Tag: iPhone XS

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Something Stinks Here

There are the photo opportunities that you frustratingly miss, those you purposely pass on, and the ones you use for illustration—even when they’re make-do. That’s the context for our Featured Image, shot today using iPhone XS. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 69, 1/1689 sec, 26mm (film equivalent); 10:05 a.m. PDT. Now comes some explanation.

In response to the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic, federal and state officials have issued orders for citizens to “shelter in place“. Most businesses considered to be non-essential are closed; schools are, too. Staying home is fine most of the time, but some healthy outdoor activity is nevertheless necessary for the Wilcox family’s well-being. Turns out that walks are considered to be safe enough—and my wife and I continue to take them, mindful to try and keep the recommended six feet away from passersby (mostly dog walkers). At 8:50 a.m. PDT, we met someone, or I should say something, that we surely wanted to keep distance from: A skunk scurrying down the Meade Ave. sidewalk approaching us.

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The Cats of University Heights: Shelter

A week ago, the World Health Organization (finally) declared SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19—a pandemic. Next Day, President Trump declared a national emergency. Here in California, most bars, eateries, K-12 schools, shops, and universities are indefinitely closed, while residents are ordered to stay home—a tactic meant to “flatten the curve” of the contagion’s spread. Reasoning: If people avoid one another (so-called “social distancing”), fewer folks will be sick at once. Otherwise, with a nearly 20-percent medical intervention rate, Novel Coronavirus would, or likely still will, overwhelm hospitals. In San Diego, for example, there are not enough beds for the expected number of people desperately in need of invasive care.

Walks are considered safe enough, and my wife and I continue them. If you must “shelter in place“, ocean breezes and sunshine are Southern California comforts that invigorate mental and physical well-being. We might as well take advantage of what the cost of living pays for—while we still can (gulp, considering the economic pandemic also underway). As long as we can still get out, I’ll be on the lookout for fresh felines to add to this series. Hence: The fifty-seventh window watcher, which I saw on March 14, 2020 along Campus between Meade and Monroe.

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The Cats of University Heights: Huck

Is that a neighborhood newcomer I see—but not yet a yearling? As my wife and I walked along Louisiana today, Huck (real name) appeared from behind a car, at the same property where Princess Leia and I first met about 19 months earlier. Last year, the Wilcoxes considered renting an affordable apartment in the same building. But the two bedrooms received no meaningful direct sunlight, making them too cold and dim for our liking.

Anne and I may not be Huck’s neighbors, but he has plenty—some of which may hissy-fit over territory. Among the other profiled, feisty felines seen on the street—along the four blocks between Adams and Meade—or known to live there: Amazon, Bandit, Daniel TigerDarth Mew, DonutsFluffy, Ginger, Gracie (deceased), Jedi, Milo, Nelson, Patriot, Royal, SnowStripe, and Topper.

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The Cats of University Heights: Autumn

On Oct. 3, 2019, I got a far-from-the-sidewalk view of a blackie, while walking along Campus between Tyler and Van Buren. Three-and-a-half months later, and no second-sighting, time is come to add the shorthair, whom I nickname Autumn, to the series.

The Featured Image comes from iPhone XS, as I had hoofed it to the grocery store—expecting to carry back several bulky bags—and left at home my camera. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/390 sec, 52mm (film equivalent; EXIF records 6mm); 2:27 p.m. PDT. The portrait is a 90-percent crop.

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Why Cats?

Anyone looking at this website’s recent posts, and seeing how many are devoted to the beasties, might presume that I am a feline fanatic. Nah. The “Cats of University Heights” series is about something else, and the reasons for it wouldn’t be obvious.

The story starts during late Spring 2016, when rapid onset cataracts in both eyes greatly diminished vision—just recovering, following a series of treatments for macular edema. After consulting an ophthalmologic specialist, I scheduled surgery for the first day of Comic-Con 2016. Attending Preview Night, and being unable to read any of the signs in the venue, I surrendered any regret for missing the event (turns out, I would be there Saturday and Sunday, with one good eye and my daughter as assistant).

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The Cats of University Heights: Spunky

I can’t say why—because the composition, presented as shot, demands recropping—but this portrait appeals to me as is; oh-kay, I tweaked highlights and brilliance, but little else. Something from the backlog of unpublished profiles should go first, and I typically wait to get the real name when the beastie wears collar and tag. For now, I’ll call the kitty Spunky and move him (or her) to front of queue.

