Showing posts with label Xtra Files. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Xtra Files. Show all posts

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Xtra Files 9: Picture Picture - Stereoscopique

This is not a post about Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

Back when I was a teen, one of my favorite, after-school pass-times was Mr. Rogers Neighborhood* on PBS. My dad was disgusted every time he found me watching the program, and would, without fail, utter some derogatory remark about Mr. Rogers. Strangely, I experienced great pleasure in these predictable remarks. The poor guy couldn't understand why a high school kid would be watching a show for little kids, especially that show. I loved Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, and why not? I wouldn't know how marbles are made without Picture Picture.** Didn't all high schoolers watch Mr. Rogers in the late-disco/early-punk/pre-metal era?

Strange Segue

I started a summer job the Monday after I graduated from high school which meant that I wouldn't be hitching trains across the country like my friends and I had planned*** to do. Instead, I spent three months working for the United States Geological Survey on a resurvey of the Stansbury Mountain Range, Skull Valley, and small portions of Tooele Valley and Rush Valley. I was perfect for the job - strong, agile, proficient in hiking and climbing mountains, plus I already had about eight years land surveying experience, and was also somewhat familiar with the area... my home county that I had been exploring for as long as I could remember.

Best Job Ever

For three months, our team of USGS engineers physically located every road, structure, spring, and mine, in addition to recovering every extant section corner and then electronically tying everything to triangulation stations on mountain peaks**** and benchmark monuments throughout the area.

We regularly used a strange looking device called a stereoscope along with aerial photographs to orient ourselves. This was the first time I had seen or used a stereoscope - a device that makes it possible to tie two images of the same thing together in 3D. Mountains, crevices, and even buildings appear to be three dimensional but exaggerated when viewed through the stereoscope.

I'll never forget the first time I peered through the stereoscope. We were on site, parked in the shade of a large concrete building near the point of the Stansbury Mountain Range. Jack, the chief engineer, spread out some maps and aerial photos on the hood of the truck and demonstrated how to match up the two aerial photographs, (something he had obviously done a million times). Then he told me it was my turn, and when I looked through the stereoscope, I saw a white cube, at the base of a mountain. The cube was obviously the large concrete building we had parked next to while we enjoyed the small sliver of shade it afforded us on that hot June afternoon. I was impressed how the image came alive in 3D, and became rather proficient at doing it myself.

What makes this story incredible, is that the next time I returned to this site - less than a month later, in the spot where the large concrete building once stood, was an 80' wide crater. Apparently, the building was an explosives manufacturing plant and warehouse, and according to the official story, in the early morning hours, static electricity**** caused an explosion that vaporized the entire building, a semi truck and a few employees. There was nothing left. Nothing!

When the blast occurred, I was sleeping soundly in Tooele, all the way across the valley, more than fifteen miles away. I recall that the explosion woke me from my sleep. The following morning, we talked about it at the office. Apparently, one of the engineers had learned what had happened, and most of us reported that we had been awakened by the thunderous boom.

What makes this story even more incredible, is the fact that one of those fateful employees had been working with our USGS team, and had left for better pay at the explosives plant. A few weeks later, he was gone forever.

How strange, (to me at least), that the very first thing I viewed and focused on through a stereoscope would end up in such tragedy. I'm glad that nothing else I've viewed through a stereoscope has met a disastrous fate. That'd be a good X-Files episode, though. Speaking of X-Files, I've always been a bit suspicious about that event back in 1981, and the official story. I've often wondered****** what really happened there?

Stereoscopique

I had heard of people being able to view photos in 3D without the aid of a stereoscope, so I gave it a try and found it quite simple to do. I even started creating some of my own 3D images. I possess so many wonderful and rare objects, I figure that they can be better appreciated when viewed in 3D. Therefore Zenberg Blog will periodically feature 3D images, and will attempt to be thematic about the selection of photos.

Here's how you do it

Sit at a comfortable distance from the screen and look at the point where the two images come together. Slowly begin to cross your eyes. As you do, you will begin to see a third image forming between the others. The third (middle) image is actually both images that, when matched up perfectly, appear three dimensional. It may take some practice, but is worth the effort, and my ophthalmologist tells me that it is good exercise for the eyes. Have fun.



