Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Maltman’s Shiel: Of What Value Tradition?


Balvenie Scotch is made using the very same processes as when, in 1893, in the Scottish Highlands, the Balvenie Distillery Company began the first distillations.  The maltmen at Balvenie continue with floor maltings, using a wooden shiel to turn the barley four times each day during the germinating stage.  Peat is still used in the kiln drying.  Coopers (barrel makers) continue employing the same hammers and hand-struck tools to assemble, seal, and tap the oak casks in which the spirits are aged.
To be labeled as Scotch, a whiskey must spend a minimum of three years maturing in oak casks in Scotland.  Most popular Scotch whiskies are aged at least twelve years.  The process for making Scotch involves malting (germinating) barely, drying the malt (using kilns heated and smoked with peat), grinding the malt into grist, and brewing the grist following the addition of water.  After brewing for a while, the mash produces an active sugared juice called wort.  Yeast is added to the wort to begin fermentation.  After fermentation, which produces the alcohol, the mix is distilled to glean the spirits from the water.  Finally, the spirits are matured in oak casks.  The casks are always second-hand—having been used once in making another product (usually bourbon in America).    
It is not unlikely that some smart young lab technician could synthetically produce a blend of multisyllabic whatchacallits to make a cheap form of Balvenie-like Scotch.  Probably, this could be accomplished at a fraction of the present cost.  Robots might mix test tubes in a “malting zone.”  Sophisticated building automation and Ethernet connections may assure the exact temperature and humidity for the mix.  The whole process might take fifteen minutes and the liquid may not rest for a single second. 
Scotch could be produced inside a converted tire factory warehouse in Detroit, Michigan.
Personally—though I am by trade involved in the installation and design of sophisticated control systems—I prefer an actual maltman and his shiel working on my Scotch and turning the grain against the malting floor.  I appreciate the tradition of the malting, fermenting, and aging process.  With each sip of the half-glass of Scotch that I drink most evenings, I taste a bit of the malting floor, of the barrels used in aging, and the peat used for drying.  I sometimes imagine the Highlands.  I see flocks of sheep slowly stirring—like sea foam—against the green waves of land above the distillery.  I hear the echo of the maltmen walking the distillery floors and pushing their shiels across the wooden planks.
I prefer my Scotch as an adventure, not merely a drink.

--Mitchell Hegman
For tradition, look here:  www.thebalvenie.com

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More Useless Aphorisms and Thoughts


·         You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot teach a hippopotamus to use a paring knife with any notable skill.
·         Better to be constantly seeking knowledge than to know why the word hemorrhoid is spelled with a double “r.”
·         Everyone deserves a second chance at love, but if you cannot get the dishes clean the first time give someone else a chance.
·         If results are the light that guides men, it must be pretty dark at your house.
·         Even a pretty stupid movie might turn you on to good music.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Cat and the Final Crossing


Most mornings, I wake with 20 to 40 pounds of domestic housecat on my bed with me.
Here is the math on that:
1.      Mitch cats = 20 lbs. per cat.
2.      Therefore, 1 cat on bed = 20 lbs.
3.      2 cats on bed (2 cats x 20 lbs.) = 40 lbs. of cat.
I am comforted by the presence of a cat or two when I wake in the morning.  I am not alone in the universe.  And the cats are hungry.
Not everyone likes cats.  I appreciate that view.  You will not relish a cat if, for example, you like to think you are the boss.  If you don’t enjoy hair clinging to everything, or don’t take readily to being ambushed in the hallway, you likely will not accept living with cats.
And then we have Oscar.
Oscar is a “death” cat.  The claim is that Oscar has predicted the deaths of some 50 patients at a Rhode Island nursing home.  Oscar—normally a very standoffish sort—will for some reason seek out and cuddle on the bed with nursing home patients in their last hours.  Generally, he utterly ignores the patients and nursing home staff, but once Oscar senses that a patient is near death he will go to their room and perform his vigil.  “It’s not like he dawdles.  He’ll slip out for two minutes, grab some kibble and then he’s back at the patient’s side,” wrote Dr. David Dosa, a geriatrician at the facility and professor at Brown University.  Dr. Dosa wrote an article about Oscar in the New England Journal of Medicine.  Eventually, he produced a book titled, Making rounds with Oscar: the extraordinary gift of an ordinary cat.
Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence adopted Oscar when he was a kitten.  The home has several other cats, which are enjoyed by patients, staff, and visitors alike.  Early on, however, Oscar revealed his aloofness for all those accept the patients near death.   Eventually, the staff began to trust in the cat’s judgment.  Once, thinking that a patient was at the end of hours, the nurses placed Oscar on the bed with the patient in question.  The cat immediately fled the room and sought out another patient to sleep with.  Later that night, the patient Oscar slept with crossed over.  If the staff leaves the door of a room with a dying patient closed, Oscar will scratch at the door until he is allowed to enter the room and jump up on the patient’s bed.
How does Oscar sense the approach of death?  A scent?  A change in temperature?  Something in the activity of staff and family?  No one is quite sure.  While you might think people would be fearful of Oscar, many family members, just the same, take comfort in knowing that Oscar is there to be with their loved ones when the final hours arrive.
I have my regular cats.  I wake each morning with 20 to 40 pounds of cat on my bed with me.  They are perpetually hungry and have probably shredded a houseplant during the night.
--Mitchell Hegman  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cleopatra and Zsa Zsa Gabor in a Mud Bath


