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The Cats of University Heights: Ludwig

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While walking down Madison Avenue, beyond North and approaching Park Blvd., I spotted a young man swinging a wand toy before his kitty in a driveway. Hey, the provocateur of this series had to stop for a visit and photographic moment. We spoke. The gent explained, almost apologetically, that he never considered himself a “cat person”, having grown up with dogs. Lest I misunderstood, Ludwig (yes, real name) is the first, and the shorthair has been with its caretaker for about two years.

But there is a backstory. Coincidentally, Ludwig’s original owners of one year were en route for a visit, and the young man wondered aloud if the pet would recognize them after two years apart. There is reason to be curious. Not long after joining his human’s habitat in 2017, Ludwig escaped and disappeared for about 14 days. The furball somehow made way back to his previous residence in Mission Hills. The nearly 5 km journey would require travel down busy Washington Street and possibly even over highway 163. Yikes. Poor baby. His paws were blistered. Once returned to University Heights, however, Ludwig settled in contently. Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Mandy

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We start the month with a Caturday and lovely surprise. While walking down Cleveland Ave., I came upon a yard sale and familiar faces: The Parkers, and owners of Fess, who disappeared in early August 2017. Even in absence, he remains my favorite neighborhood feline—for cat character. Monkey, who also is gone, and the esteemable—but still with us—Itchy Valentino are close seconds for the same reason.

Fess’ vanishing, which was sudden and unfathomable, devastated the Parkers, who spent long neighborhood walks looking for him—as did I. He will never be replaced—how many kitties jump into the owners’ truck cab to greet them—nor be forgotten. But, about a year ago, time enough had passed: His former family adopted another Maine Coon-blend baby. Please meet Mandy. Read More

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The Cats of University Heights: Toasty

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Anne and I kicked off her birthday (May 22, 2019) with a morning walk around the neighborhood streets on the East side of Park Blvd. Along Florida, between Madison and Monroe, I spotted a Siamese soaking up the sun on the same steps where I photographed Meowy seven months earlier. Looks like the home isn’t presently occupied, and the Calico is missing and presumed lost or abducted/rescued—the latter circumstance as reported by a neighbor seeing Meowy taken away in a cat carrier.

The newer steps-sitter earns nickname Toasty for warming beneath a few hours of scattered sunbeams bursting through storm clouds. Yep. Unseasonably wet weather again pours down on Southern California. Read More

Fuji People Photo

An American

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In reviewing recent photos, I have reconsidered some for preservation and publication, like this portrait of the Barber of Seville taken outside his shop on February 12, 2019. I initially discarded the image because eyeglasses and shadow from the dapper hat obscure his eyes. Removing distracting elements also meant cropping away part of his legs. But here we are recomposed. Was the choice wise?

I captured the Featured Image using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/340 sec, 63mm; 9:29 a.m. PST.

Critters Fuji Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Olive

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Surely today’s Featured Image, captured using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, breaks several composition rules that photographers live by. Our kitty, whom I nickname Olive (for the piercing eyes), isn’t the obvious subject of the portrait even though he (or she) is intended to be. I cropped and edited the pic same day as shot, March 27, 2019, then put it aside. But having not seen the kitty since, and on reconsideration finding modest redeeming value in the dimly-seen Olive nearby the illuminated cat tree, I welcome the Torbie to our series. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/150 sec, 63mm; 5:55 p.m. PDT.

Olive, the forty-fourth kitty to appear behind window or door, sits in the same place where was seen Night in early August 2018. Also residing within the same multi-family property, along Georgia near Madison: Luci, Maven, and Peso. Read More

Microsoft Software

Build 2019: Principles Behind Microsoft Design

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For the first time in a half-decade, I watched a Microsoft Build keynote this morning. Time gives fresh perspective, looking at where the company was compared to where it is today. Listening to CEO Satya Nadella and other Softies, I repeatedly found myself reminded of Isaac Asimov’s three laws or Robotics and how they might realistically be applied in the 21st Century. The rules, whether wise or not, set to ensure that humans could safely interact with complex, thinking machines. In Asimov’s science fiction stories, the laws were core components of the automaton’s brain—baked in, so to speak, and thus inviolable. They were there by design; foundationally.

