Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Another Unhelpful Aphorism

A man cannot effectively live in the past, but with a medium-sized stick he can knock most small animals silly.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Please click on the following link if the video posted here fails to play:

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Best Friends

This is a fairly old story, but is one timeless in its message.

--Mitchell Hegman
Please click on this link if the video posted does not launch:

Friday, March 28, 2014

Would the Barber of Seville Shave a Bearded Woman?

I sometimes consider how Bertrand Russell, the famous mathematician and philosopher, fretted away a whole year, from 1903 to 1904, contemplating this one thought:
A man of Seville is shaved by the barber of Seville if and only if the man does not shave himself.  Does the Barber shave himself?
I find difficulty in imagining an intelligent man contemplating such a thought for an entire year and more difficult to consider that this paradox seemingly blew out of the water all mathematical logic.  But here is the paradox: If the barber shaved himself—he didn't shave himself.  If the barber didn't shave himself—he did shave himself.
Think about that for a moment.  Read the italicized sentence a few times.  Think a bit more.  As I read about this philosophical and mathematical dilemma and tried to solve the problem myself, I realized that Mr. Russell suffered from a lack of options.  I reconfigured the question posed by Russell and added a few options.
What if a woman has a mustache to shave?  How does that fit?
What if the barber actually grows a beard that he never even trims?
What if—by genetic defect or as result of auto immune disease—a man has no body hair, and never shaves?
Is the barber of Seville technically a barber as he strolls down the street?  When he eats?  Does his  shaving count if he shaves himself at home instead of at his shop?
How much does the barber of Seville charge for a shave?
Should you tip him?
What if you had a trench to dig...would you hire a philosopher or the barber of Seville?
What were we talking about?
--Mitchell Hegman
Note: I may have posted a slightly different version of this a few years ago on this post.  Also, I shave myself.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Reeder’s Alley

Reeder’s Alley is the oldest neighborhood in Helena.  The oldest permanent structure in Helena—the so-called Pioneer Cabin—is just outside the entrance to the brick-paved street that curves up through Reeder’s Alley at the base of Mount Helena.   Small red brick shops and apartments line the narrow street.
Pioneer cabin was constructed in 1864 by Wilson Butts, one of the first prospectors to arrive at Last Chance Gulch following the discovery of gold that same year.  He constructed his cabin little more than a stone-throw from the gulch that would eventually provide $19 million worth of gold in four years—the second largest placer find in Montana.  The mining camp that eventually became Helena, Montana soon grew around the small cabin.
Louis Reeder, a skilled builder from Pennsylvania, arrived in the mining camp in 1867.  Keen to advantage opportunity, Mr. Reeder began constructing small but sturdy stone and brick apartments and bunkhouses in what was then mostly a tent and shanty camp.  He wisely built his neighborhood next to the Butts cabin on stable ground just above the raucous and ever-changing placer-works.
My own ancestors (seeking fortune in the gold mining camps) arrived in the Helena area at the same time as Louis Reeder.  They ended up settling near Marysville, just a few miles northwest of Helena, and worked underground.   I think about all of that history every time I walk through Reeder’s Alley.
Yesterday, I went to Reeder’s Alley to see my friend Dundee.  She operates a barber shop in one of the small street-side buildings.  Her business sign is at the center of the photograph I posted today.   I captured the picture with my much-smarter-than-me phone.   The street was spring-warm and the light breeze sweeping up through the trees smelled earthy and vital.  The day felt old and young at once.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Reason We Don’t French-Kiss Blue Whales

There is a reason for everything.  Today I am sharing a small list of reasons for a few items you may not have considered:
The reason we simply say “the reason” instead of saying “the reason why:”
            —Saying “the reason why” represents redundancy in the English language.

The reason we don’t French-kiss blue whales:
            —Their tongues can weigh as much as a full-grown elephant.

The reason we like Irish music:
            —Even if you don’t like the music, it is Irish and therefore involves beer or whiskey in both the production and the listening process.

The reason Montanans call streams a “crick” instead of a “creek”:
            — think we need to explain ourselves?  It is our crick, Dude!

The reason for everything (the ultimate answer to everything):
(NOTE: For a more detailed answer to this question refer to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams.  Also note that the original answer was incorrectly thought to be 42.)

