Author: Joe Wilcox

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Seriously, California?

Sometime last week, my wife asked about getting brighter lightbulbs. IKEA-purchased LEDs are 1,000 lumens and loaded into most of our fixtures, whether ceiling or lamps; but not all. Then, three days ago, I observed during a Zoom meeting that one participant’s ambience so much more appealed than mine—his room being bright and white, while mine was dank and yellow. Color temperature is reason: 5000K lighting vs 2700K. I thought: Why not buy brighter and whiter bulbs?

So I tried shopping locally but ran aground. Is 5000K lighting unavailable because of supply chain problems or is 2700K simply wildly more popular? No San Diego store—not even the place specializing in bulbs—stocked that color temperature in a 100-watt equivalent with brightness greater than 1,000 lumens. That brought me to Amazon and a big surprise: The affordable product that also met my criteria can’t be shipped to California. Huh?

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Who Approved This?

Last week, while walking along Panorama Drive, I passed by what seemed like the strangest holiday decoration: An inflatable, rainbow-colored Christmas tree. The next day, there were three. The day after, my wife and I walked over so that she could see. We found four more—not every one erect but all unmistakably identifiable even when deflated. This will be our fifteenth Christmas in this San Diego neighborhood, and I have never seen such signs like these.

As I opined on July 4th, about seeing more Pride flags than the Stars and Stripes, University Heights has undergone dramatic, observable changes since start of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-March 2020. New residents, many of them Northern California escapees, are everywhere. Their emigration contributes to soaring rents and skyrocketing home sale prices. The newcomers also bring different values that are commiserate with adjacent Hillcrest, which is known as a gay enclave. But Pride holiday trees, all on the same street?

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I Don’t Long for Them Beyond Nostalgia

Go ahead and scold me for this being one of the most pointless of posts. But before changing my diet in July 2013—foresaking all confections  and largely reducing processed carbohydrates—MoonPie was among my top choices for cheap treats (I couldn’t find Devil Dogs outside the Northeast United States).

My wife and I passed by a massive display of the Double-Decker variety, in boxes of 24, for $9.49—that’s 39.5 cents each—at Costco Business Center today. Best price for the same thing from Amazon sellers: $23.79. That’s a helluva markup, if Costco’s considered more wholesale.

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The (Honorary) Cats of University Heights: Candy

One-and-a-half blocks beyond the neighborhood’s boundary at Texas Street, my wife and I spotted a pretty kitty on Dec. 6, 2021. Months earlier, we first saw the beauty jump to the fence on the same property. As I crossed the street for a photo-op, someone else moved up the sidewalk, scaring off the fluffball. Lucky: What a lovely pose presented for my second portrait attempt (and success).

In the spirit of the holiday, this fine feline is nicknamed for the nearby candy cane decorations. Candy joins just eight other honorary cats, among the 448 profiles (including this one). They are: BuddiesChill, Envy, MonaMoophie, Ninja, Promise, and Sammy. Darth Mew initially belonged to the group, until later turning up in University Heights, where he now lives.

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The Overlook, Revisited

Where Madison Avenue ends, an expansive view begins—across Mission Valley below to the Pacific Ocean on the horizon. In the Featured Image, left of center, on the coastal area before the water, some of the rides at Sea World are visible.

The 95-percent crop won’t win awards for clarity; the task is beyond Leica Q2‘s reach. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/11, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 10:21 a.m. PST, Dec. 11, 2021. Location: San Diego Community of University Heights.

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The Runaround

Finally, somebody puts these godawful traffic circles to good use. This afternoon, while walking along Louisiana Street, I came upon someone running around the edifice to poor transportation planning at Meade. The Featured Image is the first of four shots—all taken from the hip, using Leica Q2.

The person could be identified from any of the other three captures; not having permission to publish, I chose the back view; besides, sun is more pronounced in this one compared to the others. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1250 sec, 28mm; 2:23 p.m. PST; composed as shot.

