Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Human Teeth for Sale

A friend of mine, way back when we were first ejected into society from high school, decided to hitchhike around the country.  In other words, he made his way to California.  He did not have money.  For a little while, he joined-up with a group of migratory Mexican fruit pickers to earn a few meager wages.  Nope.  He did not do well.  The heat melted him.  He picked too slowly.   At one point, out of desperation, he gave blood at a blood bank just for something to eat and drink.
Such is a fine point of desperation.
You have probably heard tales of wolves gnawing-off their own legs to save themselves after being caught in a trap.  And there is a human equivalent in the 2010 movie 127 Hours.  The movie was based on the true-life adventure of Aron Ralston.  Ralston somehow managed to get his arm irreversibly wedged between rocks when he tumbled inside a slot canyon while hiking in Utah.  Knowing that he would dangle there until he perished from lack of water and starvation, he sawed off his own arm with a pocket knife to save his own life. 
We will sacrifice a lot to save our own life.  A few of us will even sacrifice body parts for cash.      
In recent years, a black market has developed for people wishing to sell their own body parts.  Kidneys are a big mover in this market since a person can give up one of those and walk away with a wad of cash instead.   Most of the people selling kidneys are from impoverished regions.  According to one source (Handwerk) some villagers in India sold their kidneys for as little as $800.00.  I am not sure I would sell a toenail clipping that cheap.
Just the other day I bumped into something about human teeth for sale on the internet.  I thought: Geez, how do you get those?  Do you just sock someone in the face and then pick them up off the ground?  Does someone sell them from their mouth one at a time?  Do you dig them up?  I decided that I did not wish to know that answer—I figured the answer might be the first-cousin to the answer about how sausage is made.  More than one person has told me that “you don’t want to know how sausage is made and what goes in it because you likely won’t eat it again.”  Maybe I don’t want to know where the teeth came from.
My next question: What would you do with human teeth?   
I looked that one up.  I discovered that some folks buy the teeth and use them for scientific displays or training in the various skills associated with dentistry.   That makes sense.  Other people, however, make jewelry from them.  That is maybe just a little weird.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Good Cheer

Hooray for Canada!  I don’t know why, but hooray for Canada!
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, February 25, 2013

Huckleberry Day

Every summer in Montana, starting somewhere near the end of July and extending through most of August, the huckleberries ripen where they grow wild in the mountains. Huckleberries tend to ripen at lower elevations first and then the ripening gradually ascends up through the higher peaks.  I have been following the ripening berries from valley floors to the powder-horn peaks and gun-sight passes for the last twenty years. 
During a summer of abundance, I might pick six to eight gallons.  I recall one year when a fungal blight called mummy berry decimated the berries in all of my normal “honey holes.”  That year, several days of seeking everywhere yielded barely a cup of berries.
The summer of 2012 provided a bumper crop of berries—maybe the best I have ever seen.  Yesterday, several of my berry-picking companions drove out to my house and we baked several huckleberry pies using some of our gathered bounty.  We did not notice until we pulled one set of pies from the oven what we had also made.
The picture below says it all.    

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, February 24, 2013

House of Cards

I was born weighing less than a hunting rifle and not believing that words mattered.  The doctors did not slap me the way they always show in movies; though I suspect my mother wanted them to.  My mother wanted everyone slapped.   I knew from that first day that this was a house of cards.
--Mitchell Hegman                                                                 

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Imagine two men working together to transport a bowling ball.  To move the bowling ball, one man must hold out a plastic trash bag so the other man can place the bowling ball inside for transport.  When working together on such a project you might imagine these two scenarios.
Scenario #1:
One man extends the opened bag out.  The other man—while grumbling about the way the bag is being presented—drops the ball inside and watches as the ball rips through the bottom and bounces away.
Scenario #2:
One man extends the opened bag out.  The other man gingerly reaches down inside the bag to settle the heavy ball at the bottom of the bag so they can haul it away.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, February 22, 2013

