Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Pain and Perspective of Murder

I sincerely believe that at the heart of every human being - when separated from all outside influences - we want justice, equality and peace. Unfortunately, that reality is skewed and torn by ignorance, poverty, racism, inequality and  the inability by many to pause to understand the thought process of those on the "opposing" side. 

As I watch numerous videos depicting officers charged with protecting the communities they serve actually humiliating, degrading and even killing the public they are supposed to protect, I am enraged by the wonton disregard for life and the disrespect for the authority they have been entrusted with. Conversely, I have taken the time to understand the enormous stress and danger our police officers face each day. It isn't hard to see how these two sides would validate their behavior when clashes occur. Unarmed men being gunned down in cold blood by police and police officers gunned down in the line of duty. All are inflammatory instances and opportunities to speak about a greater respect for life as a whole. All lives matter. 

Where do we go from here?  First let's acknowledge the dead and admit wrongdoing or errors that lead to deaths. We can't heal if we gloss over folks who died at the hands of rouge or irresponsible policing. Second, let's admit that our police need retraining and greater accountability to help reestablish protecting and serving as the corner stone of every police department. Third, let's create a relationship between the police and the communities they serve to help develop a trust and respect for our men and women in blue. Finally, let's instill a love and respect for life within our inner city communities. Let's instill a sense of integrity in our young men of color. 

We need change. We can continue to point fingers, but if we are simply subscribing to keeping score on each side we are simply pitiful reactors rather than proactive beacons of change. 

Keep passing the open windows...

Monday, December 15, 2014

2014 Holiday Retrospective

There's nothing like taking a quick peek over your shoulder to gauge your path forward. My 2014 was filled with blessings and challenges that helped me appreciate reality.  Hands-down my most valuable lesson of the year was finding my inner "pause" button. By pausing to gather my thoughts or simply to allow God to lead the way on any given issue, the results have been consistently positive.  A new role at work,  the shower of material niceties and nurturing strong relationships this year, have rounded out my 2014 as one that felt like a reward for some of the rougher patches of my earlier years.  There's still lots to do and some personal goals that I hold close to my heart and I am commited to bringing them to the top of my list of priorities. 

I hope your 2014 brought you happiness and here's to making 2015 a year to  make our hearts full. 

Keep passin' the open windows...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Janay Rice - A Study In Self Worth

Let's establish one thing from the start - this is not about judging the victim. This little editorial is about the question, What are you worth?  Not necessarily a dollar value, but a core value that you establish for yourself as a 'deal breaker' when it is somehow compromised. When Janay was slapped to the floor and her lifeless body was dragged out of the elevator by concerned onlookers, she was rushed to a hospital and the entire incident was captured on camera allowing her to review the full extent of her personal tragedy later. Let's eliminate public opinion, legal recourse and the friends in her ear, what did she think of her man stepping over her battered body to exit the elevator?  How did she interpret the incident in a way that gave her peace with standing by a man who had basically treated her like an aggressive stranger?  The real logic behind her decision to stay is something only Janay truly knows. I suspect that the day will come when the lifestyle associated with being an NFL wife will be outweighed by the gnawing reality that you marked yourself down and your self worth has no value. Sadly, once we don't see value in our lives we have to battle the demon that is, Why are we here?  

We can't tell Janay what to do in a case like this and it's clear by the appellate court ruling that if you tell folks something enough they will believe it - in this case, Janay established early on that her worth had less value than her husband's career.  

Many in the general public have asked us all to mind our business and allow this issue to be one between a man and his wife. Maybe they're right and maybe when a man beats the hell out of his wife and children we should also look away and mind our business. Well, depending what we deem their life is worth. 

Keep passing the open windows...   

Another Year and A Goodbye to Resolutions

Year after year we make some very important resolutions. All are well intended, but at the end of each year we have many more regrets than goals met. As we get older the list simply gets longer and, if we're lucky, some of us hold on to the desire to actually get through our list of resolutions. This year my list was cleared and was replaced with three important rules, rather than resolutions, to live by:

1. Get Healthy - this doesn't mean to get pencil-thin, but to take good care of myself (mind, body and soul)
2. Be true to myself - outside of work, I will not subject myself to people or places that do not serve to make me happy or enrich my life 
3.  Accept Life's Brevity - Truly treat life as short and valuable and not wait for a life-changing event to help me see how quickly life goes by

If you remember nothing else, remember this...if life appears to be the same year in and year out and the people in your life change, but the outcomes don't, consider what - or who - the common denominator is and make a change. 

Keep passing the open wondows...

Friday, November 28, 2014

Struggling With Gratitude

The human mind is remarkable. Many of us enjoy a host of blessings - I'm talking about the really important things - like our health, happy families, great jobs, beautiful homes and cool cars, but let one negative thing take place in our presence and we seem to erase all the great things from our minds. This is life and we're always going to be faced with challenges, but we have to keep the blessings fresh in our minds. It almost takes reminding ourselves every day about how lucky we really are. So let's continue the gratitude that Thanksgiving Day encourages. Let's give others something to be thankful for.  Let's make time to be grateful to God and to others for their kindness. 

