Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The French Kiss…


Caught your attention with the above title…?

Well… I'm sorry to tell your overworked mind that this has nothing to do with the image that may be occupying your imagination by now!!  In fact, it really has nothing to do with much of anything that is overtaxing my own mind and imagination right now.

There is really little to add to what has not been said yet… Yesterday morning my appointment book showed a date with my urology MD, residing in Salisbury, NC, some 60 miles away from here. The reason being that my treatment will be continued by the VA doctor instead of the outside MD who had been seeing me. Cut cutting  measures, I assume. I had some misgivings, since the original MD had truly earned my trust, beside actually taking the measures which, most likely, saved my life. But… “Donde manda Capitán… no manda soldado”… an old Spanish saying that says: “When the Captain speaks, the soldier keeps quiet” or, something to that effect.  And so, I boarded my car and headed out to Salisbury.

Once there, the Physician’s Assistant who received me, asked:

-“Why are you here?”
-“What do you mean?” and he proceeded to tell me…-“Don’t you live in Charlotte?”…
-“Yes, I do” said I, not really knowing where this was going…
-“Well, we have an urologist who works out of the Charlotte outpatient center”…
-“Ohh?” “Is that so?” was my brilliant reply…
-“Yep” said Michael the PA. “Would you like to continue your treatment over there?” he asked…
-“Of Course!!” was my reply… “after all,. It takes almost one and a half hours to get here…”

The conversation continued on this vein, while he was taking and writing notes on the computer. After we had some “shop” talk about Spain (turns out his grandmother had lived in Spain… not that it had anything to do with my being there but…), he added: “As long as you are here, let’s get your blood for a PSA test”… then he said: “If you don’t hear from me in the next 5 business days, then just make an appointment with the MD in Charlotte for 6 months from now”… “if there is anything wrong, I will contact you”

As I turned to go out the door, I told him: “Mike… I like you a lot but don’t really want to hear from you again anytime soon” He just smiled and waved me off… could almost swear I heard him say “next!”…

Just wanted to add a couple of thoughts:

There is much being said about the lack of services available to the veterans, alleged poor quality, etc. Perhaps in some cases there may be some cause to complain but, every time I go to the hospital or the clinic to get something done, there are always a large number of veterans being helped in one way or another. The doctors do their utmost and most everyone with whom I deal while there, are very helpful and courteous.  I can bet my bottom dollar that their pay scale is not comparable to equivalent jobs in the private sector. So, Thank You!

The other thought is a little more “personal”, if this is possible. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, when those of us who had been in the service came back to civilian life, we were made to feel unwelcome by many, in far too many instances. We were in the middle of the “flower movement” and the “give peace a chance” movement; these viewpoints did not allow much in the way of tolerance for those who, according to them, had taken part in the “unmentionable conflict”: Viet Nam. However, most of those who went to VN, including several who did not make it back, did so in order to serve their country; most, before going there, did not probably even know where this bloody peninsula was located.

It has taken almost 4 decades to put a zipper to many feelings which were not good; in fact, for too many of the young people who came back, these memories and feelings overwhelmed their daily lives to the point of actually undoing them emotionally for many years. It is right that every time we get a piece from veteran’s admin, even on the bills for the co-pays, there is always a message that reads: “We give you the service you earned and thank you for your service on behalf of our country”. Perhaps this little gem is the result of some marketing guy’s brainstorm but, it feels good to read this.

If you have a veteran in your family of circle of friends, let him or her know that you appreciate the time and the risks taken… the vet will understand. And appreciate it highly.

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!!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

From Time To Time…


This has been an iffy week in which to write. The time seems to evaporate right before my eyes and then, tiredness sets in…

The days go by and the moments in which the time is available to sit and write, other priorities come up and the computer slips away from my sight, with the promise made, looking over my shoulder as I walk away that… “Tomorrow I’ll get to you… for sure!”

But, tomorrow comes and it becomes another yesterday, full of little holes and little chunks of time which are taken up by the daily chores and problems; then, there are those problems which come from nowhere and go… nowhere!  They just stay and lay siege to the mind and body.  On the other hand, these create time for reflection and for making some internal, visceral decisions as to time, place and space…

Why?  When?  Where?... How? Questions that come and go, filling in the quiet moments with a virtual cacophony which, if allowed, will bury all that surrounds in silence.

An old friend that had not been around for a few years has come by to visit. No, it is not a he or a she… rather, it is an “it”. One of the vestiges of several years of smoke filled air and laboring lungs. It seems that it relishes to take a hold of my breathing system every few years, occupying my lungs for a couple of days, just to remind me of how at one time I ravaged my own body… my breath becomes short and a little labored, not unlike those times when a beautiful sight makes one gasp for air… except there is no beautiful sight… in sight. It is a bout of bronchitis… the added problem is that it usually irritates my throat to the point where my voice goes into a sultry, sexy whisper… but there is no accompanying feeling of sexiness, just a headache.

