My thoughts on the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case.

I'll keep it brief. There's been so much going on that's gone unmentioned (anyone notice Bradley Manning?) because of this trial.

First: I don't agree with what happened but the jury made the right decision according to the law. The district attorney blew it big time not going after Zimmerman for manslaughter or disobeying the police's stand-down order. The problem going forward is the law; and don't think it's just an issue of race - in the dark and the rain that could have been a white teenager too - although I certainly think Trayvon's race played a role in Zimmerman's decisions that night.

Second: Here's what I don't get. I've seen all the maps, where Zimmerman's SUV was, the tapes of Martin buying some candy at 7/11. I've seen where Zimmerman's house was on the map. Martin's house was closer to where he was shot than Zimmerman lived. So, if Zimmerman's life was in danger (self-defense), why was he following someone. If you were in the jungle and a lion was there that could hurt you, wouldn't you call a ranger and go in the other direction. So, up until the point where there was conflict, Zimmerman was the pursuant (or aggressor, so to say), thus not in anyway defending himself. However, Martin was being followed - and I've never seen any credible reason to think that Martin was going anywhere but his house.

Third: Basically none of the witnesses saw anything clearly. Read the transcripts. There's people saying Zimmerman was on top, there's one saying Martin was on top and absolutely no one knows what was said that started the escalation (let me guess, it started because some guy was following him in a truck on the road where he was living?) This is why the jury had to find him innocent, but also why you have to wonder if Zimmerman was actually in any danger at all (he was in his own perceived danger; he lives a life of fear, he's called the cops how many times in the past?). Was it Martin whimpering on the tape or Zimmerman?

Fourth: I have to rely on what this looks like - both of the people involved had some "fear" of what was going to happen. Why is this guy following me? What is this person doing here? One of them died, so I think that's the one with the more valid fear. Had Zimmerman "stood down", Martin is alive today and if, indeed he broke a law (I don't know what law he would have broken) he'd have been tried. Had Zimmerman not followed Martin, Martin would have lived. (Wow, the prosecution blew this case). Also, if you are going to play cop in your community, maybe you should have some sort of training where you don't get yourself beaten by a much smaller 17-year old, ok? (if that is what happened - because - don't expect to ever know anymore than you do now - you never will - and none of us know for certain except the two people involved and neither of them are going to talk). Here's what it looks like to me in quick summation: Zimmerman saw someone, followed him, an altercation occurred and Zimmerman shot Martin. Zimmerman's following instigated the conflict. Zimmerman's best "self defense" would have been for him to call the police and drive right to the station (that was an option).

Fifth: Racism does exist in this country and this is, indeed, an example. If you don't believe race played some role in this murder, you need to wonder - would Zimmerman have followed anyone else? Would Zimmerman confronted then gotten into an altercation with anyone? If I could list all the examples I've seen of racism in my life, well, I don't have time to write them all - it's more "in the hundreds" than the dozens. Being on the blond side of the spectrum, there's stuff I probably miss. Ask someone who is not white if racism exists, listen to their answer. I'm going to make the assumption here that Zimmerman isn't following me around if I walked into the housing complex. And we've all seen the link online of the black woman who got 20 years for firing her gun into the air and was sentenced the same month as Zimmerman's trial ended.

Here's my conclusion - the laws have to change. If Trayvon Martin tried to break into Zimmerman's house, that would be one thing, but it's not what happened. Martin was pursued by Zimmerman, maybe instigated a fight with him, and then was shot. I've heard Obama say "that could have been me as a kid", I've heard black parents say "that could be my kid" walking at night and being followed then shot - and it's true and that's very unfortunate - but even more dangerous is the fact that really, the "victim" (i.e. the one who actually was killed) could have been anyone. I believe Martin's race made Zimmerman more likely to pursue him, but if Zimmerman was really that intent on being "the law" he could have followed a white kid too. And some day, that will probably happen in a "stand your ground" state, where some white teenager gets killed the same way.


Rooms in houses where I lived

One of my son's classmate's parents told me she'd be spending the first couple of weeks after school ended moving out of her house, in with her in-laws for a couple weeks, then into a new house she and her husband had bought. Made me think of how much I despise moving but also how many different places I've lived. Since high school it's roughly a dozen, not counting changing dorms in college, sometimes mid-semester.

Every place I've lived has had things I'll remember about them - sometimes it's a moment that takes place in the house (the living room of my house senior year in high school, for example, my high school graduation party being there and also coming home from college for one night to watch Game 6 of the 1997 World Series with my mother in that room). But also, it's physical things about a room. These are the memories I have of some places where I lived.

The first time I saw my father's new house in Shelton the day we watched Christian Laettner make a last-second jumper against UConn in the East Regional final. Before that he lived in a contemporary house closer to my mother, in Guilford which had a loft with a strange attic crawlspace and an equally odd crawlspace in the basement. My brother and I found an old radio (had to be from the 1930s) that we never got to work. I think my brother still has that radio. I lived in the basement in Shelton which was finished at some point while I was in high school, then new walls added, doors... it has always been changing. My father put the house on the market a couple years ago but took it off a few months later.

I'm not old enough to remember my parents living in rentals in Old Lyme and Clinton, but my mom's first house in Madison was where many of my first childhood memories originated. We didn't get out much - my mother's car couldn't drive more than 20 miles before it broke down and aside two family trips with my dad, we never went farther than Old Lyme, East Haven or Middletown. The house had an "utility room" which was right behind the living room. Half the room was taken up by the water heater. It was an odd design because the room was too small for any purpose. Couldn't even throw a sleeping bag in there. We kept our pets, guinea pigs, rabbits and hamsters in that room.

While I was in college, my mother moved from her second house in Madison (where I think I spent the best part of my childhood, the teen years) to Old Saybrook. Before my mother moved in there, my girlfriend (future wife) snuck down and watched UConn basketball games there on a small color TV we took out of my dorm room. We also had a Super Bowl party there before the house was lived in.

After college, I was the hermit. Lived in two different parts of Milford, both right by the water. Lived in a creeky wood-floored house in Cromwell which may have been an orphanage where my wife's relatives once lived, then to Old Wethersfield to a house that had the nicest three-season perennial garden I've ever seen and some very interesting finds in the attic.

Last month my father took down the pool at the house in Shelton. He's looking to sell the house and move down south next year and retire. It occurred to me; that house is the one I've called home for the longest (albeit for just a few short periods). I stayed there during summers in college, between apartments after college and during the freak October snow storm that left my house without power in 2011. We've heard that he'd move before and seen plenty of remodeling. It looks like it's for real this time. Most of the neighbors I knew in that area have moved away. The interior of the house has had new appliances many times, new flooring and even new walls in the basement, but it's still familiar... where the spot in the upstairs hallway that makes the loudest sound when stepped on in the night (when everyone is sleeping), the door that doesn't shut all the way to my sister's bedroom (unless lifted when the door knob is turned). Although my two sisters, my brother and I never actually lived together in the house at the same time, we're still family and this was still part of our childhood (and young adulthood).

I'm sure in time I'll look at the numerous photos I have of that house, from the inside, and reminisce the same way I do about other places I've lived. When I stop to think about the layout of the rooms or textures of the floor, I'll start to think about the things going on in life at that time. When I was in Shelton, it wasn't always for the best reasons. It was always a landing pad or an in-between place, but it was always there - even the last time I stayed there with my wife and kids during the snowstorm outage. It will be strange when it fades into memories captured in photos just like the other places I've lived.