Zsa Zsa Gabor and Cleopatra were taking a mud bath together at an exclusive resort in Sedona, Arizona when the song Black Dog by Led Zeppelin emanated from the sound system.
“You are not as good-looking as I expected,” Zsa Zsa casually remarked to Cleopatra.
“Maybe so,” answered Cleopatra, “but nonetheless a bust of me is on display in the Altes Museum of Berlin.  I also understand men and have taken many lovers.”  Cleopatra, as a flourish, lifted an arm from the mud.   “My charm is in my voice.”
Zsa Zsa Gabor opened her eyes.  “Ha!  Men!  I have had nine husbands.  My eighth marriage lasted only one day.  And your bust is presently in black mud, darling.”
“Marriage for only one day…” mused Cleopatra, “seems hardly worth the effort.”
“That was number eight.  He was a simple playboy and would have bored me.  Good riddance to him.”
Cleopatra thought for a while and then responded:  “Well, most men are empty vessels.  We have them where we want them and when we want them.”
On the sound system, Black Dog fell into the stanza beloved and oft repeated by men worldwide: Hey, hey, baby, when you walk that way, watch your honey drip, can't keep away.  Ah yeah, ah yeah, ah, ah, ah.    Ah yeah, ah yeah, ah, ah, ah."


--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dark Horses in Pink Light


The other morning on my drive into town for work I came upon a few dark horses feeding in a pasture underneath a whole sky filled with the pinkish light of a new day.  The scene was so striking; I pulled my car off the road so I could get outside and take in the whole expanse. 
No wind.  No sounds.  Just dark horses slowly crossing a pasture in pink light.
I have posted two pictures from my time there.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, January 25, 2013

Lopsided Formations


For whatever reason, formations of Canada geese fly directly overtop my house in both their northward migration and their southward migration.   I have written previously about how they often fly so low overtop me I feel that I might reach out and grab one by the bill.  They are also capable of calamitous noise and pooping copiously while in flight.  I may expand upon that some other day.
The fact that geese gather into and hold their distinctive V-shaped formations is pretty remarkable—especially when you consider that I cannot get even a single one of my two cats to follow me in any manner whatsoever.  Not even from room to room, let alone across a whole continent.
According to what I read at a Library of Congress website, geese fly in a V-formation for two reasons.  First, flying in such a formation conserves energy due to the fact that each bird flies slightly above the one directly in front—which reduces wind resistance.  The lead birds regularly fall back and allow others to take the foreword position so that the burden of breaking the way is shared by all. 
The second reason geese fall into this formation is probably due to the fact that the V offers all flyers a view of the flight path ahead of them.  This makes perfect sense.
I also began to notice (from observations while sitting in my hot tub) that one side of nearly every V-pattern that overflew my home was noticeably longer than the other.   Sometimes the right string of the pattern might be longer than the left.  The next skein might have a longer left side.
Why a lopsided pattern?  Why?
After watching flocks fly over me time and time again, the reason became clear why…one side had more birds on it that the other.


--Mitchell Hegman       NOTE:  Haha?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Banker’s Dilemma


The problem presented to most bankers when you ask them a question regarding the terms of a potential loan is this:  They must either lie or tell you the truth—which makes them fraudulent in either case.


