Worrying about the wrong things

I had to go to the doctor’s recently. It was at a place downtown where I had never been and my biggest concern was the parking situation. and finding the location. I even did a dry run drive on a Sunday, to be sure I could find the place on a busy rush hour Monday. I wasn’t worried about the actual doctor’s visit, I was more concerned with finding parking and finding the actual place.

Then there was a follow up for the results. I was nervous about that. I wasn’t nervous about the results, I was nervous about how it would work. Will he call me on the phone? Will I be on Zoom on the computer? I never set up Zoom on my new computer because I haven’t used Zoom since I got the new computer, so what will I do?

That’s what worried me.

I had a recent conflict here at my condo recently. I was supposed to be on the board, the board members begged me for months to run, and then at the time of voting, not one board member voted for me. I did not want to be on the board, but I felt obligated, but yet I was upset.

A friend asked why I was upset since I didn’t want to be on the board anyway, and I was upset because I had gotten psyched up about it. I told him, “I wasn’t psyched up in a good way, like I wasn’t excited about being elected. I was psyched up in the way you get when going to the doctor or dentist.” Maybe that’s why I don’t dread a doctor’s visit since I psych myself up ahead of time into dealing with it. Sort of like being on the condo board.

There’s a cartoon in all this somewhere. Or maybe a Seinfeld episode.

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Simply the Best

I redid my cartoon from yesterday, it seemed only right. I added Tina Turner up in heaven on a cloud, replacing the random guy from yesterday. What do you think?

I’m in mourning for Tina. Her death hit me hard, I don’t know why. I mean I know why – I loved her. But I don’t know why when some celebs die it hits me very hard. I sometimes believe it’s the state of mind you are in that day or week and that mood translates to the death of someone whether you knew them or not.

I saw Tina in concert many years ago, maybe 2008, around that time, she was of course already an icon. Our seats were great. I was looking for the photos I took, but can’t find them. She came up right over us on a crane. She was right there -feet from us.

I think I know every one of her songs and all of them from the 1980s are stuck in my mind – I can remember that time frame when I hear the songs. “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” reminds me of the summer of 1984 – one of my favorite years. I can remember that summer so clearly whenever I hear that. The video was all over tv, and you could hear the song in stores, on the street, wherever you were. You hear the first few bars and you know the song.

In 1984 or 1985 I stole a big Tina cutout that was outside a record store in the mall. I’m not sure where it is now, probably folded up in my parents’ garage. It was sitting right outside the entrance, I was with my cousin, and I just took it. I was possessed. I kidnapped Tina!

“Simply the Best” of course is iconic and it’s used in so many ways these days – at events, on tv commercials, it reminds me of HBO, which used it for many years as part of their brand.

I love “River Deep, Mountain High,” and “Rolling on the River” reminds me of my mother, she loved that. My mother also loved the Tina and Bryan Adams song, “It’s Only Love,” whenever that video came on we stopped what we were doing and watched.

I remember as a young kid seeing Ike and Tina Turner on tv and thinking, “what a funny name,” it just sounded funny to me. But she’s been part of my life, like so many of us.

We all know her story, how she escaped from Ike with nothing, made it to a motel, where the owner let her stay even though she had no money, and through it all, she reinvented herself and became a superstar.

Seeing the announcement of her death yesterday was a shock.

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Getting her bearings

Cartoonist Liz Climo creates cartoons with animals doing cute things. This one stood out to me because it reminds me of my own mother. I think about her every day and I guess since yesterday was Mother’s Day, I really had her on my mind, but I do think of her every day and one instance similar to this cartoon always sticks out in my mind, and I don’t know why, because I have millions, maybe billions of memories of her.

I must have been 8 years old, maybe a bit older and it could have only happened a few times. It must have been summer because my brothers and I were all home from school. And during that summer, early in the morning, I would go into my mother’s room and wake her up. My father had already gone to work, and it was still quite early.

I would wake my mother up and she would roll over groggily and say, “Good morning, do you want breakfast?” And I would say “yes,” and she would sit at the edge of the bed and say, “Ok, just give me a minute, let me get my bearings.”

She never yelled, she never said, “Get out of here, I’m sleeping!” She woke up smiling and happy to see me and I always remember that. I always remember her saying the “get my bearings,” part.

I’m sure she yelled at me a thousand times in my life, but I only remember her being kind and happy.

