March 27 Editorial

This week I was forced to endure a horrible life event that can make most anyone shudder at the thought of it; my computer went to technology heaven. Yes, it was unexpected, and yes I’m still grieving. After all, it had been my trusted companion held only second to my phone for several years. We shared thousands of hours of work days together. We shared laughter and tears at various videos and emails. We shared secrets that I knew she would never tell.
I knew she was getting old. I knew there was better technology out there. But every time I opened her up and started typing, it was like a warm blanket wrapped around me. I was comfortable with her, mostly because I knew how she worked and how to deal with all of her quirky imperfections.
A few days ago while working away, I noticed squiggly lines on the screen. I saved my work and shut her down thinking that maybe a break was in order after being on for so long. I waited until she was cool, then started her up hoping to have solved the problem. Unfortunately I got about ten more minutes from her before she went kaput. The screen was black and loud beeps blasted from her speakers.
The next day, I called around to several computer repair shops and got the same answer from all of them; the black screen of death is just that…..the end. Unconvinced and not ready to give up on my entire life that lay inside her (I did back up important things), I went to the internet because, hey, if it’s on the internet it must be true, right? Yeah, right.
I found several YouTube videos that suggested that I wrap my computer tightly in a comforter while running (regardless of the loud beeps) and let it get boiling hot for anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Then, the video instructed me to turn off the computer and allow it to completely cool before attempting to start it up again. Now the rational side of me knew this was crazy, but I wasn’t ready to let her go. She held some of the last photos taken of my beloved Chloe and Esha. She held some of the wedding pictures that weren’t on my disks. She held videos of our vacations that I tried to transfer to a disk, but couldn’t. I was willing to try anything.
I followed the instructions to the letter, but only let her bake for 20 minutes. After she cooled I hit the button only to see the same black screen for a few seconds before she began screeching out like a newborn emu. I attempted the act once more, only this time I left her running for an hour. I noticed that her beeping had stopped, so I rushed into the room hoping for a miracle. Instead, she was beginning to smoke from every opening. I thought to myself, “Yep, its official. That killed her.” I should’ve known it was a stupid idea.
The next day, I went out shopping for a new computer. I saw tons of different laptops with plenty of different options, but I turned my nose up at all of them. None of them felt right when I touch their keyboards. None of them fit perfectly across my knees. None of them sounded the same when I tapped their keys. One by one, I turned them down.
My husband finally broke in while at Best Buy and said, “Dude, you realize this is just a computer, right? Pick one and let’s go.” The rational side of me knew he was right, so I found one that suited my needs and off we went.
On the way home, my husband looked over to me and said, “I think it’s crazy that you get so attached to things. I just hope you are this sad when I die.” To which I replied, “You never cooperate with me the way she did. Besides, men are much easier to replace.” Probably not the nicest of my jokes, but I thought it was hilarious.
I arrived home and took my new computer out of the box. I glanced over to see my old computer’s sad little frame sitting all alone on the table watching me as if she had a front row seat for my betrayal. I booted up the new machine and installed all the software and programs I needed. It works well, and even though I hate to admit it, it is a lot faster and the screen is brighter. Not to mention the mouse buttons work and there isn’t dog hair stuck in the keys.
I realize that I may be crazy. I’ve named my cars, my house, my shoes, etc. I suppose I just feel that if something is going to be such an important part of your life, what’s the harm in giving it a little persona? Okay, definitely crazy.
Either way, I’ll miss the little computer that could. She was with me through a wedding, loss of family members, taxes, work… name it….she stored my entire life. So rest in peace A”Dell”e. Even though I cursed you a hundred times, I’ll miss you. I know you’re running like a champ at that Circuit City in the sky.

March 20 Editorial

Whether this is your first time on the beautiful beaches of The Emerald Coast for Spring Break 2014 or you are a true Spring Break Veteran, here are some great tips to help you make the best out of your Spring Break 2014 experience. Everything from general tips and guidelines to making sure that you have all of the safety issues covered, our Spring Break Tips are exactly what you need to know before you hit the beaches.

