As part of our itinerary while visiting Las Vegas, a group of us (two of my sisters and their husbands, me, and Colleen M.) hired a limo to give us a tour of the highlights. We stopped at the Bellagio for the fountain show, the Mirage volcano, the original Vegas sign, and Freemont Street. Posted are a few pictures.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
After driving through five states and racking-up a bit over nine-hundred miles we (four of us) arrived in Las Vegas just as the sunset allowed the city to come alive with lights. Four F16 jets swooped overtop our car in a formal greeting as we funneled down into the web of highways and neared the Strip.
My sweet little sister lives here and we drove down—seriously—to decorate her house for Halloween and then help her scare kids tomorrow night.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
As I watched a plastic bag drift around a windy parking lot the other day, I was reminded of a day, many years ago, when I witnessed a litterbug in action. On that previous day, my wife and I had just pulled up behind a long line of cars attempting to exit a parking lot onto a busy street. Just as we pulled behind the last car in line, the man driving the car tossed an empty cigarette pack out onto the pavement.
“I don’t like that,” I calmly informed my wife as I glared at the discarded pack on the pavement. I jammed my automobile into neutral, hit the parking brake, hopped out the driver’s door, and trotted out to pick up the discarded cigarette pack below the driver’s window. By the time I scooped-up the wadded pack, the driver had already closed his window.
I rapped on the car window with the knuckles on my free hand.
The window drew down again and I found a middle-aged man staring at me with an expression that seemed a marriage of wonderment and fear. I extended the litter to him. “Here you go,” I said, “I think this fell from your car.”
The man said nothing.
I wiggled the litter in front of the stranger’s face a little bit.
The man, having no other decent option, took the litter back.
I walked back to my car and climbed in behind the steering wheel again just as the car in front of me advanced one slot closer to the edge of the street.
“Why did you do that?” my wife asked.
“Because litter sucks,” I answered.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Yesterday afternoon, both my home internet service and my smartphone USB tether failed to work for something near a four-hour stretch due to a couple of unrelated problems.
I was without any form of internet service for my computer.
I think I actually panicked!
NOTE TO SELF: Knock it the fuck off and step away from the computer, Mitch!
Monday, October 27, 2014
You were misguided when you married at sixteen
and wrong when you declared your fifth marriage tragic,
but your name and winsome smile has always carried you.
Few have noticed that you’re a stop sign misplaced on a through street,
that you’re the first misfired thought where wholesome ideas meet.
I know you, baby.
You’re the high price of a free society,
rich on Daddy’s money,
and bent in both posture and intent.
I know you.
Sunday, October 26, 2014
Saturday, October 25, 2014
As of 9:25 yesterday morning, I fully commissioned my solar PV system. After an automated system check for ground faults and then an automated configuration of an AC sine wave to match the grid supply, the solar PV system started power production and began exporting power to feed into my home.
The system is such that my microinverters will seek to first feed the loads in my home, thus providing power in place of the utility grid. On any occasion where my array is producing more power than I am consuming within my home, the microinverters will push the excess energy onto the power grid for use by everyone else and, at the same time, my new net meter will track credit to offset my power bill.
When I first switched on my solar PV system, the valley in which I live was covered by a heavy rack of low clouds that were mostly blocking the sun as they dragged overtop the expanse. The system, at that time, was producing a mere 320 watts. I left my home not long after commissioning the system and ran errands throughout a day of intermittent sunshine and cloud-shadow. Upon returning home at about 4:30 in the afternoon, I saw that my system had produced about 4 kilowatt hours of power (an equivalent of 1000 watts for 4 hours).
In the simplest terms, the sun had produced about 40 cents worth of electricity for me.
That may represent a small step, for sure, but on long sunshine-days the cents will become dollars and I will be doing my part to provide for my own power needs in a clean and efficient manner.
Friday, October 24, 2014
For me, inspiration is 20% fairy dust, 5% what I know for certain, 10% cat hair, 5% thoughts of Salma Hayek, 15% misinformation, 20% fear of spiders, and 25% needing to pee in the middle of the night and having nothing imperative to think about.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
My friend, X, is keen on practical reasoning. Years ago (far in advance of most people), X realized that he did not need printed versions of digital photographs and did not need photo albums because he could port electronically into his television and conduct televised slide shows for viewing his photographs.
