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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 […]

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The Cats of University Heights: Momma

The drama of the three feral kittens opened a new—and perhaps final—neighborhood chapter last evening. I don’t yet know how the story ends. Around 7:20 p.m. PDT, with the protection of the waning light, I went out for a walk. Hours earlier, I had been at the ophthalmologist’s office, where one eye was dilated, leaving my vision temporarily impaired and sensitive to the San Diego sun.

My walk ended abruptly. A small group of teens, from two families, were gathered around the house where I had seen the feral trio the previous evening. Armed with cans of tuna, tenacity, and patience, they determined to trap the beasties—and one other: their momma. I started this series in October 2016, to date featuring more than 80 felines, and until last night I had not seen her. That’s surprising, since she raised her brood about a block from our apartment. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Ferals

What a coincidence! On the same block where yesterday I saw house stagers, three kittens, presumably feral, are loose; I encountered them about 10 hours later. They’re skittish, but scooted back rather than ran away. I might have made life-long friends had kibble been handy to give them.

This series typically features neighborhood cats that, well, I expect to be long-term fixtures. The majority are obviously pets that are let outdoors. While the feral trio spent most of our visit hanging around a front porch, they clung more to the space as birthplace—perhaps below or in the bushes—rather than permanent home where they are owned. I expect that they will soon be captured and taken to the shelter; wouldn’t local adoption be so much better?

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The Stagers

While walking past Campus and Meade this morning, I saw stagers moving furniture into a house “coming soon” for sale. After initially crossing the street, I turned back. The vantage point appealed to me, and Leica Q was in tow. The bold, yellow crosswalk symbols in the foreground are what made the moment worth capturing.

The Featured Image is the original, slightly straightened. Neither this pic, the other, or two crops of both have been retouched. I imported the DNG originals into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and exported as JPEG. Vitals, aperture pre-set for street shooting: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, 28mm; 9:49 a.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: Wink

For about five years, delight of the neighborhood—down Maryland Ave. about halfway between border streets Madison and Lincoln—is a mini-wildlife refuge that I affectionately call the Butterfly House. The name derives from the Monarchs and other flying things that frequent flowers and foliage there. This series has featured felines—nicknamed Flower and Skull—on either side of the property, but not until today did I see, for the first time (finally), and photograph a kitty there. Of course, my wife and I would be walking to The Hub for groceries without a camera other than iPhone 7 Plus.

The Featured Image pulls back from the furball to provide some sense of the lush greenery and their variety. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/523 sec, 3.99mm; 9:36 a.m. PDT. San Diego’s typical early day marine cloud layer made for perfect shooting conditions. 

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Mom’s Memorial Got Me to Thinking…

In June 2009 missive “Iran and the Internet Democracy“, I explained how then-recent contextual cloud services used with cell phones had begun, in just three years, to dramatically empower anyone and everyone to self-broadcast/report in ways that not long earlier was the monopoly of media professionals. I have repeatedly revisited this concept since, particularly as more tools became available, mobile broadband expanded reach while becoming less costly, and consumer behavior adapted to the opportunities presented. Most recently, in April 2017: “Praise Be Citizen Journalists“.

Today, the memorial service for my mom, who died August 5th, took place in Burlington, Vt. The church broadcast the farewell live online, via Ustream, which was founded in 2007. But had the family chosen to instead hold a more intimate gathering, anyone with a smartphone could have shared the send-off via a number of services, such as Facebook Live, Periscope, YouTube, or, yes, Ustream, among others. FB opened to the public in September 2006; Live, to everyone, in April 2016. Periscope: March 2015. YouTube is the grandpa service, officially opening in November 2005 but live streaming for the masses debuted only about four months ago.

The power is in your pocket to broadcast to anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Just ask all those crazy Instagrammers and SnapChatters. They know.

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The Cats of University Heights: Sophie

Friendly, feisty feline Fess is missing! His owners started postering his disappearance on Aug. 5, 2017. I last saw him about 7:25 p.m. PDT on the second, sitting way out into the sidewalk gutter of his apartment complex driveway; no one has reported seeing him since. Given that he is my neighborhood favorite, and needing to relax-the-mind walk following my mother’s death two days ago, I have looked all around for him—yesterday twice meeting his owners doing the same. Fess has a new collar, which I used as excuse for a July 22nd Caturday mini-pictorial.

My heart stopped, or so it seemed, last night while searching the alley between Campus and Monroe—well within Fess’ territorial range. I came across a long hair that lying flat reminded me of him. The animal let me approach and lift up collar tag to reveal Sophie. Her face shares similar features, but mitten paws and spectacular white ruff easily distinguish her from the neighborhood’s pride. I am amazed how many people know, or know of, the missing kitty.