Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Issue #30: The Santa Tracker

"The Field Investigator's Tool Box" would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! I know young one's will be watching the skies tonight, and as aid for them here are the links for the two most popular "Santa Trackers" on the internet. Merry Christmas to all!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Issue #29: More On Drones

A few months ago I wrote about the uses of drones for an investigation in Issue #14. While it's true they can be very useful in an  investigation, there is another side to drones that I didn't mention, but which is equally as important to know about, and that is how often they are misidentified as something else.

Let me be clear; until I really started learning about drones, I too thought it was virtually impossible to confuse a drone with an airplane or even a UFO. You can imagine my surprise when I found out differently. Even after I was aware of their capabilities, and the multitude of different types of drones, I was still fooled (albeit temporarily) recently by a very good drone with an exceptional pilot...MUFON's own Marc D'Antonio. Of course the flight was part of our training, and it was very valuable too, as everyone at that nights skywatch was starting to believe we were looking at something truly amazing.

At first it looked just like any of the many other planes that had flown over the area. But then it started making movements that we knew couldn't be attributed to any normal aircraft, and it appeared to be dancing in the sky over an area of many miles. That is the problem with trying to identify something at night by just a moving light. If you don't know the size of the object, or it's altitude, movements can appear very dramatic, and appear to cover much more distance than they actually do. I was just starting to get to the 'well maybe' stage of my observation when I heard the drones motor. Up to that point I was truly puzzled. 

Marc D'Antonio with his "FLIR Equipped Drone" that fooled us.

Naturally the first thought in my head would have been 'drone', however since we were in the middle of the Sonora Desert, it seemed less likely that it was some neighborhood kid flying his toy. I'm sure you can see though how important it is to have a very good knowledge of the drones available now, and their characteristics.

So, knowing how easy it is to misidentify itty-bitty lights in the sky, you can imagine my horror when while shopping at the local Ralphs, I see a pyramid of square boxes in the holiday gift isle, with the catchy sign above them "Robotic UFO" and the low price of $25. Immediately my first thought was; "well, this should increase reports to MUFON significantly." Of course I had to buy one on the spot so I would know what to be on the lookout for. I even made a post on Facebook about it, and said that I would post pictures soon. Well, not to worry, this particular drone is not going to be too much of a distraction due to it's poor flight ability. Indoors it's great, outdoors not so good. Although it claims to have enough power to go high, I found that it barely could get to rooftop level, and the flashing blue light was so weak that I didn't even bother to take a picture.

Although this particular model was not anything that I think would be easily misidentified, there are plenty of them out there that can, and will be. A quick visit on the website and a search for drones will yield 65,285 results, so yes they are out there. A similar search on Youtube will get you 789,000 hits. While I would not tell anyone to watch them all, I would at least hope that any Field Investigators would take the time to watch as many of the videos as they can, so they are aware of what it is that some of our witnesses are seeing in our nighttime sky.

Come back next week for a special "Christmas Issue", and don't forget to share with all your friends. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah  from The Field Investigator's Tool Box!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Issue #28: Verification

It is no secret that the world of UFOlogy is plagued with stories that are...well, less than accurate. As investigators, we should indeed keep an open mind while receiving all reports, and doing an investigation, but there does come a time when you must verify the information you've been given.

MUFON is the world's number 1 scientific investigator of UFOs...not a spreader of fantastical stories. For some reason some people seem to think that if they spread some wild tale that could almost be believable they are helping the cause. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because of the massive disinformation campaign that has been in place for over 60 years some people are not aware of the good, factual cases. When hoaxes surface the common reaction amongst most folks is to think that perhaps  all UFO reports could be just as easily explained away. It is just as important for us to weed out these cases, as it is to investigate the real cases. A level of credibility must be maintained if we are to be believed when we finally do have "a smoking gun". So how should an investigator go about this?

Of course the best starting point is the witness, as outlined last week. If your witness is verified then it is a good first step towards verifying their account. There are some good websites that can provide you with most of the information you need about your witness, however they usually are not free. I like using, but is pretty good as well.

This brings us to the other elements of any account that would naturally need to be verified as well. Obviously any photographs or videos presented in connection with a sighting would need to be verified extensively. Fortunately all digital photographs include EXIF data, which can be used to tell if a picture has been altered in any way. Google provides some excellent image analysis tools too, which can tell you if the image really came from somewhere else. Google Image Search is an extension for the Chrome Browser which will find every example of a picture that is on the internet just by right-clicking on the picture. Google Reverse Image Search is another similar tool, and both should be used to do a thorough search of an image.

Video is also so easy to manipulate these days (just browse Youtube if in doubt) that anyone can produce a video of something that looks like a UFO. Fortunately, these are just as easy to distinguish if one just takes the time to analyze each frame. Usually this will require the purchase of a higher-end video editing app or software, but again the price is well worth the tools you will acquire. I personally use the Adobe Creative Cloud, which has every app that anyone could ever use for any type of image processing. I find Adobe Premier to be very useful with video analysis, but I also use Final Cut Pro as well.

If you can verify the identity of the witness, and the photos and videos that they submit along with their account as being valid, then you are well on your way to establishing a good case.

Come back next week for more, and don't forget to share with all your friends!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Issue #27: Interviewing The Witness

After hearing feedback from other attendees of the MUFON Field Investigator's Boot Camp, I realized that there was a need to cover the subject of interviewing the witness. Of course as we all know there are two types of interviews; by telephone, and in person. In this issue we are going to talk about the telephone interview, since it is the method most investigators will use the most. "In person" interviews work best with two investigators working together, and there is a lot more to it, so I will cover it at a future time.

