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The Cats of University Heights: Hanna

Some people are so rude—and I refer to myself. On Jan. 13, 2018, as my wife and I walked along Mississippi Street between Meade and Monroe, we spotted a pretty, grey kitty about half-way down the block. As we approached, the shorthair moved around a car in the street, later going back to the sidewalk, then passing through the door-fence bars into a yard. I took out Leica Q and started snapping portraits.

About three minutes after the photo shooting started, with a dog barking loudly inside the house, a man came out to see what caused the ruckus. I explained, although with camera in hand my purpose was obvious. He shouted—to get above the barking—that the beastie was “the neighbor’s cat”. Someone perhaps more polite would have stopped there, to give the gent relief from the yapper inside the house. But I pressed, asking for a name. “Hanna!” he yelled. I thanked him and moved along. Yes, but is that with an “h” at the end? If only I could have read the collar tag.

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Slow Down!

Our old apartment of 10 years overlooked an alley, from the dining room and my office. There is something compelling about alley life that gives different insight into San Diego neighborhoods. For example, here in University Heights, utility poles run along the alleys rather than major residential streets. Palm trees reach for the skies in their place.

Many properties keep trash cans and dumpsters in the alleys, where residents will place unwanted items they want to give away rather than throw away. Savengers on foot, bicycle, or truck collect this stuff or forage for redeemable bottles and cans. Some of these people rip open bags of refuse, which attracts wildlife—ranging from birds to possums. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Boss

Construction crews return to ripping up our street—so they can place new water (and possibly sewage) pipes—following a three-day break (for the weekend and Martin Luther King Jr. holiday). During December, the contracted company worked on Louisiana, which is where I met this fine feline, on Jan. 14, 2018, appropriately cowering behind one of the many, remaining Burtech signs.

But I am fairly sure we had a near encounter the previous evening. Returning home with Pizza Hut pie, driving up Monroe from Texas Street, I passed a Tuxedo-like kitty, with massive white ruff, sitting upright, beyond a parked car, slightly in the roadway, across from Louisiana. I watch my speed in the neighborhood for a reason: kids and cats. My wife got an earful about the strange sighting while enjoying a mouthful of cheesy crust, zesty tomato sauce, and bountiful toppings (Super Supreme without black olives, baby).

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Priscilla

I no longer look for Kuma, our Maine Coon mix who disappeared on this day in 2012. About four months ago, my wife and I moved from our residence of 10 years to a new apartment six blocks away. There is now no home to which Kuma could return; since I less-frequently walk that part of the neighborhood, the nostalgia is gone, too. Looking was more about sentiment, moving along the streets he did; little more, as we were convinced that a coyote took away our kitty.

Untold backstory: During early summer 2010, Anne and I started to ponder the benefits of adding a cat to the household, if for no other reason than our daughter. We were prompted by a friendly, sweet, long-hair calico, who would come out from her yard to greet us whenever we walked by, on Cleveland Ave., second house back from Monroe going towards Meade on the American Market side. The ball of fluff would roll about the sidewalk, purring. A pet like her would be wonderful, we agreed. Anne recalls her name as being either Priscilla or Penelope. I think the first is right. 

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Piping Project Progress

Call me mistaken.  Pipeline road construction only seemed to start in earnest yesterday. This morning, Burtech heavy-machinery gouged a long narrow trench—what my wife calls “the mote”—down our street. We are overwhelmed with disruption—like the car being blocked from leaving its assigned parking space—and constant noise. But that’s okay, because the road crew clearly makes tremendous progress. Maybe we won’t be besieged for months, as I had feared.

To document the moment, but not make the workers too uneasy, I used iPhone X instead of Leica Q. Smartphone snapping is familiar to most people and less threatening. In the Featured Image, you can see the trench, for new water pipes, going down the street. I wonder: What about the old ones? Do they just stay in the ground? Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/2288 sec, 4mm; 10:39 a.m. PST. 

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Afternoon Walkabout

I spent the day cooped up, with windows shut, consoling our unsettled cats and waiting for the plumber to arrive. Normally, there is fresh air flowing, but we wisely chose to keep out jackhammering noise and airborne debris coming from the street, which is being dug up to put in new water pipes.

The plumber and construction crews completed their tasks within minutes of one another, freeing me to take a later-day long walk. Trudging up Meade Ave. from Alabama Street, I finally stopped and used Leica Q to make a portrait of a sign seen many times. Vitals for the Featured Image, aperture manually set (for bokeh): f/2, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 4:07 p.m. PST. In editing with Adobe Photoshop Classic CC, I tweaked exposure, slightly boosted vibrancy, and aggressively drew out highlights. 

