Deadfall

February 4, 2018

BW photograph of the beginning of the Cat Rock Trail in winter

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The 2017 fire season in California was the worst in recorded history.

BW photograph of looking downstream of Big Hunting Creek in winter

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The other night, the President delivered his first State of the Union speech and gave a shout out to “…beautiful, clean coal…”, but did not mention climate change.  That is not at all surprising given his position on this issue.

BW photograph of horizontal trees covered in snow

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The photographs herein are not from California, but were made in the Catoctin Mountains in Maryland.  The debris depicted, which is sometimes referred to as “deadfall”, literally becomes fuel for fire.  Extreme heat and drought stress trees.  When they then shed branches or themselves fall, the resulting detritus becomes drier still and forms the tinder awaiting a spark.  Out west, that often comes from lightning;  however, humans, being either careless or deliberate with fire, can initiate the blaze as well.

BW photograph of much deadfall laying about in winter

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

(It is because of the risk of uncontrolled forest fires that the U.S. Forest Service often use prescribed burns.  There have been occasions when these preventative measures have themselves gotten out of hand.)

BW photograph of much deadfall laying about in winter

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Forest fires remove a main source of greenhouse gas reduction, the trees themselves, and add the carbon stored in the trees back into the atmosphere.  Furthermore, the particulate matter from the combustion rises into the air and is eventually deposited on polar ice sheets.  This dark snow, then, absorbs heat and increases the loss of ice.  This cycle continues as long as forests burn.

BW photograph of fallen leaves frozen to the ground in winter

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The sustained emphasis on the production and consumption of fossil fuels quite simply exacerbates the problems described here.

Take care.

Advertisements

Wired

February 1, 2018

BW photograph of telephone poles and wires.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

“Wired” is another word with multiple meanings and/or connotations.

BW photograph of cables running along a brick wall.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Its primary usage is in the description of being connected.  The photographs herein illustrate that concept.  Of course, with the advent of harnessing radio waves, the concept of “wireless” came into being.  This, then, evolved into cellular communication.  Imagine if your cellphone needed a wired connection…not as convenient, eh?  That would also be so twentieth century.  Still, when the battery is drained, what do you do?  Cellphones, though, rely on wired towers and if they are compromised, say during a major storm, then that type of communication ceases.  Loosing one’s phone is another way to make that happen as well.

Basic human development is a fundamental topic in introductory courses for both Psychology and Sociology.  The human brain is made up of billions of cells called neurons.  Those billions of neurons make trillions of connections to other neurons, which allows for the electrochemical neurocommunication that is the basis for everything we do.  This is sometimes referred to as the “wiring” of the brain.  Right now, some of those neurons are popping off allowing me to hit the right key (or, on occasion, not-for that there is spell check, right?).  The same kind of processes are at play when reading this text and viewing the photographs.

The neurons in the frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for the so-called executive functions (critical thinking, judgment, reasoning, the prediction of future consequences for current behaviour, etc.) are not fully wired until one matures into the early 20s.  Hence one of the reasons teenagers can be so impulsive and spontaneous-this documentary from Frontline is worth a look.  The part of the brain that would say “No, do not do that” or “Think carefully about the consequences of this decision” is not as yet fully connected.  Here is an analogy:  imagine if the wires in these photographs were somehow compromised.  What happens to their ability to transmit the signal?  The action initiated at one end of the line does not make it to the intended destination.  Full communication ceases.  Information is not available.  Problems might ensue.

BW photograph of a trashed flip phone.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

We are born with those billions of neurons, and the brain essentially wants to be as efficient as possible in organizing those cells.  The neurons that are used make connections to other neurons and subsequently form neural networks, which makes our complex behaviour possible.  Neurons that are not used wither and die-a process referred to as “pruning”.  There is a second round of neuron formation (neurogenesis) that occurs in adolescence.  Once again, though, those unused neurons will be pruned away, leaving the brain with its fundamental “adult” configuration.  All of this is much more complicated and subject to many more influences than described here-please do give the Frontline information linked above a look.  Indeed, one could spend a lifetime studying this stuff, at which point one might be referred to as a “neuroanatomist”.

BW photograph of a trashed keypad from a flip phone.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The connection between cellphones and the wiring of the brain?

It is not without reason that cellphones were introduced early in this post.  There is concern over childhood use of these devices, and that interest takes on at least a couple of forms:  one is the interaction between the cellphone’s radio waves and the human nervous system, which is the focus of this study.  The use of smartphones during childhood has others focused on the risk of compromised skill and social development.  What happens to unused neurons?  I mentioned spell check earlier.  What happens to one’s learned ability to spell if a device detects and fixes those errors for the user?  Indeed, what is the overall, long-term impact of such technology on the wiring of the developing brain, and how does that, then, translate to one’s behaviour?  Time will tell.

Oh, regarding another of the Oxford Living Dictionary’s “wired” definitions (“in a nervous, tense, or edgy state”)?  The preceding post and the reference to shinrin yoku addresses that…

Take care.

Incongruous

January 9, 2018

BW photograph of a Bissell vacuum cleaner laying in the leaves-front view.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The Sociological theory of Symbolic Interactionism is based on the meaning(s) that are given to words.  According to that theory, members of a given society must reach agreement regarding those meanings in order to communicate effectively.  This brief photo essay is a visual representation of the Oxford English Dictionary definition of incongruous.

