For the last two days, I have driven to work in
total blue under a full moon.Sky,
lakes, land—everything bathed in blue until sunlight finally appeared as a
tiara on the Spokane Bench and spilled more colors across the valley floor.
Yesterday I stopped on my drive into town and
captured the pictures I have posted today.
I have conceivably asked Dan thousands of questions
over the last twenty-five or so years.Dan might suggest that I have asked hundreds in a single day.Dan, you see, works at Crescent Electric, an
electrical supply house that I have frequented for most of my career as an
electrician.And he is a dear friend.Let me give you an example of a typical
phone conversation we might have had:
ME:Danno!Hey. Got some questions.
DAN: Oh, boy…
ME: Do you
guys have any 3-sided, 8-phase, 6-throw, brown or black micro-widgets?
yeah, forgot that part.I need 120 volts.
DAN (working from
memory):That is a QW-3776.None
here.Two in Kalispell.One in Tallahassee, Florida.145 of them in Mombasa.
largest city in Kenya.We opened a
branch there four months ago.They are
big on industrial supplies. Flies are driving them crazy this year.
DAN: Yep.And, don’t forget, the 82300 multi-zinger you
ordered came in the other day.
yeah.Why did I order that?
ME:Right.Got it.Well, geez, I need one of them
QB…QS…Q-whatevers right away!What else can
RT-5667 FISCO will work if you flip the orange and purple leads and then hit
the reset button after you energize it the first time.
sure…Sounds complicated.What do you think?
DAN: I can
walk you through it over the phone.
three of them for me.You ready for the
rest of my order?
That might be pretty typical of a conversation
So, yesterday, I walked into Crescent Electric to
(wait for it…wait for it…wait for it) ask some questions, but Dan beats me to
“Hey,” he asks, “when are we gonna be in your blog?”
You probably will not have a particularly thrilling
ride if you attempt to leap off the fiscal cliff while strapped into your red
white and blue hang-glider.I have recently discovered that we are not
talking about that kind of cliff.Apparently, this cliff has more to do with math and money than altitude
And, no, the cliff is not made of money.
After talking with some folks, I quickly realized
that I was not alone in my misconception about the nature of the fiscal
cliff.This cliff will likely leave only accountants
and tax specialists gasping for air.Much
of the confusion likely arises from the mere fact that Congress is involved in
this matter.Congress, along with being
a fairly constant source of confusion, has been steadily proving over the
course of several generations that it is not adept in dealing with either math
or money.This cliff is all about math,
spending, taxes, and Congress.
Here is the deal.The fiscal cliff is actually a rather lurid description of a combination
of broadly forced spending cuts and sun-setting tax breaks—all coming by
default (please read as inaction by Congress) quite abruptly on the last day of
December this year.The “cliff” is what
the economy may plunge from should everyone’s taxes suddenly rise and the money
funding virtually all programs suddenly retract or vanish all at once.Some economists and business-types believe the
aforementioned combination will crash an already lumbering economy.
During the last session of Congress, the members of
that body put-off a bunch of difficult decisions related to taxes, spending,
and debt and then plunked a temporary fix on the doorstep of 2013.That is the fiscal cliff.
The hope now is that the House, the Senate, and the
President can all gather and fashion a fix for this before the end of this year.
Felipe Calderon, the outgoing President of Mexico,
announced a few days ago that he would like to change the name of his
country.He is no longer satisfied with
simply calling his homeland Mexico.Mr.
Calderon, to the dismay of critics who call the move (I am not going to swear
here) silly, would like the change the name from Mexico to Mexico.
That’s correct.Mexico would henceforth be called Mexico.
For those of us who have experienced difficulty
keeping up to this point (please note that my hand is raised to ask questions
over here) the name, as chosen for Mexico at the time of liberation from Spain
in 1824 was United Mexican States.President Calderon seeks to remove United and States as bookends for the formal name—never mind that everyone has
for nearly two centuries recognized Mexico as, simply, Mexico.
I can understand why, for the sake of creating a
splash, some entertainers adopt stage names, though I personally might have
balked at changing my name from Mitchell Hegman to Engelbert Humperdinck as
a fellow named Arnold Dorsey did.When the singer Prince changed his name to
that horn-looking thing, I was pretty baffled.I sort of understood the logic when Kentucky Fried Chicken converted to
KFC and I even managed to adopt the new moniker; but I am pretty certain that
will keep confusing Mexico with Mexico if President Calderon gets his way. --Mitchell
A deer died.Maybe the deer perished in an ugly murder at the jaws of a mountain lion
or a pack of wolves.Clearly, a messy
violence of some kind pitched the pelvis ahead of the jaw bone and beyond the
pickup-stick scatter of ribs.And the
jaw bone has drifted too far away.
