Under water!

I had a hairy six weeks. Not a good time. I’m not sure how I got through. I think I kept being grateful that we weren’t being hit by those constant hurricanes hitting the Gulf and we weren’t being burned out by fires like on the west coast. That kept me going, but I did have problems here.

For three weeks, I had no a/c. And that’s fine, the issue was having so many a/c guys in and out trying to fix the problem, then trying to install the new system on the roof and other things, but as that was winding down and I got my new a/c system installed, I discovered a leak. I am three floors down from the roof, so I assumed it was my toilet or something. It originated in one of the bathrooms and leaked under the floor into one of the bedrooms. The one saving grace was that it was a bathroom and bedroom I don’t use. A spare room and a spare bathroom!

Well, the leak was coming from my neighbor above, but he had the leak too, coming from above him – from the penthouse.

So in these past three weeks, the water flowed – non stop. We had dozens of “experts” here and spent thousands of dollars to find the source of the leak. Leak detectors, insurance people, plumbers, air conditioning people – in and out for three weeks, revolving door here.

One source was thought to be our messy, wet roof. Another were the a/c lines condensating down from the roof. We were up on the roof, up in the penthouse, breaking walls here and there. And all that while the water flowed! I barely left the house. I met with the non-stop flow of experts and was afraid to leave the non-stop flow of water.

I literally dumped 30 to 40 gallons a day. I vacuumed it up with a wet/dry vac and counted each time I dumped the five gallon tank. It was never ending. For three weeks, I slept an hour, got up, vacuumed up the water and went to bed – I got up after two hours and did the same and so on and so on. Talk about stress!

This went on for three weeks. As people came and went and opined on what the source was, handed us with big bills, no one seemed to do a thing. And I vacuumed up water 24/7 – literally. I didn’t have a life. I threw out so many things that were ruined. And it got so bad that my big lighting fixture and mirror fell off the bathroom wall. The walls were so saturated that everything just sort of melted!

The water then started seeping into my bedroom wall, where the tv is hanging. I kept waiting for the whole 55 inch tv to fall off the wall. Thankfully that didn’t happen.

In the end, after dozens of visitors (experts?), dozens of sleepless nights, and hundreds of gallons of water, we had an a/c guy come and he found the leak – about 50 feet away from where we thought it was – under the toilet in the penthouse bathroom. There are about four bathrooms and this one is never used, as it emanated from their spare room, just like it ended up in my spare room!

The problem was fixed – hopefully – so far so good – this morning I woke up to a dry floor. No water flowing out. Nothing. So far so good. I am feeling thrilled now. Like I could fly. Like I could live!

I literally slept through the night last night, without having to wake up every hour or two to vacuum up the constant flow of water! Now it’s about restoration, but I can breathe now!

Eddie Van Halen

I’m feeling really bad about Eddie Van Halen’s passing yesterday. I’m not sure why. I mean I loved Van Halen, but I loved so many other people who passed, but I don’t feel devastated over their deaths.

I didn’t feel devastated over Michael Jackson, but I did over Prince and Tom Petty. I felt devastated over Audrey Meadows, but not Jackie Gleason. Weird, right? Anthony Bourdain really hit me hard. A friend in my head.

Maybe it’s the state of mind we are in on the day we hear of the passing. I can’t figure out why else I would feel so bad for some people and not others. All people I don’t know and never met.

But they were all part of my life. Part of my youth. When they pass away, is a part of my youth passing away?

I always remember when 1983 was turning into 1984, the first video MTV showed right after midnight was Jump, by Van Halen, the first video of 1984. I think it was the premier of the song or maybe just the video. But of all the New Years eves, this one always sticks in my head. I can picture myself in the family room in front of the tv, sitting on the floor, and I can picture my mother in the kitchen on the phone, probably wishing Happy New Year to someone at that midnight hour. But that’s one of my special memories of two of my favorite years – 1983 and 1984 – Van Halen performing Jump, which was the first time I had seen and heard it.

If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry

So things have been sucky around here lately. I didn’t have a/c for three weeks and finally got a brand new system, but now there is an unrelated leak. There’s been leaks in this building since the day I moved in. And now there is another.

