Author: Joe Wilcox

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The Cats of University Heights: Tipsy

Where do they come from—all these putty-tats on Alabama? I have spent more time walking along Campus, Cleveland, or Maryland, for example, and they can’t, combined, match the number of beasties living on—like the Lynyrd Skynyrd song—”Sweet Home Alabama”. Meet the thirteenth cat from the street to appear in the series; there are four others that I have sighted but not presented, for poor photographs or none yet made. Surely, there are more.

The others (so far): Bella, Burglar, Cal, Goldie, Itchy Valentino, Laramie, LupeMr. Kitty, MonkeyNine, Smokey, and Willow. The newest member of the SHA Club earns nickname Tipsy, because the tip of her tail is bent as if it had been broken but healed crooked. She wore a striking pink collar but without ID tag (damn it). Tipsy and I visited yesterday morning, about midway between Mission and Madison. 

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Valentine’s Vendor

Park Blvd. and Mission is a spot where I hadn’t seen flower sellers until this overly pink and red holiday. (Cough, cough, can you believe Pizza Hut sells heart-shaped pies with chocolate-chip cookie or brownie bundle? Hey, baby, let’s make some love handles!) I passed by the gent, then backtracked and asked if I could snap a portrait. He agreed. Obviously.

I am not a flash fan but there are times when fill-flash would be helpful—like when the subject stands under a shady tarp, surrounded by blaring sunlight. Even with manual controls, my amateur inexperience couldn’t manually adjust aperture or exposure compensation enough. That’s where post-production editing of the RAW remedies. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Cal

What is it about Tuxedo kitties looking from windows? Are they more likely to stare out than other furballs? Are there more of them living in the neighborhood? Oh, how I wonder. Among the thirteen other watchers featured so far in this series, four are Tuxes: Charm, CuriousFresh, and Seer. Meet the fifth, whom I nickname Cal, for no particular reason. Seeing his collar, with tag and bells, I’d guess we might meet outdoors some day.

If my count is correct, Cal is the eleventh cat confirmed to reside along Alabama Street between Adams Ave. and Lincoln—that I have featured. There are at least three others of which I’m aware; I recently spotted one going into the apartment across from Cal’s place on the block between The Boulevard and Meade. I haven’t gotten a good photo of that puss. Yet. 

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Thinking About Apple HomePod

HomePod arrived yesterday at 9:40 a.m. PST; thank-you UPS for prompt delivery of my preorder. The device replaces Google Home, which will be dispatched to a new owner (hopefully), via Craigslist or NextDoor. Perhaps Big G’s assistant would have satisfied more if I lived the Google lifestyle like during my Android and Chromebook days. But I walk the Apple Way today, for better or for worse.

My initial reaction: Wow and uh-oh. The wow harkens back to the original iPod, which Apple released in October 2001. The company’s design ethic treated the overall experience as the user interface: Attach FireWire cable to Mac and device, music syncs. iTunes manages music on the Mac; for iPod, a simple scroll-wheel navigates tracks displayed on a small screen. The uncomplicated and understated approach defied the UX of every other MP3 sold by all other manufacturers. HomePod is a defining, roots-return that’s well-deserving of the portion of name in common with its forebear; both share in common emphasis on music listening as primary benefit. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Buddy

Along Adams Ave., just beyond Panorama, a ginger tabby sprinted across a yard to greet my wife and I, yesterday. The maturing kitten delighted us with his enthusiasm and exuberance. He visited until the roar of a passing city bus compelled retreat under one of two vehicles parked in the driveway.

The kit had no collar, and so no name tag. I dub him Buddy, because of his friendliness. He would make a good companion to us or anyone—and of course hopefully to his owners. Buddy wouldn’t be the first young cat that I’ve seen roaming without a collar, only to wear one as an adult. Surely he belongs to someone

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You Dunno Where This Cat Lives

Another benefit using Leica Q, or any camera without GPS built-in: Location information isn’t captured with photos, and, as such, cannot easily be made available across the Wild Wild Web (yes, that’s what the WWW really represents). I know, from memory, that the Featured Image was shot somewhere along Adams Ave. in San Diego’s Normal Heights neighborhood. But I can’t exactly recall where.

Perhaps because kitties are so popular on the Internet, nearly four-year-old website “I Know Where Your Cat Lives” uses them to make a privacy point, by showing how pics shared online reveal location. Ah, like your residence! “Hey, Look. That’s Jack’s living room, and there’s Frisky”. 

