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  1. Fate works its magic in reuniting two orphaned sisters from South Korea

    Human Interest

    SARASOTA — When the police pulled 5-year-old Pok-nam Shin out of school, the little girl who now goes by Holly Hoyle O'Brien asked the only question that mattered: Where's my daddy?

    Visa photos of half-sisters Holly Hoyle O’Brien , left, and Meagan Hughes for their adoptions out of a South Korean orphanage to two American families.
  2. Take the True Florida Quiz: Can you spot the bogus Florida headline?


    You're reading this, which means you know Florida, which means you know Florida has a legendary case of the crazies. As with all good legends, over time, it can be tough to sort the myths from the truth.

    The True Florida Quiz is here to help.

    Josie Hollingsworth | TIMES
  3. Homosassa woman feels the sway of her native Cuba

    Human Interest

    Ingrid Ricci's view of Cuba is a complex one, formed during three different periods over more than half a century.

    Ingrid Ricci, left, and her cousin Ermalita Alameda pass a government building with Fidel Castro's image while touring the streets by foot in Santiago de Cuba. [Photo by Amber Sigman]
  4. Drones and dogs save suicidal avocados from the dreaded redbay ambrosia beetle



    Foreign invaders are decimating Florida avocados.

    A drone flies over the 20-acre avocado grove in Redland on Oct. 14 that belongs to Art Ballard.
  1. As dementia symptoms increase, doctor living with Alzheimer's knows exactly what his future holds

    Human Interest

    UPDATE: In the days since this story was published, readers have responded to the portrayal of Dr. David Kramer by sharing the struggles their afflicted family members face. They also commented on the difficulty for society and the plan Dr. Kramer has for the end stage of his disease:

     David and Tiffany Kramer during their routine walk on the beach in Naples Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015.   Dr. David Kramer was an incredibly bright emergency room physician in Pennsylvania when he started to notice his memory fading. It was getting harder to remember patients' names and follow along with stories his kids told. He had to work harder at preparing for lectures; he kept asking his wife if familiar dresses were new. After about 5 years of increased struggling, he saw a series of doctors and was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's at age 56. Now he's 59 and he and his wife live in Naples. Their motto is to live the hell out of life while they still have time. There's no definite time period before the disease gets worse, so they're trying to live every day to the fullest. On the 25th of August, I'm going to spend some time with them to get a sense of their average day in Naples, including sitting in on a session of the Early Onset Alzheimer's group meeting at the Alzheimer's Support Network there.
  2. Sun City Center couple's dance of life now moves to different rhythm

    Human Interest

    In a small room at Palm Garden nursing home in Sun City Center, two souls draw closer.

    John Breslin, a World War II vet, looks at photos from his service on the submarine USS Cavalla. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve at 17, met Rita Hughes, 14, during training in 1943 and wrote her after he went to sea.
  3. Dark places breed Gulfport woman's Halloween haunts

    Human Interest

    "I'm no Mary Poppins," Amy Slone says.

    If Poppins was obsessive-compulsive about a holiday, it would be Christmas. Slone hates Christmas. She has self-diagnosed OHD — Obsessive Halloween Disorder. Months before Halloween, she begins turning her Gulfport home — front to back, top to bottom — into …

    Amy Slone, sufferer of self-diagnosed Obsessive Halloween Disorder, has for the past 10 years built a haunted house at her Gulfport home. This year’s theme: post-nuclear apocalypse clown terror.
  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. Pining for the perfect movie ending


    Movie endings aren't what they used to be.

  5. A family mourns cancellation of 'Sábado Gigante'

    The Feed

    The news jumped out at me from Twitter. I stared for several seconds in disbelief.

    Mario Kreutzberger, aka Don Francisco, center, is the creator and host of  S?bado Gigante, TV’s longest-running variety show. It began in Chile in 1962. It ends Sept. 19.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  1. For two who teach it, the best Florida literature recognizes the surreal


    Florida literature has a longer history than you may think.

    Spouses Tom Hallock, left, and Julie Buckner Armstrong teach literature at USF St. Petersburg.
  2. Fictional Florida: a look at 80-some writers with state roots, settings


    "Literary" is probably not the first adjective that comes to mind when you think of Florida.

    STEVE MADDEN | Times
  3. Orlando's Crayola Experience a fascinating wonderland of color, technology and nostalgia



    Fred Rogers' sweater is a hue Crayola might call Forest Green, or maybe Aquamarine, or maybe Illuminating Emerald. He sketches a simple rainbow on an easel in his modest TV living room, the one decorated like childhood, and turns to the camera.

    A “crayonologist” creates a batch of crayons for Crayola Experience visitors.  “This brand has certainly evolved and changed,” Crayola president and CEO Mike Perry (not pictured) says. “But that mission of sparking the creative spirit of a child has never changed.”
  4. 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.
  1. Wild ride across Florida: 800 miles, alone on a bike

    Human Interest

    Spindly legs dangle from the frame of my glasses. A black body rappels down a silk filament, itsy-bitsy arachnid feet tickling my nose.

