Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Lan, how stupid can you get?

You Messing with my Kid?

“The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.” Albert Einstein.

Corollary: Stupidity knows no bounds!

And every non-stupid people knows that!
Apparently, not yours truly here, so let me count the ways… …

To begin, the photo shows a raccoon in a trap. I have a long standing problem with rodents that can once in a while find a way to get into the attic of my house.

This new breach happened a couple weeks ago. I looked but could not find its location. So I decided to trap the intruder. I set the trap on Wednesday and sure enough got a raccoon in the act. It’s a quite large one.

Stupidity #1: I was “careful” and equipped myself with a broom as weapon, and went up to the roof of my house (should I count that as Stupidity #0? One non-stupid friend of mine told me that sure was Stupidity #0, to operate on the roof of a house at my age.)

But never mind that… in my celebration of victory, I poked the trap a few times with my broom stick.

Guess what, a “huge” raccoon jumped out of the blue, near the trap, ready and willing for war.

Stupidity #2: If I knew better, I would avoid eye contact and retreat.

But no, this dumb guy looked the underestimated adversary right in the eyes, readying the broom to “intimidate” the “enemy.”

Stupidity #3: Found out later that the broomstick is hollow, can’t really hurt anyone.

I can’t really blame the mother getting furious seeing this guy messing with her baby!

She charged like a toro, but faster!

I whacked but of course, missed. She was gnawing on my left foot above the ankle… I was screaming, kicking bla bla bla… to no avail.

Thank heaven, she got enough and retreated back to be near the trap, a couple of meters away.

Then came the second wave, before I could get up off my butt on the roof.

This time, she went higher to taste the muscle of my left calf… more screaming, kicking bla bla bla... for naught!

This huge lady raccoon really knew what she was doing, she retreated again in case there were another idiot like me attacking her baby in the trap.

The third wave came when she felt the baby is ok, charging again, going higher to my knee!

That time, I was up with my “hollow” broomstick. Scared half to death, I whacked , and missed again! Damn!

She was preparing to come again…

The fourth attack came fast as lightning. I was lucky and hit her side with a thud, similar to hitting a bag of rice. That just slowed her a few milliseconds, and she got madder.

Her face was inches away from my face.

In desperation, I push her face away with my bare left hand, clearly remember that my thumb was inside her mouth, near her big shiny tooth, kicking and screaming…

At this point, I think my “lucky” star chimed in, and she decided to cease fire.

I was able to get down from the roof, get help to the emergency department of South Miami hospital.

Thankfully, I live in a well developed country where hospitals are well equipped to deal with life threatening events like the one I just encountered. In exchange for the excellent modern care, bills the size of the US national debt will arrive in waves to be paid.

I was given antibiotic, a tetanus and rabies shots as precautionary measures. The real star of the treatment was called immune globulin injections around all the bite locations, and there were many of them.

I am telling you, that is the definition of pain.

All my wounds were disinfected multiple times with all kinds of colorful liquids and nicely draped.

The deep laceration between the thumb and pointing finger of my left hand was stitched by a skilled nurse.

I was sent home with instructions to return for wound check, and to receive three more rabies vaccine the last one of which is September 2nd.

Thank heaven I had no nightmare that night… simply because I could not sleep a wink, up all night reviewing in slow motion visions of the nice lady coon’s face near mine with teeth resembling Jaws’.

The next day, a professional wild animal person came to retrieve the trapped raccoon and charged me a nice $149.00 for his service.

I recall my days of youth, when my Dad took me to see Tarzan and Jungle Jim movies in the 50's. These two heroes always had hand to hand combats with big lions, leopards, alligators and so on... and they always emerged victorious.

Yeah rite! Don’t you believe that myth.

So… can stupidities be rewarded?

I recently watched an old (read ancient) movie “Angel on the Amazon, of the year 1948” in which a lovely, beautiful lady, encountered a wounded black panther attacking her husband, mauling him in the Amazon jungle. She was able to kill the black panther, stabbing it multiple times with a knife to save her husband, but was profoundly affected mentally. She never aged since that day… for decades... having found the secret of eternal youth.

Ha! Just like that, I will remain in my current state for decades, not age another day. I’ll take that.

Thank you, my beautiful lady raccoon for the acquaintance. I am truly sorry for your baby. I was stupid!

Stupid from Miami...

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Nasty, nasty Matthew!

As expected, "category 4" hurricane Matthew is relentlessly moving toward Florida. This dude is really bad. He is preparing to move along the East coast of Florida with wind speeds probably higher than 100 miles per hour (mph,) like an enormous broom to clean out the coast line!

Our state is panicking and all local TV stations talk about what to do, evacuate in order to avoid loss of lives, but no one has said that "we are a powerful nation, and we can stop this hurricane to come our way." How powerless the human beings are facing this tiny force of nature. Think about that!

