Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scary Night!

I took the photo of this banyan tree today. I wouldn't come here tonight for all the gold in China! Ever since a very young kid, I was told that all banyan trees are haunted. This is a banyan tree therefore it is haunted. By what, I never knew for sure, but it can't be anything good. In the pitch black of dark nights, walking under this tree would be interesting because these hanging strands would become what else but long and captive hair of the lost souls that inhabit this tree. Just that thought gives me the creep. I have shown you a scary looking banyan tree before, I am afraid of this one even more because of the hair undulating with the breeze.... Coming here tonight, on Halloween night? Are you insane?
October 31st

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Taste of Almond

It was a beautiful morning and the temperature was 63 degree Fahrenheit. As I promised to myself, I returned here, picked a dozen seeds, sampled two then ate a half dozen. They are really almond just like I remembered them. They are kind of too big and I hope that no adverse effects would happen to me. If I would turn into a werewolf or something wilder tomorrow night (remember... it's Halloween tomorrow night,) and you can tell from my weird blog tomorrow, you know what to do. Call a witch doctor and send him/her to my rescue.
I Ate Them

Monday, October 29, 2012

First Cold Front

Finally, the first cold front arrived in Miami today. The morning was crisp and beautiful, my kind of weather. If you want to visit Miami and do not care for tropical fruits that only are plentiful in the hot summer months, come now to enjoy our weather. Here, the students got into the warm sweaters that they tucked away until now, getting the warm sun to help them enjoy a beautiful day.
Best Weather

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Saxy Lady

Today is a very sad day! Once in a while, I must do the inevitable... come to a farewell party for a good friend. Juiene Purefoy, a wonderful musician of South Miami, is dead. After an emotional small gathering of friends met to scatter her ashes and pay tribute, everyone came to hear the band of which she was an integral part play her favorite repertoire... Michelle, Don't Be That Way, A String of Pearls, Moonlight Senerade and In the Mood. Some danced, some cried. I did. Farewell, Saxy Lady friend.
Juliene Purefoy

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hard Rock Cafe

This is inside the Hard Rock Cafe of Miami downtown, at the Bay Side market place. It is crowded today and many of its employees dress up in Halloween outfits... scared me to death! This is an inside room where valuable memorabilia are displayed. To the right are things that belonged to Elvis Presley. The black jacket on the wall to the left belonged to John Lennon. The owners asked me to give them my scarf to display next to Elvis' stuff but I declined their request because they did not give me an offer I could not refuse.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Boats and Boats

This is how many, and I mean many, boats are stored in this Coconut Grove marina, just outside my favorite place to take friends when they visit me, Scotty's Landing. If I were the operator working with these boats, I am sure I will drop everyone of them from the formidable looking scaffolding when I would retrieve the boats. The water you see is from rains coming from hurricane Sandy off shore.
Boat storage

Thursday, October 25, 2012

61 Continental

Here is another classic car encounter in South Miami, a 1961 Lincoln Continental. The owner told me he just sold it yesterday. I was too polite to ask him the selling price. I should have... now I am puzzled and won't be able to sleep tonight.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Miami got a surprise visit by Sandy. She is a late visitor and a minimal hurricane. Usually, Miami is out of danger from hurricanes by mid October but this year, Sandy is packing the energy of a category two hurricane and going through the Bahama Islands in a couple of days, shutting down airports and cancelling cruises. I am sure a lot of vacationing people is not very happy of this... and we have to deal with wet and soggy streets; and grey and ugly skies. I hate this!
Late Cane

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bistro Lyonnais

Le Bouchon du Grove is a small French restaurant supposedly specialized in French's city of Lyon food. It is at the heart of Coconut Grove, on Main highway. Le Bouchon du Grove won Miami's best French restaurant award in 2008. Do you know that Lyon has developed a reputation as the capital of gastronomy in France? With that said, their menu looks very appealing to me and I am saving all my pennies to eat French there one of these nights end November. Care to join?
French Bistro

Monday, October 22, 2012

My Dream House

Look at this beauty! This is a small but beautiful home right in the middle of Coconut Grove. I could get myself tucked in here and never would come out to go anywhere. My dream home!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

No Pole, Ma!

