High Strangeness: September 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Share Your UFO Story Here

It has come to my attention that there is interest in my unique brand of UFO research in many places around the globe. The fact that this blog is being viewed in Israel, Germany, Russia, Canada, China, Belgium, Columbia, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the good old U.S. of A. tells me that people everywhere, primarily in the Northern Hemisphere, are hungering for the truth. I just wish I could give it to them.

Please. There are ten of you countries and only one of me. I don't have answers for all of you, but I promise I will keep digging for the truth if you promise to help me! You must all have had some type of UFO activity touch your lives, but you seem reluctant to talk about it. I want you to talk about it. It will feel good, I promise.

Think of me as your own personal Lone Wolf UFO Field Investigator. Tell me about your own personal UFO experience, or if you are helping a friend or loved one keep their UFO experience a secret, tell me about that. That, too, will feel good. I promise.

Even if you suspect that you've had a UFO experience, but feel that your conscious mind has suppressed the memories to preserve your sanity, you need to talk about it. That may not feel good, though... I'm not sure.

Muhammed Ali saw a UFO, and talked about it. David Bowie saw many UFOs, and talked about it (yes, yes, I'm not going to go there). Former President Jimmy Carter saw a UFO, and talked about it. The Shat himself, William Shatner, saw a UFO, and you know he talked about it. Will Smith, Jackie Gleason, Jamie Farr; the list goes on and on. If they could see it and talk about it, so can you.

I encourage you to follow the example set by these popular celebrities and open up about your experiences in the comments section below. Or, if you're still not comfortable sharing with those other nine countries, you can write a secret note to yourself about what happened to you and email your note to me at LoneWolf@highstrangenessufo.com and then I will share it with everybody.

The only email I've gotten at this account so far tells me how to personalize my gmail account with "colors" and "themes," but I want my inbox to be overflowing with your true stories of UFO sightings and alien abductions. Please go easy on the descriptions of whatever probes may have been inserted into your body cavities during your abduction, though; there's only so much of that that anyone really wants to read.

I promise you this:  I will solve your case. I will explain what happened to you in those 16 hours that are missing from your life. I will make it all make sense. That is, if you have the courage to ask me to.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hi, Mom!

My wife told me today that my mother-in-law wants to read my blog, so... hi, Mom! I'll be looking forward to getting your feedback, and I hope that you'll still want to come visit for Thanksgiving.

This has actually been a reader feedback kind of day, and I've been enjoying it. This afternoon I got a nice email from two of my high school teachers saying that they've been enjoying the blog. I think they're pleased to see that I'm finally living up to the promise I showed when I was 17.

Earlier in the day, I took my oldest son Nxxx to lunch, and when the subject of the blog came up, he grew serious and said, "I've been meaning to email you about that, but I haven't found the right words..." I was intrigued, and told him to lay it on me. He took a deep breath and said, "You're really taking it... seriously."

I laughed and told him that my wife had had that very same worry about me a few weeks back, but that she had gotten past it and I was sure he would too. Damn right I'm serious. I'm a writer and a thinker and a dreamer, and my new but not so new fascination with UFOs inspires me on all those levels. I am perpetually fascinated by the foundations of peoples' belief systems, and by the fact that the billions and billions of diverse belief systems that have ever been and that ever will be all share so very much in common. And there's some funny shit going on in UFOland.

Of course, I can't win everybody over. When my daughter Cxxxx told me just now that she had to write a paper about global warming, but she couldn't come up with an interesting angle, I told her about the recent news story in which NASA scientists speculated that global warming could prompt aliens from outer space to attack the earth... I wish I could describe the look on her face. I can't. But I know her paper's probably going to be pretty dumb.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

So, You Want To Be A UFOlogist

Today I was trying to decide which UFO research organization has the catchiest acronym: MUFON, CUFOS or FUFOR.

FUFOR, the Fund for UFO Research, wins the acronym battle, hands down, but CUFOS wins special honors for having the most original approach to advancing the cause of UFO research.

The website for CUFOS, the Center for UFO Studies, has a link to a document entitled "You Want To Be A UFOlogist." That's a pretty great title, and I think I can be forgiven for expecting it to be a real page-turner. But no. The document is actually a dry, matter-of-fact how-to guide for those who wish to pursue a career as a UFOlogist. It seems to have been written by a high school guidance counselor for distribution in high school guidance offices, so it's strange that it really doesn't offer the career-minded high schooler much hope. The document quickly lays out the rather bleak facts:
  1. UFOlogy is not a real science
  2. There is no formal educational track for UFOlogy, because it is not a real science
  3. There is no formal career track for UFOlogy, because it is not a real science
  4. There is no money in UFOlogy, because... (see above).
But wait, what about FUFOR? Surely a UFO research organization with the word "Fund" in its name ought to be good for an occasional nugget or two, ought'n't it? Sadly, no: a quick look at the website's "History" page shows that the Fund's last expenditure was in 2001. That's a full ten years before I decided to become a UFO Field Investigator. 

As the author of "You Want To Be A UFOlogist" sums it up mercilessly, "... it is best that you plan to do your UFO work as a volunteer." 

So, my financial planner was right. While this is sad news for me personally, I am trying to look on the bright side: I won't have much competition.

Impostors Among Us

I sent an email to the Wisconsin MUFON Director, Vxxxx, to tell her that her Field Investigator had done a nice job interviewing me about my UFO sighting, but I also asked her why she had ordered me, my wife and my daughter not to talk to anyone about our experience.

Here's what I said in my letter: 
"MUFON is all about full disclosure and the open exchange of information, or so I thought. It's troublesome to me that you would tell me not to talk to anyone about my experience. Could you explain your reasons for this? I'd like to understand."

She sent back an apology, and explained that MUFON is absolutely dedicated to full disclosure and open communications, which was good to hear. But she also said that there have been reports "in years past" of people saying they represented MUFON when they didn't. 

Think about that: someone, somewhere, gets his or her kicks out of impersonating a MUFON Field Investigator, when all he or she has to do is drop $60 on the Field Manual and take an open book test and become the real thing, in a matter of a few weeks. Could this be why MUFON is making the test easier? Does MUFON need to start offering scholarships?

