Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The beautiful house inside this gate has a whimsical name that dates to a quieter time: The Barnacle, built in 1891, offers a glimpse of Old Florida during The Era of the Bay. Situated on the shore of Biscayne Bay, this was the home of Ralph Middleton Munroe, one of Coconut Grove´s most charming and influential pioneers. Commodore Munroe's principal passion was designing yachts. In his lifetime, he drew plans for 56 different boats.
If you need a refuge from the hustle and bustle of your bruising modern life, you can find it here in the heart of Miami’s Coconut Grove.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Brickell Avenue is one alternate way you can use to get to downtown Miami from US-1 heading North, avoiding I-95. Its skyline changes rapidly as contruction is always ongoing. This is a shot taken today on Brickell looking South. I am sure it will be different in 6 months.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Miami is full of expensive cars. Many have "vanity" license plates some of which promote a cause dear to the cars owners' hearts. This bimmer looks brand new, and it has the "End Breast Cancer" special plate. The license # is blurred because I don't want to be blamed if this car's owner ever sees this blog. The yellow sticker in the upper right is proof we paid the yearly automobile registration fee. The more expensive the car, the higher the license fee. Vanity plates cost about US $30 extra. The yearly license expires on the owner's birth month. This one is good until the end of March 2009. Me? I'm safe until August next year!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Pearl Dragon Fruit, a.k.a. Pitaya or Pitahaya, Strawberry Pear... is found in many places in Miami. Its exact origin is unknown, but is likely from Southern Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. It is cultivated around the world in tropical regions. The fruits are round, often red colored with prominent scales. The thin rind encloses the large mass of refreshingly sweet flavored white or red pulp and small black seeds. Some varieties are pinkish or yellow. It looks pretty, buy I don't touch this fruit.
The plant is a vining, terrestrial or epiphytic cactus, with fleshy stems reaching from a few inches up to 20ft long (in mature plants). They grow well in Miami, but I can't grow them as well because they need more direct sun than my too shady yard can provide. The fruits shown were bought and I can tell you that they command prices fit for a prince's ransom.
Do you ever wonder what's in a fruit? Each 100g serving of this Pearl Dragon Fruit contains:
Vitamin A: 25mg
Vitamin C: 8.5mg
Wouldn't you fancy that!
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The Thai eggplant, also known as Kermit eggplant, is a variety of eggplant used primarily in Thai cuisine. The most common eggplants in Thai cooking are the round white or green ones about the size of a golf ball. I don't eat these vegetables, but this is the first time the name of eggplant makes sense to me. These shape more like eggs, not the other purple kind that look more like sausages but are called eggplant!
Thai eggplants are essential ingredients in curry dishes. In red curry, they are quartered and cooked in the curry sauce where they become softer and absorb the flavor of the sauce. Yuk! Won't eat that!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
The Cloisters is a gated community of 41 Mediterranean villas on Biscayne Bay. Why 41? I don't know! Here is its gated entry on Main Highway, Coconut Grove. This looks very well gated and protected to me. From the description on its web site, this is high real estate exclusivity. Poor souls need not apply.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Here is another of the multitude strip malls dotting the scenery of Miami. This is at the intersection of Kendall Drive and SW 107th Avenue. I went inside briefly to avoid the suffocating heat outdoor and ended up buying a nice twin bed comforter for US $15. It's not an impulsive cheap purchase, I do need it, and it's cheaper than Bloomingdale's price.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
This is a casual waterfront dining in Miami: Scotty's Landing off Dinner Key in Coconut Grove viewed from the bay. This is what you need to know about this restaurant:
1. We are not responsible for well done orders, special requests or natural occurrences.
2. Shoes & Shirts are required, and please, NO Cigar or Pipe Smoking on deck
3. 18% Gratuity will be added to parties of 6 or more.
3-a. Una propina de 18% es agregada automaticamente a todas las cuentas de grupos de 6 personas o mas.
3-b. Yo ajoute yon tep de 18% otomatikman soutout resi pou gwoup de 6 ou plis.
Friday, July 18, 2008
This is the main campus of the University of Miami. I used to take courses in the McArthur engineering building that can barely be seen through the royal palm trees. I think they are overdoing it with the palm trees in this campus, don't you? The seller of these trees must have a very cosy relationship with the deciders at the University. That's my guess, but I may be wrong.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Liquid oxygen can be referred to as LOX. If you wonder how the oxygen is delivered to your hospital room, if you ever need it (and I hope you don't ever need it) here is how it is arranged at the South Miami hospital. This storage is out in full sun, and today, I was sweating while taking this photo and it felt like 100 degree Fahrenheit (that's about 38 degree Celsius for you metric people) in my cloth.