Jello
Lately I've been eating lots of jello, (homemade with juice and Knox), because of health issues that prevent me from enjoying good food, (not that jello is bad, I've just been eating a lot of it).

This is an image of one of my favorite artifacts. I found this Anasazi makeup spoon on private property on the Colorado Plateau east of Hurricane, Utah back in 1996. Much of the red powdery makeup is still caked inside the concave area, and visible in the photograph.

Look for more 3D images in the near future.


*Recently, Mighty Mo dreamed that she was in the Land of Make Believe, and when she told me about it, I was a bit jealous. Especially when I found out that she got to hang out with Lady Elaine Fairchild inside the Museum Go-round. I wish I could rent Mr. Rogers Episodes on DVD, but unfortunately, they're not available. My favorite episode was the time we went to the Other Neighborhood, with emphasis on the hood.

**Mr. Rogers' magical framed wall painting that transformed into a movie screen and transported viewers to all kinds of interesting places.

***We practiced jumping on trains and riding them to Salt Lake and back.

****We even used a helicopter to reach the highest peaks. When we got to Deseret Peak, (now a wilderness area), the chopper couldn't land because a bush was in the way. I had to jump out and trim the bush so the pilot could touch down. Then, while balancing on two rocks over a crag on the highest peak of the Stansburys, the chopper stayed long enough for Jack, (Jesse C, Dyer - Engineer USGS), and I to remove the boxy and awkward Electrotape, a bulky survey instrument, (probably from the fifties), that uses microwaves to measure long distances.

***** Didn't they blame the Hindenburg disaster on static electricity?

****** I've ran lots of possibilities through my on-board scenariographer, and boiled it down to these. They are all rather far-fetched, but every scenario should be examined, and no doubt has. Someone may know exactly what happened there. If I could time-travel, I would surely go there to find out.

1) A rogue/underground/terrorist organization may have stolen explosives, and the building may have been destroyed to eliminate evidence and silence witnesses. There was supposedly a fully-loaded semi-truck inside ready to leave, but no physical evidence of the truck was ever recovered.

2) Perhaps the site had been targeted by a governmental agency for national security reasons. Is it a coincidence that the explosives plant had been precisely located by my team of USGS engineers only weeks before the event?

3) Maybe it was a robbery gone bad. The building was located not far from a convenient Interstate 80 exit, and someone bent on ill intent could have easily made their way to the remote building, not knowing what they were getting in to.

4) A small meteor may have fallen from the heavens and hit the explosives plant, detonating the whole shebang.

5) It could have even been a staged event designed to create new identities for the individuals involved.

6) Static electricity? Oh, the humanity!

8) Other?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Got Gumption?

Gumption. That's one thing I don't have an abundance of at the moment... at least when it comes to writing for my blog. Sure, I've already begun writing many of the upcoming posts including, but certainly not limited to:

When in Morm - Do's and don'ts and insightful tips for visitors to Utah

Mighty Mo names the spiders that live in our house

My simple answer to the gang problem, (and it isn't dynamite)


Phrases and terms I have coined

A walk down rememory lane to the old Blue Mouse Theater in Salt Lake City

A recollection of the Bucket of Bernie Brains show at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz

A book review of Paula Phelan's 1919

Examples of literary structures in ancient texts

Hale Bopp

Plus many more Xtra Files

But I'm going to take a nap right now instead of writing. I'll listen to some Lawrence Welk for inspiration later on. Meanwhile, take a gander at this pretty bottle brush that Mighty Mo photographed last week.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Xtra Files 8: How Many Vandals Does it Take to Screw Up California's Communications Networks?

Last week, there was an attack on the communications networks in California and most of the country didn't even know about it. For me, it began early Thursday morning, sometime in the hour of 3:00 AM, when my cell phone's low battery indicator beeped and woke me from my slumber. I turned off the phone and robotically plugged it into the charger. It was strange to me that the battery had died so quickly. I had taken the phone off the charger before going to bed, therefore there should have been ample power remaining. I thought nothing more of it, and returned to my warm bed.

