Tag: culture

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The Road Less Traveled

The Georgia-Meade Bikeway, about which traffic circles I have negatively opined, nears completion—and certainly appears to be ready through the University Heights to Normal Heights portion. In observation, and preparation to write about the occurrence, I captured the Featured Image on Nov. 28, 2021. Vitals, aperture manually set for this and the two companion photos: f/8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 28mm; 9:59 a.m. PST.

The view looks down Meade Avenue from Georgia Street. The traffic circle at Alabama is clearly visible but barely the one at Louisiana two blocks beyond. Near the horizon to the right is the North Park water tower, which many locals regard as an essential navigational landmark.

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A Christmas Eve Reflection

The San Diego neighborhood where I live, University Heights, is a monument to secularism. The closest Jesus comes to being depicted or referenced anywhere is half his name in Christmas, prefaced by Merry, like on the, ah, Prideful trees that I wrote about two days ago.

So on this fateful Christmas Eve, I have no religious photos to share; no crosses, no nativities, nothing other than the stone snowman you may remember from two years ago. He made a 2020 appearance on the same property but brandishing a presidential political sign—and I did not approve. The fresh Featured Image comes from Leica Q2, two days ago. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 1 p.m. PST.

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Who Approved This?

Last week, while walking along Panorama Drive, I passed by what seemed like the strangest holiday decoration: An inflatable, rainbow-colored Christmas tree. The next day, there were three. The day after, my wife and I walked over so that she could see. We found four more—not every one erect but all unmistakably identifiable even when deflated. This will be our fifteenth Christmas in this San Diego neighborhood, and I have never seen such signs like these.

As I opined on July 4th, about seeing more Pride flags than the Stars and Stripes, University Heights has undergone dramatic, observable changes since start of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-March 2020. New residents, many of them Northern California escapees, are everywhere. Their emigration contributes to soaring rents and skyrocketing home sale prices. The newcomers also bring different values that are commiserate with adjacent Hillcrest, which is known as a gay enclave. But Pride holiday trees, all on the same street?

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Is God Inclusive?

This post is sure to stir up trouble. I write sparingly about politics and rarely about religion because the topics are metaphorical loaded automatic assault weapons ready to blast endless emotional rounds of ammunition. Retaliation is swift. You can’t duck fast enough or return fire in the way of meaningful discussion. For too many people, conversation isn’t an option. To them, you are offensive and wrong. So safety is measured in silence before the easily offended.

But I uncharacteristically wonder outloud about faith, sparked by the Featured Image, which I captured on Nov. 20, 2021 using iPhone 13 Pro. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 32, 1/1167 sec, 13mm; 12:45 p.m. PST. The church, located in San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood, has long puzzled me because of the six doors and what their combined colors represent. I had thought the canonized Bible—the same book the congregation presumably reads—prohibits behaviors and lifestyles which the institution embraces.

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Pedal the Pacific

Is it irony that an organization that cycles for its cause advertises on the side of a van? Maybe somebody will get the message about “trafficking” when stuck in rush-hour traffic beside the vehicle—or perhaps consider that an unmarked, white, windowless van could be carrying sex-trafficked men, women, or kids. Shiver the thought.

The group explains its mission: “Pedal the Pacific exists to educate all people about sex trafficking. We use bikes as a platform to raise awareness, educate peers, fundraise for leading nonprofits, and develop leaders who believe that no voice is too small to make a difference”.

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It’s Fake!

My wife and I came upon this sign, affixed to a utility pole, today, along Mission Avenue between Louisiana and Mississippi streets. Call me surprised, for having seen no other in our San Diego neighborhood of University Heights. So I got to wondering if a resident attempted a little scare tactic to get dog owners to clean up after their mutts. More effective: Place the notice higherand above, out of reach, a mock surveillance camera.

I walked about several streets inspecting every sign of every kind and all others shared in common: Tiny print somewhere indicating that the thing is the property of the city. By comparison, this one’s credit is “SmartSign.com”, which sells the warning, with a stake kit, for 27 bucks on the website.

