By Clive Thompson,
After waiting by the phone for a couple of days, I begin to think that it may be more difficult to get in touch with UFO hunters than with extraterrestrial life itself.
By this point in my UFO investigator's training, I'd dutifully plowed through the training manual for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), North America's biggest, most respected UFO investigation organization. I'd begun to realize the hellish complexities of UFO work: the comprehensive knowledge of the night sky, the deep network of technical advisors in local universities and corporate labs, and the ability to ignore the increasingly weird looks I was getting from my girlfriend.
Things were clicking fairly well on all frontsI'd even found a few new friends at local papers who were sending me info about UFO calls that come into their news desks. The only trick now was actually contacting my local MUFON folks for formal training.
Easier said than done. I called up Drew Williamson, the head of Toronto's MUFON chapter. But since Drew is a photographer, he works strange hours; we wound up in a long game of phone tag that ended with him recommending (on my voice mail) that I try the MUFON Ontario home page, where I can get online contact information for Victor Lourenco, the head of Ontario's UFO hunters.
There, I checked the Canadian Ufologist magazine and signed up for the "UFO Daily Updates" newsletter, a high-yield listserv that spits out about a dozen postings about new UFO sightings each day. Within minutes, I was reading about an alien recovered from a crash by South American military officials, perusing a profile of experimental NASA life-support systems, and viewing GIFs of faked U.S. UFO-based technology.
Most importantly, I got Lourenco's email address and sent him a message, offering my services as a journalist with an "above-average" interest in UFOs. A few weeks later, he ships a reply:
"Dear Clive," he wrote. "Thanks for getting in touch and we can certainly use your writing skills and research abilities, amongst others." He went on to say that MUFON Ontario is in the middle of restructuring itself to produce a new local Toronto group. "Fill out our local MUFON Ontario membership application (This is not the MUFON INC application) which will entitle you to vote in the upcoming elections for the new group. You will be informed about meetings as well."
As I shipped out my application form into the ether, I realized that patience is probably a good thing to learn in this line of business. </end>
CLIVE THOMPSON is the editor of This Magazine, a Canadian journal of culture and politics. He lives in Toronto.