When my alarm clock radio woke me at 6:30 AM, there was talk on KSCO about the situation that had everyone baffled. Apparently, early in the morning of April 9, sometime after 2 AM, someone accessed at least one utility vault near San Jose and sawed through communication cables, which effectively brought down nearly all internet, cellular phones, land lines, credit cards, ATM's and even 911 emergency services throughout the greater Bay Area. No banks opened, and the few business that did, reverted to a cash-only policy for the day, and creatively adapted to the unprecedented situation.

As cellular service was lost, phones went into roaming mode, causing batteries to quickly drain, and die within a few hours. Many people who relied upon their cell phone alarms to wake them, were sorely disappointed to find that they were dead, and had failed to awake them.*

A $100,000 reward is being offered by authorities who officially blame vandals for the disruption in service that lasted most of Thursday's business day. However, the sophistication of the crime suggests to me to be the work of more than a vandal or two. It seems unlikely that a vandal could successfully bring down Central California's communications for an entire day? But who is responsible? That's the hundred-thousand dollar question.

Authorities are careful not to use the T word in this situation, but the possibility exists that terrorists pulled it off, and didn't receive credit or recognition for exposing how vulnerable we really are because we prefer to play the T card on our own terms. However, if terrorists were behind the event, surely they would have boasted responsibility. Recently, it was revealed that China has acquired detailed mapping of the power grid in the US, so why not our communications networks as well? But why the disruption? What really happened on Thursday, April 9, 2009?

It is Rhetro Zenberg's opinion that during this disruption of services, something big happened that may not be revealed for years to come... if ever. Some authorities may already know, and are keeping quiet about it. The fact that there was so little reported on the situation is suspicious to me. One would think that California's communications being taken out by vandals would have been a big story, especially on a slow news day like Thursday, April 9, 2009.

* "And when they arose in the morning, they were all dead" Isaiah

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Xtra Files 7: The Hook

I've always assumed that someday I'd stumble across a dead body. As a Land Surveyor, I've frequented some of the most remote and varied areas in numerous states west of the Rockies. I've been to remote places rarely traversed by mere humans, and Greg knows that I've stumbled across a lot of strange things while performing the mysterious and age-old tradition of Land Surveying. But on one occasion, the sight of a pale hand sticking out from the rubble of a fallen structure was the last thing I expected to find at a particular condemned site where we were conducting a topographic survey.

Located near the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains, it was probably once a beautiful place... before the Loma Prieta Earthquake back in '89 that made the home on the picturesque property unsuitable for occupation. Now the landscape is riddled with a half-fallen house and lots of debris from other structures that have c
ollapsed. That's where we saw the partially exposed motionless hand.

Ronaldo was wearing his leather work gloves when he knelt down, and touched the pale hand. He immediately realized that it was a false hand, a prosthetic hand, to be precise. I was glad it wasn't what it first appeared to be, but now there was a
new mystery... Who would abandon a perfectly good prosthetic hand?

As Ronaldo thumbed through an abandoned box of old photos that had been left outside to rot, he discovered a picture of a man holding a large fish with his left hand, and a brandishing a shiny hook in place of his right hand...

Ronaldo snapped this photo.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Xtra Files 6: The Creepiest City in Utah


It was one of those winter nights when the fog confederates with the occultation of the moon to produce a thick shrouding darkness that becomes a catalyst to strange and unexpected events...

On this particular night, I was returning to Salt Lake City from Provo, (the creepiest city in Utah) and heading north on I-15 when something unusual caught my eye.

It was late, (or early in the morning depending on how you look at it), past midnight, and the highway was almost desolate. There were only a handful of other cars on the road braving the fog. About two hundred feet ahead in the distance, I could see a small orange glow that appeared to be floating in the thick darkness. As I got closer, it was revealed to be an illuminated rear window of what I determined then to be an ambulance. Soon, I could see that the window in the back of the squarish vehicle was decorated with an orange curtain... causing the ominous anarajado glow that was enhanced by the fog.

