Marriage Advice

Hamza and I
Hamza and I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I completed my last scholastic assignment today, conducting a mock interview of a homicide suspect with a role player.  We were only given 45 minutes; I am afraid I was still building rapport and establishing baselines when time ran out.  In my defense, I would not have transitioned to a hard interrogation in a real case that early, there was still too much investigation left to do and too much information left unknown.

Friday marked the end of three of my six classes.  Ethics, Officer Involved Shootings, and Statement Analysis are now complete.  Monday I have to finish my post academy fitness testing in physical fitness (I may have gotten worse) and I have my last class in Leadership.  I also have a field trip to the National Archives in Leadership tomorrow, that I will need to attend.  Tuesday I have my last class in Death Investigation, that will complete my academic requirements here.  Based on the grades I have seen, I am expecting all A’s for my classes.  I could not let Kathryn beat me out this semester!

I spent Friday afternoon organizing photographs.  I ordered 8×10 prints of my section’s group photograph for each person in my section and about 500 4×6 prints of various shots; my plan is to give those to my section classmates on Monday.  I think I am the only section photographer making prints. 

After I completed that, I wandered out to the grove.  It was a small gathering tonight, I think a lot of people went home this weekend.  Hamza was there, along with Alexander from Ukraine and Marian from Romania.  Hamza just finished celebrating Ramadan but he showed up with a big bottle of wine; Hamza is already a very gregarious person, the wine only helped in that regard.  He shared some valuable marriage advice that I believe I need to find a way to incorporate.

His most important advice regarding wives is that you need more than one.  Hamza has two.  He is in charge of narcotics operations in Nigeria and he says two wives is all he can afford; his boss has three wives.  Of course, he has several girlfriends as well but he advises against letting your wives know about them.  Apparently how it works in Hamza’s household is whichever wife sets the table is the wife who has bedroom duty that night.  He does not have to remember any schedule, he just pays attention to who sets the table.  Any trading of nights is taken care of between the wives.  Personally, I like this delegation of responsibility.   Oh, Hamza also has a farm.  The farm income is used to support the household, his income from his law enforcement job is for his personal use (and used to support the girlfriends).  You know, sometimes in the west we are biased and think we have it all figured out; there is a lot we can learn from people in other countries, don’t you think?

One of my classmates asked what happened if his wives could not get along.  The answer in Nigeria is easy, all Hamza has to do is tell whichever of his wives he deems to be the problem that they are now divorced and the marriage ends.  I imagine this conserves a lot of judicial resources as well.  According to Hamza, there is no tax on pensions in Nigeria; I think I should put Nigeria on the short list of places to retire to.  Smile with tongue out

That is it from here.  This is my last weekend on campus.  In five days, Tracy, James, and my parents will be here  (after this posting, I should probably be glad there are 700 miles between Tracy and I right now).  There are times I think the FBI National Academy exists in some kind of time distortion bubble; in many ways it seems like I just got here but at the same time it seems like I have been here forever.  In any case, I am looking forward to getting back home.  This has been a great experience that I would not trade but I miss my wife something fierce, even if I only have one of them!

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More Yellow Brick Road

These are shots from the finish line side of things.  Rachel did a great job.  After I finished, she handed the camera back and I took the remaining shots.  The rain alternated between a steady rain and a torrential downpour  and the temperature was below 70 even when the last person finished around noon.  When I finally got back to my room I was absolutely freezing.   I thought the rain had washed all the mud out of my clothing, but when I wrung them out in the sink the water looked like coffee.

We had our Yellow Brick Road dinner in the atrium tonight and there will be a party at the Grove this evening.  Hopefully the rain will stop but I suspect the party will happen either way.

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George kissed the ground when he finished.
George kissed the ground when he finished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It is raining in all of these pictures, but here it turned torrential.
It is raining in all of these pictures, but here it turned torrential.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This tree is between the gym and bus loading area.
This tree is between the gym and bus loading area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many people decorated their PT shirts for this run.
Many people decorated their PT shirts for this run.
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Yellow Brick Road

We did the final Yellow Brick Road challenge today.  Section 1 and Section 4 were scheduled to be on the first two buses leaving the academy.  We left the gym for the pick up point just as a thunderstorm rolled in.  After standing around under tall trees for about ten minutes and getting soaked and lightning cracked (the things you do that you would yell at your children for) and just as the busses were finally in sight, we were told to return to the gym.  So we took care of getting soaking wet before we even ran the first step.  We all had to wear orange bracelets for the run, I believe this was a replacement for carrying our ID cards while we were running on the base but maybe it just signified we had signed the forms that said it was not the FBI’s fault if we died.

In another fifteen minutes, the storm had lessened and we ran out to the busses.  With all the rain we have had and were still having, some of the guys grabbed their swim goggles to wear on the run.  The drop off point was about 2/3 rds of a mile from the actual beginning of the obstacle course, so the running began there.  After reaching the obstacle course we were sent through in groups.  This really did not matter much, we still stacked up at the obstacles.  I fell in with a group with some injuries, so we took it slow.  This actually worked out well, as other groups would pass us, I could get photos of different people.

