At the right place at the right time

I had to laugh when I saw this cartoon by Ellis Rosen today, not just because it’s funny, but because I was thinking of this very situation at the moment I saw this on Instagram. My friend jak would say that’s a case of being in the right place at the right time.

I was talking to one of my neighbors about a delivery that was missing. Amazon delivered it, but she couldn’t find it.

I live in a small condo and deliveries are always left on a table down by the elevator, but her package was missing. What happened was, the delivery guy brought the packages up the stairwell, rather than leave them downstairs. Basically, no one uses the stairwell here, it’s an emergency exit, people use the elevator. I do use the stairwell, as I like to take the stairs for exercise, so I had seen the packages yesterday.

The elevator opens up into our units. There is no hallway or corridor. We use key fobs and each unit has its own code/fob and the elevator opens up right in your living room, which sounds cool, but it does get old after a week.

Anyway, there have always been screw ups with the elevator, the door would just open randomly, or the key fob doesn’t work and all the units are left unlocked, etc. So that’s where the cartoon comes in. I was thinking of the Amazon delivery and also of the time I came into my living room to find the FedEx delivery guy standing there with my package. He got into the elevator, because the fob system was not working, he pushed my unit button and there he was – in the living room.

I could not get mad at him or the Amazon guy, since they both went out of their ways to bring the deliveries up where they could have just left them down on the table in the lobby.

As I was thinking this, I saw the cartoon above pop up – a case of being in the right place at the right time. jak always said that when you hear a word on tv or radio or hear someone say it as you are reading it at the same time – that’s a case of being in the right place at the right time. Same thing when you say a word or phrase and someone else says it at the same time in person or on tv.

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Birthdays, kayaks and getting back to normal

For the past week my life has been kayaks and birthday lunches.

I’ve never been one for birthdays, I don’t see any reason to celebrate getting older, and of course my mother always cries when I say that and she thinks I wish I never was born, which of course is not the case. I just don’t like to make a fuss over it.

So usually my birthday comes and goes and my family does something, usually a cake on pizza night or something, but I guess because of the pandemic coming to an end, people want to get out, so I’ve been having lunches almost daily with different people, who are asking to take me out for my birthday, which was almost a week ago – yet the lunches keep going on and I’m loving it. I have a lot of Gemini friends, so there are lots of other birthdays during this period, so we have been celebrating those, too. So it’s been one big Gemini party lately.

For years I went out to lunch almost daily with different friends, and family, on different days and it was just the norm, but over time it seemed to stop, but it’s back and I’m loving it.

One of the local restaurant owners saw me on the street and started complaining about the fate of restaurants these days and he said I look so relaxed and happy and don’t have a wrinkle on my face, which he meant as a put down, but of course, I took it as a compliment, especially on my birthday, the day he actually said that to me. I had to remind him that the pandemic affected everyone, not just him.

As for the kayak/canoe saga, my kayak friend traded in that blow-up thing for an actual canoe. He had some guy with a trailer bring it over to my house to store here so we can easily take it out on the water, but haven’t yet. The bay has been choppy, maybe due that big beautiful full moon. Did you see it?

He came over to try it out, to see if it worked in the water without any leaks. It’s an old, ugly canoe, and therein lies the rub. One of my neighbors objected to it being on the property. “I’m trying to make the place look nice and you have that piece of crap hanging on the wall?” He offered to buy a nice new wooden one for us all to use, something he called “Hamptons-style.”

So I told him to just wait it out, my friend will get bored and get rid of the canoe, although he didn’t take it well when I told him it had to go.

I normally would fight it and say that I live here too, I have rights. But the thing is ugly, it is not going to be used, and my neighbor always does things for me – like buy me a brand new canoe, which I am going to decline. It makes no sense for him to do that.

So between that and lunches with friends (he was one of them that took me out), that’s what’s been going on around here. Business has been picking up, so that’s great and I’m getting ready for summer travel, so that is great, too. Little by little things are returning to normal, let’s hope they stay that way.

