I consolidated the stories about Fred.


...long live, Hill Blocks View. I miss writing. But the thought of one more round of "welcome backs", or obsessing over stats, or thinking of the clever response to a comment, or the obligation to read everyone else's blog... not so much. So I'll try and write. No pressure. If you feel the need to respond, you can email me. I like email. flipaul@yahoo.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Do Not Have OCD. I Just Like Things To Be A Certain Way.

Yesterday, I was working on a pathway in the front yard, when my wife and mom came home from a walk to find that I had pulled up the cobblestones that I had laid out. My mom asked me why I had pulled them up, and I told her that they weren't spaced right. My wife sniggered and said that it went beyond that; that I have OCD. I don't have OCD. I might have some obsessive compulsive tendencies but that isn't a disorder. She says that it is, because it affects my life negatively. For instance,  I pulled up and relaid the pathway four times. It wasn't OCD, I was just doing a good job.
     I was pissed. I couldn't stop thinking about it. As I finished the path I was thinking about it. As I finished the path again I was thinking about it. As I hung up the tools on the pegboard in their designated spots with the tool outlines I was thinking about it. All of the times I washed my hands for dinner I couldn't stop thinking about it. As I was eating Sunday dinner (two pieces of fried chicken - one leg and one thigh, one scoop of mashed potatoes, one biscuit, 50 peas and a glass of milk at 41 degrees) I couldn't stop thinking about it. While I was watching 60 minutes, and arranging the remotes from longest to shortest I was still thinking about it. As I was doing Sunday night children's books alphabetizing, I couldn't stop thinking about it. For the whole fifteen minutes I was brushing my teeth I was still thinking about it. When I turned out the lights, and crawled into bed, I was thinking about it, as I was when I went and checked the doors to make sure they were locked. All seven times.
     When I woke up at 5:37, I was thinking about it. As I was getting my breakfast (two pieces of toast, one egg over easy, and a glass of OJ at 41 degrees) I was still thinking about it. As I headed out the door to work at exactly 7:15, I couldn't stop thinking about it. When I came back home to make sure the coffee pot was off, I was thinking about it. All day at work, I couldn't stop thinking about it. When I got home I was still thinking about it. I don't have OCD. What the hell is she talking about? While I am blogging this I can't stop thinking about it. Later when I am checking to see how many people have read my blog, I will still be thinking about it. 15 minutes later when I check back (somebody new might have read my blog and maybe commented) I will still be thinking about it. Whatever. That doesn't mean I have OCD. Right?! Right?!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Preparing for Vacations and Other Terrible Things You Can Do With the People You Love.

November 11, 2010 - My wife informs me that Spring Break is coming up. (Wha...?) If we act now we can get a cheap flight to Vegas and meet her family there. I explain that there are no "cheap" flights, and that it isn't that far of a drive. She explains to me that I am incorrect, at which point I am forced to agree... or pass out, she has applied a textbook triangle choke hold. (tap, tap) No driving this year. Flying isn't all that bad, maybe I can sell a few extra pints of plasma a month and get it paid off before the kids head to college.

November 15, 2010 -  After discussing it with her family, it is decided that spring break will be happen at her dad's house on the Central Coast of California. I can come too; or whatever. The good thing is that they will pay for our flights, the bad thing is we don't get to go to Vegas with our kids and play the don't look at that billboard or those flyers on the ground or those newspapers and please please please don't look at that advertisement over there oh God we are going to have to have "the talk" sooner than I anticipated game. Her dad lives within walking distance of the beach, (or stumbling distance, if you include the infamous July 4th of '98, but this is a family blog so we won't discuss that here), unfortunately, whenever we visit the weather seems to take a turn for the worse. Inevitably, the week before we show up the weather is awesome, sunny and around 80 degrees. When we show up it is 60 degrees and windy. Every time. March, June, August; it doesn't matter. I think California is allergic to me.