I was in a very relaxing place in Miami called Matheson Hammock early today. This man is trying to catch fish using no fishing pole. It's called string fishing. Without a pole, it's going to be tough to reel in a big fish. I hope he knows that. The body of water you see is Biscayne Bay and somewhere beyond the horizon, you can see Cape Florida if you knew which direction to look. A mere 100,000 years ago, all this place was but an ocean about 200 meter deep. At that time, the first homo-sapiens (that's our ancestor) arrived in the Middle East. They were descendant of the original homo-sapiens who appeared on earth about 250,000 years ago. Time flies, doesn't it?
String Fishing

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ocean Drive

Here is a look of Ocean Drive, a main tourist attraction on Miami Beach's South Beach. It's early Saturday morning but all parking spots are already occupied. Very inviting sales people are busy coercing tourists to sit down for their half price breakfast. This is at the level of 12th street looking South.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lonely Lunch

The US will vote for the next president next month and the political machinery is going full throttle. In the streets of Miami, I see more and more destitution. The number of people holding signs saying they are hungry and need help is clearly on the increase... many are young and looking healthy. To me, that means jobs are very scarce. This person reflects a sad, lonely and harsh life you see in Miami.
Lunch Alone

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Today, the University of Miami's beloved and once powerful football team, the Miami Hurricanes faced the team of the University of North Carolina, the Tar Heels. We lost! And that put me in quite a foul mood. !@#$%^&*()! It was hot in the seats of Pro Life stadium. The parking was expensive (US $30.) The food was expensive ($20 a round.) A bottle of water does not last 10 minutes etc... etc... It was hot and the sun in the West was in our face the entire game. No wonder I still feel dejected now! All and all a lousy afternoon. Should have gone swimming instead! Arrrggghhh!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Too Many Notes

The 2012 Festival Miami is the 29th annual premier live music festival of Florida and it is right here at my Alma Mater the University of Miami's Frost School of Music from October 2nd through November 4th. Every year, I make it a point to come see at least one performance. Tonight, I am at the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall to see Santiago Rodriguez, Cuban born award winning pianist performing solo piano works of Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Lecuona, Sleeper... Sleeper? well, he's a contemporary composer and professor of music here. He is the Director of Orchestral Activities and Conductor of the University of Miami Frost Symphony Orchestra and Opera Theater.

If I remember correctly, all music composers, no matter who they were (or are) are not appreciated until after they are dead. So I was curious to hear the work of composers who are still alive, and in the audience too. Truthfully, I was particularly interested in tonight's performance because the opening piece was Marina (1993) a composition by Thomas Sleeper. That composition casts T. S. Eliot's famous poem Marina to music. That got me here. Do you know why? That is because I read Marina many times and never get to understand what that poem was about, despite several attempts trying to learn from many poetic critics and commentaries that dissected T. S. Eliot work. I was hoping that the music may help me in some way. Alas, no luck for me because the music was just way over my head and instead of helping, it got me more confused. I may appreciate this a couple hundred years from now... may be.

Other than that, it was a very enchanting evening. I am always amazed that music can have so many notes... millions of them and they keep coming at you. I was thinking to myself that if the performer(s) misses a few notes here and there, who is to count them and notice? Of course, I am kidding. I am certain maestro Rodriguez did not miss any note. I really loved his playing my favorite Malaguena. Powerful.

I am sorry that my photo blog today only shows you an empty stage. The announcer threatened to put me in jail if I dare to turn on my cell phone to take a shot during performance. I am lucky I managed this photo before things got serious. Next year, I will come with a camera hidden inside my eye glasses. Come back then for a better blog photo.
Piano Solo

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Digital Organic Man

OK... Is this man going off his rocker? What is this title he is using? Digital Organic Man? What's that? Let me explain.

