Friday, December 30, 2011

M-I-C-K-E-Y -- M-O-U-S-E…


It had been some time since last I had a chance to visit the East coast version of this wondrous ode to a mouse…

Disneyland and Disney World (the east coast version) are an ode to all that is fantasy, imagination and a desire to dream and to believe this dream can and will come true…

For a dreamer like myself, these thoughts and feelings are at the very core of what living is all about. I indeed believe and, as I see these childhood stories come to life in all the parades, the rides and the general feeling that emanates from the park’s heart (if it can be said this is possible) there is a sense of inner peace and joy that lasts... well, until you go to any of the stores or kiosks and are asked to pay twice what the “outside” price is for anything you consume within the Wonderful World of Disney… Hmmm!!... At $3.50 for a small bottle of water, the illusion quickly fades to a grim reality.

On we go!!! Frontierland, Adventure Land, Main Street, Tomorrowland… and all other combined lands!!... Walk on and explore the different areas of the park!! Always with the firm commitment that nothing will be bought unless there is a life or death need. Of course, after 4 hours of walking around, food and water become such a dire necessity…

Happy New Year!!
Disney Style...
 There are times of the year when visiting these parks is a pleasurable thought and deed. The period going into the waning days of the year is no such time; the hordes of tourists that come in, the amount of yelling parents and crying children… combine this with the people who believe it is their God given right to push anyone around them (these folk usually come in two sizes: very large and much larger) and the experience diminishes somehow. Yet, the spectacle is a grand example of what an extremely well oiled machine can do… all employees wear the same smile, along with their little mouse ears somewhere on their uniforms… imperturbable before all, much like the famed Royal Guards at Wimbledon… nothing moves them, except these over here are allowed to interact with the people. And each one does his/her job well. Something to be said for good employee training and on the job supervision.

Yesterday was a long day; we had been invited by our children to accompany them in this excursion, and so we did. There is a 10 year old grandson who loves this park and his ebullient attitude does influence our own. Yet, we decided not to go in until later in the day, about 2:30 pm… Our past experiences told us that about this time, a good number of those who were present to open the park begin to leave, for their little tykes are about ready to drop off the face of the earth… and so are the parents. However, at this time of the year, this apparently does not hold too true, for we found ourselves swimming in a tide of people, everywhere we went.

This, in turn, allowed me to look, listen and observe the behavior of many of these folk…  But you knew I was getting to this point…  right??

Cinderella's Castle...
Ready for the new year
 The majority of people walking around were lugging little children; much like little dogs on leashes … These small folk were also being carted on backpacks, baby carriages and much any contraption that could hold anyone up to the age of three. Which brings me to point one: People, please pay attention… a 2 year old will not last much more than a couple of hours of this grueling pace, for grueling it is… Yet, I witnessed parents yelling at their kids for the sole reason that they were tired and not enjoying the visit anymore… For the sake of God, man!!! A small child cannot last longer than a couple of hours; it is not within their reasoning power to understand (actually, this is outside my own scope as well!) that every last penny paid must be somehow milked by getting on as many rides as you possibly can, no matter if the very children who are supposed to be enjoying this madhouse, are screaming and telling you they are TIRED AND WANNA GO HOME AND GO TO SLEEP!!!

Point number Two: You do NOT always have the right of way… no matter what!! The fact you paid to get in does not give you any advantage over anyone else… they also paid the same money to get in!! Why does every one seem to lose the very spirit this place is supposed to foster? Courtesy and kindness take a second place to “I’m going ahead first” syndrome. People jump lines ahead of others, push and shove to get to the doors before you… there really is room for all concerned!! Slow down and enjoy; this is what you paid for… not to be hassled, to feel pressured to get in that one more ride, and to fall to the stress that someone else may, by God, get in there before you do… But the mentality of the “free for all” takes hold…

Relax and enjoy… so what if you don’t get into one more mountain ride? What about if you walk a little slower and enjoy the surroundings, the actors and the fantasies they represent…? Is this such a difficult thing to do? Imagine… if it cannot be done in the very place built to foster these feelings, what do you think your daily life at home and work are like? What are you giving your family as a daily dose of peace and enjoyment? 

Life is a continuum of little moments; whether at a specialty park or at the place we call home… It is up to each one of us to make of it a better place and time. Slow down a little; look around, enjoy those who are walking along this path with you, let them enjoy you, and the journey you are all on a little more; spread your love and receive the same in kind. Take the time to be…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

NOTE: The radio broadcast for this Sunday (1/1/2012) is cancelled; unfortunately, I will be on the road… but the “cast” will return the following Sunday, at the usual 6:30pm slot)

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 otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora” … The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Year Ends… And?



