Category: Living

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Garbage Day

Trash and recycle collection is underway throughout San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood—and, whoa, is it needed. The cans overflow like I’ve not ever seen in the nearly 13 years living here. Shouldn’t surprise with most stores closed and Californians ordered to stay at home (e.g., “shelter-in-place“). Damn the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—aka COVID-19pandemic for the catastrophe unleashed on communities, counties, and countries across the globe. As asked three weeks ago: “I Wonder Which Will Flatten First: Us or the Curve?

The Featured Image (warning: 25MB file), taken on March 31, 2020 using Leica Q2, shows what happens with some of the refuse. The pizza box is one of three stuffed in a hedge. Seriously? Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 125, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 11:16 a.m. PDT.  The companion shot, from the same camera yesterday, gives glimpse of overflowing cans that typically wouldn’t be. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 4:25 p.m.

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Flickr a Week 17a: ‘The New Gardener’

During the past seven days, seemingly spontaneous protests have erupted demanding the end to government-ordered lockdowns that have shuttered most businesses and public spaces and all schools, ordered citizens to stay at home (e.g., “shelter-in-place“), and established strict guidelines for “social distancing“, hand washing, and mask wearing. Unemployment soars, economies are wrecked, and millions of people are sick or dying—all because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic and drastic measures to slow its spread.

Citizens’ frustrations are understandable, particularly given that because economic and social isolation is working, overwhelmed emergency rooms and ICUs or the number of casualties are below worst projections. Accompanying self-titled “The New Gardener“, Neil Moralee has a message for those looking for a return to the old normal.

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The Cats of University Heights: Dusky

Not long after the series featured Steppy seven months ago, I observed his buddy nearby. But Spring 2020 would come before I snagged even a remotely usable portrait. Look carefully at the Featured Image, and you will discern a second cat on the can; the beasties await their supper on April 7. Pardon the mess, which includes strewn wet food cans; heavy rains fell that day and the previous one. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/392 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 4:59 p.m. PDT; iPhone XS.

The black earns nickname Dusky for color and early darkening of the late-afternoon sky stemming from imposing storm clouds on March 31, when I used Leica Q2 to capture the companion. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/11, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 5:04 p.m.

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From Fallen Flowers the Taco Truck Rises

The Taco Truck is a daily fixture, typically gathering a constant line of customers nearly all day long, at the corner of Meade and Texas in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. But after California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a statewide “stay-at-home” order on March 19, 2020, the food service operation vanished—for more than three weeks. I wondered why given that eateries offering delivery or take-out were permitted to stay open. What’s not take-away about a food truck serving burritos and tacos?

A few days before April 12, when I shot the Featured Image, the Mexican meals-on-wheels reappeared, but without standing tables alongside for customers and with a whiteboard upon which was scribbled a phone number to place orders to be picked up at the window. I suppose selling something is better than nothing, despite the stolen ambience and charm that made the place popular plus—that is festive and social, and, of course, good eating.

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Now, It’s the Apocalypse: San Diego Comic-Con Canceled

Today, SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—aka COVID-19—claimed an expected victim and long holdout being one. For the first time since its humble 1970 inception, San Diego Comic-Con will not happen as planned (July 23-26). The event joins the County Fair and a multitude of vertically-oriented industry conventions as Novel Coronavirus casualties.

For me, SDCC 2020 already was a non-event: Like the previous two Cons, I failed to secure a pass during Open Registration. For San Diego, which economy depends on tourism, the non-event pandemic is catastrophic. According to the San Diego Tourism Authority, tourism is the “second largest segment of [the local] economy”, employing approximately 200,000 people—or about 13 percent of the jobs across SD County. “It is vitally important to the economic health of the region”.

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The 2020 US Quarter Honors Bats–Supposed Source of SARS-CoV-2

Am I delirious, or delusional, or is that a bat on the 2020 American quarter? Earlier today, I picked up three rolls from the bank, for laundry, and one of them was filled with these freshly minted surprises—and they’re freaking me out. Humanity is in the grips of a viral pandemic that started in China and supposedly jumped species—from bat to Homo sapiens. So why is there one—no, two—on this year’s 25-cent coins? Is it coincidence? Prophetic? Subliminal manipulation? For that last one, pick your X-Files conspiracy-theory protagonist: Chinese Communists, American liberals, US conservatives, President Trump, greedy capitalists, or— why not—alien invaders seeking to control us all through mind-controlling vaccines.

As I write, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—has killed 144,047 people in 185 countries and there are 2,157,108 confirmed cases. And those are considered to be relatively good numbers, compared to recent projections. Apparently, the majority of countries closing most businesses and all schools, while encouraging citizens to stay home, has dramatically slowed spread of the contagion.

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The Cats of University Heights: Birdy

Walking anchors my exercise routine, which should be obvious from how my skulking around has generated 334 putty-tat profiles for this series since October 2016. However, “social distancing” and “shelter-in-place” orders, in response to SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19, mean fewer forays and more sojourns along alleys between streets; foot traffic is less and wide berth makes easier separating from others when encountering them. The change in habit means my discovering more alley cats, generally looking out from within an apartment, like recent inductees Mustachio and Tang.

On March 23, 2020, I used iPhone XS to capture the Featured Image in the alley separating Campus and Cleveland, between Madison and Monroe. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/373 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 12:33 p.m. PDT. The portrait is cropped, with Vivid filter applied in Apple Photos. The kitty, which earns nickname Birdy for what he (or she) spied, is sixty-first seen behind window or door.

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Complacency Can Kill You

For the second consecutive day, I broke quarantine. Yesterday, my wife and I took a chance drive to Costco Business Center, hoping to grab a few extra bulk items. Each grocery trip risks exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), also known as COVID-19. Luckily, the warehouse was fairly calm, and we were able to purchase most of what we wanted—and items that could be precious should there be prolonged lockdown, or worse, panic in the streets. That was supposed to be the last supply run. Except…

Last night, a discovery: The pet grass that I planted for the cats had developed mold, and growing a new batch would take days. So, this morning, I walked 2.3 km (1.4 miles) to Ralph’s supermarket, which sells the same brand: Priscilla’s. Along the way, I counted the number of people passed to see which ones wore a face covering. The results stunned. Fifteen percent, which is a dramatic decrease from a few days ago. What changed?

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The Cats of University Heights: Blossom

Like Sprint, today’s kitty appeared in the alley between Georgia and Park Blvd. We first met on March 31, 2020, but subsequent sightings suggest that home is one of the houses along Spalding Place, not far from where my wife and I saw Mewl in February 2019.

I used Leica Q2 to shoot the Featured Image, but the shorthair is nicknamed for the red blossoms in the companion photo, which is the stronger of the pair. Vitals for both, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 11:12 a.m. PDT for the first, and 17-seconds later for the other.

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Let the Kids Play

Something puzzles me, or did until seeing the scene that became the Featured Image. Today, I observed several family groups—parents and youngsters of various ages—walking around the neighborhood. We’re talking four or more people slowly moving down the sidewalk. I wondered: “Why today? Why not on other days? Are they bored being stuck inside, observing the “shelter-in-place” order?” By taking over a sidewalk, they impede other folks also seeking fresh air and exercise—and they draw attention, presumably silent complaint from many passersby, because of their numbers.

The answers to all the questions are one, and I am troubled by it. As my wife and I approached Trolley Barn Park this afternoon, we could see yellow “Caution” tape flapping in the wind. The entire thing had been cordoned off, with extra warning wrapped around the kids play area. The barrier wasn’t there yesterday, and its placement partly explains why I see more parents and children roaming about. The safest place for them to be, when not inside their residences, is what the city/county closed down.