Genetic Engineering and Brooding Parrots

Note: I asked a friend to read through this post for an evaluation before sending it to my blog.  My friend responded with: “It’s imaginative and somewhat humorous although it doesn’t make any sense to me.  But then making sense is most likely not your intention.”  Frankly, that sounds pretty grim.  I decided to post this mess anyhow.  My apologies.
Genetic Engineering and Brooding Parrots
Occasionally, and sometimes with a certain level of derision, the name Hans Signal Blinker still surfaces in conversations within genetics labs.  Mr. Blinker is regarded as something of a pioneer in the field of genetic engineering.  He was also known for always wearing a coonskin hat and packing a single-shot musket around the lab.
Blinker, a practical man, skipped the often requisite college training in genetics and began his work on genetic engineering employing only his gut instincts and what some referred to as “his daddy’s money.”  He squandered the first three years of his work in an attempt to engineer an orange tabby housecat that might also function as a footbridge across small streams of water immediately following natural disasters.  The project met with some success functionally, though a large portion of the people who took in the cats found themselves allergic to crossing the cats once they had transformed into a bridge.  Other people who took in the cats complained that they preferred a bridge that fetched sticks.
Mr. Blinker soon embarked on a new project—this time to genetically alter a group of parrots that could change both colors and feather patterns to match a variety of lovely wallpapers.  When questioned about the validity of such work Hans replied, “And I suppose that next you’ll doubt the validity of my efforts to develop a strain of carp that can teach aerobics classes between the hours of seven and ten in the morning?”
Again, Hans Signal Blinker initially met with some success.  Sadly, the first dozen parrots were shipped to a pet store in Southern California (an area noted for particularly trendy and often irrational interior design).  The parrots sold quickly and found themselves in homes raging with tie-dye patterned wallpapers.  Two of the birds eventually escaped and joined a scantily clad dance troupe heading for Canada.  Five others kept insisting that they wanted a cracker.  Four of the remaining five parrots, after failing to match the tie-dye wallpaper patterns, turned black and required constant solace for all of their brooding.  The last parrot took up painting with acrylics.  Holding the paintbrush in its beak, the bird rapidly produced Picasso knock-offs.  The owner of this bird, Mrs. Emily Rhodes, secured an agent and began booking talkshow appearances for the parrot.  “My bird,” she said with great pride, “holds the brush with his pecker!”
Hans Blinker eventually abandoned his lab research, humiliated by the failure of his parrots.  He soon embarked on the door-to-door sales of punchlines for obscure and sexually connotative jokes.  His favorite (and best-selling) line went something like this: “And the shaved monkey danced all the rest of the night.”     

--Mitchell Hegman  (Again, with apologies)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What is this?

What is this?
This is a photograph of a stack of CDs laid on the side.  I placed the stack next to a window so that the sunlight transferred through the stack can create the rainbow effect.
--Mithcell Hegman 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

