Archive for category Friends and family

I quit Facebook

Hi, my name is Jose. I make a living on social media and doing PR in the e-commerce segment. And, I just quit Facebook.

Someone light my cigarette.

Back when I was working at LinkedIn and really driving my social network activity into a professional realm, I was itching to bail on Facebook.  I joined to re-connect with high school friends just before our 20th year reunion but since then had been wavering on my activity there.  It just felt too icky too often. The first ick moment came when a former boss asked me about something I posted on my Facebook profile. She was lurking me.

Ick. Double ick.Two years later, 98% of my personal social networking activity is on LinkedIn, Twitter and this blog. And professionally, I manage the GSI Commerce blog as part of my job.

Reconnect with high school pals? Done.

Ongoing Facebook purpose? Unclear.

But what really tipped me over was this quote from this 2-year old Newsweek article: “When I think about all the hours I wasted this past year on Facebook, and imagine the good I could have done instead, it depresses me.”  It’s basic macroeconomic theory applied to social networking. The opportunity cost of clicking through pictures of people in wonderful “look at me you’re not here” places is less time from things that matter.

I’m off Facebook. And off to spend more time on as a board member, other business ventures . . . and throwing baseballs to my nephew who wants to be the next Jose Reyes.  If I throw enough fly balls to him maybe he’ll be the next Torii Hunter instead. Either way, last I checked I can’t throw batting practice on Facebook.

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Dog sits on cat.

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All my piazzas are dead

When I was a young geek (defined largely by the act of avoiding eye contact with girls at all costs) I didn’t have an iPhone, hundreds of Twitter followers or even this self important blog to create the illusion of cool.  That divide between cool and geek was the Grand Canyon. In fact, I’m not sure if I even considered trying to bridge the distance. Dunking a basketball was more likely than being cool.

Some people have been known to be hung up on those lockers.

While geek has become chic since then, unless you ever had to wear an eye patch and glasses you have no clue what it’s like. Most folks think geeks were loners or anti-social. Mostly we just were afraid of girls.

In reality pre-chic geeks roamed the earth in small packs — like hyenas. In a world of knuckle dragger popular kids with IROCs we found safe haven in small groups. If chased, we’d scatter to confuse the attacker and reconvene at the jungle gym at the local grade school.  Mostly we trolled the aisles of Tower Records where the universal language of music tilted the field of cool our way.  Nowhere else could the guy from the “300 Club” (this was a club in my high school comprised of jocks that could bench press 300 lbs. Most of them looked to be suffering from slight cases of Paget’s Disease. I can blog about this now because as I recall, reading was not requisite for the 300 Club) be humbled by the kids on the AV Squad. It was the projector and audio geeks who knew the difference between pre- and post-Roger Waters Pink Floyd.

There is a difference, you know.  Pink Floyd without Roger Waters is like all-natural organic peanut butter.  It just sucks.  It has no soul and it just thrashes the bread when applied.

Napster, iTunes, digital music and the Internet killed off Tower Records — one less piazza for me and my other sinewy friends to avoid girls in.  What to do, what to do?  Enter the video store.

While we could spend hours thumbing through albums and tapes at the record store, once you’re done there that’s it.  It’s over.  You don’t go home with your friends and listen to an album together.  Only losers afraid of girls do that. But with movies, you could kill an hour or two in the store then go watch the movie.  Including drive time, that’s like 4 whole hours of absolutely not talking to a girl.

All of these memories came rushing back to me as I walked by the boarded up BlockBuster video store in my neighborhood a few weeks ago. It was dark and the signage had been removed from the front of the building.  But anyone who was alive in the past 20 years could figure out what that store once was. They were unmistakable in design and screamed to me: “safety and coolness in here!”

Another piazza of my childhood killed by, yes, the computer geeks behind the Internet, Netflix and on-demand video.

I guess standing there looking at the old video store looked kind of bizarre to passersby.

I caught myself and spun around on the sidewalk and this girl was looking at me from her bitchin’ cool car.

