Author: Joe Wilcox

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You Can Call Me a Flickr Fool

Blame inertia, or stupidity. On Dec. 29, 2016, I boasted: “I am abandoning Yahoo and its photo-sharing site, for many of the reasons stated seven months ago. My Flickr Pro account expires in September, and I will cancel a few weeks earlier to prevent auto-renewal. In the meantime, I consider my Flickr officially closed, and I will no longer use it”. Ah, yeah, that didn’t happen.

In preparation for my Flickr finale, back in July, I blocked the service from using my PayPal to auto-renew. Twenty-four days ago, I unsurprisingly received email that payment processing failed. Second-thoughts overwhelmed. While Yahoo is a mess, Verizon has since taken ownership—and my family now uses Red’s cellular service. There’s synergy there. Besides, my low-cost renewal remained in place: $44.95 for another two years. The standard service fee is $5.95 per month, or $49.95 yearly. Smitten with angst, I paid up. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Mika

Sometimes, I feel compelled to wait before featuring felines—as is the case with the blackie that my wife and I met on Sept. 15, 2017 at 2:59 p.m PDT. A neighbor told me his name, but confusion followed about whether she said Mika or Meeko. For 15 days, I walked by the condominium seeking an answer, and on several of those occasions I visited the puss once more but met no human. Yesterday, I finally got the answer, which surely you can guess from our title/headline. Now we share the moment.

Mika is either the ninth or tenth Halloween cat to appear in the series, depending on whether or not Betty and Betty, Too are the same animals. The others: Black, FangFarfisa, FrenemyPee-Pee, Siesta, and Skull

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I Got to Giggle About Gaggles

Sometimes I can only laugh at the strangeness of Internet domain trading and squatting. In August 2015, I registered, for two years, the dot net, org, and xyz extensions for gaggles. The com was taken. I grabbed gaggles to create an email address for people to contact me to support my then-in-progress exposé about Google. With the sound geese make in mind, I sniped at the search entity’s new parent company and alphabet.xyz domain.

Last month, I let all three expire. I own too many domains that are too costly to keep for the value they give: None. Had gaggles.com been mine, though, I would hold them all. More renewals are passing by, or have gone. Meanwhile, I got to giggle about gaggles, because someone else snatched up the dot net and would like me to buy it back. Eh, seriously? 

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The Cats of University Heights: Charlie, Too

On Sept. 27, 2017, for the second evening in a row, I observed a lean, orange furball in a yard on Campus Ave. between Meade and Monroe. Our first meeting was at 7:04 p.m. PDT—or nearly 30 minutes after sunset—when iPhone 7 Plus proved ineffective producing anything less than photos so overly-noisy that they could stand-in for bad impressionist painting knock-offs. Eh, no, to your question about there being some cool, new iOS 11 camera filter at work. Oh I wish!

The next sighting was earlier, 6:51 p.m. PDT for the Featured Image, but captured with the esteemed Leica Q about 14 minutes after sunset. Once again, the 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens and 24-megapixel full-frame sensor delivered magnificently. This first pic is all about bokeh and narrow depth of field that draws the eye to the kitty’s face and head, which detail is super sharp. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/1.7, ISO 500, 1/60 sec, 28mm. That’s my wife petting him, BTW. 

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The Cats of University Heights: ChaCho

Last night, as my wife and I walked along Golden Gate Drive, we spotted two felines—one (white) lay across the entryway, and the other (smokey) sat sphinx-like on the steps—at a beautiful home with open-wide front door. As we passed, the grey kitty got up and stretched, and I thought surely he would come out to the sidewalk for attention. I beckoned Anne to stop, and as she turned back he strutted across the lawn.

The iPhone 7 Plus in hand, I had been trying to get a closer on-the-steps shot; the second lens acts as 2x optical zoom.  Hence, the Featured Image, which I almost discarded because it isn’t sharp and reminds me of the mushy output quality I would get from 3-megapixel cameras more than a decade ago. Is it coincidental, or something more, that my last few evenings of low-light photos are similarly noisy, all after upgrading to iOS 11, where HEIC (so called High Efficiency Image File) replaces JPEG as default camera capture format. 