It is said that there is no worse fanatic than one who has been converted… If my negative feelings towards tobacco smoking are an indication, then this is most certainly true. To me, there is no worse sight than someone who is voluntarily filling his/her chest cavity with smoke from the so called “cancer stick”, or any variant thereof. 

The image which at some time in the past was sold in movies and ads (I am sure with a strong degree of backing from the tobacco companies) in which the hero and the heroine were exchanging smoke filled breaths as their growing romance came to a breathless (pun intended!) kissing climax, is long gone. Today, if someone comes at me with that same smoke filled breath that years ago might have been considered “sexy”, I would most likely turn my head and start coughing.

Well, it seems the thinking process is also somewhat clouded by this growing chest infection, so this will be a short entry today. Take care of yourself and of your body… until cryonic sciences take a giant leap forward, it is the only one you will have!!

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, January 25, 2012

The State of Dis-Union.


Every year we hear how well we are doing as a nation, except none of us day to day  hard working folk (well... those who do have jobs) seem to realize it…

Last night, as we do every year about this time, the President of these United States came on the tube and proceeded to tell us all about the perceived (by him and his supporters) good this administration had been able to achieve in the 3 years of stewardship they have accrued. Of course, the purpose of this is to begin the long trek which awaits all involved in this upcoming election process (voters included).

Whenever my tired ears listen to this type of speech, the brain begins a number of gyrations, trying desperately to make some street, day-to-paying bills day sense out what is being heard and that which is being lived by those whom I know at the trench level. It seems that the different wars are over except for Afghanistan and, who knows, maybe Iran and/or whatever nation needs to survive a shelling in order to have some peer recognition…

The economy is still in shambles but, when the “imagespeak” folk (those who are in charge of creating, nurturing and cleaning the President’s image at all times) get through with their brand of language cleansing and de-bugging, what finally comes out is a mixture of googly gook and double speak… with a few recognizable words put in every so often so as to have us think this is the actual topic of reference… whatever it may be, because I already forgot.

Our actual President, like all others before him, was quick to blame all perceived and/or real ills on the previous administration. And, of course, any and all achievements were due exclusively to his foresight and cunning, as well as to the incredible forte of his supporting cast. Why is it that We, The People, keep on swallowing this junk, when we full well know that words are easy and cheap (talk to me about it!!) and what should be judged are the actual results which can be fully attributable to the mandated POTUS. Fact is that a few of the promises made were maintained while a majority was not.

When this is questioned, then we are told that “The Other Party” folk have held progress in check. My question is simple: “The Other Party” in question has only had control of certain parts of the legislative body since the mid term elections (themselves a good indicator of the people’s not-so-good feelings at the time)… What happened during the first two years when not “The Other”, but The Same Side Party had control? Even these folk perceived that several of the initiatives could easily get out of control. The POTUS own party blocked them, not “The Other Party”…

Then, of course, we had the follow up rebuttal from “The Other Party” and, again, nothing new here. Except the focus was on those issues not attended and on those promises not kept. Otherwise, the same condescending lecture was heard. In the end, it comes down to a “Vote For ME and Not For Him” spiel.

We, The People, have some strong issues to review and, once the primary rubble is cleared and we know who will be contending on behalf of “The Other Party” (since we already know who will do so for the “ruling” party) we have to take a hard look at what is being espoused on both sides and also at the history of how much has been actually accomplished. We have already lived three years under the actual president. The question is then… Do we want four more years of the same? Or, on the other hand… do we want to try a course which has already been tried before and has its own little underwater rocks and shoals which could render the ship inoperable?

Is it a question of philosophy?... Is it a question of leanings?... Is it a question of preferences?... Is it a question of political knowledge?... Do we blindly go full speed ahead and “damn the torpedoes”?... Do we adjust and change course, accepting that these necessary changes may cause some short term hurting, but will help in the long term?

Not easy questions and not easy, off the cuff answers here. We, as a nation, are in a delicate state at this time; more so than we have been in many years. Yet we are, despite all the shortcomings, still one of the world’s primary economies and better risks, but the overall picture of world economies is far from what it may have been in the past. It went from rosy pretty to somewhat patched up gray. We could say that in a world of blindness, we are still one eyed…  

Whoever may be leading this grand ship in the next few years will need to talk less and do more. And whichever “The Other Party” is, needs to antagonize less and cooperate more. The needs and wants of the “cronies” will have to be set aside so that the need and wants of We, The People, take a priority place. And we have to let them know what these are...

These, in effect, are the only issues that must occupy that priority place.


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!!!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Facing Cancer…


This piece was sometime in coming; the sinking feeling that overwhelms a person when confronted with the reality of this unwanted visitor, is really unfathomable.