The rest of us eventually caught up to X and his practical photography showing.
On a more recent outing, as X and I stood sizing-up the photographic potential of a tall tree that—in my estimation—begged for a portrait camera orientation to fill the captured image, I noticed X backing away from the subject to capture the image in landscape orientation.
“Why don’t you turn the camera so you can get everything this way?” I asked X. I held my camera out to show him.
“I like the pictures to fill-up the screen on my television. I don’t like the black spaces on both sides of the screen when you show pictures taken that way.” Continuing to evaluate the tree before us, he added: “I never take those pictures.”
While I might argue that, on occasion, a few rules of composition will suffer from refusal to turn the camera to capture subjects in portrait, I cannot find fault in the naked practicality of the reasoning supplied by my dear friend X.
X is all about filling his big screen with the photo.
Another man, an electrician I worked with, came up with a slew of practical solutions for nearly everything you might imagine. My favorite of his practical solutions was his poisoning an eight-inch border of the grass around his house, sidewalks, and driveway so he did not require an edge trimmer. He made a dead zone that required zero care. Looks (and all else) be damned.
This same electrician did not invent the concept of haphazardly attaching a spring to automatically shut doors but he most certainly over-used it. He was also famous for transforming cars into trucks. My electrician friend enjoyed hauling things around, and in his view everything should be a truck.
On those occasions when someone suggested to my electrician friend that his solutions were either severe or outright ugly, he shrugged and muttered: “It works.”
No argument there.
Finally, I have all those (long singled or widowed) friends who, at our late stage of life, have given up on dating and love. For this and for all of the above…I am not that practical, and perhaps from that I suffer.
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Yesterday, mostly on impulse, I stopped by the Montana State Capitol building with my friend, C. C had driven past the Capitol on occasion but had never been inside the building.
The entire complex is pretty impressive if you take the time to wander around a bit. I had no intention of taking any photographs until I offered to snap a photo for a family standing before the Thomas Meagher statue out front. Meagher, an Irishman, was appointed as acting governor for the Territory of Montana in 1867.
Posted are a couple of twice-as-smarter-than-me phone pictures I captured as I we wandered on.
Monday, October 20, 2014
A few days ago, a friend (Sandi) posted photographs from her trip to Hogback Mountain on Facebook. Looking through her photographs reminded me that I had not taken a drive there even once this year.
The drive from my home to the top of Hogback is something a bit less than forty miles in length but normally requires well over an hour of time due to my constant stopping to investigate roadside rocks and halting for photographs. The road to Hogback snakes through a spectacular series of limestone canyons and spires. Eventually, you climb to a mountaintop that offers one-hundred mile views in all directions.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
In most matters of work and pleasure I have always enjoyed the practice of teamwork. I doubt that I need to repeat any of the maxims or lessons that reveal the value of a team.
We all understand that.
On occasion, however, I have been teamed with a person who is very much opposed to the idea that they make mistakes. This often makes for difficult times when the requisite mistakes that must befall any effort finally fling themselves onto the path.
Blame must be assigned before the team can move on.
Over the years, I have learned to make all the mistakes in order to create a more viable team and maintain forward motion.
Saturday, October 18, 2014
Leaf number 58 fell from my linden tree at about 4:45 yesterday afternoon.
More aptly, leaf 58 corkscrewed up and away from the linden tree, firmly hooked by an up-drafting autumn breeze. I watched as leaf 58 twisted into a yellow blur and then sailed out and tumbled onto the high grassy plain upon which I constructed my house.
I counted the remaining leaves—now yellow to brown in color and of a distinct sea-shell shape—and tallied the 57 remaining.
Soon enough, leaf 57 and all the rest will drop away and then I will be stomping through snow as I pass the bare tree during my regular comings and goings.
I am going to miss leaf 58, but such is the nature of changing seasons. Such is life. We are surrounded by living tides. Each day, each week, each year is a similar blur of arrivals and departures. The sun comes and goes. Songbirds sweep in, settle for a while, and then flutter away again. The trick, for each of us, is to hang on for as long as we are able.
The trick is to become the linden tree.
Friday, October 17, 2014
I have posted photographs of the Cathedral of Saint Helena previously, but, as with the mountains and the lakes that surround me, I never tire of this subject. From most vantage points upon which you view Helena, Montana, the cathedral dominates the skyline—standing out with same conspicuous beauty as an island mountain range emerging from a wide plane.
The Gothic style of the church makes your first sighting of the spires standing above the Old West mining city seem on the verge of hallucinatory. The Cathedral was modeled after the Votivkirche in Vienna, Austria. Construction of the Cathedral began in October of 1908 and continued in one fashion or another until the Cathedral was consecrated in June of 1924.
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
Much of what we appreciate and many of our habits as adults are founded in experiences shared with our parents when we were children. One of my friends here in Montana, for example, is a rabid Notre Dame Football fan. He is often so emotional during the games he holds a softball in his hands as an emotion release mechanism. The softball is alternately squeezed, bounced, stuffed against seat cushions, and on occasion thrown—all depending on the score and the nature of play.
My friend—though Irish and Catholic—did not attend Notre Dame. The other day, I asked my friend how he came to be such a dedicated and expressive fan. He told me that he learned his devotion to the Fighting Irish by spending more than a few weekend days watching televised games with his father.
I have not carried forward much from childhood experiences with my father. My father, though often quite humorous, was a closed and solitary man in most respects. My father, maybe more than anything, enjoyed spending his free days drinking at the local taverns. I will admit, I did learn (on those days he dragged me to the taverns with him) which bartenders would push me a free Orange Crush or flip me change for the arcade games.
None of that today, save for the mixed memories.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
1. The people with bad haircuts found continually blocking the aisles are not flawed, they merely have bad haircuts.
2. The best bunch of cilantro was knocked to the floor an hour before you arrived.
3. Some of the plastic bags on the tear-off rolls in the produce section are not meant to be opened.
Monday, October 13, 2014
Sunday, October 12, 2014
As any young boy, I threw stones at birds and small animals in earnest hope of striking them. I pitched my stones far and wide for several years and soon stopped considering what might happen if my stone ever found its mark.
For some reason, I woke this morning with thoughts of the day when, at the age of about five, I raked up a handful of gravel from an alley behind our house and, at once, flung the whole lot at a robin perched quietly in a nearby cottonwood tree.
One of the stones struck the robin and the bird dropped like beanbag knocked from the branch.
“I hit it!” I blurted in disbelief. When I ran over to investigate, I found the robin hunched on the ground below the tree, quivering. Upon seeing the bird, my sense of success and victory immediately dropped into a well of disappointment.
That was not what I wanted.
I don’t know what I expected, but I felt awful about the robin I found there in the shade of the tree. I scooped the bird up and ran home to seek the advice of my mother.
I am guessing we all have a version of this story. At the end of the story the bird perishes in a small box and we mostly stop throwing stones.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
I live in the vicinity of several lakes. These lakes are among my favorite subjects for photography. I love how the wind plays with the water and the water plays with the light. If you then place a tree in front of that, I might stay there taking photographs until the proverbial cow comes home.
Friday, October 10, 2014
In my way of thinking it is going to take more than pink lipstick, a slinky nightgown and six stiletto heels to make a girl cockroach sexy, but as luck would have it I might be a perfect match for sexy girl cockroaches.
Female cockroaches prefer wimps.
Some researchers think that female cockroaches prefer docile to socially inept males because they make for gentle lovers. A more aggressive male might injure their female partner. Given this, a meek poem-reciting male (me) will likely be more attractive than a burly football-playing type (most males).
Cockroaches are also the touchy-feely type—thingmotropic in scientific terms—they rather crave the feeling of something touching against them. Nothing would make a female happier than a male who can only afford a small crack in a concrete foundation where they can huddle together.
Save for a few isolated and ever tenuous populations inadvertently transplanted into Montana, cockroaches do not extend their habitat into our northern climate. Lucky for me, I suppose. If something or someone is attracted to me, I tend to reciprocate.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Many years ago, a male friend of mine told me that he had a dream in which he met himself as a girl. My mind instantly filled with the possibilities of meeting oneself as a member of the opposite sex.
What would I think if I met myself as a girl?