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Home Buying Lessons from the Schoolhouse

Aug. 18, 2017. I travel back to San Diego after visiting my niece in Long Beach. Meanwhile, two blocks from our apartment, my wife attends an Open House for a cute, Spanish-style property listed for $586,000. Anne tells the seller’s real estate agent that we can’t afford to buy the place—an effective diversionary tactic. But the 900-square-footer is within our means, and we will nearly come to own it.

This is my story of wanting and walking away. I take with me disheartening lessons about the home real estate market. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Siesta

On the same block where last night utility workers repaired electrical cables above, 24 hours later a lone feline lounged below. I greeted the beastie after parking our car, at 4:25 p.m. PDT, following a trip to the bank and pharmacy. Important note: In July 25, 2017 post “Meow! Second Sightings” I misidentified this kitty as Black, who appeared in this series two months earlier. Turns out that the two are companions living in the same house, which I  can see looking down the alley from our kitchen window.

Around seven this evening, as I drove up with a Super Supreme pie (without olives) from Pizza Hut, both cats sat on their home’s porch railing. The one I nickname Black jumped down for attention when I approached. Her collar is the same as those in my previous photos. The other’s collar matches the one worn in the misidentified portrait. Whoops! 

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Brownout!

They say timing is everything—good for comedy, bad for anything else. Yesterday, 10 minutes into recording a scheduled 2 p.m. PDT podcast, where I was the guest, the tone of palm tree-cutting/pruning outside changed from steadily annoying roaring to pitching alarming grinding. Simultaneously, and in near-perfect rhythm,  the lamp light by my desk started flickering. “Uh-oh”, I thought. “Somebody nicked a power cable”.

Skype skidded to a stop, as the electrical disruption reset the AT&T U-verse modem, which could no longer get enough juice to function. The lamp stayed on but dimly. Major appliances, the refrigerator being principal among them, went off. Out on the street, overly-excited neighbors blabbered so loudly that their combined voices matched the decibel range of the now silenced tree cutter. I had already worried that the sawing would become unwanted ambient background noise on the recording. Ugh, now this. 

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Work in Progress

Here in University Heights, at the corner of Cleveland and Meade Avenues, is American Market. Next month, the Wilcox family celebrates 10 years living in the neighborhood, and the one-stop shop has been a fixture […]

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How Sweet, Sour Fruit

Fruit trees are among the signature characteristics of San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. You see them—particularly the citrus varieties—on the front lawns of many homes. Too often, ripening trees appear to be neglected, bearing plentiful, but rotting, delights. That said, some people gladly share, by setting out their bounty for the taking—like this line of lemons that I saw late yesterday afternoon along Maryland Ave.

Because I recklessly left Leica Q at home, the Featured Image and its companion were captured using iPhone 7 Plus. Vitals for the first: f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/60 sec, 3.99mm; 5:31 p.m. PDT. The other is same, except for 1/40 sec shutter speed and 5:32 p.m. timestamp.

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The Predator

While walking down Maryland Ave. late this afternoon to the grocery store, what looked like two birds locked together swooped by me. As I turned my gaze across the street, the one dropped the other before perching on a building. There waited the first hawk I ever recognize seeing. Had the Leica Q been with me, I could have manually focused in the moment and close-cropped later during post-production for detail. Instead, I made do with the iPhone 7 Plus second camera, which acts as a 2x optical zoom.

The smartphone poorly addressed the lighting, measuring from the brightly-lit background—something I could have compensated better for if not in a rush. The bird wouldn’t wait around long. The Featured Image, and its companion, are both heavily edited; in the first, I purposely blew out the sky’s highlights to contrast against the urban structure and to brighten bird and building.