Archive for the 'Idle Ramblings' Category

Movin’ On…

As you can probably tell, I’m no longer updating this WordPress blog o’ mine.  Instead, please follow me on Tumblr: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/amadolumbajr.  See you there!

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Can I Walk Away From It?

I have 419 “friends” on Facebook. Four hundred nineteen. I am baffled as I typed that number. Last year, before “The Great Purge,” which is what I called what I did this same time last year when I deleted “hundreds of people” from my Friends list– most of whom were people I “friended” due to that godforsaken Facebook game called “Mafia Wars”– I had over 600. Six hundred!

Like many users of that popular social network, my “Friends” actually include family members, real-life friends, online “friends,” former/current work colleagues, former schoolmates, social acquaintances (i.e. people with whom I get drunk), friends of friends, friends of friends of friends. The list goes on. But, also akin to the conditions that afflict most users, I truly interact with maybe only a couple of dozen of them on a regular basis.

Such is life, you say? Of course. Then, why the hell should I have over four hundred of them saddling my account? It seems an unnecessary abundance– hundreds of people to whom I have nothing to say and vice versa. Hence, why keep them?

“You brought that on to yourself,” a good friend recently told me. Pointedly, I might add. He’s right, of course.

I thought about doing another “great purge,” and just systematically deleting people from my account, but then I thought that would seem heartless and insensitive. After all, most of these people sought me out, and I allowed the association. Simply deleting them would be the most blatant thing I could do. However, since 90% of them choose to not interact with me either, what would be the big deal? And, if they truly want to be my friend (sans quotation marks), they’ll seek me out again, right? Unless, of course, the act of deletion would make them blackball me from their “friends” lists. Am I making a quandary out of nothing?

I could make myself feel better by convincing myself that I would actually be doing those people a favor by purging them from my list, sparing them from having to see posts/updates from someone with whom they consciously choose to not interact regularly anyway. But, knowing myself, I would allow some version of guilt to overwhelm me, and I would wonder (for a long while) how many people’s feelings I may have hurt. It wouldn’t matter if those feelings weren’t hurt at all; I would still let it bother me.

Then, I thought a more brilliant idea would be create a new Facebook profile (which I already did) bearing a different, yet still somewhat related, user name. I would then strategically “friend” only the family members and friends with whom I truly want to interact frequently and genuinely. It would allow me to manage my “friends” list to a more reasonable number. Two digits, undoubtedly, and maybe even under 50. It would be very exclusive– borderline elitist– and I would summarily dismiss any “friend requests” from casual acquaintances. In other words, I would somewhat disappear from the masses.

The most radical thought I have is to just stop using Facebook altogether. After all, I’ll still have my Twitter account; not having a Facebook account would make it so that I’m checking one less thing for updates. And, if I truly needed an online venue to interact, I could explore Google+, which seems to be a promising platform for me to start over, so to speak.

In other words, I could simply delete my current account without any notice. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. It seems the most fair way to go about whittling my social (network) responsibility.

But, can I really do that? Can I truly walk away from that which I’ve built into a thriving element of my social life, however pathetic that may sound?

The Slow, Agonizing Death of Customer Service.

As someone who’s worked in the service industry for over two decades, I will attest to the fact that most customers suck, and some, I’m convinced, live to make the service industry professionals’ lives a living hell.  This, of course, can lead to service professionals’ overall discontent over their jobs, which can lead to poor customer service.  Which then leads to customer dissatisfaction.  Etcetera, etcetera.  It’s a vicious cycle.

Okay, so bad customer service is never that bad.  Not always.

Chalk it up to lack of training and low expectations, I suppose.  And maybe even geography.  Service in Portland, Oregon, for instance, will be way different– better or worse– than that  in, say, New York City or Los Angeles.

And it may also be culturally influenced.  Service in Japan (or most anywhere in Asia, for that matter) is traditionally outstanding.  Although it is not completely immune to lesser versions, it would still blow the Westerners’ version out of the water.

What’s more frustrating is that, these days, it seems people in the service industry may not even be aware that they are providing service that is less than stellar.  Is it because more and more consumer needs are being met without intermediaries via self-service kiosks or online transactions?  The human interface being diminished or, in most cases, eliminated altogether, that the very notion of customer service has become foreign?  I don’t know if I completely buy that, but I’m sure it’s a contributor.

With the way nearly everything going to full automation in the “civilized world,” perhaps customer service will soon be a thing of the past.  I’m sure some will argue that it already is.

Pop Culture-Infused Vocabulary

I like using pop references in everyday conversation.  I’m convinced it keeps me hip and young, and makes everyone like me.  There’s nothing like a good movie or song reference used to throw people off guard and make them realize just how awesome and smart you are.  Here are some examples:

28 Days Later. I have an absurd fear of zombies.  And this particular zombie movie scares the shit out of me.  So, I think in an effort to try to address that fear, I sometimes use this movie title in conversation but as a verb.  I would say something like, “I would hate to be 28 Days Latered.”  I also use it as an adjective, to describe something infinitely frightening.  “God, that’s so fucking 28 Days Later!”

