The roundup…

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I’m not a fan of recaps… maybe I was at one time, but not anymore.  Traditionally, I’d take a moment at the end of the year to reflect on what I’ve done, what I haven’t done and look ahead to what I’m going to do.

So, Bob turned 15, I hit 5,000 strips.  Are those really accomplishments?  maybe.  The 15 years happened because that’s what time does… it happens. And, if you’re in that time, then eventually 5,000 happens.  So, it wasn’t a result of any pushing or striving, or new developments… it happened because time happened.  I found a groove and kept the needle in it…

It happened because I’m stubborn.  It happened because I believe in the character.  It happened because people are comforted by knowing Bob will always be there.  It happened because when you find a good friend, you want that friend with you.  Always.

I don’t know what tomorrow will be like.  For over a year I’ve lived in constant worry about something I have no control over.  Something that will happen no matter what I say, what I do, what I save, what I draw, what I spend.  I don’t want to worry… who does?  I’ve lost comfort in what I thought were constants.  I get it.  Nothing lasts forever.  Evolution changes things…theoretically for the better and in response to the environment around it.  Evolving is adapting to the changing space… that sucks.  That’s life.

Over the past year I’ve changed the way I eat.  I didn’t realize that the weight I carried held me down.  It was the small changes… changes that were not extreme.  Changes that were manageable.  Changes, that when paired up with patience, just plain worked.  I think the greatest thing I got from losing almost 50lbs. was gaining the ability to permanently change something for the better.

Who knows what the next year will bring.  I’ll plan stuff.  I’ll make stuff.  I’ll win.  I’ll lose.  I’ll even probably crash and burn (several times).  But I’ll be here.

And so will Bob.

Thank you all for your continued support.  Happy Holidays.

Categories: blog bob life


The Dryer Chronicles and the Art of Figuring it Out

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Monday morning, I get a text, 8:08 a.m..

I feel the phone buzz, but I don’t look at it right away. Lez is the only one that texts me at that hour, so I’m 95% sure it’s from her.

Maybe my beautiful, adoring wife is wishing me a happy Monday… or summarizing how much in love she is with me, or how awesome it is that we are so perfect for each other and how lucky we are to have each other and how wonderful our family is.  How she can’t wait to see me at lunch and how she wishes she could give me a big hug right now.

With a little smirk I look at my phone.  The text is indeed from my wife.

“The dryer has no heat”

Love is great, but not when she only has 20 minutes to get ready for work.

After swearing silently, I reply; “what’s the setting?”

Now, my wife can type 80+ words a minute.  She can text just as fast.  I am a two thumb texter.  Before she can answer, I just call.  I’m not texting directions to fix something I can’t fix.

After turning it off and on several times with no heat, I tell her I’ll look at it at lunch.  And my mind sets into the mode of what if’s.

In between assignments, I scour the internet looking for clues on how to fix this.  The dryer is only a year old… and a few weeks out of warranty.  Even so, a repair appointment could take weeks to arrange… so yeah, we can’t dry our clothes.

There are much worse things in life.  Make no mistake.

At lunch I go home to examine the semi-functioning appliance.  I know NOTHING about appliance repair.  Not a thing.  I turn it off an on.  I unplug it.  I clean the lint out of the trap.  I jiggle the entire machine.  Turn it on… no heat.  I irrationally freak out.  Slam the dryer door… luckily not damaging the machine even more.  Not smart, I know.  Lez calls a repair service three towns over.  Can’t come today…will cost us $85 for them to look at the machine.  Parts and labor will be more… after they figure out the problem.  Theoretically, the repair could be as expensive as a new one.

I tell her to hang up.  I’m going to fix this. ( It wasn’t as dramatic as that, trust me)

I go back to web… clarify the problem and find some answers.  These answers could ALL be wrong, but what do I have to lose?

Eventually I conclude that the heating coil and/or thermostat are bad.  Again, I could be totally wrong… but I order the parts anyway.  $124.00. Now, I’m invested in the solution.

The company said the parts wouldn’t arrive until Friday.  But, they arrived on Wednesday.  That’s a good thing on two levels. One – I don’t have to air dry my jeans waiting for the parts that may not fix the dryer and Two- I don’t have to spend the entire week thinking I’m going to break the busted dryer even more and have to buy a new one.

Monday night I took the dryer completely apart.  I mean TOTALLY apart.  Pieces of the machine lay silent all over our house.  If I saw a screw I loosened it.  If I saw a wire connector, I unconnected it. The online how-to videos say the parts should just slide out… bullshit.  Nothing came out without having to be unscrewed, unconnected or pried.  I put all the screws in a cereal bowl… because that’s smart, right?

