Nando's Notes 2017-11-03T19:07:10Z WordPress Nando Miranda <![CDATA[Speech: A Love-Hate Relationship]]> 2017-10-16T03:28:21Z 2017-10-15T18:12:24Z

I delivered this speech on Saturday, September 30th, at the Toastmasters Area K1 Humorous Speech Contest representing Finlandia Toastmasters Club. 

How many of you are in a relationship? Wonderful. I hope it’s a good one.
I’m in a love hate relationship.

I think I love her for all the right reasons. She is drop dead gorgeous. I feel incredibly alive when I am near her. My heart goes boom boom, my skin gets goosebumps. I get very excited when we are together.

But then sometimes, I could just … hate her. Because she is so unpredictable and sometimes she misbehaves. She is tempestuous and causes a lot of drama in my life and so much chaos in the lives of others.

Because you see, I am in a love hate relationship not with any person.

I am in a love hate relationship with Mother Nature.

That’s right. Mother Nature! Do you know why she is a she and not a he? Because no man would ever have the patience to give birth to every living creature since the beginning of time.

I love Mother Nature. Planet Earth is awesome. It has beauty and diversity. Just look at everyone in this room. And I love the little things like sunsets and rainbows and the colors of Autumn. I love how dogs spin around before lying down. I love how sand feels between my toes and fingers as I relax on a hot beach in Alicante, Spain.

But I hate Mother Nature too. For all the chaos and destruction she causes. For all the pain and suffering. For all the loss of life. I hate her because of all her natural disasters since the beginning of time, from Krakatoa to Pompei, to tsunamis and tornadoes and earthquakes in Mexico, to hurricanes such as Katrina, Harvey, Irma and Maria!

Oh… I despise Hurricane Maria. Carajo! I hate Mother Nature because Maria destroyed my island of Puerto Rico. The island where my parents were born. The island where my family still lives. The island where I used to live as a kid. The island full of 3.4 million Americans without electricity or drinkable water. How long would you live without power? How long would you last without a signal?

Mother Nature causes death and destruction and pain and suffering. But during these times when she pisses me off, I often think back to when I learned something from her. When I had a special moment with her. Because those lessons can be applied to Puerto Rico.

It was a sunny summer’s day. Probably the only sunny and hot day in Finland last Summer and I was lying on the warm grass at the summer cottage after mowing the lawn. Yes, I am Puerto Rican and I am from Florida and I enjoy doing yardwork.

Here I was relaxing when I noticed a bee flying around some flowers nearby. It was like a slow moving Chinook helicopter. Like one of Mother Nature’s miniature drones floating about. But I notice something very peculiar. Attached to one of its legs was the corpse of a dead, red ant!

I missed this battle royale of the bee and the ant, but I could imagine what happened.

Here was the bee going about its daily business, doing the old in/out, in/out, in/out with these yellow flowers picking up the sweet stuff to take back to his hive. When he was brutally attacked by an ant. He probably said, “Get of me bro!” and when the ant refused the bee stung and killed the ant. But now he has to live the rest of his days flying around with this dead enemy, because he can’t shake that ant off his leg.

We all can relate to the bee because it has to live with the scars of the battle, much like we live with our scars after our own battles. But we all move forward like the bee and continue on with our lives.

Then I saw the battle from the ant’s point of view. The ant was foraging for the same sweet stuff. He and his buddies were inside a flower and they heard a great noise when they were brutally attacked by a bee! The ant probably told his fellow soldiers, “Stand back, men! I got this!” He ran forward and bit the bee’s leg, the bee retreated and flew away, they wrestled and the bee stung the ant and killed him.

The ant sacrificed its life to save the lives of its fellow ants. Would you be willing to sacrifice your life to save someone else?

This story about the bee and the ant, I can apply to the situation in Puerto Rico. You see.

Like the bee, I know deep down inside that Puerto Rico and its people will bear the scars of hurricane Maria forever. I won’t recognize the island. But they will persevere and get through this difficult time. They will rebuild and eventually get on with their lives. They got hit hard, but they will bounce back.

Like the ant, I know that there are people right now sacrificing their time, money, energy, maybe even their lives and their health to help save others.

