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Cock-of-the-Rock

Confession: I conduct a test—to see how search engines or organizational filters might censor this post, or my entire site, because of “cock” in the headline. Or will something quite unexpected happen: Surge in traffic because of indexing that brings porn searchers my way? Now that would be hilarious outcome—and not my purpose.

The title refers to the name of the bird that you see in the Featured Image and its companion: The Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, which is the national bird of Peru. He posed for my wife and I yesterday, during a San Diego Zoo visit. Vitals are the same for both portraits, which were taken using iPhone XS: f/2.4, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, 6mm; 12:50 p.m. PDT. The first is composed as shot; the other is cropped 3:2 and slightly recomposed. Neither is enhanced, or otherwise edited.

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The Cats of University Heights: Misty

Our landlord is imposing a 4.1-percent rent increase, about which we gripe but probably shouldn’t—given that the 2-bedroom trend in San Diego is a ridiculous 16.6 percent. Timing is opportunity to reconsider options, so my wife and I are exploring them. One of the initially more appealing apartments is on Cleveland, south of Meade, and would reduce our yearly housing cost by $3,000. In the online listing’s photos, a cat approaches the back door. Annie and I saw the fluffball waiting at the front door, seemingly greeting us, as we walked by the place on Aug. 4, 2019. Assuming that the animal’s owner likely will leave the neighborhood soon, since the apartment is supposed to be available on September 1, I pushed the profile ahead of others.

Once again, I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to make the moment, which required some careful editing and thoughtful composition. Initially, I cropped so that the door and windows could be seen, which put the feline low down. The Featured Image is somewhat disrupted by the foreground fence but works better by bringing the beastie more to eye level, which—for want of a better word—creates more immediacy. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 10:11 a.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: Gucci

The Alabama cats are back, with the forty-third profiled from the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln. There is a cache of kittens that may soon be included, should I get photos, that are being fostered across the street from where I saw this black. She earns nickname Diamond, for rarity of sightings.

I first observed the shorthair nearly a year ago, occasionally since—and always fleetingly, mornings when people leave for work. The kitty would disappear down nearby apartment complex steps, where also goes Sly. On July 31, 2019, Diamond made an unexpected afternoon appearance, poking through the fence surrounding the house where lived Laramie and Lupe before they were abandoned and later rescued. The beastie dug into foliage and dirt, for something, before laying out in unexpected repose. Oh, how I wanted to read the name tag, but close approach wasn’t happening.

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The Cats of University Heights: Lively

A couple doors down from Cricket‘s house, my wife and I encountered a lively kitten on July 29, 2019. Hence, the nickname. Hanoi and Maxine reside close by, and near the sighting—along Maryland between Madison and Monroe—a car hit Kuma as he crossed the street to Annie; Sept. 15, 2011. The bastard driver didn’t stop, but our Maine Coon survived.

We observed Lively from a distance, and I stopped with Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to shoot what would be the Featured Image (warning: 15MB file). Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/300 sec. 63mm; 9:34 a.m. PDT. The cropped composition isn’t preferred, but it removes a distracting Stop sign to the left of the tabby’s head.

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The Cats of University Heights: Cricket

About a half-block from where I saw Glow, a relatively new neighborhood resident lives at the corner of Maryland and Monroe. The house sold to new owners a few months ago, and some renovation followed—including the clearing of sidewalk-side foliage rising up a vertical protective wall along Monroe that obscured the backyard. The space attracted crickets, which until October 2017, during some evenings, I collected for our cats Cali and Neko to chase and eat inside our apartment; at the time, we lived around the corner on Cleveland. With the recent changes, I would be surprised if the insects gather there any longer.

The forty-eighth kitty in the series looking out from behind window or door was a sentimental sighting—for all the time that I spent skulking about the sidewalk and wall in the dark, with a flashlight and couple of plastic containers with lids. Surely, then, I needn’t explain this fine feline’s nickname.

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The Cats of University Heights: Glow

We commemorate the last Caturday in July with the first of two felines looking out from behind windows—both on Maryland, and this one approaching Monroe from Meade. Earning nickname Glow, the blackie is our forty-seventh indoor-to-outdoor gazer. I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to shoot the Featured Image, on May 23, 2019, while walking home from the grocery store.

I deliberately held back the portrait, so that I could crop and re-crop with different mindset over the course of weeks. I also hoped to perhaps capture another moment. This composition qualifies as the least-dissatisfying of those created, and I seriously considered not including Glow in the series. But the cat is clear enough behind the glass, particularly its green eyes. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/340 sec, 63mm; 2:11 p.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: Sprout

The 280th profile belongs to the fifth consecutively-presented Alabama kitty—forty-second featured from the street since the series started in October 2016. As we approach 300 and the third anniversary, I seriously consider closing down the project, which started as a photographic-practice exercise with expected, short duration. In a neighborhood seemingly dominated by dogs, there initially looked like maybe enough kitties to fill a month of posts. How could so many be lurking about?

I captured the Featured Image using iPhone XS on June 25,2019. I held back posting, hoping to learn the kitty’s real name. For now, I dub the shorthair Sprout. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/235 sec, 6mm; 10:01 a.m. PDT. The second portrait, with Zeppelin Pom Pom in the background, comes from Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. I saw both cats only once, together or apart. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 250, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 9:57 a.m.

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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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The Cats of University Heights: Zeppelin Pom Pom

The fourth furball from Alabama Street, presented consecutively, is one of two seen outside the same property between Howard and Polk on June 25, 2019. Meet the friendly Zeppelin Pom Pom, which joins the list of best-named neighborhood kitties (some of whom have left or passed away since being profiled). Among my favs: Captain Blackbeard; Daniel Tiger; Darth Mew; Herbie, the Love Bug; Itchy Valentino; John Adams; Princess Leia; and The Colonel.

I used iPhone XS to capture the Featured Image, which gets unexpected presentation. When I opened the portrait to edit, Apple Photos automatically adjusted—but rather than straightening, the built-in algorithm mistakenly twisted into a Dutch Angle. I kind of like it. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/65 sec, 6mm; 9:57 a.m. PDT.

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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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The Cats of University Heights: Astral

The trip down Alabama continues: Third furball presented consecutively, following Fuki and Boots; fortieth featured from the street, between boundaries Adams and Lincoln; and forty-sixth kitty to appear behind window or door. Besides the next two, there are another half-dozen of which I am aware but have been unable to present; most of those are indoors.

I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to capture the Featured Image on May 8, 2019. I held back posting by several months, hoping to possibly identify the real name. Several cats live in the same building, between El Cajon and Meade, and some owners identify them in the Pets section of social network Nextdoor. But not this animal, or that is obvious enough to me. I can wait no longer. For shining stare looking down from the second floor, this tabby earns nickname Astral. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 4:40 p.m. PDT.