January 1, 2011 - My wife is starting to get upset that I haven't packed yet. Spring Break is only two and a half months away. What am I thinking? What if I get hit by a truck and fall into a coma and everybody thinks I am going to die and they are going to pull the plug because I don't want to live like a vegetable for the rest of my life and then the doctor says you can't just pull the plug within the first couple of minutes that you are in the hospital you have to wait a couple of hours at least, maybe even a day or two before making a rash decision like that and then you play "Monty Python's Holy Grail" in a continuous loop so I will wake up and then I do wake up and all I can say is "and the number of thy counting shall be three" and then I lapse back into a coma then I get better but by then it has been two and a half months and we have to leave tomorrow and I haven't packed. WHAT THEN?! I don't know if it is stress or what, but fighting seems to accompany our vacations like poor judgement accompanies tequila. Preparing for vacations is so fun.

March 1, 2011 - Two weeks to go, and the conflict level is high. Last night we had a fight about socks. (I think) One minute things were fine and the next we were yelling about the best way to fold socks. Either this is vacation stress or we're rehearsing for Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf and nobody told me. The car has been rented, our itinerary is taped up on the fridge. And the bathroom mirror. And underneath the toilet lid. My kids are starting to get excited, and their school work is suffering. My middle child was only able to bully three kids out of lunch money this week, as opposed to the five he normally extorts. My wife and kids are wearing the same four sets of clothes over and over again. They aren't allowed to touch the bags stacked up by the front door,
"Those are ready to go, leave them alone."
"Mom, I think you packed my toothbrush."
"You can brush your teeth on vacation" (Just kidding. My kids wouldn't notice their toothbrushes were missing if you asked them what they would use to get tartar off of teeth. "I don't know... Fish?") The energy around our house is palpable. I mean Palpatine, that emperor from Star Wars. If she could, my wife would fry me with purple lightning bolts for not taking vacation seriously enough. We just prepare differently, she makes the plans and prepares and reserves and packs, and I show up. Usually. With most of what I need. Like seven times out of ten.

March 16, 2011 - We leave tomorrow at like zero-dark-thirty. I haven't started packing yet, but I did manage to go out and play disc golf for a couple of hours. Then I come home and decide to start a major home improvement project. Activity calms my nerves, and keeps me out of the house. If I actually go in the house, we re-enact the final scene from Rocky. We start fighting about the silliest things before vacations, "I thought you were going to grab a memory card for the camera", "you didn't ask the neighbors to feed the cat?!", "did you start a fire in the bathtub?" I know! Petty huh? Well, it's almost 9:00pm, and the driveway is mostly demolished, so it's time to pack. I dump three or four of my drawers in a duffel bag. I'm all done packing. Time for bed, vacation starts tomorrow.

to be continued...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cobra Kai Awana Team Sweeps Awana Olympics.

