Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I Came Here to Work… Part II

I thought it would be better to try and finish off this entry today. There is no way to have a final answer nor a solution in 10 parragraphs. Yet, these are issues which affect us in our every day lives.

There is no easy answer to this issue. We need to respect, and stay within, the boundaries the existing laws allow. If these need change, this has to be done through due process, not executive order. This last is nothing but a devise used by a president incapable of negotiating an agreement on a given topic, and wanting to press his own agenda forward.

Borders have to be closely guarded while the system is revamped. Immigration is a privilege, not a right. Every country in the world chooses whom to allow into their borders and based on a quota basis. Why should this country be different? Yes, we offer hope as a society, but this hope has to be founded on a real possibility; when the system is broken down, that possibility begins to disappear. For those who come in as well as those who already live here. If you come into this country, you will be expected to assimilate into its system, not try to create your own. That, over the last two centuries, is what has allowed the dream to become a reality and to offer that hope of a better life.

And let’s be clear. When immigration is mentioned, I refer to all migrants, not just from Latin America. All have to be measured by the same stick. But, what about those who already live here, in the shadows of “illegality” as it were? They also should go through an internal vetting process. A real one, not a lip service one. Prior legal issues (not a minor driving issue or similar) should preclude their ability to stay. However, in many cases, there are families who have lived here for 6 – 10 – 20 years, raised families, often with children who have served in the US Armed Forces,  earned a living, paid taxes, and contributed to society.

These are not people who have come to try and change this country into something it isn’t. These are people who have come to work, relate to the US, and integrate into the system. Should they have an opportunity to reach their hoped for dream? I think they should. This would be a process which would take them through mandatory citizenship classes, language proficiency classes, etc.

In the end, they would continue to do what they have been doing and which would qualify them for this process: work, contribute, and help our country and society to continue to grow in diversity and flourish.

There is one final issue which we all have to be aware of. Those who already have the legal status and those who would be willing to sacrifice and work in order to get it: Immigration, residency and eventual citizenship in this USA is an earned privilege, not a right.


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 rjalcazar@gmail.com

I Came Here to Work.

This entry has been a while in the making. Perhaps not consciously, but definitely subconsciously. Yet, it has grown in content so this is the first part, of two parts... will try to finish it soon...

We live in a society which demands that thoughts and ideas be brought out, be heard. Especially when we witness issues and trends that can be considered harmful to that society or this, the country where it is harbored. My allegiance is to this wonderful country where we have all received not just a second chance to make a life, but a third, fourth and oftentimes many more chances. There is no other country in the world, I believe, where this could have come to pass. And I have worked and/or lived in some 50 of these countries. In that allegiance, however, one cannot be totally blind or deaf to the fact that there are areas where improvements can, and should be made.

I come to the core of this posting. A heartfelt core which brings out a duality of feelings that are not easily managed. Our country has become what it is largely due to a willingness to receive immigrants from almost every corner of the world and allow each one to rise or fall according to his/her efforts. It has been that fruitful and generous. We grow and push forward because of the energy and ideas that everyone brings to the table and the equation.  

On the one hand, there is my Hispanic background and my daily contact with folks who sacrificed everything to come to this country hoping for a better life for themselves and their children, working their days away in the pursuit of that hope.

On the other hand, is the knowledge this country and society are based on a set of general rules and parameters which have served it well for over 200 years. We can’t throw those laws away for the benefit of the few and the detriment of the nation. Much less for the political convenience of some who see this exchange as a way to reach power positions in this country, to then systematically destroy that structure that allowed them to be in the first place. When we come to this country as migrants, whether for political, social or reasons of economics, we come because it is different and better; because here we have opportunities that in our own countries we don’t have.

Yet, many who now come do so not in the spirit of working hard in order to improve but to try and find an easy way to make money, to live well without any kind of sacrifice. This means that those of us who live her, work here and pay taxes here, bankroll their attitude. In other words, we come here to improve our lot and then try to convert this country into an extension of our old country. Guess what… it will not work. And in the process, we will manage to destroy most of, if not all, the qualities that made this country an attractive destiny. And this attitude, unfortunately, extends to a whole generation of people born and bred right here.

