Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

One Second to Live

For well over a century we have been able to document, in photographs, our lives from birth to passing.  The various technologies for capturing photographic images are old enough that I have a few photographs of my great-grandparents from the late 1800s.  I also have studio photographs of my grandmother taken when she was a toddler.  Hanging in my den is a photograph I captured of my grandmother not far from the end of her life.  I possess dozens of other photos of my grandmother spanning the eighty years in-between the two photographs previously mentioned.

The emergence of digital camera technology, and especially the inclusion of cameras in cell phones, has made documenting our lives simple—if not obligatory.  Today, nearly every moment can be captured.  Increasingly, people are catching embarrassing and sometimes shocking moments.
I am posting a photograph taken by a man named Reynaldo Dagsa.  Mr. Dagsa, at the time he snapped the photograph, was a councilman for Caloocan City in the Philippines.  You will find Reynaldo Dagsa’s family in the foreground of the image.  The picture was taken just after midnight on New Year’s Day, 2011, during a raucous celebration.

Mr. Dagsa had about a second remaining in his life as he snapped the camera shutter.  Unwittingly, Reynaldo captured a chilling image of his assassin taking aim.  An instant after Dagsa took the photograph, the assassin fired the first of two shots.  The man about to kill Reynaldo Dagsa is braced against the automobile on the left side of the frame.

 --Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 30, 2015


Posted are two photographs of shootingstar flowers from my archives.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 29, 2015

That Age

I have reached that age where all the places on my body that are stiff and sore are starting to connect.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Jefferson

Yesterday, that girl and I took an hour-long walk near the Jefferson River.  We had hoped to find some antlers recently shed by the local deer, but found none.  Instead, we chased-up dozens of Canada geese and skirted around a pair of sandhill cranes.  The cranes called out incessantly—their creaking splitting into echoes along the edge of the river.  I have posted a photograph of the sun so that you can feel the warmth of the afternoon.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Layman’s Philosophy

My blog about philosophy from yesterday spurred me to think about a few of my own philosophical questions.  Today, I am sharing my top five questions.

1.  Can a person know the meaning of life and still tip at a rate of twenty percent?
2.  Is it immoral to snap spaghetti into thirds before dropping it into boiling water?
3.  Why do genital warts exist?
4.  Is happiness spelled in a truly pleasing manner?
5.  Are penguins an illusion?

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Philosophers rarely pass up an opportunity to invent crazy questions and then run straight off a cliff while grappling with the questions.  Philosophers are the folks responsible for giving us, as example, this question: Why is there something rather than nothing?   I suppose that is a valid question, but I am presently a bit more concerned about where I left my twice-as-smarter-than-me-phone.

While the rest of us have remained busy building an assortment of widgets to make life “easier” and taking out our daily garbage, some in the metaphysical community have been grappling with mathematics.  No, philosophers are not crunching numbers or making a cat’s cradle with string theory.  They are concerned about something a bit more basic.  The metaphysical question underlying all is this: Did we invent mathematics or did humans merely discover the mathematic numbers and logic that naturally underlies the operation of all things?
This is not a new question.  The question is as ancient as Plato and as recent as (forgive me) Play-Doh.  Plato argued that mathematics is the natural glue that binds together the entire universe and that we simply discovered the existing knit of numbers. Other philosophers have insisted, before eventually plunging off a cliff, that we developed mathematics as a handy way to explain the mystical clockworks surrounding us.  Play-Doh never actually made any claims for either school of thought, but I have always had fun with Play-Doh.

There is something to be said for fun.

Some deep thinkers, operation under the assumption that math is an invention, have managed a notable level of over-thinking.  On this side of the equation (forgive me again), several theories have been developed.  Logistic theory, for example, claims that math is simply an extension of normal human logic.  Formalist theory gives normal people a headache.  Intuitionist theory is wholly inexplicable.  Fictionalist theory, as I understand it, puts mathematics on equal footing with fairytales such as Rapunzel.

Maybe Play-Doh is onto something.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Note to “That Girl”

You have been gone since Valentine’s Day and I have missed you.  I think I have been living in solitude for the whole time since then.  I think that is the correct term.  I have not been edging around the bottomless pits of loneliness.  I have not felt the sharp points of despair probing at me.     
Solitude, I think.
I am all framing and no finish without you.
I am a coat without buttons.
My elevator is stuck on the first floor.

