Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Dumbass Drunk

My car developed a flat tire late in the night, forcing me to pull off the road about two miles from East Helena.
The car was a lumbering, rusted-out clunker—a whale as we called them.  My friend and I, both fresh from our teens, were terribly drunk.  I should not have been driving.  But there we were, stranded in the middle of a late fall night.
“I have a spare,” I assured.
We poured ourselves from the front seat, dug into the trunk of my car; flopped my spare tire, a jack, and lug wrench onto the ground.  We stared down at the spare and the jack for a while.  Everything seemed terribly complicated.
“I have never changed a tire on this car,” I admitted, kicking at the jack.  I picked up the jack, which seemed to have at least twenty percent more moving parts than a normal jack. My friend and I staggered around the car in the darkness trying to apply the jack to the car.  The car would not stand still and my friend and I staggering all over the place, assessing our predicament.
After dragging the jack around the car a couple times and failing to grasp a firm place to apply it, we realized the mechanics of changing a tire was far beyond us.
“I think we should give up,” my friend said.
“You’re right.”  I flung everything back into the trunk.  “We can walk to town.  It’s not that far.  You can just stay with me at my grandparent’s house.”
We started walking.  My friend staggered off in one direction.  I drifted off in the opposite direction.  After a few paces I yelled at him: “That’s the wrong direction!”
“No, it’s not!  You are going the wrong way!”
An argument developed.  Our tempers flared.  I don’t remember anything we said.  All stupid stuff.  After enough of that, we stomped off in our separate directions.  We continued yelling at each other across the darkness.  As the distance between us grew, my friend’s voice grew smaller and smaller.   Worry set into me.  What were we doing?  Clearly one of us was walking in the wrong direction.  When I reached a certain spot, I stopped and yelled out to my friend, pleading that he also stop walking.
We agreed to come back together.
We hugged when we met at the car again.
After a bit of pointing and looking around, we chose a direction (mine) and walked arm-over-shoulder style toward East Helena and my grandparent’s house.  We arrived at the house not long before dawn.  My friend was hungry.  After poking around the kitchen, I announced: “Looks like we will be having Fruit Loop cereal.  We have some bread, too.  You want a fruit loop sandwich?”
“Sure,” he said.
We each ate Fruit Loop sandwiches.  To make them, I simply dumped a pile of the cereal on a slice of bread and then mashed another slice on top of that. 
The next morning, another friend gave me a ride out to my car.  In less than ten minutes, I managed to change the tire.
We were dumbass drunk the night before.  I shudder to think that I was behind the wheel that night.    

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What the Hell?

If nothing else, my smarter-than-me-phone is a pretty good tool for documenting my idiocy.  My phone does this in the form of random photographs.  These photographs are of the “what the hell,” random variety.   Every few months, I decide I need to clean out my smarter-than-me-phone’s photo gallery.  As I scroll through the gallery, deleting duplicate images of 20 pounds of housecat, images of labels from various foods I want that girl to approve by text, and images of nameplate data from electrical equipment, I come across these accidental snapshots.
I mean a lot of them!  Numbering into the many dozens.
This morning, I deleted a pile of such photographs.  Just for fun, I thought I might share a couple with everyone.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Missing Link

We are ever closer to the point where we will be able to link our minds directly to machines such as computers and smartphones.  And here I am looking for my fucking misplaced key fob.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


—Falling down on the job is not a bad thing if you are a stuntman.
—Do you ever wonder how you are the only one to see issues properly even when others around you have been allotted the same information?
—If you need some kind of validation in your life, don’t start with a cat.
 --Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 27, 2017

Finish this Sentence

I think it’s fair to say I have, to date, done most of the heavy lifting for this blog.  Today, I thought I might allow everyone a chance to “throw in.”  Below, I have started a sentence.  You are welcome to fill in the blank and complete the sentence with your own thoughts:

When there is no other option, or when there is every other option, why would you do anything other than ______________________________________?