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The waiter and the water

After this cartoon was published today, it reminded me of a priest we used to have. Some years ago, Father Eddie was one of our priests. He was from a Latin country I think, but his accent sounded like Dracula. I loved it!

One time he was preaching and he was talking about Jesus turning water into wine, but he kept getting the words “waiter” and “water” mixed up.

He would said, “The water brought the waiter and then Jesus stunned the water by turning the waiter into wine.” Ha, I laugh when I think about it – he turned the waiter into wine.

I haven’t thought of Father Eddie in years, but again, I used to love his Dracula accent.

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Faded pictures

I was looking through pictures of our kayaking adventure and also pictures from when my friend was in town in April. A lot happened – went to the zoo, Everglades, etc. But I don’t have many pictures. Is it possible we are finally, as a society, getting over taking pictures of everything, including our lunch every day?

There was a time where we took pictures of everything. My friend likes to post “stories” on Instagram, which disappear in 24 hours, so he doesn’t have any photos to see or save.

I used to take so many pictures of everything, sort of documenting my whole life. When I published the daily news, I literally would have 150 photos of an event I attended and then I would have to go through every one of those photos and edit them down to a handful that I would publish. I finally learned, after so many years of that to just edit as I went along. I would take maybe 12 photos and then whittle that down to 9 or 10. And this way, I literally cut out hours worth of work going through images.

But now I sort of don’t take pictures of things. When we went kayaking, my biggest fear in that rubber raft was sinking. Not so much drowning, but sinking and losing my keys and my phone. But I left them home and went out “naked” so to speak, and it was so much more relaxing not having to worry about anything.

I remember once I went out and left my phone at home and rather than panic, I was totally relaxed.

So I’m wondering now if we are letting up on the photos. For one thing it’s rude when you are with people, you know, you’re out and about and maybe at lunch and you are taking photos of everything. I don’t even answer the phone when it rings when I’m with people. I try to think of years ago when we didn’t have that option, so why is it so important now? Let people wait, you don’t need to text right back or answer right away or take pictures of your lunch all the time.

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It’s all going the way of the payphone

I was thinking that I need to get new photos for press stories and things like that. In the past, the publications would send out a staff photographer or someone to take the pictures. I don’t ever remember sending in my own photos. Even news channels would send out a reporter or someone with a camera and they would film you somewhere. Now it’s all zoomed in. In the past a tv station would call me up about a local issue and ask if they could send a reporter or guy with a camera over – and more times than not, they wanted me in the center of town to do the interview. This is when I published the daily news and was considered some sort of know-it-all. I wan’t, but the media thought that.

So many old ways may be gone now that the pandemic has set new rules. And even before the pandemic things were disappearing. I think kids these days only know what a phone booth is thanks to old Superman tv shows and movies.

Newspapers and magazines don’t send out photographers for a quick photo anymore due to the pandemic, but – I think in the future we’ll just send in photos like we’re doing now, which saves them time and money. And of course printed newspapers and books are going the way of online and kindle. So many offices won’t return to normal. Why pay thousands of dollars in rent for an office when people can easily work from home? Like this cartoon shows, maybe only zoom calls will be the office norms from now on.

I was reading that shared touch screens may disappear – you know, like ATM’s and things like that. People will maybe use their smart phones to navigate through things like that. Many people order food online or on their phones and then pick up the stuff, I do that. I do it with Starbucks and Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain and Sweet Green and for many years, I would order food myself at the location, on a touch screen at Panera, which of course, may just end up being my cell phone since touch screens may be a thing of the past.

Recently when I went to the zoo with my friend, I purchased the tickets online. It was more about being sure we got the tickets since they are controlling the visitor count these days.

And handshakes, will they ever come back? I never was a big hand shaker or a hugger and maybe we won’t do that in the future. Maybe we’ll bow like they do in Japan. It seems more respectful to bow, doesn’t it?

I have not physically paid a parking meter for years. I pay for parking, but I use a phone to pay for it. And maybe there will be no parking meters in the future, since the phone knows when the meter is up and no one has to drive by to check on that.