The course was challenging but a lot of fun.  There were instructors at the tougher obstacles, like rope climbing down and up cliffs, to offer guidance on how to do it.  The rain continued on and off as we went, the trail was a mess of puddles, and the soil was clay, which was pretty darn slick.  I can see why you have to sign a liability waiver.  I saw a few people take spills and a couple close calls on the cliff climbs, one of the guys who had been my suite mate the first week nearly fell from the top of one of the cliffs but he held on to the rope.

I took an old crappy point and shoot camera on the run, figuring it was cheaper than buying a water and shock proof camera and it would not matter much if the camera died at the end.  The negative to that was I got pictures from an old crappy point and shoot.  Oh, and I think the rain did the camera in, it was functioning oddly by the end, not turning off, and a few of the pictures were corrupted files. 

I had left the main camera in the gym for Rachel to use again.  It was pouring from almost black skies when I finally came across the finish line.  She had two guys trying to protect the camera by holding a towel over her head.  The higher end Pentax cameras are supposed to have some of the best weather sealing in the industry, so I put it to the test for the rest of the shots.  I have had my cameras out in the rain before, but not rain as heavy as this was.  Thus far, it seems to have survived fine.

The pictures will do a better job explaining than I can, so here they are:

Waiting for the bus.
Waiting for the bus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the beginning of the O-course.
At the beginning of the O-course.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Getting by with a little help from our friends
Getting by with a little help from our friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It has been nine weeks.
It has been nine weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The graffiti is from previous classes
The graffiti is from previous classes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you get to the top, you grab the rope and flip over
When you get to the top, you grab the rope and flip over

 

 

 

 

 

 

That water stunk bad.
That water stunk bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yum.
Yum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At the finish line.
At the finish line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to run to dinner now.  I will post a few more shots from the good camera later.

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Appreciating the moment

The moment I am appreciating right now is waiting to head to the gym to catch our bus to the Marine Corp obstacle course.  The title, though, has more to do with this photos:

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Many of the tall buildings around the hotel we stayed at are displaying flags in remembrance of 9-11.  I kept meaning to stop and take some photos but we were always either going or coming back from somewhere, rushing to catch the crosswalk signal, or tired.  I never did take that photo but James did stop and took this shot, which I rather like.  Sadly, I think I got cross with him for doing it, or doing it without telling anyone at least.  Basically, I have a week left of the National Academy experience, by this time next week I will be packing up everything I have in anticipation of moving it to our hotel when Tracy arrives on Thursday.  I need to appreciate those moments.

Totally unrelated note, this is the last candy shot putt competition in Death Investigation from last Thursday:

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Weather is foggy and it is still drizzling.  This should be fun.  I need to be in the gym ready to leave in less than 30 minutes.  Hopefully I will have some photos to post later today.

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These are a few of my favorite things

Outside Air and Space at Dulles
Outside Air and Space at Dulles

At the Academy
At the Academy

My last class did not end early on Thursday, as I had hoped, so it was rush hour by the time I headed north to D.C.  I did make it to the hotel, I just took the scenic route by way of downtown D.C. and I-64, neither of which should have been part of the journey.  The roads here are crazy, you exit one limited access highway and find yourself immediately on another; if you miss an exit you are pretty much hosed, there is a lot of construction and detours as well, which throws off the GPS and google map directions. 

Anyhow, I DID make it there, somewhat wrung out, and I was met by Tracy and James in the hotel lobby.  Kathryn flew in on Friday and we met her at the airport, by way of the metro.  I am all for using the public transit system in a major metropolis! 

It was a great weekend.  Friday we went to the Old Post Office, which is the tallest tower in D.C. you can actually enter, now that the Washington Monument is closed due to earthquake damage.  This is a different building than the Postal Museum, which is housed in a newer old post office.  The Old Post Office is a National Park site but the lower floor, which they used for mail sorting, is leased out to different shops and the upper floors are devoted to government office space.  After that, we went to the National Archives, where I found the first museum in D.C. that was unwilling to admit out of state law enforcement carrying off duty.  This building is guarded by “Special Police,” from talking to one of them outside, they are basically armed security guards with power to detain but not arrest. 

We did go back to the Archives on Saturday, but first we went to the National Zoo.  The National Zoo was a repeat, we had been there Thanksgiving week, but Kathryn requested it as her top choice.  Sunday we travelled out to the Air and Space Museum at Dulles Airport.  It is a ways to travel outside the city but well worth it.  Personally, I liked the Dulles exhibit even more than the main Air and Space Museum on the Mall.  After Air and Space, I took Tracy, Kathryn, and James to see the FBI National Academy.  There were not too many people on campus; I gave them the nickle tour and we ate dinner in the cafeteria.  Well, actually we ate dinner in the Boardroom, there were so few people on campus they had closed the cafeteria and were serving meals in the bar.

