Tag: storytelling

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A Grim Remembrance

Twenty years ago today, my wife and I stood staring out our front door transfixed by the Fox News helicopter hovering low nearly overhead. The thing couldn’t have been much above the treetops. For about thirty minutes we watched the copter, all while wondering why we couldn’t find explanation for its presence.

In October 2002, there were no social networks, like Facebook or Twitter, to blast second-by-second chirps about immediate happenings. We relied on radio and television, along with Google and Yahoo search. None answered the question. So Annie headed out for a walk. Literally, two minutes later, a friend rang, warning: “Someone is driving a white van down Connecticut Ave. shooting people”. Ah, yeah.

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An AirPods Story

Today, my wife and I drove North to Del Mar for lunch with an old friend and coworker, who had flown out from the East Coast to visit her son and his family—newcomers to San Diego County for work (he’s a banker, which I guess explains the ease of managing the high rents).

The stories people tell that you wouldn’t imagine but seem so sensible after the surprise permeates. Our friend made a startling discovery when unpacking upon arrival: She had mistaken dental floss for her Apple AirPods, which case would be about the same size and shape as some brands (glad to know she makes tooth-care a priority). But couldn’t the confusion also be nothing more than one of those, ah, senior moments?

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Billy, Don’t Be a Zero

Someone else would call it a nightmare. Yesterday morning, I awoke from an odd retail sales dream. Apple had released a new earphone model that resembled an oversized paperclip crossed with a pear-shaped Carabiner. Of course, the Bluetooth music devices, in various sizes, were white, and a long line of people waited to buy them inside a smallish Apple Store that reminded of a cramped cellular mobile shop.

I grabbed a box, only to find it empty. While I waited with other people for a cashier, an employee approached. He reached for the carton, while saying the size I had chosen might be out of stock. I stared into the face of Bill Gates. Selling gear in Apple Store!

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The Phone Call

At 11:45 a.m. PDT today, iPhone 13 Pro chimed from a San Diego number that I did not recognize. Expecting a call from a local business, I answered rather than assume spam and send to voicemail. A young woman hysterically cried: “I had an accident. Dad, I had an accident”. My daughter doesn’t own a car, so her situation could be dire and ringing from someone else’s cell could be expected.

But hysteria and sobbing made identifying the voice difficult. I asked: “Who are you?” The response: “I had an accident. It’s me, dad”. I asked again, and her last answer sounded like “Diana”. She disconnected. The call lasted 41 seconds. For peace of mind, I immediately rang my daughter’s number and confirmed that she was in no trouble.

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Lost and Found

Late this afternoon, my wife informed me that she lost a wrap-around bracelet while we walked earlier. I couldn’t have that and insisted on going out searching for the accoutrement, starting by retracing our route in reverse. About 10 minutes later, I found the lost item on the sidewalk below where she pressed the button to cross Florida Street along El Cajon Blvd. A brewery sits at the corner, and people mulled all about. I was surprised that no one had whisked away the pretty little thing.

I snatched up the bracelet in a smooth motion as I gleefully strutted one shoe after another. With all the turmoil going on around us during the post-pandemic and early economic crisis era, moments where I feel sense of control of something are rewarding.

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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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The Incident in University Heights

When working with other journalists, I always advise: “Write what you know to be true”—or, lifting Star Trek lingo, obey the “Prime Directive“. That brief introduction frames what follows based on what I directly heard, observed, and photographed.

Our story starts some minutes around 11 a.m. PDT today, when emergency vehicles roar down the street where we live and others nearby. A police helicopter begins circling overhead, announcing search for a suspect, with his description, and instruction to call 911 if seen. I look out my window, to see police officers standing over someone handcuffed and facedown on the pavement—the Featured Image, captured at 11:06 a.m. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/500 sec, 28mm; all photos aperture manually set, from Leica Q2. Interesting aside: The takedown happens where once stood the block’s majestic palm tree, before being cut down nearly four weeks ago.

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Forever Autumn

It is juxtaposition time—autumn leaves to contrast yesterday’s Spring sunflower. I used Canon EOS 20D to capture the Featured Image on Nov. 5, 2005. Vitals: f/3.5, ISO 800, 1/125 sec, 110mm; 4:14 p.m. EST. Image is presented as straight RAW-to-JPEG conversion, which means no alteration; composed as shot.

Reviewing this site’s posts, I prolifically blogged during November 2005—despite my demanding, full-time job as a trade analyst. Some of my most personally iconic musings were written during that month. Here’s a shortlist, in order of publication:

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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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An Unexpected Request

About a month ago, I observed something odd while waiting in line at the pharmacy. The gentlemen standing at the counter, who looked worse for wear, had come to pick up a prescription. But he met an obstacle. The druggist asked for identification, which the customer didn’t have and he was confused why any would be needed. “It’s a controlled substance”,  the pharmacist explained. But in a sad and naively poignant regard, the gent didn’t understand. The medicine had been prescribed for him, but he didn’t possess any kind of identity card. Please, could he have his medicine?

Unkempt, and likely a recovering addict who belonged to San Diego’s ever-growing homeless population, the guy was plaintive rather than abusive—as someone else might have been. “Come back when you have ID”, the druggist informed. The fellow stepped back from the window and approached me, waiting next in line: “Do you have ID I can borrow?”

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The Incident at Texas and University

Last night, as I pulled into Pizza Hut’s parking lot, a lady driving a SUV blocked my way. While plenty of spaces were available, she chose to wait for one right in front of the store. There, a most ramshackle man lean-lifted a walker—one without wheels—slowly advancing between the painted lines towards the sidewalk. He was so weather-worn and browned from the San Diego sun, his race wasn’t identifiable. There are people who panhandle and pretend to be homeless, but not this gent. He was beaten down and bent over,  pushing snail-like forward. He genuinely lived on the streets.

Eventually, he cleared past, and the lady parked, allowing me passage to do likewise. Because of the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)—also known as COVID-19pandemic, the Hut only allows one customer to enter; others wait outside. By the time I advanced on the door, the chonky SUV driver had gone inside and a petite younger woman stood before me. While waiting, I observed two unexpected happenings.

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Someone Tried to Steal Bruce

As my wife and I walked along Monroe today, a voice called from behind: “Hey, there’s something I have to tell you about Bruce“—not an exact quote but the gist is right. She approached, with her dog leashed and the tabby trotting behind. He was profiled for my “Cats of University Heights” series in May 2017.

Three days ago, someone came pounding frantically on her door, agitated: “Something happened to Bruce”. The tiger tabby likes to hang out and watch the kids at a nearby daycare, and he had stretched out on the sidewalk waiting for them to come outdoors to play. They didn’t, as the place is temporarily closed—along with most other businesses in the city because of state and county orders that everyone should “stay at home” as a means of slowing spread of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2), better known as COVID-19.