Why write about this now? Not really sure; perhaps because there are some dear friends who are now battling this illness and, no matter how “minor” (if any cancer could ever be called so) it may be, the potentially lethal attacker must be taken very seriously…

According to the several conversations held with my medical advisors since the fateful discovery, my understanding is that cancer apparently feeds on, amongst other things, the states of the mind and body of the victim. The more pressure and stress the person is under on a regular basis, the more battered the defense mechanism becomes. The more battered this vital function of the body becomes, the easier it is to contract a number of diseases one of which being, apparently, cancer. This is not the only reason; in fact, our science guys still have no real handle on all possible causes.

About two weeks after an insurance exam took place some four years ago, my wife (who also worked out of the same office) asked me to meet with her at the Director’s office. There, I found out that I had been turned down for the increased coverage requested. My PSA values were right at the “possible” prostate cancer level… needless to say, it was a “cold water in the gut” feeling.

A follow up visit to a specialist was scheduled and the diagnosis was confirmed: the cancer had invaded 60% of my prostate and it was at level “3”. After the initial shock had worn off, I actually had a strange, peaceful feeling. It has to be added that at no time during the process did I ever have the thought, even remotely, that this situation would either get worse or end my life. Due to financial and personal issues, actual treatment was not started until 16 months later, after a change of living venue and my acceptance into the Veteran’s Health care system.

By this time, the cancer had become an aggressive “Gleason 9” level invader. But thanks to, I am sure, the guiding hand of The Father it never was able to spread, being totally contained in the prostate gland. I was very lucky; more so than many others. Different treatments were discussed, and surgery was ruled out at that time. Instead, an aggressive radiation treatment was chosen, with 60 sessions in the machine I eventually came to call “The Little Earthbound Enterprise”. All I could hear during the treatments were the zips and zaps of the laser beams going into my body, attacking the “Klingon Cells”. After these treatments the tumor had, literally, disappeared and to insure (as much as this could be "insured") a non-return, a two year testosterone suppressant implant was put into my arm; testosterone is the most accelerating multiplier factor to prostate cancer cells… anywhere in the body these cells may be found. All subsequent tests have given a “0.0” result, telling me that, for the moment, I am free of this immediate threat.

All the above was the technical stuff. Oh, yes… also had three non-related surgeries including a hip replacement in that span of time. Talk about a “makeover”… But, what about the non-technical, non medical stuff?

If you read these posts regularly, you know I am a firm believer in the spiritual aspect of life; religious specifics aside. I had met people before who on finding out they had cancer, allowed their minds to shut down, bringing on a sometimes needless, early death. I had also met, and continue to meet, people whose minds refuse to give up, even in the face of certain death. From the first I learned what not to do; from the second I learned that we, as functioning minds and spirits, have the choice to face adversity and fight for what we believe is our right to life. We either give up and allow this insidious enemy an outright win, or we stand and give our side all we are, giving ourselves the opportunity to win or perhaps even to draw, earning the right to stay on a while longer.

Not even for a moment did I allow myself to feel like the fight might be lost; it just was not in the cards. While waiting for my treatment sessions, I met many who were in much worse shape than I; some were hopeful and positive, others were defeated and angry. Then, there was also the factor “Faith”. Not just on the scientific methods, but on the Spiritual Hands I felt and received every day, at every moment. So much so, that during the treatments I actually had a very restful and peaceful nap… to the surprise of the techs… In living this process, I learned that there is strength in our hearts, just waiting to be found… also found and felt hope in the midst of the darkest moments; moments of near despair when our minds is all we have... we then know, when the mind refuses to give up, that we have a real chance to fight on.

Most important, I also learned that there is indeed a Higher Entity who is willing to listen, to comfort us, to give us His love and to carry us in His arms… if we would only allow Him to. This is my belief; does not have to be yours… but I am fully convinced of this, beyond any reasonable or unreasonable doubt.

Have there been side effects from the different treatments? Of course there have been… Some discomfort remains in the lower abdomen from the Zapping attacks… and testosterone is the so-called “male hormone”; in suppressing it there are unwanted side effects which will last for two or three years… on the other hand, I will be here at the end of those two or three years to fight on; a fact that might not be true otherwise. For us men, it is important not only to be able to hear our hearts and guts, but also to think with the head we carry on our shoulders… if you get my drift.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, get help. It should not necessarily become the end of your world. Believe in your own strength and in the strength of your mind and heart; also believe you are not alone, if you only allow Our Father and His Son Jesus to accompany you and to hold your hands. If you have faith, do not lose it… on the contrary, make it stronger.

