Neighborhood Photography

Not as popular as its flashy cousin street photography, neighborhood photography shows where we live and what’s going on where we live.

Irving Park Neighborhood in West Duluth

Like street photography, there are few rules. Make them up!

A portrait of a house, with squirrel

Walking down the sidewalk and pointing your camera at houses can get people curious and sometimes provoke hostile responses (rarely) just like street photography. I once had a woman call the cops on me and write me up as a creepy photographer on the rumor-mongering social media site, Nextdoor. More commonly, they think you might be a real estate agent or a tax assessor.

Night works well too. Winter is great for a slow dog walk with the camera. A dog makes it harder to take the photo (think tugging in one hand, shooting with the other) but they also remove the “who’s that weirdo” factor that photographers sometimes deal with. Your purpose is dog walking, the camera is secondary.

Juneau, Alaska in the Mendenhall Valley. Sleepy Court Cul-De-Sac.

You can return to houses and streets throughout the season and document changes.

Juneau, Alaska in the Mendenhall Valley. Locally just called “the valley.”
Duluth, Hillside Neighborhood, near 4th St.

What’s in your neighborhood?

Posted in neighboorhoods, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Insurance is an accounting function and should always be public.

Insurance is not difficult to understand, but the insurance companies like you to think it is. Everyone needs it, and in the fact the law requires it for everyone.

If you buy a car, you have to have car insurance. If you buy a house, you have to have homeowner’s insurance. If you exist, you have to have health insurance.

Insurance functions as a pool to spread risk. The larger the pool, the more efficient the function. When you are in need, you draw from the pool.

“Privatization” has been a mainstream political mantra for some time. What does it really mean? It means taking public services like the water utility or the power utility and allowing private companies to provide that service in exchange for the chance to make massive profits, which they do.

They promise lower rates, but those rates almost inevitably rise due to the profit taking and lack of competition. The health insurance industry, with the exception of Medicare and Medicaid and some state programs, has long been private. There are some “non-profit” insurance companies, but when you see the million dollar executive packages they offer you can see that there is plenty of profit for them too.

The Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known as Obama Care, did one thing right. It expanded Medicaid, and that has helped millions of people. s. The rest of it set up a private system with a few rules and regulations that ensure the private companies participating earn massive profits. It also has rules that help consumers. It is now more difficult for insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, for instance. The government will also subsidize your premium if your income is low enough. This is a good thing. But the policies are low grade, with massive deductibles most people cant afford, so the government is transferring large sums to private companies for poor products. High profit, low service.

Medicare For All is one partial solution. Public insurance, managed with little overhead by government employees, not profit seeking, cost-cutting executives. It’s a partial solution because we still need much more investment in public health over all, and full funding for the VA and the Indian Health Service.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Old Photo

Or older, at least. One of my big projects has been to go through my massive Lightroom library and keyword at least my better, more interesting photos. The reason is that if I then want to use them in projects, I can search by keyword and have lots of possibilities. Of course, by the time I get done keywording, I might be too old to do any projects.

Old stuff, downtown Duluth, January 28, 2017. View on Flickr
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dead Tree Portrait

At the start of the Old Hartley Road trail in Hartly Park, down by Tischer Creek, near the parking lot.

My latest Hartley images can be seen here.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate Havens Are A Sick Joke

This city has received some press about being a climate haven, a place to move to, if you can afford it, to avoid the worst of climate change as the world burns.

All of which avoids thinking about the fact that climate change is an international problem to be solved through international cooperation. Calling Duluth a climate haven or climate refuge is like calling it a nuclear holocaust refuge. If we don’t all work to make sure that the bulk of humanity has good housing, medical care, and wealth, as we transition to using much less carbon, we won’t just see a few wealthy people moving to Duluth to enjoy our cool summers, we will see empty grocery shelves and out of control energy prices. Our community gardens and farmers markets are not going to make up for that. The only reason we don’t have a riot of hungry people fighting for scraps at local farmers markets is because most people can go to Super One and buy commodity goods grown in California and Mexico. (to be continued…)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Here

Pandemic year 2.5, still chugging along, a perfect late May afternoon, a sort of lull between storms.

