Vax on the rush

Pasig's vaccination card you'll be proud to show off.

On the day my wife and kids and others in our compound are getting their 2nd dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Caloocan, I finally also got mine in Pasig. It’s only my first jab and had to sign up in the city where my work is located because I just couldn’t miss work and probably won’t last if I line up at 4:00 am and spend more than 8 hours waiting in too long a queue. Because that’s what my family had to endure, and many others in our barangay and perhaps in other cities as well, just to get vaccinated. Everyone seems to be rushing to get vaccinated now because of news that vaccines are scarce and running out of supply. And that some establishments are now requiring proof of vaccination before you’re allowed entry.

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Plantita wife, happy life

My wife's plant garden in and out of our house.

If there’s anything good this pandemic has ever given us, it’s that we now have more time on our hands at home, thus the opportunity to become our own chef or baker, craftsman or DIY guy, online seller or next-door tutor, and plantita or plantito who can turn any humble dwellings into green sanctuaries. My wife’s one and has turned our home into her own garden or what I jokingly call Jumanji. No, our house doesn’t look anywhere near that messy jungle from the movie, but almost every room or corner of our house now has a pot or two of her plants. I’m not complaining, of course, I’m just as happy to see her happy with her plants.

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Empty sala and word puzzles

An empty sala filled with family memories

Whenever I see an empty sala, just like the photo above of a resort’s lobby where I was billeted for a cable convention a few years back, it reminds me of the day I lost my father. I may have had a love and hate relationship with my tatay, but I can’t help but miss the strictest and OC person I know in my entire life. Being the youngest, I would walk at least two kilometers to buy him three newspapers almost every morning, a broadsheet and tabloids. He reads them while in the toilet for hours and solves all the word puzzles, English and Tagalog. Word puzzles that still puzzle me that I couldn’t solve or finish as he did, but I’m lucky to have been influenced by his smarts, especially my interest in reading. My father’s not perfect, he wasn’t trying, but he always made our family his priority, and as we celebrate Father’s Day, I’d like to honor him as the best and smartest in his own right.

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Sunset of motivation

The beautiful sunset of Marinduque by CC Lozano

The morning alarm, be it your watch, phone, or the neighbor’s rooster crowing loudly in anticipation of sunrise, seems to be your first motivation of the day. Albeit annoying, while you can snooze it, not the rooster, and get a few more minutes of sleep, the next more incessant alarm will be like a commanding sound that will have you getting up quickly. But even when you’ve gotten enough sleep, how many times have you struggled to shake that feeling of sluggishness. And as soon as you rush out of bed, you stop and think about how your day will end even when it hasn’t started yet. Overwhelmed by the sunset versus the sunrise, we just can’t help but worry about how our normal lives have forever changed and continue to be disrupted because of the pandemic.

If waking up every day is starting to feel like a chore, don’t worry you’re not alone. It’s been over a year of lockdown which made it difficult for pretty much everyone, as we’re forced to stay home without seeing most of our friends and relatives, with social media and video calls not making the reality of distance less stressful at all.

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Alexa on the dot

The Amazon Echo Dot by CC Lozano

I actually got this Echo Dot last year as a holiday gift to myself, the only unit left at a local store where I queued supposedly to buy the collectible Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros. by Nintendo, but my curiosity as to how it compares to Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant got the best of me. This awesome find and “it” here is of course Alexa, Amazon’s own version of the intelligent personal assistant. Well, let’s just say I’ve had really good convo with Alexa especially when it comes to history, news updates, and trivia. This 4th generation smart speaker, available in three colors and costs around Php 3,000 here, now sports a spherical design and smaller than the previous model. There’s another version with an LED display that costs a bit more, but makes it a more appropriate bedside toy as it shows time or outside temperature when asked.

While this cute little ball of a speaker sounds surprisingly good given its size, it lacks the thumpy bass and volume vibes you’d want to hear when playing music. But it’s really Alexa and the amazing AI behind it that got me talking to it like it’s my personal secretary.

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Negative is the new positive

If the global pandemic has taught us anything, as we continue to cope with it changing our normal lives forever, it’s that being negative is the new positive. Not only am I referring to staying safe and clear from the COVID-19 virus infection, but how we have been struggling with stress and anxiety in the new normal that causes us to feel miserable and sad. Losing your long-held job or only source of income, the sudden death of a loved one, or simply being left with no choice but to face your personal issues on your own. These have become more common, and regardless of social status, whether rich or poor, we all have had our bouts with unpleasant experiences or unhappy episodes that somehow kept us feeling down.

We’d be quick to say “You’ll get over it, just be positive!” something that I’m actually guilty of doing. But this is the toxic positivity that might do more harm than help. Of course, there are benefits to being an optimist and maintaining a positive mindset. However, toxic positivity wants us to ignore or reject difficult emotions in the pretense of a happy and joyful life.

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Spilling the spiels

Most call it script, others call it dummy dialogue, I used to call it calibrated interaction, but now it’s commonly referred to simply as spiels, what contact center professionals use as either guide for managing calls or workflow to simulate calls and come up with the most productive information exchange, with the aim of providing the best possible call experience, for both ends.

Spiels can be in the form of questions and responses for specific call situations, sometimes printed (like a story script) or part of a training manual, or integrated into the CRM applications and call management software, a lot of times remaining unchanged or standard, tweaked only as the need arises.

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The daily huddle versus the pandemic

MRT ride during the pandemic by CC Lozano

Grateful to have landed a job last year after months of search in the midst of the global pandemic and I have since been working full time. By that, I mean physically going to and fro my office on weekdays as the work-from-home arrangement is not a viable and practicable option in the new company I’m working with. With prior experience working remotely, albeit a short stint, I thought remote work wasn’t for me having spent most of my career on business operations or “where the action is” and well, I was actually missing the usual face-to-face work routine or what I call the daily huddle.

So yes, while everyone seems to want to work at home, I went versus the new normal and have been braving the daily drive or commute to work while still under the pandemic. All’s well so far but that’s not to say there weren’t any hiccups. And especially now that we’ve been struggling for over a year now and have yet to recover from the recurring quarantines, with the new COVID-19 variants crossing borders, delays in vaccine availability and inoculation, and the soaring numbers in new cases. You’re crazy to want to go outside!

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