I don’t know if it happened once, twice, 10 times or what, but that one summer memory is always in my mind and this Liz Climo cartoon really brought it rushing back.

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How to take pictures of the moon with an iphone

All three photos taken with an iphone.

I got a great picture of May’s Flower Moon. It’s reddish, lit by the sun at night.

I took pics on Friday night, but they were not so clear, I was never able to get a clear picture of the moon in the past. But a friend posted a beautiful image she took the same night.

I said to her, “You always take such great moon pictures.” She said she took it with her iphone and she’ll show me how to do it.

Having no patience to wait for her to show me, I googled it and I found out how to take a picture of the moon with an iphone or any night shot for that matter. And on Saturday night, I got the image I was always trying to get. A beautiful moon image.

If you don’t have patience, like me, and don’t care about how to do it, just skip the rest of this below and just enjoy the pics here!

You need to use the 1x Wide lens or the 2x Telephoto lens if using the latest iphone. For some reason, the 0.5x lens doesn’t work for night images. There is a night vision icon (a moon) at the upper left when looking at the phone/camera. The icon usually pops on by itself, but if not, it will be white. Just tap it to put the night mode on.

I had seen that working the night before, it does a count down, holding the shutter open, but I didn’t know what it meant and I kept stopping it from doing it’s thing.

But that’s what you want – it will count down the seconds it needs to capture the night image – usually 3 to 5 seconds. Maybe more in a very dark space.

After that, you need to play with the editing feature on the phone. Edit the image to get rid of all the light and bring up the brightness of the image itself. Make the sky around it black.

Save it. And after saving it, you may see a halo around the moon. Open the image again, and darken it.

So you’re going to edit it twice – first time using everything you can to bring out the brightness and clarity. Second time, getting rid of the by darkening the background.

Hopefully that works for you.

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Off the grid

I’ve been living in the stone age this week. What happened is, my internet and tv went dead. ATT Unverse just stopped working. It was an area thing, not just me. The frustrating part was that ATT wouldn’t tell us anything – just that the service would be back soon, which it wasn’t.

It is now almost 60 hours and we’re still off the grid. But I finally found out what it is – one of my neighbors told me it’s a problem with a junction box. And that 60 hours may turn into 100 hours without service according to ATT, who my neighbor got through to.

The good part is I called ATT and instead of canceling their service, like I always promise to do, I am giving them more money in the form of a hotspot on my iphone, which now allows me to have internet. So I am able to post this, post my cartoons and do some work.

It all went dead Monday night at 9:30 pm, right in the middle of Summer House, which I was watching. And I didn’t realize how bad things are when we don’t have internet and tv. Mostly, I couldn’t work, not even cartooning because I go back and forth between computers.

It’s happened before for long periods – after hurricanes mostly, but we’re too consumed with that mess to worry about internet and tv. But the last time, we did have electricity, no wifi or tv, but my neighbor who has Comcast/Xfinity, gave me his password and since they were up and running, I didn’t have to rely on ATT, I used his password to go online and work.

At night during that time, instead of being able to watch tv, I watched two Harold Lloyd movies on YouTube on my phone. So I made do. Oddly enough, without wifi and tv, you sort of feel as if you are Harold Lloyd hanging by a thread, off of a clock.

The great Harold Lloyd in Safety Last

But for some reason, Monday, into Tuesday this week felt strange. It’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t rely on the internet, I mean, whether you use cable tv or streaming services, you need to get online these days for that.

My brother was telling me about YouTube tv, he has that. I was looking at how it worked at his house the other day. It’s much cheaper than cable and it gets all the channels. So I was considering changing to that. Again, it would relay on wifi to work, but you could use it on your phone or tablet, etc. so you could use that bandwith to make do.

After 24 hours of this mess, I was over my withdrawal symptoms, I felt at peace. I didn’t miss tv or the internet. I felt like it was in the “old days” when I was hardly ever home and basically in and out to change my clothes.

I think I started being a homebody during the pandemic, and never stopped being in that habit. But now I know I can live without being addicted to wifi and tv. I enjoy depriving myself (doesn’t Kramer say that on Seinfeld in one episode? I think it was about him not having a refrigerator).

First world problems.

