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Not quite a battle of wits

June 6, 2012 Leave a comment

I grew up in Spokane, Wash. in a neighborhood that gets made fun of all the time. Hillyard was the butt of many jokes. (In spite of this, I still love Spokane and miss living there.) I felt safe in my neighborhood even though there was crime going on around me. Really, looking back at my younger years, I only can remember one bad incident.

Behind our house, we had a garage. It wasn’t in very good shape and had lots of junk in it. There were two things I loved about the garage. First, a friend helped me build a basketball hoop to put on the back (thanks Dave!). I spent many hours shooting hoops on it, in the rain or shine. The second thing that I loved about the garage is that my dad didn’t use it and he let my brother and I play in it.

One summer we decided that we, along with some friends, would make it into our kind of clubhouse. We moved most of the junk into a small side room. We then cleaned up the main part and “fixed it up.” This consisted mostly of a few old posters, some old chairs, and a radio. We didn’t have many options on the radio. I had a small AM/FM headphone radio that I had received as a gift. I had some small speakers that I could hook up to it. So we put it in the garage and voila…music!

Would you believe that someone is selling on eBay the exact model of the radio I had? I couldn’t, but here it is!!!

One of the things we did in our garage was work on our bicycles. We would take them apart and put them back together and think we were fixing them. Some of the kids in our neighborhood would bring their bikes by and we would tinker around with them. It was fun and kept us out of any real trouble.

One morning I went in the garage and realized that something was missing…my radio. I cannot express the sadness that I felt. The realization that someone had taken it was so hard on me. I had never really had anything stolen from me and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to tell my parents about it, since it was stupid of me to leave it in an unlocked garage overnight.

Later that day, I was talking to one of my friends and he told me that some kids about five blocks away had my radio and that they were trying to sell it. I didn’t know them, but my friend told me right where they lived. I decided to ride my bike over and see if I could get it back.

I am both proud and embarrassed at what I did next. I told them that I wanted to buy it, but I didn’t have any money with me (which was true). I said I would ride home and get the $5 that they wanted for the radio, but I wanted to take the radio with me. I don’t know why they agreed to this, but they did. I rode home as fast as my legs would take me. I looked over my shoulder plenty, but I wasn’t followed. Since I didn’t know these kids, and they didn’t know me, I felt that I was safe. I stole my radio back!

Now, I am not proud of the fact that I lied and stole, but I was very excited that I had found a way to get my radio back. It didn’t cost me anything. And I figured that they had stolen it from me, so I just took back what was rightfully mine. Disclaimer to my kids…it isn’t right to lie or steal, even if you get back something from the losers who stole from you.

I learned a few things that day. 1. Don’t leave anything you care about in an unlocked garage. 2. I am pretty good at bluffing people. 3. I can ride a bike pretty fast with proper motivation. 4. People will take your stuff, even if it isn’t worth much. (A side note…my 89 Honda Accord was stolen in 2011 and it wasn’t worth much when they took it and was worth much less when I got it back.)

And that is my life of crime when I stole back what was stolen from me. It wasn’t quite a battle of wits (like you can find in one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride), but I felt that I outwitted them.

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Categories: About Me, Just for Fun, Spokane

The phone is for me?

June 23, 2011 1 comment

Ever have one of those days where you are busy but don’t really do much?  Today has been one of those days.  I have spent most of the day on the phone.  This wasn’t how I had planned to spend my day, but it ended up this way.

I got up with the idea that I was going to do some dishes (I know…how exciting!) and then help mow my former employer’s lawn (I plead the 5th on this one).  After this I would watch my recorded Mariner’s game in the afternoon before we had to do some grocery shopping.

Last night I had done an online application for the EBT program that gives money for food.  I really didn’t expect to hear anything right away.  But right after breakfast (or as my two girls call it, breh-fix) I got a call to confirm information.  Well, that call turned into five calls from the same very helpful lady.  And it kept me on the phone for awhile.  Good news is after all those calls from her, we are getting very generous benefits and so we will be eating some good food!

During the last phone call, she told me that there was a man (Mark) working for a medical center in Seattle that is using my Social Security Number!  She encouraged me to go to the Social Security office and find out what I could do about it.  So, I thought I would run and pick up the food card and then go to the SS office.