    Graham Brink completed an 800-mile bike race across the full length of Florida. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   Times]
  2. Florida's original water parks: the springs

    Human Interest

    ICHETUCKNEE SPRINGS STATE PARK — In the summer of 1539, the conquistador Hernando de Soto and several hundred men lumbered up the Florida peninsula and stopped by this spring-fed river to rest.

    Ichetucknee Springs State Park near Gainesville is a great spot for tubing, and early starters have a chance at seeing North American river otters at play.
  3. Turn it all off and go outdoors

    Human Interest

    With a job title of digital audience manager, I get paid to be better than most at being digitally connected.

    Appreciating wildlife and the clear, cold, turquoise-tinted water of Manatee Spring.
  4. Famous people, famous places: Reflecting on the best parts of Florida

    Human Interest

    Ernest Hemingway once described Key West as "the best place I've ever been anytime anywhere, flowers, tamarind trees, guava trees, coconut palms. ... Got tight last night on absinthe and did knife tricks." That is a real, unedited quote. Although we might never know the result of that night of absinthe-induced …

    This photo by acclaimed Florida nature photographer Clyde Butcher is "Loxahatchee River State Park - 1991" will be included in the exhibit opening Jan. 8-29 at the Pasco-Hernando State art gallery. The exhibit Visions of Florida: The Photographic Art of Clyde Butcher is part of the Museum of Florida History's Traveling Exhibit (TREX) program. Butcher will will discuss his work in a special presentation, followed by a Q&A and book signing, on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 at 6 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center on the college's West Campus in New Port Richey.
  1. Love, etched in stone on Tampa's Riverwalk

    Human Interest


    Love is patient, love is kind. Love is on a brick down by the Hillsborough River, which your correspondent noticed on a stroll a few months ago.

     Jennifer Rodriguez proposed to her boyfriend Roger Strawbridge with a brick in the Tampa Riverwalk section by Curtis Hixon Park last February.
  2. Letter from Japan: Living, and learning away from Florida

    Human Interest

    My most important lesson in Japan cost ¥190, and it came from a convenience store.

    Alex Orlando, a former Tampa Bay Times reporter, is now living — and learning — in Japan.
  3. Digital love: Couple goes from Tinder to #gio2016

    Human Interest

    One day in late November 2013, Nick Giovannucci was bored, playing on his iPhone. He was on Tinder, the dating app that matches your profile with eligible others based on shared interests and geography, then asks you to swipe right if you like what you see or left if you don't. If both parties swipe right, it's a …

    Kristina noticed Nick's Snapchat username was listed in his Instagram bio, so she addedhim with no intentions of actually sending him any photos.
  1. State You're In: A brief history of gyrocopters in the Times; 'Cuba Straits' excerpt; May's by the numbers

    Human Interest

    "Gyrocopter" became a term of interest when Ruskin postal carrier Doug Hughes landed his on the U.S. Capitol lawn last month to deliver letters of protest about campaign finance reform. But the adventures of gyrocopters specifically the Bensen Gyrocopter, named for Russian emigre Dr. Igor Bensen, …

  1. Erased: How the biggest baseball win in a small Florida town's history never happened


    When Chicago's Jackie Robinson West Little League team was forced to forfeit the 2014 U.S. Championship for using ineligible players, people of a certain age couldn't help but think of the story of Danny Almonte.

    Apopka players engulf Brandon Brewer after his three-run homer in the U.S. title game of the 2001 Little League World Series. Apopka won the game but lost to Japan in the world final.
  2. Two pro soccer players at opposite ends of the monetary turf (w/video)



    The Brazilian soccer star known as Kaká stares down at the ball, seconds from the biggest kick in the newest chapter of his storied career. Wealthy and well-known, his place in the sport is well established, his number on the backs of fans around the world. // Kaká doesn't need this goal. But his …

    Kevin Molino draws a small media contingent after a practice. The native of Trinidad and Tobago has played for his national team and in a U.S. minor league.
  3. New roof technology could benefit a new Rays stadium

    Human Interest

    Minor-league baseball can tolerate muggy Florida's open-air stadiums. If rain or lightning wipes out $1 Tuesday, who cares if average attendance slips from 1,300 to 900?