 Example answers:
1. knit a purple sweater
2. start a grass fire
3. do your best

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Squeezing Blood from a Turnip

My grandmother, when describing the process of attempting to glean truth from a dishonest person, would say: “It’s like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip.”
Seemingly impossible, that.
But consider this: plants and humans have in common some 99% of their DNA.  We humans are, put simply, comprised of the same building blocks as a prickly pear cactus.  The end structure—be it human or plant—is a matter of how the blocks are stacked together.  In some cases, say, comparing the perpetually touchy Kanye West to a thistle, the leap from one thing to the next is not so great.
But what if?
What if we could literally squeeze blood from a turnip, or, instead, from spinach?
Scientists working in several labs recently converted a spinach leaf into what is essentially working human heart tissue.  The network of veins already present in spinach leaves are ideal for such conversion.
Watch the video posted below for details.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Unwinding the Sun

Buckminster Fuller, famous architect, thinker, and man credited with inventing the geodesic dome, once made one of my favorite quotes.  “Fire is the sun unwinding from a tree’s log,” he said.
The first time I saw that quote, I closed the book I was reading so I could stop and think.
So much there to think about!
That quote came to mind when I arrived home from a trip to Helena the other day.  Across the lake from my house, on a mountainside perhaps five miles away, a prescribed burn was clawing through the forest.  A plume of smoke roiled above the fire.
Fire is a natural part of our forests.  I don’t want to say you become comfortable with seeing these plumes of smoke, but you learn to accept them when they are not created by an uncontrolled wildfire.
I stopped the truck near my solar array.  The sun stood high above me.  I could see the sheen of sunlight at work on the dark modules.  Inside each module's individual cells, photons were pushing elections through inverters and then back into my house so the electrons might unwind the sun within motors and lights.  Behind the array, in the distance, smoke from the fire ascended into the azure sky.  The sun unwinding there, too.
--Mitchell Hegman

Photo thanks to my smarter-than-me-phone

Friday, March 24, 2017


She took Ambien and then drove into the night.  She drove until the stars fell on her.  Hercules came undone in a shower of sparks.  Ursa Major glanced off her windshield.  All the rest smeared against the big black.  But she kept driving.  With her hands clamped as tight as she could hold them to the steering wheel, she drove straight into what she assumed would be sleep.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 23, 2017


I had no idea how many ways there were to screw up valuable information until I started working with computers.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Little Girl Who Finally Stopped Crying

Philipsburg is one of my favorite small towns in Montana.  I love the sky-held mountain valley in which the town is nestled.  You feel like you can touch the clouds from Main Street there.   Sapphires and ghost towns can be found all around.  The town still feels “Old West” through and through.
On Monday, that girl and I stopped in Philipsburg on our drive back to Helena.  We spent a couple hours poking around the various tourist shops along the 1800’s Main Street and engaging in conversation with locals.
One of the shop owners shared her story of arrival here in Montana.
Reluctantly, the shop owner, a woman not yet approaching middle age, admitted that she’d moved to Montana from a particular state along the Gulf Coast.
“My daughter was miserable there,” she said.  “She could not tolerate salt water, she was allergic to orange trees, to the grasses growing down there…to just about anything else you can imagine.  All she did was cry.  She cried all the time.  When she was three, we decided we had to move.  My husband, my daughter, and I started traveling to places. We went all over.  Canada.  The West Coast.  Colorado.  Idaho.  Wyoming.  State after state.  Our daughter never stopped crying.  Finally, we took a trip to Montana.  Our plane landed in Helena near midnight before we drove to a resort where we were going to stay.”
The woman paused for just a moment, gathering thoughts and emotions.  “Our daughter stopped crying the minute we landed in Montana.  We were here for ten days and she never cried.  Once, while we were here, we stopped at a bar and took her inside to buy her a soft drink.  When we stepped inside, she said, ‘I like the music!’  It was country music.  That trip changed everything.  We went home and made a long term plan move here.  Now, this is home.”

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Short Story in One Sentence Featuring Animals, Birds, Fish, and People

The red squirrel, diving into a hole in the earth to avoid a bald eagle, dropped a seed that grew into a fir tree and sent a root deep into the crack in a granite boulder, cleaving in two the stone and sending half of the stone tumbling down a mountainside, launching a landslide that slumped soil and stone and great trees across a stream, which then pooled into a lake where trout grew large, eventually attracting a man who loved fly fishing and who constructed a lodge alongside the shore, where children gathered to feed seeds to red squirrels.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 20, 2017