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Right place at the right time

Today’s cartoon is about a peacock, or rather a peacock feather. When I looked at my personal Facebook page today, it featured a memory from two years ago – peacocks crossing the street. I don’t know how to show that here, but that isn’t the point, the point is that a sign like that means I am in the right place at the right time. According to my friend jak anyway.

jak always said that if you read a word and hear a word at the same time, that’s a sign that you are in the right place at the right time and coincidences like that always mean the same thing.

Where I live, we have peacocks all over the place. Some people love them, others hate them. I love them. But a few years back there was an issue that got in the news about people wanting to get rid of the peacocks. They would round them up and send them to a farm somewhere, which makes no sense, since they will never get them all, they are always proliferating.

NPR called me up to interview me on the radio about the birds. I talked to them about 15 or 20 minutes and I told them that I loved them and that they were part of the character of the neighborhood. I did say I could understand how people despised them because they were dirty, loud and they pecked at their reflection in cars in people’s driveways, which ruined the paint job.

The interview ran on the radio and it was picked up by newspapers all over the country. But what the newspapers did was pick up my comment about them being dirty, loud and a nuisance. They didn’t pick up the part where I said they should be left alone because they are loved by most of us and they are part of the village and village life!

One newspaper wrote a story and as is the case, newspapers all over the country picked this piece of news up. My uncle read my quote in the NY Post of all places! They ran my quote about them being loud.

I was in the Chicago Tribune and Michigan newspapers, Los Angeles, the Midwest, all over – I was branded a peacock hater, which was the total opposite! They all chose to run the negative comments, which really weren’t negative, they were just facts about the peacocks. I’ve always defended the peacocks, but that part they ignored.

It was a bit funny, except the people in the village where I live were not pleased with me. Since the original interview was on the radio, I didn’t have anything in writing to defend myself. But I was part of our peacock mascot project some years back where people painted and designed about 50 of those cement art pieces that you’ve probably seen in different incarnations and animals around the country (cows, dogs, cats, etc.). And I used the peacock as my business logo for years. So I am a peacock fan.

Anyway, I guess I’m in the right place at the right time today since the cartoon and one of the peacock memories popped up on Facebook today. Right?

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All you gotta do is answer the phone

Years ago, maybe 20 years ago, I asked a neighbor how she worked in New Hampshire and Miami – she and her husband, both lawyers, went back and forth between the two places. She told me, “Tom, all you have to do is answer the phone, the client/customer doesn’t have to know where you are, they are just happy that you answered the phone.” And I’ve always remembered that.

It’s so easy these days with all the digital things we have – iphones, ipads, etc. I’ve worked on planes, trains and at the beach.

Years ago, I think I mentioned, I was a printing broker and I handled school newspapers. I literally worked an hour or two a day. I picked up the newspaper ready for print at the schools and dropped them off at the printer and that was it. In between, I stopped at the office, but by 10 am, I was usually free the rest of the day. And this was before cell phones.

I was unreachable after 10 am. I don’t know how I managed to do this for 20 years, but I ran a very good business like this. Teachers occasionally would leave me voice messages on my home answering machine, but basically, that was it. I was free from 10 am until 8 am the next day. No fuss, no muss.

When cell phones came into play and websites and things like that, I seemed to be more tied to the office than when I was a printing brokers with no way of reaching me.

It’s always amazing to think and wonder how things got done in the past without being tied to our cell things 24/7.

I blogged about this one time – the fact that I would meet up with friends while traveling and we would just meet up at the appointed time and place without being able to text back and forth 100 times to arrange it all. I would tell friends I would be in NY on such and such date and if they happened to be there visiting, too, we would arrange to meet.

But how did we do it? I don’t remember. Did we say on such and such date at such and such time we would meet in front of this place and that was it? We always managed to meet up and we were always there at the appointed date and time.

Sometimes life was much easier and less stressful when we weren’t tied to wifi all day and night.

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I wanna quit the newspaper

I got this crazy note from my newspaper carrier. No joke.

I only bring this up now because I see the FTC is trying to make it easier to cancel subscriptions to everything. Right now you have to jump through hoops to cancel any subscription and that’s what happened here.

I called the paper to cancel my subscription and rather than just canceling it, they questioned me as if I was on the stand. Why did I want to cancel? “Well,” I said, “I never really read it.

You don’t read it? “Well no, like today. I didn’t read it.”

Why didn’t you read it today? “Well, to be honest, it wasn’t delivered today and I didn’t even miss it.”

