High Strangeness: March 2012

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Color Me Disappointed

Well, I go away on vacation to Germany for a few days, and what happens while I'm gone? Nothin.

I thought that maybe if I just walked away for a while, MUFON would solve the whole UFO mystery for me, but apparently they've been too busy moving their files and records and dictating machines from the old antiquated HQ in Greeley, CO, to the new antiquated HQ in Cincinnati, OH. New International Director David MacDonald writes about the move in his column in the April MUFON eJournal, and it seems as though it was a pretty big deal.

How's this for a bombshell: when all the file cabinets and records were unloaded and delivered to the new offices in Cincinnati, Mr. MacDonald made the startling discovery that the files contain EVIDENCE! Hundreds of cases of EVIDENCE! That's actually how he wrote it: EVIDENCE! IN ALL CAPS!

Wow. Didn't anyone in Greeley ever look through those files? Did they not know they were sitting on hundreds of cases of evidence? I guess we should all be grateful that all that evidence in now in Cincinnati, where it will be appreciated, and noticed even.

I admit, I had my doubts that hiring airplanes and trucks to move the collected records and wisdom of MUFON from Colorado to Ohio was the best possible use of my dues, especially when I read that one of the articles that we paid to haul cross-country was a rocket engine that "fell off" a 1960's-era Vanguard missile. Because nothing can solve the mystery of UFOs like a smashed-up old rocket engine collecting dust in the foyer. So, yeah, that all kind of bugged me, but I have to say that the discovery of all that evidence has made me reconsider.

This is a Vanguard missile, moments before its engine will "fall off" and find its way into a MUFON filing cabinet.

Then there's this: in his further cataloging of all the material that arrived in the new offices, Mr. MacDonald mentions a number of fascinating articles found in the inventory, such as "projectors," "books" and "alien detectors."

What the what?

Alien detectors? First of all, what is an alien detector, exactly? Second of all, why isn't that front page news, in ALL CAPS even?? Third of all, why haven't I gotten mine yet? For goodness sake, you have alien detectors in stock and you're not sending them out to your field investigators?

This will not stand. I have just sent a letter to Mr. MacDonald at thecaptain@mufon.com to request my alien detector. Here's what I wrote to thecaptain:

Hi Mr. MacDonald,

I just read your April column in the MUFON eJournal, and was surprised to read that MUFON is in possession of "alien detectors."

What is an alien detector, and why don't I have one? I'm studying to become a MUFON Field Investigator, and feel that an alien detector would be an invaluable tool to have in the field. If I'm going to be encountering aliens in the field, shouldn't I have the proper detection equipment? Especially if it comes down to me or them, I want to be able to detect the aliens before they detect me, you know? If you have them in stock, why are you not sending them out to all your investigators?


Mark O'Connell

I'll let you know what I hear back from thecaptain... 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Temperature's Rising!

This week I've been trying to get through as much of the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual as I can before we leave for Germany, but it's not easy. The latest section is all about investigating the scene of a UFO landing, gathering physical evidence and whatnot, which should all be very interesting but it's really just typically messed-up, MUFON-style.

Take the long chapter on "Radiation Survey of Landing Cases," written by a former nuclear power plant operator. I went into this chapter thinking, "That's funny; I don't ever recall any UFO landing leaving behind radioactive traces... So why would I need to know this?"

Pay attention to the running man. He is not a MUFON Field Investigator.
Indeed, the chapter starts right out admitting that "The expectations of finding radiation at a site is low, based on experience to date." Then it tells me that I am not qualified to perform a radiation survey, and that I should recruit someone else to do it. Then it tells me in great detail how to perform the radiation survey that I am not supposed to perform and that has a low chance of producing results anyway.

Ten or twelve pages later, I know everything there is to know about how to perform a radiation survey that I am not supposed to perform and that has a low chance of producing results anyway, and I feel somehow the richer for it. Then I get to the end of the chapter and the nuclear power plant manager tells me: "...our experience in UFO investigations to date has not indicated a need for, nor any useful purpose being served by, conducting a radiation survey of an alleged landing site."