The most common mistake an investigator can make is to go into the phone interview as if it was just a normal conversation. It is not. The smartest thing one can do is to be fully prepared before you even pick up the phone.

The first thing that I like to do is type the address where the sighting occurred into the Google Maps, and get a good look at the area. Then I take it down to Street View and move around a bit to see what the neighborhood looks like. It is extremely helpful to try to put yourself in the location the sighting occurred while reading the account. It really helps an investigator to visualize the setting of the sighting.

After that I like to do what I call a "Social Media Search" for the witness. You won't believe how many times I've found an "anonymous" witness who's account was perhaps a little less believable, only to find them calling all sorts of attention to themselves on Facebook over the incident, often times even contradicting what they would say in their report to MUFON, so it's worth taking the time to look and see what they are saying about the incident, if anything.

Next I do a legitimate background check on the witness, just to verify their personal information that they have supplied. If none of their personal information matches up, chances are their account won't either, so save yourself a lot of time and verify who they are right off the bat.

Then it never hurts to check out the website of the local news, or newspapers for the day of the sighting to see if anything might have occurred that could have been misidentified. I also always check out the weather data for the day in question before hand. That way if the witness says that it was a clear night out, and you know that it was cloudy and overcast, you have something to check and see if it might have led to the sighting. Remember, witness memory can be faulty, so the more information you have before you talk to them, the better off you will be.

When you feel that you have fully prepared yourself, then it is time to call the witness. I myself like to use Skype when interviewing a witness because it has a Call Recorder App that does a great job of recording the conversation. This is useful in a lot of cases because then the recording can undergo Voice Stress Analysis, which is just as good as a lie detector in most instances. The other advantage of using Skype is that then your witness will not have your personal phone number unless you give it to them.

It is very important to remember to always be courteous when on the phone with a witness. Keep in mind that you are representing MUFON, and be as professional as possible at all times. NEVER record a witness without their permission! Always ask permission twice...once before recording, and then again when you start recording. Make sure that you have both, you asking permission, and them giving permission on your recording. Then you will want to state your name, MUFON I.D. number, the date, and the time. Obviously there is no need to record every witness interview. You will have to use your judgement depending on the details of the case as to whether it warrants recording or not.

Having a list of questions already made up is a great tool, You also want to think of different ways to ask the same question. It's just one more way to check and see if witness statements are consistent, and the witness doesn't contradict themselves.

I like to start by having the witness give an account of what happened again verbally, to see if it matches what they wrote in the report, keeping an eye out for any differences. Try to not interrupt, but take notes of questions you will have for them afterwards. The witness might pause as if waiting for a verbal cue to continue, and it's okay to encourage them on, but avoid leading the witness at all costs! Let them tell the story...don't ever provide details for them. You also don't want to sound too excited about anything they might say, even if inside you're whooping with joy because you just discovered the holy grail of UFOlogy. It will not help the case if the witness gets the wrong impression, and then starts making the details fit what they think you want to hear.

Make sure that you have all your questions answered to your satisfaction before you end the interview. Chances are you will not be talking to the witness again, so make sure you have all of the information that you need from them while you have them on the phone. Also be sure to thank them for their assistance with the case. You do not want to give them the impression that you will be calling them back with the results of your investigation. You can let them know that they will be able to find out the case outcome on the MUFON website if they wish.

I hope this helps those of you who had questions about conducting witness interviews. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to email me and I will do my best to answer them for you. Come back next week for more, and don't forget to share!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Issue #26: Balloons

Today is the eve of what I feel will be a mass sighting of mis-identified objects in the skies of Manhattan. Many will report that they saw what appeared to be famous cartoon characters flying through the sky above the streets, there will be crowds of people bearing witness, and it will all be televised to millions of viewers at home as well! But, in reality what they will be seeing will be nothing more than balloons. Sound familiar?

Yes, Thanksgiving is upon us, and the 12 year old that lives inside this body of mine naturally thinks right off the bat about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and all the famous balloons which so many people look forward to seeing each year. Which is a great time to talk about a topic, that believe it or not, is still relevant in the world of UFOlogy: Balloons.

It is widely know that the Air Force and debunkers everywhere have tried to pass off "weather balloons" as what many witnesses have seen throughout modern history. In fact that weak explanation has been used so often, that is commonly met with ridicule, even in the few cases in which that actually was the explanation that was uncovered after investigation. It ranks right up there with "swamp gas" on the 'ol chuckle-meter. So of course when reports surged over the internet concerning Googles "Loon Balloon", I thought it might be interesting to take a light-hearted look at one of the most amusing "weather balloon" explanations...none other than Roswell itself!

The really funny part about the Air Force's "weather balloon" explanation as what really crashed at Roswell, is the fact that there was so much debris that it had to be collected by a large group of soldiers, and then it took over 8 hours to crate it up for the flight to Wright-Patterson Airfield...since when is a weather balloon that big? Even more amusing is the Air Force's explanation that what people mistook as 3-4 foot tall aliens, was really 6 foot tall dummies, that weighed around 200 lbs.! Especially funny since the Air Force didn't start using them until 1952, five years later! Of course to an unsuspecting public who doesn't know any better, it sounds like a plausible explanation.

