Author: Joe Wilcox

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Flickr a Week 12a: ‘The Starting Grid’

Vroom, the race is on, in self-titled “The Starting Grid“, which Dennis Freeland captured on July 13, 2016, using Olympus OM-D E-M10. Vitals (incomplete): ISO 1250, 1/1600 sec. “If my time comes for a scooter, I will have a camera built in”, he chimes. Sentiment I share, if, and hopefully never.

The street shot is a no-brainer choice for our Sunday spot. This is a moment that could only work in black and white; colors would distract from the three gents. I got to ask about the last: Why is he considerably younger? His presence gives more sense of a race than would a trio of geezers riding about. Why does the lead rider look so miserable? The answer to these and other questions is the kind of storytelling that this series seeks to spotlight with each and every selection.

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The Cats of University Heights: Digger

My wife and I continue to take guarded walks, mostly along neighborhood alleys, as we attempt to practice so-called “social distancing” behavior whenever taking relief from our otherwise apartment lockdown. Actually, Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered all 40-million Californians to “stay at home“—a desperate strategy to slow spread of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), better known as COVID-19. Today, as we crossed Mission Ave., I spotted a black shorthair digging into a lawn. Hence, the nickname.

The home is next door to the place where lives Luna. Presumably, Digger is a relatively new resident—as the property where she foraged sold last year. Annie and I had a look during an Open House—not that we had interest in buying beyond our means, which describes, or perhaps described, most every property in San Diego (before contagion-containing tactics devastated the U.S. economy, among other nations).

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Thin Crust Topped with Thick Irony

For days I’ve wondered about making one last Pizza Hut order—a final reach for what was before embarking on what is. Should I take away, like usual, or choose delivery? Last night, on my wife’s advice, I chanced pickup and nearly dropped the pies on the way to the car. Marketing messaging on the box caused me to laugh uncontrollably. Oh, and I desperately needed the chuckle, as do many more of us. “March Madness”: How ironically appropriate for circumstances.

The SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—better known as COVID-19pandemic is upon us. As I started warning family more than a month ago, the contagion is a transformative event unlike anything experienced by human society for many generations. Everyone’s lifestyle will change. The world we knew is gone. Poof!

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Something Stinks Here

There are the photo opportunities that you frustratingly miss, those you purposely pass on, and the ones you use for illustration—even when they’re make-do. That’s the context for our Featured Image, shot today using iPhone XS. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 69, 1/1689 sec, 26mm (film equivalent); 10:05 a.m. PDT. Now comes some explanation.

In response to the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic, federal and state officials have issued orders for citizens to “shelter in place“. Most businesses considered to be non-essential are closed; schools are, too. Staying home is fine most of the time, but some healthy outdoor activity is nevertheless necessary for the Wilcox family’s well-being. Turns out that walks are considered to be safe enough—and my wife and I continue to take them, mindful to try and keep the recommended six feet away from passersby (mostly dog walkers). At 8:50 a.m. PDT, we met someone, or I should say something, that we surely wanted to keep distance from: A skunk scurrying down the Meade Ave. sidewalk approaching us.

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The Cats of University Heights: Shelter

A week ago, the World Health Organization (finally) declared SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—a pandemic. Next Day, President Trump declared a national emergency. Here in California, most bars, eateries, K-12 schools, shops, and universities are indefinitely closed, while residents are ordered to stay home—a tactic meant to “flatten the curve” of the contagion’s spread. Reasoning: If people avoid one another (so-called “social distancing”), fewer folks will be sick at once. Otherwise, with a nearly 20-percent medical intervention rate, Novel Coronavirus would, or likely still will, overwhelm hospitals. In San Diego, for example, there are not enough beds for the expected number of people desperately in need of invasive care.

Walks are considered safe enough, and my wife and I continue them. If you must “shelter in place“, ocean breezes and sunshine are Southern California comforts that invigorate mental and physical well-being. We might as well take advantage of what the cost of living pays for—while we still can (gulp, considering the economic pandemic also underway). As long as we can still get out, I’ll be on the lookout for fresh felines to add to this series. Hence: The fifty-seventh window watcher, which I saw on March 14, 2020 along Campus between Meade and Monroe.

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Flickr a Week 12: ‘Reincarnated?’