No useful purpose. Thanks, MUFON.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

UFOs Will Be People

A lot of people hate renewable energy. It's too clean. It's too weird. It needs government subsidies to prop it up. I hear this kind of ignorant talk all the time because I work in the alternative fuels world when I'm not chasing UFOs. There's not much you can do about it. People will be people. But now it turns out UFOs will be people, too.

My boss sent me this tantalizing headline today from Renewable Energy Magazine: "Why aren't UFOs drawn to renewable energy sites? Or are they?" I was floored...

The reporter, Dan McCue, takes up as his central premise the fact that UFOs have often been sighted in the vicinity of nuclear power plants and oil rigs and even volcanoes, but are never sighted near solar power arrays or wind farms... Why? Do they hate renewables, too?

That wouldn't make much sense. For a UFO to travel from wherever it came from to get here and then travel back, assuming it did come from somewhere and did have somewhere to go back to, it would probably need to harness some sort of renewable energy source. In fact, a UFOs relationship to its energy source could go so far beyond our quaint notions of energy consumption and transformation that law of conservation of energy may not even apply anymore. In other words, a UFO may not so much consume energy as it does breathe energy, or skate along on energy, or think energy.

Still, hats to off to journalist McCue and his pursuit of such an intriguing question. As he says early on in the article, whether you "believe" in UFOs or not, "they are a fixture of pop culture and popular culture often provides the spark for flights of imagination and future innovation in technology, not to mention future careers in engineering and science.

"And besides, speculation is fun."

Amen to that, brother.

So, why do we never hear of UFOs hovering menacingly over algae ponds or methane digesters or Ed Begley, Jr's house? Physicist and UFO researcher Stanton Friedman offers this possibility in the article: "Earthlings have exploded 2000 nuclear weapons," he said. "That might be of concern to alien visitors."

Touche Stanton!

You think Ed Begley, Jr. is going to take an alien invasion lying down? Not on your life.
So, it seems to me that all we have to do is start setting off wind bombs and solar bombs and then the UFOs will stop paying so much attention to our nuclear power plants and oil refineries and start noticing our fine work in developing renewable energy sources. On the other hand, the current state of affairs does suggest a pretty smart strategy for those of us seeking out UFO encounters: do not hang around the local biodiesel plant and you will surely see a UFO.

See? Isn't speculation fun?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

UFO Kiss-Off

A week or two ago I sent a check and a membership application to the Center for UFO Studies, the research organization founded by Dr. J. Allen Hynek. I figured it was a prerequisite for writing a book about Hynek, and, well... I was getting the feeling that all the really cool UFO people belong to CUFOS (sorry, MUFON).

So today I got a nice, fat envelope in the mail from CUFOS, and I couldn't wait to tear it open and revel in my new membership card and sew-on patch! But, no, there was nothing of the sort inside. There was a letter, along with my returned check, un-cashed...

Wha...? Had I been rejected by the cool UFO people? How could that be possible? Did I even want to read this kiss-off letter? Would my fragile ego survive the blow?

Slowly, I unfolded the letter and started to read:

"Dear Mr. O'Connell," it started out threateningly, "Thank you for your Associate Application Form and contribution of $25 to become an Associate and receive the International UFO Reporter."

Ok, now I was confused. Why were they thanking me?

"However," the letter went on, "we have not deposited your check because the CUFOS board is in the middle of rethinking the publications and information outlets for CUFOS, given the focus on web-based platforms and other technologies as compared to print publications."

Aha! I wasn't rejected at all. They were looking out for me, returning my $25 until such time as they decide whether to continue publishing their journal, and if so, in what medium. "Thus, in fairness," the letter concluded, "we don't want to accept your contribution before we've sorted out things on our end."

Not wanting to be left behind, the Center for UFO Studies will soon be entering the digital age with the help of modern computing machines such as this one.
I was and am deeply impressed. Not just that they returned my money, but that they seem to be taking such a serious look at revamping their organization to embrace the digital age. Because, let me tell you something: UFOs aren't going to be long in embracing the digital age themselves -- in fact, some evidence suggests they may already have done so -- and any UFO research organization that doesn't want to be left behind would be well advised to sort out things it has on its end, as CUFOS is so bravely doing.