I came upon the bones while walking in the juniper
and sage hills.
They gave me pause.
But the photo is the interesting thing.I took a color photograph…and it turned out
black and white, stark.The long
droughts and the light of day conspire against even the grass and bones of this
world—the colors are slowly drawn away in a black and white end at the edge of
Late in the afternoon, in a waterless landscape, a
solitary figure struck upon a narrow gorge that could not be crossed.The figure began following along the rim as
shadows reached out from some nearby mountains and the wind sent uprooted
things tumbling all around.As hours
passed, the figure drew crooked against the wind and the fierce gusts cried
against the exposed rock.
At dusk, the figure slowly dissolved into an inky
darkness that seemingly swelled up from the gorge.Eventually, stars curved into a dome above
and tumbleweeds swept across the open spaces before dropping silently into the
Napoleon Bonaparte, Jim Morrison, and Mahatma Gandhi
went to see a triple-x movie.In
fairness, Gandhi thought the movie, titled, Shining
My Monkey, was about animals in the forest.Within ten minutes of the theater lights dimming and bare skin filling the
screen, Jim Morrison started making out with a redheaded girl of twenty-something.Napoleon tipped his hat back and watched the
film while fidgeting with his sword, wondering why his clothing had more
buttons than anyone around him.Mahatma
Gandhi peered over his glasses at the screen and continuously poked Napoleon,
asking repeatedly if he had seen a monkey yet.
Halfway through the movie, a shower of popcorn fell
over all three men and the redhead.
Using all available sources, determine who among the
aforementioned movie-goers yelled out: “Dude, did Michael Jackson just throw
popcorn at you?”Please choose one of
____ Jim Morrison
____ Napoleon Bonaparte
____ The redhead
____ Mahatma Gandhi
Correct answer for the question posted on 11-20-2012:Please see Sky is My Garden blog
post for August 36, 2011.
I taught a “grounding and bonding” class to a mix of electricians and solar
photovoltaic system installers.The very
first slide of my Power Point presentation depicted an image of Benjamin
as I explained to the class, was perhaps the first person to recognize that
lightning was the same thing as the static charges snapping from our
fingers.He was also the first person to
reckon that lightning flowed from different points of potential as a kind of
current.He called this current
“electric fire” and reckoned that the current flowed between what he termed as “positive”
and “negative” points.
side note (pun not fully intended), Franklin is also very good to have in your
pocket as a $100.00 bill.
the lightning experiments Franklin conducted with kites are thought to be more
mythical than reality, Franklin made serious contributions to the study of
electricity.He invented the lightning
rod, which is still in use today.He was
also the first person to “ground” any sort of true electrical system—the very
reason I launched my class with him.
Franklin’s system, though simple, proved very effective.Franklin created his system by attaching a
lightning rod to the roof of his house.He then routed a wire from the rod and fixed the wire to a couple of
bells.From the bells, he dropped the
wire down the side of his home, and then fastened the wire to a rod driven in
the ground.Lightning struck the rod
repeatedly, ringing the bells and showering the home with sparks—but the system
spared the home from any of the damage normally associated with a direct lightning
strike by efficiently discharging the impulse into the earth.
for today: Where did Ben Franklin Go after Lightning Rang His Bells?Please choose the best answer from the
choices listed below.
____ “Franklin went to Dairy Queen and
ordered a Mint Oreo Blizzard.”
____ “Ben Franklin sailed off to Europe to
bathe with questionable women.”
____ “Franklin didn’t go anywhere.He remained home drinking beer by the
pot-bellied stove he invented.”
____ “Ben Franklin went to fetch his wife
after she ran out of the house, screaming obscenities.”
Correct answer for the question posted on 11-19-2012: #3 “Genghis Khan jammed it behind a blown
screw-in type fuse to restore power to his Xbox.”
John Maynard Keynes, the famous economist, drove to
Best Buy to purchase a new laptop computer.After negotiating a fabulously great deal on a swift machine with a
young male clerk who, until only two days previous, thought Newt Gingrich was a
kind of lizard with twitchy eyes, Mr. Keynes handed over cash for payment.Just as the clerk reached out to give John
Maynard Keynes his single penny in change, Genghis Khan appeared on a black
stallion, snatched away the penny and galloped off with the loot, shouting
Your question for today—where did Genghis Khan hide
the penny he absconded from the store? Please choose one of the following:
____ “Under the steps.”
____ “Under the steppes.”
____ “Genghis Khan jammed it behind a blown
screw-in type fuse in his Bronx apartment to restore power to his Xbox.”