We briefly crossed paths on Oct. 9, 2019 along Lincoln, where it parallels Washington, which the Vermont Bridge crosses over. Along the same street stretch, which is a boundary between the neighborhood and another (Hillcrest), you might also see: CoolDainty, Glass, KittyLittle Miss, or Sky. The Featured Image comes from iPhone XS. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/144 sec, 52mm; 3:55 p.m. PDT.

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The Cats of University Heights: Kitty (Oh, Boy)

The house,  editorial style for this series is one animal name, single-use only. But that approach stumbles when repeats appear—owner-given, not something I made up when not knowing the real one. Consider Charlies One, Two, Three, and Four as nomenclature nightmare examples. That brings us to our second Kitty, and gender switcheroo—the other being female.

I met Kitty and his owner on Sept. 9, 2019, while walking along Lincoln, between Maryland and Vermont, from the grocery store. He has been with her for about three years—and, if I rightly recall, the Tuxedo was abandoned by someone (or some family) who moved out of the neighborhood. Funny how these cat sightings are: I began this series around the same time the owner started caring for Kitty, and I have walked by the property many dozens of times since without seeing him. No wonder the number of furballs is seemingly constant.

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The Cats of University Heights: Namaste

On Sept. 11, 2019, setting out for a reminiscent walk recollecting the national calamity 18 years earlier, I consciously chose to leave behind a digital camera. The decision meant unexpectedly using iPhone XS to take portraits of Namaste, stretched out and shaded under a car. Grumble. I have returned since, several times, but the kitty hasn’t re-presented for better-quality shot.

According to Wikipedia, Namaste is a Hindu greeting, meaning: “I bow to the divine in you”. And, yes, that is the kitty’s real name, as reported by the owner who put the animal’s age at about one year. Namaste lives along Adams Ave., nearby E.T. and the now-deceased Alfredo and Shadow. Vitals for the Featured Image: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/489 sec, 52mm; 9:34 a.m. PDT. Other is the same, except for 1/484 sec.

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The Cats of University Heights: Pedro

Few felines in this series are as naturally, muscularly large as Pedro (real name). Peso is another. The forty-fifth Alabama kitty among the 295 profiles posted since the series start three years ago, Pedro lives in the same apartment complex as Penny. I am aware of five other furballs residing there—none featured. Yet.

Some late afternoons, Pedro’s owner lets the shorthair romp supervised about the building’s center courtyard, up the steps, and along the second-floor walkway. I captured the Featured Image and companion on Aug. 31, 2019, using iPhone XS. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/72 sec, 52mm; 4:57 p.m. PDT. The second is same but 1/96 sec and 5 p.m.

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The Cats of University Heights: Jedi

Amassing a backlog of unpublished kitty pics isn’t all bad. Delay posting the Featured Image generated opportunity to add some unexpected, and opportune, companions—all captured using iPhone XS. Vitals for the first, from July 3, 2019: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/197 sec, 52mm; 5:30 p.m. PDT. (Metadata records 6mm, but I now state film equivalent.)

Initially, I thought the black and white might be Milo, who lives on the same block of Louisiana. Fleeting sightings followed before one quite unexpected on September 3. As my wife and I walked along, Darth Mew ambled up purring and demanding attention. Presumably, he is companion to Princess Leia, who also resides on the street. He left us and moved unthreateningly into the driveway of the apartment building where lives the shorthair beastie, who hissed at the intruder.

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The Cats of University Heights: Steppy

Way, way, way behind with photographed furballs, my slow catchup begins with a Tuxedo sighted in the alley between Louisiana and Mississippi on Aug. 17, 2019. I haven’t seen the beastie since, but there is plenty of evidence: Cat scratcher put out in the morning and food/water dishes in the afternoon. As acceptable as the iPhone XS-snapped Featured Image is, a camera-captured portrait should be so much better. So I will keep looking.

I nickname the kitty Steppy, for location seen. Vitals: f/2.4, ISO 16, 1/165 sec, 52mm; 5:39 p.m. PDT. Metadata records 6mm, but I henceforth will state film-equivalent for Apple device shots.

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San Diego River, Mission Valley

While walking home from UltraStar Cinema in Mission Valley, after watching “Ad Astra” on opening day, I crossed over San Diego River along Mission Center Road. Ripples upon the water delighted my eyes, which demanded capturing the moment, and I did using iPhone XS.

The film, starring Brad Pitt and directed by James Gray, is in essence about the consequences of solitary living—astronaut Roy McBride, his hero father Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), or all the living creatures (including humans) of Planet Earth. Somehow, looking down the river—even with the roar of Friday afternoon rush hour behind me—I experienced a moment of welcome solitude, ennobled by having just seen “Ad Astra”. Hence, the Featured Image and its companion.