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Never too late to Start?

Yesterday (while I was naked in my hot tub, which I swear is unrelated) the thought occurred to me that I have never kissed a woman just because I liked her voice.  And then I got to thinking about all of the women with nice voices.  Maybe it is never too late to start.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 24, 2014

20 Pounds of Housecat at the Door

One of my cats came in through the back door, flopped on the floor in front of me, earnestly licked his ass up and down, got up again, waddled over to the front door and meowed until I let him out front.  I would estimate his time in the house at something less than two minutes.  I'm not going to pretend that I understand such behavior, but it would seem that he came in with the idea that I might enjoy the privilege of watching him lick his butt.
I have seen better.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cats and Facts

—Domesticated and feral housecats are thought to have caused the extinction of 33 species.

—The average cat sleeps for 70 percent of its life.
—Since 1955 Disneyland has been continually accommodating around 200 cats and allowing them to rove the park at night to control the rodent population.
—Police in Misiones, Argentina found a lost one-year-old boy in the company of seven cats.  The officers speculated that the boy survived several nights of freezing temperatures by cuddling with the animals.  He also ate food that the cats had scavenged.  The cats became defensive and hissed at the officers who found the boy.    
—A single pair of cats and their offspring is capable of producing 420,000 kittens in only seven years.
—Cats can jump seven times as high as their tail.
—Adolf Hitler had an intense fear of cats.
—Cats have only one life.
Pictured is 20 pounds of housecat (named Carmel).
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Some people will never see the glass as half-full.  Instead, they imagine a faceless alien captured in a jar.  The alien talks to them.  Sometimes, the alien tells them to drive to the nearest grocery store and just stand in the soup section staring at chicken soup labels.
I try to avoid those people.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 21, 2014

The One Joke I Remember

The one joke I remember came to me when I first woke this morning.  The joke is from Steven Wright, arguably the best deadpan comic ever.  The joke goes like this:
“Did you sleep well last night?   No, I made a couple of mistakes.”
Thinking about the joke, I started laughing outright.
The joke was funny because I made a mistake while sleeping last night.  I slept with my left arm angled awkwardly underneath the sprawled-out rest of me.   I awakened to find my left arm feeling like a dead eel attached to my shoulder.  I could not move it.  My nerves were playing tennis in my fingers and racing fast cars up and down the length of my arm.
I flopped around on my bed, continuing to laugh and trying to shake sense back into my arm—trying to force the nerves and muscles back in order.
“What a dumbass,” I thought, “you cannot even sleep properly.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Questions and Holes

Most of the time, I try to understand everything through science.  I want to understand the wavelengths of light we don't see with our eyes, the light that makes our flowers prettier to butterflies and bees.  I desire to know why squirrels and chipmunks run from me in the woods, and why their bones are built just so.  How long has the water I pumped from my well been coursing deep underground?  How does a whirligig beetle determine the direction of its spin?  Why don't deer sing like meadowlarks?  Is there a good reason why they shouldn't?
Is there a place where the clouds stop moving?
How, chemically, does love arrive and depart?
In the strictest science of things, we, and all that surrounds us, are primarily open space.  The atoms comprising the densest stone I ever lifted in my hand are a dither of tiny particles flung free to dance in holes and cavernous space.  They are not, as I once imagined, packed like sardines inside a can.   If I could take a single atom from the metal of one of our kitchen spoons, and somehow enlarge the atom until the electrons were the size of baseballs, I would have to walk a mile or so away from the nucleus to find the nearest ones circling—all the rest is empty space.  Nothing.
We are holes more than anything.
And I have my questions.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In Part

In the gray-black darkness a wan blue light pulses at me from another room—something electronic is grasping out to reach a distant tower.   The hydronic baseboard heater in my bedroom ticks softly for a few seconds and then drops abruptly to silence. 
I have fully awaked after only a few hours of sleep.  The moon has once again failed to melt through the clouds.  My cats have abandoned me.
I remain curled in my nest of pillows with my eyes open, sleepless.  Three years ago, within two days of this date, a doctor informed my wife that she had incurable cancer.  That sort of thing leaves permanent footprints across your heart.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 17, 2014

