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A dozen things that happened in March that would've been called SO FLORIDA had they happened in Florida

I did it for January, and I did it for February, and so now I'll do it for March.

1. A man who was pronounced dead by a county coroner woke up in a funeral home inside a body bag.

2. A former federal prisoner and doctor injected patients with something he called "the Jesus shot."

3. A state supreme court said secretly photographing under a woman's skirt is ... not illegal.

4. A woman was arrested for hitting her mother in the head with a vibrator.

5. A woman out walking her dog found the mutilated heads of a chicken, a rooster and a baby goat or sheep arranged on terracotta-style plates.

6. A man called 911 after his fat and "very hostile" cat attacked him and his family.

7. A college kid was arrested after making a dog do a keg stand at a party.

8. A state government voted to penalize colleges for "gay-themed books."

9. State troopers showed up with assault rifles at the home of an angry man who had a handgun in his waistband that turned out to be a tattoo.

10. A 64-year-old woman hit a 62-year-old woman with a plate at a Golden Corral.

11. Runaway circus elephants spent a half an hour in a parking lot wrecking cars. …

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St. Pete's Central Avenue.


St. Pete's Central Avenue.

Good ... day. It's Monday, March 31, 2014, and it's also baseball's Opening Day here in St. Pete.

In Florida, we're gradually getting back to work, but many of the fastest-growing industries have lower-paying jobs, Jeff Harrington reported in Sunday's Times. A tidbit I underlined that for some reason didn't make it to About 588,000 Floridians are still considered unemployed -- the equivalenet of the entire state of Wyoming.

More from yesterday's paper:

What this chart shows is widespread lack of access to the best possible public education. It's an outrage.

What did you think of the big image of a 2014 Rays world championship trophy on the front of the special baseball preview section? I don't think that would ever happen in, oh, Boston. Too fraught. Even still.

The Rays' owner has to have his daily paper. Go team!

Cameron Cottrill's Walking Dead illustration looked so good in print.

Moving on:

Michael Grunwald says this is why there's no solar in the Sunshine State. …

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Fun one by the Times' Will Hobson about rich people problems




Today on 1A:

ODESSA — The seaplane is so loud, the author said, it scared his wife's horses.

It rattled the orthodontist's new hurricane-resistant windows. It woke the plastic surgeon on a Sunday, just after he returned from vacation in India.

For months, a feud has raged on Lake Keystone. The seaplane, some say, makes the lake its personal runway, buzzing homes and treetops, forcing boats to swerve, shattering the tranquility of this wealthy, waterfront enclave.

Nine government agencies and two Hillsborough County commissioners have been involved. None has come to the aid of complaining neighbors.

The plane's owner has flight logs and global positioning system records he says refute complaints. He's the victim, he says, of the homeowners association president, who he asserts has lorded over Lake Keystone for years.

Last week, this characteristically Floridian feud took an inevitable turn: the plane owner sued. But there's more at stake than legal damages or a man's recreational aviation habits. Life on Lake Keystone may never be the same.

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One way to get people to NOT come to Florida

Traditional means of salesmanship are what they are. They've done the job. They do the job. In today's letters to the editor, though, Dyanna Gassien of Hudson offers up a reminder that they're not the only thing worth considering:

I most certainly will let my friends in Canada and the United Kingdom know about Florida's trauma response fee. That may change their minds about visiting Florida.

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Speed up? A senior VP of AAA says Florida needs to slow down

Just the other day in St. Pete.


Just the other day in St. Pete.

Largo's Kevin Bakewell in this morning's letters to the editor:

Using extreme caution, you merge onto a Florida interstate highway, where the speed limit is 70 mph. You opt for the far right lane, set your cruise control at that "maximum speed," but aren't a bit surprised to see other vehicles blow by you like a scene from Fast & Furious. The Florida Legislature is working to address this dangerous problem of flagrant speeding by … raising speed limits.

