Follow-Up

April 13, 2020

BW photograph of the interior structure of a tulip.

2020 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is the same tulip from the previous post.  Being in the warmer indoors allowed the flower to fully open.  I will also photograph it once it, too, begins to fade.

This is another metaphor.  With regard to news, it is helpful to follow a story throughout to its natural conclusion.  Too often, once the splash of the headlines fade, the story is forgotten.  With regard to virology, once the pandemic ends, interest in the bug responsible (mostly) evaporates-at least for the general public, politicians, and pharmaceutical companies.  Such appears to be the case with coronaviruses-SARS and MERS preceded COVID-19.  The New Yorker published this, which provides a more detailed history of how such viruses work and the efforts to develop treatment protocols to address them.  The final paragraph of the article, a quote from Dr. David Ho, encapsulates the point.

Please be safe and well.

Weather

April 10, 2020

BW photograph of heavy clouds on a windy day.

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

It has been a bumpy couple of days weather-wise in this area.  In the early morning hours a day or so ago we had torrential rain during a thunderstorm, which was reminiscent of the tornadic activity from awhile back.  The only real difference was the lack of wind-the pounding was all rain.  Yesterday, last night, and so far today it has been high winds-no moisture, just air moving with a purpose.

From an experiential standpoint, it seems as if the winds of March have shifted to April.  The temperatures are more in keeping with March as well.  It will be interesting to see if the rainfall patterns continue.  This seems to be consistent with the climate change-induced predictions for the Mid-Atlantic area.

Speaking of weather, John Prine died “from complications related to COVID-19”.  NPR posted this history based on ten John Prine songs.  A favourite of mine is “Angel from Montgomery”…stormy weather serves as a metaphor in the powerfully evocative lyrics.  The song tells quite a story, poignantly illustrated with the guitars and words.  Mr. Prine dedicates the rendition contained in that list to Bonnie Raitt-her duet with Mr. Prine is also worth a listen.

Ms. Raitt lights it up on this lyric:

“How the hell can a person go to work in the morning, come home in the evening, and have nothing to say?”

Amazing.

Take care and be well.

Project

April 8, 2020

BW photograph of a past prime daffodil.

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

Awhile back I had planned to work on a series of flower/vegetable portraits-this was long before COVID-19 mandated being mostly housebound.  The need to shelter-in-place provided the additional inspiration needed to get that project into production.

Sometimes these photographs have been used as metaphors for the (much) larger issues at hand.  In others, they stand for what they are.  Such is the case here.  In general, I tend to prefer flowers that are past their prime.  Their wilts, droops, and folds provide much more character, much more of a “I have been there” feel, than do their fresh, dynamic counterparts.  Weary, but still here.

Perhaps this is a metaphor after all…

Be safe and well.

 

4:30 a.m.

April 6, 2020

BW photograph of a grocery in the early early morning in the age of COVID-19.

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

I have always favoured the early morning.  In the time of COVID-19 and social distancing, this is, perhaps, the best time to do the allowed grocery shopping.  This particular morning also provided a clear sky along with the glow of a nearly full moon.  It was a wonderful time to be outside.

At such times, it is difficult to juxtapose the current circumstances with such a lovely beginning to the day.  The need to don masks and wipe down everything before touching and radio reports of the building crescendo of potential deaths this week presented a sobering contrast.  Reality, as is said, does indeed sometimes bite.  And hard.

Condolences to all who have lost loved ones.  Best wishes to all for what is yet to come.

Be safe and well.

April 1

April 1, 2020

BW photography of a patch of fungi.

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

April 1 is traditionally April Fool’s Day in the U.S.-a time when folks typically play tricks on one another.   Given the impact of COVID-19 and substantial “stay at home” orders in place throughout the country, it is difficult to imagine being in a playful mood.  A microbe has exerted control.

BW photograph of lichen attached to a rock.

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

Interestingly, liquor stores and gun dealers have been determined to be “essential” businesses in some states.  Access to liquor and firearms in a time of quarantine.  What could go wrong there?

As Jimmy Buffett sings “…I shot six holes in my freezer.  I think I got cabin fever…”

Be well.

Broken

March 23, 2020

BW photograph of a broken tree.

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

COVID-19 has continued its rapid spread worldwide while appearing to recede in China.  This is a new coronavirus, hence the term “novel”; however, the world has been here before with other outbreaks.  One might expect that history would provide a roadmap and impetus with regard to research and preparation.  Indeed, watch this from the 7:10 mark until the end-the closing message is one of great importance:  “Science, Communication, Education” are important tools to be used in this arena.

However, one must now interject the reality.  Please also read this.  History shows that once epidemics and pandemics dissipate, so does the political interest in long-term planning and preparation.  This, then sets the stage for the U.S. to not have enough PPE (personal protective equipment) for its healthcare workers, for example.  Misinformation continues to spread, which is simply not helpful.

Please be sure to pay attention to credible sources of information as “Science, Communication, and Education” are indeed critical.  As such, The New York Times published this useful primer.  The CDC and WHO provide updated information on their respective sites.

Please do take the requisite precautions-states have varying degrees of restrictions.  If everyone takes care of themselves and follows the proper protocols, then we will be taking care of each other as well.

Be well.

Walking

March 20, 2020

BW photograph of a snowy road in the woods leading into the distance.

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

Governor Gavin Newsom placed restrictions on the state of California as a means of reducing the spread of COVID-19.  Walking, though, is still permissible, and is a worthwhile antidote to cabin fever for those able to do so.