I was traveling about 15 mph faster than the mysterious vehicle. Creeping closer, I could determine that it wasn't an ambulance after all, but was yet unable determine what manner of vehicle it was. The auto was as tall as the average ambulance, but much wider, and lower to the ground. I'd never seen anything quite like it in my million miles of driving experience. I changed lanes to pass, and take a closer look. As I did, the identity of the strangely shaped vehicle was revealed to be an official McDonald's vehicle with Ronald McDonald himself at the helm, driving cautiously, and peering ahead into the thick darkness.

It was kind of disturbing to think that Ronald McDonald was out in the fog driving... somewhere. Where? Where would Ronald McDonald be going in the middle of the night? I couldn't imagine. I wondered if Grimace and Hamburgler were riding in the back playing cards. That would explain why the light would be on.
Hamburgler was no doubt winning.

I remembered my friend Big Qusch in Connecticut, and how she had told me that Ronald McDonald lived across the street from her when she was a kid. Imagine that. Ronald McDonald drives up, gets out of the car, and in his oversized shoes, flippity flops his way to the front door, opens it and hollers, "Honey, I'm home! Whats for dinner?"

What would Ronald McDonald eat for dinner? Does he eat at McDonalds ALL the time? I imagined Ronald McDonald at a neighborhood barbecue, and wondered if he had the Hamburgler over for tea on weekends, and what they'd talk about. "Maybe they study the apocalypse together," I mused. Ronald McDonald was becoming more mysterious by the minute.

Then he was gone. His headlights consumed by the thick atmosphere, but I knew he was still out there... moving stealthily through the night.

That is my one and only encounter with the infamous Ronald McDonald. I have also encountered the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile on a handful of occasions. The subject of a future post.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Xtra Files 5: The Globular Entity

The overcast night sky appeared to glow a throbbing pale psylocibin gray as the moon unsuccessfully attempted to sneak a peek through the thick vaporous veil. My heart was pounding from physical exertion, causing subtle optic fluctuations with every pulse, creating the illusion that the sky was contracting and expanding. Before me in every direction were subtly illuminated dunes who's surfaces rose and fell like dark-silent waves. I felt secure in the knowledge that I was alone.

I had been walking
in darkness on the wet sand-dunes for a long time - probably a couple of hours. To prevent getting lost, I had dragged a light-weight pick across the firm, wet sand as I wandered aimlessly over the dark dunes. I looked down to behold the faint scratch left behind. It faded into the darkness only a handful of feet away. Even though the moon was full, it remained shrouded behind a thick cloud cover, making it rather dark. I would be able to find my way back to camp as long as it didn't rain and destroy the fragile trail of "bread-crumbs" that I had so carefully carved out across the dark colourless dunescape. It was the middle of the night, and I was the only person within many many miles. It was perfect... exactly what I had planned...

It had been raining for seven days straight. I gambled that there wouldn't be any more precipitation, so I borrowed my dad's Jeep Cherokee, and headed for the sand dunes at Little Sahara Recreation Area to go camping... alone. The conditions couldn't have been better... at least for me. The wet sand was firm and easy to drive on, which enabled me to navigate the Cherokee much deeper into the dunes than I would have been able to at any other time. I found a great campsite tucked away among old drought-stricken, dried out Junipers, and began to set up camp. I felt a bit like the Omega Man, or a Lunar astronaut, knowing that I was the only person there... I had the entire place to myself. Or, so I thought.

It was late, (or early depending on how you look at it), and I was hungry and tired from walking. I had water with me, but all the food was back at the campsite. Fortunately, before I embarked on my pick-dragging adventure, I had built a large fire with dry wood that I brought from home. By now the fire had been reduced to a pile of hot coals, ready to receive the foil dinner I had prepared earlier. I retraced my path, following the scratch in the sand over dune after dune until I made my way back to the campsite.

