Category: Culture

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I Agree

Along several sidewalks in the neighborhood, kids who have been forced home by school closings express in chalk positive sentiments about beating back or overcoming the global crisis presented by the conjoined pandemics: Viral—SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), better known as COVID-19—and socioeconomic. One message moved me more than the others, for being affirmative against adversity.

“We Can Do This” is a proclamation of will, of determination, of taking responsibility—with the plural meaning everything. We can be two or more all the way up to collective humanity. But the importance is greater, as the sentiment explodes in context: In California, like a handful of other states, Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered all 40-million citizens to “stay at home” and practice so-called “social distancing” behavior as a strategy to slow spread of the contagion. All businesses, but a handful considered to be “essential”, are closed. We are apart physically—separated by six feet or more—but we are close in desire.

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To Slow the Pandemic, Commerce Crumbles

Last night, Governor Gavin Newsom directed the closure of restaurants—other than take-away or delivery—across California. San Diego County issued legally-enforceable health orders, 11 in all, that impose tighter restrictions. Sizable group gatherings are prohibited, and residents are instructed to stay home. Six days after the World Health Organization (finally) declared SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—a pandemic, commerce shutters, slows, and stops.

My wife and I take cautious walks around the neighborhood, avoiding other people as we can. Today, as we approached Park Blvd from Monroe Ave., a strange sight greeted: Closed LeStat’s. The bustling coffee shop is normally open 24 hours every day of the year. We didn’t explore the remaining portion of University Height’s main street, but for sure the many bars and restaurants are dark, too.

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Don’t They Know It’s a Pandemic?

I will be pissed if any of these people, who irresponsibly risk exposure to Novel Coronavirus, take a hospital bed before someone trying to more safely #StayTheFuckHome. We are in the midst of a fraking global pandemic and the banning of social gatherings everywhere. My two living sisters were supposed to vacation 10-days hence in Florida, with Disney World being the main activity. The theme park, like many, many others, is closed. That plan changed.

But a few blocks from my apartment, Pop Pie Co. and sister shop Stella Jean’s Ice Cream kept their Pi Day celebration going, gathering a crowd of would-be spreaders of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19. Today, France and Spain imposed restrictions that, like Italy, essentially lock down (e.g., quarantine) the entire countries. Hours earlier, Apple Stores closed globally outside of China until March 27. Yesterday, President Trump declared a national emergency in response to the contagion’s rapid spread. Everyone is advised to stay home and avoid crowds. Not create them!

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Pandemic!

A new era of uncertainty makes this an historic Wednesday, as the most transformative event in generations advances with rapacity. This morning (Pacific Daylight Time), and taking too long doing so, the World Health Organization officially classified SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—as a pandemic. This evening, President Trump announced an unprecedented 30-day European travel ban—excluding United Kingdom—starting at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Friday the 13th. How appropriately unlucky is that?

The goal: To limit the contagion’s spread from the Continent, where Italy is besieged and has essentially quarantined (e.g. locked down)  the entire country. Earlier today, the government there ordered the closure of all stores, other than banks, pharmacies, and supermarkets. Yikes!

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What’s Behind the Nextdoor?

In classic episodes of game show “Let’s Make a Deal“, Monty Hall lets participants choose from among three doors, with the expectation that something prize-worthy waits behind one. But what if there are disappointing gag-gifts behind all of them? The answer kind of explains my abandoning social network Nextdoor for the second—and surely—last time.

I quit Nextdoor in mid-October last year after joining in August 2017. Primary reason: Interaction turned negative my relatively positive attitudes about the neighborhood. But, about five months ago, I reactivated my account after kitties Laramie and Lupe were abandoned; I worked with other concerned residents and a real estate agent seeking to get the animals safely removed before the property was sold. Nextdoor facilitated communication. Rescue House put the bonded pair into a foster home, and as I write they’re still waiting to be adopted.

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Audience Matters

While walking along Panorama Drive, in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood today, a bumper sticker caused me to chuckle. The message seemed so appropriately placed on a vehicle parked in what locals might call a well-to-do, liberal enclave. Above the one proclamation another exclaimed: “Keep the Mexicans. Deport Trump”. So surely the driver’s meaning is unequivocally plain: Fewer weapons saves lives. In other words, disarm Americans.

