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.