Thursday, April 30, 2009

Big Green Thing

This is a HUGE flatbed rental truck for transporting special large construction material. It's big and as long as a train wagon. I am not sure what it was doing inside this parking lot, but the driver skillfully negotiated his way out by running over the yellow curb sides and getting out without hitting anything. I always have a lot of respect for these drivers who are a breed apart, but always stay clear and out of their way.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

All Heart K-9

People with disabilities might have trouble reaching a light switch, picking up a dropped pencil or keys or opening a door. Imagine having a dog that could do all of that and much more. Service Dogs, Skilled Companion Dogs and Hearing Dogs are trained to work with adults or children with disability. These wonderful dogs are bred to be calm, reliable and affectionate, and reduces the reliance on other people to complete simple daily tasks; and serve as a social bridge to people who are not used to relating with a person with disabilities.

Service Dog can pull their partner in a manual wheelchair, push buttons for elevators or automatic doors, and even assist with business transactions by transferring money, receipts, and packages. Service Dog not only assists with physical tasks, but also provides social support.

Guide or Seeing Eye dogs are trained to provide help and companionship to persons with vision impairment. They can read traffic lights to help their companions to cross streets safely and avoid obstacles.

Hearing Dogs are specially bred Labrador and Golden Retrievers who alert partners to key sounds by making physical contact such as nudging the leg or arm. Among the many sounds Hearing Dogs are trained to recognize and respond to are the sound of a doorbell, alarm clock, someone calling a name or a smoke alarm.

Here is one such special dog. How adorable, All Heart and Ready to Serve!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Skin Cancer

Miami is a huge metropolitan. This place is at 163rd street in the North East section of Miami. It is a good 25 miles from South Miami. Crossing Biscayne Boulevard (US-1) and you'll be in North Miami Beach. Only a couple more miles straight ahead and you'll end up on the beach to get sun tanned. Good for vitamin D if you are not too old to properly react to the sun other than just get a skin cancer. Did you know that when sunlight touches your bare skin, your body reacts by manufacturing vitamin D?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Coconut Grove Temple

While getting lost in the Grove, I came across this temple. I understand one can come dine here, but I don't think I will. The Hare Krishna mantra was strong in the 60's and its movement appeared in a number of famous songs, notably those sung by The Beatles, with the lyrics of John Lennon ('Across The Universe' in 1969,) and after the break up those of George Harrison and Ringo Starr and has been at the number-one spot in the UK singles charts on more than one occasion within songs such as My Sweet Lord. There is also a reference to singing kirtan of Hare Krishna mantra in I Am The Walrus (Penguins singing Hare Krishna). Ringo's song containing the words "Hare Krishna!" was written with the help of George. Later Paul McCartney produced a single with a picture of Krishna riding on a swan on the cover, although there wasn't any chanting of Krishna's names inside.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bay Day

Today is Miami Bike Day in Coconut Grove. Most of the main streets is closed to automobile traffic and open only to bicycles, skateboarders, rollerbladers, walkers, etc. You can guess it: Traffic is a big mess! The whole Grove is going green and going orange as orange is the theme of the event which is the color of the Netherlands, celebrating their Queen Beatrix' birthday on April 30th. To live green, the bicycles rule.

I was joining the annual Bay Day here so I had to sneak my way through the barricades to get to the bay to sail in the blue Biscayne bay and serve hamburgers to the kids. What a great day we had and the inner city kids had a ball doing kayaking, sailing, music and art at the annual Shake-A-Leg sponsorship. Look ip up, Google "Shake A Leg."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Great Fortune