Today, Cobra Kai Awana, devastated other local Awana groups and took top honors at the Awana Olympics. It was a dominating victory in nearly all the categories. Early in the day, Cobra Kai won the Awana games in an awe inspiring manner. They set records in every event and embarrassed the competition to the point that many of the other groups are thinking of disbanding. “I'm going to convert to Judaism”, said little Carlos Ray, after his Hoffmantown Baptist Awana came in distant second in the cone relay. When asked his response to the criticism of his Awana groups unnecessarily hyper-competitive spirit, Daron Geisler, the Cobra Kai Awana Leader said, “Hey, it's a competitive world. Only a 144,000 of us are getting into heaven. This is a great way to teach that 'winners win, and losers whine'”. When told that was something that only the Jehovah's Witness's believed, Daron screamed, “Oh yeah?! Well guess what? You're a loser, just like Satan... and those other Awana groups.”
     Cobra Kai Awana went on to take all categories in the sword drills. The home-schoolers from Cobra Kai knew where every verse that the questioners requested, was located. They also gave the verses before and after, as well as the version and the historical context. Ending each recitation with, “Thus sayeth the Lord. Amen. How's that taste?!”, while pointing at the rival Awana groups. The kids from the other Awana groups were so nervous after this taunting, that many of them threw up and then passed out. (Although it might be noted, many of them have this same reaction to secular cartoons, sugared cereal and the teacup ride at the state fair.)
      In the afternoon, the Cobra Kai group then completed their victory in a way, that most people at the games thought, crossed the line. In the teen section of the Bible knowledge, Baxter Jones from Eastern Hills Southern Reformed Baptist Light Of God Second Convention Westside Branch Church was holding his own against the pride of Cobra Kai Awana, little John Matusak. They recited verse after verse, each one praying to God that the other would be unable to recall some minor prophet and his warnings about field gleaning. They grew visibly weaker until at last, during a water break, Mr. Geisler advised Johnny to “sweep the leg.” Little Johnny protested, but ultimately did as he was told. Finishing off Baxter with a vicious round round house kick to the knee and a resounding recitation of Psalms 44:5; “Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us.” Baxter was unable to continue, and conceded the match to young Matusak, giving Cobra Kai the blowout.
*Resemblance to any Aaron Geisler living or dead is purely imagined.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Miserable Season is Over, Long Live the Miserable Season.

December 27 - Well, Christmas is over. It went OK. The kids will probably get over the Santa Claus flambé incident soon. If not, there is always counseling. I can't imagine the wife will make me sleep on the couch for to much longer; I honestly thought her dad was a burglar, and the flaming yule log was the closest thing at hand. And hair grows back Herb, don't be such a baby. Nice that it isn't that cold, seeing as how I am spending so much time in the dog house,

December 31 - Going to a party at the neighbors. Going to put on two pairs of pants, in case I feel the need to repeat last years New Years Eve Rockin' Ball Drop Pants Drop. It is supposed to turn cold tonight.

January 1 - HOLY CRAP!! Good thing I wore two pairs of pants, otherwise I would have frozen to death when I took a little nap on the front lawn. Thought I was paralyzed when I woke up; my clothes were just frozen to the ground. Is this the desert or Minnesota? Boss called; there are frozen, busted pipes all over the city, we are going to be busy for a month.

January 3 - Went to work, couldn't get the padlock on the gate open, it was frozen shut. Fired up my torch and gave the lock a little heat, I was able to open it after several minutes. After I got back from urgent care I my boss sent me home to tend my burned hands.

January 10 - My boss isn't happy I haven't called in for days. After failing to convince him I couldn't work a phone with burned hands, I put down my beer and Playstation and head into work. Luckily the gate is already open. It is frigid outside. I bet my pee would freeze before it hit the ground. I climb up on the roof to try. Nope. And boy, is Carlos, the parts guy pissed!

January 11 - Another day of work. It is ungodly cold again. The gate is locked again. I don't want to burn myself again. So, I throw my hot coffee on the lock, and then unlock it. Who's stupid now? I lick the the excess coffee of the chain. I load up my vehicle and head out to the jobsite, with a chain hanging from my tongue. I look very alternative.

January 14 - Accidentally robbed a bank. Went in to deposit my check, my nose was frozen to my zipper and I couldn't get it off my face. And my glove stuck in my pocket when I tried to take out my pen to sign my check. The teller just screamed, "He's got a gun! Don't kill me; here take it!", threw some singles at me and dove behind the counter. I tried to argue, then picked up enough for a night at Buffalo Wild Wings and left.

January 19 - COLDEST WINTER EVER!  Have a sneeze attack while unlocking the gate. After the fire department unsticks my tongue from the fence, my boss yells at me (in a very patronizing way.) It isn't my fault I keep sticking to things; maybe we should get a wood gate.

January 27 - I feel like I am living in John Carpenter's "The Thing", except for I am one of the humans who hate being cold and not the slimy alien who can change into a dog or something. If I could change into something, I would change into a sexy polar bear. (Don't judge.)

