Author: Joe Wilcox

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Take Your Mutt Elsewhere

My daughter is vacating the room she was renting—and, of course, duty fell on me to haul her there to collect the remaining possessions and transport them to her storage unit. She owns too much stuff (my polite phrasing), and I insisted that lugging everything to the car was her responsibility.

Naturally, for me, that meant much sitting inside or walking around our hatchback. When they issue the award for being slowest packer and mover, she could win.

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Defying COVID-19 Mandates

Today, international news media report that uncharacteristic—and possibly unprecedented—protests are underway across China (See BBC, Guardian, Sky NewsThe Times). Citizens are reportedly taking to the streets because of the government’s zero-SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 policy, which  has brought sweeping, but irregular, lockdowns across some of the country’s regions.

Going on for nearly three years, the restrictions, which include literally locking residents into high-rise apartment buildings as means of combating Coronavirus outbreaks, are as oppressive and severe as the first massive quarantines implemented in late January 2020. While the rest of the world moves to living with an endemic disease, China maintains a pandemic public health policy.

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Elf Tree Peace

Typically, homeless hang out on the sidewalks along the walls outside Sprouts supermarket, located at the intersection of Georgia and Howard in San Diego neighborhood University Heights. As such I wouldn’t have seen—or been able to take the Featured Image of—the tree-hanging lucky charm, whether he be leprechaun or Santa’s elf (you tell me which). But yesterday, the space was uncharacteristically unoccupied.

What a difference 24 hours makes. This afternoon, when I strolled by: One gent lay sleeping, wrapped in a brown blanket. Someone else huddled under a makeshift habitat, of which bicycle hubs were part of the structure. Another fellow crumpled cans collected from recycle bins; he worked from garbage bags carried in, and hanging from, a shopping cart. I couldn’t see the tree, or what was on it.

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The Loner

Why are you looking at a couple of lonely leaves? Because their grapevine is something of an obsession; I am enthralled by the growing location—on a grassy patch between sidewalk and street somewhere in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights.

Last year, I chronicled the grapes’ progression from green to mixed color to richly ripe. Walking by today, I saw that the branches had been clipped, as they are every autumn, but something remained—making me intriguingly sentimental enough to stop with Leica Q2 and capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1250 sec, 28mm; 11:45 a.m. PST.

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Are They a Rare Set?

One of my sisters is avid about golf. My interest almost reaches enthusiasm for root canals. Ah, the things siblings don’t share in common, eh? She was already on my mind, because of Thanksgiving Day, when I passed by a set of discarded clubs this morning; more so after I chuckled over them, thinking: How appropriate. Perhaps the previous owner and I share similar sentiments about the, ah, sport. Yuh. Let’s turn the TV channel to curling—another fine slow-moving competition.

Knowing absolutely nothing about golf, or the accruements necessary to play, maybe I missed a magnanimous moment of opportunity—like the yard sale buyer who snags a rare painting or Leica camera that turns out to be worth tens of thousands of dollars—even millions. What if the clubs are a rare set, put out by another non-golfer who is emptying the apartment of some aged relative recently passed away? Sometimes that which looks old and crusty is valuable. Are these clubs? I presume no more than any others in similar condition. But why not speculate?

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Beating Black Friday at Banana Republic Factory Store

I wish there was a better way to combat inflationary pricing than Black Friday discounts. Banana Republic Factory emailed about the big 60-percent off storewide, topped by another 15 percent with special code. Since, coincidentally, two years ago nearly to the day I last purchased boxers—and none since—time had come to follow my wife’s advice: resupply. BRF’s undies are comfy and durable, which is why I buy them.

Two BRF stores are about equally far, North and South, from our San Diego neighborhood. We chose the one farther from Mexico’s border, for no particular reason. Decision was figuratively a coin toss.

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The Cats of University Heights: Jet

Early afternoon, Oct. 23, 2022, I came across two shorthairs that quite literally played cat and mouse in the yard where once lived Pee-Pee. Among the first several shots, the black looks away. The Featured Image is the last portrait taken, after the beastie turned my way and settled down to await what you can’t see: Nutmeg, who is supremely camouflaged behind the growth along the wall.

I used iPhone 13 Pro for this one, which vitals are: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/214 sec, 77mm; 12:10 p.m. PDT. Nickname: Jet.

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Good Grinch or the One with the Tiny Heart?

My wife and I are infrequent Walmart shoppers—at best estimation. But on Nov. 19, 2022, we ventured to the store in La Mesa, Calif., because eyedrops were in stock and priced considerably less than other retailers—whether local or online. We made the trip more meaningful by walking around the quaint downtown district and shopping at two bookstores, one stocking Christian reads (including Bibles) and the other tomes of all varieties; both shops sell new and used inventory.

Inside Walmart, I laughed at—and so had to take the Featured Image of—one of the displays. I can think of so many ways that this Dr. Seuss character is the wrong choice for promoting anything. He steals Christmas from Whoville. That said, some adults (and their kids) might delight in what they see as the good Grinch. No disrespect to them, but he wears a sinister grin.

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Turn a Page

For the longest time, I have wanted to explore Maxwell’s House of Books—and yesterday opportunity presented after Annie and I bought Bible and C.S. Lewis set at the Christian shop a few blocks away. No bookstore can be found in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, but La Mesa, Calif. has two downtown. Shucks. We are so denied.

You gotta love a chiding George Orwell quote warning anyone who dares to go inside. Given the state of American politics, we’re all accomplices. We entered to see 18-year-old black cat Rorschach cross our path. (Gulp, is that bad luck?) The kitty has his own calendar, which could be yours for fifteen bucks.

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Another Bible Story

I recently realized something is missing from my Harper Study Bible, which is Revised Standard Version. Verses are omitted, which greatly surprises. My go-to Good Book is a compact New American Standard acquired during the mid-1980s. In that translation, verses that scholars suspect were later added to the original text are bracketed. They are omitted, often without explanation, in RSV, I discovered earlier this week. As one of many examples: Mark 15 skips verse 28.

The 1980-edition HSB is a used purchase, from Amazon in April 2017. The seller failed to indicate that a name is gold-embossed on the cover—and not even his own. But that gotcha aside, condition was quite good. But five years later, the leather shows significant wear, cracking and separating some places. As such, retirement was an eventual destination for the book.

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Say, Sunglasses

November is surprisingly sunny and pleasant this year in San Diego. Yesterday, when I captured the Featured Image, temperature reached 23 degrees Celsius (73 F). Tomorrow starts the weekend with promise of low twenties C through Thanksgiving and forecast of 26 C (78 F) for Black Friday shopping (where I won’t be).

The discarded sunglasses set on a cement wall along Meade at Mississippi in my neighborhood of University Heights. Are they police issue, by chance? I ask, wondering if someone from Monday’s armed robber-SWAT standoff left behind the eyewear (hey, better that than forgetting—whoops—rifle or tear gas grenade).

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Sonic Boom of Behavioral Change

Around lunchtime today, when walking home from Von’s supermarket with cheap canned cat food, I got a hankering for a Sonic burger. We rarely eat out and the fast-food place was one of my father-in-law’s favorites. I thought to simultaneously see how the take-out experience has changed and to venture down memory lane. Surprise doesn’t enough express what I found or—stated differently—didn’t.

I stepped inside the restaurant to see chairs stacked on tables in fashion to cordon off most of the dining room. The menu screens were dark, as was the overall ambience. I could enter because roller-skating servers (e.g. carhops) exit through the same doors to deliver meals to parked vehicles. I vamoosed.