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Posts tagged “Historic Hotels

Paranormal Shower

On Wednesday, Jamie and I (Heather) headed down to EVP’s favorite haunt, The Queen Mary in Long Beach, Ca. Armed with nothing more than our cell phone cameras, our goal was simple: to view the ship through fresh eyes.  Between changing lease holders and pending developments for the land adjacent, there has been a lot of buzz regarding the ship. Though we are privy to the now age-old and glaringly obvious issues surrounding Her care and maintenance, we wondered what the public, who know nothing of the battle over her treatment, see when they tour her historic decks.

Of course, a trip to the RMS Queen Mary would not be complete without an honorable mention for her resident spirits, of which there are many. However, this time, we also encountered some unusual energies we could not quite place. Before I continue, let me state that this story comes with no proof. For the skeptic it will be, at best, conjecture and, at worst, a fairy tale woven around delusions. But for the many of you out there who have visited the ship and come away with a sense that something strange is afoot, I think you will understand.

I’m not a psychic; however, I do tend to be very sensitive to energies and emotions, particularly when I am on the ship. And when Jamie and I are together, for whatever reason, it seems to amplify our receptiveness. (Jamie doesn’t identify as a psychic either but she totally is one. Sorry about it Jamie!)

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Wonder Twin powers…ACTIVATE!

Our team has been on many private investigations and we’ve made countless casual visits. The ship is active at all times of the day but when it is crowded, the energy of the living is like a buffer of white noise that sometimes makes it difficult to focus on which spirits may be coming around to say “hi.” It was nice to be aboard on a quiet day, left to stroll this familiar piece of history without the need to escape a million screaming children or to avoid the large tours.

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A quiet Promenade.

Our walk took us down The Promenade Deck where we were greeted by what felt like four men. I could feel their presence so strongly that they felt almost visible and I paused. It’s interesting but dismissible when you feel/see something like that on your own. But when you have a trusted friend with you who also sees it, it’s a relief. After years of dealing with this sort of thing I STILL wonder if I am crazy or making things up. And Jamie’s immediate acknowledgment of exactly what I am picking up on settles what would otherwise be an endlessly muttering argument that does nothing but cast doubts on my perceptions and degrades any further experiences.

The men were standing side by side, lined up and staring at us, their expressions unmoving and rather blank. Their clothes were dirty and their energy was heavy. It felt like they were lost. We concluded that they must have been related to the boiler room and moved on, asking that the spirits give us some space so that we could continue our visit without feeling like we were going to fall over.

Let me explain a bit. I’m sure that different people experience the paranormal in different ways. But our team has come up with a saying that we use amongst ourselves. We call it being “on the boat,” and, amazingly, it did not originate from our experiences with The Queen Mary. Originally, the saying was born from a very horrible cruise I took down to Mexico for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. It think that “my grandmother’s 90th birthday” pretty much sums up my experience but, in case you’re having a hard time visualizing it, let me just say that it felt very much like this:

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Anyway, once I was released from the boat-prison disguised as a pleasure cruise and my feet were on solid ground, I noticed the most peculiar sensation. For several days I felt as if I was still on the boat. It took a while to regain my equilibrium. It was actually the best part of the cruise. As it turns out, this is also how it feels when our team comes into contact with spirits. When the energy is particularly strong, it can make you stumble like a drunk. And when we see each other doing this, we now ask “Are you on the boat?”

Energy came and went as we went about our day. We experienced a mixture of familiar and unfamiliar energies that, for the most part, were fleeting. However, neither of us could rid ourselves of the nagging feeling that the four men we first encountered were very out of place. Though we had dismissed them as having come up from the boiler rooms, neither of us were satisfied with this assumption. This may sound too ethereal for some but, it just didn’t feel right.

Towards the end of our day, as we ended our self-guided tour on R Deck in front of the entrance to the First Class Pool, we sat on the steps in front of the now defunct elevators, and began laying out our feelings regarding these gentleman. We concluded that, they could not get back to wherever they had come from, an unusual conclusion to reach for any of the ship’s own ghostly residents, most of whom, in our experience, can find their way with ease throughout the ship.