Some years ago, a friend who worked at a bank, told me that bank tellers would be a thing of the past – and so they are. I take a picture of a check and send it to the bank that way, without ever stepping inside the bank. I transfer money, pay bills (and don’t use checks either, I do that online) and things like that.

That reminds me of when I was in high school, I worked at a newspaper and at that time we had to typeset and put everything together separately – the headlines, the main galleys/type, the photos, it was a jigsaw puzzle. Our boss told us of the future, where there would be something called “pagination” where the whole page would come out as one piece, we could not fathom that, we listened in awe.

My brother Chris used to be in the computer business, when home PC’s were all sort of new. I asked him one time if it was possible to have different fonts put in the system, so that when I was doing my graphics and newspaper business, I could use different fonts for ads, text, headlines, etc. He said it might be possible, but it would take some super programming to do! Ancient history now.

I walked into one bank that is a coffee shop, I was there yesterday, in fact. The first time I walked in a year or so ago, I asked where the bank was and someone pointed to one or two teller machines in the back of the coffee shop. So now banks are coffee shops, where you of course, can order your coffee on your phone.

I joke at my local Starbucks that the app is great – “I don’t have to talk to any of you this way! I just order and go!”

At Whole Foods in some locations now, you swipe your hand and you pay that way. I use Apple Pay and swipe that and I also use their QR code on my phone for discounts. Even the NYC subway now uses a QR code rather than a card to get on the subway. The card of course, replaced tokens.

At one hotel I stayed at, I used my cell phone to unlock my room door. The room key, became a key card which now became an app. I have ordered and bought plane tickets for years online or on my phone and at the airport I check in myself and don’t even use a paper boarding pass – it’s a QR code on my phone. The first time I converse with someone during this whole process is to say hello to the attendant at the gate as they check my boarding pass on my phone.

Real estate is selling online these days in a hot market. People buy from digital showings and don’t even show up at the properties. And cars! My next car will be bought online. And I’ll have it delivered to the house and have my old car picked up. Sort of like you buy mattresses now!

We order rides, we order food, we order groceries online and even read books (and comics) on our phones now. It’s all in our pocket – including zoom calls – you don’t even need a computer to zoom.

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Am I trending? They seem to think so

So I’m getting some European love! Nora Gouma, a fashion/people magazine did a little feature on me.

They had seen my Ten With Tom feature in the Huffington Post and turned that back on me and did 10 questions with me.

I hadn’t done the 10 With Tom feature for awhile, but the feature is still popular. I guess when people Google certain celebs, my column comes up, so it’s always got some traction. I may bring it back, I’m in talks with the Huff Post. I have a bunch of the 10 With Tom columns here in tact in this blog.

Anyway, I see from a few of my recent press articles, that I need some new pics. Because of the pandemic, they aren’t sending people out to take pictures and I have to send the pictures in myself. I guess this European publication would not have sent anyone, but the Miami Herald and others would have when they did stories.

Old friends popping up out of the blue

I’ve been cleaning the house up this week. Nothing much, it’s more messy than dirty. But I want it to look decent for a friend I haven’t seen in 40 years. Yup, 40 years! We were kids the last time we saw each other for goodness sake!

He emailed me a couple of weeks ago. My name popped in his head after all these years and he did an internet search and he found me. We talked on the phone, and he’ll be in town maybe this week. He lives in Orlando now and he’s back and forth to Miami often.

Strange when I think about it. 40 years – a lifetime. I had a whole life since I saw him last, so did he.

This isn’t the first time this happened, a friend I know since we are three years old contacted me not long ago. He found me on Facebook. We haven’t touched base in person yet, but he also lives not too far from me, maybe an hour’s drive north. The last time I saw him, I think he was maybe 7 or 8 years old. Amazing. He has a wife and four kids now.

Social media is amazing. But again – this isn’t the first time, but a bit before I was on social media, in 2008 or 2009, I found an old photo of a friend named Tom, yup, another Tom. We were very good friends but he left town after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It was such a crazy time that people got scattered all over the place and he ended up going back to California, to San Francisco, where he was born. His family has lived there for generations. I never asked him about it, I have to – did they go there during the gold rush of 1849? How did they end up there so many years ago?

