Saturday, February 27, 2016

Where Did They All Go?

J and L enjoy traveling together at all times but there are those instances when one or the other have to kiss the other goodbye for various reasons. Once in a while exploring with Paul (the 3rd leg of J and L) J will take off but business is the general culprit when L or J separate for various conferences around the country.

Happy feet traveling together
One such situation occurred recently when J glided into the blue skies of Southern California heading east toward Phoenix for an educational conference being held in Scottsdale. Arizona is a favorite haunt for researching and exploring and this time it would be researching to learn how truly effective schools and districts work most effectively.

Students should always come first when it comes to education and the chance to improve the educational benefits of those students is always key.

But this blog has nothing to do with education – it has to do with missing people.

J arrived an hour and half early to Ontario International Airport for the short flight to Phoenix when he was taken aback by the displays that lined the north side of Terminal 4 where Southwest Airlines hub is located.

By Gates 400’s, his was 403, there were glass enclosures with five quart sized milk bottles in each of the seven displays with photographs of missing people on them. Surprising the majority were adults who had disappeared throughout the years from personal relationships ending, self-exile, running from debtors, or perhaps more of a nefarious nature.

Have you see me?
 To bring attention to the fact that millions of people each year make it to the list of those people who just end up missing with no idea of what happened to them was the reason for the displays.

Milk cartons with photographs of faces of those missing was the brainchild of the dairy industry in 1984 who believed since milk was a staple in the home perhaps people may recognize those identified on the cartons as missing. Maybe it was Anderson Erickson Dairy or Wisconsin’s Hawthorn Melody Farm Dairy but whoever was given credit it carried on for many years until the late 1980’s when Dr. Benjamin Spock (yeah, the one who later apologized to parents about raising their children since he didn’t have a clue) and others said the milk cartons may frighten children unnecessarily. 

Where is this woman?

Maybe it would have frightened those who wanted to steal children from their parents also – but that’s just conjecture at this point.  It was all started, per research, when the high profile case of Etan Patz who was abducted in 1979 on his way to school and later by John Walsh, father of Adam Walsh who was kidnapped in 1981. Whoever or whatever was the cause the point was made nationwide that people, not only children, go missing in unheard of numbers every year.

Artist Brandy Eve Allen created the plaster casts of the milk cartons from the early 1980’s recently as an art exhibit in Los Angeles and other locations such as Ontario International Airport. A stark reminder of what lurks behind the darkness of abduction.

Everybody needs milk and what a clever innovation but then again it was from an artist who grabbed that decades old idea and brought it again to the forefront of society.

 Then again most artists are pretty creative – that is what separates them from the rest of humanity in just one way.

 J is an artist, if being a professional writer counts – he says it does so we’ll leave it there.
Of course, those milk cartons aren’t as popular any longer in the 21st Century and perhaps it’s because they didn’t find all the missing people or perhaps the missing people really didn’t want to be found or perhaps no one cares any longer. Or perhaps Dr. Spock was right and a child kidnapped from his loving family and saw their face on a milk carton would be too frightened to turn themselves in – NOT!

 Who knows?

Whatever the case it was rather eerie for J to arrive at his gate to find it deserted with faces staring out from plaster milk cartons from behind locked glass cases.

That's J in the hat - not a missing person
Looking around the seating areas contained none of the usual waiting passengers, the white tiled halls void of the sound of footsteps, no annoying announcements bellowing indistinguishable comments from the ceilings, and no planes standing majestically at the end of the flexible tethers.

No planes

No passengers - zero

He certainly could not have been the only passenger on Southwest flight 182 bound for Phoenix on this unusually warm winter day in February – it couldn’t be. But where were all the people? Gate after gate was devoid of human activity – dead silence filled the air.

Had he gone missing? Would he end up on a milk carton in some aairport lobby some day?

Being a fictional writer J immediately began to conjure up images of him being the only passenger at Ontario that day. Of course, he had been cattle called through TSA with dozens of other customers and as he walked to his gate there were people gathered around the various restaurants, bars, and sundry shops but where had they all gone?

Where was everyone?