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R-deck. Original entrance to The First Class Pool

If those men had come from the boilers or engine room, was there something going on that would displace them? Wondering if maybe management was doing work in those areas of the ship we headed down to The Queen Mary Story which is housed close to what remains of those areas to see if it would provide us with any obvious answers. Much to our surprise, it did.

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Upon entering the lower levels of the museum, we were immediately greeted by a mess of what, at first glance,  looked like construction and some pretty chaotic energy. Turns out, a recent temporary exhibit, “Alcatraz: Life on the Rock,” had just ended.  The exhibit space now empty, they were in the process of breaking down the remainder of the sets and displays. I imagine that whatever artifacts they had on loan were already on their way back to the lender.

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As we sat there, feeling the place out and assembling the pieces of the day’s puzzle, we wondered if the four men we saw on The Promenade Deck had not come from the ship at all, but had instead,  arrived with the Alcatraz artifacts. Had they missed their ride home?

Of course, we couldn’t be sure but it felt plausible and likely that this was the case. None too creeped out, we were lucky that our next stop was an awesome metaphysical store called Sage Goddess where we were able to clear ourselves of any unwanted attachments. (Because really, who wants to bring home one or four Alcatraz inmates?)

I’ll taaaake THAT ONE…

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On second thought….

We mentioned where we had been, what we had encountered and the lovely running the store immediately got out the sage and smudged us. I do not know WHY we have never done this. I can’t count the number of times one or all of us have brought something home from haunted locations. We often wake up the next day feeling horrible; exhausted, used up, foggy, sore and depressed. Have we ever smudged ourselves? No. Downright irresponsible in retrospect. Why would we cleanse our spaces and not ourselves! It’s a paranormal shower.

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I dig Palo Santo wood because Sage smells like armpit.

We learned a lot during our latest visit to The Queen Mary. We saw her through fresh eyes, noticed details we had never seen, met a few surprising historical ghosts and, most importantly, we were reminded of how important it is to protect yourself when dealing with haunted locations. Even when you know a location well and her spirits feel like old friends ready to welcome you back, it is possible that surprises are lurking. So go in and enjoy your experiences but make sure you leave the ghosts behind!

Aside from the link to Sage Goddess above, you can also find Athena’s offerings in her brick and mortar in Torrance, Ca, OR on Etsy!

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A New Lease on Hope

Just wanted to take some time to talk about our favorite haunt “The Queen Mary” in Long Beach, California. She’s been in the news a great deal lately and there has been a lot of buzz about the possible changes both she and the land surrounding her could see within the next five years.

As some of you know, The Mary is near and dear to our hearts. Our small team consists of three native Southern Californians. She was a part of our childhoods and she has become an even bigger part of our adult lives. The word ~passion~ succeeds only in describing the surface of our love for this historic wonder.

Queen Mary Night Time Thought Bubble copy

Her history since finding a permanent home in our very own backyard has been disheartening. To the casual onlooker, she is an aging landmark in need of some repair. To those who look more closely, she is an aging landmark in need of ~serious~ repair and restoration. And to those who have come to know her from stem to stern, she is a victim of utter neglect. But for those of us who have done some digging, who have tried to champion her cause, the outward signs of deterioration speak to more than just a simple case of laissez-faire.

In fact, a glimpse behind the scenes reveals that the whole of her retirement time-line has been plagued by rough seas. And while it is convenient to point the finger at the city who owns her, from what we can tell, even they have been victimized by those they appointed to operate her in good faith.

I’m not trying to excuse the decades-long string of terrible decisions regarding the ship. At the end of the day, The Mary is the one to suffer from every single one. But the blame game accomplishes nothing other than to divide what could otherwise be a very powerful, supporting force that the ship so badly needs. It distracts from the real problem that has been the root of all the troubles these many years:

NO ONE, NOT EVEN DISNEY, KNOWS WHAT TO DO WITH HER.

