Etc. - 12/29/09

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Through the marvels of modern technology, I connected with native Walla Wallan Staci Buchanan Lindblad "who lives on a sailboat at an uninhabited Caribbean-island military base, oceans and 1,190 miles away."

It was another marvelous technology that got Staci named a finalist in a Google contest. Quite a feat, "especially considering how many bazillions of entries Google probably received for this contest," Staci said.

Her granddaughter, 21/2-year-old Charlotte "Charli" Young of Paragould, Ark., calls her grandma on her sailboat using a web cam phone. Staci is the daughter of Walla Wallans Gary and Nita Koehler, and Charli is their first great-grandchild.

Staci's and Charli's entry is one of 50 finalists in the contest to promote Google's offering of free Wi-Fi during the holidays at airports nationwide. The public can vote for a favorite photo. The winner will receive 10 round-trip tickets on Virgin America Airlines, as well as some other technology-oriented winnings. Voting is open until Thursday.

"Holidays apart are hard, but sharing adventures and photos online keeps the bond alive," Staci said. "Santa is bringing Charli a children's digital camera for Christmas and once I teach her to shoot pics and download them, we'll be even more connected."

Staci, her husband and their Chesapeake Bay retriever reside on board a sailboat at Andros Island, the Bahamas, where her husband is a contractor for the U.S. Navy's AUTEC Project.

"Hearing her silly giggle and watching her expressions via Skype just melt me," Staci said of Charli. "It's corny, I know. But I just miss her personality so much. Our story is unique in that she's so young and I'm in a place that feels like the end of the earth where seemingly no technology could travel."

Charli, familiar with lights and cameras, stars in her dad, Paragould attorney Robbie Young's local television spots, and has also been featured on a healthcare marketing banner and print brochures in Oregon state. Charli's mom is Courtney Young.

•••

Parker Davis, a Walla Walla High School senior, had his music premiered recently by the Walla Walla Symphony.

Parker's written piece is "A Hamcilla Holiday." He plans to become a composer, according to orchestra teacher Julia Woods. "This is a wonderful opportunity for him to have a piece of his work performed by a semi-professional orchestra," she said in the Dec. 18 Walla Walla School District online newsletter.

Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.

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