Thoughts from the Bathroom

I am writing this from inside the bathroom of a second floor guest room at Fairmont Hot Springs, Montana.
I don’t have much time.
Wait, that sounds desperate.  Let me explain.  I am here for a National Electrical Code seminar with a bunch of electricians, electrical engineers, electrical inspectors, and some folks from Underwriter’s Laboratories.
Oh, geez.  That sounds worse!
Okay.  I need to get out of this bathroom.  Let’s give this a final run.
First, I am in the bathroom writing because that girl didn’t sleep well last night and I don’t want to wake her.  It’s a bit steamy in here because I showered before sitting on the toilet with my computer (fully clothed, thank you). 
Yesterday afternoon, I taught a solar PV class to about 70 people attending the seminar.  The class is mostly about upcoming changes in Code for solar PV installations.  For whatever sick reason, I really enjoy teaching stuff about the National Electrical Code. 
Moving along.
Fairmont Hot Springs is fantastic.  I insist that you drive over here and take a ride down the curly waterslide.  Since first arriving here, I have seen dozens of my friends and professional acquaintances from across the state.  My coffee (this is for you Sandi) is brewing one teeny-tiny cup at a time in a miniature coffee maker and barely keeping up.  We have ducks in a pond outside our window.  That girl’s sister came down to visit from Three Forks yesterday.
I am now standing at the bathroom sink writing, preparing to brush me teeth.
Yesterday, that girl asked: “Did you ever think you would be standing in front of all those people teaching when you first started your career?”     
“Nope.  I was too busy making sure I didn’t get shocked and didn’t burn-up stuff.  I was not fully successful.”
Note: I apologize for any mistakes in this writing—no time for a proof…

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weight Loss Program

That girl and I have been together long enough that we are starting to think alike.  I have not yet got her thinking that allowing 40 pounds of housecat to sleep in bed with us is a good idea and she has not quite convinced me that I need to check the “sell by” date on whatever food I stuff in my mouth; but we are getting closer.
Here is the latest.  We have both been trying to maintain a fairly constant weight.  We have experienced mixed success on this.  I am not talking about a great deal of weight gain or loss, mind you.  We tend to suffer fluctuations of less than five pounds.  An extended holiday or a week of inactivity is enough to drive the scale up.  A bit more activity and watching what we eat drives the scale readings down.
The other day, that girl came home with a brand new bathroom scale.
“Are we going to try and lose a bit more weight,” I asked.
“That’s what I figured.  And you’re thinking a new scale might show that we weigh less, right?”
That girl laughed.  “Yes.”
“Good thinking!  I had the very same thought!
After I unpackaged the new scale, I placed it alongside the old scale in the master bath.  I stood on the old scale and noted my weight.  I then stood on the new scale.
A full two pounds less on the new scale.  Significant weight loss in mere seconds!
I think that girl could market this stuff.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Big Injury

Another dream. 
I am standing in the in the too-bright white of a box store vestibule.  People push through me going in the store and coming out of the store.  Behind me, shopping carts rattle as new arrivals pull carts from the crashed-together rows.  Looking through the glass doors, I just saw my brother-in-law talking with a checker.
My brother-in-law is the store manager.  It’s possible that my sister is inside the store.  I am standing out in the too-bright light because I don’t want to see my sister.  Not that sister.
Reality: I have a big injury.  A permanent injury.
My mother died in 1985 and my sister disconnected from our entire family.  This occurred all at once.  I don’t know why my sister did that.  Nobody does.  Maybe money.  I was in China when mother died, when my sister fled.  I was supposed to get married and gather my whole family around when I came back home.  Instead, I got my big injury.
Begin again.
I don’t want to enter store.  The light hurts my eyes.  I don’t understand how my sister could just go away.  She was my friend.  When I was a kid, she let me stand in her room and listen to rock music on her radio.  I loved rock music.  We were there, together, listening to the radio when we first heard that Bobby Kennedy had been shot.

Sometimes, on school nights, I watched her rolling small tin cans into her hair and clipping them into place as curlers.  That always fascinated me.
That sister took me places.
I once chanced to meet her at a store in Missoula ten years after the big injury.  She avoided me, would not talk to me when I tried.  Her eyes were cold like the eyes of a plastic doll.
The shopping carts rattle behind me.  Someone taps my right shoulder.  I turn and find my sister.  Her eyes are warm.  We melt together, sobbing.
I wake.
The big injury is throbbing inside me.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 17, 2017