It seems like a simple concept. But identifying the problem is only the first step. And it is a step that has yet to be successfully completed. She’s a hotel! She’s a museum! She’s a hotel/museum. Maybe if we add this or subtract that… or what if….

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In truth, The Queen Mary has been suffering from a business identity crisis since her Long Beach inception. She was purchased for the purpose of “making her into something.” And nearly everyone that has had a hand in guiding her has adopted that same view. And therein lies the problem.

A look at her history reveals that this ship was born from a state of “in-betweens.” Literally. Conceptualized just prior to The Great Depression, Cunard was forced to ask the government for a loan in order to complete the as of yet unnamed project simply called “Hull 534.” But the government would grant that loan only if they merged with their chief competitor White Star who was also suffering financially. Both companies agreed and Cunard-White Star was born. The Queen Mary was their flagship.

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She spent her life between ports and purposes. When WWII began, she, along with her sister ship the Queen Elizabeth were both converted to troop ships. She was painted battleship grey and newly dubbed “The Grey Ghost.” When the war ended and her service was complete, she was restored as a luxury liner and continued her career of ferrying passengers to and from their destinations.

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This state of “in-between” did not end when she arrived at her final destination. As construction began, so did a battle over jobs between land-based and maritime unions. This resulted in a new classification for the ship as a “building.” And when she opened to the public she was not only meant to be a museum (Jacques Cousteau’s New Living Sea Museum) but a hotel.

The point is that the Queen Mary has never suffered from an identity ~crisis~. In fact, during this entire snafu, she is the ONLY thing that has maintained a clear identity! It is the job of her lessees and management to enhance that which she is, rather than to make her fit into some template of what they think she should be.

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Recently, there have been new developments regarding The Mary’s lease and, though many consider it naive, I have a good feeling about this. The lease has finally changed hands and with it, certain conditions will also change:

“Michael Conway, the city’s director of economic and property development, said one reason past plans were stymied was the lease didn’t allow for the land to be subdivided, preventing developers from getting financing to build individual projects.

“This will change in the new lease,” he said in an email.” [LA Times]

Granted, this has little to do with the pressing condition of the ship itself, but if they can alleviate the cost of the land to which she is now tethered, and make that acreage not only financially responsible for itself, but get it to generate income to help with the ship’s proper care, it will remove some of the burden of expectation from The Queen Mary and offer some much needed breathing room.

There has been a lot of talk about the plans for the land next to which the ship sits. Shops, theaters, entertainment, a boutique hotel and a giant ferris wheel have all been bandied about but nothing, as of yet, has been finalized. And I confess that as I read through the articles, though I know the project is in its infancy, I find I have a keen eye for worst case scenarios. After years of watching plans both good and ~horrifying~ fail (thank God for the latter) it is difficult to stay positive. But I have to go with my gut. And, quite honestly, we are already seeing some inspiring changes.

For all of you who would love to visit the ship but have found it, in the past, to be too expensive, there is now an excellent offering! For $25, you can purchase an annual pass and with it, is included, three hours of free parking per visit. (The free parking is particularly important. Though the City of Long Beach website says that parking for the ship is $15, the last time we visited it was actually $18 and they raise it for special events. This compares to Disneyland which is also currently at $18 and, while that is still a ridiculous price, you certainly get more bang for your buck. ~Sorry, QM~) Another very recent and much anticipated change is a new agreement for private group paranormal investigations. It might need some more ironing out in the future but it is a wonderful step in the right direction. Hopefully, these changes will herald more of their kind.

The ship has a long way to go before our faith in her custodianship can be fully restored. But, as a public who cares deeply for this landmark and important piece of history, it is our duty to do what is right for her. And right now, the right thing for HER is to stay positive, to risk the disappointment of being let down. Taking pride and ownership in her is a very wonderful and special thing, but when that pride becomes bitter entitlement, it is just as toxic as the organizations that run her into the ground while expecting her to turn a profit.