The worst problem? This attitude is being promulgated by a government which sees it as a means to extend its political hold over the country through a short and long term change in the basic makeup of the system. Not necessarily for its betterment, but for the outright opportunities and artificial staying power which this control and political dominion will bring to their party. They forget or -worse yet- choose to ignore the catastrophic consequences this selfish thinking will bring for our children and grandchildren.


So, what about the migration issue we have to contend with? Can, or should, we send everyone who is outside the law back? Should we close the borders to further migration? Should we become an isolationist country and destroy the very essence of what has made us a great country? What about the terrorist issue? This is a very real problem in today’s world and, especially, for our country.

Part I.... Part II to follow

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Ray of Hope

For a list of reasons, Latin America’s political climate has long favored populist governments. Now this tide may be finally turning.
I went to bed last night, but was unable to fall asleep. Yes, I watched some TV, and read some. But, what was keeping me awake were the constant “beeps” coming from the telephone, letting me know that a new tweet had come through. And being the late hour it was on a Sunday night –when these beeps usually quiet down to silence- this meant an update from the twitting community in Venezuela, regarding elections.

I am not Venezuelan. But I had the opportunity to visit –repeatedly- this beautiful country and came to care for it and for a people who openly received me as one of their own. Later, when Chavez won, I knew they were in for a rude awakening. With the help from the Castro govt., a new tyranny was born. And worse yet, a tyranny that had tons of petro-funds available for propagating and controlling. Thus, the systematic destruction of a country began.

Yesterday, in a massive turnout of voters (estimated at 76%, highest in history) the people raised a cry that said ENOUGH!! Social media was present and, perhaps, a main reason as to why electoral fraud was not completed, as had been done before. The Assembly is now in the hands of the opposition and it is in these hands that rest the responsibility for peacefully rebuilding a country that is naturally rich in people and assets.

This reversal is important. More than meets the eye. A few weeks ago, Argentina started this trend with a solid NO to the reelection of a Populist government that had ruled the country with an iron hand  for many years. Yesterday, Venezuela did what was thought impossible through, again, a massive turnout of voters. In Ecuador, over 400,000 people went to an anti-Correa rally in Quito, the capital city. And in Brasil, the socialist government has its days counted. These are all governments that have supported inimically and –more importantly- economically, the government of Cuba.

The so-called Cuban government, after sinking the country’s economy and infrastructure into an utter disaster and after milking these countries for all they can give, is now running out of economic options. Ironically, its best possibility now seems to be the “hated” enemy…  they are obliged to fully open the doors to American tourism for quick dollars. What sociopolitical changes this may bring, remain to be seen.

Now that all the so called people friendly “isms” have been tried and found to be sorely wanting, maybe the other “ism”, Capitalism, may be able to come to the rescue of these economies and countries. Most importantly, Latin America seems to be leading the way to a democratic reality, where people have learned they can –and do- have a say in what happens in their country and society.

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 rjalcazar@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Today I Felt a Bit Older Than Usual.

There are moments in life when a certain –sometimes direct, other times subtle- realization comes to your mind
The understanding that a good deal of your allotted time on this Earth has already been utilized, is present in everyday activities. In fact, it is fully accepted. This is ever present in many ways, in many expressions. There is no question that father (mother?) time does pass on and takes no prisoners…

But, despite this last factoid, the truth is that today’s medicine, care, diet knowledge and general exercise activities do have a great deal to do in extending one’s enjoyable time on this planet. So, I have lost weight this year, done some exercise, limited severely the intake of red meat (Oh Lord… my Argentinian friends would expel me from their ranks for that one!!) have NOT eliminated my intake of red wine (well… I follow those researchers who tell me that red wine is good for whatever ails me… and it is!!), increased my dancing time (great cardio exercise, you know…) and the end result of all this somewhat boring daily routine is a BP of 120/74 and a heart rate of right around 68.

According to my MD (Bless her!!) I should be around (barring an unforeseen event… Hmmmph!) for a while, much to the chagrin of certain people.

Yet, there are other areas where we not-yet-extinct dinosaurs definitely can be picked out (other than the thinning hair). Well, yes there is that rap thing, the pants below the knees, modern math (Lord… whoever invented that should be shot and then hung next to Baldor’s tomb –those who studied algebra in Latin American schools will know the reference…), the constant Tetra-Bite increases (well, Mega and Giga are no longer enough… after all there is Instagram, twitter, snapshot and snapshat, what'sup, who'sup, when'sup and all those forever changing new apps) in all the little machines we carry around and without which we couldn’t live 24 hours…

I have told anyone who may want to listen (and some who didn't) that, no matter how long one stays in and becomes one with a new country, there are some topics which are always best expressed in one’s original language: Prayers, math and cussing. To this, I have to add –in my case, anyway- reading.