I laughed when passing, because interpretation could be far removed from intention, or purpose. There are anarchists, terrorists, and other people—such as those wanting to rid the country of haughty liberals—who might see something quite good and affirming about “More Guns, More Death”, reading the same sentiment with a divergent meaning that is justified by a different, or even opposing, ethical worldview. For one audience, the slogan is an admonition. For another, it’s an invitation—a call to arms, so to speak.

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Lupe’s Last Day

This afternoon, a real estate agent trapped Lupe, who was featured—along with companion Laramie—in my “Cats of University Heights” series (December 2017). Two weeks ago today, the animals’ owner left the pair behind, when he moved out of state. The gent rented the property that the three shared, along with two dogs, for 17 years. To her credit, the agent selling the place stepped up to assure the outdoor kitties would find a new home. (The guy also left behind goldfish, which a fourth grade school teacher adopted for her class.)

My feelings are deeply mixed about trapping and removing Laramie and Lupe. While walking down Alabama Street this morning, I spoke with neighbors worried about the abandons. One asked about adopting them. Another and I discussed the realistic possibility about caring for the pair as community cats—fed and kept in familiar territory. That would be my preference, although it is likely unrealistic. In my conversations with the realtor, who has been in contact with rescue groups, the animals’ future is tenuous if deemed to be unadoptable. They might not be put down, so to speak, but they could be put away in a feral colony. Neither belongs there, and I don’t believe Lupe would fare well.

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Fido Confections

Among the stereotypes that cling to Californians: Their love of—no obsession with—dogs. Take a peek into this window of a local dog bakery. I could understand meat pie. But cake? Welcome to SoCal, where residents primp tail-waggers and fawn incessantly over them. I am aghast how the fussy folk here let their beasts pee and poop everywhere. Sure, most dog walkers carry baggies to clean up the hard deposits. But the liquid soils sidewalks and anything along them; considering how rarely rain falls, this crap clinging to shoes and dust that becomes airborne can’t be healthy. So why in a state where residents also are lifestyle-profiled as being health-obsessed is there such contradiction?

In County cities Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, San Diego, Santee, and Solana Beach, there are about 162,000 licensed dogs, according to official statistics. Human population for the same locales is about 2.15 million, says the Department of Animal Services. FYI: San Diego Humane Society assumed responsibility for providing county animal services to these communities during second quarter of this year. If you’re local, and interested in domestic or wild beasties, SDH’s annual report is informative reading. 

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The Book of Our Times

It’s catch-up time for things I meant to post but put aside, temporarily. Family drama! Perhaps you will read about it in the future, but likely not. Now to the main course: On Oct. 21, 2018—the day after reading that San Diegans spend more on alcoholic beverages than residents of any other city in the United States—I spotted something surprising on a table outside LeStat’s on Park. Did someone forget the book? Was it purposefully left behind—seemingly appropriate commentary about America’s “booziest city”?

For sure, breweries are commonplace, and most eateries serve alcoholic beverages, which also are sold everywhere—not predominantly in liquor stores but from pharmacies, supermarkets, warehouse stores (e.g. Costco), and more. 

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I Quit Nextdoor Today

More than a year after first hearing locals rave about Nextdoor, I joined the social network, on Aug. 29, 2017. Late this afternoon, I deactivated my account. In principle, the concept is well-conceived: Build community among people living close to one another rather than interact across the far reaches of the InterWebs on the likes of Facebook. In practice, my experience is something else: Busy-bodies spend too much time complaining about their neighbors. I liked University Heights more when knowing less about the people living here—or the amount of hit-and-run accidents, package thefts, and other so-called crimes or problems amplified by hundreds of virtual megaphones. My sense of safety and well-being has greatly diminished from using Nextdoor. So no more!

No single incident precipitated my exit. Little things accumulated—like last week’s Cookies with the Cops meeting, where one police officer explained that if a so-called incident isn’t documented, “it didn’t happen”. He referred to the Get It Done app as the go-to place for non-emergency interaction with San Diego’s finest. He likened anything else to phone chains of old, where gossiping along a line of calls turned one thing into a hundred.