Thursday, December 19, 2013

What's open: Things to do on Christmas Day

Got visitors in town and kids about to drive you up the wall? If you are itching to get out the of the house on Christmas Day, there are a few places you can go besides the movies.

Tampa's Downtown on Ice: Even in balmy Florida, you can get in the holiday spirit by skating on an outdoor rink in the park. Each 90-minute session includes skate rental for $10. The rink is open Christmas Eve 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. and Christmas Day 4-10 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N Ashley Drive, Tampa.

MOSI: Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry will open its galleries from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Day and the first IMAX film will start at noon, and the last IMAX show ( Hunger Games: Catching Fire) is at 7 p.m. Admission is $21.95, $17.95 ages 2-12, $19.95 seniors. The museum is at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. (813) 987-6000.

Get outside: Stroll along Tampa's Riverwalk Park near the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Cruise past the Convention Center then wind your way around toward Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and take in the views along the Hillsborough River (this is about a mile in length, so wear comfortable shoes). Another nice walk is the St. Petersburg downtown, with its series of waterfront parks and banyon trees that are just about the best climbing trees ever.

Christmas Day at the Gardens: The Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales will celebrate Christmas Day with a tour of the Holiday Homes of Pinewood Estates and "Sounds of the Season" carillon concerts at 1 and 3 p.m. Regular daily admission applies. For the Gardens and Pinewood Estate, tickets are $16 for adults, $8 for children (5-12); gardens only, $10 and $3. Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales. (863) 676-1408. Open noon-5 p.m. Christmas Day.

Mote Marine: The Sarasota Bay aquarium is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays. It's a great way to explore the secrets of the sea through touch pools, viewable-working labs and high-tech interactive exhibits that showcase the research of Mote Marine Laboratory scientists. See sharks, manatees and sea turtles, along with more than 100 other species of marine life. Admission is $19.75 for age 13 and older, seniors $18.75, kids age 4-12 $14.75, age 3 and under free. The aquarium is located at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway , a few minutes from downtown Sarasota by way of the Ringling Causeway, and one mile north of St. Armands Circle.

Busch Gardens: Like most theme parks, the Tampa park is open every day and on Christmas will be open 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Insiders say that day and Christmas Eve are two of the least crowded times to go on what is typically a very busy week.

Hunt for Florida snowmen: Or better yet, make one of your own. The beaches of Tampa Bay, especially the stretch of sand between the snack bar and the Don CeSar at Pass-a-Grille, have several sand people this time of year, ranging from tiny 2-footers to some that are life-sized and carved out of the sand. Be sure to bring a camera to document. They'd make a perfect Christmas card from Florida next year.

Outside the Dali: The Dali Museum is closed Christmas Day but it's still a cool place to visit because the garden outside has a wonderful maze for kids to play in. There are patches of places where you can sit and visit or take photos in the Avant Gardens. Plus, there is a great and little-used kids park across the street at Albert Whitted Airport that has lots of business christmas card greetings themes. Even better, it's all free at Bayshore Drive SE and Fifth Avenue SE in downtown St. Petersburg.

Go fish: The Sunshine Skyway fishing piers are open 365 days a year and are rich with fins around the old bridge, which has been turned into fishing piers on the north and south sides. There are snack bars and picnic areas open every day of the year, 24 hours a day. You don't need a fishing license because they have a pier fishing license that covers all of their guests. Rod rentals are $8 a day with deposit and they'll even loan you a bucket. Pier admission is $4 per car, plus $4 per adult, $2 for children 6 to 11, 5 and under free. Or you can pay a $3 "sightseeing fee" to go there at sunset.

Sink a mini putt: Take advantage of the beautiful weather and hit a miniature golf course. Smuggler's Cove locations in Indian Shores and Madeira Beach are open from noon to 11 p.m. Christmas Day. And to make a special Florida memory, they have real live alligators that you can feed. Give them your email address and they'll send you a coupon for money off a round.

