Intelligent Life.

Image courtesy of The Pulaski Democrat/NYS Historic Newspapers, May 1979.

I have always been interested in space, the stars, and the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in our galaxy. My first entry in the Elementary School Science Fair was in grade five. I made a presentation on UFOs. I’m seen here pictured next to a model I built out of paper plates and construction paper, based on a report I read about a sighting in Minnesota in 1976.

As an avid “Star Trek” fan, I have hopes that someday humanity will be be able to reach other solar systems at warp speed and that we’ll eventually make contact with our sentient species. I’ve always felt like the movie “Contact” probably came closest to what first contact will be like. I am hopeful that I will live long enough to see humans make contact with other intelligent species. We have a few more decades to accomplish this task.

So many science fiction novels and space operas are fueled by the concept of Earth being invaded by aliens, as if the only reason they’d cross many light years in incredibly advanced ships is to steal about F-16s and hover over our nuclear power plants. I’m often perplexed by these UFO sighting reports where witnesses say a craft came from a very far away destination to our planet just to blink its lights in the atmosphere. The visitors must want something other than to blink their lights at us, but I don’t believe they’d come all this way for purely hostile intentions.

I recently article that randomly popped up in my Apple News feed suggested that extraterrestrial visitors must be following some version of Star Trek’s Prime Directive, which boils down to this: “No human (or member of Starfleet) shall interfere with the natural progression and evolution of an alien species”.

This makes sense to me.

Can you imagine if aliens did arrive here? Many Americans can’t even handle folks coming into the country from Mexico, how in the world would they be able to handle the idea of beings coming from another world? For many it would instantly invalidate their religious beliefs. It would be an incredibly humbling experience, as it would turn out that humans aren’t the latest and greatest of “God’s” inventions after all. I’ve read more than one story that suggested there would be an incredible increase in suicide, because of the negation of these deeply rooted beliefs of humans being the most supreme creatures in the universe. If alien visitors can get to us but we can’t get to them then we’ve still got a lot of growing and evolving to do.

Perhaps aliens keeping their visits completely secret is their way of keeping our society intact.

Those that have reported contact with extraterrestrial visitors in relation to UFO sightings talk about being shown or taught things like devastating weather events, oceans taking over the land masses, and other ecological decay. Could it be the visitors are warning us of the dangers of man made climate change? Are they trying to nudge us in a better direction without causing the chaos of scaring the natives with the knowledge of their existence?

So many questions.

It is my hope that when we make contact with another intelligent species, that it’s done in an amicable, cooperative way. As mentioned in the Star Trek movie “First Contact”, learning we’re not alone in the Universe humanity hope to better itself because it learns we’re not alone.

What a glorious thing that would be.

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Mobile.

This is not my mother and father. This photo is from an archived ad for the Great Lakes Mobile Home Company, and the photo shows the kitchen layout of a late 1950s Great Lakes mobile home.

We lived in a 1959 Great Lakes mobile home until I was nine years old. My dad built a two-story colonial-style house in the hayfield across the street and we moved there the day before I started in the fourth grade.

The mobile home was not big. I believe the official dimensions were 10’x50′. The stove in the photo is white, our stove and refrigerator were turquoise. When my sister was on the way, my Dad built an addition, adding a living room, small laundry room (with only room for the dryer, the washing machine was in the bathroom), and another additional bedroom. The addition was 8’x40′. The old living room became the dining room, because if you look at the kitchen in the photo above, there wasn’t really room for four people at a kitchen table for dinner, though I remember us doing just that. The table would be pulled out into the middle of the kitchen.

Apparently the clothes dryer was in the kitchen prior to Dad building the addition but I don’t really remember that. I have no idea where they would have put it.

When I was little the trailer seemed decently sized. I had the former master bedroom and my sister’s crib was in the little bedroom behind the living room. When she outgrew the crib my bed was replaced by bunk beds because the little bedroom didn’t even have enough room for a single bunk bed.

