Sunday, November 14, 2010

Used Car Salesmen

Wow. My track record with salesmen has just been phenomenal (sarcastic) lately. This past week I was car shopping online and stumbled across "the car." You know, the one you've dreamt about and it finally materializes at the right time. Well, it now ranks up there with too good to be true because it had very low miles, was in almost perfect condition, and had a very bad sales person. 

First, let me just say that the online price was very overpriced. I did my research with Nada and Kelly Blue Book and even took the time to check out the car's vehicle report. Smart girl. Information in hand I went down to the dealership to check out this shining beacon of hope and wow! There she was, like something out of a movie; Sparkling and shiny like new. I liked her. A lot. (And FYI, all cars are girls. Think about the fueling process.)

So, oddly enough I had to hunt and hunt for a sales person and finally cornered one. I expressed my interest in the car and we went over to see what we could agree upon. Since the price was conveniently not on the car (but had been posted on the website) I asked, "How much are you asking." He then proceeds to quote me a price $1,000 over what was posted on the website. Talk about insulted! I then offered him a figure under the price guide listings and was quite pleased to see an equally disgusted look on his face. Good. He then came back down to about what the internet price was listed but now I was just mad and walked away. I mean come on! 

As I was walking away I pulled out my trusty cell phone and called my boyfriend. The salesman was still following me so I made sure he heard me tell my beau that the price had actually gone up! The man tried to talk to me for a minute or two more but I politely thanked him and left. Since then I've received two more offers by email, but the car is still grossly overpriced. At this point, after the treatment I received, I don't even think I'd purchase the car if it hit the magic price. 

I'm still trying to figure out if the treatment I received was because I was a woman or if I just looked like a particularly dumb individual when I walked onto the lot. I think next time I will hire a headhunter to go in for me and negotiate the deal. This is ridiculous. No wonder so many people hate car shopping. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Overzealous Salesperson

OMG! Grab a chair because I'm about to rant! 

I went to a local pet shop this morning to pick up some mice for my snakes, and I thought while there I might grab some meal worms for my Leopard Gecko. One would think this would be a simple enough task considering I have years of experience shopping for my pets. If only! 

I entered the pet shop to the ear piercing shrieks of dozens of large birds. Immediate turn-off for someone with sensitive hearing. Personally, if I owned a pet shop that housed birds, I'd have them in their own room away from the entryway, but I digress. I was greeted by a gentleman I've met once before and who I mistakenly thought might know what he was doing. I told him that I needed mice and he questioned me about the sizes and eventually just gave in and allowed me to go into the feeder room to pick them out and that's when Holy Hell erupted. 

We stepped past the woman who also works there and she immediately started to interrogate me with questions of what kind of snakes do I have? How big are they? Well then, you need this size mouse and this size rat and so forth. Excuse me, but I've done this a time or two and actually know what my snakes will eat, specifically, that Pepe' the Ball Python will not take pre-killed mice or rats and must have a live one. At some point past the arguing I managed to get some frozen mice and a live rat. But alas, the interrogation was far from over. 

While the gentleman tried to ring me up on an aging computer, the woman asked me about my dogs, having noticed I grabbed a handful of sample sized 'Taste of the Wild' dog food packets. I have a Great Pyrenees, a Boxer mix (tripod,) and an American Eskimo dog. 
"Well what do you feed them?"
" Iams Naturals."
"On no! You shouldn't be feeding them any of that, or Science Diet, or Eukanuba, or any of that stuff! It's made with chicken by-products and that's not good for them."
I attempted to remain composed. "I have plans to switch them to 'Taste of the Wild,' but I'm waiting for them to finish with the Iams Naturals."
"They don't need to be on Iams. That's the same as feeding them Road Kill. You don't eat road kill do you?"
"No, I don't, but I'm quite aware of what's in their dog food." I stopped her. "Before you go on, I'm a writer and I do quite a bit of research on the subject. We had a dog die from hemangio sarcoma that was most likely caused by ingredients in his dog food."
"You should feed them 'Chicken Soup for the Pet Lover's Soul.' Everything in it is natural and they don't use any by-products. It's better than 'Taste of the Wild.'" 
"I'll probably buy 'Taste of the Wild' before I would buy 'Chicken Soup.'
"Well why?!"
"I don't like that brand."
"Why don't you like it?!"
"Because it's the brand name. I won't buy any of their products. Just like I don't like Wal-mart so I shop at Target."
"But why don't you like 'Chicken Soup?!'
I looked her dead in the eye, "Because it's too Christian."
"I'm not buying it."
"Well if you do some research on it you'll see that it's got everything that they need to be healthy. It's better for them than the other one."

