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The Cats of University Heights: Brawn

Dec. 10, 2017, as I walked down Louisiana, a handsome orange tabby presented himself—somewhere between Madison and Monroe, perhaps beyond. I thought at first that he might be a similarly colored cat spotted on the same street seven months ago. But on close inspection, differences are clear enough, and the animals displayed different temperament: One was friendly, the other standoffish.

I nickname this husky, handsome shorthair: Brawn. We never got close. I shot the Featured Image, which is cropped about 100 percent, using iPhone X. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/216 sec, 6mm; 2:47 p.m. PST.

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The Cats of University Heights: Frolic

Along Alabama Street—on the same block where live Goldie, Itchy Valentino, Mr. Kitty, and Nine—there plays a a lovely feline that I started watching closely last month. The first photographs were okay, but not great. I returned repeatedly, hoping for a better set and to discover the animal’s name. I got the first, on Dec. 3, 2017, but not the second.

I dub the shorthair: Frolic, for how quickly he gets around. The cat is energetic and playful; I wish he would spend less time on the side of the street and meandering around parked cars. The Featured Image, shot with iPhone X, is first in a series leading up to the big portrait. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/120 sec, 6mm; 11:59 a.m. PST. 

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iPhone X is a Surprisingly Super Shooter

Approaching rush hour on 805 marks my walk along Adams Ave. above to Pet Me Please, where I learned a valuable lesson. Always call ahead. I used Siri to check normal business hours, but there were none. A sign on the door announced that the shop would be (uncharacteristically) closed today because of the “Lilac wildfire“. Well, frak me. At least I got some good exercise and shot of slowing traffic.

I captured the Featured Image at 3:16 p.m. PST, through a small opening in the overpass bridge chain-link fence, using iPhone X. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/810 sec, 6mm. The image is an auto-generated HDR composite.

Tech reviewers rave about Pixel 2 XL’s photographic charms; they can have Google’s smartphone. I am wholly impressed with Apple’s tenth anniversary handset, which is a suprisingly super shooter compared to my (now discarded) 7 Plus—or any other cellular mobile to find its way into my grubby paws. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Twain

I greatly respect people who keep their blinds drawn open. That’s how we live. Pretty much anyone can see in any of our windows anytime of day or night—not that I invite you to step up and gawk. What’s the point of all that glass if you can’t look out or let the outside in (eh, like sunlight)? This series features a number of felines sitting inside windows, staring out: CoolCurious, Glass, KitSeeker, StarStill, and Watcher.

Open blinds reveal, in the windows’s lower right side, a handsome tiger sitting on a cat tree. Another relaxes on the sofa. Their owners earn my praise for enabling the furballs to look out. Good for them! 

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Guess Who Won’t Attend San Diego Comic-Con 2018?

On any other morning, with tree cutters trimming palms right outside my office window, I would dash about the apartment complex parking lot with camera in hand shooting photos and videos. It’s an event! One well-worth documenting. Trimmers arrived at (cough, cough) 7 a.m. to do the whack job. But my focus was shaving and bathing, preparing for San Diego Comic-Con 2018 Open Registration and perhaps my last chance to snag a pass for next year’s gathering.

Comic-Con emails eligible participants a registration code, which must be activated on the website between 8 and 9 a.m. The process of randomly choosing people starts promptly at nine o’clock. My luck ran out during early reg, as it did vying both opportunities for this year’s Con. I attended Sunday, on a last-minute chance, and felt humbly fortunate for that. As you can guess from the title, I couldn’t purchase a pass.

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Fallen Fronds

Late yesterday afternoon, I walked over to University Heights West to survey the wind damage around our old place. Palm fronds littered roads and sidewalks pretty much everywhere. Strong Santa Ana winds, unusual for this time of year, roared through San Diego County, driving raging wildfires north of the city.

At the corner of Cleveland and Monroe Avenues is a massive-trunk palm tree that dominates the intersection and much of the street. As I walked up, a young woman had just finished collecting the fallen fronds. She was being neighborly, by picking up debris that littered sidewalk and street. But taking risk. Even when winds aren’t roaring that tree drops chunks. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Sunshine

Few neighborhood intersections could be more dangerous to people, or to animals, than where Adams Ave. and Park Blvd meet. So I was surprised to discover a kitty nearby there on Dec. 5, 2017. As my wife and I walked by, I heard meowing—then stopped and stepped back to see a long-hair tortoiseshell rustling before a closed door to be let in. I pulled out iPhone X and knelt down to take some quick photos; she scurried to us across the walkway to the sidewalk seeking pats and attention.

I nickname the feline Sunshine, for being such a ray of delight; she also reminds me of our Cali. The cat moved around so much, and in contrasting areas of shade and light, that capturing good portraits proved challenging. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Aqua

I sometimes wonder what people think about me strolling around the neighborhood and peering into people’s yards—looking for cats, of course. Recently, while chatting with the cashier at Healthy Heights Pets Market, other customers came in and I decided best to excuse myself and let her serve them. We had a good conversation about journalism and writing; she offered her name, as did I. One of the other shoppers said, referring to me: “The photographer”. Yikes! Recognized and categorized.

Yesterday afternoon, while walking along Mississippi Street towards Mission, I spied a pretty kitty sitting on grass behind a white picket fence. I pulled out iPhone X and snapped a shot from standing, approaching position—in case she scattered, which will happen depending on the furball’s temperament. I crouched down to shoot through the fence. Then a SUV horn bellowed behind me. I had stepped backward into the driveway, just as someone else wanted to pull in. Apologizing, I scooted out of the way and continued capturing portraits. Deliberate decision was made to hang around: Perhaps the person could tell me the animal’s name. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Panda

For the second consecutive day, I saw a cat on the same block along Mississippi Street—beyond Howard. The first, Peohe, is a big, black, friendly fluffball. The other is Panda (yes, her real name). She so reminds me of Luna, whom my wife and I would see in the yard of a house on North Avenue., near where it meets Meade. She disappeared 18 months or so ago, and I was sorry to never have taken her portrait. Panda is as close as this series will get to her.

I used iPhone X to capture the Featured Image and its companion, yesterday. I got down on one knee and shot through the openings between the property-fence’s slats. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 40, .97 ev, 1/60 sec, 6mm; 4:25 p.m. PST. Other is the same, except for ISO 32. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Peohe

Near the neighborhood’s southern boundary, I made a new feline friend, while learning a valuable lesson about identification. Yesterday, as I walked home from Smart & Final, along Mississippi Street, I spotted a kitty nestled beside a porch. Seemingly glowing eyes glared back against black mat in the distance. As I stooped low to capture a photo using iPhone X, the beastie trotted across the driveway to the sidewalk. From the name on the collar, I had just made acquaintance with Daisy.

She rolled around on the cement, relishing pats and marking scent on my hands and legs with her head. Not long later, the cat’s master came home—and, of course, the animal would step into the driveway in front of the vehicle. Behind the wheel, the woman explained that this frequently happens; toot of the horn scooted Daisy to safety.