Don’t be your own limiting factor

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

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

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

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

“Science the shit out of it.”

Dare mighty things.

Do good things.

Be the change.

One Love.

Peace.

Another orbit completed successfully

Another trip around the sun completed successfully.

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

Some perspective and observations.

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

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

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

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

Ponder it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live long and prosper.

Bring the change.

Be the change.

Do good things.

Coexist.

One Love.

Peace.

Viral menace! Be gone with you!

The viral scourge has found her and infected she is, but it seems only a mild vexing.

Yet, exiled from society the fair maid has been by the local lords of the magic known as medicine.

Her beloved nature knight, his weapons of choice earth, air, fire, water, and loads of peer-reviewed knowledge freely passed down from the great natural philosophers along with a lot of practical engineering and improvisation, has therefore reclusively retreated into a miniature wheeled home of his own creation.

Within this tiny bean pod-like shell he must reluctantly reside for a fortnight at most – but less in probability – while his princess valiantly fights her battle alone, aided only by countless armies of microscopic bloodborne troops – enhanced by the magical art of medical science – working round the clock to massacre the many millions of maliciously malevolent microscopic monstrosities munching madly in maid Marian’s body.

Nature knight profoundly misses his beauty who is so close, yet so far away just on the other side of an impenetrable wall of wood and masonry – her only company, the mischievous red canine companion and two troublemaking flatulent felines.

The lone lovers are sad yet they know they will be reunited after the microscopic battle being fought within her flesh and blood is finally over.

Therefore, all he can do is wait, wait within his microscopically minuscule science and star-powered abode as he ponders the countless unanswerable questions of deep time, DNA, and the vast ocean of the cosmos – while partaking of vegan ice cream and chocolate stout.

The condensed version: My wife has a mild case of covid, I’m living in the RV for the duration making the best of it hoping it doesn’t get me.

A few days later…

The masked and gloved physician jammed the nasal probe of pain so far up I thought it might bust through into my brain…only to reveal what my rapidly advancing symptoms suggested – the vile microscopic beastie has finally caught up with me.

Frell.

Frack.

Damn.

I hope this thing is short-lived for I have dragons to slay, fair maidens to rescue, and seeds of knowledge to plant.

Be gone with you, vile, villainous, wretched, miserable, microscopic, malevolence! With what little breath I have left I stab at thee with many choice colorful metaphors – and a hefty, healthy dose of SCIENCE!!!

To the rest of you reading this I say this: WEAR YOUR GORRAM MASK AND WASH YOUR FILTHY POXIFIED HANDS!!!

It is not over

This thing is not over.

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.

Choose wisely.

Trashy People

People who litter are trash.

Trash on the roadside, trash in the ditches, trash in the rivers, trash on the beach, tons of pollution spewing into the atmosphere from tailpipes, smoke stacks, and cigarettes hanging from mouths – we humans have achieved greatness in our ability to litter and pollute the very planet that gives us all life.


The self-centered, uncaring, disregard for life and the environment that supports all of us – no matter what part of the planet we are from, our skin color, our sexual orientation, our chosen political or religious beliefs or lack thereof – coupled with a blatant disregard for the health and wellbeing of those we do not know, the manufactured disregard for science, the rise of fringe-dwelling conspiracy-worshiping evidence-denying, lunatic-fringe dwelling doubters, the worshiping of dusty ancient books and imaginary deities, hateful and harmful historical figures, flags, and imaginary lines drawn on maps – as if politics and religion were some sort of sport – as well as putting profit over people, planet, facts and evidence, and the acquisition of wealth, power, status, and excess at the cost of all else – I fear that all of this negative toxicity and wastefulness may be the beginning of the undoing of this country as a world power – the downfall of our global society, and possibly even the extinction of our species.


Unless we change, unless we grow out of our bullying, tantrum-throwing, finger-pointing, expert doubting, rule-breaking, nature and life trashing adolescence – I fear that COVID19 is just the beginning of a downward trend that will only accelerate the mass extinction scenario we have created for ourselves and are now all living in.


