Author: Joe Wilcox

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Aftermath: Siege of University Heights

Yesterday’s military-like incursion into my neighborhood ended after about 11 hours, when the last of three suspects surrendered to police. I missed the action, as he was arrested around the same time that I shot my last photo of the day, 7:40 p.m. PST. I was behind the perimeter at Meade and Mississippi, when the standoff ended on the next block, Louisiana, and closer to El Cajon Blvd.

But when walking over to that part of the neighborhood this morning, I hadn’t seen a news story, nor could anticipate what to expect. All the cop cars, portable toilets, and other vehicles—including the armored BearCat—were gone. The area was so peaceful and quiet, one wouldn’t guess what had happened the previous day.

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Barricaded Gunman in University Heights

A few hours ago, while my wife shopped at Aldi, a helicopter started circling above the area where were two drug deaths last week. I could hear commands from a loudspeaker instructing someone to put down the gun and come outside. That couldn’t be good.

After she returned, Annie and I walked over to that part of the neighborhood, where we met massive police presence. Louisiana was blocked at Meade along with the perpendicular alleys parallel to El Cajon Blvd; at Mississippi and Texas.

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Emergency at the Golden Arches

As my wife and I crossed El Cajon Blvd at Texas Street, today, we heard an ambulance approaching from behind. Cars pulled over, and I startled, realizing some came uncomfortably close to us—in the crosswalk! The emergency vehicle turned into the McDonald’s parking lot, which was before us. Sound of another siren brought my eyes to a firetruck coming from the other direction.

I decided to stop and mark the moment, from afar. The Featured Image comes from Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28m; 9:38 a.m. PST.

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Birds of a Feather That Don’t Flock Together

Around the turn of the last century, Bentley Ostrich Farm relocated to my neighborhood but closed in 1929. The feathers were less in demand as a luxury, and economic crisis began its grip on the nation. Many, but by no means all, of the birds were relocated to San Diego Zoo.

One of the fixtures—or monuments to the past—is this ornamental ostrich located outside a home on Mission Cliff Drive. I walked over there today after seeing a sign that Cupcake—one of the “Cats of University Heights“—disappeared on Nov. 8, 2022. Coyote sightings are way up, and the Norwegian Forest Cat’s owners live nearby along one of the canyons. I hope that Cupcake simply is trapped somewhere.

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The Walker

Two days ago, while walking up Madison into North Park on my way to the pet store in Normal Heights, I came across a mom and her little tyke. I presumed that she let him work his little legs while she pushed his ride. But passing, and saying hello, I saw that the stroller is a two-seater—one facing her and the other forward—with a second, younger child sleeping soundly before her. Ahhh.

Beforehand, I got a single shot—the Featured Image—using Leica Q2 Monochrom. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 3:07 p.m. PST.

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Drug Deaths in University Heights

Suspected overdoses is more appropriate assessment—at this time. But sad reality is that paramedics and police responded to an early morning call (before 6 a.m. PST) about unresponsive roommates. Two were revived and hospitalized; two others died. Fentanyl is suspected cause.

My wife saw something on YouTube from one of the local news stations, early this afternoon. Since such tragedy is unusual for our neighborhood and five months ago I photographed cat Conrad on the property, we decided to walk over. I really expected to see nothing unusual, but police still investigated—as you can see from the Featured Image captured using Leica Q2 Monochrom. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 2:17 p.m.

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The Problem with Mail-in Ballots

A truly momentous Red Wave washed across the country during yesterday’s Midterm elections—just not the one that many people expected. Today, the faces of pollsters and pundits are flush with embarrassment after Republicans failed to make massive gains in the House of Representatives or also retake the Senate. Forecasts failed.

Why? My hypothesis: Proliferation of mail-in ballots, and expansion of early voting, which fundamentally changes dynamics—such as who and when or influences that affect an individual’s eventual choices. Then there is fraud, but the topic is fraught with so much national denial any suggestion is quickly quashed. So I will abdicate that one for this essay and focus on the others.

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Election Stormfront

As I write, Midterm election results roll in around the country. Republicans look for a so-called Red Wave, while Democrats hope to avoid a tsunami. Even a storm surge could flip the House and Senate. Tomorrow will tell, if not later tonight.

For San Diegans, today, the storm is quite literal—rains and gusty winds that continue now. Early risers were denied view of the lunar eclipse. Well, another comes in three years; maybe you can count on clear skies.

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Adventure Advertising

Unless mistaken, my wife and I saw this pull-trailer promoting GoCamp, which rents camper vans, parked on Florida Street here in University Heights. I perused the company’s website: Including duplicates, 46 vehicles are available from San Diego to the destination of your choice.

Based on interior—exterior, not so much—I rather fancy Van Luca: Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or Gia, which “is a 2009 Ford Econoline 150 Chariot hi-top conversion”. They are available for $179 and $145 per night, respectively. Neither can be driven one-way; got to bring them back. The Benz burns diesel, which is something of a liability because of high costs; the Ford is a gas-guzzler.

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The Cats of University Heights: Mariner

I occasionally worry that indoor cats will lose their outdoor views, if their owners disapprove of my camera work. That concern is why the Featured Image is converted monochrome from color and location isn’t given; somewhat protects privacy of the residents. Because for months, I passed by this house and could somewhat see the cat tree behind the glass; nothing more. But then, for the first—and only—time (so far), the window was open and the black and white visible; Oct. 22, 2022, which was a lovely autumn (if such season exists in San Diego) day. I want the kitty to enjoy many more.

This fine feline is the one-hundred-second seen behind either window or door—that’s out of 515 profiles since the series started in October 2016. I used iPhone 13 Pro to shoot the portrait. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 80, 1/99 sec, 77mm; 5:01 p.m. PDT.

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Last Millennium Computing

Every day is a surprise when walking San Diego alleys. Perhaps you remember the art gallery, big face clockfamily roomrustic mirror, rusty typewriter, Seventies stove, snowboarding boots, Victorian-style sofa, or Vitamaster Slendercycle, among many odd items left for scavengers. But today’s sighting flushed up memories. I owned one of these.

Apple released the PowerMac G3 (Blue and White) in 1999, which makes it oh-so last Century. Among the innovations: The side opened out, revealing the innards and opportunity to make modest upgrades (hey, emphasis modest because proprietary is the company’s calling card). In the Featured Image, and companion, the blue circle above the Apple logo is the release latch.