One Week Later

January 31, 2016

BW photograph of Carroll Creek in Frederick, Md looking west after the snow

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Last Sunday, the Blizzard of 2016 (aka “Snowzilla”) ended. Yesterday and today the sun was out, and the temperature reached the high forties/lower fifties.

BW photograph of an iron bicycle rack half-buried in a snow bank

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Even with that, thirty-plus inches of snow does not just disappear, though.

BW photograph of a popsicle stuck in a snow drift

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

At the same time, people certainly were out-and-about, and it was nice to breathe the air and feel the sun.  Not sure if this popsicle was discarded or just left to be kept frozen until later…

Take care.

Choices

January 25, 2016

BW photograph of a backyard in the middle of a snowstorm

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

We all make them.

One of the more significant is where to live.  It is often said that the three most important factors in choosing real estate are “location, location, location”.  (As an aside, and this is a very important aside, not everyone has the opportunity to consider location as a factor-as described in this book.  The author, Ben Rawlence, was interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air. In addition to that, poverty in highly industrialized countries, like the U.S., also makes the “choice” of where to live one that is extremely limited.)  However, there are many, many other factors that come into play, some relatively small, but considerations nonetheless, when deciding on a home.  For example, at one time, I wanted/needed a house with a certain amount of space, a big enough back yard, and, yes, in a certain geographic location.  The house that fit the majority of the important criteria also came with a long driveway.  Times change, and most of that original criteria no longer applies.  When there is three feet of snow to be moved, is it very easy to question the choice to remain.  The obvious point is that other criteria provide the motivation to stay, or, on the other hand, to avoid moving.

BW photography of a rail and steps after having been shovelled out

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Making the choice to stay means dealing with the consequences.  Given this recent snow storm, what comes to mind is the movie Meru.  If you are interested, this is a documentary well worth watching-especially within the context of choices.

Take care.

 

 

Snow Ball

January 23, 2016

BW photograph of a tree in a snowstorm

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The snow keeps coming.  I shoveled for two hours very early this morning and only moved about half of what was needed.  Went back sleep, got up, and shoveled for another three hours and still only moved about half of what was needed.  (This time it was the other half that I had not done earlier-just trying to even things out for Sunday.)  I am so very grateful that my neighbor has agreed to plow the driveway tomorrow once the snow stops.  Profusely grateful.  I will then be able to put the remaining energy into clearing what the plow can not.

BW photograph of a black porch rail in a snowstorm

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Last night around dinner time, I began to feel quite antsy-what was “to come” as described in the last post is most certainly here.  That anticipation was the marshaling of the need to soon take action.  When shoveling the second time, I started to put that in the context of what it felt like the night before a football game, as there are some parallels.  It turns out that about the same amount of time was used shoveling as was spent on a game (well, a game and a quarter).  Given that I was an offensive lineman, the need to physically move the opponent was paramount-that same principle applies to the snow.  It was also easy to measure how much yardage had been gained, and how much more there was left to reach the goal.  Oh, and my back and shoulders hurt-that is a very familiar feeling.

Keeping with that analogy, it seems to be halftime as I am back inside, resting, and rehydrating.

The opponent is not resting at all.

Take care.

Extremes

January 21, 2016

 

Cracked ground in the Badlands

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

NASA and NOAA have proclaimed that 2015 was the hottest year on record.

Windshield wipers protruding from snow.

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

As this is being written, the Mid-Atlantic region is about 24-36 hours from what is being referred to as a potential “record-setting” blizzard.  18-24″ of snow and winds up to 40 mph are predicted for the Baltimore-Washington area from Friday night into Sunday morning.  Last night, there was a bit of a teaser as about 1/2″ of nice, light, powdery snow fell-it was actually quite pretty and easily brushed away.  Even that amount, though, presented a problem as it froze and led to issues with this morning’s commute-many school systems in the area were also delayed or closed.

This weekend will be quite a different story.  “Crippling” was one adjective used by a newscaster to describe the storm.  States to the south are facing significant amounts of ice.

I am not in the least looking forward to moving that amount of snow.

The storm also presents an interesting take on awareness and technology.  As a child over 50 years ago, I paid little, if any, attention to the weather forecasts; and when it snowed, it was just “there”.  Shoveling the driveway was not a concern as that was the landlord’s responsibility.  Getting out of school was also a plus.  Being an adult changes the perspective.  With access to 24-hour weather broadcasts, which use much more sophisticated computer models,  it is easy to track the movement from the initial 3-5″ prediction from earlier in the week, to the current snowmageddon (to bring back a term from a few years ago).  Paying attention to those forecasts also ratchets up the anticipation of what is “to come”.  One knows it is on the way, and all that can be done is to prepare and wait.

What we had last night was sufficient.

Take care.