By this point I just want to pay for my shit and leave. Then the guy behind the counter remembers that I have flying squirrels and mentions it. 
"Are they flying squirrels are regular squirrels?"
"They're Flying squirrels."
"Oh, you should give them Monkey Biscuits."
"They have some.  I'm actually very careful about what they eat. They're the reason I know so much about the dog food ingredients because they can't have anything with synthetic vitamin K in it."
"Why not?"
"Because animals can't process it and it causes tumors."
"They need a calcium block for ferrets."
"I actually feed them a specially forumlated food that's just for squirrels called Henry's Healthy Blocks. It's got all their vitamins and minerals in it. And they have a deer antler to chew on."
"So, you have a boy and a girl then?"
"No, I decided to have two girls because I don't plan on breeding them."
"Oh, that's good because no one will buy them."

"What did you need the wax worms for?"
"My leopard gecko."

"What are wax worms?"
"They're a soft bodied grub."
"Why can't he have king meal worms?"
"Because I have to cut off the heads for him."
"No! You don't cut off their heads!"
"Yes, you do. If he doesn't kill it and swallows it alive it can tear up his intestines. I've been in herepetology for many years and it's happened to other gecko owners. That's why I like the wax worms."


I am never EVER going back. TAKE NOTE small pet shop owners - this is how you run off repeat customers. Don't talk to us like we're stupid and we've never owned a pet before. We will leave your shop, never return and right a blog entry about you so that no one else wanders into Everything Bird in Fort Walton Beach! 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I write like - Dan Brown!

LOL! I just did the writing analysis for "I write like" and apparently I write like Dan Brown, author of the DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, Deception Point and other fine novels. I can't really be upset because I really like his writing style.

I write like
Dan Brown
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Time to Find a New Doctor

I was watching the news this morning and did a double-take. The doctor that I go to when I'm feeling under the weather is running for U.S. Senate. This raises a couple of interesting points for me, 1) If he is elected then obviously he won't be in his office seeing patients and 2) after visiting his candidate page I learned much more than I wanted to know, like how drastically his opinions differ from mine. Which brings me back to religion and politics and how the two should never be discussed over dinner or in polite company.

I suppose I could fret and fume over this latest development, but ever since the BP fiasco I've lost so much faith in our elected officials that I'm not even sure I'm going to vote. I had no idea the Big Oil owned and controlled our government. Just watching how BP orchestrated the disaster in the Gulf is proof of that. So it would seem that electing officials serves no point if money is all it takes to pull their strings. 

So perhaps I will just put my faith in homeopathic remedies and avoid the doctor all together. If only it were that easy to avoid the effects of corrupt politicians... 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Feds think public can't HANDLE THE TRUTH about toxic dispersants says EP...

Sometimes it amazes me what the American government and BP thinks it can get away with it. Not only is BP paying scientists NOT to reveal their findings, but the government is backing up BP's lies.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist (which is good because BP would probably pay them off too) to figure out that oil and dispersants are toxic. These materials are entering the food chain and will affect everything that it comes in contact with. Just look at a recent report on toxins found in whales or the ongoing results of autopsies performed on Gulf marine animals. The seafood in the Gulf of Mexico is NOT SAFE TO EAT. 

Below is a report from the EPA's senior analyst Hugh Kaufman exposing what the government doesn't want people to know. 

A Review of The Wolf of Tebron; Book 1 (The Gates of Heaven Series)

In "The Wolf of Tebron" the author, C. S. Lakin, seeks to impart a message of faith to the readers by weaving a tale that takes the hero of the story, Joran, on a journey to the four corners of the earth in an effort to rescue his lost love, Charris. Along the way Joran happens across a powerful wolf who joins him on his journey. 

"The Wolf of Tebron" seems to fall short on several key elements of good story telling. Though intended for teen audiences, the writing shifts uncomfortably from overly-simplistic to overly-intellectual, so much so that it will likely go beyond the grasp of an average reader. Combine that with weak character development and a shallow plot and "The Wolf of Tebron" makes for a tedious read. 

From the beginning the characters don't have enough substance to really form a connection with the reader. In his quest, Joran must find his missing wife and rescue her from the villain, the Moon. However, readers never meet the wife initially nor are they given enough information about her to make the readers connect with or feel concerned about her well-being. As a husband, Joran's character fails to give the appearance of being a mature adult with solid family responsibilities. 

After the wolf, Ruyah, formally joins the quest things don't improve much. As a companion, the wolf's dialogue is weak, especially when compared to the wolf's true nature as it is later revealed. The book is confusingly labeled as a fairy tale for teen readers. Most of the dialogue between Joran and his animal acquaintances, Ruyah and Byrp, is more suited for much younger readers while dialogue between Joran and Sola, the mother of the Sun, goes over even Joran's head. 

