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.

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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!!!

Space is big. You are not.

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…

Check out Earthcam for many examples of what I mean: https://www.earthcam.com/events/animalcams/

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.

A close-up view.

That’s here, that’s home, that’s us.

Photo Source: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/resources/185/the-day-the-earth-smiled/

Home from 1 million miles away.

Photo source: https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/86257/an-epic-new-view-of-earth

“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

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.

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.

Consider This

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.

Image from this good read: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/monkeys-make-stone-ldquo-tools-rdquo-that-bear-a-striking-resemblance-to-early-human-artifacts/

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.

Ouch!

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.

Why?  

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.

You are all my heroes.   

What about you? 

How has science given you life?

Ponder it.

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

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.

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.

Give me some Oxygen!

The internet is a wealth of amazing knowledge and honest evidence and science-supported peer-reviewed answers on anything you have a question about, educational outlets, DIY tutorials on just about anything you can imagine, wonderful art, photography, music, culture, shopping, and hilarious cat videos.  However, if you look in the wrong dark corner – it is also a putrid cesspool of filth filled, lunatic fringe, manufactured misinformation, disinformation, and targeted doubt, fueled by basement-dwelling, troglodytic trolls sharing selling their own brand of fear-focused snake-oil “medicine” cures for anything that ails you, with all of it leading down twisted paths to dead ends of great gory heaps of rancid hogwash.  The hard part is knowing how to sort out the good from the bad and not get lost in the quagmire of insanity that is the fetid, festering underbelly of the World Wide Web.

Usually, the extreme fringe dwelling claims of internet know-it-all hawkers preaching their versions of their “truth” and their “reality” on websites, social media, and streaming video channels, these are very  easily debunked with common knowledge and common sense.  Other times, when it is hard to see through the words of all the charlatans – there are wonderful fact-checking websites (snopes.com, factcheck.org, politifact.com, and many more), that will help us sort the wheat from the chaff – and there is a lot of chaff.

Sometimes, however, common sense, knowledge, and actual facts are not enough to convince the dangerously skeptical among us.  Many will often cry that the evidence and facts are being manufactured and/or manipulated, strings are being pulled behind the scenes, and that “it” – whatever “it” is – is all a hoax or a conspiracy, etc.

When this happens I feel that it could only be helpful if regular people like me take a serious look at the situation, analyze it with a scientifically skeptical mind, and then share our findings.  In doing this, maybe some of the overly skeptical/fearful folks will see that the results of a friend show exactly what the experts are saying – on whatever the subject may be.  Then, maybe, hopefully, these doubting individuals will be enlightened to the facts found by a friend instead of some nameless white coat and mask-wearing scientist in a lab somewhere, or a talking head on TV.  Maybe once they see that someone they know has come to the same conclusion as the highly educated and peer-reviewed experts – then maybe, hopefully, they will choose to put aside all the crazy internet-sourced, often dangerous to their health and the health of their friends and family bad ideas, and they will decide to choose wisely on this, and whatever the next topic may be.

Maybe with my example as an inspiration, they might choose to do their own research and answer their own questions over just believing anything they read/see/hear/share online.

Obviously, it is dangerous and not in any way helpful for anyone to just believe blindly and without question all the randomly shared stories/comments/claims/cures seen online. Personally, I try to think critically when anyone makes any claim targeting the learned, evidence-supported, peer-reviewed recommendations of the experts in any given field of study.  When I have questions, and I have a lot of them, I choose to do the research and answer the questions with real results and real evidence – with real science. However, if you do not trust and/or believe me in my quest for the evidence, and for knowledge – then please, try it out for yourself and share your results with your peers and see if they come to the same conclusions.  If they do, then whatever the outcome, and if you did your science correctly – it must be true.

Today’s Internet Claim: Wearing masks reduces or depletes your blood oxygen levels and therefore is not a good idea.

This claim instantly sounded like a good one to test due to its common sense and evidence lacking spin – so let’s get into it.

Demonstration #1: I used a super cool homemade two-ply cloth filter mask my other sister made for me.

My job as a teacher requires a lot of speaking, walking around the classroom and grounds – so, yes, I exert myself enough to need good air/oxygen flow.

I wore this mask all day at work while teaching and working inside and outside the classroom.