Hurricane Alex

January 16, 2016

BW photograph of a boom truck in front of a building

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

For the first time since 1938, a January hurricane has formed in the Atlantic“.  This was NPR’s headline of this unusual event from earlier in the week.  The storm has since been downgraded but, nonetheless…

John Szarkowski writes in The Photographer’s Eye: “The heroic documentation of the American Civil War by the Brady group, and the incomparably larger photographic record of the Second World War, have this in common:  neither explained, without extensive captioning, what was happening.  The function of these pictures was not to make the story clear, it was to make it real.”

Real.

It is possible to shrug off Hurricane Alex as an aberration.  However, give Mr. James Balog’s Chasing Ice a view.  (For additional information, please go to Mr. Balog’s Extreme Ice Survey website.)  I have repeatedly linked to this documentary as the photographs, and videography, provide clear visual evidence of the feedback loop between human activity, the melting of the world’s ice, rising temperatures and sea levels, and the subsequent impact on more localized weather patterns.  This is a strong dose of photographic reality, which is, of course, undeniable.

It is also important to note that the release date of Chasing Ice was September, 2013.

Layered over this is the climate change agreement reached in Paris late last year-Rolling Stone magazine recently published this report on the talks, and it is worth a read.  As described, a major factor in the success of this conference are the “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”-the voluntary measures each participating nation has pledged to make as part of this agreement.  Many have expressed skepticism that all of the 195 participating countries will keep to the pledges, and, even if they do, it will most likely not be enough to meet the overall goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.7 degree Fahrenheit).  President Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping, had reached an earlier agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and that, too, was significant as China and the United States have the dubious distinction of being #1 and #2 globally for emissions.  However, circumstances change:  the United States will be electing a successor to President Obama later this year.  (It is significant that the wording of the Paris agreement was done in such a manner so as to not need approval from Congress).  China’s economics recently took a steep plunge, and, in combination with the price of a barrel of oil dropping below $30, many other world markets followed.

Will the political will/commitment and economic resources remain?

Take care.

 

Starman

January 12, 2016

David Bowie has died.

With him, and for a general consumer of music, it can be difficult to know where to start when discussing Mr. Bowie’s creations, as he consistently re-invented his stage persona and music to remain current with popular culture.  As a result, depending on when you started paying attention, he could have been any number of characters.

For me, though, it is pretty easy.  Mr. Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars cast a very long shadow over my life.  Part of this was due to the fact that it was released (in 1972) during a particularly difficult time in my life, and I have a very long, well-established association between the songs and those events.  The other part was due to the variety of textures presented via the songs themselves.  There is only one other album for which I owned the vinyl record, an 8-track tape, a cassette tape, a CD, and the digital versions.  I also have a VHS of D.A. Pennebaker’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars: The Motion Picture, which is a documentary of Mr. Bowie’s last performance as Ziggy Stardust.  Mick Ronson’s guitar chord intro to the title track is playing as a loop in my head as I am writing this.  I first heard those chords echoing down a dark, stone hallway and they never left.

Ziggy Stardust led me to other albums from that era of Mr. Bowie’s canon:  Hunky Dory, which contains the song “Changes”-John Hughes included some lyrics from this song in the opening of The Breakfast Club; and The Man Who Sold the World, which leads off with “The Width of a Circle”, a sweeping, driving mix of tempo and sound.

While Mr. Bowie sang songs from the Ziggy Stardust album in later concerts, he never went back to being Ziggy Stardust.

None of this is to (necessarily) be read as an endorsement for these particular records/songs.  Some may prefer Mr. Bowie’s latter work, or not at all.  It does, however, speak to the powerful effect music can have when linked to particular developmental stages and life events.

Fare-thee-well Starman.

Take care.

One

January 3, 2016

BW photograph of a long abandoned, rusty, paint can sitting on a rock

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

A pattern starts with the first one.

With regard to space junk (or space trash), that would be Sputnik, the first satellite.  Launched in 1957, this (then) Soviet Union satellite was the first of its kind, and a cultural game-changer, as described here.  In the following half-century plus, the amount of debris orbiting the Earth has increased by magnitudes, as described and illustrated, here.  Please do give the video a look as the visual representation provides a greater impact than does the reading of the numbers.  This, by the way, does not describe the amount of stuff humans have now left on other planets.

With that as a backdrop, it is important to note that last month SpaceX successfully landed its rocket booster-a first of its kind.  Elon Musk believes that the reusability of rockets will significantly reduce the cost of space travel, and he makes an interesting comparison between reusable rockets and the airline industry.

It would be interesting to see if this ultimately reduces the amount of space junk as well.  Given that the boosters from the earlier rocket systems apparently were designed to burn-up in the atmosphere, the amount of trash orbiting the planet may not be reduced by this development.  This is pure speculation, but if space travel does become more cost-efficient, and therefore more common, it is likely that the amount of trash left in space will also increase.

BW photograph of a discarded pizza box with napkins strewn into the distance

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a frozen, frosty, water bottle laying in the grass

Copyright 2016 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Just take a look by any roadside.

Hats off, though, to SpaceX for getting this to work.  As one who grew up watching the race to the moon unfold during the decade of the 60s, it was very cool to see video of the descent and landing of the SpaceX booster.

Take care.