Vanity before safety?

tom1So I walked over to the hospital next door, usually once a week I go for a walk around their property/campus, it’s beautiful, big, wide open and on the bay. I went into Au Bon Pain which is there to get lunch. It’s usually empty, only me and the girl working there.

Well, yesterday there was a guy in scrubs, a doctor, tech, something like that. He told me I had my mask on wrong – even tough I looked at the video that a friend sent me on how to do it. Yes, I needed a video, and still got it wrong. He was a stranger getting lunch mind you, in line ahead of me. I didn’t know him.

He then proceeds to touch me! He took the mask off, fashioned it the way it’s supposed to be and then gave it back to me. Then he had the balls to Purell his hands, they had a Purell stand there. I Purelled too because it seemed like the thing to do.

So this hospital worker/doctor, who should know better is all Purelled up and I have his hands all over my face by putting the mask back on. I told him I had these flowery cloth masks at home that I was going to start using, too, but he said the one I had on was “safer.” I guess he means safer without his hand prints all over it.

I guess I was so embarrassed about having the mask on wrong and walking around like that that I didn’t care about the safety issue. Yet I did have the mask on for safety reasons. Go figure.

Read my comics

tom-read8So I’ve been working on comics, redrawing and refreshing some old ones and preparing for my Tomversation debut on May 4th. If you haven’t guessed by now, I chose May 4th because it’s May the 4th Day, you know, “May the 4th be with you.” I thought the anniversary of the debut would be easy to remember that day and it’s a scifi reference.

I’m doing the comics digitally, which I started years ago. It took a bit to go from pen and paper but it’s such a pleasure working digitally. There is only one drawback and that is there is no original art.

When I first went to digital cameras from film cameras, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around not having negatives although I don’t remember ever needing negatives other than the first print. But it really bothered me not to have negatives, now it seems so silly.

Regarding the digital comics, I started right at the top with a Wacom Cintiq. I had a problem setting up the system and my friend Johnny came over and helped me out with it, but eventually I moved to a Surface Pro, sort of a downgrade but so much easier to travel with and maneuver. The Cintiq was tethered to the computer and there was no keyboard so it made some things difficult.


Working on my red Surface Pro

I keep toying with the idea of going back to the Cintiq from the Surface Pro, because the Cintiq is so much smoother and really is the top of the line, but I am still happy with the Surface pro and doing a single panel is easy and doesn’t need much room like a full comics page or strip would need.

Anyway, you can see Tomversation the comic at these three locations:

I’ve been asked why it’s tomversation.toons and not just Tomversation – I do own Tomversation on Instagram and Facebook, but I’ve been using them for personal photos and things so long that it would be hard to transfer and switch names. I tried.

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Caronavirus is our Jaws


Mayor Vaughn wants the beaches open.

I was watching Jaws the other day. I don’t know if it’s my favorite movie, but I must have seen it 100 times. Every time I come across it on tv, I stop what I’m doing and I watch.

I happened to turn it on in the exact scene that reminded me of Florida these days. Mayor Larry Vaughn of Amity Island in Jaws wants the beaches open for July 4th through the whole summer, while the police want the beaches closed to protect people from the shark, the mayor wants the beaches open; sort of like the dolts in Florida these days who feel the beaches should be open, just adding to the spread of caronavirus.

No sheltering in place for these idiots.

The reason I like Jaws is not about the shark, the part I like is the little beach town in New England and that point in time, the mid 1970s. I love that. It reminds me so much of the Hamptons where I spend part of the summer with my cousins and I am hoping to be able to be there this summer, but if these idiots in parts of Florida are still spreading the virus by opening beaches and other businesses, who knows what summer will bring.

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Three stories about today

CBS Sunday Morning had some great stories this week, they were all feel good stories about the caronavirus and our sheltering in place. This first one is of interest to me because I’ve been thinking it – it’s about the backgrounds you see on people’s zoom reporting. It’s funny. I like the Lady Gaga one because she is always all out there being the most of the most and yet her home background is so plain – it’s her home office. Others go out of the way to show off awards and things like that.

I often wonder what I would show. I don’t zoom, I do Facetime, but with people who know me and have been here, so I don’t have to choose a background to impress.