The whole thing reminds me of the legendary "Men In Black." These are not the Men In Black from the Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones movies, but their exact opposite. For decades, people who have reported UFO sightings and encounters have been visited by creepy-looking men in ill-fitting black suits who lie their way past the front door and proceed to terrify the bewildered witnesses with vague threats to their lives if they tell anyone about what they saw. Some reports say that the MIBs' skin looks like smoked bacon, some say they have electrical wiring peeking out of their socks. Some say that they show up in a mysterious black sedan while others say they simply appear and disappear without any car in sight. Could these be the impostors that Vxxxx is worried about? That would be cool.

Or is it possible that there are other Lone Wolf UFO Field Investigators like me out there, darting in and out of the shadows, investigating sightings with "now you see him, now you don't" stealth and speed, accountable to noone but themselves, using MUFON's own tools and methods to get the scoop on all the really good sightings? If that's the case, I think I may have found a new direction. If there are other Lone Wolves out there, it may be time to organize them into a Pack. I was in a Pack once, when I was a Cub Scout. I know how to do this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Remain Calm

Now that I am expecting to encounter more and more UFOs, it occurred to me that I should revisit MUFON's website and read the article entitled "Ten Things You Should Do If You Encounter a UFO." The article bears a 1994 copyright date, so I am immediately suspicious. Is the list really that good that it has not merited an update in 17 years? I would have thought that in that amount of time there would have been huge advancements made in both strategy and technology...

I had originally thought that I could write one full blog post for each of the ten tips, thinking that each one would be a wondrous gem of UFOlogical wisdom and insight that I could unwrap slowly and meaningfully for my readers' enjoyment and enlightenment. In reality, the list is shockingly brief and basic, and so obvious that my wife, daughter and I followed nearly all of the tips when we had our encounter with the unknown without even knowing of their existence.

The Number One thing you should do when you encounter a UFO is to REMAIN CALM! (We did)
Number 2: Be objective (We were)
Number 3: Record the event with a camera or camcorder (Fail)
Number 4: Verbally record your experience as it happens into a nearby tape recorder (Fail)
#5: Ask other witnesses to record their experiences, separately (Above and beyond)
#6: Secure and preserve the UFO landing site as though it were a crime scene (I wish)
#7: Compare the size of the object to a common item, such as a coin or an aspirin tablet (1994, remember?)
#8: Estimate the object's distance from you, its altitude and velocity (Gave it our best shot)
#9: If you encounter an extraterrestrial being, hide (They have to tell people this?)
#10: Immediately report your sighting to a reputable UFO investigator (Me)

Does this document really need to exist? I'm not altogether sure, but since it does exist, why not make it relevant to a 2011 UFO sightee? And who better to tackle that task than an untainted, up-and-coming eager beaver UFO Field Investigator-to-be? I agree. In the coming days and weeks I'll be working on an updated list, and when it's ready I'm going to submit it to the powers that be at MUFON.

Will I throw out everything? Probably not. I am partial to Tip #1. I can't think of a single time in all my years when remaining calm has ever failed me. Besides, as the author of this article points out, you will want to remember every detail of your encounter with a UFO, "and you can't do that if you are hysterical."

Monday, September 26, 2011

They Will Not Leave Me Alone

I took the weekend off from blogging, because I just wanted to spend a couple days having fun with my wife and daughter and not thinking about UFOs. This was the weekend of a city-wide rummage sale, so my wife and I took off on our bikes Saturday afternoon to see if we could find any buried treasure...

We came up empty-handed, but for one small item. Because I am apparently not allowed to take a weekend off, I found an old paperback about UFOs, circa 1977, on sale for only 25 cents. What could I do? I borrowed a dollar from my wife and bought it.

Over the remainder of the weekend I read the first couple chapters of the book, and I'm not going to say much about it because it's pretty badly written and hard to read. The author is not a writer, but is someone who had done "serious UFO research" for many years leading up to writing this book, and so had a certain air of "insider" authority. The author's message, hammered home over and over again, was that we are on the verge of experiencing "The Big One." All evidence points to an imminent revelation, the author insisted: the Air Force is going to be forced to admit to everything it knows, and we will all soon know The Truth.

That was written in 1977. Fast-forward to 2011: thirty-four years later, the UFO experts are still saying the same thing.

I may be new to this game, but even I can see that when you lock yourself into a proposition that has been proven to be untrue for 34 years and counting, you may need a weekend retreat of your own.

First, I have a message to the Air Force: good job, Air Force! You have kept our country safe from objects that can outrun and outmaneuver every new generation of fighter plane that you can develop. At the same time, you have been able to seize alien spacecraft and shrunken little green man corpses by the dozens and keep them locked away in secret vaults and hangars for decades. As I write this, your top Generals are probably sitting down for their weekly meeting with the Council of Elders from Alpha Centauri to plan this week's diversionary measures.

And now a message to the aliens: good job, aliens! You can keep this up forever, can't you?

Friday, September 23, 2011

He Has a Hat -- Part 2

I am still puzzling over why the MUFON State Director instructed me not to talk to anyone unless they showed me their MUFON I.D. Badge, but then the MUFON Field Investigator who called to interview me not only didn't have his I.D. Badge at the ready when I asked to see it, he apparently demolished his house looking for it. He didn't have the next best thing, either: the MUFON windshield sun visor.

Then when I asked the Field Investigator why the State Director had warned me not to tell anyone outside of MUFON about my experience, he said I shouldn't worry about that. It is, he admitted sheepishly, a quirk of the State Director, and not an official MUFON policy... He suggested that I call the State Director to ask her about her gag order, and I think I must.

In fairness, though, after that somewhat shaky start, the interview went well, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The Field Investigator did a thorough and thoughtful job interviewing me, he filled me in on some other unexplained phenomenon in the area to help me put my experience in context, and he was just an all-around nice guy to talk to. The whole thing was very scientific, and it's kind of cool to know that the ordeal that my wife, daughter and I went through will now be added to MUFON's massive database of UFO encounters, and may someday provide some small clue to solving the UFO mystery.

And yet... while we covered all the scientific facts, we never talked about what any of it meant. I suppose that wasn't the real aim of the interview, but I couldn't help feeling that something had been left unexplored, maybe a lot of things. I think that's something to consider going forward.