No matter who or what anyone chooses to believe or support – nature does not care at all about any of us little human beings.


Without us, nature will recover and life will continue.


Without nature, without clean air, clean water, healthy soil, diverse wildlife – we bipedal primates will sicken, suffer, and eventually die.


Natural selection is a powerful process and it will wipe us out if we pull the wrong strings, burn the bridges, remove the puzzle pieces, break the cogs and wheels, etc.


“To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” – Aldo Leopold


Thoughts, prayers, politicians, pontiffs, prophets, or profits – will not help you.

Only you can help you.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr. Seuss

Choose wisely.

Do only good things.

“We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.” – Carl Sagan

Adapt or Die

Nature does not care about us.
There are only two options in the life of any living creature – animal or human animal: Adapt or Die.
This is why we must care for ourselves – and others.
Therefore, as I see it I still have only two options here:


1. I could choose to ignore the experts and treat COVID-19 like a religio-political control tactic or a hoax as some seem to believe it is. If I did this I would either: be just fine(luck)…or I would have a much higher probability of becoming sick (or dead) due to COVID -19 (and/or any other contagious disease). For me, the side effects of contracting COVID-19 have the potential to be far more damaging than the disease: lost wages, possible job/car/home loss, family, friends and coworkers and/or my students contracting COVID-19 from me and possibly suffering lasting damage to their health – or worse – death. Possible damage to the amazing company I work for, the life-long emotional and possible physical trauma associated with bad choices and their implications, the high cost of medical treatment.


Or


2. I could choose to listen to the experts from many sources who are all saying the same thing and follow their recommendations and adapt accordingly. I could wear masks in public and at work, wash my hands more often, physically distance, avoid crowds, and get vaccinated. This road has been long and inconvenient, absolutely no fun at all, redundant, trying and tiring mentally and physically. However, even if I somehow still come down with COVID-19 – at least I am 100% certain that I did my absolute best to protect those I teach, those I work with, those I love, those strangers I do not even know, and myself from this virus.


As I have done since March 2020 and as I see it I have only one option here: I choose option #2.


If in the end, all the reports and “news” hype circulating around SARS CoV-2 one day mysteriously vanish from the scene and if all of it or most of it is exposed to be a religio-political* tool or cruel hoax** – I will eagerly, happily, and publicly ingest a large plate of deep fried, Cajun spiced crow and admit my error.


Until that time I will continue to choose option #2 and I will continue to stand by, support, and follow all the recommendations of the infectious disease experts.

To think that I know more than they do, or that some internet influencer or religious or political leader knows more about infectious diseases than the experts who study these things as their life’s work – is the ultimate of faulty logic and toxic hubris.

To choose not to listen to the experts would be selfish, incompetent, negligent, and potentially harmful to my loved ones, my friends, my students and coworkers, and even to people I do not know but may pass when I must visit a public place out of necessity…and obviously myself.


As I see it a little bit of adaptive inconvenience and a necessary deviation from the norm – is a small price to pay for the health and safety of my family, friends, coworkers, students, strangers, and for my own physical and mental health. I have far too much too lose to even ever consider Option #1.


*I despise how twisted and destructive religion and politics have become and IMHO I believe both should be totally and forever separated – and possibly even abolished. Our future should not be treated like the toxically divisive past and/or a business or a competitive sport.


**I do not believe COVID-19 is a hoax. I have looked at all the evidence, read the peer reviewed reports, have friends who work in the medical profession, and have friends who have had it. It is as real as you and I.


The needs of the many, outweigh, the needs of the few – or the one.


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


Adapt or Die. The choice is yours.

Choose wisely.

Do good things.

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.

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…

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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.

Germs, vaccinations, and why I trust science.

One of the most important things I have learned over my over 1/2 century of life on planet earth – is how incredibly important the methods, tools, and findings of science, (and engineering, and technology) are to my very existence – and to the existence of everyone who is reading these words. 