(PLEASE NOTE:  It is important to carefully review the info at the CDC to determine the need for self-quarantine and the importance of social distancing.)

BW photograph of a wooded area looking toward a mountain after a light snow.

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

BW photograph of a branch partially buried in snow.

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

The photographs herein are not from CA, but are representative of a nice walk.

Given the expanse of the world and all there is to see, it is both astonishing and frightening that something invisible to most is capable of bringing human activity to such a place.  That is, however, the history of viruses and pandemics-we have been in similar situations before.  It is useful to remember what the character Dr. Malcolm had to say in the first Jurassic Park movie:

“Life finds a way.”

It was an admonishment to those in the room who scoffed at the possibility of loosing control.

Be safe and be healthy.

Science or Fiction?

March 8, 2020

BW photograph of a Toyota grill.

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

I watched Blade Runner for the umpteenth time the other day.  What Ridley Scott and his crew did with weather, light, and smoke (cigarette-watch the interview with Rachel-and industrial) creates one of the truly great atmospheric movies of all-time.  (As an aside, the original Alien, another film by Mr. Scott, would certainly be on that list.)

The movie also produces an interesting cultural reaction given that we are now in 2020, and Blade Runner was set in the then future of 2019-it was released in 1982.  (A similar experience occurs when reading Orwell’s 1984.)  How do the times compare?  Police cars still do not fly, and there are no “off-world colonies”.  There are desires/plans to return humans to the Moon, with Mars being a perpetual fantasy, if not scientific, destination.  All of that, though, is quite a bit distant from having habitable locations elsewhere in space.  We are also a long way from the Nexus 6 “Replicants”.  Interestingly, given their degree of sophistication, how ethical is it to build-in a limited life span?

That last point is a central theme of the movie.  Time, as always, is a force with which to be reckoned.  Given that off-world colonies still remain the providence of fictional popular culture, how do we address the rapidly compressing time available to effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change?

What if it were possible to “gift” (a term and process from Blade Runner) an iteration of the Nexus with a real person’s memories?  A physical structure capable of “living” in a warmer/colder/wetter/drier environment with the requisite programming and modifications to subsist consistent with the local conditions?

Who or what, then, is the entity created?  If your memories are downloaded into a synthetic body, would that be “you”?  Most likely, the time to develop such a being is not available.

Time, as always, will tell.

Take care.

Chaos

February 29, 2020

BW photograph of downed trees and tree debris.

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

Take your pick:

COVID-19 has led to thousands of deaths and a free-fall in the U.S. stock market;

Russia extends its involvement with the upcoming U.S. 2020 election;

Australia has had punishing floods and hail on top of extraordinary wildfires;

Syria escalates its conflict with Turkey;

India reacts violently to state-sponsored discrimination over a citizenship law; and

the overall continued political turmoil in the U.S. (there are too many links to do this one justice).

What is especially disconcerting about the above, and the myriad of humanity’s other issues, is the political will behind nationalism and the efforts exerted to remain in power.  This opposes the seeking out of genuine cooperation, both nationally and globally, to find lasting solutions.  The more that factions retreat into tribalistic groups that demonize the other, the more that cooperation becomes a wistful dream.  When something immediate, like COVID-19 (although this is a new strain, the issues surrounding its appearance and the manner that characterized the initial response are not), or something much, much more chronic, like climate change, arises, there is plenty of global expertise to assess, evaluate, and implement strategies to avoid or mitigate the damage.  Adaptation may also be required.  However, this means being open and above-board and having a willingness to work with others.  It means having effective leadership-contradicting the CDC and WHO is not that…

No one who knows me would ever use the term “optimist” as a descriptor.  I would argue that I am more of a realist who does focus on problem areas-perhaps overly so, but I am genuinely concerned by the current state of affairs.  I very much advocate for the awareness of current events, and their historical antecedents (it is so very important to have a sound grounding in history-that provides the context for a proper perspective on today’s issues), so as to be an informed citizen-especially in an election year.

By “informed”, I mean very carefully vetting information.  Critically analyze its source and content.  Social media algorithms are specifically written to drive content for which one has a demonstrated historical preference-this is part of what creates confirmation bias.  For example, one cannot properly vet (or fact check) one anti-climate change article by going to another anti-climate change article.  This post-modern age, characterized by data manipulation, does require a greater degree of due diligence.

Take care.

Warm

February 23, 2020

BW photograph of backlit silhouetted trees in the early morn.

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

It is another brilliantly sunny day, with temperatures forecast to rise into the upper 50s in parts of the Mid-Atlantic region.  What is the problem with that?  It is late February.

In accordance, NASA (and here) reported that earlier this month, temperatures in Antarctica had reached 64.9 degrees (F), “…matching that day’s temperature in Los Angeles…”  Please do read through those links as there are a number of potential ramifications should this be a developing pattern and not an isolated weather event.

(As an aside, foehn winds, which are described in the second link above, play a significant role in The Eiger Sanction.  This is mentioned because I first learned of such winds, and the problems they can create, by reading that book years ago.)

Also, please note that NPR posted a correction at the end of the report.  In an era when anyone with a computer or smart phone can publish whatever is desired, it is vital to be able to critically evaluate the validity and reliability of info.  In this case, the author of the NPR report has links to the original NASA report as well as other sites supporting the content.  The fact that this correction was posted is also a mark of a legitimate news organization.  When there are inaccuracies, they are fixed.

Take care.