It is true that when a weather balloon gets to a certain altitude, there is less pressure outside the balloon than there is inside it, so it begins to take on a different shape, usually flattened out like a teardrop, larger on top and narrow on the bottom...or saucer-like if viewed from the right angle. These are usually easy to identify though after proper investigation.

So tomorrow morning when you're sitting in your living room enjoying the parade, and you see those balloons, delighting all the children in the crowd, give a thought to all the characteristics you see it demonstrate as it is being guided between the skyscrapers, carefully steered with guide ropes, and ask yourself if something so limited in it's ability to move could possibly be the same thing reported in case after case reported by witnesses, with movements usually described as beyond our ability to duplicate. Not likely.

I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving, and thank you so much for support over the last year...I am truly thankful for each and every one of you! Please don't eat so much that you can't come back next week for more!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Issue #25: The First Critical Steps

This last weekend I was part of a teleconference with Chuck Modlin, Fletcher Gray, Marc Dantonio, and a few of the other attendees to last October's "First Annual Field Investigator Boot Camp", in which we got to hear some much anticipated feedback on our training in the beautiful Arizona desert. This is probably the part of the whole experience that I was looking forward to the most. I was aware that a few mistakes were made, and I was anxious to hear what I could improve upon. All in all though, it must be said that everyone performed exceptionally and the main point of the exercise, which was to learn to work together as a team, was achieved with overwhelming success.

I would like to point out that no single team is guilty of any of the following errors...we all were. I think it will become evident as I go on that even the simplest of things can escape you when you are in the field, which is why I am going to mention not only the errors, but the correct procedure that should have been used. It is important to remember that you only get one chance to secure a scene and collect the evidence correctly. Anything done incorrectly can lose that evidence forever, and nothing you can do after the fact can bring it back, so the first critical steps are really very important.

So with that said, let me start with error #1: Gloves. To be fair, I know that it was discussed amongst the team I was on, and we came to the conclusion that if we demonstrated that we knew how to put them on once, that would suffice. Wrong. We should have gloved up at each site before approaching it. The proper procedure would be to double-glove as outlined in the manual, with the outside glove being taped to the sleeve, well before approaching the site to assess it the first time. Personally, I have a box in my investigation kit that goes with me everywhere, and another box in my "Go Bag". I also have a few spare pairs in my evidence kit. That way, no matter where I look I have them staring at me to remind me to glove up!

Next on the list of hits...error #2: Respirators. Oops! Now how did we forget that in the middle of the Sonora Desert? I've written about this on numerous occasions, I'm sure that many of you are familiar with what happened in Coyame, Mexico. So why did this not even cross my mind, not even at the scene of the "crashed saucer"? I have to admit that I was wondering why respirators weren't included with the equipment we had at the site. And it's not like it was miles back to get what we forgot, all we had to do was walk back to the tables with the equipment. I think that what it boiled down to is that no one wanted to put on a face mask in the desert heat. In real life though, I'd choose the mask over suffocating on some unknown alien biological agent hands-down every time! The correct procedure (should you ever be lucky enough to be at the scene of a recent UFO crash) would be have your respirator on well before approaching a crash scene. One would have absolutely no idea what kind of contaminants would be in the air around it. I personally would be not only wearing one, but praying like mad that it worked!

Error #3 is one that is easy to overlook, but very important that you adhere to it every time...establish your boundary! As soon as you know the area that you are going to search, you need to tape it off. Always give yourself plenty of buffer space to move around inside your scene, so that you don't have to walk through the area of your search. Then once your perimeter is established, it is also very important that you control who comes into and out of that area. No one should be allowed inside your perimeter who does not have a duty on the site. You also do not want every team member trampling through your scene. Pick before hand who will be entering the search area, and establish corridors for entrance and exit, and limit your traffic to those areas.

Once again, you only have one chance to get these first steps right. It would not be a bad idea to make a check list for yourself, and get in the habit of going through it each time so that you know you have the best possible chance to collect as much evidence as you can, and you know you can rely on your evidence because you did it right!

Be sure to come back next week for more, and don't forget to share!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Issue #23: The First Annual Field Investigator Boot Camp

Last October, 25 of MUFON's finest (including yours truly) gathered together in Wickenburg, Arizona for the "First Annual Field Investigator Boot Camp". Friendships were made, sweat was lost, bandages were applied, but above all else knowledge was shared. Since everyone came from different backgrounds, everyone had their own unique talents and strengths, which became apparent during the course of the training exercise. Thanks to our great teachers Chuck Modlin, Fletcher Gray, and Marc Dantonio, we received some excellent training in everything from radiation detection procedures, to laying out grids to recover evidence. The setting was literally in the middle of nowhere in the Sonoran Desert, and at night we could see more stars than most people know exist! For me, it all began...

...SQUISHED beyond belief! Imagine if you took a can of sardines (go ahead and open one, take a good look!), held it sort of level, then threw it across the room. That was my flight to Phoenix. When did airlines start catering only to jockeys? I admit, I haven't flown since the 80s, but I'm pretty sure you could have fit two of these planes inside the last plane I was on before this, and still have had some leg room. But I digress.

After landing at Sky Harbor in Phoenix, I was met by the head of our STAR Team, Fletcher Gray, and my soon-to-be teammate, Arthur Goodrich. They drove me a group of us out to our hotel in Wickenburg, which was about an hour from Phoenix. We all stayed at the Los Viajeros Inn, which was a very nice place. I have to say that the town of Wickenburg is probably the cleanest little town I've ever seen! Everyone I met there was very nice too, and some were even interested in MUFON! Everyone else arrived over the course of the day, and we all went out to dinner together before retiring to get ready for the first day of boot camp.