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Monday morning we did a quick walkthrough of the Smithsonian Castle ground floor exhibits.  I had heard there were tours of the building available but apparently they do not run every day.  I would like to do that someday, the building’s architecture is fascinating.  We also hiked to the Jefferson Monument.  It is a mile or more from the National Mall because the monument is fenced off now and you have to walk all the way around the outside of the grounds to get to the one entrance.  James really enjoyed that (not).  I took Kathryn back to Reagan for her flight that afternoon, which was delayed due to heavy rains moving in.  A big Thank You to Matt for getting Kathryn to and from the airport!

Despite the rain, and proving my mother was right when she said I did not have enough sense to come in out of the rain, I went back to the mall after dark to try some night photography.  I would like to try it again when the weather is more cooperative, I was soaked to the skin by the end.  I did get a few shots I was happy with, though.  This morning Tracy and James headed back to Reagan on the metro and I drove back to the Academy.  After today, there are really only five days of actual classes left; it looks like some of my classes will end even earlier than that.

As I write, Tracy and James are safely back home.  It has been raining continuously here since last night.  This should make the challenge run tomorrow a lot of fun, since there are rope assisted climbs up rocks and crawls through trenches under barbed wire.  My ankle is still sore from last week’s challenge; I need to run into town and buy an ankle brace for tomorrow.

Here are some of the pictures from the weekend:

Corsair
Corsair

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Post Office
Old Post Office

 

 

 

 

 

 

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World War II Memorial
World War II Memorial

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos from the weekend are here:
Here, here, and here.

I basically turned the small camera over to James.  Most of these are his:
James’ pictures

Oh, I also stumbled upon another blog from a fellow FBI National Academy 246 student.  It is the same guy whose photos I linked to earlier, Greg from Hawaii.  I think I have done a much better job of keeping my blog updated:
http://fbina246.blogspot.com/

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End of Week Seven

Our challenge yesterday was the Road to Oz, a 5.1 mile run.  It was mostly along a trail through the woods, up and down hills, over tree roots, and over and under downed trees.  A couple of the trees looked like they have been down with for years but there were several that appeared to have fallen during Irene.  I have heard from several people that this is the toughest of all of the challenges, because it is the longest sustained run.  The Yellow Brick Road apparently involves lots of stopping and waiting a moment before doing the next obstacle.   I finished the entire run at a run; Richard and I ran together again.  We finished in 49:40.  I don’t know what I did, but my left ankle has been hurting since then.  Not enough that I can’t walk on it but I may want to put a brace on it before I do the next run.

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Wed afternoon we had Mike Durant, the helicopter pilot who was shot down and captured in Somalia (Blackhawk Down), as our guest speaker.  He was the best of our enrichment speakers.

I got my entire section gathered together for a group shot after section meetings.  Wed night concluded with a party at the grove.

Today was the last day of classes for this week.  We signed our waivers to participate in the Yellow Brick Road challenge.  If I die, it is not the fault of either the FBI or the USMC.  Interestingly, we were told someone HAS died doing the Yellow Brick Road.  Dropped dead on the trail most of the way back. 

As soon as classes were over, I bolted from the Academy and drove up to Arlington and met Tracy and James at our hotel.  Kathryn flies in tomorrow.  This is the first time I have seen either of them since I left.  I am very much looking forward to this weekend! 

National Academy Class 246 Section 1
National Academy Class 246 Section 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our California contingent and Rachel
Our California contingent and Rachel
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Nearing the End

I think I crossed a mental finish line this week.  The school assignments are pretty much completed now.  My group in Statement Analysis did our presentation today.  My last group project will be presented in Officer Involved Shootings on Sept 9th.  Also on Sept 9th I have to do an interview and interrogation with a role player and turn in my last Statement Analysis project.  Oh, and I have a final exam in Physical Fitness.  That is it for school work.  I think the fact I have completed my assignments has my thoughts turned to going home.

Every NA class does an auction drive to support Concerns of Police Survivors, a charity that supports families of slain officers.  Ours was held off campus at a local bar and grill called, originally, The Main Street Bar and Grill.  There were quite a few items up for auction.  The format was a silent auction until the bidding reached $100; any item that reached $100 was sent to a live auction.  There were a number of items, mostly signed sports memorabilia, that passed the $100 mark.  There were so many items the auction spilled out onto the sidewalk and the close times on items was staggered, with different tables closing every thirty minutes.

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Jamie
Jamie
A very expensive bat.
A very expensive bat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the more hotly contested items included an assortment of challenge coins contributed by various members of our class, which was won by Jamie, our resident Marine Police Officer, probably for more than he really wanted to pay.  A bat signed by someone (ya’ll know how much I follow sports) went for $525.  I mainly went to fulfill my responsibilities as photographer and did not stay through the end, there was an AR-15 rifle up for auction that I am sure went for more than $525 on one of the last tables.  I did bid on, and win, a couple of pocket holsters. 

Tomorrow is the 5.1 mile challenge run.  Depending on who you talk to, this is either the most difficult or second most difficult of the challenges.  Obviously the 6 mile obstacle course is supposed to be the most difficult but tomorrow’s challenge has the most sustained running of any of the challenges.  With that in mind, I should post this and get to bed.  I have a lot of running to do in the morning.

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