Meanwhile the mail came.  I got a letter saying that my kids couldn’t be covered by the insurance policy that I had applied for.  It wasn’t open enrollment season so they couldn’t be covered.  With our insurance coverage ending at the end of the month, I didn’t want to mess around with this.  So, I had to call them.  Found out that I just needed a letter from my former employer.

So, after sending an email and walking over to the office, the letter was going to be sent and I could head out on my errands.  Picking up the card was quick and I headed to the SS office.  I took a number and realized that it was going to be a long wait.  I saw a sign that gave a phone number to call, so I headed out to my car and called them.  They gave me another number to call to report identity theft.

I came home and had lunch, and then called the identity theft number.  Another helpful person took my information and then told me how to report it to the credit agencies.  She also said I had to file a police report.  So, I called the credit report company (see..lots of phone calls!) but ended up going to their website to report the identity theft.  Got that taken care of and saw my credit report (which is still pretty good).

Got a text from a friend who needed some computer help and yes, I called to her to help her out.

My next call was to the local police.  First number was the wrong department and so I had to call another number.  Gave the basic information and, surprise surprise, I have to wait for another phone call!

In the mean time, I called back to the SS office to make sure that I covered everything, I found out that I am doing what I am supposed to do.  Then I called to check the balance on the food card (which isn’t activated yet).

So, here it is most of the way through the after noon and basically I have talked on the phone most of the day. I decided to throw in a blog in between phone calls because I think that this is the most phone calls I have ever had in one day when I wasn’t working.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had any calls about a job.  You would think with over 30 active applications that I would get at least one call!

My main question after all these phone calls is this: What would I do without my phone?

The story that I am looking forward to telling

June 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I have been unemployed for almost three months now. (You can read about it here.)  I thought it might be fun to tell the story of my new job before I actually get the job.  So, that is what this blog is going to be.  A little fantasy story for you to enjoy.

The quest for a job is not always a fun one.  When I found out last November that I was going to be unemployed in March, I figured that it wouldn’t be a problem to find a job.  To be honest, the first couple of months, I mostly just worked on my resume and focused on finishing up that semester’s classes in Seminary.  When January rolled around, I started looking harder.  My wife would even jump in and do some searching for me.

I applied for a job at a Christian conference center.  I didn’t get an interview for that position, but when an even better position opened up, I sent my application off once again.  I went through the interview process which included a failed trip to visit the center.  That trip was interrupted by the tsunami warning and our family drove back home in the middle of the night.  In the end, I was disappointed in being the second choice for the position.

So, it was back to finding other positions to apply for.  Along the way there were a few interviews, but nothing ever materialized. It wasn’t until the end of June that I got my big break.  Jen and I had determined that if possible, we would like to be able to live close to where we had been living so that our kids could go to a particular school.  I was applying for all types of different jobs all up and down the I-5 corridor in Washington and Oregon, so I could end up getting an offer that would cause us to move.  We spent much time in prayer about what job I would end up with. (FYI up to this point, the story is true…the fantasy takes over now.)

So I was called in for an interview.  Was I ever excited and nervous.  After not getting call backs from so many different applications, I was excited to finally get to the interview stage again.  I changed things up from my normal interview attire and went with some clothes that would go with my new dress shoes and tie.  I figured that I needed some new mojo going into this interview.  I arrived a few minutes early and found the bathroom so I could check my appearance and make sure I looked okay.

After one initial interview I had commented on facebook “that interview couldn’t have gone any better!”  I didn’t get a second interview, so it must not have gone as well as I thought it did.  But this interview actually couldn’t have gone any better.  The man who would end up being my boss was extremely nice. He had a great understanding of my skills, even though I hadn’t worked in a non-ministry job in over ten years.  But he was willing to take my experience and apply that to this job.  It was so refreshing to have someone appreciate my skills and abilities instead of just throwing my resume into the  recycle bin.

At the end of the interview, he told me that I would hear in a couple of days.  Now, I have heard that before and usually it is one of two things: I don’t ever hear back, or it takes weeks until I hear.  But he was a man of his words and the next day he called and offered the job to me!  Not only is this a job that I believe that I can do well, it is a job that I am going to enjoy. It will challenge me while I will be able to help people.