If Only You Were a Flowering Plant

Somewhere back in my days, I read that certain flowering plants require more strings of genetic code for accurate reproduction than humans do.  This idea struck me as very plausible just the other day as I watched an American Idol audition program on television.  In some manners we are not any more complex than a potted plant.   Genetically, we are something near 57% the same as a head of cabbage.  Interesting, yes.  But the question remains: would your neighbor render into a decent form of sauerkraut as well as a head of cabbage does?
Probably not.
Deciding to seek some actual facts about the human genome, I surfed around the Internet until finding something dumbed-down enough for me to (almost) grasp.  I finally chanced upon The Human Genome: Poems on the Book of Life, by Gillian K. Ferguson.  For all I know, Mr. Ferguson might be a deranged and out-of-work machinist making everything up just to confound dumb people like me.  Still, I enjoyed what he had to say. Below are a few things I learned from him:
First and foremost, the instructions (genetic codes) that dictate the production of all forms of life are composed of only four letters: A, C, G, and T.   For those of you who—like me—cannot spell, this is problematic because the code required to make a human is three billion of these letters long.   That is a lot of room for me to misspell!   Who knows what might happen if I started misspelling this code and placed an A where C is meant to go?  What might I create in someone?  A third ear in the palm of every left hand?  Men that desire to make-out with egg plants?
The four letters actually represent Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, and Thymine.  These little “nine-sine-mine” structures are something known as nitrogenous bases.  Stacked together into groups of three (codons) in various order and then linked together, these codons form a kind of string or strand of DNA, more commonly known as a gene.  Genes are essentially the hard drives upon which the blueprints for building you, a starfish, a gnat, or even a fiddle-leaf fig are stored.  In fact, each and every cell of an organism, from the simplest single cell amoeba to a multi-zillion-celled elephant, carries within it the entire blueprint for the whole creature.
Consider only that: four simple building blocks are used to build every single living thing that you see around you.  And every single tiny cell of every single creature carries the information required to build the entire beast once again!  More importantly, it took many millions of dollars and a whole group of International scientists (the Human Genome Project) a full ten years to sequence the Human Genome found in each of those cells.
Facts on the human Genome:
·         Only 0.1% the human genetic code varies from person to person.
·         The human body is comprised of 100 trillion cells—each carrying a full copy of the entire Genome.
·         It would take a typist (whatever that is) working eight hours a day a century to type out the entire letter code of the Genome.
·         Once written out, the Human Genome would stretch 5,592 miles (9,000km).
·         Mouse and man share 99% genetic similarity.
We may not be as genetically complex as a flowing plant, but we are still pretty darned colorful.  And if genetics do not convince you—watch an American Idol audition for yourself.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Political Evolution

The more I hear from the extreme right and the extreme left of our current American polity (the dissension and cacophony), the more convinced I am that we did, in fact, evolve from monkeys.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, February 18, 2013

I Am Not Alone Where the Moonlight Finds Every Stone

I am not alone when I run in the open.
I am not alone where my hands are able to find their own shadows in the walking sun.
I am not alone when the wind sighs long and falls against the grass.
I am not alone where the moonlight finds every stone.

But I am alone where the trees gather together and become a place of many rooms.
I am alone when the small branch-clinging creatures scamper higher into the trees and look down on me.
I am alone in places where stones have stacked into walls.
I am alone whenever I must pause for direction.

--Mitchell Hegman
Photo: Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, February 17, 2013

When the Light Fell All Around Him

Lewis and Clark Caverns are located within the rugged limestone shoulders and elbows of the mountains above the Jefferson River in what is known as “Gold West Country” in Montana.  The caverns fill the inside of the mountains like intestines and stomachs inside a cow.  The caves are teeming with unearthly formations.
Access to the caverns (for tourists) was initially fashioned by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the CCC as part of the New Deal.  The CCC was a broad-based work relief program that provided manual labor jobs on conservation projects or projects to develop natural resources for public access.  In 1941, the caverns became Montana’s first State Park.
Somewhere at about the time the caverns were being developed by the Conservation Corps, a man ventured inside the caves all alone.  Deep inside the mountain, his lantern failed.
There is something to be said for light.  Sunflowers certainly enjoy it.  Light makes removing a sliver from your palm with a needle a far more pleasurable experience than possible without light.  The Mona Lisa is better in light.  And—while all creatures are clearly able adapt to blindness, which is a kind of darkness by default—suddenly being plunged into total darkness is another sort of beast entirely.
The man in the cave went a little berserk at first.  For a while he groped and shuffled and felt his way about the formations, utterly panicked, but mindful of the holes and cliffs inside the mountains.  He yelled out.  He listened to the water slowly dripping into formations.  He imagined ten-thousand years forming an inch of new stone.  He imagined arms reaching for him in the black.  Voices.
Nearly three days after the man’s lantern went black; men came at him with light dancing all around them.  At first the light hurt his eyes and seemed to be running in circles.  But he was excited about the light and the thought of going home.  And he was so very happy to be standing there when the light fell all around him. 
He did not realize for several minutes that he was not actually standing there…but was, in fact, lying on his back.