Prosperity Buddha is believed to be one of the most popular deities for those who want to have a constant flow of auspicious news and wealth. He is constantly traveling, carrying a sack filled with money for wealth, wu lous for health, and an auspicious talisman to bless the business or abode. This Buddha is a very popular Feng Shui enhancer used by authentic Feng Shui Masters in Asia (this intensely interesting subject is worthy of an entire blog some day.) This one in a restaurant today carries the magic gourd said to contain the elixir of immortality and a peach bowl in his left hand signifying longevity and good fortune. Periodic worship for reinforcement is done here with incense burning and offerings of food. Just to be sure, the business owners use real greenbacks sticking on his good luck belly. In other words, the Works! With what we paid for lunch, that sure worked for the owner.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Cotton was cultivated by the inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilization by the 5th millennium BC - 4th millennium BC. Gossypium is a genus of 39-40 species of shrubs in the mallow family, Malvaceae, native to the tropical and subtropical regions. The cotton plants, sources of commercial cotton fabric, are included in this genus. Prominent types of commercially grown cotton are Egyptian, Sea Island, Asiatic, American Pima (Gossypium barbadense) and Upland (Gossypium hirsutum.) The US grow Upland (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia,) and American Pima (Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas) cotton. Florida is not known as a state that grows cotton commercially although cotton can certainly grow here. The reason being that the soil is not adequate for producing good cotton crop.

This photo taken today shows several cotton plants right here in Miami that illustrate the full cycle of a typical cotton plant. From seed planting, to the appearance of "pinhead squares," the tiny wrinkling young bracteal leaves that prelude the beautiful yellow flowers (seen in insert) to the bolls (fruits) that pop open revealing locks of white cotton embedded with black cotton seeds, the process takes about 6 months. Walking back through the calendar, these plants must have been planted around October-November of 2008. These plants are grown as a curiosity so the cotton will not be picked, I am sure. Historically, picking cotton is extremely hard labor that punishes the laborers to the extreme so cotton-picking machines were invented, thank goodness!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Heavenly Scent

Have you ever smelled a jasmine flower? If not, you have not lived!

The original habitat of jasmine, in the family of Oleaceae is considered to be Kashmir, but these plants are widely cultivated in many other countries. India alone possesses about 42 species of jasmine, marked by various olfactory characteristics. The Chinese words for the two types of jasmine indicate their origins: Jasminum officinale was known as ye-hsi-ming, from the Arabic yasmin, came from Persia, while Jasminum sambac was moli, from the Sanskrit word mallika. Now, if you have seen my other blog, you would have known where the name Malika comes from. Jasmine, of course!

Jasmines like hot and humid conditions during the day and cool temperatures at night, which they do not often have here in Miami, but they are doing wonderfully nonetheless. Among the many species of jasmine, my most favorite is Jasminum sambac which is a beautifully fragrant everbloomer vine. Called "pikake" in Hawaii, Jasminum sambac is the plant used to flavor the jasmine tea and making perfumes. The Jasminum sambac has many exotic and princely species names such as "Grand Duke of Tuscany "Belle of India,"Mysore Mulli," "Arabian Nights," "Malichat." But I have the "Maid of Orleans" whose scent is "out of this world," literally.

Jasmine is commercially cultivated for perfume making in Ghazimpur, India and Grasse, France which produces the most expensive jasmine. While it is very difficult to make jasmine perfume, it is easier to make jasmine tea. A layer of black tea, a layer of jasmine flowers and so on... But my most wonderful memory when a toddler of the scent of this flower is in a special jello served with a tint of brown liquid sugar. So Proustian like!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Life and Death

As this Florida white ibis, one of the birds in the colony shown yesterday, is preparing for a new season of breeding and nesting, one can't help to contrast their life cycle with that of the Florida pines, many of which can't escape dying. This ibis looks small perched high up this dead pine tree, but it was beautiful when taking off, spreading its black-tipped wide wing span. That action was too fast for my poor photographic skill so I am sorry I can't show it here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Eudocimus albus

The white ibis is about two feet tall and has a wingspan of about three feet. It is entirely white except for its black-edged wings that can be seen more easily when it is in flight. It has a long, down-curved reddish-orange bill and a reddish-orange face. Its legs are long and gray, except for during breeding season when they turn scarlet-orange. Their mating season is about now until August so these birds begin to show pinkish legs, getting ready to making whoopee.

The white ibis wades in the water sweepings its heads from side-to-side in search of food. It uses its long, curved bill to probe in the mud for crabs and crayfish. It swallows its prey whole. It also forages for food on land and it may also eat insects, frogs, snails, marine worms, snakes and small fish. These are far away from our Everglades so they are making a living in this grass field, very busy after a brief morning shower that seemed to bring new foodstuff.