Don't forget sunscreen-
The sun is almost triple its intensity on the beach due to its reflections off the sand and the water. You can be sure to avoid a nasty burn (and that oh-so-attractive rock lobster look) by slathering on plenty of sunscreen and wear protective gear like your favorite shades to prevent burning sensitive areas. Tanning in short intervals will help promote a more even, longer lasting tan. Not to mention you'll be able to mingle with people without punching them after slapping your back!

Drink responsibly-

This one can be tricky. No one wants to ruin your fun, but none of us locals want a bunch of unruly drunken idiots running around our town either. Having a few drinks can be fun during spring break, but remember.....all things in moderation. Besides, how embarrassing would it be to have to call your parents to bail you out of jail.....or worse...pick you up from the hospital? Do yourself a favor and save the regret. Watch out for them and make sure that they keep any eye on you as well. Acting responsibly will help you enjoy a lifetime of celebrations.

Know basic water safety-

While the beaches usually offer a beautiful and safe experience the overwhelming majority of the time, there are times that they can be very dangerous. Here are some water safety tips to help you on your trip this spring break.

A GREEN flag means that the water is calm. The undertow is slight to non-existent and it is safe to swim using the proper amount of caution!

A YELLOW flag indicates the presence of light surf or currents and additional caution should be used while swimming in the Gulf.

A RED flag indicates the presence of strong surf and currents. Swimming in these conditions is not recommended as it presents a very high hazard to all swimmers.

A DOUBLE RED flag, however, means that the water is closed to the public! No one is allowed in the water when a double red flag is posted!

Finally, a PURPLE flag indicates the presence of marine pest in the water such as jellyfish, stingrays or dangerous fish.

Use common sense, if the waves look dangerous, they probably are. Remember that even small summer thunderstorms can cause local dangerous conditions with the surf. Seek shelter when storm clouds become visible. Avoid the water if you see lightning. Be safe and exhibit caution if you can’t swim or are a beginner.

Respect our home-
Hey, we don’t throw our trash where you live. Don’t throw your garbage in our backyard. While you may just be passing through, remember that there are thousands of people just like you and your loved ones who live here year-round. When you scatter your waste on the roads and beaches or vandalize our facilities, you hurt the locals and contribute to their resentment. Make sure that you leave our area beautiful so its stays that way for the next time you visit.

March 13 Editorial

My husband and I have two cars. There is generally one that I drive and one that he drives but sometimes we trade off depending on who is taking care of our seemingly weekly visits to the vet for one of our billion fur babies. There is one thing that pretty much never changes, though. No matter which car I use, my husband has almost always left it without gas.
You would think that by now I’d have learned to build a little extra time in my day to take the car that he left without gas and fill it up, but for some reason it always surprises me. Yesterday while running late (as usual) for an appointment, I ran to the garage, jumped in my car, and was greeted with a bright shiny gas light and a “ding ding ding” reminding me that I had only enough gas to take me 18 miles.
The last time I had driven my own car it had over a quarter of a tank left, plenty to get me where I needed to be before it was urgent that I fill up. Angry, I thought about getting out, going back inside, and taking my husband’s truck thinking that maybe his tank wasn’t quite as low, but I was already late and by the time I did all of that I could just go to the gas station.
As I headed towards the nearest pump, I called him to express my disapproval of his irresponsible move to which he responded, “Oops. I thought I left more than that in it. Sorry.” I told him he owed me big time, hung up the phone, and began to plot my revenge as I rushed to continue with my day.
After my appointment (which I was fifteen minutes late for), I checked my cell phone which had been on silent for nearly two hours. It had been flooded with missed calls, all from my husband who sounded even more desperate in his text messages. “Please call me ASAP. I need your help.”
In a panic, thinking something tragic had happened, I immediately called him and said, “What happened? Is everything okay?” He angrily replied, “No. I ran out of gas. I’ve been trying to call you for an hour. Come get me.” I really ticked him off when I busted out in uncontrollable laughter and said, “That karma sure is a funny gal.”
After promising to come and rescue him from the parking lot where he had found himself stranded, I realized that in my insanely rushed morning due to his apparent gas gauge dyslexia, I hadn’t even had time for lunch. My stomach was grumbling, so I decided to “fill my tank” with a little Chic-fil-a.
After lunch, I was craving a Frappuccino from Starbuck’s. I knew in my heart it wasn’t right to keep him waiting, but my head told me that this was sweet revenge for not only this morning, but the time that my infrared key sensor failed and I ended up stranded for four hours at the end of Fort Pickens Road in the dead of August because he didn’t hear me calling….700 times. I ended up having to call a tow truck. The driver brought me a bottle of water so that I didn’t die from heat exhaustion. The thought of this debacle angered me all over again.
I sipped on my cool, delicious beverage as I slowly creeped through the parking lot where my husband stood with his hands on his hips. “Where in the heck have you been,” he said. “I got really hungry. Then I got really thirsty,” I replied. His face wrinkled up when he said, “Did you just forget that I was out here stranded with no gas?” I knew I was pushing it when I casually said, “Nope.”
A few minutes later we had filled his tank with enough gas to get it cranked, and we were about to be on our way. I knew he was still mad at me, and frankly I was still a little peeved at his irresponsibility. I hugged him and tried to make him laugh when I said sarcastically, “Did you learn anything today?” He simply replied in a mocking tone, “Nope.” I couldn’t help but laugh. Sometimes marriage is an uphill battle. I just hope we have enough gas in the tank to keep climbing.