First Bluebird, 2017

God is always on the move.  During the winter, he carries bluebirds in a soft-sided suitcase and takes the birds with him wherever he goes.  Early each spring, when the wind is warm enough and the sun sincere, God unzips the suitcase and releases the bluebirds.  The birds shower against the sky like blue electric sparks.  Off they go, pirouetting atop clouds, alighting in trees, swooping right through barbed wire fences, hovering over wheatfield stubble, dispersing for another summer.
Yesterday, that girl and I saw the first bluebird of the season—five of them, actually.   They are the most certain sign of spring in the North Country.  Every year, upon first sight of a bluebird, I am amazed by the vivid color and thrilled to see them.
We saw our first bluebirds in stitching flights along the fence of a now golden field.
Last year, I saw my first bluebird on March 6.  In 2015, I spotted the first bluebird on March 12.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A New Way to Measure Age

I remember only a little about the dream from which I awakened.  In the dream, I was sitting in the waiting room at an office, or maybe a clinic.  Somehow, I had managed to sit between a woman in her mid-twenties and her toddler.  The child, a young boy, wore nothing more than a diaper and appeared to be less than a year old.
When I glanced down at the boy, he began talking to me.
Not baby talk.
The boy used complete sentences.  He asked me what I did for a living and asked if I had attended college.  I was shocked by his language skills.  “A little college,” I admitted.  “I am, more or less, an electrician.  How old are you?”
“I am two years and one green pepper old,” he responded.
I found myself immediately baffled.  First, the boy looked much younger than two years old, but he spoke more like an adult.  Secondly, what did “green pepper” mean?
I turned to his mother.  “I’m very impressed with your son.  He’s sharp!  What does he mean by two years and one green pepper old?
His mother smiled.  “When he turned two, we planted a green pepper plant.  A single green pepper grew on the plant.  We ate the pepper the other day.”

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Dog Ate My Homework

Nothing compares to a Montana-made story.  They have a certain, shall we say, flavor.
On something near a yearly basis, one of our homegrown villains somewhere in the state beats a wife or girlfriend with an elk antler and lands his name in the news.  This kind of story always makes the news around here.  The weird part is, the news stories often mention how many points were on the antlers.  Sometimes, it seems the number of points on the antler becomes the bigger story.
Back about ten or so years ago, a man in near Bozeman broke into a woman’s house and pummeled her with a seven-point elk antler.
Many of my avid hunter buddies had a fit.
“Geez, why would you use a seven-point?  How could you?” Some asked.  “I hope he didn’t tear the antler off a mount,” someone else groused.
The woman recovered nicely, thank you.
Now Montana can boast to one-upping the old “dog-ate-my-homework” routine. 
According to an article in our local paper, a Kalispell man named Steven Boyd recently had his two-year suspended sentence revoked for parole violations.  That’s normal stuff.   But the reason Boyd gives for losing his job, moving from his registered residence, and failure to report entirely after August 2016 is unique.
Steven Boyd claims all of these failures resulted because he was incapacitated and recovering from a grizzly bear attack.  He says he never sought medical care.
This is a pretty unique claim.  Such a claim would could not possibly fly in, say, Iowa or Rhode Island.  Here in Montana, however, we actually have grizzly bears.  Several bear attacks were reported last year.
As mentioned earlier, the judge hearing Boyd’s case did not accept his story.
On to the next.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Passenger Side

Early yesterday morning, my friend and neighbor, Kevin, stopped by my house to drop off my newspaper as he does early every morning.  We chatted a little as we always do.
“I need to take my car into the shop later this morning,” he told me during the course of our conversation.
“What for?” I asked.
“A recall.  They are going to replace the passenger side airbag.”
“Oh…you have some of those killer Takata airbags?”
“Yep.  They replaced the driver’s side last year.”
“That’s good.  Why worry, then?” I joked.  “It’s just the passenger in danger…not you.”
Kevin gazed at me with big eyes.  “God is my copilot!”
“In that case, you need to take the car in.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Struggle to Struggle

Something really bothered me the other day and I have been trying to remember what it was so it can bother me again.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Jack Kerouac

Were he still alive, Jack Kerouac would today be celebrating his 95th birthday.
That seems an unlikely age for someone so free, if not reckless.
Kerouac died in1969 at the age of 47.  Basically, he drank himself to death.  By the time of his death, he had become wildly famous—mostly for his novel On the Road.
Jack married three times and entertained a string of girlfriends.  A long-time girlfriend described Jack Kerouac as “a very odd person.”
Kerouac had what is commonly called “dancing feet.”  He needed to keep moving.  He seemed incapable of staying in one place for very long.  His writing style reflected that.  On the Road was written in a spontaneous fashion on a continuous scroll of paper so Kerouac did not have to feed new sheets of paper into his typewriter as he wrote.  It seems largely a myth that On the Road was written over a drug-fueled three week period of time.  Much more time and craft went into the writing.
Here is my favorite Kerouac quote: “All of life is a foreign country.”

