Tag: teampixel

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Damn, Discontinued

Four days ago, Apple unceremoniously terminated the full-size HomePod. The life-support plug is pulled, the product is flat-lined, and the lower-cost mini model is the replacement. We bought our first HomePod, white, in February 2018. The Featured Image is from Google Pixel 2 XL, captured on June 23 of that year. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 246, 1/40 sec, 26mm (film equivalent); 3:37 p.m. PDT.

During an argument, my daughter’s then-boyfriend plopped her HomePod into a pot of water soaking in the kitchen sink. I know, I know. She inherited ours, and this one is the AppleCare-warranty replacement. However, the other one mysteriously stopped working, and I gave her the parent’s unit (isn’t there some Woke prohibition against using Mom and Dad). We later bought two more HomePods, in grey, and regret the day. We don’t subscribe to Apple Music, and Siri seriously needs to spend more time in Artificial Intelligence school—although she’s not as remedial three years later.

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Bicycle Brigade

I am ambivalent about the Featured Image and companion, both taken using Google Pixel 3 XL on Dec.8, 2018. Neither means any more than capturing an unexpected moment. I don’t know why the bicycles barreled down University Ave. past Mississippi Street towards Alabama and Florida in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood on that Saturday afternoon. I do recall being miffed at myself for not shooting video and for being disappointed with the seven shots taken.

The best of the lot has the bicyclists approaching with a billboard behind them advertising the local dispensary, which I won’t promote and can’t crop out adequately enough. So that’s awash. The first of the two pics that you see was previously discarded because of the biker partially shown to the right. But on reconsideration, the contrast is worthy-enough, subtle storytelling—the brigade of cyclists easily riding down the hill set against the loner peddling up and out of view (granted, you don’t see the banana bike, but his posture is seated sure enough). He is dressed in street clothes and backpack; they don fancy road jerseys and shorts or pants.

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What Does Popular Music Tell Us About Race in America?

Someone please explain this to me—seeing as I am an older white guy who is supposedly clueless about social justice matters. Today, I moseyed over to the Billboard Hot 100 to see where ranked controversial Cardi B song “WAP”, which is shorthand for “Wet-Ass Pussy”. The tune is Number One its only week on the chart. That’s an impressive debut.

Unexpectedly, I am perplexed by the other nine, in context of racial riots raging across the country; protesters demanding “no justice, no peace“; and U.S. representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) calling for “unrest in the streets“. Among the Top 10 songs, seven are from artists of color (the majority men); one is from a mixed-race troupe;  and two are from white male solo singers. If anyone is looking for someplace where there is black representation, look no further.

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The Cats of University Heights: Sparky

Occasionally patience pays, as is the situation with Sparky, whose name I learned today. We made brief acquaintance about 9 months ago outside the home where also lives Herbie, The Love Bug. I have seen the newcomer sometimes since but deferred adding him to the series in hopes of learning his identity and hearing his story. This morning, while walking with my wife, I saw both cats’ caretaker tending the lawn and asked her about him, finally.

She had been a volunteer at the San Diego Animal Shelter, which the County turned over responsibilities to the Humane Society on July 1, 2018. Because of feline overcrowding resulting from the switchover, some cats were scheduled to transition to the animal afterlife, so to speak, rather than to the new facilities. Sparky was on the kill list. That last day of June. Herbie’s owner quite literally saved him from the executioner, by sudden adoption. Conjure up whatever cliché movie moment you like, where a governor pardons someone on Death Row seconds before the lethal injection.

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The Cats of University Heights: Leo

Sign of the unpublished kitties backlog: Moments made using Pixel 3 XL, which I sold to a surfer two months ago. The Google device is praised by gadget reviewers for its image quality—something that initially impressed me. But over time, I saw that the artificial intelligence used to enhance photos made them look, well, artificial. I am more satisfied with the consistently more-realistic pics produced by iPhone XS. But that’s topic for further exploration on another day.

For this fine Friday, let me introduce you to Leo (yep, real name), who lives on Mississippi between Madison and Monroe. He’s a rascal, known to traverse his home’s roof. Mmm, by climbing a tree, perhaps? I only have seen the blackie once, but his owner and I frequently chat. I captured Featured Image on April 13, 2019 at 10:47 a.m. PDT. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 52, 1/2347 sec, 4.44mm.

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The Cats of University Heights: Topper

Google Pixel 3 XL may be gone, replaced by Apple iPhone XS, but some kitty portraits remain from the device to be added to the series. Simple reason: Backlog of sighted, and photographed, furballs. Where do they all come from? I snagged the Featured Image on May 28, 2019, along Louisiana approaching Adams from Madison. Vitals: f/1.8, ISO 78, 1/7813 sec, 4.44mm; 4:04 p.m. PDT. The portrait is heavily edited, such as pulling back contrast, enhancing highlights, and cropping in a way that preserves some semblance of streaming sunlight.

