Tag: California

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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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San Diego County Partly Reopens, But Not Soon Enough for Some Businesses

One year ago today, California bars, breweries, and eateries stopped serving customers indoors, shifting to delivery and take-out services only—as ordered by Governor Gavin Newsom. On March 19, 2020, he issued a “stay-at-home” order for all Californians that went into effect the next day. Restrictions would later lift only to be reimposednearly as harsh during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as the pandemic‘s early-declaration days.

Today, after months of onerous prohibitions upon local businesses, San Diego County rose from the most restrictive tier, which permits malls and retailers to operate at 50-percent capacity; aquariums, churches, movie theaters, museums, restaurants, and zoos to allow customers indoors at 25-percent capacity; and gyms and hotels to operate at 10-percent capacity. Oh joy. Beat me with the stick, because it feels so good compared to the baseball bat you were whacking with.

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Fear is the Contagion

The four words of this essay’s title are exactly my reaction to learning about China’s massive quarantine for the Novel Coronavirus in late-January 2020. I warned my wife and anyone else to prepare for the spread of fear: How it would infect and disrupt distribution of goods and services; how panic would lead to supply shortages; how desperation might cause people to react violently. But following the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic, one year ago today, the outcome over 12 months is much worse than I expected.

Society didn’t suddenly break down from widespread contagion, like portrayed by Hollywood films and TV shows. Instead, the economic and social fabrics shredded over longer time, as well-meaning citizens obeyed orders to “shelter-in-place“, “social distance“, and close their businesses. My contention: When Science catches up with collated data, the forensic analysis will show that governments over-reacted with lockdowns that inflicted more harm than the virus that everyone feared. Meaning: The cure is far more damaging than the disease, which danger is overblown.

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The Twilight Zone of Pandemic Politics

Some things go so oddly together that you must stop and regard them and wonder. Today, while walking along Shirley Ann Place in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, a “Recall Newsom” sign surprised me; it’s the first one seen anywhere here. My wife fixated on the Easter eggs hanging from a tree in the same yard. She missed the one thing, and I the other. Mmmm, what does that say about selective vision and being drawn to what interests you while having a blindspot for what doesn’t?

As strangely as the cheerful eggs and hopeful sign are juxtaposed, something else made the scene feel even more Twilight Zone-like: The house beyond with the American flag flew something different before the Presidential election: Old Glory with spray-painted BLM. Well, I couldn’t leave without photos, which were captured using Leica Q2. The Featured Image (warning: 27MB file), which is composed as shot, shows the street. The cropped companion brings together the three elements. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 12:25 p.m. PST. The other is f/2.8 and 1/640 sec.

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The Hummer Metaphor

San Diego changes around me, particularly from the cost-of-living increases brought by the ever-growing emigration of high-tech workers escaping Northern California; they’re well-paid and find here comparatively affordable rents and home prices—all of which rise as more Googler-types relocate. SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns set them free to work from anywhere there is reliable Internet.

So I was only modestly surprised to see a Hummer parked off of Lincoln in the University Heights neighborhood on Feb. 21, 2021. What amazed me more, when arriving here in October 2007, was the number of Hummers seen seemingly everywhere. You could have played an adapted Punch Buggy—and lost—for the few non-military Hummers traveling about the Washington, D.C. metro area that we left nearly 14 years ago. In San Diego, the contrast was stark, and I wondered why all the gas guzzlers given stereotypes about carbon-aware, environmentally-focused California culture. Should I answer status symbol? The late-2008 economic collapse purged the oversize vehicles from local roadways. Who could afford higher monthly payments or gasoline for a roadster rated city driving of 13 miles to-the-gallon?  By mid-2009, their numbers had diminished to near nothing; that I observed. Eventually, as the economy recovered, based on increasing sightings, various Jeep models replaced the Hummers as all-around utility vehicles.

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What’s Not Upside Down in California?

While walking along Monroe, approaching Utah, in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood, a street sign beckoned my attention. Consider the Featured Image, captured using Leica Q2, as a metaphor for all things unimaginably crackers about the Golden State. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2, ISO 100, 1/5000 sec, 28mm; 2:54 p.m. PST, Feb. 10, 2021.