Have you ever taken something completely apart?  It’s an odd head space.  Not only do you see how something works, you can also see how it can break.  This makes me even more weird about trying to fix it.

Wednesday afternoon – I replace the heating unit.  Screw everything in, put all the parts back together…lock the lid.  No parts are left over. I cut myself twice on the unfinished aluminum parts.  Cleaned up most of the blood.

There are still A LOT of screws left in the cereal bowl.  Obviously I missed some.  Oh well.  Gone too far to turn back now.

Hook the vent up. Plug it in.  I make sure the fire extinguisher is handy before I hit the power button.  Hey, I’m confident in a lot of what I do… this is not one of those things.

Turn it on.

It starts to run.  No weird squeaks.  Nothing is violently shaking.  Sounds and looks normal.

But is there heat?

Open the door and the air inside the drum is hot.  Cool.

But wait, is it supposed to be THAT hot?  Seriously.  I haven’t a clue.  Maybe this is a bad thing.  Maybe it’s going to catch fire.  Maybe… I’m overreacting.  Maybe it’s fine.

Three loads of towels later… it’s still fine.

So, I’m telling you all that to tell you this – try and figure it out.  Even if you’ve never been in the situation and you’re freaking out irrationally. You may just learn something.

You may also make it worse, but at least you tried.

Cartoonist and the candy corn…

I love candy corn.  I mean… I LOVE candy corn.

Sure, I get sick of it…especially around November… because traditionally I mainline the stuff into my face from September to October. In November, the love affair wains, being replaced by another love: Christmas cookies.

I’m telling you that to tell you this- as of October 10, 2017 I have lost 40 lbs.  I’ve talked about this transformation previously.  It’s a whole new world, man.  I’m almost in the best shape I’ve ever been… better than I was in my 20s or my 30s.  That’s saying something.

But there’s candy corn.  My new way of thinking and relationship with food has tested this love.  I didn’t run out and get a fall colored bag the moment it was available. (I just found out THIS YEAR that candy corn wasn’t actually available year round… not through conventional means anyway).  I stay away from sugar now.  Candy corn is not only love… it’s a LOT of sugar.  A lot of sugar.

I ended up buying a bag.  And it was really hard to open… the bag was easy to open but getting me to open that bag was hard.  Would my opening that door ruin seven months of new food discipline?  Would I just inhale the whole bag once that first kinda softish, weird textured kernel hit my throat?

It took a me a full day before I could open it.  This is insane, right?

I opened it.  Counted out the recommended single serving (about 19 kernels), and proceeded to re-ignite my seasonal love affair.  Before, about 19 kernels would be a mouthful for me.  One single mouthful.  How would this end?

Eh. It was alright.  Took me a while to finish all 19.  Crazy.  All that build up.  I sealed the bag, put it in my squirrel cookie jar and went on with my life.

I’ll always love you candy corn… it’s not you, it’s me.  We can still be friends.

On the ulcer – this week’s story line

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Many people have asked if this week’s story line – Frank (me), suffering an attack of the ulcer, is true to life.

The short answers are – yes.  It’s true. I had an attack. On my birthday. This year. It sucked.

I’ve had stomach issues forever.  I may not convey this, but I tend to be a relatively high strung dude.  Always have been. I stress about everything. I stressed in junior high.  I stressed in high school.  I stressed in undergrad.  I stressed in work.  Each time I stressed, it wore away at me a little bit more.

Then 2008 happened.  Graduate school.  That’s when things got real bad.  I was under a ton of stress.  More stress than I’d ever been under.  The 2006-2008 period of Frank was a stress buffet – from my depression, separation, divorce, finding love again (Lez didn’t stress me out… much), figuring out my life, buying a house, becoming a dad, day job, comic strip and then grad school.  Grad school was challenging and much more work than I expected.  Honestly, to this day, I still have no idea how I managed to finish.  The stomach/ulcer thing came to a bloody climax during grad school – primarily second and third semester. I started coughing up blood.  Not a lot, but still not something you want to cough up.

I went to my doctor and got medication.  It helped.  I got through it.

Fast forward to September 2017.  I’m still under stress, but older.  The world is… the world.  I try not to carry that with me… try to think of the good, the positive stuff I have… but my stomach thinks otherwise.  I had an attack.  It rumbled for a few days and then boom. Seriously… pain I’d never felt before.  Pain that compelled me to go get help that day.  Bad.  On my birthday.  No cake for me…just an anti-inflammatory, super strong antacid and rest.

I’m okay… but there was no way I was NOT going to use this in a comic strip.  Pain is art. Art is pain… or something like that.

Categories: blog bob