High Strangeness: August 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

The more I dig into this J. Allen Hynek book project, the more fun it becomes. I'm brushing up on journalistic skills that have laid dormant for several years, and I'm already making some progress...

Today I made two very interesting phone calls. First, I called a lovely lady named Jennie Zeidman, who was Dr. Hynek's assistant on the Air Force's Project Blue Book from 1953 to 1955, and an accomplished UFO researcher and author in her own right. Ms. Zeidman seems to have put all that behind her, however, as she seemed reluctant at first to talk about her UFO days.

"I don't have anything to add, beyond what I've already written," she told me with an air of finality. I could have let it go at that, but I wanted to know more -- much more. So I turned on the charm. I asked her if her writing could be found in the archives of Dr. Hynek's research organization, CUFOS, and that spurred her to think on it some more. She suggested I start with an article called "I Remember Blue Book," from an old publication called the International UFO Report. The article, it turns out, is readily available online and looks to be quite revealing. Ultimately the charm worked (first time ever!), because she said that after I had read her articles and her book, she would be agreeable to entertain some questions from me...

This drawing is from "The Coyne Case," a UFO sighting investigated by the inestimable Jennie Zeiman.
Hot off that success, I called Cherie Ward, a journalist who covered the 2011 death of UFO abductee Charles Hickson for The Mississippi Press in Pascagoula, MS. I was calling to see if she knew how I could contact Hickson's fellow abductee, Calvin Parker. I didn't even need to turn on the charm this time, which was good because I used up a lot of it with Jennie Zeidman and I could feel it running low.

Even though she no longer works for the Press, Ms. Ward was more than willing to share her thoughts with me as she recalled what a pleasure it was to honor Hickson in print at the time of his passing. "See, we grew up with that story," she explained. "Everybody here in town knew about their experience, and we can all remember Charlie Hickson setting up his table outside Wal-Mart to sell his book." I liked her immediately, because she spoke of Hickson with such respect, bordering on affection.

Alas, she did not know how to contact Mr. Parker, who has kept a lower profile than Mr. Hickson over the years. But she offered to make some calls on my behalf, in the hope that she could track him down.

All in all, a pretty good day's work. Considering we're talking about events that took place 40 to 60 years ago, it's kind of amazing that I can make a couple of phone calls and actually connect with those events... The trail may be getting cold, but it hasn't disappeared completely.

The Captain Speaks

The worst thing about missing the MUFON UFO Symposium 2012 in Cincinnati earlier this month is that I missed the two big bombshell announcements promised by The Captain, MUFON's International Director.

Here's what he had to say in the August, 2012 MUFON Journal: "... the biggest news may be the two announcements we intend to release at the gathering. Our Symposium will be the site of the national release of these new, and old, disclosures. Although there will be those who say 'is that all there is,' those of us who are truly in the game will 'gasp' at what you will be told."

The Captain has some big news for humankind.
Setting aside for a moment the question of whether I'll be a "gasper" or an "is that all there is-er," The Captain's little tease worked on me. It kills me that everyone who went to Cincinnati three weeks ago knows all this big news and I don't!

Not to worry: news this big must be posted on MUFON's website, right? Wrong. Even three weeks after the announcements, there isn't a single word on the organization's website. Which shouldn't be a huge surprise, since the most recent press release on the site is dated August 10, 2010.

What's a Certified UFO Field Investigator to do? I did what I always do: send a pestering email to The Captain, asking him what the big announcements were. He wrote back almost immediately to tell me that "There is nohing (sic) posted on the website at this time and will not be at least until the new site is ready to go."

Okay, no problem, The Captain, just tell me what the flipping announcements were.
I read on eagerly, ready to "gasp" my fool head off. But all he had to say was this: "There is (sic) some breif (sic) details in the Sept. Journal."
Uhh... okay. But the September Journal hasn't been posted yet, so... 

How hard would it have been to just, you know, tell me?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Crazy Sh*t"

Since I haven't gotten any new assignments from my Wisconsin State MUFON Director since submitting my Case Report of the Close Encounter, I decided to take a look at what's happening in my adopted part-time home state of Illinois. Turns out they need more help than Wisconsin does... Dozens of old cases have been assigned by the Illinois State Director to... the Illinois State Director. And there they sit, un-investigated and unsolved.

