Tag: public policy

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Blasting Bureaucratic Bungling

For the first full day since San Diego road crews etched “North Park” into two traffic circles located in University Heights, the correct community name is displayed. I asked “Who Authorized This?” on Oct. 1, 2020, regarding the, ah, mishap at Alabama and Louisiana streets along Meade Ave. The city constructed the roundabouts as part of the Mid-City Bikeways project.

Restoration at Alabama started before Christmas 2021 but was repeatedly delayed by rainstorms. Work there completed last week and at Louisiana yesterday. The process was arduous and messy—and not just from the actual physical disruption; clutter and confusion replace the previous clean etching of letters and design. As such, I wonder if all the money and industry invested to correct the misnaming was wasted.

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Party Like Your Life Depends On It

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.

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Just a Reminder

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.

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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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Seriously, California?

Sometime last week, my wife asked about getting brighter lightbulbs. IKEA-purchased LEDs are 1,000 lumens and loaded into most of our fixtures, whether ceiling or lamps; but not all. Then, three days ago, I observed during a Zoom meeting that one participant’s ambience so much more appealed than mine—his room being bright and white, while mine was dank and yellow. Color temperature is reason: 5000K lighting vs 2700K. I thought: Why not buy brighter and whiter bulbs?

So I tried shopping locally but ran aground. Is 5000K lighting unavailable because of supply chain problems or is 2700K simply wildly more popular? No San Diego store—not even the place specializing in bulbs—stocked that color temperature in a 100-watt equivalent with brightness greater than 1,000 lumens. That brought me to Amazon and a big surprise: The affordable product that also met my criteria can’t be shipped to California. Huh?

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The Runaround

Finally, somebody puts these godawful traffic circles to good use. This afternoon, while walking along Louisiana Street, I came upon someone running around the edifice to poor transportation planning at Meade. The Featured Image is the first of four shots—all taken from the hip, using Leica Q2.

The person could be identified from any of the other three captures; not having permission to publish, I chose the back view; besides, sun is more pronounced in this one compared to the others. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/1250 sec, 28mm; 2:23 p.m. PST; composed as shot.

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California Brings Back Mask Mandates

The mass hysteria about SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 and the public policy response brings forth a freshly minted mask mandate—from today until (at least) Jan. 15, 2022. Rising number of detected infections, coupled with fear about the Omicron variant, are major reasons for California’s restriction that applies to every public indoor venue and to all people—even the vaccinated. Am I supposed to feel relieved that the governor isn’t shutting down the state, like he did last Christmas? That we only have to cover our faces?

Not that there is any science to support the Omicron panic. Early epidemiology data from Southern Africa indicates that the new variant is considerably more contagious than the already highly infectious Delta. While infections rise, hospitalization and death curves are flat. Reported cases from South Africa, for example, are generally mild—and that’s in a population with relatively low vaccination rate (compared to the United States). But, as usual, the majority of news reports and guidance from the World Health Organization scare-monger about how terrible the variant could be—without presenting any data to support suppositions.

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The Omicron Variant

This post’s title, which also names the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2) strain currently causing a global healthcare scare, would be better for a thriller-genre book or film about viral terrorism.

Cue the movie trailer: Six survivors. Keanu Reeves. Daniel Craig. Angelina Jolie. Regé-Jean Page. Kelly Marie Tran. And the esteemed Charlton Heston (appearing as a 3-D hologram). The Omicron Variant. The premise is so frightening that the screenwriters have each gotten three COVID-19 booster shots. You, too, will never think the same way about vaccines—and who gets them when supplies are lacking and the HAZMAT-suited stack body bags in front of your house. Oh, did we forget to mention that they’re empty and waiting to be filled—when your, ah, quarantine is over. The Omicron Variant. Who will survive viral armageddon?

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Fit to Survive

Hard to imagine that a year ago, Californians freaked about rising SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 infections, with Governor Gavin Newsom imposing additional lockdown restrictions that essentially cancelled Christmas. Thanksgiving already was collateral damage.

Some small businesses, like Boulevard Fitness, resisted closure and defied threats of fines—or worse. The city (or county) could pull permits, particularly related to public health. For eateries and pubs, liquor license could be yanked instead or as well.

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I Blame the Traffic Circles

This car crash won’t win awards for photographic excellence. I got one shot for the Featured Image before a flatbed truck moved in to take away the vehicles. It’s what the moment represents that matters. But first, quickly, the vitals—aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 2:08 p.m. PDT; Leica Q2.

I passed by the scene on Oct. 30, 2021, at the intersection of Meade and Mississippi in University Heights. On either side of Mississippi are parallel streets Alabama and Louisiana, where San Diego workers completed so-called “calming measures” last year. I call them “traffic circles of unintended consequences“—contending they adversely affect driving habits that will lead to more accidents like this one.

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Parents Protest San Diego School District Vaxx Mandates

Late afternoon, my wife asked: “What is all that honking?” Annie was right. Car horns could be heard in the distance, occasionally and repeatedly tooting. We turned to one another flummoxed over the sudden roar of cheering that reminded of sporting events. What was going on nearby—and where? I left to find out, following the sounds that piqued our mutual curiosities.

Our University Heights apartment is located about .8-kilometer (one-half mile) walking distance from administrative offices for San Diego Unified School District, where a sizable crowd had gathered with picket signs. As I arrived, a woman’s voice bellowed over loudspeakers advocating against vaccine mandates and for parents’ rights to choose for their children—not the government nor SDUSD. What I didn’t understand: The school board scheduled a 5 p.m. PDT meeting to vote on a proposal requiring staff and some students to be vaccinated. How ironic: They cowered in isolation via Zoom, while parents protested in person.

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We Voted Today

My wife and I dropped off our ballots at Garfield Elementary, which is located in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood. Crossing the parking lot, we saw three people, presumably all poll workers, sitting in folding chairs under an awning outside the school entrance. We had forgotten about masks, which the trio suddenly pulled out and put on before walking inside. Then a brave one came out to meet Annie and I, holding in outstretched arms a yellow canvas sack that blocked the woman from the two pariahs—meaning us. We dropped in our mail-in ballots, and she rushed away. Gosh, I sure hope that wasn’t the trash liner.

Californians are being asked whether or not they want to remove the governor. Unfortunately, opponents and proponents have framed the recall election in terms of Gavin Newsom vs front-runner Larry Elder, which distracts from the reason for everyone going to the polls. The special election is absolutely about Newsom vs Newsom, whether or not he should stay in office or be replaced. Nothing more matters. The answer is Yes or No.