YouTube videos

I’ve spent some time trying to figure out how to make videos to revive the Charley Project’s YouTube channel, which belongs to Sean Munger but hasn’t been updated in years. I have a microphone and some film-making software. For that matter, I’ve got a video camera too, but I don’t want to use that. If I sit in front of the camera, well, obviously they will see me and be distracted from the subject at hand, namely the missing person in particular. The video is not supposed to be about me.

I actually like Sean’s videos quite a bit. They’re not complicated and get their point across. I’d like to make some like them. It seems like it would be just a matter of making the narration and aligning it with photos of the missing person. You’d think this would be very easy — they’re so simple, and obviously people considerably less intelligent than me have made YouTube videos — but I’m struggling with it.

It might be like the hair-braiding thing, which I was hopeless at but kept trying for weeks until it suddenly clicked and now I can make like eight different kinds of braids. That’s what I’m hoping anyway.

Any tips would be appreciated.

Two Smithsonian Magazine articles of note

There are two Smithsonian Magazine articles — one from a few days ago, one from 2013 — that may be of some interest to my readers.

The older one is about a Russian family of four that fled into the taiga to escape Communist persecution and wound up staying there, completely isolated from the rest of mankind, for 40-odd years. The parents had two additional children during this time period. Some geologists discovered them in the 1970s. Long story short, the mother had died by then, three of the four children died relatively soon after their discovery, the father lived into the 1980s, and the single remaining daughter returned to the taiga. I’m not sure if she is still alive, but she would be 72 now if she is. There is a book about the case.

The other is about how melting glaciers are exposing artifacts and dead bodies which were previously trapped in the ice. Some of the bodies are ancient, hundreds or thousands of years old, but others are relatively recent. One find, for example, dates from 1952.

Select It Sunday: Bryce Laspisa

This week’s person, chosen by Julie, is Bryce David Laspisa. The 19-year-old Sierra College student was driving from Castaic, California to visit his family in Laguna Niguel. The journey isn’t that long, a little less than a hundred miles, but Bryce never made it. This was in 2013.

The family has a Facebook page about his disappearance. He’s missing under strange circumstances. But he would stand out in a crowd: he’s got blazing red hair and a distinctive tattoo on his arm.

Woo, I got some news

Awhile back I posted, as one of my Flashback Friday cases, a certain little girl who vanished without a trace over 30 years ago. I had almost no information on her disappearance and appealed for anyone who knew anything to contact me. Well, someone finally has. This is the would-be stepmother of that little girl. She was married the girl’s father; they are now divorced. She says she’s glad that someone besides her cares about the disappearance.

The person provided several tidbits of useful information. I’ve been able to confirm a little bit of it: she gives the name of the child’s mother and her current place of residence, for instance, and there is a woman by that name living in that town. In fact, she was arrested there in March.

She mentions court transcripts; I think I will ask to see them. I don’t want to post anything more specific about this because if she is telling the truth, what happened to that poor child is terrible. If she’s not telling the truth, I don’t want to defame the girls’ parents by posting things about them which are not true. But as it stands, for now, I believe her.

I’m still here

I’m assuming y’all have noticed I haven’t been updating more than a few times a week in the past couple of months. This is in large part because of Michael. Long story short, he lost his full-time job. Before he lost it he was working the one full-time job plus a part-time one and he worked insane hours, getting up at 6:00 a.m., out of the house by seven, sometimes not home till ten in the evening. Now he has a lot more time and we’re spending a lot of it together. He is, of course, looking for another job. He has two interviews lined up.

I am still working on Charley, it’s just that a lot of that work is invisible. If I post an updated age-progression or a new photo of an MP, for example, but no other updates for that particular casefile, I don’t put it on the updates page. (MPs with new age-progressions do get on the updates page, though.) Purged cases are just quietly removed without a mention — and that means tracking down and deleting them off all the lists as well as deleting the cases themselves. And the aforementioned work with purges and APs is all so stupefyingly boring that I can’t do it for more than half an hour or an hour at a time.