It's a shame, because there's some interesting stuff there. For example...there's the report of a sighting last April in Lombard that starts out, "Crazy sh*t..." How could I not want to read more? I had to find out what that asterisk stood for!

Alas, when I opened the case file, I found that this sighting was not just a dud, but a super-dud. The witness, Sxxxx, included minimal contact information and wrote a description of a "very low slow moving triangle loud humming noise, three bright lights one red in middle of triangle rotating." In other words, a triangular police car. Crazy sh*t indeed.

It is 1.03 percent certain that this triangle or something like it hovered over Lombard, IL, last April.
The investigators couldn't get anywhere with their investigation. Sxxxx had provided a bogus phone number, no street address, and failed to respond to numerous emails, leading the investigators to close the case and mark it "Insufficient Data." And yet, for all that, the case still scored a near-miraculous 1.03 percent certainty rating on the Ballester-Guasp Evaluation tool! Imagine that... An anonymous unsubstantiated report with virtually no investigative work put in besides sending off a couple of unanswered emails still manages to be 1.03 percent likely to have happened. I would have put it at or below zero myself, but what do I know?

Anyway, it made me wonder... Did Sxxxx lead off her sighting report with "Crazy sh*t" to describe the lighted triangle she saw back in April, or to describe what she saw on the MUFON website...?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back To The Vortex

Has it been a year already, or have I just experienced the biggest lost-time incident in the history of UFO-dom? Seriously, it feels as though I just got home from the 2011 Burlington Vortex Conference and here in the mail already is an invitation to the 2012 Burlington Vortex Conference...

And when I say "in the mail" I don't mean in my gmail inbox, kids. I'm talking about the flippin' Pony Express. As in, someone printed up a flier on sheets of paper, folded that paper, stapled it, wrote my name and address on it with a pen, misspelled my town, scribbled the correct name over the mistake, wrote down the wrong zip code, scribbled the correct zip code over that, licked a stamp, applied the stamp to the paper, and put the whole damn thing in a big blue box on the sidewalk and then waited a few days for me to get it. I'm exhausted just describing the ordeal; I can't imagine how the actual person who sent it must feel...

So the BVC2012 takes place this October, and features a lot of the same people and subject matter as last year: Roswell, crop circles, pyramids, Atlantis, time travel, haunted forests, UFOs, monsters, reality shifting, Reptoids, and, uh... damn, what was that other thing...? Oh, yeah, Vortexes!

Some Vortexes sweep you into alternate dimensions. Some, like this one, sweep you into a world of family fun! The one in Burlington does neither.
I'm not sure whether I'll go this year, despite the Herculean effort that went into mailing me the invitation. You see, when I attended last year, I was just getting my feet wet. I was a UFO newbie, a babe in the woods, really, still many months away from becoming a Certified UFO Field Investigator. I was there to observe and learn, a student studying at the feet of the masters, as it were.

This year... Well, let's just say I've grown, and I've cast aside the things of my youth. I mean, Vortex Conferences are ok. You know, if you're a beginner. Don't get me wrong: if they invited me to this year's Conference to be a presenter, so that others could study at my feet, I'd be okay with that. Circle of life and all. But to go just to go.... eh. I think I'm washing my hair that weekend.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't go. In fact, I think you should.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Do I Have To Beg?

Two weeks now.

Two weeks since I filed my blockbuster MUFON Case Report for the Close Encounter of the First Kind involving the lampshade-shaped craft, and I still haven't been assigned another case. I'm looking through the MUFON Case Management System as I write this, and there are plenty of juicy unsolved cases just begging for my unique investigative stylings, but here I sit, wasting away...

Meanwhile, look at what I'm missing out on:

Case #XXXXX, Milwaukee, WI: "It was something like nothing I've ever seen."
Case #XXXXX, Wausau, WI: "Three flashes emanating from nothing..."
Case #XXXXX, DePere, WI: "No joking, I actually saw a large ufo in De Pere."
Case #XXXXX, Undisclosed Location, WI: "I did not have this experience, but feel it is time it is reported" 

Ugh. Reptoids again.
Okay, to be fair, those last two have already been investigated and classified, but man these are some cases that I could really sink my teeth into. The last one in particular is a doozy... The "witness" who actually isn't the witness describes an acquaintance's encounter with a three-foot tall Reptoid in his bedroom, in which the Reptoid "clicks" at him in disgust, then dashes off. I've been clicked at in disgust in my bedroom, and let me tell you, it's not a pleasant experience.

