnostics for assisting us with this demonstration: http://www.hardydiagnostics.com

Beth Banks

Marian O’Neil

Jaelyn Crews Steverson

Matt Piper

My students and co-workers

More special thanks to my inspirations for this demonstration: Dr. Rich Davis, the Clinical Microbiology Lab Director at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Washington https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/other/… On YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIpHC…

Dr. Nwadiuto Esiobu, microbiologist, Florida Atlantic University https://wsvn.com/news/investigations/…

Lourdes Aguilar of UMC of El Paso, TX: On YouTube: https://youtu.be/Q1YOHTP5IrA

Dr. Joe Hanson of It’s Ok To Be Smart On YouTube:

     How Well Do Masks Work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Tp0z…

     COVID-19 & Mask Myths DEBUNKED!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npXP5…

My Outdoor Research Mask: https://www.outdoorresearch.com/us/fa…

COVID-19 Resources

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-…

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-…

https://www.fda.gov/emergency-prepare…

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

https://news.ncsu.edu/2020/12/vaccine…

https://www.factcheck.org/issue/covid…

https://www.snopes.com/collections/ne…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronav…

Even more special thanks to Matt Piper for graciously allowing the use of his wonderful song: Orbital Horizons

Please Support Matt via https://mattpiper.bandcamp.com/music

https://www.amazon.com/Orbital-Horizo…

https://open.spotify.com/artist/5SH8b…

Please visit the Earthshine Nature Programs website and consider supporting our nonprofit work with a donation: http://www.earthshinenature.com/donate

Visit our GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/enpsolartr…

Support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/earthshinenature

THANK YOU ALL!

My mask protects you, your mask protects me. 

Wear your mask. 

It’s all a conspiracy!

No, actually – it is not…I was just trying to get your attention 😉

I am sharing this link not because I was one of these people, I am sharing because many people have found themselves in this position and have been able to recognize the trap they were in and then get themselves out of it before it was too late. The link is a story of great advice from one of these individuals who recognized the danger and got out – others, however, are not so lucky and will need help from friends and family in finding their way out of the deep, dark, pit of conspiratorial thinking they have fallen into. Without a ladder or a rope of loving support from their loved ones – and sometimes the long arm of the law – they will dig themselves in even deeper and the ever-increasing depth of the pit will increasingly prevent them from escaping the gravity well they have fallen into – a gravity well that is crushing the life out of them and often, everyone around them.

IMHO, intentionally denying verifiable, peer-reviewed evidence and instead choosing to support conspiracy “theorist” “thinking” and belief systems – is one of the most dangerous threats we face in working toward a prosperous future for us all.

Have you unfortunately found yourself stuck in that bizarre world of conspiracies where you actually fully believe everything is a lie, a cover-up, a hoax?

You know what I’m talking about – but just in case you need a refresher – here are a few of the more common examples:

Area 51 is hoarding and hiding alien bodies/artifacts

The Apollo moon landings were staged/produced by Stanley Kubrick…

The earth is flat…or hollow…

Australia does not exist…

Lizard people are controlling our government…

Giants once existed…

Dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time…or dinosaurs never existed and their bones are a manufactured to give scientists a job…

Chem-trails are real…

Pizzagate…

911 was staged…

The “deep state”…

Climate change is a hoax…

Covid 19 is a bioweapon and was manufactured in a lab by Bill Gates and friends, and/or Bill Gates is putting tracking devices in vaccines to track/follow/control you…

Vaccines cause autism…

The democrats/republicans/greenies are plotting to take your freedoms…

The virus is not real and mask mandates are about control…

College brainwashes people to become liberals…

All that Qanon nonsense…

…yada, yada, yada…


If you believe any of these and/or similar bizarre claims and beliefs – without seriously analyzing and questioning the authenticity of those claims and beliefs…the what and the why of what and why you believe what you believe – and especially if you believe these things without any verifiable evidence to support your claims and beliefs – then you may have inadvertently become stuck/trapped in a cultish following that has hijacked your brain.

Ask yourself some serious questions:

Is this belief system taking up a large portion of my time?

Have I ended friendships or am I fighting with family members over it?

Have I dropped out of school or lost jobs because of it?

Am I living in constant fear of friends/family/neighbors/strangers that I once respected?

Am I afraid – terrified – of what may happen next?

Am I stockpiling food and weapons?

Am I always online “learning” and “researching” the latest claim, “theory” or “truth”?

Am I worshiping an ideal or a person in power/politics/prestige as a “savior” of humanity or our “tribe” or way of life?

Am I worried that friends who listen to and support the recommendations of science are the ones who have been duped?

Am I concerned and/or do I believe that education and knowledge are work of “the left,” “evil” or “the devil?”

Do I believe that I am 100% right about my beliefs because simply my belief system, my friends online, and/or that loudmouthed “woke” guy on YouTube, or my favorite end of the world/prepper/echo chamber website (that interestingly is always asking for money to support their cause) – tells me so?

If any of this sounds like you then please, get professional help now before it is too late.

The fact is this: if no evidence exists to support their/your claim, “theory,” or belief system – then in all the probability that exists – that claim, “theory” or belief system is – most likely – simply wrong/erroneous and/or manufactured – probably to make some slimy, smelly, troll in a dim, dank basement somewhere – loads of money – your money.

Sadly, you may have already lost your freedom to whatever the belief system it is that is controlling you and you will see everything and everyone as a lie, a hoax, a threat to you and your freedom.

Again, if any of this sounds like you then please, get help now before it is too late – before the gravitational pull of the lunatic fringe pulls you past the point of no return and you disappear over the event horizon into the black hole of darkness never to return to the land of the living.

If you can find the inner strength to realize you made a mistake – as the brave woman in this story did – then you can rescue yourself from the toxic world of conspiracy theorists and lies. Next is a story of a man who realized he was conned by the Qanon crazy and got out before it totally controlled his life.

Personal freedom comes when you find the inner strength to break the molds imposed upon you by the conspiratorial, religious, and political conditioning that ended your childhood trust in others and destroyed the insatiable curiosity all children have in the natural, real, observable, measurable, and so very fragile connections between all things in the cosmos.

Until you are able to shed the toxic skin of your past – or the mind predators of your present – you will run the risk of remaining easily controlled, divided, fearful, and under the thumb of the charlatans who want to own your life for their own personal gain.

True freedom does not come from without, it comes from within. It comes from letting go of all the things that have a hold on you, that control your thought process – and replacing them with only reality – even if the reality is that no one is really in control and we are all working, fighting, clawing to exist on a tiny, inconspicuous, remote, wet rocky speck of a rather ordinary planet orbiting just another ordinary star in just another ordinary galaxy in this vast ocean we call the cosmos.

We may not be all that special when it comes to the vastness of the cosmos, but each and every one of us are unique, special, one of a kind individuals and we each have wonderful gifts, talents, generosity, compassion, and love to offer to those around us. Let go of the imaginary things that control you and open your eyes and see reality as it really is – and then you will truly be free to live, share, and enjoy the life and time you have.

Life is not about the ending, it is about the living.

Live, laugh, love, learn.

Do good things.

One Love.