March 6 Editorial

This week in honor of Mardi Gras, my husband and I decided to make the trek to the mecca of all Mardi Gras shenanigans, New Orleans. Never one to like large crowds but always down for a good people watching session, I wasn’t sure if I was getting in over my head or about to embark on an unforgettable epic journey.
We rolled into town at noon and within minutes, we found parking in a parking deck with security. According to the parade schedule, it looked as if we had already missed the early morning parades, and the next one wasn’t scheduled for hours. As we turned the corner to head to Bourbon Street, I heard sirens blaring and realized that we were about to catch the beginning of a one of the parades that had been delayed earlier that morning by bad weather.
We casually stepped over to an empty spot along the railings, and began our quest for the “good” beads. Seconds later, the sky seemed as if it was raining colorful treats from the heavens. This is where it comes in handy to have a husband who is 6’5” as he blocked, grabbed, and snatched everything that came his way. When the parade was over, we had so many beads that we looked like Mr. T and Liberace’s love children.
Feeling accomplished that I had just checked off another box on my bucket list (attend a Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans), we headed down Bourbon Street to see what all the fuss was about. We floated in and out of several open air bars, sipping specialty drinks and taking in the scenery.
For the most part, daytime revelers consisted of three groups; those who were merely there to watch the craziness unfold (I think we fell in to this group), the old perverts up on the balconies begging for every young girl to flash their chest for worthless beads, and the true blue freaks and weirdos who call New Orleans home.
Walking along, block after block, near elderly men would call down to me, “Come on baby, show ‘em to me.” To which I either responded, “You’re old enough to be my Grandpa,” “You first, paw paw,” or “Not a chance, gramps.” All of which seemed to get me more beads from the women watching than any of the men had to offer anyways. Girl power is cool. Keep fighting the good fight, sistas!
As we continued on, I was mesmerized by the street performers who ranged anywhere from head to toe painted silver robots to men in drag dancing in the streets. I even met a homeless hippy with a sign that read, “Help! I’m white trash and in trouble!” Five bucks and a few awesome pictures later, I had made a new friend.
We continued to party into the night with people from all walks of life. People who otherwise probably would've never cross paths. One thing was for sure, fun was had by all, and Mardi Gras in New Orleans is not to be missed.
On our way home, I started thinking. All of the strange and over the top people I had seen throughout the day would’ve been categorized as “freaks” in any other town, but in New Orleans, they’re just regular people. I think that’s pretty cool. Everyone needs a place where they can be themselves, and I love New Orleans for allowing people to let their freak flags fly.
Everyone we met was friendly, inviting, and just genuinely wanted us to have a good time. That’s what Mardi Gras is all about. Now granted, some people may not be as open minded to these people and their lifestyles as I am, but if you’re willing to give this city and its people a chance, you may just be surprised.
We are already planning our trip for next year, and I might just wave my flag a little bit!