But I digress... As I look over the open cases in Wisconsin, I see that the Wisconsin State Director has assigned nearly all them to... herself? And she lives in Arizona.

I must look into this...

The Uncensored Truth About UFOs

So as part of my research into the career of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, I'm reading this dandy little book called "The Uncensored Truth About UFOs," by Edward J. Ruppelt (only $1 on Kindle!).

Now, if I was reading the original print version I would call it a real page-turner, but I'm reading it on Kindle, so I guess I have to call it a real button-pusher.

Why am I so excited to push the buttons of this book? Well, Mr. Ruppelt the author is actually Captain Ruppelt of the United States Air Force, and he was the man in charge of the Air Force's official UFO investigation unit at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, from late 1951 to late 1953. When Ruppelt took over, the unit had the unfortunate moniker "Project Grudge," but it was later renamed "Project Blue Book," in a rather transparent attempt to downplay the project's grudginess and emphasize its blue-bookishness.

Ruppelt's reign as the head of Project Grudge/Blue Book has been referred to by some as "the Golden Age" of the project, because Ruppelt took the whole thing very seriously. You may think it's bizarre that there could be a "Golden Age" of "Blue Book," but we are talking about UFOs here. Anyway, Ruppelt always kept an open mind about the UFO reports his office received, and made sure that his staff remained unbiased as well. And in the end, he believed, like Hynek, that, because roughly 23 percent of the cases his team investigated could not be explained, the UFO phenomenon was worthy of rigorous scientific study.

Capt. E. J. Ruppelt (middle rear) shares a chuckle with his Air Force bosses.

Dr. Hynek himself said of Ruppelt that "In my contacts with [Ruppelt] I found him to be honest and seriously puzzled about the whole phenomenon." Not wanting to be outdone, Ruppelt had this to say about the good professor: "Dr. Hynek was one of the most impressive scientists I met while working on the UFO project, and I met a good many. He didn't do two things that some of them did: give you the answer before he knew the question; or immediately begin to expound on his accomplishments in the field of science." Unfortunately, I have not been able to determine who said what first, or whether the two men compared notes before praising each other.

But I haven't gotten to my point yet. My point is this: when Ruppelt was giving UFO research a good name as head of Project Grudge/Blue Book, there were a great many powerful and influential figures in the US Armed Forces who were convinced that UFOs were a very real and imminent threat to our country and to our planet, and supported Ruppelt's approach wholeheartedly. What a revelation! Not only that, UFO sightings back then were being routinely reported by military and civilian pilots, radar operators, rocket scientists and weapons experts -- in other words, just about the most credible witnesses you could wish for. Alas, it also just so happened that there were a lot more powerful and influential figures in the Armed Forces who believed that either A) the whole UFO phenomenon is pure bunkum; or B) whether UFOs are real or not, the Air Force must treat them as though they are pure bunkum for security reasons.

Sadly, the nay-sayers won out, the unbiased approach of Captain Ruppelt and his team was no longer desirable within the military, and in time Ruppelt left the project and the Air Force. Project Blue Book took on much of its former grudginess, and "UFO" became a dirty word in the military and in the media, the currency of crackpots and loonies.

Just think about it though: for that one brief instant in time, it was cool for pilots and radar operators to openly file UFO reports, and for the Air Force to admit that it considered UFOs to be worthy of serious investigation. We've never had that since 1953, and may never have it again...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Is It My Breath?

So today I went to the High Strangeness Facebook page to see how many of you have signed up for the big Million Intruder March that I have scheduled for Wednesday, September 19th in Rachel, NV, just outside Area 51. I don't know what I was expecting, but it was more than six, I'll tell you that.


Come on, folks, this is one simple thing you can do to force the U.S. Government to reveal what it has stashed away at Area 51, and to come clean about the whole dang UFO thing. You're going to sit there and let it not happen? Well, I guess that's your choice, but if you sit this out then don't let me hear you bellyaching about how the government won't come clean about UFOs.

The sign should read "No Trespassing -- Unless There Are a Million Of You"
The whole idea, as revealed to me quite unwittingly by UFO expert Richard Dolan, is that the Area 51 security guards will be completely helpless if one million of us show up at the main gate and march on in (I offered Dolan a chance to sponsor this, and I'm still waiting for a reply).

