Tag: pandemic

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Message to the Homeless?

While walking with my wife along Panorama Drive, in San Diego’s University Heights community, we passed by a sign that I ignored, then turned back to capture. What does “dumping” mean, I wonder. Could it be throwing garbage into the canyon, which access would be difficult but possible from that location? Or could it refer to the business that people do when they need to, ah, relieve themselves?

Pricey Panorama, where are some of the costliest homes in UH, would be one of the neighborhood’s least welcoming of the homeless—and more are seen in the area everyday, although likelier two to three blocks closer to El Cajon Blvd. And, yes, they are known to “dump” in unexpected places. With SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 restrictions keeping eatery dining rooms closed and most retailers barring bathrooms to the public, everyone is limited on where to go when nature calls. So I got to wonder, who is the sign meant for?

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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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We Got Tested for COVID-19

The saga starts simply: On Feb. 17, 2021, Annie suffered tummy upset all day, along with loss of energy. By late afternoon, my wife had developed a fever of 37.8 degrees Celsius (100.1 Fahrenheit). Morning of the 18th, her body temperature had fallen to 37.2 C (99 F) before returning to normal and staying that way. But she felt crummy and lethargic. More worrisome: Low-grade fever is one of the signature symptoms of COVID-19—the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2).

Next day, the 19th, I felt off and started coughing; often. If not for Annie’s fever the story would end there, but the symptom shouldn’t be ignored. I checked our health insurer’s website, which indicated that COVID-19 testing would be free with a referral. Around 8 a.m., when the doctor’s office opened, I cancelled a 9 a.m. self-defense lesson with my trainer and called our physician, with whom the scheduler set up an 11 a.m. phone appointment. Who would guess problems would start there.

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A Valentine’s Day Story

A favored walking route from Old Trolley Barn Park is the alley between Alabama and Florida streets. Occasionally, Pace (pronounced paw-chay, according to his owner) appears—and, on some days, Coon or Ghost (both nicknames) in an adjacent, expansive yard. Today, I passed by a woman either emptying recyclables or trash (not sure which) and she wished: “Happy Valentine’s Day”. She was cheerful, which emotion a higher-pitch voice accentuated. Her apartment overlooks the alley, and she recognized me from looking out her windows on other days.

The 35-year-old Salt Lake City native has resided in San Diego for about a decade. We talked about the terrible expense of living here, mainly housing, which she offsets by having a roommate and adopting a minimalist lifestyle. Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s several SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns put her on unemployment twice, which led her to become entrepreneurial, rather than depressed and destitute. Adapting her mom’s recipe, she bakes and sells chocolate chip cookies by the dozen—$15 a box.

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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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Schwinn Time

This afternoon, I walked home through the San Diego neighborhood of Hillcrest, where waits one of the many artifacts of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns. Schwinn stationary bikes are available for those locals looking to exercise outdoors, which is a periodic requirement depending on which way the stay-at-home order blows; sometimes indoor gyms are allowed to open, oftentimes not.

I have seen souls pedaling together during tandem instruction. But nobody rode the road to nowhere when I happened to pass by. Unfortunately, I carried along Leica Q2 Monochrom, which was supposed to effuse magnificent ambience in my nibble hands. But the scene was overly cluttered; in black and white the compositions are too busy, with little comfortable place for the eyes to naturally go.

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Surely There is a Better Way to Help the Homeless

I specifically shot the Featured Image, yesterday using Leica Q2, to illustrate this essay. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 11:22 a.m. PST. The carts belonged to one of three homeless men gathered together a few meters away on the Hillcrest side of Washington Street Bridge (University Heights is on the other). For sure, San Diego has a significant indigent population. But I write about San Francisco and something that surprises me—and perhaps will you, too.

According to the SF Chronicle (sorry, subscription required), the city is “currently sheltering more than 2,200 homeless people in about 25 hotels” and the “monthly program costs range from $15 million to $18 million”. By my math, that works out to between $6,818.18 to $8,8181.82 per person each month. If these people were paid, the equivalent annual salary would be between $82,000 and $98,000. Oh, and looks like the United States government will cover costs through the end of September 2021.

