Grounded

December 8, 2017

BW photograph of several frosty leaves laying upon the ground.

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

Symbolic Interactionism is the one of four main Sociological theories to which I most subscribe.  The words used, and, more importantly, the meanings given to those words, are often at the base of the manner by which Conflict Theory explains societal issues-a prime example of this is the concern over whether or not the Pope was going to specifically use “Rohingya” when talking with Myanmar officials during a recent visit.  Without words, societies would not be able to perform as described by Functionalism.  Finally,  the meanings of existing words, not to mention the development and inclusion of new words, indicate change as per Post-Modern Theory.

BW photograph of a bird's nest laying upon the ground.

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

“Grounded” is the word for this day-here is the Oxford Living Dictionary definition.  The examples provided give a well-rounded view of its use.  Indeed, people most probably first encounter this word upon the violation of some parental dictate.  To those, I would like to add:  “A result of the effects of gravity”.

BW photograph of a nut case laying upon the gound.

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

BW photograph of a nut laying upon the ground.

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

Were it not for gravity, the objects included here would have either remained attached to their host tree, or, once detached, would have floated off into the atmosphere.  As gravity is such an elemental force, these objects ended up “grounded”.

Take care.

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Coffee

December 1, 2017

 

BW photograph of a strongly-lit coffee cup.

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

Yes, the availability of good coffee, preferably at an independently owned shop, is very much a key to the walkability of a place.

Coffee is an integral part of global history and culture, and therefore very much open to a sociological view.  One of the major sociological theories is Symbolic Interactionism, which essentially argues that societies attach meaning to words and concepts-and it is the interpretation of those meanings that is critical to understanding a given group.  With that in mind, this is an anecdote from a wander in Los Angeles:  Every now and then when walking, I order a decaf, sugar-free, skim milk, vanilla latte.  Given that it is somewhat frightening when I hear myself make that order, I usually just get regular decaf coffee.  However, on that particular occasion, I went with the latte.

In keeping with the attachment of meaning to words, having ordered the latte described above, the barista said “We call that a ‘why bother?'”.

Take care.

Wandering

November 26, 2017

BW photograph of some stores on Front Street in Bath, ME.

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

Wandering is the close relative to walkability.  To “wander”, in my mind, is to move about aimlessly, or, more-to-the-point, to change direction as needed based on what becomes of interest.  A place needs to have walkability in order to feel comfortable when wandering about.  Both of those characteristics are loaded in value judgments-from a sociological perspective, values are used to determine what is right/wrong, good/bad, and/or acceptable/unacceptable.  Someone who appreciates the hustle and bustle of, say, New York City, may be on the right side of those hash marks with regard to the views expressed here.

BW photograph of Front Street in the early morn. Bath, ME.

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

Walkability, and therefore the ability to wander, is based on a fundamental feel for a place-travel photographers often talk about the “spirit of place”.  That feel and spirit is generated by a variety of components; again, one’s values are the key factor here.  While walkability and wandering can be applied to a larger city, or at least certain parts of larger cities, this is much more of a small town experience.  My preference is for a main street (and all the more nostalgic if it is actually Main Street) along which are smaller, independently owned merchandisers among which to shop and eat; more about this is a minute.

BW photograph of a table and chair on the sidewalk in Bath, ME.

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

It helps to have brick sidewalks, although the more ubiquitous concrete will do.  Some trees lining the way make for a pleasant experience.  Being able to move about at a leisurely pace without being trampled by others moving with a purpose is critical.

BW photograph of the side/back of Bath Savings, in Bath, ME.

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

It goes without saying that pedestrians really do need to have the right-of-way without the risk of unpleasant gestures.  Speaking of pedestrians, it definitely adds to the pleasure when passersby acknowledge a greeting and are not buried within technology.

With regard to the shops, there are two types of utmost importance-and, actually, most likely, in this order of priority:  a good coffee shop and a good bookstore-extra satisfaction comes from the availability of used books.  If there were a third type, it would be good restaurants that have selections for healthy vegetarian dining.  That one is somewhat optional as one can always obtain food elsewhere.  The “independently owned” criteria applies greatly to each.  Yes, I do visit Dunkin’ Donuts and Barnes and Noble with a degree of regularity, however, we are talking about walkability and wandering.  I expect and do neither at those establishments.