The holidays march on to, as we receive the new year, their fiery firework finish and many resolutions are being made…

In fact, these are probably the same we have made year in and year out, hoping that, somewhere along the way, we will actually be able to complete one or two of them. According to those in the know (whoever they may be but, “those”, seem to be in the know about most everything!!) the most common one is that perennial one about losing the extra 10-15 pounds gained over the course of the year just ending. The only problem is that after several years of not actually working on this particular goal, we are probably more than 30 pounds overweight. And gaining…

And then there is the one about “Improving my lot”… don’t we all wish we could… Usually, when someone proclaims this as one of their goals, my immediate questions are: “what lot?”… “What do you mean by improving?”… “How much do you actually plan to improve?”… “Is there a specific place you want to get to?”… No I am not being a basic SOB; the real issue is that we set these lofty goals which sound good but have no meat, no defined something to accomplish.

In life, as we may be forced to do at work sometimes, we do have to set goals. In the same manner, these have to be defined and have to have an identifiable objective, something we can actually measure as we go along. This is actually a very difficult thing to do as we plan our immediate future(s) over beers and tequila at the neighborhood bar.

What is this odd (and short) entry about? About our lives, as we tend to look it over at this time of the year... We often get up in the morning and lack a basic idea as to what we will be doing this day and why… other than going to work, of course. As time passes, we often look back and, in frustration, ask ourselves the age old question “Where has all the time gone?”... “All these years…” The point being that we get so wrapped up in our daily chores that we forget these are not who we are, but what we do for a living. We walk around with a job related label, putting aside the more realistic label that has to do with our person.

Until we realize and accept this, our lives will continue to roll on as a continuum of daily vignettes, most of which will be dictated by others, not by our own needs and likes… and in the end, life will sooner or later exact all it deems her due. She is an extremely harsh, demanding and jealous mistress. And, when this happens, we may think she is being awfully hard but… it turns out to be a just toll due from these past long and winding roads we have travelled, without thinking much about where it was we were really going… or why.

The offshoot of the story is that each one of us has to be his or her own fate maker; we all have to be aware of who we are and where we hope to go; then actually delineate and work the plan which will help us get there. There are no guarantees and even if we don’t make it all the way, we will at least know that our time was well spent, that we did our best to actually make a go of a life that belonged to us.

As a very wise friend said to me once… “if you plan to get to the moon and make it only halfway at least you will be able to look back, relive a wondrous journey and see a beautiful image of the earth… just sitting there for you to enjoy it to the fullest… Imagine all you would have lost had you not tried”

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 otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora” … The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Catch as Catch Can...


This week’s postings will be on a “catch as catch can” basis. Away from home and working with an iffy connection, it is not an easy task.

There has been reaction to the last posting, and this has been good. Most people who have contacted me either through emails or by phone, just wanted to remind me that friendship and love will, in the end, win out over sadness and pain of loss. And this is completely right, of course. I am now looking forward to a future in which much will be accomplished, and some of it will be in memory of Eric, tackling those areas which were dear to his heart.

Through my step daughter I am now entering a phase of “grandparenthood” which I find somewhat difficult to manage… mentally, that is. Through my own children, it seems that there will be few opportunities to experience this so, I will embrace my “step-grandson” (this nomenclature sounds horrible, no?) as just plain grandson, and dedicate whatever time I can to him and aid in his growth… physically and mentally. He is a sharp boy, much in tune to those things we, the (much) older generation(s), tend to look at sideways. Of course, his knowledge of things electronic is vast and fairly complete, with the tendency to look askew at those of us lesser mortals who actually need an explanation as to which knob or protrusion to push when playing the (in)famous X-Box. On the other hand, I can best him on the basketball court and this has him vexed, for he strongly feels that the old man should not be able to do much there… so, every time I “swish” one by him, he looks up and says… “How did’u do that?”… some small satisfaction there…

We put up a movable basketball hoop on the driveway, one of those where the base is filled with water; it actually works pretty well. The neighbor’s kids came over and we played 2-on-2, with my grandson and I being one of the teams. He is a little overweight and a main purpose of the old man going out there and playing, all prepped up with a couple of aspirins for the aching knees, is to get him into the game; enough so that when we leave he stays interested.

What is interesting in this scenario is that they live in a “closed” neighborhood. You know, one of those where a bored to death guard sits at the front booth and makes it look like “he/she” is really tough and “on top of things” when, in reality, all they are on top of is the latest issue of their favorite magazine. Anyway, a must in every one of these is the dreaded “Association” with all the rules and regulations its usually out of work officers can dream up. They seem to have little else to do (at least in this place) and one of the regulations is that there can be nothing that defaces the front of the living abode. You know, in the pursuit of having everything look the same… pastel colored, two (not three or one) palm trees up front and all boringly alike.

So, on putting this hoop up I did mention to the lady of the house that it would be a sore point with the association.  Her response? “Sue me”… “this is for my son and for the kids around, so they have something to do besides sitting in front of the bloody (my translation of her Spanish expletive) TV screen and playing with the Xbox.”  I have to add she is not one to shy away from confrontations when she firmly believes that she has the right of it, even against regulations. “Besides” she added “there are 4 other houses where they have the same hoops… if they want mine down, they all have to come down”  I have to say here that she has already stared down the Association Director in a couple of other issues… they have a history and I’m betting on the lady of the house.