I am going digital (will start with some of my digital photos here in my blog) and organic at the same time: Today's blog is my first photo from a digital camera and not from my iPhone; and I will try to grow my own organic veggies. This photo that does not look very good is in fact a truly great digital photo that has been resampled heavily for web display. It shows three things: in focus in the foreground are some organic winged beans that will join with my other veggies in my wok soon.

The Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus), also known as the Goa bean and Asparagus pea, Four-angled bean and Winged pea, is a tropical legume plant native to New Guinea. It grows abundantly in hot, humid equatorial countries, from the Philippines and Indonesia to India, Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka. It does well in humid tropics with high rainfall. There are also varieties that can be grown in most areas of the U.S. The plant is one of the best nitrogen fixers with nodulation accomplished by the soil bacterium Rhizobium. Because of its ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, the plant requires very little or no fertilizers.

I had this growing on a fence but let it die. Now I will try to start again...

The pot that is out of focus in the middle of the photo is the start of a veggie that is essential for some dishes the taste of which I am trying to acquire. Would you believe that this herb tastes fishy when you chew it? It is Houttuynia cordata (in simplified and traditional Chinese, resspectively: pinyin and yúxīng cǎo; literally "fishy-smell herb"; Vietnamese: giấp cá or diếp cá; pak kao tong in Lao; Korean: English lizard tail and chameleon plant.) In English, it is known as lizard tail, chameleon plant, heartleaf, fishwort and bishop's weed. It is one of two species in the genus Houttuynia and is a flowering plant native to Japan, Korea, southern China and Southeast Asia, where it grows in moist, shady places.

This herb is not very well liked, and I understand why that is so. I tasted it once and did not particularly want more, but now, I am not quite sure why I want to grow it? Ask me why! This Heartleaf or Lizard Tail is an alien invasive species in many areas in the United States and Australia so it will grow like wild fire here in my yard.

The next also out of focus pot is another herb: Persicaria odorata, the Vietnamese coriander is an herb whose leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking. Other English names for the herb include Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese cilantro, Cambodian mint and hot mint. The Vietnamese name is rau răm, while in Malaysia and Singapore it is called daun kesom or daun laksa (laksa leaf). In Thailand, it is called phak phai and the Hmong word for it is Luam Laws. In Laos, it is called phak phaew.

It is not related to the mints, nor is it in the mint family Lamiaceae but the general appearance and odor are reminiscent. Persicaria is in the family Polygonaceae, collectively known as smartweeds or pinkweeds.

This herb is more easily liked and it is used fresh in salad and in spring/summer rolls. The last time I made the summer rolls was in August of 2011 and it's time I try again.

Finally, you may ask why my photo that is supposed to be "digitally great looking" looks so shabby? That has to do with the bokeh that I am testing. What's that? Come back for more...
Organic Man

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Latin Corn Dough

It you were my date today, I would have treated you with some hot (just hot, not spicy) Latin corn dough. Do you like Arepa?

An arepa is a dish made of ground corn dough or cooked flour, very prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. It is similar in shape to the Mexican gordita and the Salvadoran pupusa. Arepas can also be found in Panama, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Canary Islands.

On MDC Kendall campus today, there is some kind of Latin food festival going on. Tents were erected to sell food at lunch time to students here. Various national dishes sell at about US $3.00 which are catered to students' pocket book. I spotted stands from Argentina, Peru, Venezuela and many more... all have arepa to sell.

I never had arepa before... went around to take sample shots. I'll buy a dish for you but I will pass. It looks too exotic to me. If I had a crave for corn, I'll have mine on the cob.
Corn Dough

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chorisia In Bloom

You have seen several silk floss trees but none was in bloom. Here it is with beautiful pink flowers. Chorisia speciosa is its former scientific name and it is known now as Ceiba speciosa. Both sound just like Greek to me, but you got to admit, it is beautiful. Now I know why Coral Gables, the City Beautiful, planted several of them in various locations. In bloom, these trees are really pretty and their large flowers look very similar in shape and form to hibiscus.
Silk Floss

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is Your Cell Phone Smart?

