April 28, 2019

BW photograph of the wind blowing water back up a decorative falls.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

How windy was it?  Strong enough when gusting to blow the water back up and off of a decorative falls.

BW photograph of a flowering tree with a pedestrian bridge in the background.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

How nice of a day was it otherwise? Quite nice.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Mozambique was ravaged by another cyclone.

As an elemental force, wind is a key sustainable resource and, as such, is an integral part of future development in an era of climate change.  That wind can also be such a massively destructive force-one that is exacerbated by the very problem for at which it is a solution, is a cruel irony.

Take care.

Earth Day 2019

April 22, 2019

BW photograph of the moon setting in the background with a rock formation in the foreground.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today is Earth Day, and (locally) it was a wonderful day to be in the mountains.

BW photograph of three pine trees growing along the top of a rock formation.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The weather discussed in the previous post paved the way for a 51 degree, sunny with a bit of a chilly breeze, morning.  Arguably, a perfect set of weather conditions for a long walk-ones that I certainly prefer.

BW photograph of a discarded plastic jug laying amid some twigs and leaves.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I would be remiss, though, to not also draw attention to the trash deposited along the way.  It took only about 20 minutes to gather two garbage bags of discarded bags, bottles, cans, and cups, not to mention the odd auto part, that lay along the road used to access the trails.  At the risk of being overly dramatic, what can one expect from a species that wantonly killed 290 civilians through multiple bombings, some outside of churches, in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday?  The connection between these seemingly disparate issues?  Both demonstrate a fundamental lack of respect-one for the environment, one for each other.   In addition, both of these concerns are exacerbated by the truly human sense of entitlement.

One must recognize that as we literally, and figuratively, trash this planet and further the development and expansion of uninhabitable, or at least economically unfeasible, areas, conflicts among peoples will increase over the friction as to who gets access to what resources-the basis of conflict theory.  This complication blankets the pre-existing prejudice/discrimination/dehumanization processes rampant across the globe.  Last Sunday, The New York Times published this article, which illustrates the point.   This is exacerbated by nationalistic governments and viewpoints hardening positions that both create the attraction for, and the steps initiated against, such movement.

Heavy stuff for such a beautiful day.  However, Earth Day is also a perfect time to call attention to this environment/human feedback loop.  It is quite difficult to think of any societal problem that climate change will not worsen.

Earth Day is a reminder and a call to action.

Take care of the planet.  Take care of each other.

Spring Weather

April 22, 2019

BW photograph of the leave demarcating the fall line of the flooding water on a trail.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The storms that wracked the South made their way into the Mid-Atlantic region.  It is raining as this post is being written…flash floods and tornado warnings are in effect (those first sentences were written a couple of days ago-I am a bit tardy with this post).  This area had a very wet winter-evidence of such is still apparent.  The leaves in the above photograph demarcate the fall line from the water that had been running down the trail after the heavy rains.  It looks like this spring is continuing the pattern.

BW photograph of the stones that have accumulated on a flood plain at Morgan Run.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of the large rocks in Morgan Run.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The above two photographs are of Morgan Run made at its usual water levels-these photographs were made on the morning for which the severe weather was forecast to begin later in the afternoon.  While I had anticipated Morgan Run again leaving its banks, the heavier rains and storms ended up passing to the west and, fortunately, no tornadoes touched down; although there was enough of a concern for the sirens to sound in Emmitsburg.  It is a bit disconcerting that so far this spring there has already been two predictions for severe weather-both of which included tornado watches and/or warnings.  Other parts of the country have already been hammered.

BW photograph of clouds over a silhouetted building.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Frederick, Md. did get some heavy rain, which then gave way to a cloudy, but bright and warm day. Very spring-like.

BW photograph of rain clouds.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a silhouetted tree against rain clouds.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Later in the evening, rain clouds and more precipitation did visit the area.

Decades ago Creedence Clearwater Revival sang “…Looks like we’re in for nasty weather…”  At a minimum, the risk for this seems to be the point to which we have arrived.

Take care.


April 19, 2019

BW photograph of three United States flags-two are laying in a flower bed, one is falling into a bush.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Earlier this month, I posted a blog about the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.  It is also important to remember that April 20, 2019 is the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.  NPR’s 1A aired this collaboration, and it is worth a listen-both in terms of it serving as a reflection on that day as well as an update as to what has, and has not, changed in American culture with regard to gun violence since.  (Dave Cullen’s Columbine is also highly recommended.)

One needs only to look at what New Zealand did in the aftermath of its recent mass shooting-and the time frame under which this took place.  Of course, such a response is exactly for what the gun lobby in the U.S. is afraid and is central to its argument against regulation.

Twenty years…and counting.

Take care.

Photographer’s Note:  The photo above was made in California, not Colorado.



April 17, 2019

BW photograph of a burger restaurant transitioning to the Veggie Grill.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The results are clear:  transitioning from a meat/dairy-based diet is not only good for the individual, but for the planet as a whole.  Methane is a major issue-and there are many cows out there.

BW photograph of the upcoming Veggie Grill from across the street.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Please do read the articles linked above as they contain much useful information about the interaction between human behaviour and methane levels.  It is important to note that, as the second article points out, methane is also a by-product of decaying vegetation; however, by far the majority of methane released into the atmo is due to human activity-not natural biological processes.  While methane can be stored in the earth’s permafrost, a problematic feedback loop has been created:  human activity (a meat/dairy-based diet in this case) has increased the amount of methane (and other greenhouse gases) released, resulting in the rise of global temperatures.  As the planet warms, the permafrost melts, which then releases more of the stored methane.  That, in turn, exacerbates climate change.