Photo: Trademark Electic
--Mitchell Hegman
A quick cavern tour:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

New Definition: Investments

For the purposes of the rest of my life, the term “investments” shall include tea cups, 18 year old Glenlivet Scotch, and small kittens.  Investments shall exclude any monies related to banking or the stock market.
From now on, I am investing in happiness.
--Mitchell Hegman


Friday, February 15, 2013

Hot Pot

The picture I posted today is one I took about seven years ago at a hot pot in Yellowstone Park.  I like the photograph for the odd colors and almost startling contrast.  To add to the abstract quality of the photograph, I framed a tight shot of only the edge of the pot; which provides no meaningful reference for the subject.  This photograph is a companion to the two photographs that I posted on June 29, 2012—captured in the same area, though many years apart.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Choices: A Small Test

Given a choice between the two figures above, which do you feel best describes your emotional state right now?
1.      ____ Figure #1
2.      ____ Figure #2

Which figure best illustrates the present state of the nation?
1.      ____ Figure #1
2.      ____ Figure #2

Which figure best illustrates our collective future, as you see it?
1.      ____ Figure #1
2.      ____ Figure #2

Did you make the same choice for all three of the previous questions?
1.      ____ Yes
2.      ____ No

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Possible Headline: Montana Winter Murders a Small Plant from the Arctic Circle

Trees will not grow in the Arctic Region.  The winters are much too long and the short summers see temperatures that only rarely climb to 50° F.  Trees require a few days above 50° in order to complete their growing cycles.  Plants native to the arctic tend to be modest in size and have learned to thrive with shallow root systems that cling to the barest of soils (often layered above permafrost).  Yet, for all of their hardiness, most plants from the Arctic would not survive a single turn of the four seasons in Montana.
Many would not even survive the winter here.
The weather here in Montana is much too fickle for most plants.  Mind you, the season-to-season changes in climate are not the problem.  The trouble for most plants arises from the minute to minute alterations.  Here in the “Chinook Belt” of Montana, the weather is particularly fickle.  We have recoded some of the wildest temperature fluctuations on the planet.
I live on the eastern front of the Northern Rockies.  During the winter we are often overrun by what we call the Arctic Express.  An express will shove bitter cold impulses all the way from the Arctic Region down along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and into Montana.  These fronts often bring temperatures below -20°F.  Sometimes the sub-zero temperatures will remain trapped in the mountain valleys for days on end—even as warmer air slips directly over top.
Weirdly enough, these bitter cold impulses might be followed immediately by a Chinook.  Native Americans called Chinooks “snow eaters.”  I have, on occasion, scuttled off to bed on a sub-zero and snowbound winter night only to awaken to water pouring down my rain gutters and temperatures warm enough for a short-sleeve game of golf—almost as if summer dropped out of the sky during the night.  Winter temperatures may suddenly hoist into the upper-sixties.  A whole foot of snow might vanish in a few hours during a Chinook event.  For a day or two in January or February everyone in Montana might be wearing shorts and hosting outdoor barbeques!  Chinooks, however, are typically accompanied by strong winds.
Chinooks are created by warm Pacific fronts interacting with mountain ranges.  They are most prevalent in Southern Alberta, Canada and here in Montana where the Rocky Mountains meet the Northern Plains.  According to Wikipedia the most dramatic rise in temperature recorded during a Chinook occurred in Loma, Montana in January 15 of 1972.  The temperature purportedly rose from -54° to 48°F in a matter of 24 hours.  Though I am always doubtful of the veracity of Wikipedia facts, I have seen temperature changes very near that dramatic during Chinooks.  Sometimes, we call a prolonged Chinook “false summer.”  These are the sort of events that would fool an Arctic plant into awakening—only to be killed when winter abruptly returns.
We are known for crazy weather.
Below are a few examples of Montana weather extremes I gathered from the National Weather Service:
·         The lowest temperature ever recorded in the lower United States was recoded at Roger’s Pass (about 20 miles, as the crow flies, from my house).  On January 20, 1954, the temperature plummeted to -70° F.

