Please, do not buy dogs/cats/ birds and reptiles from pet stores – they often come from “puppy mills,” “kitten mills” and even bird and snake “mills” and/or they are poached out of the wild.
If you want a pet – adopt.
My puppy mill story.
Many, many, years ago, while working as a power meter technician (meter reader) for the local power company, I looked at my work order to find one of those addresses that had a gate. The instructions indicated that the gate was usually closed but that that HQ had been in contact with the homeowner who said the gate would be open during a small window of time during my shift. I timed it just right so I would arrive when the gate was open and could get my job done.
Once I arrived on site my orders indicated that I needed to disconnect the power service for the house, a run-down old mini-mac-mansion behind a high iron fence, for which the owner had not paid their power bill in months.
While behind the house looking for the meter, I found a dozen or so tiny metal cages full of what looked like Bichon Frises of all ages – they were so unhealthy, sad, filthy, and inhumanely housed – I had stumbled upon a puppy mill operation. I noted the dogs and their living conditions with disgust and sadness, and went on about my job of locating the meter (but I fully intended to report the operation after I departed the property).
I eventually found the meter hidden behind some junk* beside a screen door I had passed earlier. *I had seen this before. It was probably an intentional attempt to hide/block access to the meter.
I knocked on the nearby screen door and peered through into a dimly lighted dirty kitchen to inform the homeowner (and 6 or 8 children of all ages – a human mill apparently – yes, I said it) that I was there to turn off the power for nonpayment. A very large woman smoking a cigarette and tilted back in a recliner in the corner said something like “Do what you must, the @#%&*! church would not pay anymore…”
I pulled the meter out, the lights went out, and suddenly the woman went totally nuts yelling, screaming, shrieking, cursing at me, and said “you’re going down!” “I’m suing you – you little @#&!!@ …she paused for a moment, coughed several raspy, deep, wet, smoker’s coughs, and then yelled at the top of her cigarette smoke-filled lungs “did you just assault my @#!%* child! I saw you touch my !@#%*! child!”
Yikes, what manner of fresh hell did I just unleash upon myself and the unsuspecting world?!!
That woman was totally bat-shit crazy!
I was outside the house, on the other side of the screen door, holding a power meter in my heavily-gloved hands, and at least 10 feet away from the nearest child – a dirty little kid in a high chair wearing only a diaper and being fed what looked like ice cream by what may have been a sibling – obviously, there was no possible way I could have ever touched the child. I say again – that woman was totally friggin nutterz!!
At the sound of smoking-woman’s shrill, hateful, raised voice – the dirty baby in the high chair started to cry and all the other children in the room went totally silent, petrified still, and looked absolutely terrified. They had probably see the crazy dog-lady’s temper before and knew exactly what it meant – I had only just been introduced to it and I was also totally terrified.
I didn’t say a word – no need to feed a rabid wolf. If you feed them they only grow stronger.
I quickly finished locking down the meter base and took off running, jumped in my work truck, tossed the power meter on the passenger seat, ducked down into the seat, and tore out of the driveway fully expecting to hear gunfire from the vicinity of the now dark house. Luckily – no spinning hot lead slugs flew past me – only the vociferously venomous rantings of a crazy, power poaching, puppy mill perpetrating, low-life of a person – who was now in the dark.
I felt terrible for the kids and the dogs, but nonpayment is nonpayment and orders are orders.
I was really shaken up so I drove a few miles down the street, pulled the truck off in a safe place, took out a pad and pen and started to write down everything exactly as it happened. After I finished writing out the details of the bizarre encounter I called my supervisor and gave her a full and detailed report including the discovery of the puppy mill and all the madness from the toxic lady. My boss stood up for me and later we collaborated on sending in the police, investigators, and others to get the place investigated, exposed, and shut down for animal and human cruelty and negligence. I assumed I would be called to court to testify but it never happened – possibly because the place was so obviously in great violation of so many health and safety, animal, and human abuse and cruelty laws.
The last time I drove by the place it was still dark, overgrown with weeds and small trees, and the house was falling in. Hopefully, the human filth was dealt with accordingly and the innocent dogs and children found new forever homes.
My lessons from this encounter:
My first-hand evidence, and the evidence from many other sources, reveal that people who treat animals humanely – will often do the same to people.
Do not buy pets from pet shops that often source their stock from and animal mills and or wildlife poaching operations.
There are many wonderful orphaned animals out there in need of new homes, maybe you will be the one that gives one of them a wonderful place to call home and to be loved.
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.
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.
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.
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
By now we were supposed to have flying cars, starships and space stations full of people, outposts on the moon and Mars, thinking robots living among us, renewable and fusion energy sources powering our lives, unlimited low-cost resources from a 100% recycling-based economy, equality, coexistence, and freedom for everyone and all creatures.
A small number of greedy, wealth and power-mad, crusty old white men who fear change – choose to focus on outdated ancient dogma and toxically-tribal, control-focused, anti-progress, knuckle-dragging fear, and warmongering tactics – are hell-bent on stopping anything and anyone who wants evidence-supported progress, positivity, and coexistence.
These twisted, small-minded, hateful, heavy-handed, charlatans, are plotting and scheming to destroy any chance the majority of us have at a better future by undermining anything that works to better our lives.
The question is why?
Why are they so focused on destroying the future?