On the non-spiritual plane, get yourself the best doctor you can get. This does not mean someone who charges the most for services; it means a doctor who inspires trust and confidence in you. This is an incredibly important aspect of any kind of treatment, cancer included; if you have trust and confidence on the physician who treats you, your mind will be much more at ease and the treatments will have a much higher probability of succeeding. Ask questions of your medical support team and expect an answer, a complete answer.

This entry could go on but I think the message I wanted to get across has been explored: Your positive attitude and your faith, along with the treatments you physician prescribes, will be your strongest allies in a fight and potential win against this malignant, unwanted visitor... 

If you have a friend who is in the midst of this fight, support him or her. You may be the one to give your friend the strength needed to succeed…


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, January 19, 2012

Some Feedback.


Comments about yesterday’s note as well as some questions about what has been written.

Thank you, once again, not only for reading the blog but for also taking the time to react to it. Your comments, especially when you tell me about some similar experiences or when you have a question, are truly well received. This blog as you know by now, I’m sure, started as a way to put some memories together; memories which were a bit of a collective dust room, a sample of what many who were then children, like myself, lived through in leaving behind a lifetime and family, and coming –sometimes albeit reluctantly- to face a new life, a new world and a very uncertain future.

When you ask me whether the people and experiences I write about are real, the answer is a resounding… Yes! From Rosie, my befriended young lady friend from a very different world than the one from which I came, to el Tío Eusebio, my grandparents... friends from the neighborhood, to the ladies from yesterday’s piece… the factory workers who were almost an extended family… They were all real, flesh and blood people. Some were family, some were friends and some have been acquaintances met over roads traveled.

Remember “Pata’e Plancha”, the man who came to the rum factory door to get his daily fix? He was a very real person; a hard working, hard drinking man who came from a very low social strata and a very simple, good man. One factor does not preclude the other, or vice versa; some of the most selfish, unthinking and worst behaving people I have had the displeasure of meeting over the years have come from very rarified and, supposedly, well educated social circles.

A couple of days ago I was on the phone with a friend who lives in Spain. We were talking about the country and its very complex people make up. Although I have had the chance to spend sometime in Spain, it has been mostly in Madrid, the central meseta around this city, and the area around Barcelona. My friend lives in Vigo, on the North West coast of Galicia. He asked me if I knew the area and I answered: I have never personally been around there, but in my mind I know many of the nooks and crannies of Asturias, the principality just east of Galicia.

“How come you think you know these areas?” he asked, knowing I had never been up there. “Because” I answered him, “my grandfather came from Asturias, and he used to tell me many detailed stories of his little piece of Spain”. To the point that, without having physically visited, I could probable describe a good part of this area, including the culture… In a few of the earlier entries, Asturias has indeed been the focus of the notes.

I remember Cuba, as if it was only yesterday that we parted (wasn't it?) not 50 years ago. Of course, the brighter memories relate to Cienfuegos, my hometown, as well as Cruces, the little nearby town where my mother moved after re-marrying; a small country town where I lived for some years and where I left many friends and also where my radio related lifelong love affair began in earnest, when I was about 13 years old. There are many other places vividly remembered as well. My grandfather, who was my rearing father, saw to it that I became acquainted with my country of birth. For this, and many other loving reasons, I am indebted to him.

Those shared memories about séances and spiritual moments which to this day, from a logic perspective remain unexplained, are very real. It was a different world than the one in which we live today; many issues which were accepted as “normal”, are often shunned now. Mostly, I think, because we tend to be afraid of what we do not understand or cannot explain in regular terms; I did go to those séances and I did participate in them. It was part of our society and of our culture, and it wasn’t dangerous to me at any time.

Yet, those memories and the very personal moments and happenings I have experienced in this very esoteric area, in the intervening years , have helped me accept that we do not know everything that coexists with us on this, or one of several possible planes; and also, the fact that if we cannot explain something away in our human terms, does not make it any less possible. Or real.

Over the years I have been blessed in many ways. Traveling around the world due to my work, took me to many places that had been a dream of mine to visit. Many people whom I met, coming from myriads of walks of life, cultures and nations, strengthened my faith in the fact that man (and, yes, woman) is, in general terms, a good being. Also, in the fact (to me, anyway) that there is a guiding hand belonging to a higher entity; a hand attached (spiritually speaking) to a sentient being who guides us, nurtures us and helps us through those very difficult moments. If we, that is, allow Him to do so in faith.

So, to answer your notes and questions… yes, what you see in these entries is really a part of myself and my life, which I share with you willingly for maybe, my experience may help you in a difficult moment, or make your day a little better in some way. I hope you enjoy it in the same vein and also I hope that when you read something which may sound a little “strange” to you, you may be willing to accept it at face value and in the same good faith it was offered.  

