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  1. Here's how NASA is preparing to go to Mars

    Space

    CAPE CANAVERAL

    Imagine yourself, feet planted in the soil, staring into the night sky. Your eyes focus on one bright dot, a shining star. It seems brighter than most others. And it looks bluish.

     NASA is currently constructing platforms in its Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in preparation for assembly of the new Space Launch System rocket which will carry astronauts to Mars and deep space. The view is from the 16th floor of the building. The platforms allow workers to access the rocket.
  1. Florida's craziness connected to Kafkaesque treatment of our mentally ill

    Human Interest

    In 1979, when I was in college, the Florida Legislature did something totally ridiculous. (I hope you're not too shocked.)

    Kenneth Donaldson, who took his case against Florida State Hospital to the U.S. Supreme Court, holds a copy of its ruling that states can’t confine without treatment mental patients who aren’t a danger to themselves or others.
  2. Six animals teaching scientists about limb regeneration

    Wildlife

  3. Lealman woman featured in food addiction story is on the road to recovery

    Human Interest

    LEALMAN — In July, the Tampa Bay Times ran a story about a woman struggling with food addiction. Cheryl Dixon, 44, shared how she sometimes ate 14 times a day and struggled to stop herself from topping 300 pounds.

    Cheryl Dixon cuddles with her dog, Piper, who plays a key role in her effort to control her overeating and lose more than 100 pounds. Cheryl walks Piper around her Lealman trailer park five times day.
  4. After bullying, St. Petersburg teen stumbles on a purpose, and the perfect viola

    Features

    From the first days of middle school, the bullies at John Hopkins in St. Petersburg were cruel.

    Ad?n Martinez, 16, busks with his viola — named Lamar — to help raise money to pay for the instrument, which he is paying off in monthly installments of $109 for two years.
  5. Baking cookies helps Tampa couple start to heal after the stillbirth of their son

    Features

    TAMPA

    It's late, and their day jobs are done, and here they are, just like every other night, baking cookies. Their kitchen is a tight fit, but they move around each other as if choreographed, this husband and wife, rolling dough, cutting shapes, watching the oven. In a side business they never foresaw, Bill and …

    Bill and Dulcinea Kimrey have cookie cutters for many occasions for their custom-made cookie business, Silly Monkey Cookie Co. in Tampa. Some of the cutters were handmade by Bill.
  6. After Hurricane Katrina, he stayed as society collapsed

    Features

    Time capsule: This is a recurring Floridian magazine feature that allows readers to re-experience some of the Tampa Bay Times' best stories with the wisdom of hindsight. This one provides an intimate glimpse into what wound up being one of Eddie Compass' last days as police chief of New Orleans. Two weeks …

    CAPTION: (New Orleans) 9/9/05 Friday- Eddie Compass, New Orleans Police Chief, reads the bible before going to bed at about 9:30 p.m. in his cot in front of the Police and Fire command center on the 9th Floor of City Hall. He's been sleeping here since Hurricane Katrina hit the city. 
(Times Photo by Cherie Diez)
  1. True life cartoon: A ride with two dogs goes really wrong

    Pets

    It was a quiet Saturday morning until Cyrus, a German shorthaired pointer, escaped out the kitchen door. I reached into my son's car and started honking the horn.

    Don Morris rides with Omar and Cyrus.
  2. Florida Found: Okeechobee Battlefield Historic State Park

    Human Interest

    It would be easy to drive past Okeechobee Battlefield Historic State Park. Nestled in the sleepy town of Taylor Creek, a few hundred yards from the northern shore of Lake Okeechobee, this National Historic Landmark has no signs at its main entrance. On nearby U.S. 98-441, a marker points observant drivers in the right …

    Lake Okeechobee, in Taylor Creek, is a few hundred yards from Okeechobee Battlefield Historic State Park, which commemorates the Battle of Lake Okeechobee in 1837.
  3. Hey, Florida, show us your guns!

    Human Interest

    Over the years, a lot of people have suggested that Florida's shape resembles various objects: a frying pan, a chin, a uvula (look it up.) A handgun has become the most common comparison, which is apt because we have so many guns that some people call us "The Gunshine State."

  4. Mutant mosquitoes could fight Zika in Florida, but misinformation spreads

    Human Interest

    KEY WEST — There are many scary stories that start with a dark and stormy night, but this isn't one of them. It is the third day of summer in this island city, with its feral chickens and lemon-hued houses and women woohoo-ing by on rented motorcycles. Every bicycle has a basket, every mailbox is a manatee.

