Wednesday, February 24, 2021

POD - Mars Rover Perseverance's First Full-Color Look at Mars

Photo of the day - Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

February 19, 2021

This is the first high-resolution, color image to be sent back by the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) on the underside of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover after its landing on Feb. 18, 2021.


Saturday, February 20, 2021

Native Bee hive or MEGA wasp nest? Fell with the palm frond and broke up on the driveway. Any assistance on identification? Pictures provided.

Here are some photos of the nest that fell and broke upon impact with the driveway. I failed to notice it for the (obvious) long time that it spent up on the tree. 


Please feel free to help in identifying whether this was a native Bee hive or MEGA wasp nest. Sad if its a native bee hive. Good riddance if its a MEGA wasp nest.

Please feel free to email your identification to eugeneflinn@bellsouth.net

Thank you.


The mango trees would have (or perhaps did provide significant pollen for the bees. Mango flavored honey and more pollinators to assist in producing more mangoes - a true win/win!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Awe struck. NASA's Perseverance rover prevails - lands safely on Mars! Great teamwork!

Wow! Is there life on Mars?


Just minutes after landing on Mars, NASA's Perseverance rover beamed back this image to Earth. It is the first of many the rover will while it's on its mission on the planet (photo credit 
NASA-JPL/Caltech)

And NASA's Perseverance rover is on Twitter!:


This is exciting!


Today is the day! Exciting Mars mission - here is the official NASA Landing Toolkit: Perseverance Rover Event show starts at 2:15 p.m. EST

Another exciting NASA exploration event. Plan on taking some time today to view (beginning 2:15 PM local - links provided). OK, not a manned mission, but robotic exploration is the way its done now, and is part of the scout missions preceding a 'manned' mission.  See the NASA Landing Toolkit: Perseverance Rover: One-stop shopping for everything you need to know about the upcoming landing of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover.
See mars.nasa.gov

Toolkit Resources

Ways to Use this Toolkit

On Feb. 18, 2021, NASA's Mars Perseverance rover makes its final descent to the Red Planet. Here are some of the ways you can take part in this landing.

Now Through Landing

***   ***   *** 

After Landing:

  • Latest News on Mission Website
    As the rover begins its mission at Jezero Crater, visit the mission website for the latest news and images every day.

  • Where is the Rover?
    This interactive map will let you see where the rover is on Mars. Once the rover starts driving, the traverse path and latest odometry will display automatically.

  • Raw Images
    Once the rover lands, see the latest images the rover sends back here. Vote for your favorite to become “Image of the Week.”  

  • Sounds of Mars 
    Try this audio experience to hear what you might sound like on Mars. Once the rover sends back recordings from its two microphones, you’ll be able to hear those audio files too. 

  • Stay Connected
    Get regular updates about landing, news, science, images, TV programming and some of our new web experiences. Sign up here.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Have a happy and safe Presidents' Day Weekend 2021 – a short history of this long weekend holiday

What have you been doing over this weekend?  I have asked in prior year's posts whether you celebrate this federal holiday by reflecting upon legacies of past presidents; simply relax over a long weekend; take in one of the annual community events; take advantage of sales; or none of the above?  This year is special, COVID edition. The predominant answer appears to be "none of the above" as the annual community events are not going forward due to COVID (in responsible communities). Next year. There will be next year, assuming the vaccine actually rolls out in time to meet that sweet spot where most or all are vaccinated before the prior vaccinations wear off.

Presidents' Day is celebrated on the third Monday in February.  Sadly, by some, it is better known commercially as the Presidents' Day Sale where we celebrate and save with (alleged) great deals! Including providing for an extra 15 - 20% off plus free shipping (online)!

A short History of Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day was first celebrated in the 1880s, with the birthday of George Washington was first celebrated as a federal holiday.

Controversy: long weekends versus recognizing the actual date:
In 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill in 1968. This moved federal holidays to Mondays. The intent was to provide for long weekends. There was opposition to this move, by those who believe that those holidays should be celebrated on the dates they actually commemorate.
And then there was one national day for all presidents:
How many of us remember celebrating both Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays as separate events? Presidents' Day became the officially celebrated holiday in 1971, to honor the birthdays of both Washington (February 22) and Abraham Lincoln (February12). Note that Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was celebrated in many states, but was never an official national holiday (I wonder which states celebrated? Extra points awarded for those who can answer)

Friday, February 12, 2021

Mango season is upon us. Yes, I suffered my mango sinus attack this year, but a bountiful mango season will be my (our) reward!