You see, I started reading when I was 5 years old or thereabouts and have never stopped. Hope never to. Yes, we now have the walking, talking bookshelves we can carry anywhere we go. You now, the Amazon, Kindles, I-Books and all the tablets and Phablets of the world. Each one holding up to 1000 books. Fine and well. If this is the way to get the younger generation to read, I’m all for it. Yet, in my personal case, there is something special about carrying a book, passing the pages with a wet fingertip, creasing the paper at an important passage, going back and reading again a paragraph I missed, getting ink on my fingertips… I guess this separates me from the younger generation.

This afternoon, I took my wife to a dental appointment and waited for her while the Doctor did his magic… There were 5 of us in the waiting room, ranging from ages 12 to 45ish (yes, and me…. Be quiet!) and there were 4 people with eyes glued to their respective phones, thumbs flying in a well-coordinated choreography… then, in this corner, there was me with a book, reading and passing each page to find the mysteries put forth by the author on the next page.

Generational gap, anyone?

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 rjalcazar@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Today we Honor Our Veterans.

(This is a piece -with very minor changes- which first appeared on this blog 4 years ago. Not much has changed, or will change) 
In this great country of ours, sometimes we overlook those rights and freedoms we so adamantly exercise… forgetting these came by at a price, a very steep one for many.

Those of us who have come to this grand country looking for a place to live and to have a life (not always the same, you know!!) actually tend to appreciate those liberties found here, sometimes even more than those men and women who have been born and raised within them.

I am not an advocate of war; have seen up close the damages it causes. Not only to the places where they are waged but also, and foremost, to the people involved in them. In several instances, a service death might have been a more charitable consequence than having lived and survived the horrors many service men and women have experienced. There are many lifetime scars that are not visible to the naked eye.

Yet, what sometimes in the midst of heated discussions is forgotten is that we in this country enjoy liberties and guarantees which are often not available in many other places. Is everything in our country perfect? No, it is not.  But we have the structures and venues in place which will allow us, the citizens, to change that which we deem necessary to change. When we begin to take for granted what we have, we run the very real risk of losing it. Younger generations sometimes forget these rights were not always there; that their forefathers, in coming here and wearing uniforms to defend this country and what it stood for, did in fact guarantee they would have those choices which are not so well understood. 

In these times of austerity and difficulties for many families, many are quick to blame others; blame the economy downturn on the “Big Cats”, the political issues on the politicians and the superfluous living on every one else. Yet, in the end, we are the ones who always wanted to buy “longer, lower, wider, more powerful…” (remember the car adds from the 50’s and 60’s), the ones who wanted to keep up with the neighbor’s latest acquisition, the ones who “just needed” to have that little electronic gadget which would find its way to the bin and be forgotten after a short while.

Perhaps we are the ones who need to have our ears pulled and be re-taught to first buy what we need and then, with a degree of constraint, what we want. I really won’t die if someone’s known designer name is not emblazoned across the front of my shirt. And, as far as politicians go… we fools are the ones who put them where they are … if we wise up, we will get them the hell away from there as well. It is called the voting process.

We, in this great country of ours, have rules, systems and processes in place to handle most anything that comes up. We can protest, we can write, we can use the system(s), we can scream at the top of our heads that we “hate” the government… these are not given rights; they are earned rights and freedoms. And the price has been high.

So, the next time you feel like exercising any one of those earned rights, thank a Veteran for his/her sacrifice, allowing you to do so. Take it from someone who lived under a system which abolished all those rights many so easily take for granted. If you think a Veteran’s personal sacrifice on behalf of the nation had nothing to do with your present available rights and freedoms… You Are WRONG.


Be Well … Be Back!!

Monday, October 26, 2015

“Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You…”

“Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You…”
Thus ended one of the most celebrated political speeches in modern American history.

Maybe it is time to bring back the vision it created at the time in which it was said. It was the beginning of the first non WASP president of the United States, J F Kennedy, and it was part of his inaugural speech. Viet Nam had started, the Cold War was very warm and international disagreements were at our doorstep, about 90 miles south of Key West.

