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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Dead Air from Space



Right now at this very moment someone somewhere on our planet is listening for radio waves from space.  Space Radios!  Sounds cool.  Let us all send these people some money and search for space radio waves.  (This is me being sarcastic.)

This has been going on in one form or another pretty much since the birth of radio - trying to pick up radio waves from space, that is, not me being sarcastic.  That has only been going on since the 1970s.  This failed radio wave detection attempt has picked up steam in the past decade, or so, due to advancements in technology combined with boredom and lack of imagination by some of the uber-wealthy.  

Seth Shostak
Mmm... radio waves from space, nom nom nom

Paul Allen was one of the founders of Microsoft.  After accumulating more money than God, Allen retired.  Prior to his death in 2018, he did some good things for humanity through the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, like his former business partner Bill Gates has been doing through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  This guy had some bucks, not Bill-Gates-Bucks but... well, kind of Bill-Gates-Bucks.  Paul-Allen-Bucks.  He was one of the Top 50 Rich Guys.

What would you do with billions of dollars if you already owned your favorite NFL team and NBA team and a SuperYacht and you knew you would never be able to spend all your money before you died?  How about search for aliens?  That is what I would do.  That is what Paul Allen did.  

Paul Allen's SuperYacht

Allen poured millions into projects at the SETI Institute, searching for alien radio waves.  The idea behind this is, humans broadcast AM/FM radio stations, TV channels, cell phone and other communication signals, etc., out into space at the speed of light, 24/7.  

If there are other intelligent civilizations out there, surely they must be doing this too!  Right?

I don't know about that

My dog is somewhat intelligent but she still eats cat turds.  It is not reasonable to project that just because humans think something is a good idea, space-faring aliens (who are much smarter than we are) would concur.  

Our galaxy is a scary place.  We have no idea what is out there.  As a corollary, say you took a stroll through southern Africa, out in lion country.  You shout, "Hey lions!  Here I am!  Come and eat me!"  What would be the likely outcome?  I am thinking you would be eaten by a lion.  Why, then, would any advanced civilization continuously shoot radio waves out of their planet, in every direction, broadcasting their location to potential predators?  We are doing it, so naturally aliens must be doing it too.  (That is more sarcasm.)

What could be gained from broadcasting our location to anyone who is listening?  Some would say that at the very least it would give us the knowledge that we are not alone in the Universe.  OK, that and a leftover chicken leg will help me fall asleep at night.  Is that all?

Our hope is that contact with a more advanced civilization would yield great advancements in our own technology.  Would it?  What if, instead of connecting with a more advanced civilization we connected with a planet inhabited by a dim-witted species?  They may be eager to do our bidding in exchange for sharing our technology with them.  We would quickly take over the place.

Picture a planet full of dogs.  These dogs can speak but in all other ways they are like dogs.  We would give them a test to see how easy it would be to conquer them.  It would consist of choosing one of two options.  

  • Option A, you can have the latest generation iPhone, free, with no service contract - sorry, it is with Cricket Wireless, not Verizon, but hey, free iPhone.  
  • Option B is a moist cat turd.  

We would rule the dog planet very quickly.

More advanced aliens would do this to us too - in this scenario, we are the dogs.  We would quickly become their servants in exchange for trivial rewards - gadgets and trinkets - just like the way the Europeans bought Manhattan and then either exiled the Native Americans or absorbed them into their cultures.  

Exploiting Indians

Likewise, aliens would not want to be conquered by civilizations more advanced than themselves.  So they would not be dumb enough to broadcast their location to everyone in our galactic jungle.  This is the most likely reason why, despite every effort, they pick up nothing at the SETI Institute but dead air.  

Do Humans have Senses that Aliens do Not?


Suppose people on some planet, somewhere out there, were so advanced, they had the most sophisticated weaponry in the galaxy and were afraid of no one - kind of like me when my wife hears a noise at 2:00 am and I charge off into the darkness to look for bad guys.  Although, really, this is just a good excuse for me to grab a cold chicken leg and a piece of cake out of the fridge.  "Um, yeah honey, [munch munch], I heard something too.  I got it!  Go back to sleep.  [nom nom]  Don't come down!"

These fearless aliens could travel the galactic jungle from the safety of their space rovers, carrying the futuristic equivalent of an elephant gun, totally immune to the demands of all other creatures.  Would they then boldly broadcast radio waves out in every direction, hoping we would find them?

I do not see the benefit of this, but suppose there was some benefit.  Why should we presume anyone would do this?   What if the most intelligent and technologically advanced species in the galaxy had no ears?  They cannot process sound waves.  Would they still broadcast radio waves?

Using radio waves for communication make sense to humans.  Its first use was to communicate with ships, similar to the way we would use a telephone except more like, "Hey everybody, if you're the ship I'm looking for, hit me back!"  If humans had no ears we would not have needed the telephone.  The telegraph would have been more practical.  Perhaps instead of creating the telephone, deaf inventors in the nineteenth century would have focused on creating a more sophisticated telegraph.

Radio's first commercial use was to play music and local advertisements, one hundred years ago.  Not much has changed since then.  Would this medium have taken off if we could not hear?  Would we even have music?

What if all humans were born without the sense of hearing?  I pondered this, laying in bed, picking chicken out of my teeth late one night, while the rest of the family slept peacefully.  I stared at the ceiling and wondered how to explain sound to deaf people.  I thought this would be a fair comparison.  

Do humans have senses aliens do not?


There is some decent information about this on Reddit and Quora.  Most respondents posted that deaf people can understand sound because they can feel the vibrations, like when a big truck rumbles by.  I think a better comparison would be when a Honda Civic that is 25% engine, 25% spoiler, and 50% speakers, rolls by.

This does not explain how deaf people can appreciate music.  To that end, people like to say that deaf people can enjoy music by feeling the rhythm and the bass.  Tell that to violinist Itzhak Perlman.  The violin plays at too high a pitch for the Deaf to feel its sweet melodies.

Itzhak Perlman
Itzhak Perlman, killing it



Others say the Deaf can enjoy music through expressive interpretation.  Watch a minute of the sign language interpreter in the video below.





The interpreter in the video, Amber Galloway Gallego, is great.  She is a huge asset to the Deaf Community, helping to bring popular entertainment to them.  But now, watch the same video again with the sound completely muted.

Maybe if one could feel the bass, Gallego's gyrations might help a deaf person to understand what beat-boxing is all about.  To me, with the sound muted, it just looks like someone having a conniption.  Quora contributor Angela Shull says that she and her other hearing-impaired friends, "get annoyed when people try to 'interpret' a song."  I could see that.

Conniption
A Typical Conniption Fit

Being deaf does not always mean hearing nothing at all.  Many deaf people hear something, they just have difficulty making sense of what one sound is from another.  If you cannot distinguish between the words I am saying versus the barking of a dog or the ticking of a clock, hearing is not a tremendous asset.  

Would radio have become a medium if everyone heard things that way?  Would radio have developed as a medium if all humans were born "stone deaf"?  It seems silly to even ask the question - it is rhetorical, of course.  A species without the ability to hear at all would never have created a radio broadcast industry and therefore would never have begun sending radio waves out into space, like we humans do.

But wait, you say!  What about television?  Surely, at some point, aliens would have discovered moving pictures.  OK, let us roll with that. 

How do you detect aliens?

The first movies were on film and were projected onto a big screen, just like at today's movie theaters.  There was no TV.  You had to go to the theater, back in 1905.  You sat on a wooden bench and the piano player smelled like his horse but hey, it was five cents!  Anyway, the motion picture industry had no need for radio waves at the time.

Fast-forward two decades and someone figured out how to send movies over the air waves.  The year was 1927.  Prior to that, like 84 years prior to that, someone had invented the "Electric Printing Telegraph" better known today as the Fax Machine.  For real!  

If we had not already had a broadcast radio industry to spur the development of TV broadcasting, maybe the motion picture industry would have still given birth to TV.  But instead of picking up TV signals with "rabbit ear" antennas, faxing would have developed sooner and the cable industry would have developed instead of broadcasting.  All TV shows would be delivered via wires, like they are in most of the US today.

I am not saying this is definitely what happened on some other planet.  Who knows?  But if a planet existed where no one could hear, perhaps they would never have begun broadcasting radio waves for entertainment purposes and therefore would also not have begun broadcasting TV over the airwaves, either.  

It has been proposed that aliens may have one or more senses that humans do not.  Some people believe aliens can speak and hear telepathically, for example.  It is not unreasonable, then, to suggest that humans may have a sense that a species on another planet does not have, like hearing with our ears, for example.  Ever seen an alien depicted with ears?

Alien without Ears
Look Ma, no ears!