FOSDU know my fondness for growing Mangoes. My yard is blessed. Connie Ogle - your article spoke to me - this really happened this week. A few people from my office were concerned - until I exsplained it to them:

You step outside and breathe in fresh warm air, reveling in the thought that your family and friends in the north are much unhappier than you are on this Florida winter day.

Then you hack and cough. Your nose starts to run. Water pours from your eyes, which quickly shrink to slits. Your cheeks ache.

No, you don’t have COVID. It’s mango blossom season.

A great read about Mango season those who are Miami Herald subscribers - see ‘Mangoes are super happy right now’: What a big year for blossoms means for Miami, by Connie Ogle, FEBRUARY 12, 2021

Your sinuses haven’t been lying to you: this is a banner year for blossoms, says Noris Ledesma, president of the Florida State Horticultural Society. And a robust year for blossoms means a robust year for fruit.

“It’s a celebration, this blooming season,” says Ledesma, who retired last year from her post as curator of tropical fruit at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. “It’s amazing. I don’t recall a blooming extravaganza like this in my 20 years in the U.S. The mangoes are super happy right now. These are perfect conditions.”

What caused this blooming bonanza? South Florida’s streak of cold weather, Ledesma says. Not only that, but it was dry as well as cold; humidity and rain haven’t been a factor.

So once again, my friends can look forward to my annual (please take and keep my yard clean) mango giveaways. CLICK HERE to view some of my past SDU posts relating to neighborhood mango growing and giveaways.


(don't get excited - yet - the two photos above were taken as part of my 2020 crop giveaway)

Thursday, February 11, 2021

87th Avenue Bridge. IMPORTANT MEETING TONIGHT: Virtual Community Connectivity Committee Meeting, Thurs. Feb 11, 2021

IMPORTANT MEETING REGARDING THE PROPOSED 87TH AV BRIDGE

I have registered, have you? Members of the public may participate virtually and/or watch the virtual meeting via the Village’s official Facebook page and/or our Granicus web stream on www.palmettobay-fl.gov. This publicly noticed sunshine meeting will be recorded. 

Please register to attend the session as follows: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4755197987539689232 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. 

CLICK HERE to view the official online notice. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

Next stop for the 87th Avenue Bridge: the Miami-Dade TPO - who sits on this board?

The next meeting of the TPO is currently scheduled for Thursday, February 18. The agenda is not yet set, so there is no guarantee what issues will be placed on it. 

The TPO Governing Board meets once a month (on a Thursday), starting at 2 pm in the TPO Chambers located at 150 West Flagler Street, Suite 1900, Miami, FL 33130. CLICK HERE to view the County web page for the Miami-Dade TPO.

The Miami-Dade TPO Governing Board

The TPO Governing Board is comprised of:

  • 13 Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners
  • 8 elected officials; one from each of the eight municipalities with a population over 50,000
  • 4 appointed by the Governor, representing:
    • Miami-Dade County School Board
    • Municipality-at-Large (within Miami-Dade County)
    • A Non-Elected Official (residing in unincorporated Miami-Dade County)
    • Expressway Authority

The TPO Governing Board is composed of 24 voting members. The current members are:

Commission District 1 - Oliver G. Gilbert III, Chair
Commission District 2 - Jean Monestime
Commission District 3 - Keon Hardemon
Commission District 4 - Sally A. Heyman
Commission District 5 - Eileen Higgins
Commission District 6 - Rebeca Sosa
Commission District 7 - Raquel A. Regalado
Commission District 8 - Danielle Cohen Higgins
Commission District 9 - Kionne L. McGhee
Commission District 10 - Javier D. Souto
Commission District 11  - Joe A. Martinez
Commission District 12  - Jose “Pepe” Diaz
Commission District 13  - René Garcia
City of Coral Gables - Vince Lago
City of Doral - Juan Carlos Bermudez, Vice-Chair
City of Hialeah - Oscar De La Rosa
City of Homestead - Steven D. Losner
City of Miami - Francis Suarez
City of Miami Beach - Micky Steinberg
City of Miami Gardens - Rodney Harris
City of North Miami – Philippe Bien-Aime
Municipal Representative - Roberto Martell
Miami-Dade County School Board - Perla T. Hantman
Non-Elected Official - vacant
Expressway Authority - vacant

The TPO Governing Board is vested with the responsibility for exercising the powers of the TPO including the final decision on all policy matters, adoption or endorsement of transportation plans and programs, adoption of budgets, approval of agreements or contracts, adoption of rules, and establishing or changing its internal operating structure.