Yes. I have a love hate relationship with Mother Nature. One day she is drop dead gorgeous and the next, she can be a wicked witch.

But I can appreciate her lessons just by watching one of her bee’s in a few minutes time. If you open your eyes and observe Mother Nature during your very own special, quiet moments, you will see her beauty as well. You might even learn a lesson or two.

Yes. I love her and I hate her. But I think I have more love than hate. And you know what is even more comforting? I really believe that she loves me back.

Nando Miranda <![CDATA[Bucs Before the Draft ]]> 2017-04-23T09:20:07Z 2017-04-22T19:33:25Z

Last Monday, I was asked by a friend what I thought about the Buccaneers’ chances this year. I had no idea that he would ask such a question. Thus, my answer on the video link below missed some important details.

As a post video addendum, I failed to mention the top free agent acquisition of WR DeSean Jackson from the Washington Redskins. An excellent pickup for a squad that needs a great combo of speed and hands. Especially so if WR Vincent Jackson does not return.

Since the video was shot, there has been two new developments related to my beloved Bucs.

The Bucs were ordered by the NFL to appear on HBO’s Hard Knocks shown later this summer. This 5-episode show will offer the nation and football fans some insight into the deep bowels of Tampa Bay’ training camp. As much as one of my brothers tries to remind me that teams that are featured on Hard Knocks usually suck that season, I disagree.

The Bucs have a coaching staff that has undergone the camera scrutiny into training camp and the battles for 53 jobs by 90 players. Head Coach Dirk Koetter and Defensive Coordinator Mike Smith can manage the current distraction due to their experience with the Atlanta Falcons on Hard Knocks in 2014.

I believe the team has the maturity to deal with all the eyeballs and to focus on the task at hand. The goal of which is to make the playoffs. Last year’s 9-7 record resulted in a third tiebreaker that knocked the Bucs out of wildcard contention. I am looking forward to the show and I think the Bucs will make great TV… as long as there are no bozo incidents along the way.

In other news, the NFL schedule was released last Thursday. The Bucs have a late week 11 bye that is always highly coveted. They also don’t begin playing their divisional foes until week 8 with 3 NFC South games finishing up the last 3 weeks of the regular season. If depth stays strong and the injury bug doesn’t rear its ugly head, the Bucs playoff hopes in 2017 can rest in their own hands.

We shall see how it goes.

Go Bucs!

Nando Miranda <![CDATA[Passage to Turku]]> 2017-08-19T12:49:42Z 2017-02-20T08:05:22Z Monday 20.2.2017

0940. Onnibus saves the day and cuts through the grey of the light snow falling West of capital city, Helsinki. The earlier the better when it comes to the weather. Plan ahead and grab a ticket weeks in advance. Round trip for 3 at only 25€. 

We’re on the bus to Turku aboard the Onnibus Express. Para visitar la familia desde Finlandia con mis dos muchachos. It has been a while since we’ve made the journey that does not come often enough.

Let’s see what happens. Make it so. Engage. Disconnect. Drop that phone, bro.

1045. On the benefits of a good woman.

If she is delightfully agreeable to making 3 travellers sandwiches for their trip, then she is likely to have already made plans to greatly enjoy the apartment all to herself for the next 58 hours.

Quid pro quo. Clean the premises. Clear the premises. Then leave her alone until she sends a message to you first. Free tip for a strong relationship.

1120. Arrival in Turku. The brethren and I traverse the city square in hopes of finding a decent WC for junior #2. Wiklund departnent store, second floor, bingo. While waiting, I won 60 cents on my 20 cent investment in the Pikapokeri slot machine. Already winning. Now we sit on bus 2B and ride through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.

1215. Mummitalossa. Their grandmother is an artist. Her apartment is decorated from top to bottom with artwork and interesting artefacts. She made us all hirvikeitto which was excellent and for those not in the know, that is moose stew. Since our last visit, the restroom of this exquisite non AirBnB residence has been renovated.

1330. An artist’s home is unique. It stands out. It slaps you in the face, in a good way, whenever you walk in. You try to find the changes, those new things residing in new places. Because continuous change of one’s own environment is key to an artist’s survival. Was that painting there before? Have I ever seen that red box? I see a new dining room table. Sturdy and strong. But yet some staples remain. The aroma of coffee in the kitchen. The comfortable divan you rest upon after lunch. The amazing home-made dollhouse that keeps offering surprises every time it is opened. Will my sons remember all of these tiny details when the time comes?

