Category: People

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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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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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Epitaph (Revised)

With great sadness, I must report the passing of my father-in-law exactly one month after his 95th birthday. Bob often insisted that he would live to be one-hundred-and-eleven, and I wondered if he might. Aged as the retired engineer might be, he exhibited surprising vigor and sharp intellect. I will miss the gentle geek, who continually searched for ways to mature his spirit and improve—extend—his livelihood. If only more people, of any age, opened their minds to new ideas rather than crusting over into immutability.

On Oct. 15, 2007, my family relocated to San Diego to be closer to him, understanding that the solitary elderly rarely receive the respect they deserve. Someone in so-called official capacity would have placed Bob in an institution long ago, because of his age. But with a little assistance—our apartment is one block from his—he lived independently up until the end, passing in his own bed. I am especially proud of my wife for being such a dutiful daughter. Anne enabled her dad. 

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Reconsidering Facebook

I spent little time online the past week following the unexpected passing of my sister Annette exactly seven days ago. The reaction is strange, seeing how much Facebook, texting, and other connected activities and services enriched and changed her life during the last six months or so she walked this Earth. I was clueless.

Last year, I added Annette to my cellular account; she used Nokia Lumia Icon Windows Phone to start. This opened a new world of connection to children, other relatives, and friends by texting. In November, when switching the family to T-Mobile from Verizon and upgrading to Nexus 6P, I sent her my Nexus 6. Soon after, her fraternal twin, Nanette, helped set up Facebook. Annette’s first post was Nov. 22, 2015—a family photo with our brother-in-law Michael Bellerieve, before his death from cancer. 🙁 

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For My Sister

Tonight I wanted to share something for Annette—eldest of my three siblings. I started to write a poem but couldn’t go beyond one stanza:

Giants walk among us, rarely do we perceive
The gifts they bear few of us receive
Gently they lift us, high enough to see
Together they take us to a better place to be

I had hoped to express my feelings this sad day, and perhaps you can catch where the sentiment would have gone. Annette was too easily taken for granted, and we all expected her to be longer among us. Rather, an atomic bomb exploded in our midsts today—a terrorist attack on our hearts. The shockwave spreads outward as each family member is informed, and the emotional equivalent of nuclear winter chills each heart. 

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The Man on the Street

This afternoon, while walking along Adams Ave. in Normal Heights, I passed what appeared to be a homeless man sitting on a cement step inside an abandoned storefront doorway. He was grizzled but neat, with the leathery-brown skin hue common among people overexposed to the Southwestern Sun. His hair and beard bled gray all over what might have one time been black.

As I passed, he stopped over, arms resting on knees, alongside a small, black luggage bag with wheels and pulled-out handle. About 5 meters beyond him, my pace slowed. I rarely carry cash but today had a 10 dollar bill, which is more money than I usually give—and he had asked for none. I turned around and walked back, finding him up and moving. We passed. I hesitated once more then spun back and spoke. 

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Blizzard 2016 Weather Voyeurs

I grew up with snow. Hometown Caribou, Maine, typically ranks in the top five cities for annual average accumulation—280 centimeters (110 inches); ranked No. 4 for winter 2015. However, I spent most of my adult life in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where snow is nowhere as frequent but where whiteouts or ice-rages can be more severe. My wife and I are weather voyeurs observing the blizzard blasting the District this weekend. Washington is more home than San Diego, where we live to assist my 94 year-old father-in-law. The blizzard and memory of past storms there beckon me.

Anne has followed the storm online, posting to Facebook this morning a delightful video of panda play at snow-covered National Zoo. She also watched CNN, which coverage is sensational and sporadic. We needed something more like home, so I switched HDMI ports to Roku Stick, started the NewsOn app, and watched the live feed from WUSA. What a treat! 

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Thank-you, LG

Generosity given during trying times is not forgotten. You remember. In November 2015, my youngest sister’s LG smartphone shattered and could no longer be operated. The handset was a lifeline, as she stayed far from her Connecticut home in a Massachusetts hospital with her husband, who underwent cancer treatment. Vision impaired, he accidentally knocked the handset onto the floor.

Laurette was about one year into her 24-month cellular contract, and the local Verizon store showed little sympathy for her personal family crisis. Ineligible for another upgrade, out-of-pocket cost for a new LG G4 would be about $600. Medical expenses had already cleaned out the till. What the Hell, I contacted LG directly, and the response surprised—no shocked

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A Legend Leaves Us

The seeming suddenness of David Bowie’s death yesterday cannot be overstated. He hid his liver cancer from most everyone, and he left this world with remarkable dignity—externally living normally as could be nearly up to the end.

The singer celebrated his 69th birthday on January 8th—yes, two days before his departure—when his last studio album, 7-track “Blackstar” released. The song that surely will be a meme is “Lazarus”, which issued as digital download the week before Christmas; in my listening to the song is epitaph to all the people he leaves behind. From first stanza to the last, unrequited fate is transcendence.