The story drags in places giving the reader plenty of time to wonder why they should care about Joran and his wife at all. When not conversing with Ruyah, Joran spends much of his time mentally torturing himself with second-guessing and regret. Although the story's message is clearly one of hope and forgiveness, the journey itself isn't as enjoyable. 

*Note: This reader was provided with an advanced copy. Read more reviews here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kayaking Near Marianna FL

For those of you who don't follow my adventure blog, Northwest Florida Outdoor Adventure, I had an amazing trip on Merritt Mill Pond this weekend. You can view pictures there, on my article and on my Flickr page. If you live close enough be sure to check out the pond. You'll be glad you did.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

BP Oil Spill Still Flowing 80 Days Later

Apparently BP can't do much right except fail. At failure, BP excels! 80 days after the explosion of the Deep Water Horizon oil is still escaping from the well head. The last hope rests with the two relief wells being drilled in an effort to kill the original well. We can expect, if history is any example, that once BP succeeds with stopping the leak that they will expect to be touted as heroes and Saviours of the Gulf; all of the lies, cover-ups and efforts to impede clean-up and relief efforts will magically evaporate and life on the Gulf Coast will go back to normal. Wrong. What stands out instead is the callousness and disregard for the impact to the environment and livelihoods of the residents who live there.

Residents of the Gulf Coast have long memories. If BP thinks that they'll be able to quietly slip into the background they're wrong. Expect new legislation and stricter regulations on off-shore drilling and forget about any chance of allowing drilling off of Florida's coastline. Florida's health and well-being depends on a healthy tourism and fishing industry and there's no room for error from oil companies. The other oil companies can thank BP's fiasco for giving all gulf drilling companies a black eye — maybe they should file a claim with BP. 

Economic impact aside, BP has also made enemies of animal and nature lovers. The images of oiled birds, dead dolphins and sea turtles will haunt BP and other oil companies for decades. Animals may not have voices but their advocates do. The long term effects of the oil and dispersant dumped into the Gulf are yet to be known. Already the impact on endangered species and those species of special concern have been devastating. The oil companies are wrong if they think that they can continue to operate as haphazardly as they have done in the past. The free ride is over.   


Frustrated with the Gulf oil spill crisis? Click here to purchase a FU BP Blue Crab T-Shirt or Tank Top. From now until July 31st Cafe Press has promised to donate up to 10% of all gulf oil related purchases towards the Gulf Restoration Project

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Crab Sends Special Message to BP

My significant other and his krewe spent the day at Port St. Joe yesterday on a quest for scallops. It was slim pickings as far as scallops go with only one pint being collected between the five snorkelers that went.  Water visibility was a bit poor, however the group did manage to get a few pics with my waterproof camera, including this one of a crab sending a special message to BP. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

BP Fails Again

 As a resident of the Gulf Coast I've had a front row seat to the fallout from the BP/Deep Water Horizon disaster that is still continuing to flow almost two months after it began, and flowing at an even greater rate than before. In fact, as of this morning the major news stations are reporting 1,680,000 gallons of oil per day! I think the majority of the people affected would agree with me when I say STOP THE DAMN LEAK!!! From where I sit it doesn't appear that BP has been focused on stopping the leak; instead it would appear that all they wanted to do was keep the broken pipe open so they could capture that oil and process it. 

To make matters worse the cleanup effort in the Gulf is being hampered on several fronts; poor communication, lack of a clear chain of command, and an absence of skimmers, booms and barges. Local government needs to take action to protect their own waterways instead of playing a game of wait and see with state and federal powers that be. This is our home and we are the ones with the most to lose!   Get off your behinds and protect our beaches and inland waterways BEFORE it's too late. 

Earlier this week I saw one of BP's new $50 million ad campaign commercials designed to give us all a warm fuzzy feeling. CEO Tony Hayward apologized with a "We're very sorry" and "We will make this right." I've got a question for you Tony; When?? How?? I realize that Mr. Hayward is just a figurehead... something for us to direct our anger at, but never forget that BP is the one pulling the strings. BP has a history of lying to us on a daily basis! After all of the lies why would anyone believe anything that BP has to say. 

One of the new promises that I still can't swallow is the promise that BP will use any profits made from the recovered oil to benefit wildlife. Really? Who exactly will be in charge of reviewing those figures and making sure that money actually does go to wildlife programs? Is it going to be the same people that lied about how much oil was leaking from the well? BP, we can't trust you!!! 

The bottom line is STOP THE LEAK!!! Then get this mess cleaned up!! 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Love — Hate Relationship with Dolphins

Today I went on a six hour deep sea fishing trip out of Destin, FL in search of a little fishing action and possibly dinner. We started out at 7 a.m. with the weather forecast calling for a 50% chance of rain. Luckily we had smooth sailing and no rain for the entire cruise. It was an hour and a half to our first fishing location so I settled in to enjoy the fresh salt air and absolutely beautiful day. 