Day One - Classroom instruction (Fletcher Gray in front of screen).

Our first day began at 8:00 A.M., with some classroom instruction from Fletcher Gray, Chuck Modlin, and Marc Dantonio. Chuck taught us a little bit about the three different types of radiation we might be likely to encounter on an investigation, and how to safely approach the situation, and collect any evidence. Fletcher showed us some very helpful Apps to use in the course of investigation, and Marc gave us some excellent tips in photo analysis, and different ways to use Google Earth, and Google Street View. Also some great tips on Stellarium, which is an App a lot of us use for determining what is in the night sky. After a full day of classroom instruction, we all went out to dinner again at The 7's Bar & Grill, home of Wickenburg's finest steaks, then off to rest up for our first actual day out in the field. 

Day two saw us all meeting in the Lobby of our hotel, where we loaded up into two vans for the long ride out to our top-secret training location. I guess I have to amend the top-secret part since unbeknownst to us, the Air Force had already scrambled a couple of jets to fly over our "mock UFO crash site". I guess it must have looked like the "real deal" to them (snicker, snicker). Since they came in hot at low altitude with afterburners, one can only assume that they were loaded for bear as well, but of course...the Air Force doesn't investigate such things...yeah, right. I think we have first-hand proof that the Air Force DOES investigate "this sort of thing", and apparently very seriously. You can read all about that encounter on my friend Alejandro Rojas' Open Minds website. Alejandro was also out there, and in fact interviewed Fletcher Gray while he was there. Thanks for all your help Alejandro!

So our second day found us all out in the Sonoran Desert, participating in four different scenarios, which we were told fit together somehow. We were divided into four different teams, and each assigned a different scenario to start with. Each team would choose a different leader for each scenario, so that everyone could get some experience as team leader. The team I was on assumed the name "Field Team Six", and was comprised of: Arthur Goodrich, Russell Azbill, Harold Shepard, Roger Moore, Craig Lang, and myself. Our first scenario was a "historical" crash site, that had supposedly occurred 10 years previously. A farmer had seen a bright light, which appeared to come down in his field. When he went to investigate, he found a crashed saucer and it's occupants, who he fired at and thinks he hit one, although he never found any traces of the occupants. We first assessed the scene, took pictures from cardinal coordinates, performed a radiological survey, and then went over the area with a metal detector to see if there was any pieces of the wreckage left behind. All hits were marked with both number cards that had photo scales on them, flagged, and then photographed. A grid was then constructed, and a sub-grid laid out wherever evidence was flagged. Anyone who thinks that what we do is easy should give this exercise a try one afternoon. I guarantee you will have an all new appreciation for just what is involved in an investigation. Each step was carefully noted, evidence tagged and bagged, properly logged and the chain of custody notated. On to the next one.

I should add that the first scenario was by far the hardest, and the most time consuming. By the time we were on our second scenario, it was late in the day so we only had enough time left to assess the site, take our readings, mark out the evidence, take biological samples, and then secure the scene. Little did we know that when we got to town we would be seeing our current scenario in the news!

The now famous "mock UFO crash site".

When we first saw the story on the Open Minds website we of course all had a good chuckle, but then we kind of realized that we had just proved something contrary to the Air Forces public statements. I would really have loved to have been back at that base to hear the debriefing! With smiles on our faces we turned in for the night, exhausted but satisfied.

By day three the desert had taken it's toll. One of the ladies had injured her wrist and so was out for the day, and another person dropped out completely over some personality issues. That's what boot camp was like in the Army too. Being out in the field during training is not for everyone. There is a physical, as well as a mental toll on a person. That is why leaders like to take to their teams out into the field for they can be assessed under the conditions and strains that they are likely to encounter, and can be better prepared for the different problems they could run in to. It is also where the participants learn that all the knowledge in the world won't help you if you can't work together as a team.

Field Team Six finished up our scenario with the mock-crash, then moved on to our next scenario...a landing site complete with burn marks, circular depressions in the soil in a triangle pattern, and detectable levels of radiation! Before anyone gets too excited, we didn't have a nuclear fuel rod or anything like that laying around. For the purposes of training we were able to use a common test source consisting of Alpha radiation, which is the most common and the safest. In fact your household smoke detector has them built in, which is where they were liberated from for the exercise.
In this exercise we had to check for radiation, decide what kind of radiation, find any debris, and take a cast of the landing marks depressed in the soil. Again a very time consuming, painstaking process involving lots of photographs, measurements, and of course a log of every step. My hat is off to Russell Azbill of Arizona, who was our Secretary so to speak, and took notes of everything we did, and filled out all the paperwork for our team. Great job Russ!

Our last scenario involved a car that was abandoned in a field. There were no tire tracks leading in on either the front or rear of the car, the tags were a year out of date, it had a "Military Personnel" sticker on the windshield, a bloody handprint smeared along the right rear quarter panel, and magnetic anomalies on both the trunk and hood...mysterious! Of course by this point I had a few different ideas forming about how all these scenarios fit together, as I'm sure some of you reading this do as well. In either case, it doesn't look good for the humans involved, does it?

The First Annual MUFON Field Investigator Boot Camp Participants

I'd like to thank everyone involved with this fantastic training experience, ESPECIALLY our hosts, Chuck and were the best! Special thanks are due as well to Marc Dantonio for the best skywatch ever, and a lesson in just how deceitful drones can appear! GREAT JOB MY FRIEND!

