Category: Events

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Comic-Con’s Crazy COVID Conniption

To close out the month, and first half of the year, we connect the somewhat distant past with the not-so-far-off future. San Diego Comic Con returns July 21-24, 2022 with Preview Night on the 20th. The show floor, or break-out sessions, will look nothing like the Featured Image, taken seven years ago.

SDCC apparently didn’t get the memo that SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 is endemic and no longer pandemic. Locally, people move freely about without being required to wear masks, be tested, or verify vax status. Based on the official tally, the cumulative-calculated case fatality rate in San Diego County is 0.64 percent. Meaning: Your chance of surviving Coronavirus is better than 99 percent, while more than 85 percent of those infected likely show no symptoms.

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Juneteenth is a Terrible Name

The second celebrated Federal Holiday of the oddly-named Juneteenth is nearly over as I write. Oh, remembering the less formally-designated but also wide-celebrated: Happy Father’s Day to all the dads. My fingers are crossed that you’re happy being one and that the kids share the same sentiment.

Back to the other, the name unruly rolls off the tongue, doesn’t at all tell anyone what the celebration is for, and—go ahead and argue—poorly respects what the holiday represents. Quickly: On June 19, 1865, the Union Army rode into Galveston, Texas and announced the end of black slavery. Emancipation deserves better.

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The Players

Friends invited me to attend Spirit West Coast at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in 2008. I couldn’t guess what to expect—and, whoa, what a surprise. The atmosphere felt good and the overall ambience refreshed and enlivened. Christian musicians. Families. Young adults. All having fun at a festival where there was no alcohol or illegal substances. I was surprised. Transfixed.

I attended the following year, too. But those days are gone. The music festival no longer comes to San Diego County.

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He Knows No Limit

I can’t explain why the Featured Image appeals to me. Maybe the gent’s mouth caught in speaking motion is reason combined with tilt of head, necklaces hung around neck, and one presented in hand. Is he selling the beaded strings? Seeking donations? I want to know.

The moment is from the Labor Day Parade on Sept. 5, 2005 in Kensington, Md. I used Canon EOS 20D for the portrait, which is composed as shot. Vitals: f/10, ISO 400, 1/500 sec, 40mm; 10:26 a.m. EDT.

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A Sign is 25

I can’t imagine how our family still resides in the village of University Heights, which is where we settled upon arriving in San Diego nearly 15 years ago. But here we remain, even as rising rental fees and soaring property values make the area unbearably costly. Exit strategy has been my priority for some time, at least since our decision not to buy the Schoolhouse five years ago. As homeowners, we would have been more natural members of the community.

Still, my wife and I briefly joined today’s block party—along Park Blvd between Adams and Madison—celebrating 25 years of the neighborhood’s iconic sign, which you can see in the Featured Image, taken using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 4:41 p.m. PDT. The event officially started at Five.

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The Humiliation Games

On the same day the 2022 Olympics opened, February 4, I passed by something appropriate and timely: discarded pair of thirtytwo brand snowboarding boots. Their abandonment, along the North Avenue alley in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, could be a metaphor for what’s being chucked away in Beijing right now: fair competitive spirit, human dignity, and truthfulness. It’s all humiliating.

Let me count the ways: Humiliating that, because of surveillance, athletes were instructed to bring burner phones to China—and, for their own safety, not to publicly criticize the host nation. Humiliating that China presented as propaganda a token Uyghur during the opening ceremony; what genocide? Humiliating that Russian President Vladimir Putin joined Chinese President Xi Jinping, while Western nations, including the United States, chose not to send diplomatic delegations. Humiliating that Chinese officials dragged away a Dutch reporter during a live broadcast. Humiliating that athletes quarantined for positive SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 are mentally and physically impaired by poor food quality and living conditions. Humiliating, and convenient, that some foreign gold medal contenders test Coronavirus positive and can’t compete. Humiliating that most NBC Sports commentators and hosts are broadcasting from the United States rather than China.

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The Gathering

Sometimes, like now, I miss using a telephoto or zoom lens. Tonight, while looking over neglected, archived RAW files, I came across a set from a Sep. 28, 2008 evangelical gathering. Problem: I don’t recall what it was or where was the San Diego County venue. Similarly, I can’t identify any of the people portrayed in the three portraits that you see in this post.

