Category: Living

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The Nikon Shooter

The day is June 10, 2006. I drive my daughter and friend to the mall in Columbia, Md. when we unexpectedly come upon the Festival of Arts event, where cardboard boat races are underway. I pack Nikon D200, which comes out to shoot some of the activities, including the Featured Image. If I recollect rightly, the portrait is not one previously shared. Vitals: f/6.3, ISO 100, 1/160 sec, 200mm; 1:07 p.m. EDT.

The Nikon shooter evokes a bygone photographic era, before the ascent of mirrorless cameras displaced digital SLRs. Yes, professionals still use them, but a journey to any photo forum reveals a massive migration to smaller bodies and more compact lenses.

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Where the Monks Live

Nested among commercial cathedrals to alcohol and hedonism is the Hsi Fang Temple on Park Blvd in University Height’s main business district. The location is prime real estate that developers drool over, and it’s a spiritual stakeholder among one of the many San Diego communities where Christianity is in decline (see my missive “Is God Inclusive?” for perspective on that values topic).

I occasionally will see Buddhist monks, dressed in their more traditional garb, walking about UH. They are in some ways the biggest reminder of the temple’s presence, in part because the building, while massive, is unpretentious. Street-facing Buddha’s Light Bookstore might draw more attention if open more hours (website says Wednesday evenings and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends).

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Pop Goes Another Housing Bubble

The current housing bubble—and there absolutely is one—bears only modest resemblance to the previous catastrophe, which I warned about in a lengthy August 2005 analysis. Rising mortgage rates already are deflating the 2020’s-decade bubble, but the pop is unavoidable without fundamental changes in the actual market or the myths used to explain existing dynamics.

Since before anyone heard of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19, which economic and societal disruption super-inflated the housing bubble, I had warned about a dangerous trend that ignores common sense observation of national demographics: Among the two largest segments, Baby Boomers are dying off and Millennials aren’t having many kids. As population growth stalls, there will be less demand for housing because there will be fewer people to buy. Meaning: All the babbling about not enough inventory has set into motion an overbuilding frenzy that is sure to deflate home values in the not-so-distant future. Before pandemic lockdowns, I had thought within 10 years. I now expect less than five—if we’re lucky.

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The Cats of University Heights: Rosie, Too

The series‘ second Rosie is, whoa, twenty years old. My wife and I met her owner about three weeks after I captured the Featured Image on March 5, 2022, using iPhone 13 Pro. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/122 sec, 77mm; 1:41 p.m. PST.

The calico lives on the same block as Harvey and Romper. Current and planned construction of massive multi-unit residences makes the street rather unpleasant living for animals and humans. I am surprised to see any furballs at all, if for no other reason than the relentless racket.

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The Abandoned

Weather forecast of searing heat inspired me to take a long walk this morning before temperature rose—and it did, eventually reaching 35.5 degrees Celsius (96 F) in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights. I mostly stayed in the alleys, where buildings’ shadows offered some relief. In the one separating Campus and Cleveland, I came upon a hapless plant, beret of pot.

What you don’t see in the Featured Image—and what I should have captured—is the back passenger tire of a Honda SUV. That precarious placement is what initially drew my attention to the neglected thing. Presumably, someone left out the item as a freebee. Perhaps languished from the second day’s unseasonable scorcher, or already ailing, the wilted plant appealed much less than its pot. Hence the presumed abandonment.

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You Are Nobody

Yesterday, after photographing the bicycle traffic light, I continued along University Avenue in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood before stopping to wonder at the mural that is the Featured Image and companion. The first hugs cross-street Sixth and the second is along the main throughway.

Is this who we are after two years of masking during the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 crisis? Faceless? So stripped of humanity to be utterly featureless, without even eyes? Whatever the artist’s intent, I see an overt—not even hidden—message: You are nobody. In a society where even gender is disputed, maybe no identity is the only rendition to depict.

