Author: Joe Wilcox

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Quick Update: My Apple to Google Switch

Doubt disturbed my commitment to give up the Apple Way for the Google lifestyle two months ago (yesterday). Preparing to pack up my wife’s 64GB white iPhone X, I was taken aback by how pretty it was. She kept the thing in a case, which protected from damage but also obscured beauty. For fleeting seconds, I wondered why switch. Product design that generates joy is another benefit—and one transcending any, and every, feature.

But the moment passed, and I boxed up Anne’s smartphone along with my 256GB black iPhone X. Google gave great trade-in values, which dispatched the hassle of reselling the devices on Craigslist. Eight weeks later, writing this post on Pixelbook i7, I don’t regret the decision. Confession: The transition isn’t quite complete, but we’re getting there. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Poise

Along New Jersey, where it intersects Meade and Monroe before Arch and parallel to Maryland, I met a fine tabby on June 30, 2017. I dscovered several portraits of the cat nicknamed Poise, like recently-profiled Prim, when archiving data from 15.4-inch MacBook Pro with Touchbar. About two months ago, Google Pixelbook replaced the Apple as my primary PC.

I captured the Featured Image at 7:33 p.m. PDT, using Leica Q. Vitals: f/3.2, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm. 

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Finally! A Good Use for the Shopping Mall’s Vacant Anchor Store

Today’s Westfield Mission Valley visit offered up something even more surprising than seeing our first FlixBus. My wife suggested walking around the perimeter of the empty store where once was Macy’s—so we could be more in shade than sun. But turning from the parking lot side back towards the mall proper, we encountered police tape blocking off the area in shadows. Then we came upon the sign that is the Featured Image.

Think of all that empty square-footage an anchor department store leaves behind for SWAT to do God knows what—and he ain’t telling me—to prepare for incidents involving terrorists, Twitter rumormongers, or Trump-haters (of which there are too many in San Diego). Perhaps the police practiced hostage negotiation and rescue tactics. But all seemed quiet when Anne and I meandered by.

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‘On the Bus, That’s Where We’re Ridin’

I feel the generational gap, after spotting my first FlixBus this afternoon. Half-decade ago, I would have written about the company’s start and followed its progress—like so many other wannabe tech and social-behavior disruptors seeking to win over Millennial minds and money.

Bright, bold green and orange buses, mobile app to schedule or pay, on-board Wi-Fi, and budget-friendly pricing scream cool, cost-consciousness for the connected generation—among which car ownership is more Scarlet Letter than merit badge of adulthood. 

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Hello, Mini

What a strange place to find a classic: Carport along a nearby alley. So which of my neighbors has been hiding this lovely? With no license plate. Apparently good condition. Cool color. Best of all: Steering wheel on the right side! It’s a British beauty.

Had there been a license plate—out of respect for the owner’s privacy—I wouldn’t have stopped to capture the moment. No identifying information encouraged me to take license (ah, hum, dumb pun) with Leica M10 and Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Nala

As I turned down Massachusetts from Madison going towards Golden Gate, a pretty tabby looked up from the sidewalk, on Aug. 12, 2018. I crouched down with Leica M10 and Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens, snapping several portraits while slowly approaching. Then she turned towards the adjacent house, but not because of my closing in. Someone came out the front door, through which she squeezed by.

The young man standing on the step was movie star handsome—and I almost said so. But post-#metoo, compliments that could be misconstrued are better left unsaid. If he isn’t an actor or model, Hollywood let getaway a young Robert Redford. Explaining that I had just taken a photo of the cat, I asked her name. “Nala”, he answered—and added not seeing my recognition of the meaning: “Like in the Lion King”. I pretended, by affirming “yeah”, to have understood. Shameless liar I am, but polite doing so. 

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The Cats of University Heights: LilyTiger

Since seeing Sebastian and Persepolis in March 2018, I have looked for their sister, LilyTiger, who was too rambunctious to photograph back then. She presented herself, quite unexpectedly, on August 10. While walking down Meade Ave., I spotted a kitty reclining on the other side of the street along Mississippi. I had seen Amanda in the exact same spot months earlier and assumed that it must be her. Nope.