January 31 - Woohoo, today's my birthday. Best day ever. Don't ask me how, but I managed to get my lips frozen to my van (I said, don't ask)! Seeing as how it was my birthday I didn't get fired. There was a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday To You" but they slipped moron into it instead of flip. Later, I cut through a line with a chain saw, turns out the water doesn't freeze before it hits the ground. It has time to soak you thoroughly first. Then it freezes. Spent my evening under a heat lamp at the emergency room. Unexplainable urge for fast food.

February 1 - It's a new month. Same old cold. I think I am going to move somewhere warm, Phoenix, San Diego or possibly Mercury. I locked my keys in my van while it was warming up this morning, luckily I had a spare key made... Perhaps the glovebox was not the best spot for spare key.

February 22 - It's been a miserable couple of months. They say the temperatures are finally going to get out of the teens tomorrow. Unfortunately, I manage to freeze my hands to the gate this morning before work. They don't even bother calling the fire department, they just bring me a blanket, and a space heater.

March 1 - Spring is here. It is only freezing for the first couple of hours. Then the wind picks up. The wind tore the gate out of my hands at work today. Dented the side of my van. My boss says he will come in early and open the gate for me from now on. He also says some other stuff that was just mean.

March 3 - The pollen count is a million right now. Snot is just running down my face all day, and most of it is mine. My kids and wife have allergies too.

March 9 - The afternoon "breeze" gently places half of the shingles on my house neatly around my yard. It also deposits my gutters conveniently in my neighbors living room. It's much easier to finish painting them there. Winter isn't seeming so bad right now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Social Media and Other Delusions.

I have a love hate relationship with social media. On one hand, it is a great way to connect with people. A blog (such as this one) is a great way to get your amazing, insightful, funny, well thought out, amusing, coherent, amazingly insightful, comedic words out to an adoring public. Facebook is for catching up with all of your family and cool friends from High School, the Marine Corps, college, that restaurant you worked at after you got out of the military, the Sci-Fi book club, the fantasy book club, haiku club, church, Cub Scouts, kindergarden, that guy you met at the DMV, and all those people from your past lives. Twitter, I understand, is another way that you can get your important thoughts out there into the digital ether: I'm awake - brushed my teeth - sat on the couch - I like Spongebob - walking to the kitchen - ran into the wall 'cause I was tweeting - I like cereal - lol, poured milk on the floor while I was tweeting - lmao, I didn't cry, omg, I am so 'effin funny.
     But I don't think that social media is good for anal-retentive, megalomaniacal, neurotic, self-deprecating, narcissistic, aggrandizing, delusionary, wanna be writers. Every day I wake up and check to see who commented about my latest masterpiece. I am usually disappointed. Not in the quality of the response, but the entire lack there of. I keep expecting to hear that some entity has discovered my writing and wants to offer me a ludicrous sum of money to be clever for a living. "We have decided to make you king and arbiter of all things snarky (but not too snarky) and witty." Alas, it isn't to be. So I will just continue to write for me, and whichever of you enjoy my particular brand of whining… I mean, clever repartee. (I do not sound like a 16 year old girl who writes in her diary about being unloved and how unfair life is!)
     The other thing that is kind of a bummer about social media in general is that it is a party that every one is invited to. You show up hoping to hang out with all of your cool friends, but instead you are surrounded by every loser you ever met. That weird distant cousin with crossed eyes and bad breath, the overly touchy guy from high school, the guy from the Marine Corps who you secretly suspect of having cannibalistic  tendencies, youth pastors, and all sorts of other social misfits. I was trying to talk to my friends Curtis,  John and Joel about this the other day, but they keep accidentally un-friending me (they really need to work the bugs out of Facebook), and when I try to chat with Brooke, Rachel, Mike, and Dave they must just miss my message, because they always go off-line as soon as I say something to them, and when I see Aaron or Josh in church they always get called into a meeting right when we start having a conversation. Oh well, at least I have you right? Hey where are you going? COME BACK!