BW photograph of the riverfront off Commerce Street in Bath, ME.

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

BW photograph of the neighborhood nearby, and the crane, at Bath Iron Works in Bath. ME.

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

BW photograph of the trestles for a bridge over the Kennebec River in Bath, ME.

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

The photographs herein are from Bath, ME-a town that absolutely meets all of the criteria above.  Bath is a place where it is quite comfortable to walk about and wander with a cup of coffee in hand.  Once that part of the day has concluded, the settling down with a good book can follow…

Take care.

“Take Me Home…”

October 25, 2017

BW photograph of a leaf-covered road in WVa.

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

“… country roads.”

John Denver’s song has a brief, but pivotal role in the recent Alien: Covenant.  It is also the basis of a sentiment that must, on some level, eventually put a buzz into any traveler’s ear.

BW photograph of an old barn in WVa.

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

The question then becomes what, when, and where is “home”?  Is that a physical or emotional place? Both? Neither?  How about a state of mind?  However it is defined, “home” must indeed be clearly defined.  Otherwise, how do you know when you have arrived? How do you gain a sense of being grounded?

On the other hand, how important is that?

BW photograph of fog in a WVa valley.

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

BW photograph of fog in a WVa valley.

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

BW photograph of fog in a WVa valley.

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

Put me in the mountains, and I am there.

As an aside, the photographs contained herein were made in West Virginia.

Take care.

Indigenous Peoples Day

October 9, 2017

BW photograph of the early morn across a boardwalk at Bethany Beach.

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

This discussion on WYPR’s Midday program is an important examination of Columbus Day and the movement for Indigenous Peoples Day.  The conversation speaks to selective attention and perception-this is especially critical when the argument is made about the protection of “heritage and history” when many do not really know either.  That, by extension, becomes an indictment of the manner and content used in the teaching of history.

It also begs the question:  by which criteria are people to be judged and celebrated, if they are to be judged and celebrated at all?

Take care.

Hurricane Season

September 27, 2017

BW photograph of a bike rack flooded by Hurricane Jose at Bethany Beach.

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

This is a photo essay showing the standing water that remained a couple of days after having been left by Hurricane Jose as it passed by Bethany Beach.  Jose remained off the coast, and so this part of the world was spared the massive damage generated by the 2017 Hurricane Season (thus far).  Such is not the case for other parts of the mainland U.S. and several of the islands in the Caribbean.

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

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

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

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

BW photograph of the Hurricane Jose's flooding of Bethany Beach.

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

BW photograph of a flooded storm drain in Bethany Beach.

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

NPR’s 1A broadcast a program dedicated to the impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico.  This discussion addressed the breadth and depth of the humanitarian, political, economic, and social issues generated by this disaster.  Several important historical points that have contributed to the current crisis are included.  Mr. Johnson’s opening lines encapsulate what follows.

Take care.

UPDATE:  This link addresses The Jones Act mentioned in the above discussion, and this link provides more details regarding the extreme hardships being experienced in Puerto Rico.

 

 

Nostalgia

June 4, 2017

BW photograph of two old rotary movers overgrown with ivy.

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

When times become complicated and stressful, there is a real tendency to retreat into nostalgia in an attempt to find some solace and security.

BW photograph of an old strorefront with painted product advertisements.

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

A walk down a historic street engenders such moments, and that does provide a welcome “time-out” from the everyday.  (Quite honestly, that is one of the reasons I like working in BW so much.)

BW photograph of a white wall with a "Private Property" sign listing several prohibitions, included "No Lurking".

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

However, it is a real mistake to think that times in the past were any more secure, less stressful, or “great”.  The Great Depression.  Two World Wars.  Redlining.  The Cold War.  Sputnik.  The 1968 Democratic Convention.  Martin Luther King. Vietnam.  Kent State. Rodney King.  9/11.  Iraq/Afghanistan.  The housing bubble.    Climate Change.  All times present their challenges-some extend longer or have deeper impacts than others.  Some are most certainly more personal than others.  And some issues appear to be intractable:  racism, economic inequality, war.

There is no going back: we, and time, can only move forward.  It is the manner by which that movement forward takes shape that is key. Any attempt to turn back the clock and re-create an illusionary, distorted view of the past will almost certainly create more issues ahead.

Yes, “time-outs” are helpful-we just can’t live in them.

Take care.