Naked and Afraid

 A new season of Naked and Afraid started on the Discovery Channel last night.  As far as reality television programs go, you could not ask for more (or less if you are a fan of naked).  In Naked and Afraid, a man and a woman who have never previously met are taken separately to a remote location—say a jungle island or a remote desert— with no food or water.  Once at the designated rendezvous spot, they remove all clothing and are then released into the wild meet each other and attempt to work together as a naked survivalist team.  They must survive in the environment for twenty-one days.
The show really is pretty interesting.  A typical episode begins with a guy who is like “hey I get to be with a naked woman!  I hope she is hot.”   The woman is usually all “I hope the guy is not a total pussy and can start a fire.”   Within three or four days in the wild, the man often turns out to be a big cry-baby and has had something bad happen to his winky—as example a bug bite.  The women are often better at starting fires and are generally pretty hot.  Meanwhile, here at home on my sofa, I am still hoping the technicians who keep blurring the woman’s exposed body parts will fall asleep at the switch and accidentally expose something for me.
I will admit, at some point I honestly forget to concentrate on the fact the survivalists are naked and a kind of true concern for them begins to take footholds within me.  On a few episodes the man and woman have clashed and bonded poorly and struggled greatly.   I much prefer the episodes where the man and woman form a sold bond rather than when they clash.  Survival depends on cooperation.
Bottom line: naked TV is worth watching.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Another Take on Will Rogers

I think that one of the reasons Will Rogers never met a man he didn’t like is because he never met that creepy guy at the Mexican restaurant who took a whole handful of toothpicks and didn’t leave any for anybody else.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Move over Big Sky Country There is a New Nickname in Town

Though you would not likely suspect Montana as the skinniest place around if you rattled your shopping cart down the cookie aisle at some of the local groceries I often inhabit, the latest Gallup-Healthways research poll ranks Montana as the state with the lowest rate of obesity in the nation.
That’s correct.  We can now claim to be “the skinny state.”
Montana, with an obesity rate of 19.6 percent, was the only state below the 20 percent mark on the obesity scale.  The poll revealed that Mississippi (a state already gluttonous in the consumption of certain letters of the alphabet) led the pack with an obesity level of 35.4 percent.   The national average for obesity tended upward to a point above 27 percent.
The polling information I read did not suggest any reason for why Montana is at one end of the obesity scale and Mississippi is at the opposite end.  For my part, I completely avoid the cookie and potato chips sections when I shop.  If I go there, I will buy!  
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 14, 2014

Driving My Country Road at Night

My thoughts wander backward through events as I drive home late from a busy day.  One wrong word said, but no real harm done.  A new “wife” joke I have already forgotten how to properly assemble.  Nothing on the jetliner that vanished in the air after leaving Malaysia for China.  The songbirds once again frenzied in daylight trees. 
Entering the ranchlands, my headlights brush a golden fringe across last year’s tawny grass just beyond the winter-plowed shoulders of the gravel road.  On the hills and along corners, the beams of light slit open the cobalt darkness to reveal green entrails of bull pine, juniper and sage.
The roadway stretches out ahead of me—stark and friendly at the same time.
Suddenly a bouquet of reflective eyes springs forth from below a cluster of trees.  Mule deer.   A dozen or more bedding together, pregnant does no more than twenty feet off the road.  The night closes around them again as I drive on, up the last hill, and then to my house, right there where it belongs, below what seems a fountain of stars frozen in place in the endless night sky.
--Mitchell Hegman


Thursday, March 13, 2014


--Mitchell Hegman
If the video posted fails to launch, please click on this link:

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

To Consider

Here a few items to consider before you give up on something:
—The first powered flight taken by Orville Wright lasted only 12 seconds.
—Thomas Edison tried over 1000 times to create a functional electric light bulb before hitting on something that worked.
—The development of rocket technology began somewhere near 100 B.C. but the first successful manned flight into space (lasting less than 2 hours) did not take place until 1961.
— Anything about Helen Keller.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Just This Morning

Buffeted by strong winter‑change winds, my house cracks its knuckles, yawns softly, falls quiet again.  Soon, another day will walk by.
—Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 10, 2014