    This is a rendering of the stadium being built for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.  The roof will be made of a polymer that is stronger than glass but lighter.
  1. Finding Fletcher: A man's search for what became of his troubled childhood best friend

    Human Interest


    A single spotlight illuminated one end of an otherwise dark room at the Pinellas-Pasco County Medical Examiner's office. William Pellan sat behind a computer, eyes fixed to the image of a dead man. Everything I needed to know was on that screen, glowing on his face. But Florida law forbids non-family …

    Andrew Meacham is encouraged that others are now involved in 
the search for Fletcher, including St. Petersburg police.
  2. Warren Elly, in the fight of his life against cancer

    Human Interest

    Editor's note: Warren Elly, who retired from WTVT-Ch. 13 in 2011, was diagnosed with cancer late last year and has spent every day since then chronicling his life in his blog, "The Way Forward." Elly granted the Tampa Bay Times permission to publish excerpts from his blog, and wrote this introduction: …

    Mitotane, a form of oral chemotherapy, is part of Elly’s new routine. “It’s not just bags once a month. It’s pills every day.”
  3. Jameis Winston and me: The pain of covering the scandal

    Human Interest

    When the phone rang at my kitchen table, I had to follow the rumor wherever it led. I could never have imagined what would unfold next: That the star quarterback at Florida State University would wind up under investigation for rape. That Jameis Winston's accuser would be driven out of school. That a stream of national …

    Jameis Winston, right, was never charged after three separate investigations. But two of them didn't fully vindicate him, either, at least not in the eyes of some. [AP photo]
  4. The state you're in: The examined life

    Human Interest


    The examined life

    Mari Ebert worries.

    She worries that, despite all their hard work, her sixth-graders won't do well on Florida's new annual exams, which start Monday.

    “The world’s most unusual cowboy” rides a border collie rounding up sheep at the Silver Spurs midwinter rodeo in Kissimmee.
  1. For women in the Pinellas County Jail, the Red Tent room offers tears, growth, hope

    Human Interest

    Editor's note: The four-hour Red Tent Project session was recorded. The women's words have been edited for length and clarity.


    Pinellas County Jail inmates Amanda Casler, left, and Yalira M. Perez have a light moment at a Red Tent Project meeting at the jail in December. Perez, 26, is in jail for forgery. “I’ve been rejected all my life, and I’m used to it,” she says. “I’m a loving, giving person. But I belittle myself, and I deserve that.”
  2. Greg Baker resurrects Florida Cracker cuisine at Fodder & Shine

    Food & Dining


    Greg Baker stands in the Fodder & Shine kitchen explaining what will happen in a vast room full of gleaming ovens and prep counters when his phone rings for the fifth time. "And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate. Baby I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake. Shake it off." // Wife and business partner …

    Cornmeal, chicken fat fried chicken with sides of cornbread, and tomato gravy and rice at Fodder & Shine, in Tampa. Photographed on Friday January 9th, 2015.

  3. In My Shoes: Stopping is not an option for Lois Huyghue

    Human Interest


    Lois Huyghue, who hates cold like cats hate getting wet, pulled into Coachman Park to run a marathon. At 5 a.m., it was 36 degrees. Wearing two coats, three T-shirts and two hats, she peered out of her car window at a park full of skinny people in shorts and tank tops.

    None of them looked scared, …

    Lois Huyghue, 55, had a stroke when she was 18 months old and has limited control of her left arm and leg. She ran her first marathon last year in the Clearwater Distance Classic.
  4. Better watch Saul: Why Tampa Bay lawyers love devious attorney from 'Breaking Bad'

    The Feed

    Jot down every negative lawyer stereotype you can think of: greedy, arrogant, double-talking, backstabbing. Keep going, there's more.

    Bob Odenkirk plays ethically challenged lawyer Saul Goodman, who rose to fame in AMC’s Breaking Bad and is getting his own TV series, Better Call Saul, which debuts Feb. 8 on AMC. Better Call Saul begins six years before the start of Breaking Bad, when the lawyer didn’t work out of a strip mall, have drug-dealing clients and say things such as “You don’t want a criminal lawyer. You want a criminal lawyer.”
  1. Florida rancher's wish: a legacy of his land pristine forever

    Human Interest

    FORT PIERCE — Bud Adams, slim and dressed in blue jeans and a blue button-down shirt and cowboy boots and a cowboy hat, drove his Ford Explorer around his ranch in western St. Lucie County, looking at his land and his cattle. His truck, with manure caked in the tires, jounced in the ruts of rough paths. He's been …

    Bud Adams sits in his back yard at his ranch in Fort Pierce on a December day. He wears hearing aids. He has to have skin cancer spots removed from his face, the result of a life spent riding horses. He had a quadruple bypass a few years ago and gets short of breath. But he still works on his land. He loves his land. “I hate to leave it,” he says.
  2. Red-cockaded woodpeckers better off at forest in Hernando and across the country

    Human Interest


    The fire-groomed forest — the tall, well-spaced longleaf pines, the floor of ferns and wire grass speckled with the last of the fall wildflowers — was proof that nature can thrive with a little help.

    The red-cockaded woodpecker, a federally endangered species, is a target of preservation efforts in the Withlacoochee State Forest near Brooksville.
  3. In this Blueberry Patch, free spirits thrive



    The Blueberry Patch experiment began July 7, 1977 — 7/7/77 — in the back yard of a man named Dallas Bohrer, who had strong beliefs about numerology, economics, sake, marijuana, and freedom of music, art and the written word. He believed that being an artist and living free are the hardest …

    Nick Hildebrandt, 21, performs a triquetra trick with poi lights at the 12th annual Burning Blueberry Brother festival in Gulfport.