Without the discoveries, methods, and tools of science, we would still be living in the “dark ages” surrounded by filth, sickness, decay, and death.  In all likelihood, many of us would not be living at all because our very lives, and the lives of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and possibly even farther back – have been saved and or supported many times over by the findings, tools, and methods of science. How have I come to this conclusion you may ask? The answer is in the evidence I see all around me and in what I know best – my own life story, so I will use my story as an example.

July 1968. I was born. I was a bit premature yet I am alive and healthy today, why? Because doctors, medical science and engineering, and life support technology saved my helpless, somewhat premature-born life and therefore, I was able to begin my growth and development.

Me as a toddler with Farmer

I was never sickened or harmed/disabled/disfigured or rendered into compost by deadly diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox, polio, hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus, rabies…why? Because my parents listened to the medical professionals and had me – and my pets – vaccinated when we were young pups. They listened to the science that supports the evidence that vaccinations work, they protect us, our food, and our companion animals (and therefore again – us) from the hordes of microscopic infectious invaders that only seek (but not desire) to cause us harm (but not intentionally) for only their own uncaring, unthinking, benefit – the continuation of their life cycle and their species.

Ask almost any person older than 60 alive today and they will tell you the only thing vaccines cause is healthy adults, long life, and grey hair.

In light of current anti-vaccination related events I feel that I must expand on this subject a bit. 

For the moment, put aside your preconceived notions – good or bad – about vaccinations and just think about the thousands of times a week you come in contact with other people and their human residue – their exhaled breath and flatulent out-gassings wafting on slight breezes, their constantly shedding germs that become the floating motes of the melting pot of humanity before joining forces with the minuscule bits and pieces of everything else to become a microscopic menagerie of human/floral/faunal/bacterial/fungal/viral/chemical and technological atmospherically delivered effluent that – with the help of your need to breathe to live – finds its way into the tacky folds of your nasal cavity before paying a visit to the fragile, warm, humid depths of your oh so sensitive lungs. 

How many times do you ride in a friend’s car, a public bus, train, taxi and share this air with others?

How often do you open a door by grasping the handle – what grimy, nose, and buttocks picking, crotch-grabbing, bipedal naked ape fondled that handle only moments before you did?  Where had they been? Who had they been with? Exactly what form of nasty had they been doing only moments before? Did they wash their hands after they did whatever or whomever they did? Did they just blow or wipe their snotty, runny, dripping, mucus, and booger-filled nasal cavity and then use their soiled paw to grab the doorknob/fuel pump handle that you just grabbed moments after them!?! Is that why it was sticky when you touched it?!!?

Eeeeewwwwww!

How often do you ride in the confines of an elevator/subway/taxi/Uber/Lyft/handsome cab with strangers?  How often do you use rental bicycle, Lyme or Bird electric scooters? When was the last time you used an escalator or elevator? When was the last time you pumped gas or used an EV charging station? How often do you visit a public toilet? How often do the others visiting that toilet wash their hands…how often and how well do YOU wash your hands after touching your face, your genitals, and/or excreting your bodily waste products?  How often do they/you then walk out into the restaurant and grasp the serving spoon on the buffet line – I shudder at the thought…

When was the last time you shared space with a friendly stranger in a coffee shop, a restaurant, bar, airplane, cruise ship? Where were they from?  Did they just come from a trip to a highly populated city where they visited a crowded street market or maybe even a “bushmeat” vendor or “wet market?” Did they just come from a tour of duty doing humanitarian work in disease, war, or climate refugee camps on the other side of the planet?  Did they just come from an ultra-orthodox anti-vaccination community on the other side of town?  How would you know?  They may be really interesting and very nice but now you are inhaling the air they just breathed out, and you are in-taking a portion of their germs – wherever they picked them up – yikes.  How many times per day/week/month/year are you exposed to countless invisible invading armies of microorganisms that have been evolving alongside humans and the animals they hunt, eat, or keep as pets for hundreds of thousands if not millions of years?  I am sure the numbers are truly staggering. 

Food for thought from the Mythbusters.

