2020 just keeps getting weirder.

The latest incident began when a group of officers from the Utah Department of Public Safety's Aero Bureau spotted something strange. The group was flying over rural Utah and counting bighorn sheep when they noticed a gleaming, alien-looking entity in the middle of nowhere.

"One of the biologists...spotted it, and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it," said pilot Bret Hutchings. "He was like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!' And I was like, 'What.' And he's like, 'There's this thing back there—we've got to go look at it!"

The "thing" was a metallic, prism-shaped monolith, standing about 12 feet high and reflecting the desert sun.


Aliens or Art?

Most people have concluded that the monolith was simply the work of an ambitious Earth-based artist. Some are even guessing at who that artist might be. Some have suggested it is the creation of John McCracken, a minimalist artist who died in 2011, or the work of a McCracken imitator.

Either way, no one is quite sure how the object arrived. "Somebody took the time to use some type of concrete-cutting tool or something to really dig down, almost in the exact shape of the object, and embed it really well," said Lt. Nick Street, a Department of Public Safety spokesperson.

"It's odd. There are roads close by, but to haul the materials to cut into the rock, and haul the metal, which is taller than 12 feet in sections — to do all that in that remote spot is definitely interesting," Street said.

The monolith immediately sparked public interest, reminding many people of a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey wherein a black monolith mysteriously appears. Of course, in the film, the monolith is the work of an unnamed alien race.

Monolith 2001 A Space Odyssey MonolithThe monolith in 2001: a space odyssey

When the story broke, many people immediately began to speculate about it, presuming the installation was the work of extraterrestrials. CBS News described it as "alien-like," and online conspiracy theorists have proposed many possible mysterious origins.

The Utah Department of Public Safety fueled the fire by refusing to disclose the object's exact location; of course, obsessive Internet users quickly found it.

The Monolith Mysteriously Disappears

To add even more mystery and intrigue, as of Friday, November 27th, the monolith has reportedly disappeared. Some intrepid explorers managed to discover its location, which they said was south of the Moab desert, but when some of them arrived to photograph it on Friday, it was gone.

One of the explorers, Riccardo Marino, posted about the event on Instagram. "All that was left in its place was a message written in the dirt that said 'bye b*tch' with a fresh pee stain right next to it. Someone had just stolen the statue, and we were the first to arrive at the scene."

Marino also said that on his way to the monolith, he passed a pickup truck carrying a large object that he now believes was the structure itself.

If this is all the work of aliens, they're surprisingly well-versed in modern American lingo. On the other hand, the heist could also have been the work of an invasive human who has just brought a curse upon our planet by stealing the monolith. Or it all could've been one massive joke, the perfect way to distract us from our 2020 misery.

The Utah Department of Public Safety had a more exuberant reaction. "IT'S GONE!" they wrote on Instagram. "Almost as quickly as it appeared it has now disappeared," adding that they can only speculate that aliens (symbolized by an alien emoji) were responsible.

The three-sided structure was removed "by an unknown party," according to an official statement from the Bureau of Federal Land Management.

Its disappearance is being investigated by the local sheriff's office, since the monolith is considered private property. If it was removed by someone other than the artist who installed it, this could be a case of a very strange art heist.

This week, the monolith has become the subject of very public fascination. "We recognize the incredible interest the 'monolith' has generated world-wide. Many people have been enjoying the mystery and view it as a welcome distraction from the 2020 news cycle," Monticello Field Manager Amber Denton Johnson said in a statement.

"Even so, it was installed without authorization on public lands, and the site is in a remote area without services for the large number of people who now want to see it. Whenever you visit public lands please follow Leave No Trace principles and Federal and local laws and guidance."

Even aliens aren't free from the feds, it seems.

2020: Year of Aliens

2020 has been a year of calamitous pandemics, protests, and politics; but in between it all, news flashes about aliens keep popping up like little winks from the beyond—perhaps reminding us that we're not alone.

In April, the Pentagon released two videos of unidentified objects, filmed in 2004 and 2015, respectively. In June, scientists released a study that said there may be more than 38 alien civilizations in the Milky Way. In July, the Pentagon revealed that they were tracking unidentified aircrafts as part of their U.F.O. unit. In September, astronomers discovered evidence of possible life on Venus.

UFO sightings have spiked in 2020, with everyone from Demi Lovato to Staten Island locals reporting alien sightings this year. Odd news stories keep popping up, like the time a former astronaut told Forbes aliens are definitely real and they could be here on Earth.

"It's possible they're here right now and we simply can't see them," said astronaut Helen Patricia Sharman. "Aliens exist, there's no two ways about it."

Mysteriously, Mark Kelly, a former astronaut, was just elected to the U.S. Senate in Arizona. Perhaps last year's Area 51 invaders were more successful than we thought.

The question is: Would it even matter if aliens installed this monolith?

