Contrasts

May 25, 2013

Blue sky, green leaves, and white clouds on a spring day.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today was a glorious spring day-not much humidity, temperatures in the low 60s, and a breeze that made it feel cooler yet.  All in all it was a wonderful day to be outside.  Depending on where you look, that is.

Tires and debris thrown near woods.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Not ten yards from where that first photograph was made, was the scene above.  This one presents a much different view and feel to the being outdoors.

Closer view of tires and debris thrown in woods.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2003 the United States generated approximately 290 million scrap tires.

Closeup of two tires thrown in woods.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Historically, the majority of these tires ended up in landfills or were thrown by the wayside and created a number of environmental and health hazards, as described by the EPA’s website.  However, as with many products, tires can be recycled into usable materials-please read through the EPA’s website for more information.  The key here is that they need to be recycled in a responsible manner and tires cannot do that themselves.

As an aside, this is the 100th post to this blog.  While it may or may not be a coincidence that this particular post is about both trash and the environment, it is certainly true that these are fairly consistent themes throughout the history of this blog.  No one will ever confuse me with being an optimist and with good reason, as evidenced by posts like this one.  However, I feel that it is important to add my voice to the many concerned about these, and other, socio-environmental dilemmas.  We, as a global community, are facing many enormous problems:  the interaction between our consumption and subsequent environmental degradation is one of the biggest.  It is hoped that in some way this blog raises awareness to, and is a call to action for, the need for each one of us to take individual, personal, responsibility for finding and implementing healthy and sustainable resolutions to these issues.  The photos in this current post are illustrative of those answers we most certainly do not need.

Thanks to all who have found your way here-your readership is appreciated.

Take care.

Storms

May 23, 2013

Overhanging dark storm cloud.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Last night as I was doing some work, it was fixing to storm-the sky was darkening and the thunder was starting to roll.  It made me think about Moore, Oklahoma and the fact that it is just over a year since Joplin, Missouri.

Contrasting clouds at the beginning of a storm.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Last night’s storm was not even anywhere remotely close to what happened in Oklahoma and so this is absolutely not a comparison.  It was not even a particularly robust thunderstorm:  a bit of lightning, and a bit of rain.  No big deal.  Dodger, the cat, hid, but she always does that when there are storms, so it is certainly a matter of perspective.  She is small and had what must have been quite an unsettling younger kittenhood.  And so it is with storms.  Having a mile-wide funnel cloud with 200+ mph winds is unimaginable. I have been through several Category 1 hurricanes (and am extremely fortunate to have only lost a few trees in these), but they do not bring the same degree of awe and terror that does a tornado, let alone an F5 storm.  I would perhaps feel much differently had I actually been in New Orleans during Katrina, but I wasn’t.  Walking through the Lower Nine and seeing the damage that remained over three years later was sobering, though. Dispassionately, there is a difference between the physical damage wrought by Katrina and that in Moore and Joplin.  Those tornadoes wiped the slate.

Emotionally, though, there is no scale for pain and loss; no real manner of gauging who should feel what under which conditions.  (That statement is not exactly right-The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does provide standards by which to measure and diagnose the toll exacted under such circumstances.)  As appears to be human nature, we attempt to qualify and quantify, and thereby gain some measure of understanding of the human condition.  Statistics and signs and symptoms are a way to do this, however, reducing such things to a number or label can also mask the deeply personal suffering experienced by the survivors.

Sincere condolences to all who have suffered loses and a wish for recovery.

Take care.

Intention

May 20, 2013

Plastic Coke bottle in leaves

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The “intentionality” of what we do with our trash is an issue that has been discussed in previous posts, however, the role that such purpose plays in the disposition of trash crystallized in my mind early this morning.

Plastic products floating in water

Copyright 2011 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It often appears that trash is indiscriminately tossed, dropped, or left on the ground without so much as a passing thought.  Folks have habituated to the practice so that this being a problem is apparently not even considered.  As an aside, I have heard folks say that they did not want the trash piling up in their cars and/or did not want to take the time to find a trash or recycling bin, therefore it is left wherever convenient, which is usually on the ground.  Were this the case, it can be argued that this is an intentional act.  Once let go of, gravity takes over and the object lays where it falls until it is scooped up by others or is blown or washed into a waterway.  Hence the problem.