·         Montana has recorded the widest range in temperatures of all 50 states—a high of 117°F at Medicine Range in 1937 and the low at Roger’s Pass in 1954—a range of 187°.

·         In January of 1916, an Arctic front overran Browning, Montana and forced the temperature from 44°F down to -56°F in 24 hours.  This 100 degree swing is the most dramatic 24-hour swing ever (officially) recorded in the United States.

·         January 11, 1980.  The temperature recorded at Great Falls International Airport rose from -32°F to 15°F in only seven minutes as a Chinook front invaded the area.  This 47 degree change in only seven minutes stands as the most rapid temperature change recorded in the United States.
Here in Montana, we have the same joke as everyone: “If you don’t like the weather…stick around for five minutes…it will change.  The difference is we have many records to prove it.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Have Learned, Part II

Do not judge.
How do you know that the lifelong dream of that man was not to be forty-two, single, and residing in a thirty-year-old mobile home with a dozen threadbare tires thrown atop the roof to hold down the tin when the wind blows?
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Have Learned, Part I

Over the years I have learned that people are not all alike.  We each have distinct dreams and differing views on what constitute success.  More importantly, we should not judge the seeming failure or success of others based upon our own definitions, which may be either narrow or thoughtless.
Here is a true story for illustration.  
Many years ago (while attending college) my brother-in-law took a job delivering flowers for a local flower shop.  The shop employed two people for flower deliveries.  As time went on, my brother-in-law came to know the other deliveryman pretty well.  The other man was a bit older and very gregarious.  Eventually, the man told my brother-in-law that he was a mathematician by trade.
My brother in law had trouble hiding his shock.  “If you are a mathematician, why on earth are you delivering flowers?”
The deliveryman answered without hesitation.  “Oh, that’s easy!  Most people don’t care about mathematicians.  I was unhappy.  But now, every day and everywhere I go, I make other people happy.  People smile when they open the door and find me there with flowers.  This is the best job in the world!”     

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Power Lines

On occasion, when the sun is low in the sky and the day is somewhat gray, the power lines festooned alongside Lincoln Road will glow with captured light.  That simple touch from the sun will sometimes graph bright sine waves across the entire north valley floor.
I snapped the photograph I posted today on my drive home one evening.  My place in the world is there—in the bluish mountains at the end of the line.

 --Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Woman Beaten With an Elk Antler

Several years ago a man from Bozeman, Montana was charged with a domestic abuse for beating his girlfriend with an elk antler.   What made the story Montana to the very core was the fact that the news release splashed across the state made sure to note that the antler was a seven-pointer.  Seven-pointers are a rarity and much prized by sportsmen.  A bull elk with seven points on each side of his antlers is said to have “a royal crown.”

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, February 8, 2013

As Spring Draws Near

I stood on a long, golden curve of earth while red birds and white birds tumbled around me.
I walked on a wide, blue plain as stars swirled slowly through the dark of night.
I held the warmest wind in my hand.
I watched the first moth flutter up from the sage.
I caught the first scent of damp earth.
Spring is near.