The orange glow of the hot coals sparkled as my foil dinner landed on the bright mat of embers, making a crunchy s
ound. Sparks flew up and ascended into the darkness as the meaty-vegetable combination sizzled on the hot coals. Soon my gourmet, cowboy midnight snack had finished cooking, and I quickly consumed the steaming-hot sliced carrots, potatoes, onions, mixed with ground round, and flavoured with salt and pepper. What could be better? Amour!

Earlier, I had gathered quite a bit of wet wood and placed it around the hot fire, and when it had dried sufficiently, I added it to the fire, and before long, all the wood was ablaze. As the flames leaped and licked, I sat back in my lawn chair and began to read some books by the light of the fire. As I sat turning pages, I suddenly had the distinct feeling that I was being watched. It wasn't rational, or reasonable that anyone would be there.

I cast a gaze in the direction from which I sensed
someone or something was watching me. What I beheld is quite difficult to describe. About eighty feet away, in the area where a group of frogs were having a croak-fest, I could see something about the size of a TV that looked like a formless cube* of stars hovering about four feet above the sand. I watched it for a couple of hours until the morning light erased the darkness. In the light of a new day, I inspected the area and found only my own footprints where I had seen the starry-globular entity...

*
For lack of a better word.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Xtra Files 4: Counting Sheep or Two Shakes of a Dead Lamb's Tail - Remembering the Infamous Sheep Incident at Dugway

Tooelean Twilight Phantom

In the early morning hours of March 14, 1968, I was fast asleep in my cozy little bed, seemingly safe from monsters and bogy-men, while outside a winter storm raged. Not too far away, somewhere in the stormy twilight sky, a Phantom F-4 fighter-jet fitted with a special canister containing the highly toxic VX chemical-nerve agent headed out across the Great Salt Lake Desert on what should have been a "routine" open-air, chemical-weapons test. Blinded by the snow storm, the pilot skillfully navigated his way over the snow-covered alkaline mud flats of Skull Valley as though he had done it a hundred times. The dense quiet of snow falling at Lone Rock was briefly interrupted by the thunderous sound of the Phantom's two powerful J79 engines as it passed over the unpopulated landmark. Visually stealthed by the storm, the warcraft continued on course southward towards its target.Nearby, at Dugway Proving Grounds, located about forty miles southwest of where I slumbered, the US Army was conducting a routine, open-air, chemical-weapons test. Except for the storm, everything seemed routine, but on this particular blustery morning, something went terribly wrong. The F-4 was scheduled to employ a 300-gallon TMU-28 spray-tank canister over a specified target, but unfortunately, it failed and began to vent from beneath the jet as it maintained its scheduled flight-path. The powdery aerosol nerve agent continued to spew from the faulty canister as the Phantom thundered over rangelands populated mostly by thousands of sheep. Particulates of the highly toxic VX chemical mingled with snow flakes that tumbled and danced their way to the ground, contaminating the snowy desert below.

XO Infamous Sheep Incident OX

The result was the death of more than 6,000 sheep,
* and a host of other wild animals and birds. The toxic carcasses of the poisoned animals were sent to a central location in the desert where mass graves were dug, and the bodies which had become gelatinous (a gruesome side effect of VX) were buried and forgotten. The US Army denied any involvement, but agreed to pay the herdsmen for their financial losses... to $hut them up. They did a pretty good job of covering up the story, but people knew that something had happened, and assumed that some gas had drifted from the test site and poisoned the sheep. No one knew for sure... except the army, and they weren't talking.

Whiffs - Not a Gas

Unfortunately for the government, the sheep incident, as it has come to be known, didn't go entirely unnoticed, and stirred up a bit of media attention. In 1974 my small town of Tooele (pronounced too-ill-uhh), was all a-buzz when it was made known that a big-time Hollywood movie company was coming to town to make a film. Lots of Tooelians were cast as extras,** to appear on the big screen, in Whiffs starring Elliot Gould. This was Gould's first movie following the critically acclaimed box-office s*m*a*s*h, M*A*S*H. There were lots of other celebrities*** in the film too, but unfortunately, it wasn't very good. .
video
"We don't want to kill the enemy... we just want to make him a little sick."
Eddie Albert as Col. Lockyer in the 20th Century FOX film, WHIFFS 1975

