Let’s Make a Deal

September 25, 2016

BW photograph of old weathered doors.

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

Back in the 1960s, there was a game show entitled “Let’s Make a Deal”-it appears that CBS is showing an updated version, which I have not seen.  The conceit of the original was that the contestant would not know what was behind the door being selected and therefore had to choose between what was known and what was unknown.  Sometimes it was a new car.  Sometimes it was something much less desirable.

BW photograph of a rusted hasp.

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

On Monday night, Secretary Clinton will face off against Donald Trump in the first presidential debate of this election season.  For anyone who has been following the candidates, their positions on a variety of issues are (mostly) known-that stands in stark contrast to many of the “prizes” in the aforementioned game show.

What is consistent with “Let’s Make a Deal” is that we will have to live with the consequences of the choices made in November.

Take care.


September 18, 2016

BW photograph of a broken truck mirror laying in fallen leaves with another truck speeding past in the background.

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

What happens when two elemental forces collide?

BW photograph of a broken truck mirror laying in fallen leaves.

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

Think about a mass of cold air colliding with a mass of warm air…

Think about consumption and environmentalism…

Think about politics and just about anything else this election season…

Take care.


September 10, 2016

BW photograph of Big Hunting Creek looking west upstream.

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

As mentioned in the previous post, 9/11 is a Day of Service and Remembrance.  In honour of that, I spent some time this morning picking up trash along one of my favourite places to hike.  This is Big Hunting Creek, which is just outside of Thurmont, Md.  Route 77 is just to the right and outside of this frame.

BW photograph of a lost lug nut cap that has been placed against a rock.

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

One-and-a-half garbage bags of trash were collected within about an hour’s time.  This particular piece of trash, a lug nut cap, was in the brush along the road and partially buried in mud.  It was  moved in order to create a still life demonstrating the contrast between the natural and unnatural. It certainly could have been photographed in situ, but then I would have risked getting hit by a passing car.

Research tells us that doing good work produces a release of dopamine in the brain.  That is significant because dopamine is our “feel good” neurotransmitter-anything we experience as pleasurable feels as such, in part, because of dopamine.  As an aside, cocaine works on the same neurotransmitter system.  The squirt of dopamine acts as a positive reinforcer for behaviour-the biochemical reward makes it more likely the same behaviour will be performed again.

It certainly was satisfying to pack that trash out of the mountains.

Take care.


September 9, 2016

BW photograph of the top of a tree with a mostly overcast sky as the background.

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

While driving home yesterday in the mid-afternoon, the vehicle’s thermometer registered 100 degrees.  Officially, the temperature reached 99-that one degree was most likely not detectable beyond the psychological impact of reaching triple digits.  Today is supposed to be similar.

Given that, not to again mention the recent hurricanes and massive flooding that have occurred in this part of the world, it is vitally important that the United States and China recently signed the climate change agreement negotiated this past November.  According to the article, the U.S. and China create 38% of the world’s greenhouse gases, and having the world’s two largest emitters officially commit to the process is an important political milestone-in order for the agreement to take effect, at least 55 nations must sign and that must also total 55% of global emissions.  The streak of record-setting heat continues to exacerbate effects already in motion.  For example, here is the United States, we are moving toward a future in which Glacier National Park and Joshua Tree National Park will be devoid of their eponymous features.

Given that, it is also important to validate this agreement as some politicians and groups actively funding them continue to deny climate change and actively oppose governmental regulations that would decrease the production of said gases.

This is, indeed, a complex issue with many ramifications, and it is always important to evaluate who is saying what and the rationale for the positions taken.  However, it is well beyond the time to pay attention to the politics of climate change.  November 2016 is rapidly approaching.

Take care.


BW photograph of a cardboard sign stating "Home Free Broke & Hungry Anything Helps God Bless Trying to gt A Room" in a trashcan.

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

This coming Sunday is September 11th, which in the United States is the 15th anniversary of 9/11.  It is very difficult, if not impossible, to concisely summarize the personal, national, and global effects of that morning.  Suffice to say that many around the world continue to deal with its aftermath.

