Another trip around the sun completed successfully.
Some perspective: On this day (July 15th) in 1968 I came into this reality – whatever this reality really is – and as of today, I have existed in this reality for 54 earth years.
Some perspective and observations.
I was premature so I had to cook in an incubator for a while until my body took over and I could support myself without the assistance of science and technology.
I was soon adopted by two amazing people Cathy and Clayton – who accepted me into their home as their own child. They later adopted another child in need and named her Lesly who then became my wonderful sister. She met Jonas and they raised two wonderful children – Cody and Ashlyn – who I just know will go above and beyond and do great things. I am lucky and proud to be a part of this family.
I was born in the middle of one of the times of the greatest scientific and engineering achievements humankind has ever experienced: the Apollo-era moon missions and landings…and, fitting the space exploration and cultural turbulence of the times, the first incarnation of Star Trek – my favorite TV series – was on TV…and it still is and all of its incarnations and I love them all for the messages they bring to all of us – if we have the capacity to understand and accept them and put them into practice.
I have been alive (whatever that means) for ~473,040 hours and accruing. I have orbited our closest star Sol 54 times. I have now traveled around 31,536,000,000 miles (50,752,272,384 kilometers) through space in an ever-spiraling circle around a rather remote and average little yellow star while riding on a water-soaked living rock along with you and over 7.9 billion other naked, bi-pedal, mostly hairless, multi-colored, fire and tool-using, thinking apes, and countless other amazing life-forms – while spinning at an equatorial rate of around 1000 mph (1,609.3 kph) while at the same time passing through the icy blackness vacuum of space at around 67,000 mph (107,826 kph) in our orbital path around the sun while also orbiting around Sagittarius A* the supermassive black hole in the center of our home galaxy at a rate of around 514,000 mph. At this rate, it will take me, you, our wet rock, and our star – about 229 million years to make one trip around the galactic center thereby completing one Galactic Year. And all of this, all of us, everything, our entire Milky Way galaxy – is traveling through intergalactic space at around 1.2 million mph (1.9m kph) relative to the cosmic background radiation.
So far, I have had an amazing existence full of tons of excitement, exploration, friendship, laughter love, and light as well as periods of loss, pain, hardship, and a little bit of darkness.
I was here the last time Haley’s Comet passed by our pale blue watery rock of a dot in 1986 (and I plan to be here to see it again when it comes back around again in 2062).
I rode along in spirit and in support of every space exploration mission humanity has launched since I can remember way back as a 4-year-old kid watching it happen live (well, almost live since round trip communication time between the earth and moon is 2.6 seconds) on TV and then running outside in the yard to look up at the moon where the last Apollo astronauts were bouncing about the lunar surface in the early ’70s. I have since watched in awe, great appreciation, and hope as the space programs of planet earth sent many amazing interplanetary probes to the Sun, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Titan, Neptune, Pluto, asteroids, comets, asteroids, and more. I watched as the incredible Space Shuttles flew on huge pillars of flame and 15 nations set aside their differences to build the International Space Station – a castle of science, discovery, and international cooperation 249 miles above all of us in the “sky.” Today I am elated at the rapid evolution of non-governmental space exploration and travel organizations and I hope to see us back on the moon soon – and then sometime before I kick off – great shiny Starships landing on Mars. Go SpaceX! Just a few days ago I witnessed the mind-blowingly beautiful and deeply data-rich images from almost the beginning of time and space come beaming down to all of us overly encephalized hairy tit-sucking mammals living upon this pale blue dot from the incredible James Webb Space Telescope – and I look forward to seeing more that will come to us over the next 20 – 30 years and am so excited for how much the JWST’s imagery will increase our knowledge of our own cosmic evolution.
I chased nature and wild animals, first as a child for personal interest sake, and later in the name of science, education, and conservation of species. My favorites being the misunderstood creatures of the world such as reptiles, amphibians, bats, Opossums, and vultures.
On a few occasions, my body was invaded by festering armies of microscopic “wildlife” that tried to use me as a replicator for more of their kind and/or end me, and yet, my own immune system as well as the findings of many, many great scientists that came before allowed me to boost, augment, and bio-hack my body through the use of antibiotics and vaccinations thereby giving me a “force field of science” inside and out so I could continue awkwardly onward into the future.
In 2014 I came closest to feeding the soil, worms, and trees when a rather archaic and not that useful part of my internal anatomy (my appendix) malfunctioned and suffered a massive R.U.D. (Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly) – so I had it removed by a robot that was designed by science and piloted by a scientist we all call a doctor so I could continue in my present state of gangly existence.
In 2016 I had an encounter with a wild venomous serpent (Timber rattlesnake) who was only defending himself due to my accidental stupidity and, while I was in no danger of meeting my end – it did really hurt a bit and slow me down for a few weeks (yes, the snake still lives in the wilds of the forest ) The only way I was able to overcome this one without losing a finger and possibly suffering lasting damage to my body was through the findings of science. Yep, there is that science thing again. Ain’t it wonderful
This past year the current plague impacting humanity (SARS CoV2) finally caught up with me. It was no fun at all and took me out for a week or so but I recovered – again thanks to science and my science-augmented immune system.