--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

To Which I Have Yet to Find an End


Posted today is another photograph I captured of Lake Helena.  In the foreground you will see the tracks of deer and smaller animals—perhaps raccoons—stitched across the snow where they skirted a fence to reach morning’s pink water at the edge of the lake ice.
The water remains open due to a warm spring seeping into the lake there.  
I like how our snowy landscapes retain the signatures of day-to-day living.  The meandering lines where mule deer cross through open hills, feeding.  The endlessly circling trails of raccoons.  The miniature hop-and-tail-drag of mice softing (my own word, thank you) over the very surface of the snow between sagebrush hideouts.   My own tracks, to which I have yet to find an end.


--Mitchell Hegman   

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Randomness


One day, man named Pasquale Buzzelli lived. 
Not unusual to live, I know.  But Pasquale was in a North Tower of the World Trade center when the tower collapsed on September 11, 2001.  He lived while 1,402 others in the same tower perished—most as the tower collapsed around them.
Some confusion remains about Pasquale’s exact location as the tower crashed in on itself.  He was certainly in Stairwell B and descending.  Pasquale thought he had just reached the 22nd floor of the structure, though other sources, including another of the 16 survivors of the collapse, thought he was on the 13th floor.
As the upper floors began to pancake down, the building trembled mightily.   The rumbling intensified.  When the stairs buckled, Pasquale Buzzeli dove for a corner.  He awoke atop a pile of rubble a couple of hours later, numb and in a seemingly otherworldly place.  An intense fire raged nearby.  Responders had to fight back the fire to rescue him.
Thousands of people perished all around Pasquale.  People he could reach out and touch in Stairwell B at the instant it disintegrated around him vanished utterly.
Why did Pasquale Buzzelli live?
He was neither the youngest nor the oldest there that day.  He was not the most pious man.  He was not the most able or most kind.   He thought only about his wife and unborn child as he dove for a corner in the crumpling stairwell.
In Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, that rope bridge, high in the Andes Mountains, collapses in the very first sentence.  Five people crossing the bridge at the moment of collapse tumble to their deaths inside a deep ravine.  A Catholic friar monk named Brother Juniper was about to step onto the bridge himself at the moment of the catastrophe.   The question he asked immediately following his witnessing of the failure of the Bridge of San Luis Rey was not why the bridge failed.  The question:  Why, out of the hundreds of travellers crossing the bridge daily, were those five on the planks when the bridge fell?
The novel then follows Brother Juniper for six years as he investigates the lives of the five victims prior to that instant of demise.  Using formulas and ratings for such things as goodness, piety, and usefulness, Brother Juniper attempts to determine if the five died of mere happenstance or as part of God’s ultimate plan.  Had they each done something wrong?  Is retributive justice part of this life?  Do good things happen to good people?  Do bad things happen to bad people?
Why did Pasquale Buzzelli live?
Did some pattern or intelligent design allowed him to live?
Was it happenstance or design that reckoned the death of the others?
Pasquale slowly recovered from his injuries following his rescue from the rubble of the North Tower.  He often thought about those he could reach out and touch at the moment he dove in the stairwell.  He now lives with “survivor guilt.”   
What of those other people?
The answers are never satisfying.   Not for Brother Juniper.  Not for Pasquale Buzzelli.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 21, 2013

Losing Is Everything


Sometimes, I think we are so busy always trying to win that we forget the beauty of merely competing with elegance and the grace in losing well.  We presently live in a world of Lance Armstrong doping to gain a few seconds on up-hill climbs and baseball players taking anabolic steroids in hopes of lifting a baseball over the fence.
Everyone strives for the record books.  Nothing else will do.
Thankfully another side of sports exists.  One of my favorite stories is from a Special Olympics event in Washington State many years ago.  During a running event, one of the contestants took a tumble.  Two other runners, seeing the third runner in distress, stopped, and ran back to help the fallen runner.  After a few assurances, all three runners locked arms and crossed the finish line in last place as one.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Janis Joplin (Happy 70th Birthday)


