Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pleopeltis polypodioides

On the left side of this photo is the amazing "resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides.)" It looks wonderfully "green" but you'd never guessed that just minutes ago, it was but a mass of brown wrinkled curled up desiccated fronds. This epiphyte fern lives on the trunks of large trees such as this longan tree. It gets the resurrection name because this fern can survive long, long, long periods of drought by curling up its fronds and appearing dead. When just a little rain would come, it uncurls, reopens and "resurrect," restoring itself to a vivid green color that you see.

I can't believe that it is estimated that these plants could last hundreds of years without water and still revive after a single exposure to the rain! Most plants, during drought periods, die after they lose about 10% of their water. This fern can lose up to 97% of its water and remains alive waiting for the rain to resurrect.

You see the beautiful purple and yellow tiny blooms above to the right? What's that?
I'm Not Dead!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why Can't I?

Now, why... why... why can I not grow lotus to be like this one here? This is again from my friend "tog" (The Opiniated Gardener) of Coral Gables. This single lotus is HUGE. It is about 9 inches in diameter. I am mad, mad, mad! And jealous too!

But, I am not without skills though because after more than five years of tireless searching, I finally germinated and planted my first Alstonia scholaris in my backyard. Want to see it? It is so beautiful I baptized it ... well, you'll never be able to guess its name.
I wish it's mine

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Trader Joe's

This is the location where the Borders Book Shop used to stand until it went bankrupt back in July of the year 2011. City Furniture moved in briefly and it now becomes another trendy grocery store, "Trader Joe's."

I went in this store when it first opened, then again in a memorable night during a torrential Miami rain. This store is rather small and it is the first of its kind in Miami. I wonder how it will fare in the face of fierce competition that is the norm in this city.
Trader Joe's

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thunbergia ma non grandiflora

This beautiful floral display never fails to get my attention a few times every year. Every time, I take a few snap shots, tuck them away and then forget about them... not today! For years, I always thought that this is the Thunbergia grandiflora... but it is not. This is a Thunbergia laurifolia. What's the big deal, wouldn't you say? However, listen to this: If this was the first kind, it would have come from India while being the latter it must have come from Myanmar. I like that better. The truth is you can tell by looking at the shapes of the leaves, but trust me, this is a laurifolia.

Now read this: "In Malaysia, juice from crushed leaves of T. laurifolia are taken for menorrhagia, placed into the ear for deafness, and applied for poulticing cuts and boils (Burkill, 1966). In Thailand, leaves are used as an antipyretic, as well as an antidote for detoxifying poisons (Kanchanapoom et al., 2002). Several Thai herbal companies have started producing and exporting rang jeud tea (Chan & Lim, 2006). The tea has been claimed to be able to detoxify the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes."

Furthermore: "Iridoid glucosides have been isolated from T. laurifolia (Kanchanapoom et al., 2002). Microwave-dried leaves displayed stronger antioxidant properties (AOP) than fresh leaves (Chan & Lim, 2006). AOP of infusion from microwave-dried leaves were higher than the commercial rang jeud tea from Thailand."

If there are words in the two paragraphs above that you are not sure to know, please look them up yourself because I also don't know what they mean. But these leaves make good tea is how I see it.

You know, I have tried to grow lotus flowers for the last couple of years, but was not too successful. There are some nocturnal critters that come to feed off my lotus because the root tubers are so delicious so it seems and I am too sentimental to shoot them with my bibi gun. Would you now tell me to grow these blue trumpet flowers instead? I don't think so! Lotus is much more beautiful and it's a challenge for me to get them, so I will persevere. Besides, this vine is very invasive and it certainly will give me lots of work to trim it back.
Blue Trompet Vine

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Herbarium

Just when I thought I know about everything, my friend Larry, Palm biologist, Ph. D. taught me a new thing I did not know anything about: a herbarium, which is a library where all kinds of plant specimens are stored and made available to scientists doing research on plants. The specimens in herbaria (that's the plural form of herbarium) are often used as reference material in describing plant taxa.

This herbarium belongs to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and it now houses the collection that belonged to the Florida Atlantic University.

Plant specimens collected in the wild are identified, parts of which are then prepared by preservation techniques that are quite involved: pressed, dried, frozen, mounted and stored away in controlled environments. The photo shows Larry pretending to look up some specimens that are stored as families with weird botanical binomial names. So, if you do not know the family name of a species of plant that you are interested in, good luck to look it up in here.

France has the largest herbarium in the world: Musée national d’histoire naturelle, located in Paris, France and in many other parts of the country. It is no surprise the French are on top here because France started the first ever herbarium, the Royal Medicinal Plant Garden created by King Louis XIII (pronounced ex aye aye aye) in 1635. I guess when the King was not feeling well, he had at his disposal tons of magical herbs he can try out. Later, the boy-king Louis XV (pronounced ex vee) on 31 March 1718, removed the medicinal part and changed it to the Jardin du Roi (King's Garden)—to focus on natural history. He obviously did not like to taste the weird plant roots. There, you now know as much about herbaria as I do.