Eventually, anyone who can get from there to here (wherever that is) would surely discover radio waves and figure out how to exploit them.  But without a need to broadcast entertainment, radio waves might be used solely for point-to-point information transference.  This would be hard for us to detect.  Shull (from Quora) says sign language is, "1000% visual. You can't talk to a Deaf person if they don't look at you."  

Perhaps on a totally deaf world, this is how all communication takes place.  We would never be able to eavesdrop on these conversations because they are not meant for mass consumption.

How do you Detect Aliens?


What would I do differently?  If, after 100 years of broadcasting and receiving radio waves, we still have not found alien radio waves, I would stop this nonsense.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

Anyone who can get from there to here is smart enough to not be broadcasting their presence.  Their spaceships are silent.  I know that because the one I saw was within 100 yards from me and was completely silent.  We will not detect them by listening for them, whether that is with our ears or with radio receivers.  

But we can see them.

There are thousands and thousands of eye-witness accounts of UFO sightings.  We even have some UFOs on video now - these videos are confirmed by the US Navy as authentic.  This is the direction I would go.

I have written before that the ISS should have cameras all over the outside of it, pointed in every direction.  Recently, a member of a Facebook group I belong to which discusses UFO sightings, suggested that all commercial airliners should have outward-facing cameras.  This was in response to a credible and verified UFO sighting by two Mexican pilots.  I agree with this.

The city of London has so many cameras on its streets, the police can spy on their citizens virtually anywhere in the city.  As an American who values privacy I am not keen on this Big Brother approach to policing.  But my point is to illustrate that if London can do that, any first-world municipality on the planet can put up cameras to capture UFOs.  Why are we not doing that?

That is what I propose we do.  Forget about the failed attempts of the twentieth century to detect technology of the nineteenth century.  We need to look forward and do more of what works.  Cameras work.  They should be pointed towards the center of the galaxy from every city, every aircraft, and every satellite.

We should do this now.



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If you have seen an alien spaceship or any type of unidentified flying object (UFO) contact me using the Contact form on this page.  You may remain anonymous if you want.  I will not ridicule you or try to tell you why you are wrong.  I get it, I saw one too.

Thank you for reading and keep an eye on the sky.





Friday, May 29, 2020

What Would You Ask an Alien?



After writing my last article on Anthroposcience I went through the footnotes for the article's inspiration, Sovereignty and the UFO.  I wanted to know more.  This led me down a two week-long rabbit hole in Wikipedia.  I read about Quantum Mechanics.  I read about Quantum Entanglement.  The Born Rule.  The Copenhagen Interpretation.  Schrödinger's Cat!

At this point I am feeling like Stephen Hawking.  No, I am not perpetually getting halfway to winning a Nobel Prize, nor feeling the pain of a debilitating disease.  Like Hawking in his later years, I am no longer the dashing ladies man I once was.  Wait, where was I going with this?  Oh yeah, the Cat.  That stupid cat.  Hawking once said, “When I hear of Schrödinger’s Cat, I reach for my gun.”  That is how I am like Steven Hawking.

Physics is Awesome!
Schrödinger's Stupid Cat

In brief, Schrödinger’s Cat is an attempt at explaining the concept that the only certainty is that nothing in the Universe is certain.  There is an experiment where you put a cat in a box and then try to predict if it will be dead or alive when you open the box.  Note, this is only a thought experiment.  No physical cats are involved.  Although, cats do like boxes.  And paper bags - they love them!

All of these sadistic thoughts about cats got me thinking.  One hundred years into the study of Quantum Mechanics, Science has still barely scratched the surface.  We are no closer  to figuring out how to get from here to the closest habitable planet, in one human's lifetime, than we were in Einstein's day.  It is too bad we cannot just ask someone who already knows.  Someone like, oh I do not know... an alien?

My kids ask me questions all the time.  They ask things like, "Why are the days getting longer?"  I love that one.  We go in the pantry with a Sharpie marker, an orange, and a flashlight.  I draw the equator on the orange and shine the light on the orange, at different angles.  I have done this several times with each kid.  It is great fun.  I feel like I the smartest man in the world, afterwards.   Then they will ask a question like, "Daddy?  Why is fire so hot?"  And then I am like, "I know!  Right?  How about that!"

What would you ask an alien?  If an alien landed on my lawn right now I would be tempted to act like my kids.  I do not mean that I would tease the alien until he wanted to punch me and then run around like Tom and Jerry - this quarantine can turn even the sweetest child into a little a-hole, sometimes.  I mean, I would be tempted to ask the alien a bunch of questions like, "How does your spaceship travel faster than light?" Or, "How do you hover and glide without any visible means of propulsion, like jets or propellers?"  That is what I really want to know.

In theory, the alien, oh so mystical and full of knowledge, would say, "Great question, kid!  Grab a flashlight and a Sharpie and meet me in the pantry."  But I do not think this would really happen.  I have two reasons.



How do UFOs Work?


I do not think the alien would know.  Think about how things we use every day work, now.  I know that when I flip on a light switch it closes a circuit and allows electricity to flow, which powers a light bulb.  This is the simplest, most basic concept in electricity.  Yet, most people could not tell you how the light comes on when they flip that switch.  They do it a thousand times a day and have no idea what is going on behind the wall plate.  They just know that when they flip that switch, the kitchen gets brighter.   

Then they leave the room without turning it off.  I walk in and shout across the house, "Hey!  Are you done with this light?  I'm turning it off!  By the way, the sun is out!  We really don't need lights in the broad daylight!"

Allow me to further illustrate my point.  Imagine now, you are on safari.  You drive your Range Rover out into the deepest recesses of our planet, on a mission to discover a new, isolated tribe of people.  You succeed!  The tribe is friendly.  You quickly learn to communicate with them.  You want to know everything about how they live their quaint, happy, primitive lives.  

Their first question to you is, "How does your buggy work?"  And then you are like, "Um... well you see, I uh... press the vertical pedal with my foot and then it goes."  And they respond with, "Yeah, but like, what I am asking is, how does it move without any visible means of propulsion, like a horse or an ox?"  You grimace and say, "Um... well... it takes gas."

The internal combustion engine is about as old as the light bulb.  When you strip away all the electronics in a vehicle, the engine is a pretty simple concept.  A highly flammable petroleum product called gasoline explodes in a chamber.  This explosion pushes up an arm attached to a shaft which spins and transfers power to the wheels through a box of gears (more or less).  But most drivers could never explain that concept.  They just know that they press the vertical pedal and it goes.  And it takes gas.  Keep an eye on the sticker on the windshield that says when you should have changed the oil.

Why would we expect any more from alien visitors?  We base our perception of alien visitors on our own image of Earthan astronauts.  Most astronauts are highly intelligent and highly educated.  They may be a physicist or a botanist or some other type of Ist, with a PhD.  They may have spent decades in the military, flying all sorts of aircraft, before spending more time in a flight simulator, learning to pilot a space shuttle or a rocket.  They will know all sorts of things the average human does not.

We expect alien visitors to be like our own space travelers but times ten, like super smart and all-knowing.  But they may not be.  We have not yet been to any foreign planets.  But aliens have been here many times.  I know.  I saw one of their ships, up close.

Maybe the first aliens to discover Earth had some deep knowledge of science.  But that may have been a hundred years ago.  It may have been a million years ago.  We do not know how long they have known about us.  And they could be thousands of civilizations from thousands of planets, some more advanced than others (some kinder than others).  

After that first wave, they presumably decided to leave us alone and let us go about our own evolutionary track.  The folks who came in their wake may not have been all that smart.  For example, someone on Earth could be born a rich idiot.  Maybe his dad donated a bunch of money to the University of Pennsylvania and they handed him a business degree.  

Then this boy of privilege buys a yacht, hires a crew, and sails from Nantucket to Monte Carlo.  It happens all the time.  The folks on the dock in Monaco do not expect the American to know anything about how his boat works.  Take off that ascot and the shorts with little whales on them and he is just like the rest of us dummies, binge-watching Tiger King, getting fat on buttered microwave popcorn.

How do UFOs Work?
A typical yacht owner 

The aliens who come here today could just be the adult children of the ultra-rich, out for a cruise.  Maybe there is a guy on the ship, deep below in the engine room, who knows something about how it works.  He speaks with a Scottish accent and is easily frustrated by his captain's ever increasing demands.  But the captain - he is aloof.  He does not even wear pants.  Ever seen an alien with pants?  Rich aliens do not care.  No one has ever told them, "No."

I digress - though, that is what I enjoy most about writing this blog, digressing.  I laugh at my own jokes.  I also write meta content, like this paragraph.  There I go again.

