Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stormy Weather

Look to see who's back. The kid is back and it's about time that I get busy to take care of this blog. I can't tell you where I've been, but needless to say, I'm still in this world... and about to get wet big time. Look at this huge storm approaching South Miami.
Stormy Weather

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mango Festival

Yearly, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden organizes a mango festival. This year, it occurs this weekend and today is the second and last day. It is a big disappointment to me because there is only one vendor and they use mangoes imported from Central America. The workers told me this year mango crops are not very abundant. Even a bigger disappointment to me is that they charge US $1.00 to taste the mangoes. What happened to the tradition of having mangoes to taste free of charge? This photo shows you the mangoes that are for sale. Did I buy any? Of course not, the price they demand for mangoes here make you think they are made of gold. Thanks, but no thanks!
Spanish R Us

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sad Illness

It looks like this sad mental illness is beginning to get some public exposure. In the US, treatment for serious diseases often begins by clinical trials when medical research is conducted to look for cause and remedy.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and by poor emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social and occupational dysfunction. Stigma and discrimination against people with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses was identified as the number one issue for families and societies.

Without treatment, social problems, such as long-term unemployment, poverty and homelessness, are common. Up to one third of the homeless you see in the streets of major US cities suffer from schizophrenia with or without being diagnosed as such. Many uninformed individuals mistake schizophrenia with paranoia. Unfortunately, schizophrenia is a much more severe mental illness. A very sad affliction for the human race.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

City Trolley

On June 17th, you saw a double deck tour bus that is part of what is called the Hop On/Hop Off bus tour in Miami. Its counter part is a Trolley that is an icon of the City Beautiful: the City of Coral Gables. Recently, the Coral Gables Trolley expanded its service into the northern part of its boundary, adding another mile and a quarter to its route. This is what the trolley looks like, very ornate! I think the choice of colors of orange and green is very appropriate. These are the colors of my beloved Miami Hurricanes, the sport mecca of the University of Miami, my Alma mater.
CG Trolley

Monday, July 9, 2012

City of Pleasant Living

I think the owner of this car will be pretty mad when he/she sees the parking ticket placed on the car's windshield. I know, I've been there, done that! The cute little egg-shape car used by the meter maid (this guy does not look like a maid to me) has the LAZ logo to identify Laz Parking which is a local firm that contracts with the City of South Miami to issue parking tickets and operate meters. Markings on the car also says that South Miami is the "City of Pleasant Living." Not if I get a ticket form LAZ, I don't think so.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Todd Got Jipped!

Remember Todd? He says he makes the best sub on earth. Well, apparently Todd got jipped by Suntrust and he is very mad about it. To the point that he made a special sign to expound his displeasure.

According to the American urban dictionary, jipped means a person got cheated, stolen, dissed, ripped off. There are other adjectives but I am not at liberty to divulge them to you here because I want to keep my blog civil. Now, what does Todd say in his next word? Let's see: #@&*% is what he said. Me? I would have said it differently, I would have said !@#$%^&* I think that is easier to type on a QWERTY keyboard than what he said. We all know what he meant to really say there! And I would have said all that in red color using the skull and crossbones fonts!

Saturday, July 7, 2012


You have seen this kind of tree back in April when it drizzled in Miami. Here is another gumbo-limbo on a hot and sunny day. This is Bursera simaruba, commonly known as the gumbo-limbo and Copperwood, which is a tree species in the family Burseraceae, native to tropical regions of the Americas. The gumbo-limbo is amusingly referred to as the tourist tree because the tree's bark is usually red and peeling, just like the skin of the sun burnt tourists. The small fruits of this tree have single seeds that are covered with red fatty aril which has a high content of lipids. Arils are an important source of food for birds, including many winter migrants birds from North America.

Listen, you ought to know that lipids are bad for you because that is a fancy word for fats. If you visit Miami, make sure you do not eat the fruits that fall off gumbo-limbo trees, else the seeds you ingested will give you a problem of having elevated cholesterol level in your blood. I think the migrating birds need to eat lots of these fruits because they need to store energy to fly back home when spring returns.
Gumbo Limbo

Friday, July 6, 2012

I've Had It!

This year started slow for the mangoes, but they have such a strong finish that everyone I know is overdosed from eating too many mangoes. Look at the pile of Ok Rong on the top of this photo. You can only eat so many of them in a day! But I want to talk about another thing today: the Artocarpus heterophyllus (jackfruit.)

In a previous blog, I was asked about the meaning of the jackfruit's scientific name so here it is: "artos" means "bread," and "carpus" means "fruit." Heterophyllus means more than one form, from Greek word "heteros" meaning different. Breadfruit is a cousin of jackfruit and they both belong to the Mulberry Family (Moraceae.) This family comprises Jackfruit, Breadfruit, Osage Orange, Mulberry,
Milk Tree, Soursop, Sugar Apple & Cherimoya. The common characteristic in this family is that its members have compound or multiple fruit (syncarp.)

So the jackfruit is not just one fruit, it is many (hundreds of fruits) contained in a green to yellow-brown exterior rind. The internal structure of this fruit is remarkable. The sticky latex is abundant and stick to your knife, hands and everything else that touches it. The real edibles fruits are each enveloped in a pouch formed by very sticky string-like strands. These pouches are anchored at one end to the rind container, and at the other end, to the jackfruit's apex core. You can reach in to nudge the fruits out of their sticky cocoon and you will discover that the fruits are miraculously dry without any of the nasty stickiness on any part of them. You can eat them right off your hand. Each fruit has a large seed contained within a slippery pouch that can easily be separated from the fruits.