I am not targeting one specific political or religious “team” – I despise the competitive “team” approach because it was designed from the get-go to divide us from each other. I am calling out all of those – whomever they are – who constantly and consciously choose to ignore the evidence, ignore reality, ignore the voices of the people and instead choose to do all in their power to – out of greed, control, and possibly even out of spite – choose to do exactly the opposite of what should be done. It is as if they are choosing to intentionally screw things up for future generations.
Maybe I am giving them too much credit. Maybe they are just idiots who do not have the capacity to think ahead and see the consequences of their decisions. Maybe their minds are dumb from breathing leaded gasoline most of their lives, and/or numb and blinded by so many years of conditioning and programming from whatever cult of personality they choose to worship telling them their way is the only way no matter what the evidence, common sense, science, or their rotten, putrid little shriveled stone of a heart my try to say to them – if they even have a heart.
It seems that these toxic individuals may be working to infiltrate the very framework of our society and are trying to divide all of us from each other.
Why? What is their goal?
Why would anyone willingly choose to put their own greedy self-interests over any chance at a healthy, happy, future for all…hmmm…I wonder why?
I suppose the answer comes down to the fact that genetically we are still so very young in the evolution of our species.
It was not that long ago that we were living in caves eking out our existence with only rock, stick, and fire as tools. We were terrified of anything outside of our very limited frame of reference. Anything different than what we or our tribe knew in our daily existence would be labeled a threat and destroyed – out of fear and self-protection.
Therefore, since not enough time has passed to rid us of these ancient ways of thinking it seems that even though we have technologically evolved to turn our rocks, sticks, and fire into cement, steel, electricity, and rockets – some of us still have strong genetic traces of our ancient tribal tendencies and for some it seems that these fear-based tendencies are absolutely impossible to overcome.
We still often fear differences in others.
We still often attack that which is unknown to us.
We still often deny reality in favor of myth and legend.
We still often harm those we love for false feelings of power.
We still often seek comfort in what we know – not in what could be.
Even with all our amazing accomplishments – many of us still will often choose the path of fear, hate, greed, ancient comfortable dogma, and today, over the much better options of acceptance, love, generosity, peer-reviewed evidence, and tomorrow.
The big question is this: will we ever evolve past our infantile, child-like, me-first, bully-like, natures – before we kill ourselves off?
Maybe, maybe not.
Maybe one day we will overcome the natural odds and evolve to transcend our short-lived primate bodies and the physical world to become one with the energy flow of the universe.
Or maybe we are just a failed evolutionary experiment destined to become only a plasticized blip in the rock-recorded fossil record of deep time.
Only time will tell.
Strive to rise above the status quo.
Strive to find only the positive in life each day and to extinct the negative.
Photo Hubble Ultra Deep Field. An estimated 10,000 galaxies are shown in this image from the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo Source: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/30946
Space is stupendously massive with countless galaxies, each with hundreds of billions of stars and trillions of planets and moons. Statistically, there must be life elsewhere in the cosmos and IMHO most of it is probably microscopic and/or not intelligent/spacefaring.
However, if there are intelligent, spacefaring species out there, and if they have visited us – then the massive scale of the cosmos and the incredible technology, knowledge, and ability needed to traverse it would suggest these beings would possess technology and intelligence as far “above” ours/us as we are “above” the chimpanzee…or the ant…or the bacterium…or the virus…and lately and with each passing day, evidence reveals that some humans seem to be de-evolving and acting more and more like a virus.
Therefore, as we mostly naked, multi-colored, bipedal, primates will often camouflage ourselves with our technology and technique in order to study other life forms upon our planet without revealing ourselves to them…
…it is very possible the extraterrestrials have similar technologies (yet vastly superior to ours) that would easily hide them from our detection. Yes, that would then suggest that all the blurry photographs, videos, books, and eyewitness accounts/interviews over all the years by all the people claiming to have seen/encountered/been abducted by aliens are in fact – 100% pure and total bunk manufactured by charlatans wanting attention and fortune.
Another possibility exists: they have been here in the past and yet may still be here (maybe not them personally but their technology – think: cellular/internet-connected wildlife/trail camera traps/webcams etc that would allow them to remotely study us from the comfort of their home planet) studying us as we study other lifeforms on earth – such as looking at chimps and deer in the forest, ants under a magnifying glass, bacteria under a microscope, or African wildlife visiting a waterhole…
It is also possible that many randomly selected and/or “of importance” or “special interest” humans have been “tagged” with 100% undetectable with our current technologies tracking devices (no, not injected via anal probes or vaccinations – oh lord people please grow up and just stop it with the TV/hollywood inspired stories and lame conspiracy “theories”) so as to be observed by these extraterrestrial observers in the attempt to study the mundane and unique among our species and learn more about us as we wildlife researchers work to learn more about the natural life movements of wild creatures currently existing with us on our home planet.
Or, they may, in fact, be so far evolutionarily, emotionally, and technologically advanced “above” us that we are only mere curiosities to them…or of no interest at all…
Maybe, due to the destructive, hateful, selfish, natures, and our viral reproduction and expansion without any concern for future generations – maybe our solar system has been put in a physically distanced quarantine zone far from the rest of the galaxy and its populated worlds until we children grow up out of our dangerous malignant infancy, start taking care of our planetary life support system, and coexisting with each other and with all species on this strange water-soaked living rock we call earth.