I am kind of lazy today... not knowing exactly why! Sheer laziness for the sake of just being lazy is how I feel today. To be honest with you, it feels great!

Are you ready for some statistics? Again, I am lazy and do not check the accuracy of any of the numbers given so please take them in with a big grain of salt. If you want to contest the numbers you read, please contact the source that I duly cite below:

According to Pew Research Center:

"As of September 2012, 85% of American adults have a cell phone and 45% have a smartphone. As of early 2012, 58% have a desktop computer, 61% have a laptop, 18% own an e-book reader, and 18% have a tablet computer.

Smartphones are particularly popular with young adults and those living in relatively higher income households; 66% of those ages 18-29 own smartphones, and 68% of those living in households earning $75,000 also own them. Young adults tend to have higher-than-average levels of smartphone ownership regardless of income or educational attainment, while for older adults smartphone ownership tends to be relatively uncommon across the board—but especially so for less-educated and less-affluent seniors."

Well, that was verbatim from what I stole from the source above. Their English? I would write it better but beggars can't be choosers!

The youngster at this bus stop obviously is playing with his smart phone. My crystal ball tells me he has either an iPhone or an Android device. So a word of caution... your mobile phone will give you away because we can guess who you are by looking at the cell phone you use. How about that?

Ask me if I own a smart phone. What do you think? Do I? Do I not?
Smart Phone

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Made Of Money

It's October, already! That means wherever you go, you will see very scary things such as skeletons, ghosts and ghoulies and even worse things that I do not want to mention because they may come at night to visit me. Sure enough, here is the customer counter at the local Tysunn Dry Cleaner on Sunset Drive near Red Road (SW 57th Avenue.) I can see a bony hand reaching up from the underworld and a miniature creature half alive, half dead staring me in the face. It's Halloween time in the US and it's coming on October 31st year after year.

On the counter, you can see two pots of the "money tree" that is supposed to bring prosperity to the business. Well, with the price I had to pay to dry clean a suit and one shirt, I feel like I am their money tree today!
Dry Cleaner

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Winn Dixie

Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc. is an American supermarket chain based in Jacksonville, Florida. They are known for their private label Chek brand soft drinks, which are produced in over 20 different flavors plus diet and caffeine-free varieties. It fell on hard time ans filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005. On March 9, 2012, Winn-Dixie became a wholly owned subsidiary of Bi-Lo Holding and it looks like they are beginning to grow well again in Florida, despite the closing of many stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

This very large store #251 is fairly new and it is in Coral Gables, situated on Coral Way near SW 32nd Avenue. As Americans, we cannot live without our pills and liquors, and you see here the "must have" pharmacy that is always an integral part of any grocery store. The other half, a Winn Dixie liquor store #394 is next to this one, further down the street.
Quick Chek

Friday, October 5, 2012

Cây Bàng

The tall and large tree in the center of the photo below is a Terminalia catappa, which is a large tropical tree in the Leadwood tree family, Combretaceae. This tree is native to the tropical regions of Asia, Africa, and Australia. It is known by the common names of Ketapang (Indonesian), Bengal almond, Singapore almond, Ebelebo, Malabar almond, West Indian almond, Tropical almond, Sea almond, Beach Almond. In other words, pretty much everybody agrees it's an almond tree. The Terminalia catappa is dry-season deciduous. Before falling, the leaves are loaded with pigments causing them to turn pinkish-reddish or yellow-brown. Then the branches become bare until new leaves return at the beginning of the next growing season.

When a kid, I used to collect the seeds of this tree, called "cây bàng" in Vietnamese. With a hammer, I could get to the free and delicious almond inside. The pathway here is littered with many seeds from this tree and they are much larger than I used to know them. This place must be paradise for squirrels and I am surprised to not see many of them. Got to come here with a big hammer soon to sample these seeds myself.

