Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pretty in Pink

Because I talked about a Mary Kay "pink Cadillac" before, I jumped to a chance for a sequel, by waving to a very nice, beautiful and o so courteous lady driving this pink SUV at the Wells Fargo bank on Kendall Drive today. She was very nice to stop and allowed me to take a snapshot of her car for this blog. So here it is...

This Mary Kay pink Cadillac is the very upscale luxury SUV Escalade Hybrid equipped with a 6.2L 403 HP V8 engine. Its sticker price starts at US $75,000 but escalades to a whopping $89,000 for the Platinum Edition for a 2011 car. I am not sure why these beautiful and delicate looking ladies of Mary Kay want to drive a 400 + horse power SUV! Especially when it 's in Pink! This very "pretty in pink" SUV looks like it's platinum to me! There you have it! Again, Mary Kay lady, thank you for stopping and not running me over when I tried to stop you.
Killer Vine

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Killer Vine

My backyard is a real jungle. I gave up fighting the growth of wild and unruly vegetation simply because I have better things to do than to wage a losing battle. But in this kind of jungle, there is beauty too. Look at this vine with beautiful heart shaped leaves. This is a real killer. It is everywhere, climbing by making tentacles used as bridges to aggressively taking over all other growth. It has almost completely covered a dwarf poinciana (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) that can barely be seen anymore. Eventually, it will suffocate this poor small tree like a blanket taking away rain water, carbon dioxide and sun light. Over the years, it has attempted to climb the coconut trees like the one you see on the left without much success, and it has since succeeded in climbing my Ylang-Ylang tree very well, reaching the height of about 20 feet. But I think my Cananga odorata is growing far faster than this vine so it will fare well. Amazingly, this vine is winning over all the very bad invading Brazilian pepper trees and has slowed their growth considerably. Yeah! Go vine!
Killer Vine

Monday, August 29, 2011

The FLU is coming!

Outside the Walgreens at the corner of Sunset Drive and SW 117th Avenue, the big sign says: "Flu Shots Here Today. We Accept Most Insurance." The seasonal influenza (flu) officially lasts from October to May in the US, peaking in January-February. However, distributors race to get the vaccines to market for obvious marketing reasons. People can now get the annual vaccine that may help them avoid getting sick with the influenza virus. Before 2010, only persons older than 65 years of age and those with health issues are encouraged to get the flu shots. Now, the recommendation expands to include everyone older than 6 years of age. Wow! That certainly has the potential to generate zillions in income for the manufacturers. However, I am not sure the general population will take the new recommendation in stride. If you are interested to know how the vaccines are made, here is a quick digest. It's complicated!

There are 106 countries that conduct year round surveillance to identify the influenza viruses being found. I would be interested to know where are the hunting grounds for these viruses. All of these nasties when found are sent to the World Health Organization (WHO) centers (US, UK, Australia, Japan and China) so that they can decide how to choose which dead or near dead viruses to use in the vaccines for a particular year. Once decided, the vaccines will have three selected viruses that they think will most likely to infect a certain geographic location and that they think the vaccines may be effective. This is a decision made by each country for itself when it decides to manufacture the vaccines for its population and for countries that cannot manufacture the vaccines. For 2011-2012, the decision of which viruses won the beauty contest was made in January of this year. The vaccines are now ready for distribution.

I am mystified because to make all the vaccines that contain dead viruses, they have to have a good supply of them, alive! Where do they come from? One thing I am not doing every year, is to get those dead guys injected into my muscle. I'd rather get the flu (I like these viruses better because they are live) and deal with it then. Don't tell my doctor I said that. He'll chew me up!
Flu Shot

Sunday, August 28, 2011

You Talkin' to Me?

This is Miami. You can tell by looking at the way people dress. I was not supposed to be here... but sadly, I am again at this fast food place. This young lady is enjoying life... listening to the music from her cell phone while her bag was trying to engage me in a conversation. I was too preoccupied to reply. My plan was to have a fabulous dinner consisting of a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and a Chateaubriand steak cooked to order specified by a recipe using a particular thick cut from the tenderloin meat. According to Larousse Gastronomique, this special dish was created by personal chef Montmireil for Vicomte François-René de Chateaubriand, the author and diplomat who served Napoleon as an ambassador and Louis XVIII as Secretary of State for two years. Unfortunately, this dish is only offered as a serving for two, as there is exactly enough meat in the center of the average fillet for two portions. My dinner date is far away... in fact too far away... so I ended up here at the local Burger King joint! How sad! You believe me, don't you?
Burger King