Maintaining Charley’s Facebook page (which surpassed 4,000 “likes” this week, woo!) is more fun but it takes more time than you’d think —  tracking down articles to post, reading all the comments, sometimes engaging in conversations. Ditto the Twitter feed. Yes, it’s two tweets a day. But I have to FIND new cases to tweet, check to make sure they haven’t been tweeted before, and come up with some neat little 140-character summary for each one. These days I’ve been searching for a random word, say, “Naugahyde,” and tweeting all cases that mention that word.

I hope I don’t sound defensive or anything. No one has been jumping all over me for not updating more often; I just want you guys to know I’m not giving up or anything like that.

Flashback Friday: Amber Elizabeth Scholz

This week’s Flashback Friday case is Amber Elizabeth Scholz from Rock Springs, Wyoming. (Rock Springs is northwest Wyoming. It had a population of 23,000 and change, which makes it a booming metropolis by Wyoming stands.) Amber was last seen on her way home party. She apparently made it home, and something happened there. It was November 8, 1981.

One thing I don’t get: “Scholz has a neurotic disorder which makes her highly suggestible and easily influenced by people.” I have NO IDEA what this “neurotic disorder” could be and I know a lot about mental illness.

Text selection

A lot of people ask why they can’t copy and paste text from Charley Project casefiles. The short answer is that I added a code to each one that disables text selection. Of course the long answer is why: some people who know who they are — and I am half inclined to name them — kept copying everything I wrote wholesale and putting it on their own sites.

My terms of use say you can do that as long as I get credited. And this is more than generous. I would be within my rights to say no copying, period. But these people never put my name up, and multiple times I confronted them and multiple times they would promise to quit copying me, then a week or a month later it would start all over again. Once I was like, “You ripped So And So’s case details of disappearance off me entirely” and, I kid you not, they went back and hurriedly changed it and wrote me saying “We don’t know what you’re talking about, nothing from Charley is on here.” I had a screenshot that proved otherwise.

So one day I got fed up and added that bit of code, which hasn’t stopped the plagiarism but has made it that much harder. I kind of wish I hadn’t done it now since it’s a pain in the butt. But I don’t regret it enough to spend weeks removing that code from all 9,500 cases.

Library pic

I like to donate books to the library. I always have plenty lying around, and I tend not to read a book more than once, so usually if it’s a book I’m done with, that the local library doesn’t already have in its catalog, I’ll give it to them. I’ve donated 97 books and 2 DVDs thus far.

One of them I gave the library recently was called More Cornish Murders, a true-crime book out of England. I bought it used from a U.S. seller. The librarian, Megan, realized the book had marks from having previously been in a library called Dittons, in west London on the banks of the Thames, and she contacted that library to make sure no one there had been stealing their books and selling them online. Dittons confirmed that the book was one they’d got rid of and it hadn’t been stolen. They were amazed, though, that it would wind up halfway across the world in the midwestern United States.

Dittons wanted to put the story on their Facebook page or something and asked for pictures of the person who donated the book pretending to give the book to a librarian. So Megan and I posed for pictures today when I went to the library to drop off some books.

Had I known I was going to be photographed, maybe I wouldn’t have worn my “Medicated for Your Protection” shirt. Dunno.


MP of the week: Yolanda Patlan

This week’s featured missing person is 38-year-old Yolanda Patlan. She and her six-year-old son, Alejandro Perez, vanished from Calexico, California on January 11, 2001. Sadly enough, that’s all I have on them. One of those “few details are available” cases. I don’t know if this is a case of foul play, an accident, a voluntary disappearance, no clue.

NamUs says Yolanda’s date of birth is an approximation. Calexico is a border city — its counterpart in Mexico is Mexicali, see what they did there? — and I wonder if perhaps Yolanda was from Mexico or some other Latin American country and that’s why her date of birth is not known.

If anyone who reads this blog knew Yolanda and/or Alejandro, or any details about their disappearance, I’d love to hear from them.