I hope you all enjoyed this little taste of our adventure. We all had a great time out there, and made some great friendships. I would very much recommend this training to all FI's, as it's an experience you will never forget. Be sure to come back next week for the next installment!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Issue #22: Google Street View Catches UFO At San Simeon

In this day and age, many people rely on the assistance from some form of navigation device, be it a stand-alone navigation system, or an app on a smartphone. The most popular by far is the Google Maps app, and Google Street View. There have been many anomalies reported by users of Google over time, and of course there have been quite a few reports to MUFON based on anomalies spotted in these images. In fact, I have a case right now that I am investigating thanks to the sharp eyes of an individual who wishes to remain anonymous.

As with a lot of the images used by Google Street View, this particular set of images was taken back in 2008. The area where the photos were taken was San Simeon State Park, just north of Moonstone Beach in Cambria, California. I followed the directions supplied in the report by the witness, and I was fairly surprised at the images that I saw.

The first image shows an object at a relatively low altitude, directly over the area of Highway 1, and is visible when using Google Street View by placing your point of view at the end of the State Park Leffingwell Landing parking area, then turning back to face inland. If you then place the cursor at the bottom of the Street View and click so you move forward one position, the object is no longer in front, however if you rotate the view to the northwest the object appears heading out to sea, as seen in the second photo.

I was intrigued by these images enough that I decided to take a drive up the coast to Cambria, and take a photo using my Theodolite app so I could get an idea of the altitude of the object. Since this is not an area with normal air traffic, I wanted to know if it was possible that this was an errant private aircraft that was captured.

Although the above photo is a pretty good rough estimate of the estimated position of the object, it is a rough guess, but pretty close for my purposes. The data in the photo shows that I was standing at an altitude of 4 ft. above sea level, and the cursor is place in the approximate location of the object in the photo, which would give it an angle of 12.6%, which would mean that the object was in the neighborhood of 120 ft. above sea level when caught on camera, well below any approved altitude in this area.

I also wanted to know the interval between when the first image was captured and the second one. I was pretty amazed when I found out that the camera for Google Street View uses a frame rate of 10 FPS, which means quite literally that the object in question moved from the position in the first picture, to it’s position in the second picture in 1/10th of a second. Not quite anything that small aircraft around here can do.

While the possibility exists of Google being hacked, and the image being artificially inserted into the picture, I see no outward evidence of this being the case. Furthermore, when I enlarge the photo I do not see a tail section where I would expect one to be if the object in the picture was an airplane. While I’m sure that there are a number of artifacts that could easily explain this objects appearance, and in fact MUFON’s own Marc Dantonio thinks it’s a reflection artifact, but I’ve yet to find one that actually fits and makes sense given the two distinct photographs. If any readers have any insight into another explanation for the images, I would appreciate you contacting me. I can be reached at:, or through the website;

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Issue #21 Computer Tips & Tricks

I have a feeling that this weeks issue is way overdue, after all the tool we all use everyday is right in front of us...the computer! I know that not everyone is an expert on computers, and in fact very few people have probably taken more than just your basic intro to computers type class. So hopefully, some of the information I'm going to talk about now will help a lot of you out.

In the field of UFOlogy, probably the two most used programs on computers, no matter what kind of computer or operating system you use, would be a graphics program for images, and  a word processing program for reports and articles. Between these two functions, it should be relatively easy to prepare a quality presentation, with seamless quality in between pictures, documents, and video. How you ask? Simple, just follow these steps.

Of course users of Powerpoint already know that it is super-simple to create a stunning presentation. But suppose you are someone with limited knowledge of computer programs, and you really don't have the time to learn all the quirks and nuances, don't panic! There is another way to do it all while you learn Powerpoint.

The first step to creating a seamless presentation, or organizing that report or article, is to put all the documents and images that pertain to it in one file. Make sure to name that file appropriately so you can find it quickly, such as; "Pyramid Presentation 01", or "SLO UFO". Once you have the file created, you want to rename all the "objects", or "files" in that particular file with the name of that file first, followed by a sequential number. For example; sloufo 01, sloufo02, sloufo03, etc.

The next step is a little trickier. With your documents in either Word or PDF format, you might want to either save a copy as a .jpeg, or scan the document as an image if your using it in a presentation. Once everything in your file is in .jpeg format, it is easy to go through each image using only your right or left arrow keys. For the best quality image during your presentation, you want to "Maximize" the window. For Windows users you can simply press "F11" to toggle between maximized or normal windows. It also helps if you have your menu bar on the bottom set to "Auto Hide". For Mac and Apple users, your green "+" button on the left will toggle your window size, and the arrows in the top right corner will toggle the fullscreen function.

Another key thing to remember whenever you are saving your files, no matter what you are using them for, is that not everyone has the hottest, coolest version of your software! Always save your work in the format you use normally, and in the oldest version of your software that you can. That way it will be accessible to everyone!

Remember: "If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail." Test everything in your presentation, in all different formats, BEFORE YOU ARE ON THE SPOT! " You don't want anyone to focus on anything other than the information you are trying to convey!

I hope some of these tips are useful for everyone, and stay tuned for more in future installments!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Issue #20 The Grid: The Tool We Can't Afford To Lose

George Noory And I At Contact In the Desert

While at the "Contact In the Desert" event I had the pleasure of meeting George Noory of "Coast To Coast A.M." fame. Yes, I discussed the SLO UFO with him and his producer Tom Danheiser, but more importantly was a message that George shared with everyone in attendance at the luncheon.