Although Miami may be pretty much out of harm's way, it is quite miserable outdoor, and I dread possible power outages later today and tomorrow, Friday. Florida Power and Light predicts more than a million customers will lose power, and that will be north of Miami, thankfully for me.

So, what are hurricanes? Do you want a refresher course? Below is what I lifted from no less than NASA:

Hurricanes are the most awesome, violent storms on Earth. People call these storms by other names, such as typhoons or cyclones, depending on where they occur. The scientific term for all these storms is tropical cyclone. Only tropical cyclones that form over the Atlantic Ocean or eastern Pacific Ocean are called "hurricanes." Whatever they are called, tropical cyclones all form the same way.

Tropical cyclones are like giant engines that use warm, moist air as fuel. That is why they form only over warm ocean waters near the equator. Do you know that the birth place of our beloved hurricanes is Cape Verde (Cabu Verde,) an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean, located 570 kilometres (350 mi) off the coast of West Africa? The warm, moist air over the ocean rises upward from near the surface. Because this air moves up and away from the surface, there is less air left near the surface. Another way to say the same thing is that the warm air rises, causing an area of lower air pressure below. So the real culprit of our misery is the sun. That's the guy that warms the waters in the Atlantic ocean.

Air from surrounding areas with higher air pressure pushes in to the low pressure area. Then that "new" air becomes warm and moist and rises, too. As the warm air continues to rise, the surrounding air swirls in to take its place. As the warmed, moist air rises and cools off, the water in the air forms clouds. The whole system of clouds and wind spins and grows, fed by the ocean's heat and water evaporating from the surface.

Storms that form north of the equator spin counterclockwise. Storms south of the equator spin clockwise. This difference is because of Earth's rotation on its axis. As the storm system rotates faster and faster, an eye forms in the center. It is very calm and clear in the eye, with very low air pressure. Higher pressure air from above flows down into the eye. When the winds in the rotating storm reach 39 mph, the storm is called a "tropical storm." And when the wind speeds reach 74 mph, the storm is officially a "tropical cyclone," or hurricane. Tropical cyclones usually weaken when they hit land, because they are no longer being "fed" by the energy from the warm ocean waters. However, they often move far inland, dumping many inches of rain and causing lots of wind damage before they die out completely.

Now, you are an expert about the genesis of hurricanes. But how do they move?

Reference.com has a good explanation for you:

Hurricanes are blown around the planet by the prevailing global winds. When a hurricane forms in the Atlantic Ocean, it comes together in a band of winds called the trade winds, which blow east to west in the low latitudes. Once a hurricane approaches land, local weather conditions become a much larger factor in its movement. In particular, high pressure zones can stall or divert a hurricane from its path.

If a hurricane moves above 30 degrees latitude, it may encounter the subtropical high, a relatively stable high pressure air mass over the eastern Caribbean. If it passes around this high pressure center, it encounters the westerlies, a band of winds that blow southwest to northeast. This is why hurricanes that turn northward before they reach the United States often bend back around to the northeast, missing the country entirely.

Similarly, cyclones in other parts of the world are subject to similar wind patterns. Those that form in the eastern Pacific are blown westward by the trade winds toward Asia, or they make it through the Pacific subtropical high and swing northward. Cyclones that form in the southern Pacific move westward as well, but a similar band of westerlies exists to curve errant storms to the southeast. Storms that form in the Indian Ocean exist in a region without strong wind patterns, and therefore are extremely unpredictable in their movements.

I think it is impossible to accurately predict the movements of cyclones. If you want to know more about this, learn about chaos. Human beings will never have enough mathematics, physics and sensors to deal with nature's forces. Should we think about global warming? Not me!

Below is the graphic from the National Hurricane Center, depicting the prediction of hurricane force wind speed from now to Tuesday next week, Oct 11. Where you see the colors darker than orange touching the coast line is where is expected to have wind speeds higher than 74 mph. That's a hurricane!
Powerless human beings that we are...

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

I Might Drown!

Sing with me!

Oh, no, don't let the rain come down
Oh, no, don't let the rain come down
Oh, no, don't let the rain come down
My roofs got a hole in it and I might drown
Oh, yes, my roofs got a hole in it and I might drown...

A song by The Brothers Four
The Brothers Four was an American folk group founded in 1957 in Seattle, Washington. They bear a distinction as one of the longest surviving groups of the late 1950s and early 1960s folk revival, and perhaps the longest running 'accidental' music act in history.

Do you know that they sang the song "Try To Remember?" I bet you are too young to know what I am talking about...

But... looking at Matthew heading toward us, I fear we will have a 50/50 chance of getting drenched and blown to bits this week.
You Talking to Me?