A million, yes, but six? You can see how six of us showing up at the gate would provoke a quick and fatal response from the guards. Even seven or eight would be chancy. I'd want at least twenty before I'd go in, but a million gives us that extra safety margin.

If we pulled it off, what might we find? Captured spaceships? Aliens (or possibly surgically-altered Russian teenagers)?? How can we not do this?

Sign up. Today. Now. You know this is on your bucket list.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Nagging Doubts Remain

While I was at the Wisconsin MUFON meeting the other day, I was able to catch up with my State Director about my recent investigation of the Close Encounter of the First Kind, and she had some interesting questions for me:

Q: Did the witnesses experience any missing time?

A: Mmmmm, no. It was pretty much a 25-second sighting from start to finish, and the witnesses can account for every second. Also, when they returned to where they had left Witness #2's four-year-old son in the minivan, he was not an old man.

Q: Do the witnesses need to "talk to anyone?" 

A: It took me a moment to realize she was asking if the witnesses need to see a shrink. My honest answer was that I don't think I'm qualified to say. And frankly, I'm not sure that anyone in MUFON is, either. But now I'm a little worried about what I'm supposed to do if any future witnesses need to talk to someone... Maybe I can start putting witnesses in touch with each other? I doubt if that's really the right thing to do, but it could buy me some time to figure it out.

Now, for the first time anywhere: my sketch of the Close Encounter sighting area!
Anyway, those nagging doubts aside, I am pleased to announce that my Close Encounter case report scored a whopping 30.57% Certainty on the Ballaster-Guasp Evaluation matrix, and I feel pretty good about that. It is 30.57 percent certain that this particular Close Encounter actually happened. And, really, if you take a moment to study my schematic of the sighting, can there be any doubt that 30.57 percent of it is true?

Friend Or Foe

Imagine you've been tasked with giving a presentation on a wildly popular and intensely interesting topic. Now imagine you're to give this presentation to a group of people who are not just hanging on your every word but are strongly inclined to believe anything you tell them... Sounds easy so far, right? But here's the catch: Now imagine you have only 30 years to prepare your presentation.

Doesn't seem so easy now, does it?

That's what Retired Air Force dude James Penniston learned the hard way two days ago at the Wisconsin MUFON meeting, held at a community center in Madison, WI. Thirty years ago Penniston was involved in "The Rendlesham Forest Incident," a mass UFO sighting that involved personnel from two US Air Force bases in Britain and is popularly referred to as "Britain's Roswell." Not only was he involved in the incident, he was the officer in charge of base security when the sighting occurred. His job: to determine whether the object was "friend or foe." He was one of the first two people to see the object, but, still not sure if it was friend or foe, he went and touched the damn thing! What kind of crazy MF touches a UFO?

To be fair, Penniston seems like a great guy, and he has an amazing story to tell. He just didn't tell it well that day. Sorry if I sound harsh, but if you've got 30 years to put together a presentation, it should be a rip-snorter, and it wasn't. I could barely understand half of what the man said, and what I could understand was so random, rambling, shambling, disjointed and incoherent that I could barely maintain interest for the nearly three hours he "spoke." Yes, you read that right: three hours. Talk about a "missing time" incident...

But that's not even the worst of it. He brought along his "webmaster," a tech-savvy young A/V hotshot who was in charge of the Powerpoint presentation, but apparently the two men hadn't had much of a chance to rehearse, because as Penniston tried to remember the names of old Air Force colleagues, the A/V guy kept flipping through the images at about 50 slides per minute, not quite enough to induce seizures among us viewers, mind you, but just enough to annoy the living fuck out of us.

There were times when the images stopped flickering by long enough for the webmaster to show us short video clips, but honestly they didn't add much to the presentation either... Maybe it's because they were clips of video made by someone setting up a camcorder in front of a TV screen and videotaping a broadcast off the TV. Uh... have you never heard of the YouTubes? So the video and audio were absolute crap, but hey, at least some of the clips had subtitles... in Arabic.

I bet you think I'm making this up, but I'm not. It was really that terrible. It was so bad I was tempted to go join the drum circle outside the community center.

It's a shame that the presentation was such a wash-out, because the parts of the story I could make out were moderately intriguing. For instance, Penniston says that when he touched the UFO, a sequence of binary code was "downloaded" into his head, and that days afterwards he wrote it all down on 16 pages of paper. Parts of the binary code transmission have been decoded by "binary code experts," but alas, they reveal more or less unintelligible gibberish.