The Featured Image and companions come from Nikon D90 and 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor lens. Vitals for the first: f/5.6, ISO 800, 1/200 sec, 130mm; 10:55 a.m. PDT. I suspect, but can’t say, that the gentleman is a preacher and the lady is his wife. But, again, and apologies, I don’t remember.

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The Omicron Variant

This post’s title, which also names the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) strain currently causing a global healthcare scare, would be better for a thriller-genre book or film about viral terrorism.

Cue the movie trailer: Six survivors. Keanu Reeves. Daniel Craig. Angelina Jolie. Regé-Jean Page. Kelly Marie Tran. And the esteemed Charlton Heston (appearing as a 3-D hologram). The Omicron Variant. The premise is so frightening that the screenwriters have each gotten three COVID-19 booster shots. You, too, will never think the same way about vaccines—and who gets them when supplies are lacking and the HAZMAT-suited stack body bags in front of your house. Oh, did we forget to mention that they’re empty and waiting to be filled—when your, ah, quarantine is over. The Omicron Variant. Who will survive viral armageddon?

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Marathon Mania is Back

Today here in San Diego, more than 20,000 runners participated in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series Marathon and Half Marathon, which occurred concurrently. The routes go through and around my neighborhood of University Heights—Hillcrest, Normal Heights, and North Park. Highway 163 partly closes down for participants, too. SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns forced cancellation of last year’s event.

My wife and I walked along Georgia towards the bridge that crosses over University Ave., hoping to see runners below. But the bulk of them had long gone by. The Featured Image shows a small group coming up to the misting and watering station along Georgia Street between Lincoln and the overpass. I used Leica Q2 to make the moment. Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 9:40 a.m. PDT.

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Parents Protest San Diego School District Vaxx Mandates

Late afternoon, my wife asked: “What is all that honking?” Annie was right. Car horns could be heard in the distance, occasionally and repeatedly tooting. We turned to one another flummoxed over the sudden roar of cheering that reminded of sporting events. What was going on nearby—and where? I left to find out, following the sounds that piqued our mutual curiosities.

Our University Heights apartment is located about .8-kilometer (one-half mile) walking distance from administrative offices for San Diego Unified School District, where a sizable crowd had gathered with picket signs. As I arrived, a woman’s voice bellowed over loudspeakers advocating against vaccine mandates and for parents’ rights to choose for their children—not the government nor SDUSD. What I didn’t understand: The school board scheduled a 5 p.m. PDT meeting to vote on a proposal requiring staff and some students to be vaccinated. How ironic: They cowered in isolation via Zoom, while parents protested in person.

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I Got the Golden Ticket

My wife and I cannot find an escape destination from SoCal. The SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 pandemic proved to be massive interference—from “stay-at-home” shutdowns to insanely rising house prices as newfound work-from-homers fled the cities for more affordable areas that we also considered. Perhaps we were too compliant Californians and locked down when getting ahead of the escaping herd would have made more sense. But we still search, with hopes of vamoosing this year.

That raises question: Will I be around for San Diego Comic-Con Special Edition, which is scheduled for Thanksgiving Weekend? I ask because—oh my fraking luck—the SDCC overlords blessed me (“praise be“, as they say on Handmaid’s Tale) with opportunity to buy a pass during open registration today. How could I refuse?

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Superhero Thanksgiving Weekend

Save the time! Tomorrow at 11 a.m. PDT, registration starts for Comic-Con Special Edition, which takes place Nov. 26-28, 2021 at the San Diego Convention Center. The homage to geek culture will be a smaller event than the typical July gathering, which was canceled this year and last because of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions.

The latter still applies. Attendees, vendors, and any one else must “wear an approved face covering regardless of vaccination status”, according to the organizer. “Face coverings should completely cover the nose and mouth, fit snugly against the sides of the face, and not have any gaps”. Well, won’t that make a mess of costumes. In that spirit, I would love to see a group of vampires protesting the mandate—because they can’t suck blood while wearing masks. Or maybe someone should show up wearing Guy Fawkes mask.