Monday, October 3, 2016

You've Got To Be Kidding!

Young man, you are telling me that there are many Burmese pythons in my Everglades? May be more than 30,000 of them? And they are eating my alligators?
You Talking to Me?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


I bet you don't know this:

1. Submarine sandwiches have their origin in the United States. Really! That's what they say. They originated with the Italian American labor force in Northeastern of the US. Could it be this was at the time of the Corleone family? In case you do not know, that's the GodFather, the Don.
2. The subs showed up on local pizzerias, but pizza-maker was at the bottom of the culinary and social scale, so they added the subs to feel more dignified.
3. The largest sub chain in the world is Subway.

And here I am in line to stuff myself with about 456+ calories, with no less than 2.3 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 8 grams of monounsaturated fat. Not to mention 1,651 milligrams of salt. But my poor heart loves this!

Here is the legal warning,.. meaning eat this at your own risk.

Amount Per 1 submarine (228 g)
Calories 456

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19 g 29%
Saturated fat 7 g 35%
Polyunsaturated fat 2.3 g
Monounsaturated fat 8 g
Cholesterol 36 mg 12%
Sodium 1,651 mg 68%
Potassium 394 mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 51 g 17%
Protein 22 g 44%
Vitamin A 8% Vitamin C 20%
Calcium 18% Iron 13%
Vitamin B-6 5% Vitamin B-12 18%
Magnesium 17%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

I indulged a foot long Italian B.M.T. In term of added trimmings, I got cheese, lettuce, tomato, spinach, pickle, mayonnaise, chipotle, vinegar, salt and pepper. Shouldn't have added the extra salt, but what the heck!

I like the Apple logo on the BIG man in front of me. May be if I eat one of this every day, I'll be as big.
My Sub

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


This photo was taken around high noon today. I was all by myself without any other Homo sapiens within a stone's throw. It's November but the sun was scorching, hot and humid. Luckily, it was too hot for the mosquitoes and not one came to collect my blood. Look up in the sky and you can see an airliner probably taking off minutes ago from Miami International airport about 16 miles due North of this location. There must be many human beings in that flying craft heading southwesterly to who knows where? In the foreground, you see a lone grey egret. He/she is my friend for the moment but never let me get close. Some friend, I am telling you. The dead palm tree is not cut down because some family of birds lives there.

And this is Miami today... with me in it, insignificant being in an infinitesimally small piece of earth on a trifling third rock from a banal mid life star within an inconsequential galaxy... This reminds me of an obscure poem by an unknown poet:

O dark, dark , dark...
They all go into the dark...
The interstellar spaces...
The vacuum into the vacuum.

With the sun in my back, this is my dark side on a nugatory Tuesday.
My Dark Side

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mom, Dad and Descendants...

Here I am again... trying to resurrect from the ashes and blogging again. To close down this month, let me talk about my pet project for the past 5 years plus: the search for the Alstonia scholaris. If you are as obsessed with this tree as I am, search my blog for "Alstonia" and "Hoa Sua" and you will find a lot of information related to this.
The photo of this Alstonia scholaris is taken at 6:23 PM on Thursday, October 29th, 2015 in the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden (FTBG.) Its location on earth is: Latitude, 25:40:32.74 - and Longitude, -80:16:30.28. After so many years, I am happy to learn that the Alstonia scholaris can flower successively twice, peaking in mid-month and then again at the end of October in a year with lots of rain like this is. This tree peaked on October 12th and again right now, at the end of October. On the date of this photo, the sweet scent permeated the surrounding air, especially when you are downwind. The ground around the tree looks sandy white, but that is not sand. They are the tiny milky white flowers that fall as rain all day and night long. A truly beautiful site! I can now say for certain that for me, the scent is sweet, delightful and not pungent and overpowering at all. It begins at dusk and lasts until dawn. This tree, with my help, is the proud Mom (and me as surrogate Dad, I guess) of a whole bunch of siblings from the seeds I germinated in March 2012, 3 and a half years ago. I now have one in my backyard that is about 20 feet tall, and three more found their permanent home in Montgomery Botanical Center (search Montgomery in my blog) where they are growing beautifully. I am trying to grow three more as bonzai although I have no such skill as yet. I want to learn about how long before these trees will begin to bloom... Return here in a few years, give or take one or two... Have you had enough of Alstonia?
Mom Tree

Friday, October 30, 2015

I AM ecstatic!

No, I am NOT a person subject to mystical experiences (aka an ecstatic,) but I am just ecstatic! That prompted me to revive this blog after a LONG, LONG hibernation. Can't believe I am doing this stunt!