On all these close calls (and many I have not even been aware of due to my science augmented/trained to recognize and destroy the “bad guys” immune system via all the vaccinations I have gladly rolled up my sleeves to receive since I was a small child ) I was given another chance at existing in this reality through the findings of science, miracles of modern technology and engineering…and possibly a little bit of some as yet to be discovered by science mystical energy field or omnipotent ancient and possibly extraterrestrial/interdimensional intelligence that, for some really disturbingly strange reason, many individuals/cultures/factions on the planet have coined many different names/stories/belief systems for – yet cannot ever seem to agree upon…and often even choose to childishly take sides, argue, fight, and believe it or not even murder each other over…so bizarre and childlike is the proudest monkey.
IMHO – if this intelligence exists – it is as far “above” us as we are “above” our closest relatives the Chimpanzee and Bonobo…or maybe the bacterium…or the virus. Whatever the case, I’m pretty sure that if it does exist it might be studying us as we study the animals…or the virus…and it cares not one single bit about our posturings on its behalf, the myriad of books we write about it, our childish bickering on who/what it is, who or what is “right” and “wrong,” who uses which bathroom, who’s skin is what color, who is “left” and “right,” etc. – just like we do not care about the comings and goings of bacteria and viral organisms…until they invade our personal space and become overpopulated…hmmmm…something important to ponder if you are able to see deep enough or large enough to ponder it…
At an early age, I became tired of all the factions telling me what to do, how to believe, how to think, how to live my life, and how to be a human – so I chose to follow my own path. I chose to listen to nature, to the evidence and logic and teachings of the wilderness, and to the findings and ponderings of the great minds and philosophies of history. Some may call me a “free spirit” – nice! – thank you! Some have called me “lost” – really, how rude! But whatever the case may be this is my path, no one can choose it for me and likewise, I will never try to force it on you or anyone. You must all find your own path.
I learned to drone a didgeridoo – so very ancient and cool!
I fell in love with a wonderful, beautiful, and intelligent human female called Marian and we settled down a bit…but not too much
A few years later I fell into a wonderful career inspiring, leading, and sharing nature, science, and reality knowledge with amazing at-risk youth on the connections, beauty, and joy of nature, wildlife, science, and life the universe, and everything.
While working to inspire tomorrow’s youth to better themselves by connecting with nature, wilderness, wild things, and to trust science and let it be their guide in life – I have connected with so many amazing human beings in my students and my coworkers – my life has been so deeply enrichened from my time with all of you amazing people and I am so grateful for all of you and your lasting contributions to your classroom and to my personal journey.
My incredible students, interns, volunteers, amazing friends Jim and Bob, and I all worked together over many solar orbits with many more amazing project supporters to build a photovoltaic solar power plant that benefits not only our classroom and campus but the entire local community with clean, locally-produced renewable energy from our nearest fusion reactor in space – the sun! Update: During my most recent solar orbit we all – and some wonderful and most-generous new friends – worked to create a solar-powered mobile outreach classroom called the SS NaSA PoD (Science Steve’s Nature and Science Adventure Pod of Discovery) – that will allow us to bring our nature, wildlife, and science messages to our students and to the region – so cool!
About 10 orbits ago my wife and I started phasing out almost all our connections to nature, life, and future-harming dirty fossil fuels. We have been driving mostly electric since 2013 and intend to soon go fully electric with most of our transportation, energy, and fuel needs coming from EVs and local renewable energy sources.
Just a few solar orbits ago the amazing findings of the science of genetics and DNA sequencing allowed me to connect with my wonderful biological father, sister, brother, and other awesome family members and answer many of the questions about my genetic roots and my connections to nature that I have had since an early age.
And now I find myself near the end of a global viral pandemic that has sadly ended the lives of many and upset the lives and plans of most. As before, I will follow and trust the science as I ignore all the other randomly repeated, vociferous, evidence-lacking, overly emotional, opinions and options and roll up my sleeve and gladly accept the expertly recommended vaccinations against this microscopic attacker (but I did still get the virus – only not as bad as some I know who did not or could not roll up their sleeves). I will continue to trust in science, even with its changeable and incomplete nature, to give me guidelines and support during this global human emergency. I hope you will choose to join me and in doing so, together, you and I will get through this thing – and hopefully, I will still be here to rewrite this yet again next year on this day.
Whatever all the facts and reasons may be, I am very glad to still be here on this incredible and sometimes bumpy but always interesting wild ride through the cosmos with all of you other crazy wonderful, and beautifully mixed-up mosh pit of humans and always wonderful animals.
I’m not sure where we are going or when, where, and why we exist – but wherever, whatever, whenever, and whyever – at least we are making good time and it has been and will continue to be one heck of a wild ride through the cosmos on this one strange rock we all call home.
Thank you all for being here and for riding along on this roller coaster called life with me Now let’s all take another spin around the sun together on spaceship Earth!
Improvise, adapt, overcome, evolve, survive, and thrive.
Live long and prosper.
Bring the change.
Be the change.
Do good things.