Kanye West. You’d have to have been living under a rock to not be aware of the time when Kanye West grabbed the microphone from Taylor Swift’s hand after winning MTV VMA Video of the Year in 2009, and Kanye was a-yellin’ and a-screamin’ about how it should’ve been Beyonce who won the award.  Sure the reference is a year old by now, but I still get a chuckle (or confused look) when I say things like, “Suzy just went all Kanye West on David at the meeting,” in reference to Suzy stealing David’s thunder during a presentation.

Groundhog Day.  This is one of my favorite movies of all time.  In fact, I was just watching this on my iPhone while driving up to Seattle last night.  It’s a classic.  There are so many useful sound bytes in this movie.  One of my favorites is the scene between Phil and Mrs. Lancaster on the second go-about:

Phil:  “Do you ever have deja vu, Mrs. Lancaster?”

Mrs. Lancaster:  “I don’t think so, but I could check with the kitchen.”

But anyway, whenever I feel like I’m dealing with the same shit all over again, I’d throw my arms in the air and bellow, “This is so fucking Groundhog Day!”  My cubicle neighbors unfailingly cower in fear.

Jet Li. Whenever I feel like imparting physical pain over someone because they pissed me off– or just because I feel like it– I would taunt them by saying something like, “Don’t make me go all Jet Li on you.”  Again, they would cower in fear because, since I’m Asian, they already assume I know kung fu.  I’m not about to correct them.

Femme Fatale

What’s sexier than a hot chick in a tight red dress? An ass-kicking hot chick in a tight red dress, that’s what!  Those wonderful people from the land of television is bringing to the small screen yet another installment in a long line of brawling babes with Nikita on the CW network.
Vietnamese-American actress, Maggie Q— best known for her work in Gen Y Cops, Model from Hell, and Rice Rhapsody (yeah, I never heard of ’em either)– plays the titular role, hell-bent on bringing justice on stilettos.  Here’s a little preview:

Day 11: It’s All Relative

Yesterday was kind of a chill day until Cousins Night took place in the evening.  There was a major downpour and we were worried that not a lot of the cousins would be able to make it to the restaurant for the get-together.  Thankfully, about 30 of us converged on Pier 1 at the Fort.  The live band– five HOT sisters who all sing and play instruments– was killin’ it, providing for a hopping backdrop.  I saw cousins I hadn’t seen in over twenty years, and met a few second and third cousins for the first time.  It was both amusing and saddening to hear them say that they knew me only from Facebook.

(Well, at least they knew me somehow.)

Sadly, I started hitting the San Mig Light way too early that I petered out fairly quickly.  At around midnight, I just up and left without saying goodbye to the dozen or so remnants from the big group that started out four hours earlier.  Whenever I’m three sheeting it, I don’t become an Angry Drunk or an Unruly Drunk– I simply disappear.  Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a big deal.  If I was back home in Portland.  But I’m in the Philippines, and I actually had to take a cab to return to a place I wasn’t all too familiar with.  Luckily, I made it home in one piece.

Today, it’s a pool party in Laguna with even more relatives whom I haven’t seen in a very long time.  It should be a hell of a good time!

Day 10: Malate Catholic School

I finally made it to my old high school yesterday.  Even simply standing in front of it was surreal.  This was where I spent four significant years of my life.  It seemed so small now.

I was lucky enough to catch a former teacher, Ms. S. (who’s now the Alumni Director) at the school, and, after a delightful lunch at Aristocrats, she gave me a quick tour of my alma mater.  A lot has changed.

The schools are now partially desegregated.  Whereas before, there was a “Girls’ School” and a “Boys’ School”– two buildings separated by a major thoroughfare (San Andres Street)– they have since been changed into the High School building (formerly the “Girls’ School”) and Elementary School building (formerly the “Boys’ School”).  Back then, it was a big deal when my buddies and I would venture into the Girls’ School.  We all had our crushes and eventual girlfriends, and, save for meeting up outside of school, we barely saw each other while classes were in session.  Nowadays, the students, although still separated into boys’ classes and girls’ classes, can now spend some time together during recess or lunch.  According to Ms. S., the decision to combine the genders had actually caused many parents to pull their students out of the school, citing that the lack of segregation would cause unnecessary distraction from their studies.  In 2001, the student body went from 6,000 students strong to only 2,900.

All the classrooms are now air conditioned.  I remember suffering greatly while in class when the mercury would rise to extremes, and the built-in ceiling fans weren’t enough to beat the heat.  What I would do to relive high school in air conditioned comfort!  (Um, on second thought, no; I wouldn’t want to relive high school.)

The gymnasium is now enclosed.  Before, it was simply barricaded with a wire fence, and whatever activities we did inside were viewable to the public.  With the increased desire for student privacy and security, solid walls were built, and the entry, as those for the schools, now have security guards posted.  Apparently, the gymnasium is the site of an alumni event in November.  Sadly, I won’t be able to attend.

Ms. S. introduced me to every current faculty member we bumped into, and it was a strange feeling being referred to as “alumni.”  I recently turned the Big Four Oh, but don’t really feel old.  Walking the halls of my former high school, and being surrounded by the current, young Malateans, I definitely felt my age.  But, it doesn’t change the fact that this stopover at my old stomping grounds not only solidified my desire to return to the Philippines for the 25-year Reunion, it made me even more proud to be an alumnus of this great school.