LilyTiger moved onto her owners’ charming, lush property, as I approached. But she stayed close enough to the front, on the steps, for portraits. I shot the Featured Image and its companion using Leica Q. Vitals: f/1.7, ISO 200, 1/60 sec, 28mm; 7:32 p.m. PDT—four minutes before sunset. I chose the wide aperture for bokeh but narrowed for the other to draw out Sebastian cozied up on the front porch. Vitals for the second: f/5.6, ISO 2000, 1/60 sec, 28mm. 

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Why We Went to Julian

Our family relocated to San Diego in October 2007 with a purpose: Being close to my father-in-law, so that he could continue to live independently, which he did until his passing, at age 95, in January 2017. Eleven years is long enough. The Wilcox clan, or part of it, contemplates exodus, because the area is increasingly less desirable: Cost of-living and recent zoning changes that will increase population density by way of building more multi-unit housing.

My wife and I are considering many different possible locations to move—anywhere from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico or Texas to Delaware, North Carolina, or the Mid-Atlantic region we left to come here. That said, closer-by would be more practical, particularly if we were to buy a home. Earlier today, Annie and I spent several hours in Julian, Calif., where we looked at four houses for sale. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Tuna

For International Cat Day, we celebrate with a shorthair named for every kitty’s favorite food. We regarded one another from a distance, on July 27, 2018. Just as I crouched down with Leica M10 and Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens, a gentleman came out a door above the animal. I asked for a name. He hesitated, then answered: “I call her Tuna”. There you go. Yum. Yum.

I captured the Featured Image at 6:54 p.m. PDT, just after the gent walked by. Vitals: f/4, ISO 200, 1/250 sec, 50mm (EXIF mistakenly reports f/2.5). On two other separate occasions, I saw Tuna on the steps when passing the property, on Georgia between Mission and Monroe. Last night, my wife and I stopped to look, and Tuna surprised by strutting down the steps to great us. 

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Twitter is Right About the ‘Public Conversation’

I respect—and support—Twitter’s decision allowing Alex Jones to continue using the service. No other social network is as much about free expression, whether or not you agree with the viewpoints expressed there. I see YouTube in similar vain and, as such, wag my finger in condemning “shame on you” for following Apple’s lead and pulling Jones’ channel(s). (Vain is purposefully misused to make a point that I hope you get.)

For the record: I have never listened to or watched even a snippet of InfoWars. Meaning: I don’t stand up for Jones’ viewpoints but for his expressing them across social networks. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Prim

Six weeks ago, I started using Google Pixelbook as my primary PC. Transition from 15.4 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is still incomplete and taking way longer than anticipated. I have 27 months of data committed to Apple platforms and my methodical exploration relentlessly reveals content tucked into digital nooks and crannies where they would be lost or left behind following a MBP erase-and-restore operation. Patience pays.

Today’s feline is good example of a recovered gem. I spotted the beastie, who earns nickname Prim, on Sept. 28, 2017. For reasons I can only guess, the portraits were never processed. I used Leica Q to capture the Featured Image and its companion at 6:33 p.m. PDT. Vitals: f/4, ISO 320, 1/60 sec, 28mm. The second is same except for ISO 250.

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The Cats of University Heights: Backyard

The twenty-fifth Alabama Street cat might not be around much longer, so I rush her profile past others planned to post sooner. One neighbor on the block between Adams and Madison posted about the kitty on July 26, 2018, wondering who she might belong to. Followup on August 3: “Looks like she will be having babies really soon. Friendly but definitely seems weary of people”. I presume the author meant wary, making a common confusion between the words. If expecting—or recently losing—a litter, she might very well be “weary of people”; hence the nickname.

Today, there is quite a bit of banter back and forth among neighbors on the Nextdoor social network about trapping Weary and taking her to the local animal shelter. Her time in the neighborhood ends soon, methinks. Although, as I post, she hasn’t given up her status as an Alabama cat. I am still clueless about why there are so many felines on the street compared to others in University Heights.