Being shallow as I am, I quickly gleaned through the more valid questions to reach the one I felt important to ask: “Did you think you think you were good-looking as a woman…I mean, would you have sex with yourself?”
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
As ISIS (Islamic State) terrorists stain the Mideast with blood, I reflect back on a talk show discussion I once watched regarding the roots of terrorism. The natural partner to terrorism, as expressed by the panel engaged in discussion, is a fairly widespread derision for America and the West. One of the gentlemen involved in the panel suggested that the ever growing disparity between rich and poor in the world is a root problem. “Last guys don’t finish nice,” he said, putting a bitter twist on an old cliché.--Mitchell Hegman
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Monday, October 6, 2014
I do not find the fact that oil and coal are generally less expensive than renewable energy sources a very compelling reason to avoid development of such things as solar PV. I have news on that. Coal, for home heating, was once far more expensive than wood and an infrastructure for using coal resources took dozens of years to fully establish. Fuel oil climbed into use—supplanting coal—on a similarly slow and expensive path of transition.
The transitions to and from energy sources—including the development of the electrical grid we presently enjoy—took years stacked upon years and such shifts have not been without some manner of subsidy. Moving from one source of energy to another is neither easy nor inexpensive.
In writing this, I am not suggesting an ambitious ban on one source or another. I am not suggesting the wholesale elimination of the coal industry. I am, instead, suggesting a gradual (yes, subsidized) shift away from sources that will one day run out on us and toward sources that shall not.
How does that not make sense—especially given the brilliant new technology in our hands?
Posted today are photographs my modest addition to sources of renewable energy: a flowerish solar PV array (of my own design) soon to be fully connected to my house.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Saturday, October 4, 2014
Yesterday, I assembled the array on the main eight-inch steel pipe for my pole-mounted solar photovoltaic system. I mounted the microinverters and the trunk cables to the rails before lifting the rails into place.
Thanks to Bill, Mark, and Terry for helping lift the strongback into place in the early morning. Thanks to Arnold (Donald) for helping me hoist the last six modules in place and for helping me waltz around the pipes with the scaffolding in the late afternoon.
You know what—while I am in “thanking” mode—thanks to all of my friends being all of my friends. You are the best all of my friends I have ever had!
I am posting a photograph from sunrise and a photograph from just before sunset. Both photographs are courtesy of my twice-as-smarter-than-me phone.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Once, way back when I was a junior in high school, I thought I saw an ugly baby. I was drunk at the time and trying to get to first base (possibly second base) with the girl babysitting the child. “That is the ugliest baby I have ever seen,” I kept informing the babysitter, thinking that I was displaying some form of charm.
I did not get to first base that night.
I might also add: the baby was not ugly. I was ugly.
I thought about that baby and that babysitting girl when I chanced upon a curious news article at crazynews.net last night. The article was about a Chinese man named Jian Feng, who was convinced that he was a victim of marital infidelity. He became convinced that his wife was cheating on him (with an ugly man) when his wife delivered what he considered an ugly baby girl.
Mr. Feng felt the child was much too uncomely to be a product of his blood. When a
DNA test proved conclusively that the girl was in
fact the product of the couple, Mr. Feng’s wife finally admitted a secret: she
had undergone extensive cosmetic surgery in South Korea (valued at $100,000.00)
before the couple met and married. I
have posted photos from the website.
Jian Feng eventually divorced his wife and brought a successful lawsuit against her, claiming that the entire marriage was founded on false pretenses. In other words, she was only pretty on the outside.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
The method for pouring coffee without spilling or otherwise making a mess is that same method that succeeds in love and the same method that succeeds in business ventures: commit fully once you begin and stop abruptly when you see that you are done.--Mitchell Hegman
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Last Friday, I hiked along Crow Creek (near Townsend) with a friend. We were a week or two late for the full blush of colors. Most of the trees had already shed their kaleidoscope of leaves. We walked on through basketworks of bare trees and warm autumn sunshine. Only a few of the trees and bushes near the creek were still displaying color. The creek flounced and purred alongside the stony trail and grouse scattered away across the grass and thimbleberry understory as we approached them.
This was likely the last fully warm hike of the year. On we go now…on to frost mornings and the full chill of winter. On to starry Orion standing atop my house on cloudless nights.