At our first stop we fished for a little while in about a hundred feet of water with about half of our passengers managing to catch something, even me (although they were too small to keep.) It was a week before red snapper season opened so everyone that caught red snappers had to release them. A pity because they were nice sized and abundant. My supervisor from my day job came along with his family and he caught a really nice Trigger Fish. He's lucky — he caught it right before the bane of my existence showed up — dolphins. 

Normally I adore dolphins, especially when they're frolicking around my kayak in Choctawhatchee Bay. When the dolphins turned up I was excited at first, that is until I saw what thieving little opportunistic monsters they are. As soon as someone would hook onto a fish (and we were all instructed to reel hard and fast) the dolphins would dive under the boat and steal the fish right off the line! GRRRRRRR. NOT cool!!

Our captain moved the boat about a mile away and we dropped our lines again. No good. The deckhands reiterated that we needed to reel fast and don't let the dolphins get our fish. Dolphins can swim 35-45 mph. Humans cannot reel that fast. 

Again the captain moved our boat. Things weren't looking good. We probably got about a quarter of what we hooked to the surface. Twice I hooked into a huge fish and reeled like mad, only to have Flipper take off with my monster whatever-it-was. GRRRRRRRR. 

The captain then tried to out-run the dolphins to our next location. I managed to land a nice sized red snapper that I then had to release because it was out of season. Then the dolphins showed up again just in time for the captain to blow the horn and call it a day. 

So despite the slim pickings I enjoyed the adventure. I didn't enjoy having an empty stringer and no dinner. I am most disappointed in my beloved dolphins. I love them when they are visiting me in my kayak or fishing along the sand bars. I definitely despise them in earnest when they are harassing the charter I'm on. Bad dolphins!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Visit to St. Vincent Island

On Saturday we took a trip out to Port St. Joe along the peninsula down to Indian Pass where the tip of St. Vincent Island lies just a half mile from shore across St. Vincent Sound. The island itself is a National Wildlife Refuge where Red Wolves, Sambar Deer, Red and Gray Fox, feral hog, American Alligator, Nine-banded Armadillo, and Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake can all be found living on the island. Visitors are allowed on the island by day and camping is not permitted. To make getting around on the island easier there are a network of gravel roads traversing the island, however only foot and bicycle traffic are permitted. Visitors can take a shuttle boat over from Indian Pass or do like we did and bring your own kayak or canoe.

Our trip from Fort Walton Beach to Port St. Joe took just under three hours. We arrived early and unloaded the kayaks and gear. It only took a few minutes to get underway and it was a short quick jaunt across the pass. Our group consisted of two Hobie SOT kayaks and two SIK kayaks. It was a green flag day (calm) so the group headed out the pass and paddled along the Gulf side of the island, encountering several dolphin pods along the way, until we were about halfway down before we saw one of the roads (#4) and landed there.

We ate a quick lunch, loaded up our backpacks with water bottles and bug spray and headed in to explore the island. Within just a few yards the sea breeze leaves visitors to the mercy of Florida's brutal heat and humidity. Luckily, having lived in Florida for quite a while, we were acclimated but not happy about it. However, in short order we began encountering the wildlife that St. Vincent Island is famous for.

Our first encounter was with a pack of deer flies. DO NOT FORGET to bring your bug spray with you. Deer flies are nasty, painful creatures capable of inflicting painful bites. We applied our bug spray and pushed onward. Our next encounter was watching a feral pig with piglets crossing the road ahead of us. Next we nearly tripped over a large turtle sitting alongside the road in the tall grass. We took pictures and continued on  to our next encounter with a small group of Sambar deer who bolted onto the roadway in front of us. They were too fast for my camera at the first encounter, but we met up with them again about fifteen minutes down the road and I was able to get pictures as they grazed.

Finally the heat was too much, our water levels low, so we headed back to the beach to cool off and head back to the pass. It was an easy paddle back, having paddled into the wind on the way out, however, once at the pass and with the heating of the day the chop in the pass was a bit intimidating. The SOT kayaks negotiated it without problem, while my SIK kayak had quite the wild ride while I tried to keep the kayak from pitching and rolling in the surf. I wouldn't recommend beginners attempt to negotiate the pass.