BW photograph of a Bissell vacuum cleaner laying in the leaves-back view.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

BW photograph of a Bissell vacuum cleaner laying in the leaves-side view.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Are we in agreement as to the meaning of the word as represented here?

Take care.

Evidence

January 7, 2018

BW photograph of an icy Morgan Run and some rocks.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is a follow-up to the previous post.

The bomb cyclone that tore up the East Coast over the past couple of days has moved on, but it is still frigid (single digit if not below zero ambient temps with wind chill factors that makes the air much colder) in many areas.   However difficult this has been, and this is not at all to minimize the loss of life and inhospitable conditions (which was the reason for the homeless statistics previously posted) created by the combination of extreme cold, snow, wind, and flooding, it is still a relatively isolated (chronologically speaking), short-term event.

In Alaska, the problem is a bit different.

In addition, all along the perimeter of the United States, residents are dealing with a much more longer-term issue: habitat loss due to sea and flood-level rise as a result of climate change.  Given the current administration’s on-going commitment to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, this is a very real problem of the now, not the future.

BW photograph of a lone tree against a large rock with layered snow.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Given that mitigation is clearly not an option until there is a willful political change in thinking and action (the mid-term elections later this year?), adaptation becomes a “solution”.  However, as the above report (linked under “habitat loss”) indicates, the funding for such large-scale efforts is sorely lacking, particularly for the more fiscally challenged portions of the country.  Even in relatively affluent areas, the drop in real-estate values makes for an economic dis-incentive.

Economics aside, the need for re-location also creates a titanic change in the culture for coastal residents, particularly for those whose livelihood has been linked to the land and water for generations.

BW photograph of a snowy trail leading into the woods at Morgan Run.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

There are no easy ways to deal with climate change.  Having said that, this is a problem that will only escalate as time moves on and efforts at mitigation are ignored or “rolled-back”.

Take care.

 

 

 

 

Deep Cold

January 4, 2018

BW photograph of Morgan Run after a recent snowfall in a cold spell.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Yes, indeed.

BW photograph of a section of Morgan Run frozen by winter temps.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

And then there is this and this…take note of the use of the word “bomb” in this context.

BW photograph of a stick laying upon a rock surrounded by crystallized snow.

Copyright 2018 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Given the content of the above reports, there are larger numbers also worthy of attention.  According to the 2016 Annual Report on Homelessness as prepared by Maryland’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, the PIT (Point In Time) count yielded 7,352 people experiencing homelessness in Baltimore.  The PIT is done on one night during the last two weeks in January.  According to the same report, the Annualized number (the number served in shelters and other types of housing between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016) grows the population experiencing homelessness to 29,670.

According to the 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress, there were 549,928 people experiencing homelessness in the United States on one night in January when the count was made.  22% of those were children.  39,471 were Veterans.

Take care.

Exposure and Privacy

January 1, 2018

BW photograph of a toilet sitting in a store window.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Exposure in the age of digital, and especially when using a cell phone, photography has undergone a sea change.  Arguably, today’s technology has rendered this as a non-issue to the degree that many most likely have no idea what their devices are doing when a photograph is taken.  In the days of film photography, as a direct result of the nature of that medium, the resulting photograph was heavily dependent on exposure, especially when using slide film.  The photographer needed to be precise with regard to the interaction of ISO, shutter speed, and aperture setting in order to achieve optimal results.  Print film was much more forgiving in that regard.  While it remains a truism that there is no single ‘best” exposure for any given scene, there sure are multitudes of mistakes to be made when transforming light into pixel response.  Software applications can “repair” a great deal of this (the aptly named “fix it Photoshop” or “FIPS” approach) and automatically in many cases; however, it is still generally useful to start with the ISO, shutter speed, aperture setting for the desired effect.  Otherwise, one is just taking chances.  Of course, the photographer may be perfectly comfortable with the device being in charge and may not consider, or even be aware of, the risks.

The word “exposure” also has other meanings-more on that in a bit.

Privacy seems to be nearly as antiquated a concept as photographic exposure in this digital era.  EULAs (End User Licensing Agreements) are quite long, complex, and written in legalize that (almost) guarantees that they will not be read.  Just click “Yes” and move on.   The problem is, of course, that buried within the EULA is the language related to what a given company can do with the data mined from the consumer’s use of a product or service.  As such, it is important to recognize that the consumer is (generally) not the manufacturer’s/service provider’s customer-advertising companies are.  Such companies pay for access to the consumer’s data so as to be able to specifically target ads for products/services based on a consumer’s browsing/purchasing history.

Therein lies the link between exposure and privacy.  The more cavalier one is about accessing sites and signing EULAs, the greater the likelihood that, at some point, one becomes vulnerable to identity theft.  The recent Equifax breach is one such example.

One would do well to keep from having their privacy as exposed as the above photograph implies.

Take care.

Light

December 31, 2017

BW photograph of Morgan Run looking upstream.

Copyright 2017 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

To a certain mindset, 2017 was a pessimist’s dream.  Here’s looking to the light of what could be in 2018.

Happy New Year!

Advertisements