Tag: holidays

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Candy Crush

If you believe the Wall Street Journal (and some other news outlets), “No One’s Making Sweethearts This Year, Crushing Lovers of Valentine’s Day Candy“. NECCO (New England Confectionery Company), the manufacturer behind the confection, closed its doors in 2018. Sweethearts’ new brand owner, Spangler Candy Company, hopes to have production lines ramped up for Valentine’s Day 2020, but existing supplies are limited for this year. Hehe, good thing this stuff has long shelf life.

Given the Sweethearts shortages, I was surprised to see a bowl of the candies strategically placed between the cosmetic and jewelry sections inside Macy’s Fashion Valley. Shouldn’t there be a security guard to protect these precious commodities from smash-and-grab robbers rushing the bowl? I imagine a sitcom plot where an attempted jewelry case robbery is merely a distraction for stealing Sweethearts instead. 

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The Christmas House

A few years ago, when my daughter shared an apartment in Point Loma, Calif., I drove up Garrison on the way home from her neighborhood. Houses along the way decked out big time for Christmas, such that traffic snarled as drivers slowed to gawk, others searched for parking, and pedestrians admired the decorations. My wife and I visited the street this evening, previewing what’s expected to come. Only one house had spiffed up for the Holiday—and in unbelievably magnificent fashion. The Featured Image and three companions are but a glimpse of the fabulously adorned property.

I captured the set using Google Pixel 3 XL, which proved to be more than a low-light performer. It’s a charmer. I am rather surprised to see character and dimension in these quick snaps. I cropped all four 3:2 and straightened two, but did not otherwise edit. Vitals for the first: f/1.8, ISO 176, 1/24 sec, 4.4mm; 5:35 p.m. PST (about 55 minutes after sunset). 

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Happy Halloween 2018!

I am mummified by how many apartments, condos, and homes in the neighborhood are dressed up for Trick-or-Treat day. Many of the decorations are elaborate, and about all are playful. Our Featured Image presents the front lawn inflatable that the owner of Bruce—one of the furballs from my “Cats of University Heights” series—put up; hehe, she paid five bucks for the thing 13 years ago during an after-Halloween sale.

The longhair tiger tabby is deliberately soft-focused, in this portrait captured on Oct. 17, 2018 at 6:29 p.m. PDT., or about 15 minutes after sunset, using low-light trooper Leica Q. Vitals, aperture and shutter manually set: f/1.7, ISO 1600, 1/125 sec, 28mm. 

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Valentine’s Vendor

Park Blvd. and Mission is a spot where I hadn’t seen flower sellers until this overly pink and red holiday. (Cough, cough, can you believe Pizza Hut sells heart-shaped pies with chocolate-chip cookie or brownie bundle? Hey, baby, let’s make some love handles!) I passed by the gent, then backtracked and asked if I could snap a portrait. He agreed. Obviously.

I am not a flash fan but there are times when fill-flash would be helpful—like when the subject stands under a shady tarp, surrounded by blaring sunlight. Even with manual controls, my amateur inexperience couldn’t manually adjust aperture or exposure compensation enough. That’s where post-production editing of the RAW remedies. 

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The Great Gift Mom Gave to Me

On this first Christmas without mom, who passed away nearly five months ago, there is little pause for reflection. Flu symptoms started on December 20; today is the first in five where fever dropped below 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 F); 38.9 C (102 F) was frequent. My core body temp tends to be below normal (36.1 C; 97 F), which (I hope) explains why low-grade fevers are so debilitating. I let the blog auto-post several entries to my “Cats of University Heights” series, which is one reason there are so many uninterrupted.

There is little sentimental about this December 25. My wife finally succumbed to the flu by Christmas Eve; we steered our daughter away from the quarantine household. She is in Northern California with a friend’s family, and looks like she feels out of place, too. We’re here, as is her bag of presents, and she celebrates without mom and dad but with the loss of two grandparents. My father-in-law passed away Jan. 11, 2017. He already was in desperate decline last Christmas Day; I can’t imagine the dire circumstance if Anne and I were this bedridden then, when he needed so much assistance. 

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Thanksgiving Times are Changin’

On Nov. 20, 2005, I marveled at Tower Records’ holiday hours—the store being open on Thanksgiving and also Christmas. A year later, the retail music chain was gone—and, tragically, a broader cultural experience/lifestyle with it. Major bookstore chains, like Borders, followed along later—all casualties of the digital content economy (or lack of it because of piracy) enabled by Internet distribution.

Finding anything open for business on the third Thursday of November was a challenge 12 years ago. Today, retailers can’t wait to welcome shoppers. Black Friday deals have been available pretty much everywhere all week, while bargain hunters can shop today at their favorite stores. That is, if not scouring Amazon deals from ye `ol smart device while sitting on the couch, watching football, chugging brewskis, and belching. 

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Happy Halloween!

This morning, I walked up Meade Ave. past Birney Elementary just as the students arrived—the majority accompanied by adults, presumably parent(s). The Schoolhouse is still “in escrow”, and I begin to wonder if anyone will ever buy the place. That the staging furniture remains within can’t be good indication. I say now, for the first time, that the property is across from Birney, and therefore helluva attractive location for families.

Passing each escorted kid, I could feel the vibrant enthusiasm effusing from their little bodies. It’s Halloween! Trick-or-Treat is hours away, and surely teachers will celebrate somehow. So the wait will be short before sugary delights find them.