Sunday, August 26, 2007

Butterfly Rainforest

Here are some photos from the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. At the museum you can also see where they are raising a captive breeding population of the small and endangered Miami Blue butterflies. Appropriately enough, they feed Gatorade to the Miami Blues.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Florida -- Read All About It

"50 Years Later, Seminole Tribe of Florida Marks Key Date" (Sun-Sentinel, Aug. 22, 2007) "...from termination to self-determination."

"26 Florida Companies Make Inc. 500" (South Florida Business Journal, Aug. 23, 2007)

"State Puts Bridge Inspections Online" (Tampa Tribune, Aug. 20, 2007)

"Dearborn Should Sell Its Florida Property" (Editorial in The Detroit News, Aug. 23, 2007) The City of Dearborn, Michigan, owns a Clearwater condominium building.

"Miami Nice -- And Naughty" Jewish Exponent, Aug. 23, 2007. "...Miami's thriving and varied Jewish scene that features dozens of synagougues, scores of kosher restaurants and a handful of mikvot."

"Dancin in the Street Helped Revitalize Downtown Stuart" (, Aug. 24, 2007) 20th anniversary of program sponsored by Stuart Main Street. Florida Main Street is a statewide program designed to promote economic development while preserving historic buildings.

"Hunting a Hurricane" -- A St. Petersburg Times special report about the Hurricane Hunters based at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base.

"10 Things" The Sun-Sentinel is running a series giving 10 reasons to visit local attractions -- among the featured sites are Miami's Seaquarium, Coral Gables' Venetian Pool, the John D. MacArthur State Park, Peanut Island, and Flamingo Gardens.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Stick with Florida

Aside from the increased cost of mailing a letter, I was disappointed when the U.S. Postal Service raised the first class postage rate to 41 cents. I really liked using the 39-cent alligator and spoonbill stamps, and the others in the Southern Florida Wetland commemorative pane.

Those are certainly not the only "Florida" stamps the USPS has ever issued -- in fact, they just this summer started offering a 26-cent Florida panther stamp. Another Florida stamp was issued in June 2007, picuturing the Okefenokee Swamp, for the 69-cent International mail rate.

In 2004, the post office issued a stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, which featured a closeup of a pelican's head.

The 2003 Southeastern Lighthouse Stamp series included the Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse.

In 1995, the Florida Statehood stamp marked our 150th anniversary of being a state, with a stylized alligator rising from a swamp. Fifty years earlier, the Florida Centennial stamp was less colorful, a monochrome light red violet, and pictured the gates of St. Augustine, an old map, and the state capitol.

In 1989, the Key Marco Cat, a carved wooded figurine found at a southwest Florida archaeological site, was featured on a U.S. Airmail stamp.

On December 5, 1947, in a ceremony at the Florida City post office, the USPS issued a 3-cent stamp commemorating the country's newest national park, the Everglades. The green stamp with an outline map of the state and a white ibis was designed by Garnett Megee of Miami

There have been other Florida stamps, several as part of sets covering all 50 states -- state flags, state birds, etc. What are your favorites, and what "Florida" stamps would you like to see at the post office?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Best of Florida 2007

Florida Monthly magazine recently published their Best of Florida 2007 list, with everything from best rodeo to best key lime pie. Winner of the best sign: Hog's Breath Saloon.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Weekly News of Florida

"Hialeah Flamingos Go To Oklahoma and Beyond" St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 14, 2007. Flamingo eggs from the old racetrack transported to Oklahoma zoo.

"Hunters Chase Wild Hogs near Mansions" Herald Tribune, Aug. 6, 2007. Quote: "Hog hunters like Tomlinson have helped keep the Old Florida that reared them at a distance from the New Florida, where large pastures get paved to make way for homes and shopping centers."

"Statues' Years of Mystery Solved" St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 11, 2007. Recent discovery of two panther statues that once graced the streets of Snell Isle.

"St. Michael's Miracle Dies at 78" St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 17, 2007. A child's vision and a brush with death more than 60 years ago led a family to build a shrine to St. Michael in Tarpon Springs.