1600. In Turku at Puutori is a unique pub that can’t be missed. Once a public restroom, WaterLoo is now a very cute pub. You will not need to travel far to take a piss as you get pissed. Highly recommended. In addition to The Loo, I also recommend the pubs in downtown Turku that have been converted from The Bank, The Pharmacy and The School. Pankki, Apteekki ja Koulu. Check them out. Note: Apteekki is open from 10-02 daily. Ikäraja 20v.

1800. Sometimes entertainment is free as you wander around another city. Especially so if the entertainment consists of two twin dogs frolicking around and obviously playing the Fake Shag Game. Oblivious to the salon attendants and customers inside, the dogs continued their display of faux-love and canine dominance in front of the Arte Hair & Makeup entrance. Come one come all! Get your perm on and enjoy this evening’s entertainment!

Nando Miranda <![CDATA[Who Will Be Winning?]]> 2017-03-01T15:43:13Z 2017-01-21T15:10:41Z Great America was supposedly born yesterday when Donald John Trump, also known as The Donald, became the 45th President of the United States.

Great America is going to be really great. In a nutshell, the new slogan is apparently:

America First and Fuck Off to the Rest of the World.

Print more t-shirts and bumper stickers.

Reality is just going to get weirder.

Hold on tight.

Let’s take a look at the new Issues found on and ask yourself these questions for each :

Who benefits the most?

Who loses the most?

(1) American First Energy Plan

(2) American Foreign Policy

(3) Bringing Back Jobs and Growth

(4) Making Our Military Strong Again

(5) Standing Up for Our Law Enforcement Community

(6) Trade Deals Working for All Americans

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

Nando Miranda <![CDATA[Positive Aggravation]]> 2016-10-15T18:17:48Z 2016-10-15T09:00:04Z After much positive aggravation, the area contests were a huge success. (Source: Anu T. Photography of Tallinn)

After much positive aggravation, the area contests were a huge success. (Source: Anu T. Photography of Tallinn)

Positive Aggravation

On August 22nd at a meeting of the Stadi Talkers Toastmasters Club of Helsinki, I coined a new phrase for my limited vocabulary during table topics, the impromptu speech part of the program. Positive Aggravation.

I define Positive Aggravation as the situation you find yourself committed to and have made promises for and taken responsibility for that now gets higher on your priority list due to tight deadlines and other external forces. Note: Internal forces such as procrastination can also increase your Positive Aggravation level.

It is a PITA* (Pain In The Ass) situation where one is forced to lead, coach, and manage oneself or others to accomplish a specific task.

You are aggravated by the situation you have found yourself in and of which you agreed to (what seems like ages ago), but you hope that a little elbow grease can lead to something positive.

There is positive energy to be gained upon the final outcome of a project or task well done. There are opportunities to inspire others and to see the positive energy that they also can obtain.

Positive Aggravation. A welcome challenge that is annoying at first but turns quickly into a sense of accomplishment when the job is done.

Here is Positive Aggravation used in three sentences:

— Dude. Once I take care of all my positive aggravation, we have to meet up for a beer or two.

— The club’s treasurer didn’t expect this much positive aggravation to arise on such short notice.

— Honey, I’m getting swamped with all this positive aggravation. I have to work this weekend, futsal season is starting up, the boys need help with their schoolwork, and I promised to help Toastmasters as an Area Manager. I’ll take out the trash once I finish with this post. 5 minutes tops. OK? … Hello? (crickets)

Now is your chance to use positive aggravation in a sentence. Go ahead. Give it a shot.

Thank you for reading this post.

(*Term commonly used by my friend and fellow Toastmaster, Mr. Kangas.)

Nando Miranda <![CDATA[Grateful Dead 1991]]> 2016-07-29T16:15:40Z 2016-07-15T22:16:39Z The memories of this road trip sometimes flood back from time to time as I peer deep into my skull for the occasional life review. It was the start of the summer, Friday, May 10th, 1991.

