Category: Living

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Party Like Your Life Depends On It

Of all the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 oddities that I have seen, this sign might be strangest and yet most appropriate—punctuated commentary, whether or not the intention. The balloons suggest a birthday party, possibly for kids. You are welcome but be prepared for the consequences, especially if masks aren’t required. Meaning: You’re responsible for you.

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image, today. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 10:25 a.m. PST. Location: Somewhere along Maryland Street in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood.

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For Kuma

This afternoon, I made a ceremonial walk along the paths and places Kuma used to go. Ten years ago today, around 6 a.m. PST, he looked up at me quizzically before slipping under the apartment building’s back gate. I let him out an hour earlier than typical, into darkness and without accompanying him into the alley as usual. My eyes never met his again. Kuma vanished.

Sixteen days later, San Diego city workers recovered his collar from a nearby canyon. The inference was clear: Coyote, as we suspected about Priscilla—a neighbor’s kitty that similarly disappeared 12 months earlier. She inspired his adoption.

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The Cats of University Heights: Kittens

While walking along Mississippi Street, between El Cajon and Meade, today, I spotted a four-to-six-week-old kitten scurrying among an apartment building’s greenery then passing through the lattice panels beneath a corner cottage. Not long later, the tyke looked out suspiciously long enough for me to approach and capture the Featured Image, using iPhone 13 Pro. Do you see the rascal? Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/2273 sec, 77mm; 12:02 p.m. PST.

When the shorthair vamoosed, so did I—only to see an adult black across the manicured space of an adjacent apartment building. The mom, perhaps? She hung out closer to the alley, so I walked around for a look (and some portraits).

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The Cats of University Heights: Smokey (Maine Coon)

What a surprise! Today, when walking along Alabama, on a grocery run to Smart and Final, my wife and I met a gentleman and his two-year-old Maine Coon. While the gentle giant likely lives somewhere else in the neighborhood (I forgot to ask where), sighting location makes him the seventy-ninth kitty observed on the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln.

Five features physically define Maine Coons: Ear tuffs and points, facial structure, fur coat, paws (big), and size (huge)—the latter they tend to reach at around age five or so. Smokey is classically Coon by all appearances, and I am not surprised: His owner says that the cat comes from Russia, because finding a purebred locally is challenging.

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The Cats of University Heights: Happy

The eighty-second feline found behind door or window lives on Lincoln Street, just inside the neighborhood border. I used iPhone 13 Pro to capture the Featured Image on Dec. 19, 2021. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/1107 sec, 77mm; 10 a.m. PST.

This slumbering shorthair earns nickname Happy, because that’s what he (or she) appears to be and how I feel looking at him (or her). I wanted to use Nappy, referring to napping, before doing a dictionary check and learning that the word is an American axiom for diaper.

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The Grillers

From the same Greenbelt, Md. church picnic as yesterday’s “Pooh Party“, we present another moment. I used Canon EOS 20D and EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens to capture the Featured Image on Sept. 18, 2005. Vitals: f/6.3, ISO 400, 1/400 sec, 70mm; 12:22 p.m. In Capture One 22 post-production I applied style “Oslo 1”, working from an original JPEG. The portrait is composed as shot.

If the prognosticators of climate doom get their way, grilling events like this will someday soon be but a memory. We will all consume protein-infused plant matter made to look like meat because—so they say—cows and chickens produce deadly global warming gases. Eh, and people don’t?

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Pooh Party

One of my posting goals for 2022 is more people photos. But my catalog of recent choices is paltry pickings, so I reach into the past for the Featured Image, which comes from a church picnic in Greenbelt, Md. on  Sept. 18, 2005. I used Canon EOS 20D and EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens for the portrait. Vitals: f/8, ISO 400, 1/400 sec, 43mm; 12:18 p.m. EDT. Composed as shot.

This is the first photo published using Capture One 22. In post-production, I applied styles “Stockholm 1” and “Effect—Red Only”, working from a JPEG original.

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The Quiet Capitol

A year ago today, in the early afternoon, a rally for President Donald Trump turned to mayhem outside the U.S. Capitol. Certification of the 2020 election stopped, after angry protestors pushed into the building and lawmakers, along with VP Michael Pence, were ushered away. The Electoral count resumed in the evening, after crowds dispersed and law enforcement secured the premises; Joseph Biden was officially declared winner.

The incident, which I won’t characterize for lack of first-hand knowledge, is a turning point for the American Republic. If polls can be trusted, the direction depends much on point of view, which largely divides along party lines: Many Democrats see an attempted coup intended to steal the election. Many Republicans believe the election already had been stolen and constituents gathered to support the real President.

Choose your side wisely.

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Just a Reminder

This is what a pandemic looks like—only with body bags stacked up everywhere, assuming anyone survives to fill them. The Featured Image is a Halloween lawn decoration but nevertheless poignant reminder about what a viral apocalypse is and isn’t. I used iPhone 7 Plus on Oct. 31, 2017, near where Cleveland and Monroe meet in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/336 sec, 28mm; 12:05 p.m. PDT.

The reminder is necessary with so many people testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) variant Omicron. Given the strain’s Measles-like communicability and the ridiculous amount of testing, which includes millions of at-home kits, the high numbers of positive infections aren’t surprising. Disruption of essential services and supply chains come from mandates that require the infected to quarantine, even when asymptomatic or mildly ill; citizens aren’t sicker just captive to public health policy. Nor are some overwhelmed hospital emergency rooms surprising, when news reports create climate of fear and primary care physicians or urgent care facilites direct those testing positive, or worried about having COVID-19, to ERs.

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Lemons and Oranges

Winter, or what I call late Summer, is when citrus trees bear luscious fruit in Southern California. Consider this lovely lemon tree that greets residents of quaint cottages along the Alabama-Florida alley. Who wouldn’t want to live in such a charming retreat, tucked away and lush?

But bring your high-paying job. Charm isn’t cheap in San Diego, given rising real estate costs. Median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,095, according to Zumper (about which I am largely unfamiliar). When I last cited the company’s data, February 2021, the median was $1,810. Yikes! Two bedroom: $2,895.

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Simply Stated: San Diego Unaffordable Housing

Three residences all on the same block in University Heights define the scope of the housing crisis in Southern California. This is not a story about limited availability of units, as news media and political prognosticators regularly (and falsely) claim, but about rising prices driven by numerous market dynamics (such as emigrants or corporations paying cash) mixed with insanity that defies common sense.

The market bears what people are willing to pay and they seem all the more recklessly anxious to fall for fear-economics and the privilege of paying more, more, more.