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Sand from a Bottle

Beer is leading the way.
Many of us (especially those of us from East Helena, Montana) have long suspected this.
Recent items in the news have offered firm proof that drinking beer is smart and good for the planet.
Perhaps you recall Saltwater Brewery, the craft beer brewery in Delray, Florida.
Disturbed that their plastic six-pack rings, when flung into the ocean, became a hazard to sea turtles and other marine creatures, Saltwater Brewery invested in a new idea: biodegradable and edible six-pack rings.  At some expense, the company helped develop rings made from barley and wheat ribbons—both byproducts of the brewing process.  Far from being a hazard, sea creatures can eat the rings if they are pitched in the water.  If discarded otherwise, the rings harmlessly degrade and vanish.
Now, D B Export, another beer company, has come up with a unique solution for disappearing beach sand.  Apparently, in some regions of the world, the loss of beach sand is a severe problem.  Rather than explaining how D B Export has taken on this problem, I urge you to watch the video posted below.
--Mitchell Hegman

Here is the link for the video posted here:

Friday, March 10, 2017


Okay.  Grab a cup of coffee.  Those of you who like a little kick-start are welcome to spike your cup.  We need to have a frank discussion about sex and balloons this morning.  The specific subject for today is “looners.”
Looners are people who have a balloon fetish.
I watched a television program about looners the other night.  I would like to say I accidentally landed on the show, but it’s more complicated than that.  Anyhow, the program ranged from fascinating to, well, a little creepy at points.
Looners are attracted to balloons for any variety of reasons.  The color of some balloons might trigger affection for some people.  For others, the texture, scent, size, shape, the way balloons move about, or any combination of all might tip the scales.
And there is more.
Two distinct types of looners emerge once you fill a room with balloons.
“Poppers” are looners who particularly enjoy popping balloons.  Some of these folks equate the popping of a balloon with—I’m sure you guessed—an orgasm.  Big bangs are better.
“Non-poppers” don’t like popping balloons at all.  Most non-poppers will do most anything to avoid popping a balloon.  Many in this group find the popping of a balloon quite destressing.
In both cases, this is a “hands on” fetish.
Balloons are the thing. 
One of the men featured in the show, a non-popper, said he felt “very close” to his balloons.  His affection for them was something akin to what he feels for people.  He stuffed his shirt with balloons.  He filled his bed with them.  He hugged his balloons.
As a whole, I found looners a fascinating lot.  Not really my thing, but as fetishes go, I would rate this fetish as mild.  Honestly, I am more disturbed by people who take-up two spaces when they park their car or truck—and I am one of those!
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Not the Moon

The difference between a moth slamming around an overhead light, convinced the light is the moon, and a panel of Wall Street insiders promoting total deregulation of the investment banking industry is that I can understand the moth’s thinking.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dirty Hands

I was not the cleanest kid.  As a boy, I wore the same filthy blue coat until it basically decomposed off my body.  I constantly dragged into my bedroom old sticks, bird’s nests, unwashed rocks, bones, and stuff I called “experiments.”  Experiments could be anything composed of unknown liquids, fur, dirt, or bugs.  Moreover, I was not fond of bathing.  My mother regularly checked behind my ears after forcing me to take a bath.  On many occasions she sent me back to the bathtub to clean a bit more vigorously.
I would have given most anything to find a good reason to avoid all that unwarranted washing.  And only now, at this late date, have I finally found a valid reason for not washing.  This especially applies to anyone (read me) conducting experiments.
Here is the reason for not washing: saccharine.
That’s correct, the artificial sweetener.
Saccharine, as it turns out, was accidentally discovered by Constantin Fahlberg in 1879.  Fahlberg, at the time, was experimenting in his lab with coal tar.  A messy substance to be sure.  He felt certain he could find new uses for the stuff.
One night, after working long hours in the lab, he whisked off to make dinner with hands still covered in whatnot from his experiments.  When he ate a piece of bread, he noticed a particular sweetness.  His napkin tasted sweet.  Even his water tasted sweet.  Realizing something on his unwashed hands was responsible for the sweet taste, Fahlberg rushed back to his lab and (at least this is what I would have done) began licking his experiments to find the sweet stuff.
He discovered saccharine.
Saccharine, though having a bitter aftertaste in higher concentrations, is still used to sweeten products such as candies, soft drinks, toothpaste, and medicines.  Saccharine, also known as “Benzoic sulfide,” is probably not something you want to ingest in large doses over a long period of time.
But the real story here is dirty hands.  What might I have invented if my mother had not forced me to wash so often?