No one will say exactly why. About the only reason we've heard is that some other states did it and drivers will get places in less time. How much less time? Assuming a 20-mile commute traveling at the speed limit, going 75 instead of 70 will get you to your destination 1 minute and 8 seconds sooner. Hardly a reasonable tradeoff for what will surely be — based on crash data from other states — an increase in speed-related deaths and injuries. …

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'... a system of governance that seemingly knows the cost of everything but the value of nothing'

Bowl of liquid light.

JOHN MORAN | Springs Eternal Project

Bowl of liquid light.

John Moran of the Springs Eternal Project in Perspective in yesterday's Times: I have photographed Florida's gorgeous springs for decades, and that means — sadly — that I have documented their decline.

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Did you read Ben Montgomery's story in Sunday's paper about the Tampa Bay area's balloon twisting wars?

Ben Alexander. Balloon Distractions.


Ben Alexander. Balloon Distractions.

If you didn't, here:

LAND O'LAKES — If you believe the clowns, everything was hunky-dory until 2007, when Ben Alexander came along.

A dedicated clown could work a restaurant for a couple of hours, twist a T. rex or a Super Mario — really innovative stuff, not just one-balloon wiener dogs or swords — and walk home with a hundred bucks. The restaurants paid, so parents didn't have to worry about scrambling for tips. The clowns weren't going to get rich, but it was a living.

But then Alexander started to expand his business quickly.

The Land O'Lakes entrepreneur, who had started Balloon Distractions in 2003, was looking for clowns, magicians and balloon artists to join the fold.

He needed trainers. He needed regional managers. He wanted to take over the Ballooniverse with a radically different, disruptive business model, where he underbid the established balloon artists and sent less-experienced clowns to twist balloons for tips.

Online forums like and began to light up with negative commentary about Alexander. Some claimed he treated his employees poorly. Some claimed he was stealing business. Some said his business model was devaluing the industry. …

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What gives flowers their scent?

That's the question from Margaret Riconda of Bayside, N.Y., in the "Ask Smithsonian" back-of-the-book feature in the April Smithsonian magazine. And here's the answer from Tom Mirenda, the Smithsonian Gardens' orchid collection specialist: My friend W. Mark Whitten, a botanist at the University of Florida who works with orchid fragrances and pollination biology, says: Flowers are miniature chemical factories. The epidermal cells of the flower petals (and sometimes other parts) pump out a mix of volatile chemicals unique to each species. These chemicals advertise the presence of the flower and help guide pollinators, who are equipped with chemical detectors.

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What the world's rising seas will mean for Florida

Miami after Wilma in '05.

Getty Images

Miami after Wilma in '05.

New from the New York Times:

Miami, one of the nation's most populous cities, is built atop a porous limestone foundation on the South Florida coast, making it extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels, according to the federal government's 2013 draft National Climate Assessment. As Arctic ice continues to melt, the waters around Miami could rise up to 24 inches by 2060, according to a report by the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Residents say they are already experiencing the effects as roads and outdated sewage systems flood. The porous limestone creates a unique threat as seawater seeps through the city's foundations.

"You're not necessarily getting water pouring up over a barrier — instead, it's seeping through the limestone and coming up through drains," said Leonard Berry, co-director of the Climate Change Initiative at Florida Atlantic University. "It's already happening. And it's not very pleasant." …

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Vroom vroom downtown.


Vroom vroom downtown.

Good afternoon. It's Friday, March 28, 2014.

The Times' Claire Wiseman went to work this morning with a decibel meter.

The Villages? It's now a metropolitan area. And it's not just any metropolitan area. It's America's fastest-growing metropolitan area. "The uniqueness of The Villages," said the 70-year-old president of the Property Owners' Association of The Villages, "is it is many, many villages." Blink blink. I've said it before and I'll say it again. We need a Villages writer. I'd read all the words.