I only took it off during lunch when no one was in the building – so I could eat.

In total, I wore the mask for 6.5 hours during my class sessions – as I have done every day in class since late March.

During this time I used a pulse oximeter to measure my blood oxygen level (SpO2) at 10 random times throughout the day during all activities.

A masked me with oximeter reading my SpO2.

The Results:

Baseline: At the start of the day and before putting on the mask, my SpO2 was: 97% (This is an average of three readings taken a few seconds apart.  Each time I take my SpO2 level I follow this same protocol – three consecutive readings, averaged together.)

During the workday.

My highest SpO2: 98% (mask on – teaching, moving around the room)

My lowest SpO2: 95% (mask off – sitting during lunch)

My average SpO2: 96.2%

Demonstration #2: I purchased a mass-manufactured Halo Mask (https://halolife.io/ ) – this is a three-layer mask including a replaceable microfiber filter.  

My job as a teacher requires a lot of speaking, walking around the classroom and grounds – so, yes, I exert myself enough to need good air/oxygen flow.

I wore this mask all day at work while teaching and working inside and outside the classroom.

I only took it off only during lunch when no one was in the building – so I could eat.

In total, I wore the mask for 6.5 hours during my class sessions.

During this time I used a pulse oximeter to measure my blood oxygen level (SpO2) at 10 random times throughout the day during all activities.

Wearing the Halomask

The results:

Baseline: At the start of the day and before putting on the mask, my SpO2 was: 96.7% (This is an average of three readings taken a few seconds apart.  Each time I take my SpO2 level I follow this same protocol – three consecutive readings, averaged together.)

During the workday:

My highest SpO2: 95% (mask on – teaching, moving around the room)

My lowest SpO2: 94% (mask on – teaching)

My average SpO2: 95.03%

Demonstration #3: I purchased a GVS SPR457 Elipse P100 Dust Half Mask Respirator ( https://www.stewartsupply.com/elipse-p100-size-m-l )

I wore it for a supply run trip into a local hardware store. I also wore it when I was cleaning my classroom three times during the day.  During each instance of wearing the respirator mask I had it on for an average duration of 26 minutes.  During each instance I was actively working – shopping and cleaning – in other words, these are things that require some physical exertion and therefore good air/oxygen flow.

In total, I wore the mask for a total duration of 106 minutes.

My average time wearing the mask was 26.5 minutes.  

During each of these instances I used a pulse oximeter to measure my blood oxygen level (SpO2) at the completion of each session wearing the GVS mask.

Wearing the professional respirator mask.

The results:

Baseline: At the start of the day and before putting on the mask, my SpO2 was: 96.7% (This is an average of three readings taken a few seconds apart.  Each time I take my SpO2 level I follow this same protocol – three consecutive readings, averaged together.)

During the demonstration:

My highest SpO2: 98.3% (shopping)

My lowest SpO2: 94.3% (cleaning)

My average SpO2: 95.90%

Comparing the three demonstrations we see the following:

Demo #1 Homemade Cloth Mask:  Average SpO2: 96.20%

Demo #2 Three layer microfiber filter mask:  Average SpO2: 95.03%

Demo #3: Professional respirator mask:  Average SpO2: 95.90%

Average SpO2 w/o a mask: 95.81%

Average SpO2 with all types of mask tested: 95.71%

Notes:

At sea level, a healthy human has an SpO2 between 95 – 100%.

My SpO2 tends to trend on the low side if “normal” probably due to my age (52), having mild exercise-induced asthma, and having had Mycoplasma pneumonia twice when I was younger…and possibly because I live/work between 2,500 – 3100′ (762 – 945 m) – above sea level (elevation gain lowers SpO2 “normal range” readings – but this last variable is probably negligible).

Then there is the error factor of ~2% for this type of pulse oximeter to factor in as well so my SpO2 level could have fallen anywhere between 92 – 100% during this test.

To all the anti-mask naysayers, doubters, and conspiracy theorists who say wearing masks will reduce your oxygen levels, my findings during this simple demonstration suggest the opposite.

My results suggest the following: Wearing a mask – be it a homemade cloth mask, a mass market multi-layer microfiber mask, or a professional respirator mask does not alter, impair, or reduce the flow of oxygen from the atmosphere into the mask-wearers lungs/bloodstream.

However, what wearing a mask does alter, impair, and reduce is the outward flow of the mask-wearers exhaled liquid respiratory droplets, and therefore, their fungal, bacterial, and viral contents (their nasty germs) contained within their exhaled liquid droplets.  In other words: it greatly reduces (depending upon the type of mask worn) the mask wearers germs, from getting out of them and/or into your body and infecting you or others with something you or they do not want – be it a common cold or COVID-19.

Wearing a mask is caring for others.

Note #1: If you wear the same mask for several days and let it become saturated with moisture, bacteria, viruses, fungal spores, etc. – deposits of moisture, dust, pollen, and possibly, mold, and bacterial colonies could accumulate/grow on the mask clogging up the pores in the fabric/filter thereby reducing airflow – and that in turn could potentially reduce the flow of oxygen. This is not the recommended or the smart way to use a mask – and it is just totally gross. To keep this possible outcome from happening – wash your mask with soap and water at the end of each day.  If your mask has filters, change them at the manufacturers recommended intervals.

Note #2: I am fully aware some people are not able to wear masks due to health conditions. This demonstration is not meant for those people.  This demonstration is for the heathy people who do not have conditions that negate wearing a mask.  This demonstration is for people who are otherwise healthy but for personal reasons are searching for “evidence” that supports their personal decision to not wear a mask.  Heath conditions that negate wearing a mask aside, choosing to not wear a mask for personal reasons is just incredibly self-centered, uncaring, and selfish.  If you are one of these people, if you are choosing to ignore the evidence and the facts, then please – do not be part of the problem and just stay home until all this is over.

Note#3: Oxygen atoms are far smaller than the weave of a homemade cloth mask, an N95, an N100, or even the very best medical or particulate/chemical protective respirator mask. If, in fact, properly fitted, and correctly used masks did block oxygen molecules as some are trying to claim – then all the mask-wearing doctors, veterinarians, dentists, health care workers, manufacturing plant workers, scientists, people painting cars/houses, sanding wood, firefighters, servicemen, police, and regular everyday people choosing to wear a mask to protect themselves and to protect you from them – would be passing out and dropping dead all over the place from lack of oxygen.  Those that survived their ordeal would quickly sling rapid-fire lawsuits at all the mask companies which would then fold. 

But this is not happening – why? Because oxygen atoms are far too small to be stopped by the fibers of any approved professional personal protective equipment mask, homemade cloth mask, bandana, scarf, or old t-shirt wrapped around your face.

Some good mask information from PBS Studios.

Unmasking mask myths.

Uncle Rob using fire and common sense to show how masks work.

How small are oxygen atoms?

Size comparison – remember a water molecule is made of both hydrogen and oxygen atoms – so oxygen atoms are very, very, very small.

Still confused on the sizes/scale of things – check this out.

Mask Update 2021: This is all still true to this day and I am still here and breathing just fine despite wearing masks in public places for over a year. I have also been vaccinated for COVID-19 and all the other expert-recommended vaccinations as well as Rabies.

Mask Update 2022: Again – I am still here and breathing just fine despite religiously wearing masks in all public places I have visited during this pandemic (when and where recommended by the CDC and common sense) – yet, despite the masks I still contracted COVID-19 in the spring of this year. However, it was not because the masks did not work. The source of my infection was traced back to my wife’s place of business where the virus hitchhiked in/on her and then jumped to me. Cross-contamination is a real bummer.

Lucky for us our cases were relatively mild thanks to our vaccinations – Yay Science!

Remember-

There is not democratic science.

There is not republican science.

There is only science.

Science does not take sides – please stop trying to make science political.

People take sides.

Science only seeks to reveal the how of things- it seeks only to find the evidence of what is true and then help us make better decisions on how to adapt to this thing called life.

Science will not dictate your path, it will only offer evidence and then suggest the best path you should take – it is then up to you to logically decide – based on the evidence at hand – which path to take.

Please choose wisely to support science over greed, control, and fear-focused politics and ancient dogma.

Support the findings and suggestions of science for a healthy, safe, and prosperous future.

The future is in our hands.

Please wear a mask.