I know what was explored, though: the Field Investigator's closet. A short time after we finished the interview, he emailed me a photo of his freshly-found MUFON I.D. Badge.

I bet the girlfriend found it.

He Has a Hat

Last night was the night of my official MUFON Field Investigator interview, conducted on Skype. It didn't start out well...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

On the Autobahn

Reality bends... and breaks... A team of scientists at CERN have recorded neutrinos traveling faster than light. Protocol seems to demand that I preface any subsequent sentence with, "If this proves to be true..." but, damn, this is too big for protocol.

Ever since that Einstein said so, it's been accepted that nothing, nothing, nothing in the whole entire universe can ever travel faster than the speed of light. But not any more.


You know what those cheeky little neutrinos did? They were fired in a beam around an atom-smasher in Switzerland and they showed up at the finish line faster than they were supposed to.

The implications are beyond enormous, but one in particular jumps out at me: the number one argument against alien life forms visiting earth from distant planets has just gone right out the window...

My-- errrr, Their Fault

One of the great things about writing a blog about UFOs is that if you ever make a mistake, you can blame it on aliens. That's exactly what I'm about to do.

Earlier today I blogged about the recent passing of famous UFO abductee Charles Hickson ("We Just Wanted to Go Fishing" 9/22/2011), and meant to write that Hickson's abduction took place in Pascagoula, Mississippi. But the aliens made me write that Pascagoula is in Alabama.

I sincerely apologize if this error has caused either state any embarrassment or inconvenience. In my defense, you can see Alabama from Mississippi, so it must have been fairly easy for the aliens to implant the false information in my brain.

I'm trying to understand why the aliens would do this to me. My first thought is that they are trying to discredit me, but I'm not that important. Am I?

Perhaps they're working for the Alabama Department of Tourism. Maybe Alabama offered them a better deal than New Mexico.

In any case, I will now go back to my previous post and make the necessary correction. I hope to do this quickly, before the aliens get wise to me and make me say that Pascagoula is in California or Wyoming or something. I have fetched the colander from the kitchen and have it ready to put on my head at the first sign of alien interference.

Wish me luck.

We Just Wanted to Go Fishing

I wasn't planning to blog today, but last night I read that a man named Charles Hickson died just a few days ago at the age of 80, and I had to say something about him. You may not recognize Hickson's name, but for a few months in late 1973 he was one of the most famous people in the world. He was interviewed in newspapers and on TV, and he even told his story to Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

At nine o'clock on the night of October 11, 1973, Hickson and his pal Calvin Parker were fishing from a pier in Pascagoula, Ala-- Calif-- Wyo--- errr, Mississippi, when a glowing blue cigar-shaped object descended over the water in front of them. A door opened in the side of the object, and three eyeless humanoid creatures emerged. The creatures floated over the water to the pier, took hold of Parker and Hickson, paralyzed them, and floated the two men back to the object. Parker, only 19 at the time, was reduced to primal panic, and it was all the 42 year-old Hickson could do to keep his young friend from having a breakdown. The men were examined by the creatures and floated back to the pier. The creatures returned to the object and the object disappeared... And the next day the story broke.

I was 13 at the time. Up until this moment in my life, my experience with UFOs and other unexplained mysteries was limited to the stories told in a handful of old, dog-eared paperbacks at the tiny library in the village in which I grew up. The stories of UFO sightings and alien encounters were intriguing and exciting and scary, but they were old, and dog-eared. They had all happened years earlier, to people who had learned their lesson and weren't talking about what happened to them anymore. They were all cold cases.

Then on October 12, 1973, suddenly there was a sensational UFO story being reported in real-time, on the nightly news and in the daily newspaper. This was stunning to me. This was real! A real-live Close Encounter of the Third Kind, and Walter Flippin' Cronkite was reporting on it, for God's sake. The story was so huge, you couldn't not hear about it in the following days and weeks. And Hickson and Parker were rocks... nobody could punch a hole in their story. "We just wanted to go fishing..." Hickson would say, and you believed him. The men were interviewed over and over over again and never changed their account one iota. They took lie detector test after lie detector test and always passed; except for the time Parker went into a PTSD meltdown and couldn't continue the interview. The police chief who took their report the night of the abduction even tried to trick them: after interviewing both men separately, he left Hickson and Parker in a room together with a hidden tape recorder running, to see if they would admit to a scam when they thought they couldn't be heard. What the police chief got was a chilling recording of two men who were profoundly terrified and desperately wanted to drink themselves into a stupor so they could forget what happened to them.

And there was corroborating evidence. Over time, other witnesses came forward to report that they had seen a similar object in the area on that night. A large group of people had actually reported seeing a similar object in a neighboring town the night before Hickson's and Parker's abduction.

I think this was the first time I ever really believed that these stories could actually be true. Up until then I wanted to believe they were true, but it wasn't until Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker came along that I knew.

It's been almost 40 years, and no one has ever been able to punch a hole in their story. But there's something I always wonder about. This time, the aliens didn't make them forget...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Area 51 Decoded -- Part 2

My Uncle Bxx isn't the only family member to have first-hand experience with Area 51.

About six years ago, when I was working as a journalist, I had to be in Las Vegas for a few days for work. My then-girlfriend Kxxxx had come along on the trip, and one day we rented a car and drove up into the desert north of the city to see if we could find Area 51. For Kxxxx, it was a lark, but for me it was serious business. I had been wanting to seek out this Mecca of UFO-dom for years, to bow at the altar of little green men and perhaps uncover The Truth about our government's grand UFO coverup, but until that trip had never had the opportunity. At the same time, a comic book company had asked me to develop a movie treatment for an Area 51-themed comic they were publishing... How could I not go looking?

The drive north out of Vegas is really something to be experienced... The transition from busy urban center to desolate nothingness is abrupt and startling, followed closely by a second shock when you realize that the desolate nothingness is absolutely vibrant and beautiful. By the time we reached Route 375, "The Extraterrestrial Highway," we were in love with the place.
That's me at the start of the ET Highway

Our first stop was the town of Rachel, NV (pop 98), the gateway to Area 51. Now when I say town, I mean... well, why don't I use an excerpt from Rachel's own website, which describes the place as "a scatter of mobile homes spread out like buckshot across a Mars-like valley." It's a town only in the vaguest sense, and once you arrive there's really only one place to go: The Little A'le'Inn.