Our too-large house, a McMansion Tudor thing from 1914, was really looking its age, so we took out a second mortgage and got a ton of deferred maintenance done. New chimney (don’t ask), new cement front steps and porch (don’t ask), deep insulation of the back porch (also don’t ask). We only had enough money left to paint the front and North side of the house, the two worst, also fixing the stucco and rotting wood trim, including a couple squirrel holes. Now we have to save for the other two sides. With any luck our house will be fixed up in time for someone else to enjoy it. That’s how old, too-large houses work.

Our neighborhood is quiet, on the East side of town, the “cake eater” side. Rarely do we see the police. You could say that the police have been defunded and abolished on the East side. I’m sure they spend very little money here. All it takes is wealth, and the cops go away, other than a speed trap by the elementary school.

We don’t have the stinky paper mill, or the freeway pollution, or the poverty and everything it brings. And we don’t have cops driving around, looking for busts. There is no way this world will survive with a system like this.

A street near our how, Lake Superior in the distance.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Catching Up

I’m not going to write a long post catching my 1.2 readers up on what I’ve been doing, but here are some photos from the past few months.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

At Home


So, we all find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic, which would have sounded strange to write a few months ago, but now sounds normal. If you read the details of the hotspots, which I haven’t done today, it sounds terrifying, because what people in New York and other places are suffering is a nightmare, and we don’t really know if every single city will become a hotspot eventually, or if our partial shutdown and stay-at-home orders will keep some areas merely warm.

Today I heard some advice on a nutrition podcast, someone discussing how she and her husband are staying sane at home with 4 year old twin boys. They have made a schedule for their kids, not so different from a pre-school schedule, but also a daily schedule for her and her husband. She said it removes some of the stress and keeps her on track with things she wants to do. So I’m trying it out for the first time, and this is writing time. It’s working in that I’m writing.

Yesterday I grocery shopped for the first time with a mask on, a dust mask I found in the basement, crumpled up in a bag with some paint supplies. At first it looked like I was the only one with a mask, but then I noticed that most of the elderly people had surgical masks. It was late and not many people were there, so that was good.

My wife teaches medicine and works at a clinic one day a week. I worry about that one day. Being a part timer they haven’t fitted her for an N95, since they are in short supply. She took one of our crappy dust masks this morning. Our daughter has started to sew cloth ones and I think she will send a couple.

You would think I’d use this time for all sorts of productive things, reading more, working with the activist groups I’m part of, photography projects, writing, but I found myself a little scattered the first couple weeks, online too much. I have to make sure I’m done with reading or listening to any news by the early evening, otherwise I go to bed too wound up and can’t sleep well (either not falling asleep, or waking up too early, mulling things over).

Perhaps the strangest thing about this global catastrophe, what feels like World Wide Katrina, is the isolation. Solidarity is crucial, but solidarity depends so much on proximity. Isolation kills solidarity by forcing us to become hyper-focused on our individual needs. I need to start calling more people on the phone just to check in.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Green New Deal and Growth

The current economy only functions if it is expanding enough so that capitalists can make more and more profits, leading to very unhealthy levels of the wrong types of industry, bad land development, abuse of workers in order to compete, and poor use of natural resources.

Some environmentalists argue that we need to reach a “steady-state” no-growth economy, and that will require sacrifices. I think in some ways it is not helpful to frame it this way. We need an economy that is equitable, serves our needs well, and doesn’t kill us, yes. But growth comes in many forms. We want continued growth in technical and scientific progress, medical discovery and treatment, general education for all, spiritual growth, growth in our wild areas, growth in our ability to feed each-other safely, growth in our renewable resources like soil and water and the natural life therein, and most of all growth in community and international bonds of solidarity. Progress without pollution.


Posted in duluth, environment | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Border Crisis Solution

As the Trump administration assembles the usual list of ghouls to work on the overthrow of Venezuela, consider our long history of intervention in Latin America. Always in support of the right, always with dire results for regular people.


Posted in immigration | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment