Saturday, June 30, 2007

Blocked Out!

Surprise! Surprise! I had to go to my office today for a last minute project that pops up. Look what happened: The entry is blocked. The construction crew had to deploy a couple of huge cranes for their work. The architects in the US are so talented. The two buildings you see on both sides of the photo are on tiny foot prints. The one on the right was finished not long ago, and the one on the left is its twin and is nearing completion. The office tower is fully erected and the garage building is taking its final shape. The police cruiser is there to enforce the road block. Thankfully, I was able to get in via another access street.

No Entry

Friday, June 29, 2007

Suzie's Cesar's

I was at a large dinner gathering tonight, at an expensive restaurant in an upscale neighborhood of Miami that will remain nameless. This is Suzie's salad. Suzie sat across me in a table of 8. The salad looks ugly, uninspiring, unartistic, served on a plate that is gauche, unappealing and bland. The only consolation is that the salad itself was pretty good. The rest of the food was served late, banal, unremarkable and the portion was too small. The waiters did not understand English, spilled the red wine on the lady guests and did not serve dessert until asked repeatedly. The only coffee available was American, no capuccino nor express. The room was noisy and the other parties next door were loud and uncourteous. You can be sure I'll never return to this place.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Not Lilac

Summer brings lots of flowers to Miami. Here is another species: Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia Indica.) These flowers are very attractive in white, pink, red or purple. A distant glance may mistaken this to be the lilac. Of course, it's too hot in Miami for lilac, so we must be contented with these flowers as substitute. I miss the fragrance from the lilac flowers.

Crape Myrtle

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Here are two of the many stores in one of many large clusters of merchandising stores in Miami. Sports Authority sells everything you may want about sports and Target rivals other store chains in the US such as KMart, WalMart etc... This shot was taken quite early in the morning, just after 9 o'clock when the stores start to open.

Store Chains

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Rickenbacker Causeway

Another steamy hot Miami afternoon. Here is a shot of the Rickenbacker Causeway showing the tall William M. Powell bridge connecting Miami to Virginia Key across Biscayne bay. The photo is taken from the old draw bridge that is closed to traffic, but kept as a structure from which people come to fish for pleasure and for catch. I used to sit on this drawbridge, fuming in the heat waiting for the tall sailboats to cross at their leisurely pace. So many people was so mad that they finally built the tall bridge and the drawbridge became history. This place is quite a mess now with lots of litter from careless or lazy people who come to fish.

Old Drawbridge

Monday, June 25, 2007

Beachfront Rental

Along the Rickenbacker Causeway leading to Key Biscayne, bordering Biscayne Bay of Miami is this rental business. At 1pm on Monday, there is not one customer, and the operator is sitting in the shadow to avoid the intense heat. Beach goers can rent sailboards and kayaks here. Although the beach is not really suitable for swimming, it is crowded during weekends when people come here to barbecue and be next to the ocean.

Kayak Rental

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Here is one of the grasshopper (Schistocerca Americana) that was hatched late March this year. It has grown to an adult size and this is what it looks like today. Compare this with its nymph form on my blog of April 12, 2007. This grasshopper is about 3 month old and it is looking for a male to make the next litter.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Miami VA Medical Center

The Miami Veterans Administration (VA) Medical Center has a long and colorful history. In 1942, the Commanding General of the Army Corps directed that an officer candidate school be established to maintain an Air Force Replacement Training Center with facilities for medical services. The Floridian and Nautilus Hotels were used for this purpose. The Nautilus is considered to have been the first Veterans Administration Hospital in the Greater Miami area. The facilities of the Nautilus were soon inadequate for the number of troops stationed in this area and another Air Force team was called in to inspect all hotels in South Florida. The famed Biltmore Hotel in
Coral Gables was selected and became an Army Hospital in 1946. It was renamed Pratt General Hospital in honor of one of the Army Air Force's pioneer flight surgeons.

Pratt General Hospital was deactivated in May 1947, but was taken over immediately by the Veterans Administration. The Pratt General Hospital, consisting of 450 general and surgical beds, was maintained until the completion and activation of the present Miami VA Medical Center, located at 1201 N.W. 16th Street, in May, 1968. This is a shot of it from the back side of the large complex.