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Written by Heather of EVP!


A New Year’s Resolution

Well, it’s a new year and I find myself with many new things to talk about. But before I fill you in on our latest investigations or begin waxing about things like the ZPF (Zero Point Field), Deja Vu, and the myth of linear time, I want to handle a bit of business I have been putting off for many months. I really thought I could get away with saying nothing but, I have found it increasingly difficult to keep my mouth shut. So, in light of the new year, and new beginnings and, more over, in light of regaining my freedom of speech, let me tackle an unsettling incident our team had the displeasure of experiencing. (If you were wondering at some point why we weren’t posting anything regarding our visits to our favorite location, this will help to explain why.)

In April of last year a friend of ours, who had a long-standing contract with the Queen Mary in Long Beach regarding paranormal research, assembled a group investigation. He went through all of the proper channels, but, at some point, there was a miscommunication. Though it was set up months in advance, he received a call the night before the investigation notifying him that the price of the event had increased by a whopping one-thousand dollars which he would be expected to provide before the investigation took place. Not only did they call the night before, but they called right before the offices closed for the evening leaving him little opportunity to call them back and discuss the matter. HE had to scramble to find someone he could talk to about the last-minute circumstances. After many calls, he was finally able to connect with the manager of attractions who informed him that his contract was void. As if it wasn’t unprofessional enough to change the terms of the agreement at the last-minute, the manager then proceeded to haggle over the price.

The next day when we all showed up for the investigation, we were greeted with hostility from that manager. Hackles rose on both sides as this manager mishandled the situation. As he handed out wristbands (This was a first. We all felt as though we were under house arrest.), he refused to field any of the group’s questions citing the fact that it wasn’t his job to “perform” for us (Yes. Those were his words). He informed us that if any of us were unhappy with the circumstances of the day’s event, he would be happy to refund our money and escort us off of the ship. Instead of diffusing the situation by making sure that the issues were resolved, he spent the better part of an hour (time we just paid for) butting heads with the more vocal members of the group. Before leaving, he told us that if any negative comments showed up on social media sites, we would be banned from the ship.

He was worried about us, yelping, facebooking, tweeting or blogging about our interaction with him. And his solution was to penalize us. That situation was an opportunity for him to show how well he could do his job and instead of seizing the opportunity, he demonstrated the depths of his ego and the lack of his managerial skills by fueling our anger and threatening our freedom of speech.  Had he done his job, he could have had a large group of people flood social media with positive comments regarding the stellar customer service they received while aboard the ship.  It happens for Disney all the time.

What he did not understand is that “performing” for us IS his job. He willfully passed up an opportunity to form a solid relationship with a group of writers, artists, archaeologists, historians, engineers, mothers, fathers, husbands, and wives of varying ages, otherwise known as the ship’s demographic. It’s called damage control, an elementary skill at which this manager spectacularly failed.

Personally, I think the fear of bad publicity is just a cover. All of our complaints could have been quelled easily enough by a better attitude and some patience. Customer service. That’s business management 101. So why would a manager go out of his way to piss off a large group of people and make them not want to return? One word: Accountability. When five million dollars is allocated to hotel room improvements which consist of flat screen TVs and I-pod docking stations instead of  keeping the ship from sinking, we complain. When industrial meat slicers are hanging out in the restaurant kitchens on original Art Deco dining tables, we complain. When the original cork flooring is torn up or red paint is spattered all over interior halls, we complain. And when they define a ballroom as having been restored because they tore up the original parquet flooring and replace it with cheap carpet, we complain. That probably makes us a huge pain in the ass to have around. Unfortunately for Evolution Hospitality, we aren’t going away.