"At this point, Aliens taking control of the world doesn't seem that bad," wrote one Twitter user. Hopefully, if aliens are responsible, they're not too mad that a pickup-driving, foulmouthed American stole their monolith — though their interactions do sound like excellent fodder for a film.


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COVID-19 has many workers looking to leave the expensive cities they'd previously rented in and gazing out towards greener pastures.

Digital nomadism has been a thing for a long time, and in normal times, remote workers might look to distant shores for places to settle. But where does the landlocked digital nomad, constrained to the continental US by COVID-19, go?

For this list, we've compared a variety of "best of" lists and balanced factors including price and location to present you this non-definitive list of the best places to work from home in 2021.

1. Tacoma, Washington

Tacoma, WA

Tacoma, WA

trip savvy.com

Having visions of settling in the Pacific Northwest? Tacoma, Washington is a more affordable alternative to Portland/Seattle with the same wild coastal charm. With great Internet, a wide variety of things to see and do, and decent prices, this city has the added benefit of being near Mount Rainier and the ocean. East, Central, and South Tacoma offer a good balance of safety and affordability.

2. Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona

givepad.wordpress.com

This city tops Smartasset.com's list of best places to work from home thanks to its high percentage of remote workers. Located in the northeast part of Phoenix, this warm, sunny place is perfect for working from home while the nearby mountains and trails offer opportunities to decompress in the arms of nature. Gilbert and Tucson are other great options in the state.

3. Boulder, Colorado

Boulder CO

Boulder, CO

notesfromasparklingfield.wordpress.com

Colorado offers a lot of great options for remote workers. Boulder is an excellent pick for working-from-homers, as well as plenty of pristine natural escapes for those looking to get in touch with nature. Manitou Springs is another great option for anyone looking for a bit more of a small-town feel.

4. Chattanooga, Tennessee

\u200bChattanooga, TN

Chattanooga, TN

matadornetwork.com

Chattanooga tops broadbandnow.com's list of best cities to work from home thanks to its fast Internet, its good wellness index, and its lower than average cost of living. Plus, there's no income tax, so what are you waiting for? Get on that Chattanooga Choo-Choo and get to Tennessee living.

5. Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City

Kansas City

Business Insider

Kansas City tops Business Insider's list of best cities to work from home. It offers a very low cost of living and fast WiFi speeds, and according to one resident, ""Kansas City is just like Chicago, New York, and L.A., except without the [jerks]."

6. Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh

Raleigh

thecrazytourist.com

With plenty of history and culture abounding, Raleigh, SC is a great pick for remote workers, and offers many great opportunities for the laptop-bound; the nearby Cary ranked second on SFGate's list of best places to work from home. For a more coastal feel, try Southport, another smaller North Carolina city.

7. Austin, Texas

Austin is booming with tech and industry opportunities, but remains relatively affordable. Laid-back, lush, safe, affordable, and vibrant, Austin might just be your next destination. If the Lone Star state appeals to you, Pasadena, Texas is another great choice.

8. Lancaster, California

Lancaster, CA

Lancaster, CA

tripadvisor.co

Still California dreaming on those winter days? California rarely appears on these sorts of list because it is extremely pricey, but Lancaster is definitely cheaper than the neighboring LA, which sits about an hour south of this city. In Lancaster, you'll find clean air, a bustling cityscape, and a variety of outdoor experiences including the annual California poppy festival. If you're looking for a more San Francisco state of mind, Fremont is another good option.

9. Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

moneycrashers.com

Madison ranks first on moneycrashers.com's list of best places to work from home thanks to its charming blend of rural and city life. Though slightly above the US's average cost of living, it's still lower than most other major cities, and plus it offers a huge variety of locally sourced organic food thanks to its proximity to farms, if that's your thing.

10. Maui, Hawaii

\u200bMaui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii

world-visits.blogspot.com

Hawaii sounds like a pipe dream, but Maui is a great place to live for remote workers who want to go off the beaten path a little bit. If you're dreaming of beaches and palm trees while you Slack, Maui is a possibility. Hey, you only live once.

At the start of this year, I made it my mission to try out all my local restaurants' varying cuisines. My partner and I realized there were so many great places to eat nearby that we'd never been to. We had it all mapped out - we'd go to a restaurant every Friday night. We were both excited. Then lockdown hit, and restaurants started to close.

I was still determined to test new cuisines on my own. But when I checked out a few recipes, they were so complicated and like nothing I'd ever made before. I was ready to give up until a friend recommended HelloFresh, a delivery box that delivers ingredients to your doorstep every week.

All the recipes looked so delicious. But how easy would it be? And would it be worth it? But when I saw how affordable HelloFresh was, it piqued my interest. Plus, having the ingredients for my chosen recipes at my door would be convenient, and I'd avoid the grocery store.

The meals take approximately 30 minutes to cook as everything is pre-portioned, and there's very little prep involved. This would make things ten times easier. I can even skip a week or cancel my subscription at any time, so I thought I might as well try it out.