Do you remember the night that I planted a single kiss on your bare shoulder?
Can we start at that place again?

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Mountains (Another View)

Curiosity and want will spur a man to climb mountains.  Running out of beer will prompt a man to cross an entire range.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Cynical Thinking Invades Clichés

You will never be disappointed if you surround yourself with people you don’t trust.

Failure is not an option—failure is the default setting.

Love is a many-plundered thing.

What goes around comes apart.

We are not laughing at you—well, actually, we are.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 22, 2015

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

I sometimes wake to a song playing in my head.  Generally, when this happens, the song will continue to play in my internal background for the entire day.  I woke with a song in my head this morning.  I have posted a version of the song for you.  The weird sound in the middle of the song is produced by someone playing a handsaw as a musical instrument.

Today, my head will be filled with the sound of a handsaw coaxed to sing this odd, swaying tune.
--Mitchell Hegman
If the posted video fails to launch, please click on the following link:

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Yesterday, I drove from Helena to Billings for a teaching engagement I have today.  I chose a route that included a two-lane highway that climbed up through Deep Creek Canyon and then crossed back to the Interstate by way of the Shields River Valley.  Posted is a photograph of Mountain Jack and the Crazy Mountains taken along the way.

The Crazies are a so-called island range.   Many of the chevron peaks surge to vertical elevations that reach 6000 feet above the surrounding prairie (10,000 feet in total elevation).  Owing to their location in the rain shadow created by the mountains to the west, the Crazy Mountains are fairly arid and do not support dense forests.  For that reason, the stony heights cut a sharp and impressive pose against the wide-open savannah and blue skies.

After arriving in Billings and setting up the training facility for the class, I was treated to a trip to the new Scheels sporting goods store.  The store is huge—something near 220,000-square-feet.  A glass aquarium archway greats you at the entrance.  A full-sized Ferris wheel operates at the center of the store.  A manmade mountain can be found on the second level of the store.  Posted is a photo of the manmade mountain and some of the animal mounts that are posed on the mountain—oddly frozen there for as long as the mountain stands—just like the mountain man, Thunder Jack, standing before the Crazy Mountains.

Both photographs were captured by my twice-as-smarter-than-me-phone.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 20, 2015


Spring officially arrives today.  In celebration, I am posting two spring photographs from my archives. The first photograph is one I captured of the Elkhorn Mountains reflected in the tranquil surface of the Helena Valley Regulating Reservoir. The second photograph, a mountainside collection of larkspur and arnica, I captured in the Big Belt Range.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Gulls are Squalling

Long before dawn, I heard the lakeshore gulls squalling,
their pleas collecting into shrill rhythms,  
into three-sided echoes that split once,
split twice again as the sounds swept up through clusters of bull pine.

The arrival of spring cannot be trusted.
Four years ago, on tomorrow’s date exact,
a doctor sat between me and my wife and said
nothing, nothing, nothing
can be done.

Once, as a small boy, I held three newborn mice in the palm my hand.
The mice nearly indistinguishable from lima beans,
but soft and warm.
How could I connect them to the dirty mice scampering through my cupboards and walls?
How are these small things that?
That…that…again, at the brutal edge of spring
and only moments before the mice were taken off to be drowned.

Tomorrow spring.
Tomorrow the gulls spraying up against clouds and calling back.
Tomorrow the mice to field and the fox soon to follow.
This year’s tomorrow—hopefully—just another day.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Bad Idea

I have entertained my share of bad ideas.  Two attempted motorcycle jumps and one floundering ski jump immediately move to the front of my mind.  Each of those events left their mark.  One year, I tied to calculate my own taxes.  From my perspective, that is a bad idea.

I will, however, need to work a little harder on bad ideas if I ever wish to compete in the bad idea marketplace with Luis Santos.  Santos is a young man from Norwalk, Connecticut.  Recently, Mr. Santos negotiated a preposterously wide turn on a Norwalk street, forcing a police cruiser to swerve away in efforts to avoid a head-on collision.  In spite of the police officer’s quick maneuver, the rearview mirrors on the vehicles struck one another.

Mr. Santos continued driving on.

Naturally, the police officer wheeled around his cruiser, flipped on his lights and siren, and then made pursuit of what turned out to be a Chevy Lumina.  After a short chase, the Lumina finally stopped in the center of a busy intersection, blocking the flow of traffic.

