Take a Minute

A mail from son number 3 today:

RED MARBLES

I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes.

I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprizing a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes, but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas.

I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes. Pondering the peas, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.

‘Hello Barry, how are you today?’

‘H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas. They sure look good.’

‘They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?’

‘Fine. Gittin’ stronger alla’ time.’

‘Good. Anything I can help you with?’

‘No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.’

‘Would you like take some home?’ asked Mr. Miller.

‘No, Sir. Got nuthin’ to pay for ’em with.’

‘Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?’

‘All I got’s my prize marble here.’

‘Is that right? Let me see it’ said Miller.

‘Here ’tis. She’s a dandy.’

‘I can see that. Hmmmmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?’ the store owner asked.

‘Not zackley but almost.’

‘Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble’, Mr. Miller told the boy.

‘Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.’

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me.

With a smile said, ‘There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever.

When they come back with their red marbles , and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store.’

I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man.

A short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one.

Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died.

They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them.

Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men.

One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts…all very professional looking.

They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband’s casket.

Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket.

Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one, each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket.

Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband’s bartering for marbles.

With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.

‘Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim ‘traded’ them.

Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size.. ..they came to pay their debt.’

‘We’ve never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,’ she confided, ‘but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho ‘.

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

The Moral : We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath.

Today I wish you a day of ordinary miracles ~ A fresh pot of coffee you didn’t make yourself.

An unexpected phone call from an old friend.

Green stoplights on your way to work.

The fastest line at the grocery store.

A good sing-along song on the radio.

Your keys found right where you left them.

Send this to the people you’ll never forget.

I just Did…

If you don’t send it to anyone, it means you are in way too much of a hurry to even notice the ordinary miracles when they occur.

It’s not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived!

Facing the Lough Ness Monster

Dubliners out on the loch with Nessie
Jennifer Hough, Sunday Tribune, May 12, 2008

EIGHTEEN Dun Laoghaire dare-devils are preparing to swim the cold and murky waters of Loch Ness this summer – and even tales of old Nessie cannot put them off.
Organisers Alan Coleman and Simon Torpay, both 28, have heard stories of sonar sightings of the legendary beast, and have even had warnings from renowned stunt swimmer “Alcatraz Joe” – but they will not be deterred from the 12 July event looking to raise more than ?10,000 for charity.
“Last year Simon and myself did an 11km swim from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, ” Coleman told the Sunday Tribune.
“It was the first time this had been done, and was quite tough. This time we wanted something that was a bit more inclusive, something more people would be interested in doing, ” he said.
Calling themselves the 40 Foot Walruses Sea Swimming Club, they are the first group from Ireland – including three mums – to attempt the swim.
The 18 brave souls will be swimming in water of 100C for around an hour.
“It has been done before but it’s not something that’s done regularly, ” said Coleman.
Initially, there was a group of 30 swimmers, but after speaking to Joe Oakes who swam Loch Ness three years ago – and who was the first man to swim the supposedly impossible Alcatraz to San Francisco stretch – they decided to impose a minimum standard.
“I got in touch with Joe after I bought his book which gave advice and tips on swims like this, ” said Coleman.
“When I told him our level, and that we had some beginners, he bascially said that the middle of Loch Ness is no place for beginners.
“It’s very choppy, ” explained Coleman. “And because it’s fresh water there is no buoyancy.”
A high peat content means visibility in the 800ft deep lake is very bad too.
“Joe said you can’t see your hand in front of you, and he also said it was the coldest water he had ever swam in.”
Currently, the 18-strong swimming club can be spotted on Sunday mornings, in their speedos, at the 40 Foot swimming spot in Dun Laoghaire.
“We are training together once a week at the 40 Foot, but we are all doing extra training – about 2km a week, in our spare time as well. It’s a big commitment, it does interfere with your social life, ” laughed Coleman, who says he is looking forward to a hot drink afterwards.
“We will have hot scotch, haggis and a bagpipe player playing ‘Scotland The Brave’ waiting for us at the far side.”
And the big question – is he afraid that Nessie will make an appearance on the day?
“The more I read about it the more I believe there could be something to it.
“But there are 18 of us, so I will surround myself with other swimmers who are covered in goose fat -Nessie likes to eat geese apparently, ” he laughed.

Who would chose Aid over Investment

From: asecondhand conjecture.com

Africa is not a victim in need of saving: it’s a land of opportunity. With 900 million people, Africa is open for business
We can fight malaria by distributing free mosquito nets, which may cost $10-$60 each by the time you get them down often impassable dirt roads. Or, we can train locals how to operate a business spraying homes with an insecticide that will keep them mosquito-free for six months at about $2 a family.
We can spend billions importing medication, or you can invest in local farms that grow the Artemisinin, a Chinese herb with potent anti-malarial properties, and the factories that process it.
We can continue the endless cycle of need and dependency, or you can create jobs, develop indigenous enterprise, and build a sustainable future.
Aid not only crowds out local entrepreneurship, it makes governments lazy and deprives countries of the incentive to build effective institutions. Public revenue derived from taxes makes governments directly responsible to their citizens. Free money builds white elephants and bloated bureaucracies, it being far easier to create new government jobs than implement policies to fight unemployment, especially when someone else is footing the bill.
The perverse result is that many of Africa’s best and brightest become bureaucrats or NGO workers when they should be scientists or entrepreneurs. Which is why some are wondering: why not just take the aid money and invest in local business?
“If you make Africans rich, they’ll be less poor,” said Idriss Mohammed, a financier who wants to raise a private equity fund for Sub-Saharan Africa. “Forget making poverty history. I want to make Africans rich.”
Audacious, blasphemous, foolhardy—possibly—but that philosophy is precisely how China has been able to lift millions out of poverty in only a few decades and become a magnet for foreign investment.
Still, it would be plain stupid to say aid doesn’t matter for Africa.
When aid builds infrastructure–roads, railways, power plants, electric grids–it makes it cheaper for farmers to bring their crops to market, medicine to get where it is needed without spoiling, labor to flow where the jobs are. Ninety percent of roads in Angola are unpaved, 70 percent of those in Nigeria. It might not be as sexy or photogenic as holding up the child with the swollen belly in front of a television camera, but that is the real crime.
This is why China’s seduction of Africa has been so complete. While Americans are pestering their leaders to Save Darfur–an unlikely prospect absent full-scale military intervention–the Chinese are busy building roads and hydroelectric power dams. China believes Africa is a huge economic opportunity and deals with Africa like a business partner. The Chinese see Africans the way many would like to see themselves.