I have a strong background of going against this type of regulations when it is my belief that they are totally out of sync with the reality of what is going on at the moment. I hate the concept that someone else has, simply by his or her say, a controlling effect on what is my right to do and/or my life to live. Of course, these are not issues where another person will be hurt in any manner of speaking. But just because someone does not like a color, or an accent or a way to do something does not give him or her, the right to impose this dislike on others. And what amazes me all the time is how easily this is done. And when an individual (in the true sense of the word) actually stands up to the "junta" with intelligent arguments, there is no response other than to cite the regulation and make threats about going to court. That answer is pure… nonsense (I’m trying to keep the “G” rating so the word that is really on my mind will not make it here) And in this case, when the lady of the house is herself a litigation attorney… well, their shaky grounds course will not be easy. And they know it.

Anyhow… things of Christmas present(s)… Basketballs, neighborhood associations and driveways… children who should be allowed to be children and so-called adults who have little to do and much time to do it in… An interesting mix…

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 otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora” … The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011… The Day After.


When this particular Christmas was fast approaching, my feelings were certainly not defined…

Too many happenings, too many bitter moments in much too short a time. And indeed, the day was bittersweet; one of those celebrations when the fa├žade shows a smile that is just a little brighter than the feelings inside, a little more conducive to shield one from any questions which a well meaning friend or relative will always ask, releasing anew a delicately contained flood of feelings, from a widely reopened gate.

A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to speak with my friend Marc (France) who, by nature, tends to be a bit negative at times. After I told him what had happened to my son he went on a rampage, as I had expected. His feelings are true and honest, there is a good friendship between us and I knew he would be deeply affected. Especially since his only child, a beautiful young lady, is openly given to her bike and to ride the French roads on it, feeling the flow of air and freedom, much like Eric did every time he rode.

We talked about this for a while; he reneging against all odds and against all that could be considered a guiding hand, or a protecting entity. I had somewhat thought out most of these issues; not because I would be on the phone with Marc, whose reaction was as expected, but because I had needed to find some emotional answers, some way for me to understand a little bit and to be able to accept, or not, what had happened.

In my internal discussions, many issues and many memories were rehashed, boiled down to the bone and gone over in much detail.  On more than one occasion one of these sides would ask the other that if, given the choice, I would be strong enough to forfeit my own life or some part of it, in order to bring Eric back. The initial answer was a resounding “yes”… then I would begin to think back.

His life had been anything but easy; every day was a struggle, as a recovering alcoholic every waking moment claimed some emotional blood from him. Yes, he had made huge strides in the last few years, but there had been a few reverses as well… each gauging an already vulnerable self image. We spoke on the phone, not as often as either one would have wished, but these were conversations in which he pretty much bared his feelings. Although he had learned to cover it well, he was hurting inside; the kind of hurt only the person who suffers it can understand… like a slow burning fire you can at times cover and try to suffocate but can’t quite put completely out.

So, the end result of this fairly thorough compendium of exchanges within my mind, was that I would forfeit my own time but with one caveat: that he would be back as a normal individual, someone who could enjoy the simple things in life, who could bask in the certainty of the love if his family and friends, of his real worth as a person; someone who would be able to look at the future (he was shyly beginning to do this) straight on and know of his capabilities for tackling it and making of his life what he wished… that he would be back without the emotionally and physically draining load of being a recovering alcoholic.

But to bring him back as he was, so he would continue to suffer and to always be uttering an inside cry for help, no; this would be an incredibly selfish act on my part for, yes, I would give anything to have him back, but not to see him continue to constantly suffer, always being afraid of that one issue which would push him over to another reversal and thus a negation of his hard won accomplishments. He died as a clean man; in a very poignant way, we could say this was his last triumph.

By the time Marc and I spoke, all this had been thought out. He asked me: “Do you still believe in God?” I answered, without hesitation, “Yes, I do”.  “How could you if He let this happen?” I was able to tell him that, in thinking through these details, my mind was as cleanly at peace as possible; believing is a matter of faith, not of cognizant processes. I believe and continue to believe, having the faith to accept what happened; to accept  that, perhaps, there was little more we could do for my son and that his spirit, soul or essence was now freer than ever it had been, enjoying a peace we could never give him. Does this relive my hurt? Not, not fully; nothing ever will. But it allows me to accept his leaving us and to go on, in our daily living.

So, this Christmas was definitely bittersweet. For me and for the rest of his family and friends who miss him very, very much. But in the end we, as human beings have little real power over what goes on around our lives, sometimes giving us exultation and others handing us devastation. We learn to manage both and I believe that in doing so, we also learn to know ourselves better and thus become a more serviceable cog in this constantly rolling wheel of life. 

Yes, I believe in our Father and will never let go of the hand of His Son, Jesus and in celebrating His birth on this day of Christmas, we are simply continuing to believe in a message that was brought to us through  his living… a message of peace, faith, and of learning that love has many faces and guises; sometimes in bliss and others in pain… but love is, nonetheless.

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas; please think on the original message which goes beyond the material gifts we can exchange. That gift of pure love we received some 2000 years ago has no price tag, no ending.