Due to many naturally occurring chemical elements in them, the leaves and bark of this tree are used in different herbal medicines for various purposes. In Taiwan, fallen leaves are used as a herb to treat liver diseases. In Suriname, a tea made from the leaves is prescribed against dysentery and diarrhea.
Almond Tree

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Race for the Cure

Breast cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in the cells of the breast. A malignant tumor is a group of cancer cells that can invade (grow into) surrounding tissues or metastasize (spread) to distant areas of the body. This disease occurs almost entirely in women, but men can get it, too.

Over the past 17 years, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is an event designed and implemented to promote positive awareness, education and early detection of breast cancer. It is claimed to be the largest series of 5K runs/fitness walks in the world. The Miami/Ft. Lauderdale community has raised millions of dollars to fund the fight against breast cancer through the Komen Race for the Cure. Over 100,000 people have participated in the 5K walk and run, One Mile Fun Walk and Tot Run since the first Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Komen Race for the Cure in 1995.

The next Race is scheduled on October 20, 2012 at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, starting at 7:30AM. Here you see a large banner spreading across Sunset Drive, just before it reaches US-1, announcing that event. The large horizontal concrete structure you see atop the red car is Metrorail, the heavy rail rapid transit system of Miami.
Breast Cancer

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Walking across the open fields of Miami Dade College, you always see many students exercise all day long to stay in shape. It is a trend that demonstrates a high degree of awareness about the importance of staying fit and healthy here in Miami and also across the US. Take a look at this student who has been at this for a while. I know it is not at all easy to be batman-like like this. Don't even think of trying this at home, you can't do this. You will fall and may break some important bones in your body. If you ask me, I'd of course say I can easily do this a thousand times a day, but I know you won't believe me, and you are right!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Autumn Moon

Quite early this morning, at 7:29 AM, I had to pull my car out of traffic in order to take this shot. The view due West on SW 72nd Avenue just South of 64th Street was simply fantastic! The sun has risen at 7:14 AM and still very low but already has colored pink the lower clouds. The mid-autumn festival moon, waning gibbous from its full shape just a few days ago is fully visible. From their silhouettes, you can see how tall Miami's coconut trees can get. I love life here in Miami. Come!
Autumn Moon

Monday, October 1, 2012

Bus Bench

America lives for advertising. Ads, as we call them are everywhere. These two are bus bench ads one of which caught my eyes because that's how they are designed: to catch your eyes at your eye level. The one that is closer says that women can get a pap smear for only US $35... This ad misspells the test which when spelled correctly, should read: Papanicolaou. Pap smear is a medical procedure that looks for changes on the cervix of women that could lead to cervical cancer. Generally, cervical cancer is caused by a strain of a virus called Human papillomavirus (HPV) which can propagate via skin to skin contact.

The pap smear was invented by Greek Dr. Georgios Nicholas Papanikolaou, M. D., Ph. D., a pioneer in cytopathology. Although he reported that uterine cancer could be diagnosed by means of a vaginal smear in 1928, his important work was not recognized until 1943.

A word of caution needs to be said here: when you see an ad saying that such and such service or product ONLY costs a low figure of dollars, do not believe it literally or you will be very unpleasantly surprised. The ONLY $35 here may mushroom to a higher bill because of costs associated with doctor visit and laboratory report to interpret the smear by a pathologist are hidden.

The other ad is by a well known real estate agency in Miami. The two telephone numbers tell a story about the urban sprawl of Miami Dade county. Originally, telephone numbers for Miami have area code (305.) By the year 1998, the seven digit telephone numbers can no longer support the population growth, and area code (786) was added.

I think the Pap Smear ad really dominates the scene here, and if I were the person who designed the sign for the real estate agency, I would go back to the drawing board because the Pap Smear is getting all the attention, and the readers only have a few seconds to read.

By the way, pap smear are for women only, so men need not apply.
Pap Smear