Another story was about artist Nadir Nelson and his work. He’s an award winning artist and you can see why here.

Beven Strickland of North Carolina got up off her couch and headed to NYC to help in the hospital. It’s a beautiful story about a beautiful hero.

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Enough with the solitude already


This sheltering in place is starting to get to me. A couple of weeks ago (was it a couple of weeks, or one week or a month, who knows anymore at this point) I said that I could live like this – alone in the woods or in Alaska in solitude. But this has gotten old faster than I thought. Maybe I could be alone in the woods for a week now, maybe a few days.

It’s early Saturday morning. I miss getting up and heading to the gym on Saturday mornings, in the quiet, where the village is quiet and free of people. Wow, there I go again, liking to be free of people. But I mean only when I’m out early in the morning at the gym. Then of course after the gym at breakfast – I like it quiet then. Then when I get home and watch tv. On Saturday mornings I watch a bunch of cooking shows on PBS, I barely boil water, but I find the cooking shows very relaxing. I like to eat, I don’t like to cook. After that I do my day whatever that is, but of course it always involves people, which is the big thing missing now – people.

I’m rambling on. I keep thinking of summer, hoping we will all be set free and can travel and have a normal world, but how will that be? Will we still be wearing masks when out in public? What will the subway be like? What about bars and restaurants? I’m sure hand shaking is a thing of the past, but I don’t care about that, and that ubiquitous kiss on the cheek or both cheeks will end, that I will not miss, I was never a fan of that.

One day at a time, that’s how I’m taking it. My life moved in slow motion for so many years. I would tell people that a week felt like a month. I didn’t know the reason why and I didn’t want to know out of fear of ruining that. It’s a great thing when your life moves in slow motion, but now it’s moving fast, which is kind of weird since you would think out of pure boredom it would move slow, but it’s the opposite. It’s Saturday again? Wasn’t it just Saturday?

I keep thinking of years from now when we tell young people what it was like in 2020 – how the whole world shut down, how we were all in self isolation, under house arrest. I don’t wish to rush my life, but I sort of look forward to the future.

Spring cleaning


So I’m getting ready for the big move. No, I haven’t put my place up for sale yet and I haven’t been house hunting, but I have been cleaning out closets and draws, trying to lighten the load by getting rid of things I don’t need. Also, it’s something to do while cooped up at home.

I’m donating them.

Look at this book, very interesting, ended up at the top of the pile.

I never read it. I didn’t read most of these books. For a few years, I was receiving books daily, sometimes three to four books a day. They were coming from publishers who wanted me to review their books! I don’t know how I got on the lists, but all the big publishers sent me books – Doubleday, Random House, Simon & Schuster, etc. I didn’t know how to get off the lists so I kept receiving them and one day after maybe three or four years it stopped.

They are filling up the house. It’s time to get rid of them. Most books these days I read on Kindle. But to be honest, if I wasn’t planning on moving, I would keep them. It seems like all the people in the know have lots of books!

It’s like living in the wilderness

railroadThere are a couple of Alaska-based shows that I like, “Railroad Alaska” “The Last Alaskans,” and “Life Below Zero.” All based on the solitude of Alaska.

Living in solitude myself these last few weeks is agreeing with me. I’m not anti-social, but I am a loner.

These tv shows are about people living out in the Alaskan wilderness. I’ve also watched “Alaskan Bush People,” and other shows and they all are the same – survival in the wilderness.

Alaska Railroad is one of my favorites. It’s about two trains that go from south to north each day and you see the adventures along the way. One train carries cargo – building supplies, tractors, big items for the oil fields, etc. and the other train carries passengers.

The passengers aren’t at train stations, they literally flag the train down in the snow. And the people don’t ever seem to live near the train tracks; many walk miles to get to the train and then they head to get supplies or for doctor visits and things like that.

Most adventures happen along the way without the trains – where their are avalanches or earthquakes or things that would harm the trains and the tracks and crews have to fix the problems before the trains arrive. It’s really good.

The Last Alaskans is about people who live in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, which is in the northeast corner of the state. The refuge is the size of South Carolina and there are only seven cabins permitted. Eventually, the people will have to leave and the whole place will be wilderness after the last child of the current lease holders dies. The show tells their stories.