"Island of Neglect: Miami Historical Site Trashed" CBS4, Aug. 15, 2007. Carl Fisher placed a statue on Flagler Island to recognize the man who brought a railroad to Miami.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Florida Environments Online Collection

The Florida Environments Online collection "contains both digital full text materials and reserach bibliographies about the ecology and environment of Florida." It includes links to the Aquatic, Wetland, and Invasive Plant Information Retrival Systeml the Everglades Digital Library; Florida Geological Survey Publications; Florida Agriculture and Rural Life; and the Florida Howard T. Odum Center for Wetlands.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Florida's Journalism History

Anothing interesting website is the Florida Journalism History Project, which includes digitized full-text resources, images, links to additional information, along with a timeline and chronology. This site should be useful for people interested in how "History's first draft" is created.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Department of Corrections Timeline

The Florida Department of Corrections includes on its official website a historical timeline covering the years 1821 to the present: "Florida Corrections: Centuries of Progress."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Florida Showcase

A new exhibit opened yesterday at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts. Florida Showcase includes images by Clyde Butcher, Connie Bransilver, John Moran, Jeff Ripple, James Shadle, James Valentine, Carlton Ward, Jr., and Eric Zamora. The common thread -- Florida's natural environment. The exhibit will be up at the museum in downtown Tampa through September 8, 2007.

Friday, August 10, 2007

News of Florida

"Oneco Loses Mutant Grapefruit Birthplace Marker" Bradenton Herald, August 6, 2007

"Family Hangs on by Gathering Moss" Tampa Tribune August 7, 2007

"Gator Skinner Makes Clean Cut" Daytona Beach News-Journal July 30, 2007

"Florida Seen as 'Fiesta of Weirdness'" Tampa Tribune August 9, 2007

"'Ambassadors' on Segways to Tout Downtown Orlando" Orlando Sentinel August 8, 2007

"Seven Wonders of Pensacola" Pensacola News Journal August 5, 2007

"400 Birds: Oh, What a Journey" The Ledger August 7, 2007

"WWII-Era Control Tower Faces Demolition" Aero-News.Net August 8, 2007

"Grand Central Cultural Clash - the upwardly mobile, the downtrodden co-exist" St. Petersburg Times August 8, 2007

"Of Picnics and Pride - A family hopes an event center preserves memories of an oasis amid segregation" St. Petersburg Times August 10, 2007

Thursday, August 09, 2007

El Lector

On Thursday August 16, 2007, at 7pm, Professor Araceli Tinajero will give a talk at the Centro Asturiano de Tampa, titled "El Lector de Tabaqueria: Historia de Una Tradicion Cubana." (click here for more details)

A few years ago NPR had a segment on its "Lost and Found Series" about Ybor City's lectors. The story is online for those of you who haven't heard it, or would just like to listen to it again: "El Lector - He Who Reads."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pompano Beach Blog

The Pompano Beach Historical Society blog is chock full of interesting information. Give them a visit!

Architectural Photography Contest

The American Institute of Architects- Tampa Bay Chapter has announced an Architecutral Photography competition featuring man-made structures in west-central Florida.

-- Photographs must be of structures within the chapter's boundaries (Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk, Pasco, Citrus, Sumter, and Hernando counties)

-- Open only to amateur photographers

-- A jury to select winners ($1,000 grand prize, $300 second, $200 third)

-- Top 15 photographs to be included in a 2008 calendar

-- Entries due September 7, 2007.

See for more details.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Clermont's Citrus Tower

We stayed in Clermont for awhile this summer, so one afternoon we visited the Citrus Tower on Highway 27. The 226-foot tall tower was built in 1956, when it provided tourists with panoramic views of citrus groves flowing over rolling hills. Freezes in the 1980s killed many of the trees, and now the tower provides tourists with panoramic views of subdivisions. But it is still an interesting place, and a unique perspective.

There are stores and a restaurant at the base of the tower. To go up to the top, you must buy a ticket in the gift shop. The elevator entrance is a single door, behind the counter. Once at the top, painted signs explain which direction you are looking, and how far it is to points of interest. For kids, or the kid inside, there is a slot to drop a coin and listen as it falls all the way back down the tower.