Fifteen minutes later life was back to normal – screeching over the intercom systems about not leaving bags attended, suitcases making click-clack sounds across the tiled floors, and the munch- munch of people chewing whatever items they had purchased in the various food stores they had passed on the way to their individual gates.

Life again took center stage on the tarmac

There are all the people!
He wasn’t missing after all but simply early to the wing of the airport where his gate was located.

Though, there could be a story in all of this anyway.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Pacific Marine Mammal Center

Where could Laureen be?
Way back in 1971 three people by the name of Jim Stauffer, John Cunningham and Dr. Rose Ekeberg came up with a wonderful plan on trying to save pinnipeds found stranded along the beaches near Laguna Beach.

A little assistance, please - we need you to help us.
What made saving the lives of sea lions, seals and walruses (though there aren't any walruses along the Pacific shore of Laguna - or none we've been told about) so appealing to the folks mentioned above? There wasn't much thought in it all at first but Jim being a lifeguard at Newport Beach just north of Laguna Beach happened upon an incident that would change the future of the beach communities from Long Beach to San Diego in a very short time.

Okay, not Jim's station but pretty!

A young girl came running up to Jim while he was duty and told him a young seal was in need of help lying on the sand not far from the lifeguard tower Jim was manning. He drove to the spot and sure enough a young pup was just stretched out in the sands almost lifeless. Jim carefully picked up the animal, to ensure it wouldn't decide to take a hunk out of him, and placed the sea creature into the rear of the lifeguard jeep. Instantly the animal leaped out and Jim thinking it was fine left it alone and returned to duty. But, being a conscience man, he drove back after duty and found the little seal still lying motionless on the sand. He drove to Dover Shores Animal Hospital and learned the pup had lung-worms - so with the right medicine and loving care Jim gave the pup it regained its health and soon was swimming back into the cold Pacific waters.


By the way, pinniped is the descriptor used for seals, sea lions, and walruses. Pinnipedia means fin or feather-footed. Just wanted to clear that up.

News of Jim the Lifeguard heroic work keeping a seal pup alive went up and down the coast and soon he was receiving dozens of calls per day about a seal here and a sea lion there in desperate need of love and care. Jim got his friend and fellow lifeguard, John Cunningham to assist him and then the recruited Dr. Rose Ekeberg of Laguna Canyon Animal Hospital to provide medicine and advice on how to help these animals - Dr. Ekeberb even temporarily would hold the animals in her clinic until they were well enough to return to sea.

Gorgeous but cold and dangerous sometimes
From barn to sea rescue facility - not bad at all

Quite a trio and this was before the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. They were ahead of the game and located a place to house and tend to the wounded or ill sea animals at a local barn owned by the city of Laguna Beach. It was renovated into a sea rescue facility and the ownership was offered to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center where it remains to this day as a fully functioning rescue and rehabilitation establishment.

Being helped on a daily basis.
J and L visited the non-profit business and were very impressed with not only the facility but the wonderful care the mostly volunteers take with each new 'patient' that is brought in on an almost daily basis. The cause of the stress on these beautiful creatures vary from undernourishment, dehydration and respiratory infections. Of course, there are also injuries from fishing accidents (human induced), shark bites, various diseases and even parasites.

Judy the volunteer of volunteers
We met a wonderful volunteer by the name of Judy who told us that during the busy season, late winter or early spring, the facility may get 5 or 6 calls per day of a stranded pinniped along the coast at which time the professionals race out in vehicles to the different beach locations and do what they do best - rescue and rehabilitate.

I'm ready to go home to the sea
As soon as the animals can feed themselves, pass a rigorous vet health screening they are allowed to return to the open sea - this can take a week or a month or more depending on the severity of the wounds or illness.
Water, sun, food and friends - where do we sign up?
By the looks of the swimming and yapping seals we witnessed in a large pool they didn't seem to be in a hurry to leave. Free food, plenty of diving space, friends to play with, and the loving attention of volunteers like Judy - who would want to venture back into the dark and sometimes hostile waters off the coast of Southern California?

J even thought of moving in with the guys - he enjoys fish every once in awhile.

Who's that cuddly bear?

What a handsome seal!