I finally made it back to the landing, just a little worse for wear. One of our group got overheated and had to cool down, just another side effect of Florida's heat and humidity. Aside from the heat, humidity and negotiating the pass it was a good trip. We're planning another trip soon with an early start to explore the bay side of the island.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dear BP ‒ Oops Doesn't Cut It

It has been a month since the sinking of the Deep Water Horizon off the coast of Louisiana and still toxic oil continues to spill into the Gulf of Mexico poisoning our waters. Yesterday thick vats of oil slopped into the delicate marshes and bayous of Louisiana killing everything it touched. Where was BP's grand plan to stop it? Oh wait, that was the same Dog & Pony Show that kept reassuring everyone that the oil would be contained, it would never reach shore, no animals would die in the making of this disaster, and the fishing and tourism industry would not be affected. Newsflash BP: Reciting a Mantra of Lies Doesn't Make it So!

Plausible Deniability

BP has tried to distract the public with finger pointing about who is ulitmately to blame for the explosion of the Deep Water Horizon on May 20th ‒ at this point it no longer matters whether it was BP, TransOcean or Haliburton. What matters now is getting the well head sealed and cleaning up the colossal mess that has turned the Gulf of Mexico into a vat of poison. But where is BP? That's right, out spinning more yarns to pull the wool over the eyes of the public (for you Brits that's Southern speak for crafting masterful works of fiction that sugarcoat the truth.)

While sea turtles, dolphins and oil covered pelicans turn up on shore, BP keeps repeating the mantra that “while unfortunate, they are not oil related.” So, you expect the locals to believe that they all just stopped off at the Quicky Lube for an oil change because its something that they like to do for fun? Sorry, we're not buying what you're selling. However, if the Powers That Be at BP would like to join us for a locally caught seafood dinner I'm sure we can whip up some sort of tasty sauce to cover up that nasty non-oil related film that the fish have swam through and ingested.

Compensation From BP

So by now the question begs to be asked of BP: What are you going to do for us now that the fishing and tourist industry is ruined? Are there grand plans in place to replace all of the marine life that is dying off in the Gulf of Mexico? Can you put a price on an endangered sea turtle or West Indian Manatee? Have you ever seen a Diamondback Terrapin in a Louisiana Marsh and did you have a spare to replace the ones that are dying? Can you replace the experience of walking amongst thousands of tiny clicking Fiddler Crabs on a hot summer evening if there are no crabs left to see?

Furthermore, BP, have you truly realized the impact on the fishing villages along the coast? For many fisherman, fishing is their life. If the boat doesn't run, their families don't eat. They can't just go out and get another job because not only does it take time to learn new skill sets, there aren't a lot of alternative jobs in a fishing town. This isn't big city life and it is close-minded to expect them to just pick up and move to where there are other opportunities. These are their homes!

Finally, there's the rest of us that live, work and play in these small communities. Is BP going to be sending all of us checks in the mail to make up the difference in the higher prices that we will now have to pay to buy seafood that has to be imported because fishing in the Gulf has been impacted? Are they going to pay for vacations that we have to take somewhere else because we can't go to our own beach? Will they be building us a giant aquarium where we can go free of charge to see the marine life that we used to be able to see swimming in local waters? Most importantly, will they be cloning endangered species and putting them back so that future generations can see them as well and not just remember them from pictures and stories? Yep, that's what I thought...
Photo by: USFWS/Southeast 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Boiling Creek Revisited — Favorite Florida Float Trips

Once in a while a paddler will come across a river or creek that is so refreshing and pure that it just begs to be revisited. Boiling Creek, located just to the north of the city of Navarre on the Eglin Reservation, is one of these rare gems; a pristine creek of unparalleled beauty and wonder.

Boiling Creek April 2010
The Northern Pitcher Plant in Bloom. (photo by Beverly Hill)

Springtime on Boiling Creek is a magical time. The water lilies, pitcher plants, spadderdock and other wetland plants are in full bloom while flights of damselflies dance in the sky. Osprey soar overhead while secretive otters play hide and seek from the paddlers. Be sure to keep a camera handy. Beauty lies around every bend of the creek, from basking turtles to fish darting through the crystal clear water

Boiling Creek April 2010
Damselfly on a Water Lily. (photo by Beverly Hill)

Boiling Creek April 2010
Water Lily. (photo by Beverly Hill)

Boiling Creek April 2010
Water Lily. (photo by Beverly Hill)

Boiling Creek April 2010
Turtle Basking on a Log. (photo by Beverly Hill)

Boiling Creek April 2010
Aquatic Plants Along Boiling Creek. (photo by Beverly Hill)

For more information on planning a trip on Boiling Creek, be sure to check out this article or read about my previous trip to Boiling Creek here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Natives are Restless

I'm a former native of Biloxi, MS. Let me take this moment to make it perfectly clear that the name of the city is pronounced bee-lux-ee and not beh-lox-si. I can't tell you how infuriating it is to listen to someone butcher the name of my hometown. I remember vividly when a new weather forecaster came to town many years ago and mispronounced the name Biloxi (and Saucier and Gautier) and was then inundated with letters berating him for it. I suspect he also had problems pronouncing Vieux Marche' and Dedeaux Road as well. Saucier is not full of saucers (flying anyway) and there are no goats in Gautier (that I know of) nor is it pronounced like Cartier.

