Author: Joe Wilcox

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The Cats of University Heights: Goldie

The sudden, and unexpected, recent discovery of new neighborhood felines (five in two days), makes this site look like a cat blog, which it most certainly isn’t. I met three on Alabama Street, day-before-yesterday. Goldie is second of the trio.

The kitty approached, strutting behind Itchy Valentino, as I walked from Adams towards Madison. I shot the Featured Image, using Leica Q, on Sept. 5, 2017, at 8:48 a.m. Soon afterwards, a mom walking kids to school passed by. One of them knew the kitty’s name, which she said, and I later forget—embarrassingly. Yesterday, I walked back, luckily finding Goldie lounging on the sidewalk; name is on her collar. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Itchy Valentino

The next three felines featured in this series were all seen yesterday, on Alabama Street between Adams and Madison. We start with one of the scrawniest-looking kitties that I have ever seen. But the beastie is loved, and cared for, despite giving first-impression of being a feral in poor health.

Meet Itchy Valentino, who, as you can see, is quite thin—and the meaning is for some of the patches of scant or missing fur, too. He has a collar, with tag that reads: “I have allergies and take meds & special food. I’m OK!” Yes, but someone isn’t keeping to his strict diet, because Itchy meowed like a distressed female in heat before coughing up something. Twice. I thought maybe a furball, but on examination more likely grass or plant matter ingested as roughage.

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The Cats of University Heights: Jellicle

Huh? Another? Today’s putty-tat—photographed at 9:26 this morning (PDT)—is the eighth tuxedo to appear since the series started in October 2016. The friendly feline sprinted onto the sidewalk from a yard along Monroe Ave. near Louisiana. Somebody wanted pats and got plenty of them, making one-handed portrait-taking rather awkward. The Featured Image is first capture, from an accidental burst grouping. Reflected in the eyes, you can see me looking down, holding iPhone 7 Plus. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/331 sec, 3.99mm.

The furball had no collar, or other identification, so I give nickname taken from T.S. Eliot poem “The Song of Jellicles“, which is an ode to the tuxedo from his tome Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

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‘Come Home, Fess’

One month ago, Aug. 1, 2017, for the second consecutive evening, I saw my favorite neighborhood feline, Fess, lounging long after his owners came home for the day. The feisty, friendly furball sprawled far onto the sidewalk as it sloped into the street. I looked at my watch, 7:25 p.m. PDT, and walked down Cleveland Ave. to the corner of Meade—then turned back. I worried that in the dusk, a vehicular driver might not see the animal when turning into or backing out of the driveway. He looked relaxed and content. I walked on.

Four mornings later, as my mother lay dying in a Vermont medical center, I left our apartment for a long, soul-searching walk. Losing mom was unthinkable, but, based on communication with my sister Nanette, inevitable. Approaching the corner where I had looked back at Fess, his image waved from a poster placed on a utility pole by his human family. No one had seen the cat since the night of August 1st. He had vanished! My muscles tensed. We couldn’t lose Fess, too. 

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The House on Monroe

Feeling a little glum about mum—she was laid to rest back home in Maine yesterday morning—I took a long, late-afternoon walk through the neighborhood. As I approached Mississippi along Monroe Ave., a cute craftsman with “coming soon” for sale sign piqued my interest. I would later discover that the property listed the same day (Aug. 25, 2017). Striking: The unbelievably low price for University Heights: $525,000.

I have not seen such interest in a home! Jumping ahead in time, briefly, I later took my wife to look at the Monroe house. Cars and SUVs of various types pulled over in and around as we approached; I am amazed there wasn’t a vehicular or pedestrian collision. A small mob had formed before the informational brochure holder. One man walked in circles, flip phone to ear, one hand waving, and frantic—no panicked—expression filling his face. Dare I say foaming at the mouth, as he desperately tried to contact the listing agent? If you need a metaphor, think Black Friday outside Wal-Mart. Even this morning, when I shot the Featured Image and its companions, using Leica Q, this little ramshackle rustled as much attention. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Roamer

One apartment complex courtyard and three cats—two of them seen here. But the beast in the foreground is not today’s featured feline. I just like the composition and opportunity to differently present our Caturday specimen. With confidence, I can state that the tiger kitty is none other than Chub (a nom de plume), whom we met on New Year’s Day. But his buddy in the back is new to me; and to this series. The third beastie, whom I dub Blue Too, presented minutes later, and her photo will appear in a followup to “Meow! Second Sightings“.

My nickname for the tan short-hair is “Roamer” because a GPS collar appears to hang around his neck. If the owner put one, there must be a reason—like a wandering pet. I trespassed to get his portrait—and others. The furballs live on Campus Ave., beyond Madison towards the canyon that overlooks Mission Valley. I spotted them from the sidewalk, then approached slowly, shooting a series of portraits before capturing each one. Hey, did Chub lose some weight? 

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Seriously, Verizon?

I should have known better. Once burned is supposed to be twice as wary. Right? Disgruntled by pricing and other policies, in autumn 2015, I took my family from Verizon Wireless to T-Mobile, which cut our monthly bill by more than one-third. But in May of this year we made the trek back in part because data speed is so much faster from my apartment than it is with Magenta. Better Red than dead, eh? Wrong. Oh, dumbass me. Un-carrier’s aggressive pricing, and Verizon’s first-ever quarterly loss of post-paid subscribers, compelled the nation’s largest carrier to respond—by, starting in February, to offer comparable unlimited plan that for my family of five lines would cost just $20 more a month while delivering superior, speedy service. But what Red gave, it now takes away. I regret the decision.

Today’s unlimited cellular service plan changes suck some of the most important value from all that extra bandwidth. What good is having something you can’t use? Henceforth, Verizon will offer two consumer options—one (Go Unlimited) that throttles streaming video to 480p on smartphones and costlier option Beyond Unlimited that reduces quality to 720p. Go is essentially priced the same as the older unlimited plan, and it takes away even more: Tethering (e.g. Mobile Hotspot) is capped at 600kbps. There’s no 4G LTE for you, baby! 

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The Cats of University Heights: Tux

Among the distribution of neighborhood kitties, two color combinations surprise me: White with orange/tan blotches and tuxedo. Hence the nickname for today’s furball. Drop by for the other, tomorrow.

I spotted this fine specimen while walking up the Maryland Ave. alley from Van Buren to Meade. At first, I thought that Pepe, who lives nearby where VB meets Cleveland, had gone on an adventure. But after close inspection, on MacBook Pro at home, this fine feline is a different animal. And the other tuxedos: FraidyPatiencePoser, Sammy, and Spot