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Water Works

Our street is in trauma. Quick, someone call the EMTs. Charge up the paddles. Stand back while the lifeless carcass is shocked. Thump. Thump. Thump. We have a heartbeat. No, wait! That’s the sound of jackhammers rat-tat-tatting asphalt, concrete, and stone.

Construction started in earnest today for what could be as much as two months of mayhem and noise. Animal life—birds, cats, and squirrels—fled in fear. Our neighbor’s dog, which stayed indoors with windows shut, hid in near catatonic state of anxiety. Oh, I am just loving this project. 

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The (Honorary) Cats of University Heights: Buddies

For the third time since this series started in October 2016, kitties living just outside the neighborhood boundaries participate. My wife and I met the first, nicknamed Chill, on Arizona Street—same as the two you see in the Featured Image. Texas separates University Heights from North Park, and Arizona is one street beyond. The other honorary furball, Sammy—and that’s her real name—lives across Washington Street in Hillcrest at DC Computers. Yep, she is the shop cat.

Sometimes exceptions must be made, but rarely—why this is only the third among 131 postings. I found the cats and their (presumably) owner’s house too quaint to resist. That said, had the pair been another street beyond Texas, they wouldn’t make the cut. Lucky for them, too, that it’s the slowest sightings time of year. 

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You Can Escape CES 2018’s Toxic Babble

The annual scourge is upon us, as tens of thousands of attention seekers descend on Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. Nowhere else can you watch bloggers and journalists in a constant chase of their public relations foibles, who desperately hunt for all the attention they can get their clients. Think a thousand kids in a small room, calling for mommy and groping her dress. Then multiple ten times.

My last CES pilgrimage was 2008. That’s right, I haven’t gone in 10 years. No-o-o-o regrets. Nothing important ever comes out of the show, even though each year the hype suggests otherwise. Most new unveiled products won’t ship until second half of the year. If ever. There’s more vaporware at CES than hot air—and that’s no easy feat. Surely the Las Vegas Convention Center installs extra carbon dioxide scrubbers so that participants don’t asphyxiate. If there was an alarm for toxic babble, it would sound incessantly. 

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Leica Q is an Experience

I am, on a good day, an adequate amateur photographer. My technique isn’t professional, nor do I have an artisan’s astute eye for composition. I am okay in every measurable, meaningful way. But what I lack in skill, I compensate with enthusiasm.

Photography is fun for me—and I am an original digital shooter, going back 20 years. Anyone remember the crappy Sony Mavica that saved photos to floppy disks? I owned one, in the late 1990s. My first camera of consequence was the Canon PowerShot S20, the first commercially available digital compact to top 3 megapixels; I used it to document Steve Jobs introducing Apple Store, in May 2001.

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The Cats of University Heights: Charm

How much for that pretty kitty in the window? About 30 minutes after sunset today, my wife and I went out for a spontaneous late-afternoon walk, where she spotted this tip-top Tuxedo looking out, along Meade Ave. between Alabama and Florida. The series features nine kitties sitting inside windows, staring out: CoolCurious, Glass, KitSeeker, StarStill, Twain, and Watcher. Another, Burglar, climbs into one.

I did not bring Leica Q, unfortunately; iPhone X struggled in the descending dusk, getting some benefit from the sunset’s lingering glow cast against the glass. Vitals, for the Featured Image: f/1.8, ISO 100, 1/4 sec, 4mm; 5:17 p.m. PST. However, I contend that the EXIF is wrong. I tapped the 2X icon for the f/2.4 second lens, and this portrait, and another, absolutely are zoomed compared to the first, which I am certain was f/1.8. Sigh. the photo is noisy, which is most evident at full view; Leica capture wouldn’t have been. 

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My Personal Tech Kit 2018

I am a big believer in change, as being beneficial, and I will occassionally switch computing platforms to shake up habits and my digital lifestyle. Watching Google’s advances with Assistant, and anticipating release of a new Pixel Chromebook, I expected to swap out my Apple gear before end of the year. But that isn’t the case. I start 2018 pretty much as I did 2017—looking at that bitten-fruit logo on my major personal devices.

There is the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar that I purchased during the last week of November 2016. The other three gadgets released last year and replace like gear: Apple Watch Series 3 LTE (Stainless Steel); iPad Pro 10.5 LTE; iPhone X. Additionally, there is an Apple TV 4K in the living room.