And Life Below Zero is about people surviving all around the state, you see how they spend their daily lives surviving in the wilderness.

I only bring up these shows because I feel as if I am living like that now. I’m just basically living off the land or on what Instacart or Amazon bring me. They never get the orders right, so I eat what I get. It’s an adventure, you adapt like they do in the Alaskan wilderness. Well, sort of. Of course, I am in Florida and not in the snowy forest and I don’t have to leave the house and trudge anywhere or hunt for food. So basically I’m not really living in the wilderness, but it feels like it sometimes – the comfortable parts, where I don’t have to work for my food and shelter. And hoping for toilet paper to be in one of the deliveries (I finally go it after trying for weeks).

There is another show called The Deadliest Catch. It’s about fishing in rough Alaskan waters I don’t watch that but I had a friend who did – a friend named Alex who watched the show and then took off for Alaska to work on the boats! He was a waiter at a local restaurant, one day he just told me he was taking off to work on the fishing boats in Alaska that he saw on tv, and that was that, it was about eight or 10 years ago. Every once in awhile at the beginning I would get a butt dialed call from him – I would hear shuffling and scraping and movement in the background, but no talking and I would imagine that all that scraping and shuffling was him reeling in lots of seafood. I haven’t received a call in years. Hope he is ok.

Job search


I work for myself and there is not any money coming in, so I filled out the unemployment form online. I have not collected unemployment since I was 16 and worked at Sears.

Basically you don’t have to fill out much on the forms, yet you do. They want a resume and things like that even though they know this is temporary and caused by the caronavirus. You are also asked to job search.

So I filled in all the necessary stuff. Keep in mind I am a cartoonist and marketer, I’ve been in the printing and marketing business most of my adult life. Of course my goal now is to cartoon full time, but that’s another story.

Anyway, I received job offers. Here is one:

It’s for a full time VP Technical Management position. The job requires:

1) Manage a growing fleet of over 240 aircraft, and analyze fleet activity to ensure that fleets are being utilized appropriately.

2) Predict the operational lifespan of aircraft components to know when a specific component of an aircraft is about to deteriorate and/or enter into failure mode before the operator does.

3) Maintain Maintenance Reserve and End-of-Lease cash flow predictions.

4) Automate any/all processes by employing Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence/Natural Language Processing where possible.

5) Up to 10% Travel Required.

There are actually 30 things on the list.

First off, if this is how they randomly hire people to manage planes, I don’t think anyone should feel comfortable flying. The good part about this job is that I would only have to travel 10% of the time, on the unsafe fleet that I would manage.

And to manage the end-of-lease cash flow predictions? If I could manage money, I wouldn’t be applying for unemployment.

I wonder how many people get jobs like this that are not qualified. You know, fake it till you make it, only you never make it and are always faking it.

I had this friend named Morton, he was afraid of his own shadow – always afraid of getting new jobs, trying new things. I told him that most people don’t have a clue what they are doing – they just show up for work and do whatever it is they do.

For many years I would bid on large printing jobs and after I got the job I would figure out how to do it later. It always worked out. I provided a top class job at a good price, but I learned on the job with each print job I received. The customer was happy, I was happy.

I filled out forms for the PPP, the Paycheck Protection Program.  I read that most people are having problems getting the loan. My bank, the one where I have had my business account for many years, Chase, turned me down right away – but I’m hoping it was just the system acting up, as no one had time to look over the form. Or did I check one wrong box that disqualified me? The government is guaranteeing this, is it Chase’s decision to make?

It should be an easy process – how many years have I been with the bank? How many accounts do I have with them? Have I ever been late or defaulted or been overdrawn, including my house mortgage? No? Never? Then give me the freaking loan.

I think I may know how to get to Chase Bank. A few years back I wrote a story in the Huffington Post about a bad experience I had with them. They saw it and I was hounded by Chase for months – they called me on my house and cell phones, they emailed me, they sent snail mail – concerned about the bad press. Maybe I should do that again. Hmmm.