Just as there is a clear and present need to transition to renewable energy resources, so, too, is there a need to transition to less-impactful eating habits.  Carnivores, though, do like eating meat. (Truth in disclosure:  I have been a vegetarian for decades now-the original decision was based on the manner by which the industrial beef/poultry/pork conglomerates raised and produced their products.  For me, the info about the impact on climate change came later and just reinforced the decision.  Still, the smell of bacon remains a trigger…)  Given that we do live in a bio-genetic age, this is one solution to the dilemma for one who likes the taste of beef but is concerned about the environmental impact.  This article reports on a variety of responses to that product.

There is a much older, less biotech solution as well:  eating insects.

The idea of eating lab-created meat or insects may well trigger other reactions.  Indeed, socialization and social learning theory form the basis for what is culturally acceptable to consume.  Given widespread availability (this will be an issue for those living in food deserts) and enough time, such alternatives may well become norms.  For example, when visiting a grocery store, check and see how many soy-based “meat” products there are…these have been mainstream for quite a while.

Take care.

BW photograph of a tree overlooking a cemetery.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.  The above photograph is not from Rwanda, as I have not been there.  It is, however, a marker of the 800,000-1,000,000 people killed there during those 100 days.

Please do listen to this report regarding the manner by which Rwanda has coped with this truly human tragedy.  I would also highly recommend reading Mr. Gourevich’s book and the articles he has written in the intervening years.  The title of the linked book is especially poignant.  There are, of course, many other available resources.

Given the rise in hate speech and nationalistic politics that have gripped much of the world, which are based in the demonization of “the other”, there is much to be learned from the Rwanda experience before, during, and after the genocide.  However, we truly seem to be incapable of learning those lessons.  This is, I think, reflected by the fact that when teaching the Rwandan genocide, by far the majority of students had no real knowledge of what happened there in 1994.  It is extremely difficult to extract any learning points from that which you do not know happened.

The United States refused to directly intervene and obfuscated the U.N. efforts there despite having finally ratified the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. For more about that history, it is useful to read this.

Know. Remember. Learn.

Take care.


April 5, 2019

BW photograph looking upward at the top of a rock formation with trees reaching into the sky.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The above photograph is open to much anthropomorphizing.  Are the larger trees menacing the smaller ones in the middle?  Or, are the looking on watchful that the smaller do not slip off the edge?  Given the noir-like effect that BW brings, one could conclude it is more the former than the latter.  Perhaps they are just silhouetted trees against the early morning sky.  Such imagery can stimulate the imagination.

In any case, the main access road to the mountain trails on which I like to walk was finally opened recently-it was closed for the winter months.  That is one sure sign of spring, even though it was a 27 degree morning when I visited.

BW photograph of Chimney Rock in the early morning.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The rising sun, though, soon cut the chill and brought the glimmer of warmer days to come.

BW photograph of several downed trees with their roots exposed.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There was ample evidence that this was a cold, wet, windy, winter.  This particular set of trees appear to have been victim of the domino effect-one started to fall and brought those nearest down as well.  The sound that must have made.  Given the size of these trees, and others like them that were felled, the reminders of this winter just past will remain for quite some time.

Such crashing about is not an imaginary menace.

Take care.


April 1, 2019

BW photograph of a lost glove atop a post posed in a peace sign.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

In a perfect example of symbolic interactionism theory, the glove pictured above can have multiple meanings.  For example, this could signify the number “two”.  It may also mean “V” for “Victory”-there are photographs of Sir Winston Churchill walking among the bombed-out ruins of London during the Blitz with his fingers configured in such a manner.  This was meant to instill hope and confidence in the British cause during a most desperate time early in WWII.

This same gesture came to be known as the “Peace” symbol during the 1960s, and was used extensively by protesters while the war in Vietnam raged.  (As an important aside, Congress is the branch of government to officially issue declarations of war.  The post-WWII conflicts in which the U.S. has engaged have not been officially declared wars.  The Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) is a different entity.  “War” itself is another example of symbolic interactionism-that term also has different interpretations.)  President Nixon also quite often flashed the sign when boarding Air Force One or Marine One-his meaning was most likely closer to Prime Minister Churchill’s rather than that of the counter-culture movement.

As with any gesture, and consistent with the aforementioned theory, the meaning is based on the context in which it is being used.  One’s culture also plays a significant role in this as well.  Miscommunication can occur, for example, if one meant “peace” and another interpreted it as “two”.  One could only guess at the meaning intended by the person or persons who affixed this glove to the post and posed the fingers in this manner.  They were not around to ask.

I am choosing to ascribe the meaning of peace.  I am doing so because upon seeing the glove I remembered the January/February 2019 issue of Smithsonian magazine, which was entitled “America At War”.  The sub-title was “After 17 years, our longest armed conflict overseas now spans 80 countries”.  The statistics presented therein with regard to the total amount of time since America’s founding that we have been fighting somewhere and the breath of countries in which the U.S. is currently engaged in military action or has a military presence around the world are staggering.

Which may also be why whomever posed the glove may have meant “Victory”.

As I think about my interpretation, John Lennon’s “Imagine” is playing in the back of my mind.  This goes for all conflicts, not just those involving the U.S.   It is interesting to think that if Mr. Lennon’s vision were enacted, would there be a need for this type of “Victory” interpretation?  (This is a continuation of the “What if…” questions posed in the previous post.)

Armed conflict is another area in which variations of the “What if…” question could apply.  Indeed, Mr. Lennon’s song is a most elegant, lyrical, version of that game.  I am, however, not that naive, nor am I that hopeful, despite what Steven Pinker says.

Take care.

Copyright 2019 Kevin P. Mick Photography.  All rights reserved.