Keep passing the open windows...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Reality More Beautiful Than Any Fairy Tale

In my eyes she has always been a fairy tale  princess. The perfect  ride or die chick. She is beautiful, brilliant, kind and strong. She is the prissy girl that can still kick off her Louboutins and change a tire. Her heart is larger than the state  of  Texas and this weekend  that heart was forever joined  to the love of her life Greg Tyler.  We have been friends for more than a decade and in that time I have  been privy to Marcia's undying love for Greg.  Isn't that what real fairy tales are made of?   The magic that triumphs through pain, the love that finds a way beyond the years. I'm so proud  of my girl.  Love has won. It isn't a fairy tale, but a palpable reality that, with continued nurturing,  will live forever. 

Keep passing the open windows...

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fixer or Homewrecker? Scandal Season 3 Finale

Has Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes turned our fearless, fashion-forward Washington fixer into a common DC homewrecker? Kerry Washington's pregnancy may have thrown the steamy writing for a loop in season 3 of Scandal leaving some feeling like the once invincible gladiator princess has been reduced to a shaky weak damsel in distress who turns to giving up the goodies to try to score some wins. The finale highlighted the nail in Olivia's leverage coffin when she failed to control the media coverage during the firestorm at the church bombing. Scandal is a phenomenon that has captured viewers with the strength of its heroine and we can only hope that Kerry's real-life pregnancy doesn't prove to be the proverbial Rosemary's baby for Scandal. Fans can only hope that Kerry will return to season 4 ready to restore Olivia to the powerhouse that made Scandal must-see TV, otherwise Scandal will be just another sitcom drama about a cute chick that's sleeping around to get ahead.

- Keep passin' the open windows.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Happy Sad

It's funny how most relationships feel the need to conform to a set norm or set of rules adopted by "the majority". When we look at couples that have lasted for a long time we assume that "love" is what carried them through 10, 20 or 30 years when in fact it is the ability to compromise. Love is a great thing, but as many of us can attest, it's not likely to keep us tied-down to someone. Compromise, however, alows us to see past someone's flaws to a place where the greater good exists. In The Happy Sad, the movie explores the dilemma of rules, monogamy and truth. What makes us tick and how we can have our cake and eat it too if we're honest and upfront about our feelings and desires. Ironically, I think that the majority of heartache in relationships is born from trying to NOT hurt someone's feelings. As we evolve, grow, mature and change we have to accept that to have longevity in a relationship we have to communicate and step forward together. Otherwise we join the scores of folks that tried and failed to live by rules that were not intended for their specific relationship. Create your own rules, walk your own path and allow your relationship to grow and change according to your needs and not that of other couples. Anything else is really The Happy Sad.

Keep passin' the open windows...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

We Are - Past, Present, Future

We are all a product of our past. Experiences, influences and lessons that have created the collective we call our personality today. There's a saying in Spanish that says, "La mona aunque se vista de ceda, mona se queda." All to say that life can polish, groom and equip someone, but at their core they are still 'that' person. I celebrate my humble beginnings. As I visited Puerto Rico last week and my beautiful family, I was so proud to see how resourceful we all were and are. I'm proud to have "raices" in Juncos, Puerto Rico. The Maldonado flare, charm and ingenuity are gifts that I thank the Lord for each day. When we stop running from our past we can embrace it as part of our coat of armor. We are all the more interesting, valuable and exciting when we are all that we are - past, present and future.

Keep passin' the open windows...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Bridge of Yu Gi-Oh

The moral of the story is that you should enjoy every moment you can with your children because they won't always be interested or impressed by you.

Our son absolutely loves playing Yu Gi-Oh cards. It's a pretty complicated card game that pits monsters against each other - all with different attack and defense levels - while pairing these with spell and trap cards. All cards have an assigned point value that gets tallied when the cards are played against each other. All to say that I would never play such a complicated game in my youth and would probably not take on such a stressful card game as an adult except as I mentioned at the start, our son loves the game and I'm interested in having brief moments when we're not the old and uncool ATM in the bedroom next door. Now, it turns out that my playing the game with him has again reminded me to think out of the box to keep a connection with our teen for as long as we can.

Keep passin' the open windows...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

If We Could Fix Our Mistakes

The moral of the story is that we fix our past mistakes by not repeating them.

As I look back I recognize that I've had a very full life. I think I always did what I really wanted to do and quite honestly, it wasn't all good. As I look back at some of my bigger mistakes, I always wondered where would I be and what would be different if I hadn't done things a certain way or if I had made different choices. The great thing about getting older is that hopefully we can see things more clearly and make better choices. The epiphany I've had about my life and my mistakes is that the only real-world fix to our mistakes (big or small) is to not repeat them. In a way it says you recognize the error of your ways. So, I've stopped wishing I'd done things differently and accepted that making it all better is all about making the right choices now and not repeating everything that can bring waves of angst and regret.