In summary, the aliens who visit us simply may not know how their ships work.  They may not know much of anything.  However, if that is the case, they probably have some really amazing wine and cheese onboard.  Rich people always have some good cheese around, like brie.  I love brie.

Physics is Awesome!


The other reason we would probably not want to immediately hit aliens with a bunch of physics questions the moment they debarked from their ships is because it is BORING.  Really, it is.  

Do not get me wrong.  I am fascinated by subjects like Special Relativity.  I could sit at my computer all day and read about how Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire on the edge of a black hole.  But if I was at a party and someone took a deep dive into Spacetime, I would probably be like, "Woah!  Brie!  Have you tried the cheese?  I LOVE brie.  Hey, where did  you get that beer?  I'll be right back."  Then I would walk around the house like I was looking for the bathroom until I found someone else to talk to.  I would also act this way if someone tried to fix the grammar in the third sentence of this paragraph.  Or the math in the previous sentence.

I think aliens would be the same - not all of them, but the guy on the space yacht, with no pants, would be like, "Nerds!  Pull anchor, we're moving on to Uranus."  And then he would have a sip of wine and laugh at his own joke.

What would you ask an Alien?


Back to the question, what would you ask an alien?  He lands on your lawn.  The guy comes from several light years away.  He is tired from the flight.  Maybe he has a little UFOlag - he took the red-eye because it was cheaper - also he has one eye and it is red.  He could use a glass of water and a sandwich.  The last rest area was closed for maintenance and he kind of has to go.  There is a bathroom onboard but it is for Number One and Number Two only.  He has to go Number Seven.

Then you roll up and say, what?  "Hey mister!  How does your spaceship work?"  

Uh-uh.  Me, I would ask, "Do you think Buffalo will lead the Division, now that Brady has gone to Tampa?"  No, wait, that is what I would ask pretty much anyone who pulled up a chair to my Distant Social Firepit.  I call it that because it is a long walk from the house.

What would you ask an alien?
The Distant Social Pit

For real, if an alien landed on my lawn I would ask, "Would you like to come in and sit down?"  Given the times we are in, I would put on a cloth mask, of course.  I would then ask, "Can I get you a drink?"  I would treat him like any other visitor, with hospitality and kindness.  "Is tap water OK?  It's filtered.  Or do you prefer seltzer?  I don't have any bottles in the fridge.  Is ice OK?"

We should not expect aliens to solve all our problems, like ending the pandemic, on our first encounter.  If you went on a first date with someone and all they talked about was their financial problems and health problems and mental health problems, you would head for the hills.  Aliens would do the same, right?

I would try to find out why the alien was here and ask what I could do to help him.  "Are you lost?  What can I get you?  What can I do for you?"  I would offer the gift of my time before asking for theirs.  Then I would put out some nice cheese and offer him some pants.



Enjoying this blog?
Also follow me 
  
If you have seen an alien spaceship or any type of unidentified flying object (UFO) contact me using the Contact form on this page.  You may remain anonymous if you want.  I will not ridicule you or try to tell you why you are wrong.  I get it, I saw one too.

Thank you for reading and keep an eye on the sky.



Friday, May 15, 2020

Anthroposcience



This morning I sat at my desk with my daughter.  I help motivate her to do her school work.  Instead of working on her assignment, she peered at my computer screen.  She asked what I was reading.  I told her it was an academic article about studying UFOs.  This is completely normal in my house.  

The article was written by Alexander Wendt.  I was reading it as background for an article I planned to write - this one.  My daughter asked what it was about.  I told her it was about how Science (whoever that is) ignores the study of UFOs.  She asked why they would do that.  I know, right?  Since I had her attention I went into the following:

Science relies on the Scientific Method.  In order for something to be proven it has to be verifiable and repeatable.  For example, we know that pandemics change people's minds about vaccines.  We can observe and measure that.  We can then set up repeatable experiments.  UFOs, on the other hand, are most reliant on eye-witness observations of one-off events.  We cannot repeat these observations (although there have been many thousands of them, over the years).  It is not currently possible to predict when the next UFO visit will occur.  If only Marty McFly could swing by with a flyer from the future, revealing the precise moment a UFO will next show up...

Save The Clock Tower Image
Hello!  McFly!

So for Scientists, UFOs get lumped into the same Paranormal category of other things we cannot prove, like Bigfoot and El Chupacabra.  These scientists are people who have spent many years earning a PhD.  This is followed by many years of building a reputation of credibility.  No one wants to risk sticking their necks out.  No one has the courage to withstand the ridicule of their peers to associate themselves with the study of, "Little Green Men."  

I find this hilariously ironic.  In Scientists' attempts to distance themselves from the Paranormal by lumping UFOs into the same category as Bigfoots and Monsters, they are in fact likening themselves to the same folks who subscribe to Paranormal activity.  It would be in Scientists' best interest to slice the topic of UFOs out of the Paranormal and set it aside for further review.

Think about it, I told my daughter.  Forget that I am an eye witness to a close encounter and I make it a point to never lie - it is extremely important to me to be honest.  Look at it mathematically.  Here is when I get, "Woah! Woah! Woah! Back up.  What about the Tooth Fairy?"  Then I reply, "That was your mother's clandestine operation.  I just provided the funding for the program."  

Mathematicians will say it is a near mathematical certainty (nothing is 100% certain in Statistics) that with the infinite number of planets revolving around the infinite number of stars in the sky there is certainly intelligent life, elsewhere.  There are probably thousands, if not millions of intelligent species.  It is also highly likely that many of those species evolved millions of years before we did.

Millions?

Sure!  We had highly developed life forms on this planet over 100 million years ago: the dinosaurs.  There is no record of dinosaurs having ever built anything.  We do not know if they had language or writing.  I do not assume they did.  I am just stating they were here 100 million years ago.  They walked around, some on two legs, munching on things, chillin'.  They were probably just like my kids.  Except they probably threw the empty chip bags in the trash instead of leaving them on the counter.  

Dinosaur Eating Chips
A dinosaur walking around, chillin'

At least one dinosaur had fingers that could grasp.  In some sense they were not unlike Early Man.  Over the course of four million years, we evolved.  Who knows how the dinosaurs would have evolved if they had not been wiped out by an asteroid 66 million years ago!

Maybe the dinosaurs would never have developed the intelligence to create complex language, writing, the wheel, computers, flight, etc.  Maybe they would never have come up with the greatest inventions in history, Ring Dings and molasses cookies.  But it is very likely that with all the life that statistically exists all over the Universe, that on the thousands and thousands of planets that are the same age as ours and able to support life, that intelligent life evolved there sometime between the creation of the dinosaurs and the creation of Man.  That would be millions of years ago.

On planets that are billions of years older than ours (and there are many) it is likely that intelligent life evolved there billions of years ago.  Yes billions!

It is hard to keep the attention of a tweenager with anything that does not involve memes and trite nonsense.  But I still had my daughter's attention at this point.  Maybe it was just that she did not want to start her school work, ergo why she sits with me.  Either way, I went on.  I said, think about all the technology we rely on every day.  Most of it was created within the past 100 years.  What if we had 100,000 years or 100 million years, like some aliens have?  What technology would we have then?

All that my kids watch online

I went on.  The Internet, as we know it, is only about 25 years old.  Think about what kind of information we would have access to in 25 million years!  She giggled and said, "Really old YouTube videos."  She is probably right.  We are doomed.  Anyway...

Science, as Wendt's article states, has an anthropocentric point of view.  People think we humans are at the center of the Universe, figuratively that is.  I explained to my daughter, this is really not much different from the view The Church had 500 years ago.  That was in fact a literal point of view.  I pointed east.  They saw the Sun come up in the east and go down in the west.  They naturally assumed the Sun revolved around the Earth.  This also supported what the Bible taught about Man.  We were the center of the known Universe.  At that time it consisted mainly of our own solar system.

Then I explained, guys like Copernicus and Galileo came along.  They pointed out that the Earth is not in fact at the center of our solar system.  The Sun is!  We have not progressed much further from those days in terms of our anthropocentrism.  Science, Wendt argues, still acts as if Mankind is at the center of everything - like everything that ever occurs does so in relation to us.  We are very arrogant.  And by "we" I mean the "royal we," Science.

Now we get to the reason I was reading Wendt's paper.  I was first introduced to Wendt's work in a recent Vox article about Alexander Wendt.  I was astounded at how similar Wendt's ideas were to many of my own.  I have written much about these ideas on this blog over the past two years.  Much of what Wendt discussed in the Vox article was old business, for me.  But he mentioned his academic paper and I decided to look it up and read it.  I mean, an Academic who takes UFOs seriously!  Really!  I had to read this.  Therein, Wendt brings up this idea of Science being "anthropocentric."  That got me thinking.