Cheerio!
Petrified

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Long-jawed orb weaver

My backyard is full of sticky webs. Navigating around, I need to be very careful not to destroy these homes built by spiders day in day out. If I were a Leucauge venusta, like the one in this photo, I would be very upset if you walked right through my home and I will have to start rebuilding it from scratch!

Do you know why this species has the name venusta in its binomial name Leucauge venusta? Look at the photo. It's beautiful! This photo is high resolution and you can click on it to see what I mean. Venusta means just that, beautiful in Latin. Remember Venus?

The orchard spider is a long-jawed orb-weaver spider. The Venusta orchard spider is among those orb weavers that spin their webs near the horizontal plane. Females almost always sit underneath, at the center bottom side up. These spiders are tiny. From above, they look like a pair of orange eyes watching you. These are the spots on their rear end. Quite deceiving, aren't they? Because they are hung upside down, the head is below, hidden by the beautiful long green legs.

It is not easy to take snap shots of these spiders whose webs constantly sway in the wind. I had to use my digital camera and a macro lens. If you are curious, this photo is resampled from a raw shot of 18 Megabyte using a 100mm Canon macro lens at widest aperture of f2.8, at the speed of 1/160 second and ISO 400.
Spider

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Medusa Gorgon

Wikipedia says, and I quote "Petrified wood (from the Greek root petro meaning "rock" or "stone"; literally "wood turned into stone") is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the original structure of the stem tissue."

Contaminating elements produce these related color hues:

carbon – black
cobalt – green/blue
chromium – green/blue
copper – green/blue
iron oxides – red, brown, and yellow
manganese – pink/orange
manganese oxides – blackish/yellow

Physically, the buried organic material is oxygen starved, but not completely dead while mineral-laden underground water flows through and deposits various mineral in the dying plants' cells.

Now you know how the deadly Medusa half-lady-half-snake Greek mythology creature turned foolish human warriors into stone. She used this process, but instead of it taking centuries, hers happened in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

But... Wikipedia talks again, and it says:

"Artificial petrified wood has been produced in a Washington laboratory. In the process small cubes of pine are soaked in an acid bath for two days, then in a silica solution for another two. The product is then cooked at 1400 °C in an argon atmosphere for two hours. The result was silicon carbide ceramic which preserved the intricate cell structure of the wood."

Now, can you tell me if this petrified specimen in the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is real, or is instant man-made?
Petrified

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Zamia furfuracea

Look at this beautiful plant classified as an endangered species. It's a cycad native to southeastern Veracruz state in eastern Mexico bearing the scientific name of Zamia furfuracea. If you feel that's too exotic a name, you can call it by its alternate name of Cardboard Cycad. This is a female plant with child. It must be grown near a male plant to produce the egg-shaped cones bearing seeds. Pollination is by an insect named Rhopalotria mollis. Again, you can call this insect by its easier to remember name of belid weevil. I know, it's easy for me to say.

Cardboard Cycad plant can only be reproduced by the fleshy, brightly crimson-colored seeds as seen here. The germination process is very slow and difficult to achieve in cultivation. As a result, many plants sold for horticultural use are illegally collected in the wild, leading to the species being classified as endangered.

It's pretty, but you must know that all parts of this plant are poisonous to animals and humans. The toxicity causes liver and kidney failure, as well as eventual paralysis. Dehydration sets in very quickly. No treatment for the poisoning is currently known. Lucky for me to learn this because I thought this may make a good drink for the evening. Somehow, the animals all know this and these seeds are left untouched.
Pretty but Poisonous

Monday, February 17, 2014

Orchids Grow on Trees

To clear up my mind, I took the time to return to Miami's Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden this morning. Here is a look that can calm one's soul. These orchid plants are here for display, and not in their natural growing locations. But if you come here, look around and you will see many orchid plants attached to tree branches as orchids in their natural habitat. These blooms are always a feast for the eyes and senses.
Quint

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I'm Back... Sort of...

OK... Here is Miami Every Day trying to restart after a long, long, long, LONG sabbatical leave of absence. Actually, that is not entirely correct! It is more like I was busy in Miami's swamps with all kinds of alligators... and somehow I had to get out so here we go...