That issue is our existing, aged, power grid. It's something that we all rely on. Without the power availability to everyone, our technological society would be at a standstill. Yet, amazingly our grid is open and vulnerable to catastrophic failure. A solar flare such as we just avoided a few months ago, could wipe out every electronic device on the planet, and our power grid, and it would take us years to rebuild it. In the meantime, 95% of the population would perish due to lack of water, food, and everything else that we have come to depend on in the technological age. So what can we do about it?

Everyone needs to write their local Senators, and Representatives. Do not write to one outside of your district, because it will be filtered out, and they will never see it. You must address the issue of insulating our grid now. The cost to do this would be between 1.5 and 3 Billion dollars. The cost of having to rebuild our infrastructure should it fail would be astronomical by comparison, and the consequences unthinkable. This is an issue of utmost importance to us all. If the power goes, so do we! A simple investment now, could prevent disaster in the future.

Needless to say, if we lose our infrastructure, there would not be any more issues of "The Field Investigator's Tool Box", so please...write that letter now, and come back for another issue next week!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Issue #19 The Right Camera For The Job

This week I want to cover a few different types of cameras, and how they can be useful in the course of your investigations. While there are many different types and styles of cameras, not every one will fulfill your needs in the field. A camera that might be your first choice in the studio, more than likely can be replaced by a lighter, more compact model for field work. With today's photo editing software it is possible to make pictures taken with inexpensive cameras look almost indistinguishable from picture's taken with much more expensive cameras.

With the arrival of cell phones that all have cameras built-in, people everywhere began taking pictures more than any other time in history. As a result, many apps have been developed that help enhance photos as well. The quality of pictures that most people are able to take now is dramatically different than it was even five years ago. Compare the weight of a cell phone that one is likely to be carrying anyway, to the weight of the average DSLR, especially with all the extra lenses that likely accompany it, and it's easy to see why so many people have chosen to use their phones exclusively for photography instead of carrying around unneeded bulky equipment.

Usually in the course of an investigation it is necessary to have some sort of scale present in the photo for measuring. Any other information that can be present in the photo is a bonus as well, which is why I really love the "Theodolite" app, since it can display all the relevant information such as azimuth, angle, and GPS coordinates.

Of course, if you are on a really large investigation scene, your best bet will be the DSLR on a tripod. For a large area that you would like to catch as many of the details as possible of,  a tripod mounted camera definitely has it's advantages. I have also noticed that any time you have to use the zoom, that a DSLR with the right lens has a much better focus, depth-of-field, and resolution. Although the results are fantastic with a DSLR, they do require a higher level of knowledge about photography than your average point-and-click camera on the market. It also only used to be possible to take "Panorama" shots by using a tripod, however I have an app on my iPhone that does a better job than I have ever been able to taking my time, and using a tripod, so again, the phone is a great option.

New on the market is the GoPro series of cameras, which depending on your usage, comes with a variety of different waterproof cases and attachments to cover any inventive usage one might come up with. The quality is so good, that again, leaving the bigger DSLR at home seems wise. It also has a time-lapse function that can be very useful if you need see if something was affected over time. Because of it's small size, light weight, and multitude of awesome attachments, the GoPro is worth serious consideration to add to your photo bag.

Again the question arises though; what do you do when in a situation where something, be it natural magnetic fields or effects of a craft of unknown origin, causes all your electronics to fail? Fortunately, Fuji Film still makes single-use disposable cameras, and you can order them on for a very reasonable price. Amazingly, there is still someplace to easily get your film processed. Walgreens still does all kinds of film developing, whether from a disposable single-use camera, or your vintage Minolta!

I hope this weeks installment has given you some more ideas on ways to get that perfect picture...and how to plan for any occurrence in the process! 

Please come back next week for the next installment, and don't forget to share with all your friends!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Issue #18 A Smattering Of Gadgets, Gizmos, and Whizz-bangers

Originally this week I was going to discuss a few different types of cameras, and their differing uses in the field...which I will still get to, however, something that happened this weekend prompted me to discuss the need for certain apps in the course of investigations. Which of course in thinking through led to another consideration that has been mentioned before, but can't be stressed enough! So I'll start off with that first, and ask that you keep it in mind while considering the following tools that might be "useful" while in the field: When was the last time you heard the phrase, "all my equipment and instruments worked perfectly in the presence of the UFO"?

Having said that, let's dive right in to an app for the first thing that will probably quit on you...your phone. I apologize to any Android users, but all of the apps I discuss will be for the iPhone or iPad. I'm sure there are comparable apps out there available through Google Play however. The reason I'm telling you about this first app now is due to the experience I had this weekend with a fellow MUFON member at our State Director's house. Due to the nature of this occurrence, my friend will remain anonymous.

We were discussing weird things that had happened to him at his home, and he mentioned an instance where instead of losing time, his watch actually gained six hours! This prompted me immediately to want to see if I could get any readings off of his watch, so I had him remove it and place it on the table. The first app I tried was Teslameter 11th, by Skypaw, which is a very good tool for measuring gauss units, or magnetic interference. His watch had negative results, so I next tried Gamma Pix, and immediately we knew something was wrong. There was a GIANT spike of dangerous radiation, and we were advised to leave the area of the readings! Of course after that I wanted to get a reading on my friend and see if he was the source of the contamination. To everyone's surprise, he was completely clean! So next my friend got a lanyard with a badge on it that he wears to work every day. Surprise! There was the spike again! Very disturbing. Needless to say my friend ordered a Geiger Counter right there on the spot so he could check other things at home, but had it not been for that Gamma Pix app, we might not ever have known about the potential danger to him! I felt this was important enough to mention to everyone because of the impressive performance of the app. By the way, we also did many control tests, and they all were negative.