What does Anthroposcient mean?


I now take this concept a step further.  I use the term anthropocentric to coin a term which succinctly herds, corrals, and brands the essence of what I have been writing about for the past two years.  It is not just that Science is anthropocentric.  True, we think Man is at the center of everything and everything happens in relation to Man.  Moreso, it is that we are anthroposcient - anthropo, meaning "of a human being" and scient being a derivative of "science" which literally means "knowledge." 

We think that Man is only-knowing.  It is like the word omniscient, or all-knowing, a term many use in reference to God.  In this case, if there is something knowable, Man knows it.  If we do not know it, it is not knowable - at least, that is what Science seems to think when it comes to UFOs.

Really?  Yah.  If you have ever read this blog before today you will have seen me use the following phrase over and over:  "If they can get from there to here (wherever there is)..."  If you can believe any of the thousands of eye-witness accounts, my own being one of them, we know aliens can get from there to here.  This is also, of course, accepting the premise that what I saw was indeed from out of this world.  That is the subject of other articles.  For now we proceed with this understanding.

If they can get from there to here they have figured out interstellar travel.  Maybe that means faster than light (FTL) travel.  Maybe it is a warp drive.  Maybe it means worm-holes.  More likely, it is the Möbiverse or Punch Tunnel Theory.  Whichever it is, is beyond the scope of this article.  We just know that they have figured it out.  

Science has a hard time with this.  We have not figured out any of these technologies.  We are the smartest creatures in the Universe (word).  Therefore, no one on any other planet could have figured these things out.  

If we cannot figure out how to get from here to there (wherever here is) then surely they cannot figure out how to get from there to here.  Anthroposcience.


Anthroposcience
Anthroposcience


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If you have seen an alien spaceship or any type of unidentified flying object (UFO) contact me using the Contact form on this page.  You may remain anonymous if you want.  I will not ridicule you or try to tell you why you are wrong.  I get it, I saw one too.

Thank you for reading and keep an eye on the sky.


Monday, May 11, 2020

The Calm



I have taken the last month off from blogging.  This was not intentional, at first.  As I wrote in my last post, my dad died on April 9th, 2020.  I took the following week off from pretty much everything.  I spent a lot of time with my kids.  I spent a lot of time sitting in a chair, staring through the walls.

The following weekend, my sister and I took a trip to South Carolina to pick up some of my dads remains and possessions.  I plan to write a separate post about that.  I captured a lot of video and have been trying to find the time to edit it.  It includes an impromptu interview with a random stranger who had something to say about UFOs.  That should be a fun one.

When I am not scouring the county, looking for food items that are sold out at our normal markets, or disinfecting those food items, or rearranging those items in the pantry, or counting rolls of toilet paper, I have been spending a lot of time on my yard and garden.  It snowed, here in Connecticut, over the weekend, so that did not help.  I had to cover the raised beds with tarps.  Hopefully, everything will survive.


David Marceau unmasked
Me, picking up tree saplings in Katonah

Mostly, though, I have taken over the role of a school teacher for my kids.  They each have great teachers at school and they have adapted well to the online curriculum.  But during our quarantine we have an excellent opportunity to do more.  I am doing that.

My middle-schooler takes a lot of time with her work.  That requires a lot of my attention.  My two elementary school kids usually finish all their school work by 11:00am.  After that, I work on US and world geography with them.  This is something schools tend to do a poor job at.  The boys are preparing for the GeoBee contest.  My older son tied for first place in his grade earlier this year, with very little preparation.  This year, both boys are getting a head start.  This is going to be good.

After Geography, we have music.  I get the sense that the kids have a decent music program but there is only so much individual attention a teacher can provide each student.  And then it is often rudimentary.  I want my kids to have a love for music.  I have placed over a dozen instruments in their study lounge so they can feel comfortable with just picking up the instruments and playing them, anytime they want.  I also do piano lessons and help the kids find YouTube lessons for the ones I cannot play (which is most of them).  Sometimes it sounds like Bugs Bunny killing the bagpipes, in our house but they are learning and having fun.




After I am done being a geography teacher and a music instructor I become the gym coach.  I try to get the kids out of the house for at least two hours every day.  That has been difficult lately because this is the coldest, wettest spring I can remember since 1983.  When we cannot go out I try to get the kids to use the elliptical machine.  That is a fun novelty for them but it is no substitute for playing outside.  

Sometimes I will have a specific agenda planned for the kids.  They hate that.  But there were many things my dad made me do that I hated and now appreciate.  There is a meme that says, "Some of you never got yelled at by your dad for holding the flashlight in the wrong spot, and it shows."  My kids will learn to do the things my dad taught me to do and they will learn to be good helpers in the process.  A good leader is first a good helper.  This is all going somewhere.

I am hoping the weather has finally broken, for good, and it will be warm enough to resume our gym classes outdoors.  Maybe Mrs. M will also take a lunch break with us and do some mid-day hikes.  The irony of me being the kids' teacher is my wife is a teacher in one of the best school districts in the world.  If anyone should be home-schooling our kids it should be her.  But she is working harder than ever, doing the job she gets paid to do.  I cannot speak for all teachers.  There may be some who have completely checked out, with the online learning.  But from what I have seen, teachers are working harder than ever to be in over twenty homes at once.  If everyone could see what I see my wife doing each day they would have more appreciation for their kids' teachers.

My afternoons have been less structured.  That is my time to finish up any business I was not able to do while the kids were doing their school work.  My business is still functional, though much less so because of the quarantine.  I am also trying not to get involved in any new big projects because I have a couple other irons in the fire.  Stay tuned for that.

Regarding the overall subject of this blog, there has been a lot going on in the public eye, with the government acknowledging the veracity of the UAP videos released by TTSA.  I do not even know where to start with all this.  But I do plan to start writing more over the next few weeks.  Big things are happening.

Speaking of big things, I am looking forward to the next season of Unidentified on History.  I keep checking its site to see when they are going to announce Season 2 of Unidentified.  But so far, the only acknowledgement I have seen of it is this video, below, by Tom Delonge.




As soon as I see the official announcement, I will write more about this.  In the meantime I will continue to enjoy this brief moment of calm, with my family, before the summer heats up.  These are exciting times we are living in.  History will tell our grandchildren much about what is happening right now.  I will try to enjoy it.


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If you have seen an alien spaceship or any type of unidentified flying object (UFO) contact me using the Contact form on this page.  You may remain anonymous if you want.  I will not ridicule you or try to tell you why you are wrong.  I get it, I saw one too.

Thank you for reading and keep an eye on the sky.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Thanks, Dad



Today's blog post is of a personal nature.  I have spent the past week writing a life story of my dad, Claude Marceau.  If I had another week I would have continued writing.  Another month, another year, there is so much one could say about my dad.


Claude Marceau Obituary
Claude Marceau, 1984

For those who are reading this blog for the first time, the blog is often about me.  So there will be a lot here about the effects my dad had on my life.  But mostly, today's story is about my dad.  Stay with me on this.

For my longtime readers, it was an event which occurred while on duty in the Army Reserves in 1992 that inspired me to begin this blog in 2018.  It was my dad who inspired me to join the Army in 1990.

Claude Marceau in Uniform
Dad at Grandmom's, 1987

Some would say my dad talked me into it.  But inspired is a better term.  I was proud of my dad, in his uniform, doing his part for his country.  I thought, I would like to do something for my country too.


Dad (left) visits me at Basic Training, July 1990

Honestly, I was not keen on putting myself in a situation where I might get shot at.  I knew that that would always be a possibility, no matter what MOS or job you signed up for.  They say every soldier's primary MOS is 11 Bravo, Infantry, guy that gets shot at.  But there are certain jobs which have a lower likelihood of death than others.

The Life of Claude Marceau


At the time of my enlistment, my dad was also an auto mechanic.  This was just a small slice of his life, though.  My dad's first real job was as a soldier.  He was stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey.  His role was Company Clerk, basically an Admin role.  That was where he met my mom, Cheryl.  She was a civilian, working in his office.  Their friends, "pushed them together," they always said.

Young recruit, Claude Marceau, 1966

When I was little, we lived in NJ and my dad was a supervisor in a chemical plant.  Sometimes, he regretted leaving Jersey.  The job market was much better there, he said.  

David and Claude Marceau
David and Claude Marceau, August 1974

But our cute suburban neighborhood was changing.  Crime was increasing.  It was no longer the place where my parents wanted to raise their children.  My mom wanted to get away from the humid Jersey summers.  My dad wanted to be closer to his mom.  We moved to Northern New York State.  The Champlain Valley is anything but hot and humid.

