Category: Sports

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Finally, Somebody Uses the Bike Lanes

Dec. 9, 2023, as I stopped to photograph someone’s life belongings heaped onto four shopping carts, suddenly, and rapidly, riders roared by along University Ave. in Hillcrest. San Diego’s panache for tearing up parking spaces and replacing them with kilometers-upon-kilometers of bike lanes is controversial among businesses and many residents but unapologetic policy public.

On any normal day, bikers are few, and their numbers are next to meaningless compared to the volume of buses, cars, SUVs, and trucks, among other vehicles. So I was rather surprised seeing such mass of riders, who vastly spilled out of the bike lane into traffic.

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Tennis This Time

San Diego’s three-season summer weather creates all kinds of outdoor activities that would be uncommon elsewhere. Consider public schools: Many are indoor/outdoor, meaning classrooms are enclosed but kids go out to move among them. Costco eateries are on the outside of the warehouses rather than within. The examples abound.

As such, I shouldn’t be so amused, but am, about the older gent watching sports programs out of doors. On Aug. 9, I passed him riveted to a baseball game—all by his lonesome. Tonight, it’s tennis—and he has a friend. “Say, could you pass a can of Modelo Especial?” (Because Bud Light is boycotted, the Mexican beer is now top-seller.)

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Batter Up!

The appropriate action would be to ask this gentleman why he watches television outside. But I instead chose to shoot stealthily from across the street because mystery makes the moment. The answer could ruin the curiosity.

Perhaps his partner or spouse doesn’t like baseball. Maybe he is lonely and hopes the outdoor game will draw some company. Perhaps ambiance is the reason: He wants a taste of remembered experience of going to the stadium and watching the game. I will never know and don’t want to.

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Just Fountain Around

Before taking stealth shots of a pair of content creators, I turned Leica Q2 Monochrom onto a skateboarder going around Bea Evenson Fountain in San Diego’s Balboa Park. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra‘s 10x zoom lenses—that’s 230mm film equivalent—let me close the distance on the two women but the photo is muddy rather than sharp.

By contrast, the captures from the camera are richly detailed with great dynamic range, even close-cropped. The smartphone’s small sensor cannot compete with the Leica’s full frame. High IQ, meaning image quality, lets me crop in and get much the same benefit of the Samsung’s zoom caapability. That said, 230mm is huge reach and not to be easily dismissed because of its overall utility on a device carried in the pocket.

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Bike Boxes?

In the category of meaningless, but intriguing, you get the bicycle storage lockers that I happened upon today. Bikes are among the most stolen items in and around San Diego; homeless gangs grab the two-wheelers—and with no punishment or other consequence. The bicycle equivalent of a chop shop pops up suddenly; frames are stripped and equipment recombined.

Because thieves are less likely to take what they can’t see, the lockers offer some protection from prying eyes and grubby fingers. Are these boxes a novelty? An archaic solution? Progressive response to preventing bicycle theft? You tell me.

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Better Than Mardi Gras

The days when rain isn’t falling, but the ground is wet and the air sweet Spring fresh and moist, are delightful. Over on Louisiana Street, some young men made festive the late afternoon of Feb. 22, 2023. They skateboarded to boombox rock, and I absolutely loved the spirit and ambiance they created. Why not bang on doors and have an impromptu block party?

Pepto, who is among the “Cats of University Heights” sauntered through the mayhem, taking up observant position by a car. That’s his block, baby.

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July in Christmas

Feel free to call me cruel, but gloating is not my intention so, please, don’t assign such motivation. The Christmas Day forecast for much of Southern California is unseasonably warm. Predicted San Diego weather is 25 Celsius (77 Fahrenheit) and 23 C (73 F) on both the preceding and following days. Break out T-shirt and shorts for summer remembrance.

Meanwhile, much of the rest of the country expects something colder, which already creeps Eastward. As I write, it’s -17 C (2 F) in Amarillo. Texas! Oh, that’s before the wind chill. For Christmas, randomly-selected highs: Atlanta, Ga., 1 C (34 F); Nashville, Tenn., -2 C (28 F); Newark, NJ, -3 C (27 F); Ocala, Fla., 7 C (45 F); Raleigh, NC, 2 C (35 F). For more of a sense of what’s more typical, for the cities, respectively, the following Sunday forecast: 19 C (66 F); 17 C (62 F); 15 C (59 F); 26 C (79 F); 22 C (71 F).

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Are They a Rare Set?

One of my sisters is avid about golf. My interest almost reaches enthusiasm for root canals. Ah, the things siblings don’t share in common, eh? She was already on my mind, because of Thanksgiving Day, when I passed by a set of discarded clubs this morning; more so after I chuckled over them, thinking: How appropriate. Perhaps the previous owner and I share similar sentiments about the, ah, sport. Yuh. Let’s turn the TV channel to curling—another fine slow-moving competition.

Knowing absolutely nothing about golf, or the accruements necessary to play, maybe I missed a magnanimous moment of opportunity—like the yard sale buyer who snags a rare painting or Leica camera that turns out to be worth tens of thousands of dollars—even millions. What if the clubs are a rare set, put out by another non-golfer who is emptying the apartment of some aged relative recently passed away? Sometimes that which looks old and crusty is valuable. Are these clubs? I presume no more than any others in similar condition. But why not speculate?

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Long Haul Trucker

I initially planned to close-crop the Featured Image but instead present it as shot. Both bikes are something of anachronisms in San Diego, where more and more riders mount motorized hybrids. Blame electric rentals or SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns—both, likely—for dramatic behavioral shift in a short span of about two years.

The Surly is a Long Haul Trucker model that the manufacturer describes as a “long-distance cargo bike ready to go anywhere”. The single saddlebag—pannier, if you prefer—suggests somewhere. The LHT was retired last year, after 17 years of production, which makes me wonder how much the sudden surge in popularity of electric (and some gas-powered) hybrids played into the bike’s end of life.

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Game Night

As I write, Super Bowl LVI is still underway, with the Cincinnati Bengals ahead of the Los Angeles Rams 20-16. At dusk in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, the cheering and clamoring of groups gathered rise from among the many residences.

Twelve minutes after sunset, 5:43 p.m. PST, I ventured past one of the many local breweries and shot the Featured ImageLeica Q2 Monochrom, from the hip. Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/2, ISO 1600, 1/125 sec, 28mm. Photo is cropped about 98 percent.

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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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Not My Masi

My walk to the pet store on Sept. 25, 2021 was an unexpected trip down memory lane. On the corner of Adams and Ohio, at the leading edge of San Diego’s Normal Heights neighborhood, someone had locked up their Masi Speciale Fixed. What a great roadster. I used to own the exact same color and configuration.

I bought my Masi in November 2008 and treasured her (my site, my pronoun choice)—the more after thieves tried to steal her (February 2010) out of a locked garage (they got bicycles belonging to my wife and daughter—bastards). The Speciale Fixed is what the name implies: single-gear. However, the bike sports a flip-flop hub that allows freewheel conversion. In fixed-configuration, pedals always move when the wheels are in motion. Freewheel is what most riders are accustomed to: Coasting when not actively pedaling.