Category: Living

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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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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. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Amanda

What’s the deal with Alabama Street? For three days in a row, this series has presented a trio of felines—Itchy Valentino, Goldie, and Nine—seen within minutes of one another on the sidewalk between Adams and Madison. Later the same day, Sept. 5, 2017, at 6:59 p.m. PDT, I met another furball two blocks further, on Meade between Alabama and Florida. Where there are four, there are more. I will return to the area soon to scout for others.

Amanda (her real name) is a thin beauty, who waited before a door to be let in when I walked by. She immediately sprinted over, looking for attention, which she got—and I had to stop her from following me when we parted. My destination, the local Pizza Hut, beckoned more than 2 km (1.3 miles) away. Call me a marketing glutton; I cashed in on a National Pizza Day special (who comes up with these non-holidays, anyways). 

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The Cats of University Heights: Nine

Meet the third furball seen on Sept. 5, 2017, along the same Alabama block, between Adams and Madison. While Itchy Valentino hid under a car, Goldie howled at the tuxedo, who is ninth of that color-combo featured in this series, since its start 11 months ago.

The beastie had no collar, so I picked an arguably unimaginative name suited to the number of tuxedos. The others: Fraidy, JelliclePatience, PepePoser, Sammy, Spot, and Tux. I shot the Featured Image—and its companion—using Leica Q at 8:40 a.m. PDT. Vitals are identical for each, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm. Both are crops, but neither is retouched. 

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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