My dad had difficulty finding a job in the Plattsburgh area.  Even with his supervisory experience, there were no chemical plants up there.  He would have to start over.  He tried selling Electrolux vacuums, door to door, for a while.  This was a high-end product which probably sold well in wealthier areas.  It was a tough gig in The North Country.  We did end up with our own Electrolux vacuum cleaner.  It was a good vacuum but we probably could not afford such a luxury.


Dad doing parlor tricks with his Electrolux, 1979

He did construction for a while.  I think he liked that, being outside, building something with your hands; but he was cut out for bigger things.  He had to find something more suited to his talents.

When we first moved up there we stayed with my grandmother for a month, or so, before moving to Rouses Point.  I do not know why my parents chose that town.  Maybe because it was on Lake Champlain.  We lived a block from the water.  I shared a bedroom with my sister Jennifer, in a second floor walk-up.  We were only there for a few months before moving to Chazy.  My mom called Rouses Point, "a rough town."  That was what we had moved up there to avoid.  

Our first house in Chazy, across from the school, 1978

Chazy had the best schools in the area.  They still do.  We found a little house right across from the school, with two bedrooms and a finished basement.  My sister got to choose, the bedroom or the basement.  She chose the basement.

9847 Rt 9, Chazy
My Childhood Home, Chazy, NY, mid-1980s

Not long after moving to Chazy, my dad got a job as a machinist.  This was a skilled labor role, pretty decent for the North Country.  It afforded us the opportunity to buy a new house on three acres of land, on the north end of town.  My mom was able to work part-time and be around to put me and my sister on the bus and receive us when we got home.  More importantly for my dad, this was an opportunity to use his hands and his mind.

Claude Marceau 1985
Dad working at Harris, 1985

You would never know it, in casual conversation, but my dad was brilliant.  He was a blue collar guy so he was into things like NASCAR, tractor pulls, and playing horseshoes with a beer in his hand.  But he also could do trigonometry in his head.  My dad never took an advanced math class.  He never even graduated high school - he got his GED in The Army.  But he figured out math.  He was like Will Hunting.  It just made sense to him.  

One night, when I was in high school, I was struggling to do my trig homework.  I was supposed to memorize some formulas and apply them.  This did not work for me.  I needed to understand why the formulas worked.  My math teacher, Diane Coupal, could not explain why the formulas worked.  Just memorize them like she had, she advised.  

My dad walked up to me that night and asked what I was working on.  I told him he would not understand.  I had breezed through Algebra and Geometry and I did not understand.  My dad turned the paper his direction and in a second he said something like, "It's seven," or whatever the answer was.  I thought he was joking.  I looked at the answer key.  Sure enough, he was right.  I was astonished.  I asked him how he did that.  He just turned up his palm and gestured towards the paper with his hand.  "Look at it," he said.  He could not explain it either, but he did not have to use a formula.

This was a skill my dad used every day, as a machinist.  He worked with micrometers to build precision parts for bindery machines.  He was good at what he did and he seemed to enjoy it.  He did this for eight years.  Then, one day, he got notice that his company was moving to Dayton, Ohio.  He was asked to relocate.  My parents traveled out there to check it out.  They did not like it.  They loved The North Country.  They decided to stay.

CherylAndClaudeMarceau1984
Mom's Graduation 1984

By this point, my mom had completed her dream of earning a college degree, at age 36.  She had a secure job and could provide us some sustenance while my dad searched for a new job.  Still, money was tight.  My sister and I qualified for free lunch at school.  This went on for a year.  Finally, in desperation, my dad took a job as an auto mechanic.  It paid less than half of what he had earned as a machinist.  But his unemployment had run out and we needed something.  My dad was the kind of guy who would rather work for peanuts than to let his family suffer.  He did what he had to do.

Like with my dad's other jobs, he had never taken a course on mechanics.  He just knew how to do it.  Whenever something went wrong with my parents' cars we never took them to a repair shop.  My dad just took care of it.  He did not do body work but he could do just about everything else.  This is what inspired me to choose the MOS I selected when I joined The Army.  I chose to be a mechanic, like my dad.

Claude Marceau at Velan Valves
Dad working at Velan Valves, early 1990s

My dad seemed content as a mechanic, despite the low pay.  Then, a shift opened up in the parts department.  It would be higher pay and greater responsibility.  It would be customer-facing - my dad was a very social guy.  The job went to someone less qualified.  It was political.  My dad was disgruntled.

He heard about a start-up company that was looking for machinists to build machines that made board games.  It was closer to home and paid better.  He jumped on it.  Not long after that, a former co-worker, Joe, called him up and told him he was now a supervisor at a valve manufacturer in Williston, Vermont.  It was a one hour commute but he would be back, doing something which used both his hands and his mind, building high-precision parts to be used in nuclear subs and oil pipelines.  He worked there until retirement.

Just Me and My Dad


Like most men, I have become the best and the worst of my dad.  I am OK with that; overall, he was a good guy with a big heart.  We all have our faults and that is what makes us human.  Despite that, and the many ups and downs we had over the years, I loved my dad.


Dad and me in his recliner, 1981

When I was little, my dad would let me sit in his recliner with him while we watched TV.  I do the same with my boys, today.  I cherish these moments, knowing that some day they will be too big to fit in the chair with me, just as I was eventually, with my dad.

Claude Marceau at The Weathercock
Norm!

Through the years, my dad has always taken care of his family, the best way he knew how, given the opportunities he was presented with.  In his free time, he would often meet up with friends at The Weathercock.  After the owners of "The Bird" replaced the old knotty floor with a shiny new smooth one I would tell my friends, "See that floor?  My dad bought that floor.  See him on the stool, over there?  He's working on the ceiling."  

David Marceau Pinewood Derby Cars
My dad's, er, my Pinewood Derby cars, early 1980s

My dad was my Cub Scout leader - he built my Pinewood Derby cars for me.  He built me a tree fort with a balcony, full-sized door and windows, tall enough for an adult to stand in, large enough for two cots.  He taught me and my friends to play blackjack and poker (we played for pennies until we got older).  He took me places I needed to go.

Dad (top) and me on duty in Miesau, Germany, June 1993

After I joined the Army, my dad and I often met up for breakfast at the Campus Corner Restaurant, before drills.  We had a few beers together at the VFW, after drills.  Sometimes we had lunch together in the drill hall, although usually I was with my platoon and he was with his.

We attended all our annual summer trainings ("AT") together.  He was there, in Gagetown, Canada in 1992, and Kaiserslautern, Germany the year after.  While staying in "K-town" and working at Miesau we rented a car and drove all over Bavaria, Luxembourg, and eastern France.

Me and Dad on the Rhine, Bacharach, Germany, 1993

Our relationship got strained when I was in college.  I stopped talking to my dad for a couple months, at one point, after things got heated during the construction of our garage.  I got on my motorcycle and went home to Plattsburgh, avowed that I would never speak with him again.  Eventually, I got a letter in the mail.  It was from my dad.


Building the garage, with Dad (top) and neighbor Max (middle).
Me on right. Summer 1994.

English was my dad's second language.  He moved to the US from Canada when he was twelve.  He never took to writing in English well.  Math?  No problem.  Numbers are universal.  Writing was tough.  It meant a lot to me that he took the time to put pen to paper and write a full page letter.  It was not the perfect apology - rarely does anyone take full blame for their mistakes.  But the sentiment was understood and appreciated.  There would always be a scar but the wound was healed.

After college, my dad wanted me to go to work at his company, in the machine shop.  We could commute together!  I could start out in an entry-level job and work my way up to something like what he was doing.  I smiled, kindly, and said, "Dad, I have a college degree now.  I'm not going to do that kind of work."  He seemed disappointed at first but he soon understood.  I got a job with Microsoft.

My dad was so proud of me.  He told everyone in Chazy the story of how I was offered the temp position with the world's largest software company and I had the nerve to ask for a higher pay rate and then actually got it.  I wished that he had not told everyone how much that rate was, but what are you going to do.  He was a proud papa.  To him, it was like he had succeeded, for his son to be doing well.  In a way, he had.


My dad and his mom on top of the World Trade Center
during a visit to me in Brooklyn, 1996

I received frequent visits from my dad after I moved to Brooklyn, especially after he and my mom split up.  I have one special memory of a night I bought my dad a bottle of bourbon and myself a bottle of tequila and we sat on my couch, listening to music.  We put some pretty good dents in those bottles and reconciled our past differences.  We would still argue after that - my dad could argue with a sign-post.  But it would be as two adults, more than father to son.  

