Category: Responsibility

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In the Dumpster

End of year is a good time to take out the trash, so to speak, to clear out the past and prepare for the future—opportunity to start Jan. 1, 2022 fresh and tidy. That’s where I am on this wet Wednesday evening. But what if you literally can’t take out the garbage, as is the case for many San Diego County residents? Teamsters Local 542 is on strike with Republic Services, which my landlord unfortunately uses.

The Featured Image, taken today with iPhone 13 Pro, is outside the apartment building where we live. (Vitals: f/1.5, ISO 50, 1/2994 sec, 26mm; 11:22 a.m. PST.) I would like to thank my immediate neighbors for not massively overflowing the dumpster. You might think, looking at the pile, that I am being facetious. Not so. The sentiment is sincerely expressed. Stacks of bags and refuse elsewhere exponentially exceed this modest mess. My fellow residents show remarkable restraint.

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California Brings Back Mask Mandates

The mass hysteria about SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 and the public policy response brings forth a freshly minted mask mandate—from today until (at least) Jan. 15, 2022. Rising number of detected infections, coupled with fear about the Omicron variant, are major reasons for California’s restriction that applies to every public indoor venue and to all people—even the vaccinated. Am I supposed to feel relieved that the governor isn’t shutting down the state, like he did last Christmas? That we only have to cover our faces?

Not that there is any science to support the Omicron panic. Early epidemiology data from Southern Africa indicates that the new variant is considerably more contagious than the already highly infectious Delta. While infections rise, hospitalization and death curves are flat. Reported cases from South Africa, for example, are generally mild—and that’s in a population with relatively low vaccination rate (compared to the United States). But, as usual, the majority of news reports and guidance from the World Health Organization scare-monger about how terrible the variant could be—without presenting any data to support suppositions.

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The Omicron Variant

This post’s title, which also names the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) strain currently causing a global healthcare scare, would be better for a thriller-genre book or film about viral terrorism.

Cue the movie trailer: Six survivors. Keanu Reeves. Daniel Craig. Angelina Jolie. Regé-Jean Page. Kelly Marie Tran. And the esteemed Charlton Heston (appearing as a 3-D hologram). The Omicron Variant. The premise is so frightening that the screenwriters have each gotten three COVID-19 booster shots. You, too, will never think the same way about vaccines—and who gets them when supplies are lacking and the HAZMAT-suited stack body bags in front of your house. Oh, did we forget to mention that they’re empty and waiting to be filled—when your, ah, quarantine is over. The Omicron Variant. Who will survive viral armageddon?

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Pedal the Pacific

Is it irony that an organization that cycles for its cause advertises on the side of a van? Maybe somebody will get the message about “trafficking” when stuck in rush-hour traffic beside the vehicle—or perhaps consider that an unmarked, white, windowless van could be carrying sex-trafficked men, women, or kids. Shiver the thought.

The group explains its mission: “Pedal the Pacific exists to educate all people about sex trafficking. We use bikes as a platform to raise awareness, educate peers, fundraise for leading nonprofits, and develop leaders who believe that no voice is too small to make a difference”.

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It’s Fake!

My wife and I came upon this sign, affixed to a utility pole, today, along Mission Avenue between Louisiana and Mississippi streets. Call me surprised, for having seen no other in our San Diego neighborhood of University Heights. So I got to wondering if a resident attempted a little scare tactic to get dog owners to clean up after their mutts. More effective: Place the notice higherand above, out of reach, a mock surveillance camera.

I walked about several streets inspecting every sign of every kind and all others shared in common: Tiny print somewhere indicating that the thing is the property of the city. By comparison, this one’s credit is “SmartSign.com”, which sells the warning, with a stake kit, for 27 bucks on the website.

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Okay, They Can’t Both Be Right

Or am I missing something super obvious here? Take a look for yourself: CNBC; New York Post. The funny thing: Both news stories cite the same study but choose to frame the findings differently. Specifically, in presenting their opposing viewpoints, CNBC and New York Post link to different Tax Policy Center datasets—here and here, respectively.

The two headlines, and the reports themselves, are an excellent case study for how data is subjectively presented by the so-called mainstream media—or any other organization with some measure of partisan political leanings. The network is notoriously liberal and pro-Biden. The newspaper is arguably conservative and more critical of old Joe.

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Parents Protest San Diego School District Vaxx Mandates

Late afternoon, my wife asked: “What is all that honking?” Annie was right. Car horns could be heard in the distance, occasionally and repeatedly tooting. We turned to one another flummoxed over the sudden roar of cheering that reminded of sporting events. What was going on nearby—and where? I left to find out, following the sounds that piqued our mutual curiosities.

