Monthly Archives: October 2013

What’s Written On Your Dash?

The one inescapable reality of life is that sooner or later everyone dies. Simple as that. Nobody gets out of here alive.

I was in the first graduating class of Nauset Regional High School. Class of 1960 which, strangely enough, consisted of 60 students. There are fewer of us now than there were on graduation day.

A group of Nauset alumni started a Facebook group called, “Nauset Remembers.” Part of it is a list of those no longer with us. Recently a group organized, for lack of a better word, a Remembrance night at the school. Not a memorial service, but more of a celebration of those who have preceded us into the great unknown.

Through that page I’ve been in contact with an old classmate, Jay Schofield. Jay has a blog and wandering through it he had a post of a eulogy he gave for a mutual friend, Bruce MacPherson. Jay wrote that when Bruce was inducted into the Massachusetts Football Coach’s Hall of Fame the theme of his induction speech was “The Dash.”

The dash he spoke of is placed on all gravestones and positioned between the date of birth and the date of death. Something like this…


Bruce questioned what people did with their dash — their time alive. Was it wasted or was it used to good purpose?

What will be written on your dash?


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It’s All Cool – Tranquilo Time

Just because they can’t talk doesn’t mean animals are stupid. They know when things are cool.


The horse belongs to a family around the corner. They tie her up in various places around the neighborhood so she can graze on the grass. In the past two years I’ve never seen her lying down anywhere. But she must have felt that it was safe to take a load off for a while in my yard.

The dog came limping into my yard about a year ago with a broken leg. Nobody in the neighborhood had ever seen her before. Naturally I took her to the vet to get her taken care of, and I bought a large bag of dog food at PriceSmart (Panama’s answer to Costco). Of course, once you feed them they’re yours. They don’t leave. But she’s cool. Laid back. Doesn’t bother anyone. She also loves the horse, and when the young man who takes care of her rides her around, the dog loves to lope along with them. I also took the dog to one of the spay/neuter clinics that are held around the area. Panama doesn’t need any more unwanted puppies.


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Huge WHEW!

When you become a legal resident of Panama you receive what is known as a “carnet.” It is an official state-issued identification card complete with an unrecognizable photo of yourself.  Actually there are two kinds of state-issued i.d.s. One is called a “cedula.” That’s what citizens have. It resembles a driver’s license in that it is a solid piece of plastic whereas the “carnet” is a cheesy card sadly laminated in cheap plastic. A cedula is permanent while the carnet is tied to your passport number. That means when you get a new passport you have to change your carnet so the numbers match. It recently became possible for extranjeros (expatsto obtain a cedula and avoid having to change things when you get a new passport, but since it will be seven more years until I have to worry about that I 1) don’t know if I’ll even be around in seven more years and 2) I don’t want to spend the several hundred dollars and the jumping through hoops I’d have to go through to get my carnet changed into a cedula.

There are several things that having either a cedula or a carnet does for expats. If you fly into Tocumen airport, PTY in airlinese, with your card and your passport you can enter the country in the much shorter “residents” line instead of the “tourist” line. About an hour east of David there is an Immigration check point and if you’re driving or taking a bus you have to show your i.d. there. Citizens show their cedulas, expats show their carnets. Everybody else has to produce a passport.

You also have to show your carnet do get the numerous generous discounts that are offered to old farts like me. Discount for things like bus and airline tickets, hotels are supposed to give you a discount, and of course restaurants are required to do that too. The most important, and the time I use it most, is for discounts on medicines.

Yesterday, when I went to do my grocery shopping, I pulled out my billfold to present the cashier my “Puntos d’Oro” card. That’s “Gold Points,” sort of like computerized green stamps, and when you accumulate enough “puntos” you can redeem them for “valuable prizes” as they say. As I was digging for my blue “Puntos” card I instantly noticed that my carnet was missing. Shit! GeeZUSS!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

I had no idea what could have happened to it. I tried to remember when I had it out of my wallet the last time. The only thing I could remember was early last month I got on the bus to Rio Serreno on one of those “let’s see where this ends up” bus rides I take from time to time. It was a two hour ride way up into the mountains to a dirtbag little border crossing town on the Costa Rican border. I had to take it out to show the driver so I could get my “jubilado” discount. But I was sure I’d put it back in its place.

I searched all over the house even though I would have absolutely no reason to take it out of its resting place. All I could think of was what a hassle it was going to be having to go to Immigration to straighten things out. I don’t know how computerized they are yet, but since you can only obtain a Panamanian driver’s license if you’re a legal resident I could show the people at the David office that I was, in fact, legal. Of course there was also the dreaded thought that I might have to travel all the way to Panama City to resolve the situation.

Then, as so often happens, just as I was drifting off to sleep, I remembered that a little more than a week earlier I had been to Arrocha to get my blood pressure meds. Surely I must have taken it out then to show the cashier. Hadn’t I? Could I possibly have left it there? There was always the hope, and hope springs eternal.

So, this morning I got up, scrapped the stubble off my face on the chance that I might have to visit Immigration and get a photo taken and took the two requisite buses to the Paza Terronal where Arrocha is located. For a change there wasn’t a line at the pharmacy counter. I told the cashier that I had lost my carnet and explained that I thought I might have left it there. All in Spanish, of course. The chief pharmacist lady, hearing me talking to the cashier, glanced at me and proceeded to the back of the stacks of drugs. There, attached to a shelf by a clothes pin, hung my carnet. HUGE WHEW!!! Immigration showdown averted. I bought my next month’s supply of Zestril and asked the cashier if she wanted to see my carnet. With a big grin she said, and I translate, here, “No. That won’t be necessary today.”


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Check Out My New Blog

Sure, it’s a shameless bit of self-promotion and hopefully a way to increase sales of my books, but so what?

p.s. – this is the 680th post on THIS blog.

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