I am on this particular rant because while watching a television show one of the characters (decidely Southern and dimwitted) bragged about her win of a beauty pageant in (mispronounced) Biloxi. I like believability in my television programming, however, this also reminded me of a college that was running commercials about their courses and campuses, one of which was located in, again mispronounced, Biloxi.

Here's a news flash for advertisers, promoters, newsmen, and media: If you're going to showcase a particular town LEARN HOW TO PRONOUNCE IT! If you don't you'll probably rile up a bunch of locals or former locals and then a)they won't buy your product, b)won't take you seriously, or c)both.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Talking 'bout squirrels

I attended the National Flying Squirrel Association's annual conference over the weekend. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a Flying Squirrel conference, and it happened in the bustling city of Andalusia, Alabama. Okay, maybe not that bustling, but the conference still had a pretty good turnout for being a bit off the beaten path, the current state of the economy, and chilly weather but the information that was shared was solid.

NFSA 2010 Conference

As it turns out there is a devoted set of fans of the Southern (and Northern) flying squirrel spread out all across the country. These humans are actually owned by small 2-3 ounce nocturnal squirrels that pretty much dictate their lives through mind control. Okay, so I made up the part about mind control but their owners really are dedicated to their lovable furballs. So what is it about flying squirrels that's so remarkable?


Well, for starters they bond very closely with their owners if hand-reared from a young age. They're cute, cuddly and smart. They're also fun, inquisitive and have unique personalities. They have very few health problems and live upwards of 13 years. Before deciding on whether or not a flying squirrel will make a good pet for you, read this article and then decide.

We were fortunate to have a guest speaker at the conference who has been studying these remarkable creatures since 2004. Michelle Gilley, MSc., gave an amazing presentation entitled "Spoken Like a True Southern Flyer: Decoding the Language of Flying Squirrels." Her research has revealed that flyers communicate in both the sonic and ultrasonic range. She was able to record and classify many different types of calls and even played some for us at a frequency we can hear.

I'm looking forward to next year's conference which will be in the Florida panhandle. This year's conference pictures can be viewed here.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Of Best-laid plans

After several miserable weekends in a row better weather finally crept into the Florida panhandle. To celebrate I had decided that I would dust off my mountain bike that had been hanging up in the garage all winter and peddle over to Ranger Camp road and get a few miles in on the Timberlake Trail system. Timberlake has well over 26 miles of hiking and biking trails suitable for any almost any skill level. I'm not a daredevil so I stick to the easy and intermediate trails and leave trails like Carbo to the diehards. Dutifully I aired up my tires, filled up my water bottle, pulled on my gloves, strapped on my helmet and after a brief once over of the bike I was off... to a grand distance of three houses down where my front brakes seized up for no apparent reason other than to tick me off.

I freed the brakes and pushed my bike back home and into the garage where I began digging for tools and gear oil. Ten minutes later still no luck. My day was starting out almost exactly as the previous day had, only instead of a stubborn set of brakes I had heck assembling a travel cage for my Southern flying squirrel duo. And although I did finally get the cage assembled, it took a hammer, a set of pliers and language that would make turn a pirate's ears red. So once again I was right back where I started, my plans foiled and in a very foul mood.

How to salvage my plans of fresh air and exercise? Well, I was already dressed for it so I picked up my water bottle, grabbed a camera and headed out to the very same set of trails to hike a five mile portion of it. Not quite the adventure I'd had planned, but it would have to do until I could drag my metal beast into the bike shop for an overhaul. My slower pace allowed me to be passed by several of my biking buddies, leaving me to once again reflect on the bike that had failed me. They might be faster, but I was getting the natural experience. Heck, with my camera in tow I might even be the one to take a picture of the elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

Or not. Instead I managed to work my way down to the edge of Stinky Creek (which isn't so stinky in the winter) and get a spectacular shot of a turtle basking on a log. I also found a deep pool of water where a rather large bass was hanging out, but even though my camera is waterproof, the acrobatics required to obtain said shot would have had me swimming with him and I am terribly opposed to cold water.

Turtle on a log

So, while not the perfect day that I'd set out to have, it was still a nice day and the forecasted 30% chance of rain held off. And if I may take a brief moment of creative license; a leisure day that doesn't go quite as planned is still better than a day at work.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Covering Hands Across the Sand

Yesterday I went out to our local beach on Okaloosa Island to cover the Hands Across the Sand event where hundreds turned out at various locations all along the beach to show their opposition to oil drilling in Florida waters. They weren't alone because the scene was replayed by thousands all across the beaches of Florida.

