Category: Living

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The Cats of University Heights: Amanda Too

Beauty Amanda was a fixture along Meade between Florida and Mississippi through the end of 2018. Then she disappeared about the same time as the owners of LilyTiger, Persepolis, and Sebastian moved away. Since she frequently visited the home—and the residents gave her another name—I assumed they took her, too.

But then, on Dec. 28, 2019, a grey looking like her—but missing collar with distinctive purple name tag—appeared on a property at the corner of Alabama and Meade. I used iPhone XS to shoot several portraits, editing the Featured Image but refraining from publishing. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/1089 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 2:08 p.m. PST.

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The Clearcutted Cottages

This morning, my wife rightly suggested that yesterday’s before photos aren’t enough to show just how brutal was the massacre of palms, shrubs, succulents, trees, and other green growing things before and among one of the neighborhood’s rental properties.

Compare the Featured Image to the one from the previous post. Those buildings and windows were obscured by a lush, well-tended, tropical jungle. My understanding: The pruning, and perhaps reconstruction, is planned to continue all week. That means the bearded tree to the left may also be removed.

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Before the Clearcutters Came

Sometimes changes occur so abruptly and unexpectedly in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, I regret not documenting what was—never anticipating that the thang could be gone. The tree outside our primary windows and palm at Cleveland and Monroe are examples. Today’s loss, on the inappropriately-timed first day of Spring, was catastrophic for some of my neighbors, who were reminded: renters have no say.

Calico Harley resides in a row of cute cottages that, until this afternoon, were almost completely obscured from view because of the variety of succulents and trees growing in front of the property and down the side. The well-tended, and healthy, jungle was lush and lovely. When workers started cutting down a single tree this morning, I complained to my wife about another horticultural butcher job. What I could never imagine is how devastating would be the clearcutting. For today, I refrain from showing what is. Let’s look at what was.

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The Cats of University Heights: Gallant

Along Cleveland Ave. on Valentine’s Day 2021, my wife and I spotted a harnessed black-fur outside one of the street’s larger-looking single-family homes. No leash was apparent, but there was an open front door, and—not meaning to snoop—through which we caught glimpse of an older couple watching Sunday morning television. We hadn’t seen the brightly-green-garmented beastie before and not since.

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image, which is cropped nearly 100 percent. Vitals, aperture oddly set: f/5, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 9:25 a.m. PST. For no particular reason other than intuition, I nickname this fine feline Gallant.

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What Have We Become?

During my thirteen-and-a-half years living in San Diego, I have resisted taking any photos of the city’s thousands of homeless—whose presence is more pronounced by the day. They deserve dignity, rather than exploitation by street shooters. But, today, the sorry state of a gentlemen sprawled out nearby the entrance to a pharmacy in Hillcrest demanded attention, and mention, so here we are with a Featured Image and companion captured using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; 11:02 a.m. PDT. The other is same but 1/1250 sec.

I was aghast at how casually people walked by the man, who was stretched out in death-like position facing the building. He was an obstacle that passersby moved around. No one bothered to see if he was alive (after some long observation, I detected breathing). I was immediately reminded about history lessons and news stories read during my grade school years about the USSR—people lying dead in the streets and Soviet citizens walking around them; commonplace sightings, presumably, become part of the background of life. Is that really what we have come to be in the United States of America—or in what I unaffectionately call Communist California?

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San Diego County Partly Reopens, But Not Soon Enough for Some Businesses

One year ago today, California bars, breweries, and eateries stopped serving customers indoors, shifting to delivery and take-out services only—as ordered by Governor Gavin Newsom. On March 19, 2020, he issued a “stay-at-home” order for all Californians that went into effect the next day. Restrictions would later lift only to be reimposednearly as harsh during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as the pandemic‘s early-declaration days.