Correct answer for the question posted on 11-18-2012: #4 “Are you two clowns aware that Mitchell
Hegman and I share the same date of birth?”
Albert Einstein and Hank Williams Sr. are attempting
to assemble an exercise bike without referring to the instructions.Albert Einstein is somewhat distracted.He is thinking about an attractive young
woman he saw earlier and is now mentally establishing her exact association with
the number eight.Hank Williams Sr. is
fidgeting with a box-end wrench.He is
imagining playing one of his ballads to an auditorium filled with people who
all have crazy Einstein hair.
What would Thomas Jefferson say if asked to help
finish assembling the exercise bike?Please choose one of the following statements as your answer:
“I shall be happy to assemble any machine, such as this, that bears arms.”
“The freedom to assemble and the freedom to refuse to assemble must remain with the individual.My choice is refusal.”
“Al, what is the deal with your hair?Seriously?”
“Are you two clowns aware that Mitchell Hegman and I share the same date of birth?”
Lake Helena is one of the first large bodies of
water to form solid ice across its surface in the winter.The ice may seal-in the lake in either
November or December and not open again until March or April, dependent upon
the severity of winter at both ends.
Lake ice might come and go at first—advancing and
receding with lowering and rising temperatures.Winds and the undulations of waves may also work to keep the surface
open.Hauser Lake, immediately below my
house, is a case in point.Though Lake
Helena has now been locked in ice for well over a week, Hauser Lake remains open
and flexing by day with waves that release wisps of steam.Each morning, I wake to fog; the scarves of
steam having gathered into a whole at my house in the predawn hours.Winter’s northwind regularly stirs Hauser
Lake, insisting that it remains open for several weeks beyond the formation of
ice on Lake Helena.
By the end of January, however, the ice on both lakes
will easily reach a depth of 1½ feet—thick enough to support a freight train.The daytime surface of the ice near the lake homes
might fill with children on ice-skates, sleds, and the always-chasing dogs.The once watery arms and bays will sprout
ice-fishermen who might remain there, lanterned in bluish palls oflight, long after dark.ATVs, iceboats, and even pickup trucks will
race across the bright and solid surface of the lakes in perfectly straight
For now, though, the ice is thin and crossed only by
The photograph posted today is one I snapped at a
fishing access on Lake Helena about a week ago.
This morning, on my drive to Helena so that I might
dance with my young business partner’s two-year-old twin girls (which I do most
mornings) and then possibly do something strikingly similar with work (minus
the requisite compensation in pay), I chanced upon a red fox weaving across a
snowy pasture under a star-spun early morning sky.I thought to myself, it is a good day when,
on your way to dance with two-year-olds and do pretend work, you see a fox in a
field under a bunch of stars.
Following a whole weekend of blizzards, some of us
are still trying to extricate our cars and our lives from snow accumulations.On Sunday morning, I bundled myself in heavy
clothing, fired-up my snow-plow-equipped ATV, then blasted through the snow to
clear my drive as well as my neighbor’s drive, and open the quarter-mile of
country road that connects us to East Helena and then (in theory) Chicago and
Yesterday morning, while meeting with John, my young
business partner, I took a call from June, a mutual friend.“Can you help me?” she asked.“My car is snowed-in.”
Within a half hour both John and I were across town
alongside June, shoveling snow from around her car.After no more than five minutes we managed to
finish and then pushed her car free from the snow-piled curbside. On our drive back through town, I got off onto
another snow-bound side street to negotiate around our local version of
“malfunction junction.”As we drove
along, I said to John, “How would you feel if I turned around and we helped
another woman dig out her car?”
“Okay,” he said.“What woman?”
“We just drove by her.We have our shovels.”
I flipped directions, drove back a block or so,
parked, and then John and I got out and started to dig snow alongside the youngish
woman.We didn’t say much.After a few minutes I said, “I think that
The woman thanked us and we went on our way to a
warmer than expected day.
Sometimes, I like science and what I term as “sciency”
stuff because the scientific community often reverts to whimsy in what are
otherwise indigestible fields of study.In
quantum physics, for instance, one of the sub-atomic particles has been termed
a quark.Furthermore, quarks might be found in six
different flavors.The flavors of quarks are: up, down, charm, strange, top, and bottom.
I sometimes try to imagine quark discussions between
scientists in the particle collider lab.For the purpose of my illustration “Hank” will be a sciency name.
what is up with that down particle in the collider?”
