Contrasts

January 12, 2020

BW photograph of debris on a walkway after a flooding.

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

A couple of days ago, it was well below freezing, and we had several inches of snow.  Yesterday, and into last night, it warmed up considerably, into the 60s, and a powerful wind and rain storm blew through the area.  As is the norm with such short, heavy rains, there was evidence of localized flooding.

BW photograph of muddy leaves plastered against a bulkhead after a flooding.

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

BW photograph of debris around a tree trunk after a flooding.

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

The wind gusted in such a manner as to rattle windows.  The forecast had called for a potentially damaging thunderstorm to occur around 3:00 a.m.  Whether responding to that or to my cat’s incessant need for attention, I awakened shortly after that time, and there did not appear to have been a thunderstorm.  Clearly, though, it had rained, and quite hard.

This stands in stark contrast to Australia.  They are in the middle of a truly horrendous fire season resulting from climate change and drought that is genuinely catastrophic for the land, the wildlife, the citizens, and the global community.  Those fires are pumping tons of particulate matter and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as well, thus completing the feedback loop.  This puts a very sharp point on the viewpoints and policies of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Indeed, whether one is discussing Morrison, Trump, or Bolsonaro, the common threads are policies defiantly at odds with a need to quell a raging planet.

How much this plays into the upcoming 2020 election in the U.S. remains to be seen.

Take care.

2020

December 23, 2019

BW photograph of a pair of prints in the snow.

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

2019 is sliding away…and 2020 is around the corner.

BW photograph of a Santa hat laying in some leaves on a sidewalk.

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

In many respects, 2019 was a difficult year-certainly for the topics most often presented herein.  I really do vacillate on the tone for this blog, and, most of the time, that ends up with info related to that with which I am most concerned: climate change, the proliferation of trash, the the social forces that continue to drive those issues.  As such, that means this is not often a bundle of grins to read.  I really do not see that changing in 2020 as I have never been a “glass half full” person…I call it being realistic.  (Others might say pessimistic.)  2020 is shaping up to be a very important year environmentally and politically, both separately and in the manner with which they intersect.  We will see how it goes.  Given that the new year brings with it the custom of making resolutions related to changes in behaviour, perhaps there will be more activity leading to a healthier planet and political system.

As an aside, for those who may prefer a more optimistic outlook, or at least a dose of optimism, there is this.  Please do read the “About Us” link once there.  I am also decidedly not being snarky about, or dismissive of, the need for cheerful info.  The media sources we choose, and the therefore the content we engage, are a very significant agent of socialization-a shaper of how we think and feel-the importance of which can not be overstated.  Sites such as that linked above can provide a useful counter-balance to the mayhem very much present in the world.

With that in mind, there is a photographic project for the new year that will create a bit of a different focus in both tone and subject matter for this blog.  There have been some hints at this in previous posts, but given what is written in the two paragraphs above, it is time to pursue it in a more consistent manner.  That is not to say climate change and politics will disappear from the blog, just that my intention is to level this out a bit.  We will certainly see how that goes.  As Bette Davis once said “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

It is hoped that those of you who have been following the blog will continue along.  I am much appreciative of your checking in and hope that the photographs and content of this site has been of use.

Here’s to the new year!

Take care.

Harmony III

December 20, 2019

BW photograph of a dead fish after being washed ashore during a flood.

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

Another of the points is that humans do fail to play nicely with others.  In addition to the examples from the previous posts, overfishing (here and here) is a major threat to the fundamental existence of some species.  Such action makes this all the more of an issue.  (Photographer’s Note:  the above appeared to have been washed onto a fishing platform by floodwaters.)

BW photograph of a church and cemetary enveloped in fog.

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

Humans also do not play well with other humans-this is a defining example.

Webster’s (1995) defines “harmony’ as a “pleasing arrangement of parts”.  Such an arrangement does not exist when there is a disproportionate distribution of power, and some species wield so much more power than others.   Some humans, especially those in high offices around the world (the U.S. and Brazil, for example), use that power to extract the most short-term monetary gain from natural resources to the exclusion of the long-term consequences of a warming the planet:  uncontrollable fires, the melting of the icecaps, and sea level rise to name a few.  Polar bears, for example, stand not much of chance given the current circumstances.

However, put an unarmed human on the ice to equal the playing field (as it were), and the equation changes, doesn’t it?

Take care.

Harmony

December 12, 2019

BW photograph of a mum.