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 otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora” … The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Yuletide Rising…


Every year, right about this time, the same cry is heard from all quarters…

It doesn’t make any difference whether one wishes to hear it, or partake of the overall noise and cacophony. It will come. Like the proverbial fly of the locust, the noise keeps on getting louder and louder, after the dishes are put away following the Thanksgiving dinner… It is a noise that often becomes deafening, a headache producing, collective cry and yell which, at times could actually make one dizzy; very repetitious also.

Most people don’t realize just how annoying it can be to have a total stranger come up to you, smile a broad, teeth baring smile and, while pumping your hand with enough force to bring water out of a barren well, say it not once, but over and again. ARRGHH!! How long will it take for an otherwise normal, quiet individual to put aside these lunatic like ravings and uncontrollable urges, and resume a normal life.
 ...   ...   ...

“… Oh My!!” … “I think I was asleep, dreaming about that old Mr. Scrooge again…”  “Sometimes, when these dreams come on, I sort of talk … even write in my sleep … not very nice things either…"

Oh well, it’s getting on that very special time of the year, when we commemorate the birth of Jesus but, more than this, we commemorate the birth of hope and of the fact that we, as His children (no matter how we call The Father, in our different religions) will always be welcome into His arms, for His Son gave us that choice.

This will be the last post for this week since I, like millions of others this day, will be getting on the road but, fear not, my trusty computer goes with me and I should be able to come back and torment you early next week… 

Whether you truly have and share the joy of Christmas, or call the joy of the love of Our Father by another name… I hope this is a happy and fulfilling occasion for you and yours; that your family remains always together at heart, knowing that this is the true core and reason of our lives here.


MERRY CHRISTMAS !!!!


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 otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora” … The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Another War Ended… Another “?” Raised.


Every day, our actions as humans continue to raise questions regarding our ability to function on, with the billing as the top animal in the long bio feeding chain.

Usually, the political arena is one into which my thoughts and actions will not willingly go. There are too many, and a constantly growing number of, existing interests and too many mirrors and smoke screens in place; each is designed to take our prying eyes and our questioning attitude into a different direction, away from the realities of the games being played.

A couple of days ago, the war in Iraq was officially declared ended by governmental decree. The same type of decree that started it some 10 years ago. And from the look of it all, there really was no coherent reason for the many years this particular war went on … and on. To my limited understanding, no major inroads were made against the Taliban from Iraqi soil and no stranger than normal weapons were found as a result of this prolonged and costly stay. I have not sufficient knowledge or insight to make determinant statements and I do not proclaim to be endowed with such enlightenment; but there is just enough life behind me, coupled with a fairly good memory, to be able to look at other times and other places, and see only more of the same. There is no finger pointing to either side of the political spectrum either; both have been heavily involved in one or more of these efforts along the way. Of course, while throwing guilt into the opposite camp whenever possible.

The concept of a “just” war has been bandied about for centuries. Of course, the wars were “just” based on the point of view of the ones who started the ball rolling. And, if these folk actually did achieve their goal, then it was not a war… the whole effort became an “Epic”, a pursuit of rightful justice... But, again, always from the point of view of the pursuer. Humans will be able to, given a few tools and enough time, create a myriad of reasons to justify whatever action they wish to pursue. Our imagination in this direction is simply limitless.

How many lives lost?… just on our side? How about on the other side? (let’s remember that to them, their effort was as just… from their "misguided" point of view, of course) And how about the many who have been lost on the ranks of the ever losing folk, the middle ground where the vast majority of people live?... Those who, while living in the theater of the ongoing war, are not directly involved in the conflict, but lack the means to get away from it, to flee?  I don’t have the numbers but if we look at the last 3 major engagements, I bet you the numbers go well into the plus side of the half million mark. Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan… not to mention losses in those many, smaller theaters where we "officially" do not exist. Or the thousands of returning, living bodies and half bodies, still searching for an answer that is not forthcoming, while their minds simply inhabit the shell and refuse to partake of the world around it. They are still horrified by its inhumanness. We give them pills and send them on their way… A way no one but themselves know just how twisted and painful can be.

If this entry, a paean to futility and frustration, can be called anything, my best guess is that it might be called a “Plea for Sanity”. Sanity which may allow us to see beyond our noses; to look behind into our own history and to understand we are doing nothing but playing the same tune, dancing the same dance and ending with the same outcome: Nothing. In exchange, we are giving up the lives of thousands of young men and women who, given a chance, might have been instrumental in the building of a better society, a better place for our (and their) children.

I guess the story of the Tower of Babel must be based on a real event. We are certainly different; we, the hundreds of different groups of people who inhabit this planet of ours, refuse to even consider that another group may be “righter” than us. It is backyard justice meted out, based only on power and opportunity. He/She who has the bigger bat and the bigger balls (literally and figuratively) will rule the playground. There is money, much more than you or I could even muster in our wildest guesses, behind these moves. And, unfortunately, money rules at decision time.

You will now go on your way, I will go on my way… “they” will go on their way. Until the next time comes in which we, or someone else, must strut their goodies in order to establish or, to re-establish the pecking order.