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Abandoned Homeless Shelter

On Nov. 3, 2021, alongside the Adams Substation (e.g. electrical hub) in University Heights, my wife and I passed by the makeshift refuge that you see in the Featured Image. For concern someone might be sleeping inside, I shot Leica Q2 from the hip, seeking not to disturb the resident. The first companion, taken the next day, looks towards the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses on the alley behind Alabama Street and across from Old Trolley Barn Park.

Vitals, aperture manually set for all: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 11:39 a.m. PDT. The other: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 11:15 a.m., the next day. In the second photo you can see a bicycle behind the utility box. The entire setup was cleverly constructed but surprising for the busy location.

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Birthday Beans

Saturday supper is a burpy (or, ah, gassy) memory for some folks back home in Maine tonight. Baked beans are a traditional meal for the day—classically cooked buried in the ground under hot coals. Growing up in Aroostook County, I remember grocery stores selling Saturday fresh baked beans and bread—by the pint or quart and loaf. Yum.

Like some United Kingdom residents, we would eat beans on toast (usually cold on hot crust), typically for breakfast. As a youngster, I saw it as poor-man’s-food when short on other options, not realizing that we consumed something quite tasty and traditional.

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Gosh, Is Jack-o’-lantern a Taboo Term?

Halloween is past, but remnants remain—and what’s better than pumpkins as Thanksgiving approaches. Already, my local Costco sells massive pumpkin pies. Why now, I cannot fathom. It’s not like they’ll keep.

Yesterday, I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image and companion. The first is nearly a 100-percent crop, shot wider-open than the other to make some bokeh. Vitals, aperture manually set for both: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/2000 sec, 28mm; 11:49 a.m. PDT. The second: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, 28mm; seven seconds earlier.

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The Better Sentiment

For more than a year, a handmade “Black Lives Matter” sign beckoned from the window where Shy typically sunned. My “Cats of University Heights” series profiled the kitty in February 2019. I don’t support the slogan, because BLM refers to an organization with political and social ambitions that are in many respects incongruous with righting the country’s perceived and real racial wrongs. What appears to be a grassroots group, particularly portrayed during 2020’s racial riots and protests, is something else.

Capital Research Center, which tracks non-profits, their organizational structures, and funding, provides insight in two-part exposé: “The Organizational Restructuring of Black Lives Matter: Movement for Black Lives” and “The Organizational Restructuring of Black Lives Matter: BLM Global Network Foundation“—both from April 29 of this year. Fueled by corporate and other donations following the death of George Floyd while in police custody, the organization raised $90 million last year.

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Yeah, Let’s Lower Old Glory to Honor Them

Since the disastrous defeat in Afghanistanself-imposed, but denied, by the current Administration in Washington, D.C.—I have observed a number of American flags flying half-mast in my neighborhood of University Heights. The question: Why aren’t they all?

San Diego is still very much a military town, and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is located in the Northern section of the county. Nine Marines and a Sailor stationed there were killed in the Kabul Airport bombing about 10 days ago. The White House ordered half-staff flags for the fallen heroes—yeah, let’s lower Old Glory to honor them. So why are only a few of my neighbors doing so—again, remembering the area’s military heritage, the Navy, especially.

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Graffiti? Message? Warning?

What a surprise is this. While walking in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood today, I spotted the oddest thing: The pictured graphic and text on a utility pole at Monroe and Utah. Is that sign meant to alert Antifa members? During last year’s racial riots and protests, I frequently passed persons all-black-clad—the group’s de facto uniform—hanging about some University Heights streets, presumably waiting for rides.  Seeing such scribbling, self-labeled anti-fascists would know where to gather—or maybe the scrawling is nothing more than graffiti.

I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 2:47 p.m. PDT. In post-production, I over-saturated purple and red; sunlight had faded both colors.