Whiffs' title song was nominated for an Oscar in 1975, but other than that, the mis-managed movie didn't make much of an impact, and lingered about as long as a fart in a windstorm.
Whiffs did have an interesting premise, with lots of promise. Based, very loosely on the incident at Dugway, Whiffs is a fictional dark comedy about a government human test guinea pig, (played by Gould), who's health and quality of life is permanently impacted by repeated exposure to chemical weapons. Since he's no longer of any use to the army, he's forced to take an early retirement. He gets back at the system by stealing from the chemical weapons stockpile at Duggum**** Proving Ground, then unleashes chemical warfare on my home town. This was accomplished in part by a yellow and blue, bi-plane that flew a grid over Tooele spraying us with gas... crop-duster style. When my small city of about ten-thousand people was completely incapacitated, the banks were robbed, and the hero made his climactic getaway.
video
Geofrey Cambridge as Dusty spraying Tooele with a chemical weapon
in the 20th Century FOX Film, WHIFFS 1975

During the filming of
Whiffs, the bi-plane spewed Hollywood smoke***** as it flew all around town for what seemed like days. It was closely followed by a helicopter that filmed it canvasing our town with a grid of "gas." It was exciting to watch. My friend Albert Buck and I rode our bikes to the Tooele City Airport, a desolate landing strip beyond the westerly edge of town, to sneak a peek at the unusual aeroplane. I had never seen a bi-plane before, except on TV, so I was anxious to look at it up close. Soon it approached the runway from the south, landed and taxied to the fueling area where we were waiting to inspect it. Located a few hundred feet on the opposite side of the runway, and over an old barbed-wire fence to keep out cattle, the Tooele Army Depot, keeper of the majority of America's chemical weapons stockpile, loomed quietly, as if watching. Sprawling across the valley to the foothills on the other side, thousands of bunkers, warehousing the implements of war, spotted the landscape like nervous goose bumps on Mother earth. A grim reminder of the reality of chemical warfare... in my own back yard.

Forty Years Later


Today, forty years later, America's chemical weapons' stockpile has been destroyed at the Tooele Chemical Agent Disposal Facility located at the Deseret Chemical Depot about twenty miles south of Tooele.

Dugway Proving Grounds remains operational, and continues to produce America's latest and greatest biological weapons. DPG is sometimes called 
Area 52, or the new area 51, probably because of all the unmanned aircraft/drone research and development taking place there these days.

*Counting sheep+ means something quite unique to this Tooelean. Fortunately we can all rest well knowing that our government doesn't lie to us anymore. Sleep tight tonight my little sheep.


** Including Paula Argus, my high school English teacher who tot me too rite rill good.


*** Eddie Albert, Jennifer O'Neil, Harry Guardino, Alan Manson to name a few.

****Spoof on Dugway Proving Ground, and perhaps alluding to the mass-graves the government dug to hide their dastardly deed.

***** Or was it another governmental chemical or bio-test conducted under the guise of a Hollywood movie?

Begin counting sheep now. Below are 6,000...

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They might just as well have been people had conditions been different.


Friday, March 7, 2008

Xtra Files 3: How to Hide a Mountain

Don was happy that the war was over. He had been away from home for what seemed like a lifetime, and in his absence, the world, and the role of his country had changed forever. He gazed out across the barren panoramic landscape of southern Utah, and pondered his life experiences. He considered that although the world was a much different place than it had been before the war, out in the vastness of the desert, everything appeared to be pretty much the same as it had always been.

The arid-desert air dried his sinuses as he savored the aroma of Basin Big Sage mingled with Pinion and Juniper. Worlds away from the moist climate of Japan where he had spent the previous couple of years of his life serving in the United States Army assisting in the rebuilding** of Japan, after the war. He loved the Japanese people, and thought about the good friends he had made there. The memory of their faces was still fresh in his mind, when it occurred to him that he would probably never see any of them ever again.