This is a very young and talented quintet from the University of Miami giving a free concert at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden at 13:00 today. The students are in their third (Junior) year, obviously from the department of music. From left to right, the instruments are flute, oboe, horn, bassoon and clarinet. I didn't recognize any of the music, but it was delightful.
Quint

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Metropolis I

This is a bird eye's view of Downtown Dadeland, from the 22nd floor of a unit in the Metropolis 1 condo, looking Northeasterly. Macy's is seen anchoring at the North end of Dadeland mall. To the right is US-1 whose North bound takes you to downtown Miami that is seen at the distant horizon.
Bicycle

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Say A Prayer

Six years ago, I was at the Church of the Little Flower, a beautiful Roman Catholic Church in Coral Gables. Here I am again, but this time, I am inside its very ornate interior, the church's altar where scuptured marble with inlaid is to be seen throughout the spacious spaces where religious rites are performned. Tonight, a special mass is conducted for my friend Edgard. Many friends who could not come to his funeral service because of time constraints came to pay their last respects. Another sad reminder of the ephemeric nature of life.
Bicycle

Friday, March 15, 2013

Green Beer

Although Saint Patrick's Day is not going to be until Saturday, March 17th, we in Miami can't wait so some streets in downtown Coral Gables are closed to traffic early evening today for an early celebration of all things GREEN sponsored by John Martin's Irish Pub & Restaurant.

Of course, you've got to dress green and drink beer: Guiness, Harp, Smithwick's (an Irish red ale style beer from Kilkenny, Ireland) or a mixture thereof. I am tired of pouring these kinds of brew for 3 hours. I'm kaput! Not drunk, but kaput!
Bicycle

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Orchids-A-Gogo

Today is the third and last day of the Orchid festival in Miami's Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden at 10901 Old Cutler Rd, Coral Gables. It is really a chance for local orchid growers to sell their plants. There is a large number of growers who come with their many plants in full bloom. It's quite a feast for the eyes and the senses because many of the orchid species are fragrant. It is so easy to grow beautiful orchid plants here in Miami. It will take you a long time to kill your orchid plant by long term neglect here (what I do now...) but if you just spend a little time to give some minimal care, you can have beautiful orchid flowers year round.
Bicycle

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monster Truck

Would you want to ride in this truck? This is kind of a monster truck, which is a pickup truck body, modified and built with outrageously large wheels and suspension.

In the late 1970s, modified pickup trucks were becoming popular and the sports of mud bogging and truck pulling were gaining in popularity. Several truck owners had created lifted trucks to compete in such events, and soon competition to hold the title of "biggest truck" developed. The trucks which garnered the most national attention were Bob Chandler's Bigfoot, Everett Jasmer's USA-1, Fred Shafer and Jack Willman Sr.'s Bear Foot, and Jeff Dane's King Kong. At the time, the largest tires the trucks were running were 48 inches in diameter.

This is no Big Foot or King Kong, but you need to be as tall as a giraffe to get in and out of it. I would love to take a snapshot of the driver getting in to drive it away.
Bicycle

Saturday, February 16, 2013

French Two Horses

Look what I saw today: a newly reincarnated French Citroën 2CV (French: "deux chevaux" i.e. "deux chevaux-vapeur [fiscaux]." Literally, this means "two tax horsepower" and it was an economy car produced by the French car manufacturer Citroën between 1948 and 1990. This car is so nostalgic to me because it reminds me of my wild student days in Paris. Two of my class mates owned this 2CV car and we had tons of fun with them. This is a rather new construction and it looks like a "special edition" rather than the "real" original 2CV that I know. The license plate says it is an antic, but it truly is antic only in its name.

I asked the owner who told me he paid US $12K and it was shipped from France. Imagine that, a full 2 horse power among the killer cars of Miami!

The two cars I used to ride in more than often would not start, but for us lunatic students, that was no big deal. We can start this car by manually cranking it without breaking a sweat. You do that by sticking a steel crank shaft into a steel tube in front of the car under the hood. Our great challenge was to start the car with only one single crank. If you want to know how we did it, take a look at this Youtube link. I love this car's manual transmission control that is smack in the middle of the dashboard and into your face. But... it was truly remarkable that according Wikipedia, this car was designed to be a low-priced, rugged "umbrella on four wheels" that would enable four peasants to drive 50 kg (110 lb) of farm goods to market at 50 km/h (31 mph), in clogs and across muddy unpaved roads if necessary. The car would use no more than 3 L of gasoline to travel 100 km (78 mpg). Most famously, it would be able to drive across a ploughed field without breaking the eggs it was carrying.Bicycle

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Edgard

Totally unexpected, I attended a funeral today. It's a very sad thing, a funeral, and I always cry. I can't help it. It's just me. My friend Edgard died yesterday, and here I am at the Kendall Mt Nebo cemetery, a few blocks South of Miller Drive West of the Palmetto Expressway. A single bunch of red roses lies atop of his coffin that has entered his final resting place. It's a sad thing! But Edgard had a good life and here is one proof... of it and this is the way I remember him.