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The Coins I Left Behind

While walking along Kansas from 30th Street in North Park towards the University Heights boundary at Texas, I spotted 21-cents change on the sidewalk. I moved about 10 steps before turning back—not to grab the coins but to capture the moment with Leica Q. Why leave dime, nickels, and penny? Doing so is a more interesting story than taking them.

I wondered why the change remained. Had no little kids, or perhaps someone homeless, come by? Surely 21 cents would mean something to someone. Were the coins maybe embedded in the cement (I didn’t check)? Who had left them there? Were they an accidental loss that kept little Johnny from buying ice cream at the corner store? Maybe they were dropped by someone so wealthy picking them up wasn’t worth the time? Oh the questions the forlorn change raised from its fallen, forgotten state. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Bramble

There are days I long for a reliable, interchangeable-lens mirrorless digital camera, like the Fujifilm X-T2, from which a good telephoto could close the distance to a subject. Then again, I doubt whether such a sophisticated instrument could capture such fine feline. The Summilux 28mm f/1.7 lens of the Leica Q may seem to shoot too wide, but precise manual focus let me cut through branches and full-frame sensor later made possible a moment from close-in crop.

I took the Featured Image and its companion yesterday afternoon, along Florida Street, soon after crossing Howard towards Polk. The kitty was a chance sighting and difficult capture. As I passed a cement wall, with overgrown hedge above, I spotted the cat through the branches, waiting outside a door to be let in.

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The Cats of University Heights: Carl

The East side of the neighborhood sure has an abundance of lovely smokey grey kitties, living close-by one another. Yesterday, I met Carl, his owner, and dog in a yard near where Mission and Mississippi meet. Down Mississippi, beyond Monroe, Ohana lives within sharp-eyeshot. At the end of the street turn onto Meade towards Alabama and somewhere you may meet Amanda. Along Alabama, there reside Laramie and Smokey, at houses diagonally across the street. I am no cat breed connoisseur and must ask: Are any of these Russian Blue?

Carl’s official nickname is Monkey because of his curled tail. Hehe, a block-and-a-half down and over on Alabama roams a tiger-tabby whose real name is Monkey; the old-timer and street’s dominant male turns 14 in March. Along Monroe, just down from Mississippi, lives Bruce, who goes on long walks with his owner and dog. Ha! Carl tags along, too, but only for short distances, because his master doesn’t like the cat crossing the street. 

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Caught in a Villainous Lair

Part of the reason, yesterday, I walked down Adams Ave. to Pet Me Please (for cat food) was to swing by Villainous Lair, which is a cool comics shop that also hosts gamers. Last week, I read a San Diego Reader news story by Mike Madriaga about the store closing on January 31.

Employees confirmed closure and the date, although much stock remained to be sold—50-percent-off list price this week. Role-playing game activities, along rows of tables and chairs in the back room, will continue as usual until the last day. Tonight, as part of a kind of send-off party, there also will be live Rocky Horror Picture Show in the store. I shot the Featured Image, of the shop, when leaving, using Leica Q. Vitals, aperture manually set for street shooting: f/8, ISO 100, 1/125 sec; 28mm; 1:59 p.m. PST.  

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‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’

For weeks, I wanted to capture this sign along Adams Ave., but each passby was in the car. Until today, when I walked to Pet Me Please for cat food. The Featured Image is from Leica Q. For comparison, the other is an iPhone X shot, using the second lens to 2X zoom.

Vitals for the first, aperture manually set for street shooting: f/8, ISO 100, 1/400 sec; 1:42 p.m. PST, today. The other: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/1171 sec, 6mm; 1:43 p.m. Metadata indicates that the Q shot was 1:45, but that is incorrect as I used the X afterwards. Turns out the clock was running three minutes fast; it is now reset-corrected. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Lola

When walking to the grocery store, and expecting to carry back a hefty load, I usually leave camera behind—as was the case this morning. So I had to rely on iPhone X when meeting Lola and her owner, along Polk Ave. between Georgia Street and Park Blvd.

As I trudged up the hill, a lady approached her property fence to the sounds of a meowing cat greeting her from behind a mesh-like security door. I asked about her kitty, who came out into the small yard and promptly attacked a tiger-tabby that neither of us humans had seen. The intruder immediately fled, and Lola returned to rubbing against anything and everything, issuing sweet meows.