Category: Aspiration

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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 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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Goodbye, Momma

The world is full of narcissists, who gain popularity by self-broadcasting themselves, boasting their own accomplishments, and in process taking praise or gaining glory. They are false. Ingenuine. There is another type of character—someone who naturally gives, asks for nothing in return, and (often too rarely) is well-regarded for their generosity. They are true charmers in the sense self-proclaimers pretend to be.

My mom, who passed away today, Aug. 5, 2017, was social through grace and a kind of innate likability. She was short in stature—adult height of four feet, ten-and-a-half inches—but tall in presence. In any room, she easily became the sun around which all present orbited. I often marveled at how people just gravitated to the small woman without any seeming effort on her part, other than flowing friendliness and generosity. Her buoyant, positive spirit, supported by unstoppable, advocating determination, made mom the person others wanted to be with—and to be like. She was authentic. Genuine. 

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Christmas in June?

I spotted Santa Claus while walking in Balboa Park this afternoon. He was out for a stroll—to where is anyone’s guess. An elf helper tagged along, so surely there was some purpose. After passing him, I stopped. Hesitated. Stepped forward. Then turned around and approached Mr. Kringle, rather than let the moment pass. I asked to shoot a portrait.

As you would expect, Santa responded jovially, accepting the invitation. While couching low with Leica Q, I asked about his presence, joking that it wasn’t Christmas in July. He smiled and said something about Christmas being every day for people who keep it in their hearts. Now that is a lovely sentiment. 

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The Ring Returns

Yesterday, I put on my wedding ring for the first time in 13 years. The saga starts in January 2004, in an incident described in missive: “Man on the Train“. I got poison ivy—in Winter, no less—after giving a homeless guy money while riding the DC Metro. That was the suspected scenario from my then doctor, now retired, Gabe Mirkin, a well-known fitness physician whose office was around the block from our house. Dr. Mirkin surmised that the homeless dude had residue on his hands and clothes from sleeping outdoors. Brrrr.

I closed the blogpost recounting the incident: “My left hand is so swollen, today I may ask a jeweler to cut off my wedding ring”. And I did, returning to White Flint Mall, where was the store from which my wife and I bought matching gold bands in 1989. The shop had closed, but another jeweler expertly performed a clean hackjob. Whoa, color returned to my finger! White Flint is gone now, BTW. The upscale mall was torn down in summer 2015. WTH? 

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SDCC 2017 Open Registration Failure!

I would like to congratulate all the future San Diego Comic-Con attendees scoring passes today. You are worthyMy luck ran out during Preregistration last month and continued this morning. I had attended the geekfest every year since 2009, and with passes for the full four days and Preview Night.

Feeble chance remains. The deadline for press verification is April 28th, and I will apply. But for reasons unknown to me, without explanation, SDCC stopped validating my media credentials in 2015. Luckily—and gladly—I paid that year and the next. While I now hope to attend in 2017, legitimately, as working press professional, my optimism is faint. 

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My Comic-Con Luck Runs Out

I dreaded this day but mentally prepared—or so it seemed. San Diego Comic-Con 2017 Early Registration commenced this morning. Passes sold out in about an hour, and I got none for any of the four days or Preview Night. I attended continuously, starting in 2009—the first six years as registered press. For reasons unknown to me, SDCC did not “verify” my media status for 2015 or 2016, but I was able to register and pay for the entire event.

Open Registration is still to come, and the convention changed the press submission schedule for the July 19 (Preview Night) – 23 event. Past years: December. Now it’s end of April. Before the new week starts, I will resubmit legitimate materials that, if my luck isn’t exhausted, might lead to press certification and attendance. 

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Lemonade Stand

The Fujifilm X100F is now my nearly-always outdoor companion—a role iPhone 7 Plus had filled. The camera is compact and light and comfortably slings over the shoulder attached to the ONA Lima strap. Earlier today, my wife and I walked down Maryland Ave. toward The Hub plaza in Hillcrest. Along the way, we passed a lemonade stand, with some kids fundraising for the local elementary school, Alice Birney. They had already raised $60 when I snapped the pic, at 1:15 p.m. PST. Somebody paid more than the requested 25 cents a cup. Hehe.

The Featured Image is a crop of the original, which is visible below the fold. Both versions are unaltered, except for horizontal cropping to the first and straightening of both. The visual cue is different in each, though. The first is aligned vertically with the lemonade stand and the original against the house in the background. 

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Katris Cali

Somewhere, several months ago, I came across Katris Blocks by Papercut Lab. We discussed their risked-impracticality for price paid—after all, cats are notoriously finicky, and truest folklore meme is their playing more with the box the toy came in. Finally, discussion led to purchase; on Feb. 6, 2017, I ordered from the seller, through Amazon, the colorful City SF set, which was discounted 20 percent from the price seen before Christmas. Less than 48 hours later, yesterday, UPS delivered the 30-kilo box (67 pounds) much sooner than ever expected; free shipping.

My wife and I made a production of the unpacking, by taking out some blocks but leaving others to support cardboard compartment play areas inside the sturdy shipping box, which we later moved to another room for continued overnight feline fun. We set up the modular blocks in the living room for nighttime cat shenanigans. This morning, I dragged the big box down to the garage and cleared the blocks from the living room sun zone, where the kitty’s frolic and tussle over territory, to the bedroom.