Can you make this out? I didn't think so. It would take a "binary code expert" to tell us what this means.
It wasn't until near the end (at least I think it was near the end; for all I know the presentation is still going on) that Penniston revealed his ultimate plan: he has a new book coming out in February that will finally, at last, explain the UFO phenomenon! He capped this announcement with quite a teaser: the truth, he claimed, will upset and disappoint many of us in the room. I'm not sure why that would be so, because I expect it to be more unintelligible gibberish.

Just the same, I suggest you enjoy the hell out of this blog while you can, because, come February, I may be forced out of the UFO truth business. If what Pennison is pushing is even remotely true, we could all find out in February that the UFOs are being sent here by us... in the future!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Classifying UFOs shouldn't be this confusing. Either it's a bonafide spaceship or it's the planet Venus or it's... something we can't explain. But MUFON has to make it difficult. It's not enough to not know; when I file a case report, I have to be very specific about what the thing I don't know is and why I don't know what I don't know, even though I don't know. Because otherwise we wouldn't know, you know?

So, after all the witness testimony has been taken, after all the facts have been recorded, after all the magnetic anomalies have been anomalied and all the Geiger counters have been Geigered, yours truly has to decide if what was seen in the sky is something known or something unknown. And if I decide that it was "unknown," then I have to declare what kind of unknown it was. Was it an "Unknown -- UAV (unidentified aerial vehicle)" or an "Unknown - Other." Trouble is, it's hard to find anyone in MUFON who knows the difference.

I have already blogged about this here, so I won't repeat myself now, but since that first post there has been a new wrinkle. Because it seemed all my cases would end up being one kind of unknown or another, I had written to the MUFON National Training Director to try to get some clarification on this "Unknown" matter. Her response was, er... not exactly helpful.

She wrote this:

Hi Mark!
Unknown - UAV is Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. (Triangles, cigars, a craft).
Unknown other is orbs, spheres, cones, rods).
I hope that helps!

MUFON calls this an "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle." I call it a good smoke.
Actually it doesn't help, although I was relieved that she didn't mention ghosts. Here's the thing that doesn't help: Mxxxx has actually redefined "UAV." Up until I got her note, everything in the MUFON literature that I had ever seen defined a UAV as an "unidentified aerial vehicle" (see above), but now the MUFON National Training Director tells me that UAV stands for "unmanned aerial vehicle."

Uh... unmanned? Of course it's unmanned. If it was manned I wouldn't be investigating it, would I?

Anyway, I declared my Close Encounter case to be an "Unknown - UAV," because in my heart that's what I believe it to be. Come to think of it, I believe it in my head, too, and it's hard to argue with two organs.

And yet, it's possible that my State Director will argue with my head and my heart, because she has shown an alarming tendency so far to request changes in my reports. This could get ugly...

Friday, August 10, 2012

It's a Small UFO World

I have been marveling this week that the vast majority of J. Allen Hynek's personal and professional archives just happen to be in a basement not seven miles from my wife's and my apartment in Chicago. I say vast majority because some more files are in another basement a few miles further away, in Skokie, and still more are reputed to be hidden away in Scottsdale, Arizona, in the clutches of a shadowy husband-and-wife team that are said to have swindled Hynek in the last years of his life -- but that's a story for another day. The point is: how freaking cosmic is it that, as I set out to write a book about the most important figure in UFO research ever, I find that the heart and soul of the man's life's work is literally just down the street?


At this point I should say that my first visit to the Hynek archives this week was wonderful. Mxxx, the president of Hynek's Center for UFO Studies, or CUFOS for those of us in the know, was so generous with his time and insights that for the full three hours of my visit he just sat and talked to me about Dr. Hynek's life and work. It wasn't until the very end of my visit that he showed me what was hidden away in the collection of file cabinets that rings the CUFOS corner of his basement, and man are there some treasures to be uncovered... Dozens and dozens of manila file folders, stuffed with documents, notes, articles and correspondence going back to the late 1940s, many of them with Dr. Hynek's handwriting all over them. One overstuffed file drawer alone was filled with letters that people had sent to Hynek over the years, from all over the world, telling him of their UFO experiences... This is going to be so much fun!

