In a sudden, surprising retreat, Microsoft announced the closing of all 83 retail stores, on June 26, 2020. Yes, it’s reasonable to wonder if SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns played part in the decision. During normal times, the location at Fashion Valley Mall was never as busy as Apple Store, but the shop served vital brand, sales, and services roles. I am disappointed to see Microsoft Store gone.
When the Wilcoxes moved to this neighborhood in mid-October 2007, we encountered two obvious demographics: Older couples (and some singles)—many of whom lived in the same house for decades; gay couples—women more than men (who were more commonly seen in adjacent community Hillcrest). But as the real estate market bottomed out in 2011-12, a slow change blossomed into a flash flood of families with kids of age to attend Alice Birney Elementary.
But during the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns, when many people started working from home and therefore no longer needed to live close to their jobs, University Heights began a rapid demographic flip. Ultra-high rents and landlords selling homes along with a massive influx of Googler-types has flushed out families and many of the oldsters. The professional Millennial makeover sweeps in and sweeps others out. Among those leaving: Owners of the kitty in the Featured Image.
On Valentine’s Day, we rushed to be among the people signing up for “The Prepper’s Roadmap”. Initial enrollment ended on February 18, and we paid $197 for the privilege. The course seeks to educate enrollees about how to prepare for calamities, whether they be natural disasters (like earthquakes or wildfires here in San Diego) or crisis of human instigation (like cyberattack that takes down banking systems or power grids), among others. I would recommend the educational series, if the first-round of registrations hadn’t closed. You can’t sign up today; in the future, though.
My wife and I aren’t so-called preppers—and we never expect be. Meaning: If you’re looking for a horde of food or supplies during an apocalypse, we won’t have it. Our apartment is small and we aren’t of the mindset. That said, we do recognize the increasingly dangerous times in which we live, when looking at advancing economic crisis or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for example. Not being naturally paranoid about catastrophes and preparation for them, Annie and I liked the idea of getting some no-nonsense advice from someone who is sensible rather than the typically fanatical.
Is the timing deliberate or coincidental? March 11 will be the last day that California school students
will may be required to wear face masks. On that date two years earlier, the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 a pandemic. Shall we just call the crisis over, with lifting of the order that compels kids to cover up?
Update, next day: On the morning news, officials from the San Diego school district held firm to masks—meaning students and staff will be compelled to continue wearing them. Reasoning: True that the governor has relaxed rules, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers the county to be high risk and the organization’s guidance supersedes that from the state.
The place isn’t roomy, but the architectural style is quite appealing. I hear there’s a waiting list, though. But if you like, I walk past often enough and can look for that “no” to be covered up. Here’s the thing; A little birdie told me that several crows are in the queue—and they are quite aggressive about obtaining lodging, particularly when the place is furnished and the landlord provides some meals.
Advice: Adopt a community cat from the shelter and turn him loose nearby. If the beastie doesn’t catch and eat some of the animals waiting for the place, he might scare off most of them. The residence is on Maryland Street in University Heights. Address isn’t disclosed, just in case I want to submit a rental application myself.
Who other than perhaps researchers at a Chinese lab could have predicted the global lockdown to combat SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19. Surely, owners of the Red Fox Steak House couldn’t guess when the restaurant and piano bar—long a fixture within the iconic Lafayette Hotel—lost its lease. Like its crafty namesake animal, the eatery cunningly chose to make a new home directly across El Cajon Blvd in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood.
But building and opening anew during California’s Coronavirus crackdown, when the governor ordered citizens to stay home and prohibited indoor dining, clearly proved challenging. In January 2021, I shared with you a photo of the then unfinished construction with banner “Opening early Fall 2020”. As you can see from the Featured Image, the place is still outfoxed by the virus—even as mandated restrictions relax. Will we ever eat medium-rare amidst the ambience of live music? I really wonder.
The menacing palm that you met in April 2021 dresses in holiday-appropriate attire, like Uncle Sam garb for Fourth of July. Now he’s ready for Valentine’s Day in 13 days and has been at least since I captured the Featured Image on Jan. 4, 2022. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/640 sec, 28mm; 2:04 p.m. PST.
Composed as shot, the moment comes from Leica Q2. If you live in, or visit, San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood, you can see this terrifying tree on North Avenue between Meade and Monroe.
Of all the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 oddities that I have seen, this sign might be strangest and yet most appropriate—punctuated commentary, whether or not the intention. The balloons suggest a birthday party, possibly for kids. You are welcome but be prepared for the consequences, especially if masks aren’t required. Meaning: You’re responsible for you.
I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image, today. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/400 sec, 28mm; 10:25 a.m. PST. Location: Somewhere along Maryland Street in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood.
On the last day of 2019, UPS delivered Leica Q2, which would replace the original model that I acquired in May 2017. I was wholly satisfied with the Q, but the allure of higher resolution (47.3 megapixels vs 24MP) and weather sealing led to a sudden sale; Craigslisting two cameras, including the Q, covered the purchase price.
If being psychic, and foreseeing what 2020 would bring, I likely would have stuck with the Q for awhile longer. A series of oppressive and overly-restrictive governor-ordered lockdowns imposed in attempts to curb the COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) made for a difficult street shooting year. With most of California shut down for so much of 2020—and citizens ordered to simply stay home—the Q2 was largely relegated to shooting alleys, empty storefronts, and cats.
This is what a pandemic looks like—only with body bags stacked up everywhere, assuming anyone survives to fill them. The Featured Image is a Halloween lawn decoration but nevertheless poignant reminder about what a viral apocalypse is and isn’t. I used iPhone 7 Plus on Oct. 31, 2017, near where Cleveland and Monroe meet in San Diego’s University Heights neighborhood. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 20, 1/336 sec, 28mm; 12:05 p.m. PDT.
The reminder is necessary with so many people testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) variant Omicron. Given the strain’s Measles-like communicability and the ridiculous amount of testing, which includes millions of at-home kits, the high numbers of positive infections aren’t surprising. Disruption of essential services and supply chains come from mandates that require the infected to quarantine, even when asymptomatic or mildly ill; citizens aren’t sicker just captive to public health policy. Nor are some overwhelmed hospital emergency rooms surprising, when news reports create climate of fear and primary care physicians or urgent care facilites direct those testing positive, or worried about having COVID-19, to ERs.
The last post of the year fulfills one of my personal resolutions for 2021: Publish something here every day, and I have. The process proved beneficial for honing storytelling, which often constructed around one (or more) of my photographs. Rarely did I sit down to write with clear topic in mind; often the prose unfolded as a storytelling process anchored, sometimes loosely, by the illustration.
Similarly, my continual need to have something to write about encouraged me to look for objects to be topics, improving my photographic craft, too. I lack the sense of composition and style necessary to be a professional shooter. My eyes instead see stories in the things I capture. I stare in awe at the pros producing photos as art; I can’t.
Whenever walking by this mural, I often regret not photographing the lively, colorful Yipao Coffee outdoor café that once occupied this location. More importantly: What the place displaced—trees and lush green space that the (permanently closed) florist had used. Hence the irony, if you don’t see it yet, of “growing with passion”; because all that remains is dirt, on top of which vehicles park. Nothing green grows, nor the vitality of human interaction.
In late June 2018, I shared about the departure of Florabella, which had to abandon its 24-year commercial space after the landlord informed the owner that rent would triple effective July 1. I wondered: What will replace the florist? Well, Yipao took up residence in the not-long-later clearcut corner area. Interesting aside: John Adams disappeared and was discovered to be accidentally locked inside the closed floral shop, which Yipao used; perhaps for storage. He is among the “Cats of University Heights“; June 2019.