Gravity

April 20, 2020

BW photograph of rain clouds framed by trees.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Gravity, literally, keeps us grounded…from spinning out of control and flying off into space.  (Not to mention that gravitational forces keep objects in the solar system organized.)  The desire to escape that pull spurs the fascination with aviation and rocketry-to be in the sky and among the clouds.  (Bernoulli’s Principle makes this possible.)  Pink Floyd says it quite well with the lyrics of “Learning to Fly”:  “A fatal attraction is holding me fast-how can I escape this irresistible grasp?”  That is, of course, taking the words literally.  “There’s no sensation that compares with this…suspended animation, a state of bliss.”  Nice thought, eh?

BW photograph looking across a broken tree branch laying on the ground.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Coincidentally, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have a song entitled “Learning to Fly”.  While they, too, sing about being in the clouds, there is (perhaps) a harder message therein: “…but what goes up, must come down”.  Mr. Petty may not have intended this interpretation, but gravity is, after all, a force of nature.

BW photograph looking across a fallen "Y" tree branch laying on the ground.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

That interpretation, though, encapsulates another definition of the word “gravity”:  the word is also used to convey a sense of “seriousness or solemnity”.  We are in a delicate time wherein the desire/need to re-open the economy is being put against the need for continued public safety.   That the U.S. has thus far largely bungled the response to COVID-19 does not inspire confidence going forward.  Lives are at stake and there is much more to be learned.

This is especially important when considering the demographics of those most at risk for dying from COVID-19.  Those pre-existing, long-term, social problems have been accentuated by the latest pandemic.  We have a current administration that has done little to address those issues and a lot to make them worse.  The COVID-19 response must be layered atop that.  A vaccine will not take care of these problems.  One could extrapolate that a future epidemic/pandemic could create similar havoc for those most at risk, which, as we have seen, puts everyone at risk.

To close out, the Foo Fighters also have a song entitled “Learning to Fly”.  Their first verse contains the words “Hook me up a new revolution ’cause this one is a lie…”  It is worth reviewing the platforms taken by politicians with regard to social justice issues and the manner by which they become amplified by social and mainstream media.  That, of course, brings us back to the issue of confirmation and implied bias, topics of this blog on several occasions.  COVID-19, though, makes the problem of having anti-science people in power much, much, more acute.  (The same problem exists with climate change, for example.)

Being a representative democracy, citizens have input in the U.S. as to the leadership.  The manner by which people vote (not to mention who can vote), though, is also being impacted by COVID-19.  Should shelter-in-place and social distancing measures continued to be needed, or re-emerge this fall, what will be the response?  If one has misinformed beliefs about mail-in balloting, then what efforts could be expected should there be a need?

Serious stuff indeed.

Take care and be safe.

 

 

 

Sticker

February 7, 2020

BW photograph of Morgan Run after a hard rain.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Today is February 7, 2020.  Over the past week or so, this part of the country has had temperatures in the 60s, which are about 20 degrees higher than normal.  This morning, parts of central Maryland received a tornado warning as a strong storm moved through the area-temperatures slid through the 50s into the 40s, torrential rains fell leading to localized flooding, and the wind kicked up spreading tree debris across the roadways.  A tornado did not appear.  Morgan Run was roiled, but the water level was not what was expected given the amount of rain that fell in such a relatively short period of time.  Perhaps the smaller feeder streams around the area, which were much more inundated, had not emptied as yet.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, this is happening.

When out and about following the heaviest of the rain, there was a vehicle ahead sporting a sticker that read “Stop Global Whining”.

Take care.

Wilted

February 2, 2020

BW photograph of a bouquet of wilted mums.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Followers of the impeachment trial will have no doubt drawn their conclusions about the process and desired verdict.  Fortunately, the recent House and Senate proceedings have been aired live so that folks could watch/listen as they were occurring.  This is especially critical given the polarization of opinion and the spin that gets placed on info by partisan outlets.  Social media bears the brunt of this, but broadcast networks are certainly not immune.  As such, one must take great care to be cognizant of implicit and confirmation bias as to the drawing of conclusions.

BW photograph of a bouquet of wilted daisies.

Copyright 2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is the third impeachment of a U.S. president in our history.  That we have reached a point wherein the Senate has actively engaged in defending the president instead of working as a co-equal part of government to provide oversight, investigate, and judge as designated is of great concern.  The Senate is, in effect, abdicating its power to the embellishment of the executive branch.  This was not the intention of the framers of the Constitution.  They were particularly concerned with the interference of a foreign power in our elections.  Said interference is a central point in this impeachment.

