12/03/13 Human Interest
Third-degree burns covered most of Anthony Villarreal's body after his truck hit a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. "They were dragging me on the sand and there was rocks there," Villarreal said. "So when they were dragging me, I felt the rocks against my skin and my legs, and it hurt but I couldn't scream."
Doctors amputated his right arm and the fingers on his left hand. Even after 70-plus surgeries and skin grafts, his face reflects the burns he suffered on that fateful day....
12/01/13 Human Interest
A man renting a gun at the Shoot Straight range in Pinellas Park committed suicide Nov. 23 in front of others, including two teens and a father who told the Tampa Bay Times' Claire Wiseman he won't return to the range. It wasn't the first shooting to occur at a range with a rented weapon. But even if it was, the practice of renting guns without a background check cries out for a review. The ranges should police themselves instead of letting the problem fester and inviting a possible legislative solution. We're talking about lives being lost. …...
It doesn't take an exhaustive search to find an Internet list that pokes fun at millennials and touts the skills once valued by baby boomers like me.
BuzzFeed recently posted just such a list: 13 Skills Your Grandparents Had That You Don't (buzzfeed.com/justinabarca/skills-your-grandparents-had-that-you-dont).
I'm not a grandparent, but many of the 13 resonated: memorizing more than two phone numbers, the most basic of auto maintenance (such as changing a tire), socializing like a human, and partner dancing without being gross....
11/24/13 Human Interest
Sometimes I joke that parenting should require a license, but it's not funny when I read accounts such as the recent story about a New Port Richey mom who left her 22-month-old at home to go to a bar.
The complexities of such neglect can't be solved by requiring moms and dads to pass a test before leaving the hospital with their newborn. It would be wise, however, to use every opportunity to remind parents that caring for a child is both an awesome experience and an immense responsibility. The news routinely reminds us that it's a mistake to assume common sense will guide every parent. ...
Judging at the Plant City Pig Jam serious, mouth-watering business
Judging at the Plant City Pig Jam serious, mouth-watering business11/20/13 Human Interest
Michael Cameron's voice perked up, like it just had been splashed with hot pepper sauce.
"What you learn is that it's not just food," said Cameron, his mouth seemingly beginning to water. "It's almost an art."
Ask Cameron about being a judge at Saturday's Plant City Pig Jam, and the excitement rises with each word. He explains with a tone of gleeful anticipation that it's a mistake to confuse the grillmasters coming to the annual event with weekend hacks who drink a few beers and try to cook up a rack of ribs for the neighbors....
11/17/13 Human Interest
Some blacks take the n-word, twist it like a pretzel and create nearly inconceivable rules about who can and can't use it.
I don't. I don't like it in music. I don't appreciate it in private or public discourse and it certainly doesn't belong in the workplace — including locker rooms.
To me, it represents the historic cloud of disrespect, hate, torture and murder so many fought against to let "our rejoicing rise, high as the listening skies." The debate, in the news again, reminds me of a group of 2008 Gibbs High students who studied the word's origin to better understand its impact....
The announcer called out trivia questions on the other side of the meeting room, waiters quietly tiptoed through the door delivering wings and burgers, and a few late-arriving spectators sneaked in and grabbed a spot.
Nothing, however, could really detract from the glib speaker. The audience sat in rapt attention as Bob Buckhorn waxed about the city he leads — at O'Brien's, naturally....
11/13/13 Human Interest
Stringent rules, contentious meetings, red-faced league officials, belligerent parents, teary-eyed kids, allegations and rumors that occasionally cross personal boundaries.
This unsavory mix doesn't define youth sports organizations, but the emotional combination is not uncommon to those who have assumed leadership roles in leagues.
Years ago, I invested two years of mixed emotions as a board member of a youth football and cheerleading organization in Brandon. I enjoyed some moments, but more often regretted volunteering....
11/10/13 Human Interest
Much has been written about the abrasive personality of Miami Dolphin Richie Incognito and the alleged weakness of his teammate Jonathan Martin.
