Monday, December 30, 2013

The Year is dead… Long Live The New Year…

Every year, when we come to its end, the review is almost a requirement.

So this year is no different. What happened in 2013; what should’ve perhaps happened… what shouldn't have… Sort of ... “what happens in 2013… stays in 2013…” Not.

Let’s start by saying that all that did or did not happen… wasn’t by “happenstance”… It was caused by each and every one of us, by our action or inaction at a specific point in time. Whether individually or collectively.

In this, our country, it is the general buzz that there are 3 primary topics of discussion/division:
  • The Great Political Divide… Those who support the current President and his policies and those who do not. This particular issue is an ever growing battleground; some trying to expand what is a political efficiency discussion into a race based argument; not justified under any circumstance.
  •  Health and economics… Perhaps good bedfellows, perhaps not. Yet, these two seem to go together. The economy is suffering from a cosmetic revival while the national debt keeps growing by leaps and bounds… The health issues and the attending Obamacare program have made promises that yours truly, after 37 years in the insurance industry, finds very difficult to bring to reality without a major overhaul of the insurance platforms in this country. This does not happen by mandate or overnight. It will take tons of money, time and political determination, not to mention balls. Do we need this overhaul? perhaps we do, but I don’t think this is the manner in which it will be brought about satisfactorily.
  • A widening rift between some of the religious beliefs which are more commonly practiced in our society. In a country where religious freedom, acceptance and tolerance was (yes, was…) the byword, we now find that there is an almost deliberate attempt to undermine this concept. Judeo Christian beliefs are under attack when professed openly, while practicing folks and leaders of other religious beliefs feel free and empowered to openly attack anyone who does not agree with them. Without anyone having the courage to denounce these uncalled for behaviors. This is not heading in a good direction.
Closer to home, the usual ailments which come along when the minutes, days and years and with them life, insist in continuing their ever onward march without stopping for a spell, a moment of rest or even contemplation. Most folks continue to fight on but some have left us along the way, perhaps going to a well deserved rest… In the end, nothing to complaint about and nothing that cannot be remedied… except, of course, for those who moved on…

Elsewhere in the world, there are the usual fledgling countries, the countries where there is a perennial internal war, the countries that try to fix the world around them but can’t fix their own issues and those countries which, try as they may to change the course of life-as-usual, continue to take stabs at each other, either openly or surreptitiously… or both.

In other words… life goes on as usual…

Happy New Year!! Happy 2014 and many more after this one!!!

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Instructions For Life

A couple of days ago, there was an entry that was titled.. “Life isn’t Fair” and a dear old friend who actually takes the time to read and comment, sent me these… Thanks Doug...

1.Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three R’s:
          - Respect for self,
          - Respect for others and
          - Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

After reading them there is little I can do except pass it on to you, except that with the best of intentions and the best of trying, there is always that bit of happenstance, that bit of not looked for luck or encounter. As another dearest friend also reminded me after reading the entry… there are unexpected encounters at the flower shop in the springtime…

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 

Holiday Shopping

We are a buyer’s nation. Probably invented the concept of marketing but, like an unruly child, this gets out of hand every so often...

... and the holidays are just the perfect season for this to happen, since it is the time when most people will, greatly aided by sales and marketing folk, let go of any amount of money (whether needed for something else or not…) in order to “give great presents” which, for the most part, will probably be forgotten after a while.

I spent some “quality” time at a major mall a couple of days ago. My wife had a hair/nail/etc. appointment and after dropping her off, my car (yes, by itself!!) took me over to the nearby mall, a fairly good size and well established buying center. There being not much money in my cards or, for that matter in my wallet, my time was spent looking around at all the goodies which were being offered (especially in the electronics world, today’s starchild of the gifting universe)… fascinating stuff; even when you know the item(s) will become practically obsolete within 6 months of purchase time… a self perpetuating line of products, if there is any.

After a while, I became pretty bored with the whole thing and went for a double tall latte… otherwise known as coffee and cream with a bit of foam on top… but if the plebeian name were to be used, it would only fetch half the money being charged… Since there were no seats available at the shop (it was Saturday afternoon and you could barely walk in the mall) I went out to the main hall and looked for an available seat, where I could relax and enjoy my barista’s creation…

Once seated, the main attraction of the afternoon actually started… people walking by… there were all sorts, sizes, shapes and colors… younger ones, middle aged ones and older ones, who probably came along for the ride... and most likely were regretting this decision by now. The dress code was universal funky; from well dressed to eclectically attired, to barely dressed. Being already past 3 in the afternoon, most of these folk had already spent a good part of the day at the mall and their faces showed it…

Many of them were from overseas (dress and language giving many hints to that effect) and they were loaded with packages… the husband looking bedraggled, questioning his own sanity and wishing he were anywhere but in this jungle, while the wife and children were looking for the next store to attack.

