by Tom P Blake
Part 1 – Off the top of my head
What the heck do bloggers write about during a pandemic, besides strictly pandemic news? After 26 years and 4,000 articles, columns and eNewsletters, I never thought I’d be tongue-tied.
But, I am, sort of. Do you really need to be reminded to appreciate your mate and your friends? Do you need to be reminded to beware of romance scams? (Well, one more COVID-19 related scam. See Part 2 below). Do you need to hear my suggestions about senior first date behavior?
No, because while we are all mainly staying home, I doubt if any face-to-face first dates are taking place across our Champ nation.
Persevere Champs. This pandemic will make us wiser and tougher. You men and women are an incredible group. I have vast admiration and respect for you.
There are people out there who need you, your guidance, support and friendship. They are friends, family and strangers.
We must persevere.
Part 2 – More on bank and credit card scams during these difficult times
Champ Loretta, who works for a bank, added to last week’s eNewsletter scam-warning by Citi Bank of fake bank and credit card email scams:
Loretta wrote: “Please note that one should always check the site name in your browser. That is the line that should start https:/
“If the site is not https:/ don’t click. It’s that simple. Many scams are not secure sites. Start there. Then check spelling.
“Go to your bank website and send them an email to their secure site. Whatever you do, don’t provide personal details from an unsolicited text or “Official” seeming email.
“I work for a bank; Internally, as a test, the cyber security department will send us fake emails seeking for people to click. This testing is done to reduce potential phishing and enabling scammers access to bank systems. If we click inappropriately, then we must take a refresher test. Takes 45 minutes to an hour. We have learned: Don’t click if you are rushing. Don’t click or respond if you haven’t reached out to your bank in another manner like their web site with https:/”
Part 3 – “In loving arms”
This is a newspaper column I wrote about an experience I encountered three weeks ago in Dana Point, California, my home city. I felt it would be a nice diversion from the 24/7 bombardment of bad news we’ve all been receiving surrounding the virus. It’s called:
Six amazing women
Saturday, March 21, 2020, was a beautiful day in Dana Point. After being quarantined inside their homes for most of the week, people had a nice opportunity to get some sunshine, exercise and fresh air, while maintaining a six-foot distance from others. At that time, it was permissible to be outside, while avoiding close contact with people.
That morning, my Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) buddy, Russell Kerr, and I decided to paddle from Baby Beach in Dana Point Harbor to Doheny Beach in the Pacific Ocean, and back, about a mile and a half in each direction. Not bad for an 80-year-old dude, and a 72-year-old Kiwi (New Zealander).
Stand Up Paddle Boarding Tom and Russell Kerr in Dana Point Harbor
Near the harbor mouth, we saw what we thought was a two-foot log bobbing in the water.
(As many paddle boarders and kayakers do, we pick up trash and debris that floats in our waters. Normally, one of us would slide the log on to our paddle board, and, bring it ashore. A log like that, if struck by a boat, could damage the propeller or punch a hole in the boat. We often arrive back to the beach with lots of retrieved plastic garbage on our boards, which we discard in the trash bins.)
Upon closer inspection of the object, we saw that it wasn’t a log—it was a baby sea lion. And it was struggling to get breaths and stay afloat.
We hoped it could make it to a rock on the nearby jetty, 20 yards away. Plus, we saw three adult sea lions about 50 yards away, thinking one might be its mother.
Both of us being age 72-plus, we thought it not a good idea to try to rescue it by hand. Sea lions have razor-sharp teeth, and a bite could have compromised our immune systems during the COVID-19 outbreak.
We looked for help; there were no boats around. We felt there was nothing we could do. Leaving that pup behind broke my heart, and Russell was troubled as well.
Back at Baby Beach, after paddling, we saw a Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) rescue truck pull up.
Two PMMC women, Krysta and Wendy, scurried to the shoreline carrying a blanket.
The sea lion was laying on the paddle board of Candice Appleby, San Clemente, a nearby city. Quickly, Krysta and Wendy put the pup in a blanket and whisked the pup away to the PMMC truck to take it to the rescue center in Laguna Beach, five miles up Pacific Coast Highway
Candice Appleby with baby sea lion on her paddle board
Photo courtesy of Val Ells
From a distance, I introduced myself to the woman who rescued the sea lion, and told her I was a columnist for three newspapers and asked what had happened out there on the water.
She said her name was Candice Appleby, a resident of San Clemente. She explained that she is a SUP coach and had been out in the ocean instructing a client. She said, “When we came back inside the harbor mouth, I saw three women kneeling on their paddle boards.
“One was my friend Val Ells, Dana Point, (who happens to volunteer at PMMC), and another was Lisa Hazelton, San Clemente. I don’t know who the third woman was.
“Val yelled to me that there was a sick seal pup there and they were trying to get it on a board.
“I paddled over and was able to get it on the back of my board. Val had her cell phone with her, so she called ahead to the PMMC, and was told a rescue truck was being dispatched to Baby Beach.
“When I got back to Baby Beach, the rescue workers were distressed that it was such ‘a baby.’ They rushed off with her.”
I was impressed with the humanitarian act of those six women—four on the water plus the two from the PMMC.
Another woman, standing a few feet away, commented, “Candice is a world-champion paddle boarder.”
“Is that true?” I asked Candice. She humbly admitted she had won The Dana Point Battle of the Paddle/Pacific Paddle Games nine times (a very big accomplishment among paddle boarders, the world over). I asked for her website address:
I was amazed to discover, when checking out her website, that Candice is probably the greatest woman paddle boarder in the world.
In the midst of the COVID-19 dark news, where hundreds of thousands of people across the country and around the world are risking their lives to try to save the sick, these six women were a bright light with their heart-warming act of kindness, in trying to save this precious little sea lion.
And, as we are learning during COVID-19, lots of people can’t be saved. Candice forwarded to me this news from Wendy and Kathy at the PMMC later that afternoon:
“Sad News: I am very sorry to report but sadly she passed. Our team worked on her for three hours straight. She was very emaciated and hypothermic. Her lungs sounded terrible.
“But we wanted to let you know she died in warm loving arms.”
I admit, my eyes watered. Sad news indeed, but on the positive side, six incredible Orange County women had tried to save this little sea lion.
The PMMC is a charity. They exist on donations. I sent one; they appreciated it. https://www.pacificmmc.org/
We’ll get through COVID-19—because of people like these six women and all the workers, women and men, who are involved in the virus battle: Dedicated, willing to give of themselves and risking their own health to save others.
However, there won’t be paddle boarding for a while—the beaches and beach parking lots in Southern California are closed.
As I was finishing today’s eNewsletter, I glanced at my desk-top calendar, which has a photo of animals next to each month, to check today’s date, and noticed, under the month of April, that featured two baby rabbits, a quote by Anatole France:
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Wow, so true.
Part 4 – Free Ebook coupon
Almost 30 of you downloaded the free copy of my ebook, “Italy 23 Days by Train,” on http://www.Smashwords.com. The offer is valid for another week. It’s simple to do, well, a couple of you had some difficultly, but overall, it went pretty smoothly. Go to the Smashwords website, search on Tom Blake, you will see my books, click on the “Italy 23 Days by Train” cover. Where it says, Purchase, click on that but enter the coupon code: LP83M. You will not be charged and can download it or read it online. Enjoy
See you next week.