So I unsubscribed to the paper again – the Miami Herald. I did it for a couple of reasons – they keep raising the price and I don’t like the delivery person.

I’ve supported newspapers my whole life, I often wished I lived in the days when newspapers ruled the media, but then I’d probably be old or dead by now, so maybe not.

I went to pick up a copy the other day at a store and the daily newspaper was $3.00 plus tax. $3.00 for the daily paper, what’s the Sunday paper cost?

The newspapers are struggling to survive. What if they gave each issue away for free, like most weekly papers do, and they can maybe raise the ad rates to compensate for the extra readers that would bring them?

I remember when I was a newspaper delivery boy so many moons ago – the daily newspaper was 5 cents and the Sunday, I don’t remember, but probably 35 cents. I remember one time the price went up a nickel a week for subscribers and one guy complained that he didn’t know and was upset about the extra nickel.

Anyway, I don’t really read the daily paper these days. I only subscribed to support them and I think the only thing I read was the tv listings. The Sunday paper used to take half a day to read, now it takes 10 minutes.

I read the comics and news online and therein lies the rub with the news and featured stories – they are all put online way before the paper is printed. And I don’t go to their website to read these stories – they are all over social media, they just come up in my feeds. I think it should be the other way around. I think they should print the stories first and then put them online, so if people want fresh news, they have to get the daily newspaper, rather than the other way around.

So many times my father would say to me, “Did you see such and such article in the paper today?” And I would say, “I read that a few days ago online.”

So basically, people are buying the daily newspaper to read days old news.

Now, this boy had it hard.

As for the delivery girl, she is obnoxious and incompetent. When I complained one time she sent me a long letter saying I was lucky she was delivering the paper at all and I should be thankful. Then she went on to complain about how hard her job is.

I remember being 12 years old and delivering the papers in all sorts of weather, by foot or on my bike and dragging them on a sled when it snowed. This 35 year old woman delivering my paper by car has it hard I guess. So I was glad to unsubscribe to lighten her load a bit – one less paper to lug in her back seat.

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How to catch a smuggler

I was watching How To Catch a Smuggler the other day. Ever see that? I’ve seen so many episodes, they are almost repetitive now. It’s a reality show where they show people trying to smuggle drugs or illegal food or packages and things like that into various countries around the world, including the United States.

One time recently, I was coming through the JFK airport in New York and they flagged my carry on bag. The TSA guy called me over, “Whose luggage is this?” he yelled. “Mine,” I said, putting my hand up.

“Come over here,” he said. “And don’t touch anything!”

I replied, “I know, I know, I watch ‘How to Catch a Smuggler.” He laughed and said, “So do I.”

It ended up being a small pair of scissors in my luggage which set off their machine. He let me keep them and I was on my way.

I used to get nervous about being stopped at the airport, but it’s happened so much to me, I’m used to it now. These days, it’s getting my hands swabbed for explosives. Now I know the drill and when they start swabbing, I ask, “What are you doing, swabbing for explosives?” And they are taken aback and look at me.

Many years ago, I was traveling to Cleveland for a wedding. I had to stop in Atlanta. For some strange reason I was wearing cowboy boots. This was the first and only time I ever wore them. Again, I don’t know why.

I had my wallet in one boot, it was easier to carry and I didn’t have to sit on it, if it was in my back pocket.

In Atlanta, I was sitting, reading the newspaper, waiting for my connecting flight, and two big guys in suits came up to me. They said, “Sir, we have been watching you. Can you please reach into your boot slowly and take out whatever it is you have in there.”

So I reached down and took out my wallet. They looked it over. And I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but they said something about wanting to check my luggage. I told them that if they went to get my checked luggage they would make me miss my flight to Cleveland, but they were more than welcome to check it in Cleveland.

Their last words to me were, “Maybe we will.” And they walked away. I always remember those words as if it was yesterday, “Maybe we will.”

This was long before 9-11, it was in the 1980s in fact, so it was strange that they were keeping such a close watch on me traveling to the midwest of all places.

They never did meet up with me in Cleveland. I didn’t fly back home to Miami from Cleveland, I drove with my cousins after the wedding, back to New York and I flew back to Miami from NY later that summer.