Although my CUFOS membership has been rejected, for now, I can truly say that I would be proud to be a member of such a polite, thoughtful, sorted-out organization. If they would let me join.

fliegende Untertasse

"fliegende Untertasse" is the German translation for "flying saucer." I thought that would be good to know as we're leaving on our German vacation in three days, and I want to know what to shout when I see a German flying saucer.

I'm not sure how I will sound running around yelling "fliegende Untertasse," but I know the folks in Germany will appreciate that I took the effort.

Apparently German UFOs all look as though they just came out of a World War II movie.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Playing In The Yard

Could aliens have developed a supervirus that starts out a lot like a common cold but then mutates into a vicious killer plague that can wipe out the entire human race?

That's what I thought a few days ago, when I was flat on my back for the third day in a row after coming down with the nastiest cold ever. Lying there in my bed, feverish and hallucinating, it was all to easy to believe that I had been infected with some alien super-illness, and that I was just the first to fall to this fiendish bug.

But I lived. Good thing, too, because while I was sick I got an email from my friend Jxxx regarding the UFO sighting he recently told me about here. As he had promised me he would, Jxxx sent along his sister's account of that incident from so many years ago, and damn, she remembers it in the same atmospheric detail as he does!

Read on:

"When I was about 11 years old, my brother Jxxx  (then 9-10 years old)  and I were outside playing in our neighbor’s back yard.   It was a bright sunny day, either late morning or early afternoon.  While we were running around playing, we looked up and saw an object in the northeastern sky.  The object moved initially, but then simply hung in the sky for a good minute.  After this, it seemed to move at a right angle and disappeared very fast toward the east and was gone.  This object was silver/gray and was quite bright with the sunlight bouncing off of it.  It seemed flat to me and was somewhat triangular with a narrow top and a wider bottom.  All the while this object was in the sky, the two of us kept saying 'You're seeing  this, right?'  Over the years I have not forgotten this episode.   I had written this off as 'an airplane,' but have not really believed that is what it was.  I also have never seeing anything like this again."

-- Mxxx Bxxx.

So, yeah, if I had died from an alien supervirus over the weekend I never would have seen this, and that would have been tragic. What I find so interesting about Mxxx Bxxx's account is the impression I get that the UFO stopped when it knew it was being observed, then, after it had observed right back, it moved on... There definitely seems to be a two-way interaction going on, just as there did in Jxxx's account.

I wonder what the UFO got out of it?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Duck! It's a Radiation Storm!

Is this how it will all end? And if it is, are aliens behind it?

You need to know this: Just last night at the strike of midnight UT (Universal Time), NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) dynamically observed a massive solar flare that could cause all hell to break loose here on earth in a matter of hours. You're probably wondering, as I am, how NASA is able to observe the sun at midnight, but there's no time to think about that now.

The point is that a huge Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is at this very moment hurtling towards the earth, and you and I are at this very moment on that very same earth. What do we do now, NASA?

According to spaceweather.com, the CME has already caused an S3 level radiation storm that has the potential to wreak havoc on earth's orbiting satellites and garage door openers. But, more to the point, we could soon find ourselves in the middle of a raging "geomagnetic storm" the likes of which have seldom been seen outside your local cineplex (Oddly, spaceweather.com's earthly counterpart, weather.com, isn't reporting on the imminent end of life as we know it at all, preferring instead to warn people about blizzards and tornadoes and floods and such).

This is how the sun gets us to let down our guard. A few hours from now these poor saps could be piles of ashes on a beach to nowhere.

Why am I so concerned? Just watch this video freshly taken from NASA's SDO and tell me you aren't just a little freaked out by the shock waves that fan out across the sun's surface after the flare erupts. Tell me that doesn't make you gulp nervously just a little...

And it can get bad, people. When a similar CME struck the earth on September 1st, 1859, telegraph operators received electrical shocks and fires were started. Wikipedia does not make it clear whether the telegraph operators themselves caught on fire, but I consider it a distinct possibility. What if I told you that the Western Union Co. went on an unprecedented telegraph operator recruiting campaign in late September, 1859? I might be making that up, but do you want to take the risk?

