Wednesday, March 21, 2018


This virtual and tranquil pond has become an outlet to bring forward some things which might otherwise not find a ready space in this collection of ramblings. A collection which has been interrupted of late (once again…) due to what has unexpectedly become a major undertaking for me, as far as time and “space” is concerned. Time, because it has mushroomed and taken up most of my available time and “space” because the ever-diminishing working space left in my gray cells has been occupied with this. Of course, I refer to the English Now venture and its offspring, English To Go. The reception to this ESL (English as Second Language) tutorial school and its methodology has been very well accepted and we now have students locally and in another four countries (via Internet) and it looks to continue to grow.

One observation which has come from this increased contact with students, with the usual banter and conversation this brings about, is how little do most people (and here I must include US citizens, not just immigrants) understand about this country, its reason for being and its place in history. The US has been called the “Greatest Democratic Experiment” in the history of modern government. The rules that govern our country and its leaders (or, at least, should) stem from a document which was brought forward as the result of the gathering of some of the most brilliant minds of the times and, I dare say, of all modern times.

The Constitution spawned a government the likes of which were not known in those moments. These were times in which most controlling bodies were handed down by way of nobility, ancestry and heraldic emblems; the kings, queens, dukes, counts, etc. having say and sway over property and life of all subjects.

And here came a proposal which, in its first opening words, embodied the core concept of true democracy with a profound simplicity that had never been matched before, or since: “We, The People” How simple; how incredibly profound.

It is for this reason that in all my ESL classes there is a general explanation of the constitution and readings about the primary amendments. I believe that if someone is studying the language because he or she is planning to live in this country, this is required knowledge. It is also my belief that if a person actually reads the constitution’s original articles, that person will come out of this encounter with a new understanding of what makes this country different than others; there will be a feeling of awe regarding the incredible thoughts that went into this document, considering  that those who created it were at the time, for the most part, members of a well to do class. They created a document which went against all the acceptable norms to those who were in then existing governments.

What can be accomplished when the mind is put to work, can be incredible.

Just rambling thoughts on a cloudy, rainy day… half winter, half spring. But, since it is getting cold here by shores of the pond, I guess I will pack my things and go home

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
     Visit us at , and
·       Any comments please send to

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Turn of Events.

The best laid plans and all that…
Towards the end of this past year a little idea began to take hold in the back of my head, or mind, if you prefer. It has been for some time now that I have taught ESL (English as a second language) in 3 different cities and to hundreds of students, possibly well over a thousand. I have always done this on behalf of a learning institution; mainly because my primary work had been in the field of life insurance and the teaching had been, well, non-primary. Kind of like a productive hobby.

That changed when I underwent my cancer episode some years back, with the subsequent treatments and the two hip surgeries that followed (nothing to do with the cancer and, yes, I can still dance!!). My work in insurance diminished and pretty much disappeared, and once the spark went out, it was very difficult to rekindle it. I tried, to no avail.

I did find myself gravitating to the ESL teaching, and this became a primary interest, taking since then most of my work time. And so, as I have mentioned from time to time in these entries, teaching ESL has become an integral part of my life. So, what was that idea, you ask? (you didn’t?;  well, make believe you did). Why not establish my very own school? One that would allow me to put together a number of little bits from the different schools where I have worked (the better little bits, mind you!) and complement it with my own ideas. And with the prodding and pushing of my wife, English Now LLC was born 3 weeks ago.

The reception has been extraordinary, many people know me in the area and have taken classes with me at one time or another. Suddenly there are very few open spots on the wall calendar and this is very encouraging. There is the website to go along with it (somewhat static) and the FaceBook page which is very much active. And where many of these friends and students come to interact. Future plans include an internet radio channel, a YouTube page and God knows what else.

What does it all have to do with this blog? It has taken my time away. Right now this time is the result of a student having come down with the flu and cancelling her class. I thought I owed a bit of an explanation to so many of you who have followed this blog from the beginning… Your presence is appreciated for it has been a motor and a force to keep me going through some difficult times.