If you have any doubt, trust me. Live it up! You never can tell what tomorrow may bring.
Bicycle

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Coconut Shrimp

All of a sudden, I feel the urge of eating Cuban coconut shrimp! You want to know why? Look at this new drive through on the right hand side of this photo. It is very odd that this new eatery decided to settle here. My theory is that the adult business needs some extra income and has sub-leased this space to this store that sells coconut shrimp among other Cuban dishes. This may be used as a perfect disguise to sneak into the other store for some hot stuff. If caught red handed, one can say "Hey, I felt the urge of eating Cuban coconut shrimp." Voilà!
Bicycle

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Kind of Cycle

I can't resist to put this on line. This is a "oh so cute" bicycle fitted with a 2 or 4 Stroke Bicycle Engine. I am mighty tempted to get a 2 Stroke Bicycle Engine Kit Parts and build one for myself. Perfect for Miami! I want one! I hope the engine is waterproof so it can be used during a Miami thunder storm... But first, I need a bicycle. Help!
Bicycle

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What the Heck!

After a few restless nights, I have carefully thought that I feel worse stopping this blog cold turkey... A compromise is now in order... Although the title stays the same, it now reads Weekly Photos of Miami... But... in case you do not know or do not care to click on the odd cherries on the left margin, know that it will take you to the other side of the coin that is my life... What you see there is this clip that I think makes life worth living.

But let's head back to Miami... I know this small (come to think, not so small) cosmetic procedure used to cost between USD $5 - 10K, it now can be had for a mere $2,800.00! I wonder if this price applies for guys? The process would have to be "grown from scratch" rather than "enlarged!" What do you guys think?

I'm back, but it will not be EVERY DAY!
Breast & Breast

Monday, January 21, 2013

Farewell...

I feel bad not to honor the name of this blog "Miami Every Day..." It has become increasingly more difficult for me to daily update this semi-private corner of my life. Reluctantly, I must say farewell... at least for the time being... to this self imposed daily obligation.

As a tribute to my long time passionate search for a sentimental tree, the Alstonia scholaris, here is one that I found in Miami, a beautiful specimen in plain sight that I only can "see" after many years of learning how to recognize it.

Here it is, on Sunset Drive near 64th street.

Farewell... and thank you for reading.
Freedom Tower

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Freedom Tower

This is the Freedom Tower as seen from NE 5th street, just West of Biscayne Boulevard. It was designed by Schultze and Weaver, and currently used as a memorial to Cuban immigration to the United States. The Freedom Tower is located at 600 Biscayne Boulevard on the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College.

On September 10, 1979, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places; and then designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark on October 6, 2008. On April 18, 2012, the AIA's Florida Chapter placed the building on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places as the Freedom Tower Building.

Originally completed in 1925 as the headquarters and printing facility of the newspaper The Miami News, it is an example of Mediterranean Revival style with design elements borrowed from the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. Its cupola on a 256 foot (78 m) tower contained a decorative beacon.
Freedom Tower.

Monday, November 5, 2012

TigerDirect

In 2008, CompUSA went into liquidation and was purchased by Systemax. All CompUSA stores in Miami retained its name until now. Tigerdirect.com has now replaced the COMPUSA name and this is how the store across from Miami's Dadeland Mall looks today.
Tiger.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I'm Stumped

I know this IS a Sabal causiarum.

But when I look it up, a source I trust says this: "One of the most striking Sabal species is Sabal causiarum, the Puerto Rican hat palm. This palm is distinguished from other Sabals by its massive smooth gray trunk which can grow up to 4 ft (1.2 m) in diameter! Most Sabals retain their old leaf bases on the trunk, creating a textured crisscross or "cabbage leaf" pattern instead of a smooth trunk."

I don't know what to say. This S. causiarum certainly has the old leaf crisscross pattern and not smooth trunk at all. Is this a Puerto Rican hat palm? Or is it not? You tell me!
Stumped

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Early Voting Line

Today is the last day to cast a ballot early for the 4-year cycle general vote in the US. It's time to vote for the US president, which is the most important and the first item on the ballot. After missing the absentee vote by mail and earlier dates for early vote, today is the last opportunity for me to vote before Tuesday next week, which will be the official voting day.

I was in this line for 5 hours, from 2 PM to finally get to the voting booth at 7PM. The crowd was very jovial and civil. No one was complaining. The kids were having a grand time climbing the huge banyan trees lining the streets surrounding this early voting place that is the Coral Gables library. If you look closely, you can see a few kids in the crotch of the tree on the right.