Thursday, February 4, 2021

More on the failure to attend the very important County Commission meeting. It cost Palmetto Bay dearly. How it should have been prevented. Read the Village Charter.

I am not buying the “had to work argument” (and we know she was somewhere else at or about 9:00 am on that date). The Village Charter has provisions written into it designed to prevent such issues. The question is whether any of the current members of the village council read the Village Charter, and if so, do they understand how it provides for a process to ensure that important events are not missed such as appearing before the County Commission on Tuesday, February 2, 2021? There is no denying that the Council knew this important matter was coming before the Board of County Commissioners the following day. They discussed it in public the night before. They know their schedules. They know the importance of this issue to all involved. All five should have planned to, no, not planned to, they all should have actually attended the next morning – it was that important.

Again, the fair question: what “scheduling conflict” did each of them have that prevented them from attending the Board of County Commission meeting the following morning? It strikes me similar to the famous Bill Murray (playing John Winger) quote in the movie Stripes, when his character objects to the drill sergeant waking them up early for a morning run:

Sergeant Hulka: We got a full day ahead of us. We're gonna start out with a five-mile run.

John Winger: I know that I'm speaking for the entire platoon when I say this run should be postponed until this platoon is better rested.

Sergeant Hulka: Well, I'll tell you what, soldier. Let's make it ten miles.

OK, so many of you don't have the movie Stripes memorized like I do, but the dialogue quoted above does make a serious point - not everything is life is scheduled to meet with your convenience. And, if you thought the bridge issue was tough, the issue just doubled in effort by their failure to appear, the Mayor and Council have to reverse what occurred on February 2, 2021; which is going to be much, much, more difficult than a ten mile run.

Thanks Winger

Read the Charter. It provides for the ability to designate others to appear.

Here are some important provisions placed in the Palmetto Bay Village Charter:

CITIZENS' BILL OF RIGHTS            (CLICK HERE to view the full charter section)

(A) This government has been created to protect the governed, not the governing. In order to provide the public with full and accurate information, to promote efficient administration management, to make government more accountable, and to insure to all persons fair and equitable treatment, the following rights are guaranteed:

***   ***   ***

(2) Truth in Government. No municipal official or employee shall knowingly furnish false information on any public matter, nor knowingly omit significant facts when giving requested information to members of the public.

***   ***   ***

(13) Representation of Public. The Mayor shall endeavor to designate one or more individuals to represent the Village at all proceedings before County, State and Federal regulatory bodies whose actions may significantly affect the Village and its residents.

ARTICLE II. - MAYOR, VICE-MAYOR AND VILLAGE COUNCIL

Section 2.1. - Mayor and Vice-Mayor.                  (CLICK HERE to view the full charter section)

(A) Powers of the Mayor. The Mayor shall preside at meetings of the Council and be a voting member of the Council. In addition, the Mayor shall have the following specific responsibilities:

***   ***   ***

(3)The Mayor shall be recognized as head of the Village government for all ceremonial purposes, for purposes of military law, and for service of process.

(4)The Mayor shall be the official designated to represent the Village in all dealings with other governmental entities.

***   ***   ***

(B)Vice-Mayor. During the absence or incapacity of the Mayor, the Vice-Mayor shall have all the powers, authority, duties and responsibilities of the Mayor.

WHERE WAS THE VICE MAYOR? This meeting was important. At least it may have saved the folly of an “Emergency” Meeting” (It’s only an emergency because the council failed to attend the commission meeting). Note that our current Vice Mayor is an attorney and nearly all attorneys have occasionally been called to short notice or "emergency" hearings where they are expected to attend and participate. (Unless our current vice mayor has lived a truly charmed professional life where everything is scheduled with never an unexpected conflict)

Final Editor’s Note: Fairness in scheduling events to enable public participation: If the Mayor, Vice Mayor and Village Council can’t attend County Commission meetings because they ‘have to work’, then why are they scheduling Palmetto Bay sunshine meetings, visioning sessions and other sundry meetings to take place during the regular work days? It seems kinda contradictory, doesn’t it? Contradictory or hypocritical, you decide.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

80 percent of success is showing up. Palmetto Bay's residents, for and against, were left hanging by the failure of the Mayor, Vice Mayor and 3 council members to show up and advocate.