The good thing for you my friend is this: evolution gifted you with an incredible immune system and it is constantly at work in the background protecting you from a large percentage of the armies of microscopic invaders that you are constantly assaulted by from all sides, surfaces, foods, beverages, strangers, friends, family, pets and even wild animals. Without your immune system doing its job, you and I would have passed away long ago. However, even though our immune systems are very good at what they do, sometimes an infectious agent comes along that beats our defenses and sickens us. Our immune systems then go into overdrive and eventually destroy the invader, remember it, and hopefully, we are never sickened by that particular baddy again. Then there are the germs that are hell-bent on the all-out destruction of their host. Germs that your body has little defenses to overcome. The high-yield nukes of the germ world. To fight these bad guys your body needs a little outside support from science, it needs some training in how to identify and fight these new enemies so when they try to get in again the immune system will remember them and be able to fight them off effectively without making you severely ill. This is where the science of vaccines come in. The fact that your parents (hopefully) chose to trust science and have you vaccinated when you were a young child now allows your silent army of immunity to quietly and quickly identify and fight off the invaders, therefore, allowing you to carry on with life as usual – blissfully protected and unaware of the microscopic turf wars going on inside your own body.

However, if you are not vaccinated, I wish you only the best of luck – but luck will not fully protect you – only science and common sense will. So please, use some common sense, wise up, and go get some science and go get yourself vaccinated!

In fact as I write these words (early fall 2019) only a few hours ago I received my Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis (whooping cough) booster vaccination and yes, a few weeks before that I received my Influenza vaccination.

Yep, I am “vaxxer” 100% – and I am alive, healthy, and have gray hair in part because of it. I trust vaccines, I trust the medical professionals who invented them, I trust the professionals who administer them, and I trust the science behind why they work.

Why do I trust them?

1 – I trust them to protect me from the uncaring microscopic nasties that “want” nothing more than to use my body as an incubator for their offspring and then use me as an unaware, robotic-zombie-like delivery system to spread more sickness, pain, suffering, and death to all those around me…

2 – I trust them to protect me from the “anti-vaxxers.” The unthinking, irrational, the dangerously overly skeptical, and often conspiracy “theory” following, FUD spreading, individuals who choose to NOT trust medical science and then choose to NOT receive their vaccinations for themselves and for their offspring. These individuals are intentionally making very bad choices that make life much more hazardous for themselves, for their families, their friends, and for all of the other humans beings they come in contact with – directly and indirectly.

These anti-vaxxers either lack accurate knowledge, are resistant to facts, or they may lack the common sense and the highly developed critical thinking skills to understand that getting a vaccine will protect you and your loved ones from some of the nastiest, ugliest, most harmful, painful, diseases that have been all but eradicated since the invention of modern medicine. Diseases that are sadly making a comeback because of the bad choices of a small number of uninformed and/or irrational individuals.

3 – I trust them to NOT “give” me autism. Vaccines do not cause, give, or instigate autism. That is a myth perpetuated by Andrew Wakefield and his followers and they have no verified evidence to support their erroneous, fabricated claims.

Your future is in your hands and, if you are vaccinated – it is also in your bloodstream.

Being vaccinated I now feel a bit like a superhero with a force field around me – a force field of immunity driven and augmented by the findings of science!

Come at me now ugly germs – my immune system is armed and ready and you don’t stand a chance.

That brings us to today, and now there is COVID-19 to be concerned about. Luckily, just a few days ago I received my first COVID-19 vaccination (see next photo) and soon will receive my second and will join the millions of people all around the world who are working together with science to fight this new deadly viral scourge.

Next, more food for thought – this time, on Tetanus and what it does to the human body.

If you are still questioning how vaccines work check this out:

Speaking of germs and sickness, I am not free from all of them – no one is. In fact, we need our germs, the good ones, to keep us functioning and healthy – this is our Microbiome. Science is discovering that our microbiome is a huge part of our health and when your microbiome is suppressed or unhealthy due to stress, imbalance, or illness it can lead to other more life threatening conditions and infections.