Behind all product design, there are principles. During the Steve Jobs era, simplicity was among Apple’s main design ethics. As today’s developer conference keynote reminds, Microsoft embraces something broader—design ethics that harken back to the company’s founding objectives and others that share similar purpose as the robotic laws. On the latter point, Nadella repeatedly spoke about “trust” and “collective responsibility”. These are fundamental principles of design, particularly as Artificial Intelligence usage expands and more corporate developers depend on cloud computing platforms like Azure. Read More

Critters Fuji Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Cat

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On March 10, 2019, as I shot a fresh portrait of tiger-tabby Alley, someone walking by stopped and told me that there is a dude who takes pictures of the neighborhood kitties. I smiled: “Oh, that’s me”. The answer precipitated a delightful 20-minute conversation between two transplants—he and his family being in San Diego for about 18 months, because of a work transfer, but with tentative plans to return to Texas (employed by the same company) in perhaps a half year hence.

He also told me about his Tuxedo: Cat—and, yes, that’s a real name. So I made extra trips down Mississippi, between Meade and Monroe, looking for the beastie. Not until May Day did we finally meet. Cat started to approach me several times, as I called his name. But the camera continually scared the handsome animal away. That’s context for the Featured Image, captured using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/3.6, ISO 1000, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 7:15 p.m. PDT. Read More

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The (Honorary) Cats of University Heights: Ninja

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Our sixth feline found outside the neighborhood’s designated borders could easily have been the seventh. Darth Mew originally was an “honorary” member, spotted on the other side of Texas Street going East up Meade towards Arizona. But I later learned that he, like Princess Leia, lives on Louisiana, which is one block back Westways from Texas and so within the boundary. Frightening: Thinking of Darth Mew crossing the bustling street, without getting killed in traffic. How could he?

Ninja (his real name) provided an unexpected explanation, during the first sighting in late September 2018—day before seeing a Bird scooter in a tree. As I approached the Texas crosswalk, the blackie walked down the Meade sidewalk towards me. But before I reached the opposite corner, the cat stepped into the street and slunk down the storm/rain gutter. I stopped, and looking back saw another behind me. Darth Mew could have crossed under the road, using the drainage pipe! Not over it. Clever cat(s)! Read More

Digital Lifestyle Google Mobility New Media

Why Would Google News Put These Two Together?

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I find the layout of Google News to be abysmal on Pixel Slate compared to Android or iOS devices. The mobile app presents poorly, and that’s kindly stated, running on Chrome OS. But occasionally, GN redeems itself by making me laugh uproariously when two people paired together illustrate different stories with oddly similar facial expressions.

Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Holmes wouldn’t be the first such pairing that made me chuckle but they by far elicited the loudest laugh. Look at the eyes, and the mouths. Could it be that Google’s AI has a sense of humor? If only.

Critters Fuji Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Patches

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We follow Pinky, with another Texas Street kitty, whom I nickname Patches. I spotted the Calico in a yard between Meade and Monroe, barely grabbing a shot before she disappeared behind a hedge. I have walked by the property many times since—March 16, 2019—hoping to snag a better portrait. After weeks passed, and no new sightings, it’s the one or none; so here is the moment.

I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/100 sec, 63mm; 1:43 p.m. PDT. Read More

Critters Fuji Photo

The Cats of University Heights: Pinky

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Texas Street sightings are rare; with a little fanfare, we present the first of two consecutively. Meet the forty-third kitty to appear behind window or door, and she (or he) earns nickname Pinky. What a lovely nose! I spotted this lovely on April 4, 2019,  between Meade and Monroe, while walking with my wife.

I captured the Featured Image using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 63mm; 5:45 p.m. PDT. Read More