    Key West is a perfect breeding ground for the Zika virus because of its tropical climate, its huge number of international visitors and the travel associated with its naval base. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  1. Born 100 years ago, mystery writer John D. MacDonald foresaw the risks facing Florida's beauty

    Human Interest

    I read a lot of paperback thrillers, especially in the summer. Sometimes I think it's because of something in my DNA.

    John D. MacDonald, in an undated photo, sits on the porch of his home in Sarasota.
  2. Acceptance gives dog owners clarity with end-of-life decisions

    Human Interest

    We watched our yellow labrador, Hendrix, die in slow motion.

    [Courtesy of Amber McDonald]
  3. Adventures in plane spotting in the post-9/11, social media age

    Human Interest

    Travelers stream from the covered asphalt lots to the main terminal, fussing with their luggage and monitoring check-in times on their iPhones, hardly noticing the two men.

    A Delta Airlines jet lands at Tampa International Airport on June 21. SKIP O'ROURKE | Times
  1. It's no sweat for a machine to fix Florida's humidity

    Human Interest

    It's maddening. One state has too much moisture. Another too little.

  2. New dad tries to keep professional soccer dream going with Rowdies

    Human Interest

    Maria Isabel Carabano watches from the stands as her husband, Juan Guerra, helplessly paces the sideline during the Rowdies' season opener. His mood gets darker with every tick of the game clock.

    Maria Isabel Carabano, left, watches as husband and Rowdies midfielder Juan Guerra kisses their son, Santiago, after a season-opening 0-0 tie with the Indy Eleven on April 2. Guerra didn’t play in the game, something that in the past would have frustrated him for days. But since the birth of Santiago, Guerra says, his mind-set has changed.
  3. Hurricane season: Our annual reminder that Florida is trying to kill us

    Human Interest

    A couple of years ago, a real estate blog called Estately announced that, according to its highly scientific calculations, the scariest state in the union is Florida.

    Hurricane Dennis hits Key West in July 2005. A big hurricane hasn’t hit Florida in more than a decade.
  4. Here's what this high school teacher learned about life as an American in Hiroshima (w/video)

    Features

    HIROSHIMA, Japan — Reminders come, if she lets them, as Leslie Wier walks to school.

    Leslie Wier looks out on the view at a shrine at Miyajima island in Hiroshima, Japan, this past November. The former University of South Florida student teaches English at a high school in the city. [EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]

  5. Even in the pain at the beginning and the end, motherhood never wavers

    Human Interest

    I watched from the second-to-last basement stair, which was covered in the original short-pile marigold carpet from 1959.

    From left, Katherine Snow Smith; her mother, Nancy Snow; her father, A.C. Snow, and her sister, Melinda Snow, who was killed at 31 by a drunken driver 20 years ago this month.
  1. Hard deadlines, slow internet: Photographer explains how he and his photos got out of Cuba on time

    Human Interest

    When the Tampa Bay Rays and President Barack Obama made their historic trip to Cuba this spring, the Tampa Bay Times sent photographer Will Vragovic to cover the event. The challenge before him? Try to satisfy an international audience with photos focused on sports, politics and travel. Photos for the …

    Baseball fans cheer and take photographs as Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer makes his way into the crowd gathered in the "Hot Corner" in Havana, Cuba's Parque Central on Monday, March 21, 2016.
  2. Florida needs a new slogan, so how about 'Don't tase the lovebugs?'

    Human Interest

    Florida has a lot of symbols: a state animal (the panther), a state reptile (the alligator), even a state sand (Myakka fine) and a state pie (key lime, of course). I've got no complaints about those.

    A pair of love bugs climb across a car's freshly cleaned windshield in Brooksville.
  3. Chasing the light: A photographer faces frailty as she captures images of young lives in peril

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    In the morning, after driving her kids to school, after twisting silk flowers into her strawberry hair, Sheri Kendrick slides a memory card into her camera and heads to Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

    Little Light of Mine founder and photographer Sheri Kendrick, center, photographs Maggie Hoyle, left, her husband Anthony DeLuna, and their son, Lincoln Avery DeLuna, 2, in their Tampa home Feb. 18, 2016. Maggie's sister, Katie Hoyle-Germann, stands on her toes to coax smiles as volunteer Tim Arruda takes video for the organization. Their son has X-linked myotubular myopathy, a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder that is characterized by muscle weakness that calls for his 24-hour care. Kendrick is a St. Petersburg photographer who takes photos of families with critically and terminally ill children for free.
  1. Those Florida mug shots aren't always funny

    Human Interest

    Since 1949, Florida prisoners have been stamping the words "Sunshine State" on our license plates, despite most of our cities getting more annual rainfall than famously gloomy Seattle.