There actually is a flying saucer in Rachel, Nevada, and it's hanging from a tow truck!

This combination restaurant, bar, gift shop and hotel is literally the only going concern in Rachel, and it's a load of fun. We ate some lunch, bought some souvenirs, and used the "All Species Welcome" restroom out back...
An unexpected plea for intergalactic tolerance.
But then it was time for business. Leaving Rachel behind, we drove several miles down Route 375 looking for the dirt road that would lead us to the U.S. Air Force's most Top Secret base ever. Now, you might ask, if it's so Top Secret, how did we know the location of the unmarked dirt road leading to its entrance? For that matter, how did we know the dirt road even existed? That is the conundrum of Area 51. It's "Top Secret," yet everyone knows about it. It's hidden away in the desert, yet everyone knows how to find it. It's cloaked in mystery, yet in about five seconds you can find websites that feature up-to-the minute satellite photos of the base, with analysis of new construction projects going on (two new hangars are being built on the north end!), and estimates of when certain dirt roads were last traveled upon by USAF vehicles. It's so secret that when we found the dirt road and started driving along it, we passed about a dozen cars...

My theory is that Area 51 has become so famous that the Air Force keeps up the air of slightly-accessible mystery to distract the public from Area 52, the new secret UFO research base they've built just up the road. But that's a topic for another post.

As I said, we passed about a dozen cars on the long, dusty road, all rentals from Vegas, no doubt. It got to where we expected to pull up to a packed parking lot filled with tourists all trying to get a peek past the gates. But when we arrived, it was a much different scene.

For the last mile or so, we didn't see another car. Then we rounded a corner and came up against a locked gate and a long line of wire fence. The sign at the gate thoughtfully informs you that the fence is electrified. It also informs you that there is no trespassing allowed, and that deadly force will be used if you somehow accidentally slip past the electric fence. And in case the message still hasn't gotten through, there's that menacing black pickup truck with desert tires and a monster brush guard parked at the top of that nearby hill, always idling, always watching and waiting... For a bit of fence, a faded sign and a Chevy pickup, it's all surprisingly intimidating.

We didn't dare get out of the car, but I did start snapping pictures through the windshield. Which is when Kxxxx noticed the sign that said "Photography not allowed." Which was just before she looked up at the pickup truck and said "Holy s***, they're looking at us through binoculars!"

She must have thought that that whole "deadly force" thing applied to photographs, too. This is how I knew:

Kxxxx: "Honey, you'd better delete the pictures."
"Honey, really, I think you should stop taking pictures and delete them all."
"Honey, I'm serious, stop taking pictures."
(short pause)
"For God's sake, delete the pictures before they come after us!!!"

That's how I knew.

I deleted the pictures, Kxxxx calmed down, we drove away from the gate without incident, and we had a very quiet drive back to Las Vegas.

The thing is, I didn't delete them all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

UFOs Over Earth!

Today I was supposed to be writing about my interview with MUFON Field Investigator #3xxxx, but he had to postpone our appointment until later this week. There will be a lot to write about then, but in the meantime, I need filler.

When I joined MUFON this summer, I was impressed by the organization's mission. “The Scientific Study of UFOs for the Benefit of Humanity” seemed like a noble goal, an effort in which I would be happy to take part. I got the distinct impression that MUFON was all about proving to the world that people who see UFOs are not frauds or wack jobs.

Then a few weeks ago I caught a few episodes of "UFOs Over Earth," a 2008 Discovery Channel series about MUFON Field Investigators, and I got a much different perspective on the organization's objectives. Going by the TV show, the mission of MUFON seems to be: "Let's expose the frauds and wack jobs ourselves so we'll look serious and credible." As a mission statement, I'm not sure if this is sustainable... 

The episode that most troubled me had the MUFON gang traveling to Mexico to investigate some sightings that had recently been making headlines. The narrator tells us that in Mexico it is much more commonplace than it is in the U.S. for people to see UFOs and to report their sightings, and in fact, there seems to be a boatload of unexplained phenomenon in the sky over Mexico on any given night; all you have to do is step outside and look up, and there will be a UFO waiting for you to see it. Why this is so is never explained. Wouldn't you think the producers of the show might have given a few moments to mulling that over? Why do more people in Mexico see and report UFOs? I want to know, but MUFON doesn't seem to think it's important.

Turns out, there is a popular TV show in Mexico in which an affable, elderly host discusses UFO sightings reported by people from all over the country, often accompanied by spectacular photographs. The MUFON gang went straight to this guy's TV studio and said, "Show us your most amazing unexplained sightings."

First, the MUFON team met a young man who had taken five spectacular photos of a gigantic circular chrome object that had recently hovered over his neighborhood in Mexico City for two minutes. At first, the MUFON gang thought this was "The Big One," and so did I. The photos showed an object that seemed to be huge and massive and solid... You could see the roofs of buildings and the tops of fences in the photos, and the landscape seemed to be reflected in the chrome belly of the UFO.

But there were problems with the second photo. It showed the same craft from a greater distance and at a higher altitude, and when the MUFON photo analyst pixilated the image, he found traces of a rectangular shape surrounding the UFO, as if it had been clipped from another image and pasted onto the photo. Not only that, the different photos had time stamps showing that they had been taken hours apart, not within the reported two-minute time span. It didn't look good for the young man with the camera. He was unable to explain the time stamp discrepancy or the rectangular shape in the photo, and so the MUFON team decided he was a hoaxster.

But there was conflicting evidence. I admit, I doubted the kid for one simple reason: he said he watched a huge chrome flying saucer hover over his neighborhood for two minutes and he only took five photos. Five? Five? If it had been me, I would have taken about 15,000 shots. But the kid insisted that his phone battery was dying, which is entirely credible, and the TV host's own photographic expert disagreed with the MUFON photo analyst about the pixilated rectangle.

In this case I have to say I agreed with the MUFON gang that were questions about the photos, but I couldn't completely dismiss the kid as a hoaxster. And, man, was it sad to see the three knowledgeable Americanos calling the Mexican kid a liar and the Mexican TV host a gullible fool.