What happened that day was small in the grand scheme of things. But it was representative of the same attitude exhibited by the other management companies that have come and gone. Evolution Hospitality had a chance to show they were different and instead, they proved they were the same if not worse than those that had come before them. It showed that they are not above unethical behavior. It demonstrated a management philosophy that values short-term monetary gain over laying a solid foundation for long-term growth. It painted the picture of a company willing to blame their numerous bad Yelp reviews on the customer instead of taking responsibility for their own poor choices. Above all else, it confirmed that, once again, a team has been hired that values its ego more than it values the ship’s reputation as a Southern California vacation destination and respected historic landmark.

I spent last year trying not to write about this. I skirted the issue numerous times because I felt I was unable to properly capture the scope of it with my words. I worried that I would offend someone or that management would find new ways to punish us for telling the truth. But no more of that. This is my new year’s resolution. I am going to write about things I feel are important. And I am going to do so with all of the passion I possess. That passion is a blessing for both the reader, and the ship. Once it dies, that is one less person who cares about what happens to her. It is one less person who stops fighting to fix the holes and the leaks and the faulty wiring. It is one less person who brings other people on board to spend money. And it is one less person to keep the memory of what the Queen Mary once was and the hope of what she could be, alive.

Written by: Heather of EVP of SoCal


Respecting History?

It was recently brought to my attention that a historical location that is very near and dear to our organization is once again being mishandled by its management group.

The Queen Mary which is docked in Long Beach as a “floating” hotel/ museum and is registered as both a historical site and a historical hotel:

National Historical Registry

RMS QUEEN MARY *** (added 1993 – – #92001714)

Also known as HMT QUEEN MARY

Pier J, 1126 Queensway Hwy. , Long Beach

Historic Significance: Event

Area of Significance: Military, Entertainment/Recreation, Social History

Period of Significance: 1925-1949

Owner: Local

Historic Function: Defense, Transportation

Historic Sub-function: Naval Facility, Water-Related

Current Function: Domestic, Recreation And Culture

Current Sub-function: Hotel, Museum

Here is the purpose of the National Historical Registry noted from their website:

The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

The Queen Mary is also listed on the website of  Historic Hotels of America. This is what they have to say about the Queen Mary:

The Queen Mary

Los Angeles, California

Rich in history, The Queen Mary® is renowned as the grandest ocean liner ever built since her maiden voyage in 1936. These early years distinguished the majestic steamship as the only civilized way to travel for high society’s elite, and instantly drew the attention of celebrities like Fred Astaire, political figures like Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan, and dignitaries such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

It is quite clear that our country on a whole recognizes the historical importance and significance of this grand ship.

So why is it so difficult for the ship’s current management to get with the program?

Time after time we’ve heard complaints that there is no money to restore her to her former glory. We’ve been told that making changes like including iPod docks in all of the staterooms is a valid way to stimulate the ship’s revenue. Some improvements have been made in the last fifteen years. A huge section of promenade decking was re-finished and replaced a few years ago by a former management company.

This ship is a virtual roller coaster of  management companies. Each one swears that it’s bigger, better, and more knowledgeable than it’s predecessor.

It’s ultimately assumed that everything the previous company did is wrong and that the new team must start over from scratch. The management companies they hire are only experienced in managing a hotel. The Queen Mary is much more than a hotel. It’s an experience. And the experience that the customer is getting leaves much to be desired.

If you come to the Queen Mary for the first time today, you will be disappointed. If you are planning to stay in a stateroom reminiscent of the opulent 30’s & 40’s you can lay that dream to rest. What you will find is  late 80’s decor covering up what’s left of the 1930’s interior: cheap carpet, ugly bedspreads, chintzy window treatments, along-side beautiful 1930’s fans that no longer work.

English: Cabin on the RMS Queen Mary.

English: Cabin on the RMS Queen Mary. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you roam the decks you’ll find sad displays haphazardly assembled with no regards for the integrity of the historical documents and artifacts inside. They are dusty, and often littered with rat fecal matter.

You will also find poor patch jobs in the ceiling where water damage occurs. The beautiful wood paneling which Winston Churchill himself told the soldiers during WWII mustn’t be touched is now showing the wear of its 76+ years at sea, and still awaiting restoration.

