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The Cave of Wonders Wall

New construction is everywhere among several San Diego neighborhoods, following zoning changes meant to encourage multi-unit dwellings. ADUs—so-called accessory dwelling units—add large structures in spaces once considered to be back yards. The spin doctors who sprinkle marketing sugar onto urban renewal medicinals call these buildings Granny Flats. Oh yeah? So why does gran need four to seven residences?

The project at El Cajon Blvd and Louisiana Street is much bigger—and I see similar high-rises, or larger, going up around University Heights, as well as bordering Hillcrest and North Park.

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A Sign is 25

I can’t imagine how our family still resides in the village of University Heights, which is where we settled upon arriving in San Diego nearly 15 years ago. But here we remain, even as rising rental fees and soaring property values make the area unbearably costly. Exit strategy has been my priority for some time, at least since our decision not to buy the Schoolhouse five years ago. As homeowners, we would have been more natural members of the community.

Still, my wife and I briefly joined today’s block party—along Park Blvd between Adams and Madison—celebrating 25 years of the neighborhood’s iconic sign, which you can see in the Featured Image, taken using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 4:41 p.m. PDT. The event officially started at Five.

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Fenced Out of Affordable Housing

My daughter rents storage space at one of the local facilities. From my infrequent trips to the place over the years, I have observed stark changes. For starters: An increasing number of people, many of them clearly employed, living out of a vehicle and storing their stuff. With the cost of housing so incredulously expensive in San Diego, these working nomads are not surprising to find. What shocks is how many more I see compared to 18 months ago.

Since a new report about residential renting released this week, I will focus on that topic and let be soaring home selling prices for another time. (If you can’t wait: “Pop Goes Another Housing Bubble” and “Simply Stated: San Diego Unaffordable Housing“.) According to Zumper, rents rose 31.3 percent year-over-year in April 2022. “As a result, San Diego has leapfrogged San Jose and Los Angeles to become the nation’s fifth most expensive city”. Ugh, and I know it’s a fact from watching rents relentlessly rise.

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The Cats of University Heights: Dagger Tooth

Nearly eight-year-old Dagger Tooth—the eighty-eighth putty-tat to appear in the series from Alabama Street, between boundaries Adams and Lincoln—is housemate to Dragon Claws, who was profiled nearly three months ago. She lost one eye to melanoma, but her owner says she manages well, which I can confirm from watching her romp about today.

Dagger Tooth jumps to the front of the backlog queue, which indulges her but how could I not when her brother so recently joined the series? She’s special: Local coffee shop Mystic Mocha recently named her cat of the month.

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Shattered Serenity

The difference 24 hours make. Yesterday, the abandoned houses still stood along Louisiana Street at El Cajon Blvd. Today, they—and the businesses around the block—are gone. The Featured Image captures something of the devastation. Vitals: f/8, ISO 100, 1/320 sec, 28mm; 1:26 p.m. PDT. This one and the others come from Leica Q2, aperture manually set for all.

My wife and I have known since summer last year what would happen along one of my favorite blocks in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Two cottage complexes, a few modestly-rising apartment buildings, and bunches of single-story houses—with vast swaths of grass and greenery in an area otherwise converting to cement—create calming ambience. The street is, or was, surprisingly serene. Three residential properties on Louisiana and businesses half-way to Mississippi along The Boulevard are gone.

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The Cats of University Heights: Scooter

For so long I considered adding this ginger to the series that a look over all 475 profiles was necessary to ensure no forgotten previous appearance. The Wilcox family moved to San Diego on Oct. 15, 2007. The Featured Image, captured using Nokia N95, is from several weeks later: November 7. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 125, 1/17 sec, 5.6mm; 6:03 p.m. PST.

This rascal would scamper across rooftops of nearby buildings, and he peers down from one in this portrait. He is one of the few felines whose photo was taken before the series’ start on Oct. 16, 2016. The others: BlueFarfisaHunter, Spot, and Woo. I saw the middle three once only but the first and last often enough.

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For Free Speech and Democracy

Fifteen years ago—April 14, 2007—the Wilcox family rode the DC Metro into downtown for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. The Featured Image is one of many street shots from Canon 20D and EF 135mm f/2 USM lens. This one, composed as captured, is previously unpublished. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/500 sec, 135mm; 9:32 a.m. EDT.

I choose the photo for the strangest of reasons: The riders and their American flags as symbols of democracy and freedom. Why today? Elon Musk bought Twitter, which he plans to take private and supposedly will reestablish as a platform for free speech.

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WHO Dunnit? Sweden or the United States?

Yesterday, my wife and I read an essay that praised Sweden’s approach to combating SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19. The prescient tome published two years ago, only about a month after World Health Organization declared a pandemic. The country chose not to shutdown, unlike many others across Europe, North America, and parts of Asia. Outside health officials, assisted by the news media, lambasted the plan: Keep the economy and society stable while letting viral spread quickly achieve herd immunity.

I wondered: How well did Sweden fair and how does the outcome compare to the United States? So, today, I moseyed over to the WHO’s website for a look. As of April 22, 2022, in Sweden: 2,498, 388 confirmed cases (e.g. infections), from which there are 18,689 deaths. Divide one into the other and you get a case fatality rate of .75 percent.

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The Angry Birds

Somebody is unhappy about all the talk that avian flu will lead to poultry shortages in the worst scenario and soaring selling prices in the better one. Look at those grim faces dominating the Featured Image captured on April 14, 2022 using Leica Q2. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 100, 1/80 sec, 28mm; 10:39 a.m. PDT.

You can panic, and be sure smug prognosticators of doom are correct, when Costco rotisserie chicken sells for more than the long stable $4.99—or simply is unavailable.

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The Phone Call

At 11:45 a.m. PDT today, iPhone 13 Pro chimed from a San Diego number that I did not recognize. Expecting a call from a local business, I answered rather than assume spam and send to voicemail. A young woman hysterically cried: “I had an accident. Dad, I had an accident”. My daughter doesn’t own a car, so her situation could be dire and ringing from someone else’s cell could be expected.

But hysteria and sobbing made identifying the voice difficult. I asked: “Who are you?” The response: “I had an accident. It’s me, dad”. I asked again, and her last answer sounded like “Diana”. She disconnected. The call lasted 41 seconds. For peace of mind, I immediately rang my daughter’s number and confirmed that she was in no trouble.

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The Cats of University Heights: Oreo

We go back inside for the eighty-eighth feline found behind door or window. I have seen this one once only, on Feb. 3, 2022. The Featured Image comes from iPhone 13 Pro. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 32, 1/1783 sec, 77mm; 9:58 a.m. PDT.

Symmetry is all wrong, which reflections off glass and greenery to the left make messier. Black-and-white conversion diminishes some of the clutter distraction and draws more attention to the kitty, who earns nickname Oreo for colors like the cream-filled cookie.

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Swept Away

I can’t even guess what prompted me to take the Featured Image on July 22, 2017 in the Gaslamp Quarter during San Diego Comic-Con. The evening marked one of my first forays street shooting with Leica Q, which I had owned for only about six weeks. Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 6:05 p.m. PDT.

The broom and rake joined other cleaning gear in an untended cart. Surely the attendant was close by, although I don’t recall seeing him or her. The 99-percent crop draws out the big blurry menacing man in the background. Reason for the posture is unknown.