Category: Living

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State of the U.S. Pandemic

Because I have seen a couple news stories claiming that SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 cases are rapidly rising among the young, a look is warranted. According to the CDC, the trend is dramatically downward for all age groups from a recent peak during the first week of the year. For example: 496 cases per 100,000 for 18-24 year olds on January 2; 390 for 55-64 year olds. May 1: 33 per 100,000 for 0-5 year-olds; 65-79 year-olds; and those 80 or over. Number dropped to 89 for those 18-24.

But the death rate, what a plummet! For 80+ year-olds: 67.86 per 100,000 on January 2. Next highest: 17.08 per 100,000 for ages 65-79. Comparatively few people under 35 were dying then—even less on May 1: Zero per 100,000 from those 6-17 and 25-34; .01 per 100,000 for 0-5 and 18-24 year olds; .11 per 100,000 for the 80 and over group.

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The Cats of University Heights: Tango

On April 17, 2021, as my wife and I walked westward along Meade, approaching North, an orange tabby moved up the steps and onto the porch of the property where lives Captain Blackbeard. The cat door that lets Blackie come and go responds to his microchip. The interloper could make no unwanted entrance. As we drew near, the kitty, earning nickname Tango, skirted under a parked car in the driveway—where I captured the Featured Image using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/2500 sec, 28mm; 10:51 a.m. PDT.

Among the edits, done in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic, I reduced the intensity of green in the grass, which otherwise distracted from Tango rather than color-complemented his fur coat.

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Are You Coming, or Going?

New month, and I see lots of people moving in, around, and out of San Diego—and considerably larger numbers than any time during the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 pandemic year. Perhaps partial reopening of California and imminent lifting of the eviction moratorium (in about 60 days) are factors.

Citizens certainly are fleeing the Golden State. Crime, governance, homelessness, high housing costs, single-party politics, and taxes are among the reasons. Slowest population growth since the Great Depression era means California will lose one Congressional seat. All that said, many movers are staying in the state, and San Diego is one of their more popular destinations.

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The Cats of University Heights: Majestic

For about two months, I have watched for a feline to appear in a second-floor cat tree. Among the handful of sightings, glass glare from the morning sun made any meaningful portrait majorly difficult to capture. What luck! On April 27, 2021, the beastie materialized in a different window, which also was free from obstruction below. For fixed, rapt gaze, and proud posture, the orange tiger-stripe earns nickname Majestic.

I captured the Featured Image using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 9:30 a.m. PDT. Majestic, who is the sixty-sixth kitty seen behind door or window, overlooks the alley separating Alabama and Mississippi between Meade and Monroe.

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The Conqueror

The big digger seen at the corner of El Cajon and Mississippi on April 12, 2021 triumphs atop a mountain of dirt upon which once stood three buildings; in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Someday soon, another cathedral of unaffordable housing will rise like the Tower of Babel.

My prediction: Cities all over the country are currently overbuilding to accommodate the massive Millennial population from which fewer babies are being born. Fast forward a decade, perhaps just five years, and rising Baby Boomer deaths coupled with falling birth rates will lead to a glut in housing—particularly multi-family properties. Is this construction site one of many future ghettos?

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The Cats of University Heights: Annie

Aged Annie joins the series as the 400th profile since number one on Oct. 17, 2016. I first photographed her on Oct. 7, 2020, but the Featured Image is from Jan. 24, 2021—same day that I shot fallen fronds from the slightly-shaved Bearded Tree, which is now gone. I delayed posting her portrait, hoping to also add her housemate, who is let out (and brought inside) earlier in the morning than I typically meander by the property. The other cat also hides from me among the parked cars.

But considering this milestone post, and deciding which kitty to mark it, sweet, slow Annie had to be the one. Both beasts live on Alabama, making her the 64th featured from the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln. She resides on the same block as Bella, Fuki, Mane, Mitsie, Mustachio, Peanut, Penny, Rocky, and Schroeder.

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The Swarm

This afternoon, while walking and talking to my sister who lives in Florida, I came across bees buzzing around a front yard along Mississippi between Mission and Monroe here in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. I excused myself briefly and shot a short video using iPhone XS.

Strange thing, when finished I observed the insects swarming about the next property. That kind of deflated my working presumption of a disturbed nearby hive. So I snagged another short video, followed by the Featured Image taken using Leica Q2.

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Happy Earth Day 2021

Good luck finding the field of focus in the cluttered Featured Image, captured today using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 3:01 p.m. PDT. Location is nearby the house where appeared Calm, who was profiled in my “Cats of University Heights” series in February 2019.

Think of the photo as my metaphorical commentary on so-called Climate Change theory, which truth isn’t so clear as political proponents of the science would have everyone believe. The hubris of humankind is to put ourselves at the center of everything—and that’s as much taking blame as claiming credit. Much is clear that the planet undergoes a warming trend. Focus on carbon emissions identifies sole cause and people to blame. But the picture is more complex, or so I say, like the one here presented for your viewing.

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The Sweeper

Two days ago, outside the same pharmacy where on March 18, 2021 lay a man death-like, another seemingly street-living gent swept debris and refuse. If only I had context but do not. As my wife and I entered the building, he cleaned up nearby his presumed belongings partially visible in the foreground of the Featured Image. He used a fairly good-condition broom, and there was nearby one of those jumbo, yellow, industrial dustpans—similar to this Quickie model, if not the same one. The well-weathered gentleman moved slowly about his task but deliberately.

When exiting, we could see that the sweeper had moved closer to the street. As we passed, I snapped three quick hip shots, using Leica Q2. This wild portrait is best of the trio. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 2:32 p.m. PDT.

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Day of the Dead Rabbits

Rushing out the door, on April 18, 2021, lugging Leica Q2 Monochrom, I stopped: suddenly seemed that our resin rabbits would look quite good in black and white. Hence the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 640, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 6:49 p.m. PDT.

On Halloween 2019, my wife repainted them in her version of a Day of the Dead motif. The cobwebs collected about them add ambience to the photo. Don’t you think? They are supposed to be creatures of the, ah, nice netherworld. Our bunnies were good and would never go to Hell. But they might stand guard.

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Her Heart Soars

As explained nearly three weeks ago, I tend towards thrifty shooting with a digital camera—in this instance Leica Q2. The Featured Image is only one of three captures—the other two at f/5.6 and f/8, with the latter greatly expanding the field of focus. But in the end, wisely or not, I chose the photo made wider open, because of how the painted bricks lead the eyes to the graphic. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/2500 sec, 28mm; 10:28 a.m. PDT, April 12, 2021. In post-production, I used DxO Perspective Efex to tweak the geometry.

The evening before, I encountered two of my neighbors walking their dog. The husband said that I would want to stop by his house “and bring your camera”. You can see why. The couple live on Meade below Georgia, and they are long-time University Heights residents—about 22 years, if I recall rightly.