I could ask you to pray for those families who have lost a loved one in any one of these wars but then, anytime one of our own dies, even when we do not know him or her, that person lost is a member of our extended family; especially the family made up of those of us who have served at one time or another. But, pray for them; for all of them, no matter what side, color or creed. It is the only solace we can give these souls in their ethereal wandering.

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 otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora” … The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

On the Way to Becoming a Salesman.


Starting many years ago, more than I can remember, and creeping into my latter years, some non thinking decisions … those that just happen along the way … changed the course of a life … mine.

By the time my Army discharge came around, I was already married to my first wife, had a child (from her first marriage) and responsibilities. She carried her end of the financial load by doing medical transcription, a field where she had 4 years experience by then. In fact, she was very good at this; she was so fast at the typewriter that she wore out a couple of balls from the Selectric typewriter, IBM’s then brand new model.  They could not believe this until she did a demo for them at a blazing speed of some 115 wpm. After seeing this, they gave us a supply of new balls …

Like many who find themselves in the same situation, we had bills to be paid and money to be made. My sales experience had begun at age 18 in Puerto Rico, when I was trained to go door to door to sell magazines, domestic appliances, etc… So, my first job out of the Army, was selling Clairol products. I learned about hair and color blending, about chemical damage, about product positioning and number of faces (number of rows your product can have on the store shelves), about how to make your product easier to see that the competition’s, about pricing and price wars; how to make and end stall work… you name it, if it had to do with the sale of non-perishable in a pharmacy, department store or supermarket, I learned about it.

This, circa 1968, was the beginning of my on-the-job sales training. Clairol was and continues to be a good company in its field, but it was not really a field which generated constant interest for me. My tenure there lasted for some two years, when terminal boredom actually set in … and as a result my short, but well equipped resume went out to a head hunter.  It was a process of some 2 months; the eventual winner of my dedicated services was a pharmaceutical company by the name of G.D. (Initials which later on took a different meaning than recalling the name of the founding father) Searle. This was a mid-size pharma-company, with not much in the way of exciting products, but it was my doorway to a very interesting and different world in the sales universe.

The company’s claim to fame at the time was a line of products which included one to induce bowel movements and another to stop excessive movements… as a result, the old saying “when you lie down with a baby, you wake up rolling in  s…” took on a whole new meaning. We did have some fun selling these products though, along with the other members of the product line … until… somebody at the company’s R&D department hit the proverbial one out of the park and as a result of this product home run, we were the first to market the (in)famous birth control pill.

This was a revolution; Doctors’ offices where my products did not sell before (a sale is when the MD prescribes your product) now were eager to receive me and to get samples of the new “miracle pill” … So, sales deals were struck and doctors now prescribed several of my products instead of their old favorites, just to get those samples for their patients to take. My sales went up and everything was great… But, as many folk become a one track mind and therefore have a one track life, so does a company when the money starts rolling in… GD basically became a one product company and their research (the true backbone of a pharma-company) suffered, the marketing of new products almost disappearing.  Yes, I had enough birth control pill samples in my house to keep a mid size city barren for a year, but nothing new on the horizon…

As a result of this, more than a few of us went looking for greener, more interesting pastures. My lot ended up with Pfizer, at the top of the feeding chain, aggressive company, with a varied line of products. My knowledge of the pure concept of professional sales and marketing was increased tenfold, and so was my actual market; the company was excellent (and still is) at this end of the game. One of the decisions made in life which was regretted for quite some time, was my having to leave them due to very pressing and difficult personal issues with my first wife's health. As a result of this, my job market was reduced to the immediate area where we then lived, so I could be nearby at all times… So it was to the car lot, to sell used cars for the local Lincoln Mercury dealer; here, my sales learning took a unique turn and went into street level fighting, so to speak.

Eventually, in 1975, the industry where my professional life would develop over the next 30+ years opened its doors (in a manner of speaking) to me … Life Insurance. Most people who go into this field never really dreamt about doing so as children. It is sort of a catch all, where many who come in do so because of an immediate need to make money while waiting for a “real job” to come along some time soon. Somehow, this business of insurance will wrap itself around you, grab you by the short hairs and never let you go. It has been a good time, but it has also run its cycle. After almost 4 decades of dealing with all levels of insurance sales and management, I became tired of the constant race and pressure to always do more than yesterday. Other issues have become more important and now have top billing in the marquee of my life… but I am indeed grateful for these many years of learning, knowledge, meeting people, travels, opportunities at opening new doors and markets and just general fun.

On these posts, we often touch upon the importance of the decision-making process in everyday life. What is also true is that this includes those decisions made by default, by actually not doing anything. Whether due to inertia, lack of interest or lack of understanding the importance of the decision, we do accept many issues to simply happen, or to not happen. Then, we complain when the results do not meet our expectations. And just as it is with the consequences of making a decision we know is not correct, the consequences of a non-decision are also our responsibility and no one else’s.