It wasn’t delivered? “Well, no, that happens a lot . . . “

And then on and on, I go . . . “A lot of time it’s left out front where people pick it up off the street, other times, it just doesn’t come. It’s late, it’s this it’s that,” and I go on and on.

At the end of the conversation, I asked them to please not use my name and don’t say anything to the carrier, but of course they did, and I got the above note.

After the subscription was finally stopped, I got non-stop calls from the paper asking me to re-subscribe.

One day I was standing out front, very early in the morning, it was still dark out, I was waiting for an Uber to pick me up to take me to the airport.

Up comes a car, I think it’s Uber. It comes right up to me on the front lawn – right up on the grass. It’s the delivery girl! She has her usual music blasting and she hands me the newspapers for the whole condo, says, “Good morning,” backs up into the street and is off.

Since then I’ve resubscribed, but only to the digital version, not the printed paper. But I forget to read the digital paper and occasionally use it to read the tv listings only. I once read up to seven newspapers a day (no really), now I read none. I can read the comics online, which I do, I can get all the news online from social media, where all the stories are posted and I hate to not support the local papers. So maybe I’ll go back to print, soon.

By the way, about showing this letter to her boss. I know her boss, he lives next door to one of my best friends. I have his number in my phone and if I really had a complaint, I most likely would text him, not go through the subscription service.

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She was the tv monitor

I was at the doctor’s office, in the waiting area, alone and a local channel was on the tv, showing the news. I decided to try and change the channel to the Today Show on NBC. There was no remote, but I saw some buttons on the side of the tv and I reached up to change the channel. Only for some reason, they didn’t work.

As I was doing that, I hear a lady say, “Don’t change the channel.” I turned and looked at her. She was a fellow patient. She asked me of I worked there. I told her no. I then attempted to change the channel again, but it wouldn’t change.

Again, she said, “Don’t turn the channel. I’m watching that.”

I said, “You just arrived! How were you watching this? I just wanted to put on the Today Show.” She looked at me blankly. I said, “You know, it’s a talk show.” She was horrified! “And news,” I said.

She then made talking gestured with her hands, “Talk, talk, talk, I don’t like that,” she said.

Since I couldn’t get the channel to change, I walked away. But then she said, “Ok, change the channel if you want,” as if I needed her permission.

She then said, “The banks are failing!” I guess she was panicked and wanted to watch the news.

I explained to her the banks were not failing, it was a couple of tech company banks and Pres. Biden said there was nothing to worry about. She looked at me as if she didn’t comprehend. Also, the local news was on, they literally mentioned the bank issue for 20 seconds and then went to the weather and sports. Perhaps I was changing to a financial channel to follow the banking story, maybe I wanted to put on MSNBC or Bloomberg, but she didn’t think of that.

She then walked to the other side of the room and told me to put on what I wanted. But of course, I couldn’t change the channel, so I walked to another side of the room and we ignored each other the rest of the time. I let her dwell in her ignorance and fear. She was a control freak, a tv control freak.

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‘305 Day!’

Still lots of things going on this season. I missed the Lake Worth Chalk Festival last weekend and a few other art events, but managed to get to this past weekend’s Gifford Lane Art Stroll, which is a block party in our village. It’s a yearly thing – 25th year, this year and it brings out the whole village. It’s like a tv show where the full cast shows up for an event and they are all in one scene.

It was also “305 Day,” on Sunday, which is the area code for Miami and on March 5 (3/05).

The hit of the block party is cucumber punch which is delicious on a hot day, which always seems to be the case for this event each year – it’s been a cool winter, but Sunday was totally hot.

The first year I went, 20 years back, I didn’t know the cucumber punch had gin in it, and I really had my fill, I was feeling no pain. Now that I know the ingredients, I take it easy.

They used to serve the gin at a friend’s house where everyone lined up outside his green door and he and his wife and friends would serve it up to thousands. I guess after 23 years they felt enough was enough with the non-stop traffic through their house, so they have it out in someone else’s driveway now. So last year, I went to the driveway for the first time and got some punch and people started talking to me. But the homeowner was not having it, she started yelling, “Tom, you have your punch, now get out of here!” I couldn’t argue with her, because she is 97 years old! She’s a spry 97, but still.

This year while it was outside her house, she wasn’t around. She’s an avid bike rider at her age, so maybe she was out bike riding!

Anyway, it was a great day, I think I saw everyone I know there which is always nice. There’s a lot of food, live music and kibitzing. A perfect day for a small village.

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