The Citrus Tower's website has more information and photographs of the tower being built. In the photographs below, you may notice a one of a white columned building with a scale model of Mount Rushmore in the parking lot. That's the Presidents Hall of Fame.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Recent News Items

"Pembroke Pines Mayor Wants to Save Historic WWII Building" (Sun Sentinel August 4, 2007)

"UCF Creates Virtual World" (Florida Today, August 1, 2007)Students work on website documenting Cape Canaveral's history.

"After Ups and Downs" (Tampa Tribune, August 2, 2007) Hortense Sotomayor retires after 26 years of operating the elevator in Tampa's historic city hall.

"Dog Days Are Over" (Tampa Tribune, July 27, 2007) Mel's Hot Dogs is up for sale.

"Mural Celebrates Community" (St. Petersburg Times, August 3, 2007) New mural draws on West Tampa history.

"Mermaids' Last Splash? Debt Imperils 60-Year-Old Weeki Wachee" (Orlando Sentinel, July 28, 2007)

"Weeki Wachee Turf War Still Murky" (St. Petersburg Times, July 29, 2007)

"Sisters of the Sea" (St. Petersburg Times, July 28, 2007)

"Teresa Giles Runs PJ's Sandwich Shop" (Bradenton Herald, July 31, 2007)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Florida State Song Contest

Yesterday Katherine Mason of RB Oppenheim Associates, on behalf of the Florida Music Educators' Association, sent me an email about the "Just Sing! Florida" contest and the search for a new state song. With her kind permission, I'm copying her message here, as an update to my previous postings about the song.


In case you haven’t heard, Florida is holding a contest for a new state song.

Since your post, “Florida’s State Song,” on January 9, a lot has developed towards an official initiative to adopt a new state song. I thought you might be interested in learning more about current efforts and perhaps updating your readers with a follow-up to your last post on the issue.

As of May 15, a contest, titled “Just Sing, Florida!,” has been launched, and it is being coordinated by the Florida Music Educators’ Association (FMEA). The FMEA is managing the process as experts in the field of music and is currently collecting and culling song submissions. The contest runs from May 15 – October 1, 2007.

Additionally, Sen. Tony Hill (D-Jacksonville) and Rep. Ed Homan (R-Temple Terrace) plan to pre-file a bill for the 2008 Florida Legislative Session in order to begin the political process for adopting a new state song.

The top three finalists the contest’s judging panel selects will be announced to the media and public by December 2007, and the songs will then be posted on the contest’s Web site, Thereafter, Floridians will have the opportunity to cast their vote online.

The winning song with the most votes will be included in the bill for the 2008 Legislative Session.

Ultimately, the decision to change the state song is up to Florida’s Legislature.

We agree with your posting, “Updates on State Song and Mini Golf” on January 20, you wrote:

“Whether or not the song ever changes is not as important as getting people talking about what it means to be a Floridian.”

It is FMEA’s hope that Floridians will seize this opportunity to engage in music and the arts and appreciate the unity it can bring to Florida’s communities.

Our goal now is to raise awareness about “Just Sing, Florida!” and to encourage musicians of all ages and levels of experience to submit an entry.

The state song hasn’t changes since “Old Folks at Home” was adopted in 1935. This is an exciting opportunity for Floridians to participate in making Florida’s history and for musicians to potentially be the writer of Florida’s new state song.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact the FMEA at (850) 878-6844, or visit Additionally, you can visit our MySpace page

On behalf of the Florida Music Educators’ Association,

Katherine Mason
Account Manager
RB Oppenheim Associates

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Quick Trip to Dunedin

I was in Dunedin Monday and stopped by the local museum, which is closed on Mondays by the way, and I would have known that if I had looked on the Dunedin Historical Society and Museum's website. But it was still a lovely visit, with a coffee/ice cream shop and a post office in an old boxcar next to the Pinellas Trail. The museum is in a historic train depot, and the trail used to be a train track before it became such a popular place to ride bikes. Even on a July afternoon it was pleasant sitting on a nearby bench in the shade, with the breeze blowing off the Gulf.