You are welcome to join me and English Now in this new journey. And no, I am not “closing” Pandora’s Other box… far from it. But it will be some time before I can come back to give this precious vehicle the time it deserves. But it will be back on a regular basis.

Come and visit…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
·       Any comments please send to

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

From Wally’s Pond. 12/20/2017

Christmas is coming… in just a few days… Again.
Amid all the rhetoric -of the socio-political kind- there are many issues lost and perhaps, this being the special time of year it is (for those who profess Christianity as a belief) there may be some time for reflection, and for reviewing what we have done and said and how these actions may have impacted others. It is hard not to imagine that, with all the finger pointing and yelling and with everyone wanting to appropriate a slice of the ever-diminishing pie, there are some who are left to slide down the inevitable cracks, to be lost and forgotten.

Although it would be simple to pinpoint several scenarios which could easily and quietly fit into the above last description, there is a group of people or perhaps, a “subgroup” of people, who are in an eternal limbo, where any shorelines of hope or safe port are always just beyond the line of sight.

Yes, coming to this country (or any other, for that matter) without permission or adequate documentation makes this an illegal action. And, yes, remaining in the country as such is -and should be- a punishable offense. Also, unfortunately, many of those who come do not help themselves or others by pursuing a life of crime, or by immediately getting on a forever government help list.

Now I come to that “subgroup” referred to before. Many who’d readily qualify for this classification I have met, and have a relationship with. Often as a tutor in the English language, since this is what my current and regular occupation is.

They work from 4am often until 6 pm six days a week, holding a part time job the seventh day. Many others have set up their own small, service companies and work 7 days a week to try to make them go, and grow. And find the time and strength go to English class three nights a week. Some have developed multimillion $$ companies. And all the time facing odds that would defeat most of the rest of us.

Most have a complex common thread: They have more than ten years in the US, have received little or no help from the government for they have worked from day one, have no criminal record, have paid taxes regularly, own homes, and contribute to their immediate society for they tend to freely share their perceived bounty with others. They truly know what it feels like to be without. And never forget it.

Do these folks deserve a long, hard look? Do they deserve to be considered for a legal status that -without perhaps being a full citizenship- will allow them to continue their good work without the shades of desperation which always color their surroundings?

I think the premise -and promise- of this season and the holy times and blessings it reminds us of, may perhaps allow us to do so. And proceed accordingly.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
·       Any comments please send to

Friday, November 10, 2017

Veterans Day

The working title for a space that should’ve been filled some time ago was “The Power of Words”. Although that “some time” seemed to be continuously delayed, as days went by and there was always something else to do. Which didn’t include sitting at the computer to write out an idea for the blog.

Don’t get me wrong. Writing is not a “chore” for me. It is a cathartic moment which allows me to reflect, think, relax and forget about issues which weigh down the everyday moments. And there are plenty of those last… So, then, why is it so difficult to find the moment or time to actually get this done?

The “working answer” is “I don’t know”. Those of you who have endured this blog over time (thank-you!!) know it began as a run, down memory lane (try “run down” without the comma and it changes the meaning- perhaps a reality check) and as such, it went for the first 200 entries or so. After that, other issues began to pop up once in a while. Wally’s Pond, well received conspirator Cheito - my “friend-cousin” from Hialeah, and others. Occasionally, a lost political comment. Although I really want to stay away from this last, being one of those issues that add weigh rather than remove it.

As the days kept creeping forward, we came to Veterans Day’s doorstep. There is much to be said about those who put their all on the line on behalf of their flag and country. On behalf of all of us. Yes, I did my part, small as it were. From my post at Naha Wheel in Okinawa I did what I could to support those who were in “Nam” at that time.

