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Good reads

  1. Merl Reagle transformed modern culture into puzzle wit

    Human Interest

    Merl Reagle was a breakfast guy.

    Everybody thinks of him as a word guy, which he certainly was, but the word was coffee. Decaf. Merl didn't require artificial stimulants. His mind worked, near as I could tell, with the relentlessness of a hydroelectric dam. He transformed the torrent of modern culture into …

  2. Two empty-nesters quit their jobs, sell their house and take to the sea

    Human Interest

    The ceilings were low. The carpet, yellow shag. The windows were outdated. But the house opened out to the water, and that was all that mattered.

    The Sea Gypsy has been home for former Tampa Bay Times writer Kris Hundley and her husband since they quit their jobs and in January sold the house in which they raised their family for more than 25 years.
  3. A mom ponders her identity as her firstborn leaves for college

    Human Interest

    All year, I watched our son plan his escape.

    CAPTION: (Suwannee River, 07/29/2006) Ryland (cq) tells his mother, Lane DeGregory (cq) a story as they cruise in a houseboat on the Suwannee River.
SUMMARY: Travel feature
(Times photo by Lara Cerri)
  4. For one man, owning dogs has created a warm and fuzzy change

    Human Interest

    We went to brunch on Father's Day, me and my parents, who had driven over from West Palm Beach. We'd gone to a nicer restaurant than usual, and my father had let me order oysters even though he thinks they're gross.

    David Gartner plays with dog Daisy, 13, who was adopted for the two Gartner children but has had David as primary caretaker.
  5. A high school junior faces her future without her biggest ally

    Human Interest

    It's so quiet in the van, rain is all we hear on the two-hour drive to Gainesville. My friend has let me tag along with her family to tour the University of Florida. No one is doing much to break the awkward silence.

    "Cheetos?" my friend asks at one point.

    A half-hour passes.

    "We have granola bars, …

    Hillsborough High School junior Annie Aguiar of Tampa, center, tours the University of Florida in July with her best friend, Meghana Bhimreddy, left. Aguiar had planned to tour UF with her grandfather, who was her biggest ally.
  6. When closure is elusive: Fletcher Currin buried 15 years after his death

    Human Interest

    OLIVIA, N.C.

    A worker struggles to lift the steel vault, then position it over a hole in the lawn behind a country church. • Three of us watch as he lowers the remains of Stewart Fletcher Currin, my closest childhood friend, into the ground. • My girlfriend takes my elbow. "Now you have closure," she …

    Stewart Fletcher Currin
  7. Could you be a hero like those Americans on the French train?

    Human Interest

    We grow up being taught to look before we leap and think before we act, especially in dangerous situations. In its booklet on dealing with "active shooters," the Department of Homeland Security lists confrontation as the "last resort," after, among other things, taking note of the nearest exits and locking yourself in …

    Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento University in California, left, U.S. National Guardsman from Roseburg, Oregon, Alek Skarlatos, right, and U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, second from left, pose for photographers with Jane D. Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to France, before a press conference held at the U.S. Ambassador's residence in Paris, France, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone helped foil a potentially deadly attack when they subdued a man armed with an assault rifle and other weapons on board a high-speed train bound for Paris two days ago. The man was known to intelligence services in three countries and had ties to radical Islam, authorities said Sunday. (AP Photo/Francois Mori) LON112
  8. After 70 years of creativity, painter has mastered the art of living

    Human Interest

    If it's retirement, it's a most active one.

    Janice James has been painting since she was 9. After college she worked as a commercial illustrator and later turned fine art into a second career.
  9. Tampa Bay: 'the hottest cult horror movie scene in the country'

    Human Interest

    Call them a creatively incestuous bunch of filmmakers, often working on each other's movies, sometimes helping each other to distribute their macabre artistry. Grisly loves company. Especially in Florida.

    Krista Grotte, who often stars in Tampa Bay movies, teases a killer clown during a break in filming.
  10. Armpit hair to dye for (w/video)

    Human Interest

    Destiny Moreno, who is 17, drove to a Sally Beauty Supply near her Seattle home last September with a newly hatched plan. She peppered a grandmotherly employee with questions about hair bleaches, developers and dyes, and the woman asked matter-of-factly if she were coloring her hair. "I was like, 'Oh, I'm dyeing my …

    Destiny Moreno, left, put her armpit hair in a YouTube video. Roxie Hunt is a co-founder of the Free Your Pits website.