If you have never known the voting system here, you are lucky. I can tell you that the political languages that, after months and months of battle, got into the ballot is so convoluted you never can tell what you have voted. If I voted Yes, was it a No for what I don't want? Or was it a Yes for what I want? If you are confused, you are not alone... So am I. Please don't ask me whom I voted for, or what I voted for. I am not sure myself! But I did vote today! Yeah! What a relief!
5 Hour Wait

Friday, November 2, 2012

Vanuatu

Here is a Veitchia spiralis, a species of flowering palm in the Arecaceae family. It is found natively only in Vanuatu, which is a remarkable fact. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, headquartered in the UK) Red List classification of plants by conservation status as follow:

LC = Least Concerned
NT = Near Threatened
VU = Vulnerable Species
EN = Endangered Species
CR = Critically Endangered
EW = Extinct in the Wild
EX = Extinction

The V. spiralis is assigned the status of NT, which is threatened by habitat loss. You may wonder where in the world is Vanuatu? Here is the answer: Vanuatu (French: République de Vanuatu, Bislama: Ripablik blong Vanuatu), is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The volcanic archipelago is about 1,750 kilometres east of northern Australia, 500 kilometres northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea. V. spiralis trees you see at other places like this one here must have been collected from this island and from nowhere else.

Talking about extinction, do you know that of the various species partitioned into: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, molluscs, plants, all have some percentage of population that are critically endangered... all except, you guessed it: the insects. Now, just think about this... us, human beings (well, at least the majority of us) belong to the mammal group... and we do have a finite probability of suffering extinction as a species sometime in the future. Let's hope that future is not coming too soon.
Near Threatened

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Haves

Every four years, the US population votes for a president and it's that time again. Somehow, this year it's more subdue than four years ago when it was the talk that was on everyone's lips. This time it's the contest between the current US president Obama vs former governor Romney. I watched all three presidential debates and already made up my mind so no matter how often both parties call my home phone and trying to change it, they are only wasting their time. Driving around town, I muse myself conducting a casual survey from the political signs posted in front of houses.

Today, my tabulation came out to be: Romney 11, Obama 0. But I need to tell you that I drove through a section of population that can safely be classified as "the haves." From this photo, you can count one vote for former governor Romney from the sign posted in front of this house. I understand this house is worth about US $8.5 Million. I need to find a different section of town that is more representative of "the haves not" for a more balanced survey... coming soon.
Vote Now

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scary Night!

I took the photo of this banyan tree today. I wouldn't come here tonight for all the gold in China! Ever since a very young kid, I was told that all banyan trees are haunted. This is a banyan tree therefore it is haunted. By what, I never knew for sure, but it can't be anything good. In the pitch black of dark nights, walking under this tree would be interesting because these hanging strands would become what else but long and captive hair of the lost souls that inhabit this tree. Just that thought gives me the creep. I have shown you a scary looking banyan tree before, I am afraid of this one even more because of the hair undulating with the breeze.... Coming here tonight, on Halloween night? Are you insane?
October 31st

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Taste of Almond

It was a beautiful morning and the temperature was 63 degree Fahrenheit. As I promised to myself, I returned here, picked a dozen seeds, sampled two then ate a half dozen. They are really almond just like I remembered them. They are kind of too big and I hope that no adverse effects would happen to me. If I would turn into a werewolf or something wilder tomorrow night (remember... it's Halloween tomorrow night,) and you can tell from my weird blog tomorrow, you know what to do. Call a witch doctor and send him/her to my rescue.
I Ate Them

Monday, October 29, 2012

First Cold Front

Finally, the first cold front arrived in Miami today. The morning was crisp and beautiful, my kind of weather. If you want to visit Miami and do not care for tropical fruits that only are plentiful in the hot summer months, come now to enjoy our weather. Here, the students got into the warm sweaters that they tucked away until now, getting the warm sun to help them enjoy a beautiful day.
Best Weather

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saxy Lady

Today is a very sad day! Once in a while, I must do the inevitable... come to a farewell party for a good friend. Juiene Purefoy, a wonderful musician of South Miami, is dead. After an emotional small gathering of friends met to scatter her ashes and pay tribute, everyone came to hear the band of which she was an integral part play her favorite repertoire... Michelle, Don't Be That Way, A String of Pearls, Moonlight Senerade and In the Mood. Some danced, some cried. I did. Farewell, Saxy Lady friend.
Juliene Purefoy

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hard Rock Cafe

This is inside the Hard Rock Cafe of Miami downtown, at the Bay Side market place. It is crowded today and many of its employees dress up in Halloween outfits... scared me to death! This is an inside room where valuable memorabilia are displayed. To the right are things that belonged to Elvis Presley. The black jacket on the wall to the left belonged to John Lennon. The owners asked me to give them my scarf to display next to Elvis' stuff but I declined their request because they did not give me an offer I could not refuse.
Lincoln

Friday, October 26, 2012

Boats and Boats

This is how many, and I mean many, boats are stored in this Coconut Grove marina, just outside my favorite place to take friends when they visit me, Scotty's Landing. If I were the operator working with these boats, I am sure I will drop everyone of them from the formidable looking scaffolding when I would retrieve the boats. The water you see is from rains coming from hurricane Sandy off shore.
Boat storage