Keep passin' the open windows...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Taking the Good With the Bad

The moral of the story is that if you don't stick around and persevere you'll never enjoy the great times. Now here's the story...
When we moved into our house a little over two years ago, we were told that upstate NY can have pretty treacherous weather, but the first year we had a total of 6" of snowfall the entire winter. We really thought that the folks around us exaggerated the winters north of NYC until this year. We've had more than 30" of snowfall since the start of winter. The back-breaking work it takes to get the property cleared is quite the undertaking. Then there is the everyday wonderful that is Orange County NY. The beautiful rich colors of fall, the bargain basement square footage pricing and - for us - a comfy and convenient location. So I carefully measure the pros and cons and recognize that, like life, upstate NY has really easygoing years where the weather is a breeze and life is easy and then there are the tear-inducing years that bring several feet of snowfall. Through it all you have to stick around through some crappy times to enjoy the great times. Life isn't all a bed of roses and those who -sadly - don't wait around for another good spell falter, fail and give up right before the great hits.

Keep passin' the open windows...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Reality

It's Valentine's Day and I'm consistently amazed at how folks run around trying to make it extra special for their significant other. I'm just perplexed at why folks wait for this one day to do what they should be doing every day. I've been with my partner for many years and I refuse to buy into the made-up holiday that is Valentine's Day. Now if it makes you feel good or improves your relationship then go for it. My thinking says that if you're working to make your partner happy  every day you'll have less pressure to get it right the one day of the year.

Keep passin' the open windows...

Saturday, February 08, 2014

MUSIC REVIEW: Luck Fové, Khary Mallea; iTunes/Googleplay: 2/11/14

My Masterpiece Called Luck Fové by Khary Mallea is a new guitar infused rap release that is raw, gritty and in your face. Explicit and true; you get a sense that the artist is allowing us to be voyeurs to his experiences. On the cut 'Alone' the words meld with the lyrics to give an old school feel and an edgy vibe that begs for a drink in hand. With 'Bitta #1664' - my favorite cut - Mallea brings in a beat that is contagious with a storyline that will make every underdog feel the vindication of making it without the support of his former ride-or-die. Mallea reminds me of a Lupe Fiasco had Lupe not been Disney-fide for the masses. Luck Fové is available on iTunes and GooglePlay this Tuesday, Feb 11.

- Keep passin' the open windows.

Location:New York, NY

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Samsung…Innovation Meets Bad Customer Service

Six months ago I trotted over to my neighborhood Best Buy store to make a dramatic change.  I chose to switch from Apple's iPhone device to Samsung's Galaxy S4.  Like a rebellious child, I made the argument that the exodus from Apple's confining tech space would change my experience and tech development.  Samsung's S4 provided all the freedom of a teen that's off to college.  I was free to download what I wanted and set-up my device just as I dreamed.  Within a couple of months my out-of-the-box S4 ran up to its 16G memory cap and my 32G micro SD card was rendered useless by one of Samsung's software updates.  I attempted to fix the hiccup by purchasing an expensive Samsung micro SD card, only to find that the issue wasn't the SD card, it was the actual S4 device.  Countless telephone conversations andTwitter messages later and NOTHING is resolved. Samsung suggested that I send them my mobile device and they would analyze and attempt to repair it.  They were quick to mention that they do not provide replacements or loaners while you wait.  I was forced to choose another mobile device and ATT was kind enough to expeditiously forward me a new Blackberry Q10.  It has proved more reliable AND is better supported than Samsung's flagship phone.  Now, the expensive micro SD card appears to be fried and I again, gave Samsung another opportunity to make-good and replace the accessory.  After spending the better part of several hours explaining the issue with the SD card and providing Samsung Support a proof of purchase and giving them my home address, telephone information and carrier contact, Samsung sent me an email containing a UPS label.  They request I return my Samsung micro SD card to them and upon inspection, they will replace the card.  WHO MAKES THEIR LOYAL CUSTOMERS WAIT FOR A REPLACEMENT WHEN THEIR PRODUCT MALFUNCTIONS?  Samsung does.  They repeatedly use their Twitter feed to appear responsive, but all the Twitter support attendants do is ask for your device information with no real support or help.  I'm done with Samsung.  The sad part is that I drank the kool-aid and believed that Samsung was an innovator of technology, that like Apple, wanted to provide the best product with the highest level of customer service.  Apple has NOTHING to fear.  Samsung's customer service completely ruins their customer's experience.  I recant all accolades I gave Samsung.  I admonish friends, family and anyone who can read this message - Stay clear of Samsung…they couldn't care less about you or ensuring that you are happy.  Apple may want to control your environment, but they are intent on guaranteeing you are happy.  Ultimately, that's the guy that should get your business.  

Keep passin' the open windows...