In our company, we regularly received youngsters who were coming back older than they should ever be at that age, somehow shared their nightmares and managed to nurse some of them on their way back to the US. And some who were passing through, on their way to the front (as it were), we tried to prepare as well as we could (informally) for what was to come. Those memories I don’t think have found their way unto these pages, and I do not believe they will. Some things are best left in the past.

But every Veterans Day some of those faces I still remember. The tiredness, the fear of anticipation in the face of those who were going, the jaded, horrified view of life lived reflected in the eyes of those who were coming from VN. These soldiers did what they had to do, in a never declared war; a “conflict” which meant they fought, literally, with one hand tied behind their back. But they went and fought, anyway.

I respect those soldiers (and I use this noun as a generic term, to include all those men and women who served and serve in all branches of service) and all who came before and who have come after them, who have served and too often not survived, for doing their sworn duty to our country, under the cover of our flag. They all served. Some because they had to, most because they felt the obligation to defend our belief system, our culture, our achievements. Our country. Regardless of why, these soldiers served, each in their capacity. And for this service, we say Thank You. With honor and respect.

Respect the meaning of Veterans Day. Remember these men and women served so you and I could have the right to disagree, complain, and call on those in power. Feel free to do so. Do it strongly but with respect and you will be honoring the service and sacrifice of these men and women.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
Any comments please send to

Friday, October 6, 2017

From Wally’s Pond… Again…

This will become entry #400 for this blog. It started late 2009; a means to pass convalescencing time from my cancer treatment and the first of my hip replacement surgeries...
Yet, as time went on, it became a rolling memory book, confessional, travelogue and just a place where most (I have to be honest and say not all…) feelings have been shared. Supposedly, someone who writes must be willing to bare his/her inner self and put everything on the pages (well, OK, the e-filings) for all to see. Not my case. It is still my belief that some aspects of the mind -such as they may be- are private and should remain so.

After all is said, it is often a rudderless flight of fancy (nice term for aimless ramblings?) precisely the one that takes us to the most amazing destinations.

Near death experiences… are they real?   a personal experience associated with death or impending death. Such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light. (WIKIPEDIA)

Also from Wikipedia and according to Bruce Greyson, the general features of the experience include impressions of being outside one's physical body, visions of deceased relatives and religious figures, and transcendence of egotic and spatiotemporal boundaries.              NOTE: I did try to look up the word “egotic” and by inference (for there is no such word in the thesaurus) it refers to the boundaries of self, within one’s own mind.

Over the years there have been occasional opportunities to talk about these transcendental (too much?well… OK… interesting) issues with people of different faiths, races and backgrounds. Interestingly, there seems to be a relatively even split along the lines as to whether or not they believe in these near-death experiences.

Those who believe in this possibility, tell me that these visions are not always present. My questions: Who is subject to them and why? I have not found a convincing answer to those questions. Yet, in three occasions there were conversations between two individuals who said they had lived through them and myself. Nothing strange, esoteric or especially telling about them. Normal, run of the mill folks. One in India, one in Spain and one right here in the US. Two in their mid-forties, the other one over 60 years of age. Their account was very similar. Diffuse visions, people shapes with inner lights, a feeling of familiarity and, above all, peace. Both also told me that their vision of life thereafter changed to a better acceptance of circumstances and clearer definition of purpose.

This posting is not meant as a study of probabilities or even possibilities. It just means to raise a questioning eyebrow and pose the plausibility of that moment. The moment when our soul or spirit has accepted the reality of imminent departure and is getting ready for the next step of the journey.

What is apparently a very common thread from all the studies (not counting my three conversations… right…) done on this matter, is that those who do come back (Yes, I know… those who do not come back could not answer the questionnaires…) have a radical attitude change towards life, expectations, and general attitude. Almost all change to a better understanding of purpose… and yes, my guys definitely supported this last turn.

There is a lot of reading material on this subject; there is a lot of time to be spent going through that material and I will devote some (not as much as I would like to, but…) time to this because it is a topic which interests me. Not only near-death experiences but also those who have been actually declared clinically dead, only to revive a few minutes later.