Don had a date later that night with a gal named Puss,* and would need to head back to town before too long, but it was so good to be home, and the desire to explore couldn't be squelched, so he pressed on. He was already about twenty or so miles west of Cedar City, when he decided to head over to the magnetic mountain he remembered from his youth.

It's difficult to misplace a large 300- to 400- foot tall, cone-shaped mountain with a diameter of approximately 1/4 mile, that is composed entirely of high-grade magnetite (a naturally occurring magnetic iron ore), but as he approached the area where he knew it was located, it was nowhere to be seen. It seemed like a dream at first... after all, he had been there dozens of times, but now, the large mountain was entirely gone. Vanished from the landscape forever. Things had changed more than he originally suspected. Still, it was good to be home.

Where did the mountain go?

The probable answer is that as the war effort increased, so did the need for new sources of iron ore to build America's war machine - ships, tanks, jeeps, trucks, bomb casings, and etc. would all be needed to defeat the Axis Powers in Europe and the Pacific. The Manhattan Project alone required millions of tons of steel.

** A role the US would continues to practice throughout the world to this day.

*
Names have not been changed.

"to remove a mountain and cast it to the sea" Isaiah

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Xtra Files 2: The Haunted Bedroom


"Daddy, I'm scared!" the small voice of my three year old daughter whispered quietly in the darkness. "Can I sleep with you and mom?" It wasn't the first time she had been scared in the night. She had had trouble sleeping in her room ever since we moved in to our lovely 2,800 square foot home* in Utah's Dixie.

The blanket was a well worn hand-me-down that had been used by my son for years. Even though it was a bit frayed, and was nearly worn through in a couple of places, she loved her soft baby blue baby blanket and slept with it every night... until, one day the blanket mysteriously disappeared. We looked everywhere for it, and it was nowhere to be found. We finally decided that it was lost, and basically moved the thought of it to the back of our minds... But then, one day, months later, the blanket mysteriously turned up. I found it folded, in my daughter's room and placed neatly on her small bed. I immediately inquired with Mighty Mo, assuming that she had found it. To my surprise, she was just as baffled by the appearance of the blanket as I was. I had doubts about either of my kids actually folding** something, but I checked with them anyway. Both of them were also surprised to see it, and denied folding it and placing it on the bed.

Where did it go? How did it get back? Why was it folded and placed strategically on the bed? Could the room actually be haunted? I doubted it... until...

When we moved to Santa Cruz back in 1997, my old college
buddy, Rob, had recently divorced, and needed a place to live. We were heading out to California, and trying to decide what to do with the house... Do we sell it? Do we rent it? We decided to let Rob rent it for a while, and he agreed to pay enough to make my mortgage every month while he lived there and finished the basement. Unfortunately, this arrangement didn't work out, and after six months of not receiving any money from him, and none of my phone calls returned, I decided to fly to St. George and kick him out of the house, and hopefully collect many thousands of dollars in unpaid rent.

When I arrived, a stranger answered the door. As it turned out, Rob had been subletting rooms to college kids, and this guy was one of the renters. The nearly twenty year old boy stood before me in the doorway, wearing excessively loose fitting and large exaggerated denim bell-bottoms which were worn and frayed from having been trampled under foot, and stepped on thousands of times. I introduced myself, and informed him of my intentions. He was accommodating, and told me where I might be able to find Rob. In a strange attempt to
relate, he asked, "What kind of music do you listen to?" Surprised by the strange, out of context question, I replied, "Oh, I don't know... whatever..." He then volunteered, "I like rock!" Nodding his head in affirmative support of his statement. I told him I would like to take a look around, and without hesitation he stepped aside, and invited me inside. It was obvious that college-aged kids occupied the place. A large entryway window had been broken and replaced with cheap oddly-colored glass, and the entire place was in a state of disarray.

In the basement, an entire wall had been knocked out. The damage was excessive. When I peered into the upstairs bedrooms, I noticed that there were three beds crowded into one room while another room (the haunted bedroom) was completely empty. I found it odd, but didn't think much about it at the time. When my disappointment was sufficiently satisfied, I set out to find Rob.