I found a strange strange beside my up, too.”
This is the sort of material that makes me sit alone
with my forty pounds of housecat, giggling uncontrollably.
Another favorite example of scientific quirkiness
involves the discovery of a once sea-going shellfish fossil.The fossil in question is a crustacean dating
back some 425 million years.The specimen
happens to be the oldest fossil ever discovered with a penis still intact.The British paleontologist who discovered the
critter named it Colymbosathon
ecplecticos.The name is Greek for “astounding swimmer with a large penis.”
The city of Helena, Montana is virtually jammed into
the Rocky Mountains.Old mining camp
neighborhoods and new luxury homes have been pasted like postage stamps onto
the mountains foothills and mountains.In much of what we call the “South Hills,” the city stops quite abruptly
and the wilds begin outright.
My friend Jeff lives in the South Hills only five
minutes (literally) from downtown Helena.I have been helping him with some wiring on his house recently.Just to give you an idea of how rapidly the
landscape swings to the wilds, I have posted a picture I took little more than
a stones-throw from Jeff’s house.
I tried to ignore the sunset yesterday evening as I
sat in my house watching the talking heads on television dicing-up these United
States and the electoral votes as we head into what will surely be a close
presidential election.Almost every time
someone attempted to explain why Obama would sweep this region or Romney would
surge in that zip code I thought about a line from a Richard Hugo poem:
kind of man could never be president, only a target for the common cold…”
Perhaps not exact, but something near that.
I tried to ignore the sunset, but the colors kept
spilling into my house from outside and the talking heads all started to merge
together into one big mumbling blob in my mind.I thought to myself: Mitch, your camera is sitting ten feet away from you.When I looked over to my camera, sitting there
on my dining room table, I saw that the sunset colors were even beginning to
stain the black camera body a little red.
weak when you start to throw colors at me.
·Six days beyond Superstorm Sandy,
people—including my daughter—are finally returning to their New York City
apartments with power and some evidence of sanity restored.On Staten Island, however, many people don’t
have places left to return to.They have
only a floor of sticks and mud and a house of clouds and wind.
·One summer, back in my preteens, I dove
into Canyon Ferry Reservoir while wearing my prescription glasses.My older, almost-cousin, dove in a bit later,
wearing goggles, and frogged down to the bottom of the lake to retrieve
them.We were both pretty happy about
that.Three years later he dove into shallow
water in the same lake and broke his neck.He ended up an angry and frail quadriplegic from that dive.I have not been swimming in that lake since.
·The fact that I observed a dozen Canada geese
flying northward over my house does not mean that they are not flying south for
Though my wife has been gone from me for something
near a year and a half, I find myself at one point or another, during the
course of each day, thinking of her.I
think about her every single time I pump fuel into her car (because she always
hounded me about twisting the gas-cap until it clicked several times).Walking past the room that was once her craft
space is often a trigger for thought.Sometimes, out of nowhere, her smile appears in my mind.
I experience one or the other of two distinct
emotions when I think of Uyen…I am either overcome with sorrow or I find that I
am happy to recall a light or even mundane moment we shared.
Yesterday, as I gazed up at the sky-wide flow of
clownishly over-inflatedclouds my
thoughts somehow turned to Uyen.I
thought about the day we worked together constructing the masonry piers that
now serve as entry posts to my drive.That day, as yesterday, was filled with afternoon warmth and exquisite
clouds.I swear, as I stood there
watching, the clouds stopped moving entirely.I mean, the whole sky just stopped moving!And they remained stock still until I finally
smiled and let Uyen go one more time.
An interesting fact: The Hilo Yacht Club, an
oceanfront property located on the rainy side of Hawaii’s big island, has been
in existence since 1913.A more
interesting fact: The Hilo Yacht Club does not now and has not ever entertained
a single yacht on premises, though it does harbor a really nice bar and great
Only on the rarest of occasions will you find me
going someplace without my camera.I
have it in my automobile when I go to work, when I drive across the valley to
see friends, and even when I go to town for grocery shopping.
My theory regarding the constant habit (sometimes
annoyance) of carrying my camera is that you never know when an image or moment
worth capturing will present itself to you.I am always admonishing other people for not having their camera when I
catch them without theirs.Only a few
days ago a friend called me and said, “You are right…I should have had my
camera,” and then went on to tell me about a missed opportunity for
photographing fall colors against a spectacular blue sky.
I am posting two of the reasons I take my camera to
work.I stopped along my way to Helena
yesterday to capture this sunrise over Hauser Lake.I purposefully flashed the portrait-style
photograph to highlight the grass.