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Life Before

A year ago, the Chinese government locked down the city of Wuhan for what would be 76 days in response to a virus later given name SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2); COVID-19 is the disease that results from infection. For some reason, perhaps then-President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial as distraction, I didn’t see news about China’s action until three days later. I immediately recognized the implications: Supply-chain disruptions being one—and another, as I told my wife: “Fear is the contagion”. That statement is even more true as the Novel Coronavirus crisis enters its second year.

We started stocking supplies—things we anticipated wanting but possibly would be unavailable if SARS-CoV-2 disrupted Chinese manufacturing and shipping, which later occurred. By early February, I religiously watched Prepper videos on YouTube in preparation for a pandemic—either real or result of widespread fear. Annie and I came upon an apartment we wanted to rent, which delayed our buying foodstuffs. On February 28, we chose not to take the place and finally starting stocking up. As such, we beat the long lines and supply shortages resulting from the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic (March 11); Trump proclaiming a National Emergency (Friday the 13th); and Governor Gavin Newsom closing California for business and ordering citizens to stay home (March 16).

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A Bible Story

My wife has started reading the Bible, which helps her cope with these trying times that never seem to end—and they won’t as long as SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—better known as COVID-19lockdowns destroy lives and livelihoods and deep cultural and political fissures foster an American Civil (Cold) War. Anne had been using my 1980-edition, leather-bound Harper Study Bible that I purchased used for $60 in April 2017. This morning, she decided to buy a Good Book for herself.

The question: From where? Before even I could answer, she stated: “Not from Amazon”. Okay. I knew that Rock Church has a Christian bookstore in Point Loma, Calif.; we could go there. “What about La Mesa?” she asked—having no idea if there might be a bookseller there. “Siri, Christian bookstores”, I queried. Sure enough, there turned out to be a shop at 4695 Date. Ave. To the car we walked, then drove East to a rewarding shopping expedition but disheartening look at too many shuttered small businesses.

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Divided We Stand

At Noon EST today, Joseph R. Biden Jr. ascended to the Presidency of the United States, having taken the oath of office about 12 minutes earlier. He later issued 15 executive orders, which is an unprecedented number compared to his predecessors. None to one is typical on the first day. Democrats are unified controlling the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

Biden’s first-day actions and posturing by the House and Senate are indicative of a party with a mandate. But there is none. The 46th President won the 2020 Election by slimmer-than-appears electoral margin and Democrats command a narrow number of seats in Congress. The data, along with recent protesting and rioting by conservative and liberal constituents, reflect a nation deeply divided, rather than united behind the new Commander-in-Chief. The situation portends that his calls for unity will fail, although I hope otherwise.

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When You Can’t Serve People, Squirrels Must Do

The mom of Bruce, Guido, and Little—all of which appeared in my “Cats of University Heights” series—put out a clever, cutesy squirrel feeder. There is a sad sweetness to the gesture. She can’t serve people—no thanks to California Governor Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom’s order prohibiting all restaurant dining—and last I heard her employer might join the increasing list of local eateries and pubs put out of business.

In this County, SanDiegoVille keeps a running list of the permanently shuttered since the pandemic’s start. I count 115 eating or drinking establishments, but more when accounting for businesses with multiple locations.. Uncontrollable spread of COVID-19, which is caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), demonstrates that forced closures are ineffective subduing the pandemic.

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Somebody is a Quick Study of Capitalism

Four days ago, I posted about the clever entrepreneur selling double-layer, home-made face masks for a buck. They’re a bargain no more! Since seeing the unattended sales display on Jan. 9, 2021 along Maryland Street in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, something changed—the price! Four dollars more—a 400-percent increase! Granted, the presentation is fancier, and Venmo payment is now accepted—with QR code option, no less.

Smooth sales tactics, reminiscent of retail operations everywhere, are evident in the “originally $10 each”, too. That’s not the price I photographed last week, hehe. I wonder why the change. Were too many selling at $1? Was the price below product cost? Were passersby abusing the honor system and stealing them? (Behavioral studies show that people are less likely to swipe things that are more valuable.)