Why were the residents of Palmetto Bay left without any representation on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, before the Board of County Commissioners?

Fair question: I would like each and every member for the Village Council, from the Mayor, the Vice Mayor and each of the three district Council Members to advise the village residents what was more important than participating before the County Commission on Tuesday, 2-2-2021. in writing so we are all sure that we all receive the same answer, not one that differs based upon the audience.

Remember, the Mayor and all members of the Village Council are paid, and provided with health insurance benefits. Their expenses to and from the Commission Chambers would have been reimbursed. No excuses. 

It looks bad to fail to show up. Did they oversleep? Was it non-feasance? Or perhaps fear of public speaking or having to articulate a position that differed from what was told some during the election?

Perhaps they should dock themselves some of their pay and benefits for pulling a disappearing act when they were needed. its easy to participate in a ribbon cutting. It takes leadership and preparation to advocate on the tough issues.

I leave you with a quote from Dr. Jill Biden, educator and First Lady of the United States, about showing up when you are needed:

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

UPDATE - Miami-Dade County Commission unanimously approves bridging resolution

Cutler Bay's Mayor Tim Merbott appeared before the Board of County Commissioners and plead his case for building the bridge.

There was no appearance, no speakers, from the Palmetto Bay Mayor or Village Council. 

Those present on the County Commission joined in a unanimous vote to approve the resolution. agenda item 11(A)(12). The item moves forward.

Sad, but I predicted this back on December 15, 2021, when I asked the questions, raised the issues, and asked a fair question in the Tuesday, December 15, 2020, post “2021's first test - the bridge is back. Will it unite or divide Palmetto Bay? Will it happen without input from Palmetto Bay's so-called leaders?

The other shoe has now dropped. And Palmetto Bay officials dropped the ball. We all saw on February 2, we saw that there is no plan of the Mayor and Palmetto Bay Council, but to blame the County Commission and to deflect responsibility from where it lies – squarely on the current Palmetto Bay Mayor and Council

Let's be clear, my opinions in that post concern much more than to bridge or not to bridge. It is about issue straddling and pandering misstatements passed along in Palmetto Bay,  much of the time done through proxy. The conflicting promises made, talking points specially developed for whomever the candidates are speaking, the underground attacks and rumor mongering (and preventing debates where the truth would be aired).

Distractions, misdirection. A local government of bread and circuses.

Questions from concerned residents: "Will Palmetto Bay leaders support or oppose the bridge?"

(Non) Response from elected officials: "Look! Over there! Palmetto Bay is holding birthday drive bys, would you like one? Don't miss out"

What is the plan? I heard the rumors made in the door to door personal campaigning - to vote against Silva and David Singer as they were “pro-bridge”. So now we have a District Commissioner who is on board with the bridge. So again, I ask, What is the plan from Palmetto Bay leadership?

Sad. No leadership. React rather than advocate. Allow things to happen and then blame those who are successful at pushing forward their competing agenda.

Bridging Palmetto Bay - the plan is back and apparently this has been put together without any opposition or input from current Palmetto Bay officials.

 What did they know and when did they know it?

The late US Senator and statesman Howard Baker is known for his famous query of then President Nixon: "What did the President know and when did he know it?" Well, I have the same thought today.  Apparently our Palmetto Bay elected leaders were caught flat footed, blissfully unaware of a plan pushing through the County Commission to bridge Palmetto Bay, starting at 87 Avenue. This is kind of important information to stay on top of - both for supporters and objectors.

I served with two different county commissioners and both would meet regularly with me to discuss issues and projects that concerned and/or impacted Palmetto Bay. I am quite taken aback by this alleged lack of knowledge by the Palmetto Bay Mayor and Council. Commission Danielle Cohen Higgins has been accessible to those who have questions or concerns. I could not see how it is any different for fellow elected officials. There are also the South Dade Municipal Coalition meetings where transportation issues have been discussed as well. In any event, there was a Palmetto Bay Council Meeting last night (Monday, 2/1/2021). Do the current council members support this proposal or not? Do they have an action plan either in support or opposition? If so, could they please share it with all of us?