What's open: Things to do on Christmas Day 12/19/13

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

President Obama Meeting With Tim Cook And Other Leaders Tomorrow To Talk Tech | Cult of Mac

The White House has announced that President Obama is scheduled to meet with a number of top-level tech executives in the industry tomorrow, including Apple's Tim Cook. Topics of discussion will be the recent controversy surrounding the NSA's phone surveillance, HealthCare.Gov, and ways the government can work with tech companies to grow the economy.

"Tomorrow, President Obama will meet with executives from leading tech companies to discuss progress made in addressing performance and capacity issues with HealthCare.Gov and how government can better deliver IT to maximize innovation, efficiency and customer service," a White House official said. "The meeting will also address national security and the economic impacts of unauthorized intelligence disclosures. Finally, the President will discuss ways his Administration can partner with the tech sector to further grow the economy, create jobs and address issues around income inequality and social mobility."

Other names on the list include Google's Eric Schmidt, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, dropbox for mac CEO Drew Houston, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.

Apple participated in an open letter with eight other tech companies last week that says "it is time for the world's governments to address the practices and laws regulating government surveillance of individuals and access to their information." Last month Apple released a public report that details the government requests for customer data it has received.

Alex Heath is a news contributor at Cult of Mac. He previously served as an editor for iDownloadBlog. You can find out more about him on his personal site. And please do follow him on Twitter because that would make his day.

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Public Art Shakes Up Navy Yard Area

<old navyp> Michael Kirby and three other paint-splattered artists sat cross-legged in a parking lot next to the former intelligence agency, inside tall iron fencing, near the big security gatehouse, with the drab, almost windowless walls of a high-security building behind them.

Two of the outside walls were no longer blank: On one side, artists on this recent day had dumped more than 100 gallons of bright paint - SPLAT! - down the front of the building. On another, there was a five-story high mural, with two lederhosen-wearing figures grappling, little cartoon lightning bolts coming out of one of their mouths. One had a gleaming gold dinosaur skull head. The other might be a sock monkey, or, possibly, a gray, heavily tattooed, mustachioed little man wearing a ski mask.

So, yeah: It's no longer part of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Now it's art.

The building, once home to top-secret CIA programs, is empty, stripped, with cables hanging down from the ceiling. "Zombie paradise," said Kirby, who peeked in a door when demolition workers came out.

A public art project kicked off recently in the area around the Navy Yard in Southeast Washington, which is in the midst of a massive redevelopment - from a place by turns seedy, industrial and forbidding into a beautiful waterfront neighborhood. The Defense Mapping Agency moved to a secure location on a military base. The Navy shuttered the buildings it used to make boilers and anchors. The strip clubs buttoned up and left.

New apartment towers, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Nationals Park rose up. Now about a third built out, with construction cranes all about, it's a funny place, with bleak vacant lots, mountains of dirt, and a water treatment plant, as well as lovely parks, expensive homes and unexpected bright spots: an ice-skating rink glowing at night, bright kayaks bobbing along the river, a trapeze school, and one of the city's buzziest bars.

Forest City Washington, the massive real estate company that owns 42 acres and will be building here for many years, commissioned artists to help fill in some of the blanks.

Art Yards, an "evolving canvas" of a project that will stretch from late November to mid-December, happened kind of by chance, with D.C. street artist Kelly Towles pitching an ambitious plan that included inviting artists from across the country to try to shake things up. Both the developer and the Capitol Riverfront business improvement district have been interested in promoting "temporary urbanism," with pop-ups like the makeshift bar area outside the ballpark to fill in empty spaces.

On Friday and Saturday nights, DJs spun at a silent disco inside one soon-to-be-filled space, with dancers choosing channels on their headphones. The Art Yards project is focused on the building across from the ballpark, a monolithic chalky grayish block that, artists decided, was a perfect blank canvas. This week, Dabs Myla, a couple of Australian artists now based in Los Angeles who create a world full of fat, doughy letters, wide-eyed cheeky spray-paint cans, hotdogs, foxes and other cheerful characters, are painting a giant bat on the south wall.