Monday, April 20, 2009


Fuegovivo is a Brazilian steakhouse, a recent addition to the Miami restaurant scene. This very nice stand alone building is on Bird Road just West of the Palmetto Expressway. It has housed numerous restaurants in the past. They all seem to come and go quite rapidly. It is well known that restaurant business in Miami is pretty tough. This is not cheap for lunch, but if you come with an empty stomach, you can eat for a week. As long as a token on your table shows its Green face, they keep coming to stuff you with all kind of red meat, all delicious, I must say. To give up, turn your token to Red and they will stop coming. Of course, you can renew your cycles to get your money's worth but there's just so much you can stuff yourself! Only in America!

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Beautiful weekend at the heart of the University of Miami main campus in Coral Gables... Sorry, tog, this is my alma mater so I got to come back to it once in a while. This is lake Osceola where we burn the annual boat to scare off our homecoming football adversary. Go Canes! The pointed needle structure in the middle carries the diving boards of the swimming pool at the student union (Whitten university) center.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Southwest Miami

A gorgeous early Saturday morning in Miami. This is outside the Signature Gardens, at SW 122 Avenue and 127th Street.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Three on Three

Students getting a workout at the outdoor basketball court. It's noon and the sun is hot, summer is coming.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Aut disce aut discede

Students concentrating on the meaning of life in college.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pink Cadillac

In the US, cosmetics is big business. One such business is Mary Kay, well known for its famous "Pink Cadillac." And here it is... although the pink color is quite faint and not "flamingo pink" as I thought it would be.

One of the most asked about, and most misunderstood, features of Mary Kay is its car program. Do Mary Kay consultants (salespersons) actually win free cars? How much Mary Kay cosmetics do you have to sell to get a Pink Cadillac?

Since the beginning of the company’s car program in 1969, Mary Kay claims that over 100,000 consultants have earned the use of a Mary Kay career car or taken the optional cash compensation.

To qualify for the car at the “Grand Achiever” level, a consultant must build their team to 12 members and have a minimum “production” of $18,000 within 4 months. Once a consultant “wins” their car, they do not own it, nor do they get to keep it unless they and their team maintain a specified level of production for every month that follows. Mary Kay actually calls the arrangement a “Co-op Lease”. Depending on the net production of the sale team, it will either own the full lease payment, a portion of it, or nothing. The lease agreement lasts for 24 months. If the team fails to meet minimum production requirements for several months, it will lose the car. I'll apply for a job with them if they offer this car in pink.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Zill! Need I say more? This view gives me the joy to wait for June when the mangoes are to die for. Just sit tight and wait for nature to do its job. Do not hyperventilate or hypersalivate. That does not help!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kid Brother

Now that the wall is almost completed on the other side, work has begun on the opposite side of this segment of SR-878. This wall is more modest than its bigger brother and it is not as tall. I wonder who made these decisions, how tall they want the walls to be, and for what purpose. In retrospective and by looking at this photo, I now realize that Miami's blue sky was not there this morning. The cold fronts are now replaced by the soon to be regular afternoon thunder storms as surely as June 1st will bring our beloved hurricanes.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Spring is Here

Easter Sunday is a day in the US when children can go egg hunt. It is a game during which decorated eggs, real hard-boiled ones or artificial ones filled with, or made of chocolate candies, of various sizes, are hidden for children to find, both indoors and outdoors. The egg was a symbol of the rebirth of the earth in Pagan celebrations of spring and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the rebirth. Today is a rare day that the parking lot of the supermarket Publix is empty because the food store is closed for Easter. The low profile 5-story building is the recently opened Court Yard by Marriott. To the right of it is the much older Marriott hotel. Traffic is very light around town. Lovely! I put a hard boiled egg in the parking lot for the birds. I hope they will find it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

We Come in Peace

The newest office building in Dadeland is just about getting to completion, and here is a shot of it today. This TownCenter One building in this pose eerily reminds me of Arthur C. Clarke's TMA-1 on the moon (Tycho Magnetic Anomaly-1 in case you do not know.) When exposed to the sun light after excavation, TMA-1 shrieked when it sent a long radio signal to one of the five Jupiter and Io's Lagrangian points. That prompted a manned mission to Jupiter and the story of Hal 9000. Listen to Hal 9000. Click on the "Play" button below. The last 3 minutes of this audio is related to my old video blog here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lunch Time

A great Thank God it's Friday in the Grove, at lunch time. This is a Good Friday too. Obviously, it's not Friday the Thirteenth so it must be good. For some of us who may not know, myself included, this Christian religious week begins on Palm Sunday of last week, and ends on this Sunday, April 12, which is Easter Sunday. Between these two Sundays, yesterday was the Holy Thursday, and Good Friday is today.

