Thursday, March 22, 2018
Human Interest

The State You're In: A cold case, Easter every day, a dolphin diva

Easter every day

Want to stroll through the Garden of Eden? Rest on a rock outside the Garden of Gethsemane? For $40, you can.

At the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, visitors enter through an arch into a model of a Jerusalem market. From there, they can tour a wax museum of biblical characters or watch Jesus's crucifixion in a 75-minute passion play. "Just close your eyes," says a piped-in voice, "and he will appear."

The attraction opened in 2001 near Florida's secular theme parks. In 2007, Paul and Jan Crouch, who own Trinity Broadcasting Network, paid $37 million for the property.

After Jesus is resurrected in the 2,000-seat arena, after he battles Satan and Hitler and someone who looks like a Blues Brother, the actor (one of six Jesuses) changes into street clothes and invites everyone to join him at "the altar." Some ask Jesus to autograph their park maps.

Then, everyone heads outside for the evening's mass baptism. Weather permitting.


Who's the most powerful mammal in Clearwater?

Hint: It ain't the mayor.

It's Winter, the movie star dolphin with a prosthetic tail. She might make Clearwater's City Hall move to make way for a bigger, better Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

So now that she's a box office queen, has Winter become a diva? We asked Kelly Martin and Robin Bates, marine mammal supervisors at the aquarium, to describe the star's typical day.

5:30 a.m. Wake up and wait for humans to arrive.

6 a.m. Trainers arrive. Impatiently whistle and chirp at them to get playtime going.

7 a.m. A breakfast of fish — capelin and silversides, yum. Repeat helpings through the day, eating 13 pounds total.

7:30 a.m. Move to another pool while volunteers clean main pool.

9 a.m. Aquarium opens to public. Winter plays with her fellow dolphin Hope. She does stretching exercises and physical therapy with trainers.

11:30 a.m. Showtime! Winter punches in for work. She tries on her prosthetic tail and waves her fin at the crowd. She jumps on a pool mat and floats on it. Tourists take snapshots with their cameras and phones. The show repeats at 1:30 and 3 p.m., and sometimes at 5.

Afternoon: Play with Hope some more. Chase each other around. Blow bubbles from bottom of pool. Use bottlenose to play with a hard plastic "jolly ball."

4 p.m. Lobby for production of Dolphin Tale II. Plot gubernatorial run.

6 p.m. Aquarium closes. Volunteers leave shortly afterward. Last round of work with trainers.

9 p.m. Lights out. Time for a dolphin to sleep.



The Floridian word of the month comes with a sting.

Parts of the state may be overrun this summer by a large mosquito with a fearsome bite that some have likened to being knifed. Entomologists at the University of Florida, who issued the warning, know these insects as Psorophora ciliata, but among their many victims they have long been known as shaggy-haired gallinippers. Floridian's staff etymologist can't shed much light on the origin of the term, but it goes back at least to 1897 when a writer described his encounter with "the little zebra-legged thing — the shyest, slyest, meanest and most venomous of them all."

Gallinippers don't actually contain venom, but at 20 times the size of an average mosquito they just feel like they do.


Excerpt: Dark side of the moon

In Laura Lee Smith's debut novel, Heart of Palm (Grove Press), 62-year-old Arla Bravo retires to her untidy bedroom at the end of a messy Independence Day, her least favorite holiday of the year. Arla's once charmed life as the daughter of wealthy parents in St. Augustine took a fateful turn when she married into the infamous Bravo clan of Utina, the much poorer coastal hamlet Smith devised as the setting for her book. Utina once survived on its trade in fronds for Palm Sunday and moonshine. As is so often the case in Florida, it's the developers who want to claim it for their own and resurrect it. Times book editor Colette Bancroft writes in her review of the book, "Smith, who lives in St. Augustine, creates a vivid sense of place, viewing Florida with a loving but unsentimental eye."


She poured her first tumbler of wine and regarded the moon, feeling the same small stab of annoyance she'd felt ever since 1969, when those fool astronauts had been tromping around up there and had left behind the American flag. It had always bothered her, that flag, left on the moon all those years ago, probably nothing left by now but an old pole and some elemental residue of polyester thread. Now why did they have to go and leave that garbage up there? It was like trashing a picnic site, with the moon before always so lovely and pure, and now the thought of that mess up there like it might as well have been Daytona after Bike Week. She sighed. But that was just the way of things. Somebody always making a mess out of everything.


Cold case

The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary has surely had a run of bad luck lately, but good grief. The Tampa Bay Times reported last month that someone broke into the sanctuary and stole about 100 pounds of fish from the bait hut. A manager said it looked as though whoever broke in had a key. But the Indian Shores police closed the case because, they say, they had no leads and no suspects. Here at CSI: State You're In, we take a more old-school approach to such crimes. When we hear the words "had a key" that's when we start investigating. Who had a motive? Maybe it's a hungry egret. But we ask: Did any of the birds have access to a key? No? Then it could be time to ask tough questions of some humans. If you have a lead in the bait-napping case, call (727) 893-8216. Ask for Detective Brassfield.


Lots of ladies' nights

39.6: The percentage difference between young, single, college-educated women in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area and their male counterparts. In other words, for every 10 men under 35 with college degrees living in this area there are 14 equally smart young women. The situation for female college grads is dire throughout Florida, but nowhere is as bad as Sarasota, where the gap is 82.3 percent, the worst in the nation.

Source: U.S. Census data, The Atlantic magazine

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