Thursday, May 31, 2007

Go Canes!

The University of Miami Hurricanes football team is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and one of the preeminent programs in all of college football. For those of you who may not know, college football is HUGE busine$$ in the US. The University of Miami has won five national championships (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991 and 2001) since 1983, making it the 2nd most winning college football program of the past quarter century. As you can see, we have not done very well since 2001, but that is a long story. It is then small wonder that everyone in town loves the Canes. To express that love, the university bus shuttles are appropriately named "Hurry Canes." They are used locally to shuttle students to and from immediate neighborhood to the main campus in Coral Gables.

On the fleet of these shuttle buses in this photo, you can see the fierce looking creature in a fighting mood, which is the proud Miami Hurricanes football team's mascot: the great Ibis of Florida. If you look closely, Sebastian (Yup! That's his name) is spelling out the letters C A N E S. Its arch enemy is the Florida Gators, the University of Florida football team. Our Ibis Sebastian eats gator meat for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Go Canes!

Go Canes!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Breaking Ground

As it is usually the case, team workers have one guy working and several others just "supervising." Here is a heavy machine digging into the hard concrete ground at a new construction site. Heavy equipment like these demand a lot of skill to operate. The orange and white stripes construction cone looks just like the icon on my computer identifying my beloved VLC program that plays all the movies on my laptop.

Construction Workers

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Scarlet blooms

Under the royal poinciana tree, on a lazy Tuesday afternoon.

Scarlet blooms

Monday, May 28, 2007

Doctors Hospital

Right next to the University of Miami is Doctors Hospital. It is a 281-bed acute care facility that has provided high-quality medical care since 1949. Doctors Hospital is recognized for its services in orthopedics, neurosurgery, sports medicine, general surgery, minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery and women's health. Its nationally recognized Sports Medicine program serves professional sport teams such as the Florida Marlins (baseball,) and the Miami Heat (basketball,) as well as collegiate teams from the University of Miami and Florida International University. The Miami neuroscience team at Doctors Hospital developed the first Gamma Knife program in the state of Florida. Since 1993, it has been a leader in neurological patient care serving patients from the United States and abroad. This is its emergency entrance, across from the School of Communications of UM.

Doctors Hospital

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Birthday Wish

This is not a photo of Miami, but a Birthday card that I made for
Shane Bernier. Shane is 7 year old and very sick. Read his web site and please help me help Shane get on the Guiness Book of Records by sending him your Birthday card to:

Shane Bernier
PO Box 484
Lancaster, Ontario
K0C 1N0

Shane's BD is May 30th.

Shane Bernier

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Purple Beauty

Jacaranda is a genus of 49 species of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae, native to tropical and subtropical regions of South and Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Jacaranda Mimosifolia (nurseries often label this tree Jacaranda Acutifolia which is a synonym) is the species most often seen in Florida are native to the Amazon River Basin countries of Brazil, Argentina and Peru. The spectacular Jacaranda is enjoyed as an ornamental in many near-frostless areas all over the world.

Here is a Jacaranda in full bloom. I should have taken this photo two days ago when it was at its peak. After two days of sprinkle on and off, many of the flowers are on the ground but the tree still looks spectacular; and this photo really does not do it justice. There are things you must see in person to fully appreciate their beauty. This is one of it. Miami is getting some very welcome rains these days, and today is how should I say it? Rainy!

Purple Beauty

Friday, May 25, 2007

Wide Turns

I caught this huge truck making its way out of the parking lot of a grocery store. It's very early in the morning and the beer supply has been delivered! These professional people work very hard and efficiently. I wonder how these mega trucks drive, especially in dense traffic. I always stay clear of them when in my car.

Wide Turns

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Work in Progress

This is the same building in construction as seen on the March 02 blog. Quite a bit of progress has been made and the six floors are being fitted with windows. Office for rent signs are now up as rental activities are picking up steam.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Early Flames

The early royal poinciana blooms have started to show. Summer cannot be far off. Here is a shot from the roof of an office building very early in the morning, before the parking lot is full. Judging from the number of gas guzzlers that Americans love, it is no wonder they are crying foul now because gas price is inching upward toward the US $4 per gallon. The tradition of heavy driving during the summer will start soon, and gas companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

Summer nose

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

UM Student Dormitories

Across from lake Osceola are the student dormitories. They are from left to right: the Pentland, McDonald, Rosberough and Walsh towers. The Cobb fountain, one of the many at various locations in this campus, is seen in action.