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Space For Rent

This location is definitely not good for business. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and here it comes. The French bistro "Crepe" has closed its doors after a little over two years. That, I believe, is the length of time after which newly opened restaurants in Miami call it quit. It's a jungle out there! In case you are wondering, this is US-1. It looks like a parking lot because there is a traffic jam upstream most likely due to some accident. I told you, Miami drivers are the worst I know.
Crepe Gone

Friday, August 26, 2011

Man On A Hot Roof

Easily predictable, invariably, when a hurricane kisses Miami's shoreline, we have one or a few miserable wet days... then magic always happens and the blue sky, white clouds and the heat return... until November when it starts to cool off. Life resumes here at the construction of this new "mansion." The man working on the new roof structure is well protected against the merciless sun today. He is fully covered to avoid sunburn... Do you know how hot it is up there? In his clothes, he must feel like 102 degree Fahrenheit! I am sure he wants some rain right now.
Life Goes On

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Irene's Skirt

At 2pm, Irene was 200 miles out in the Atlantic ocean about at the latitude of Boca Raton, north of Miami and we got to feel her outer skirt's rain band. The driving was "wet" here at the intersection of Bird Road and SW 67th Avenue. You can see the Papa's John pizzeria on the right. Irene spared us, but she is heading to the Carolinas and North Carolina is getting a hurricane warning. Fayetteville of North Carolina, I know you come visit this blog once in a while... I hope you will stay dry and warm inside when Irene will come knocking on your shore line in about 36 hours. Meanwhile, our usual blue sky will return tomorrow, hopefully.
Irene's Skirt

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baby Rainbow

A few days ago, I showed you a beautiful tree, the rainbow eucalyptus... Then I was thinking, I must have one. Look how lucky one can get. I found one. This one came up as a root sucker off a 2 year old tree and pronto, here it is. A basal shoot, root sprout, adventitious shoot, water sprout or sucker is a shoot or cane which grows from a bud at the base of a tree or shrub or from its roots. This shoot then becomes a singular plant. A plant that produces suckers is referred to as surculose. I really did not know that Eucalyptus deglupta is surculose but I am glad it is.

I hope I can grow this to maturity and have some good colors among the very boring all green all year round in Miami when you look around. I believe it will take at least two years before the bark of this tree begins to shed.
Baby Rainbow

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tropical Fruit Trees Nursery

OK. False alarm! We will live another day to see another hurricane hitting us, but not Irene. She still may cause serious damage up North, but not in Miami or even in Florida.

Now, let's turn our attention to something else that's big, a jack fruit I saw today in Pine Island nursery, in the far South of Miami, on SW 184th street and 163rd Avenue. Here, you will find thousands of tropical fruit trees on sale: mango, longan, lychee, guava, jackfruit... You name it, it can be found here. This is by far the largest such commercial grove I found. As a side business, they also sell the fruits off their trees. Fruits by the kilos (or by the pounds for us here.) As a huge contrast to the jack fruits I showed you before, this is what jack fruits should look like. This baby weighs 24 pounds (you can read the scale,) freshly picked off the tree and selling for some serious $s. Do you see the sap oozing from its stem? You don't want that stuff on you, trust me! On the left you can see star fruits and freshly picked sugar apples in the green bucket below. These sugar apples are the "desirable" type and they command $2 for each pound here. Today I got to taste several kinds of longan the names of which I have never heard of, all from Thailand. That goes to prove I know very little about tropical fruit trees. Got to return to nursery school. May be I should come here and volunteer to be an apprentice.
Tropical nursery

Monday, August 22, 2011


You remember my "death wish" last week, on Tuesday, Aug 16? Quote: "All we need now is a big hurricane!" Quite prophetic, wouldn't you say? The National Hurricane Center is now predicting that in about 5 days, Florida MAY have a close encounter with Irene. She is now churning in the Carribbean and may head for us. By that time, she may be big, a category 3 hurricane, which means she may be a major hurricane. Just what we need! Of course, all grocery stores are jam-packed and all water bottles are gone. Look again at all the beautiful trees I have shown you in this blog. If we get a Cat 3 direct hit, that would be a catastrophe. If you look at the forecast map, realize that the error is quite large, up to 250 miles at 5 day forecast. Translation into English, we may get nothing much... or we may get a direct hit. 50/50 chance. When I start to panic, I'll let you know.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Rainbow Eucalyptus

It's impossible to come to Fairchild garden and only talk about one thing. Now, let's return for an encore. If you see this tree, you probably will fall in love with it, and will want to have it for yourself. This tree has a common name of Rainbow eucalyptus and it always reminds me of an artist's pallet. The color it exhibits is worthy to be among Monet's masterpieces. Meet the Eucalyptus deglupta. Actually, if you visit Fairchild, and you definitely must if you ever come to Miami, you can find a total of 6 such trees at different locations in the garden.