My life changed for the long run because when younger I did nothing about going back and completing my degree; my time was at a premium and I was too busy, etc ... you know the usual excuses … I know of at least three instances where my lot would have ended at the helm of a good company and, while my experience surpassed that of the others, I was passed over due to this lack. 

Do not let even small details go unattended; these are often at the core of our extended lives. Understand the decision process, and especially understand that non-decisions are –by definition- decisions as well; you will be the better person for knowing this.

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 otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • “La Otra Caja de Pandora” … The Spanish language Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”Bienvenidos!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Coming of The Season…


This time of the year, with all the meanings it conveys and carries, is sometimes a difficult period to manage for me; especially when recent issues and happenings will carry the emotions at fingertip level…

I have to go back to childhood years to understand the full meaning of this season; no, not the fact that we who call ourselves Christians profess to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, whose existence and passage in and into our history was a rite of rebirth and understanding. My lack of current commitment perhaps goes more into what the history of the season has been for me.

In posts written at other times, the usual get together in my grandparents’ home has been alluded to. Yes, we had the big dinner (on the 24th, not the 25th) as well as the midnight mass and the celebrations. More than anything else, there was this incredible spirit of family; that celebration which went beyond the palpable aspect… more the feeling of overabundant joy and kinship. Perhaps it was because I witnessed the unraveling of this feeling; the unraveling of a family which had been kept together through the efforts of the older generation (grandparents) and their constant reminders of our being a nuclear family, no matter if we lived apart.

As an adult, I have come to realize these continued efforts do take a lot of commitment and time; they also create(d) a lot of risk taking on the part of the “keeper of the guard” … in my childhood, my grandmother definitely had the position.  And no one could have done a better job than she did. It was one which was taken to heart, mind, body and soul … she plunged into the role of matriarch on the fly (we would say in Spanish “matriarca sin cartera”), a very special role which to us grandchildren was that of a friend and funny “older lady” who always catered to us and who, most of all, was someone we could always count on to regale us with an interminable amount of patience, care and love. As far as the adults went, she kept them on line … so to speak.

In my mind, she is the absolute image and figure of “Christmas Past”. All we did during the Yule season went through her; perhaps some of the more telling and happy moments of my childhood. Then, in the latter years of my life in Cuba, as the new system came in and as our family began to disintegrate, she also became the image of that aspect of our lives; a period of time that signaled the end of all we had known ... of all that we, as a family, had been able to accomplish.

Although the happy times were many, those last couple of years and, especially after one whole side of the family left (the aunt and cousins with whom my sister would later live in New Rochelle), her eyes changed. A brave front was kept alive for those of us who were still there. But her eyes changed… blue eyes which had always been alive and smiling, even when receiving the worst tantrums her oldest grandchild could muster (that’s me) … those very eyes which inspired trust and peace by just looking at them began to look tired, reddish from private tears, and downcast.

The last two Christmases were telling. Not much could be found to have the traditional meal and I do not really think the effort was put into the process… in 1961, our (my sister and I) last Christmas in Cuba, she already knew we were leaving and her eyes and face expressed all that had to be said. I could not read her eyes at the time, as I can now read them from memory and personal experiences lived along the way… as a young person without much experience, all I could think was that she was not feeling well.

When I am asked about my last memories of my country, the answer can go in several directions. If someone is asking on a superficial level, the answer will be equally superficial … we will talk about the house, the general memories and such … I f someone whom I know has a true interest and with whom I have a degree of trust asks, then the answer is very different. The truth will win out… those memories are not happy; they are memories of a family disunited, of folk who after working a lifetime to have their dreams come to fruition, see everything disappear in the blink of a moment in existence. 

They are, in detail, memories of my grandmother’s eyes and how, as the last months of my stay I would see them less and less … and when I would, they would reflect a deep, inner sadness and hurt which I would only come to understand years later and for other, my own issues and experiences lived. She was already withdrawing into that shell which would, eventually, wrap itself around her like a protective blanket so as not to allow destructive events she could no longer control, to bother and hurt her.

I have learned over the years to look at this season as one of regained joy and new memories, those made along the way with new families and friends. Yet, at the bottom of the toast well, there will always be those woven time memories which created and then, when unraveled, took down the incredible familial meaning of the process and the season. We will, as a family, enjoy its bittersweet presence this year; we will miss those who are no longer with us and raise a toast to them, to their memory and with much love. Yes, to my son and his grandmother who recently died but, in my heart and not so secretly, also to those who gave this man-child an opportunity to learn the meaning of joy and family at a very early age, for they will also be present … for, in my life ... they have never left.

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 otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar.
  • NOW … “La Otra Caja de Pandora” The Spanish Blog… “otracaja.blogspot.com”… Bienvenidos!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The First 3000... And counting...

Today is a mark of some sort... Normally on the weekends I let you rest a bit from these uneven ravings but... last night we went over 3,000 "reads" ... several are repeat readers and my gratitude goes to you. Also my admiration for your patience and reticence... I realize that this is not a huge number as some more celebrated blogs go ... but for an idea that took shape because 4 friends wanted "something to read"... that is not a bad number...