Our University Heights apartment is located about .8-kilometer (one-half mile) walking distance from administrative offices for San Diego Unified School District, where a sizable crowd had gathered with picket signs. As I arrived, a woman’s voice bellowed over loudspeakers advocating against vaccine mandates and for parents’ rights to choose for their children—not the government nor SDUSD. What I didn’t understand: The school board scheduled a 5 p.m. PDT meeting to vote on a proposal requiring staff and some students to be vaccinated. How ironic: They cowered in isolation via Zoom, while parents protested in person.

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Yeah, Let’s Lower Old Glory to Honor Them

Since the disastrous defeat in Afghanistanself-imposed, but denied, by the current Administration in Washington, D.C.—I have observed a number of American flags flying half-mast in my neighborhood of University Heights. The question: Why aren’t they all?

San Diego is still very much a military town, and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is located in the Northern section of the county. Nine Marines and a Sailor stationed there were killed in the Kabul Airport bombing about 10 days ago. The White House ordered half-staff flags for the fallen heroes—yeah, let’s lower Old Glory to honor them. So why are only a few of my neighbors doing so—again, remembering the area’s military heritage, the Navy, especially.

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Decisions, Decisions

On June 15, 2021, California will largely reopen—fifteen months after Governor Gavin Newsom shut down most businesses and institutions, also instructing citizens to stay at home, in an attempt to slow spread of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19. This sidewalk sentiment seems oh-so appropriate for near-normalcy returning. Granted, inflation rises, the housing market is insanely competitive, supply shortages increase cost for goods like lumber, and many reopening businesses struggle to hire enough employees—among other oddities. So normal isn’t nearly enough.

Newsom will free Californians four days before the traditionally celebrated Freedom Day/Emancipation Day—also known as Juneteenth. How ironic—or arrogantly preemptive—is that? But he is not relinquishing the emergency powers used to close down the state. How will that decision affect his chances during the special recall election that could, in a few months, remove him as governor? Surely some people will respect his maintaining authority, while others will say that he oversteps his gubernatorial powers. We’ll see soon enough.

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Be Ready for Face Mask Discrimination

Before the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns, my wife and I were devout Trader Joe’s shoppers. But we lost faith during the months when long lines of people waited to be blessed entrance into the small stores. Our attention turned to humbler grocery cathedrals Food4Less, Grocery Outlet, and Smart & Final, which welcomed our presence and provided as good (and often better) sustenance for considerably lower cost. But with California slowly reopening, we occasionally return to Trader Joe’s—more to reminisce while grabbing a couple bananas.

We also go there for rolls of quarters, as I did this morning. The previous two trips, when getting cash back and casually telling the cashier about my plans, I was told: “We no longer give out quarters”. But when I traipsed over to the service desk, the gracious employees willingly exchanged a Twenty for two rolls. Last time, the gentleman even opened their new cash storage safe—installed sometime during last year’s coin shortage and after the nearby Wells Fargo branch closed, and never reopened, because of the pandemic.

Something changed today.

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Pandemic Pollution

What a difference a year makes. In April 2020, when SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), which causes COVID-19, seemed so dire and face masks were so difficult to find, I wrote about the perils of not wearing one—illustrated with a rare, discarded protective covering. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear masks, or social distance, in most situations—meaning: “except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance”.

Long before the unexpected change to pandemic public policy, just two days ago, face masks could be found littered all about the County. San Diego Union-Tribune spotlighted the debris along beaches in July 2020; early last month, ABC News reported that “discarded masks litter beaches worldwide, threaten sea life“; the local CBS affiliate, reporting about the April 24, 2021 “19th-annual ‘Creek to Bay Clean-up'”, explained that there has been a surge in ‘single-use plastics”— and the “biggest offender? PPE [Personal Protective Equipment], especially masks”.

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What Have We Become?

During my thirteen-and-a-half years living in San Diego, I have resisted taking any photos of the city’s thousands of homeless—whose presence is more pronounced by the day. They deserve dignity, rather than exploitation by street shooters. But, today, the sorry state of a gentlemen sprawled out nearby the entrance to a pharmacy in Hillcrest demanded attention, and mention, so here we are with a Featured Image and companion captured using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; 11:02 a.m. PDT. The other is same but 1/1250 sec.

I was aghast at how casually people walked by the man, who was stretched out in death-like position facing the building. He was an obstacle that passersby moved around. No one bothered to see if he was alive (after some long observation, I detected breathing). I was immediately reminded about history lessons and news stories read during my grade school years about the USSR—people lying dead in the streets and Soviet citizens walking around them; commonplace sightings, presumably, become part of the background of life. Is that really what we have come to be in the United States of America—or in what I unaffectionately call Communist California?