Author: Joe Wilcox

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There’s No Vaxx for That

During last year’s SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns, electric scooters nearly disappeared from San Diego streets. But as the pandemic becomes endemic, and activity approaches some semblance of normalcy, the two-wheel rentals return.

If SARS-CoV-2 could be a metaphor, first electric bikes, then scooters, suddenly were everywhere three years ago. County-wide, communities had no natural immunity (e.g. ordinances) to prevent the e-rides from clogging sidewalks or from masses of people zipping about—jeopardizing themselves and other citizens. City councils imposed restrictions to, ah, flatten the curve—to prevent quite literally the flattening of some riders. But the scooters spread unchecked until COVID-19 lockdowns crushed the scourge.

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An Orijen Story

Let’s talk kitty kibble. Our longhairs, Cali and Neko, eat a variety of McDonald’s-caliber wet food and the exceptionally healthy Orijen Cat & Kitten hard stuff. We typically buy the 5.4-kilo (12-pound) bag, which will last for months. On Sept. 25, 2021, with the last bits eaten, I walked from our apartment in University Heights to Pet Me Please in neighboring Normal Heights. But, uh-oh, so much time had passed since our last purchase that Orijen changed recipes. Ugh.

Cat & Kitten is gone. Where was one, there are now three: Original Cat; Kitten Formula; and Guardian 8 Formula. The store clerk claimed, and surely packaging means to suggest the same, that Original is closest to what we previously purchased. But he warned that the new recipe is different enough. Lovely. We ended up feeding our putty-tats the equivalent of wet fast food following formula changes made to two different manufacturers’ better quality canned brands; our beasties refused to eat the revised recipes. What they get now costs less and isn’t as healthy (grumble) but they like it.

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The Cats of University Heights: Jewel

The cruelty to the kitty backlog of still-to-be-published profiles: We skip to the front of the queue a tabby observed today—on Alabama, making this fine feline the seventy-fifth seen on the street since the series started five years ago this month.

Honey and Phil both live (if they still do) nearby where I passed by the tiger-stripe on my way to the Smart and Final (shopping for frozen tri-colored peppers, but none were available). I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 4:06 p.m. PDT.

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Where Lightning Strikes

Last night’s thunderstorms brought 524 “cloud-to-ground lightning” strikes throughout San Diego County for the “24 hours ending at 7 a.m. [PDT] today”, according to the National Weather Service. I saw evidence of one on Louisiana Street between Meade and Monroe, not far from where live Angelo and Huck—both of which were profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series. According to the closest-living neighbor, the strike, which sent portion of a palm tree to blaze, occurred around 8 p.m. Not long later, fire crews extinguished the flames.

The Featured Image is the unbecoming first photo from iPhone 13 Pro, which arrived from Apple on Sept. 24, 2021. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 25, 1/2597 sec, 77mm; 10:24 a.m., today. Scaring and some charing is visible below the frond top. The device’s telephoto lens proved its worth.

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Not My Masi

My walk to the pet store on Sept. 25, 2021 was an unexpected trip down memory lane. On the corner of Adams and Ohio, at the leading edge of San Diego’s Normal Heights neighborhood, someone had locked up their Masi Speciale Fixed. What a great roadster. I used to own the exact same color and configuration.

I bought my Masi in November 2008 and treasured her (my site, my pronoun choice)—the more after thieves tried to steal her (February 2010) out of a locked garage (they got bicycles belonging to my wife and daughter—bastards). The Speciale Fixed is what the name implies: single-gear. However, the bike sports a flip-flop hub that allows freewheel conversion. In fixed-configuration, pedals always move when the wheels are in motion. Freewheel is what most riders are accustomed to: Coasting when not actively pedaling.

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Beats Me Why the Price Increased

Around the same day that I ordered iPhone 13 Proone for my wife and another for me—my sister called and the audio quality was crystal clear. For months she struggled to find a satisfactory Bluetooth headset, with little luck. She tried a different approach: Look on Apple Store, from which she bought Beats Flex for $49.99. Sis spends lots of time on the phone, computer, and video chats; she does software support for a non-profit. Outgoing audio quality matters. People need to hear her clearly.

I had already planned to buy something. While I carry my smartphones bareback, calling no longer would be device to ear starting with the 13 Pro. I can’t imagine that holding a 5G radio to my head is healthy behavior. My sister and I typically walk and talk during her hour lunch break; that’s too long 5G proximity to my brain. If the Beats Flex worked so well for her, surely they could for me. So on Sept. 22, 2021, I ordered a set from Apple Store and picked them up the next day from the Fashion Valley location.

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The Cats of University Heights: Cutie

This series started on Oct. 17, 2016—as a whim. Not long before, I had surgery that recovered my eyesight and I also sought to improve my photographic skills. The two things combined into a quest to spot neighborhood kitties and to compose their portraits. I figured 30 days would be enough time, because how many cats could there be in dog-loving San Diego?

Still relatively early on, December 24 of that year, my wife and I came upon a woof-woof and meow-meow looking out a bay window. Nickname Watcher, the feline would be the first featured behind glass or screen—and by no means the last. On Sept. 26, 2021, I observed a different furball nestled inside the same window, making her the seventy-sixth seen as such.

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The Cats of University Heights: Droopy

We stay on Alabama for the seventy-fourth feline featured from the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln; also the seventy-fifth looking out door or window. This tired, sunning shorthair earns nickname Droopy.

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image on Aug. 4, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 10:15 a.m. PDT.

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Parents Protest San Diego School District Vaxx Mandates

Late afternoon, my wife asked: “What is all that honking?” Annie was right. Car horns could be heard in the distance, occasionally and repeatedly tooting. We turned to one another flummoxed over the sudden roar of cheering that reminded of sporting events. What was going on nearby—and where? I left to find out, following the sounds that piqued our mutual curiosities.

Our University Heights apartment is located about .8-kilometer (one-half mile) walking distance from administrative offices for San Diego Unified School District, where a sizable crowd had gathered with picket signs. As I arrived, a woman’s voice bellowed over loudspeakers advocating against vaccine mandates and for parents’ rights to choose for their children—not the government nor SDUSD. What I didn’t understand: The school board scheduled a 5 p.m. PDT meeting to vote on a proposal requiring staff and some students to be vaccinated. How ironic: They cowered in isolation via Zoom, while parents protested in person.

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The Hitchcockian Moment

I count more than 70 birds in the Featured Image, captured by Leica Q2 on Sept. 25, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 3:20 p.m. PDT. I came upon them while walking along Adams Ave. at Boundary Street on my way to Pet Me Please in Normal Heights. What you don’t see: There were even more of them across the way—the majority on a roof ledge and utility pole wires.

The previous afternoon, unseasonably torrential rains and thunderstorms roared through San Diego County. Flood warning alerts pinged my iPhone XS every few minutes. The official precipitation total here in University heights: 1.4 cm (.56 inches) at 5:15 p.m., after about an hour of heavy rainfall. The next morning, crows and pigeons pecked all about from fresh food washed into clumps and (presumably) fallen from trees (e.g., fruit, insects, and more).