To celebrate, we will double the pleasure. How? The new version of Pandora's Other Box will come to life this week, with a twist... It will be called "La Otra Caja de Pandora" and will be a Spanish version... Several requests have been received from friends in South America and Spain; friends who feel much more comfortable in this language than in English so... There will now be two versions of the blog for your pleasure!!!

Again, Thanks for your loyalty; your blog will continue on!!! 

A Never Ending Story...

Be Well ... Be Back!!!



Friday, December 16, 2011

Thank God It’s Friday!!


That one made for a good name for a restaurant that cropped up sometime in the late 70’s… Then it became simply "T.G.I.F" ...

Eventually the name was shortened and became “Fridays”. That is how we now know this chapel to the gods of deep frying and cholesterol. Indeed, today is Friday. For most of us, it signals the end of a work week and the beginning of an all too short weekend. Sometimes it is “payday” and a time to relax, "drink" worries away and, in doing so, often create new and heavier ones…

Yeah… today is not a bad day… nor is it Monday, a poor fellow which has all the negative implications of the world … the beginning of a work week, the end of the “carefree” weekend, the renewal of those phone calls reminding us that there are bills still unpaid… for parents of small children, the routine of the early mornings, the in house rush hour just before going into the street version of the same, so that we can get to that place where the workweek begins anew. For all these, and others I am sure you can come up with, poor Monday has become the black sheep day of the week. 

Tuesday sort of goes with the flow… neither here nor there … kind like the smaller middle kid in a large family. Sort of gets lost in the crowd, only being noticed when a disaster happens… Then it’s Wednesday and now we begin to get serious. This is the “hump” day (no, not that “hump”) this is the day that signals we are half way into the work week and the week end is already looming closer… close enough to be tasted.

Thursdays then greet us in their morning splendor …. In several “sub-cultures” (especially the college crowds) this is the day where practicing for the weekend actually begins. Some drinking –not too much mind you, tomorrow is still Friday and a work/study day- and some relaxing. After all, Saturday is just a day away. So I guess this qualifies Thursdays as “good days”.

Then we are back to Fridays and the glorious weekend … and the cycle starts all over again.

If you have read those random posts which often just express my thoughts and in the process have truly understood some of the messages my sometimes convoluted (and often confused, I must admit) mindset has tried to pass on, then the foreboding that the above is but a pre-set to something else to be added has already come to your thoughts. You are right.

Indeed… here we go!!  We are creatures of habit; we whittle away most of our lives going from day to day and hoping that we can just survive the next 24 hours, with maybe a few breaks in between periods.  No, don’t jump all over me. I do realize there is a life to be lived, bills to be paid, cars to be bought, mortgages to be dealt with, children to be educated, food to be served, cell phones and the latest sundry toys to become dependent on, clothes (preferably with some name attached to them) to be bought and worn, and so on and on… we all live through these issues, most of us spending more than we can possibly make and then look forward to the time we can “retire” so we can sort of sit and wait for whenever we are called away from this life.

That is a very stylized and simplified outlook of a lifetime; could even describe it as “depressing”. Most likely there are many variants but, for a grand majority of people, this somewhat drab picture does not fall too far from what reality is. Our world has become one in which our movements become dictated, our time ceases to be ours, where we are told that if we dare differ from the norm we are wrong, where privacy is a thing of the past and trust and peace of mind are quickly going into the same cyber-waste-bin, somewhere into a time and space continuum, not to be found again.

There are so many things each one of us can, and should, do to break this chain without stopping those established activities which are a part of our day to day living. Doesn't take much time, according to the experts in these fields, to be able to redirect some of our energies into a cleaner, better self serving channel. Do something you like ... truly like… In the busy schedule of your life, spare some time for yourself; time which, when invested in what you really like to do, will bring you an incredibly positive return. After all, if you are not important enough to yourself, to whom will you be important?

Do some reading, topics and authors you do enjoy; perhaps do some writing... doesn't have to be considered Pulitzer material... (witness these posts!!!) some walking or other sport, take some time off on the weekends or, if your work schedule permits, do it during the week and get away for a few hours. No, not to places where it will cost tons of money. It doesn’t have to be a cruise to Alaska … this will just add to your headaches when the bills pile in… Share your time with someone you love…There are many places where you can go for a day or two, without having to get a loan from the bank. Or you can just go to a river or lake bank or to a private place where you are comfortable…, sit and let your mind wander for a while, let it dream and let it become soothed by the surroundings. This will be said over and again … the best things in life are often free and available for the taking…  or the asking.

Break that routine!!! Create your world, your universe… a "world space" where you rule and where only you will allow someone or something to enter and be a part of it.  Your universe (according to those who share “The Secret”) is that special place in which only you will grant a visa or passport to that which you want to come in. Yes, you will be a part of many other worlds in the process; some being more amenable than others ... this is an intrinsic aspect of every day living but, your world is your refuge. It is conducive to maintaining mental and emotional sanity in an often increasingly insane environment. 

Go ahead … dare to be different! After all, there is only one of you and each one is special and precious … don't be afraid to be “you-nique”!!