UM Student Dorms

Monday, May 21, 2007

UM Lake Osceola

This photo is taken from the heart of the main campus of the University of Miami, my alma mater. This is one of my many favorite spots in this campus. On the left is lake Osceola where the students traditionally burn a symbolic boat during the rally for the home coming football game in November. The white buildings at a distance on the left are part of the music school. Seen on the right are the outdoor tables, chairs and swingers for meals served by the Rathskeller, a popular hangout for students. Lining the lake on this side are ancient sapodilla (Manilkara Zapota L. in the family of Sapotaceae) trees, known as chewing-gum trees. For decades, I have never seen any fruits on these trees and don't know why that is. You may not know this, but chewing gum originally was made from a thick juice called “chicle” that comes from the sapodilla tree. Zigzag cuts are made along the tree trunk so that the thick white juice inside drips out and are collected in small bags. The juice is later boiled with corn syrup, glycerin, sugar and flavoring. It is then dried, rolled and cut into bite-size pieces.

UM Lake Osceola

Sunday, May 20, 2007

University of Miami

The University of Miami Libraries rank among the top research libraries in North America. Located in the main campus in Coral Gables is the Otto G. Richter Library which is the University of Miami's main library. It houses collections that serve the arts, architecture, humanities, social sciences, and the sciences. It is a depository for federal and state government publications. Rare books, maps, manuscript collections, and the University Archives are housed in the Special Collections Division and in the Cuban Heritage Collection. Otto G. Richter Library's collections are stored in a six-story high tower that unfortunately is hidden from view behind the row of tall palm trees on the left. Students conduct research and study mainly inside the three story high wing seen on the right side.

Other libraries are distributed among several large campuses specialized for Music, Atmospheric Sciences, Business, Architecture, Law, and several more for Medicine.

UM Main Library

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Baby Bear

Here is a break from photos of building, plants, flowers of Miami... This is Bear, a brand new puppy resident of Miami. He is 5 month old, getting accustomed to the climate of Miami and being toilet trained. He'll love it here.

Bear Puppy

Friday, May 18, 2007

Monster House

Here is a brand new house being built in Miami. This has all the earmarks of a "monster house" in the works. "Mansions" like this appear more and more often here. I can't tell how many rooms it will have, but I can say there will be plenty of them.

As you can see, the blue sky has returned to Miami.

New Construction

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Although difficult to spot on the tree because of their greenish colors, the flowers of the Ylang-Ylang (Cananga Odorata) perfume-tree show well in this photo. This is a fast growing tree that was decimated by hurricane Wilma two years ago. It was cut back to a stump but has now completely recovered, and is constantly in bloom. The flowers are large, greenish yellow (rarely pink), curly like a starfish, and yields a highly fragrant essential oil. The scent is overpowering as I stand close by to take the photos.

This is the flower that world famous Coco Channel used in her Channel No. 5 perfume in 1923. The essential oil of Ylang-Ylang is also used in aromatherapy.

The name Ylang-Ylang is derived from Tagalog, either from the word ilang, meaning "wilderness", alluding to its natural habitat, or the word ilang-ilan, meaning "rare", suggestive of its exceptionally delicate scent. The plant is native to the Philippines and Indonesia and is commonly grown in Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia.

Perfume Tree

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Miami Waves

No, I am still in Miami, and not in Hawaii (I wish!) On the way back to Miami, I chose to avoid traffic on US1 and went through the Grove instead. I never did notice that there is a surf shop here but I do see real surf boards displayed in the store's window! Surfing in Miami? Where do they go to get the waves? The ocean around here is flat as a pancake, unless a hurricane shows up. This is a very brave shop owner.

Surf Shop

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Eat me!

This is a follow up of a previous blog (April 10th) about the jackfruit (Artocarpus Heterophyllus.) This is the full fruiting season of this tree in Miami and I am lucky to stumble on this particular one. It is rare to find a tree so loaded with fruits. This may win the Guiness book of records if it is being kept somewhere. The jackfruit, as many other fruits, can be used for cooking when green and eaten as a fruit when ripened.