--Mitchell Hegman 

Photo: Front Range of the Rockies.  Taken (by me) on June 19, 2011.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Economy Must Go Through Bad-Good before Becoming Good-Bad

Due to a recent mental illness, I have been following the stock market—the Dow Jones Industrial Average if you prefer to be precise.  Prior to following “the Dow,” I tried following my 40 pounds of cat around the house—which only led me to bump my head against chairs and the legs of various tables in my home.
When I say that “I have been following the stock market,” what I actually mean is that I try to see what number is affixed to the average (value) at the end of the day.  I once surfed the net all the way to Wiki to figure out what the average really meant.  I discovered that the stock average is determined by averaging the price of the stocks listed in the market (30 of them) and dividing that by something called “the divisor.”  The divisor sounds pretty nefarious to me—something akin to an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie character—but is in fact a construct intended to accounted for mergers, acquisitions, ice cream breaks, and some malfeasance.
Judging by the value of my stock portfolio, however, not all malfeasance has been ferreted out.
Anyhow, the average value of the 30 commonly-traded stocks and the divisor grapple on the market floor throughout the trading day.  A graph plots the gaudy mathematical actions.  At the end of each day the final number tells you about the over-all health of stocks and, in some respects, the economy.  To be honest, all I know is that a big number is good and a little number is bad.  The number for yesterday was 13,986.52.  That is a very good number.  Near as I can tell, the Dow reached 500 the year I was born.  Hula-hoops and big fenders on cars were popular then, too.
Probably, that is enough for me to know.
Part of my “following the market” involves watching well-dressed men and women on CNBC talk (argue) about the economy.  The market is divided into two sorts of people: bears and bulls.  Bears are nay-sayers and sellers and sitters on stocks.  Bulls surge ahead, invest in stocks, and are positive in their view.  CNBC has a mix of bears and bulls.  One fellow may like a particular government mandate on energy while the next woman decries it.  Government spending here may be good, while there it is considered bad.  One poor fellow pretty much says only “I like natural gas” every day.
The other day, I watched a stockbroker and a correspondent fiercely argue over a fraction of a percent on jobless claims.  We seem always bumping up against bad-good or good-bad in the economic indicators such as unemployment and gross domestic product.  I have yet to see anyone assure me of firm footing.      
Two days ago, however, one of the men on CNBC said that he did listen to the economists or pundits…he just worked hard and tried to do what he felt was correct in the stock market.  He said he never lost assets in the long run.  He suggested that hard work and honesty are always rewarded in the long haul.
If I could remember his name, I would follow him rather than the market.  Or I may go back to following my cats.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Facts of Love

Below is a list of ten fairly scientific “facts” about love.  Well, only three of them are anywhere near facts.  The facts are thanks to an article written by Judy Dutton based on an interview with Dr. Helen Fisher of Rutger’s University.  Dr. Fisher has spent an entire career attempting to scientifically understand love.  The seven bogus facts are of my own invention, though often researched extensively for inaccuracy. 
See if you can pick out the correct facts.  The three correct answers will be listed at the end of the blog:
1.      If given a chance to choose between two particular type fonts when writing business letters, Verdana or Elephant, studies have revealed that people in a relationship are five-times more likely to choose Elephant than those who have recently endured a breakup.       

2.      People who are in love are more likely to wear mismatched socks.

3.      Feelings of love trigger the release of dopamine in the brain—resulting in something akin to a cocaine high.

4.      The average person falls in love only three times in a lifetime.

5.      Everybody loves a duck.

6.      People who are recently smitten by love produce serotonin (a neurotransmitter that helps relay messages from one section of the brain to another) at the levels often associated with people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder.

7.      Men fall in love faster than women do.

8.      Everybody loves broccoli.

9.      Intense love lasts no more than one to three years.

10.  Contrary to popular myth, men do not base their initial attraction to a woman on physical attributes alone.

--Mitchell Hegman

Correct Answers:  3, 7, and 9
For the rest of the answers: fall in love or surf the net.
To see the article mentioned here:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Juniper Ghost and Wounded Sky

The Name of my blog is The Sky is my Garden for a reason.  The sky—as I said in my very first blog entry on January 3, 2010—is a moving garden.  Every day the sky is brand new.  The drama of sunrise and sunset rarely finds a parallel.
Today, I am posting another of my older sunset photographs.  I purposely flashed the dead juniper in the foreground to “splash” the stark branches against the blue clouds.  In the distance, the sky above the Rocky Mountains has blushed red.    
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, February 4, 2013