So to get back to my original topic of cameras, I would like to briefly mention the GoPro camera, and It's many uses in the field. Besides coming with a rugged, waterproof case, there are many available attachments for the GoPro, so customizing it's mounting is a snap. The resolution of photos taken with the GoPro are extremely good, and the underwater shots one can get with it can't be beat. It also has a "Time-lapse" setting, so one can easily mount it somewhere out in the field, and let it run for the entirety of it's battery life (a little over four hours unless you add the optional battery pack), and have some fantastic time-lapse images. While the GoPro is very useful, and of course the images that I can get with my Nikon are very stunning, neither of them is worth a darn if you are in the presence of a field or craft that makes all your equipment die instantly. So what then? When battling hi-tech, maybe sometimes low-tech can do a better job.

While film cameras are considered by many to be "antiques", the older ones have one obvious advantage; they don't rely on an electric charge of any kind...they are purely mechanical! I'm not saying that a mechanical camera is foolproof...I've heard of photo's that were taken using them that should have turned out, but were instead just a milky-white haze. But then I've also seen some really good ones taken on film, as in the case of my SLO UFO investigation, and Dr. Lynne Kitei's "Phoenix Lights" photographs. Great pictures, all taken with "film" type cameras. So something to keep in mind.

While the use of gadgets can be a great benefit in the field, relying on them can be disastrous. Always try to know how to do something the "old fashioned" way too. These ways survived the tests of time for a reason. Use them.

I hope this weeks installment was useful, and please remember to share with everyone! Come back next week for more!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Issue #17 Setting Up A Grid On Site

When first arriving on the site of an investigation, the first thing one is going to want to consider is preserving the integrity of the site. One wrong move could destroy not only the evidence, but also the "in situ" positioning of objects that could help in determining what happened. For this reason a grid system is used, not only to protect the site of the investigation, but also to accurately map out where every piece of evidence was procured. Once a site has been dug, it is impossible to return it to the way it was before!

Through the use of a rectangular, or Cartesian Coordinate system we are able to preserve the site on paper and accurately record all the relative data. Another benefit of doing this is that future researchers can return at a later date and better visualize details from the notes taken at the time. Any evidence collected is much more reliable when every step of it's collection process is accurately recorded, the more stringently the better.

The first thing to consider is the scale that you need to use...obviously if you have a three hundred square foot area to investigate, you don't want to set up a one foot by one foot grid system on the ground. It would be much more practical in this instance to set up a grid system whereby one inch on paper equals ten feet on the ground. This is the scale model that we will use for this example. 

Some people like to use graph paper to map out their grid, which is absolutely fine, but I myself prefer to use engineering paper because not only does it have the grids already printed, it also has sub-grids which makes it a lot easier to mark the exact placement of artifacts that are recovered within the specific grid area. Since most UFO investigations are not archeological digs, the elements of different "levels" to the dig are not applicable here, but if you were doing any type of large area excavation, you would also need to figure in another axis to your grid, and it would then become a three dimensional grid. For the sake of simplicity here, we will be sticking to a two dimensional model.

After deciding your scale, you will want to set your first site datum point by picking an arbitrary location to place a stake, and then designate that point as (0,0) both on your diagram on paper, and with tape or marker on your stake. At this point I personally like to use both my compass, and my Theodolite App to get my grid aligned to a North-South axis. Then I get my bright orange waxed string out and tie it to the stake at (0,0), attach my tape measure to the stake, then walk South the desired distance of the size grid being used, and place another stake so that it is both the correct distance, and the string is aligned perfectly with the North-South axis. This stake should be numbered in the same manner, using (0,?) and whatever unit you are using in your grid. For our example we'll go with ten, so it would look like (0,10).

Next return to datum point (0,0) and repeat the process, except in the easterly direction, and the end datum point for that line will be (10,0). I also like to check that line with a square for accuracy. Once this outside framework is established, it is a simple matter to measure out the rest of the grid by following each axis 1-9 with the orange waxed string and placing a stake with a marker in each grid corner that gives each point a unique name...such as (3,7). With that coordinate location a person can later come back to the diagram and know the exact location being referenced. Once the grid is in place, any artifacts found that were visible on the surface can be collected, and their locations recorded on the grid.

There are many different types of grids, with many applications. There are spiral grids, three dimensional grids, circular grids, and certainly some I don't know about (I'd be surprised if there wasn't!), and many different ways to graph your grid as well, especially if you are any good at 3D modeling. Hopefully this will give you a head-start on learning how to set one up without having to take a refresher course in geometry!

Please come back next week for the next installment, and don't forget to share with all of your friends and click follow if you haven't yet!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Issue #16 The Secret Space Program/Breakaway Civilization Conference

In this issue I will attempt to cover as best as possible the Secret Space Program/Breakaway Civilization Conference, that took place in San Mateo, CA over the weekend. I say attempt, because this is a blog, not a 800 lb. book. That would only be Volume 1 anyway. So here goes, with the best short version I can give you.