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Man Eat Ribs

Hours before sunrise, I release 20 pounds of housecat outside.  I watched the cat slowly walking away, fading against the deep black sculpts of juniper and pine and the cobalt blue of sky.  Ever since the snow melt, Splash has been spending his mornings outside, hunting.
An hour after I let him out, Splash returned to the door.  Darkness still bounded him.  When I opened the door, he bounced back into the house, leaving, at the threshold, a dead mouse there for me.
A macabre gift, for sure.
I have been so gifted on many occasions before.  These gifts serve to remind me that we yet carve our wine-stem-glass, soft-bed lives from a brutal world.  Our little Fluffy is still, at heart, a killing machine.
Bear eat fox.  Fox eat cat.  Cat eat mouse.
I pinched the tail of the mouse between my finger and thumb, carried the mouse to the edge of my deck, and flung its lifeless form against the dark sky. 
Back inside the house, I found Splash sprawled across the newspaper I had left open on my sofa.  He lay there, softing himself against the print.
At the bottom of my kitchen sink—wrapped in plastic and festive graphics—a package of barbequed ribs lay there, thawing for dinner.  The ribs came from a refrigerated case at the grocery.  But long before that, the ribs came from somewhere else.  The path from that “somewhere else” to the refrigerated case is not near as festive at you might suspect.
Man eat ribs.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, March 6, 2017

Questions, Version 2.0

1. Have you ever snooped through the drawers and cabinets of a friend's bathroom?
2. Would you say your worst transgressions have been against people or against animals?
3. If you were a police officer on duty and you caught a family member speeding, would you issue a ticket or a warning?
4. When you hear the word “tweet” do you think of a certain bird or do you think of a 140-character message?
5. When an annoying song gets stuck in your head, do you try singing it while sounding like Bob Dylan to make it go away?
--Mitchell Hegman

Note: #5 totally works!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Satanic Turkeys?

Let’s begin with this: The turkeys you are about to see are not satanic.  What they are is simple-minded.
A couple days ago, a man named Jonathan Davis, on his way to work near Boston, came upon more than a dozen wild turkeys steadily circling around a cat that had been killed in the middle of a street.  The scene was eerily reminiscent of a satanic ritual—almost as if the turkeys were circling in worship.  Jonathan captured a video with his cellphone.
Wildlife biologists explain the event a bit differently.  David Scarpitti, one such biologist, put it this way: “I’m not sure they (the turkeys) quite understand it’s a carcass in the road.  But there’s always a ring leader in charge, and she likely encountered it to evaluate the threat.  And as she is doing that, the rest are following suit.”
Click on the video below and watch for yourself.
It really is a bit creepy.
--Mitchell Hegman
Video Link:

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Am I Healthy Enough for Sex?