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

There is nothing that humans create, from the Sydney Opera House, to the bass line for “Baba O’Riley”, to a Pink Floyd audio/visual show, that compares to the elegant harmony produced by nature.

BW photograph of a 3-pronged pine needle caught in the bark of a pine tree.

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

Humans, though, do most certainly have the ability to upset that harmony, which is reflected in the decline/destruction of species population and habitats throughout the world-this and this are examples.

Nature does have the remarkable ability to adapt and rejuvenate-witness the Exclusion Zone surrounding Chernobyl.  It did take a powerful lot of human intervention to mediate the result of the meltdown-efforts that would not have been needed were it not for the arrogance of those (and the system) that precipitated the explosion.  For details about that, please read this and watch this.

Yes, as Neil Young sang, and this is a paraphrase, “we have Mother Nature on the run”…only now it is almost fifty years hence since he wrote “After the Gold Rush”.

Yet, there are ways to restore that balance, that harmony.  We just have to have the wisdom, the will, and the political fortitude to make it so.

Take care.

Judgment

December 9, 2019

BW photograph of a frost covered miniature liquor bottle laying in leaves.

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

The title above would probably be better stated as, the lack of judgment.

BW photograph of a tossed beer can among some twigs and leaves.

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

Alcohol is generally classified as a depressant drug.  That is, it produces a variety of signs and symptoms known collectively as psycho (a reference to cognitive activity) motor (a reference to physical behaviour) retardation (as in the slowing down of performance).  That term would read as “psychomotor retardation”.  It is also sometimes classified as a stimulant-stimulants produce the opposite effect, which is psychomotor agitation (that is, an enhancement and/or augmentation of cognitive and physical performance-think caffeine).  One of the reasons for this has to do with the effects alcohol has on the brain-more on this in a minute.  It is also important to note that psychomotor retardation is a fundamental characteristic of the drug itself, that we are not only talking about those with alcohol use disorder.  In other words, anyone who consumes alcohol is at risk for impaired thinking and compromised behaviour.

The frontal lobe of the brain is the seat of reasoning, critical thinking, and decision-making.  Therefore, the frontal lobe plays a key role in judgment.  Being a depressant drug, alcohol sedates the frontal lobe, which produces what is referred to as “disinhibition”.  Therefore, after consuming enough alcohol, the person may act impulsively and with gusto-it is for these reasons that alcohol can be confused with being a stimulant.  It is also important to note that there are many variables at work here, so the depressant/stimulant distinction being made here is not quite that simple.  In any case, as a person’s blood alcohol level increases, so does the impact on the brain and subsequent behaviour.

Importantly, the frontal lobe itself is not fully developed until one is in their early 20s-this is an important distinction to make when comparing a teen and an adult brain.  The result is the questionable judgment that can accompany the teen years.   Adding alcohol to the mix can exacerbate this developmental issue.

BW photograph of a whiskey mini laying in some grass.

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

The amount of alcohol-related packaging found alongside roadways is one basic manifestation of a lack of judgment.  The tossing of trash without regard to its impact on the environ and visual aesthetics is one example of poor decision-making.  The concern ratchets up a bit when thinking about the other lapses in judgment and subsequent impacts on behaviour that occur as a result of consuming the contents of these containers.

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.

 

Haunting

November 26, 2019

 

BW photograph of the greenhouses and main building of an abandoned nursery.

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

There is a haunting quality that accompanies abandoned buildings.

BW photograph of the main building of an abandoned nursery.

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

Part of that comes from the physical aging of the structures.  Wood dries out, bakes in the sun, and turns grey.

BW photograph of the greenhouses, which are part of an abandoned nursery.

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

Translucent materials become fogged and weathered.  Doors flap and creak in the wind.

BW photograph of the main building of an abandoned nursery.

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

Mostly though, that feeling comes from the loss of purpose and energy provided by a living presence.  In this case, one can easily imagine the rows of flowers or herbs or vegetables that once could have been grown and sold here.  The interaction of customers and the vendor(s) as goods were exchanged for payment.  The pleasure derived from fresh produce.

The flip side of that, though, is the struggle to make a small business work in an era of industrial farming, long-distance trucking, and chain stores.  (This is, of course, speculation as I do not know the reason for the ending of this establishment.)  Owners tire, become physically or financially unable to continue, or develop other interests, other needs.

Imagining what once was is part of the draw to creating images of that left behind.

Take care.