I saw this comic on Instagram Saturday night and could not stop laughing. We have a neighbor’s text where the whole building is part of it, so I texted it to everyone. And it got a lot of laughs. Unfortunately, it is so true around here. When there’s a problem, it seems as if you are on your own.

Recently, one of my rooms was flooded out and it’s still damp. I think it’s from the roof, but who knows and around here, who cares. I always liken our condo building to Anna Madrigal’s boarding house from Tales of the City.

One of my leaks years ago was water coming out of the light fixture! When it rained hard, water poured out. The only saving grace was that it was directly over the bathtub! True story!

The other leaks were not so fortunate.

This current leak now is in a spare room that I use for storage, so I didn’t notice it right away. We think it is from the room again, but not sure. I had a leak detector out and there is another one coming next week.

I ended up tearing the carpet out myself, so now it’s just a cement floor where it’s a bit easier to control the leaking as it builds up slowly. I had a guy coming over, a handyman I use, but he was unable to make it, so I did it myself. One of my neighbors offered to help, but I just cut up the carpet myself, doing small pieces one at a time. When I finished I got a text from the handyman who said he was on his way! Too late!

Anyway, the comic above is “Manchild Manor” at ManchildManor.com. The comics are so funny there, check them out!

‘Are you a cartoonist?’

I had flooding here. Yup, another thing gone wrong in 2020. Anyway, two insurance adjusters came over and they were looking all over the place.

One asked me, “Are you a cartoonist?” I smile and said proudly, “Yes I am!” and I gave him my card.

Isn’t that cool? I guess he saw things around my office which made him guess right.

When his partner’s phone rang, it played The Jetsons theme. The Universe sent me two perfect insurance adjusters.

It’s all about communication

When I look at today’s comic, it reminds me of a few years back, maybe 15 years ago. I have an online business that can be operated anywhere. But 15 years ago, even though it is the same business, which can be operated anywhere, I still felt tied to the office/home.

I had a neighbor, an attorney, who spent her time between New Hampshire and Miami and she told me, “It doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you pick up the phone!”

And I always remembered that and it made my life so much easier. She said, “You can be lying on the beach, and I don’t think the client cares, as long as you answer the phone!”

Ironically, I’ve never been a phone person and I avoid answering the phone, I prefer email, which has suited my business very well. But I do answer the emails quickly, especially since I have my phone on me 24/7, but even back then, before iphones, I answered emails quickly.

It’s all about communication. Even from the beach.

My little VoyageMIA interview

VoyageMia, did a little interview with me regarding my comics, you can see it here.

It’s only a few questions. It reminds me of when I did my Ten With Tom column for the Huffington Post. I am thinking of getting back to that, I met so many interesting people through it.

You can see some of them posted here on this blog.

No a/c in the hot summer

So here is a funny and weird story – I didn’t have air conditioning for almost two weeks. Yup, summer in Miami – no a/c. Oddly enough, the way my condo building is situated, it doesn’t get so hot on my side of the building, so I managed without the sun beating down on me. But two weeks – no a/c!

The unit was working perfectly, I only had to have the a/c guys out to clean the coils, because there was a leak, but as for cold air, it was blowing ice cold as usual. Well, the guys came and cleaned the coils and it all went down hill from there. From that moment on, I had no cool air coming out.

They ended up coming over four times, three of those time to try and fix the problem after they cleaned the coils, each time leaving and feeling it was all perfect. In the end – after their fourth visit – the problem was solved. The thermostat was turned off! There’s a button that puts it on “hold” and that stops sending contact to the main unit on the roof, so only room temperature air would flow, when you “unhold” the thermostat – cold air returns!

It’s like having your tv or computer not work and someone says, “Well plug it in!”

I had a feeling something was wrong with the thermostat, but try and tell an expert that you solved the problem and you get an earful on how you don’t know what you are talking about, “leave it to the experts!”

There’s a cartoon in this story somewhere, I’m thinking it over.

Slap dash and energetic

I read a recent review of a cartoonist who worked around the turn of the century – last century, and it said the cartoonist had a “slap-dash, energetic style,” which today’s reviewer liked. It made me take notice because one of the cartoon syndicate heads said that I draw too fast.