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Red Flower Monochrome

For the third day in a row, the Featured Image comes from Leica Q2 Monochrom. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 200, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 1:01 p.m. PST, today. I used the camera’s dedicated Macro mode, which is activated by turning a ring around the Summilux lens.

I spotted the red flower—with, if I recall rightly, white stamen and yellow pistils—while walking along Arch Street in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. The water droplets drew my attention, and I figured Why not black and white?—being no other choice really.

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To See Differently

Two years ago a new optometrist recommended adding prisms to my eyeglass prescription in response to slight vertical misalignment in my vision. I was skeptical and made an appointment for another refraction with a doctor at the office that performed my cataract surgery. He confirmed slight double vision, but after attempting to make corrective adjustments with prisms he recommended against them. Their therapeutic value was uncertain, he concluded.

But the first optometrist was so insistent, when I returned to make my eyeglass order and the Varilux lenses came with satisfaction guarantee: The Essilor lab would make a new set should the prescription change—all within 90 days of purchase. I relented. The overall quality of the lenses satisfied so much that I decided to give my brain and eyes some time to adapt. But I never got to choose: The SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 pandemic made the decision for me, as my wife and I hunkered down during February 2020 and lockdowns started weeks later.

Today, I switched lenses, with a new prescription. Prisms are gone.

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California Brings Back Mask Mandates

The mass hysteria about SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 and the public policy response brings forth a freshly minted mask mandate—from today until (at least) Jan. 15, 2022. Rising number of detected infections, coupled with fear about the Omicron variant, are major reasons for California’s restriction that applies to every public indoor venue and to all people—even the vaccinated. Am I supposed to feel relieved that the governor isn’t shutting down the state, like he did last Christmas? That we only have to cover our faces?

Not that there is any science to support the Omicron panic. Early epidemiology data from Southern Africa indicates that the new variant is considerably more contagious than the already highly infectious Delta. While infections rise, hospitalization and death curves are flat. Reported cases from South Africa, for example, are generally mild—and that’s in a population with relatively low vaccination rate (compared to the United States). But, as usual, the majority of news reports and guidance from the World Health Organization scare-monger about how terrible the variant could be—without presenting any data to support suppositions.

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Is God Inclusive?

This post is sure to stir up trouble. I write sparingly about politics and rarely about religion because the topics are metaphorical loaded automatic assault weapons ready to blast endless emotional rounds of ammunition. Retaliation is swift. You can’t duck fast enough or return fire in the way of meaningful discussion. For too many people, conversation isn’t an option. To them, you are offensive and wrong. So safety is measured in silence before the easily offended.

But I uncharacteristically wonder outloud about faith, sparked by the Featured Image, which I captured on Nov. 20, 2021 using iPhone 13 Pro. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 32, 1/1167 sec, 13mm; 12:45 p.m. PST. The church, located in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood, has long puzzled me because of the six doors and what their combined colors represent. I had thought the canonized Bible—the same book the congregation presumably reads—prohibits behaviors and lifestyles which the institution embraces.

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The Cats of University Heights: Tinsel

As my wife and I walked back from Smart and Final on Dec. 9, 2021, we passed by a shorthair along Polk between Alabama and Mississippi. The kitty is the eightieth seen behind door or window. That works out to 18 percent of the total profiles.

I used iPhone 13 Pro to capture the Featured Image. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/231 sec, 77mm; 10:30 a.m. PST. This fine feline earns nickname Tinsel, for the Christmas lights and decorations for the time of year.

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Hang On, Woody!

In what could be a real-life scene from film Toy Story, Sheriff Woody precariously hangs from the back of a Toyota Tacoma spotted along Mission Avenue in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Where is Buzz Lightyear to the rescue? Take a closer look at either the Featured Image or companion and you will see that the cowboy doll is pad-a-locked in.

Both photos come from iPhone 13 Pro, yesterday. Vitals: f/1.5, ISO 50, 1/1698 sec, 26mm; 1:07 p.m. PST. The other: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/319 sec, 77mm; 1:06 p.m. When I showed my wife the second shot, taken first, she observed that it’s not absolutely apparent that Woody hangs off the ground. So I took another.