Zimmerman and Martin and The Two Minutes

It has been 18 months since the death of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. When a tragedy of this scale occurs in the course of what might otherwise be described as an ordinary day, the word WHY pops up for me in capital letters.

         A trial lasting over a month, 15 hours of jury deliberation, and countless media stories have attempted to answer WHY, various media outlets have taken sides on WHY, drawn lessons from WHY and still it strikes me that we know more inflammatory details than facts.

Yes, passion has entered into the picture. Words like ‘racially charged,’ ‘profiling, vigilante and ‘hoodie wearing suspect’ have been hurled about. Please consider however on that fatal night, that until shortly after 7:00 pm, the two actors in this tragedy were just ordinary guys like you and me going about the simple tasks of everyday life.

         Then—in two minutes—life could no longer be taken for granted. According to Wikipedia, there were only two minutes between 7:15 pm, the time George Zimmerman hung up on his 911 phone call and 7:17, when Sanford policeman Timothy Smith arrived to observe Zimmerman and Martin, Martin by this time dead. Here’s another fact, again from Wikipedia: The scene of this death was but 70 yards from the unit where Trayvon Martin was staying at the time.

         Would that Zimmerman had waited just 10 seconds until Martin arrived at his destination, opening his door with a key that fit the lock just right.

         Only two minutes.

         Do I judge Zimmerman in this? Do I judge Martin in this?

         No, all I am saying is two minutes can last forever.

         Be careful, even on ordinary days.

Ted Magnuson is the author of The Bouchard Legacy, the story of two step-brothers, one black, one white, and a fourth generation family business set in St Louis and America 1968-1979. Paul has earned his inheritance, but Randy owns it. The Cover of The Bouchard Legacy

Link to the Bouchard Legacy

<

It’s All About ‘Enough.’ Saying that Last Farewell

elderly people

As this is the season for often lengthy holiday trips and family visits, I’m posting this story:

At an airport I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her plane’s departure and standing near the door, she said to her daughter, “I love you, I wish you enough.” She said, “Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom.” They kissed good-bye and she left. She walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?” “Yes, I have,” I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Mom had done for me. Recognizing that her days were limited, I took the time to tell her face to face how much she meant to me. So I knew what this woman was experiencing. “Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?” I asked. “I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, her next trip back will be for my funeral, ” she said. “When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough.’ May I ask what that means?” She began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” She paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, she smiled even more. “When we said ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with enough good things to sustain them,” she continued, and then turning toward me she shared the following as if she were reciting it from memory. “I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good-bye..”

A post from Amanda Morris, K-Love Radio Portland, Oregon.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Auld Lang Syne.

If you enjoyed this story, Ted Magnuson has written The Bouchard Legacy, about a fourth generation family business that changed with the times 1968-1979.

Link to the Bouchard Legacy

Disaster Story; Is it some kind of Joke or What?

GT-H2O-DZ 13

Congratulations on surviving Dec 21 2012, the much ballyhooed ‘End of Time’ according to Mayan Mystics. Did you think it was some kind of  joke; think again. These stories have been around since the beginning of time.  You know about the Great Flood? Noah and his ark? Everybody died but Noah and his people. Listen, these stories have a grain of truth. They tell me “If life were a raft trip, you may be drifting in the slack water now, but there are rapids on the river, you better get ready—or suffer the consequences.

True personal disaster story; about mid December, I was frantic–looking for Noah. That’s right; it’s about my house. A strange hissing sound like water running. Do you hear it? I sure did. Were the Mayans right? Could that sound be the floodgates opening? I checked all the toilets and faucets in my house. Nary a drip anywhere. Then I checked my outdoor water spickets. There, right next to my arbor vitae—something new–a bubbling spring.

How’s that? What did it mean?

Oh no. My problem wasn’t plumbing inside the house, it was plumbing outside the house. My water line, buried two feet down had burst. If all the water soaking into the ground around my house hadn’t flooded my basement yet, it will. Plus; it’s metered water. That won’t be cheap.