I fear that those trillions of dollars are going into the wrong hands – going to people connected to the White House, people who don’t need it.

Isn’t it ironic?

house-arrestI was talking to my cousin in New York and I told him I know how Sam (not real name) feels now. Sam is a guy who has been under house arrest for many years.

“Oh, that’s the funny part,” my cousin tells me. After all these years, his time is up, he is not under house arrest anymore!” But he is! Where can he go now?

Sort of reminds me of an Alanis Morissette song.

I met Sam a couple of times – at a bar, at happy hour, where there were many of us. My cousin would tell me, “Don’t look him in the eye, don’t joke with him, he is very volatile and could explode at any second!”

One time my cousin showed me an article in The NY Post where there was a picture of Sam being taken from his house by the feds in the middle in the night. It explained why Sam was under arrest – he beat up this guy, he gambled, he sold booze, he robbed a bank, he stole a car, he sold things that had “fallen off a truck,” he sold drugs and prostitutes, he hung with a shady crowd, etc, etc. he did everything except murder. You get it, he was a step down from Tony Soprano.

Anyway, my cousin would visit Sam at his NYC apartment once in awhile over the years, dreading each time he was “summoned,” but he would go with another friend of Sams. Now I guess they are all free and when the bars and restaurants are open again, they can hang out like they always did.

By the way, my cousin is an honest person who does an honest day’s work. In New York you are sort of thrown in with people by circumstances – you hang out with a buddy at  bar, he invited a buddy who invites someone and a guy comes over from a nearby table and becomes part of the group and so on. I was part of that mix for many years, but I got tired of it and got out. But these are all great people with one virus in the crowd. See how I did that?

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Don’t lose perspective

shamelessI saw this online – A college student was reminiscing about the caronavirus of 2020 with his mother 10 years from now, in 2030 and the mother was telling him what a horrible time it was – “everything was shut down, grocery stores were out of everything, people were dying, the economy was a disaster because no one could work, we were all frightened ….”

“Don’t you remember?” she asked him.

He said, “All I remember was the school closing and being home schooled. I remember doing scavenger hunts in our yard, I remember eating meals as a family for a change, I remember getting great sleep because I wasn’t up late for homework or getting up early for school. I remember board games as a family. I remember watching our pastor on our laptop. Honestly, it was the happiest time of my childhood.”

You know what? I feel the same, right now as it’s happening. I’ve always seen the glass as half full. Sure, money is tight, bills have to be paid, but I don’t dwell on that. While friends panic around me and I have to shut them off most of the time, I feel happy. I sent a friend who is like the mother in the meme, only 100 times worse, and his response was more drama, he ignored the meme and started in with the drama of the day. I can’t understand how people exist like this. We are all in this together, not just us, but the whole world. That should give you some sort of odd comfort. You are not alone. Billions of people are in this with you.

I have been turning these drama-filled friends off and I am enjoying the solitude. I have been Spring cleaning as I said before, I get up early and watch tv, I love not having to answer 100 emails that came in over night since there are no emails coming in these days.

I stay up late and watch tv, not going to be earlier as I usually do. I go for walks around the neighborhood. For so many years I would go to the beach almost daily, I would eat lunch or stay and swim and run and hang out, I have not done that for years. But once this mess is over and the beaches open up again, I plan on doing that.

I have plans to downsize, I’ve been thinking about it so I have been house hunting online, planning my future. You know, I’ve been making the best of this time. I loved an episode of Shamless so much that I watched it twice. When do we ever have time to do that? It’s Season 2, Episode 11, “Just Like the Pilgrims.” That’s my favorite episode so far. With Breaking Bad there are two episodes that are my favorites that I can watch over and over Dead Freight and Face Off, the name is so perfect for the episode.  I would watch these two episodes over and over. Dead Freight is my all time favorite. But (spoiler alert), I don’t know why they had to kill the boy on the moped at the end. That’s the one part I don’t like.

Anyway, I’m seeing life in a whole new way.  I am feeling a shift. Whenever there have been changes in my life, I get this feeling. I don’t mean bad changes, I mean life changes, like moving or getting a new job, or things like that. I am feeling that now – a fresh, new beginning is coming.

Don’t lose perspective.