I was not a huge fan of the singer Janis Joplin until I heard her talking—not singing—talking.
Janis once said:  “On stage I make love to twenty five thousand people; and then I go home alone.”  But that hardly describes her stage presence.  Set on stage, singing, and washed perhaps a bit too brightly by spotlights, Janis Joplin convulsed with energy.  Singing, she became a blend of rock-crusher and silk scarf—one moment belting out the whiskey blues the next wrapped around a microphone, breathlessly whispering. 
Spirited live performances propelled Janis Joplin to solid fame in the late 1960s.  She blazed there for several years as a premiere rock artist.  Then, on October 4, 1970 she died of a heroin overdose, a victim of the rock and roll curse of being the age of 27 and at the peak of popularity, just the same as Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Curt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse.  At the time of her death Janis was putting the final touches on her Pearl recordings.  The album Pearl went platinum and held the number one spot on Billboard’s Top 200 for several weeks after release in January of 1971.
Janis cackled when she laughed.  She screeched.  She hid behind her frizzy mass of hair.  Sometimes the music of her back-up bands seemed to be punching her in the guts.  But underneath all of that—below the tie-dye and the hippie slang—resided a sweet and articulate young woman.
Dick Cavett, the talk show host, seemed to have an honest connection with Janis.  Watching her on his show is where I first came to really appreciate her.  After only a few seconds of watching her conversations with Cavett I realized that she was one of us: a real person underneath a lurid stage performer.  Underneath the loud clothing was a vulnerable high school outcast, a painter, a reader of books.  I fell for her as I watched her on that show.
“I’m one of those regular weird people,” as she once remarked.
Indeed. 
Yesterday would have been Janis Joplin’s 70th birthday.


--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Valid Question



To get some sense of self, a cat will smell its ass.  What do you do?
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, January 18, 2013

Emergency Strawberry Frost-Response Kit


Raising four girls all by himself has had a weird effect on my friend.  While raising four girls might drive your standard issue adult male to drink excessively or perhaps take up collecting the fossilized poo of dinosaurs, my friend has found a far more unusual form of stress release. 
My friend buys emergency kits.
Weird, I know.
He has six or so first-aid kits.  He purchased the same number of roadside emergency kits with hazard triangles, jumper cables, flashlights, and flares. 
Emergency sewing kit?
Check.
Emergency water purification kit?
Check.
Survival food kit?
Check.
Emergency Strawberry Frost Response Kit?
Ummm.  Yeah, that, too.
Somehow, my friend found a “frost response” kit for the protection of his strawberries in the event of a frost emergency.  The rest of us would call this a roll of plastic.  I think he even had to provide his own gloves for emergency deployment.
I am just happy that I have only one daughter.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, January 17, 2013

An Electrician Died


An electrician that I know died.  His obituary, when written, will most likely say that he died of natural causes, which is not wholly accurate.
My electrician friend had a name that will mean nothing to you and he had bad blood—not the strain of bad blood that made him punch strangers in the nose and steal cars, but rather the kind that thins readily and dawdles around aimlessly when it is supposed to fight off toxins.  And he had a really flat nose because he once went ragdoll while riding a bull in a rodeo and smacked his face square on the bull’s hump.
He came from North Dakota and rode quite a few bulls.  My electrician friend often rafted whitewater, occasionally clung to somebody’s cousin late in the night, and sometimes walked right up to women and sang love songs to them.
He couldn’t sing worth a damn, that guy.
I think my friend died from trying too hard.  In his last great act, living on too much blood and borrowed time, he attempted to work sense into a rank horse.  The horse kicked him in the groin, opening a mouth in his body where none should be.  His body couldn’t remember how to stop bleeding.
Several doctors tried to make his body remember how to stop bleeding, but my friend had such a stupid, dying body.  He actually used to laugh about it, saying he should have waved goodbye and stepped off the edge years ago.

--Mitchell Hegman
Note: This is not a recent event.   

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If Stupid is a Color Please Colour Me Stupid


For a while I thought that my computer was British.  But after a while I realized that only my Gmail spellchecker was British; the rest of my computer was American.
Though we speak English on both sides of the Atlantic, some subtle differences still persist in certain facets of our common language.  Compare, as illustration, the sentences below.
American version: “I don’t want to see my girlfriend at the moment.”      
British version: “If I wunted ta see me bird, I’d go to ‘er flat straight away, now wuddn’t I?
As you can plainly discern, the sentences are saying the exact same thing, but have been tinted by a slight drift in the language.
My Gmail spellchecker was slightly less British than the sentence above, but threw fits with my spelling.  If I wrote color, my spellcheck wanted colour.  My catalog was, in Gmail, catalogue. Defense took a back seat to defence.   
At some point I suffered a bit of frustration and sought out websites to see what I could find about spelling.  I landed on this site:  http://grammarist.com/spelling/defence-defense/ and found the following graphs.
Our language is graphing all over the freakin’ place!
The differences in spelling are sometimes a matter of French influence.  At other times the British spellings are a reflection of Latin origins.  Always confusing.   Maybe silly.  If you recall, Mark Twain once said: “Anyone who can only think of one way to spell a word obviously lacks imagination.”
Not long ago, I complained about my Gmail spellcheck to my young business partner, John.  “It is like…British or something.”
He squinted at me for a while.  “Seriously?” he asked.
I nodded. 
John sat down to my computer and launched Gmail.  Tapity-tap-tap—he menued up through a few settings and changed a language preference.   “There,” he said.  “Fixed.”
We are all American now.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This is F#@$*#g Beautiful!