From as early a time in my life as I can remember, there have been far too many “happenings” around me not to take these type of issues seriously. I have had, for many years, an implicit acceptance on my part that logic can only explain what we can understand according to set parameters. What we don’t understand or have an acceptable explanation for, is outside that realm of logical order.

Does it mean it  is not real or not existent? No; to me, it means that it falls into the realm of belief and willingness to believe; it takes a jump of faith. And then, we hold on for the ride of a lifetime.

There’ll be more… I think…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora

·       Any comments please send to

Thursday, September 28, 2017

A Shared Moment.

There are moments when words are not the solution. We can only hope that, in those moments, we know enough not to say anything foolish.
Often, I truly understand that I am indeed blessed. This goes beyond my successful bout against cancer and the incredible places and people I have met over the years. Beyond unexplainable survival(s) at times when I was totally unprepared to face unexpected and considerable foes. Add to this all the minor and major mistakes made along the roads and detours life has steered me through. It really adds up to something much like a miracle.

Today, at age 71, like many others I must work to meet my expenses. But, I am able to. And that’s a blessing too. For my work involves doing things I truly enjoy. Like doing the ESL classes. Teaching others to speak English so they can improve their lot and their families’ lot as well. Pretty much all of my students are Hispanic. Some with documents and full of ambition and some without documents and full of hope.

We discuss many topics in class. A few days ago, we talked about there being a special place each one would like to visit or go back to. And that was the homework for the weekend. To prepare to talk about that special place and share this with the class.

We came back on the following class and, after the usual bits of small conversation to get started, came tie for the presentation. Some talked about their home country and a special place thy hoped to go back to, some about other places only mythical to them. The ones in the travelogue pictures with all the allure only a good photo editor can muster. But this was their dream, and very valid to them. Hope is a very strong incentive for work.

Then we got to a young woman (early-mid 30’s -- yes, young. Remember my perspective…) who had just joined the class one week ago. She was a little hesitant and I assumed it was the effort to say her piece in English. And yes, it was that, but there was another reason as well.

-“I want to go back to Paris” “I was there early last year with my husband”

And, of course, we all said something along “that’s nice, what good luck to have been there”

And then she added, fighting back tears
–“He told me with a smile that I might have to come back alone” “We came back home and he was killed in a car accident last December” “We placed  a lock on the Bridge of Love (Pont Des Arts) and I want to go back to visit the bridge again”

There was silence after this and, mercifully, the clock reached the time to finish.

She lingered for a few moments and came to me to apologize for tearing up. I said to her “There’s no need to apologize” “There is no need to say anything” “As someone who has lost a very dear person to an accident as well, I can tell you that the time will pass, but his presence won’t as long as you have him in your heart and mind”

What else was there to say? Nothing.

 Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora

·       Any comments please send to

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Another Year... Some Thoughts

It’s about that time of the year when another 365 days of biological time-living have passed and I am compelled to sit, look at the computer’s blank page and let the moment wash over me, bringing forward all those semi-lost memories, languishing in the little reviewed drawers of my brain. Well, what’s left of it after 71 years of embattled endurance.

A year ago yesterday marked the arrival my 70th birthday. A benchmark of sorts. So I guess yesterday, if the numeral order is to be believed (something I wish could be disproved occasionally) defined my 71st birthday. Which, in sequence, actually means I am now living my 72nd. Year… And, in turn, makes me the oldest member of my direct family’s oldest living generation. Hmmm… gets too complicated to look at the overall picture from that angle… lopsided.

In any event, one more year has passed. I have not been very loyal to my blog in this time, relegating it to a some-when thing; only if the pang of peripheral writer’s guilt showed up in my head… It is something I have tried to remedy but there are some issues to ponder… What direction should I follow? Originally, the blog came to life as a memory lane trip while my hip recovered from a replacement and my body adjusted to its first metal insert… and to radioactive fallout from cancer treatment… a conundrum of memories of life from childhood on.