First Bluebird and Two Code Violations

About ten years ago, I worked on a job where an entire set of freshly poured concrete steps had to be jack-hammered to bits and replaced.  Human nature and a building code violation led to that.   The problem first came to light because all sorts of people were stumbling when they tried to climb the steps.  I almost fell on my face when I tried to ascend them while carrying a box of electrical parts.
As it turned out, the steps were poured with a rise of about 8 inches on the first two steps.  Most building codes adopt a maximum rise of 7-3/4 inches.  No inspector caught the infraction, but so many people were tripping on the steps the superintendent on the job checked the measurement and discovered the problem.
The stairs had to go.
We are all accustomed to lifting our feet to clear a maximum of 7-3/4 inches.   An increase of only 1/4 inch is enough cause us to stumble and create a hazard.
Yesterday, I saw my first bluebird of the year and was reminded of those steps.

As always, I felt pretty thrilled about the bird sighting.  Bluebirds are the most certain sign of spring.  This year’s bluebird was looping around the birdhouse I fastened to the post in my front yard a few years ago.  As I watched the bluebird, I noticed that he was swooping down to the entry hole in the front of the house fairly often and picking away at the opening to make it bigger.  I have noticed in past years that bluebirds have shown interest in the house but never actually used it for nesting.
Curious, I checked online to find plans for building mountain bluebird houses.  After looking through a few plan sets, I discovered that they prescribed entrance holes with a measurement of 1-9/16 inches.  Instilled with this information, I went out to measure the hole in the birdhouse when the bluebird flew off to grab something to eat.   Sure enough, I had a bluebird code violation on the house.  The opening in my house was about 1-1/4 inches—about 1/4 of an inch off.
That’s when I thought about those concrete steps.
Mind you, this was not the same as an elephant trying to squeeze through a cat-door.  I watched the bird go in and out of the house several times.  I have seen many other bluebirds do the same.  They seem to fit in the opening, but codes are generally codes for a good reason.
As soon as I discovered the violation, I grabbed my cordless drill and made a code-compliant mountain bluebird hole in the house.  I am hoping for a family in the house this year.  Final inspection by the female is pending.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Into the Big Valley

Yesterday afternoon, after a long day of work, I drove two-hundred miles from Kalispell to my home.  I drove through the Swan Valley alongside the frozen lakes linking through the forested swales, often the only car on the road for miles.  The snow alongside the highway was three or four feet high but melting fast.  The Swan Mountains stood sharp and white against the sky.  I had to stop once just so I could stare at the chevron peaks for a while in admiration.  “That snow is a good look on you,” I told them.
I really enjoyed the drive.  At times, I turned up the music on my CD player and sang with stupid abandon.  I saw sun-glowing elk on an open hillside and a string of sleek whitetail deer crossing the ice at Salmon Lake.
The sun settled beyond a distant gunsight pass just as I emerged from the final knot of mountains and found myself entering the big valley in which I live.  The quality of light, the muted colors, the clarity of view, the network patches of snow—everything struck me as perfectly serene once the highway stretched out straight in front of me. 
I stopped once again so that I could go stand by a fence and look out upon the place I call home.  I am posting two photographs from that last stop.  They are not particularly beautiful in any regard, but they “feel” good to me.
--Mitchell Hegman      

Saturday, March 8, 2014

In Lemon Light

I saw you in the lemon light,
within the cube city, the Dada city
bathed in lemon light,
awash in lemon light.

You were admiring the steam-powered people,
the swing-arm people.
And you saw two glittered crows
hurl against a sky white-gloved by clouds.

I spoke to you, but you made no sense.
"Two black crows," said you,
"seem no better than one,
and four no better than none."

I swear I saw you in the lemon light,
admiring the machine-like children
who chased two blue crows
into a tongue colored sky.