Regardless of one’s political persuasion, the profound emphasis on the achievement and maintenance of power rather than adherence to the principles of democracy as espoused in the Constitution is a dangerous place in which to be.  It would be important to read that document (the Constitution) so as to have a foundation for understanding the points being made and those being obfuscated during these and related proceedings.

UPDATE:  The above paragraphs were written before the Senate voted to not call any witnesses or hear additional testimony from said witnesses.  This is in contradiction to polls which have indicated the majority of Americans wanted additional witnesses to be called.  It appears that a Senate vote to convict/acquit will occur on Wednesday, with the latter being the most likely outcome.  Given that additional information related to the articles of impeachment continues to be uncovered, the decision on Wednesday will not be the end of this issue.  No matter what, there is an election in November.

The current issue of The New Yorker also contains this article, which is very much worth a read.  I found it interesting/amusing that Ms. Lepore used “withering” in the article-I choose “wilted” here, a choice made before reading that piece.  Both appear to be an accurate descriptor.

Take care.

Limelight

January 11, 2020

BW photograph of a fallen autumn maple leaf laying atop a rock.

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

Neil Peart, the drummer from Rush, died earlier this week.  The title of this remembrance gets it exactly right.

2112 was the album that introduced me to the band, and with that, Mr. Peart’s lyrical and drumming prowess.  I did not have enough drums in my kit to accurately recreate his tones, but that really did not matter-I did not have the skill either.  Still, I would flail away as best as possible.  Mr. Peart’s quoting of Bob Dylan is certainly apropos.

Take care.

 

The Other

December 2, 2019

BW photograph of a section of an old barn wall with withered vines.

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

We tend to either romanticize or demonize “the Other”.  This post will address the latter perspective.

The Other, or Otherness, is a social construct.  For those viewed as being “like us”, there is a strong sense of affiliation, a sense of belonging, as sense of “we”.  For those “not like us”, there is a strong sense of exclusion, a sense of alienation, a sense of “they”.  Note how this concept applies to gender, race, ethnicity, politics, economics, etc. etc. etc.  There is often not much middle ground in this era of social and political polarization, which makes the Other a powerful concept indeed.  This type of belief (and it is important to remember that a belief is that which we hold to be true, even if there is no objective evidence to support it) creates a divide that can be quite difficult to bridge, especially when one group perceives the Other as a threat.

This past Sunday morning, the poet Richard Blanco read and discussed his work during the broadcast of  On Being.   Listen carefully as he describes the Zulu greeting.  At the end of the interview, he concludes with a strong, stirring, message about how all are “we”.

Take care.

 

Trivial

November 24, 2019

BW photograph of the snow-covered mountains outside of Livingston, Montana.

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

This morning on NPR’s On Being, author Marilynne Robinson made the comment that “…human beings are a fairly trivial presence in the environment…”  This is a point that is both well-taken and one that needs to be taken in the context in which she said it:  she was describing her growing up in Idaho near the Rocky Mountains.  (The above photograph was not made in Idaho, but Montana.)  In such a setting, human beings really are relatively few and far between and physically quite small when compared to the geography and space of the place.  Physicist Marcelo Gleiser is also a guest, and that interview is well worth a listen.

As an aside, it is quite important to take quotes in the context in which they are made.  Otherwise, it is very easy to misinterpret their meaning, or to, in fact, provide meaning that was not intended by the speaker.

BW photograph of a highway system looking down from a high window.

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

For example, I am going to put that quote into a different, much broader, context.  We know that, in the aggregate, the density of humans and their impact on the environment are anything but trivial.

BW photograph of left behind shoes among leaves on the ground.

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

I do very much agree with what Ms. Robinson said.  There are places in the world that are vast and magical, places that dwarf the human presence, especially when one is a child.  Were they to remain so.  Think about this:  compare the scale of a human to that of Mount Everest, which at 29,029 feet is the highest point on earth.  Then, think about this.

Broadening the perspective:  according to NOAA, October 2019 is the second hottest October on record-2019 is also the second hottest year on record.  So, there is that.

Finally, the “few and far between” descriptor (which is mine) above also needs to be placed within the global context of the number of people on the planet.

None of the above is trivial.

Take care.

