Author: Joe Wilcox

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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.

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The Cats of University Heights: Patriot

Because of goings-on best discussed some other time, my regular writing is irregular at best. But the cats! They’re piling up on the sidelines, and there comes time to free up the logjam and make this site look even more like a homage to the beasts. It’s not, and their presence wouldn’t loom so large if other content filled the spaces between their profiles.

Whiny introduction aside, we resume the series with a kitty nicknamed Patriot—I would hope for obvious reasons. I captured the Featured Image and its companion, using Leica Q on July 17, 2018, along Louisiana between Adams and Madison. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 6:55 p.m. PDT. The other is same, shot first, except for f/4. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Stoic

Along Howard Ave., between Florida and Georgia, I spotted the series‘ twenty-ninth window watcher on the morning of July 15, 2018. Nicknamed Stoic, for no particular reason, the kitty presented setting worthy of black-and-white conversion in post-production.

I captured the Featured Image at 10:17 a.m. PDT, using Leica M10 and Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/250 sec, 50mm. (The EXIF states f/4, which the camera wrongly estimated).