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, January 18, 2012

Unforgettable Characters Gallery…

Irma and Maria… The Booby Twins…

No, it wasn’t a “typo”… these were their call to fame. As mentioned elsewhere, and more than once, my grandfather’s home –where I was raised- was in the older part of town; it was close to Parque Martí which was, in our town, the equivalent of Central Park. A bit smaller than the one in New York… by about 75%.  Well, this was a non-capital city in the Third World, right?... OK, OK… a two square block space, nicely built up with trees, benches, walks, statues and all that stuff… But definitely older than the other one.

A partial view of the Park
Our home, a byproduct of the early 1920’s, maybe even from earlier times, was one of those older, long homes; the kind that filled block after block of the older section of the inner cities of the then time and place. If you can visualize it, there is (yes, it is still there; a little down on its luck, but still useful as a home to, I think, two other families) a short entry way, about 18 feet long. To the right of this, sits what would be known as the “sala”, the formal receiving/living room where the “better” folk who came a’calling were received.

Then, the entryway opened into a big, square room. On the left, a library (we were introduced to books and reading at a very early age!!) covering the complete wall and to center and right, the open area of the “saleta” (a colloquial diminutive for “sala”, the more formal term) where everyone else would be received and where we, the children of the manse were allowed to play. These two receiving areas were divided by a center wall, which covered about 55% of the space between the two; the remaining open space was covered by one of those things which opens up as a divider, creating the illusion of a more solid wall and thus, in a manner of speaking, keeping that illusion of a well measured distance between any formal visitor and the riff-raff (that was me).

Beyond, it was our world, where we played during the time we were at the house. Picture a long rectangle and draw a dividing line down the centre of said rectangle; on the right side, the space would be split into squares, representing bedrooms, dining area, bathroom, junk room and kitchen at the end. On the left side, a long open space broken by trees, small canteros (planting areas) and not much else. That was the inner courtyard… well, OK, patio. Great for skating, make believe races, superheroes hanging from the mango trees and whatever else the imagination could muster. Overlooking this world of mine, and perching atop the living room of the neighboring house like a lookout tower, was a small square which contained a two bedroom apartment.

Therein rested the object(s) of this entrée: two sisters, Irma and María. They were in their mid twenties, but older looking due to the relatively harsh life path they had chosen. María had come back from “El Norte” or, The North, which is the name we gave to the US (It is north of Cuba, right?). She had lived in New York for some time and through her I learned about Spanish Harlem long, long before it became a pass through on my daily route to Mid Manhattan from Connecticut.

She had been a prostitute in the city (not yet “The Big Apple” then) for a few years, using her body to subsidize living the American Dream, whatever it may have been in those days. She was dark haired and actually not bad looking. Her younger (by a couple of years) sister Irma had stayed behind, dying slowly in the Cuban Dream, whatever that may have been in those days. The one thing in common with her older sister was that she also used her body to pursue her own goals. And in the venues she did, the wear and tear was much more apparent.

In the summertime, during the early afternoon hours, the windows overlooking our little inner world opened up and they would each be filled with one of the ladies in question. Being sunny and warm, they would be sporting what just might be considered the absolute minimum necessary to cover their upper body, their breasts cascading over the lower window sill like four (yes, two each) flowing rivers of flesh… In retrospect I could even understand the price they supposedly fetched… As they would see me down below, their arms would wave… and so would the barely covered breasts hanging over their corresponding sills… Waving banners worth following into battle.

Both sisters were actually funny/sad ladies, their daily trade notwithstanding… We  did strike a neighborly friendship (yes… just that... wipe that smirk off your face!!) and would often sit by their door stoop and talk about life in the US (most definitely a very different life than the one I have found here) and also about some of their encounters with some of their more unusual clients. They way in which they would tell the stories made them funny and also made me forget their origin and harshness, and we would laugh about these happenings…

My grandmother, poor soul… she wasn’t very happy about this door to door acquaintance but curiosity won over rules and I think that in getting to know these two sisters, the way was opened to a bittersweet friendship that has already been explored in these entries, and which came to pass later on, when I went to work at the family factory.

Time went on and, eventually, my moment to leave all these incredible, credible people came to pass. They were all left behind... Irma, Maria, Rosie (the young friend from the latter days) and a bevy of others who, in one way or another populated my life during these rather scrambled times. Each one has a story to tell and was a story lived, some a bit closer to my heart than others but all real, flesh and blood people.

There are many occupants of this character gallery… most gave me something along the way which contributed, in one way or another, to the make up of who I am today.

So, to the Booby Twins, wherever you are… keep those things covered and in check!!!

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, January 17, 2012

Time Flies When You are Having Fun… …and even when you are not!!!

How often do we hear this little gem!!! How indicative of a total lack of subject(s) about which to talk when this (and others like this little accepted “truism”) is put on the table as the topic of continued conversation… as it were.