Well, I am ecstatic because I just made an easy US $2,752.50 without even breaking a sweat, and I got my two Russian submarine clocks working again after a LONG, LONG time playing dead.
My two clocks were dead simply because their second hands just would not move. Today I found a place that says it can fix Russian submarine clocks. O joy! Of course I called the repair business and decided to take my two clocks there for an estimate to repair them.
While preparing both clocks, the second hands moved... and I thought a ghost was in action because we are so close to Halloween (I hope you who are reading this blog and are not from the US know what that day is...) But then they stopped again. Because the clock repair business is way up North of me, I decided to fiddle with and with a stroke of genius, fixed both in a record 15 minutes. So...
If I were to take my two clocks to the repair shop up North that is 75 miles away, I will have to drive round trip twice, once to drop them and once to get them back after repair. That is 75 x 4 = 300 miles. It takes me 1 hour 15 minutes each way... that is a total of 5 hours of driving my car.
The IRS and also the US federal government allow a mileage reimbursement rate of 57.5 cent for each mile. These two trips would cost me $ 172.50. All my friends, the lawyer sharks type charge a minimum of $500 per hour. I am better than they are, but will only charge the same rate. That is $ 2,500 for my "valuable" time. I estimate a minimum repair charge for each clock is $ 40.00.

So, drum roll please, I made $ 2,500.00 + 172.50 + 80.00 = $ 2,752.50 without breaking a sweat. (Actually, in Miami, it costs me $.75 per mile to drive my car...)

I love my two Russian submarine clocks that are now happily ticking every second. Ain't life grand?
I'll be back! Believe it or not!
I am BACK!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Ochna unknowna

This is so exquisite a flowering plant that I must talk about it here. I have this small plant for many years and always have the itch to know its species name but it is so far but a line on my bucket list! This clearly belongs to the genus Ochna but it is much smaller and very slow growing. The flowers are similar to that of other species of Ochna, but smaller. What particularly differentiates this species from its other relatives is that all the flowers face the ground when opened. After flowering, this Ochna produces the same black seeds that earned the familiar nickname "Micky Mouse." The seeds are quite easily germinated into small and very very slow growing plants. So... my now project is what is this species? I know this is not to be confused with Ochna species grown as bonsai at nurseries.
Ochna but what?

Friday, May 2, 2014

What's That?

In my last blog, I did not identify the beautiful miniature bromeliad. Now it's the time to do that. It's "Tillandsia ionantha!"

Tillandsia ionantha is a species of the genus Tillandsia which is native to Costa Rica and Mexico. This tiny plant has leaves with hue in deep shade of green, turning to a beautiful red/pink color before its purple and yellow colored tiny blooms appear that last a few days. That's the color you saw in my blog of Wednesday, April 9th, 2014. After blooming, the leaves return to its green color as seen here. The genus Tillandsia has about 650 species. I have another species that was shown in a previous blog. I identified it as Tillandsia tenuifolia. That was incorrect! Instead, my other miniature bromeliad is Tillandsia stricta. I now stand corrected. Now I have the desire to look for others of this beautiful genus to add to the two I now have. Will this ever end?
Errata in the year 2008

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pleopeltis polypodioides

On the left side of this photo is the amazing "resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides.)" It looks wonderfully "green" but you'd never guessed that just minutes ago, it was but a mass of brown wrinkled curled up desiccated fronds. This epiphyte fern lives on the trunks of large trees such as this longan tree. It gets the resurrection name because this fern can survive long, long, long periods of drought by curling up its fronds and appearing dead. When just a little rain would come, it uncurls, reopens and "resurrect," restoring itself to a vivid green color that you see.

I can't believe that it is estimated that these plants could last hundreds of years without water and still revive after a single exposure to the rain! Most plants, during drought periods, die after they lose about 10% of their water. This fern can lose up to 97% of its water and remains alive waiting for the rain to resurrect.

You see the beautiful purple and yellow tiny blooms above to the right? What's that?
I'm Not Dead!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Why Can't I?

Now, why... why... why can I not grow lotus to be like this one here? This is again from my friend "tog" (The Opiniated Gardener) of Coral Gables. This single lotus is HUGE. It is about 9 inches in diameter. I am mad, mad, mad! And jealous too!

But, I am not without skills though because after more than five years of tireless searching, I finally germinated and planted my first Alstonia scholaris in my backyard. Want to see it? It is so beautiful I baptized it ... well, you'll never be able to guess its name.
I wish it's mine

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Trader Joe's

This is the location where the Borders Book Shop used to stand until it went bankrupt back in July of the year 2011. City Furniture moved in briefly and it now becomes another trendy grocery store, "Trader Joe's."