A bad idea—but wait—we have more.

The police officer exited his cruiser to approach the car blocking the street and immediately noticed a strong odor of marijuana originating from the Lumina.  When Mr. Santos stepped from his car he was wearing shirt proclaiming “High As %#@*” and holding a lit marijuana cigarette in his hand.   A bad idea stacked on a mountain of other bad ideas.

Not surprisingly, Luis Santos failed a field sobriety test and was arrested.

Maybe, comparatively, my ski jump wasn’t such a bad idea.  I was down for only a single day after that one.  The tax thing still qualifies.  And, really, competing with Luis Santos is another bad idea.  

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Self-Taught Man

A list of lessons I have taught myself:

1.  Good practice is to read the warnings before your press the “start” button.

2.  You can readily disassemble an old-fashioned alarm clock and not necessarily acquire the reverse engineering knowledge to reassemble the clock again.

3.   Locker room jokes are called such because they are best left there.

4.   The people promoting products and the people writing dictionaries have a different take on the term “indestructible.”

5.  Not knowing what tomorrow brings is fine so long as you know what to bring to tomorrow.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 16, 2015

Mr. Criminal

I captured a really nasty criminal in my dream last night.  The bad guy, Mr. Criminal, was waving a pistol all around a busy delicatessen and threatening to “put holes” in everyone.  I managed to save the day by lunging at Mr. Criminal and wresting free the pistol.  After I turned the pistol on Mr. Criminal, I asked some bystanders to “call the cops.”   At that point, I said to Mr. Criminal: “There are only two people in this world I don’t like…and you’re one of them!”

I said that to Mr. Criminal, and it rings like a great movie line, but I don’t know what it means.

To further invalidate the authenticity of the above snippet from my dream, I must confess that only an instant before I captured Mr. Criminal, I was at the edge of an outdoor basketball court trying to play basketball, but the ball would not dribble and my knee-high socks were continually sliding down around my shoes.  An instant after capturing Mr. Criminal I was exploring an empty bomb shelter.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Toston Dam from the Inside

On Thursday last, I conducted an electrical safety survey at the Toston Dam power plant.  Toston Dam is a run-of-the-river dam, and the uppermost barrier on the Missouri River.  In a few weeks, I will be conducting training out there.

I have something of a history with the Toston facility.  The present-day hydro plant superintendent, I, and many others, spent part of 1988 and part of 1989 installing a 10 megawatt power generator in the reconstructed dam.  The generator sits in a concrete pit deep inside the dam.  Water flows around the pit through intake tubes to drive a turbine runner attached to the generator (through a gearbox) on the downstream side.

Early in 1989, while I was working on the Toston project, my grandfather passed away.
I loved that man more than any other.

My grandmother had passed only a few months earlier.  After Grandfather’s passing, my family sorted through all of our grandparent’s earthly belongings and dispersed them as does any family.  I kept a couple of my grandfather’s hats but donated all of his clothes to the Salvation Army.  Among his clothing was a lurid one-of a-kind Hawaiian shirt.  Grandfather looked mildly ridiculous when he wore the shirt, but he loved wearing it.  I can still imagine him standing there with a crooked grin—awash in the too-bright colors of that shirt.

The Toston project was a messy one.  Water.  Cutting oil.  Mud.  Toward the end of the project, the company that employed us, purchased bales of rags from the Salvation Army in Helena so we could wipe down equipment and keep the floors dry.  One afternoon, I broke into a new bale of rags so I could clean-up some oil in the generator pit and out popped a familiar Hawaiian shirt.

For the longest time the whole world stopped and I just stared at the fucking shirt as tears streamed from my eyes.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 13, 2015

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Arrival

Some of my friends and acquaintances have such distinctive manners of walking I am able to recognize them from a great distance.  A few men walk with such an exaggerated swagger they stand out like a red light surrounded by greens.  I am able to recognize some women by a certain, almost liquid, sway of their hips.

During my many years of country living, I have also learned how to identify certain species of birds by their distinct patterns of flight.  Pinion jays fly with something of a swagger, similar to that of a man.  Vesper sparrows fly with a kind of flutter-and-fold stutter.  Bluebirds are among the most unique in their flight.  Bluebirds initiate rhythmic arcs and dips as they fly—almost as if they are racing up and down invisible hills.  Bluebirds also hover above the brush and grass.