I just watched the SDO video again, and I could swear that right at the beginning I can see an invisible UFO crashing into the surface of the sun and setting the whole thing off. I might be making that up, too, but, again, do you want to take the risk?


According to the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an S3 radiation storm packs enough ionic punch to cause the following glitches in satellite operations: "single-event upsets, noise in imaging systems, and slight reduction of efficiency in solar panel are likely." 

Um, someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but if the United States has satellites in orbit around the earth with the specific purpose of watching for an alien invasion, then wouldn't a few minutes of "noise in imaging systems" be just enough for an alien armada to slip past undetected?


Monday, March 5, 2012

A Vote For UFOs

I try not to get political in this blog, because that's not what this blog is about, and anyway, both the Republicans and the Democrats are hiding the truth about UFOs.

But the Democrats are at least willing to talk about it.

The other day I came across this rather amazing graphic created by the Democratic National Committee and posted on this nifty little website to help illustrate a point about voter fraud. As you can see below, the Democrats are not afraid to state that the number of possible occurrences of voter fraud in the US from 2000-2007 was about 32,290 less than the number of UFO reports for that same time period.

(In real life, UFOs don't look this cute)
Hats off to the Democratic National Committee for using the issue of voter fraud to draw attention to the growing UFO problem! I thought they only cared about political stuff.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner?

Something about this morning's post doesn't sit right with me. Isn't it a little convenient that Jxx was eating breakfast when the UFO appeared and its occupant gave him pancakes? What if Jxx had been eating lunch when the UFO appeared? Would the occupant have given him a cheese sandwich? If Jxx had just sat down to dinner, would the UFO occupant have given him steak tartare?

I think I think too much.

UFOs and Pancakes

It's Sunday morning here, and Sunday mornings mean pancakes, and pancakes mean UFOs.

No, really. Sometimes UFOs look like pancakes, of course, and sometimes UFO occupants serve pancakes to us earthlings. I learned this last night while reading "The Edge of Reality" by Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Dr. Jacques Vallee.

The good Doctors recount a charming story of Jxx, a man in Eagle River, right here in Wisconsin, who was visited one morning by a UFO occupant who gave him a stack of pancakes. The story is goofy as all get-out, but it beings to mind the "soda pop factor" that I've written about before.

Interestingly, Dr. Hynek admits that at first he didn't believe Jxx's tale, which goes something like this:

Jxx was having breakfast one morning in his house on the outskirts of town when he heard a whining noise outside. He looked out the window and saw a silvery ship descending into his back yard. It didn't land, it just floated... Jxx went outside to see what it was, and a door opened on the ship. A creature visible in the doorway waved him closer and handed him "the most beautiful thermos jug he had ever seen." The entity didn't speak, but communicated through gesture that it wanted Jxx to fill the thermos with water, which he did. Jxx then pantomimed to the creature how to drink the water, but the creature apparently thought Jxx was indicating that he was hungry. So, naturally, the creature handed him some pancakes.

Now, Eagle River is in a place we Wisconsinites call "Up North." It's a hike. It's almost in the U.P., for cripes' sake. For Dr. Hynek to travel to the hinterlands of northern Wisconsin to investigate a story that was, on the face of it, so silly, says a lot about his dedication. This is Scully & Mulder territory.

At first Dr. Hynek thought that Jxx had had a waking dream or "isolation delusion" while eating pancakes that he himself had made. But the rest of Jxx's story didn't fit that thesis. After the pancake drop-off, the ship took off and was gone in two or three seconds. While Jxx observed the ship, he did not perceive any nuts or bolts or rivets. It did not make any sound as it departed, but the surrounding trees "waved a little bit" as it passed. Those details were just enough for Dr. Hynek to conclude that Jxx was telling the truth about his encounter.
It's true! Otherworldly creatures love making pancakes for us!

