Milo Redux

July 30, 2014

Milo, the cat.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The deaths of two favourite pets, Murphy and Hazel, have occurred over the past year and a great deal of sadness accompanies memories of their passing.  It must also be said that the two of them provided many pleasant memories as well:  Murphy with his unabashed canine exuberance and Hazel with her feline assurance.  At the risk of over-anthropomorphizing, the two of them appeared to exhibit nearly the entire range of emotions produced by humans-in fact, they demonstrated a greater range of expression than many people I know.  Even though neither of these pets were part of my household, enough time was spent with Murphy and Hazel so as to have felt adopted by both.

The above photograph is of Milo, who lives in a small town store and, according to his caretakers, apparently has lost most of his sight and hearing.  That he spends time outside and lives very close to a road is a bit disconcerting, but Milo appears to navigate well and seems unperturbed by his circumstances.  It can be assumed that if one neither hears nor sees any danger, then said danger may not exist.  Or perhaps it is indifference that Milo projects-that was a trait at which Hazel excelled.  Still, Milo is old and so each time a visit rolls around, there is a nagging thought that he will not be there.

Milo, it is always a pleasure to see you.

Take care.

Lush

July 22, 2014

 

Catoctin Mountians near Cunningham Falls showing the rocks, trees, downed trees, and grasses.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It rained a bit more the past few nights and as it was cooler yesterday, it seemed like a good day to go for a walk in the Catoctin Mountains and so headed for Cunningham Falls.  (This area has both a State Park and a National Park-the links here contain info for both.)  From a photographic perspective, it is useful to go out right after a rain and while it is still a bit overcast as the colour is much more vibrant-that certainly was the case yesterday.  The volunteer at the visitor center indicated that the number of downed trees had, in fact, been due to the heavy rains we have had recently.  It seems that the tree roots have difficulty finding purchase in the rocky soil and so when the winds blow and the rains fall, so do they.

Tree stump surrounded by grasses.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Sometimes, not much is left behind.

Fallen tree covered with fungus and surrounded by grasses.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Once down, a transformation takes place as the wood begins to decompose.

Take care.

 

Too Much and Too Little

July 21, 2014

Abandoned blue and white umbrella laying against steps.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, rainfall totals have ranged from below to above average.

Two broken abandoned black umbrellas laying on the ground.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

 

One broken abandoned blue umbrella amid building materials.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It also means that umbrellas have frequently been necessary-some folks must have missed these.

Halfway across the country, the recent weather patterns have been very different in north Texas.  Meanwhile, California continues in one of the worst droughts in recorded history.  The National Drought Mitigation Center has established a means of measuring drought according to the length of time it lasts and the degree of impact it creates- the homepage is here.  This the most recent map for California and the preponderance of maroon and red indicates the severity of the conditions.  Going abroad, a recent typhoon killed at least 10 people in the Philippines.

Coming back to the U.S., next month will mark the 9-year anniversary of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.  This comes to mind as I have started re-watching Treme, an excellent HBO series that finished its 4-year run last year.  While the series focuses on that particular neighborhood in New Orleans, it is very important to remember that Katrina devastated parts of Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama as well.

Thinking about Katrina always reminds me that in 1929, Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe McCoy recorded “When the Levee Breaks” in response to the Mississippi River flood of 1927. This link is a history of the song along with the lyrics, as published by American Blues Scene magazine’s website.  (By the way, it is worth searching for and listening to the original version.  Led Zeppelin recorded their version of the song in 1970.  There are other versions as described by that link to American Blues Scene magazine.)  The lyrics say “Oh cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do no good”.  Neither would umbrellas.

Take care.

Graceful

July 19, 2014

 

Diagonal photograph of a white and grey seagull feather laying on a sidewalk.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

One of the most cool things about writing a blog is that the author gets to be the “decider” and I just wanted to post this photograph.

Take care.

Lost

July 16, 2014

Poster searching for a lost radio-controlled helicopter.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Someone appears to have lost a radio-controlled helicopter, and I immediately wondered if this was going to be the 21st century version of the posting for lost dogs/cats/pets of some kind. (NOTE:  The phone number has been covered to respect the privacy of the owner.)

It also triggered a free-association of the larger issues regarding drones in our civilian airspace and those machines used in war.  The rapid escalation of the private use of drones has both spurred on new photography competitions , created new opportunities for photographic lighting, and generated concerns over the future of privacy.   When individuals feel their privacy is compromised, there are a number of potential responses as per this article.  Perhaps not surprisingly given the nature of our culture, the idea of shooting down the drones is mentioned.

Which is the segue into the use of drones in war.  This, too, is a highly controversial issue as discussed in many forums.  A number of years ago, P.W. Singer wrote a book entitled Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, which examines the technology and culture of modern warfare. (Ironically, that link is to Amazon.com, which generated news when owner Jeff Bezos announced plans to use drones for same-day delivery of some products.) Mr. Singer discusses the advantages of the use of robots, and drones would have to be considered a species of robots, in that they are better able to handle missions involving the “3 Ds” of combat:  missions that are too dull, that is they require long spans of monotonous activity, or inactivity as it were, long-term surveillance would be an example; missions that are too dirty, slogging through mud of the Pacific Campaign during WW II or dealing with the sandstorms of the Middle East and Northern Africa during both WW II and the present wars in that part of the world (as an aside, the concept of a “dirty war” also has another context); and missions that are too dangerous-the very nature of war is an example of that final point. (This description is on page 63 of the hardback edition.)

