Category: Living

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Now There are Two

Last September, my path crossed what I called the “Sidewalk Gym“, along Meade Ave. near Utah Street in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. The padding wrapped around a tree evoked make-shift, outdoor Mixed Martial Arts arena—and space to workout whenever Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom issued a new lockdown order meant to slow the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic.

The space remained a fixture since, with the appropriately-toned motorcycle and SUV typically parked beside the MMA studio. But, today, moseying past, I saw something new: A second motorcycle, which is change enough to assault you with a new Featured Image captured using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 3:39 p.m. PST.

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The Cats of University Heights: Alcatraz

Along Madison near Park Blvd, I observed a fine black-and-white shorthair looking out from an apartment window on Jan. 17, 2021. I snapped a couple of shots and planned to add the animal to the series. He reappeared scrunched in front of the same blinds on several subsequent occasions but never with light as right for a portrait.

Then came the unexpected meeting: February 26, the cat romped about on the same property, nearby sidewalk, and parked cars. He sure looked like an escapee to me, which is why the nickname Alcatraz—for the infamous California prison from which no one (supposedly) successfully made a break and lived.

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The Cats of University Heights: Breezy

Outside the house where Hamlet the pig and his family used to live, a young kitty pranced over to my wife and I on Jan. 26, 2021. We had seen (and heard) the shorthair in a window on several previous days’ walk-bys. She seemed beyond excitement to be outside, which suggests to me a temporary escape from indoor living.

The Featured Image and companion come from iPhone XS, which I will choose over my camera when a cat is moving about quickly or coming over to me and rubbing my legs. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/406 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 11:01 a.m. PST. The other is the same but 1/372 sec and a few seconds later. The grey Calico earns nickname Breezy for the lightly-windy day and how she breezed by us.

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Why is Hollywood Obsessed with Viral Armageddon?

I really want to know. That sentence, the title, and a short list of TV Shows about viral epidemics is as far as this post proceeded when I started it on April 26, 2016. I meant to come back many times over the nearly five years since and really regret the failure following the World Health Organization’s declaration of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

Still contemplating writing this essay, but not getting to it, I shot and edited the Featured Image on June 11, 2017. San Diego’s Museum of Man (since then renamed to “Us”) featured exhibit “Cannibals: Myth & Reality”. With so many of the virus movies or TV series focused on Zombie apocalypses, the exhibit artwork seemed so perfect illustration. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; 2:07 p.m. PDT, Leica Q.

Half a decade later, I wonder: How much did pandemic feature films and TV shows create soil for COVID-19 to grow into a state of global fear—and, as I will opine in six days, far exceeds the real risk posed to the majority of people; whether or not they are infected? Surely, you can guess my answer.

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The Twilight Zone of Pandemic Politics

Some things go so oddly together that you must stop and regard them and wonder. Today, while walking along Shirley Ann Place in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, a “Recall Newsom” sign surprised me; it’s the first one seen anywhere here. My wife fixated on the Easter eggs hanging from a tree in the same yard. She missed the one thing, and I the other. Mmmm, what does that say about selective vision and being drawn to what interests you while having a blindspot for what doesn’t?

As strangely as the cheerful eggs and hopeful sign are juxtaposed, something else made the scene feel even more Twilight Zone-like: The house beyond with the American flag flew something different before the Presidential election: Old Glory with spray-painted BLM. Well, I couldn’t leave without photos, which were captured using Leica Q2. The Featured Image (warning: 27MB file), which is composed as shot, shows the street. The cropped companion brings together the three elements. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 12:25 p.m. PST. The other is f/2.8 and 1/640 sec.

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The Cats of University Heights: Olive, Too

Our sixtieth feline from Alabama Street, between boundaries Adams and Lincoln, is the second Olive to appear in the series. In the Featured Image, her brother Goose is to the lower right. She sits on the railing where I last photographed Lupe before she and her bondmate Laramie were abandoned by a previous tenant (both were later adopted into a new home).

The portrait comes from Leica Q2, on Feb. 3, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 4:54 p.m. PST.

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The Cats of University Heights: Goose

The number of Alabama cats increases, again—fifty-nine featured in the series for the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln. Goose (yep, real name) is the first of five recent newcomers, who all live on the same block. In fact, he and his sister Olive reside where once was the home of Laramie and Lupe before they were abandoned by their previous owner, who moved to Arizona, and eventually were adopted after spending nearly a year in foster care.