“What the fuck are you looking at?! I have a blog ya know!”

– Jose Mallabo

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My one lazy eye

Ever wonder why you don’t see too many cross eyed people anymore?  It seems like I haven’t seen anyone with strabismus (cross eye) since I was being treated for amblyopia (lazy eye) in grade school.  Just before the 2nd grade started I was diagnosed with lazy eye.  To treat it, my eye doctor made me wear a gauze eye patch over one eye and eyeglasses on top of the whole mess.

I can still remember the first day of school.  The horror.  I lived right across the street from school, so I walked there with my trumpet case in one hand and books in the other.

As I approached the school on my right side, I felt the sudden impending doom of 400 school kids playing in the playground all zoning in on my gauzed up eye and military issue frames.  They looked like this:

But with my natural dorkiness and the cotton eye patch, it made me feel like this:

The closer I got to the school entrance the more self conscious I became and almost involuntarily I put my trumpet case on my shoulder — carrying it how an 80’s breakdancer lugs his boombox and cardboard dance floor.  Of course, the moment I made the right turn into school, my classmates got full view of my half mummified face. Years of therapy and endless amounts of beer later, I can laugh about this but what I’d give to kick the crap out of that optometrist.

I’m convinced that while the glasses over the patch did next to nothing to cure my lazy eye, it probably scared off dozens of would be abductors and allowed me to roam the neighborhood un-menaced by playground bullies and overly aggressive homeless people.  That aside, I’d’ve rather just walked around with a baseball bat in my hand and sharpened wood chisel in my pocket vs. wearing scuba gear on my head.

Needless to say, I’m glad kids and parents have medical alternatives to this today.

Now to get rid of band camp.

– Jose Mallabo

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Today someone in my family passed away.  I’ll likely never be able to accept that someone so young and wonderful can be taken like this so I am trying to find the resolve to stay focused on the fun we had together as kids.   And, for how thankful I am to have known her.

Thanks for being like another big sister to me. I am saddened by your passing and I will always miss you, Vina.

– Jose Mallabo

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How to lick H1N1

I can quip about it now.  But when it was happening a smile and a blog post was the last thing on my mind.

It was Friday morning and the night before I had eaten an overstuffed, fatty carnitas burrito (for those east of the Mississippi and north of Maryland, that’s pork) late at night and fell asleep at my computer.  I know.  It’s a very healthy approach to heart disease — which is just shy of smoking a couple of Marlboro reds while eating pork rinds in bed.  So the grumbling and fever I woke up with were easily attributed to that burrito.

Off to work I go. First meeting: CEO, CFO and my boss are in there along with a consultant that I hired.  That’s a big ticket meeting to be in when you’re starting to feel the symptoms of H1N1.  (For more info: check out the CDC site.)

Fast forward to the part where I’m in the doctor’s office after a two hour drive:  The receptionist and nurses are insanely friendly, smiling and seemingly glad to take my co-pay and give them something better to do than complain about the shitty grub they got from Taco Bell.  Everybody, show some spirit, here comes a sick guy!

Sprawled out on the examination table trying to get comfortable, all I could think of was having those stirrups might actually relieve the pressure in my back caused by my legs hanging off the edge.  But that would risk the wrong examination.  Me likey the sore back!

15 minutes into the examination my doctor confirms it’s 99.8% likely it’s H1N1.  But he’ll swab my nose and send the tests to the lab.  Those tests look real easy on the TV news.  But imagine taking a very thin pen and pushing it through your nose up into your sinuses then making a figure 8 with it. Twice.  The deepest nose pick outside of an Our Gang episode.

He leaves the room.  Comes back.  Says he’s going to write me a prescription for Tamiflu.   He says, “you’re all set, come on out.”  Two beats.  Then “on second thought, just hang in there for a minute.”  That seals it.  No lab tests needed.  They all know it’s 100% that I have H1N1.