During a conversation about craftsmanship, a carpenter friend of mine told me about his first day working for one of the more successful framing companies in our valley.  The boss put him scrambling on the trusses of a house roof system they were sheathing.  He noticed that, each time he called down with his measurements for cuts on the wafer-weld sheets, the fellow sawing the sheets on the ground below would scowl when I called out something like “thirty-two inches and three sixteenths.”   Finally, after he yelled down from the roof for a new cut at forty-five and nine sixteenths, the man on the ground bellowed: “We don’t do teenths!  We are framing.  This is not finish work!  Give me a half or give me a quarter!”
They were very fast and did not see a necessity for undue accuracy in framing.
My friend quickly moved on to doing his own work and developed a finicky framing style that I greatly admire; I hire him without ever asking for a price when I need help with something.  He told me regarding his “persnickety” concern with sixteenths in framing that “a sixteenth in the basement can blowout to being a half-inch out by the time you get to the roof.”  He added. “You will fight it the whole way there.”
At least the framing crew was using the same measurement scale on their tape measures.
Perhaps you recall the famous miscalculation on 1999 Mars Climate Orbiter where the guys on the ground (Lockheed) calculated thruster force in terms of pound-seconds while the guys on the roof (the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) thought the craft thruster stuff was in the metric units of newton-seconds.  I don’t know the first thing about newtons, but this sounds pretty bad.
Near as I can tell, one pound is equivalent to 4.4ish newton.  The miscalculation translated into the craft pushing itself about 60 miles off course after a 416 million mile journey on a trajectory that looped the craft all the way around the sun to intercept Mars on the opposite side of Earth.  Certainly not close enough for guys nailing together a home—a lot of caulking would be required to seal that gap.  The Climate Orbiter stopped communicating while attempting to insert into orbit around Mars and is thought to have either disintegrated or skipped hard against the Martian atmosphere and then tumbled off toward the sun, disabled.
By the way, technically, Mars is ever changing in direct distance from Earth.  Though the two planets orbit the Sun in the same direction, Earth is on the inside track and nearer to the Sun.  We have a much shorter year and essentially lap Mars on the inside every 780 days.  When the two planets are in opposition (on opposite sides of the sun) they are about 249 million miles apart (measured in a straight line).  This translates into 225 million kilometers for those of us interested in further complicating this matter.  Additionally, if you measure from Mars to where my cat (20 pounds worth) lies on the floor of my sunken living room, the distance would be 249 million miles and roughly 1½ feet.   In 2003, while on the same side of the sun, Mars and Earth found themselves a mere 56 million miles apart.
In my years of construction, I have seen all manner of measurement errors.  I once worked on a nursing home where the plumber stubbed all of his pipes up in the poured-concrete floor of the center hallway—missing the walls by almost a foot.  Some of his pipes landed in doorways.  A laborer spent about five weeks on a jackhammer busting-out concrete so the new plumber they hired could fix that one.  I also know of a gymnasium in a small town on Montana’s Hi-Line (Highway 2) that was constructed a full two feet longer than drawn on the blueprints due to a measurement error that started with the concrete cast in the initial hole in the ground.
In horseshoes a few inches can be close enough to win the game.  A bullet zipped anywhere within arm’s reach of you is far too close.  On the other hand, the remote for your television, if only six feet away, is much too far.  I once worked on a 10 megawatt generator that rotated on a 14-inch shaft and weighed dozens of ton.  The tolerances on that required accuracy within 2 or 3 thousandths of an inch.   
Accuracy is relative. 
Just the same, should you ever find yourself needing either a framing carpenter or rocket scientist to help you with a project, you might establish early in the undertaking that the craftsman you hire is interested in teenths.       

--Mitchell Hegman

Click here to see Mars and Earth orbiting the Sun: