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COVID-19 Cases: Five California Counties make the Top 10

Anyone care to explain why perennially locked down California ranks so highly for SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 cases or deaths? Situation is much worse than last I looked a few weeks ago. According to data collated by John Hopkins University, Los Angeles County still tops the list for confirmed cases (more than 1.2 million) and deaths (just over 23,000). But four other Cali counties also are in the Top 10 for cases: Riverside (sixth); San Bernardino (eighth); San Diego (ninth); and Orange (tenth). That’s right. Half. Only one county from Florida: Miami-Dade (fourth).

More disturbing, since I checked on March 11, 2021, California’s case fatality rate rose to 1.61 percent, which is comparable to Florida’s 1.63 percent—and the Sunshine State is largely open; Spring Break is underway, too. Four California counties are among the top 11 for deaths: Los Angeles (first); Orange (ninth); San Bernardino (tenth); and Riverside (eleventh). Miami-Dade is seventh.

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An Early Easter Bouquet

Palm Sunday is unseasonably toasty here in San Diego. As I write, the official temperature is 27 degrees Celsius (81 F)—and that’s the forecast high, which means more sizzle to come by early afternoon. As I walked along Madison—between Alabama and Mississippi in University Heights—orange and yellow flowers beckoned my attention. At first, I passed by, then turned back for a quick shot, using Leica Q2. The Featured Image is the first of four captures and best composition. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/2000 sec, 28mm; 10:13 a.m. PDT.

As I lay low for the final photo, an older fellow walking a dog asked, as he passed: “Have you got good Macro on that camera?” I replied affirmatively—even though not using the mode right then. Vitals for that shot, which is cropped: f/8, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 10:14 a.m.

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The Cats of University Heights: BonBon

As the 400th profile approaches (you’re reading number 395), I once again consider retiring the series, which started on Oct. 17, 2016 with expectation that there couldn’t be more than 30 cats in a neighborhood dominated by dog owners. I figured making a month of posts, perhaps six weeks, and no more. Here we are still, today, nearly four-and-a-half years later.

Sometime in 2019, along Florida between Madison and Monroe, I started seeing a white sunning in a window several afternoons a week. Numerous is the number of times I stopped to take a photo but refrained, thinking the kitty might be Sugar, whose portrait was captured in July 2018. The newcomer lives in the same building but never presented enough identifying detail—spot on forehead and tiger-striped tail—or lack thereof. That is until Jan. 22, 2021: No markings, different cat.

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Don’t You Mean Four Bucks?

Someone tell me where Joe Wallace lives, because I want to go there. Yesterday morning, I read his Wall Street Journal story, “Leap in Gas Prices Puts $3 a Gallon in Sight“, in state of disbelief. In sight, as in coming? Because here in San Diego, that reference means looking back. We passed three bucks a gallon well more than a month ago. In fact, before President Executive Order killed off the Keystone Pipeline, the price had been $2.86 for months—and that was up 30 cents from Summer 2020—at my local economy filling station.

“Gasoline prices at pumps in the U.S. hit an average of $2.88 a gallon over the past week, according to the AAA”, Joe writes. “In California, the most expensive market, average prices stand at $3.88, according to AAA”. Hours later, I shot the Featured Image, with Leica Q2 Monochrom, specifically to illustrate this essay. Granted, Chevron charges more than many competitors but not outrageously greater than the $3.88 at nearby Valero. 

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A Remembrance for Mac OS X’s Big Birthday

Where did the years go? Today marks the 20th anniversary for the release of Mac OS X. In March 2001, as a staff writer for CNET News, I lambasted Apple for shipping the operating system without support for existing hardware—CD-R and DVD drives, mainly. Unfortunately, with my byline stripped from stories and broken links caused by content-management system updates, I can’t find the original article. I came up empty on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, too. But I’ve got reader emails, and my responses, from the days before on-site commenting.

But before we go there: OS X’s big birthday is the second of four that are profoundly important to Apple this year. We start with iTunes, which the company released in January 2001. Third is opening of the first Apple Store in May, followed by the original “Classic” iPod in October. In Feb. 3, 2011 analysis “Apple’s Gang of Four“, I explain why all are together foundational for the company’s later success—particularly with launch of iPhone on June 29, 2007.

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The Cats of University Heights: Amanda Too

Beauty Amanda was a fixture along Meade between Florida and Mississippi through the end of 2018. Then she disappeared about the same time as the owners of LilyTiger, Persepolis, and Sebastian moved away. Since she frequently visited the home—and the residents gave her another name—I assumed they took her, too.

But then, on Dec. 28, 2019, a grey looking like her—but missing collar with distinctive purple name tag—appeared on a property at the corner of Alabama and Meade. I used iPhone XS to shoot several portraits, editing the Featured Image but refraining from publishing. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/1089 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 2:08 p.m. PST.

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Make More Movies Like This

Superhero movies don’t really appeal to me, which is major reason I haven’t bothered watching “Justice League” (2017) or any other films in the genre. The so-called “Snyder Cut” debuted on HBO Max, March 18, 2021. Two days ago, the Twitterverse—heck, the universelearned that a black-and-white “Justice is Gray” version is “coming soon” to the streaming service. I love it!

During the early 1990s, I was an editor working for a general-interest magazine based in Washington, DC. I conceived, commissioned, and edited stories for print. Observed trend among successful freelancers: They would take one body of reporting/research and repackage it as different stories for several publications and their respective audiences. It’s a thrifty approach to news gathering that maximizes potential revenue for the writer, improves relationships with print (in this decade online) editors, and expands audience reach. Why shouldn’t filmmaking be something similar?

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The Clearcutted Cottages

This morning, my wife rightly suggested that yesterday’s before photos aren’t enough to show just how brutal was the massacre of palms, shrubs, succulents, trees, and other green growing things before and among one of the neighborhood’s rental properties.

Compare the Featured Image to the one from the previous post. Those buildings and windows were obscured by a lush, well-tended, tropical jungle. My understanding: The pruning, and perhaps reconstruction, is planned to continue all week. That means the bearded tree to the left may also be removed.

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Before the Clearcutters Came

Sometimes changes occur so abruptly and unexpectedly in my San Diego neighborhood of University Heights, I regret not documenting what was—never anticipating that the thang could be gone. The tree outside our primary windows and palm at Cleveland and Monroe are examples. Today’s loss, on the inappropriately-timed first day of Spring, was catastrophic for some of my neighbors, who were reminded: renters have no say.

Calico Harley resides in a row of cute cottages that, until this afternoon, were almost completely obscured from view because of the variety of succulents and trees growing in front of the property and down the side. The well-tended, and healthy, jungle was lush and lovely. When workers started cutting down a single tree this morning, I complained to my wife about another horticultural butcher job. What I could never imagine is how devastating would be the clearcutting. For today, I refrain from showing what is. Let’s look at what was.

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The Cats of University Heights: Gallant

Along Cleveland Ave. on Valentine’s Day 2021, my wife and I spotted a harnessed black-fur outside one of the street’s larger-looking single-family homes. No leash was apparent, but there was an open front door, and—not meaning to snoop—through which we caught glimpse of an older couple watching Sunday morning television. We hadn’t seen the brightly-green-garmented beastie before and not since.

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image, which is cropped nearly 100 percent. Vitals, aperture oddly set: f/5, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 9:25 a.m. PST. For no particular reason other than intuition, I nickname this fine feline Gallant.

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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?