This morning my mind was wandering –nothing new there- about all the years that have come and gone since the time my sister and I left our little (well, not so little…) island country. The reason for the creeping thought? As my Facebook opened up, the first notation in it was the pre-advise, I guess this is what it was, about the fact that the 50th High School class reunion is coming up in two short years. OMG!!! I can’t believe it is almost 50 years since that day, back in the mists of time, when the green bound diploma found its way into my hands…

To grumble and complain are very common and easy things to do. To realize that in living 50 years plus those it took to get to the point of receiving the diploma, we have indeed achieved something remarkable. In a world where most of us boys who graduated at that time were conscripted into the armed forces due to being in the middle of a fast burgeoning war, just getting here is an achievement. Yes, several gave their lives up in that part of the world or during another war like it, of those that followed... Some have succumbed to illness, or accidents along the way.

All in all, yours truly will not complain… too much, anyway. After all, complaining never fixed anything that I know of and, in the end, the choices made have been for the most part taken with pretty much full knowledge of the options available (although not always, mind you!). Some have turned out well, other have turned out… well… not so well. In this, we are par for the course with most fellow humans.

Over the last few years, paths which once were companions have come to cross each other again. Some I have found, others have found me. It is almost like a homing pigeon that knows where the roost is and, in the face of all that may surround it, the return path will be found. I have to be honest, not one single one of the past reunions has been in my agenda. Yes, there were photos downloaded and perused; there was conversation with some of those who went to one or two reunions, and the desire to go and participate was ignited. This ignited, but somewhat dormant fire has now been kindled by reading about some friends who will be there. Actually, going back to the PAC-NW is attractive to me; it is a beautiful part of the country and worth revisiting. Those two short, but incredibly important years of my life spent there bring me nothing but good memories and they want to be re-lived while the re-living is good!!

I accept that a constant barrage of complains about the social networks and their creepy, creeping way of getting into our daily lives already has begun to affect how we live. On the other hand, it is also true that this very same networking has brought many folk together in time defying reunions, including wayward family members.

There!!!  I’ve said it!!! These networks do have a use, besides letting us know about Aunt Mathilda’s  rheumy back and droopy appendages.

I don’t know… today is a long work day; this means there is little time in which to get this unto the blog… sort of a cybernetic deadline, quickly approaching.

Actually, if the good Lord allows me to still be around in two years, I will do my utmost to be present at this 50th reunion. But only if I drop those extra 10 pounds I’m carrying around… and my hair stops falling… and my knees creaking… and… oh hell!! We won’t probably be able to hear each other with all the creaking going on, anyway.  I guess the only teens present will be the ones we will each carry inside our hearts and minds, alive and well.

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, January 16, 2012

A Dream That Still Wants to be a Reality..


Today the memory of a man who gave up his life for his ideals is commemorated.
  All of us who were alive at the time of the “Freedom Marches” remember this man… Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was bigger than his time and bigger than the life which held him to an earthly role. Following the lead of M. Gandhi, a man Dr. King often cited; he chose the path of reconciliation and peaceful confrontation, in times when campus uprisings and take overs were becoming common, and terms like “Black Panthers” and “Burn Baby, Burn” were part of daily life.

We, as a nation, were slowly beginning what would be a long road to emotional recovery (some folk say that perhaps it has not been fully attained yet), trying to understand the wounds self inflicted during the Viet Nam “incident”; a non-declared war which a congress that was too afraid to act, allowed to go on under very restrictive conditions for our guys. These conditions, like fighting with one arm tied behind your back, I am sure cost many additional lives for our side. The relatively new magic picture box brought this war and all its attending horror right into our living rooms; it was the first televised war. Dinner theater for the hardy of heart and stomach.

In the middle of these rumblings, where going to study at most any university meant undergoing a course in civil disobedience, a voice trying to preach reason was being heard. It was a voice that called for unity, for loving one another, for forgiveness, for working together to forge a new and better nation; a voice that called for the equality of man, regardless of race or creed. It was a voice that talked about a dream, a dream of equality in truth, not words. When all is said and done, it was a voice that actually took the heart and soul of the written constitution of this country and brought it back looking to make it a living reality, not just a living document.

It was a time of fear for many; the world was not turning as it normally did. Society itself was upside down, there was the fear of civil unrest in our country... something which had not been lived in several generations.

I, along with many others, heard his call. We believed that the social experiment that started this great nation would not be complete until all within had the same rights. Conversely, those rights carried responsibilities and all who wanted to enjoy the good side had to understand that these last had to be respected as well.

Dr. King Jr., as we know, was a preacher by training, calling and lifestyle. He was good, very good at communicating and at presenting a message with fire and joy. His call was convincing; even today, when I hear one of his speeches, it turns my heart. He believed in his message and so preached it with that inner conviction that only comes from absolute trust and confidence in what you are bringing forward for others to hear. 