At one point, one of these soon to be extinguished species plopped (literally) down on the seat next to mine with his 5 (approx) year old boy hanging on to him, like little monkeys hang from their mothers in the jungle. The boy’s carriage was being occupied by a load of packages from different stores and, as it sat parked in front of them, with a leg over the wheels for protection, they both promptly fell into a slumber… either one as tired and fed up as the other with this whole thing…

And where were the ladies of this group? Going through the offerings of yet one more store… After a good while, his reverie was interrupted by his young daughter who came running out of the store to get him…

-“DAD!!! .. HOW COULD YOU???? ... WAKE UP!!! ... come inside… mom is ready to pay” … With an audible sigh he woke up his son, slowly got up and carted the carriage into the new store and, as he shuffled in, he was  looking for his wallet and the –by now- equally worn out cards, while making room for the new packages to be added.

As each person walked by pushing, pulling or carrying their packages, whether with a smile, a frown or just that bored-to-death look in their faces, there was a story to tell and I, dutifully, continued to make up these stories for my own entertainment…

And, of course, in the midst of what was becoming a very juicy tidbit of a tale, my phone rang and I was summoned to pick up my wife at the hair and nail shop…

Holiday shopping… definitely not a bargain!!

Be Well … Be Back!!!

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Life Isn’t Fair...

This is the most common excuse we hear (and utter) every day, whenever something happens not according to our wishes

Actually, when all is said and done, life is much fairer than most of us would be, were we in a position to wield that unforgiving power of fate. Of this I am sure…

A virtual reality check comes in to play whenever I feel inclined to use the above mentioned excuse for self pity… Invariably, it tells me that whatever it is that is happening, it is happening because I –yes, I (or you, if you prefer) and none other- brought it about. A decision made or one not made along the way, conveniently ignoring warnings which are sent on a regular basis into all our seemingly dulled receptors during our happy way to the mishap.

If you, who are now reading (I hope) this, have also read a number of entries along the way, you do understand that often my rambles take on a life of their own and go into different directions… and I do not try to say or even imply they are all truly coherent… but… they become a part of the writings. They reflect my mind (what’s left of it, as my son used to say –jokingly, I prefer to think) and how it tends to work…

We all make many mistakes along the way (Ohh so you also forgot to read the "Instructions For This Life" manual?) and we all, at one point or another will try and pass some –or all- of what we call “fault” to another person, often an innocent recipient of our own inadequacies. Seems this has become a universal game at which most of us have become very proficient. Think about this…the last time you made a decision which turned out to be drastically wrong… when called to your attention, did you immediately say “YES, it was MY fault” or… did you spend the next few minutes desperately trying to find an alternate recipient for the responsibility of it all… Be honest now….

Learning to say “yes” and “no” at the appropriate times will take away many opportunities to get involved in issues which will, for sure, take a wrong turn along the way. Actually, it is easy to say “yes”… we tend to want to pleaser for in doing so, we are more liked… Saying “no” firmly when needed to is an art which takes a lot of learning and soul searching. Most of us never learn to say “no”… it is not easy. At best, over along span of years, life will teach us over and again that this is a trait we must acquire… yet we keep on ignoring these lessons.

“Life” is not unfair… it is actually the fairest of all judges; it will hand down decisions based on what we have done or what we have failed to do… we cannot really hide anything from this very stern judge, try as we may.

My comments are only based on my experiences and looking back to those moments when I have also said … “life is unfair”… on trying to be honest and fair myself, I have to –often grudgingly- accept that whatever happened was the direct result and reaction to something I had done, or failed to do.

Today, I can actually say “no” when I think this is the right answer. It has not been easy to get here; the road is littered with far too many mistakes… On the other hand… the mistakes we have made (and will make) along the way create the experiences that tell us who we are and where we may be going… of course, making new and delightfully different mistakes on those new roads... hmmm!!!  

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

Doña América and other memories.

I know she has already been mentioned somewhen along this line of sometimes unhinged memories as they relate to moments of my life , but y...