Anyway, I found a bunch of old photos and there was Tom in one. It jogged my memory, I had not seen him for almost 20 years by then. I did an internet search and I found his email address. I emailed him and we connected, he came down to visit and we have been connected since – mostly on Facebook – but we have been connected in person, too. It’s sort of my turn to visit him in California – maybe soon after the pandemic is over.

I find it so weird and interesting that even though decades have passed, we all go back to where we left off – sort of like muscle memory. It’s like no time passed at all. Even all our voices sound the same to all of us after not hearing them for so long. And the funny things we remember about each other come right back. Certain things come up or tv shows come on or whatever, and something flashed in your mind and you remember certain people at certain times doing certain things. A news story or event or a certain neighborhood or building brings certain people to mind.

My friend in Orlando asked if I remembered him. I was taken aback when he asked. Why wouldn’t I? He’s part of the fabric of my life.

My subconscious mentor

Recently I was interviewed for a publication and they asked me about my influences. I mentioned Hanna-Barbera and Charles Schultz and of course Ralph Dunagin, who I only recently realized was a big influence on my work. I had written about that in June 2020, when Ralph passed away.

For all these years I had not thought about him, but when he passed away and stories and images of his work started appearing, it struck me right away that that was my work! I was looking at my own work, yet it was Ralph’s work, who I was influenced by.

I don’t want to say I copied him, because I never did and I never traced or drew his work like I did with others. I never traced Fred Flintstone, yet I drew him all the time as a kid. Same as Peanuts characters – I drew them over and over. But with Ralph’s work, especially his Dunagin’s People comic strip, I only viewed it and subconsciously studied it, but I never recreated it on paper, I never copied or drew it – I saved it only in my head I guess. And I don’t remember doing that. It was all so subtle.

I find it so interesting. I subconsciously studied his line work. He was an “unassuming influence,” as I called my last blog story on him. I draw clothing in his style and I don’t connect the lines when I draw, just like him. I also draw feet like he does. I literally see his work in my work. Only I never knew it until recently. So that is really a case of subconsciousness. All these years it was right in front of my eyes, but I never knew it.

The new normal?

Today’s cartoon reflects something that may be happening in the country; maybe the world. I haven’t seen it personally, but they started talking about it on tv. People who have been vaccinated have an air of arrogance and superiority. And maybe they should.

I got vaccinated yesterday! I hadn’t planned it, I’m not of age yet and I’m not a front line worker, but I got a note from my doctor and I made an appointment at Publix. I tried other places; hospitals and such, but I ended up at Publix. Ironically, I ended up at my family’s Publix. What I mean is the one where I grew up and went to as a kid and where my parents still go. It’s only four blocks from their house! The appointment just popped up and I grabbed it when I had the chance.

I got there early and there only ended up being three of us there – a lady and a man and me. We were in and out fast and it went well. We joked about seeing each other in a month for our next shot. “See you, same place, same time.”

Publix didn’t ask for ID or the doctor’s note or insurance card or anything, which seemed strange, but I guess it’s all about getting people vaccinated more than the paperwork and other stuff. I heard they are opening it to almost everyone now and it’s really going well. When President Biden said there would be 100 million vaccines in 100 days, I doubted that, but it’s happening, we are almost there!

I stopped at my parents’ house for breakfast after my first shot and I’ll do it again after my second shot. Happy that I am on my way to normalcy.

A good friend of mine is against vaccines, I don’t think she has ever been vaccinated in her life. I mentioned that I had seen articles that said in the future if you don’t have a vaccine, you may not be able to fly. I think some airlines in Europe started that rule already. My friend is not happy about this, but that could be the new normal. There is talk of digital “travel passports” now, for domestic and international travel.

I didn’t mind last year, I am glad I experienced it – all the changes in the world, etc. But I think it’s time to get back to normal now. The new normal. Whatever that is.