I used Leica Q2 to shoot the Featured Image on Nov. 5, 2020 and iPhone XS for the companion four days earlier. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 9:30 a.m. PST. The other: f/1.8, ISO 25, 1/122 sec, 26mm (film equivalent); 3:26 p.m. The two growing kittens are let out for romping around time but, by my observation, they spend more time (safely) indoors.

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Message to the Homeless?

While walking with my wife along Panorama Drive, in San Diego’s University Heights community, we passed by a sign that I ignored, then turned back to capture. What does “dumping” mean, I wonder. Could it be throwing garbage into the canyon, which access would be difficult but possible from that location? Or could it refer to the business that people do when they need to, ah, relieve themselves?

Pricey Panorama, where are some of the costliest homes in UH, would be one of the neighborhood’s least welcoming of the homeless—and more are seen in the area everyday, although likelier two to three blocks closer to El Cajon Blvd. And, yes, they are known to “dump” in unexpected places. With SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 restrictions keeping eatery dining rooms closed and most retailers barring bathrooms to the public, everyone is limited on where to go when nature calls. So I got to wonder, who is the sign meant for?

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The Cats of University Heights: Paws

The Featured Image of our sixty-second putty seen behind window or door won’t win awards—or even be considered for one. The make-do portrait is from a single sighting, along Madison near Monroe. I used Leica Q2 to capture the moment, Adobe Lightroom Classic to crop and edit, and DXO ViewPoint 3 to align the perspective of vertical and horizontal lines. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1250 sec, 28mm; 12:50 p.m. PST, Nov. 22, 2020. As the shooting date reveals, we’re still working through the backlog of photographed but unpublished kitties.

The tuxedo earns nickname Paws for the distinctive black color between its toes. The contrast is becoming.

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The Monarch and I agree: What an Aroma

San Diego is a three-season climate: Early Summer, Mid Summer, and Late Summer. The first fully flourishes: Little birds tweet; crows caw; citrus grows in residents’ yards; squirrels scamper; and non-perennials burst with fresh flowers; among many other delights. In some other locale, these things would be signs of Spring, but Summer never really ends here and merely transitions from states of vitality—which booms this fine February. Despite the drier-than-typical third season, lusciousness abounds. Sights and sounds of vibrant life are everywhere.

Smells, too. While walking along Meade Ave. between Alabama and Mississippi, in the University Heights community, on Feb. 23, 2021, a wondrously friendly fragrance greeted my nostrils, and I stopped to regard the source—the purple flowers you see in the Featured Image. The Monarch presented photographic opportunity, and I pulled out Leica Q2 for two deliberate but hasty shots. Luckily, the first is wings down; the unpublished other, they’re up. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 10:39 a.m. PST.

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The Cats of University Heights: Dido and Dodger

I profess ignorance about the ways which feisty felines negotiate territory. Two cats regarding one another is a commonly observed occurrence, particularly as the neighborhood’s demographics change—and the number of kitty owners increases. Last week, I passed by newcomer Pepto standing on the fence outside the home where lives long-time resident Daniel Tiger, who sat back-to on a table in his front yard. Likewise, Ash and Nelson often are seen together. All four have different owners.

On Nov. 10, 2020, I observed a new territorially tense pair somewhere on the West side of Park Blvd. Because the house number is so prominently displayed, I won’t disclose location—other than to note that a “For Rent” sign stood outside the property on that sunny morning. Both beasties had collars and tags, but neither would let me approach close enough to read their names. For now, let’s call the black Dido and the tiger Dodger.

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The Cats of University Heights: Bello

My short-lived time with Leica M10 started in early April 2018 and ended the first week of October of that year. The days are many that I regret letting go the camera. My consistent inability to precisely manually focus prompted my decision to sell. However, a change in eye glasses later—and addition of prisms to the prescription—and my vision is probably more than satisfactory for the task. Sigh.

On April 26, 2018, I spotted Tink inside her window and stopped to practice portrait focusing with the new camera. The Featured Image is the first of seven shots, with Summarit-M 1:2.4/50 lens attached to the M10. Vitals, aperture unknown: ISO 100, 1/1500 sec, 50mm; 9:38 a.m. PDT. In post-production, I used DXO ViewPoint 3 to align the perspective of vertical and horizontal lines.