Another view of our home. Can you find the earth in this image? Yes, we are there, the tiny pale blue dot hanging in space under Saturn’s rings on the lower right.
“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” —Neil Armstrong
Yes, whatever the cause may be, gas prices are getting higher and higher.
Along with this fact many people are now hating on and bashing electric vehicles and renewable energy.
Wait – what?
Yes. In the last two weeks, I have seen many posts and comments by many people about renewable energy sources and electric vehicles that try to paint them in a negative light.
It is all the same old cherry-picking FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) and nay-sayer arguments and then some.
IMHO I think it is because the bullies and bashers do not want to acknowledge that it is time to change from an outdated, toxic, war-supporting, finite, politically polarized, planetary-sourced, energy/fuel system to an up to date, much cleaner, renewable, energy secure, distributed, energy/fuel system powered by locally-sourced energy from solar panels on your own rooftop or wind turbines silently turning on a windy hillside or west Texas ranch. With our current technology, it no longer makes good science-supported common sense to power our society primarily on hydrocarbon-based energy products sourced on the other side of the planet – be it from the Persian Gulf or Russia – when we have the technology, engineering, and knowledge to get things done with clean, secure, home-grown energy sourced close to home – where it is needed and used.
Some will say the environmental impacts of renewable energy and electric vehicles are actually greater than that of fossil fuel sourced energy systems. This is a total falsehood manufactured by fossil fuel mongers using the same playbook used by the people who tried to tell us that smoking was not bad for your health or that lead in gasoline was safe and, more recently, that Volkswagen had developed a “clean diesel” engine – we now see where all those arguments lie – deep in a steaming pile of festering worm-ridden filth in the bottom of a long-forgotten moldering outhouse.
Yes, it is true that everything, even EVs and renewable energy systems has an impact – and the greater our population – the greater our need for resources so the greater our impacts. Our survival as a species is no longer about growing – it is becoming more about balance, it is about reducing our impact on our planetary life-support system so we can reach equilibrium and continue without harming the very life support system that gives us all life. So why do we keep accepting and using the worst possible energy/transportation sources with the biggest most harmful impacts when far better options with far less of an impact are readily available?
Many will often simply say it is too expensive – but my answer to this is have you actually done the math to support your opinion?
Driving electric and going renewable does in fact cost more upfront – but over the life of the product – the solar panels or the EV – you make up for that initial higher cost and the lifetime savings far offset the initial costs. As an example: I power my daily driver EV primarily with solar-produced electricity. Therefore, my fuel costs to drive the vehicle are less than 1 cent/mile. I drive around 200 miles/week – so therefore I spend less than $2/week to drive the car everywhere I need to drive it.
I do still have a legacy vehicle (Honda Pilot 4×4 SUV) for towing/hauling and short trips to town and getting to work in bad weather. It costs an average of 15 cents per mile (at today’s gas prices) to drive. So, to drive the Honda the same distance as I drive my EV I will pay ~$30 (200 miles x .15 = $30)!! Yikes!
How far do you drive and what are your costs per mile? (and don’t forget to figure in the costs of maintenance on your vehicle – all those tune-ups/filters/exhaust pipes/catalytic converters/oil/fluid/filter changes etc)
Now, imagine if you have a few solar panels on your roof and an EV in your driveway – how much money would you save now that you are not paying for electricity for your home and fuel for your car?
Some will say it takes forever to charge an EV. Earlier EVs – yes. They charged far slower than today’s EVs but today’s EVs charge far faster – some add hundreds of miles of range in mere minutes and the speed is getting faster every day.
Fact: Most EV owners charge overnight while they are sleeping or while at work and the car is ready to go when they are. If you can use a smartphone, you can drive an EV.
Some will say “charging an EV at home will raise your power bill unimaginably high.” Nope. In my experience charging at home* only raises my power bill by about $10/week – how much do you spend on gas per week? *back when I most often charged at home – now I rarely do since I most often charge at work so I can take advantage of solar-produced electricity.
Obviously, if you have an EV with a larger battery it will cost more to fill it up – but even a Tesla Model S Plaid with its massive 95 kWh battery would cost less to fill up than almost any fossil-powered vehicle in today’s gas market.
Some will also say “the energy for your electric car comes from dirty coal – so it is a coal-powered electric car.”
Fact: even if an EV is charged with the dirtiest coal-fired energy – it is still far cleaner to operate than any petroleum-powered vehicle. Why you may ask?
Answer: because the entire fossil fuel mining/transport/refining and supply chain (and let us not forget the human costs from war/terrorism and the environmental costs from emissions and pollution from the final use of the product) is now out of the picture for the EV…AND the US power grid is getting cleaner every day as more and more legacy energy power plants retire and more and more renewable energy power plants come online – so every day your EV gets cleaner and cleaner to drive – that is an impossibility with any vehicle powered by fossil fuels.
Let’s face the facts: using fossil fuel-powered anything is simply a subscription to dependency. We are hopelessly addicted to fossil fuels…well, some of us anyway.
Some will say “at the end of their life solar panels and EV batteries cannot be recycled and are just tossed into landfills.” Really. You are really going there? Sad. Ok. Here are the facts.
In reality – solar panels are made mostly of glass and aluminum and these things can be recycled – into more solar panels.