The setting: Monterey, California.
Destination: Shoreline Amphitheater of Mountain View, situated between San Fran and San Jose.
The vehicle: Well, this is the part where I tell you what happened.

I’m the responsible one who rented a van for the weekend trip to witness the age-old hippy band, the Grateful Dead. Now I wasn’t a deadhead then, but for kicks I wanted to see what all the talk was about. And afterall, San Fran was an active area during the 60s. How far can it change from the 90s? Yes, plenty perhaps, but it was the experience of seeing the Dead live for once that initiated this journey.

One minivan to rent. 5 passengers including me. The Weed, The Broffmeister, Duddley (the Broffmeister’s girl), Dudley’s blonde hippy friend, Zeusss, and myself.

I arrived at the rental car company late Friday afternoon for my 3-day rental. We have tickets to Saturday’s show. The Dead played Friday, Saturday and Sunday that weekend at Shoreline.

The conversion went as follows.

So dudes, where’s the van?

-Well sir, we’ve been trying to call you
all day, the van has a transmission
problem, we can’t rent it to you.

Damn, dude… let me tell you my situation. I’ve got 4 people to
drive to San Fran for a concert. I need your help.

-Well, we do have the stationwagon.

Let’s see it

A rust bucket arrives around the corner, brown or red, or maybe it used to be red – faux wood paneling on the sides and a muffler that wanted to kiss the ground. The perfect family truckster. Clark Griswold would be proud. It was the old Brady Bunch mobile!

Excellent! I’ll take it.

-$100 for the whole weekend.

So there I was driving the truckster back to the Presidio of Monterey to pick up the rest of the gang. The five of us hopped in. We took turns driving the truckster throughout the night. It kept making an awful sound like the muffler was scraping the road and was about to fall off, but it kept us moving forward and that was all that mattered. The perfect road trip car for a gang of modern military mindtrip wannabees.

We got lost within a slew of crossing highways. We stopped at a small gas station along a boulevard and I asked, “Which road is this? We have to get back on the highway!”

The old Asian gas station fellow told me, “Feerox! Feerox!”, as he pointed one direction. We went that way and noticed that Fair Oaks would take us to the highway we needed.

The evening was spent not in a hotel, but inside the vehicle, plenty of space. Why fork out another 100 bucks when you have the master bedroom on wheels? We parked in the lot of a Cybertech facility next to the amphitheater. Perhaps the home of the new Terminator class semiconductor. One could hear the Dead play their Friday night gig in the dark distance of the night.

Saturday Afternoon Circus
We arrived early at the parking lot near the Amphitheater. We all lost ourselves for a while and watched the Saturday parade of tie-dyed mutants selling and buying everything from blotter acid to sandwiches and beer to large nitrous-filled balloons. Mindtrip extraordinaire, a visual cornucopia of dementia. The Gestapos were on high alert as event personnel did their circuits through the mazes of people, cars, and stuff. Clear blue skies above.

I’m sorry, but you can’t drink that beer.

Sorry, but you can’t sell
stuff here.

Hey, you! Come here!

The Show
The Dead really had it back then and if they were still playing, Jerry Garcia RIP, they’d still have throngs following them from city to city. The most memorable scenes of the Mountain View Amphitheater cut out of the side of a hill was the whirling dervish dances on the upper fringes. Squint real hard and you’ll trip back to the 60s. The stage had a backdrop of a large silver screen where computer trippy animation took place. It was a focal point for those on the drop I would imagine. And drop many scores did.

Set List:
Mississippi Half-Step
Wang Dang Doodle
Queen Jane Approximately
Bird Song
Promised Land

One More Saturday Night
Iko Iko
Playin’ in the Band
Uncle John’s Band
I Need a Miracle
Morning Dew
Around and Around

Quinn the Eskimo

Grateful Dead Official Site:

Nando Miranda <![CDATA[Ole hyvä]]> 2017-11-03T19:07:10Z 2016-06-19T18:12:23Z “Olen inva-auto kuljettaja.” (I am a driver of a vehicle that transports those who are mobility challenged.)

When I deliver my customers, safely and efficiently, I ensure they get home. When approaching their apartment door, especially if they have handed me their keys, I usually ask,

“Onko sinulla kissa tai koira kotona?” (Do you have a cat or dog at home?)