Undeterred, the TV host took the increasingly annoying MUFON team to investigate the real "The Big One." This case involved an entire village that had seen -- and videotaped -- a glowing white light in the sky in the nearby mountains for several nights in a row, while night after night the electric power in the village would blink out. 

The team quickly sank its collective teeth into this one, interviewing all the villagers and accumulating a massive body of testimony that seemed impossible to dismiss. And yet they did.

First the MUFON special effects wizard composed a computer animation of what he thought the glowing light might have looked like over the mountains. The villagers all thought the computer animation looked really cool, but it didn't look anything like what they had actually seen. So I'm not sure what the point of that was, especially since there already was video of the incident, but it kept the special effects guy busy.

But things were looking good. The TV host was rebounding, the villagers were happy and excited, the MUFON gang was all set to take this case to the UN... then the whole thing went UFO shaped.

Someone noticed that there were lots of powerlines in those mountains outside the village... and wasn't there an electrical transformer in just about the spot where the floating light was sighted? What if the floating light was actually an electric transformer on a pole burning itself out? That would certainly explain the power in the village blinking out whenever the floating light was sighted.

So of course the MUFON Field Investigators contacted the local electric power utility and asked if they had any transformers burn out on the nights in question, resulting in power losses to the area. Oh, no, that's right: they didn't do that at all. What they actually did was send one of the team members -- I can't remember what he did on the team; he wasn't the cerebral mastermind or the zany photo expert or the quiet special effects guy, so he must have been Sleepy or Sneezy -- to Los Angeles with some of the eye-witness video. Sleepy took the video to a retired guy in LA who used to work for some power company. The retired guy watched the glowing light on the video and said something like, "Yes, that is unmistakeably a Model 27P/46 transformer burning itself out.... over the course of several nights."

And that was that. This was not "The Big One" after all. The entire village had been fooled by the old electric transformer burning itself out ploy, and the MUFON gang once again had to give the TV host the sad news that he is, in fact, a gullible old fool. Even if I could get past the cultural snobbery of the Americanos from MUFON treating pretty much the entire population of Mexico as though they were idiots or liars or both, I just can't agree with their methods or their conclusions. Why would you not contact the local utility and ask about a burned-out transformer in the area, if that's your operating theory? Why would you not drive over to the spot where the light was seen to see if there is, in fact, an electrical pole with a transformer on it at that exact spot?

Most of all, why would you be so dismissive of the TV host's insistence that the human element is at least as important, if not moreso, than any "scientific" analysis that the MUFON gang can conduct? In both cases, the TV host admitted that, yes, there were serious questions about the physical evidence of the sightings, but because he found the witnesses to be so sincere and so credible, he could not dismiss their testimony. By the end of the show, I was in complete agreement with the TV host, and couldn't wait for the MUFON gang to clear out.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Area 51 Decoded

I love my Uncle Bxx. He's just a solid, steady guy who looks at the world through no-nonsense-colored glasses, but can take you by surprise with the most unexpected wisecracks...

A couple of years ago at a family reunion, Uncle Bxx got wind of my interest in UFOs, and informed me that he had flown training missions at Nellis Air Force Range in Nevada from 1950 to 1952. This was huge news to me, because Nellis is the site of the Air Force's notorious, ultra-secret facility, Area 51. Do I need to explain what Area 51 is? Didn't think so.

Anyway, Uncle Bxx told me in no uncertain terms that in all the target training exercises he had flown over Area 51, he never once saw a UFO. There was one time, he said, when some of his crew mates got excited by the sight of a bright glowing object just over the horizon, and started to wonder if it was a UFO. Uncle Bxx killed that party real fast, telling his pals that they were looking at the planet Venus, which was bright enough then to be visible during the day.

A few weeks after that reunion, I got a parcel in the mail from Uncle Bxx containing a book of short stories by science-fiction legend Arthur C. Clarke. I was touched by the gesture, and took it to mean that my Uncle perhaps was open to the possibilities...

Yesterday we had another family reunion, and I was looking forward to having another talk with my Uncle about his days at Area 51. It seemed possible that he might have some memory of some little thing he may have seen or experienced back then but hadn't thought to mention in our previous talk. My daughter Cxxxx also thought that Uncle Bxx may have been silenced by the Government, and that if I applied enough pressure he might crack. And there was that science-fiction book to consider...

When I asked my Uncle whether the Government had told him not to talk about what he had seen at Area 51, there was no cracking. Instead, I got a cold, stony silence. I was almost expecting his name, rank and serial number. After 60 years, the man was not about to change his story.

Still, I persisted, and asked him more about his experiences at Nellis, and from what he told me, it's no wonder he never saw anything unusual. He must have been too terrified for his life to be looking for unearthly phenomenon. His job was to ride in the back of a target plane over the Nevada desert, and unfurl a giant target on a tow rope behind the plane. Once the target was unfurled, fighter pilot trainees -- and the key word here is "trainees" -- would make runs at the target and open fire at it with their machine guns using live ammunition. My cousin's husband, Sxxxx, listening in on the conversation, looked at me, dumbfounded, and said, "You couldn't make that tow rope long enough to get me on that plane!"

Not enough danger for you? How about this. When they weren't getting shot at at 20,000 feet with live ammunition, my uncle and his crew "got the day off" to watch the Air Force drop atomic bombs at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, at a comfortable distance of 20 whole miles. Yeah, men were men back then.

So, no blockbuster UFO revelations from Uncle Bxx about his two years at Area 51. But plenty of wonderful memories from a really great guy... That's him looking all Steve McQueen in the leather flight jacket below.

You know, maybe I'll take another crack at him at next year's reunion...

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Color Orange

Did you know that orange is the most sacred color of Hinduism, and represents the second chakra, Swadhisthana? Neither did I until just a few moments ago, but the color orange has suddenly taken on great significance to me, and I'm trying to figure out why...

As you may have read in earlier posts, about a month ago my wife, my daughter and I saw a strange orange light just sitting there in the sky while driving home at night here in Wisconsin. You may also recall that a few weeks ago a friend contacted me on Facebook to report on something that she and her family had seen while on vacation in New York. Well, last night I interviewed my friend, Lxxxxx, and when I asked her what she and her family saw, she said, "We saw an orange light just sitting there in the sky."