EV batteries, when they are not able to push a car down the road, are repurposed into stationary energy storage such as storage batteries for homes and businesses (think backup generator – but with batteries.) Then, after another decade or so of life as a stationary storage battery – they are recycled – into more batteries. In other words, we can mine the battery for its resources and do not need to dig more holes for more raw materials to make more batteries – we already have them. It’s a win-win for everyone.
In fact, it is just stupid (and illegal in some places) to throw away a used battery due to the high value of the raw materials contained inside. This is why when you need a new 12-volt car starter battery the auto parts store will pay you money (the core charge) for your old one and it is then recycled into a new battery. It is no different with used Lithium-ion batteries.
There are countless erroneous and outright ignorant “memes” circulating on the internet that have been created to spread FUD around electric vehicles and renewable energy sources. One of the most recent I have seen involves the following:
From Diego Loredan on Facebook: “This is a used car dump near Paris, France with hundreds of electric cars. Please note, these are only used cars of the city of Paris and not personal vehicles. Everyone has the same problem …. the battery storage cells are dead and need to be replaced. Why not replace them, you ask yourself? Well, there are two reasons. One, battery storage cells cost almost twice what a new vehicle costs, and two, no landfill or landfill will allow you to dump batteries there. So these green fairy electric cars are dumping toxins from the battery right into the ground. Still think we need to think green ???” Very interesting!!??
I did a quick and simple Google fact check and discovered the following about these cars:
“The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
News reports from France say the cars are part of a fleet from a failed car-sharing service, and the vehicles shown in the field are being resold or sold for parts.
A French television news report in April, with photos like those appearing with the Facebook post, said more than 1,000 vehicles used in the Autolib program are being stored on a lot in Romorantin-Lanthenay, an area about 130 miles southwest of Paris.
The Bolloré company had a contract with local authorities in and around Paris to provide the vehicles, which people could borrow for a fee. That ended in 2018 when the service was in debt and failing.
Some 4,000 of the vehicles were sold, mainly to two companies that have been reselling them, according to the report. That includes the ones shown in the Facebook post.
The TV stories and a French newspaper article noted the claims on social media. “Unlike what buzzes on social media, this is not a cemetery,” the newspaper report said.
We rate the post False.” – From Politifact
Another thing to note is the following from Reuters:
“French media reports here , here and here which show pictures of the cars lined up in a field like those in the social media posts, explain that the termination of the contract meant that Bollore had to remove its 4,000 vehicles from the Paris region to Romorantin-Lanthenay, 200 kms (124 miles) south of Paris. Bollore sold the cars, most of them going to two companies, Autopuzz, which resells the cars throughout France, and Atis Production.
On claims about soil pollution risk posed by the cars, Paul Aouizerate, head of Atis Production, told France Info here “Our vehicles are properly stored. The firefighters are aware, the construction site is well organized. All the batteries have been removed and the connectors are isolated.”
He added that the cars were not going to a junkyard. Autopuzz told France TV Info it is reselling the cars to buyers across France at a rate of 50 per month (here).
Partly false. These are genuine photos of electric cars in France, but they were taken off the road due to financial difficulties, not problems with the battery storage cells. More than 2,500 of the cars have been resold.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.”
If you remain unconvinced – do your own simple research.
This erroneous meme and many like it have been manufactured/miscaptioned in the attempt to illicit FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) about electric vehicles. More than likely the FUD generators that made this meme have money tied up in fossil fuels/fossil fuel infrastructure and are terrified at the prospect of losing their nest eggs.
Along with all that nonsense: many renewable energy haters/doubters/FUD spreaders will often say “wind turbines kill countless numbers of birds and bats” – another falsehood. While it is true that some of the earliest wind turbines were smaller, lower (closer to wildlife habitats), spun faster, and did impact wildlife – today’s turbines are designed from the get-go to lesson wildlife impacts and it is rare for birds and bats to die via modern wind turbines. In fact, do you know what kills the most birds, bats, and small animals in this country: pet/feral house cats and impacts with glass windows. The numbers of wildlife deaths from these two top killers are in the billions per year. Wind turbines do have an impact but it is minuscule when compared to bird/bat deaths from cats/windows and ahem: fossil fuel-related pollution from mining, shipping, spills, refining, use, and incorrect disposal of used oil, etc.
Some people are even saying that when someone drives an electric vehicle they do not pay gas taxes so the roads will suffer. This is simply a falsehood. I have been driving an EV since 2013 and I pay a yearly EV tax which makes up for the gas taxes I would have paid if I drove a legacy vehicle. This tax then goes to support highway maintenance and infrastructure. I have absolutely zero issues paying this tax because I enjoy driving on nice roads as much as the next bipedal naked ape.
I believe that many of these erroneous myths have and are being spread by the fossil fuel producers themselves and the “think tanks” they have hired to sow doubt in technologies that are their competition, as well as those with loads of money invested in fossil fuels – at home and abroad…possibly even in part by Russian government hackers since we all know that Russia’s main export products are soaked in hydrocarbons and they will do anything to keep the oil flowing out and the money flowing in.
Just stop it, people – stop it.
Stop falling for and spreading the clickbait and lies being spread by those who do not want to change – it is not helping anyone or anything except the old fossils running the petroleum companies, their politician puppets, and the tiny dictators who do not want to accept that the future of our species is renewable energy powered and electrically driven.
Change is the way of nature.
The time for change is now.
Change is often scary and it is often hard but remember this: very often the life that exists on the other side of change is far superior in every way to the one you are living in right now.