As many other who have gone against the grain of society in difficult times, Dr. King eventually paid the ultimate price: his life.  As with the Kennedy assassination, many theories were brought forward and none were proven beyond doubt. The end result was that a martyr was born but, as with most martyrs, the cause for which he died lost steam. Until several years passed, additional riots took place, and more general unrest was lived.

Eventually, his message began to be heard again and inroads were made in what was then a different environment; one more willing to listen and to change. Those who, in the intervening years took up his cry and tried to run with it, fell short. The shoes to be filled were just much too big. Some came from the cloth, as was Dr. King and some came from the streets. For the most part, they had too much baggage to be credible preaching a message of peace and unity and failed miserably. For a while, not much was heard until his widow took the standard, albeit reluctantly at first. She did hang on to the remnants of a dream that was drifting in the winds of societal woes but which, at the same time, had somehow managed to hold together its core message.

A voice crying in the wilderness; a voice which forced a nation to stop and take notice. Today this bit of American history is remembered in a holiday that, in its own approval process, created somewhat of a stir. Nothing, even in death, was easy for the message or the messenger.

Remember him, for he was (and still is…) a social messenger. We may or not agree with someone’s call, but when a dedicated life is lead in honest accord with the message being preached, even in the face of extreme hardship, the messenger has to be respected and yes, admired.

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!!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Way the Cookie Rumbles…


Usually the saying goes “crumbles” but, sometimes…

I am not really sure where this old saying began, or to whom we owe the everlasting comment but, in the time it has come to be with us, we have taken it to refer to that moment in life when something negative happens that is not in our control or in our plans… as if to say...that’s the way it goes… Or so it has come to be accepted in the general and constant mentions this old standard gets.

For most people, daily living is a continuum of repeated events: sleep, awake, wash, dress, work, go home, eat, watch TV or read or, if lucky, converse and then sleep again… to be repeated tomorrow, in case you missed something important today. Of course, we have the weekends along the way, during which the most likely alteration to the routine is not to work and perhaps add an outside dinner or a couple of drinks and, if a practitioner of any given faith, a Sunday (or Saturday afternoon) get together with the other members of a congregation.

For some reason, there are some of us for whom this accepted general routine becomes an aberration to be shunned. I do not say this is right or wrong, just unacceptable for those who make up this group. When a person rebels, there is always a number of others who immediately add up their efforts and, in an aggregate manner, do their utmost to convince the rogue to come “back to his/her senses”.

Push, but don’t break the envelope” is a saying often used by many who can’t even describe that somewhat mythical “envelope” to which it refers. But, since many do say it, it must be profound, right?  In my sales and management career, over the course of a seeming lifetime, this little phrase has been thrown in my general direction more times than I can remember. Yet, if rules or parameters are the stuff of which the envelope of reference is made, then I say that it must be broken once in a while.

And I do not mean this in a “civil disobedience/revolution” way but even a gently or, at times not so gently made rupture is needed. Why? Because this is the only possible way in which those rules and parameters will accept and include new ideas and advance or evolve, in order to remain a viable controlling set of applicable rules. Those adapted rules that will be able to deal with the changes being experienced at the core of that very society the “envelope” of reference is supposed to contain within.

Society itself, at large, is a funny and at times funky animal. Yes, a living, breathing animal. Maybe not in the way you and I live and breathe, but it does live and breathe a life of its own and will, through that group of fanatically avowed members who make up its internal defense system, wreck havoc amongst those “insider-outsiders” who disagree with the status quo and would like to see it change.

Like the non-swimmer who has fallen into the water and doesn’t quite know what to do, these defenders will do what they think necessary to frantically wave their arms and hands in order to quell any disagreements with what is. Yet, those very  folk who may at one time act like an internal menace, are the ones who will bring on the changes needed so that the very society that openly shuns them, can morph and go on living. Often, they are called Non-Conformists… and other names and epithets not worth repeating. And it is indeed a good thing there is a group that does not, unquestioningly,  conform to the existing norms…

Imagine: A society in which groups of different people are put into a ghetto like place or space and subjected to unimaginable harassment, with little hope of improvement; a society in which women do not vote or are not allowed equal pay for equal work; a society where religious freedom does not exist… A society where racial make up is an open mark for shunning someone. A society where civil laws do not exist or will not help the individual; a society where all that is intellectually consumed by the average individual is censored so as not to allow or foment a thinking process… a society where no one is allowed to express their thoughts openly, especially if in disagreement with the powers that be… A society where there are no internal “checks and balances” that will allow member or group of members to, from within, disagree and use the established structure and system to improve it.

Believe it or not, the above described societal “envelope” was very real and very much the ruling thought pattern in many countries; including this one we live in… and not so long ago, as history goes. In fact, it could be argued successfully that there are societies where it still is the ruling pattern.