Thursday, October 25, 2012

61 Continental

Here is another classic car encounter in South Miami, a 1961 Lincoln Continental. The owner told me he just sold it yesterday. I was too polite to ask him the selling price. I should have... now I am puzzled and won't be able to sleep tonight.
Lincoln

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sandy

Miami got a surprise visit by Sandy. She is a late visitor and a minimal hurricane. Usually, Miami is out of danger from hurricanes by mid October but this year, Sandy is packing the energy of a category two hurricane and going through the Bahama Islands in a couple of days, shutting down airports and cancelling cruises. I am sure a lot of vacationing people is not very happy of this... and we have to deal with wet and soggy streets; and grey and ugly skies. I hate this!
Late Cane

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bistro Lyonnais

Le Bouchon du Grove is a small French restaurant supposedly specialized in French's city of Lyon food. It is at the heart of Coconut Grove, on Main highway. Le Bouchon du Grove won Miami's best French restaurant award in 2008. Do you know that Lyon has developed a reputation as the capital of gastronomy in France? With that said, their menu looks very appealing to me and I am saving all my pennies to eat French there one of these nights end November. Care to join?
French Bistro

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Dream House

Look at this beauty! This is a small but beautiful home right in the middle of Coconut Grove. I could get myself tucked in here and never would come out to go anywhere. My dream home!
Beautiful

Sunday, October 21, 2012

No Pole, Ma!

I was in a very relaxing place in Miami called Matheson Hammock early today. This man is trying to catch fish using no fishing pole. It's called string fishing. Without a pole, it's going to be tough to reel in a big fish. I hope he knows that. The body of water you see is Biscayne Bay and somewhere beyond the horizon, you can see Cape Florida if you knew which direction to look. A mere 100,000 years ago, all this place was but an ocean about 200 meter deep. At that time, the first homo-sapiens (that's our ancestor) arrived in the Middle East. They were descendant of the original homo-sapiens who appeared on earth about 250,000 years ago. Time flies, doesn't it?
String Fishing

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ocean Drive

Here is a look of Ocean Drive, a main tourist attraction on Miami Beach's South Beach. It's early Saturday morning but all parking spots are already occupied. Very inviting sales people are busy coercing tourists to sit down for their half price breakfast. This is at the level of 12th street looking South.
Lincoln

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lonely Lunch

The US will vote for the next president next month and the political machinery is going full throttle. In the streets of Miami, I see more and more destitution. The number of people holding signs saying they are hungry and need help is clearly on the increase... many are young and looking healthy. To me, that means jobs are very scarce. This person reflects a sad, lonely and harsh life you see in Miami.
Lunch Alone

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Clobbered!

Today, the University of Miami's beloved and once powerful football team, the Miami Hurricanes faced the team of the University of North Carolina, the Tar Heels. We lost! And that put me in quite a foul mood. !@#$%^&*()! It was hot in the seats of Pro Life stadium. The parking was expensive (US $30.) The food was expensive ($20 a round.) A bottle of water does not last 10 minutes etc... etc... It was hot and the sun in the West was in our face the entire game. No wonder I still feel dejected now! All and all a lousy afternoon. Should have gone swimming instead! Arrrggghhh!
Po'ed

Friday, October 12, 2012

Too Many Notes

The 2012 Festival Miami is the 29th annual premier live music festival of Florida and it is right here at my Alma Mater the University of Miami's Frost School of Music from October 2nd through November 4th. Every year, I make it a point to come see at least one performance. Tonight, I am at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall to see Santiago Rodriguez, Cuban born award winning pianist performing solo piano works of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Lecuona, Sleeper... Sleeper? well, he's a contemporary composer and professor of music here. He is the Director of Orchestral Activities and Conductor of the University of Miami Frost Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theater.

If I remember correctly, all music composers, no matter who they were (or are) are not appreciated until after they are dead. So I was curious to hear the work of composers who are still alive, and in the audience too. Truthfully, I was particularly interested in tonight's performance because the opening piece was Marina (1993) a composition by Thomas Sleeper. That composition casts T. S. Eliot's famous poem Marina to music. That got me here. Do you know why? That is because I read Marina many times and never get to understand what that poem was about, despite several attempts trying to learn from many poetic critics and commentaries that dissected T. S. Eliot work. I was hoping that the music may help me in some way. Alas, no luck for me because the music was just way over my head and instead of helping, it got me more confused. I may appreciate this a couple hundred years from now... may be.