The week goes to Tee Cee and self-titled “Reincarnated?“—for beautiful bokeh, clever caption, ethereal quiescence, grainy texture, and the photographic tool chosen. Late last month, Fujifilm shipped the fifth iteration of its fixed lens compact, the X100V. Tee made this portrait, using the first, which released nine years earlier. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 4000, 1/28 sec, 28mm.

I owned the original X100, back in 2011. It’s amazing—and yet not—to see someone still shooting one. The camera is a classic. Granted, the duck portrait is nearly two years old (May 2, 2018), but Tee still uses the X100 for street shooting—from looking at more recent posts to the Photostream.

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To Slow the Pandemic, Commerce Crumbles

Last night, Governor Gavin Newsom directed the closure of restaurants—other than take-away or delivery—across California. San Diego County issued legally-enforceable health orders, 11 in all, that impose tighter restrictions. Sizable group gatherings are prohibited, and residents are instructed to stay home. Six days after the World Health Organization (finally) declared SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—a pandemic, commerce shutters, slows, and stops.

My wife and I take cautious walks around the neighborhood, avoiding other people as we can. Today, as we approached Park Blvd from Monroe Ave., a strange sight greeted: Closed LeStat’s. The bustling coffee shop is normally open 24 hours every day of the year. We didn’t explore the remaining portion of University Height’s main street, but for sure the many bars and restaurants are dark, too.

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Flickr a Week 11b: ‘Break Heart’

Architect Mariano Mantel steals Sunday with street shot “Break Heart“, which he captured on March 2, 2019, using Nikon D7100 and 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Vitals: f/10, ISO 1000, 1/250 sec, 56mm. The settings are interesting, for what they deliver: Graininess that adds ambience and texture to contrasty colors.

What are we seeing? Mariano explains. “A kora player show(s) his instrument in a Barcelona street. The kora is a West African harp of the family of bridge harps or harp-lutes. It’s the highest developed string instrument of Africa. The construction of the instrument as well as the music are unique in the world”.

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Don’t They Know It’s a Pandemic?

I will be pissed if any of these people, who irresponsibly risk exposure to Novel Coronavirus, take a hospital bed before someone trying to more safely #StayTheFuckHome. We are in the midst of a fraking global pandemic and the banning of social gatherings everywhere. My two living sisters were supposed to vacation 10-days hence in Florida, with Disney World being the main activity. The theme park, like many, many others, is closed. That plan changed.

But a few blocks from my apartment, Pop Pie Co. and sister shop Stella Jean’s Ice Cream kept their Pi Day celebration going, gathering a crowd of would-be spreaders of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19. Today, France and Spain imposed restrictions that, like Italy, essentially lock down (e.g., quarantine) the entire countries. Hours earlier, Apple Stores closed globally outside of China until March 27. Yesterday, President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the contagion’s rapid spread. Everyone is advised to stay home and avoid crowds. Not create them!

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Flickr a Week 11a: ‘The Luck Gas Station’

The first of two Friday the 13ths this year is opportunity to slip in an extra entry between the two regulars. Bill McMannis captured self-titled “The Luck Gas Station” on Aug. 5, 2017, using Canon EOS M and EF-M 22mm f/2 STM lens. He explains about the photo: “On NC 209 in Luck, North Carolina, is an old gas station that surprises travelers and is often photographed”.

The street shot takes the informal, impromptu holiday for black-and-white character, contrast, timeliness, and timelessness.

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Pandemic!

A new era of uncertainty makes this an historic Wednesday, as the most transformative event in generations advances with rapacity. This morning (Pacific Daylight Time), and taking too long doing so, the World Health Organization officially classified SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—as a pandemic. This evening, President Trump announced an unprecedented 30-day European travel ban—excluding United Kingdom—starting at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Friday the 13th. How appropriately unlucky is that?

The goal: To limit the contagion’s spread from the Continent, where Italy is besieged and has essentially quarantined (e.g. locked down)  the entire country. Earlier today, the government there ordered the closure of all stores, other than banks, pharmacies, and supermarkets. Yikes!

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Flickr a Week 11: ‘Havanna Taxis’

Where are the customers? I ask, because why would anyone Uber when they could ride in one of these? Convertibles! Especially, as I understand, ride shares aren’t available—well, at least, for tourists.

Christoph Kilger captured self-titled “Havanna Taxis” on March 21, 2019, using Leica M10 and Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens. Vitals: f/1.4, ISO 400, 1/2000 sec, 35mm. The photo takes the week for color, composition, and symmetry. BTW, since when is Havana spelled with two “n”s?