I went in this store when it first opened, then again in a memorable night during a torrential Miami rain. This store is rather small and it is the first of its kind in Miami. I wonder how it will fare in the face of fierce competition that is the norm in this city.
Trader Joe's

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thunbergia ma non grandiflora

This beautiful floral display never fails to get my attention a few times every year. Every time, I take a few snap shots, tuck them away and then forget about them... not today! For years, I always thought that this is the Thunbergia grandiflora... but it is not. This is a Thunbergia laurifolia. What's the big deal, wouldn't you say? However, listen to this: If this was the first kind, it would have come from India while being the latter it must have come from Myanmar. I like that better. The truth is you can tell by looking at the shapes of the leaves, but trust me, this is a laurifolia.

Now read this: "In Malaysia, juice from crushed leaves of T. laurifolia are taken for menorrhagia, placed into the ear for deafness, and applied for poulticing cuts and boils (Burkill, 1966). In Thailand, leaves are used as an antipyretic, as well as an antidote for detoxifying poisons (Kanchanapoom et al., 2002). Several Thai herbal companies have started producing and exporting rang jeud tea (Chan & Lim, 2006). The tea has been claimed to be able to detoxify the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes."

Furthermore: "Iridoid glucosides have been isolated from T. laurifolia (Kanchanapoom et al., 2002). Microwave-dried leaves displayed stronger antioxidant properties (AOP) than fresh leaves (Chan & Lim, 2006). AOP of infusion from microwave-dried leaves were higher than the commercial rang jeud tea from Thailand."

If there are words in the two paragraphs above that you are not sure to know, please look them up yourself because I also don't know what they mean. But these leaves make good tea is how I see it.

You know, I have tried to grow lotus flowers for the last couple of years, but was not too successful. There are some nocturnal critters that come to feed off my lotus because the root tubers are so delicious so it seems and I am too sentimental to shoot them with my bibi gun. Would you now tell me to grow these blue trumpet flowers instead? I don't think so! Lotus is much more beautiful and it's a challenge for me to get them, so I will persevere. Besides, this vine is very invasive and it certainly will give me lots of work to trim it back.
Blue Trompet Vine

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Just when I thought I know about everything, my friend Larry, Palm biologist, Ph. D. taught me a new thing I did not know anything about: a herbarium, which is a library where all kinds of plant specimens are stored and made available to scientists doing research on plants. The specimens in herbaria (that's the plural form of herbarium) are often used as reference material in describing plant taxa.

This herbarium belongs to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and it now houses the collection that belonged to the Florida Atlantic University.

Plant specimens collected in the wild are identified, parts of which are then prepared by preservation techniques that are quite involved: pressed, dried, frozen, mounted and stored away in controlled environments. The photo shows Larry pretending to look up some specimens that are stored as families with weird botanical binomial names. So, if you do not know the family name of a species of plant that you are interested in, good luck to look it up in here.

France has the largest herbarium in the world: Musée national d’histoire naturelle, located in Paris, France and in many other parts of the country. It is no surprise the French are on top here because France started the first ever herbarium, the Royal Medicinal Plant Garden created by King Louis XIII (pronounced ex aye aye aye) in 1635. I guess when the King was not feeling well, he had at his disposal tons of magical herbs he can try out. Later, the boy-king Louis XV (pronounced ex vee) on 31 March 1718, removed the medicinal part and changed it to the Jardin du Roi (King's Garden)—to focus on natural history. He obviously did not like to taste the weird plant roots. There, you now know as much about herbaria as I do.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Long-jawed orb weaver

My backyard is full of sticky webs. Navigating around, I need to be very careful not to destroy these homes built by spiders day in day out. If I were a Leucauge venusta, like the one in this photo, I would be very upset if you walked right through my home and I will have to start rebuilding it from scratch!

Do you know why this species has the name venusta in its binomial name Leucauge venusta? Look at the photo. It's beautiful! This photo is high resolution and you can click on it to see what I mean. Venusta means just that, beautiful in Latin. Remember Venus?

The orchard spider is a long-jawed orb-weaver spider. The Venusta orchard spider is among those orb weavers that spin their webs near the horizontal plane. Females almost always sit underneath, at the center bottom side up. These spiders are tiny. From above, they look like a pair of orange eyes watching you. These are the spots on their rear end. Quite deceiving, aren't they? Because they are hung upside down, the head is below, hidden by the beautiful long green legs.

It is not easy to take snap shots of these spiders whose webs constantly sway in the wind. I had to use my digital camera and a macro lens. If you are curious, this photo is resampled from a raw shot of 18 Megabyte using a 100mm Canon macro lens at widest aperture of f2.8, at the speed of 1/160 second and ISO 400.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Medusa Gorgon

Wikipedia says, and I quote "Petrified wood (from the Greek root petro meaning "rock" or "stone"; literally "wood turned into stone") is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization. All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the original structure of the stem tissue."