In 2009,  Congress enacted legislation proclaiming 9/11 as a “National Day of Service and Remembrance” as a means of acknowledging the events of that day and of finding a way to move forward.  Please use this link for more information about the history of this act and, if so inclined, to find community projects in which to participate.

Take care.



September 3, 2016

BW photograph of Morgan Run flowing over a rock.

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

I was raised in a tiny, rural town in a small East coast state during the 1960s.  While I distinctly remember watching news coverage of the riots and assassinations that took place during this period in other parts of the country, that kind of violence was very much absent in my hometown.  (It is also important to state that said town, as remembered, was segregated.  During the 1968 riots, the local National Guard was on alert and were participating in drills at their armory, which was up and across the street from my house.  This did create a degree of fear as the images of the riots on TV were quite frightening.)  I was able to ride my bike for hours across town and play baseball until the sun went down.  During my later adolescence, I moved to a state and lived in another small town that was close to mountains.  As a teenager, I would often skip school to go hiking in those mountains-that seemed to be a better use of my time, as the curriculum was not very interesting or challenging.  I came to greatly appreciate the solitude and peacefulness to be had while climbing the rocks and wandering through the woods.  As a fully formed adult who is indoors and tethered to a computer for a fair amount of the working hours, it is always pleasant to actually get outside and listen to the water and feel fresh air.  In a sense, it is a way to drift back to a freer time.

Given that background, reading reports such as this produces an initial, emotional shock to the system.  That article from The Guardian highlights the developmental importance of children spending time on free play in the outdoors.  On an intellectual level, I most certainly understand the sociology and psychology behind such developments.  After all, we are in a Post-Modern, technology-driven culture.  However, there are other factors to be considered as well.  For instance, the city of Chicago was home to over 400 people being shot in the month of August 2016, as reported here and here.  While reading about that degree of violence creates a much different shock to the emotional system, living it is an entirely different experience, as those in parts of New Orleans, Detroit, and Baltimore, as other examples, can attest.  The danger of being shot is a very strong incentive to remain indoors.  The lived experience, particularly during the formative years of childhood and adolescence, creates an imprint on the brain on both a physical and emotional level.  This article describes what researchers refer to as “adverse childhood experiences” and the consequences of growing up with such levels of stress.

There are other factors beyond violence that make it difficult for children to play outside.  The question becomes, given the developmental risk, what can be done on the global, national, local, and personal levels to create opportunities for children to play free in the wild?  This is not a naive question-it comes from a well-grounded understanding of the risks excessive stress can produce, as well as a familiarity with the many and varied psycho-social factors involved when discussing this issue.

The lack of time in the outdoors also exacerbates the problem of climate change.  After all, if children do not have the experience of the outdoors being an exciting place for exploration and fun, for what reasons should they care about preserving such places?

Take care.



Heat and Hurricanes

September 1, 2016

BW photograph of strong shadows against a brick wall.

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

According to NASA, July 2016 “…was warmer than any other month on record.”  (The italics are from the original source, which is available via the link.)  The only connection between the photograph and content herein is that the photograph was made this past weekend during a brilliantly sunny, hot, day.  It takes a very bright, direct light source to create such clearly defined shadows.  It was, in fact, the depth and pattern of the shadows that captured my attention.

Meanwhile, Hurricanes Madeline and Lester are in the Pacific, while Hurricane Gaston is spinning in the Atlantic.  You can read more about these storms and watch NASA video via this link to an NPR report, while this is a useful primer on the manner by which such storms develop.   (As per the NPR link, those in the Gulf Coast area are watching Tropical Depression 9, which may become yet another hurricane.)  There is a profound beauty to the aerial view of a fully formed hurricane as the bands of weather circulate and extend outward from the eye-the International Space Station a useful platform for achieving such a perspective.  That beauty very quickly disappears once lives and property begin to be destroyed, though.  Those in Hawaii are getting prepared.

UPDATE:  The above was written yesterday afternoon and there have been changes to the above:  Hurricane Madeline has since been downgraded to a Tropical Storm and Tropical Depression 9 is expected to become Hurricane Hermine as it heads toward Florida.

When it comes to weather, a day can made a great deal of difference.

Take care.