Someone once said everything worth doing in life exists on the other side of fear. It is time to push through the fear and adapt – because if we do not adapt, we die.
Some of us will get through this thing with science and common sense leading the way and sadly, some will not.
As I learned in the Boy Scouts: be prepared.
1. Listen to the experts – they know more than you – that is why they are the experts.
2. Keep your distance – especially from strangers.
3. Wash up well.
4. Keep wearing that mask.
5. Get that shot and then get the booster.
6. Ignore/report/block/delete the ignorant anti-science and anti-common sense conspiracy “theories” and “natural cures” being fabricated/spread/sold by the covidiots, crazy meme trolls, greedy charlatans, and religiopolitical fanatics crapping their steaming fresh clickbait turds all over the internet.
There are only two options in this thing we call life on planet earth: adapt or die. Science, technology, and good old common sense are the ways we humans improvise, adapt, overcome, evolve, survive, and thrive.
I – and many if not most of you reading this – would simply not exist without the findings of science, technology, and engineering. Unsure of what I mean? I have written about this topic before but here we go again because this cannot be overstated.
Starting off with the obvious: somewhere during your timeline of life a medical procedure/surgery, external or implanted medical or dental device, topical, or internal medicine, antibiotic, vaccine, or vitamin, – (that was invented, tested, guided, administered, and/or prescribed by the expert skill, advice, and training of medical experts we call medical scientists, virologists, immunologists, bacteriologists, prosthetists, orthodontists, dentists, plastic surgeons, doctors, surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and all the other “ologists,”) – has repaired, prolonged, enhanced, or saved your life – or the life of one of your progenitors.
Speaking of your progenitors; without one or more of the modern medical techniques and procedures I mentioned earlier – they may not have lived or lived long enough to bring those individuals who produced the being you call you into existence…in fact, they – and therefore you – may not have even been born at all.
Another fascinating fact: it is very likely that some of your progenitors would have never even met each other without a horse and wagon, car, truck, bus, boat, ship, aircraft, or possibly even a rocket bringing them to the instant in time where they first met – changing the course of history to eventually create you.
How many countless times in your life did a sanitation system such a water purification system, portable water filter, purified water from your local municipal water department, a simple wooden outhouse or gilded penthouse toilet – remove or greatly reduce the chance that you or your ancestors would contract a nasty parasite or deadly disease?
Where would you be and what shape would you be in without your soap, toilet paper, tooth brushes, contact lenses, eye glasses, dental implants, hearing aids, CPAP, Oxygen concentrator, hip, knee, and heart valve replacements, pacemakers, insulin, etc?
Then there was the discovery and implementation of better agriculture/animal husbandry techniques such as selective breeding, fertilizer, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, genetic modification, preventative medicines – just to name a few – working together to produce a higher quality and quantity of foods allowing you to grow up strong and healthy.
Think about your home appliances for a moment. Where would you be without your refrigerator, range, microwave oven, dish washer, laundry machines, blender, coffee maker, ceiling fans, HVAC, and all that electricity that powers them…how different would your life be without these technological wonders?
What about all that energy that powers and supports your lifestyle? Where would you be and what would you be doing without petroleum products such as oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene? Then there is all that earlier mentioned electricity you use that is produced by all those coal, hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, solar, battery, and nuclear-power stations – and all the inventors, scientists, technicians, electricians, miners, roughnecks, refiners, shippers, managers, and other people who worked together to bring all that energy to you and to keep it flowing when you want and need it?
What about your modern clothes, tents, buildings, your home’s walls, doors, door locks, glass windows, the screens on the windows keeping out the blood-sucking and disease-carrying insects, all allowing you to live a comfortable and safe existence?
Do you perform work that requires the common sense use of PPE’s (Personal Protective Equipment) to protect you from the elements such as sunglasses, safety glasses, air filter mask/respirator, chain saw chaps, snake gaiters, clothes, boots, gloves, sunscreen, climbing helmets, life jackets, body armor, or a simple bandana to keep you safe and healthy?
Have you used a personal tool or weapon that has protected you from a predatory animal or human attacker?
Where would you be without all these things?
Would you even exist?
What about your smoke/carbon monoxide alarms…your seat belts and airbags, automatic emergency braking and self-driving systems in your cars…your skateboard, bicycle, or motorcycle…?
That advanced tool of some kind – that hammer, handsaw, cordless drill/driver, Bic lighter or matchstick, pocket knife, multi-tool, Swiss army knife, fishing pole, rifle, animal trap or snare, backpack, length of nylon rope, dry bag, plastic bucket, or tin can, or again the ubiquitous bandanna, – that allowed you to fix a machine, build a shelter, procure, preserve and protect, cook, and prepare food or water so you could beat the odds and survive on and on?
What about all those electronic devices – like the one you are using to read these words – that you love so much; your smartphone/watch, computer, iPad, television, stereo, 2-way radio, that Tesla or Toyota in the driveway – do you have the first inkling on how they actually function? Do you have any idea how much engineering, science, thought, research and development, and testing went into them to bring them to reality on this very day so you can use them and trust them to work as you wish and need them to?
How about the systems in place that allow you to know what the weather will be tomorrow, when the tides will flow, the fish will bite, your exact location on the planet, and then give you turn by turn directions to the bodega where you buy your baked beans and Beluga Caviar – do you even have a clue what it takes to make all these things happen and get those beans and caviar to your dinner table?