This fruit has heavy and sticky latex that is a real nuisance. The latex easily sticks to any surface and it is not easy to remove. If it gets to your shirt, your shirt is a goner! Do not cut the fruit until you have drained as much latex as possible. One way to do that is to drive a large stick to where the stem is, stick it in the ground in your neighbor's yard and let the latex drain through the stick. When cut open, the interior consists of large "bulbs" of yellow and vaguely banana-flavored but very strongly scented thick flesh. That is the part that is eaten. The detached bulbs are seen in the inserts of the photo. Each bulb encloses a large thumb size, smooth, slippery, oval, light brown seed covered by a thin membrane. There may be 100 to up to 500 seeds in a single large fruit. When fully ripe, the unopened jackfruit emits a strong disagreeable odor while the pulp of the opened fruit smells of strong mix of pineapple and banana, but distinctively "jackfruit." Once the taste is acquired, this fruit is delicious. I like it.

The seeds are eaten boiled or roasted. Good to eat, but this is worse than baked beans for after effects. Trust me, don't eat it.

Jackfruit, again

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dying Species?

Here is something that is not seen very often in Miami: a mobile ice cream truck. These are usually run by independent vendors making a living taking sweet treats to kids. I am not sure how they can compete with national franchises that not only monopolize the market, but always create inventive ways to squeeze minuscule mobile vendors like this to death. Now, most high schools do not allow trucks like this one come close to their grounds because they have lucrative contracts pushing other national products.

Mobile Treats

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Remember Mothers

The celebration of Mother's Day can be traced back to Greece in the 1600's, and later in 1872 in the US. In 1907, Mother's Day was first celebrated in a small, private way by Anna Jarvis in Grafton, West Virginia, to commemorate the anniversary of her mother's death two years earlier on May 9, 1905. That started the national tradition of all Mothers being honored throughout the US on Mother's Day in May. Mother's Day is today, May 13th. Flowers, phone calls, family reunion and treats for Mothers in restaurants are traditional gifts for Mothers; and Mothers do not have to do any work today if they don't feel like it. Breakfasts served in bed on Mother's Day is the way small kids say they love their Moms.

Departed Mothers of course are not forgotten so visits are heavy at local cemeteries. There was a big traffic jam at this cemetery where I came to bring flowers and pay respect to one Mother; and to reflect on all Mothers resting here.

Mother's Day

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Smoke Filled

The blue sky has disappeared from Miami the past few days. You may remember seeing, and some of the comments noticed the perpetual blue sky in my photo blogs. No more these days. America is "on fire" and Florida is doing its share. The drought is so severe this year that wild fires are raging in a lot of different places in the US (one of which is the "paradise" Catalina island in California.)

In Florida, there is a big fire way up at the Florida-Georgia border at Lake City, about 300 miles North of Miami. The fire has scorched more than 180,000 acres and the haze takes over the Miami sky. The sky has looked like this for the past few days, pathetic! The poor lone bird perched on the wire on the left must think the same way. When the sky turns blue again, I will let you know.

Gray sky

Friday, May 11, 2007

Full bloom

Heliconia rostrata in full bloom. The first bloom was blogged on April 11th, exactly one month ago.

Full bloom

Thursday, May 10, 2007

For Sale

This photo is taken in Miami, which, being a South Eastern city of the US, was part of the history being told today. The photo is one of the many historical documents displayed at a presentation about the US Civil War. There were many fascinating facts and photos (old photos) but this one got my full attention. It is in full 5MB resolution and I hope you can read the text. This public sale announcement sent a chill up my spine reading it now, in the 21st century, in 2007. The event described in the document dated 1833.

During the Civil War the lighthouse lamp in Cape Florida, in the Key Biscayne community South of Miami was destroyed by a band of marauders believed to be Confederate soldiers. Of course, the Cape Florida light house will make a great blog some day.