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

Here then is my report on what I call "Case #002," or "The Big One."

First of all, my interview with Lxxxxx was not what I would describe as an official MUFON-type interview... She called me on the phone at about 7:30 pm from the playground where she had taken her young daughter Axxxxxx to play, so the conversation was punctuated with "I don't think it's a very good idea to climb that," and "That's going to hurt!" And she sometimes had to verify her facts with her daughter, who remembered the incident in great detail, when of course I should have grilled them separately to see if their stories matched. The whole thing was really far more charming than any UFO investigation has any right to be, and I enjoyed it very much.

But the more Lxxxxx and her daughter talked about what they had seen that night on the beach in the Hamptons, the more amazed I was. They were leaving the beach after dark, returning to where they had parked their cars, when they all noticed a bright orange light floating in the sky. Lxxxxx said they had seen airplanes and helicopters flying over the beach all day, and this object was neither... She described it as a square of orange light, and said that as they watched it and tried to figure out what it was, it blinked out. She said there were no clouds or trees or buildings that it could have passed behind; it simply vanished. Then a few moments later it reappeared in a slightly different location, and hung there for a minute or two before disappearing for good.

Lxxxxx had to cut the talk short to get her tired little girl home to bed, so I didn't have a chance to cover all the details, but I had enough to work with: namely the color orange. It's been a weird series of synchronicities, to say the least: my family sees an orange light floating in the sky; exactly one week later, Lxxxxx and her family witness an orange light floating in the sky; yesterday, I blogged about The Soda Pop Factor, noting that it specifically involves orange soda; last night I interview Lxxxxx and discovered the orange connection... And then this: the first thing I do this morning after logging on is to go to Google the word "orange," and I find that the Google logo has been transformed into oranges, to commemorate the 118th birthday of Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, an obscure Hungarian pharmacologist who is credited with discovering Vitamin C.

Um... when have you ever heard of anyone commemorating someone's 118th birthday? Much less an obscure Hungarian pharmocologist whose discovery led to the development of SunnyD? It's just beyond belief.

Then there's this whole chakra thing. It's really crazy... Seriously. I'm going to need a few days to process this. I'll get back to you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Soda Pop Factor

What makes a report of a UFO sighting credible? I have always relied on the standard set in a book I read years ago called "The Mothman Prophecies," by John Keel. If that title seems familiar, you may be thinking of the hopeless movie version starring Richard Gere, and if you have seen that movie, I pity you. The book is actually a rousing tale, told as a first-hand account, of encounters with the strange being illustrated here by famed fantasy artist Frank Frazetta.

In the book, Keel recounts a UFO encounter of high strangeness investigated by a colleague named Dr. James MacDonald. MacDonald tells of a man who not only encountered a UFO and its occupant, he had a long talk with that UFO occupant. What they discussed escapes me now, but in the middle of the conversation, the UFO occupant mentioned that it was thirsty. All the man had in the fridge at the time was a bottle of orange soda pop, so he offered it to the UFO occupant. The parched UFO occupant accepted it and drank it down. Presumably, the UFO occupant was refreshed. And presumably, it and the man then continued their conversation for some time before the UFO occupant returned to its ship and zoomed off. MacDonald does not report whether the man returned the bottle for his 5 cent deposit.

To my knowledge, this is the only recorded instance of a human being offering a cold, refreshing soft drink to an alien life form.

MacDonald was so struck by the man's mention of the soda pop incident that he believed the entire story. Why, MacDonald reasoned, would this man fabricate such a sensational story and then punctuate it with such a ridiculous, mundane detail? Surely the soda pop moment would cast doubt on his testimony if the story was false, and therefore MacDonald felt the entire encounter must have really happened. MacDonald coined the term "Soda Pop Factor" to describe any such realistic detail that lends credibility to an outrageous tale, simply because it doesn't belong there. MacDonald's reverse logic may be a bit strained, but on some level it appeals to me.

What can we learn from this?

1) If a UFO sighting report makes any mention of orange soda pop, it must be true.

2) If the aliens do prove to be hostile, don't try to kill them with orange pop. You'll only be quenching their thirst, making the situation worse.

3) Stephen Hawking is a dummy. I know this for a fact. Recently my wife and I were watching an episode of "Stephen Hawking's Universe" in which the famous physicist was imagining what life on other planets might look like. He imagined strange snow-leopard things that could breath hydrogen, and floating gas bags that could thrive on nitrogen, and even some oxygen breathers that could live on barren, desolate worlds that just barely qualify as "earth-like." As intriguing as his fantasy creatures were, it was clear that not a single one of them could drink orange pop if it was offered to them. Maybe the wall-crawling sucker-mouth beasties, but only with a straw. What gives, Stephen? I suggest that all the time, energy and money that we are pouring into searches for extraterrestrial life are being wasted, and the searches themselves are fatally flawed and destined to fail. Because all we ever look for is whether a planet has liquid water. We never consider whether a planet has liquid orange pop.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

One Lost Night

For us, it began one lost night on a lonely country road, looking for a shortcut that we never found...

Okay, that's not how it began. I swiped that line from the opening narration to the old alien invasion TV series, "The Invaders." But it's darn close to what happened to my wife, my daughter and me one night last month. We were on a country road. It wasn't very lonely, though.

We were driving home just after dusk on a well-traveled state highway, in the country, on a route that we have all taken countless times. If anything appears out of the ordinary along that route, someone's going to notice it. And we did.

The three of us all wrote down our personal accounts of the incident, which I have faithfully reproduced here in earlier blog entries, but I decided that I couldn't really call it an investigation if I didn't do some investigating. So last week I sat down with the two other witnesses to question them about what happened that night. To show what a good investigator I am, I questioned them on different nights, at different locations, wearing different clothes and using different pencils.

The first thing I noticed during both interviews was that there was a lot of giggling. I'm not sure, but I don't think much giggling is supposed to be allowed in an official MUFON interview. So I have some work to do there. But I was able to print out some official MUFON interview forms, so I knew just what to ask once the giggling died down. Here then, is the testimony of the witnesses in what I call "Case #001," or "The Big One."