Empty bottle stuffed in space under a shed.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

However, on occasion, trash winds up in places that indicate a degree of deliberate, thoughtful placement, which seems beyond the usual “What do I do with this now?” dilemma. How else would this bottle have gotten here?  After all, this is under a shed next to a walkway and tucked into a relatively small space.  One would have had to bend or crouch down to make such a placement, which is evidence pointing to intent.  Some thought appeared to go into this one.

Plastic bags in trash can-one asking for recycling

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It is worth thinking about our thinking with regard to how and what we throw away.  The amount of trash that ends up in landfills and waterways is absolutely something over which the human race has control.  In fact, this is one of the few global issues where individuals actually can make a difference without waiting for governmental action.  More to the point, if individuals took care of this problem, then the government would not need to.  It does require a modification of thought and behaviour as both of these patterns, thinking and acting, once established, are very difficult to change.  The New York Times had a piece related to these points and a few suggestions for change-please see here.

In addition, please look carefully at the photograph above-perhaps reading the trash would make a difference.

Take care.

Reconsolidation

May 14, 2013

Fire damage to building in Fells Point

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Something goes wrong.

Things break.

Cars crash.

Buildings burn.

Wars are fought.

Fire-damaged store sign

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

At issue here is what can and/or should be done in the face of significant loss or when those significant losses come in waves.  The immediacy of the trauma can be only the beginning-the memories that linger are another story.

Fire re-construction in Fells Point.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Human memory is based on the storage of data (the “facts”), the feelings attached to that data, and the manner in which one responds to the situation and those similar to it.  Evidence indicates that different parts of the brain are used to store these varying bits and are then linked into a network through a process called “consolidation”.  For any given experience, the hippocampus processes and stores the details, the amygdala the emotional content, and the motor cortex the behaviour.  The inner-connectedness of these structures result in memories that incorporate all three elements.  It is theorized that when a memory is recalled, it becomes de-stabilized and is therefore subject to change before being re-stored (remembered).  The recall, alteration, and re-storing is referred to as “reconsolidation”.  This is quite a complex process and proposition as described here and here.

In this regard, photography is quite simple.  Do not like a particular image or group of images?  Just hit the delete button and/or reformat the card and the photo is gone.  Gone.  Digital has made this ridiculously easy, although the underlying technology is certainly intricate.

Fire re-construction in Fells Point.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Biological processes are different. One cannot simply delete a memory or experience, despite what is portrayed in popular culture.  Even if this could be done, there are at least a couple of more problems: first, when the slate is wiped clean, any pleasant associations would be lost along with the unpleasant.  Second, if any awareness of mistakes made was also disappeared,  one would be more likely to continue making those same mistakes over and over again.  While the science is not there (yet) for the use of medications to “turn off” one or more of those integrated memory circuits (please do read the linked articles), cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is available, as is the time-immemorial skill of sharing one’s story.  Both of these take effort and practice and what can be a slog through the pain that many would rather avoid.  None of these tasks are particularly easy.  All involve the re-training of the brain.  Coming out on the other side, though, can allow for a richer, deeper appreciation of one’s past, present, and future experiences.

The term for this is Post Traumatic Growth and Laurence Gonzales has written extensively about it in Surviving Survival:  The Art and Science of Resilience-a highly recommended read.

Murphy, you are greatly missed.

Take care.

Grey

May 11, 2013

 

Fells Point on a foggy morning.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

And then the rains came.    Those  blue skies were replaced with a graduated shade of grey as moisture fell in dribbles interspersed with transient periods of torrent.  A few days ago, early in the morning,  there was just a hint of cool wetness to the air that still made for a nice, early, morning walk…

Fells Point on a foggy morning.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

or run.

Fells Point on a foggy morning.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Either way, spring is a welcome time of year.  Today, however, thunder storms are brewing so it is time to sign off.

Take care.

Blue and Green

May 8, 2013

Saint Casimir Church in Baltimore, Maryland.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Despite the record-setting heat of April 10, the spring of 2013 has quite pleasantly cool and comfortable-so much so that being out and about continues to require at least long-sleeved shirts and full pants, if not a light sweater or jacket.  I, for one, was really not ready to hit the stratosphere of July, August, or September temperatures so early in the season.  That would have made looking forward to those months extremely unpleasant-if it is so hot now, what will be like then?

Building in Frederick, Maryland.

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Fortunately, that burst of heat did not continue and, as a result, the skies have been clear and blue, which has made for pleasant walking.

Spring green

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Holiday Inn Baltimore, Maryland.

Copyright 2013 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

From near to far there has also been abundant green as the flora are responding to the sunlight and creating the eternal signs of Spring.

It is nice to be outside.

Take care.