Eucalyptus deglupta is a tall tree, commonly known as the Rainbow Eucalyptus, the Mindanao Gum, or the Rainbow Gum. It is the only Eucalyptus species found naturally in the Northern Hemisphere. Its natural distribution spans New Britain, New Guinea, Ceram, Sulawesi and Mindanao. At the present time, this tree is cultivated widely around the world, mainly for pulpwood used in making paper. It is the dominant species used for pulpwood plantations in the Philippines. This tree is also grown for ornamental purposes, due to the showy multicolored streaks that cover the trunk. Its trunk and limbs display variegated hues of blues, browns, purples, oranges, reds, yellows and other subtle shades. The colors arise from the unique quality of its bark and the staggered timing with which it sheds. Unlike trees such as oaks, which have continually thickening layers of bark, eucalyptus trees continually shed thin layers of brown bark at randomly distributed areas on the trunk's surface, revealing the bright green inner bark underneath. Over time, as this tender bark is exposed to air, by oxidation, its color cycles through purple, blue, orange, red, yellow and other hues. The bark finally turns brown again and the cycle repeats.
Mindanao Gum

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Alstonia scholaris

After a few mishaps, resulting in me barking up the wrong tree, literally, an Alstonia macrophylla outside of Woodlawn cemetery in little Havana, it didn't take me long to find the real Alstonia scholaris. And here it is. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has two of them, one in lot 57a and another in lot 151. This one is in lot 57a, near the garden's entrance, on the East side of lake Pandanus. This is a beautiful tree and it displays its typical "pagoda" form. I can't wait to see it in bloom and sit under its canope to inhale its famous scent. Although Alstonia is well known for their medicinal properties, no scientific work I know has said that the scent is toxic, so it should be safe and I should survive that experiment. I'll live to tell you what that's like. Come back here in December to read more... Correction... This tree will bloom in October this year... Watch this spot.
Alstonia scholaris

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mobile Art

One of the many bonuses that comes with living in Miami is you get to see cars like this one. I always regret not to wait until I see the owner to ask how something like this can be done to my car. You know what I would have painted on mine? Lotus! What else? Just like Monet's paintings, but instead of water lilies, the pond would be full of lotus flowers.
Traveling Art

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Delicatessen is a term meaning "delicacies" or "fine foods." This word came from Germany, with the old German spelling Delikatessen, plural of Delikatesse i.e. "delicacy." Germany got this from France's délicatesse which means "delicious things (to eat)." Ultimately, the French word came from Latin's "delicatus," meaning "giving pleasure, delightful, pleasing."

It's no wonder I like to hang out at this place in this Publix supermarket to get these cuts for sandwich making. A pound of this and a pound of that and another pound of the other thing rapidly add up to tons of calories, but it's hard to resist this sinful habit. Thankfully, there is always a long line that usually prevents me to overindulge too often. I'll come back tomorrow!
Boar's Head

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Future Bufo americanus

I have a pet common toad (Bufo ameicanus) that lives in the small waterfall in my patio. It must be at least 7 year old now. Once in a while, I see it outside sightseeing in the back yard. I call it "it" because I am not sure if it's a "he" or a "she." Whatever its gender, it is quite busy procreating at this moment. My little pond is full of little tad poles swimming around... thousands of them... and outside, in this large container for my new lotus, you can see thousands of newly laid eggs. This water was empty of inhabitants just two days ago. Click on the photo and you'll see thousands of the little spheres of life in the water.

The Common Toad is widespread throughout the whole of Europe and Asia, abundant everywhere except Ireland, it will be found in woods, fields, gardens, and any dark moist areas. Outside of the breeding season it can be found in drier areas. A nocturnal animal it eats insects, worms, molluscs and occasionally small amphibians. It hibernates over winter in small dry holes and under logs and stones. It lives in Lan's little fountain, I must add!