If I am to believe the Viagra advertisements found on television, I am at the age where I may need to consult a doctor to see if I am healthy enough for sex.
More on that in a bit.
I got to thinking about the difference between the first half of my life and second half.  As most people, for the first half of my life I still required training wheels on my emotions.  I was quick to anger.  I was not opposed to irrational reactions or throwing tantrums.  I displayed selfishness.
In my preteens and teens I adopted self-doubt as a favored emotional input.  Back in seventh grade, being a called a “zero” was the worst possible slight.  I recall, at that time, talking with a couple of my buddies about an upcoming dance.  “Are you going to go?” one of them asked me.
“Why would I go to a dance?”
“Because girls, dumbass.”
Without hesitation I said: “A girl is not going to be interested in me.  I’m a zero.”
“You can’t say that about yourself,” my friend objected.
“Yes, I can.”
At the time, I really believed myself a zero.  I accepted my zeroness.
Like Picasso and his distinct periods of art, I survived periods of emotional distress.  I followed-up my period of self-doubt with a long, long stage of outright depression.  Depression carried me deep into my twenties. I tried to be pleasant and funny on the outside, but inside I was filled with dark corners, broken furniture, and shattered windows.
My marriage to the most beautiful woman in the world finally brought me to a truly happy place.  I suffered from moments of anger, immaturity, greed, and so forth, but only occasionally.  We spent almost thirty years together before her passing.
I am now in the second half of my life.  I spend my days with that girl, the most beautiful woman in the world.   I have been allowed the status of being a grandparent.  I feel very fortunate.   I pretty much have my emotions sorted out.  Sure, I experience occasional flares of anger, or, as that girl says, I sometimes “crawl into myself.”   Otherwise my emotions are stable.
Now my body is going to hell.  The usual stuff.  Aches.  Pains.  My last visit to the optometrist revealed the onset of cataracts.  Every so often I must have “suspicious” spots on my skin removed or frozen into submission. 
I don’t want to go on listing this sort of stuff.  We all experience these things, and much more.
Smart television people, being smart television people, know their demographics.  The television stations I watch are peppered with advertisements for laxatives, cancer treatments, weight loss programs, and suggestions that I might want to ask my doctor if I am healthy enough for sex.
Apparently, I am heading back to zero status on a physical, rather than emotional, level.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, March 3, 2017

Let Me Down Easy

A surprisingly good song by Paolo Nutini.
--Mitchell Hegman
If the posted video fails to launch, try this link:

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Troubling Conversation

As I often do, I struck a conversation with the checker in a slow checkout line in a store yesterday.  The checker was a woman beyond normal retirement age.  I detected an upper East Coast accent.  She told me she was only working part time and would be moving back home soon.
“Where is home?” I asked.
She told me where she came from—exactly where her accent placed her.
“And how do you like Montana?” I asked.
“I don’t like it here at all.  People are not friendly.  I have had other people tell me the same thing.”  She went on to explain that she lived in a neighborhood “surrounded by Mormons…not that that should matter.”
I was a bit stunned, but went on to ask her what brought her to Montana.
“My daughter is here.”
“And how is she doing here?  Does she like it?”
“She hates it here.  But she is stuck because her husband has a really good job.”
I told her I was sorry that she had not connected with Montana or the people here.  I explained that, having been born and raised here, I could not understand her experience.  I thanked her and exited the store.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Despicable Birds

Cowbirds are despicable.  I would like to put this in better terms, but despicable is the only term of appropriate strength.
In more sciency (my own term) language, cowbirds are something called “brood parasites.”  This means that mature cowbirds lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species and then allow the other birds to hatch and raise their young.
Cowbirds are not particularly fussy about who raises their young.  Any songbird species will do.  The host birds will sometimes raise the cowbirds at the expense of their own brood.  Cowbirds are often conspicuous, if not grotesque, in comparison to the birds raising them. Posted is a photograph (thanks to Audubon) showing a tiny warbler feeding a gigantic cowbird.
According to Matt Soniak, as found in his online article at titled How Does a Cowbird Learn To Be a Cowbird?, the most interesting point in all of this is that a cowbird remains a cowbird, even after being raised by another species.
That really is something.
You might think a cowbird raised as a chickadee would assume the habits of a chickadee, but this does not happen.  Consider how humans exposed to the same conditions of upbringing might respond.  An identity crisis might result.  A certain segment of humans enduring such upbringing would require extensive therapy to (pun intended) fly right.      
Recent research has discovered part of what helps a cowbird learn to be a cowbird.  Juvenile cowbirds—ever despicable as their parents—sneak out of the host family natal territory (nesting area) at sundown to roost in open fields. There, they find other cowbirds to hang with during the night.  Probably, this is a rough equivalent to our rowdy teenagers joining a gang.  In the morning they return for breakfast with their foster family.  Eventually, the birds abandon the family that raised them and do only cowbird things.
Additional research revealed that, to some degree, adult cowbirds monitor their young in the nests of the birds raising them.  The success or failure of certain host species may impact the choice of future nests.  One researcher, Mark Hauber, contends that the adults may even initiate limited contact with their young.  They may try to make certain cowbirds become cowbirds.
Posted below is a photograph of an adult cowbird.

--Mitchell Hegman