Not only that. I live on the side of a hill. If my house slides down to the highway, I’ll have to get it licensed as a motor vehicle and take it in to DEQ for  motor vehicle inspections every two years. Nuts to that!

Now I don’t have the tool to turn the water off at the meter, do you? I’m pleased to report that before you can say ‘Hurry on down to the hardware store,’ my City Water responded to my emergency call. Workers were out to the house. They turned my water off.

Were my problems over? No. I need a plumber; like now! Instinctively, I reach for my yellow pages. Have you forgotten about the yellow pages? The Aardvark Alpha Plumbing AAAAAA… knows the yellow pages well. They had five identical full page ads sprawled all over the plumbing section. How could I call anyone else? Their dispatcher even said it– “Don’t you call anyone else. Our man will be there in the hour. He’ll have you back in water by lunch time for sure. After three more phone calls, Aardvark Alpha AAAAAA… finally did show up. He could get my water back for only $5,000. Does that sound steep? It sounded steep to me, too. But the Aardvark man said it was a good deal, adding “A disreputable plumber would have charged me $12,000. Good old johnny-on-the-spot Aardvark AAAAAA… even threw in a Mayan calendar. Turns out the only way he could get my water back by lunch, was through a garden hose. “See you next week,” he said and left.

That’s when the other plumbers started showing up, the ones I called before Aardvark Accidental.  The second contractor quoted me half of Aardvark Alpha’s price, but no Mayan calendar, not even one mention of Noah, either. The third contractor Metro Plumbing, came by. He was not only pleasant, but quoted a third the price of Aardvark AAAAAAA… Wait a minute. Talk is cheap. I’m living in the 21st century. Why don’t I Google these contractors? For good measure I yahooed ‘em and yelped em, too. I even looked at the complaints filed with the State Construction Contractors Board. Did I get an eyeful. There are some bad operators out there swindling a gullible public.

Wouldn’t you know it, Aardvark Alpha AAAAAA… was at the top, or should I say bottom of the sleaze ball opportunist leak-chasing bad operators, list. The lowest of the low. They almost got kicked out of the state. In this case the early bird didn’t get the worm. The early bird was the worm! I called up Aardvark Alpha A-hole lot of A’s immediately to cancel my contract.

Then my friendly realtor neighbor came by. He saw my yard all tore up. I told him of my experience with the three plumbing companies.

He asked who’d I go with?

“Metro Plumbers,” I said.

He said “Good choice. I would have recommended them myself. Why, I had lunch with Mike Metro just last week. And the next time something like this happens, call me. I can recommend plumbers, painters, windows, HVAC guys. I know who does good work…and who’s going to work you over.”

Disasters, floods, fires, financial house of cards implosions; the end of the world. Oh yeah, these things are going to happen. Life is like a raft trip and there are rapids on this river. Be prepared,  know your equipment, at home, at work, in the community and in the world; how to take care, and who to call with the river starts rising. The sleazy operators don’t stand a chance if we can all work together. Let’s run Aardvark Alpha Awfuls –out of business.

If you enjoyed this story, Ted Magnuson has written The Bouchard Legacy, about a fourth generation family business that changed with the times 1968-1979.

Link to the Bouchard Legacy

Copperheads and Haunting Dread; A Land More kind than Home

CAsh

This is one of the best ‘off the wall’ books I’ve read recently. While the material itself may not on first glance entice one, I soon became drawn into the story. It’s all about what goes on inside a storefront whose show window is covered over with newspaper. There is a so called Christian ‘snake-handlers’ church going on inside that building in a small town in Western North Carolina. People are dying, a kid saw something (what?) that he shouldn’t The preacher is a manipulative (potential spoiler) charalatan. The narrators are:

1) a kid

2) a church lady

3) the sherriff.