This was an era when “entitlements” were actually earned and not used as political weapons or tools to purchase voters… and votes. I had just come from Cuba and was adapting to a new everything and those words meant a lot to me. The first time I began to listen to and understand this speech, was during an American History class, where we had to study it and explain it in our own words. This exercise gave me an insight as to what I could find in my new country. Ironically, and sadly, it was during the same American History period a year later that we learned of the death of JFK, the man who had given that speech as a newly elected president.

Our country today is torn apart by factions which seem to be far more interested in furthering their own agendas, than in taking care of the society and the country it supports and of which is a structural beam. If we stand up, we are accused of being “standupists” and if we sit down we are then berated for being “sitdowners”. There are so many "politically correct" groups that seem to have nothing else to do, but to spend their time looking for ideas or issues which are truly non-important and making them into “cause-celebres”.

Race issues, which had lost some of its negative meaning due to overall gains by all sides, has been made anew into a dividing rift which creates not understanding, but downright hostility and anger between people. Religion is not far behind. Welfare costs have tripled in the last 6 years and so has the national debt. And yet, we have leaders who continue to talk as if we live in an eternal cornucopia which will never run out, no matter how much is given away, whether earned or not.

Unfortunately, it will run out and this end run may be closer than many who want to just keep on receiving actually understand. We have forgotten, or put aside out of convenience, the truth that we used to live by and which stated that what is best for the country is what is best for the citizens and not the other way around. If our country wins, we all win. If it fails, we all lose.

Maybe it is time to dust-off that inaugural speech and learn  to understand all over again that famous closing line and what it means to us and to our country as a whole…

"Ask not what your country can do for you;
ask what you can do for your country."

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 rjalcazar@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cantando la Vida Pasa…

The above saying, loosely translated from Spanish, means that singing (music) allows you to whittle away at life’s problems.

Ever since I remember, when as a very small child I used to hide behind my grandmother’s skirts, I was a witness and a willing participant in a burgeoning love for music, in all its variants. Later, at the ripe old age of 8 or so, and in the arms of that same grandmother, I would learn to dance the common dances of the time… and of my grandmother’s youth. Boleros, danzones, cha-chas, as well as waltzes and pasodobles (this last from Spain).

Those were times during which I, in the midst of a very innocent period of my life, used to believe that musicians were all live somewhere in a giant radio studio, waiting for us to call in with our requests. They would then dutifully march to the microphone and start singing… whatever we had asked for. These were definitely much more innocent times, compared with today… when we relegate fairy tales, imagination, and heroic adventures on to a growing mountain of forgotten lore.

One of my very favorite programs, to which I listened every day while waiting for the school bus to pick us up to bring us back to school after lunch (yes, Virginia, we used to go home for lunch…) was called “Los Hermanos Villalobo” (The Villalobo brothers) These were three cowboy brothers (yes, I know… there were no western cowhands in Cuba but, hey… a script is a script) who, much in the same way the Cartwright Family would in later TV land years, roam the countryside looking for wrongs to right. This was a basic program, but it would be the talking topic in the afternoon recesses and during one or another boring class… The discussions were an ode to the imagination and to all that we were sure we could manage to do with the help of the three hreroic brothers.

Along with a love of music, of the imagination and of the worlds created by that magical little radio box, there was a growing love to question everything, to be curious about life in general and to expect a real answer to any real question. I was blessed to grow in a family where that final edict of “BECAUSE I SAID SO” was never used… even though I am sure the adults were tired and frustrated at times with our constant badgering.

As years went by, I realized that the beautiful music I so loved was not coming from a huge live theater somewhere in the world, but from records being played by an engineer… I also had to accept –not very willingly in the beginning- that my beloved Villalobos were, in fact, three badly paid older and paunchy actors who were acting out their own fantasies in a small studio in Havana… and that all the background noises heard were the product of an old genius working his fingers off at the old sound box.

Yet, what has remained from all these midafternoon adventures of my childhood, is an everlasting love of music and an even more all-encompassing belief in the imagination and what it can envision… sometimes even to be made into reality. The imagination, which resides relegated to a semi forgotten attic in our minds, when exercised, allows us to create, look into and explore other worlds, other concepts and other creatures and… maybe… Who knows...they may be looking back at us!!

You say no?? … Are you sure they are not??

