Category: Tech

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Reopen the Playgrounds!

Nearly six months have passed since San Diego cordoned off Trolley Park and others like it around the city. As summer started, the public spaces reopened but the playgrounds remain closed—a restriction that defies common sense and current science regarding SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19.

“The best available evidence indicates that COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school-aged children”, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Children appear to be at lower risk for contracting COVID-19 compared to adults…as of July 17, 2020, the United States reported that children and adolescents under 18 years old account for under 7 percent of COVID-19 cases and less than 0.1 percent of COVID-19-related deaths”. Seasonally, the flu kills more kids—and, unlike that virus, children ages 0-9 are extremely unlikely to be infected with SARS-CoV-2 or to transmit it to adults. In San Diego County from Feb. 14, 2020 to yesterday, among that age bracket, 1,514 tested positive—or 3.3 percent of the 45,425 confirmed cases.

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San Diego’s Record House Prices Baffle Me

In a pandemic-stricken economy of soaring unemployment and where small businesses fall like dominos—and more risk toppling because of California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s restrictive lockdown orders—you might expect the housing market to reflect real-world woes. Oddly, though, the median sale price of homes in metro San Diego is a record high of $665,000, according to data collected by Redfin. That’s a 13-percent year-over-year increase, as of Sept. 6, 2020. County-wide, according to the California Association of Realtors, median home price is $732,560, and that’s up 13 percent from August 2019.

My neighborhood, University Heights, reflects the trend—with emphasis. Searching Trulia and Zillow, the bargain-basement-priced listing is a single-bedroom, one-bath, 576-square-foot condominium in a three-story complex looking into an open courtyard. You can live there for $299,900, or $521 per square foot. If that’s too small, how about a cozy two-bed, two-bath, 726-square-foot condo for $415,000; $572 per square foot? Both places are indistinguishable from any apartment for rent; maybe not as good-looking.

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Flickr a Week 37b: ‘Window’

Self-titled “Window” isn’t the best street shot in the Photostream of Spyros Papaspyropoulos, but it’s the one that caught my eye and that appropriately defines his style: People, or things, that fit oddly together. His composition technique is brash and intimate—as if he were invisible and thus able to get close in to capture candid, raw, unfiltered moments.

He used Fujifilm X-Pro1 and Fujinon XF18mmF2 R lens for the portrait “snapped in Chania, Crete, Greece” on Aug. 8, 2018. Vitals: f/11, ISO 1600, 1/250 sec, 18mm. The image takes the Sunday spot for candor, character, color, composition, and creamy grain that adds film-like quality. From Athens, but living in Rethymno, Spyros joined Flickr in May 2008. He also is cofounder of Street Hunters—where you should go to see more of his work and that of his companion photographers.

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Need a Lyft?

Ahead of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic leading to California’s statewide shutdown, electric scooters suddenly vanished from many San Diego County communities. Local governments didn’t want the things cluttering the streets. But, as life returns to some semblance of normalcy, scooters creep back onto the streets, something like cockroaches emerging from Nuclear Winter.

Still, sightings are rare enough in my neighborhood that today I was surprised to see this lone Lyft parked at Alabama and El Cajon, where sits BLVD North Park, which is located in University Heights. If you can’t build real estate in the location you want, pretense naming is your solution.

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Give Peace a Chance to Bring Justice

This morning, while walking from the Point in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, I passed by a dove placidly perched on a wooden fence. The bird looked somewhat scrawny, and I wondered if even weakened—for it made no attempt to flee when I turned back with Leica Q2, stopped, manually focused, and captured the Featured Image. Surely there is a metaphor here somewhere.

Racial riots rage across swathes of the country, months after the first ones in late May 2020: Chicago, Ill., Kenosha, Wisc., Minneapolis, Minn., Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash. are among the cities stricken by arson and looting. Today, in D.C., on the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.‘s “I Have a Dream” speech, thousands of protesters rallied for racial equality and against violence during The Commitment March. Afternoon stormy weather and heavy rains dampened activities, which, more or less, came to a soggy end by early evening. Mmmm, is there another metaphor there?

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The Cats of University Heights: Cocoa, Too

With each week in 2020 lasting lifetimes—and the ongoing chaos that pandemic, politics, and protests present—we need some furry relief. Pardon me. Did I neglect to mention the racial riots? What a year. Please release some of your stress by gawking at the second Cocoa to appear in our series. The first, whom we met in April 2017 and wanders West of Park Blvd, bears some resemblance to Burglar, who lives on the East side.

I encountered the beautiful black on July 26 along Alabama—making her, gasp, the fifty-third profile for the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln. The cat’s owner, who was working in the yard where I saw Burglar in December 2017, told me her name—after I shot the Featured Image and companion using Leica Q2.

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Going Postal

Among Americans, few institutions, and the services provided, are as meaningful as the United States Post Office. The Second Continental Congress created the U.S. postal system on July 26, 1775—nearly a year before the Colonies formally declared national independence from Britain—and chose Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general. Living generations, even the youngest among them, share some emotional experience from receiving, or sending, mail. The card from grandma is a tangible expression of her love for you. Delivery of an online-ordered package—and every other one before it—is a moment of anticipation and joy. Feelings about the mail are entrenched, and within our society they are universally shared.

We put faith in the Post Office and its capacity to deliver our mail. But now, Democrat politicians and their supporters assert that our faith is misplaced—that we cannot trust the USPS, because the Trump Administration conspired to  disrupt postal operations to tamper with this year’s Presidential election. The allegations exploded like a supernova—seemingly from invisibility—not long after the President raised concerns that universal mail-in ballot initiatives, like the one here in California, would lead to voter fraud. Trump’s Democrat rivals assert that cost-cutting streamlining of postal operations and recent slowdown of mail processing are evidence of his interference to steal your vote.

It’s non sequitur. One thing has little to do with the other. Donald Trump is a longstanding critic of the USPS as it exists today—way before the brouhaha about mail-in ballots—and there are legitimate concerns that existing postal logistical capabilities and various states’ voting rules will lead to electoral chaos. But as a political maneuver, Democrats have whacked a hornet’s nest of emotional attachment to mail that already stings the President.