A few (as few as possible) quasi-political entries and some opinionated ramblings have been a part of this 7+ years. My fren’ Cheito from “HaiAleeah” and his celebrated appearances and comments (his entries have drawn more reads than most others) the ramblings from “Wally’s Pond” and also those days when writing became an issue and the results showed it. Many candid memories have been included and many others have been not so candidly left out. There were peak months when the blog had as many as 600 “reads” worlwide and, lately, months of 5 or 6 hits, reflecting the lack of new entries… It has been a joy ride.

No, I am not saying good bye, nor is this a fare-thee-well musing. I have enjoyed writing and also have enjoyed those comments which kept me going at times of questionable enthusiasm. And yes, the ones that questioned moments of effervescent enthusiasm with the resulting non-directional ramblings.

This is an exercise of and for the mind. Writing is, somehow, my assertion to living, to having lived and to a continuance in this world. At least for now. As time goes on, there will be “new” memories and mixed in perhaps some of those left out. Guess I am not a “true” writer, since there is no total willingness on my part to share my “True Confessions”. In any event, predictable reaction to this would likely be… AND???

But, no matter… on we shall go. There will be new entries, with not much order or consistency. But with a lot of love.

After all, surprise is at the core of an interesting life, isn’t it?

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora

·       Any comments please send to

Monday, June 19, 2017

There are Memories and then… There are Memories…

  Today, being Saturday and most things that needed to be done being so done yesterday, there was some time in which to do not much, so HBO was tuned to and a movie called “The Last of the Blonde Bombshells” caught my attention.  A simple musical I thought… easy to pass the time. Well, it was a musical -of sorts- with a top cast, including Dame Judi Dench and a singer I had not thought about for quite some time, albeit one of my years ago very favorites: Cleo Laine.

  Mind you, I didn’t know she was on the cast, it just happened along the way to a happy finish. The storyline is about an all-female (plus a male drummer with blonde wig and all) English swing band (“swing” as it pertained to those times) which had become famous during WWII. The movie is taking place in the present, so that long past story had taken place some 50+years ago, the plot switching back and forth between then and now. The main character somehow meets up again with drummer-boy (another story-within-the-story) and they set out to bring whatever is left of the band together again.  

  When they got to the singer, there was this older lady (well… we all get there sometime, don’t we?) who began to belt this number with an incredible low/mid-range voice. My little man brain (the one sitting somewhere back there inside my head) kept closing out the visual and concentrating on the sound part.

- “I know that voice!! It kept on repeating…”
- “But I don’t know that face, I kept answering…”

  The sound just kept coming and being enjoyed… Eventually, the movie came to its end and, out of total curiosity, I stayed on to watch the credits roll by…

  OMG!!! You fool!!! Her name appeared on the screen and in my memory banks… Cleo Laine… to me, one of the great jazz/blues singers/voices of all time.

  Along with her voice came memories of sitting by a pool somewhere, sipping a cool drink and listening to a cassette (Yes, a cassette, what of it???) with her voice trailing over the pool waters unto the sea and the sunset, skipping over a few palm trees along the ways …  “the little ordinary things every one ought to do…” from Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You”…

  I did a lot of long winded travel in the late 70’s into the mid 80’s. But it wasn’t all work… Once in a while, there were sublime moments when the world would graciously allow itself to fall away and there was only a drink, the whisper of the water, the sunset and the glorious sounds of Cleo Laine cleansing my soul.

There are memories and then… there are memories…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora

·       Any comments please send to

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Sometime in the future, in a non-denominational world, the ages of quick knowledge and enlightenment may be measured by the above little letters. What do these critters mean? I’m sure you ask…

These precious little letters mean no more and no less than… “Before Google Search Availability” and “After Google Search Availability”. Don’t laugh… there is a great cultural divide here.