One side says Incognito stepped over the line, the other says Martin violated "the code."
I see Martin as a clear victim, but go beyond that. Because the team atmosphere failed to maximize the potential of these players, Miami will be without two starters when it takes the field against the Bucs tonight. Dolphins management has failed, and that failure should lead to changes at the top. …...
11/08/13 Human Interest
The sight of Eric Hayes and T.J. Lewis left an indelible impression on Tyrone Keys when he arrived at Jerry Ulm Dodge 20 years ago.
Keys walked into the dealership on Dale Mabry Highway a week after helping Hayes and Lewis land summer jobs. The former NFL player needed to make sure Hayes and Lewis hadn't disappointed Jerry Ulm Sr., a man who extended a chance to the kids even though he knew nothing of them and very little about Keys....
11/06/13 Human Interest
Tom Touchton began growing younger before my eyes.
Don't get me wrong. At 74, he looks 54. But as he graced me with a personal tour of the "Charting the Land Of Flowers" exhibit at the Tampa Bay History Center, he seemingly reversed the aging process. Energy glazed each word he used to describe the wondrous historic maps that make up the exhibit.
Clearly, maps serve as his personal fountain of youth. Many of the maps, some of which date to the late 1400s, come from Touchton's personal collection. For more than 30 years, he has collected maps that not only reflect the routes taken by sailors and the intricate curves of Florida's coastline, but the artistry that the maps' makers infused into their work....
11/03/13 Human Interest
An effort to modify Florida's sentencing laws and sharpen the focus on re-entry and probation programs could mirror other states' successful efforts.
But the change may get lost in 2014 amid a chorus of tough-on-crime election year platitudes. It's a predictable but sad possibility, because the Legislature isn't really tough on crime.
Being tough on crime means dealing with nonviolent offenders in a way that saves tax dollars and leaves prison beds for the truly dangerous. It means funding the state attorney and public defender offices so young lawyers can earn a salary more comparable with their private practice colleagues. It means properly financing the court system....
10/30/13 Human Interest
I ran into David Epstein last weekend just moments after moderating a panel discussion at the Times Festival of Reading.
I shared how Samuel Freedman, author of the new book Breaking the Line, former Florida A&M quarterback Ken Riley and former University of Tampa football coach Fran Curci spoke on the panel about the halcyon days of black college football, its juxtaposition to the civil rights movement and one unforgettable night in 1969 when FAMU played UT at the old Tampa Stadium....
10/27/13 Human Interest
Rashaun Alexander Evins inspired a room of well-wishers Friday — without saying a word.
Evins became the first Scout in 17 years at Tampa's First Baptist Church of College Hill to earn Eagle Scout rank, and the room swelled with pride as participants presented him with commendations and letters, including one from the president and first lady.
We celebrate Evins, an African-American, as an exception to all of the wayward young blacks who have chosen the wrong path, but we really need to challenge ourselves and ask: How do we turn his accomplishments into more of a norm and less of an aberration?...
Waves crashed over the seawalls in Manhattan, floodwaters filled subway stations, cars floated through the streets and most of the New York financial district looked like a river. • The horrific damage Superstorm Sandy left in its wake a year ago this week could have paralyzed the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. as it struggled to bring its New York headquarters back to life. But the company charged with handling the post-trade processing of financial transactions for thousands of institutions worldwide continued to function — thanks largely to its team of men and women in its Tampa office. • Tampa's effort wasn't a coincidence. After 9/11, DTCC put a continuity plan in place by opening offices in Tampa and Dallas in 2004. • On the first anniversary of the storm, Marie Chinnici-Everitt, DTCC managing director and chief marketing officer, reflected on the success of the company's continuity plan as she prepared to relocate to Tampa. • The company's decision to place a senior executive like Chinnici-Everitt in Tampa speaks volumes about the company's continued investment in its New Tampa office, where it employs between 600 and 700 people with plans to add another 250 over the next three to five years. • Chinnici-Everitt recently spoke with Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper about the impact of the storm and her move to Tampa....