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 rjalcazar@gmail.com

Monday, July 27, 2015

From Wally’s Pond #...

It’s been a while since I sat here, my own imaginary pond, letting the cool, clear water cleanse my mind and the gentle breeze blow away the dark spots…
I guess it is time to travel there and let the calmness of this place invade my mind and heart. It makes for better meandering than other, more harried corners I can think of… I need it and, really, had not allowed myself to be transported here in a quite a long time. This little respite –imaginary as it may be- becomes an all important escape.

Sitting here, staring at the mirror like surface, I see images form; they parade by, claiming to be included in this reminiscence, avoiding a fall into a forgotten pile somewhere in the dusty archives of the mind. Early childhood black and white stills and short movies… the club, school, Sunday escapes with my cousins, riding bicycle on the city streets… Going with my grandfather to his office; going to the distillery to bug the employees … Christmas with all the family gathered around a tree and the Nativity scene; New Year’s Eve eating grapes –led by my grandmother- till my eyes bugged… girlfriend and schoolmates… Then, a child still, leaving the country to start on a new journey into an unknown destiny…

New friends to be made and a new world to explore and make mine. Trying to somehow fill he permanent void left in our souls and hearts by family and friends we had to leave behind, in many cases never to see again. Watching -over the years- a structured society and a developed country totally crumble under a government which promised heaven on earth, but has delivered hell instead. And now, watching the so many concerted efforts to whitewash the social and physical carnage of these 5+ decades and to make believe this never existed. Business as usual to continue under the heading of “new beginnings”.

My concern is that many of us who remember what life in Cuba before the current “management” was, know it to be a very different picture than is painted by the government there and those here who want to promote business at all costs. As we get older and –yes- die off, those memories will be regarded as the rumbling of old dinosaurs and made to look false.

There is nothing more than I would like to see happen that a true, honest opening of a dialogue with true, honest results for the suffering people, not just the government heavies. To see the same folks who think they will make money dealing with a government notorious for not paying any debts, demand basic human rights improvements as a condition… To see that ordinary folk can talk and think without fear of reprisals, beatings or jail. To see that a future can be carved again and eventually fill in this horrendous black hole that spans almost 4 generations. That my grandnephews and their children can have hope again, or even get to know the idea of hope for the future.

I know my voice is small compared to the voice of the interested press and political parties. But it will continue to sound off in the great spaces… If we all do the same, maybe some true change may come to pass and then, even the “Che” bathing suits will be acceptable… after all… all the wearer is doing is using his face picture as a sitting pad.

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 rjalcazar@gmail.com

Monday, June 8, 2015

Freedom of Expression… Do We have It?

In a world which everyday becomes smaller and where very vocal minorities tend to have their way…

…the concept of true freedom of expression is paying a very steep price. I am very open to discussions, regardless of what some people may think. My views are on the right side of center, though not on the far right. There is no room in my life for a fanatic view of any kind, except in the sports world.

So yes, I am open to discuss most any idea and to respect the other side’s views, as long as they meet one small requirement… they must respect mine as well. This seems to present a road block to most of these discussions with folks who call themselves democrats and/or liberals.

The “liberalization” of America is coming at a very steep price to the concept of intellectual freedom. Today it is becoming more and more difficult to openly express conservative ideas without being ridiculed by a number of people who are “liberals” but who have no concept as to what true liberty or democracy means. The moment someone says something not in agreement with their views, the supposed liberal becomes anything but.

In colleges and universities, in radio and in mainstream TV talk shows the push is to vilify all that does not agree with their general agenda. That which responds to being recognized as a “progressive liberal” than a “retrograde conservative”.

The topics which fall under this questionable umbrella include political views, relations between the sexes, child rearing ideas, concepts in general and even religion. I suppose we, the “older generation” didn’t know how to do anything right…

Actually… looking at some of the results of our child rearing habits, there may be a bone or two to pick there. Our children have created a world where “me-first” seems to be the order and, in turn, our grandchildren are taking this to unhealthy extremes. Gullibly so.

This country was founded based on fairly well established grounds of the right of the individuals. Is this liberalization movement a real one? … Is it being truly engineered at a grass root level by people who rightly or wrongly think it is the right move?

Or … is this whole ideological trip based on the constant berating by a left leaning mainstream press and higher education teaching corps who beat into submission anything which may not be equal to their ideas?