    [ CAMERON COTTRILL | Times ]
  2. The fire inside: Manatee County finds itself at the epicenter of a heroin epidemic

    Human Interest

    BRADENTON — He hadn't heard from her in hours, which was unusual. Even if she was upset, even if she was high, Angel never ignored a text message.

    His last one to her lingered.

    Michael Dingman, 28, displays marks on his arm from regular heroin injection while at a residence where he sometimes stays in Bradenton on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. Dingman injects heroin multiple times per day, he says. He gets very ill when he goes for long without it, he says. Dingman says he would seek help if it was easily accessible; he has been on waiting lists at multiple programs for more than a year.
  1. Nowhere to go: A judge and family members try to keep a mentally ill man from dying behind bars

    Health

    Robert Valdez is 71 years old and mentally ill. He's never had much trouble with the law — until he set a neighbor's shed on fire in 2014. Something was going on inside his head.

  2. They paved paradise — and put up a memorial to what's under the parking lot

    Human Interest

    If you drive in Florida, you're familiar with Traffic Jam Season, which is what other parts of the country call fall and winter. This is the time of year when, instead of leaves turning color or snowflakes tumbling out of the sky, we see a sudden influx of Bob's Barricades and paving crews languidly waving you along.

    Traffic backs up on Gandy Boulevard near Fourth Street N in St. Petersburg as crews build a six-lane elevated road with walls that have images of manatees, sea turtles and pelicans.
  3. It's no day at the beach: Imagining all the presidential candidates gathered in Florida

    State Roundup

    Super Tuesday is when voters in a dozen states and one U.S. territory hold their nominating contests for the presidential candidates.

    A detail from Cameron Cottrill's illustration.
  1. The warning shot that condemned Orville Lee Wollard to prison and changed Florida

    State Roundup

    SNEADS — Lee Wollard's life slowly spirals away, following the trail of the gunshot he fired into a wall.

    Orville Lee Wollard is seen inside the Apalachee Correctional Institution in Sneads, Fla., on Nov. 12, 2015. He is serving a 20-year sentence for firing a warning shot inside his home to defend himself and his daughter from his daughter's abusive boyfriend. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Bob and Nancy know what true love sounds like

    Human Interest

    LARGO

    For reasons no one can know now, Nancy loves to sit on the porch of her mobile home and listen to her dozen wind chimes tinkling.

    Nancy, left, whose outgoing nature wasn’t affected by her stroke, makes new friends with Bob on a shopping trip to Target in Largo: Chloe the dog and Carol Granese, visiting from New York.
  1. USFSP class travels the Suwannee River for class on outdoors leadership

    Human Interest

    Paige McDaniel thought she knew the Suwannee.

     University of South Florida St. Petersburg students from the Leadership in the Great Outdoors class, pass the historic main spring at Suwannee Springs along the historic Suwannee River, 11/4/15. The main spring discharges sulphur water from behind a man-made limestone wall built in the 1890's near Live Oak, Fl. Students spent three days on the river and traveled 40 miles from the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park, White Springs to the Suwannee River State Park, Live Oak.
  2. What happened to William Wade? After 35 years, hope for a real homecoming

    Human Interest

    TALLAHASSEE

    He stands in the tunnel that leads to the field, the fingers on his left hand opening and closing into a nervous fist.

    Five minutes until halftime.

    William Wade waits to walk onto the field Nov. 14 during homecoming at Florida State — something he couldn’t do 35 years ago. 
[EVE EDELHEIT, Times]
  1. Teen bowler finds himself on path of perfection toward sport's holy grail

    Human Interest

    CRYSTAL RIVER

    Everyone at Manatee Lanes had long since quit what they were doing and gathered behind the boy bowling on Lanes 9 and 10. This was a Saturday morning, Halloween.

    Christian Miller, 15, started bowling when he was 9 and got serious about the sport when he was 10. He wants to bowl in college and turn pro.
  2. For Farmer Dave and indoor farming, things are looking up

    Consumer

    TAMPA

    The white windowless box surrounded by heat-cracked asphalt gives nothing away. There's a discreet sign: Uriah's Urban Farms.

    Under LED lights farmer Dave Smiles of Uriah’s Urban Farms checks on his plants in the farm’s nursery room in their new building in Tampa. Smiles or “Farmer Dave” has spent his career building up: He is one of the country’s experts on urban vertical farming.  On July 27 he moved into  larger building. Already one of the country’s top four producing farms per square foot, this new venture (with sales to restaurants, wholesalers and now directly to customers via subscription) is a window into the changing face of American agriculture.  The LED’s produce very little heat and use a fraction of the electricity that traditional light that are used to grow plants.
  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?

    Features

    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

    Agriculture

    REDLAND

    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.