Think about it, next time you see or hear someone disagreeing with the status quo and your immediate reaction is to shun the voice that asks you to take a second look. The overall good is not always what we, as individuals, would consider our own very best option. But society, that funny animal, sometimes wants each one of us to sacrifice a little so that others will have a chance to get ahead. That is a voice that cannot be ignored.

So… Sometimes… The Cookie will not Crumble, but will loudly Rumble!!

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, January 12, 2012

Let’s Have a Meeting, Face to… Facebook?


Used to be that when two people met, it was a personal thing…
 Now, with all the social networks around and a “data base” growing soon into the billions, the concept of the personal contact is going the same route as that of being able to buy milk in a bottle. Some people gloat about the amount of “friends” they have on Facebook. Often, they number into the hundreds, or even thousands. But, if they were to really let you know how many of these are physically known, the list would most likely shrink by a resounding 90-98%.

Some years ago, in order to call someone a “friend” there was supposed to be actual contact and some sort of mutual consent and knowledge about the other person and a direct exchange once in a while. Today… well, I guess this is why we call them “virtual” friends.

[Hi… lol… ++lmao…cn u cm hr 2 mt me?] No, this is not some sort of codex encoding wrung out of a spy by way of unimaginable torture; this is actually what a text (txt) message from a regular living, breathing person may look like. What does it say? After consulting several experts, mostly in the age range of 10-15 years and being looked at like some sort of ancient dinosaur, the following emerges: [Hi, “lots of laughs” … more yet, “laughing my ass off”… Can you come here to meet me?] Experts tell us that the ability of the coming generations to actually write complete sentences, let alone some sort of coherent paragraph, is in danger of being seriously impaired. 

Then again, language does evolve with new uses and applications. Terms like the above mentioned “texting” have a different meaning than it might have had just 15 years ago… Social networking has nothing to do with social places or even social graces, for that matter; and what about “vidcasting” or “netcasting”? This last one used to be a fishing term and, not to be outdone, we now have to contend with a different kind of “phishing” altogether… this one will not put food on your table, but  may actually take it away…  

OMG!!! … Shakespeare must be twisting in his grave…

FB ( that’s Facebook, for you uninitiated folk) has become the window of the soul(less)… There really is a lowering of general standards when someone feels that he/she must let the world know at what time they go to the bathroom, or get dressed, or get drunk and spew out whatever the content of their guts were at the moment… The pictures and the “Fwd…Fwd…Fwd…” that plaster the screen every time I open my FB (Yes, I do have one) force me to erase half or more of the content… Not really worth it or the time spent going through it.

Looks like most everyone who has retired from a productive working life, has found a secondary life and a way to occupy free time by writing all kinds of nonsense every time they open the computer… Little gems of household wisdom that, neither does it come from their household nor can it be considered to have much wisdom… just repetitious nonsense. This is now fast replacing the email chain letters. Seems like less and less people are actually forwarding these foolish emails, usually coming through with a trail of no less than 100+ names and addresses. So, in its stead, now we are getting the FB chain of “re-postings”, and they are just as obnoxious.

And then… we have the “Tweet” syndrome. Public figures use this as a way to stay in front of their “followers”; some of these people have well over one half million followers… This following (along with You-Tube viewings) has become a measuring stick for the level of popularity of the individual. The only thing is that, when you get to these figures, then you are forced to write something every few minutes, or the fear of being “untweeted” borders on the paranoiac. So what we then have is, again, something that is done, not to inform, educate or even entertain, but only to occupy space and time, keeping a name in front of my face… well, my phone. I have taken the time to actually “follow” a few of these folk and a lot of what comes through is really incredibly dumb. Sample posting from a TV personality… “My new poster just arrived”… Huh??

Actually, what I do get from this, is that these people have learned to gainfully manipulate the “social networks”, while I just sit here and complaint about it… well, free speech and all that… Just jealous really…

Anyway… the new social order, along with the new communication skills to go along with it, will most likely change the content and context of what future generations will read… and how this will be done.

They will read “Gn wth th Wnd” and “Wr ‘n Ps”… or perhaps “Th Lrd f th Fls” and this will not be done by pushing paper pages, but by passing the electronic pages on the “E-reader” (or, should it be “E-rdr”?)… I wonder if the electronic index finger has to be “wetted” to pass these pages… Hmm…

Change is beautiful when done to improve our present status… although sometimes change, for the sake of changing, is less meaningful. I guess this is what our parents said at some point , right? About whom was it that was said: “he is a bad influence… the way he moves his body and what he says in the songs… It’s INDECENT!!!” Choose: Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Rolling Stones, Run-D… or, all of the above?” If you chose the last, “all of the above”, you win the prize. Goes to show, the more we change, the more we remain the same. Every generation made the one before suffer with their changes…

Now it’s our turn…

“B  Wll … B Bk!!!”     ;-)

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!!!

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 firs...