Contaminating elements produce these related color hues:

carbon – black
cobalt – green/blue
chromium – green/blue
copper – green/blue
iron oxides – red, brown, and yellow
manganese – pink/orange
manganese oxides – blackish/yellow

Physically, the buried organic material is oxygen starved, but not completely dead while mineral-laden underground water flows through and deposits various mineral in the dying plants' cells.

Now you know how the deadly Medusa half-lady-half-snake Greek mythology creature turned foolish human warriors into stone. She used this process, but instead of it taking centuries, hers happened in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

But... Wikipedia talks again, and it says:

"Artificial petrified wood has been produced in a Washington laboratory. In the process small cubes of pine are soaked in an acid bath for two days, then in a silica solution for another two. The product is then cooked at 1400 °C in an argon atmosphere for two hours. The result was silicon carbide ceramic which preserved the intricate cell structure of the wood."

Now, can you tell me if this petrified specimen in the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is real, or is instant man-made?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Zamia furfuracea

Look at this beautiful plant classified as an endangered species. It's a cycad native to southeastern Veracruz state in eastern Mexico bearing the scientific name of Zamia furfuracea. If you feel that's too exotic a name, you can call it by its alternate name of Cardboard Cycad. This is a female plant with child. It must be grown near a male plant to produce the egg-shaped cones bearing seeds. Pollination is by an insect named Rhopalotria mollis. Again, you can call this insect by its easier to remember name of belid weevil. I know, it's easy for me to say.

Cardboard Cycad plant can only be reproduced by the fleshy, brightly crimson-colored seeds as seen here. The germination process is very slow and difficult to achieve in cultivation. As a result, many plants sold for horticultural use are illegally collected in the wild, leading to the species being classified as endangered.

It's pretty, but you must know that all parts of this plant are poisonous to animals and humans. The toxicity causes liver and kidney failure, as well as eventual paralysis. Dehydration sets in very quickly. No treatment for the poisoning is currently known. Lucky for me to learn this because I thought this may make a good drink for the evening. Somehow, the animals all know this and these seeds are left untouched.
Pretty but Poisonous

Monday, February 17, 2014

Orchids Grow on Trees

To clear up my mind, I took the time to return to Miami's Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden this morning. Here is a look that can calm one's soul. These orchid plants are here for display, and not in their natural growing locations. But if you come here, look around and you will see many orchid plants attached to tree branches as orchids in their natural habitat. These blooms are always a feast for the eyes and senses.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

I'm Back... Sort of...

OK... Here is Miami Every Day trying to restart after a long, long, long, LONG sabbatical leave of absence. Actually, that is not entirely correct! It is more like I was busy in Miami's swamps with all kinds of alligators... and somehow I had to get out so here we go...

This is a very young and talented quintet from the University of Miami giving a free concert at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden at 13:00 today. The students are in their third (Junior) year, obviously from the department of music. From left to right, the instruments are flute, oboe, horn, bassoon and clarinet. I didn't recognize any of the music, but it was delightful.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Metropolis I

This is a bird eye's view of Downtown Dadeland, from the 22nd floor of a unit in the Metropolis 1 condo, looking Northeasterly. Macy's is seen anchoring at the North end of Dadeland mall. To the right is US-1 whose North bound takes you to downtown Miami that is seen at the distant horizon.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Say A Prayer

Six years ago, I was at the Church of the Little Flower, a beautiful Roman Catholic Church in Coral Gables. Here I am again, but this time, I am inside its very ornate interior, the church's altar where scuptured marble with inlaid is to be seen throughout the spacious spaces where religious rites are performned. Tonight, a special mass is conducted for my friend Edgard. Many friends who could not come to his funeral service because of time constraints came to pay their last respects. Another sad reminder of the ephemeric nature of life.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Green Beer

Although Saint Patrick's Day is not going to be until Saturday, March 17th, we in Miami can't wait so some streets in downtown Coral Gables are closed to traffic early evening today for an early celebration of all things GREEN sponsored by John Martin's Irish Pub & Restaurant.

Of course, you've got to dress green and drink beer: Guiness, Harp, Smithwick's (an Irish red ale style beer from Kilkenny, Ireland) or a mixture thereof. I am tired of pouring these kinds of brew for 3 hours. I'm kaput! Not drunk, but kaput!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Today is the third and last day of the Orchid festival in Miami's Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden at 10901 Old Cutler Rd, Coral Gables. It is really a chance for local orchid growers to sell their plants. There is a large number of growers who come with their many plants in full bloom. It's quite a feast for the eyes and the senses because many of the orchid species are fragrant. It is so easy to grow beautiful orchid plants here in Miami. It will take you a long time to kill your orchid plant by long term neglect here (what I do now...) but if you just spend a little time to give some minimal care, you can have beautiful orchid flowers year round.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Monster Truck

Would you want to ride in this truck? This is kind of a monster truck, which is a pickup truck body, modified and built with outrageously large wheels and suspension.