After mating the female lays two strings of 1000-6000 eggs underwater which are entwined around aquatic plants. Tadpoles hatch in about 12 days (that makes it August 27 for this batch) and metamorphose after a further 70-90 days, the young then leave the water. They grow slowly becoming adult in about five years, with a life span of up to 40 years.

I think the tad poles love lotus seeds and roots, so this may be bad news for my lotus. If they eat my lotus, they will have to deal with an eviction from me.

A Toad's Life

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mow Me Again, Please!

This is what the daily drumbeat of rain, rain and more rain in Miami doing to our grass! And mosquitoes! Hungry, nimble and no mercy Miami mosquitoes! All we need now is a big hurricane! Life has its ups and downs. Would you agree with me to say it's now pretty much downhill, looking at this?
Mow Me

Monday, August 15, 2011


In Miami, trash and garbage collection have become a well oiled machinery with great efficiency. Cities are organized into segments and neighborhoods are assigned two days of the week in which to place their trash and discards out for collection.

Here, on Mondays, every two weeks, in addition to garbage, recycled material are picked up. The truck you see is picking up the dark blue container with its mechanical arms. In a flash, the contents are emptied into the truck's big container and it moves on to the next house. There are definite rules that describe what can and cannot be recycled, and the population is very good to follow these rules, although I am not sure how things work at the triage stations. What do they do if they find illegal items in the bin? A mystery to me!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Sunday morning... I saw something out of the ordinary in my yard and took a close look. The four strange looking white things, instead of UFOs as I originally thought, turn out to be wild mushrooms that came out of the ground because they were excited by the continual rain of days past. They look gorgeous and quite appealing to me already because this is just what I need for my omelette. A godsend! But... Aren't mushrooms just fruits of fungi, and their one purpose in life is to disperse spores for survival? It may not be such a good idea to get some fungi in my system and I'll pass!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Court Yard

It is almost dusk, but you can hardly tell looking at this photo. This is another view of Miami's Dadeland Village. The fairly new Marriott Courtyard is next to the Publix super market on South Dadeland Boulevard. The glow you see is caused by the huge Miami sun getting ready to set. It will be dusk in only a few minutes and it's too bad I can't show you the photo of a glorious sun setting. I know it's mission impossible to drive and at the same time taking a shot when the big sun is in your face. There will be another chance, I am sure because I think the sun must set every day. Am I right?
Court Yard

Friday, August 12, 2011


It is raining just about every afternoon in Miami, and the sugar apples can't take it any more... So they one after another give up the ghost and make the big jump like this one here. In this drama, I can tell you a few stories... First of all, like the story of the two Rambutans, this variety of sugar apple (Annona squamosa) exists in two sub-types: a desirable and a less desirable one. This one is the ugly duckling type. The difference is in the firmness of the edible pulp. The fruit is less desirable when its pulp is very loosely bound together. The seeds are large and the pulp around them is paper thin so this type is not well received by the consumers. In fact, this type is not commercially viable. When the flesh is tightly bound internally, the seeds are much smaller and the fruits are in great demand.

During rainy days, the fruits split easily while ripening on the tree and once there is a crack anywhere, you can trust that zillion of tiny little creatures whose name is unknown to me invade the fruit to claim it as their territory. You can't see them in this photo, but there is a large colony of such individuals in the exposed flesh of this splattered fruit. The bottom line is the fruit does not entirely go to waste.

If you want to eat this fruit, you must know when it should be picked from the tree and let it ripen indoor. Only then you can be sure that the pulp you digest does not contain countless little tenants that may be very mad that you ate them.
Lesser Sugar Apple

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lasiodiplodia Rot

I often talked about the jackfruit and showed you beautiful specimens of them. Like the mango, there is a dark side to this story too: plant disease! Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.) can be attacked by many diseases such as Rhizopus, anthracnose and other fruit rot. I took my eyes off this healthy tree that had many beautiful fruits hanging on the tree since June. Today, sadly, I am showing you a photo of the same fruits but not so beautiful anymore. What you see are the same three fruits shown in the photo link above. Note that the large fruit on the left has been removed, perhaps a week ago. Whoever did that probably did the right thing because it would have been lost like all these. I believe the problem is what is called the Lasiodiplodia rot. Lasiodiplodia fruit rot often occurs on mature or wounded fruit while the Rhizopus acts on younger and immature fruits. With Lasiodiplodia, diseased fruits are covered with gray or black flat spot under high humidity. In the early stage of Lasiodiplodia fruit rot, tiny yellow-brown lesions appear on the peel. The lesions can rapidly expand to 10 cm in diameter within 5 days and become dark brown with a light margin. The rot symptoms progress quickly from the surface into the sarcocarps that eventually turn black and soft. The fruits of course are unfit for consumption. Do you know how heavy these fruits weigh? There are still more than a dozen rapidly dying jackfruits on this tree, and getting rid of them will be a big chore. I'll help if asked!
Fruit Rot