Pictured below is a landscape caught at something near -10 degrees.  I snapped the photographs while snowshoeing with my friend, Oonie, on Sunday morning.  We started at the very top of MacDonald pass and then tramped down the lee side of the Rocky Mountains through the snow—often as deep as four feet.
Beautiful!  No other word required…though Oonie and I often yelled out things such as: “This is f_ _ _ _ _g bee-eew-tee-ful!”  Well…we pretty much kept repeating just that one thing.

Sometimes, we stopped and stood still in forested places that were so quiet you could hear your own imagination connecting the dots.  We passed through a place where a forest fire tore through the woods leaving only the stark and perfectly rigid uprights of lodgepole pines.  The surreal image and the uniformity of the blackened trees seemed almost computer generated and was transfixing.

We stared directly at the sun.
 
I ate a scoop of snow that stung my tongue with deep chill and then fell once (face-first) into the snow.

Winter.  Just f_ _ _ _ _g beautiful!

Ask Oonie, she’ll tell ya.




--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 14, 2013

Intelligent Life, Radio Waves, and Self-Destruction


Intelligent life has yet to find us.  And at the rate we are going, we may never be discovered.  We, the human population aboard this spaceship Earth, may self-destruct before we find intelligence and other intelligence locates us.
I am convinced that some people living among us are not friendly and would willingly reward all of our technological progress to this point with total annihilation if given a chance. 
Consider Sandy Hook, where Adam Lanza slaughtered 26 people, mostly small children, with a Bushmaster assault rifle before taking his own life.   Perhaps you recall Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, who in 1995 killed 168 people with a homemade truck-bomb that he parked in front of the Federal Building there.  He wished to trigger a revolt against the U.S. government.
Our history is over-filled with carnage.  Stalin and Hitler institutionalized genocide.  Saddam Hussein murdered an entire Kurdish town with poison gas.  How many perished in Pol Pot’s Cambodian killing fields?   Perhaps most disturbing and indicative of all is the event we now call “nine-eleven.”
Why it that disturbing?   The men responsible for flying the planes into the twin towers not only willingly killed thousands of people, they were also quite eager to perish.  Those men—a collective—had reached a religious conclusion that they would even be rewarded for obliteration.  Some thought their rewards would include 70 virgins in a life beyond.  Whether the beliefs of the men who perpetrated the acts of bringing down the towers were rational or not is of no consequence.  They were many.  They were capable.  They were willing.
How safe are we as more nations acquire nuclear capabilities?  Can we count on the stability of everyone around us?   How far-fetched to think that one day a person of similar intent to the nine-elven terrorists may find his (statistically this will be a man) way to the trigger of the final bomb?  Have we not had crazies rise to power before?  And what precisely does the Biblical Book of Revelation describe happening to this world, if not annihilation?        
Poof! 
Silence.
Back to intelligent life.  We have been seeking signs of intelligent life in space ever since we became technically savvy enough to do so.  We must also assume—as I suggested at the opening of this writing—that any intelligent beings, if out there, will be looking for us.
Mostly in surreptitious fashion, governments have long been watching the skies and listening to various wavelengths to seek the presence of aliens (forgive the terms) from outer-space.   SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), a privately funded group, also took-up listening and watching for signs of other advanced alien civilizations.  Such notables as Carl Sagan and the founders of Hewlett and Packard have been SETI benefactors.
Presently, we are loud and dancing fast.  We are emitting radio waves and microwaves and, in turn, listening for the same.  These waves are the first signs of advanced civilizations.  Back in 1961 a gentleman named Frank Drake devised an equation, now known as the Drake Equation, to help everyone focus on the factors that may help us find intelligent and communicating civilizations in our galaxy.  The equation accounts for such things as the number of stars, the percentage of those likely to have planetary systems, the number of planets capable of supporting life, and so forth.  I do not wish to get lost in the equation because each factor is a full study.  Instead, I have posted a link at the end of my blog to a video that fully explains the equation.   
The Drake Equation: N = N* fp ne fl fi fc fL
For now, all we need to know this:  N, is the estimated number of communicating civilizations in the galaxy.  On the left (business) side of the equation, fL is the fraction of a planet’s life that a communicating civilization is expected to survive.  That brings us back to the opening of this blog—the part where I questioned the possibility of our ever being discovered. 
Here is the deal…to calculate the span of time that a communicating civilization will survive; a variable must be established to determine how many advanced civilizations out there might obliterate themselves with weapons of mass destruction of their own making.  Moreover, how does that impact the overall duration of their intelligent communication?  Will they have blasted themselves back into silence before we can reach them?
No firm answers here.  
On December 1, 2010, Pieter van Dokkum (Yale University) released findings from a study conducted at the Keck Observatory on the Big Island of Hawaii which tripled the number of stars estimated to exist in the universe.  The study, which focused on so-called red dwarfs, also at least triples the estimated number of earth-like planets that may anchor intelligent life.
Chances of finding others in the galaxy or of being found by them seem to be improving…that is if we can hold the crazies at bay and keep the radios playing. 

