Category: Culture

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James

For as long as we have been in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood—11 years next week—a homeless man lived near the top of Texas Street before it passes the Valero gas station at Madison. James was a fixture, seen day or night, every day, regardless of weather. If absent from his chair for any length of time, there would be chatter across social networks—in recent years NextDoor—asking where he was. Sickness or even police harassment were the more likely reasons for his absences.

Near the end of September, James vanished again, raising roarous concerns on NextDoor, until someone stated—and later was confirmed—that this homeless man had passed away. I didn’t know James, but some of my neighbors engaged him. “Friendly” and “kind” are two words used to describe him among many NextDoor posts and comments. I just took James for granted. He was as much a part of the scenery as the palm trees. As I would drive up Texas, or walk across the Adams Ave. bridge, he was an expected sight—and refreshing one, too. Something about his presence, and neighbors embracing his homelessness, was a triumph of humanity and dignity. 

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Free Moose!

There are times when human relationship drama is so bizarre and intense you feel like you’re living in a TV soap opera. Thus sums up recovering Moose; the cat belonged to one neighbor but was taken away by another. I played my role.

My wife and I first encountered the tortoiseshell, running off her porch to greet us, in early December 2017—and I profiled her in my “Cats of University Heights” series. We saw her at least once more, months later, in the building’s parking lot. Thirteen days ago, someone direct-messaged me on NextDoor about the kitty. He had seen my photos and wondered if she was a stray, as she frequented his property. For the purpose of privacy, I am changing the names of all the participants. We will call this gentleman Jerry.  He asked where I had seen Moose. I gave an approximate address and expressed confidence that the tortie belonged to someone. 

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Your Behavior Stinks!

A few days ago, BetaNews Managing Editor Wayne Williams emailed asking if I could contribute content after being silent for ages, especially as the site’s 20th anniversary approaches. He doesn’t fathom the potential terror that request will unleash.

I have written a total of two tech stories for BN in 2018—surely to the delight of my many commenter critics. Reason: Joe Wilcox is on a self-imposed writing hiatus as he looks distrustfully at the many so-called innovations that he championed during a 25-year technology reporting career. He is disgusted to see how we have become commodities stored in the pantries kept by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and most every other advert-licking,  AI-snorting, location-tracking, tech purveyor of promises looking to consume us for profit. Burp. 

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Where Does the Lafayette Belong?

San Diego’s Hillcrest and North Park districts are local cultural and nightlife hotspots, much more so than the neighborhood where my family lives—University Heights. Because of zip codes—92103 vs 92116—there is sometimes confusion, which admittedly may be intentional, about what business belongs to which of the three. For the record, according to the official maps, UH extends outside 92116, well past The Boulevard all the way to Lincoln, which is the last major parallel street before University Avenue and the main Hillcrest and North Park strips.

The historic, and entertainment lively, Lafayette Hotel claims to be “tucked snugly in the vibrant North Park neighborhood”. That would be the case if located on the other side of Texas Street. But the place is “tucked snugly” inside University Heights, I say. Also, El Cajon Blvd is more ghetto than “vibrant”—no disrespect to the businesses along the strip or people living on or around it (I am among the latter). 

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A Garbage Story

Human behavior perplexes me. This morning while walking towards the Sprouts market, here in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, I observed a grey-haired woman stop walking to pick up a discarded cigarette carton; a wide-brim hat obscured her face. I smiled and thought: “Good for her! How commendable”.

But she soon followed community-minded behavior with inexplicable action. The lady tossed the thing into foliage alongside the sidewalk. Surely, I misunderstood—but, no, her right hand was empty. So much for the goodwill of grabbing unsightly refuse and disposing in a garbage can—which wasn’t more than 46 meters (50 yards) further along. Passing the spot of the drop, I could see other trash. 

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San Diego Bike Invasion

Like mushrooms suddenly appearing after the rain, ride-sharing bicycles are popping up all around my neighborhood (University Heights East) as well as North Park—and from two separate providers: LimeBike and Ofo. The sightings started several weeks ago, one or two, here or there. Now these things are absolutely everywhere!

The Featured Image makes the point. In the foreground, at Alabama and Madison, two Ofos are parked, while across the way—go ahead, count `em—another four can be seen. Out of view are two more further along towards Adams Ave. Photo vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 8:31 a.m. PST, today. 

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A 2017 Reflection

While so many people, put off the the Presidential election, particularly out here in culturally crazed California, looked upon 2017 with dismay (or even disgust), I started out with hopeful, reminiscent mind. Two thousand seventeen marked 40 years from 1977, which was one of the most signficant in my life; a year of firsts and transitions.

That year, in order of events, I: passed the FCC exam that would let me go on the radio; graduated high school; turned 18; moved away from home; started college; and worked as a deejay on the campus radio station. There were many milestones, all marking the path to adulthood and greater independence. 

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‘Obstacles are Opportunities’

The new year ushers in a fresh, personal motto—an amalgamation of 2017’s slogan, “Everything is an opportunity“, older “Change the rules”, and another (“Why not?”) that I used for decades.

“Obstacles are opportunities” comes from an off-the-cuff, but well-meant, late-year text message response to my daughter. She struggled with something, to which I encouraged: “obstacles are an opportunity”. Then I thought to myself: “Oh, I like that. I shouldn’t forget that”. 

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Tent City

From the Adams Ave. overlook, seen across the canyon to the backside of Franciscan Way, a tented home hugs the hillside. In early Summer, My wife and I walked through the multi-level dwelling during one of its countless Open Houses over the course of many, many months. The overly-expansive layout, square-footage (3,860), and $1.7 million asking price were reasons for our disinterest—and perhaps many other people. There is a pending sale, as of the week before Christmas, for $1.55M, which explains the extermination rig.

Californians tent homes to fumigate, which is common practice before a new sale closes. Think of it as a temporary tent city for vermin, before insecticide snuffs them out. Funny thing, tent city also refers to where groups of the downtown homeless gather together. If neighborhood banter on the NextDoor social network is revealing, there are many University Heights residents who view indigents as vermin they would like to eliminate

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The Great Gift Mom Gave to Me

On this first Christmas without mom, who passed away nearly five months ago, there is little pause for reflection. Flu symptoms started on December 20; today is the first in five where fever dropped below 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 F); 38.9 C (102 F) was frequent. My core body temp tends to be below normal (36.1 C; 97 F), which (I hope) explains why low-grade fevers are so debilitating. I let the blog auto-post several entries to my “Cats of University Heights” series, which is one reason there are so many uninterrupted.

There is little sentimental about this December 25. My wife finally succumbed to the flu by Christmas Eve; we steered our daughter away from the quarantine household. She is in Northern California with a friend’s family, and looks like she feels out of place, too. We’re here, as is her bag of presents, and she celebrates without mom and dad but with the loss of two grandparents. My father-in-law passed away Jan. 11, 2017. He already was in desperate decline last Christmas Day; I can’t imagine the dire circumstance if Anne and I were this bedridden then, when he needed so much assistance.