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Park Your Butt, Not Your Car

Southern California continues to suffer from the self-inflicted economic devastation imposed by our esteemed governor, Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom. He has imposed a partial, second statewide shutdown in response to increasing confirmed SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—cases. Pandemic deaths aren’t rapidly rising, which, in my journaled opinion, is the metric more important to making policy that harms millions of businesses and leads to massive job losses.

What is the harm? Locally, according to San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation: “Forty-one percent of businesses surveyed saw revenues decline by 81 to 100 percent; 93 percent saw staffing declines of one to 50 employees”. Additionally, “minority-owned small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by COVID”. Explicitly: “More than 90 percent of minority-owned businesses have seen their revenue decline, with most experiencing steep revenue declines of 81 to 100 percent”. EDC released the most recent data—collected May 28 to June 8, when the state started reopening—on July 1, or 13 days before Newsom reimposed new closure measures.

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Brother and Sister

Uncle Arnie passed away last night, Eastern Daylight Time, in Northern Maine. He was 74. Three years ago today, we lost Mom, his sister. Their bond tightened as they aged, and I wonder about the strange synchronicity of one sibling departing on August 4 and the other on the 5th.

My strongest personal memory of Uncle Arnie is him yelling at me and my being perplexed by his reaction. He was known to be cool-headed. I was as old as 12 and about to cross the street in front of my grandparent’s house to the neighbor’s place when he screamed “Joey!” with supreme urgency that caused me to stop and turn towards him just as a car topped the hill and roared past. Uncle Arnie almost certainly saved my life that summer’s day. He gave me one hell of a scolding and sent me inside.

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Flickr a Week 32: ‘Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park | Deltron 3030 Concert Spectator’

The last of three consecutive entries discovered searching for “spectator” demonstrates how to get close in from far away. Michael Tapp captured self-titled “Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park | Deltron 3030 Concert Spectator” on July 19, 2014, using an unidentified Sony Alpha camera (presumably) and Pentacon 135mm f/2.8 lens (certainly). If I owned an interchangeable lens camera, rather than fixed Leica Q2, 135mm would be my go-to focal length on Prime glass—as it was during the mid-Noughties when shooting Canon EOS 20D.

With “social distancing” the norm for the foreseeable post-pandemic future, time is right for street shooters to rediscover the mighty telephoto. A good one-thirty-five closes the distance—more so on APS-C cameras when applying the crop-factor—while delivering sharp detail and beautiful bokeh. Michael’s portrait is a keeper for both and excellent use of natural light. Unfortunately, EXIF isn’t available, which is typical of his photos; some photographers choose to expunge the metadata. 

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The Cats of University Heights: Alvin and LB

On Christmas Day 2016, I met Comet, Herman, RomanWillow, and their owner as she let the kitties run about for a few hours. The woman had lived in a studio apartment for 19 years. But a few months later, she and her pets were gone. The property owner decided to renovate the entire complex, ahead of haughty rent increases. That’s the sad state of San Diego affordable housing: Tenants paying less are evicted before improvements are made to woo residents willing to pay much more.

Three-and-a-half years would pass before I would see any felines frolicking about the same open courtyard: June 20, 2020. My wife and I spotted the shorthairs as we walked by. I stopped for some quick shots, using Leica Q2, before chatting with the owner, who said the Siamese is Alvin, and he calls the Russian Blue LB. Vitals for the Featured Image, aperture manually set: f/8, ISO 250, 1/125 sec, 28mm; 9:36 a.m. PDT. In my rush to capture the moment before the cats moved—and they did seconds later—I failed to see the open mail box door encroaching on the frame; removing it majorly determined the edited composition.

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Flickr a Week 31a: ‘Defy Gravity’

The self-title of August’s first entry is a message to my daughter on her 26th birthday: “Defy Gravity“—something she needs to do, and perhaps all of us. Markus Binzegger used Olympus E-M10 Mark II and M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 lens to make the moment, on July 15, 2017. Vitals: f/9, ISO 200, 1/640 sec, 45mm.

