Category: Living

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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

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That’s the Mom I Remember

The family is still shocked, following my mother’s passing two weeks ago today. In February, a doctor candidly warned my sister Nanette that Linda likely wouldn’t live until Christmas and maybe not beyond summer. But mom was a fighter, with 10-fold a cat’s nine lives. Despite declining health, and repeated rushes to the hospital, she showed herself to be stout and fibrous—and since Spring she reached a relatively stable, vital plateau, seemingly in defiance of the physician’s prediction. What did he know? Eh?

Among other health issues, Mom suffered acute kidney failure, stemming from diabetes, and underwent renal dialysis several times a week. During her last week of life, the purification process went poorly because of problems with the port used to access her vein. Doctors planned to open a new port, and close the other, on Aug. 3, 2017. Something went wrong, and she started bleeding profusely internally. 

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Along Park Blvd

Yesterday afternoon, I walked 1.6 km (1 mile) from the Greyhound depot to the McDonald’s nearby San Diego High School, where my daughter graduated five years ago; my legs needed movement after being too long motionless during the three-hour ride from Long Beach. I had made an overnight-trip to see my niece Lynnae, who was on the West Coast for business.

Soon after the bus exited Interstate 5, I saw the extent of the city’s homeless crisis for the first time. Tents lined several blocks (at least) along what may have been National Avenue. According to the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless, the number of homeless people living unsheltered has increased 41 percent since 2014. There are 937 (recorded) tents, up 58 percent year over year. Data is current as of July.

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A Short Stay in Long Beach

My niece, Lynnae, is in Long Beach—her first trip to California and the West Coast. We visited last evening and breakfasted this morning, when I used iPhone 7 Plus to capture a portrait. Her family lives on a 7-acre “homestead” in Vermont, where she works part-time for a local company but also operates her own small business—making (and selling) fresh, natural cosmetics from her own recipes; eh, formulas.

Lynnae’s energy, geniality, and clarity are irresistibly endearing. She’s a social butterfly, too. After looking around the Hyatt for a place to eat, and finding nothing appealing to either of us, I suggested dining at the hotel. About an hour earlier, Lynnae told me about trying to beat back jet lag the previous night, her first; she snacked and sipped at the restaurant pub. Ha! The woman makes friends easily. She could have been a regular for years judging from the hand waves and by-name greetings received as we walked in together. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Charlie

My second-favorite neighborhood feline, The Colonel, is gone. Numero Uno, Fess, is missing—16 days, and as each passes his return grows more unlikely. In June, The Colonel’s owner told me that the majestic longhair had succumbed to “the cancer”. A few months earlier, while on a walk, my wife and I chatted with the woman (and her husband). The kitty had lost weight and, honestly, looked terribly scrawny to me.

The family has a new pet, Charlie, whom I first met on June 19, 2017. My struggle since: Getting good-enough portraits, despite several opportunities. Morning of Aug. 15, 2017, while walking down Monroe Ave., I saw a woman petting the cat on North—diagonally across the street from his home. The beastie, who is still a kitten, but closing on a year-old, is a roamer. As the lady turned away, he skirted from the sidewalk into a yard, where chomping grass consumed him for a good 10 minutes. 

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Have a Seat!

San Diego residents leave all kinds of things in alleys behind their residences. What’s that saying about one person’s garbage being another’s treasure? This sofa sits by a dumpster, but it waits for a new […]

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Beetle Mania

The killer feature(s) of my beloved Leica Q: Manual focus and Macro mode, both of which are controlled by rings around the barrel of the lens. They’re best when used together, as the Featured Image […]