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The Cats of University Heights: Boots

Our second of five, consecutively-presented Alabama cats is thirty-ninth seen on the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln, since the series‘ start in October 2016. For perspective, that works out to 14 percent of the 277 profiles published to date. I spotted the first felines there—on the same block and all on the same day—in September 2017: Itchy Valentino, Goldie, and Anthony. I frequently see the three still.

In fact, on July 7, 2019, as my wife and I walked by, Anthony trotted across his yard for some pats; guess he heard us talking and recognized our voices. As Annie bent down to oblige him, movement behind raptured my attention. The Tuxedo had a visitor, who wasn’t feeling friendly towards us. Ah, sorry for the interruption, kitty.

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The Cats of University Heights: Fuki

Alabama is back, with the thirty-eighth-sighted feline on the street between boundaries Adams and Lincoln, since the series started in October 2016. Another four follow consecutively. Your guess why the Alabama abundance easily could make more sense than mine. Prevailing theory: Human population density, because of the comparatively, unusually high percentage of multi-unit rental properties—and fairly frequent tenant turnover with them. More people, more pets.

About three weeks ago, I first observed Fuki (her real name) sleeping on an outdoor sofa in a yard that should be called a cat paradise—for the lush trees and shrubs and varying areas of sunlight and shade that provide changeable siesta spots. I captured the Featured Image on July 1, 2019, using iPhone XS, which replaces my recently-departed Google Pixel 3 XL. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/302 sec, 6mm; 10:46 a.m. PDT.

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A Purely Personal Purge

Today ends tight-integration between Google Drive and Photos, which when working on Chromebooks I earnestly depended for the fluidity of my imaging workflow. As expressed about three weeks ago, the change contributed to my decision to abandon all things Google. I have lost trust in the company’s commitment to treating users as customers; they are instead beta testers for products and commodities to be profited from. That’s the price paid for free.

I have waffled about Alphabet for more than a decade—delighting in beneficial innovation and ignoring even my own analysis about Google’s profiting from—no, exploiting—content created by others. As I have written before: “Google is a leech that feeds off the intellectual property of legitimate content producers. The search giant profits from your good work, reducing its value in the process. Stated differently, ‘You create it, we sell it, and you must give it away for free’. How convenient that Google assigns such value, free, to someone else’s good work, while producing little content of its own”.

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The Cats of University Heights: King

Two days ago my wife and I resumed our San Diego Zoo membership. This morning, we walked through the animal refuge for the first time in more than a year. The caged creatures there inspire the nickname for the tabby spotted on June 13, 2019 along Florida between Madison and Monroe. He (and hopefully not she) is first feline in the series seen inside a catio.

I captured the Featured Image using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 125, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 3:28 p.m. PDT.

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Do It, Dunkin’

Some adversarial-marketing opportunities are just too tasty to ignore. Are you listening, Dunkin’? Starbucks has presented its rival grand opportunity to tap into longstanding stereotypes about cops and donuts in a positive way. Hey, Dunkin’, put potential slogans into a dozen box and eat up the green-and-white logo demon by giving it a bigger boot-in-the-butt than it gave some of Arizona’s finest.

The Tempe Officer’s Association took to Twitter to explain the incident I allude to: “On Independence Day, six Tempe police officers stopped by the Starbucks at Scottsdale Road and McKellips for coffee. The officers paid for their drinks and stood together having a cup of coffee before their long 4th of July shift. They were approached by a barista, who knew one of the officers by name, because he is a regular at that location. The barista said that a customer ‘did not feel safe’ because of the police presence. The barista asked the officers to move out of the customer’s line of sight or to leave. Disappointed, the officers did in fact leave. This treatment of public safety workers could not be more disheartening”.

For sure!

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The Great Social Network Divorce

For years, I toyed with deleting my Facebook, opened on Oct. 1, 2006—or thereabouts. About an hour ago, I deactivated instead. Finally! It is first, important step. I only kept the thing live this long out of sentimentality—seeing as I signed on long before most people heard of the social network—and to maintain presence for family and friends.

But time to let go is long overdue. Facebook is a plague that encourages narcissistic addiction, as people chase Likes, comments, and the such. They’re like mice in a maze clicking the food dispenser. The social network’s construction is toxically habitual.

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The Cats of University Heights: Hawk

Our forty-fifth kitty to appear behind window or door, like the others, is nameless—or at least to me the street photographer. I dub this one Hawk, for watching birds on the wire. Their reflection in the glass punctuates the moment, which I captured using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 9 a.m., June 17, 2019. The Featured Image is best appreciated by clicking through (warning: 19MB file).