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Death Star Obliterated by the White House


While the rest of us went about our everyday business of over-feeding the cats and flipping through the television channels to see if any smart network executive has yet launched the Building Really Useful Stuff out of Toothpicks Channel, the White House saved us from a Death Star.
That is correct. 
A Death Star was on our horizon and few of us took notice.
Well, actually, there was a petition submitted to the White House for the creation of a Death Star.  The petition was replete with nearly 35,000 signatures and requested the construction of a Death Star for purposes of national and planetary defense.  The petitioners wished to see the star in place by 2016.  In addition to providing an unparalleled level of defense, those promoting the idea of the Death Star felt that the resultant construction would be a superior job-creator.  The petition had reached enough signatures (25,000) to necessitate a response.
On Friday, the White House allowed Paul Shawcross, from the Office of Management and Budget, to announce the decision not to bend to the will of the petitioners.  Below is the heart of what Mr. Shawcross posted for response on the official White House website:
·          The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.

·         The Administration does not support blowing up planets.

·         Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

That 850 number-thingy, by the way, means $852 quadrillion.  My own mind tends to wander off and begin maliciously pulling leaves off the nearest houseplants when I see numbers extending beyond nine zeros.  I am wondering, just the same, if we might find room for at least one more zero on petitions to the White House before a need for response.                 (Photo: Lucas Films)


--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Coins in the Sofa, Morsels in the Cat Dish


As I boy I would on occasion pull off and scatter all the sofa cushions at our house and then dig through the folds of the sofa for loose change.  I sometimes found a coin or two.   For whatever reason, dimes and pennies seemed to collect in the sofa more than other coins.  In some rare instances I found quarters that had dropped into the folds.
Tearing into the sofa, though not always profitable, felt satisfying on all occasions for the simple reason it provided me with a project.   I was a rather hyperactive young man or, if you prefer, annoying, destructive, and possibly dangerous.  As example, I often tore apart the clocks in our house to try and figure out how they worked.   Early on I determined that both light sockets and electrical outlets are capable of producing minor explosions with the introduction of cleverly bent bobby pins.
My cat Splash, 20 pounds out of the 40 pounds of housecat I am presently cohabitating with, has found the feline equivalent of change in the sofa.  He figured out that morsels of food sometimes drop into the bottom of the compartmented cat food dishes.  Sometimes he drags the dishes around the kitchen and tears them apart simply because he is bored or irritated with Carmel—the remaining 20 pounds of cat. 
The other night, an extended racket brought me into the kitchen.  Below, I have posted a picture of what I found.  By the time I snapped the photograph, Splash had stretched-out to rest on the nearby throw.

 
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bookends



Our winter days may be short, but they are regularly book-ended by some of our most spectacular displays of color and light.  The sun, ascending from the chill of darkness at sunrise or descending from the day’s glow at dusk, sets the sky ablaze.

Sometimes there's simply darkness. Or we see only clouds.

But always, after and beyond, there is for us the sun.





--Ariel Murphy and Mitchell Hegman