Monday, August 31, 2009

The Selfish Gene

This is my Jacaranda flowering tree, one that usually flowers spectacularly and covered with purple blooms doing so. 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. So you wonder: is that all there is? What happens when the flowers are all gone? These oddly shaped seed pods are proof that its gene has been programmed well for its survival.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


This year, we had a bumper crop in longans... This tree, however, did not behave at all. It was covered with fruits that grew as large as walnuts, but have no taste whatsoever. Of course, the entire tree was ignored and the fruits just fall to the ground. Even birds and squirrels gave it a thumb down. Here is a shot of the last of its fruits that are still on the tree today. Better luck next time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Through a Glass Confusely

I tried to take a shot of this person inside a Kentucky Fried Chicken store in Miami. The windows are all glasses and it's hard to tell what's real and what's only a reflection. But this is Miami, and the sky is blue and the clouds are white unless there is a thunder storm rolling by.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Only in America

In the US of America, with money, you can practically rent anything your heart desires. How about a recreation vehicle (RV?) I wonder where the air conditioning unit and the satellite disc are? It's unthinkable that these vehicles would not have them.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fender Bender

The traffic was tied up due to this accident. There may be some injury this time because they summoned the service of a stretcher. The now ubiquitous sign of a slow economy in Miami is seen in the For Lease sign in front of the building on the right.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Master Stroke

I was invited to preview a painting by a talented master artist (in my humble opinion that is) friend of mine in the making of a new creation so here is Victor hard at work. I'll show you this painting when it's done in a few days. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


America (the United States of America, that is) is a very religious country. In Miami, you can find churches almost anywhere you go. There are so many different denominations and they all carry different names. I tried to learn about their differences and similarities, but gave up. In this Southwest residential area is this well hidden church, the St. Thomas the Apostle. It is a Roman Catholic Church and this must be a very well heeled one since it is located on twenty-two acres of prime real estate (even in this economic downturn) to include the church, the parish school, the rector and lush tropical meditation gardens. You are looking at a secluded corner of the gardens, a very much less traveled area of Miami.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Florida Turnpike

I rarely take the Florida turnpike which is a toll highway, meaning you have to pay to drive on it. Turnpike has few interchanges to other main highway arteries. In Miami, there are only a few exits and here is one at Bird road. On the left, you can see the on ramp feeding the Southbound lanes. There are only a few more exits before the Tunrpike ends at Homestead.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

This is an American Chevrolet automobile dealer. As you may know, the American car industry is in turmoil. The government recently antied up US $2 Billion for a program they call "Cash for Clunkers" that gives owners of a BIG GAS GUZZLER like a monster truck up to US $ 4,500 to trade in for a smaller and more fuel efficient car. That money ran out in a flash and the program ends tomorrow, Monday August 24, 2009. Ironically, so far, the gaz guzzler exchange program users heavily tilt toward getting rid of the clunkers and get a FOREIGN car, like a Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Huyndai etc... That definitely does not help the American automobile industry, don't you think? Look at this big clunker in this photo, the US $15,000 on the wind shield is not the price of the car, that's the discount! I wonder who would still buy SUVs and big trucks in this economy.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Perfect Fit

The nerve of the artist/designer/sculptor of these op-art chairs in this luxuruous hotel. How can they be sure these are comfortable and fit the infinite variety of shape and form of the human being's behinds that these are intended for?

Me? I tried, and both fit me perfectly to a T. A+.

Friday, August 21, 2009


For some reason no one knows, more people get rushed to hospitals' emergency rooms during weekends. I was told that Fridays are notoriously bad and emergency rooms are often full of sick patients. This is a shot of the hall way inside South Miami's emergency triage area where stretcher beds line the wall and quite distressed patients awaiting space in the rooms to free up. The two big fellows in green are either nurse or orderly.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Arctic Launch

My artist friend in Miami asked me to preview a painting he is doing for me, and here he is coating the sketch of his painting before actually paint it. I am very happy that he is dropping the other paintings to get to mine first. I can't wait to see this painting when it's finished. If you are wondering why I call this blog "Arctic Launch," you got to see the sketch up close. At the rate he charges for his wonderful paintings (and I love the way he uses colors,) I guess I will have to take him to lunch at all the steak joints in Miami.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


It's 91 degree Fahrenheit and feels like a hundred and two under the sizzling Miami sun inside Miami's Tropical Fairchild gardens... and the flora loves it. Too hot for human beings.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Regional Hospital

Just South of Bird Road and next to the Florida Turnpike is this small hospital: Kendall Regional Medical Center. It is one of the few remaining small hospitals in Miami that has not been swallowed by larger giant health care organizations.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sound Asleep

This little boy is in dream land under the hot sun of Miami. I believe this tourist group is from Paris, France. Miami is definitely too hot for these Parisians.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


What do you get crossing Columbia and French? Crepe in South Miami! That's what you get. Meaning? The owners of this restaurant are from Columbia and they love French cooking. This restaurant is next to the cigar shop of yesterday's blog, which is at the corner of Sunset Drive and US1.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I hate the smell of cigars and rather die than to hang around its odor. But some men AND women swear by these vice. In Miami, so close to Cuba, the cigar tradition is thick, so you can find cigar stores here quite easily. Here is one in the heart of South Miami downtown, the Vilar Cigar shop. Doing this, I learned that cigar smoking is a culture in itself, and in order to appear Cary Grant-like, you must know how to cut a cigar, light it and finally, smoke it. Yuk!