If you are reading this, it’s likely you belong to a group of individuals who braved the world of academia with rulers, dictionaries, and… OMG!!!... Books! Yep… those ancient things which had pages to be turned, read, marked, annotated and underlined and then, when you were done with the year studies, they were resold to the next class of aspiring students. The value went up according to the quality of the notes and underlining which paved the way for an easier study time.

I think this crop of students, the “Goooglehead” generation, is privy to a lot of information we did not readily have. It could be said they are smarter because of this and because they can find out the answer to most anything with a few hits to the keyboard on their telephone and/or phablet and/or laptop. Perhaps. I agree that a pocket, electronic Wikipedia would have been a big help in our time. The Good Lord knows what trials and tribulations we went through at finals time; running to get the needed last minute information, going to the library (remember those?) and checking through the cards and the old records you could look at in those old viewers that rolled them in an almost unreadable screen.

On the other hand, there are elements which might be missing from the new picture. The process of learning and thereby assimilating the contents, the acquired patience needed to find sources, read them and cull the wanted information. A patience which comes in handy later in the real world, where not all is solved by stroking the keys of a computer. I have witnessed a high level of frustration in youngsters (Geesh… I’m sounding old) when they can’t get an instant answer and resolution.  

There is another and, perhaps more important area, where overall development could be lacking. Early social life. For many, socialization comes through chat groups, not through face to face interaction. In the usual social media, what counts in the life of teens and young adults are the “likes” they may get to a posting. No matter how silly this posting may be. There have been far too many cases where a “dislike” brings on a depressive state. They become a symbol of rejection. These internet surfers have not developed the emotional and personality tools which would help them deal with the perceived slights.

Yes, I know. I come from a complex, yet simpler time. Complex because we had to learn to interact with others and this was not easy or simple. Simpler time because we were not overwhelmed with an ever-expanding universe of possibilities at our fingertips. We looked for what we needed and didn’t get the surrounding garbage that today comes with all searches.

Is this going to change? Not likely. Actually, the next generation of “smarter-than-thou” helpers is already on its way to us and our children, who gleefully want to be the first in line to get the new goodies.

It is their new world and we, the old geezers, created and handed it to them… Now we are becoming bystanders in the all-out virtual world race…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora

·       Any comments please send to

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Once Upon a Time in Insurance Land...

Many years and moons ago I began selling insurance…

Back in the early 70’s there was this time when I was not a righteous member of the gainfully employed crowd (only smirk if you’ve never been there) and a friend asked me to go to an interview with a local agency of a major insurance company.

- “What, sell Insurance?” asked I with a look of surprise on my face.
- “Yes,” he answered, “That, sell insurance… and, why not?”

I have many defects (Quiet there in the gallery… no need to agree so readily!!) but fear of the unknown is not one of them.  I went to the interview and received an offer to start working immediately… well, OK… that’s the same offer made to most any walking body that might sashay into that office back then… The decision was made to start selling this product, without understanding how much and how drastically my later life would change as a result.

The sale of insurance, as a profession, carried somewhat of a stigma back then and this was not lost on yours truly. But needs of food, shelter and daily countenance do not understand the concept of “stigmas” so, I went on to my training period with The Prudential Insurance Company, affectionately known as “The Rock”. What’s more, this was a debit insurance office, which was the then more modern euphemism for the small, monthly collected old industrial insurance.

What a collection of characters I had the chance to meet!! Phil, the retired army captain, straight as an arrow, physically and mentally. Then there was “Pinky”, the office perennial sales leader, along with his manager Salvatore. Two stalwart old school Italians (amongst several others in their group) who were loud, funny and friendly.  And I can’t forget “Vinnie from The Rock” tall, gangly, orange mop head who was the archetypal salesman… Green pants, loud shirt and checkered sports coat to go with an incredibly bubbly personality… OK, overbearing personality….