It is time to take stock as to where each one of us actually stands. And make a stand. Without influence from outside trends, press or other entities which have vested interests. After all, we are those individuals about whom the Constitution was written.

And remember:

Your rights end where mine begin.

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 rjalcazar@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Twitting World.

In my early travel years, one had to get somewhere in order to place a simple phone call to somewhere else…

Never mind a call with an accompanying picture or –Gasp!!- a real time video of the interlocutor. This was Star Trek stuff, not meant for real life, only for Mr. Spock and the likes. And while I am not sure the technical advancements and embellishments accomplished since then are a real life enhancement bonus, they are here to stay and are evolving at a much faster pace than we ourselves can.

Today, a cell phone (and all its peripherals) is a ubiquitous (I had to dig in for that last one!!) artifact which has become more important than the food we eat. In fact, it tells us which food we should and should not eat…Everywhere you look and everyone you see is hanging from one of those. We can’t seem to contemplate the consequences of being without it...

Weather, mail, news flashes (the ones we may want and the ones we want to do without), junk, the latest gossip, political stuff, pictures, FB, whatsapp, whoapp, whenapp… and, of course… the one with the little birdie that makes more noise than a flock of Birds of Paradise… yes, that one, Twitter.

This last has, actually, done a favor to us all by limiting the amount of stuff we can put on at one time. It has also opened the way for a new, condensed version of English and, apparently, the way to the future of the language. “f u cn rd this ur rly rd” or something like this will permeate our children’s and grandchildren’s books at some time.

I look at FB a couple of times a day and don’t even have it in my phone (Too much space and too many interruptions to my day) but I have to confess that Twitter has become a regular companion. It began as a simple way to follow some folk and learn of their ideas. Then, little by little it grew into a quasi-political forum which includes people from 4 continents and some 16 countries.

Yes, most of my correspondents are folk with whom I share a right-of-center viewpoint but I have also had the opportunity to have some lively and good discussions from folk who represent the other side of the divide. A majority of the entries are in Spanish, since most friends are in South America and Spain but now it seems that the US based contingent is growing…

The dove is on its way to become a big eagle. In countries where governments try to shut down communications to avoid critical comments or the spread of bad news, this little bird has flown high and has kept all informed as to what is going on. It has become a critical social medium where citizens can tell each other real stuff in real time. The Tweets have become a thorn on the side of budding tyrants and there is little they can do about it.

That is one function which can be lauded and praised. Even if it means we have to put up with some “famous” people meaningless diatribe once in a while. Small price to pay.

The virtual world, a world without frontiers.

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 rjalcazar@gmail.com

Monday, April 20, 2015

Politics… As Unusual …

I have been called many things, including being an extremist of the right side … and a… (Gasp!!) Republican…

And this is in my own house, mind you. Where my dear wife is a descendent of a long line of liberal democrats. I think by now more through tradition than conviction.

Actually, I have been a registered independent for some 40 years who has actually voted on both sides of the aisle. Yes, I know this excludes me from primary voting, but it allows me to look and listen. To actually listen to what is being said and look at what has been done, or not. My swaying is encouraged by the latter, not the former.

I am a conservative who is willing to talk, dialogue and to listen. As long as the other part is also willing to do the same. Now, I am not saying my mind will change easily, but if the arguments are coherent, I will listen.

It is easy to lump me, along with many other Cubans into the “reactionary right” bag without giving any of the group a chance to be heard. "Oh Yeah!! You are Cuban, therefore you are a far right advocate". My leanings to the right-of-center are the result of, yes, my own and my family’s experiences in Cuba after the “Coming Of Castro” but, more importantly, they are the result of talking to many people as well as of observing firsthand the actual generational results of unchecked left oriented liberal governments all over the world. 50 countries visited and worked in over a 20 year span; from the highest levels to the poorer levels. It has been a long trek.

As a general rule, the higher the education level of a country’s citizenry (at all levels, not just the upper 25%) the less one of these governments has a chance to succeed. Also, there tend to be more job opportunities for the citizens, therefore there is less of an opportunity for the usual harangue the populist leaders’ use as a platform: “Take from ‘them’ so you can have”. Those privileged countries where there is respect for the institutions of the republic will be better off and more sustainable. The countries where the following of individual(s) becomes the norm, will suffer greatly, economically, socially and emotionally.