It would be nice to argue with him right now.  I would tell him he cannot leave home without a mask on.  He would have told me all the reasons why that did not apply to him.  Then, after one of his friends told him to stay home or use a mask, he would tell me he was doing it now and it was his idea all along.  That was just the way he was, at least with me.  I would have laughed it off, happy that at least he was taking precautions now.


Dad supervising my construction project, July 2008

When I built my house twelve years ago, my dad was my foreman.  He would travel down to Connecticut, from Chazy, every Monday morning and go home every Friday afternoon.  He brought on a crew of friends and they stayed here in the house, without heat, electric, or running water.  He was retired from work and was now working his butt off, for me.  

One weekend, he was home, mowing his lawn.  His new wife, Mary, realized she had not heard any noise outside for a while.  She went out to check on him.  She found him sitting on the pavement, leaning up against his car, catatonic.  He had had a stroke.  A lifetime of smoking, drinking, and poor nutrition was catching up with him.

I would not allow my dad to continue working on the house, after that.  He tried to insist that I keep him on but I refused.  He needed rest.  Eventually, he fully recovered from the stroke.  He had a couple mini-strokes after that, but none as bad as that first one.  He also survived colon cancer, prostate cancer, and throat cancer.  He was a tough old man.

You cannot outrun time.  Eventually it catches up with all of us.  My dad told me a few months ago that he was going to have a stent put into an artery by his heart and another one put into his leg.  It had been over a year since I had seen him.  He had been in South Carolina for many years.  I knew I needed to spend some time with him before this surgery.  There was no indication that there would be any complications.  But he was 75.  You never know if someone that age will wake up, after the surgery.

I pulled my youngest son out of school, to be my driving companion.  I wanted to take all three kids but it gets a little crazy with the three of them together and it seemed like it would be a nicer trip with just one of them.  The older two had already had too many sick days (sometimes known as * ahem * "ski days") and a four day trip would put them over the limit.  Had I known that their schools would be closed a week or so later, I may have made different choices.  But who knew.

There was no quarantine at the time but I was still cautious.  I made sure my son did not touch too many things and we washed our hands a lot.  We had some nice father-and-son time in the car, which was in the spirit of the trip.  I went out of my way to find a doughnut shop to buy him a Boston Creme (and myself a coffee).  We left early in the morning and made it to Florence in time for dinner.  

My dad made one of his famous "boiled dinners" also known as a pot roast.  He was not the best cook.  The food was a little bland, for my taste.  But this was the food I had grown up with and it made me feel good to taste Dad's cooking, one last time.  I joked with Patsy about how my dad was going to mash up all his food, douse it with vinegar, and then not eat most of it.  He did that.

The next day we spent most of the day sitting on the couch, watching TV.  It did not matter to me, what we did.  I just wanted to spend the day by my dad's side.  We went to Walmart to pick up some things to eat the next day and for the ride home.  I was a bit leery about getting too close to other people but it was not like it is now, with social distancing.  We even went out for dinner that night, at a Chinese buffet!  I kept thinking, "This is it.  I am a deadman."  But we were OK - no Coronavirus that day.

The surgery went well.  The objectives were achieved.  I gave my dad a hug and my son and I came home.  It would be another two weeks before my dad went home from the hospital.  His recovery was slow.

He was only home for a few days before he was back in the hospital.  He had pneumonia.  No matter what was done, my dad could not get enough oxygen.  His wife, Patsy, and I wondered if it might be COVID-19.  By this point, the entire country was in its grips.  It did not make sense that he would have it because Patsy was still healthy.  But you never know.  She and I agreed to ask the doctor if he had been tested for it.

The next day, I received a text from Patsy saying my dad was on life support.  He had been transferred to a ward in the hospital that was set up for patients who are awaiting their COVID-19 test results.  He was on a ventilator and heavily sedated.  The nurse we were in contact with told us the ventilator had nothing to do with his status as a possible Viral, that he would have needed it either way.  I am not one hundred percent sure of that.  But I can only take her word for it.

That was two weeks ago, as of this writing.  The results showed my dad did not have COVID-19.  He was moved back to the regular ICU.  But he was still heavily sedated.  There was some progress, with his breathing, but then he began having kidney failure.  Every day was a ride on a roller coaster.

Memories of Claude Marceau


In preparing this requiem I went through old photo albums, boxes and envelopes full of pictures, computer files from years past.  Seeing scattered pictures lying across my desk, the song The Way We Were got stuck in my head.  "Misty water-colored memories of the way we were."

Claude Marceau feeding a crow
Dad feeds a crow he befriended, July 1987

I found a photo of my dad with a crow he had befriended.  The crow had injured a wing.  It let my dad take care of it for a couple weeks until it was well enough to fly again.  He was good with animals.  I remember when we had chickens he had a trick where he could put a hen to sleep.  Then he would nudge the hen and it would wake up and walk off.  It did no harm to the bird.

My dad did not have expensive tastes, for the most part.  He was content with a bag of chips with onion dip and a cold soda.  He would take a slice of pizza over caviar, any day.


Dad loving on some shcrimps

He did enjoy a Surf & Turf, from time to time, lobster tail and filet mignon.  He liked a New York style cherry cheese cake - me too.  But his absolute favorite was a nice shrimp cocktail.  For a little guy who barely ate, he could put away his body weight in shrimp.

Young Claude and Gilles Marceau
Dad around 20 months with older brother Gilles,
Chicoutimi, Quebec, 1946

There were only a couple photos of my dad's childhood - black and white pictures of life in small town, northern Quebec.  It is strange, sometimes, for me to think of him growing up in a time and place where few people had electricity, roads were not paved, and milk was delivered by a horse-drawn carriage.

Claude Marceau and siblings
Carole, Gilles, a cousin, Gizzy, Claude
Unknown date and location

My dad used to talk about a dog he had, that used to pull all the kids in a cart, wearing a harness.  He said the dog was about four feet tall.  I did not fully believe him.  I assumed that he was little, at the time, so proportionally, the dog seemed bigger than he remembered.  I am not sure if the dog in the picture above is the one he was talking about.  But that is one huge dog.

Young Claude Marceau on Skis
Dad on skis, Chicoutimi, Quebec

Like many Canadians, my dad could skate from about the time he could walk.  Apparently, from the photo above, skiing was also a big part of his childhood.  I took my dad skiing a few times and he was not able to keep up with me.  I did not believe his stories about skiing from a young age until seeing the photographic evidence.

When he was five, my dad and his siblings were riding down a dirt road in the back of a pickup truck.  My dad was standing on the spare tire, looking ahead, over the cab of the truck.  They hit a big pot hole, or maybe a rock, and my dad flew up into the air and landed on his head, bashing his brains in.  He stood up, turned around, and fell down again.  His dad, Benoît, did not immediately notice.  It just happened that an uncle drove by, seconds later, and said to his wife, "Hey, isn't that Benny's kid, lying in the road?"  They stopped and put him in the back seat.

Today, Chicoutimi has a population of about 70,000 and has merged with the city of Saguenay to form a regional urban area of over a quarter million people.  There are mid-rise office buildings, hotels, and a world-class medical center there.  In the late 1940s, there were fewer than 20,000 residents.  Doctors still made house-calls.  My grandfather took my dad to the country doctor and was told nothing could be done - call a priest, for last rights.  My grandfather told the doctor to go F himself and he drove my dad 120 miles, on dirt roads, to the hospital in Quebec City.  (I think I would have liked my grandfather.)

My dad was in a coma for three months.  When he finally came to, he became aware of the tinny sound of Pop Goes the Weasel, playing over and over.  His brother Gilles was sitting there, by his side, playing with a Jack-in-the-box.  My dad did not recognize this boy in the chair.  He did not know who he was or who anyone in his family was.  In the years that followed, bits and pieces of memory would come back.  But there would always be about a five year period that was lost forever.

During these subsequent years, my grandfather was sick a lot.  My grandmother was forced to get jobs as a school teacher and a seamstress, in order to make ends meet.  Since she was not available to take care of the kids and my grandfather was sick, the kids were put in an orphanage.  Gilles rebelled and ran away so many times, he was sent to live with his grandfather.  But my dad and his younger brother Gizzy and sister Carole stayed in the orphanage for a long time.

These days, Canadians enjoy a higher standard of living than Americans.  But it was not so in the 1950s.  My grandparents moved the family to Champlain, New York in search of a better life.  (People from The North Country may find the previous sentence ironic.)  They rented a farm, for a while.  

The kids attended St. Mary's Academy.   The nuns were cruel to the students, in those days.  I never understood why people who hate children would be put in charge of them.  But that is another story.  The nuns would routinely beat the children with yardsticks.  Young Claude was a rambunctious kid, as anyone who knew him as an adult could imagine.  The nuns did not take kindly to my dad's clowning around.  One day, a nun assaulted my dad with a steel-edged ruler so badly that his knuckles still had open gashes all across them when he got home.