I remember riding out a couple of pretty intense winters in the mobile home before moving across the street. I remember the sound of rain on the metal roof and the windows between the new living room and the former living room. When the addition was built, the common wall with the mobile home was the original exterior wall. I didn’t find this odd.

The structure that defines your house does not define your home. It’s the people inside that make the home, and I remember a very happy home in our trailer.

Great.

Last night I took a selfie while taking a walk through the adjacent neighborhood. It was about 9:45 PM on a Saturday night. The pre-autumn winds were blowing nicely but not too strongly. There wasn’t a chill in the air. There was a very slight rustle to the leaves, but nothing to indicate the leaves were reaching the end of their life in 2020.

I propped my iPhone in the window sill of an old factory-turned office complex and set the timer to take the photo. I stood under the glow of an LED streetlight and next to a sign post. The photo was very simple and captured my mood and moment. I hope it conveyed how good I was feeling.

I posted this photo on Facebook. It was my first post of the week. I have calmed down on posting to Facebook but I still continue to do so, because love it or hate it, there are still a good number of friends and family that use Facebook as their primary form of digital communication. I think the caption said something like, “taken on a Saturday night in the greatest city in the United States”. 

I truly feel this way about Chicago, Illinois. We have been fortunate to be able to travel all over the United States. My husband and I have experienced most of the major cities that U.S.A. has to offer. We’ve spent a decent amount of time in each of the cities and I can say without hesitation, I am the most comfortable in Chicago.

It’s the mix of the Midwestern vibe with the pace of being the third largest city in the country. I know some media outlets like to paint Chicago into a spooky, destructive, heinous war zone, but the truth of the matter is, you’re going to find that in any city in the country.  The images of Chicago looking and acting like an apocalyptic war zone sells ads, fear, and propaganda. 

The truth of the matter is, Chicago is probably one of the cleanest cities we’ve encountered. Unlike New York, we don’t pile our garbage on the streets. We have alleys and our garbage and recycleable bins go back there. It also feels like people just care more here; trash bins are used with regularity. While no city would pass a “white glove test”, Chicago is a lot cleaner than anything I’ve experienced on the East Coast.

Chicago has beautiful architecture, wonderful food, and eclectic neighborhoods. We have the Lakefront, and one of the largest cycling programs in the country. Each of the neighborhoods that make up Chicago bring their own ingredients to a very diverse mix of experiences. As a lad that grew up in relatively rural Upstate New York, I have gained so much more in the way of cultural experiences since moving to Chicago a little over three years ago. Are there bad neighborhoods? Unfortunately, yes, too many of them. But there’s also plenty of beautiful neighborhoods in the Windy City.

And lastly, one of the other things I love about Chicago is the weather. You won’t hear that a lot, because Chicago is cold in the winter. Very cold. It’s common to hear how brutal Chicago winters are, but when you compare snowfall here to what we used to experience in the Lake Ontario Snowbelt in Upstate New York, it’s no contest; it’s easier to deal with the cold in Chicago instead of being buried in snow elsewhere. And when it does snow, Chicago seems to handle it just fine.

The summers are awesome. There’s plenty of sunshine. Our proximity to Lake Michigan keeps us from being completely roasted under the summer sun. And as a storm chaser, the thunderstorms can be impressive. Mother Nature keeps me in awe here in Chicago.

Additionally, in an hour we can be completely out of the city and driving across the beautiful prairies of Illinois. On the occasions I need to step away from city life, I can be near Green Acres in no time. It’s a win-win.

And lastly, I mentioned the neighborhoods. I love walking in the neighborhoods. I love discovering what makes each piece of Chicago unique.

When folks elsewhere in the country find we live in Chicago, I often here the comment, “I love that city”. I’ve heard from folks in Florida, people on the west coast,  desert dwellers, and people that grew up in the south.

The Second City? It’s second to none, just as our tourism ad campaigns proclaim. 

Chicago will always have a special place in my heart.