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Citizens are the True Symbols of Our Democracy

I wonder on this 92nd Martin Luther King Jr. birthday what the great civil rights leader would think about what’s happening in Washington, D.C. during 2021. Following last week’s U.S. Capitol breach during a massive rally of Donald Trump supporters, the District is essentially locked down ahead of the January 20 inauguration of Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris. A seven-foot high, non-scalable fence surrounds the symbol of American democracy, which may never be freely open to the public again.

“Roughly four times the number of American troops currently deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined”—that’s 21,000—are protecting the U.S. Capitol and D.C. for the inauguration, Karina Zaiets, Javier Zarracina, and Kim Hjelmgaard write for USA Today. Alex Ward, first-hand reporting for Vox: “The seat of American democracy looks like a city under occupation”.

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The Cats of University Heights: Demure

The the fifty-seventh beastie seen behind window or door appeared unexpectedly in the alley between Campus and Cleveland off Tyler on Nov. 25, 2020. Yep, we’re still plowing through a backlog of photographed but unpublished kitties. I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 9:27 a.m. PST.

This fine feline earns nickname Demure.

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You’re Not Living in North Park

On the same day—May 20, 2020—that I captured the official Boulevard sign near where El Cajon begins in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, my Leica Q2 also pointed along the comically named BLVD North Park. In real estate, location is everything, and if you can’t get the one you want, pretend and hope no one cares. The apartment complex emphatically is located in UH. But, hey, don’t tell the residents paying as much as $4,295 monthly for the birds-eye view of the graffiti art on abandoned commercial real estate, pandemic-lockdown zombified unemployed, or the ever-perennial homeless.

But from the tidy Featured Image (warning: 23MB file), with manicured sidewalk, big b, l, v, d, letters, and trendy corner brewery, you wouldn’t know what’s across El Cajon or up the way going towards Texas Street. This is my community, and I don’t really mean to diss it so much as croak some snark for people paying exorbitantly for the wrong neighborhood and when doing so driving up rental prices all across UH.

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The Cats of University Heights: Peek-a-Boo

Today, as my wife and I walked along Florida somewhere near Howard, Annie spotted a black-and-white shorthair strutting down the sidewalk and then jumping into the bushes—where we found it about 30 seconds later. While a little gruff looking in the Featured Image, this fine feline isn’t a stray. He (or she) wore a collar with bell and name tag (which I couldn’t read).

I understand if you roll your eyes at my calling the cat Peek-a-Boo. Okay, moving along, I manually focused Leica Q2 to make the moment. Vitals, aperture accidentally changed: f/6.3, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 10:15 a.m. PST.

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Flowers, Anyone?

The Featured Image is an attempt to soothe the soul, following an insane few days that promise to be absolutely crazier. I captured the flowers on April 2, 2018, using Leica M (Typ 262) and Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens. Vitals: f/4.8, ISO 200, 1/250 sec, 50mm; 10:24 a.m. PDT. Photo is composed as shot; no edits.

As for the bizarre goings on, to start: During a massive rally of up to 1 million people (my guess, 250,000-plus) in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021, protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol during certification of the electoral vote that confirms the 2020 Presidential Election winner. Violence ensued, and lawmakers were evacuated, including Vice President Michael Pence. A woman (Ashli Babbit) from here in San Diego was shot and killed by police. Later, an officer (Brian Sicknick) died of injuries sustained during the melee. Politicians quickly called the assault an “insurrection” and failed “coup”, blaming President Donald Trump for instigating the incident.

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You Can Ride During the Pandemic, Why Not Eat?

I am a big fan of public transportation, particularly subway and trolley transits. No argument from me: During the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—better known as COVID-19pandemic, public transportation is a necessary service that gets people without cars to the grocery store, pharmacy, or, if essential workers, to their jobs.

Something bothers me: If San Diegans are safe enough riding in an enclosed bus for, say, 20 to 40 minutes, why does California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom consider open-air dining to be risker and, therefore, is prohibited? I surely would worry much more about being inside a bus for any length of time, where riders feeling asphyxiated—particularly older folks who are more likely to be on board and are high-risk to catch COVID-19—pull down masks below their noses and even their mouths. Can you say super-spreader event? Because I surely can.

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Leica Q2 Monochrom

One year and a few days after receiving Leica Q2, I am finally writing a review, with emphasis on benefits—not features, although both are related. Don’t confuse the two as being the same. My favorite analogy: The holder that wraps around your take-out cup of hot coffee is a feature. Protecting your hand from being burned is the benefit. See the difference? That’s where my 12-month take will focus.

Meanwhile, I oddly added another member of the Q family to my stable of (now) two cameras. Leica Q2 Monochrom arrived on Dec. 28, 2020. Some people will wonder why, when the other model shoots color and black and white. The difference for me is RAW, photo sharpness, and exceptional low-light performance. I have plans for the all-in-one that will be obvious over time.

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The Cats of University Heights: Tails

I have amassed a backlog of photographed but unpublished putty-tats—many of them from months ago, like this Tuxedo seen on Oct. 20, 2020 and no other time since. The shorthair earns nickname Tails, for what I hope is obvious reason.

My wife and I encountered Tails along Golden Gate Drive, nearby where we once saw Bushy and Cali on the same day. ChaCho and Tony live in a house nearby.

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If the Lockdown Lasts Long Enough…

I am so tempted to buy a can of spray paint and replace that last zero in twenty-twenty with a one. Because given that Southern California’s COVID-19 crackdown continues unabated—and that the restaurant couldn’t have opened in “Early Fall” because of it—autumn twenty-twenty-one looks ever more realistic. That assumes the place isn’t forced into insolvency, like so many other local eateries. In this County, SanDiegoVille keeps a running list of restaurants and pubs permanently shuttered during 2020—the majority since the pandemic’s start. I count 113 entities, but more when accounting for establishments with multiple locations.

These businesses are prohibited from seating customers, indoors or outdoors; take-out and delivery are the only options, and they don’t generate enough revenue to keep operations aloft. The widening spread of COVID-19, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), demonstrates that forced closures are ineffective killing the pandemic. But they sure look likely to massively massacre small- and medium-size businesses.