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Alstonia macrophylla

About three years ago, on August 30th, 2008, I blogged about a tree in Miami's little Havana section here. I thought it is an Alstonia scholaris, but it is not. Now I stand corrected and say it is an Alstonia macrophylla. It is quite hard to differentiate the two species, and there are still some unanswered questions. So this is a continuing saga. I have consulted with quite a number of expert botanists and various books but a complete answer is still elusive. The one key element that keeps me focused is the strong scent that A. scholaris is supposed to have. This tree is in bloom for a few weeks now, and after many visits, I cannot say that I can discern any fragrance. That's quite a disappointment. However, I can tell now that I had a handful of the tiny beautiful white flowers today and I did discern for the first time a very faint sweet and pleasant smell by putting them in a plastic bag to capture their scent. That's what I was looking for... but this is A. macrophylla, not quite what I was seeking...Now I got to find the other species, the A. scholaris. Stay tuned...To be continued...
Hoa Sua

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Annona squamosa

It has been quite some time that I have paid very little attention to my sugar apple trees. They have grown pretty high and the fruits are out of sight. Now and then, a ripe fruit would fall and scatter on the grass... This year, a low branch has this large 4 inch fruit that caught my attention. Hello Annona squamosa!

I know just a person who would love this, and it is for that person. This fruit is softening perfectly and will be ready in a couple more days.
Sugar Apple

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kids Meal Toys

In the US, for the mighty dollar, there is a perpetual corporate machinery that never sleeps. It must rack its brain to come up with newer products for the insatiable consumer. Burger King, to attract young kids to their stores, comes up with frequent lures it adds to its food product. The idea is very simple, get them hooked during their tender ages and they are customers for life. Here is the latest: Paper Jamz tiny electronic toys that make musical tunes. These are miniature of real musical toys made out of cardboard that can play like real musical instruments. There is one of these BK Kids Meal Toys in each of the Kids Meal Box. When a button is pushed, a tune is played. That's it! Kids love these kinds of things.

Can you match the names with the instruments? They are: Paper Jamz Flame Guitar, PJ Kickin' Keyboard, PJ Rocking Guitar, PJ Smashin' Drum Machine, PJ Warp Guitar, PJ Electro Keyboard, PJ Rock Guitar, PJ Bangin' Drums, PJ Checker Guitar and PJ Smashin' Aerial Drums.
BK Toys

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Billbergia pyramidalis

Billbergia pyramidalis is a species in the Bromeliaceae family. Bright pink and purple tips glow on their blooms and these bromeliads are found almost everywhere you look at this time. Billbergia pyramidalis specially likes to grow on or near trees that are used as support. After today's rain, these blooms are so bright they glow. Their nick name is "Summer Torch" and they easily colonize a large area just like what you see here around my longan tree.
Summer Torch

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Love of Lotus

OK, after many sleepless nights, I came to the conclusion that I want to become a Lotus lover and expert. Easy said than done, I know, but I'll try. About a week ago, I began the germinating process for a Nelumbo nucifera seed. A new growth emerged only after a couple of days. That is amazingly rewarding, to see a new development emerging from nothing. Not really from nothing, but from a seed. According to theory, the seedling starts out with two new growths. When they reach the water surface, the waterproof leaves will begin to unfold. It will take two years for the beautiful lotus flowers to come to life. Come back here in the fall of 2013 to see the first flowers of this plant.
Summer roll

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer Rolls

Hey folks, meet Miami's Gỏi cuốn. It is "made in Miami" and aka Miami summer roll, Miami Vietnamese spring roll, or Miami fresh roll. Vietnamese gỏi cuốn; literally means "salad roll" is a dish consisting of pork, shrimp, herbs, bún (rice vermicelli), and other ingredients wrapped in rice paper. They are served at room temperature, and are not deep fried. Summer roll has gradually gained popularity among Vietnam's neighboring countries and in the West. Many Western restaurants serve Vietnamese summer rolls as an appetizer.