And what about your dinner table…?
And what about all the intricate supply chains that have brought all these things to you? Have you ever given any of these technologies and systems the first thought with even just one of your 100 billion neurons?
All these things and systems are products of our science, engineering, technology, ingenuity, vision, and invention.
All of these things are also the products of our own evolutionary development.
One of the defining characteristics of our unique species is tool-making and use. All of the technologies we create are nothing more than tools made of modified natural resources (complex combinations of liquids, rocks, fibers, and sticks spiced up with a little bit of fire, electricity, and lots and lots of science and engineering) that allow us to better adapt and survive in this thing we call life. Since the first time early hominids turned simple rocks and sticks into stone tools and then more recently (maybe 1.5 – 1 million years ago) harnessed the power of fire and added it to his fast-growing tool box – we human-animals have invented, adapted, and “MacGyvered” our way through deep time to bring us to this day in our lives.
The simple fact is this: without our tools (ancient and modern) and without all the inventors, engineers, scientists – without all the experts (ancient and modern) that made them – in all probability we would only exist as just another ape among apes at the mercy of predators, the elements, and the relentless nature of nature.
The simple fact is that many if not most of us living today would not even exist without the findings of science and the miracles of modern technology and engineering – yet, a vast number of people alive, existing, and living today have absolutely no idea how any of these technologies – and the science and engineering that developed and supports them – function – even at a basic level.
It seems we may have created for ourselves a broken system in which some individuals in the human population today – while they gladly accept and use many of these tools on a daily basis – have willingly chosen to nurture and perpetuate an irrational fear and distrust of many of these most important life-supporting, life-sustaining, and life-bettering technologies and sciences. The very same technologies and sciences and that have allowed many of them to exist, to continue to be healthy, to have the things they need, use, and enjoy. Yet, for whatever reason – they still choose to take many of these things for granted, to fear some of these things while accepting others, and to ignore the findings of the experts even if it brings hardship and harm to themselves, their loved ones, and those around them.
Strangely, a small but growing fraction of the population of planet earth has chosen to not only fear some of these technological tools – but also to use some of them as tools and/or weapons to spread irrational fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about still others of these most important tools they have chosen to misunderstand and distrust. A great example is this: people with little more than a high school education – if that – sitting on a couch at home or in traffic – or in their production studios – safe in their comfortable bubble of air conditioned from climate change (which they also do not understand or believe) existence – using their high technology personal electronic communications devices connected to the internet via fiber optics, ground and space-based data relay stations, and wireless data transmission towers and access points – only to spread loads of made-up FUD and misinformation about the expert advice of an entire planet’s worth of medical professionals on the need to wear PPE’s (masks) and the need to use the medicines and vaccines derived by science to fight off a microscopic viral attacker in the middle of a global pandemic…and then they take livestock dewormer…and sell loads of marketing, paraphernalia, self-published books, “cures” and “potions” and just get richer and richer off the ignorance of their followers.
This last fact is the most dangerous of them all. These “lunatic fringe” dwelling, anti-science, anti-knowledge, illogical charlatans – are nothing more than knowledge terrorists working to bring down the progress of civilization by sewing irrational fears into the minds of those without the capability, the education, or the desire, to see through their toxic charade.
It seems as if a cold-war spy movie mated with Austin Powers and gave birth to today’s reality.
The only way I know to fight this growing anti-science, anti-knowledge, fear-focused trend is to teach, to work very hard to open young minds – and the minds of those that are young at heart and still open to accepting evidence-supported, peer-reviewed knowledge. The jobs of those of us who call themselves teachers is to plant the seeds of knowledge, inspiration, curiosity in how the natural world and the cosmos in which we float works. Then, we must continue to nurture those seeds with even more empirical evidence, adventure, experimentation, and lots of quality time outdoors in nature. Hopefully, the seeds of evidence and curiosity we plant will grow into great and wonderful trees of knowledge that will empower its gardeners to cast off their fear, hate, doubt, xenophobia, and anxiety and nurture it with curiosity, knowledge, evidence, wonder, love, trust, passion, and coexistence and a deep reverence for all life.
Plant that seed.
My personal science story:
The fact boldly stands that I would not exist without the findings of medical science, technology, expertise, and technique.
1. I was born premature – medical science, technology, and engineering supported my life until I could support myself.
2. Vaccinations protected me against all the things all the other kids carried – all the things that wanted a piece of me when I was just starting out.
3. I acquired Mycoplasma “walking” pneumonia twice – I may have died without treatment and medications and the experts who administered them.
4. I developed Appendicitis: I would have most certainly died without treatment and appendectomy.
5. I was bitten by a Timber rattlesnake: I may not have died but I would have probably lost the use of a finger and had lasting ill effects.
6. Both my biological and adoptive parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents – would have never met each other without ships, automobiles, and airplanes.
7. I have been in countless situations – many severe electrical storms and one hurricane come to mind – where a structure, vehicle, or technology provided shelter for me, and without it I would have died.
…and so on.
So yes, without the findings and application of medical, materials, chemical, food, engineering, botanical, and physical science and engineering – I would simply not exist.
It is as simple and as complex as that.
