Author: Joe Wilcox

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Pooky the Aldi Shopper

Samsung kicked off the new month by unpacking smartphones that are available to preorder today for expected delivery on February 17. Even though the Galaxy S22 Ultra has been in my possession only since mid-December, I opted for successor S23 Ultra. Samsung launch discounts, combined with trade-in and freebees, achieve purchase parity with the one from last year. Bonus storage upgrade—same as the S22 Ultra—made the choice all the easier. Why would anyone buy iPhone for two to three times more—remembering that Apple is a rare and stingy discounter. The company operates by the “pay more principle”.

My main interest is the new camera system—contending I haven’t yet taken full advantage of the S22 Ultra capabilities, which ravage the iPhone 13 Pro that my daughter inherited from me or the 14 Pro I chose not to buy. All that said, should smartphone reviewers readily recommend that current model owners stay put, then I will cancel the flagship S23 Ultra order. Camera comparisons will mean much.

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The (Honorary) Cats of University Heights: Timber

The series‘ twenty-first honorary member lives beyond the neighborhood, East of Texas Street into the nebulous zone where Normal Heights and North Park meet. I don’t recall whether this fine feline was seen on parallel streets Meade, Madison, or Monroe but for sure somewhere before 30th.

The tabby joins: BooBuddiesChill, Coal, Comber, Envy, Fancy, Guapo, LonesomeJadeMonaMoophie, Ninja, Promise, Queenie, Raven, Sammy, Shakey, Tom and Jerry, and Tula.

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A Rose by any Other Name…is Wet

Rains returned to San Diego but broken by sunshine long enough for my wife and I to take a morning walk. After going along Panorama Drive, we crossed Adams Avenue to where Alabama Street starts. Few houses along, Annie stopped and regarded a pink rose poking through the open slats of a fence.

I turned Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra to that one, and another, which is the Featured Image—but from when I returned about 30 minutes later for a more deliberate composition. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 12, 1/250 sec, 23mm (film equivalent); 9:48 a.m. PST.

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The Strand

As my wife and I walked on Jan. 12, 2023, she stopped to look at a necklace that either had been discarded or lost. We both wanted photos—me for no particularly reason, but she because it’s her thing; Annie works with beads.

The Featured Image comes from Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra. Vitals: f/2.2, ISO 50, 1/400 sec, 13mm (film equivalent); 1:12 p.m. Look carefully, and you will see an ant, far-left approaching the beaded portion of the stand.

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Don’t You Believe It

I will never be a fan of that narcistic cesspool called social media. The last light of hopefully meaningful online interaction extinguished with the shuttering of Google+ over April Fools 2019. That said, Elon Musk’s buying and revamping Twitter—and releasing through journalists the so-called “Twitter Files”—brings some hope that a bastion of free speech and reasonably intelligent commonsense dialogue can survive and thrive on the Internet; oh, and have room enough for narcissists and the rest of us.

As such, I now spend some time each day on Twitter. I joined during the early days, in late December 2006. Long time, I know. But until a week or so ago, I also had been mostly inactive. This morning, I had a good object lesson in the kind of misinformation that spreads across any social media platform—and in the most innocuous, likely unintentional, but worrisome way.

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Recalling Old Glory

What on Oct. 3, 2004 prompted flags flown at half-mast? I sure don’t recall, nor could I immediately discover a reason from searching the InterWebs. I will further explain.

This evening, while rummaging through old photos, I came across a shot of the U.S. Capitol. The building, set back behind trees, took my attention; initially. On closer inspection, I could see that for all my poor photography habits of 19 years ago, the flagpole frames the shot. Then I looked at lowered Old Glory and wondered why?

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Year of the Rabbit Android Collectibles

They are here! Today! What better way to celebrate my escape from iPhone and return to Google’s mobile operating system than with the Year of the Rabbit Android Collectible Set. I ordered mine from Dead Zebra on Jan. 11, 2023—and good thing, too.

Because, according to the company: “Wow we sold out of our initial shipment very quickly! We are now taking reservations on a second shipment, however these will not arrive until mid-late March”. Yikes! Lucky me.

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The Cats of University Heights: Scorpius

The Featured Image and companion are products of massive post-processing, starting with DxO PureRAW 2 auto-rendering and ending with my manual tweaking done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Sunset was more than 20 minutes before I met Scorpius being walked by his owner, on March 23, 2022. Deep dusk had set in, and the darkness challenged even Leica Q2.

Vitals are same for both photos, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/1.7, ISO 25000, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 7:25 p.m. PST. I held back adding this fine feline to the series, hoping for another encounter. But that seems unlikely 10 months later. I wouldn’t share the portraits had not PureRAW 2 restored them so admirably. That said, blurriness remains. I did try remini.ai unblur web app, which instead increased fuzziness.

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From a Seed Grows…

On a quiet Tuesday evening, with the car in the shop and my finger healing (hopefully) from a second-degree grease-splatter burn, I share something simple and soothing.

I used Canon EOS 20D to capture the Featured Image, which is composed as shot and presented without alteration. This one is a JPG straight from the camera. Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/7.1, ISO 400, 1/500 sec, 100mm; 3:19 p.m. EDT, June 24, 2007. Lens: Canon EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM.

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Don’t Be Humpty Dumpty

How rude is that? In the midst of a massive shortage, one of my neighbors flaunts that he has a source of eggs. Just kidding, of course. You could raise chickens, too. If someone can keep them in San Diego, where houses pack tightly together with limited outdoor space, you could do as much with a little ingenuity. Then when online and TV commentators rail about bird flu cracking the egg supply chain, you won’t be Humpty Dumpty all broken up because store shelves are empty.

Returning to the topic of my neighbor’s chickens, if they were mine, I would watch them carefully when pecking about the lawn. Because of the so-called egg apocalypse, some passerby might decide to pluck one of the birds. What’s worse than a porch pirate purloining your Amazon delivery? Someone stealing your birds. Don’t expect them to escape the chase or cluck for help. They are an emotional and financial investment that you don’t want to risk losing.

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Master the Moment

New Years, today by the Lunar Calendar, affords opportunity to make—or in this instance amend—my personal motto. On Jan. 1, 2023, I presented “Be Strong” as my declaration for the year ahead. Three weeks later, a tweak is necessary. On January 19, when encouraging you to not be slave to fear and hysteria, I quipped: “Master the moment”. Oh I like that.

To master the moment, you should be strong. To be strong often demands taking charge (e.g. mastering the moment). So the two can stand alone or be combined.

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Do I have Egg On My Face?

Two days ago, I smugly boasted about finding plenty of egg-dozens—and same price as the previous week—at my local Trader Joe’s. Happening by the store this afternoon, I passed the cooler where eggs are supposed to be and—as you can see from the Featured Image—there were none. Goodness me.

“Decrease in chicken population” is a great excuse that fits with all the bird flu hysteria. I don’t doubt that supplies are somewhat constrained right now. But I also recognize that fear of shortages drives people to panic purchase, leading to the predicted predicament. That TJ’s receives “deliveries every morning” means the supply chain flows fluidly enough that not only are eggs available but prices stay stable.