Author: Joe Wilcox

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Flickr a Week 5a: ‘Union Jack Flag and Rollercoaster’

This first day of February 2020 brings Brexit to its inevitable, real beginning. At 11 p.m. GMT, yesterday, the United Kingdom officially severed its 47-year membership with the European Union. The turbulent exodus started with a June 2016 referendum and ended with a December 2019 Parliamentary election that brought to power a UK government capable of ratifying an agreement with the EU.

I mark the occasion with an additional entry this week—self-titled “Union Jack Flag and Rollercoaster” by Nick Page—that is most appropriate. Surely the nearly (estimated) 68 million peoples begin a roller-coaster ride that will last, at the least, through the eleven-month, EU separation-transition period that concludes on the last day of this year.

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The Cats of University Heights: Huck

Is that a neighborhood newcomer I see—but not yet a yearling? As my wife and I walked along Louisiana today, Huck (real name) appeared from behind a car, at the same property where Princess Leia and I first met about 19 months earlier. Last year, the Wilcoxes considered renting an affordable apartment in the same building. But the two bedrooms received no meaningful direct sunlight, making them too cold and dim for our liking.

Anne and I may not be Huck’s neighbors, but he has plenty—some of which may hissy-fit over territory. Among the other profiled, feisty felines seen on the street—along the four blocks between Adams and Meade—or known to live there: Amazon, Bandit, Boss, Daniel TigerDarth Mew, DonutsFluffy, Ginger, Gracie (deceased), Jedi, Nelson, Patriot, Royal, SnowStripe, and Topper.

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Flickr a Week 4a: ‘The Cow–Aberdeenshire, Scotland’

When curating photos for this series, two criteria matter: Creative Commons copyright and presenting a variety of different subjects and styles. Cuts can be brutal. All choices are subjective, of course, and not everyone will share my taste. I wonder what the reaction will be to self-titled “The Cow—Aberdeenshire, Scotland“, which Giuseppe Milo captured on Sept. 28, 2018, using Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR lens. Vitals: f/9, ISO 400,  1/750 sec, 55mm.

The self-described “travel and street photographer”, who lives in Dublin, Ireland, joined Flickr in September 2012. He also is a programmer and web developer, as he explains on his personal site. His nature shot takes the Sunday spot for composition, color, contrast, use of light, and being interesting.

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The Cats of University Heights: Buttercup

Along most sidewalks in the neighborhood, trees—the majority palms—line the streets. Telephone poles, and their accompanying tangle of above (or below) ground wires, are relegated to alleys behind. The fifty-forth feline found behind door or window illustrates just how ugly and knotted the high-wires can be. There’s a metaphor here somewhere about California culture’s obsession with all things pretty and manicured being a facade for frightful chaos within.

On Jan. 17, 2020, using Leica Q2, I captured the Featured Image of this sleeping, sunning beauty in the alley between Georgia and Park Blvd. First sighting was weeks earlier, however. I waited for the kitty to nap during a time of day that provided maximum illumination with minimal shadows. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 3:15 p.m. PST.

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The Cats of University Heights: Autumn

On Oct. 3, 2019, I got a far-from-the-sidewalk view of a blackie, while walking along Campus between Tyler and Van Buren. Three-and-a-half months later, and no second-sighting, time is come to add the shorthair, whom I nickname Autumn, to the series.

The Featured Image comes from iPhone XS, as I had hoofed it to the grocery store—expecting to carry back several bulky bags—and left at home my camera. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/390 sec, 52mm (film equivalent; EXIF records 6mm); 2:27 p.m. PDT. The portrait is a 90-percent crop.

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The Cats of University Heights: Petri

Look who has a new neighbor: Lily and Maxie. I have seen Storm, once on the same block, while Giotto and Striker have moved away. But we count them anyway when introducing the forty-sixth sighted Alabama Street kitty. I met 12 year-old Petri and his delightful owner on Jan. 17, 2020. They moved to the neighborhood around Thanksgiving, after driving across America: Three days on the road, and the feline behaved bravely all the way.

The Featured Image, captured using Leica Q2, deserves some context. Petri’s mom and I talked for many minutes while he hung back by the front door. Later, when he ventured out, she asked if he would like some supper. Surely she has posed the question previously, if his reaction indicates anything. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/3.5, ISO 125, 1/50 sec, 28mm; 4:02 p.m. PST.

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The Cats of University Heights: Glory

For Caturday, we correct a misidentification. With so many beasties that look similar—all-blacks, particularly—one can be mistaken for another. On Jan. 30, 2019, I captured a fresh portrait of Roadie; markings match previous photos perfectly. Nineteen days later, I snapped another, on a porch fairly close to the curb where she had been previously photographed. Given the proximity of time and location, and cursory examination of feline features, I presumed both shots represented the same animal.

Day before yesterday, I learned from the owner of Herbie, The Love Bug and Sparky that Roadie disappeared, presumably deceased, after losing weight and becoming feeble. In the Flickr caption to the 1-30-19 picture, I observed that she “looked considerably thinner than” when profiled eight months earlier. “I wonder why Roadie is skinnier now”. The Feb. 18, 2019 photo shows a much larger, healthy tabby, whose lower leg markings don’t match Roadie’s. I let my excitement seeing her somewhere other than the street and in better physical condition cause my judgement to stray. The later image is another animal.

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The Cats of University Heights: Sparky

Occasionally patience pays, as is the situation with Sparky, whose name I learned today. We made brief acquaintance about 9 months ago outside the home where also lives Herbie, The Love Bug. I have seen the newcomer sometimes since but deferred adding him to the series in hopes of learning his identity and hearing his story. This morning, while walking with my wife, I saw both cats’ caretaker tending the lawn and asked her about him, finally.

She had been a volunteer at the San Diego Animal Shelter, which the County turned over responsibilities to the Humane Society on July 1, 2018. Because of feline overcrowding resulting from the switchover, some cats were scheduled to transition to the animal afterlife, so to speak, rather than to the new facilities. Sparky was on the kill list. That last day of June. Herbie’s owner quite literally saved him from the executioner, by sudden adoption. Conjure up whatever cliché movie moment you like, where a governor pardons someone on Death Row seconds before the lethal injection.