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

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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

I hate health clubs- It’s all in what we bring to the game.

One of the things I hate about going to health clubs is these guys that put a towel on one bench, a water bottle on another and then maybe place their keys someplace else marking their territory so no one else can use the stuff. After they so lay claim to all this equipment, what do they do? They stand someplace else complaining to another athlete about how they strained their shoulders from pressing too much weight the day before. Then, while rubbing their elbows and scratching their bellies, they compare notes on what electrolyte they drink what muscle groups they plan to work on that day. Is that the reason why America is obese–Athletes unwilling to share the equipment?
So anyway, there I am at the health club. I wear my Oregon State t-shirt, got my OSU Beaver team mascot water bottle, and my OSU towel. I’m searching for a therapy ball that doesn’t have a towel on it, or a water bottle leaning against it or is otherwise marked or in use. Believe me, I’m about ready to buy one of those home gym specials for only three payments of $29.99 plus S&H.
Fortunately for my three year membership contract, I find a semi-deflated therapy ball. I do my 15 reps or repetitions. But at rep 5 who should show up but Leroy. A big man with hairy biceps, dragging his knuckles on the ground, Leroy looks down at me, taps my ball with his foot. He says “Dat’s my ball.”
What do you think, fellow athletes? Is it his ball? Is Leroy going to share? Is he running into the equipment shortage too?
No way was it his ball.  “Look,” I tell Leroy, continuing my reps. “It’s gym property. Get your own ball. I got six more reps with this one.”
You won’t believe this, but Leroy grabbed the ball out from under me on rep 13 of 15.

“Hey,” I said. “Watch it, big man. Where do you think you are? Can’t you see we’re all in this together, for the sake of health and longevity?”
“Huh?” Leroy says.
I take this to mean he didn’t hear me. So I tell him loud and clear. “I said you’re a big man with a big mouth. I got two more reps coming to me. Give me back my ball.”
He frowned at me and walked away with the ball. Believe you and me, I decided right then and there, I would not give him the time of day! Which was all very well and fine, except on my way back to the locker room, who should be blocking my way, but Leroy.

When I attempt to step around him, he pushes me against the wall. He says, “Hey, about what happened over there, I’m sorry for my behavior.”
Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.
He points at my t-shirt. He says “You see I’m University of Oregon and when we Ducks see beaver tack we get swamp fever.” <<Editors note: Oregon and Oregon State share an intense local rivalry>>.
We shake hands. We’re reconciled. It’s no longer a confrontation; it’s a college prank.

The next time I go to the gym, I don’t wear my OSU tee shirt, I don’t bring my OSU water bottle. Lo and behold, the equipment is much more open! Guess my clothes colored the way the gym looked to me!

Boiling Mad or Moiling Bad?

Call it entitlement, call it one-up-man ship or trigger finger. Have I slowed down in my decaffeinated days or have I become more perceptive? It seems people have become increasingly ready to take offense. Perhaps some fiend has sprinkled hot lava on the various phonemes and mouthings that we utter in order to communicate. Words should not be near as inflammatory as it would appear they have become.
Case in point. Recently I saw an erstwhile minister on youtube working his flock into a lather. “Let’s teach our children to text their representatives, jam their switchboards, vote the legislation down. No mention was made of any specific legislation. Perhaps it was discussed off camera. The image though of all of these crazed youths, he even went so far as to suggest they weren’t even yet of voting age, to vote the legislation down. Tweet them, text them, harangue the legislators, it all appeared to be quite hateful, hurtful and the crowd loved it.
Now I’m all in favor of difference of opinion. As an author, I realize the essence of story is conflict. As a member of society, I must admit my own life would probably be too dull to be good story material. That’s why I like fiction. I can create a world filled with conflict where my team wins.
So far as real life is concerned; discussion, pros and cons, problem/solution; these are dynamics I can understand. However, when we get to a point where we are encouraging impressionable youth to view their legislators as hideous cave-dwellers out to suck the life out of society, as archfiends who live in some murky proximity of a video game, and they can be ponged with a text message, I’ve got to say ‘Whoa, what’s going on here?’
I am reminded of my own days in the insurance business where the salesmen were to sell insurance and as a salesman; it was our job to ‘hoodwink’ the underwriters. By the by, whatever happened to my old boss who told me this? I remember one case in particular. The company was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. There was a moral risk. My handler, excuse me, manager advised me to go ahead and submit the case anyway. He said “What the underwriter doesn’t know won’t hurt him.” Silly me, but why would anyone want to insure a business about to declare bankruptcy? The claims began coming in shortly after the case was written.
Now, at that point, if ever there was a case for competition, wouldn’t this plum have sat much better in some other insurer’s portfolio? Please don’t call me heartless for having no compassion for folks down on their luck. Believe me, this retailer was no saint.
We tend to gloss over such irregularities in the force-field that surrounds the society in which we live and move and have our being. Nostalgia can be most infectious in this regard. When it comes to disparate groups of people getting along, I am reminded of Aunt Eller’s philosophy in Oklahoma She sings “The farmer and the cowman should be friends.” A key phrase in this song goes “I’m no better than anybody else/But I’ll be damned if I ain’t just as good.”
Now here is a philosophy with some real legs. This is the stance we can all take and society would be the better for it. Take our work seriously, but our own self-importance with a grain of salt. Not to be pushed around, but to be heard. There is a simple test that we should all be training ourselves and those we come in contact with, the next time we encounter a so-called commentator, a so-called friend, or even someone in the street driving a supercharged red pickup with lifters- Does the encounter cause the hair on the back of my neck to stand up? Can I defuse? Please remember to breathe. Remember, the farmer and the cowman should be friends. This too, will pass. Halleleuh.