I do not fear the science, medical advancements, technology, and engineering discoveries, that have given me life – I accept and embrace them just as I accept and embrace nature – because science is our way of understanding and interacting with, and when the need arises – controlling the nature of nature. These things have given me life and are a part of me, and for that I am eternally grateful. I am also eternally grateful to all the teachers, scientists, engineers, botanists, doctors, dentists, nurses, immunologists, virologists, biologists, and others who have helped me along the way to become the living, healthy person I am today – and to understand the value science and engineering brings to all of us.
Several years ago, while visiting Savannah Georgia, USA, I found myself down on the historic waterfront exploring the myriad of boats moored at the docks. As I browsed the many makes, models, shapes and sizes of watercraft I noticed something unique at the far end of the pier. It was the largest boat there – an older, wooden, two-masted, schooner-rigged sailing vessel that looked as if it had been outfitted to travel the seas forever. I quickly forgot about all the other lesser little boats and soon found myself taking in the sea-seasoned beauty of the rustic old wooden ship.
As I took in all the intricacies of the weathered old craft – that to me looked as if it had been around the world and back again many times over – a man carrying an oddly shaped bundle in a canvas sack walked up and climbed aboard the craft. He was lean and muscular, possibly in his mid-60’s, had a skin tone of deep-brown sun-weathered leather, a medium length grizzled white beard, and a full head of white-blonde hair – he briefly looked in my direction and I noticed he had piercing jade-green eyes. He was wearing a faded, threadbare t-shirt with what looked like the Japanese kanji for “Mt. Fuji” printed on it – but it was so faded that it was hard to make it out – faded old khaki shorts, and pink flip flops. He eyed me again briefly then turned and knocked (what to me sounded like a secret knock) on the door to below decks – it opened to reveal an exotically beautiful younger woman wrapped in a tropical print sarong with bronze skin and a waist-length braid of thick, jet-black hair. She came topside briefly, picked up the bundle he had been carrying, and disappeared back below. The old sailor picked up an even older toolbox, stepped back down onto the dock, and began to make a minor repair on one of the boat’s portholes – and I took the liberty to strike up a conversation.
After chatting for a while I discovered that he and his partner, whom he never named – nor did he say his name and I did not ask – lived aboard the boat with their scruffy old mixed-breed dog he called “Bandar” (Bandar = monkey in Hindi).
He did not say where they were from and I did not ask but from his accent I would say he had been either Australian, Kiwi, or British. He said they did not have a land-based home and for over two decades they had traveled the planet’s oceans – their boat their only home.
The elements provided their energy – as evidenced by the wind turbine spinning almost silently on the mast and several solar modules (panels) of different ages and designs covering the roof above the wheelhouse and part of the deck area. He said they relied on the rains and island freshwater springs to provide most of their drinking water and they had built a simple but effective collection system of shade awnings constructed from what looked like old canvas and plastic tarps strung up over parts of the deck amidships. These tarps funneled water into a series of bamboo and plastic gutters, tubes, and pipes that lead to water storage tanks below deck. When water started to get low and they were far from land they also had a homebuilt solar distillation system that would provide them with just enough fresh water to survive until they were able to locate more.
When I asked if the boat had a secondary power source the old sailor said “I rely on the wind mostly but when the wind dies I just drop anchor until the winds return, or if in the deep – I just drift with the current and work on projects that need my attention until the wind returns. If close to port or if conditions are so bad that I need to drop sails to save them – or if the need be great enough to move faster than nature wants me to move – I will use the motor. It’s not petrol – the boat’s electric. The ancient old petrol engine threw a rod about a decade ago when I was about a week out of Darwin. I made it safe in to port and then, after finding out how much it was going to cost to replace the old petrol monster – I just tore it all out and sank it in the shallows where it is now a home for the fishes.” He went on to say that he replaced the old engine with a salvaged electric motor from a fork truck. He mated the motor with the transmission of an old lorry (truck), bolted it to the boat’s propeller shaft, dropped in several fork truck batteries in place of the old fuel tank and some ballast, and connected it all to the solar panels and wind turbine. He said “it works perfectly, is far less of a hassle than the old petrol engine ever was, doesn’t stink or leak, is silent, simple, easy to maintain, and also provides electricity for all of the boats navigation/radio/lighting/galley systems – and the best thing is that unlike petrol – it does not promote or support war and environmental pollution and destruction and therefore it is free from the subscription to dependency that is attached to all things powered by godawful petrol.” (I did not get around to asking him how often he had to replace his batteries or how he afforded to do it since batteries are very expensive but I’ll bet he had that one figured out as well.)
He said that Dolphins, whales, turtles, and the occasional other sailor were their neighbors. Fish, clams, crabs, shrimp, oysters, conchs, birds and bird eggs, coconuts, taro, yucca, agave, mango, oranges, limes and other citrus fruits, papaya, bananas, breadfruit, and other island fruits provided most of their food.
He said he occasionally made use of ports all around the planet to acquire certain things that he could not easily find at sea such as some “land fruits,” veggies, and parts for his boat. He stated that he did not usually need or like to stop in port – while stopping did sometimes make life easier and more convenient, it was also dangerous…he did not say why and I did not ask.
While in port he would service other people’s boats in return for the cash needed to buy the supplies/parts he needed to stock up for a while – then he would set sail and move on.
Then he said “Money is one of the most evil and destructive things ever invented and it pains me deeply that I am occasionally forced to make use of it to get what I need – I would rather fish, forage, scrounge, or barter to survive – but sometimes that is just not what works out.”