Fair

September 22, 2019

BW photograph of a food stand at a fair as seen through a chain link fence.

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

“Fair” is one of those words with multiple meanings.  One of those has to do with large gatherings of people engaging in a celebratory event-as in a “state fair”.  Another is about equal treatment or acting without bias-to treat “fairly” or to “be fair”.  The photograph above clearly represents the former.

However, it also relates to the latter.  When I used the same photograph in a previous post, the content was about the connection between unhealthy diets and their consequences with regard to the healthcare system.  Indeed, it would be hard to argue that the food advertised at this stand was healthy.  That it would be enjoyable to those who consume those items goes without saying.  That issues connected to that enjoyment, when engaged in as a lifestyle choice, is one of the points in the earlier post.

Truth in disclosure:  I have been a vegetarian for almost three decades now.  In reality, I am practically vegan.  Initially, it was concern over the conditions under which cows, pigs, and chickens are raised by industrial farming-this includes their housing as well as the amount of antibiotics and growth hormones used-that facilitated this decision.  It has since become clear that the consumption of a meat-based diet, particularly beef, is one of the major drivers of climate change.  Were I not already there, the production of methane would have been the catalyst for the change in my diet.

Therefore, I am not unbiased in what I write or link to with regard to climate change and its related subjects.  I do use credible sources for the information presented herein.  The interconnectedness of diet, healthcare, and climate change has been established.  The synergistic risks, both for individuals and the planet, are real.

It is fair that this point-of-view be explicit.

Take care.

 

Out of the Rabbit Hole

August 19, 2019

BW photograph of a bowl of fresh peaches.

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

In the previous post, I mentioned “going down the rabbit hole“.  I usually attach a negative connotation to that phrase-it is for situations over which there is little or no felt control.  One of the ways I deal with that feeling, as a means of regaining control and perspective if you will, is to take a road trip, often in search of roadside or farmer’s markets. The sensory stimulations of fresh produce are rejuvenating to the spirit.

Colour photograph of a bowl of fresh peaches.

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

As with sunrises and sunsets, sometimes it is helpful to also use the colour version of the file.  The BW version, arguably, gives the viewer a bit more about which to think.

Take care.

The Power

August 14, 2019

BW photograph of Morgan Run on a foggy morning.

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

As in the power to alter reality.

As I usually do each morning, I checked my phone’s weather app to see the prevailing conditions-there was a string of clouds for the remaining hours of the morning, but no rain was indicated.  As a result of that info, I went to a favoured spot to take photographic advantage of the light fog in the area.  No sooner had I settled into the composition as seen above, rain started to fall.  For a brief moment (or two), my brain said “It can’t be raining because that is not what the phone said would happen!”  The water landing on my head and camera said otherwise.

Such is the power of the digital age.  Information presented can be in direct contrast to the physical reality, but the physical reality is then what is questioned.

That is a problem.

Some of this comes from confirmation bias, which is the pattern of only paying attention to data that supports one’s preconceived beliefs or desires.  If one wants something to be, one can check sources until an agreeable one is found, or select sources that are known to support a particular position.  Denial drives another part of the delusion.  Denial can be described as a “buffer against an unacceptable reality” or a way of “finding comfort in a threatening situation”.  (Those are in quotes because a speaker at a long-forgotten workshop used them and they made sense to me.  They also frame denial as a coping skill, an ineffective one in the long run, but a form of coping nonetheless.  This view is in comparison to the more pathological perspectives often attributed to that behaviour.)  If it is not acknowledged, it is not happening or did not happen.

I really wanted it to not be raining this morning.

Climate change is, of course, a perfect example of how rhetoric, or an app, can allow one to question or form an “alternate” reality.  That, however, does not change the facts on the ground.

It really was water falling from the sky.

Take care.

1,000

July 30, 2019

BW photograph of run-off after hard rains.

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

One thousand.  As in days.

At times, days seem to flow past in a blur-especially when looking to the past.  At other times, they seem to trickle by with no seeming end.  In any case, days are markers of time.  They are markers in time.

Birthdays.

Graduation days.

13 Days.

Anne of the Thousand Days.

Vietnam:  The Ten Thousand Day War.

The Talking Heads sang “Letting the days go by…”.  David Byrne finishes with “Same as it ever was”.  In between he asks “Well, how did I get here?”

Which is very much a question worth asking-and answering.  After all, each day will only occur once in a lifetime.

Take care.