But then there was this other odd bit of small-worldishness that really has me scratching my head. As I was talking with Mxxx before he led me to the archives, I mentioned that my wife worked at a college in the city. Mxxx said that he had just gotten a call from someone from the very same college asking to look over CUFOS' files on the famous Betty & Barney Hill UFO abduction case... He gave me the name of the gentleman, a professor at the college, and said that this man wanted to research the Hill records because he plans to write some poetry about the incident.

This sounded pretty novel to me: poetry about a famous UFO abduction! It made perfect sense when I thought about it. What better way to express the absurd twilight dream-state non-linearity of a UFO abduction than through poetry? It's pretty brilliant, when you get right down to it, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if his poetry reaches closer to the ultimate truth of the Hill encounter than anyone has ever gotten in the 50 years since it happened.

Betty and Barney Hill show off a drawing of the object they sighted in New Hampshire in 1961, and which they claim to have subsequently and unwillingly boarded. Can poetry explain what science can't?
So my wife got in touch with Mr. Poet and put us in touch with each other. He and I have been exchanging emails this morning and plan to get together for coffee sometime soon. I can't wait!

Hold on a sec... As I was writing about this, I realized that I do know of one other poet whose work was inspired by unexplained, unearthly phenomenon... I have always been a fan of William Butler Yeats, or W.B.Y. for those of us in the know, in part because, like many of his Irish countrymen and woman, he believed in the fairie folk. Yeats wrote many poems about the fairie folk early in his career, and those poems often sound as through they were written from personal experience. Just read his uber-eerie 1886 poem "The Stolen Child" and tell me this doesn't sound just a bit like a UFO abduction...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Notes on Case #XXXXX

I have started to fill out my report on Case #XXXXX, the Close Encounter that I was assigned to investigate while my superiors were partying in Cincinnati, and will complete it in a day or two, when I have a chance to get the photos downloaded... No pictures of UFOs or aliens, I'm afraid, just trees and a house. "The scene of the crime," as it were.

As I've reflected on this case, I've had a few thoughts that I want to share:

First, although my State Director had hoped that my compass would go crazy and spin wildly when I held it close to the minivan from which the UFO was first sighted, it did not spin, alas. It did lazily waver back and forth about 30 degrees as I followed the path of the object over the witness' house and yard, but does lazy wavering count? I'm not sure. Strangely, though, when we were seated around the witness' patio and I had set the compass down on the table, I noticed that the compass was pointing steadily and directly at me, about 30 degrees west of north. Am I a magnetic anomaly? Could this explain my wife's strange attraction to me?

Admittedly, it is a pretty cheap compass: eight bucks at K Mart.
Second of all, Fxxxxx, the ace investigator from the MUFON S.T.A.R. Team who was supposed to send me a Geiger counter and "advise" me on the case, never got back to me. Never. Thanks a bunch Fxxxxx. I'm so annoyed with you that I will tell my readers here and now that your true name is Fletch. Fletch. Thanks to you I could be a radioactive time bomb and not even know it.

Third, and best of all, is the whole "beam me aboard" phenomenon. After the object had disappeared into the night sky, the mother and daughter told me they went into a panic, and they both had the same fear that the object might beam one or the other of them aboard, and they would never see each other again... How cute is that?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mothers and Daughters

Four cases into my Certified UFO Field Investigator career and I'm already completely fascinated by the psychology of UFO witnesses. These people are open, and funny, and smart, and sincere... and very revealing.

Take for instance the mother & daughter Close Encounter witnesses I interviewed at the mom's house the other night. It was a beautiful evening and we were all sitting around the mom's deck chatting about what the mother and daughter had seen in the sky above their yard two weeks ago. I had talked to the mom on the phone a few nights earlier and had asked her to draw what she saw, and as we sat on the patio she handed me the sketch she had drawn:

Lampshade UFO #1
The sketch shows a "lampshade-shaped" object with a row of red lights along the bottom rim, and rows of white lights visible along the inwardly-sloping sides of the object, the rows of white lights growing smaller as they reach the top rim of the object.

I showed this sketch to the daughter and asked her if this is what she had seen that night. Astute readers will recognize at once that I should not have shown her the picture her mom had drawn, but I am still a rookie investigator -- a very skilled rookie with a lot of promise, but a rookie nonetheless. So, I ask the daughter if this is what she saw, and she shook her head "no" and rolled her eyes dismissively.