That night, at dinner, my dad sat with his hands under the table.  He was afraid that if his dad found out what had happened at school, he would be beaten again, for causing trouble.  Gizzy, like a lot of mischievous siblings, seemed to take some joy in the thought of this.  He said, "Hey Claude, why don't you show Dad your hands?"  Benoîdemanded to see my dad's hands.  With tears in his eyes, my dad put his hands on top of the table, ready for the beating that would follow.  But that is not what happened.  Instead, my grandfather went down to St. Mary's, first thing in the morning, got up in the nun's grill, and declared in expletive-filled broken English that if she ever laid a hand on his son, or any of his children, again, he would kill her.  I believe he meant it.  It was not long after that, that the kids transferred to public school.

It is somewhat odd that many of my dad's memories were of tragedies.  Maybe those are the most unusual so they stand out the most.  The every day, mundane events are all a blur because they are the norm.  A lot of these ordinary days were filled with danger, riding a hay conveyor and jumping off at the right spot to avoid being mangled, playing with fireworks, skitching behind random, moving cars or jumping onto their running boards and then jumping off to slide across the snowy pavement in their leather-soled shoes.

When construction on the locks of the Saint Lawrence Seaway began, my grandfather moved the family to Massena, New York.  He worked there until his death from colon cancer in 1967.  (He was dead at the same age that I was when I had the same cancer removed.)  My dad attended Massena High School, where he caused more trouble - most if it, harmless.  Most of it.

Grasse River Train Bridge
Grasse River Bridge, Massena, NY

My dad told many stories of jumping off a bridge, in town.  He said it was about 90 feet over the water.  This is another tall tale that was hard to believe until he brought me there and showed me.  We walked out on the bridge and looked down at the water.  I think it is the one pictured, above, although I do not remember for sure.  It was too high for my dad and his friends to dive so they would jump feet first.  Even then, the impact of the water was slightly painful and could have been fatal.

He said there was a metal cofferdam that had been left in place after pouring the concrete footing.  He and his friends would bet each other a sixteen-ounce RC Cola, that they could not jump between the cofferdam and the footing.  They could have been split in half the long way, if they hit the wrong way.  But they would do it.

One day, my dad got a hair-brained idea from his hero, Wile E. Coyote.  He loved those Road Runner cartoons still when I was a kid.  He decided to sew four bed sheets together and make a parachute.  He attached himself to the parachute with ropes and jumped off the bridge.  The chute opened.  It worked and he enjoyed a fun ride down, for about ten feet.

The likely model for my dad's parachute

The parachute then flipped upside-down and he plunged head-first into the chute.  Wile E. Coyote's model did not include an important feature, a hole at the top of the chute to let the air out.  Once my dad's chute filled with air it became unbalanced.  He hit the water head-first.  He was lucky he did not break his neck.  This was not the worst part.  He has described the sheet as acting like a washcloth when you get it wet in the tub and place it on your chest.  The sheet stuck to him.  His arms and legs got tangled in the ropes.  He came close to drowning.  Somehow, he managed to free himself and get his head above water.  His mom could have cared less, that he survived.  She was livid that he had ruined four of her good sheets.  He got it good for that one.

My mom always said my dad had nine lives, like a cat.  She may be right.

Get a few drinks in him, and my dad would tell the most uproarious stories, most of them about cheating death.  I wish I could do them justice.  He once put a bike wheel in a vice and tied a bottle rocket to it.  It made the wheel spin around at incredible speeds just before it blew up the garage.  It had ignited all the paint, gasoline, and turpentine in the garage.  He barely escaped with his life.  When he told the story, it was roll-on-the-floor funny.

He used to do a trick where he would flip his false teeth upside down and mess up his hair which made him look like a monster.  He had false teeth since he was a teenager.  Back then, he would put mud on his face and hide in a cemetery and come out and scare people.  It was funny at the time.  Then he did it to an unsuspecting Army buddy who carried a pistol.   His friend almost shot him.

Claude Marceau is a real swell guy
Swell!

My dad was treated differently in high school because, among other reasons, he still had a French accent (they called him "Frenchie" in the Army).  But he seems to have had a good bunch of friends in school.  I found a few class photos his friends signed.  They all thought he was "a real swell guy" and "a happy go lucky fellow."  Strange, though, that the four photos I found were all of different people but they only had two names, either Bob or Pat.  Weird.

We were not a traditional sports family, growing up.  Since my dad was Canadian, he grew up with different sports than most American kids did.  This is what he passed on to me.  We never watched football or basketball, on TV.  From time to time we would watch an Expos game and a few times my dad took me to Olympic Stadium to watch them play.  For years, the stadium was partially completed, with steel reinforcements protruding from the tower, like the unfinished Death Star.

Olympic Stadium, Montreal, 1977
Jennifer, me, Dad, Grandma Elsie, Grandmom Juliette, Mom

More often, the sports we saw on TV were hockey, boxing, and racing.  Sometimes we watched these in French since we received more Canadian stations than American.  I cherish a memory of going with my dad to watch the Habs play in the Montreal Forum, when I was in my early teens.  When Mike Tyson was the world champ, we watched every match on HBO.  I do not remember exactly when my dad got into racing.  It was something which grew over time.  Initially, it was drag racing and eventually it turned to NASCAR.  I never shared this passion with him.  Maybe he started too late, with me.

When our local racetrack, The Airborne Speedway, converted to a dirt track, my dad got directly involved.  His friend Leon needed someone with my dad's mechanical and machining skills.  I do not think it was a paying gig - maybe he got paid in beer, I do not know.  But it was a fun hobby and it made my dad feel important to be part of something, supporting a minor local celebrity who happened to be his friend, and participating in auto racing.

Leon Gonyo's race crew, Dad on far right
Autodrome Drummondville, Quebec, Summer 1993

My dad did a little racing, himself.  I could not have been even ten years old at the time.  We went to a drag race on the ice on Lake Champlain.  This must have been around February 1982.  My dad had an old Ford Torino.  It was a rusty piece of crap and probably got about five miles per gallon (gas was cheap, back then) but the thing hauled ass.  He had already put studs on his snow tires so he figured he would do well on the ice.  Little did he know, studded tires were not permitted.  The race officials waited to tell him this rule until after they had collected their non-refundable entry fee, of course.

What to do!  We had no tools with us.  As I sipped a hot chocolate (it was bitter cold out) I told my dad I had my pocket knife.  This had been a gift from him.  It was his dad's before him.  It was small.  It used to have two blades but by the time it was given to me the large blade had broken.  This is one of those random objects that should have been thrown away and replaced with a new one.  But it meant a lot for me, as a kid, to have an heirloom passed down, from the grandfather who had died years before I was born.

Claude Marceau's Ford Torino
Dad's Torino

It probably seems strange in the year 2020 for a nine year old to be carrying around a knife.  But we lived in the country and this was not uncommon.  Plus, things were different, forty years ago.  It was perfectly normal for me to have a knife in my pocket.  And lucky I did.  It was not the best tool and my dad cut his fingers a few times because the little blade kept folding up on him but it did the job.  He got enough of the studs out to qualify for the race.  He did not do well but it was a fun experience for him.  We went back again the following year - this time without studded tires.

Other "sports" of sorts that my dad passed on to me are hunting and fishing.  We have fished all over Northern New York and parts of Quebec.  We once took a week-long hunting trip to the Southern Tier of New York.  Mostly, though, we just went out back, behind our house.


Me and Dad, out cold, after an early morning hunt, November 1993

Often the goofball, my dad reveled in getting a laugh out of people.  I credit him with inventing the Selfie, decades before it had a name.  He did not do this because he liked looking at himself, although whenever he saw himself in a picture he would remark, "Now there's a good looking guy," word.  He just took selfies because it would make people laugh, to see him turn the camera around and take a picture of himself.  No one was doing that, 40 years ago.

World's first selfie?  Dad taking his own picture, July 1984

While this is my own personal account of my dad's life I want to make sure not to leave out a few people.  My sister Jennifer (the artist formerly known as Lynn) has her own story to tell.  Here is a picture of her and my dad on one of the trips we took to Florida as adults, to visit my mom's mom.


Dad and Jennifer in Florida, December 2001

My dad was married to my mom for over thirty years.  A few years after the divorce he married his second wife Mary.   They were together for only a couple years before Mary passed away.


Dad with Mary and her son at my house on Peach Lake, October 2007

After Mary passed, my dad married Patsy Cook.  They remained together until the end.  I have been in close contact with Patsy over the past few weeks.  We were always cordial but have only recently really become family.