I initially passed by the blackie, because of its distance up the stairs and concerns about shooting into the bright, afternoon sun. But backtracking, I snapped four quickies, choosing to use the one where the shorthair looks down at me. For position sitting, the beastie earns nickname Topper.

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The Cats of University Heights: Cat

On March 10, 2019, as I shot a fresh portrait of tiger-tabby Alley, someone walking by stopped and told me that there is a dude who takes pictures of the neighborhood kitties. I smiled: “Oh, that’s me”. The answer precipitated a delightful 20-minute conversation between two transplants—he and his family being in San Diego for about 18 months, because of a work transfer, but with tentative plans to return to Texas (employed by the same company) in perhaps a half year hence.

He also told me about his Tuxedo: Cat—and, yes, that’s a real name. So I made extra trips down Mississippi, between Meade and Monroe, looking for the beastie. Not until May Day did we finally meet. Cat started to approach me several times, as I called his name. But the camera continually scared the handsome animal away. That’s context for the Featured Image, captured using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens. Vitals, aperture and shutter speed manually set: f/3.6, ISO 1000, 1/125 sec, 63mm; 7:15 p.m. PDT.

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The (Honorary) Cats of University Heights: Ninja

Our sixth feline found outside the neighborhood’s designated borders could easily have been the seventh. Darth Mew originally was an “honorary” member, spotted on the other side of Texas Street going East up Meade towards Arizona. But I later learned that he, like Princess Leia, lives on Louisiana, which is one block back Westways from Texas and so within the boundary. Frightening: Thinking of Darth Mew crossing the bustling street, without getting killed in traffic. How could he?

Ninja (his real name) provided an unexpected explanation, during the first sighting in late September 2018—day before seeing a Bird scooter in a tree. As I approached the Texas crosswalk, the blackie walked down the Meade sidewalk towards me. But before I reached the opposite corner, the cat stepped into the street and slunk down the storm/rain gutter. I stopped, and looking back saw another behind me. Darth Mew could have crossed under the road, using the drainage pipe! Not over it. Clever cat(s)!

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The Cats of University Heights: Risky

Frisky is a common-enough kitty name, but we remove the “F” in nicknaming this disturbing shorthair—not for her behavior but location seen: Georgia and Howard, which is a dangerous intersection for traffic—whether foot or vehicular. My wife and I first met her on April 10, 2019, as we walked home from the Sprouts market. She approached us from Georgia. Next day, as I strode to the grocery, Risky greeted me along Howard.

The Featured Image, captured using Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens, and companion (from Google Pixel 3XL) are both from the 11th. Vitals for the first, aperture manually set: f/4, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 63mm; 6:45 p.m. PDT. For the second: f/1.8, ISO 57, 1/1805 sec, 4.44mm; 6:42 p.m.

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Say, Sunflower?

The rainy season may be (mostly) over, but the full flowering super bloom sweeping Southern California is everywhere. How about them lilacs down the street? Or this sunflower rising from a nearby construction zone? Road crews have worked that sidewalk and street all Winter, seemingly. It’s amazing there is soil enough to grow anything, let alone something so sudden and big. But, hey, the small patch of dirt sits at the bottom of an incline, where water (lots of it) flows fast and the right elements were just right.

By the way: Seems like nothing sprouting out of the earth can grow fast enough, this Spring. We are overtaken by plants not just thick and lush but towering upward. The newspapers prattle on about the super bloom, but I am awed by the super sizes of every green leaf thing. Gardeners and landscapers are overworked—and with the President tightening up border crossings, I can’t imagine there are enough (illegal) immigrant workers to whack weeds and mow the grass. Oh, and for the record, California has officially cancelled the drought. Too much of a good thing is…

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The Cats of University Heights: Rosie

When walking down Monroe from Maryland towards Arch, on Feb. 26, 2019, I spotted a pretty kitty close to where the Siamese Twins presented 11 days earlier. The owner carried in groceries, while her sister and I chatted. There’s a sad story to tell about one of the ladies, sometime later after I ask and if permission is granted.

I used Fujifilm GFX 50R and Fujinon GF63mmF2.8 R WR lens to capture the Featured Image and first companion. Vitals, aperture manually set: f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/600 sec, 63mm; 1:25 p.m. PST. Other is the same except 1/450 sec.

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The Cats of University Heights: Jake

For our last Caturday on Standard Time, before clocks jump (grumble, grumble) one hour ahead, we start an impromptu series of three harnessed felines. Two of them will lead us back to Alabama, where, for reasons that defy logic, more furballs have been seen than on any other street. But first we turn North—not the direction, but the avenue—between Madison and Monroe.

On March 7, 2019, while walking by where once lived Charlie and The Colonel, across the street I saw someone walking a handsome beastie. Of course, such sighting demanded investigation. I introduced myself to the friendly gent and met his beloved pet Jake. The kitty usually gets some out-in-the-yard supervised time; the harness and leash are the new thing, and Jake showed some resistance but not overt unwillingness to being outdoors this way.