Oxygen becomes a liquid at temperatures below its boiling point of -183°C and takes on a pale blue color weighing 1.14 times the weight of water. When the temperature of liquid oxygen is greater then -118.6°C, the liquid will return back into a gas regardless of the pressure exerted on it. This is known as the critical temperature. How do they keep it in liquid form under the Florida sun?
The liquid oxygen is kept in insulated containers (called dewars and 1 Liter of liquid oxygen provides 860 Liters of gas.) These keep the oxygen in liquid form at a temperature of -170 degrees Celsius. The container consists of a lower portion where the oxygen is in a liquid state and a smaller upper portion where the liquid has evaporated creating a gas. When the unit is being used by the consumer, a flow control valve is opened to deliver oxygen gas. This creates a pressure gradient between the gas-filled upper portion of the container (called the head pressure) and the atmospheric pressure. Liquid oxygen passes through a warming coil, is converted to a gas, and is made available for delivery. When the upper portion falls below a certain pressure, liquid oxygen is drawn up from the bottom of the container to provide a constant flow. Enough physics already. Sorry!
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Coconut Grove from the bay showing the boat launch ramps in the foreground. The high rise with the green top is one of the twin towers of the ritzy Ritz-Carlton luxurious hotel in the Grove. A night there
will set you back starting US $300 + tax!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I am seeking someone for advice... The situation isn't very nice... I find myself completely at a loss... My heart and not my mind is boss... Wait a minute, that's not me talking. That's the lyrics of a Nat King Cole song. That is what this sign reminds me of. It reads my mind and tells me things!
Monday, July 14, 2008
Here are three shiny motorcycles belonging to the three uniformed police officers taking a lunch break at Burger King. I am not sure what the "Federal" markings say, but these officers seem to be very confident that no one will walk away with their helmets while they were inside. From where they sit, they do not see the parking at all. Would you want to mess with three huge and mean looking police officers? Not me, Sir no Sir!
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
On a stormy sailing day in Biscayne Bay, a good friend showed me a perspective of life in Miami that I did not know is at arm's reach. Off a tiny strip of an "island" a stone throw from Dinner Key I saw this house boat. I wonder if electricity and running water are found on this habitation. I doubt it. The three dogs did not like the intrusion and were quite vocal about their discontent. It was a stormy afternoon with little wind and sprinkling rain on and off but the bay was welcoming.
Friday, July 11, 2008
My lucky day. I went to Chuck-E-Cheese in Kendall at lunch time for a BD today and ran into a horde of toddlers there undoubtedly for a summer day field trip bash. The toddlers were everywhere, and they were being readied to board the two school buses outside to get back to their pre-school. At the sound of a whistle, they all stood up and indian filed out in an admirable way. Must be grand being toddlers.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
On a hot day like today, it was 90 degrees Fahrenheit, but felt like 98, I made a mistake to take a walk in my alma mater the University of Miami just to take a few photos. Here is one that shows the prolongation of the breeze way bisecting the library toward the student union. The magnificent royal palms obscure the view of the post office building barely seen on the right. As you can see, this is presidential election year in the US. Things will get much hotter (politically) when we get closer to November. For those of you who do not know the American political system, we have two parties: the donkey (affectionately called the ass) and the elephant, the Grand Old Party (GOP.) That's Barak Obama and John McCain this year.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
This is a typical quiet small South Miami street. The police monitors this daily to enforce the speed limit. In the foreground, you can see the sign bearing the name of John McCain who is running for US president. The general election is in November, and his opponent is Barack Obama.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
The Oncidium/Odontoglossum alliance is becoming very popular mostly due to their long lasting sprays of beautiful flowers. All combinations of Oncidium and Odontoglossum and related types have been produced through hybridizing and offer a wide range of color patterns.
The Oncidium was first described by Olof Swartz in 1800 with the orchid Oncidium Altissimum, which has become the type species. Its name is derived from the Greek word "onkos", meaning "swelling". This refers to the callus at the lower lip. The Odontoglossum, first named in 1816 by Karl Sigismund Kunth, is a genus of about 100 orchids. The scientific name is derived from the Greek words odon (tooth) and glossa (tongue), referring to the two tooth-like calluses on the base of the lip.