Miami VA

Friday, June 22, 2007

CT Haul

On a steamy hot afternoon of 91 degree Fahrenheit (almost 33 degree Celsius) it is hard to haul a large and heavy part of a CT machine away to repair or refurbish. An over-sized truck was dispatched but the CT's sensor unit could not be lifted and fitted inside. This tow truck is plan B and it looks like the job was finally done. It was hot under the sun.

CT mover

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Watching Grass Grow

After many days of wet weather, I can see the grass growing... Sort of... This is how my backyard grass looks today. It needs to have a hair cut. The last one was a mere 10 days ago. Well, today is summer solstice, and I used that extra 1 second to shoot this picture. Perfect timing.

Grass Growing

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Western View

Here is a western view out of a 6th floor office window. The distant pink building with a construction boom on top is the Baptist Hospital of Miami. It is a huge medical complex and Baptist is taking over almost all local hospitals in Miami, one after another, turning itself into a mammoth healthcare organization in South Florida.

Office View

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Ok Rong

The mango (Mangifera Indica) originated in Southeast Asia where it has been grown for over 4,000 years. Over the years mango groves have spread to many parts of the tropical and sub-tropical world, where the climate allows the mango to grow best. Mango trees are evergreens that will grow to 60 feet tall. The mango tree will fruit 4 to 6 years after planting. Miami is the home of some of the best mangoes anywhere. Here is the Ok Rong species of Thailand. It is very sweet and very well sought after but I am not crazy about it. I like the Zill better.

Mango Season

Monday, June 18, 2007

Ready, Set...

Here it comes, ready ot not! Things are gearing up for the US Independence day celebration. The French has "Quatorze Juillet," and we have July 4th. This location is reserved for the annual sale of merchandise for July 4th (sale of fire crackers and related firework items,) Halloween (sale of pumpkins,) and Christmas (sale of XMas trees.) The tent was erected yesterday and sales will start on July 1st or even a few days earlier. US' July 4th is a national holiday. This year, unfortunately, it's on Wednesday!

Firework coming soon

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Golden Ciana

Enough talk, here's the walk: my favorite rare yellow poinciana tree in Miami. This one is at the School of Business in the main campus of UM. Every year, I must come here. This is a secluded area of the campus and one can meditate here. The small canal has all kinds of quiet activities: ducks, frogs, small fish, crabs, lizards, spiders, snails, ants etc... It's deserted on weekends. I am alone around here today. I love this tree.

My yellow tree

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Night Downpour

This is a miserable night driving in Miami due to torrential downpours off and on. I went out at 10pm to take this picture. Not a very good one but I didn't want to get into an accident by fussing with the camera. It pretty much sees what my eyes can see, not much. Not a pleasant night to go out.

Night Driving

Friday, June 15, 2007

Slippery When Wet

Another wet afternoon in Miami. Miami drivers are notoriously bad. It takes nothing to get a driver license here, and the majority of drivers are very hot headed. If you drive in Miami, be very careful and stay out of the way. When it rains, they drive even worse. Now many drive while talking on the cell phones or even while texting their intant messages. The prices you see at the gas station are for 1 gallon of regular unleaded, medium and high octane grade. Prices fluctuate daily and gas stations are required by law to prominently post the prices they charge.

Wet Roads

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Afternoon Storms

Miami is into a new cycle of afternoon thunderstorms. Here is what it looks like at 2pm today. More than likely, traffic lights get knocked down and driving around can be hazardous. At this busy intersection, the lights were out, and traffic was a mess. Some timid driver can be so scared to cross the intersections with lights out that traffic can be blocked for a while. Tomorrow will be the same, early afternoon thunderstorms is in the works. Have no fear, the blue sky comes back quite rapidly afterwards.

Traffic Lights Out

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fast Food Nation

I was scheduled to have a healthy lunch today in my office consisting of a couple of bananas and a bottle of spring water. Somehow, my car yanked me to this Burger King near my office, and I ended up having "The Angus" burger for lunch + fries and a truck load of catchup contributing to who knows how many calories. That was fast food heaven meal # 5 on the menu and I was out $ 4.99 + tax. I had it my way! Yummy!