The length and diameter of the cigar is related to the intensity of the cigar. Ah so! Do you want your cigar long and thin? Or do you prefer it small and stubby? Choice of a brand is also abundant: Churchill, Corona, Pyramid, Robusto, Torpedo, Panatelas, Culebras, Diademas, Perfecto etc...

Not for me!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Easy Flowers

If you like orchids, Miami is the place for you to be. Orchids are so easy to grow and to flower here. This is a beautiful and exotic Brassia hybrid. I think it is the famed Eternal Wind 'Summer Dream' that earned the CCM/AOS (Certificate of Cultural Merit/American Orchid Society) award.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


After a US $ 1B (Billion) renovation, this is what the Fontainebleau hotel looks like today. Their ad has this to say: "Re-emerging from the glamour of its grand opening in 1954, the recently revamped Fontainebleau represents the next generation of Miami Beach iconicity, infused with the sexy, ultramodern spirit of the eccentric original." One thing I can attest to: it's marble everywhere!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Peeping Tom

Back to the beach on a week day. It's full of tourists. Where do they come from? Here is an indiscreet person, taking refuge from the Miami hot sun in a private tent a la "harem." It has a curtain in the front, but the back is wide open to peeping Toms. Nice tattoo!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Jazzy Fish

Miami is wide open to the big and blue Atlantic ocean. You'd think we can get all the fish we want for cheap... but we don't. Look at the price of these fish on the menu. Grant you, there is Jazz music Tuesday nights here at the Town Kitchen & Bar in trendy South Miami, but it's a bit pricey, I think. Now one can understand why there are so many boats around.

Monday, August 10, 2009

La Dolce Vita

This is not the Riviera in Italy, but a look from the Scarpetta Italian restaurant of the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach. It is indeed a nice life scene here, and looking at it, you wouldn't know that there is a recession raging outside in the streets. But have no fear. There is plenty of $ here. Valet parking is about US $25 and a Sunday brunch is about $50 per head not counting tips and tax. I bet you most of the $ flowing through here is from off shore when things cost less and less here when compared to other international currencies. The beautiful palms are overlooking the blue Atlantic ocean that lies beyond Collins Avenue on this glitzy island.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dirty Look

Don't even think of pressing that button, buster!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Dream On

The big prize is used as a bait for the weekend, and here it is: US $161 Million, no less. It is said that getting hit by lightning is more likely than winning the lottery jackpot, so you go figure it out. This is on US1 across from the Home Depot store near the Falls shopping center in South Miami.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Allen Hall

In a less flashy side of the main campus, meaning no sky high designer palm trees, of the University of Miami is the Allen Hall that houses the Division of Continuing and International Education. Here is its main entrance.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Miami is definitely seeing some of what we call the government "stimulus" money to keep people at work and keep the economy alive, if barely... The first chunk of the money is earmarked for infrastructure so roads, highways are being worked on. Orange construction cones are the signs of the work in progress.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dying Art

The University of Miami does not only have new modern buildings. This is its old, old, old School of Art. This building probably dates back to the 50's and I heard that it is condemned to be demolished and replaced by a newer structure. I wonder what that will be. Even in this horrible economy, UM is poised for more expansion and I think this building will be gone sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Nursing School

If you are well heeled and do not have enough off springs to share your fortune, you can get your name on a building at the University of Miami for a few Million US bucks. Here is the center for Nursing and Health Studies in UM's main campus in Coral Gables. This school is very welcome because there is an acute short supply of nurses to take care of the aging population in the US. We love our nurses.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Big Tow

You definitely do not want a ride on this monster towing truck! It is so big I wonder how it can be driven around town. This comes in handy to rescue disabled big bus or trucks. When a large bus is hoisted on the platform of this towing truck, the pair looks like the US shuttle craft piggy back riding on a jumbo Boeing 747. It looks ridiculous.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Boating City

This is a typical street scene of Miami on weekends. You can be sure you will spot big boats going/returning from fishing trips. This is Kendall Drive, East bound.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Saturday Night Live

Saturday night in Miami's famed South Beach. It's hot, but people still want to sit outside in this weather and sweat. Actually, this spot is beach front and we are supposed to have very nice nightly see breeze, but you have to be higher up to get the air current. Down below at this level, I guess the heavy traffic and parked cars blocks the air flow... but that does not prevent crowds to gather and have fun.