Intrigued, I tore out a sheet from my notepad and handed her my pen and asked her to draw a sketch of what she had seen. This is what she came up with:

Lampshade UFO #2
The sketch shows a "lampshade-shaped" object with a row of red lights along the bottom rim, and rows of white lights visible along the inwardly-sloping sides of the object, the rows of white lights growing smaller as they reach the top rim of the object. In other words, exactly what the mother's sketch had shown.

So why was the daughter so dismissive of her mother's artistic interpretation? Why did she insist that her mother's sketch was all wrong, only to draw the exact same thing when it was her turn?

People are funny.

The Hardest Working Man in the UFO Business

I just picked this image at random. Sorry.
Ok, not much time to write just now, because there's so much going on. In an hour I'll be taking my first look at the archives of J. Allen Hynek, in preparation for writing a book proposal about the career of the greatest UFO researcher of all time. Later today I hope to file my case report of my first ever Close Encounter investigation (with pictures!). And then I'll be trying to analyze the message I got from the MUFON national investigations director about the meaning of various UFO sighting categories...

Sounds exhausting, doesn't it? But it's all in a day's work for a Certified UFO Field Investigator.

More to come..

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kiss My Close Encounter!

Just wanted to mention that my new case -- only my fourth -- is a genuine Close Encounter of the First Kind. And as we all know, First is Best.

A CE1K involves the sighting of an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) within 500 feet. That's the key: the 500 feet part. If you see a UFO that's 500'1" away from you, you might as well not even report it.

The thing about being within 500 feet of a UFO is... it's scarier than shit. You can hit the thing with a bb gun! Of course, nobody in his right mind would shoot a bb gun at a UFO, because you could start an interstellar war and get disintegrated in the bargain. The only good thing about that is that once you're disintegrated no one will ever know that you started the interstellar war, which would be a hard thing to have to explain.

The other scary thing about being within 500 feet of a UFO, as I learned this morning when interviewing the first witness on the phone, is that you start to worry that the creatures on board the UFO will teleport you into their craft and away from your family.

Being teleported onto a UFO looks fun in the movies, but in reality it's anything but fun.
Because why else would aliens be hovering 20 feet over your back yard, unless they wanted to harvest you? The mere fact that I just had a serious conversation with a person who told me, very matter-of-factly, that she was scared to death that either she or her daughter was about to be teleported onto a UFO and that they would never see each other again is pretty mind-bending... We're getting out into the extreme edges of human experience her. And I want more.

Here's what I also want: I want to know if any other greenhorn tenderfoot Certified UFO Field Investigator like me has ever been handed a flipping Close Encounter on only his fourth flipping time out! I rather doubt it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Compass + Geiger Counter = Fun!

I am one lucky sonofabitch. MUFON is holding its 2012 International UFO Symposium this weekend in Cincinnati, OH, and I'm not going!

I know, that should make me sad, but it makes me happy. Why? Because while all the MUFON bigwigs are schmoozing and boozing in Cincinnati, all the juicy UFO cases get assigned to losers like me who are staying home this weekend!

Last night I was assigned to a case that has National Enquirer written all over it. It's a friggin' Close Encounter that took place just two weeks ago outside Milwaukee, WI, and it's HOT. A woman and her daughter saw a strange lampshade-shaped object hovering over the trees in their back yard. It's an official Close Encounter because the witnesses were within 500 feet of the object. That's cool enough on its own, but there's also a possibility that there were some physical effects involved...

This is my best attempt at a sketch of the UFO sighting, based on what little I know so far.
So I've been instructed to take a compass with me when I investigate, to see if the needle spins like crazy when I do my walk-through of the backyard or when I hold it up close to the woman's car. I've also been advised that a Geiger counter might become necessary... To that end, my State Director has contacted the S.T.A.R. Team, and a guy named Fxxxxx is standing by to ship me a Geiger counter in I need one.

My question is, how can I tell if I need a Geiger counter if I don't already have a Geiger counter?

Think about it: it's not like I can walk around the lady's yard and somehow sense that there's radiation present. Unless I just fry up like a strip of bacon on the spot. That would be a pretty good indication. So I think Fxxxxx should just ship me the damn Geiger counter -- along with, I would hope, some simple how-to guide -- and I can get down to business.

But it occurs to me that Fxxxxx must also be in Cincinnati, schmoozing and boozing. I very much doubt that he brought his Geiger counter with him, so who's going to send it to me? I think I know: another loser who couldn't make it to Ohio.