Believe it or not, I made these myself. It wasn't too hard because I learned how to roll cigarettes when young and adventurous. This is a bit different because you don't smoke these. Now I am exhausted and can't find any good Miami photos thus this is used instead. I can certify that these are really, really really authentic. I know, I have done research at least half a day to know what should be inside.

They look amazingly ugly and unappetizing, but trust me, they were deliciously yummy. Beats Burger King any night. Of course, I didn't eat all of them. Are you crazy? Confidentially though, I don't know why they made me put in the chives. Can't eat those long things!
Summer roll

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ylang-Ylang III

Cananga odorata is a fast-growing tree of the custard-apple family, Annonaceae, that exceeds 15 ft per year and attains an average height of 40 ft. It grows in full or partial sun, and prefers the acidic soils of its native rainforest habitat. The flower is drooping, long-stalked, with six narrow greenish yellow petals, rather like a sea star in appearance, and yields a highly fragrant essential oil.

My tree which was badly damaged years ago by a hurricane, has fully recovered and has grown to be 30 or 40 feet and in bloom right now. I think there are many myths about the scents of flowering tree/flowers. Usually, there is a lot of exaggeration. Take this Ylang-Ylang for instance... its fragrance is quite subtle and not overpowering as some say. When you pass under it, you'll stop because you have detected some unusual and very pleasant scent... but it may take you a while to find its source. And it is much more easily detectable in the morning.

The essential oil of Ylang-Ylang is used in aromatherapy. It is believed to relieve high blood pressure, normalize sebum secretion for skin problems, and is considered to be an aphrodisiac. The oil from Ylang-Ylang is widely used in perfumery for oriental or floral themed perfumes (like Chanel No. 5). In Indonesia, Ylang-Ylang flowers are spread on the bed of newlywed couples. In the Philippines, its flowers, together with the flowers of the sampaguita, are strung into a necklace (lei) and worn by women and used to adorn religious images. My advice to you is to either get married in Indonesia or go there for your honeymoon.

Ylang-Ylang is believed to give relief to many ailments: motion sickness, palpitations and reducing high blood pressure, slow down over-rapid breathing and heart tachycardia, treating PMS, extreme mood swings, hair split-ends. You think I can quit my day job and live off my tree here?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Steel Trees

I think I gained at least 2 or 3 pounds today, all in the name of August 3rd! Please don't ask me why... And if you do, I won't give you an honest answer. But I did return to PF Chang for lunch, and this is how it looks, kind of an ugly structure, don't you think? Looking at this, I can't understand why this building is decorated with the two "trees" made out of some kind of metal to adorn its entrance. This is Miami, and it's not real trees that we lack. If my name were Chang, which it is not, and I wish it were, I would plant two huge baobab trees in these locations. Nah! That's too African, let's use bamboos, yes, a bamboo forest with roaming pandas! Or anything but these two expensive and scrofulous, unlovely, unpicturesque and unsightly looking brown artificial trees. I wish I knew more synonyms for ugly! OK, after this outburst, I now feel not so bad for having gained so many pounds in a day! And it's Chang's fault!
Brown Tree

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Banana Spider

Nephila clavipes is a species of golden orb-web spider. This species lives in the warmer regions of the Americas. The large size and bright colours of the species make it distinctive. Many call them Banana Spiders because of their yellow bodies. The female is much larger than the male. She is about 3 inches long, and the male is about 1/2 inch long.

In the United States, N. clavipes ranges throughout the coastal southeast and inland, from North Carolina to Texas. Golden orb-weavers are especially numerous in the time after summer and before fall in the south-eastern and southern U.S. This species is widespread — and often common — in large parts of Central America and warmer regions of South America.

The web of a mature female can reach one meter in width, With a tensile strength of 4×109 N/m2, the silk of N. clavipes exceeds that of steel by a factor of six. The yellow threads appearing as a rich gold in sunlight. Males come into the female's web for copulating. If you look closely, you will see that there are two males that have made it to this web. After mating, the female spins an egg sac on a tree, laying hundreds of eggs in one sac. While it is venomous to humans, it will only bite if pinched, and if doing so, the bite is usually relatively harmless and only leads to slight redness and localized pain.

I wouldn't even dream of pinching this banana lady. No sir! But I'll take a look now and then to see if she got some golden eggs laying around here.
Banana Spider

Monday, August 1, 2011

Perfect Lotus

If I were to make a card and send to my secret crush, I would use this. What do you think? Would you like to receive one?