Author: Joe Wilcox

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Uber for EMTs?

I passed this unusual emergency vehicle while walking up Meade Ave. between Georgia and Florida streets in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood on April 27, 2018. I captured the Featured Image at 5:01 p.m. PDT, […]

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The Cats of University Heights: Dizzy

Nine. That’s the number of felines seen last night in the hour before sunset and not long later. Is it a Full Moon thing? There was one of two Maine Coons, which will join the series soon. Same is true of a Tuxedo, whom I may finally have gotten close enough for a usable portrait; I’ve been trying for weeks. Couple doors down there was a tabby behind a screened window. Both sightings were on Florida ,along with Wonder, who looked down from inside a residence rather than outside porch.

Over on Alabama, I passed by Burglar, Goldie, and Itchy Valentino—deciding to quietly walk by rather than to distract them. What a surprise! Tipsy crossed the road to greet me and sauntered back after being satisfied by her pats. That brings us yet to another Alabama cat—nineteenth from the street. The kitty earns nickname Dizzy for hanging out on a second floor balcony ledge. 

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Panda a Day…

To renew, or not to renew, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the budget to suffer the slings and arrows of haughty annual fees, or to take leave of a parade of animals—and by opposing end membership? Surely Shakespeare wouldn’t approve, but since he can’t come crying copyright infringement, well…

Our annual San Diego Zoo passes expire on April 30, and “Another year?” is question of the weekend. My wife and I trucked over to the animal refuge this morning and got great value from the hour spent walking about and looking at the beasties. But is that experience enough to warrant another year? 

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The Cats of University Heights: Wonder

Sunset was 7:25 p.m. PDT on April 24, 2018. Nearly 20 minutes later, what looked like a bushy-tailed black and white shorthair trotted down Florida between Meade and Monroe before scooting up some stairs to a row of apartments/condos. Two months earlier, I had seen the kitty nicknamed Mew in the same vicinity. Second-sighting? I’ll never know, because another beauty perched above and stayed steady for several portraits.

Because of fast-falling dusk, I carried Leica Q, which packs a magnificently detail-capturing, fast lens. I set aperture wide-open and shutter speedy, letting the camera auto-crank ISO for shooting along the dimly-lit street. Vitals for the Featured Image: f/1.7, ISO 16000, 1/250 sec, 28mm, 7:44 p.m. The companion, taken one minute earlier, is same except for ISO 2000. I manually focused both.

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The Cats of University Heights: Harley

Please meet the eighteenth Alabama Street cat to appear in the series. How can there possibly be so many? The skittish shorthair lives on the same block as Holiday, Laramie, Lupe, Precious, and Smokey. Long-time fixture Monkey recently passed away.

I know the calico’s name, but didn’t check the spelling with her owner. Fifty-fifty chance, I pick Harley over Harlie. 

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Call Me Surprised About SmugMug and Flickr

My preferred, and favorite, photo-sharing site is SmugMug. The family-owned operation is long profitable by defying the Internet’s predominant axiom: Free. SmugMug relies on a solely subscription model, where customers pay, and, as such, doesn’t collect user information for profit nor are there annoying advertisements.

But for the longest time, I haven’t used SmugMug—for what may seem like the strangest of reasons: My art isn’t good enough. The service has matured into a collective of professional photographers, and I don’t feel comfortable keeping my images among theirs (although many of mine remain from the past). I grudgingly use Flickr instead. Instagram isn’t an option, for the same reasons I rebuke parent company, and data-collection whore, Facebook. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Roadie

According to Herbie, The Love Bug‘s owner, several “communal” cats live along Panorama, which circles round to Adams Ave. at both ends. Several neighbors put out food for them; the tiger tabby that I encountered on April 15, 2018 is among their members.

Herbie’s caretaker couldn’t give me a name for the female shorthair, who may have none. But she’s a long-time fixture, as are several others along a street where coyotes climb out of the canyon hunting for food (yikes, like cats). I dub this mature madam: Roadie, because she hung out between two cars and the sidewalk long enough for me to slowly approach and capture eight shots over two minutes. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Herbie, The Love Bug

Some of the neighborhood’s felines are blessed with memorable names—such as Captain Blackbeard, Daniel Tiger, E.T. (for Exotic Tail), Itchy Valentino, Mr. Kitty, and Persepolis. For this Caturday, we celebrate with the unforgettable Herbie, The Love Bug—and, yes, that is his real name. Perhaps you’ve seen one of the Disney films featuring the charismatic car (VW Beetle) that inspires this handsome shorthair’s moniker.

I met Herbie and his owner along Panorama on April 18, 2018. She sat on doorway steps, while The Love Bug lay prone sunning. He is an indoor putty-tat who gets supervised outdoor jaunts. It’s an exercise of love: At 14, he couldn’t jump over the tasteful fence onto the sidewalk, so he is fairly safe on the lawn. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Lucky

I can’t imagine why we have come to either the fourteenth or fifteenth black cat—depending on whether or not Betty and Betty, Too are the same animals—without one being named, or in this instance nicknamed, Lucky. The others: Black, FangFarfisa, Frenemy, MikaPee-Pee, PeoheSiestaSkull, Sky, Token, and Wink.

My wife and I encountered Lucky on April 11, 2018 by the same apartment complex where Blue Too and Chub hang out—and presumably live—along Campus Ave. beyond Madison approaching the overlook. I used Leica Q to capture the Featured Image at 8:41 a.m. PDT. Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/5.6, ISO 320, 1/250 sec, 28mm. 

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Where Does the Lafayette Belong?

San Diego’s Hillcrest and North Park districts are local cultural and nightlife hotspots, much more so than the neighborhood where my family lives—University Heights. Because of zip codes—92103 vs 92116—there is sometimes confusion, which admittedly may be intentional, about what business belongs to which of the three. For the record, according to the official maps, UH extends outside 92116, well past The Boulevard all the way to Lincoln, which is the last major parallel street before University Avenue and the main Hillcrest and North Park strips.

The historic, and entertainment lively, Lafayette Hotel claims to be “tucked snugly in the vibrant North Park neighborhood”. That would be the case if located on the other side of Texas Street. But the place is “tucked snugly” inside University Heights, I say. Also, El Cajon Blvd is more ghetto than “vibrant”—no disrespect to the businesses along the strip or people living on or around it (I am among the latter).