Here are the top 5 favourite international recipes from HelloFresh:

1. Coconut Chicken Curry

Thai cuisine was entirely new for me, so I didn't know what to expect, but this dish did not disappoint. The high-quality chicken was juicy and the sauce super flavoursome. I was surprised at how simple it is to cook with HelloFresh!

2. Mexican Black Bean Tacos and Tomato Pepper Salsa

When I order Mexican, I go with a burrito. So I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the Tacos, but these are so yummy and have the perfect amount of spice. They're much easier than I expected to prepare. HelloFresh makes it super simple without sacrificing flavour.

3. Chinese Salt & Pepper Chicken

The Chinese food I usually eat is from the greasy take-out down the street. Don't get me wrong, it tastes fantastic, but I hope that HelloFresh would help me find healthier alternatives. And this dish is a perfect example. It still has a salty and spicy taste that you'd want from a Chinese meal, without being greasy.

4. French Sheet-Pan Turkey Almondine

I don't know much about French cuisine (other than baguettes), and I don't eat Turkey very often. So, I'll admit I was apprehensive about whether I'd like this dish. But it's so tasty. The Garlic Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans went so well, and the Almondine sauce makes the Turkey juicy and tender.

5. Korean Gochujang Sugar-Glazed Shrimp

I was super excited to try this dish as I love Korean food but never cooked it myself. It's surprising how simple it is to cook, and - as usual with HelloFresh - it took less than 30 minutes! Its sweet and fresh flavours are delicious and did not disappoint.

If you're interested in sampling or learning to cook new international cuisines, I'd highly recommend HelloFresh. Their menu has so much variety (25 recipes a week to choose from!), the food is delicious, the service convenient, and eliminates dinnertime stress. It starts at just $9.69 per serving!

I'm so glad I took the plunge. Check out HelloFresh; you won't be disappointed.

Update: The folks at HelloFresh are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to get 6 free meals including free shipping

Finally, we are done with 2020! Between all the highs and lows, it felt like 5 years packed into one, so I'm excited to start fresh in 2021. I'm taking my New Year's resolutions to the next level: cook more, read more, and get back to things I truly love like arts & crafts and morning runs (okay, most likely walks).

Honestly, I could go on forever about the new year, new me thing but actually getting started is my biggest hurdle. I realized that my motivation comes from my mood which directly relates to my environment … and for the past year, my house has been my habitat. So, it's not looking too great after all the wear and tear. The dirt and the mess have accumulated right under my nose.

It's not that I'm bad at it, I just feel so overwhelmed. When my house is clean, I feel much more in control and motivated, and right now it's far from it. When I was venting about my cleaning woes the other day, my friend recommended Handy.

Handy allows you to book local professional cleaners and sign up for monthly, bi-weekly, or weekly plans. Plus, you can schedule appointments at a time that works for you with availability 7 days a week from 7am-11pm. So to get me in the right headspace to tackle my goals, I'm going to be signing up for Handy. I'm looking forward to letting the experts take over.

Although having people in your home may sound a bit strange right now, Handy has rolled out the Handy Safety Standard to help promote the health and safety of the customers and professionals who use their platform. Some of these measures include requiring Pros to wear face coverings during bookings and mandatory daily in-app check-ups to verify they are in good health before claiming a booking. They even have a section on their site dedicated to keeping customers and professionals updated on the latest CDC health and safety guidance.

To top everything off, all of the Cleaning Pros booked through Handy are vetted and background checked. And you can even check out each Pro's ratings and reviews before you book.

Once my house is in order, the fresh feeling will have a domino effect on so many other areas of my life:

✔ Read More

Lying on my cozy couch without inhaling all the dust I'd chosen to ignore, despite my clear uptick in sneezing the last few months. My reading list is chock-full of thrillers and fantasy. And with my new clean slate, I've even added some books about organization.

✔ Get Cooking

Nothing makes cooking more enjoyable than a sparkling kitchen. I'm inspired by a clean space and all the new recipes I'll be whipping up in 2021 already have me drooling.

✔ More Exercise (aka walking!)

I won't feel guilty getting out for a walk on-the-daily when I know I'm not neglecting any household chores thanks to Handy. And when I come home I'm not greeted by any reminders to clean.

You can specify exactly what you want to be cleaned before your Pro arrives and if you like them, you can request to have the same Pro come every time. I can already imagine how exciting it will be to walk into my spotless space.

I cannot wait to book my cleaning through Handy so I can get my 2021 resolutions rolling. My New Year is all about my wellness and my environment plays such a big part in it. I'm signing up for bi-weekly appointments. But their plans are super flexible and if I need, I can always change to a weekly or monthly cleaning plan — sometimes they even have bookings available as soon as the next day!

With Handy, I'm leaving that rough 2020 in the dust and jumping into 2021 feeling fresh and ready-to-go.

Update: Handy is offering a limited time discount for our readers! Follow this link today to get a special offer on your first time cleaning plan.