Yesterday, as I drove home through the ranchlands, I spotted a bird hovering above some juniper on a nearby hill.  After hovering for a few seconds, the bird scissored its sharp wings and wove away.  Definitely a bluebird.  My first bluebird sighting of 2015.

Out here where I live, the seasons come and go on the wings of bluebirds.  Today, I announce the electric blue official arrival of spring in Montana.

--Mitchell Hegman  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mountain Forget-Me-Not

Posted is a photograph of a mountain forget-me-not.  The tiny forget-me-not (about the size of your pinky fingernail) is the state flower of Alaska.  The mountain forget-me-not has a range that extends from Alaska down into Wyoming.  I captured this photograph in a meadow near my cabin early one summer morning.  The flower is bejeweled by a fine mist lifted from the water of a nearby creek.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Twisted Future Prediction #2

In the future, golf club manufacturers will develop biodegradable putters that will sell in six-packs.  The putters will be manufactured with angry golfers in mind.  If thrown into water hazards, the putters will harmlessly disintegrate.  If flung out into the rough, the putters will rapidly biodegrade and disperse embedded poppy flower seeds.  As poppies begin to flourish around some of the tougher holes on golf courses, the approach to a difficult hole will become known as a “poppy row.”    

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 9, 2015

Twisted Future Prediction #1

At some point near mid-century, a team of researchers will successfully reanimate the head of Ted Williams, the renowned professional baseball player.   Ted Williams died in 2002 and his body is presently cryogenically preserved (frozen) at the Alcor Life Extending Foundation facility in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The revived head of Ted Williams will be placed on a mysterious life sustaining “black box.” Almost immediately following reanimation, the head of Ted Williams will embark on a full schedule of motivational speaking engagements.  Eventually, Ted’s head will decide to run for Congress in Arizona on a third party platform that advocates placing automatic bubblers and dish soap in all publicly held ponds.  The head of Ted Williams will end every stump speech by loudly proclaiming: “I envision a world filled with rainbow bubbles.”

The head of Ted Williams will lead the polls until a televised debate, at which time one of the opposing candidates will suggest that the head of Ted Williams “lacks the balls” to be a proper leader.  His candidacy will ultimately collapse when the camera crew zooms in on the ball-less life support box below Ted’s head.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Blog 1420

If you are reading this, you are reading blog number 1420.  I have now posted 1420 times on this site.  Over the last year or so, my daily blogs have generally received somewhere between 30 and 50 views each.  A few of my blogs have surged far beyond that.  My landscape photographs tend to be the most consistently popular.

I am humbled to note that I have a few somewhat devoted followers.  Over the last couple of years, I have also noticed that somewhere near 1/5th of my blog views originate from Russia (or at least a server from there).


I cannot accurately put into words what posting 1420 blogs feels like.  Instead, I am posting a photograph of footprints disappearing into the surface of melting ice.  That’s pretty close to what my blogging feels like.  I took the photograph a couple years ago and have posted it previously.  Sorry, for that repetition.

Mostly, thank you for walking alongside me for a bit.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Is This Wisdom?

A chair-maker does not sit any better than I do. 

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 6, 2015

Didga Drops In

Why not a cat?

If the video here fails to launch please click on the following link: 

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Blue Flax

Spring is almost near enough that I can throw a rock and strike it.  As revealed by the journals I have constantly maintained since moving out to the country 24 years ago, I should expect to see my first returning bluebird either this week or next week.  Today, following a couple weeks of fairly cold temperatures, we are anticipating something near 50 degrees.

This afternoon, I intend to disperse handfuls of blue flax seeds all around my solar array.  I am hoping that the seeds (and eventually the plants) will take hold in the soil I disturbed during construction.  Blue flax is a tough competitor.  Flax will happily grow in poor soil and blossom long into the hot, dry summer.  One of my flower books noted that the cultivated species of flax have very tough stems that can be made into ropes, cords, fishing lines, and nets.

I am all about the pretty flowers.