It is amazing to see that the individual fruits are totally immune from the surrounding sticky latex. This job is very labor intensive and I am not about to do this again anytime soon. And please do not ask me what I did with the Ok Rong. I've had it with them!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Nectar of Flowers

'Nam Doc Mai,' or "Nectar of Flowers," is among the best known dessert mangoes of Thailand, with an exceptional appearance and eating quality. In Thailand, there are many strains of this species, classified according to the use of their fruits. The fruits are long, slender and sigmoid, weighing from 12 to 16 ounces. The ripe fruits range from a greenish- to canary-yellow, sometimes with a reddish blush on the sun-exposed part. The flesh is soft and juicy, with a sweet and aromatic flavor. 'Nam Doc Mai' has no fiber, a must for top quality mangoes. In Thailand and throughout much of Asia, Nam Doc Mai is highly sought after for its quality. Its fruits are used while mature green for dipping in sauces and for making sweet preserves and pickles. When ripe, they have a smooth, silky texture and extreme sweetness and bouquet. Nam Doc Mai has found a home in the Caribbean, where it grows and fruits well. This excellent mango grows and fruits well in Miami. But not for me! I have a young tree that tries for several years but until now, could not yet bear its fruits to term. Have no fear, I have many friends who have mature trees and now you know where mine come from. In this photo, the Nam Doc Mai are still greenish. The top 6 mangoes are Zill. They used to be my top choice, but I think Nam Doc Mai displaced them from the top of my list.

If you want to be real technical about mangoes, here is an excerpt from professional tasters: "Green: A zingy citrus and lemon-blossom nose, with crisp green apple, grapefruit, and sour cherry flavors. Ripe: Graceful hints of anise and cinnamon, with loads of complex flavors of melon, peach and tangerine." Really? These tasters must have drunk some strange and exotic wine before tasting this mango. Me? I eat those with abandon and loving every bite. Don't care what they taste like, but loving them!

On July 14th and 15th, Fairchild Tropical Gardens will have a yearly mango festival. I will be there to take a few shots.
Best Mango

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Aphelion

July 4th is the 185th day of the year (186th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 180 days remaining until the end of the year. The Aphelion, the location in space where the Earth is farthest from the Sun, occurs around this date. Aren't we lucky our earth never strays further from our sun than its Aphelion?

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. If I were Her Majesty the Queen of England, I would feel very bad every July 4th!

Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games and family reunions. July 4th is the national day of the United States and watching fireworks is very popular.

Here is my own fireworks... In Miami, all our Royal poinciana (Delonix regia) are in bloom. Spectacular!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


South Miami's Commerce Lane is really a gem where you can casually walk by and look at the automobile repair shops concentrated here. This is where you can find many cars that could qualify as "antiques." Here is a fire engine red car of the vintage 50's - 60's, a Mercedes-Benz. It has obviously been restored and I think the color is not exactly one of the original for this car. It should be more like Cherry Red. But this is good enough for me.

The Mercedes-Benz 190SL is a two-door grand touring convertible with an optional removable hardtop that was produced by Mercedes-Benz between May 1955 and February 1963. It closely resembles the same period and more expensive Mercedes-Benz 300SL. The 190SL was powered by a 1.9 liter straight-four-cylinder engine with Single OverHead Cams. It delivers 104 horse power and has a top speed of 171 km/h (106 mph.) Of course, that's nothing compared to today's technology, but if you own a car like this, it can take you back to your younger and wilder days that your money can't buy otherwise.

This car was available either as a soft-top convertible, initially priced at US$ 3,998. That's it! Where is my time machine? I want to go back!

Both the 190SL and the 300SL were replaced by the Mercedes-Benz 230SL in 1963.
Fire Engine Red

Monday, July 2, 2012


I was walking on Sunset Drive (SW 72nd Street) minding my own business here this morning when I saw this high drama unfolding... This motorcycle cop was standing on the side of the street clocking passing cars... and this one got caught red handed speeding. It was really not speeding too excessively. Do you know how I know? That was because this cop jumped to the middle of the street in front of the car to stop it... and the car was able to stop and not running him over. In any case, the driver was ordered to pull over to this side street and they were having a "very nice" conversation. Let's see.. the city is broke... everyone needs money because everyone is cash-strapped... I'd venture a guess of US $125 ticket for excessive speeding. Have a nice day!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Coral Reef Yatch Club

Here we are, on the first night of July with almost a full moon outside, sitting here waiting for our dinner at the Coral Reef Yatch club in Coconut Grove. The choice of seating can be outside on the porch, or inside the dining room. I'd rather sit outside to enjoy a very nice sea breeze tonight, but being invited, I have to sit where the reserved table says we sit. The view you see is part of a large all concrete 100-slip marina. I stepped outside to work down the grouper meunière and walked around the slips. To my astonishment, there are power boats moored here that outclass the one you saw a few days ago by a large factor! It is obvious to conclude that the owners of the boats here like to compete for horse power, and they have money to back that up. The winner is one small outboard that sports FOUR Yamaha motors, each of which delivers 250 HP. These can probably outrun the fastest coast guard cutters. You can do all sort of good things with these capabilities, don't you think?
Yatch Club