We could start with the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns that have devastated California’s economy; compelled tens of thousands of businesses to permanently close; put millions of people out of work and unable to pay either rent or mortgage; prevented landlords and lenders from collecting the aforementioned and prohibited them from evicting tenants and homeowners; forced families or individuals into homelessness; kept kids out of school for 11 months and counting; opened the prisons, releasing potentially dangerous individuals into the population (many of these former inmates become homeless); and—hell, that’s long-enough list of misery.

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If the Lockdown Lasts Long Enough…

I am so tempted to buy a can of spray paint and replace that last zero in twenty-twenty with a one. Because given that Southern California’s COVID-19 crackdown continues unabated—and that the restaurant couldn’t have opened in “Early Fall” because of it—autumn twenty-twenty-one looks ever more realistic. That assumes the place isn’t forced into insolvency, like so many other local eateries. In this County, SanDiegoVille keeps a running list of restaurants and pubs permanently shuttered during 2020—the majority since the pandemic’s start. I count 113 entities, but more when accounting for establishments with multiple locations.

These businesses are prohibited from seating customers, indoors or outdoors; take-out and delivery are the only options, and they don’t generate enough revenue to keep operations aloft. The widening spread of COVID-19, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), demonstrates that forced closures are ineffective killing the pandemic. But they sure look likely to massively massacre small- and medium-size businesses.

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Flickr a Week 45a: ‘Welcome to Paradise’

Two years ago today, the Northern California town of Paradise largely burned to the ground during the raging Camp Fire, which destroyed in excess of 18,000 structures and displaced more than 26,000 people. Ninety-percent of the community’s residents have fled, and the majority won’t return anytime soon; if ever.

There are several documentaries about the disaster. Tonight, National Geographic will air my pick for best: Ron Howard film “Rebuilding Paradise“, which my wife and I rented and watched about four months ago. The doc tells the story of those who stayed.

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COVID California: No School or Anything Else for You

Yesterday, which was when I captured the Featured Image, Los Angeles and San Diego school districts announced that students would not return to classrooms next month as previously planned. Kids will study online instead, as they had been since late March when Governor Gavin Newsom essentially closed California in response to the so-called pandemic. Also yesterday, he issued new orders that start a second statewide shutdown. Most indoor activities are prohibited; no more church services, shopping mall extravaganzas, zoo visits, gym exercising, barber haircutting, restaurant eating, or bar hoping—among many other activities and the business operations providing them.

There is nothing like the art of understatement. From the LA-SD joint statement: “This announcement represents a significant disappointment for the many thousands of teachers, administrators, and support staff, who were looking forward to welcoming students back in August. It is obviously an even greater disappointment to the many parents who are anxious for their students to resume their education. Most of all, this decision will impact our students in ways that researchers will take years to understand”.

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Why We Went to Julian

Our family relocated to San Diego in October 2007 with a purpose: Being close to my father-in-law, so that he could continue to live independently, which he did until his passing, at age 95, in January 2017. Eleven years is long enough. The Wilcox clan, or part of it, contemplates exodus, because the area is increasingly less desirable: Cost of-living and recent zoning changes that will increase population density by way of building more multi-unit housing.

My wife and I are considering many different possible locations to move—anywhere from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico or Texas to Delaware, North Carolina, or the Mid-Atlantic region we left to come here. That said, closer-by would be more practical, particularly if we were to buy a home. Earlier today, Annie and I spent several hours in Julian, Calif., where we looked at four houses for sale. 

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Where Does the Lafayette Belong?

San Diego’s Hillcrest and North Park districts are local cultural and nightlife hotspots, much more so than the neighborhood where my family lives—University Heights. Because of zip codes—92103 vs 92116—there is sometimes confusion, which admittedly may be intentional, about what business belongs to which of the three. For the record, according to the official maps, UH extends outside 92116, well past The Boulevard all the way to Lincoln, which is the last major parallel street before University Avenue and the main Hillcrest and North Park strips.

The historic, and entertainment lively, Lafayette Hotel claims to be “tucked snugly in the vibrant North Park neighborhood”. That would be the case if located on the other side of Texas Street. But the place is “tucked snugly” inside University Heights, I say. Also, El Cajon Blvd is more ghetto than “vibrant”—no disrespect to the businesses along the strip or people living on or around it (I am among the latter).