I spotted Hawk along Panorama Drive, where also live Brick; Herbie, the Love Bug; and Roadie—surely others.

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Such a Waste

Last month, on a whim, my wife and I took an excursion down memory lane: the narrow, out-of-the-way street leading to San Diego Hospice, where twice weekly my father-in-law played flute for residents before the facility closed. He passed away in January 2017—and unbelievably—the buildings have followed him, as can be seen from the Featured Image.

In December 2012, administrators told him that his playing would end at the start of the new year. Months later, the healthcare operation declared bankruptcy before closing for good. My experience going inside any kind of extended-stay care facility is bad. But San Diego Hospice was good, with clean, wide hallways and walls decorated with art—some of it for sale, if I remember rightly. There was warmth, in a place that could otherwise have born the chill of death.  After all, most of the residents received care before their lives ended.

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The Cats of University Heights: John Adams

We follow up Ludgwig, with one of his street buddies, quite appropriately and unexpectedly. Two days after the white and orange kitty joined the series, his close neighbor John Adams disappeared. Perhaps because the tiger tabby is so handsome or maybe because so many people like his name, he caused quite the consternation on Nextdoor when reported missing. I didn’t learn about the two beasties’ close residences until about a week after John Adams was found. He hangs out on North; Ludwig around Madison, not far from where the streets meet.

Ludwig’s owner was one of the many folks scouring alleys and rapping locked garages searching for the cat who would be named president of the United States. No one guessed that he was trapped a stone’s throw away (for five days) inside the nearby, abandoned florist shop, which closing I wrote about one year ago today.

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Sorry, Google

The laptop that led me back to the Google digital lifestyle is gone. Two days ago, a preschool teacher—who happens to be the same age as my daughter—bought the Pixelbook that I purchased in June 2018 during a Father’s Day sale. Subsequently, my wife and I swapped iPhones for Pixel phones and each a MacBook Pro for Google Chromebook. I added the Pixel Slate five months later. Funny thing: While I sold her MBP, I kept mine and iPad 10.5 for software testing. That decision was wise, although sticking to the Apple Way would have been wiser.

I love the Google lifestyle, but it doesn’t love me. Too many workarounds impede my workflow, which makes me more likely to consume content rather than to create it. Google’s Material Design visually appeals, and the UX (user experience) is more consistent than Apple user interfaces, where too many motifs compete and distract. That said, Android and Chrome OS crumple where I need them to be solid. Half-baked is the Android-integration with Chrome OS—not ready for commercial release is Chrome OS tablet. The tools I need most either aren’t available, or they don’t work well. Or worse, Google takes them away.

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The Cats of University Heights: Ludwig

While walking down Madison Avenue, beyond North and approaching Park Blvd., I spotted a young man swinging a wand toy before his kitty in a driveway. Hey, the provocateur of this series had to stop for a visit and photographic moment. We spoke. The gent explained, almost apologetically, that he never considered himself a “cat person”, having grown up with dogs. Lest I misunderstood, Ludwig (yes, real name) is the first, and the shorthair has been with its caretaker for about two years.

But there is a backstory. Coincidentally, Ludwig’s original owners of one year were en route for a visit, and the young man wondered aloud if the pet would recognize them after two years apart. There is reason to be curious. Not long after joining his human’s habitat in 2017, Ludwig escaped and disappeared for about 14 days. The furball somehow made way back to his previous residence in Mission Hills. The nearly 5 km journey would require travel down busy Washington Street and possibly even over highway 163. Yikes. Poor baby. His paws were blistered. Once returned to University Heights, however, Ludwig settled in contently.

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The Cats of University Heights: Mandy

We start the month with a Caturday and lovely surprise. While walking down Cleveland Ave., I came upon a yard sale and familiar faces: The Parkers, and owners of Fess, who disappeared in early August 2017. Even in absence, he remains my favorite neighborhood feline—for cat character. Monkey, who also is gone, and the esteemable—but still with us—Itchy Valentino are close seconds for the same reason.

Fess’ vanishing, which was sudden and unfathomable, devastated the Parkers, who spent long neighborhood walks looking for him—as did I. He will never be replaced—how many kitties jump into the owners’ truck cab to greet them—nor be forgotten. But, about a year ago, time enough had passed: His former family adopted another Maine Coon-blend baby. Please meet Mandy.