I had have had many of the common – and some uncommon – ailments and issues that attack humans everywhere. Mononucleosis, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, many episodes of allergy-induced acute and chronic sinus infections, exercise-induced asthma, labyrinthitis, and reoccurring eczema-like skin conditions – all these conditions and situations could have developed into more serious conditions (and/or even death) had I not been given professional medical care and treatments, medications, professional recommendations, and allergy immunotherapy that combated all of the previously mentioned ailments bringing me back to a state of nominal health. So yet again, that branch of science we call medicine and those scientists we call doctors came to the rescue of this blood, bone, and meat-filled sack that I pilot around the planet daily and refer to as my body.

It is important to note that none of the before mentioned conditions were caused by my childhood vaccinations – or any other vaccination. They were products of my genetic susceptibility coupled with my childhood exposure to infectious viral, fungal, and bacterial organisms that are not dangerous enough to have a vaccine…yet.  These germs – AKA the common cold and other similar yet rather mild infections – were shed by others around me while I was in school and I was infected by them but recovered using my natural immunity. However, how many times was I exposed to more virulent and destructive microorganisms lurking in the public environment of school, church, summer camp, the movie theater, the beach, the birthday party, the mall, etc…? Organisms that would have rendered me dead or disfigured had I not been vaccinated and therefore protected from those nasty little armies of vampiric little buggers that are only out to invade and use our warm, moist, meat-robot, bodies as incubators for their multitudes of dastardly little offspring…we may never know. But I do know that I owe my long, healthy life to those thousands of doctors and scientists who worked tirelessly to develop, perfect, and administer those life-saving vaccines and other medications – and to my parents who opted to have me vaccinated as any good parent would and should do.

Then there were the environmental and chemical irritants and pollutants that I was exposed to over my younger years. These irritants came to me in the form of “natural” pollen, dust, and dander while the pollutants came in the form of household chemicals and agricultural chemicals such as fungicides, herbicides, fertilizers, and other chemicals that were used by my family in our house, greenhouses, and on our farmlands. I was a child and had no knowledge that the toxic soup of chemicals I was being exposed to on a daily basis was harming my health via the oils, particulates, and VOCs I was inhaling as well as taking in through direct contact. My parents had no knowledge these chemicals were potentially harmful as it was the early-mid 1970’s and many of these chemicals were only just beginning to be used on a large scale so their impacts on human and wildlife health were not yet known to science. As a child, I was also exposed to even more diffuse/concentrated chemical pollutants that were the toxic by-products/emissions from fossil fuel-powered vehicles in the form of lawnmowers, tractors, old inefficient cars, and diesel school busses which, at the time, had limited to none of the emissions controls required today. Then there were the local energy generation operations – all of which were coal-fired at the time. These fossil fuel emission-based toxic atmospheric pollutants, combined with the chemicals and natural irritants I had been exposed to earlier in life, worked together to compound and exacerbated the damage to my young respiratory and immune systems resulting in the conditions that I suffer with to this day.

These allergies, sinus, skin, and other health conditions are now mostly non-existent but the ones that do occasionally resurface can be mitigated with the peer-reviewed recommendations from my doctors and their methods, tools and findings of medical science.  Yay science!

Not that long ago I was possibly exposed to the Rabies virus while rescuing an injured animal.  I quickly received a preventative Rabies vaccination series, and I am still alive and healthy – and now have a higher than your average human’s resistance to Rabies – again – yay science!

Later, I developed appendicitis – had my faulty appendix removed – and live on to this day. Again – yay science!

Appendicitis sux!

Then there was the time I was accidentally bitten by a wild Timber rattlesnake. I took an ambulance ride to the hospital, received antivenin (anti-venom), and made a full recovery. Yep, science yet again. Take a look at the video below if you are interested in my rattlesnake bite misadventure.

My point here is this: without science – I may not have been born and I would have died or been disfigured many times over.

Without science, I would not be telling you the story of my life so you can hopefully use my insight to help you make good choices for your life.

For all these reasons and so many more I choose to trust science.

If you are still here, and you are interested in what was going through my brain on the day I received my first COVID-19 vaccination – then feel free to watch the next video. It is my long-winded commentary on the value of science ending with my first COVID-19 vaccination.