In the late 1970s, modified pickup trucks were becoming popular and the sports of mud bogging and truck pulling were gaining in popularity. Several truck owners had created lifted trucks to compete in such events, and soon competition to hold the title of "biggest truck" developed. The trucks which garnered the most national attention were Bob Chandler's Bigfoot, Everett Jasmer's USA-1, Fred Shafer and Jack Willman Sr.'s Bear Foot, and Jeff Dane's King Kong. At the time, the largest tires the trucks were running were 48 inches in diameter.

This is no Big Foot or King Kong, but you need to be as tall as a giraffe to get in and out of it. I would love to take a snapshot of the driver getting in to drive it away.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

French Two Horses

Look what I saw today: a newly reincarnated French Citroën 2CV (French: "deux chevaux" i.e. "deux chevaux-vapeur [fiscaux]." Literally, this means "two tax horsepower" and it was an economy car produced by the French car manufacturer Citroën between 1948 and 1990. This car is so nostalgic to me because it reminds me of my wild student days in Paris. Two of my class mates owned this 2CV car and we had tons of fun with them. This is a rather new construction and it looks like a "special edition" rather than the "real" original 2CV that I know. The license plate says it is an antic, but it truly is antic only in its name.

I asked the owner who told me he paid US $12K and it was shipped from France. Imagine that, a full 2 horse power among the killer cars of Miami!

The two cars I used to ride in more than often would not start, but for us lunatic students, that was no big deal. We can start this car by manually cranking it without breaking a sweat. You do that by sticking a steel crank shaft into a steel tube in front of the car under the hood. Our great challenge was to start the car with only one single crank. If you want to know how we did it, take a look at this Youtube link. I love this car's manual transmission control that is smack in the middle of the dashboard and into your face. But... it was truly remarkable that according Wikipedia, this car was designed to be a low-priced, rugged "umbrella on four wheels" that would enable four peasants to drive 50 kg (110 lb) of farm goods to market at 50 km/h (31 mph), in clogs and across muddy unpaved roads if necessary. The car would use no more than 3 L of gasoline to travel 100 km (78 mpg). Most famously, it would be able to drive across a ploughed field without breaking the eggs it was carrying.Bicycle

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Totally unexpected, I attended a funeral today. It's a very sad thing, a funeral, and I always cry. I can't help it. It's just me. My friend Edgard died yesterday, and here I am at the Kendall Mt Nebo cemetery, a few blocks South of Miller Drive West of the Palmetto Expressway. A single bunch of red roses lies atop of his coffin that has entered his final resting place. It's a sad thing! But Edgard had a good life and here is one proof... of it and this is the way I remember him.

If you have any doubt, trust me. Live it up! You never can tell what tomorrow may bring.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Coconut Shrimp

All of a sudden, I feel the urge of eating Cuban coconut shrimp! You want to know why? Look at this new drive through on the right hand side of this photo. It is very odd that this new eatery decided to settle here. My theory is that the adult business needs some extra income and has sub-leased this space to this store that sells coconut shrimp among other Cuban dishes. This may be used as a perfect disguise to sneak into the other store for some hot stuff. If caught red handed, one can say "Hey, I felt the urge of eating Cuban coconut shrimp." Voilà!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Kind of Cycle

I can't resist to put this on line. This is a "oh so cute" bicycle fitted with a 2 or 4 Stroke Bicycle Engine. I am mighty tempted to get a 2 Stroke Bicycle Engine Kit Parts and build one for myself. Perfect for Miami! I want one! I hope the engine is waterproof so it can be used during a Miami thunder storm... But first, I need a bicycle. Help!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What the Heck!

After a few restless nights, I have carefully thought that I feel worse stopping this blog cold turkey... A compromise is now in order... Although the title stays the same, it now reads Weekly Photos of Miami... But... in case you do not know or do not care to click on the odd cherries on the left margin, know that it will take you to the other side of the coin that is my life... What you see there is this clip that I think makes life worth living.

But let's head back to Miami... I know this small (come to think, not so small) cosmetic procedure used to cost between USD $5 - 10K, it now can be had for a mere $2,800.00! I wonder if this price applies for guys? The process would have to be "grown from scratch" rather than "enlarged!" What do you guys think?

I'm back, but it will not be EVERY DAY!
Breast & Breast

Monday, January 21, 2013


I feel bad not to honor the name of this blog "Miami Every Day..." It has become increasingly more difficult for me to daily update this semi-private corner of my life. Reluctantly, I must say farewell... at least for the time being... to this self imposed daily obligation.

As a tribute to my long time passionate search for a sentimental tree, the Alstonia scholaris, here is one that I found in Miami, a beautiful specimen in plain sight that I only can "see" after many years of learning how to recognize it.

