Separation

June 21, 2018

BW photograph of a No Trespassing sign laying on the ground.

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

Over the past few days, the separation of children from their parents/families at the U.S. border is an issue that has been widely covered and discussed.  The latest controversy also (again) brings to the fore the legacy of U.S. immigration policy.  Significantly, the implementation of detention and deportation policies appear to often hinge on keys words contained in or absent from previous legislation.  For example, former Assistant Attorney Leon Fresco points out the importance of the word “unaccompanied” being excluded from the Flores case, which was decided in 1996.  (The meaning of words and their contextual significance is the basis for the Symbolic Interactionism theory in Sociology.)

With regard to Sociology, one of the significant agents of socialization (those institutions charged with the transmission of culture from one generation to the next) is media.  How one thinks and/or feels about this separation, and immigration in general, is influenced by the sources of information to which one pays attention.  This report from NPR discusses the differing manner by which the current immigration issue is being framed by various news outlets.  What is being highlighted here is that difference-the same story is being explained/analyzed by competing belief systems.  That which is held to be “true” or “fake news” is most likely influenced by confirmation bias-the tendency to select and judge the credibility of sources based on those that contain information supporting pre-existing views.  Quite simply, we tend to agree with those sources that present information consistent with our views.

In a separate report, NPR addressed the potential implications of the stress-induced trauma that occurs under such conditions.  Given the age of the children, the plasticity of the brain during those developmental stages, and the magnitude of the emotional and biochemical response from being forcibly separated from one’s family, this is an issue of concern.  One would do well to put aside political views and attend to this as a humanitarian issue.  Indeed, the U.N. has called such separations illegal, and the living former first ladies have also condemned the action.

Two bills to address immigration are scheduled for a House vote later today-both would legislate the keeping of families together.  (The president finally did utilize his formerly denied executive power to do the same.  That, however, does not ameliorate the issue.)  Given the deep political divides regarding immigration, it is doubtful that either of these bills will pass.  Therefore, the immigration impasse, one based on the implementation of zero tolerance, will, in all likelihood, continue.

That we are a nation of immigrants appears to be considered irrelevant.

Take care.

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BW photograph of Morgan Run just after a rain.

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

it was the worst of times…”  While that is part of an extremely impressive beginning to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, it has now become quite the cliché.  Nonetheless, it was apropos for this particular day at Morgan Run.

BW photograph of a rock with water flowing around it.

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

A bit of a Spring rain had just ended leaving the water with a gentle flow…

BW photograph of a poplar leaf laying atop a rock.

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

while the light was nice and soft as a result of the still overcast skies.  More rain was yet to come.

As such, the sights and sounds provided by nature were all that one could want.

BW photograph of a crushed plastic bottle.

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

BW photograph of two plastic bottles laying among some leaves.

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

BW photograph of a flipflop laying among leaves.

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

At the same time, the human imprint was also quite evident.  That is, unfortunately, most often the case-especially now that the weather has warmed and more people are accessing the area.

Take care.

 

 

Ellicott City et al

May 29, 2018

BW photograph of flood debris along Big Hunting Creek.

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

Pursuant to the last post regarding the power of water, Ellicott City, MD experienced what will most likely be labeled its second “1 in a 1,000 year” floods within the past two years on Sunday.  The discussion of re-building and how to mitigate this pattern has begun anew.  The storm standards and the manner by which to meet them is reminiscent of the debates that have continued since the devastation of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  For those in Ellicott City, one can only imagine the difficulty of sorting the emotional and economic impact of facing these decisions after such a relatively short period of time.

On a related note, NOAA has forecast a “…near-or above-normal 2018 Atlantic hurricane season.”  Importantly,  the first named storm of the 2018 season, Alberto, has already hit the Southeast portion of the U.S.

Both of these events (Ellicott City and Alberto) have cost lives and have created enormous damage in their respective areas of impact.

Shutter speed tricks cannot smooth that away.

Take care.

Need for Zen

May 8, 2018

BW photograph of flowing water.

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

There are some days that require a larger dose of Zen than others.

BW photograph of a branch over flowing water.

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

Today is one of those days.

BW photograph of flowing water.

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

Being an informed citizen brings with it the risk of riding the roller coaster of daily news.  Much like the “weather whiplash” moniker from the last post, that phrase would appear to be applicable for many other subjects as well.  Simply replace “weather” with whatever stories dominate a given day.  Chances are, within a few days, there will be something else that comes to the fore and demands one’s attention.

There are at least two dangers with such a rapid cycle of news.  The first is the criticality of the displaced issues being lost-out of sight, out of mind.  The second is the numbness that accompanies an overload of one’s senses.

As such, it is evermore important to maintain an individuated sense of balance and perspective.  This includes recognizing the options available for legitimate action.

Tuning out is not a productive long-term option.

Take care.

Straws, man

May 2, 2018

BW photograph of a plastic cup and straw laying on a street.