For Sale

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Harry Potter

Bookstores are extremely popular in the US. Americans have voracious appetite for books and they visit bookstores nationwide to browse and buy their books. Here is a shot of the children's section of a bookstore in Miami. Books and merchandise about Harry Potter are prominently displayed. Harry Potter books are by J (Joanne) K Rowling, an English fiction writer, that sold over 377 million copies worldwide making her the first person to become a US-dollar billionaire by writing books in 2006 and the second richest female entertainer in the world. It's no wonder because the two most recent books: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince & Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix are priced at about US $30 each in this bookstore! Of course, you can get them cheaper on line, but the children cannot wait! The next book to come out July 21st this year is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in children's and adult's editions. Reading age kids can't wait to buy this book and they will wait in line the night before the day it will be released.


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Economic Casualty

It's curtains time for Modernage Furniture in Miami... Leath Furniture, with corporate offices in Atlanta, has 31 stores. The majority of them (24) are in five midwestern states of the US with 7 in the state of Florida that operate as Modernage Furniture, a division of Leath Furniture. 3 Modernage stores are in Miami.

Leath furniture is closing all the stores in Florida and Wisconsin, citing tough competition. The sad story here is there are about 200 employees working for Modernage in Florida who will lose their jobs. The "going out of business" announcement is posted on a huge banner truck for roadside advertisements.

Out of Business

Monday, May 7, 2007

Grove Massage

The Grove of Miami is catered to the tourists and it knows just what to do. After a long afternoon of walking, the tired bodies really can appreciate a firm hand, elbow and forearm massage so they can be primed for a nice tropical drink and dinner afterwards.

Massage Service

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Carica Papaya

The papaya is the fruit of the tree Carica Papaya, in the genus Carica. It is native to the tropics of the Americas, and was cultivated in Mexico several centuries before the flourishment of the Mesoamerican classic cultures. The original name of the fruit in Nahuatl was chichihualtzapotl, that means "wet-nurse fruit", and it was closely related to fertility concepts. The reason being that when the papaya is plucked from the tree, a thick pure white sap profusely oozes from the stem that exactly resembles milk.

Nowadays, the papaya is also known as fruta bomba, lechosa (Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic), mamão, papaw (Sri Lankan English), Papol Guslabu (Tree melon in Sinhalese ), pawpaw or tree melon.

Papaya grows easily in Miami. Its fruits can be eaten green in salad (yummy) & here or ripened as fresh fruit (yucky!)

Green Papaya

Saturday, May 5, 2007

French Bistro

Le Bouchon Du Grove is a good place for cafe and croissants in the morning. This French owned bistro looks like it's been lifted from the Left Bank and transplanted here in the Grove. The mussels are delicious and English is spoken with French accent here.

Bistro Le Bouchon

Friday, May 4, 2007

Mystic Grove

Coconut Grove, originally spelled Cocoanut Grove, is a neighborhood located in the City of Miami. Once an independent city, Coconut Grove was annexed by the city of Miami in 1925. World-renowned for its annual art festivals such as the King Mango Strut and the Goombay Festival in June, the Grove is known as Miami's Food Court where open air cafes are quite popular. Local residents and tourists populate this area year round and all kinds of business thrive.

Here is a US $25 per 15 - 25 minute fortune reading by a fairy psychic. Judging from the cars parked "pele mele" in the streets, the patrons can certainly afford any price.


Thursday, May 3, 2007

Jazz Musician Tim

I can't believe this is the second funeral service that I had to attend within less than a week. The last one was just last Friday, April 27th. This time, a beloved and talented local jazz musician passed unexpectedly and it was decided that all his loved ones, students and friends get together to celebrate his beautiful life. This is the band that he performed with for many years at this restaurant in Coconut Grove, an after dark soul of Miami. The young audience in the front rows were his students.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Popular Bakery

Here is a very popular bakery in South Miami. There is always a long line of customers inside to buy the sweet treats. The clientele is mainly Cubans and the treats are very delicious. It's a Cuban bakery with a very French name of "Le Moulin Rouge." Their Tiramisu is why I come to wait in line.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Gator City

OK. I think this is a pretty bad idea: Blog of another city but not yours! However, I want to be a sport so I am obliging. I had to drive quite a few miles to get out of Miami. I did not want to invade any other cities so I picked one that has no blog now nor will it have one anytime soon in the future, unless the gators and the pythons are given digital cameras. This is the Everglades City, gateway to the 10,000 Islands. This is NOT Miami.

Gator City