The Angus burger

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Miami On Fire

Here is a collage of some of today's photos of the royal poincianas in Miami. There are so many it will take weeks to see them all. There used to be a yearly selection of the best tree in Miami, but I am not sure it is still being held now. The judges flew in a helicopter to view and rate the trees from the air. Today, my local tour only took about half an hour by car, and I hurried to take only about fifty photos. The yellow ones probably will peak in a week or two.

Crimson Blooms

Monday, June 11, 2007

Outdoor cafeteria

This is the good life graduate students at UM/RSMAS can have during the hard studying years in various marine sciences: enjoy lunches at the outdoor cafeteria overlooking Biscayne bay. The modern white concrete building is the Henry L. Dougherty Marine Science Center which includes the Auditorium, the Computing Center, F. G. Walton Smith commons (cafeteria, bar) among others. Faculty members' offices are to die for, some of which with secluded ocean view but only full professors with tenure need apply. This photo is taken from the RSMAS pier at Government Bear cut looking Northwest (see Sunday June 10, 2007 blog and also here.)

FG Walton Smith commons

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Prime Real Estate

This bridge connects Virginia Key to Crandon Park at the tip of which is Cape Florida. Former US President Richard Nixon owned a home there. On Virginia Key are found a cluster of marine related institutions such as the Miami Seaquarium, The University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS,) the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA,) and the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML.) The city of Miami's water treatment plant is also on this island. This photo is taken from inside the prime real estate property of UM/RSMAS. This is Bear Cut (named for the Florida bear,) a channel connecting Biscayne bay to the Atlantic ocean, which is a famous location where reference tidal measurements are made and recorded on a long term basis. The bay is on the right, and the Atlantic ocean is on the left.

Miami Bear Cut

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Miami eyesore

Located on Virginia Key, the 7,500 seat Miami Marine Stadium was built in 1963 on land donated by the Matheson family for "Water Sports". It was the first purpose built stadium for powerboat racing in the United States.

The Stadium was host for many world class powerboat events including Unlimited Hydroplane, Inboard. Outboard Performance Craft, Stock, Modified, Grand National divisions as well as other special event races. The Stadium was also the site of a number of nationally televised events including the Bill Muncey Invitational and the ESPN All American Challenge Series. The last major race in the Stadium was the 1987 Inboard Hydroplane national Championship.

The Stadium utilized a floating stage in front of the grandstand for diverse activities such as classical concerts, Rock and Roll shows and the annual Easter Sunrise Service.

Due to restrictions in use, political pressures from within the City of Miami, and the lack of proper promotion the Stadium saw a gradual decline in events. At the same time the City leased much of the Stadium grounds to numerous ventures including the Miami Rowing Club, and various marinas and restaurants. This created an atmosphere not conducive to the original intent of the Stadium, namely powerboat racing. Numerous proposals were floated before the Miami City Commission throughout the 1980s to no avail. One drawback was the restriction the Matheson family placed upon the Stadium when the land was donated for its construction. By the early 1990s powerboat racing in the Stadium was in reality only a memory.

In 1992 Hurricane Andrew struck the Miami/Dade County area. Engineers for the City condemned the structure. Other independent engineers declared the structure sound although needing refurbishing. Since that time the Stadium has been allowed to sit with no attempt at maintenance. Vandalism has been great at the Stadium since the hurricane.

Source: Jeff G Unpublished manuscript

The stadium is a breeding ground now for many of Miami's graffiti artists. Almost every inch of the inner walls of the stadium display everything from amateur to expert aspiring artists. This photo shows the causeway side of the stadium where graffiti can be seen to cover its entire roof. Trash and decay are apparent everywhere surrounding its ground.

History of the stadium:

1963 - Ralph Munroe Marine Stadium is opened, named for the one of the earliest white settlers on Biscayne Bay. It costs $2 million. A speed boat racer, James Tapp, is killed on opening day.
1968 - Stadium is officially named a fallout shelter in case of nuclear attack.
1971 - Mitch Miller of Sing Along with Mitch fame performs at the stadium. The cheap seats cost $1.
1972 - President Richard Nixon walks onto the stage and singer Sammy Davis Jr. hugs him before a crowd of more than 6,000.
1991 - Phil Donahue does a show from the stadium. His featured guest: New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.
1992 - On September 18th, county building authorities order the stadium evacuated immediately because it is unsafe.
2002: Miami Mayor Manny Diaz promises to refurbish the Marine Stadium.
2007 - City of Miami closes marine stadium cove to all motorized marine traffic due to persistent complaints.