I asked him what the other evil things were and he thought a moment and said “greed, selfishness, the childish need for power and control of others, division, slavery, war, people breeding without thought for the future or for the new life they are bringing into existence, the infantile, fearful, self-centered idea of white supremacy, twisted religions that denounce the earth and claim to be the way to salvation for those that follow them – at the cost of everyone and everything else that does not. And above all else the disrespect and disregard for other living beings and for the living earth that freely gives us all our very lives.”
I sat in silence while he worked, thinking about his words. While I first found his views on society somewhat shocking, I also found them very refreshingly obvious but often not observed by those who are so caught up in them on a daily basis. His insight had the wisdom of the truly awake and thinking outsider looking in from beyond the wall of society at the bizarre and troublesome puzzle we have created for ourselves, the full puzzle we cannot usually see because we are stuck on the inside of this matrix of society – forever bound up as slaves to this dangerous and divisive illusion of freedom that we are fed from birth.
He worked for a while in silence then put away his tools, reached aboard his boat and grabbed the same canvas sack his partner had taken below earlier – only now its contents had been reduced by about ½ – and started walking down the dock, I followed at a respectful distance, interested in where he was headed. He went to the dock master’s office and proceeded to pay him for his time moored at the dock. From my perspective it looked like he paid him in tropical fruit, a silk garment of some kind, and what appeared to be a small flask of a clear fermented beverage – all this made me smile – they obviously knew each other and had a friendly barter agreement. I would bet that somewhere below decks of his boat the man had a very detailed log/map listing all of the ports and individuals who would accept nontraditional payment for docking fees as well as all the tiny uninhabited tropical islands with safe anchorages, fruit, good fishing, and fresh water.
He shook hands with the dock master, said a few parting words, turned, and started walking the dock back toward his boat. I asked him how he had made it all work for so long and he said “Because I was done. Done with the garbage. Done with the hatred. Done with the killing. Done with the greed. Done with the lies. Done with the illusion. I had no other choice.”
I did not ask him what he meant by that last part.
He then continued “The sea and small islands provide me with almost all I need to survive and what the sea does not provide I will often find washed up on beaches and in the horrible floating garbage patches of your modern civilization – I make use of the cast-off flotsam and jetsam from your society to help me continue. People like Frank (the dock master I think) also help me when the need arises – but that is not often.” He said he was saddened deeply that so many people chose to pollute the planet without a care at all for nature or for future generations but he was also grateful that some of the cast off refuse was still so very useful – and free. He made use of many of these items turning them into everything – from the earlier mentioned rainwater collection system, to fishing tools, kitchen utensils, and even the solar still for making fresh water and seasoning salt from salt water.
As we walked back to his boat this most intriguing man then said one of the most interesting things that has stuck with me ever since. When I asked him where he was from he said; “I do not have a state or nation that I call home. I have cast off all connections to my previous citizenship – from when I was a slave to the system.” He never did say the country he was originally from – and I could see that it was a sore spot so I did not go there. “My boat and the oceans are my home. I am not connected or beholden to any nation, governing, or supportive system other than the governing systems of nature and the vast ocean of the cosmos.” He then said “My heart hurts for the people caught up in the petty bickering between friends, between families, between nations, over childish soul and society destroying politics, evil money, cultish culture-dividing and soul-destroying religions, I weep for those lost in the horribly wasteful wars, insane terrorist acts, and loss of life all in the name of blind patriotism and body and soul-killing toxically divisive religions, the endless quest for oil, gold, and other material things, the tribal division, the skin deep hate, the denial of observable facts, the carelessness and callousness and frightening blind devotion to flag, nationality, and so many archaic faith-based systems.” He then quoted Albert Einstein saying “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind!”
Interestingly, in all his commentary about the state of things – his words were never bitter, mean or hateful – only a peaceful commentary on the sad status of the world that by choice he had distanced himself from as much as possible…and in some ways that he seemed to be running away from. I got the feeling that if he had the means he would leave this planet entirely and wander the cosmos – a nomadic drifter, searching for nothing and learning everything. I silently wondered what it was that had driven him to leave his home country and culture. The answer I am sure could be found somewhere in his commentary but out of respect for his journey, his privacy, and his freedom to truly be himself – I did not ask.
He then became really quiet and walked to his boat, when he reached the gangplank he stopped, turned to me and said “The only way to be truly free is to completely and forever let go of the illusions of freedom that your parents, your government, your society, your education, your religion – whatever illusions have been programmed into your mind by your culture and society that holds you like a slave in its grasp – and become your own person. That is what I did after…”
He abruptly stopped speaking, looked out to sea for a long moment and said – “Cast off the imaginary anchors and chains of the illusion of freedom and only then will you be really and truly free and only then will your eyes be opened to the true nature of things.”
With that he turned away from me, walked up to the ramp onto his ancient schooner and made ready to depart. Silently I watched as he was joined by the scruffy Bandar and his beautiful partner and together they pulled in the gangplank and moorings, used a long pole to push the boat outward from the end of the dock into the current of the outgoing tide, deployed a single sail – the soft mid-morning breeze slowly filling it out pushing old boat, its human and canine passengers and their entire free-floating world silently through the waters of the inter-coastal waterway and out into the Atlantic Ocean where they deployed the rest of their sails – and then within a few moments – they were gone.
No illusions, no limitations, no flag, faith, or nation – only mysterious residents of planet earth who were truly one with nature and well and truly free.