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My dad’s brother

I was visiting my dad in the hospital (nothing major) and a nurse came into the room to see him. She asked if I was his brother!

Should I be insulted? But when I think of it, he looks younger than his age, so maybe it was a compliment to him. I’ll take it that way.

It reminds me of when people ask women if they are pregnant, or when are they due, and they aren’t even pregnant!

10 With Tom

I started a website for my 10 With Tom columns.

Over the years, I had these published in the Huffington Post, my own blog, Medium and other publications. I’ve interviewed, cartoonists and featured cartoons and comics and artists, comic strip creators including Jason Chatfield, Rina Piccolo and Scott Adams, among so many others. . But I’ve also interviewed authors, designers like Betsey Johnson and even Ryan Holt from Naked and Afraid.

I was was planning on doing more interviews for the Huffington Post, but I thought these columns should have a home of their own, rather than be at other websites. They live on forever and are always being seen and read.

Some of these stories have hundreds of thousands of readers, The Stephan Pastis article has over 1 million views! So why not have people read them on my own site, rather than other places? I wouldn’t mind 1 million hits! Huffington Post, Medium, and various newspapers didn’t promote the stories, people found them by doing searches, so why not have readers find the articles on my own site, right?

I now have 10 With Tom here, where you can find some of the past interviews and where I’ll add new ones shortly.

You can subscribe to 10 With Tom, and you’ll only receive 10 With Tom interviews (not this Tomversation blog, that’s a separate subscription), but I’m not sure if all the past stories I added will come up as one big email for your first email that you receive after subscribing. So if that happens, forgive me. You’ll usually just receive one interview after it is published.

It won’t be a daily thing, I’ll publish randomly.

I have to get out more

I drove 30 miles south from home and while down in Homestead (a city south of Miami), I stopped to get gas. My credit card was declined three times at two different gas stations.

Then later in the day, I got a call from Citibank, claiming my card was being used fraudulently. I had to confirm it was me using the card so they would unlock it. They said it was “out of my buying pattern.”

I guess I never really leave my neighborhood and I only buy gas around home, so when they saw the attempts to charge 30 miles away, they freaked out.

I’ve been thinking of taking a road trip. That’s going to be some experience every time I attempt to buy gas along the way.

I remember when I used to go from one end of the county to the next – all in one day, for work – the county is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. And there was a period where I drove 100 miles a day, just to hang out with friends, night and day. Now I usually drive about three miles a day. But the weird thing about this incident is that I was using the card in my own home county, still considered to be part of Miami. I am glad to see they are trying to stay on top of fraud though.

I remember some years ago, I got a call from American Express. They said their was fraud on my card. I asked how they know, they said someone was trying to buy motorcycle parts, and they knew that wasn’t me. About a month later, I got a call from Visa – they said something about fraud, too. Their reasoning was that someone was trying to by Avon, and they knew it wasn’t me. So I fall somewhere in between motorcycle parts and Avon!

I have protected the cards all these years – I use those protective sleeves and so far, so good. I had seen some people, try to skim my card, but luckily they didn’t get through the protective shield around the cards.

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The Christmas card

This year has not been kind to our family. We lost three family members – my mother, my aunt and a cousin. My father lost a wife, a sister and a first cousin (none from covid).

When my aunt passed this past Spring, I asked my cousins for something personal of hers. I wanted something with her energy attached – a coffee mug, an earring, etc. They gave me this little painting she made. It was in her dining room for many years – this little snowman image.

I took it home in July, after I spent time in New York and it sits on a table in my living room.

I would look at it daily. I thought, “It looks like a Christmas card – the snowman, the snow and birdhouse evoke Christmas. And it’s the size of a Christmas card.” And from there, I got the idea of making an actual card out of it. So in late July, that is what I did.

I held onto the card all summer and fall until this week when I mailed it. I didn’t tell anyone about the card, I wanted it to be a surprise. I only had 20 made and I sent it to my immediate family and my cousins and uncle. It went over well, everyone was touched and surprised at the image when they opened the envelope.

Let’s hope for a happier and healthier 2022.

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It’s like I’m from another planet

I bought a new car the other day. I hadn’t had a new car in 16 years! What happened was, I always had cars for a few years, maybe five years the most. At one point I started leasing cars, so I had to turn them in every three years and I would then get a new car. But 16 years ago, I decided to buy a car and keep it until I ran it into the ground. And that finally happened – it is almost run into the ground.