Here is a link to the Miami Herald Article - viewable by those who subscribe to the newspaper. See:  The fight over the 87th Avenue bridge is back, and up for a last-minute county vote, by Douglas Hanks, 2/01/2021

So it is a fair question to ask: What did the current Palmetto Bay Mayor and Council Members know and when did they know it? And if they knew nothing, then why? Why aren’t questions asked in the numbers meetings and opportunities that they have shared with our County Commissioner, Danielle Cohen Higgins?

Finally – here is a link to the Miami-Dade County Commission item set for today, yes, TODAY, Tuesday, February 2, 2021, beginning at 9:00 AM.

 210164ResolutionDanielle Cohen Higgins, Prime Sponsor   RESOLUTION ESTABLISHING COUNTY POLICY THAT THE COUNTY ARTERIAL NETWORK EXTEND WITHOUT DEAD-ENDS, WITHIN TRAFFIC ENGINEERING STANDARDS, THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY AND IN FURTHERANCE OF THAT POLICY, DIRECTING THE COUNTY MAYOR OR COUNTY MAYOR’S DESIGNEE TO TAKE ALL ACTIONS NECESSARY TO CONSTRUCT A BRIDGE THAT WOULD EXTEND SW 87TH AVENUE FROM SW 164TH STREET TO SW 163RD TERRACE CROSSING OVER THE CUTLER DRAIN CANAL C-100 (“BRIDGE PROJECT”); APPROPRIATING $3,100,000.00 IN UNENCUMBERED ROAD IMPACT FEE FUNDS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY CARRYOVER FUNDS, FROM THE FISCAL YEAR 2020-2021 COUNTYWIDE GENERAL FUND BUDGET FOR THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE BRIDGE PROJECT; AND FURTHER DIRECTING THE COUNTY MAYOR OR COUNTY MAYOR’S DESIGNEE, SHOULD ADDITIONAL FUNDS BE NECESSARY, TO IDENTIFY AND APPROPRIATE, IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 2-1796 OF THE COUNTY CODE, LEGALLY AVAILABLE FUNDS FROM THE FISCAL YEAR 2020-2021 COUNTY BUDGET FOR THE BRIDGE PROJECT, AND TO INCLUDE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SAID BRIDGE PROJECT, AS NECESSARY, IN THE MAYOR’S PROPOSED BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2021-2022Add-onClick here if you don't have Adobe PDF Reader PDF    1/29/2021Per Ord 20-38, item placed by BCC Chair without committee review and is not subject to 4-day rule

I hear the lamentations of the current mayor and council.  I want to hear the plan, and see it effectively put into operation, either in support or in opposition to this bridge plan.

Recent meetings documented on official's social media:

Is there actual conversation of substance between our elected officials when these events take place or its it merely posing for the camera?


Monday, February 1, 2021

It’s Groundhog’s Day – once again. But this time it’s virtual. We won’t notice the difference, but for the size of the crowds we see on the screen. How/where to tune in to follow the events.

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021 - is Groundhog’s Day – once again. But this time it’s virtual. We won’t notice the difference, but for the size of the crowds we see (or won't see) on the screen. How/where to tune in to follow the events.

Punxsutawney Phil will leave his burrow at 7:25 a.m. February 2nd at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania when h will perform his annual duty to observe the weather conditions and look for his shadow. He will then make his prediction for the remainder of winter. One place to look for Punxsutawney Phil is www.groundhog.org to view it online!

The Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club takes the COVID-19 threat seriously and is looking out for the health of all who would like to participate. The club determined that there will not be any in person attendance or guests on the grounds due to the potential Covid risks. 

There will be a live ceremony and prognostication, but no live attendance of spectators. All are invited to participate virtually including television, Internet and live steaming. The Punxsutawney Groundhog Club developed numerous live internet, website and virtual events and interactions that will take the place of the traditional in person events.  

Information regarding these virtual events is listed on their website:  www.groundhog.org.  

EDITOR’S NOTE: Strange. We here in sunny South Florida can for the first (and hopefully yhe only time) enjoy the annual Groundhog’s Day event with Punxsutawney Phil to the very same extent as the locals!

I do want to see this event live sometime, obviously not this year. It is a fun event.