Would he have liked my work better if I drew slower?

I was fascinated that he said that because he never saw me draw, but he’s right, I do draw fast. It’s just the way I work. I watch movies and documentaries on cartoonists, as I mentioned in a previous post, and I see how slow they work. They are so meticulous with every line and I wonder how they ever get anything done at that rate. But they are syndicated and I’m not. So maybe there is something to the speed at which one works.

But look at the photo above, that’s me working at home – see that John Lennon painting? That’s a large 4′ x 6′ piece of art I bought at a charity auction years ago. It’s by an artist named Michael Israel. He does those “art attack” things, where he paints the image upside down in about 20 minutes, he turns it around and there you have an incredible piece of art! He works fast and comes out with masterpieces, so there may be something to slap dash and energetic.

Menacing in the shadows

I don’t like to judge people when I first see them, but it’s human nature.

I go to this place in town for lunch often, maybe two or three times a week. You can’t eat inside, but you can eat out in the closed off street or you can take-out at the window. I’ve mostly go alone for take-out, but I’ve eaten there with friends sitting at tables, too.

From the first day I started going during the pandemic, months ago, I’ve seen these two guys there – every single time. No matter when I go, at lunchtime, there they are. Sort of near the take-out window, in the shadows, drinking beer. They usually have dark masks on or they are holding them and for some reason, they look at me and I look at them and no one says anything. I find them menacing.

I live in a small village, and everyone knows everyone else, but these two guys are strangers to me. But there they are, every single day at lunchtime, menacing in the corner, drinking beer.

Well, the other day as I parked my car nearby and got out, one of the guys was walking toward me on the sidewalk. I didn’t realize who it was until he said, “Hello.” When I looked up I realized he was one of the menacing ones.

But there he was, he was a harmless, skinny, gray haired guy in his 60s and didn’t look very menacing. I stopped him and said, “Tell me, what are you guys about? I see you every time I’m at the restaurant.”

He tells me he is a college professor and his friend is a computer IT guy or something like that. They are working from home these days (zooming as he called it) and they take a daily break to meet up for lunch/beer. He told me his name, so next time I go by, I’ll call out, “Hi so-and-so,” and I’m sure his friend will get a kick out it.

But it’s interesting how we judge people and how they are different in different locations and situations. They never said anything to me before, but I never said anything to them. We were just there. Seen but not heard.

Benilda is quite popular

benlidaThis particular cartoon which was posted Friday, got the most shares on Facebook of any of my recent work. I did have one of my comics shared on Facebook by George Takei once that got almost 100,000 shares. Can you imagine, 100,000 shares! The power of popularity and numbers.

This Benilda comic got about 2400 shares to date. Amazing. 2400 times an average of 400 friends for each person is 960,000 – almost 1 million potential readers! And that’s just Facebook, there are thousands of other readers on my TomFalco.com website and on Instagram, along with people sharing that I don’t know about.

It’s interesting what is popular and what isn’t. I’m not sure why this one struck popularity nerve with people but maybe it’s about driving or not knowing how to drive a stick shift, that is a popular subject I suppose.

A couple of people liked the name Benilda. So do I. I got it from a real person. A real person who I don’t actually know. It’s a customer. She purchases items from me online and has for years, but we’ve only dealt electronically, I’ve never seen or spoken to her, not even on the phone, but I love the name Benilda. I had another comic strip I was working on where the wife was named Benilda, but I never did publish that strip. While I did about 30 of them, I didn’t enjoy drawing the same characters and situations day after day, I much prefer the single panel where I can have different characters and scenes each day.

I have been posting short videos of me working on Instagram stories, I noticed that many of the popular and well read cartoonists do that, and they do even more – they constantly have videos of anything having to do with their life. One popular guy has videos today of him flying a kite with his son. It used to be “go fly a kite,” was a negative thing, but he made it fun positive thing to watch. I guess there are so many comics that it’s about the personality behind the comics, so I’ll post more of that and me, I suppose mostly on Instagram. I layout out my life here on the blog, too, of course.

Shark Week starts today. I’ll be posting a few shark related comics this week.