The Spa which inhabits some of the ship’s former suites has a decrepit & lackluster sign pointing the way to your “luxury” services.

If you overlook the staterooms and hallways and look instead towards the ship’s restaurants, I have some good news and some bad news. Sir Winston’s is the premiere restaurant on the ship…and for good reason. The restaurant manager J.B. is amazing. He’s been with the ship for over 10 years and truly understands how to accommodate his guests, giving them the grand reception that they would expect from a luxury liner. You will however, pay well for this privilege.

The other restaurants on the ship are poorly managed with mediocre food at best. Imagine a Denny’s ….in Compton…at midnight and you’ll begin to get a grasp for what they offer: over priced, over cooked, under whelming food. The service is slow and surly. The prices average  $15 per plate.  Oh, and by the way, if you thought you could just sit by the window while you sip your morning English Tea and pretend you’re in South Hampton, think again. The only tea you’ll find on this English ship is Lipton’s. The Duchess of Windsor is turning in her grave at this very moment.

The Queen Mary is also touted as a museum. It’s true. There are scattered exhibits (which are poorly maintained). But the guides really understand her history, architecture and art. They keep her spirit alive and are some of the nicest people I’ve met aboard the ship. They stay, not because of the great pay, nor do they stay to support her ever-changing management. They stay out of loyalty and love for this Grand Lady.

Now, so far this might just sound like another bitter yelp review(of which there are plenty). But, it was a recent find from a fellow investigator  that prompted this blog post.

In an attempt to draw in a bigger, more diverse audience and make some cold,hard cash the management has decided to let a team of motocross performers loose on the ship.

Yes , you heard me, ON THE SHIP.

This is wear I had posted a link to the YouTube video. It has since been made private.

This video demonstrates just how much these management companies understand about the property they are running.

After the video started receiving some unfavorable press there was a comment posted by one of the riders:

“All this was taken into consideration prior to filming. We worked long and hard with the Queen Mary to preserve the integrity of the ship. The locations that were used were places that had already been remodeled or altered. No historic or original locations were used. The idea was to make something cool to bring attention to such an awesome ship. There was no more harm than the average foot traffic from tourists”.

This is a still from the promo video showing the rider on the staircase of the first-class pool which is historical, original and is in serious need of repair.

If you know the ship at all, you understand that areas like the First Class Pool, the engine room, and boiler rooms are indeed original and historical areas. While they weren’t doing burn-outs on board, the weight and pressure of the bike is damaging and disrespectful. This isn’t the type of attention or the type of event that the ship needs . I don’t blame the riders. I blame the management for, once again, sending the wrong message to the public.

They need to restore the ship and teach the public how to appreciate her rich history. Instead, they throw money away on poorly thought out, poorly planned events which further her destruction. We should treat her as we would the White House, not treat her like a convention center filled with carnival acts. We should continue to view her as she was intended. She might not sail any longer but she could still offer people the experience of a lifetime.

It’s time for the company who manages her to show that they understand the difference between RENOVATION and RESTORATION.  She is an important part of history and instead of updating her, she needs to be brought back to life.

A friend recently posted this information for those of us who like to become more active in helping The Queen Mary:

If you want to voice your concerns and speak out about the horrible mistreatment of the Queen Mary, send an email or call the following:

Long Beach’s Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal – The Queen Mary is in her district (she is also counsel person for district 2), so she should be watching out for the damage being done to historic landmarks on 2 levels. She can be reached at district2@longbeach.gov,   Suja.Lowenthal@longbeach.gov,   ph:562-570-6684.

Mr. Milford Wayne Donaldson – Head of the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  They can take a more active role in trying to stop the management where we can’t. You can read more about the SHPO and get further contact information here:http://ohp.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=21755,  mwdonaldson@parks.ca.gov,   ph: 916-445-7050.

If enough of us speak out and demand they do something, there is a good chance they will. Please spread this information to as many people you know and get them to write or call in too.