This is an account of a time when things went terribly wrong for a number of people and yet…how they came to terms with their circumstances and…life goes on. Once I became  hooked on this story, there were times, when I just wanted to jump right into the book and ‘set folks straight’ on their faulty thinking patterns. And in the end, one can only wonder what will become of the kid-Jess Hall. He certainly had seen a whole lot of strange goings on for an eight year old.
A great character study of individuals and group dynamics.

Eternal Vigilance and the Wild Child

What has become of our language? Looking back in history, we find words that ring with Celestial Power. Take for instance ‘Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty.’ No politician today could get away with such a well coifed phrase.

A great sentiment; ‘Eternal Vigilance is the price of liberty.’  It is often falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson.

         See how these seven words unfurl a whole raft of associations, meanings and contemplations.

First: Who are these culprits lurking out there ready to rob me/us of my/our liberty; are these enemies of liberty foreign, domestic or both?

What vigilance should I/we exercise? Should preemptive strikes, anti-profiteering precautions, and situation appropriate paranoia be precluded from my/our retinue of responses?

No, I decide as I settle down, as I contemplate the root source of this phrase, the enemy, dear friends lurks closer to home. I refer to (is this too polite a term?) The inner child.

Now perhaps inner child is too polite a term to describe this character. It certainly does no favor to childhood to describe this phenomenon as ‘inner child.’ Could I better call it the id monster, the devil on (my/our) left shoulder or oh; Maybe ‘wild child’ is as good a term as any to describe what I am talking about.

Call it by what name you will, here are some examples of near misses, encounters I have had where had ‘my wild child’ been given free reign, life would not be as rosy for me.

Way back when I got hired for my first professional job, there I sat with the HR man. He was indeed hiring, for not just one, but three positions, one of which was in Portland Oregon, where I now life. At the close of the interview, he said he’d get back to me by Friday. That being Tuesday, when 3:00 PM Thursday afternoon rolled along and I hadn’t heard from the HR guy, I called. His secretary said ‘Plane tickets for that Sunday were sitting on his desk. She suggested I’d best hustle on over and pick them up. If I’d listened to my inner I might still be waiting for that call back, right? Some may think my call back was a no brainer, but believe it or not, some people have a hard time with this lesson; No one will ever take as keen an interest in your career as you do. Always have an action plan; no matter how much confidence your wild child has in the benevolence of the universe, Eternal Vigilance is required if we are to earn a living or enjoy our liberty.

Later in life, my vigilance becomes more keen:

At some point, I left that first job. I had $10,000 sitting in my 401K. It was August 1987. I opened up an IRA and placed a buy order for a stock I liked; Berkshire Hathaway. At the time, the chart said the value of a share bounced between 10,000 and 12,000. But I only had 10. So I placed my order at 9700 so even I could afford it. Wouldn’t you know it, several weeks later black Monday, October 19, 1987 came along. The broker even called me to see if I still wanted him to honor my order? What? Was he allowing me possibility to lower my bid? Had the market gone lower? No. Was it an ‘out’ to cancel my order? How easy it would have been to listen to my wild child and do just that: cancel the order. “No,” I said. “Please execute the order.” That share is worth $120,000 today.

Another example of eternal vigilance, of being alert to the false map of reality, of situations where the wild child could mislead, misrepresent and sabotage our plans.

More recently, OK, it may’ve been 15 years ago, I got a call. “Hello,” the caller said. “I’m not sure if I have the right number. I’m looking for Ted Magnuson, the author.” I hadn’t published anything at the time. Was the caller putting me on? How my wild child preened for repartee. “Is that you Richard? You trying to get a rise out of me?” Or worse; “Yeah, it’s me, I’ve got five freaking books on the New York Times bestseller list. What are you selling?”

But no, thanks to years of adult style disciple, thanks to years of practicing eternal vigilance, I simply said “speaking.”

I got offered to do a book deal.