Today, after months of onerous prohibitions upon local businesses, San Diego County rose from the most restrictive tier, which permits malls and retailers to operate at 50-percent capacity; aquariums, churches, movie theaters, museums, restaurants, and zoos to allow customers indoors at 25-percent capacity; and gyms and hotels to operate at 10-percent capacity. Oh joy. Beat me with the stick, because it feels so good compared to the baseball bat you were whacking with.

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The Cats of University Heights: Mane

We return to Alabama for the sixty-first kitty from the street, between boundaries Adams and Lincoln. This magnificent ginger is also sixty-third seen behind door or window. The longhair is third, following Goose and Olive, of five newcomers on the same block. And, finally, the cat resides in the apartment directly below the flat where once lived Holiday (family moved away). For fabulous ruff, the animal earns nickname Mane.

I first spotted the beauty on Sept. 7, 2020, sitting on a cat tree looking out an open window. But I couldn’t produce a portrait on that day or others; unsatisfactory lighting is reason. Then, unexpectedly, on Feb. 18, 2021, Mane appeared in a side window, while workers whacked to pieces a beautiful palm tree in front of the building. The Featured Image comes from Leica Q2. In post-production, I used DxO ViewPoint 3 to align the lines. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1250 sec, 28mm; 11:33 a.m. PST.

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The Cats of University Heights: Curly

Along Madison, not far from Mississippi, my wife and I unexpectedly encountered a tabby with stubby, twisty tail on Jan. 24, 2021. Name tag identified the chub of love as Curly, which makes sense to me. We had not seen the feisty feline before that day and not since.

I used iPhone XS to capture the Featured Image and companion. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/390 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 10:21 a.m. PST. The other is the same but 1/387 sec. The second shot gives a little better sense of the tail, but not as good as the photo I chose not to publish—a rear shot that unflatteringly reveals a bit too much of Curly’s bum.

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Fear is the Contagion

The four words of this essay’s title are exactly my reaction to learning about China’s massive quarantine for the Novel Coronavirus in late-January 2020. I warned my wife and anyone else to prepare for the spread of fear: How it would infect and disrupt distribution of goods and services; how panic would lead to supply shortages; how desperation might cause people to react violently. But following the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic, one year ago today, the outcome over 12 months is much worse than I expected.

Society didn’t suddenly break down from widespread contagion, like portrayed by Hollywood films and TV shows. Instead, the economic and social fabrics shredded over longer time, as well-meaning citizens obeyed orders to “shelter-in-place“, “social distance“, and close their businesses. My contention: When Science catches up with collated data, the forensic analysis will show that governments over-reacted with lockdowns that inflicted more harm than the virus that everyone feared. Meaning: The cure is far more damaging than the disease, which danger is overblown.

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The Cats of University Heights: Aisho

Seventeen year-old Aisho (real name) is surprisingly spry, considering his advanced years. Along Maryland near Madison, I passed the ginger and his owner as she chatted with another neighbor on March 4, 2021. I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image at 10:58 a.m. PST. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm.

For people who have trouble pronouncing or remembering his name, Aisho also goes by Mr. Jones.

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A Plea for Continued Relevance

On March 1, 2021, as I walked along University Ave. in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood, a huge banner beckoned my attention. I frequently see signs like this in apartment and house windows but nothing this large nor with Still added. I used iPhone XS to snap the companion to the Featured Image, which I captured the next day with Leica Q2 Monochrom. Vitals for the smartphone shot, which is composed as taken: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/761 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 9:05 a.m. PST. For the camera, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 200, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 10:27 a.m.

Why is such a banner, with Still added, seen as necessary? The trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is underway in Minneapolis. He is implicated in the death of George Floyd, whose alleged homicide sparked racial riots and protests in the city and across the country—with loud voices crying “defund the police” and “no justice, no peace”. Nearly ten months later, Americans have largely stopped rallying for racial reckoning—and the organization that gathered them before isn’t yet, if it ever will, marshaling masses together. Black lives still matter, but the movement apparently does not.