I do not particularly like Fridays because they bring back bad memories of my student days' Friday lunch in Paris' "restau U" when we only had the choice of either stinking fish or a whole large animal brain (yes, both hemispheres) for lunch. Eat it or go hungry the whole day.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Youth Fair

The annual Miami Yout Fair is in full swing. Today is one of the busiest days because tomorrow is Good Friday and the kids have no school. The fairground is packed and they are raking in money for admission (US $9,) rides ($25,) and food (how much can you eat?)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cold Lunch

I went to Scotty's Landing today despite the reservations about this restaurant that I had before. The food is true to be only so so, and the fries? I've seen better, much better. But you can't beat the view though. It's great on a day like this, but it's colllddd... We tried to sit at the only row with some sun which didn't help because there we got the brunt of the freezing see breeze that constantly blew through. The prices matched the food quality, so you can't complain too much. This is a very popular place in Coconut Grove.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


From this charming little house gone, to this new rebirth: Welcome!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Vote for Food

The students of this college campus are coerced to vote for their Student Government's President and Vice President. Vote and you will be given a free lunch: hamburger or hot dog, chip and a drink. Laptops are set up to collect ballots at one end and students are given tickets to proceed to the cook out table. True democracy at work. The Student Government is supposed to advocate for the rights of students for issues such as tuition cost, free speech and other constitutional issues. This event was very popular today.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Fruits A'Coming

This longan tree has begun its transformation from this to flowers to tiny and healthy starter fruits that will mature during June-July this year. Come back here to see this tree with its full load of fruits. It will be spectacular.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

NorthWest of Downtown

A view of downtown Miami from the University of Miami Jackson Hospital complex. In view are North-South I-95, exchanging with Dolphin Expressway (836) that becomes 395 Eastward to Miami Beach via the McArthur Causeway. This is quite a busy highway interchange and many commuters must face it everyday to get to and from work.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Varsity Boys

Water Polo is a very physically demanding water sport. Each team has 6 field players and one goalkeeper. They play in a swimming pool between 20 x 10 or 30 x 20 meters in size and at least 1.8 meter deep. Today's tournament is in about 2 and a half meter deep end of an olympic size swimming pool which is 25 meter in length. There are four quarters of 7 minutes each because this is a US High School Varsity tournament. This team (in white swimming caps) is awaiting their turn to enter the water for the next game on the schedule. In real time, each quarter lasts about 12 minutes and at the end of the game, each player (save the goalkeeper) would have swam about 3 kilometers or more. Because they cannot stand, the players have to constantly swim or tread water during the active parts of the game. I can probably last 30 seconds.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

QuattroPorte ma non GranTurismo

It's depressing to sit behind this kind of money! So let's rant a little bit! This car in front of me here is no other than my dream car, the Maserati, but not quite this one though, which is the Maserati QuattroPorte. You get 400HP after shelling out a minimum of US $115K. If you have the need to have a massage while driving this car, it'll be US $125K for the Executive GT variance. This car only comes in automatic drive! Phooey!

Judging from the license plate, the owner is probably part of (or owns) the Miami Dolphins football team, which explains that in the US, sport pays and pays big! I'd rather drive my dream car, the Maserati GranTurismo which is much more sporty and bellissimo. Yeah right, in my next life, if I come back as a famous football player like OJ Simpson. If you don't know what I am talking about, Just Google "oj simpson."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Oncidium sphacelatum

Yellow is my favorite color. I even had a yellow car. My Dancing Lady orchid (Oncidium sphacelatum) is in bloom right now, and their beautiful little skirts are yellow. You may be interested to know that the way these ladies dance in the breeze, they appear just like a swarm of bees. Of course, no gentlemen bees would miss the occasion and they won't miss diving in to attempt to mate. April's fool! That's one way the Oncidium species gets pollinated.