In these three simple examples, my wild child could have disrupted my life had he been given the run of the place. Am I alone in this? How many of us have a wild child? Worse, how many of us have a wild side and don’t even know it? And so I pose a question to you. When such occasions occur, in our own lives and the lives of those around us, who is in the driver’s seat? The wild child or the director? Oh, the wild child may be entertaining. And yes, they do need their space to romp but when it comes time to do some business; we all need to be alert, we all need to make sure the director is on duty or at least on the scene.

I suspect that were more wild children better educated many of the problems now afflicting the world would be much closer to being solved.

         If you think education is expensive, try ignorance

Ted Magnuson’s audio CD Those Self Evident Truths,’ captures more words that ring with Celestial Power, 1215-1865.

If you See Something, Say Something

In all the coverage of the James Holmes carnage, I keep asking myself; were I in that movie theater…would I have observed this individual, dressed in ballistics, somehow carrying quite a bit of fire power, and gas masks? Would I have considered this suspicious? If so, who would I report my suspicions to? The gangly teenager who collected my ticket at the front door? The short-fused women who sold me my popcorn?

         Is it too early in the news cycle to ask this question? In our sensationalized 24/7 media news cycle we recall Virginia Tech 2007, 32 killed, 17 injured. Or Ft Hood 2009, 13 dead, 30 wounded. Now we add to the list Aurora 2012, 12 killed, 58 wounded.

         In the aftermath of the Aurora carnage, we hear of police departments posting officers at places where people congregate. Add to this, fresh reminders of citizen action. Los Angeles and New York have their ‘If you see something, say something’ hotlines…by phone, by text, by email.

         We know the passengers on Flight 93 2001 who wizened to the Al Qaeda operatives, foiled the terrorists’ plans at the cost of their own lives.

         Somehow someway, we all need to step up to the plate, undertake the role of citizenship, observe the scene around us and know how to respond appropriately. If we are to live in a wholesome, healthy world, nothing less will do.

Graphic courtesy of US Army/Europe

Who’s that yonder do I see? Seen while cycling in Oregon

Ah, summer in Oregon.
I mount my bike. I spin past the farm fields of the valleys, shifting down, climbing up the north sides of hills clad in evergreen trees, descending fast down southern slopes planted in vineyards. I ride for miles and miles.
Pausing at the crest of a hill who do yonder I see but Mitt Romney, pecs glistening in the sun. He wears only running shorts, sneakers and yes, that shrewd smile of his. He flicks a finger in greeting as he acknowledges me as he passes by.
No. Surely it couldn’t be Mitt Romney…but who knows what one might see while riding a bike through the mystic Oregon countryside on a summer day. It’s Sunday. Quiet.
I pass by a church. Again, a coincidental surprise. Who was that shaking the pastor’s hand? I kid you not; it was George W. Bush. And seated outside the café at the crossroads- Gorbechev…talking with Henry K? Ho! This must be a big day in history, to see the doubles of so many prominent people as I cycle by.
What state am I in, anyway? Is it Oregon or Dehydration?
I pick up a sport drink at a market. Is the shopkeeper handing me my change Bill Clinton? He turns to stack his merchandise in the front of his store.
Then on the move again. There’s Ronald Reagan tearing down an old barn, mending a fence, riding off on his ATV, tipping his hat to me. Richard Nixon boards a Cessna on a grassy field. He’s heading west, the gas station attendant tells me.
Jimmy Carter talks to some migrants at a camp. I stop by the side of the road to refill my water bottle at a farm stand disbelieving everything I see.
Who is that, working out in the hazel tree orchard, scraping the ground, preparing for the harvest? The mannerism, the deportment of the man. He looks familiar. He raises his hand to wave. Good lord, it’s the President! Barack Obama—
Now admittedly the bike is a marvelous machine, bringing the rider closer to the countryside, much more so than in a car. Yet have I become too familiar with my country, expecting to see, yea seeing, so many luminaries out shirt sleeves rolled up toiling away under a now very hot sun? But no, isn’t it what we would expect to see, our Presidents hard at work just like you and me?