The stunning shot, second of three consecutively found by searching for “spectator”, is a keeper for composition (love the dude watching); stopped action (posture and leg positions really convey motion); storytelling (leap of—gulp—faith); and use of black and white (to keep attention on the two guys). Location, according to Markus: “Maggia River, Ticino, Switzerland”.

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The Cats of University Heights: Rebel

The fifty-third kitty seen behind door or window appeared as my wife and I walked along Mission, between Georgia and Park, on July 17, 2020. Vitals for the Featured Image: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/452 sec, 52mm (film equivalent); 9:17 a.m. PDT. On inspection, at home, I immediately liked the composition of the iPhone XS shot but not the “Black Lives Matter” sign above him. No amount of cropping could satisfy more—in fact less.

The problem? This series isn’t political, nor is it meant to be. Black Lives Matter isn’t just a slogan—it refers to an organization with political ambitions. For reasons too numerous for the tone of a furry feline profile, BLM is polarizing—or at least in this neighborhood. Since the riots started at the end of May, I have seen an undeniable pattern emerge across University Heights: Signs and posters in windows supporting BLM or American flags hanging outside homes—but not both. Citizens choose to voice whom or what they support by the icon displayed; for some people, that’s nothing whatsoever.

So after careful consideration, fourteen days later, with the qualifications explained above, please allow me to introduce to the series the ginger that I nickname Rebel.

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I Quit Nextdoor AGAIN

For the third time since joining the so-called neighborhood social network in August 2017, I write about leaving. Previously: October 2018 and July 2019. Pandemic, pets (lost ones), police, politics, and protests were all good reasons to make 2020 a grand return. Every week passes like a lifetime this year. Many of us are confined to our residences or street, because of “shelter-in-place” and “social-distancing” orders; fear of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—infection; work-from-home requirements; job loss; or school closures. Nextdoor was a way to connect and to stay informed.

But, today, I unceremoniously deactivated my account, once more, because the mandatory “Good Neighbor Pledge” offends me. The thing popped up when I opened the News Feed—first time, this morning. To read, or do anything else, means acknowledging “I agree”. I don’t.

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The Incident at Texas and University

Last night, as I pulled into Pizza Hut’s parking lot, a lady driving a SUV blocked my way. While plenty of spaces were available, she chose to wait for one right in front of the store. There, a most ramshackle man lean-lifted a walker—one without wheels—slowly advancing between the painted lines towards the sidewalk. He was so weather-worn and browned from the San Diego sun, his race wasn’t identifiable. There are people who panhandle and pretend to be homeless, but not this gent. He was beaten down and bent over,  pushing snail-like forward. He genuinely lived on the streets.

Eventually, he cleared past, and the lady parked, allowing me passage to do likewise. Because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic, the Hut only allows one customer to enter; others wait outside. By the time I advanced on the door, the chonky SUV driver had gone inside and a petite younger woman stood before me. While waiting, I observed two unexpected happenings.

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Carport Lettuce

This morning, my wife and I scampered down an alley behind North Ave., between Madison and Monroe, to look at new construction—a rapidly rising multi-unit building that replaces what was once a charming house with lovely yards front and back; before bulldozers leveled the lot.To our delight, further along, we discovered a suburban-style lettuce patch that someone is growing in a carport. How clever!

Like the Urban Pumpkin, the leafy plantation joins an explosion of garden projects throughout San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. This summer’s sowings are  unlike anything that I have seen in nearly 13 years living here. Could it be that people stuck at home because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic are using the time to garden? Perhaps some people (rightly) worry about supply-chain disruptions and food shortages savaging the country later in the year. Whatever the reason(s), inventive green thumbs are hard at work growing crops in unexpected places.

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Flickr a Week 30: ‘Bengal Cricketers’

The week goes to a street shot not for what it is but for what it isn’t: The choice selection from the Photostream of Pietro Tranchida. While week-worthy, self-titled “Bengal Cricketers” isn’t the best example of his art; the eye-poppers are designated All Rights Reserved, and this series only uses images that are released under a Creative Commons copyright.

That said, there is much to like about the sporty pic—for bokeh, clarity, composition, sense of motion, and the camera used: Leica Q, which is not typically an action-associated shooter. But, hey, capable hands work wonders. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, 28mm; Sept. 20, 2017.