Am I the only grouch who thinks Tracy from Lakeland shouldn't have been making a video of this manboy, and that she, too, could have gotten into a wreck, or caused one, due to her actions?

The Tampa mom and stepdad accused today of terrible child neglect make me think of Lori and Tommy Allain.

Will Florida become a medical tourism destination? Hmm.

Spring break's been a boon.

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It's like the Python Challenge except with lionfish

Looks pretty. But watch out.

JENS PETERSEN | Wikimedia Commons

Looks pretty. But watch out.

Remember the snake hunt? Of course you do. Say the organizers of this latest invasive-species-related competition:

Lionfish are trying to take over the Atlantic Ocean, let's take it back! Our waters here in North Florida are no exception. With no natural predators it is up to us to keep the marine ecosystem in balance. The goal of this tournament is to raise awareness in our fishing community about the lionfish invasion and have a good time doing it.

Drawing from information from the Associated Press, NOAA, National Geographic, and, here are a dozen things worth knowing about Florida's pythons of the sea:

1. Lionfish are also called turkey fish, dragon fish, scorpion fish, zebrafish, butterfly cod, firefish, red firefish or devil firefish.

2. They're native to the reefs and rocky crevices of the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. …

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Henry Knight's book on the early selling of California and Florida

Something I underlined in the introduction to Tropic of Hopes: California, Florida, and the Selling of American Paradise, 1869-1929:

This book argues that the selling of California and Florida as tropics of hope successfully combined two dominant discourses in American expansion. The first, republican ideology, envisaged the formation of homogeneous communities defined by middling wealth, self-directed labor, and "a society of equal and virtuous citizens" — an independent entity that avoided the Old World curses of concentrated wealth, class division, and unremitting poverty. ... The second discourse — colonialism — contrasted with republican ideology by stressing development based on hierarchy and inequality.

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Good afternoon. Evening? Anyway, it's Thursday, March 27, 2014.

The future of the most hateful church in America is from Tampa.

The quote of the day? "Stay away from those goats."

An update on Leonora LaPeter Anton's story from the other day about two married lesbians living in Florida who want to get divorced.

The New Times headline: Florida Is Becoming an Unlikely Obamacare Success Story.

Elsewhere: A drunk, machete-wielding man in Port St. Lucie went on a rampage because he barfed on his phone, a part-time security guard at a Hernando County nursing home beat two elderly residents, and it's safe to say most folks cheered when this dumb-dumb wrecked. Share it because that's what it's for.

Here comes the noise in St. Pete.

And remember! You can browse 130 years of Times photos.

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Florida, HuffPost reports, might not be so bad after all

Renee Jacques offers 23 reasons. Check plus for Cigar City, stone crabs and the Everglades, which are wild and put us in our place. My response to the last of the list: I don't laugh at the kind of news she mentions, at least not a whole lot, hardly ever really, but I do acknowledge it and appreciate it. Weird is just another word for interesting.

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The purple moon suit and Florida's 'gruesome execution theater'

Protesters before the state killed the killer Robert Waterhouse.

Associated Press

Protesters before the state killed the killer Robert Waterhouse.

A little late on this but I read it just yesterday and wasn't quite sure what to do with it so I'll just go ahead and pass it along for your consumption.

Earlier this year, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a hearing in which Florida DOC officials explained what precautions they take to ensure that inmates experience "a humane and dignified death." But instead of discussing why and how the state chose what drugs it uses, the hearing was a farcical discussion of minutia. As A.P. journalist Tamara Lush reported, DOC Assistant Secretary Timothy Cannon testified that DOC officials had come up with a new way of performing a "consciousness check" on a prisoner. In his capacity as the execution "team leader," Cannon testified that whereas he previously used what he called a "shake and shout"—grabbing an inmate's shoulders and yelling his name—he now relies on the more subtle "trapezoid pinch,"or squeezing the flesh between a prisoner's neck and shoulder.

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