The use of robotics for combat also raises the possibility that for those who have the technology to make war in this manner, the act of war will become sanitized, and with that there would be the risk of having no real incentive to stop it.  Please note that I am not recommending that humans should continue fighting.  I am suggesting that the horrors of war are one of the real incentives to find other means to settle differences and not let them reach that point-consider Syria for a moment.  The original Star Trek series of the 1960s, which was on television in the United States during the early stages of our war in Viet Nam, had an episode entitled “A Taste of Armageddon,” and it is well worth a watch as it makes these precise points.  In fact, Captain Kirk’s final confrontation with Anan 7 is where he articulates that war has become so clinical in nature that this society has found no incentive to end the conflict.  Looking back, I am sure I did not understand this issue when watching the show as a child.  It absolutely makes sense to me now.

Finding alternatives to war as a problem-solver appears to be quite difficult as what seems reasonable to some is considered oppressive to others.  There is also an over-abundance of weapons available.  As a species we have not as yet figured out a global sense of “fairness” that is applicable across all cultures.  One thing is certain though:  warfare is an engine that drives technology and sometimes there is a delay in the time it takes societies to catch-up as said technology often outpaces societal norms-this is referred to as “culture lag” in sociology.  Having a radio-controlled helicopter fly beyond the control of its user and be lost is just a metaphor for these much larger issues.

Take care.

The Fifth of July

July 6, 2014

S.S. John W. Brown at berth in early morning.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It is always interesting to walk around following a major holiday, the 5th of July in this case.  This is the S.S. John W. Brown, which is one of the last remaining WWII-era Liberty ships still afloat and was docked in Fells Point for the July 4th holiday weekend.

S.S. John W. Brown and U.S. flag.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Please take a look at that link for more information about this important part of United States history.

Trash lining the street in Fells Point on July 5th.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Seeing the ship was a distinct bonus as my purpose for going to Fells was to photograph the trash as Fells Point plays a large part in my ongoing documentary of what we throw away.  I have gone down there on the 5th of July the past 3 years to photograph the aftermath of the holiday and it appears that the amount of trash left behind following the celebration is relatively consistent from year-to-year.  What is worth considering is that I awoke at 4:30 a.m. and arrived in Fells by about 5:15 a.m. and just beat the sanitation engineers who were collecting the trash for disposal.  In other words, most people would have no idea just how much trash is generated on such a holiday as it would have been gone before folks were out-and-about, especially those who may have been doing the celebrating.  The exception, of course, would be those who work in the restaurants and bars and whose responsibility it is to take out the trash.

Partially eaten slice of pizza and box laying on sidewalk.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Speaking of celebrating, eating and drinking alcohol is a central, cultural, aspect of the 4th and Fells Point is a popular destination due to the proximity of Baltimore’s Inner Harbour, the water, and the many and varied restaurants and bars.  Therefore, it is not surprising that so much of the trash visible on the 5th is reflective of food…

Pile of empty beer cases laying on sidewalk.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

and alcohol consumption.

Empty alcohol bottles in trash can.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

With regard to the latter, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has published these statistics about American drinking habits.  Interestingly, this article from 2011 indicates that Americans have the lowest amount of alcohol consumption in the developed world-the source of this data is the World Health Authority.

Lost baby bottle laying in the gutter.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Sippy cup sitting on fence.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Of course, there are other things to drink on a walk around Fells, and sometimes those delivery devices are left behind as well.

Empty New Amsterdam liquor bottle laying in gutter.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Returning to the subject of alcohol consumption and cultural norms, here is a closing thought.

National Bohemian beer can sitting on sidewalk.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Holidays are one of the “time outs” when the rules of normative behaviour are temporarily suspended and so it would seem reasonable that more alcohol would be consumed on the 4th of July.  (December 31st, New Year’s Eve, would be another.)  That is one reason for the overwhelmingly large amount of alcohol-related trash that is thrown away between the 4th and 5th of July.  Kinda gives an added meaning to the title of this post.

Take care.

 

Hurricane Arthur

July 4, 2014

BW photograph of house and trees during thunderstorm.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Hurricane Arthur is the first hurricane of the 2014 season-a period that runs from June 1 through November 30 for the Atlantic Ocean region.  As Arthur moved up to North Carolina last night, it strengthened into a Category 2 storm as classified by the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.  Inland off the coast of Maryland, there were some strong thunderstorms and periodic heavy rain.

BW photograph of a black truck driving in the rain.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This link provides an overview of the methodology by which NOAA bases its predictions for a given hurricane season, the 2014 season in this case.  The NOAA website is a useful resource, especially for those in areas prone to severe weather.  The areas at risk certainly seem to be expanding.

BW photograph of a Royal Farms store sign.

Copyright 2014 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Those thunderstorms from yesterday led to much cooler temperatures and much less humidity for the 4th of July in central Maryland, which makes for a very pleasant holiday here.  However, even though it weakened (Category 1), Arthur did leave some damage behind in North Carolina before moving on.  Fortunately, that damage was not as bad as it could have been (which is always easy for someone who did not experience the problems to say).  Unfortunately, there is a long hurricane season ahead and time will tell if NOAA’s predictions come to fruition.

Take care.