He was surprised to see me. I told him that he had to move out of the house and give me at least half of the rent he had failed to pay... I made it clear to him that I wasn't leaving his side until I had the money. I shadowed him for the rest of the day as he made attempts to raise money from his friends and business associates, and he did recover nearly half of the money he owed.

I inquired about the bedroom situation. "Why are there three beds in one room, while the bedroom next to it is completely empty?" I asked. "Oh, no one will sleep in there...
that room is haunted!" he said.

*The house seemed like the best deal when we were shopping for a home. It had five staggered levels, and eight bedrooms. The lowest level in the house was the basement which is where we kept the ping pong table. There were three other rooms as well. A room for my guitars, a storage room, and Edweena had her very own room... the luckiest mannequin in town. The next level was the garage and work room. A handful of stairs lead to the laundry room. There were two other rooms on that level, as well as a large walk in closet, and a large foyer. One of the rooms is where I kept my (electric) organ, and the other served as both an office and library. I had thousands of my favorite books*** at my fingertips, and could find any of them upon request for information about anything. Meanwhile, Kombucha Mushrooms in large glass jars flourished in the dark closet. The foyer lead to the living room which had large windows with a view of Zion National Park off in the distance. The kitchen was also on that level. There was a large wood burning stove which kept the house toasty warm all winter. Stairs lead from the living room to the fifth and highest level. There was a large bathroom, with two sinks and tub and shower. The master bedroom was large, with another restroom adjacent to it. The two other bedrooms on that level were occupied by my son and daughter.

**
They're teenagers now, and they still don't fold anything.

**Sadly, 90% of my book collection was destroyed while in storage a few years back. It broke my heart.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Xtra Files 1: Gnarly Starry Night

This is the first story in a series of uneXplained events that have either directly happened to me, or someone I know personally.

Big Qush and Fred were excited to come visit us at our home in the desert. It was their first time. We had sent them a home video which contained footage of our home, and lots of desertscapes of the surrounding area... Having grown up in Connecticut, they were somewhat unfamiliar with desert life. In anticipation of their visit, I also provided them with stories of UFO activity in the region, completely tongue in cheek of course. I had never actually seen a UFO, and if I hadn't seen one, they probably didn't exist... at least as far as I was concerned. I certainly didn't expect to see one. I'm a very astute observer, who spends much of the time outdoors... not much gets past me, so if they're out there, I should be the one to see them.

Our house was located on the outskirts of Santa Clara, Utah, with a backyard overlooking the desolate Utah/Arizona border. Nevada* wasn't too far to the West. On their first night staying with us, our guests stepped out onto our concrete deck for a cigarette, since we didn't allow smoking in the house. Mighty Mo and I joined them outside under the night sky filled with stars. I reclined to look at the starry sky. The cool concrete felt good on my back. It had been a hot day. We all caught up on the previous handful of years that we had been out of touch with each other. It was good to see them. As we were enjoying our overdue reunion, I looked into the clear night sky, and observed what I thought was a satellite moving across the sky, and quickly pointed up and exclaimed, "Look a satt..." but before I could finish my statement, the object began to dart about the sky in a way I had never seen a vehicle in flight travel before. It continued for several minutes while all four of us watched in awe. We were all amazed, and Fred continuously proclaimed, "Holy shit, holy shit... over and over. It was truly amazing.

I assume that what we all observed was NOT extra-terrestrial in nature, but rather terrestrial in origin... a high altitude remote controlled test vehicle from one of the many top secret Nevada test sites - Tonapah, Area 51, etc. While relatively unknown, black op government organizations have been conducting tests of experimental flight vehicles in the restricted Nevada airspace for decades.

While we were all previously skeptical, Qush and Fred were amazed by the show, and have since become UFO enthusiasts.

*Back in the good old days, school children were bussed out to Utah Hill to observe atomic detonations that took place at Yucca Flats, and Frenchman Flats on the Atomic Test Range. A brilliant idea. Thousands of local civilians were exposed to radioactive fallout became ill, and died painful deaths.