As I leave the office it’s like I’ve become Moses.  People are parting in front of me like had a loaded shotgun and a frothing Pit Bull sitting on my shoulder.  It’s both weird and kind of nice not to have to go through all the fake good byes.  So I grabbed the prescription, pushed the door into the lobby open with my elbow (ensuring they all saw that) then stroll to the main exit/entrance, lick the door knob and leave.

Take that you over friendly co-pay takers.

– Jose Mallabo

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Positivity. Here’s proof.

Positivity is a strength. Here’s proof.

Last week, we did a StrengthsFinder exercise at work. Most of the strengths I found out I had were consistent and completely expected. Context and Command are top two strengths. I guess that means I can bark out orders with some conviction because I’ve read a lot about how Atila the Hun did it centuries ago.

But, Positivity was the lone wolf strength that threw me a bit. All you have to do is read this blog to know that I find folly in what many might call negative situations. I don’t care what anyone says, an adult falling down is always funny and an adult sprinting down the street (think of Tom Cruise’s character in The Firm) in a suit is even funnier (both because it’s a sight unto itself and also promises a high probably of said adult sprinter tripping and eating pavement).

Next time you see that 42 year old metro sexual tearing up 3rd avenue, just stop and ask yourself where the fuck is he going that he has to pull a Renaldo Nehemiah in a $1,000 outfit? You know it’s because of something trivial like he was walking his dog earlier that morning and stepped in a pile of poo causing him to have to go home and change shoes. Only when he changed shoes he realize that the tasseled mahogany loafers he has on now didn’t go with the dark navy suit he had on. So he had to change suits or pick up an English accent on the way to his first meeting. It’s always something as mundane and vain as that that causes people to be late. Otherwise, wake the fuck up on time and you’ll never have to sprint unless you’re being chased.

This flight to India is easily the longest trip I’ve taken in at least 20 years. I’m in coach. Middle seat. Every seat on the first leg of the flight has a bum in it. Yet, I must say that there was more to be glad about than to bitch about. Positivity:

  • Flight attendants were seemingly from every culture in the world and had some pretty hip yet traditional Arab uniforms – extra credit points for having historical context and a command for the now to be current. Plus all of them were far more polite than the most polite US Airways attendant – I think those folks aren’t so much working as they are seeking prey.

  • The audio visual ensemble on the seat back staring at my mug is better than any coach class entertainment system I’ve seen. A quantum leap better than JetBlue. A notch above Virgin America. United Airlines just plain sucks by comparison.

  • Every meal had rice in it.

  • As the lone Filipino on a flight of about 400 people – I enjoyed being unique even if it was for a mere 15 leg cramped hours. Having lived in the Bay Area for the past few years being a Filipino male is about as differentiated as that 3 millionth penny in a park fountain.

I get off the plane for a layover in Dubai and am thinking about all this positivity – hashing out a blog post in my head. It only took about 15 minutes for some of the shine to wear off. As I’m trying to orient myself and figure out where to go I hear a language that immediately nixes that last bullet. It’s not English. It’s not even Spanish. It’s Tagalog. Apparently my Filipino brethren haven’t just taken every US airport job, we’ve expanded the franchise to the beautiful airport in the UAE. I give the guy at duty free the universal Pinoy “you know that I know that you know that I’m a Pinoy” look. Next time I see you, I’ll show you what that look is and also teach you how to point with your lips.

Then I break into a light run for my gate and he’s probably thinking “I hope he falls.”

Jose Mallabo

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Monkey butt to keep shorts over sweats buried

Led Zeppelin released its first album forty years ago in January of 1969.

I’m not sure the 15 year old wearing the Zeppelin tee-shirt in the taco shop quite appreciates the possibility that he was conceived because of the track “Dazed and Confused.”

Probably not.

He probably just thought it was a cool retro shirt — which then forced him to download Led Zeppelin IV (home of “Stairway to Heaven”) to substantiate the $40 price tag for that shirt at Urban Outfitters.

I think it’s kind of cool, actually. Cool to see bands that comprised the soundtrack of my teenage years influencing today’s acne demographic. 15 years from now when that kid is my boss, I’ll be trying to convince him how In Through the Out Door was Zeppelin’s best all around album.