Posted is a photograph I captured a few years ago of blue flax high in the mountains.
     --Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


I am somewhat incompetent at relaxing.  Okay, that statement is a bit soft.  I really suck at relaxing.  Just “sitting there” is a problem for me.  You need to remember, I was the kid in grade school who constantly tapped a pencil against the desk and flicked paper wads around the back of the class.  At home, my mother would kick me outside as soon the temperature rose above freezing because I drove her nuts with my chaotic indoor activities.  She never really took a liking to my indoor toy truck demolition derbies or occasional experiments with fire.

Now that I am older (okay, I am actually old), I continually fiddle with silverware, cups, papers, my computer, or anything within reach if am standing or sitting in one place for any length of time.  I cannot even watch television without doing something else at the same time.  My idea of a relaxing weekend is working on my cabin or building something here at the house.

Here is the biggest problem.  Now that I am—let’s go with mature from here—my mind has developed a habit of over-charging and purposely injecting nonsense into my perception if I am just sitting around.  When not keeping myself busy, my mind will do such things as send naked people prancing through my houseplants or transform the numbers and lines on my open checkbook ledger into a rotating two-dimensional carousel.  The other day, as I sat for a bit after exercising, I thought I heard twenty pounds of housecat talking to me.

Frankly, I am little worried about the prospect of a full retirement.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Big Picture

Stranded here on our little blue planet, we are merely running in place.

--Mitchell Hegman    

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Doorbell Works In Both Directions

My two cats freak-out when the doorbell rings.  My friend, Kevin, particularly enjoys watching the cats scramble to hide at the sound of the bell.  If Kevin notices one or both of the cats lazing in the sun near the window when he walks up to the door, he will peer in as he rings the bell so he can watch a cat explosion.

Kevin stopped in yesterday, but was unable to ring the bell because I saw him and opened the door before he reached it.  After visiting with me for a while he said good-bye and headed for the door.  “I missed my chance at scaring the cats,” he groused.

After closing the door, Kevin poked the doorbell button several times and filled my house with: bing-bong-bing-bong-bing-bong-bing-bong!

A parting shot at my 40 pounds of housecat.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Cure for Cancer?

You would likely do almost anything to cure your child if your child was diagnosed with cancer.  With a grim prognosis, you might travel to a foreign country where unorthodox treatments are used.  You would entertain any form of experimental treatment if nothing else worked; but what if your doctor advocated injecting your child with a massive dose of the HIV virus or an injection of the measles virus as a cure?  What then?

These viruses are known killers.

All viruses walk a fine line between being a living and non-living thing.  Viruses cannot reproduce themselves...and yet, that is their sole function.  Viruses are, essentially, weird little zombies that contain a single genetic code for reproduction.  Set adrift, a virus will do nothing until it happens onto a proper living host cell.  Once a virus finds a living cell to its liking (they tend to be very finicky), a virus will attach to or invade the cell and take it hostage.  As soon as possible, the virus will inject its specific genetic instructions into the cell.  The infected cell now alters all internal machinery to do one thing: make more copies of the virus that infected it.  Eventually, the cell filled with the viruses it reproduced will burst and spew out more viruses to go forth and seek more living cells so they can reproduce.

Oncologists are now commissioning some of the more insidious viruses to kill cancer.  Not “treat.”  Kill.  I am far too simple to navigate the thorny patch of details of exactly how, but cancer researchers are commanding such monsters as the measles virus and the HIV virus in battles against cancer.

Using an “it takes a thief to catch a thief” theme, researchers genetically “gut out” the deadly viruses and retool them so the viruses are attracted to and kill only specific tumor cells in the human body.  Mass doses of the altered viruses are injected into cancer patients.  The cancer patients rapidly fall into an extreme fever as the viruses go to battle with cancer cells.  Some children battling leukemia have lapsed into a coma for a few days as the cancer cells and viruses engage.

The success in treating children with leukemia has been remarkable.  Once the children break through the fever, they quickly recover.  The cancer is often completely eradicated in a matter of only a few weeks.  Nothing of the cancer remains.  Nothing.

At a minimum, such genetic tinkering scares the hell out of me, but I cannot help but cheer this:  A possible cure for cancer!

I had neither read nor seen anything about using viruses to fight cancer until I watched an exposé about this on VICE, the HBO investigative series.  Some doctors predict the use of viruses in treating cancer may be fairly widespread by 2016.   Honestly, I shed a few tears as I watched once doomed little kids walking away cancer-free.
I thought of my wife—nearly four years gone.

--Mitchell Hegman