Jxx was so open and sincere about his experience that he even gave a piece of one of the pancakes to Dr. Hynek, who had it analyzed at a lab. It turned out to be an ordinary wheat germ pancake. Which, Dr. Vallee points out, is consistent with age-old tales of fairies and elves giving pancakes to mortals as a way of making contact. No word on whether fairies and elves ever traffic in thermos jugs, but I bet if I researched it I could find some reference to fairies or elves asking a human to fill a cup or container with water...

What does it all mean? Dr. Hynek has a pretty smart answer to that: "...it's another world, another realm, that seems to have some interlocking with ours, and what we're describing here is just that interlocking."

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Edge of Reality

I don't usually dog ear my books, but I can't help it with "The Edge of Reality," the UFO book by Dr. J. Allen Hynek and Dr. Jacques Vallee that I have been reading recently. The observations the two Doctors make in the book are so intelligent and original that I keep marking the ones I know I'll want to go back to later as I continue my research into Dr. Hynek's life work.

This week I have been dog earing like crazy, as the discussions of the two Doctors have been mirroring my reading in the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual...

UFO sighted over Rouen, France, 1954. Is it any less real because it was sighted in France? Read on...

Commenting on the interview techniques used by groups such as MUFON, Dr. Vallee comments that "... the approach to questionnaires is usually to appear scientific! So first you have to give us the duration in seconds and the altitude, the degrees and direction of the compass that it came from; then at the end they have two miserable little lines for the witness to say what he really feels. It seems to me that that's conditioning the witnesses to remember only certain things, to recall only certain details, and it's doing exactly the opposite of what should be done."

"It would be as ridiculous," the discussion moderator replies, "as an analysis of dreams where you would first ask, 'how long was the dream?'"

"Yes, and what time of the night was it," Dr. Hynek adds, "and what compass direction was your head pointing when you woke up?"

That's why I love these guys. They know how ridiculous it is to obsess over forcing the UFO phenomenon to fit into a rational framework. Instead, they recognize that the absurdity of the phenomenon may well be its only defining characteristic, and any serious investigation has to take that into account...

Trouble is, that makes everything harder. And it entails a kind of thinking and processing of information that can't be taught by way of a Field Investigator's Manual. Sorry, MUFON.

How absurd can it get? This story related by Dr. Vallee gives you a good idea:

"I am thinking of a case in France that has been followed closely. The witness has gone back several years later to see the man who investigated the case; the first sighting happened in '67. The witness went back to see the investigator in '73 to tell him that something new and very important had happened. He had traveled about 200 miles to the investigator's house, but when he finally reached it he couldn't find the words to express what he had wanted to say. He said, 'You know, I can't express what I want to tell you. I have something to tell you, it's important for me to tell it to you, but I can't.' And he left completely puzzled. There was nothing they could do to retrieve it."

That's an amazing story. It's not like the witness drove 200 miles and then forgot what he was going to say. He realized that there was no way to "say it" in any way he could imagine. He literally did not have the words. And what did we lose as a result? Is this important information still locked in this Frenchman's head? That's going to drive me crazy.

And -- Oh, damn, this is weird. I have the perfect way to end this post, but I can't find the keys on my keyboard to express it!

Friday, March 2, 2012

"Oh my God, UFOs are Real!"

Two kids playing in their yard see a strange saucer-shaped object floating in the sky above the neighbor's house, try to convince themselves that it's an airplane (unsuccessfully), and 40 years later still can't get the image out of their heads. That's the story told by my friend Jxxx in a post here on High Strangeness last December.

Apparently you can't get the image out of your heads either, because that post has become the most popular on my blog. In fact, it received, by far, the most views of any post in the month of February, and it's already looking strong in March. I'm not surprised by this. It's a weird, chilling tale, not spectacular at all but all the more credible because of it. What did Jxxx and his sister see floating above their neighbor's house that still sticks with them after four decades?

But again, why is this story attracting so much of your attention? It could be that Jxxx is viewing it a couple dozen times a day, and if you are Jxxx I thank you for it, but I doubt that's the case. I'm pretty sure it's not me, either. Who then?

Who are you people who keep viewing this story? Step out of the shadows and show yourselves!