“Ei! Ei!,” little old ladies normally exclaim. (No! No!)

To which I quip, “Entä aligatori?” (How about an alligator?)

They always smile.

Once, a nice, older woman responded, “Ja ei ole haukkuva mies!” (And no barking man either!)

I couldn’t help but laugh. She was a trip.

My elderly customers are sweet, gentle and kind.

When they say they are old I always respond with,

“Ei! Sinä olet nuori vielä, nuori sydän… nuori sielu…” (No! You are still young, young at heart… young soul…)

Then they say, “Kiitos.” (Thank you.)

“Ole hyvä,” I reply. (You’re welcome.)

I can see the young woman she used to be just by looking into her eyes for a brief moment.

She may have grown up in a small village.

She may have come from a large family.

She may have moved to Helsinki to study or work.

She may have gathered good friends at Hietsu Beach for a Saturday afternoon of sunbathing and fun.

She may have gone to the local market every Saturday morning like clockwork.

She may have chased her dreams and ambitions and inspired others.

She may have been with her husband for a very long time until he passed.

She may have raised wonderful children and grandchildren.

She may know what true love is and all the secrets of the universe.

It is I who should say “Kiitos.”


Nando Miranda <![CDATA[Nando the Commando]]> 2017-02-20T15:55:24Z 2016-06-17T19:15:58Z 1991 Pacific Grove, California. Seagram’s 7 & 7Up in a paper Safeway bag on the way to a raucous day in Monterey and the beach. Someone lost a shoe in a tree. We were punks, all of us – charlatans and troublemakers. Saw DRI or All (ex-Descendents) in San Fran, San Jose and Oakland one weekend. Hung out at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley. Friday and Saturday nights. $5 entrance to see 4 garage punk bands. The Mummies were memorable. Unfortunately, last time I drove past in 1998, 924 was just a paint store if I recall.


Nando the Commando is just a nickname. Developed over the early 90s when I use to be a punk walking the streets of Monterey and Pacific Grove, California, along with visits to San Fran, San Jose and Berkeley just to name a few. Those were the days. The underbelly of the west. Exposed. And myself and some close friends sucking at her teat in true rebel fashion.

I’m no commando, no soldier, but I will fight for what I believe in and I expect others to do the same.

Nando Miranda <![CDATA[She Never]]> 2016-04-17T08:51:18Z 2016-04-17T08:42:00Z She never texts me anymore like she did before. She used to text me Want Some Company? And every evening thereafter was a Good Night. Now I get nothing… because she is curled up beside me when I wake up each morning.

She never needs to shave her legs. Silky smooth 100% of the time. One of nature’s mysteries. A strange anomaly. Bottle it or give it away. She could be carrying the gene that would destroy an industry overnight.

She never frowns. Every time I see her she has a smile on her face. Except for that one time when she couldn’t find me underneath the train station. But at least we finally made eye contact as I listened to her complain in gest on the phone.

She is Saucy McButterpants and Hotness Nevermean all wrapped up in a sweet package covered with ribbons and balloons. A gift beyond compare. Blessed.

Nando Miranda <![CDATA[Speech: Find A Solution]]> 2016-01-03T09:07:55Z -0001-11-30T00:00:00Z Find A Solution is a humorous speech I crafted and delivered for a series of Toastmasters speech contests in autumn 2015. Here is an audio version of this speech.

My process for drafting a speech is a long one because a speech does not get manufactured overnight. An idea seed can certainly arise after a good night’s sleep, but not with all the necessary roots and branches. First, I think of my primary message. Then, I break that down into three stories or sections. Afterwards, I slowly and meticulously find a nice combination of sentences to add meat to the bones. I continuously play with the words in my head as I walk to the train station or while driving around the city. Every weekend, I’ll edit my master speech document by continuously repeating and practicing as often as I can.

This topic about dealing with loss can be quite a heavy one for my audience. Therefore, I used a light, self-deprecating, humorous and slightly disgusting approach in these stories as a collective metaphor for the greater losses of one’s life journey. I hope you enjoy it.

Happy New Year! 2016 is going to be awesome. Be fearless, help others and have fun.