I admire these people for having the courage to stand up for something they believe in and not just going along with the flow. Florida has some of the cleanest beaches in the world, but in addition to that it is home to many rare and endangered plants, animals and marine life that depend on its preservation. The health and well-being of those species should always come before the pockets of greedy oil men.

It is time to stop depending on oil and truly make the switch to renewable energy. Solar, geothermal, hydroelectric and others are the future. Here's to Florida taking a stand against big oil and telling them NO OIL DRILLING IN FLORIDA WATERS!

Okaloosa Island

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Say No to Oil Drilling in Florida Waters

On Saturday, February 13th 2010 thousands of Floridians will descend on their local beaches at noon in a peaceful protest against oil drilling off of Florida's coastline. Florida's beaches, while certainly a major attraction for tourism, is also home to many species of plant and animal life that depend on an ecosystem that is free of dangerous oil and chemicals.

Florida has hundreds of species of plants and animals that are listed as endangered, threatened or a species of special concern. Some of those most at risk from a catastrophic oil spill include the West Indian manatee, several varieties of beach mouse, and sea turtles.

Not only would oil drilling pose a potential environmental risk to the beaches, but it would mar an otherwise beautiful setting. In the background of photos of beach weddings, sunsets and family outings would be the not so distant profile of oil drilling platforms which could be as close as 3 to 10 miles offshore if pending legislation passes.

Please find time to come out to the beach this Saturday and join with others to help protect Florida's beaches. To find a beach near you just log onto Hands Across the Sand

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Give Blood

Steve Taylor, 48 years old, operates heavy machinery in Rossville, Ga. On Monday his pelvic region was crushed by an Excavator. His wife has spinal meningitis and has been through 15 surgeries and now this. The Taylors have a deep love for animals and frequently rescue those in need. They were finally digging theirselves out of debt and deserve a break. If you are able, please give blood; the code for blood assurance is 47932 STEVE TAYLOR.

Watch this blog for more updates as they become available. I will relay information for monetary donations as it becomes available.

Update: Steve had surgery Thursday and they were able to repair his pelvic. They did have to give him 8 pints of blood. Thanks to everyone that gave blood. He will be in a wheelchair for 3-4 months and it will be a long hard road but he's lucky to be alive.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wow! Local Newspaper Hits New Low

As if there's not enough negativity in the news the local newspaper has now started producing a weekly supplement featuring full color mugshots and listing all of the local crimes committed over the past week. These are all stories that were already reported in the newspaper over the past week, but for the low fee of $1 readers can get them all bundled together in a convenient 24 page mini-paper. And here I thought they were being vultures just for photographing all of the local car accidents in hopes that they'd get a shot of blood or a decapitated limb. Go team! Not.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Florida Residents Save Money at Disney

It's a great time to live in Florida! Disney is running a special from now until May 25, 2010. Floridians can visit 4 Disney theme parks in 4 days with the Disney Dream Pass for just $99 plus tax. Be aware of a two week blackout date from 3/27/2010 to 4/9/2010. Tickets are available until May 21, 2010.

Photo by Hyku

Friday, January 8, 2010

National Flying Squirrel Association 2010 Conference

If you're a big fan of flying squirrels then mark your calendars and make reservations for the 2010 National Flying Squirrel Association Conference presented by Tom and Gail Savage to be held February 26-28 in Andalusia, Alabama at the Day's Inn. As of publication the cost for king and queen rooms were $65.95. Reservations can be made by calling the Days Inn at 334-427-0050. Make sure to mention the NFSA. Admission to the conference itself is $20 for non-members and free to members of the NFSA.

On Saturday, Prof. Michelle Gillie from Auburn University will be in attendance presenting her talk "Spoken Like a True Southern Flyer, Decoding the Language of Flying Squirrels." Later, Tom Savage will be speaking on the subject of Oak trees, acorns, and other southern trees that flyers depend on.

In addition to guest speakers there will be a silent auction, trade table, socializing and dining. Saturday evening, weather permitting, will include a marshmallow roast at the home of Tom and Gail Savage. Visitors are encouraged to bring a lawn chair, blanket, choice of beverage (sweet tea will be available) and their cheerful self while attempting to listen for the sounds of the wild flyers in the neighboring woods.

T-shirts, sweatshirts, and a golf shirt will be available for pre-order from Gail Savage. Prices and descriptions are as follows:

#1 is a gray quarter zip sweatshirt with the NFSA emblem on the front; the back of the shirt will have the state of Alabama with a flyer and a star that shows where Andalusia is. Underneath it will be a list of all the NFSA meetings along with the dates.(there are 7 listed) Price of the sweatshirt is $25.00

#2 is a gray polo "golf" shirt, long sleeve $20.00 or short sleeve $15.00 same design as sweatshirt.