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

This segment of NPR’s Here and Now is a worthwhile listen due to the scope of the problem and the available alternatives.  A reduction in this form of pollution is well worth the loss of this particular subject matter.

BW photograph of a Sprite bottle laying in the grass.

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

Unfortunately, there are many other forms of plastic trash of which to make images.

BW photograph of a plastic spoon laying on a brick sidewalk.

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

As such, addressing the overall issue of our throw away culture of convenience is of paramount importance-the discarded plastic straws, bottles, and utensils are just symptomatic of that larger issue.  The result of such a mindset is the bioaccumulation of plastic and other toxins in the environ.  Fortunately, the alternatives mentioned in the Here and Now report apply to other forms of trash as well.   It is useful to remember that the mantra “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is a hierarchy-a reduction in the need for plastic disposable items by finding sustainable alternatives is by far the best option.

Take care.

Timeliness

April 26, 2018

BW photograph of Morgan Run rushing through some rocks.

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

Morgan Run is my go-to Zen place.  On most days, visits can be timed so that the area around the parking lot is devoid of people, or a relatively short walk in either direction from said lot will provide the desired seclusion.  As written many times before on this blog, the sound of the water running through the rocks is quite relaxing.  As a place to just sit and be, this is pretty nice.

So much so that I often get up and work early so that I can drink coffee and listen to NPR’s 1A program while driving to Morgan Run.  The other day, I did just that but was struck extremely hard by the contrast between the Zen of being there and the topic of that particular discussion, which revolved around the history of lynching in the U.S. and the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice-the discussion can be heard here.  (NPR also did another report on the Memorial.)  One can argue that the timeliness of this particular visit and that particular discussion occurred just as it should have to achieve maximum impact.  The same can also be said for the opening of the Memorial.

“Timeliness” takes on a broader cultural perspective in the sense that is it both well past time for such reflection and a time requiring such reflection.  Indeed,  it has been just over 50 years since the passing of The Fair Housing Act of 1968, which is discussed here.  After having listened to that program, the reading of  this report is a logical follow-up.  In addition, Starbucks is closing its coffee stores for several hours on May 29th so as to provide training to address “racial bias education”, as reported here.  Finally, the Supreme Court heard the arguments regarding the latest version of the President’s travel ban.

The history of prejudice, discrimination, implicit bias, and racism, etc., all of which are enhanced by confirmation bias, only makes the now more disheartening.  Socialization that normalizes those kinds of behaviours is exactly what allows for their continuance.  The same can be said for willful ignorance or lack of attention.  I hear with a degree of regularity that the pervasive ugliness and conflict reflected in the news is one reason to not listen to broadcasts or read the papers.  Quite honestly, all of that is one reason I go to Morgan Run for those periods of Zen.  It is important, though, to recognize that such peacefulness is difficult to maintain outside of that bubble if one does pay attention to current events.  While it is fundamentally necessary to take care of oneself and find that peace, it is also important to think beyond oneself to the larger issues at hand and address them accordingly.

Take care.

 

 

Earth Day 2018

April 22, 2018

BW photograph of a strongly lit house.

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

Today is Earth Day.  Coincidentally, it is also a nice, spring day.  The preceding sentence was included as we have run the weather gamut over the past few weeks.  On the day when the above photograph was made, the temperature eventually reached 87 degrees.  That seemed to be a bit too much heat coming too soon, especially after days when the temperatures maxed-out in the 40s and 50s.

BW photograph looking up the Hog Rock Trail on a foggy morn.

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

The following day presented entirely different conditions, as displayed above and below:

BW photograph of trees enveloped in fog.

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

BW photograph of Morgan Run after a heavy rain-four rocks provide some framing for the water.

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

The much cooler temperatures brought on the fog and an eventual torrent of rain and wind.  Morgan Run once again overran its banks.

A couple of weekends ago was spent in Ithaca, New York…

BW photograph of trees laying beside the Buttermilk Falls Rim Trail after a snowfall.

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

where the morning temps were about 22 degrees-that adequately preserved the snow that had fallen the day before.

BW photograph of a crushed Nestle water bottle in a parking lot.

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

The theme of this year’s Earth Day is to call an end to plastic pollution-more can be read about that here, and doing so is an important initiative.  Indeed, a drive through the mountains of Pennsylvania yesterday showed many out collecting trash along the roadways.  At the same time, Earth Day is also an auspicious day in which to be reminded of the need to keep a focus on the larger issue of climate change, which is actually the reason for the weather-related photographs in this post.  Indeed, last year set a record for weather-related losses as per this report from NOAA.  Yes, reducing one’s individual impact on the environ is a benefit and is to be encouraged.  Taking the time to collect the detritus left by others is certainly helpful.  However, the intersection of politics, pollution, and climate change can not be ignored and are addressed in this article about the E.P.A. under Scott Pruitt.

One day is not enough.

Take care.