Other than that, it was a very enchanting evening. I am always amazed that music can have so many notes... millions of them and they keep coming at you. I was thinking to myself that if the performer(s) misses a few notes here and there, who is to count them and notice? Of course, I am kidding. I am certain maestro Rodriguez did not miss any note. I really loved his playing my favorite Malaguena. Powerful.

I am sorry that my photo blog today only shows you an empty stage. The announcer threatened to put me in jail if I dare to turn on my cell phone to take a shot during performance. I am lucky I managed this photo before things got serious. Next year, I will come with a camera hidden inside my eye glasses. Come back then for a better blog photo.
Piano Solo

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Digital Organic Man

OK... Is this man going off his rocker? What is this title he is using? Digital Organic Man? What's that? Let me explain.

I am going digital (will start with some of my digital photos here in my blog) and organic at the same time: Today's blog is my first photo from a digital camera and not from my iPhone; and I will try to grow my own organic veggies. This photo that does not look very good is in fact a truly great digital photo that has been resampled heavily for web display. It shows three things: in focus in the foreground are some organic winged beans that will join with my other veggies in my wok soon.

The Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus), also known as the Goa bean and Asparagus pea, Four-angled bean and Winged pea, is a tropical legume plant native to New Guinea. It grows abundantly in hot, humid equatorial countries, from the Philippines and Indonesia to India, Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka. It does well in humid tropics with high rainfall. There are also varieties that can be grown in most areas of the U.S. The plant is one of the best nitrogen fixers with nodulation accomplished by the soil bacterium Rhizobium. Because of its ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, the plant requires very little or no fertilizers.

I had this growing on a fence but let it die. Now I will try to start again...

The pot that is out of focus in the middle of the photo is the start of a veggie that is essential for some dishes the taste of which I am trying to acquire. Would you believe that this herb tastes fishy when you chew it? It is Houttuynia cordata (in simplified and traditional Chinese, resspectively: pinyin and yúxīng cǎo; literally "fishy-smell herb"; Vietnamese: giấp cá or diếp cá; pak kao tong in Lao; Korean: English lizard tail and chameleon plant.) In English, it is known as lizard tail, chameleon plant, heartleaf, fishwort and bishop's weed. It is one of two species in the genus Houttuynia and is a flowering plant native to Japan, Korea, southern China and Southeast Asia, where it grows in moist, shady places.

This herb is not very well liked, and I understand why that is so. I tasted it once and did not particularly want more, but now, I am not quite sure why I want to grow it? Ask me why! This Heartleaf or Lizard Tail is an alien invasive species in many areas in the United States and Australia so it will grow like wild fire here in my yard.

The next also out of focus pot is another herb: Persicaria odorata, the Vietnamese coriander is an herb whose leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking. Other English names for the herb include Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese cilantro, Cambodian mint and hot mint. The Vietnamese name is rau răm, while in Malaysia and Singapore it is called daun kesom or daun laksa (laksa leaf). In Thailand, it is called phak phai and the Hmong word for it is Luam Laws. In Laos, it is called phak phaew.

It is not related to the mints, nor is it in the mint family Lamiaceae but the general appearance and odor are reminiscent. Persicaria is in the family Polygonaceae, collectively known as smartweeds or pinkweeds.

This herb is more easily liked and it is used fresh in salad and in spring/summer rolls. The last time I made the summer rolls was in August of 2011 and it's time I try again.

Finally, you may ask why my photo that is supposed to be "digitally great looking" looks so shabby? That has to do with the bokeh that I am testing. What's that? Come back for more...
Organic Man

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Latin Corn Dough

It you were my date today, I would have treated you with some hot (just hot, not spicy) Latin corn dough. Do you like Arepa?

An arepa is a dish made of ground corn dough or cooked flour, very prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. It is similar in shape to the Mexican gordita and the Salvadoran pupusa. Arepas can also be found in Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Canary Islands.

On MDC Kendall campus today, there is some kind of Latin food festival going on. Tents were erected to sell food at lunch time to students here. Various national dishes sell at about US $3.00 which are catered to students' pocket book. I spotted stands from Argentina, Peru, Venezuela and many more... all have arepa to sell.

I never had arepa before... went around to take sample shots. I'll buy a dish for you but I will pass. It looks too exotic to me. If I had a crave for corn, I'll have mine on the cob.
Corn Dough

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chorisia In Bloom

You have seen several silk floss trees but none was in bloom. Here it is with beautiful pink flowers. Chorisia speciosa is its former scientific name and it is known now as Ceiba speciosa. Both sound just like Greek to me, but you got to admit, it is beautiful. Now I know why Coral Gables, the City Beautiful, planted several of them in various locations. In bloom, these trees are really pretty and their large flowers look very similar in shape and form to hibiscus.
Silk Floss

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is Your Cell Phone Smart?

I am kind of lazy today... not knowing exactly why! Sheer laziness for the sake of just being lazy is how I feel today. To be honest with you, it feels great!