Before I start, I want to say a special thanks to one of the speakers, and a very good personal friend, Mr. Robert Morningstar...your kind words about me at the conference were more than any friend could ever ask! So, without further ado...

The conference opened right on time at 8:45 with the M.C., Mr. Henrik Palmgren of Red Ice Radio fame at the helm. His insightful questions throughout both days really helped to connect the dots between all the different speakers presentations. It was really an honor to meet him!

Henrik Palmgren

The first speaker to start off the conference was Mr. Mark McCandlish, an accomplished aerospace illustrator who gave a dynamic presentation on Alien Reproduction Vehicles and Zero Point Energy.

Mark McCandlish

Mark McCandlish was followed by Mr. Michael Schratt, who I'm sure many of you know from MUFON's hit show on The History Channel, Hangar 1. Michael's presentation had some fantastic graphics to go along with it, and anyone wishing to see most of the conference via my photos, can see them on my Facebook page. His presentation covered not just some of the amazing aircraft our military is using, but also ARV (Alien Reproduction Vehicles), and UFOs!

Michael Schratt

As great as that was, the event kicked up another notch with Mr. Joseph P. Farrell after the lunch break. For anyone who is a fan of Joseph, and I think there might be one or two, his presentation was delivered with all the style and panache that one can expect from him every time! It is truly amazing to be able to listen to him as he ties his information together in a way that everyone can follow and understand. One of the great researchers, his presentation left everyone looking forward to his upcoming presentation the next day.

Joseph P. Farrell

Next up was Mr. Robert Morningstar, with his presentation "Who's Minding The Moon", which although he experienced some technical issues, was still full of incredible information, and startling photos! The picture of the "Tower", 365.78 miles away from the moon rover, leaves one stunned with the sheer size and magnitude of such an object!

Robert Morningstar

After Robert's presentation, the video "Zero Point" was played for the audience to a warm reception. I highly recommend that everyone see this movie when it becomes available!

After the dinner break the conference resumed with the "Round Table", which for the first night consisted of: Joseph P. Farrell, Mark McCandlish, Steve Bassett...WHOOPS! Did I just say Steve Bassett? That's right! What a treat it was to have him there to talk briefly, and answer questions during Q & A. But the panel would not have been complete without the addition of Henrik Palmgren, Michael Schratt, and Robert Morningstar! The interaction between such an insightful group was fantastic to witness! I could not stay for all of the Q & A session, but what I heard of it was great!

Steve Bassett

Round Table, Day One

Henrik started day two off with his usual energy and brilliance! He was a wonderful MC and his questions really helped tie everything together.

Day Two Opening With Henrik Palmgren

The first speaker was Mrs. Catherine Austin Fitts, who I must say impressed me as being WAY smarter than I could ever hope to be! That she could explain the financial web that is financing the breakaway civilization in a way that I could understand is just plain amazing.

Catherine Austin Fitts

After Catherine's revealing presentation, Mr. Jon Rappoport was up to discuss what we all can do to bring attention to all the aspects that we discussed during the conference. His delivery is such that I wasn't sure if we were listening to a really good stand-up comedian, or someone with some next-level information who was trying to impart it in a manner that wouldn't cause us all to run for cover. Which really when you think about how badly each and every one of us is getting screwed over this, nails it on the head. Thanks Jon, I know I shook your hand and told you what I thought then, but I got to say it again, great job!

Jon Rappoport

After lunch, we were all mesmerized by Richard Dolan's engaging presentation. If you don't think there is a chance that there is a secret space program going on, or a "breakaway" civilization being financed, then I suggest you get his latest book; "UFOs for the 21st Century Mind". That will get you up to date, and perhaps then you will understand better the scope of what is really going on. This is one of those "Foundation" books that I recommend to everyone.

Richard Dolan

After Richard, Joseph P. Farrell returned to follow up with another presentation that included his "Tower of Babel" theory, which I must say, I love! He was every bit as engaging and brilliant on day two, and in fact, when I got home I ordered two of his books just so I could catch up on his topics! I was fortunate enough to have time to talk to Joseph too about the SLO UFO should have seen his smile when he saw the photographs and the FOIA responses I have so far...golden moment! But I digress...

Joseph P. Farrell

Carol Rosin was the last speaker of the conference, and she delivered a powerful oratory on the importance of us keeping weapons out of space, which if you think about it just makes sense. For those not familiar, Mrs. Rosin used to work with Werner Von Braun, and was also an executive in the aerospace industry. Her thoughtful insights were a shining beacon to all of us there, and her petition to keep weapons out of space is something I will be posting on my Facebook page, and the MUFON Tri-County page(s).

Carol Rosin

The second nights "Round Table" consisted of: Richard Dolan, Joseph P. Farrell, Catherine Austin Fitts, Carol Rosin, Jon Rappoport, and Henrik Palmgren. The spirit of importance was imparted to all of us, to go out and educate everyone as to the reality...yes the reality, of what is going on, and how important it is that we all come together to work towards change.

Round Table Night Two

As all attendees to this year's conference agree, this was the best one in year's! As it was my first official conference, all I can say is that I can't wait for the next one, and now I am all fired up for Contact in the Desert in August!

 I hope you all enjoyed this weeks installment as much as I did! Don't forget to like, share, print, frame in gold, and whatever else it is you kids do these days...most importantly though; talk to each other. Open a line of communication with those around you. Don't be afraid to be that light in the dark. Change comes one person at a time. Be the change.