My current car has electrical problems and with the pandemic and all, they can’t get the part or parts they need to repair it. So I panicked and I went and purchased a new car. I did try to rent a car for a week or more but again, due to the pandemic, there are no cars available to rent!

So anyway, I went to the dealership and bought a car. They said they usually have 200 cars on the lot, but now they only had 11 – pandemic again! I had to get a pre-owned car because the wait time for new cars is one year. Seriously.

I got in the car to test drive it and was lost. I couldn’t find the shift, “How do I put it in drive?” I asked. “How do I turn it off?”

It’s been so long with my current, “ancient” car that I was not up on all the new gadgets and blue tooth, etc. The new car almost looks like a cock pit. The staff at the dealership was laughing. What made them laugh more was that I didn’t take the car with me. I said I could come back the next day to pick it up. I didn’t want to wait around for it to be detailed. They couldn’t believe I would buy a car and not drive it out that day.

But that’s me. I like my old stuff. I don’t want a new tv or cell phone or computer or car, unless I am forced to get it. I am a creature of habit, as one guy at the dealership put it. Do I fear change? Maybe. I have friends who are out the first day that a new iphone is available or a new tv. But not me.

Of course I’ve been in many cars that are new and modern, but I guess I’m not paying attention to the dashboard, I’m looking out the window as others drive.

My cousin had called to say hello the other day and we were talking about my new car. He was telling me things like how the key fob works and how the Bluetooth works and things like that. It made me feel like I was a 15 year old kid learning to drive for the first time. Truth be told, my 16 year old car has a key fob and it took about 12 years for me to realize that the locks were not broken on the car, it was the key fob that made them appear to always be unlocked. I just thought I was living on the edge by not having the car locked, when I finally realized it was the fob in my pocket allowing the car to be unlocked.

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Getting back to normal

I ordered these

I finally decided to get back into shape. For most of my life, I would say since high school, I’ve worked out with weights at the gym and at home, but mostly at the gym. But since the start of the pandemic, I have not been back to the gym and that’s been bothering me.

It closed and never reopened and I can’t find another gym that I like. So I’ve been putting it off.

I tried the workout bands, and those are great, but still, I can see the loss of muscle and weight gain.

My slap in the face, the turning point, happened when I needed to fit into a suit last week. The pants did not fit! I’ve been a 31 inch waist since high school, but I needed a larger size – 33-34, and that didn’t sit well with me. So I decided to get weights and workout at home.

I had put that off because I live in a condo and I wasn’t keen on having the weights drop on the floor, but I think I can manage not to do that. Also, I like going to the gym, I like the whole routine from getting up early in the morning, the socializing and the actual workout. But since my rude awaking last week, I realized I need to workout now.

I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and looked around, but they didn’t have the sets I wanted, the things I had seen online. I did pick up the weights in the store and try them out and boy, did that feel good, but another rude awakening was that I could only lift half the usual weight!

Luckily muscle has memory and I plan on getting back into shape real fast.

I ended up purchasing adjustable dumb bells online. They have these sets where with the turn of a button, it changes the weights and you just life the bar up which will then consist of the weight you want to lift, so there’s no screwing on different plates to adjust the weights. I’m really looking forward to this.

I was concerned about the delivery driver having to life all that weight, but I guess since they sell it, they must be used to delivering it. So today, my new weight set arrives and I can maybe start to get back to normal!

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They get me!

Bored Panda featured me a couple of weeks ago. I had forgotten that they contacted me about an interview a few weeks back, so it was a pleasant surprise to see this.

The feature came out great and I love what Hidrėlėy, the author, wrote about me, he really gets me:

“This artist creates old-school, one-panel comics. They are filled with absurd humor and unexpected twists, weird characters, and situations that not many of us run into.

“The style that this artist uses is very reminiscent of newspaper comics and there’s something very nostalgic about them. The comics are very simple, but at the same time have quite a lot of detail and expression. The artist enjoys puns and wordplay. He sometimes even includes a little dark humor in his comics.”

Bored Panda has 116 million readers a month and 15 million Facebook followers. Not a bad place to be promoted!

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