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Traffic Rules Apply to Bikes, Too

San Diego is embarked on the Herculean task of creating new bike lanes—and they’re seemingly everywhere in Hillcrest, North Park, and University Heights. Today, while standing at Fifth and University avenues, I saw something surprising that probably shouldn’t be: Traffic lights for riders. In a community culture where bikers barrel through intersections like they own the right of way, the city seeks to tame them to the same rules that everyone else abides by.

Hell, yeah. Hey, Two-Wheeler, someone saved your life. Thank them.

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The Ready Man

As my wife and I walked up Madison Avenue from the overlook, we passed a man gardening in a yard. “I’m Ready” came a voice behind us. We turned, and he motioned to my camera, which I pulled around. He posed, and I clicked the shutter for a single shot. We exchanged smiles, and I offered thanks. Sometime in the future, I must go back for his name.

The Featured Image comes from Leica Q2 Monochrom. I had planned to complete an errand in Hillcrest, where I usually shoot black and white rather than color. But the day was so pretty after several drizzling overcast and being with my wife was so lovely that I walked with Annie about University Heights instead.

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The Cats of University Heights: Leo, Too

The series‘ second Leo is housemate to Wilbur, whom we met yesterday. I have only seen the ginger once, on Jan. 31, 2022, and continue efforts to clear up a surprising backlog of photographed but not yet published kitties.

About 52 percent of San Diego’s housed residents rent, and with monthly rates rising there has been tremendous turnover during the past 12 months—spurred in part by Silicon Valley tech employees relocating now that they can work at home. You can either blame or credit SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates for the migration—also explanation for fresh cat sightings.

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The Cats of University Heights: Wilbur

We celebrate the first Caturday of the month by starting a double-header: Wilbur today and his housemate Leo tomorrow. My wife and I encountered the pair on Jan. 31, 2022. I have seen the tabby in the Featured Image and three companion shots on several occasions since. Wilbur’s ginger buddy blessed us with his presence once only.

Wilbur came up to visit, and Annie read his tag. But Leo stayed distant, and I have searched since hoping to see him and get his name. That information presented unexpectedly last night. Nearly a month ago, I grudgingly returned to Nextdoor; economic uncertainty is reason enough to band together with neighbors, with whom bartering or buying may benefit us all soon. While exploring the social network’s Pets section, I identified Leo and confirmed Wilbur; both beasties share the same owner.

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For Their Grandma

While walking across the Vermont Street Bridge, which separates University Heights from Hillcrest, I came upon three women—two of which posed for the other. I gladly waited. When I passed, one of the ladies asked me to take a photo of all three. Of course. She handed me an iPhone, and the trio huddled together.

We then talked for as much as 10 minutes (I really should shut up), and they told me about their reminiscing adventure. Sixty years ago—a number/timeframe repeated several times—they would visit their grandmother, who lived on Johnson Street, which is on the UH side of the bridge. The then-girls were from Northern California, and their mom would “ship” them down to San Diego whenever another “was born”.

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Weather-worn is Wear Enough

On average, about 28 cm (11 inches) of rain falls in San Diego annually. The mild Mediterranean climate means three summer seasons, and the warmest of them is in process of gradually heating up. Sunny days, punctuated by breezes coming off the Pacific Ocean, allow citizens to maximize their living space by extending it outdoors. Businesses do likewise; consider Costco, which customer eatery is outside the warehouse rather than the more common inside location.

The fine climate leads to oddities like the alley art gallery, little house collectionsSatanic shrine (well, maybe), or sidewalk lending libraries. The Featured Image is another example. This necklace has hung on this fence for at least six months. My wife spotted it along Monroe Avenue in University Heights on Dec. 11, 2021. She stopped for a photo, because beads and jewelry are her designer passion; I decided to do likewise—using iPhone 13 Pro. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 64, 1/121 sec, 26mm; 10:43 a.m. PST.