Here it is, on Sunset Drive near 64th street.

Farewell... and thank you for reading.
Freedom Tower

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Freedom Tower

This is the Freedom Tower as seen from NE 5th street, just West of Biscayne Boulevard. It was designed by Schultze and Weaver, and currently used as a memorial to Cuban immigration to the United States. The Freedom Tower is located at 600 Biscayne Boulevard on the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College.

On September 10, 1979, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places; and then designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark on October 6, 2008. On April 18, 2012, the AIA's Florida Chapter placed the building on its list of Florida Architecture: 100 Years. 100 Places as the Freedom Tower Building.

Originally completed in 1925 as the headquarters and printing facility of the newspaper The Miami News, it is an example of Mediterranean Revival style with design elements borrowed from the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. Its cupola on a 256 foot (78 m) tower contained a decorative beacon.
Freedom Tower.

Monday, November 5, 2012


In 2008, CompUSA went into liquidation and was purchased by Systemax. All CompUSA stores in Miami retained its name until now. Tigerdirect.com has now replaced the COMPUSA name and this is how the store across from Miami's Dadeland Mall looks today.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

I'm Stumped

I know this IS a Sabal causiarum.

But when I look it up, a source I trust says this: "One of the most striking Sabal species is Sabal causiarum, the Puerto Rican hat palm. This palm is distinguished from other Sabals by its massive smooth gray trunk which can grow up to 4 ft (1.2 m) in diameter! Most Sabals retain their old leaf bases on the trunk, creating a textured crisscross or "cabbage leaf" pattern instead of a smooth trunk."

I don't know what to say. This S. causiarum certainly has the old leaf crisscross pattern and not smooth trunk at all. Is this a Puerto Rican hat palm? Or is it not? You tell me!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Early Voting Line

Today is the last day to cast a ballot early for the 4-year cycle general vote in the US. It's time to vote for the US president, which is the most important and the first item on the ballot. After missing the absentee vote by mail and earlier dates for early vote, today is the last opportunity for me to vote before Tuesday next week, which will be the official voting day.

I was in this line for 5 hours, from 2 PM to finally get to the voting booth at 7PM. The crowd was very jovial and civil. No one was complaining. The kids were having a grand time climbing the huge banyan trees lining the streets surrounding this early voting place that is the Coral Gables library. If you look closely, you can see a few kids in the crotch of the tree on the right.

If you have never known the voting system here, you are lucky. I can tell you that the political languages that, after months and months of battle, got into the ballot is so convoluted you never can tell what you have voted. If I voted Yes, was it a No for what I don't want? Or was it a Yes for what I want? If you are confused, you are not alone... So am I. Please don't ask me whom I voted for, or what I voted for. I am not sure myself! But I did vote today! Yeah! What a relief!
5 Hour Wait

Friday, November 2, 2012


Here is a Veitchia spiralis, a species of flowering palm in the Arecaceae family. It is found natively only in Vanuatu, which is a remarkable fact. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, headquartered in the UK) Red List classification of plants by conservation status as follow:

LC = Least Concerned
NT = Near Threatened
VU = Vulnerable Species
EN = Endangered Species
CR = Critically Endangered
EW = Extinct in the Wild
EX = Extinction

The V. spiralis is assigned the status of NT, which is threatened by habitat loss. You may wonder where in the world is Vanuatu? Here is the answer: Vanuatu (French: République de Vanuatu, Bislama: Ripablik blong Vanuatu), is an island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The volcanic archipelago is about 1,750 kilometres east of northern Australia, 500 kilometres northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea. V. spiralis trees you see at other places like this one here must have been collected from this island and from nowhere else.

Talking about extinction, do you know that of the various species partitioned into: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, molluscs, plants, all have some percentage of population that are critically endangered... all except, you guessed it: the insects. Now, just think about this... us, human beings (well, at least the majority of us) belong to the mammal group... and we do have a finite probability of suffering extinction as a species sometime in the future. Let's hope that future is not coming too soon.
Near Threatened

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Haves

Every four years, the US population votes for a president and it's that time again. Somehow, this year it's more subdue than four years ago when it was the talk that was on everyone's lips. This time it's the contest between the current US president Obama vs former governor Romney. I watched all three presidential debates and already made up my mind so no matter how often both parties call my home phone and trying to change it, they are only wasting their time. Driving around town, I muse myself conducting a casual survey from the political signs posted in front of houses.

Today, my tabulation came out to be: Romney 11, Obama 0. But I need to tell you that I drove through a section of population that can safely be classified as "the haves." From this photo, you can count one vote for former governor Romney from the sign posted in front of this house. I understand this house is worth about US $8.5 Million. I need to find a different section of town that is more representative of "the haves not" for a more balanced survey... coming soon.
Vote Now

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