I used to grow both, but not too successful with most Oncidium and especially with the Odontoglossum. I am surprised to see Home Depot selling these beautiful orchids, because I know they do not grow well in Miami, at least for me.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Despite the furious urban sprawl in Miami, you can still enjoy the rural scenery only about half an hour driving South on US 1 from South Miami. Areas such as Redland and its surroundings still are home for many farming business. Here is a fruit and vegetable shipping plant where fresh Florida produce is packed and shipped daily to all locations across the US. This plant has exotic hard to find fruits at very reasonable price and I like to visit them once in a while.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Eggplant, a relative to the tomato and potato (aka aubergine = berenjena = brinjal = garden egg = egg apple = patlican = melongene = melanzane = Guinea squash) is a spongy, mild-tasting vegetable that's meaty yet low in calories. It's never eaten raw, but it can be baked, grilled, or sautéed. The best eggplants are firm and shiny with unbroken skin. Male eggplants tend to have fewer seeds, and are therefore less bitter than female eggplants. To sex (no, not to have sex with) an eggplant, look at the indentation at bottom. If it's deep and shaped like a dash, it's a female. If it's shallow and round, it's a male. Wow! I bet you didn't know that! Smaller eggplants also tend to be less bitter. Don't store them for very long if you want them fresh. Chinese eggplant resembles a purple zucchini, with its long thin shape and purple color that may be streaked with white. So this photo is obviously that of the Chinese eggplants that are packed and ready for shipping. I don't eat these at all. I am a carnivore!
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Lotus seeds or Lotus nuts are the seeds of plants in the genus Nelumbo, particularly the species Nelumbo Nucifera. The seeds are of great importance to East Asian cuisine and are used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine and in Chinese desserts. The seeds are most commonly sold in the shelled and dried form. Fresh lotus seeds are relatively uncommon in the market except in areas of lotus root and seed production, where they are sometimes sold as a raw snack
Two types of dried lotus seeds can be found commercially; brown peel and white. The former is harvested when the seed head of the lotus is ripe or nearly ripe and the latter is harvested when the seed head is still fully green, but with almost fully developed seeds, as it is seen in this photo from Tog's pond. I can't grow lotus in my yard because some night prowler creatures always come to eat all the plants, starting with their roots. White lotus seeds are de-shelled and de-membraned. The bitter tasting ( I know how bitter this is because I tried to taste it) germ of the seed is also removed at the time of harvest using a hollow needle, though some may still remain in the seed due to production oversight, and this is BAD! Brown peel lotus seeds are brown because the ripened seed has adhered to its membrane. These seeds are usually cracked in half in order to remove the germ since the seeds are hard enough to make the germs' removal by needle difficult. In Vietnam, "two-sweet" candied lotus seeds are a must have for the New Year celebration.
Friday, July 4, 2008
This is truly one of my most favorite fruits: the sugar apple. Indigenous to tropical America, sugar apples grow well in the tropics of Florida. The aggregate fruit is heart-shaped, round, ovate, or conical, from 2 to 5 inches (5.1-12.7 cm) in diameter and weighs from 4 to 24 oz (113-682 g). The fruit is composed of loosely (the lesser quality kind) or tightly (my kind of sugar apple) cohering segments containing hard shiny black seeds. The pulp of green and purplish-red sugar apples is white or creamy white, with a custard-like consistency and sweet, pleasant flavor. The fruits can ripe well after being picked still green, ma non troppo. I know just when to pick them. Double yummy!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
This is lunch time at this deep south Miami fruit and vegetable packing plant. As it is the case across the entire county, state and in fact the entire US of America, this is a thriving business of lunch trucks criss crossing every conceivable working places to provide lunch to workers. This system must have a really good networking mechanism so that these trucks know how, when and where to go during the short period of lunch time that the workers can take a break to eat. Lunch costs must have gone up because the price of gasoline is going through the roof in the US. Help!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Here is a photo to follow the trend... theme of the month of July... The city of Miami is full of "NO" signs so it's very hard for me to pick a good one. I like the silhouette of this little lonely bird, and this photo, taken from the shops across from Dadeland Mall, shows the white wall of the Nordstrom store in face (its name is not shown.) The brand new mega luxurious condos finished recently beyond the mall is seen with the red roofs.