Category: Culture

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A 2017 Reflection

While so many people, put off the the Presidential election, particularly out here in culturally crazed California, looked upon 2017 with dismay (or even disgust), I started out with hopeful, reminiscent mind. Two thousand seventeen marked 40 years from 1977, which was one of the most signficant in my life; a year of firsts and transitions.

That year, in order of events, I: passed the FCC exam that would let me go on the radio; graduated high school; turned 18; moved away from home; started college; and worked as a deejay on the campus radio station. There were many milestones, all marking the path to adulthood and greater independence. 

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‘Obstacles are Opportunities’

The new year ushers in a fresh, personal motto—an amalgamation of 2017’s slogan, “Everything is an opportunity“, older “Change the rules”, and another (“Why not?”) that I used for decades.

“Obstacles are opportunities” comes from an off-the-cuff, but well-meant, late-year text message response to my daughter. She struggled with something, to which I encouraged: “obstacles are an opportunity”. Then I thought to myself: “Oh, I like that. I shouldn’t forget that”. 

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Tent City

From the Adams Ave. overlook, seen across the canyon to the backside of Franciscan Way, a tented home hugs the hillside. In early Summer, My wife and I walked through the multi-level dwelling during one of its countless Open Houses over the course of many, many months. The overly-expansive layout, square-footage (3,860), and $1.7 million asking price were reasons for our disinterest—and perhaps many other people. There is a pending sale, as of the week before Christmas, for $1.55M, which explains the extermination rig.

Californians tent homes to fumigate, which is common practice before a new sale closes. Think of it as a temporary tent city for vermin, before insecticide snuffs them out. Funny thing, tent city also refers to where groups of the downtown homeless gather together. If neighborhood banter on the NextDoor social network is revealing, there are many University Heights residents who view indigents as vermin they would like to eliminate

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The Great Gift Mom Gave to Me

On this first Christmas without mom, who passed away nearly five months ago, there is little pause for reflection. Flu symptoms started on December 20; today is the first in five where fever dropped below 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 F); 38.9 C (102 F) was frequent. My core body temp tends to be below normal (36.1 C; 97 F), which (I hope) explains why low-grade fevers are so debilitating. I let the blog auto-post several entries to my “Cats of University Heights” series, which is one reason there are so many uninterrupted.

There is little sentimental about this December 25. My wife finally succumbed to the flu by Christmas Eve; we steered our daughter away from the quarantine household. She is in Northern California with a friend’s family, and looks like she feels out of place, too. We’re here, as is her bag of presents, and she celebrates without mom and dad but with the loss of two grandparents. My father-in-law passed away Jan. 11, 2017. He already was in desperate decline last Christmas Day; I can’t imagine the dire circumstance if Anne and I were this bedridden then, when he needed so much assistance. 

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Thanksgiving Times are Changin’

On Nov. 20, 2005, I marveled at Tower Records’ holiday hours—the store being open on Thanksgiving and also Christmas. A year later, the retail music chain was gone—and, tragically, a broader cultural experience/lifestyle with it. Major bookstore chains, like Borders, followed along later—all casualties of the digital content economy (or lack of it because of piracy) enabled by Internet distribution.

Finding anything open for business on the third Thursday of November was a challenge 12 years ago. Today, retailers can’t wait to welcome shoppers. Black Friday deals have been available pretty much everywhere all week, while bargain hunters can shop today at their favorite stores. That is, if not scouring Amazon deals from ye `ol smart device while sitting on the couch, watching football, chugging brewskis, and belching. 

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Hippies on a Budget

This morning, as my wife and I walked down Florida Street, between El Cajon and Polk, on our way to the Sprout’s market, we approached an aged Volkswagen minibus. As we passed by, Anne joked: “Hippies on a budget!” That was enough for me to stop, go back, and capture some quick shots with iPhone X.

The Featured Image was first one taken and chosen because the license plate isn’t clearly visible. Besides, I like the perspective, which over-emphasizes the Bug’s flat snout. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/1389 sec, 4mm; 8:52 a.m. PST. 

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La Croix Sticker Shock Gives Me Nose Bleeds

What a difference branding makes for sale-pricing. Before La Croix became a posh, bubbly brand for environmentally-minded, organic-obsessed, uncompromising-to-spend-less Whole Foods sundry shoppers, my wife and I regularly purchased the seltzer. We preferred the no-flavor water for its effervescence and low-sodium content. I remember when, going back just five years, the local Ralph’s sold cases of 24 12-oz cans for $4.99 during summer months.

But now that La Croix is the Apple of bubbly waters, those cans cost lots more. Today, in the same Ralph’s the exact quantity deeply discounted is twice as much—and that’s helluva savings when one case of eight typically sells for what I used to pay for 24. 

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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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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.