Tag: SARS-CoV-2

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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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Two Years with Leica Q2

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.

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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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We End Twenty-Twenty-One with an Electric Story

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.

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‘Growing with Passion’

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.

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A Christmas Eve Reflection

The San Diego neighborhood where I live, University Heights, is a monument to secularism. The closest Jesus comes to being depicted or referenced anywhere is half his name in Christmas, prefaced by Merry, like on the, ah, Prideful trees that I wrote about two days ago.

So on this fateful Christmas Eve, I have no religious photos to share; no crosses, no nativities, nothing other than the stone snowman you may remember from two years ago. He made a 2020 appearance on the same property but brandishing a presidential political sign—and I did not approve. The fresh Featured Image comes from Leica Q2, two days ago. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; 1 p.m. PST.

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Who Approved This?

Last week, while walking along Panorama Drive, I passed by what seemed like the strangest holiday decoration: An inflatable, rainbow-colored Christmas tree. The next day, there were three. The day after, my wife and I walked over so that she could see. We found four more—not every one erect but all unmistakably identifiable even when deflated. This will be our fifteenth Christmas in this San Diego neighborhood, and I have never seen such signs like these.

As I opined on July 4th, about seeing more Pride flags than the Stars and Stripes, University Heights has undergone dramatic, observable changes since start of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns in mid-March 2020. New residents, many of them Northern California escapees, are everywhere. Their emigration contributes to soaring rents and skyrocketing home sale prices. The newcomers also bring different values that are commiserate with adjacent Hillcrest, which is known as a gay enclave. But Pride holiday trees, all on the same street?

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To See Differently

Two years ago a new optometrist recommended adding prisms to my eyeglass prescription in response to slight vertical misalignment in my vision. I was skeptical and made an appointment for another refraction with a doctor at the office that performed my cataract surgery. He confirmed slight double vision, but after attempting to make corrective adjustments with prisms he recommended against them. Their therapeutic value was uncertain, he concluded.

But the first optometrist was so insistent, when I returned to make my eyeglass order and the Varilux lenses came with satisfaction guarantee: The Essilor lab would make a new set should the prescription change—all within 90 days of purchase. I relented. The overall quality of the lenses satisfied so much that I decided to give my brain and eyes some time to adapt. But I never got to choose: The SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 pandemic made the decision for me, as my wife and I hunkered down during February 2020 and lockdowns started weeks later.

Today, I switched lenses, with a new prescription. Prisms are gone.

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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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A Rose by Any Other Name is Gone

Following “The Tree Tragedy” that destroyed the provider of shade (for us) and food and refuge (for birds and squirrels), I was ready to give notice and move out of our apartment. One problem: In December 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom essentially closed down the state for the entire month in response to a reported surge in SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 cases (e.g., positive tests for infection).

But Spring (e.g., Early Summer in San Diego parlance) brought more birds than any other year—many flocking to a hedge nearby our assigned parking space. Across the street, they, and other animals, used the mighty date palm as a majestic habitat. But South American Palm Weevils infested the tree, which the city destroyed in late July. The bugs are not indigenous and removal of infected palms seeks to slow their spread.