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 otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

In the Swim of Things…


The above title opens up a plethora of directions which could be pursued … If only I knew which to follow!!!

This morning my ESL class students were, as usual, late for the show. In a regular school this would not be well received. However here, when each participant eventually “drags” in, their tired early morning faces tell the story. For the most part they work jobs which keep them up until late (or, better yet, early) hours and their coming in to the early a.m. class is an effort. And it is an effort which makes me work a little bit harder to give them the basic understanding they need in order to get by in their day to day struggles.

After class, a little bit of talk time was spent with the owner-teacher; we have become good friends over time and, actually, at present it is just “she and I” facing the ESL world, since the third teacher is on vacation. She is taking on an added risk: moving the school to a different locale come January. Where we are now there is little, if any, walk in traffic (second floor in a corporate office structure) these walk-ins create a flow of potential customers which is imperative for the long term growth and survival of the school. We have discussed this over some time now, for a decision had to be reached by mid December due to office contractual issues.

I am sort of a “free lance-no charge” advisor and bouncing wall to her thoughts; she, a single mother to a 4 yr old girl and this is already a heavy responsibility ... she also knows and accepts there are risks to be taken if her lot is to be improved. So here comes the new school with the attending investment, in a spanking new strip mall at street level and in a very heavily trafficked area of town with a high Hispanic percentile, exactly the target market the school needs to tap in order to grow. We worked on some ideas for the opening week, including a press cocktail to be held, as well as some promotions and class “giveaways”. After I assured her that my help could be counted on, we said goodbye and each went his/her way. She to teach a class, I to a meeting.

On my way to that meeting, a call came in through Skype, on my phone. It is amazing how these integrated services work to help in the daily management of business. It wasn’t so long ago (well, to us older geese!!) that if you were away from the house or office phone, you were out of touch. Anyway, this call came from my associate overseas and we discussed several issues on which we are currently working. After 25 minutes on the phone (no cost, thanks to Skype) we parted ways not without before setting up a follow up schedule for the rest of the day and for tomorrow, since we are still hoping to get at least one item completed before Christmas.

By this time, my car had found itself parked by the door of my next destination.  Not quite sure how it was it managed to get there… no, not really… The office of a potential on-and-off associate. This lady created and maintains a local foundation geared to the needs of a specific group of foreign nationals. In this case, services are for and not limited to,  Ecuadorians. These folk are for the most part from very humble origins, often lost in wanderings within the bureaucracy found in most areas which have to be faced in most facets of our daily undertakings. Add to this the lack language management and their problems multiply.

Her primary business is (or was), I think, a ticket agency. Now, you can just as easily buy a ticket, send a package or have your eyes checked, your feet massaged or your computer upgraded. Of course, also insurance and other assorted sundries. This office is a true paean to survival in rough times. One of the very real and sad issues facing these less financially able communities is the lack of funds to pay for a funeral and/or for a repatriation of the body of the deceased.

We had a one hour meeting, delineating a new service to be offered to her “constituents” and all other members of the foundation: A complete burial or “processing and shipping” service for a very inexpensive amount, to be covered by a small, low cost life insurance policy. A simple idea, right? When a person gets to know those who actually live within this needy segment of society, many ugly truths related to the sub-worlds that do exist come to the surface. These people are, for the most part, good and hard working folk who do not have the formal education to aspire to the better jobs and often, when they do have the education, cannot  exercise their learned professions because their documents are not in full order…

They live in a mid grayish world, never really able to see the full daylight, only a bit of the morning light of hope. Their goal is to try very hard to make a better life for their children, perhaps so that generation and the following ones have a chance to live in a lighter, more open world. Then, for those who do not make it, there is the family pain of not being able to pay for a funeral here, or to have the embalmed body sent back to their country of origin, so they can be put at rest with their ancestors, a very personal and important issue within our culture. Often, the proverbial hat is passed around their neighbors and members of their church, with the hope that there will be enough money to do one or the other. When this insurance packet is put into effect, those who take part in it will be able to rest in peace, at an abode of their choice.  And so will their surviving family.

Now, as I sit here, there are several documents which need to be completed for my overseas associate, as well as for my local associate to be.  Then on to the late night ESL class, for those who work from early in the morning until late in the afternoon... 

When this post entry started to unravel from the title chosen, it seemed like a potential waste of time, but for some reason it just kept coming. Now, as it stares back at me the message it gives me is that we are all, as individuals, involved at many levels and with more people than we could possibly imagine … in every thing we do. What each one of us commits to or fails to do, will affect not only our own lives, but the lives of many others … some of whom we do not even know.  So, I guess, if we are going to do something, let’s do it right the first time, for it will impact someone else down the road; you will help that someone and will also understand that the job to be done, was well done. 

This will bring to your heart and mind a true feeling of accomplishment, even when no one else knows about 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 otherboxp@yahoo.com
  • Remember:  We are “On Air” every Sunday night at 6:30pm EST (GT –5hrs).  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/theotherbox If the link does not work, please just copy and paste to your address bar. 

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 cont...