Lost Landmarks

Miami Marine Stadium

Friday, June 8, 2007

Nameless Blooms

After a long drought, the rain came. Miami's vegetation is catching up and grows like there is no tomorrow. The grass is growing fast and mosquitoes abound. Here is an orchid hung outdoor and left to fend for itself. These two long stalks of blooms are in their third month. This orchid must love the drought because it is having an outstanding blooming year. I lost the name tag and don't even know what is its genus.

No name orchid

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Crimson city

This is a time that living is beautiful in Miami (although it is starting to get to be on the hot and hotter side.) Starting from now and for at least a few weeks, anywhere you drive in Miami (well, almost anywhere,) all you have to do is look up to see something like this: beautiful royal poinciana blooms. They come in all shades of orange to red with occasional yellow ones. Come back here to see some yellow ones soon.

Red blooms everywhere

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Biscayne Bay

This is a view of Biscayne Bay, along the main causeway to Key Biscayne. Across the water is a crowded boat marina. This is one place in Miami where tourists hire boats to go deep sea fishing. The boats return in mid afternoon and fresh caught are sold here. Pelicans and sea gulls know the routine, especially on weekends for free meals. They like to perch on the wooden piers with steel caps. The Atlantic ocean and the Gulf Stream are behind, on the other side of Key Biscayne. A photo of this same location can be seen on Google Earth, numbered "Panoramio Miami63_1."

Biscayne Bay

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Marine Lab

Today I went back to the marine complex of the University of Miami which is on the island of Key Biscayne, and about 12 km from the main campus. Its name is RSMAS and this is where I went to graduate school. The double door on the left (Walton Smith Commons) opens to our beautiful restaurant for lunch (for faculty, students and everyone else who may come to visit or work in this campus.) In the 60's this campus was simply known as the "Marine Lab." It has grown substantially over the years and has now became one of the leading oceanography institutes of the US. The high point was for us to have long lunches on the terrace overlooking the blue ocean waters, enjoying the blue sky and white clouds and watching sea birds congregating. I will occasionally return here to blog more photos.


Monday, June 4, 2007

2 Cent Stamps

Here is a look inside a modern US post office in Miami. This one is larger than most because it is new. There is plenty of room and the lines are much shorter than at other post offices. This one has a separate counter as seen here to sell special items just for stamp collectors. People who only need stamps can buy them at this counter so they don't have to wait in line at the other counter. Needless to say, this is my favorite place to come for stamps. Today, I had to get US $ .02 stamps because of the new rate increase of two cents for first class mail. Thank goodness for "no lines."

2 cent stamps

Sunday, June 3, 2007

After the Storm

After a brief time of stormy weather from baby tropical storm Barry, the sun has returned with a vengeance, and it was HOT in Miami today. Here is the traffic stuck at a railroad crossing on a major throughfare. This gives you a chance to see what a Florida license plate looks like. The one from the car in front has the picture of an orange, which is the official fruit of Florida. My car's license plate has that of an ibis, in support of the University of Miami's football team.

Railroad Crossing

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Here We Go

Living in paradise (Miami) has its price tag. Today is the second day of the hurricane season, and already the second named storm is lurking: Barry. Storms are named alternately using male and female names, alphabetically, starting from A, of course. Hopefully, Barry will bring a good dose of rain to parched Florida. These storms are quite large and Miami is seeing the outskirt of Barry. It's ugly and raining outside. Here is a photo of the TV screen from the early morning weather report on CNN. Barry is the white glob in the ocean west of the coast of Florida and its rain bands are already inland.


Friday, June 1, 2007

Crummy Rainy Day

The theme of the month is "A view from my bedroom" so here it is. On a crummy rainy, gray, nothing to brag about morning. This is what I see looking out of one of the windows of my bedroom. In the middle is a huge longan tree (Longana Euphoria.) This year, probably due to the drought, it bears only a few fruits too small to be seen here. Normally at this time, you would have seen it loaded with fruits. On both sides we see the red color from some Jatropha Integerrima flowering plants. They flower all year round.

Front Yard