Populism, whether from the right or the left, tends to fall into the latter group. By definition, there is a “popular” leader who will spouse “populist” (of the people) ideas, at the expense of the wellbeing and the future of the republic. The terms Right and Left are also becoming a little overused and abused by anyone who wishes to have five minutes of fame.

In the political world terms and symbols are bandied about and most people follow them without bothering to dig a little and understand what they actually mean or stand (stood) for. Witness the (in)famous Che t-shirt. Those who wear it today have no idea the man was a blood thirsty criminal who happened to also be an avowed racist and bigot. It’s trendy, that is enough for them.

It is high time to understand that being a republican (as in “Republic”, not party) and standing for the institutions that guarantee its evolution (not “revolution”) and its adapting to and adopting changes with order and certainty is much more important than simply espousing liberal, conservative or populist stock sayings which, very often, are repetitive and meaningless.

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 rjalcazar@gmail.com

Sunday, April 19, 2015

From Wally’s Pond. Take ... Is it 3? … Or perhaps 4?

Yesterday morning I was almost late for my morning ESL class…

It was a long night, one of those that refuses to allow sleep to come in and stay for any reasonable amount of time. Finally, at around 4:45 in the morning (yep… one of those) I gave up and being alone –seems like there has been a lot of this lately- turned on the television set. As in other occasions, I went down my usual channels – Discovery, History, American, Sports—and, finding out that at this time of the morning their primary interest lay in selling me pants, glasses, new hair(actually, this one I may take note of) kitchen utensils, etc… it was time to go to the movie channels.

Flipping furiously down the line, one offering caught my eye. I don’t really know why. Perhaps because it promised a light fare and perhaps because it promised to be boring enough to put me back to sleep. Julia Sweeney (From SNL and “Pat” fame, among other accomplishments) talking about life. From her book “God Said… HA!!”. This program was recorded in 1994.

Little did I know this would not only keep me from going back to sleep, but that it would rivet my attention to the screen for the next 90 minutes. And that it would set off a long period of questioning and reviewing of my own version of God Said HA…

Her brother Michael had died of cancer in 1991, after a long period of living in with Ms. Sweeney, at her home, since there was no insurance and costs of treatment were then –and still are- very high. During this difficult period of time, she also found out she had cervical cancer, which she survived.

Being a comedian by profession, she recounted this story with a light comedy touch. One of those which every so often brings a knowing smile to your face. On the other hand, I guess it would be very difficult to talk about this as a subject to create raucous laughter. There was love, care, warmth and, above all, perspective.

Having had cancer myself and having lost several friends to this disease, it was easy to relate to her stories. How to find a little peace in the midst of constant debacle. A little laugh, a little smile. A little loving thought. How to learn to deal with a reality that all too often no one around you may come to understand or mentally accept.

As everyone who has gone through an encounter with a life threating disease knows, the resulting changes are not only physical, they are also emotional and spiritual. The physical ones are usually manageable. Lingering side effects from drugs which are quite strong, sometime for the rest of the patient’s life. Follow up treatments that go on for often years, trying to insure the disease does not come back.

The other side effects are the ones only the patient sees and feels. The questioning, often without answers. A subtle change in every day relationships, in the understanding that truly there is a limited time for out physical presence on this world. A change in priorities, a change in the way we look at life in general and at existence I particular. Sometimes these come on gradually. Sometimes they snap to in the midst of a conversation, a thought, a discussion.

What is true, as Ms. Sweeney implies, is that life will change. In her case, it took her into the world of Atheism. All well and good. In my case, it helped me understand that –whatever name we give- there is a fighting spirit who is with and within us; who has shared with us life and choices; who waits and –if and when asked to- will step in and guide us through moments which may be more difficult than others.

It also changed my life perspective. I always believed that life’s roads were to be travelled with admiration and enjoyment. Now I am totally convinced this is so. While we all set goals and lay out plans, we may or may not have the time or the opportunities to accomplish them.

Yet, I now believe that the true accomplishment is in walking the roads life gives us and in enjoying every step along the way. In the end, it is not about the things one did or owned; it is about having walked in the knowledge that each and every step counts and that each and every moment –whether in abundance or not, materially speaking- was understood and enjoyed. And whether or not something was grasped from those moments. A lifelong learning process.

A little long winded… maybe a shorter entry next time to make up for this… Or maybe not… 

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 rjalcazar@gmail.com

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...