Dad with Patsy at Myrtle Beach, April 2017

There are more stories involving more people I would love to write about.  Dad's brothers Giz and Gilles, old friends Damon and Joe, neighbors Max and Jack, extended family, and many more people than I can list here.  I have simply run out of time.

Claude Marceau Obituary


Claude R. Marceau of Florence, South Carolina, passed away on Thursday, April 9, 2020 at McLeod Regional Medical Center in Florence.  He was born in Chicoutimi, Quebec on September 23, 1944 the son of Benoît and Juliette (Roy) Marceau.

Claude emigrated to Champlain, New York in 1956 and spent most of his teen years in Massena, NY before enlisting in the US Army where he was stationed at Fort Dix, New Jersey.  He then started his family in the Trenton, NJ area before settling in his true home of nearly four decades, Chazy, NY, where he worked as a skilled machinist.  Claude retired in Florence, SC where he lived in a home he purchased with his wife Patsy.

An active member of his community, Claude was involved with the Lion's Club, the VFW, and was a Commander of the American Legion.  His most noted civic accomplishment was the establishment of Teen Dances at the Legion hall in Champlain, providing drug and alcohol-free entertainment for area teenagers, throughout the mid-1980s.  He enjoyed traveling, hunting, fishing, and watching NASCAR.

Claude is survived by his loving wife Patsy (Cook) Marceau, children Jennifer Lynn Slover of Connecticut, and David Marceau and his wife Dara of CT, five grandchildren, and brother Gilles Marceau of Florida.

Due to the current Coronavirus pandemic, there will be no immediate public service for Claude.  A full service with Christian rights and military honors will be held at the National Cemetery in Florence at an undetermined point in the future.  In addition, a Celebration of Life memorial will be held for Claude in Chazy, around that same undetermined time.

In lieu of flowers, candles, or gifts, Claude's family asks for donations to be sent to Claude Marceau's GoFundMe www.gofundme.com/f/celebrating-claude-marceau.  These funds will then be used for flowers and other preparations for Claude's future memorial celebration with remaining proceeds donated to the Chazy Lion's Club.  Online condolences may be left on this page, below, in the comments section.


Dad's Final Days



Spoiler alert, like the intro, this next section is mostly about me.  This is my blog, so it is what it is.  Clearly, I have put some work into this blog post, over some time.  By the time this is published it will have been two weeks since my dad first went on life support.  It has been an agonizing period.  I have dealt with the pain by crying, a lot of yard work and home repairs, and by writing.  Preparing this blog post has been an exercise in both joy and pain.  Sometimes it is too painful to continue and I have to take a deep breath or stop for a few minutes or take a break and do something with my kids, for a while.

For months, my dad has been talking about a surgery he was planning.  He needed a stent put into an artery exiting his heart, in response to an aneurysm.  The surgeon suggested that while he was at it, he should also put stents in Dad's legs.  He was having difficulty walking and the stents would improve circulation and the ability to move around.

He was a little nervous about the operation.  His heart would need to be stopped and then restarted.  I was concerned too.  I did not know things would end up the way they did.  But with the realization of this surgery's risks I decided I should travel Down South to see my dad, possibly one last time.  I am glad I did.

February 26th, my youngest son, my dad, and I spent most of a day sitting on the couch, father, son, and grandson.  We did not talk a lot.  We mostly watched TV.  But that was pretty typical.  I have spent up to ten hours in a car with my dad on several occasions, driving to fishing trips or family events in Canada, where we hardly uttered a word the entire time.  It was just nice to be in each other's company.


Me and Dad on the Tadoussac–Baie-Sainte-Catherine Ferry,
On the way to go fishing in Sept-Îles, June 2010

We got up early the next day and drove to the hospital.  It was a long surgery and a longer recovery.  My little guy and I had time to walk around the neighborhood, have a sit-down lunch, explore some buildings, and have a race.  For the record, I won.  But I think I pulled something.  That will be my last race against any of my kids.

It was nighttime by the time my dad was settled into a bed and we were able to sit with him.  I was not supposed to bring a little kid into the Intensive Care Unit with me.  I explained to the head nurse that we had traveled from Connecticut.  She relented, but reminded me several times over the course of the following 30-60 minutes we were there, that she was not supposed to do that.

The next couple weeks were not fun for my dad.  He spent a long time in the ICU, where he complained about the light and the noise, both of which made it difficult to sleep.  He had the only room with a window -  I pointed that out a few times, but it was of little solace.  After he was finally moved to a regular room, where he was happy to get more sleep, he was not there for long before he was transferred to a "rehab facility" pronounced /ˈnərsiNG/ /hōm/.  In total, it was nearly three weeks before my dad made it home.  

He was only home for a few days before an ambulance took him back to the hospital.  He was having trouble breathing.  At some point, in the hospital or the rehab, my dad had contracted pneumonia.  His lungs filled with fluid.  He went from a nasal cannula to a face mask and still was not getting enough oxygen.

During this time period, he and I had the, "It's been a good run," talk.  He was ready.  I was too.  I told him he had been a good dad and I loved him.

Despite this, Friday night, according to his doctor, he asked to be intubated.  I got a text from Patsy, Saturday morning, that my dad was on life support.

The next two days were the hardest.  I wrote a story about it and entered it into a writing contest.  I cannot publish it here until after the results are announced.  The following two weeks were not as bad; the initial shock had worn off.  It was the limbo that was so difficult to deal with.  Will he recover, or not?  One day, there is progress.  He is breathing 50% on his own.  The next day, the ventilator is doing 80% of the work.  Then his kidneys failed.  He needed dialysis.  What is next?

After about ten days I addressed the elephant in the room.  We, Patsy, Jennifer, and I, had some tough decisions to make.  The doctor told us most people do not stay on a ventilator for more than a couple weeks.  He described my dad's condition as, "not doing too great."  He suggested we decide if we want a "Do Not Resuscitate" or "DNR" order in place and that we might want to visit.

I was surprised the doctor told us to visit.  It had been my understanding that the hospital was on lock-down, meaning no visitors were allowed, due to the Coronavirus.  This was true, but apparently, for end of life situations, family is allowed to visit.  Patsy started to tell the doctor that Jennifer and I would be traveling down from Connecticut and I whispered "ixnay" and quickly changed the subject.  I did not want the doctor to freak out that we were traveling from a virus hot-spot and then tell us to stay home.  There was little danger that we were infected because we have been self-quarantining, but nobody thinks they are a threat until they are diagnosed with the virus.

The three of us took a day to think about it and then agreed we would give my dad the rest of the week to recover.  The reality was, he was already too far-gone at that point to ever recover and if by some slim chance, he did, he would never have any quality of life, living with oxygen and dialysis for however little amount of time he had left.  But to be sure, to give him a little more time, to allow us all to live without regret that we did not wait long enough, and to get through the Easter Weekend, we decided to wait and take my dad off life support the day after Easter, sixteen days after going on the ventilator.  We would visit him and say good-bye.

That plan was thwarted by South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster's decree that anyone from out of state would need to quarantined for fourteen days.  You could be local to Florence, running around the Walmart without a mask, and no problem, you are welcome at the hospital.  But someone who has been self-quarantined at home in Connecticut, well, your kind ain't welcome in the state of South Carolina.  Yah, makes sense.

This was especially hard on my dad's remaining brother, Gilles.  He had been by my dad's side 70 years earlier while my dad was in the three month coma.  He had been by their brother Gizzy's side when he laid in bed, zooted on morphine, in his final days.  He would surely have been there with my dad in his final week, if he had been permitted to travel.

Then, of course, the other development was that Dad did not make it through the weekend.  He died Thursday morning, four days before we would have seen him for the last time.

About an hour before he was pronounced dead, Patsy and I were talking about the toll this was taking on us.  It was exhausting, watching my dad go through this.  This was when I explained to Patsy that I had figured out, my dad had not been progressing at all, all along.  It seemed like that, because one day his ventilator would be doing 80% of the work and then next day it would be at 50%.  But then they would turn it back up to 80% and we would be confused.  This was because the doctor was fiddling around with the dials, adjusting the settings to see what would work.  He had no idea what would work.  He just adjusted the dials and then waited to see if my dad could handle it.  The nurses then saw the settings were lower and reported that back to us as improvement.  It was a cruel, false sense of hope.  What are you going to do.  We must move on.

It would have been nice to at least have had a video conference with my dad, once he came off sedation.  But it is what it is.  These are the days we are living in.  Our family is relieved, somewhat, that we did not have to make that tough decision.  You never want to think, what if we had just given him one more day?  Dad took care of that for us.

Thanks, Dad.



Dad walking his grandson, May 2011



Prepared by David Marceau