I was no boogie woogie bugle boy

I was no boogie woogie bugle boy

The parallel would have been me wearing an Andrews Sisters tee-shirt when I was 15 in 1984. Instead, I was wearing a Led Zeppelin tee-shirt in 1984 trying to look cool against all the Van Halen fans wearing 1984 tee-shirts.

A couple days after spotting the taco eating Robert Plant fan, I saw another kid walking down the street in what can only be described as what you’d get if you threw a teen aged Asian into a blender with Joey Ramone and Howard Jones. By Howard Jones I mean this Howard Jones:

Everyone is to blame for this look

Everyone is to blame for this look

Not the guy that kind of looks like Sting now and plays your local amphitheater in the summer.

Under the shaved side faux hawk / mullet were the Square Pegs spectacles, denim jacket with hoody under it — all on top of a nasty pair of skinny black jeans that the Ramones helped make cool because Judy was in fact a Punk.

As I drove through trendy Walnut Creek past the Apple store, past Tiffany’s then of course past Urban Outfitters, I couldn’t help wonder if there is anything from my youth that hasn’t or won’t come back into vogue?

Two days of contemplation later, I give you the gym shorts over the sweat pants ensemble. Heidi Klum can’t make this look cool without going NC-17. I scoured my memory for all the things I saw in the 70s and 80s that haven’t resurfaced as a cool or fashionable thing to do or wear.

  • Baggy jeans. Check and double check.
  • Skinny jeans. Check. See above.
  • 70s rock. My 15 year old niece likes AC/DC. Check.
  • Bobby Brady haircut. See any playground in America. Check.
  • My all time favorite tube sock has even made a renaissance. Thanks Nick Van Exel.
  • Acid wash denim is thriving in certain parts of Americana. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Check.

It seems like everything has come back — except the gym shorts over sweat pants look. One would argue that the shift towards the show me your curves while you exercise movement would be the biggest nail in the coffin for shorts over sweats. While Dwight Howard is yoked and looks bad ass in a tank and women’s volleyball is made all the more interesting because of the attire, I rest my argument on a more practical matter called Monkey Butt.

Better than the skinny jeans. And no Monkey Butt.

Better than the skinny jeans. And no Monkey Butt.

It’s an uncomfortable condition caused by the sublime combination of friction, heat and sweat during exercise that is exacerbated by wearing layers and layers of clothing over ones nether region. The shorts over sweats wrap is simply too much cloth because it doesn’t preclude having to wear some kind of underwear or jock strap. So, until the Anti Monkey Butt product becomes the iPod for your bum, I’m willing to bet that we never see this Rocky Balboa meets Urkel at a track meet look again.

– Jose Mallabo

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Two things I learned in the last 24 hours

1. There are people who actively manage the weight of their dogs, not for health reasons, but so that they’d be able to carry them on board an airplane without having to check them. Apparently the cutoff weight for some airlines is 25 lbs. Having looked into putting my dog in the underbelly of a jet years ago, I can see why doing that is less than savory for a pet owner. But there are dozens of breeds that are naturally under 25 lbs. So to you South Beach shoving dog owners get the Mini Bulldog Terrier instead of putting that cute West Highland Terrier on fen-phen.

Dogs on a plane.

We're big, but we can see the movie screen.


2. The median household income for Manhattan couples with toddlers is $289,000 a year. That’s 89% higher than couples with toddlers in San Francisco — and a shit ton more than the median household income in the U.S. of about $50,000 a year. I read that in a New York Magazine story about how these parents are now facing challenges of getting their 5 year olds into overcrowded public schools in New York. From the sound of the article, Bloomberg’s team missed the boat on the mini-baby boom post 9/11. But, with that kind of cha-ching can’t a dozen of these couples pool their loose change and hire a private teacher on their own? Perhaps someone out of Stephen Hawking’s bloodline? Hell, I got nothing but time – hire me and I’ll teach them how to potty train a 24 lb. dog and what exactly shit ton means.

– Jose Mallabo