NOTE:  There is a convention in contemporary poetry that does not insist that a poem makes sense literally.  A poem, under this convention, might simply evoke emotions or seek to bend the language a little and create a rather musical cadence as you read.  This poem (which has been kicking around in my archives in various fashion for about twenty years) falls into that category of poetry.  I understand that not everyone will appreciate this.  This sort of poetry is generally an acquired taste. 
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 7, 2014


No, Anhedonia is not a failed state bordering Patagonia.  Not a kind of flower that attracts ants.  This is not an affliction that a mix of sulfur and extra virgin olive oil will cure.   Anhedonia, more specifically musical anhedonia, is the absolute inability to find pleasure in music.
Some people simply do not like music.  They will not buy the next Miley Cyrus album—no matter how naked she gets.  The sounds leave them cold at best and annoy the hell out them at the worst.  That is musical anhedonia.  Research conducted at the University of Barcelona and published in Current Biology just this week identified this condition in people who are otherwise quite normal.    
Musical anhedonia appears to be very much a physical thing—a lack of response, if you will.  People who enjoy music (most people) display certain physiological responses as they listen to songs.  They will exhibit a slight increase in heart rate when hearing music they like.  Music lovers will sweat a little at the sound of a well-placed drum solo or an exciting guitar riff.    People with musical anhedonia have no such physiological response, whether hearing the National Anthem played by a full orchestra or Bruce Springsteen performing live at their neighbor’s yard party.
The idea of musical anhedonia is difficult for me to grasp.  I am somewhat addicted to listening to music.  I crank up the music before I brew my coffee in the morning.  I am listening to the Afghan Whigs as I write this!
I guess we are all hard-wired in different fashions.  Some of us hear the sound of a different drummer drumming and some of us are simply annoyed by the drums.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Political Statement

Political Statement:
An empty can is a far better noisemaker than one full.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Admission

I must come clean.  I hereby admit that I spent several minutes yesterday afternoon standing outside my house watching snow melt.
I did.
The event was way more exciting than you would expect.  The warm sun felt like someone hugging me with cotton arms as I stood there watching giant rafts of snow slip from my metal roof and crash into my front yard.  The sheets of snow landed in heaps in my yard with a sound that was like an ugly shotgun marriage between a thud and a plop.
Inside, my cats ran off to hide under chairs fearing that the sky was falling.
Outside, a rather drunken moth fluttered up right in front of me, having emerged from someplace unknown.  The moth looped once at my face and then tumbled out over the all-snow landscape as I stood there watching.
Also, hey, is it spring here or is it just me?
--Mitchell Hegman
Photo taken with my smarter-than-me phone.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

In Your White Dress

I am certain about your white dress
on that day you were dancing.
Fresh snow lay upon the earth.
You told me that someone good is born
every time it snows.
Then I gave you a stalk of wheat
from your dead flower arrangement,
which is so much prettier than it sounds
and I danced with you.

We were young and loopy and in love.
“Sheep,” you whispered as I swayed near,
“I want to raise sheep—lambs white and perfect
as new snow.”
You told me we could name each one.
“Blinky,” I suggested for the first.
And you shed your white dress,
you shed your white dress
and someone good was born.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Dark and Not Particularly Meaningful Fable

One afternoon a man and a lion were walking together in the woods, when, suddenly, the lion flopped on his side and began to cry while examining one of his massive front paws.
“What’s wrong?” asked the man, stopping to kneel near the creature.
“I’ve stepped on a thorn,” the lion roared, “and I cannot pull it out from my pads.  Perhaps if you helped me, I won’t eat your children in the dark of night.”
The man considered for a moment.  “I have a better idea,” he said.  The man grabbed a large stick from nearby and clubbed the lion to death.
Later, the man ran into a black bear walking the other direction in the darkest part of the woods.  The bear stopped the man.  “I have been looking for my friend the lion, have you seen him?” asked the bear.
“Yes,” answered the man, “but only for a moment.”
--Mitchell Hegman
Note:  This is something I wrote quite a few years back.  I thought I may have posted this previously, but did not see it on a quick search back through my blogs.  My apologies if the blog is back there someplace and you have had to read this for a second time.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One Answer Changes Everything

These are, at present, the two most powerful answers: “yes” and “no.”
What if we changed just one of those two answers?
Imagine how different everything might become if we changed to “yes” and “know.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dark Patterns and Fresh Snow

Posted today are two more photographs I snapped a couple of days ago after the snow stopped falling.
Note: We are getting snow again…a lot more snow…
--Mitchell Hegman