Me: "Please describe what you saw."
My Daughter: "We were driving home from Mxxxxxx helping my brother move. We were in a car and then you pointed out the circle of light… well, the blob of light that was orange, and we were trying to find something that it was on, something that it was put on or was flying by, but there was nothing, it was just hanging out."

Me: "What did you think it was?"
My Daughter: "I thought it was an airplane. I was confused."

Me: "What did it look like?"
My Daughter: "It was a light, so it wasn’t a perfect circle, so it had ridges and bumps. There isn’t a perfect word to describe its shape, because it was kind of twinkling light."

Me: "Was it as bright as the moon?"
My Daughter: "Um, yes, but in a different way, because the moon is just bright, and this was orange and shining."

Me: "Was it an enigma?"
My Daughter: "Yea."

(NOTE: "Was it an enigma?" is NOT an official MUFON question. I made that one up myself.)

As you'll see, my wife's recollections were eerily similar to those of my daughter...

Me: "Please describe what you saw."
My Wife: "We were driving back from Mxxxxxx at 8 or 9 at night. I was in the passenger seat. Cxxxx was in the back seat. My husband was driving. It was a two-lane road with woods on the left side and fields, farmland, and Wisconsin-ish stuff on the right side. There was a barn, or some kind of structure. We saw the object close to the barn. My husband noticed it first and pointed it out, and asked us what we thought it was. I thought it was some kind of tower, because the object wasn’t moving. It was kind of an orange glow. But there was no discernible pole attaching the object to the ground."

Me: "What did you think it was?"
My Wife: "I thought it was a tower. There was some confusion, because we really genuinely could not figure out what the thing was. That really is the take-home message here. It was (whispers) unidentified! And flying! And, presumably, an object."

Me: "What did it look like?"
My Wife: "I remember it as being kind of cylindrical, with a sort of warm orange glow. It looked like it could have been some kind of small kite with a light inside it, except that the light is making the whole thing glow, not like a light bulb would. With a light bulb, it would be bright and the light would dissipate towards the edges of the object, but the whole thing was glowing"

Me: "Could it have been a kite?" 
My Wife: “It had kite-like aspects. But why would a kite have a light inside of it?

The encounter ended differently for both of them. My daughter promptly fell into a deep, unearthly sleep after the sighting. I asked if she thought the object in the sky had somehow made her fall asleep, but she said no, she thinks it was just a normal, earthly sleep.

Because I drove on without stopping to investigate the object that night, my wife was reluctant to discuss how the sighting ended, saying, "I don’t want to incriminate my future MUFON captain husband. *giggle*" She is exactly the kind of gal you want at your side when you see a UFO.

Conclusions: three witnesses observed a glowing orange object of indeterminate shape floating motionless in the sky over a farm, then one of them fell into a deep, unearthly sleep. It was a UFO.

Epilogue: there is one detail of the incident that I remember, but my wife and daughter do not. Although I didn't have the smarts to pull over and get a better look at the thing, someone else did... As we passed the object, I noticed that a car had pulled off the highway and was parked, with its lights on, at the end of what I think was the driveway to the farm, pointed in the direction of the thing. At the time I thought, "That's a dumb place to park." A few moments later I realized the truth: we were not the only witnesses!

Monday, September 12, 2011

UFOs are Really Real

I have finally gotten my wife and daughter to sit still for some hard-hitting interrogations about our UFO encounter last month, but before I analyze and report on their testimony, I have to clear up one thing:

UFOs are real.

Got that? They are real. It makes no sense to question the reality of UFOs, because, guess what? If someone sees it, it's real. Just because a UFO witness can't identify what he or she saw, that doesn't mean he or she didn't see anything. If I look up in the sky and see a jetliner flying overhead but I can't identify whether it's a Boeing or an Airbus, does that mean there's no jetliner up in the sky? You really want to go there? There's a big difference between "unidentified" and "nonexistent," and yet most UFO conversations in American media and culture rarely seem to get beyond this basic, idiotic point.

I bring this up in part because of my fantastic new cable TV package. For a very reasonable $10 a month, I recently upgraded my cable lineup so I could start getting the best channel around: BBC America. If I could only choose one cable channel in the whole wide world to get, this would be it. Top Gear. Doctor Who. Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Those three shows pretty much constitute my world view in its entirety.

But another channel came along with the package, one I had never heard of until Friday: Planet Green. Planet Green was airing multiple episodes of a show called "UFOs Over Earth," which turns out to be "CSI: UFO." The show follows a crack team of MUFON Field Investigators as they tackle the toughest UFO encounter cases around, from Mexico to Philadelphia and everywhere inbetween. And what a team they have! There's the cerebral mastermind, there's the zany photographic analyst, there's the quiet special effects genius... What could be more fun? But after watching three episodes in a row (have I mentioned how much my wife loves our Friday night "date nights?"), I sensed an unfortunate theme emerging: every show starts out with the MUFON Field Investigators talking excitedly about how this case could be "The Big One," the case that proves to the world once and for all that "UFOs are real!," and ends with those same Investigators looking like someone just took away their candy and bemoaning the fact that this actually wasn't The Big One after all...

It's all rather sad, really, but you see my point: even the MUFON Field Investigators on "UFO's Over Earth" can't help but slip into the "Are UFOs Real?" mode of thinking. And I think that's wrong. It's the wrong question to be asking, and if MUFON Field Investigators can't ask the right questions, then I'm not very confident that the UFO conversation can ever rise above the most rudimentary, meaningless levels. Instead of talking about whether UFOs are real, we should be talking about what they mean. At least that's my opinion.

Friday, September 9, 2011

It Gets Me Where I Want to Go

Now that this UFO business is taking off (pun intended), I've been thinking about some practical matters. Once I start working as part of the MUFON team, I expect I'll be supplied with a black Chevy Suburban with blackout windows, but what do I do for wheels until then?

I have an idea. I was planning to sell my second car this fall, now that my son Cxxxxx no longer needs it to commute to his summer job, but it occurs to me that the old Taurus would make an excellent UFO Chase Vehicle. The logic is simple: if I show up to a UFO sighting in a regular old anonymous passenger car, the UFO occupants will not be impressed. In fact, they might feel they are dealing with a rank amateur. They will be, of course, but that's beside the point. If, on the other hand, I pull up to the landing site in a sleek, sophisticated, bad-ass UFO pursuit vehicle, the UFO occupants will know they are dealing with a sleek, sophisticated, bad-ass UFO Field Investigator. Forget them taking me for a ride in their UFO; they'll be the ones begging for a ride.

My older daughter, Dxxxxx, thinks I should go the way of the Scooby Doo "Mystery Machine," the big old van with the psychedelic paint job that the Scooby gang tooled around in between unmasking corrupt sheriffs. At first I was thinking more along the lines of the Ghostbusters ambulance, "ECTO 1," but last night I had an inspiration. When I was a kid, there were endless TV shows about fearless humans (and sometimes fearless marionettes) defending the earth from Alien Invasions, and the human heros always had super-cool vehicles that they used to chase down the UFOs. That's what I want. Something with fins and radar dishes and jet engines and force fields that rides on tank treads and shoots missiles and laser beams and... Well, what I've got is a 2001 Ford Taurus station wagon with cruise control, power windows and an AM/FM/cassette stereo that rides on four all-season radials and shoots high-beams, and is strictly limited to sub-light speeds.

Still, I can work with that. The Taurus is a solid, sturdy, All-American car, with a smooth ride, plenty of get-up-and-go and room in back for 6 little E.T.s. With a little work I think it could send the right message... How's this for bad-ass?

The sleek lines say, "Take Me To Your Leader."
The clean white paint says, "I Surrender!"
The wet spots on the driveway underneath it say, "Show Me the CARFAX!"
The flying saucer on the hood says... well, it says a lot of things, but for my purposes it says, "I am one of you! Really, I am!"

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

UFO People

Things are heating up with my UFO sighting situation. And when I say "heating up," I mean reaching room temperature. UFO Field Investigation is slow work, it turns out, whether you're the Investigator or the Investigated. To recap: I am currently investigating my own sighting, planning to investigate a friend's sighting, and getting set to be investigated by a MUFON Field Investigator regarding my sighting. It's a lot to sort out. Just the same, I hope to have a thorough status report on all these investigations very soon, but in the meantime I have some unfinished business to attend to.

A while back I reported that a friend had approached me about sharing "a lifetime of UFO experiences" after getting wind of my blog. I was pretty excited to get the invitation, and very respectful of the fact that Xxxx had decided to open up and share such personal experiences with me. I had a meeting with Xxxx a few weeks back, the first of what I hope will be many, and we had a wonderful conversation. This is a person who has had some profound life experiences, not all of them on this level of reality, and who has spent many years trying to make sense of them all. The stories I heard were so intricate, so vivid, so rich, that after our hour's conversation was up, Xxxx had only just gotten to the UFO part... In a word: wow.

To be honest, I have barely begun to process everything I heard that day, which is one reason I haven't blogged about it until now. But I fully expect that as I continue down this path, my experiences may in some small way parallel those of Xxxx, and I will use my friend's stories as guideposts along the way...

Meanwhile, I conducted a reconnaissance mission today at the "Sci-Fi Cafe" in Burlington, WI, a small city not far from where I grew up. And when I say "reconnaissance mission" I mean I stopped in to use the rest room. I was tipped off to the existence of the Sci-Fi Cafe by MUFON's announcement of the 4th Annual Burlington Vortex Conference, an honest-to-goodness UFO conference to be held next month at the Cafe, pretty much right in my back yard. I had already signed up for a one-day pass to the event, but when I found myself passing close by Burlington today and looking for a place to take a pit-stop, it seemed predestined that I should pay a visit.

While there, I met Brad, one of the owners of the Cafe, and had a nice talk with him about his business and about the Vortex Conference. I told him I was excited to meet two of the speakers at the event, Stanton Friedman and Kathleen Marden, co-authors of the UFO book I had just read. He told me with some pride that this would make Mr. Friedman's fourth appearance at the event. In fact, Brad said that when he and his wife decided to give Friedman a year off last year, he called them up and asked if he could come anyway, because he hated to miss a year.

I couldn't stay long, so I bought a coffee from Brad and was on my way, but I left with a good feeling about the place. The simple fact that the Sci-Fi Cafe exists is enough to put a smile on my face.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Obama/UFO/Cheez-It Connection

I follow a great blog on dailykos.com called The Week in UFO Phenomenon,
and this week's topic really caught my eye: "UFO Sightings Increase 67 Percent During the Obama Administration"

The blogger, Adept2u, excerpts an article from the Huffington Post in which MUFON International Director Clifford Clift (Cliff Clift, I kid you not) is quoted as saying, "Over the past year, we've been averaging 500 sighting reports a month, compared to about 300 three years ago." That's a pretty remarkable increase in sightings, and it begs an explanation.

Unfortunately, the HuffPost article never goes there, perhaps because it's in the "Weird News" section, and weird news just doesn't merit any deeper analysis. Instead the article veers off into a long promo for a new History Channel documentary about UFO sightings, and leaves the Obama-UFO connection completely behind.

Why have UFO sightings increased 67 percent since Obama became president, and why don't The Huffington Post or The History Channel care? Is there a causal connection between Obama's presidency and the increased visibility of UFOs, or is it mere coincidence? Here's one possible explanation: there is a long-standing theme in science fiction literature about aliens waiting for us earthlings to achieve a certain level of intelligence and maturity before they reveal themselves to us. It's like the Cheez-It commercials where the Cheez-It man patiently waits until the big cheddar wheel stops cracking juvenile jokes and starts acting like an adult before he'll approve the cheese for use in his crackers. In this case, we're the wheel of cheddar, and the UFO occupants are the Cheez-It man... What if they have been patiently waiting until we elected a brilliant, humane, mature wheel of cheddar before showing themselves? What if now is the time for them to come forward and invite us into the Galactic community, which in this analogy would be the equivalent of baking us into their cheese crackers?

As much as that explanation appeals to me, I have to consider the unpleasant alternative: that there is no Cheez-It connection, and the increase in UFO sightings is a reflection of an unprecedented level of anxiety in the world today. Not to say that that anxiety has been caused solely by Obama's election; I think it's a much bigger, much more complicated dynamic than that. But I think maybe the aliens are alarmed that we haven't yet reached the level of maturity they've expected of humanity. Maybe UFOs are showing up more often because they're worried about us.