Are you ready for some statistics? Again, I am lazy and do not check the accuracy of any of the numbers given so please take them in with a big grain of salt. If you want to contest the numbers you read, please contact the source that I duly cite below:

According to Pew Research Center:

"As of September 2012, 85% of American adults have a cell phone and 45% have a smartphone. As of early 2012, 58% have a desktop computer, 61% have a laptop, 18% own an e-book reader, and 18% have a tablet computer.

Smartphones are particularly popular with young adults and those living in relatively higher income households; 66% of those ages 18-29 own smartphones, and 68% of those living in households earning $75,000 also own them. Young adults tend to have higher-than-average levels of smartphone ownership regardless of income or educational attainment, while for older adults smartphone ownership tends to be relatively uncommon across the board—but especially so for less-educated and less-affluent seniors."

Well, that was verbatim from what I stole from the source above. Their English? I would write it better but beggars can't be choosers!

The youngster at this bus stop obviously is playing with his smart phone. My crystal ball tells me he has either an iPhone or an Android device. So a word of caution... your mobile phone will give you away because we can guess who you are by looking at the cell phone you use. How about that?

Ask me if I own a smart phone. What do you think? Do I? Do I not?
Smart Phone

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Made Of Money

It's October, already! That means wherever you go, you will see very scary things such as skeletons, ghosts and ghoulies and even worse things that I do not want to mention because they may come at night to visit me. Sure enough, here is the customer counter at the local Tysunn Dry Cleaner on Sunset Drive near Red Road (SW 57th Avenue.) I can see a bony hand reaching up from the underworld and a miniature creature half alive, half dead staring me in the face. It's Halloween time in the US and it's coming on October 31st year after year.

On the counter, you can see two pots of the "money tree" that is supposed to bring prosperity to the business. Well, with the price I had to pay to dry clean a suit and one shirt, I feel like I am their money tree today!
Dry Cleaner

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Winn Dixie

Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. is an American supermarket chain based in Jacksonville, Florida. They are known for their private label Chek brand soft drinks, which are produced in over 20 different flavors plus diet and caffeine-free varieties. It fell on hard time ans filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005. On March 9, 2012, Winn-Dixie became a wholly owned subsidiary of Bi-Lo Holding and it looks like they are beginning to grow well again in Florida, despite the closing of many stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

This very large store #251 is fairly new and it is in Coral Gables, situated on Coral Way near SW 32nd Avenue. As Americans, we cannot live without our pills and liquors, and you see here the "must have" pharmacy that is always an integral part of any grocery store. The other half, a Winn Dixie liquor store #394 is next to this one, further down the street.
Quick Chek

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cây Bàng

The tall and large tree in the center of the photo below is a Terminalia catappa, which is a large tropical tree in the Leadwood tree family, Combretaceae. This tree is native to the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Australia. It is known by the common names of Ketapang (Indonesian), Bengal almond, Singapore almond, Ebelebo, Malabar almond, West Indian almond, Tropical almond, Sea almond, Beach Almond. In other words, pretty much everybody agrees it's an almond tree. The Terminalia catappa is dry-season deciduous. Before falling, the leaves are loaded with pigments causing them to turn pinkish-reddish or yellow-brown. Then the branches become bare until new leaves return at the beginning of the next growing season.

When a kid, I used to collect the seeds of this tree, called "cây bàng" in Vietnamese. With a hammer, I could get to the free and delicious almond inside. The pathway here is littered with many seeds from this tree and they are much larger than I used to know them. This place must be paradise for squirrels and I am surprised to not see many of them. Got to come here with a big hammer soon to sample these seeds myself.

Due to many naturally occurring chemical elements in them, the leaves and bark of this tree are used in different herbal medicines for various purposes. In Taiwan, fallen leaves are used as a herb to treat liver diseases. In Suriname, a tea made from the leaves is prescribed against dysentery and diarrhea.
Almond Tree

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Race for the Cure

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can invade (grow into) surrounding tissues or metastasize (spread) to distant areas of the body. This disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.

Over the past 17 years, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is an event designed and implemented to promote positive awareness, education and early detection of breast cancer. It is claimed to be the largest series of 5K runs/fitness walks in the world. The Miami/Ft. Lauderdale community has raised millions of dollars to fund the fight against breast cancer through the Komen Race for the Cure. Over 100,000 people have participated in the 5K walk and run, One Mile Fun Walk and Tot Run since the first Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Komen Race for the Cure in 1995.

The next Race is scheduled on October 20, 2012 at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, starting at 7:30AM. Here you see a large banner spreading across Sunset Drive, just before it reaches US-1, announcing that event. The large horizontal concrete structure you see atop the red car is Metrorail, the heavy rail rapid transit system of Miami.
Breast Cancer