That was the beginning of my Insurance career. A hotbed of activity, visiting neighborhoods, collecting premiums which went down to as little as $.50 per month (yes, fifty cents) while talking to clients and their neighbors trying to dredge up new business… I actually survived that office, mostly because I was guided by a good human being and knowledgeable leader by the name of Bernie… Eventually I learned to sell larger policies than those the office could accommodate and went on to “greener” pastures.

Some 44 years later, after holding down many different positions within the insurance business which ranged from sales, to sales management and corporate director and consultant, I am now “semi-retired”. The wonderful years spent in many countries around the world because of tenures with international companies, are part of a web of memories which keep most of these instances alive and warm. And I say “most” because there are definitely some instances which are probably best left for the “delete” bin of the mind.

It is said by those who know more than I do -who make up a rather large contingent- that a person, in the latter years of his/her life tends to become an amalgam of all those experiences lived along the way. I can only hope that I may have managed to nurture the better experiences into my makeup, culling those which could leave a negative component.

Well, I could only hope this is true….

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora

·       Any comments please send to

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Innocence, Music and Other Things.

I always thought that innocence and music are gifts from God. The former is pretty much gone and the latter, as represented by some of its latest iterations… well, I’m not so sure…
Ever since I was a little child, hiding behind my grandmother’s skirts, I was a witness -and participant- of a devoted love to music in all its variations. Later, when I was about 8 years old and in the arms of that same grandmother, my journey through the steps of a dance floor began. I learned to dance the music of my childhood and of my grandmother’s adolescence. Danzones, Cha-cha, boleros, Waltzes… even a street conga or two…

It was a time in which I would look behind the big radio to find the musicians that surely had to be hiding inside… Then, on realizing these folks could not really be inside there, I would be convinced that the answer was that there must be a giant theater somewhere in the radio station where troves of bands and singers would be sitting in wait for their name to be called as a result of a request from a listener. Ahh… long gone times... Much simpler and innocent than today, when imagination, fairy tales and heroic adventures are relegated to an ever-growing virtual pile of refuse.

I remember one of my favorite shows, which took place during a fifteen-minute stretch in the early afternoon, after lunch and before the school bus came to take me back to the hallowed halls of education. The little stretch of radio imagination was called “The Adventures of the Three Villalobos”. These were three brothers who were “cowboys” (yes, I know… there weren’t any real cowboys in Cuba but I did say imagination and radio and innocence, right?) and who, as a family much in the style of the latter day television Cartwrights (Bonanza) ran all over the Cuban countryside looking for wrongs to right and to defend the defenseless.

These were basic adventures. A short 15 min program but you couldn’t pry me away from the radio during those minutes. I loved it and also knew that during the afternoon the latest adventures would be a topic of discussion among my friends during the recesses. These discussions were an ode to the imagination and to the knowledge that we could be as good a hero as any of these Villalobos brothers.

Together with this love of music and to the radio adventures and all the imagination these allowed out minds to exercise, there was also a love of curiosity and questioning of all established presumptions. And there were (and are) many of these. I was lucky to grow into a family where there were no absolute bosses and where all were encouraged to talk up, to question, to discuss. I realize today this was not the norm in the environment where I grew up. And am thankful.

As years went by I couldn’t but accept that the music I used to listen to came from records played by an engineer at the radio station and not from live bands in a theater… I also had to grudgingly accept that my beloved Villalobos were but a threesome of badly paid aging radio actors in a studio somewhere in Havana and that all the galloping horses, the pistol shots and the very scarce kisses (remember, cowboys kissed their horses, not women) came from a well managed sound box and its hard working master.

What has been left in me from these and many other similar childhood adventures and dreams is a love of music and the belief that imagination is the cradle of reality and it must never be abandoned or relegated to a totally practical, “non-real” world… Imagination, which resides in that semi forgotten attic we often overlook, allows me to create and explore other worlds, other visions, other realities and, when I finally get to see them, what is to tell me these are not as real as the world from which we spy on them?

Be Well … Be Back!!!

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This virtual and tranquil pond has become an outlet to bring forward some things which might otherwise not find a ready space in this co...