And my wife is so happy as well.  It pays me enough so that we will are buying a great house with a great yard.  Her dreams of a nice garden and raising some chickens are coming true.  And it is a job that will allow me to be home every evening.

So…this is the story that I am looking forward to telling.  I don’t know when I will get to tell this story or at least something close to this.  Keeping checking back to see when I really do actually get a job.

Categories: About Me, Jobs Tags: , , , , ,

The “Pond”

June 7, 2011 Leave a comment

One summer when I was a kid, my brother and I decided that we needed a pond.  I really don’t know what made us decide that we needed a pond, but it seemed like a great idea when we came up with it.  Our house was right next door to a vacant lot that we had to take care of, so it seemed okay with us to dig ourselves a pond.

We got a couple of shovels, went out to the middle of the weeds and started digging.  Now, in my mind, I had the idea of a huge pond with lots of fish, frogs, and lily pads…and maybe even a fountain or waterfall.

A beautiful pond in Duinrell, Netherlands

What we were digging in was really just a vacant lot…lots of weeds and rocks.  But that didn’t deter us.  We were young and had nothing else to do. So we dug like mad men…for about 15 minutes or so.  We didn’t have a very big hole yet, but we decided that we needed fill the pond and see what would happen.  Now, summer in Eastern Washington where we lived was hot.  And the ground hadn’t seen any type of water for awhile.

Well, needless to say (wait…that phrase means I don’t have to say it, but that wouldn’t make for a very good story, so I will say it anyway), the water didn’t form any kind of a pond at all.  In fact it didn’t even puddle a small bit.  It just ran down into the ground.  Hmm…what to do now.  Oh, let’s just dig it a bit bigger and that will help.  So, we dug it a bit bigger and then tried some more water.  Same result…big surprise, right?

That evening my father saw the “pond” and wondered why we were digging holes.  We told him of our plan and I am pretty sure that he thought that we were crazy.  He told us to quit wasting water.  We needed some sort of a liner to keep the water in the pond.  Some plastic would work.

Holes is a great movie!

The next day we found enough plastic and lined our pond with it.  Now, keep in mind that we didn’t have one big sheet of plastic, but about 4 sheets that we had to overlap.  We used some big rocks to hold them down.  And then we filled up our pond.  YES!  Success!  There was water staying in the pond.  We left the hose running and went off to ride our bikes.  We came back a bit later expecting to see our pond full and maybe even a bit of wildlife in it.  (I have no idea where wild frogs and such would come from, but I hoped anyway).  Sadly, our pond was only about as full as when we had left it.  Go figure that our patchwork plastic didn’t hold water.

That was enough of a disappointment for us to give up on our pond idea.  We put the hose away and went back to riding our bikes.  In our mind, the failed attempt was over and we moved on.  But, my dad didn’t think our project was finished.  He sent us back out there with our shovels to fill the hole that we dug.  It was sad for me to have to give up on my dream of my very own pond, but deep down, I felt relieved that our failure would be covered up.

Someday I hope to live in a house with a nice yard that will include not only a pond but a waterfall as well.

Categories: About Me, Spokane Tags: , , ,

Who am I?

May 29, 2011 1 comment

PabcoHello and welcome to my blog.

Here is a little introduction to who I am, starting with my family.  I have a wonderful wife (Jen), a five year old daughter who was born in Paris (Princess), a three year old daughter (who loves to eat, go barefoot, and is cute…Hobbit), and my year and half old son (Little Man).  We currently live in Tacoma, Wash. where I am looking for a job.

A little background from me. My name is Paul and I was raised in what I refer to as God’s country, Spokane, Wash.  I went to the same small school from first grade through high school. I then went to college at Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Ore.  (which then changed to Multnomah Bible College and now is Multnomah University).  After working for the school for a couple years after graduating, I started my first ministry job which only lasted for 5 months (more on that later).  I ended up in Spokane until 2000 when I moved to Olympia, Wash.  It was there that I met Jen and after getting married, we eventually moved to Paris for three years (yes, that Paris in France).  We moved to Tacoma in 2006 and have been here since.

I love my family, God, the Mariners, the Seahawks, and telling stories.  Since I worked with youth since I graduated high school, I had many opportunities to create some great stories and to share great stories.  One of the things which I hope to do through this blog is share some of my experiences and small adventures.