#3 is a gray short sleeve t-shirt $10.00 or long sleeve $15.00 same design.

Make checks payable to Gail Savage, 1104 Prestwood Bridge Road, Andalusia, AL 36421. Please note on your check shirt style, size and include an email address. Pre-ordered shirts can be picked up at the registration table Friday evening or Saturday morning.

One note of caution: Alabama is one of the states that does not allow possession of flying squirrels, so please keep this in mind as you are making your plans. The hotel itself does allow pets if you decide to bring them along.

For further questions please email Gail Savage.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Squirrels and Baseball

When a flying squirrel becomes a part of your family you spend a lot of time doing research on their needs, dietary requirements and health issues. You even spend a good amount of time combing the internet for squirrel toys, connecting with other squirrel owners, and... what's this? Squirrel baseball? Well, sort of...

This year the Richmond Flying Squirrels make their debut in the Minor League Baseball Eastern League. Now, before you go thinking that flying squirrels are just cute and cuddly little furballs that aren't very tough, here are some things you should know. Flying squirrels have mad skills. They are amazingly fast, can glide over 250' and have been referred to as carnivorous (although they're actually omnivores.) Personally, I think flying squirrels kick butt and that the Richmond Flying Squirrels couldn't have picked a better name. Go Squirrels!!!

Up until now I've never really been much of a sports fan, but I think this time I'm going to have to support my personal flying squirrels, Benji and Nibbles, and root for the Richmond Flying Squirrels. I've already bought my t-shirt. Now I wonder if they sell team t-shirts in super tiny squirrel sizes??

Want to learn more about flying squirrels? Just check out my article on Southern Flying Squirrels.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Worst Seafood Dip Ever!!

If I can save just one person's taste buds from this revolting concoction then I will have done my first good deed of the year. It is a smoked tuna dip called "Skinny Dip" made by Gulf Smoked Seafood. This is the absolute worst tuna dip that I have ever tried, and no, it wasn't expired. OMG!!! I want to lick the bottom on my shoe just thinking about it. I've tried various smoked tuna and smoked salmon dips and this was so bad that after one bite, into the garbage it went.

It's made by a company out of Pensacola. We always try to buy local whenever possible, so when Kris saw this at the local grocery store he brought some home yesterday. The container even touts "Too Good Not to Try." I initially wondered why Kris only ate a little bit on a couple of crackers before putting it back into the fridge without a word. I found out later that he didn't want to "bias" me towards the dip before I tried it. While I appreciate that sentiment, if it's going to taste so bad that I want to follow it up with kerosene and a match, PLEASE warn me!

Living along Florida's Emerald Coast has allowed me to sample all kinds of seafood and dips. Some Tuna dips were awesome, others I wasn't that keen on. Without a doubt the "Skinny Dip" Tuna Dip is the one to avoid, hands down (or hands out if you're trying to push it away.) "Danger Will Robinson! Danger!"

Okay, so maybe I got a bad batch, but to all of the companies out there that make prepackaged food stuffs... it only takes one bad batch (apple) to ruin it. I have no desire to EVER try another "Skinny Dip" Tuna Dip. I had just one bite yesterday and I'm still cringing from it. Ugh!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Look for the New Year

With the arrival of the new year I decided to give my blog an updated look and I'm very pleased with the results. I hope everyone else will be as well. My blog wasn't the only thing that got an updated look though... I changed my hair, bought some new outfits, new jewelry, updated my resume' and started applying for a new job. Heck, I even bought a new Toshiba laptop and have a wireless printer ordered. I rarely pamper myself, but it was long overdue.

The new year also marks my new Examiner position. I am now the Outdoor Adventure Examiner for the Panama City edition. This will make it easier for me to get out targeted local interest stories. Interested in writing for the Examiner in your city? Just follow this link and fill out the application. In the referral section remember to mention that you were referred by me, Beverly Hill, ID# 18666, and thank you for your support.

I'm planning on focusing on some new and different hobby topics over at this year. Each month will feature a new hobby, tips on getting started, and techniques. Do you have an interesting hobby that others will enjoy? Drop me an email and tell me about it.

In another endeavor I've sponsored a White-tailed Antelope Squirrel named Elfin over at Best Friends Animal Society. There are many animals there that could use your help. Animals can be sponsored in memory of a loved one or just you can choose to become their guardian angel. Either way it's for a good cause and an excellent way to start off the new year in a positive way.

Happy New Year everyone and may it be a good one!