Monday, November 24, 2008

A Funny Thing happened on the Way to the Wood Shop

I had my practical scenarios on building clearing. Building clearing is when police enter a building to ensure that no one is inside. This could happen because an alarm goes off, or someone notices a broken window and wants the building to be secure before entering. I can not disclose any details of the scenarios for fear that a cadet who has not yet gone through this portion of the academy will read it and have an advantage. I will just tell you some non-specifics of the evenings.
First off you get shot at during these scenarios with something called Simunition. Simunition is a modified 9mm cartridge that is fired out of modified Glock 17. The round recoils and fires much the same as a normal lethal round would. It explodes on its target with a water-soluble detergent(so your clothes don't get messed up by paint) tip. They hurt and leave red welts on your body that make your wife want to mother your wounds, and you to say things like "It ain't nuthin babe, just leave it alone." This type of training has several benefits. It creates stress and allows you to see how your body will react under stress, it creates a painful memory of how you screwed up and not to do that again, it also allows you to experience a gun fight with out a trip to the ER or writing a long report. We did our training at Joel P Jensen Middle School in rooms like the wood shop; that room just sounds scary doesn't it?

Simunition Gun looks real, only blue

Simuntion round. The pink stuff is the soap. Brass stuff is the loud stuff.

Friday I had both work and school off. I finished my Christmas shopping for Maggie and most everyone else on my list. I had to go the Library to return season one of the Sopranos and check if season two had arrived (it had not). I got there before it opened so I went to kill time at Barnes and Noble.

I made several small gift purchases there and as I was leaving noticed three ladies with a table of gift wrap. They were volunteering for a local animal advocacy group to wrap your presents for a donation. I hate wrapping and further more use enough paper to deforest Guam when I attempt conceal holiday gifts, so this was a good deal. One problem, I am extremely picky about the paper that I choose to put under my tree. It needs to shiny (preferably foil) so that the light reflected from the tree lights is maximized to fullest degree. This enhances the holiday spirit for all those observe our wonderful Costco tree that will not be allowed to be erected or lit until after Thanksgiving. I told the ladies I would love to let them do one of my most hated holiday chores, but I thought there paper was ugly, and explained my Yule Tide Light Reflection Theory (Shiny Paper X Tiny Lights squared = Holiday Enjoyment or S(T2)=H). They laughed and thought I was cute and charming as many middle aged charity involved women do. I went about my shopping, but then I got an idea! An awful idea! The Colt got a WONDERFUL AWFUL IDEA! I went to purchase my own shiny paper and then would take all of my gifts to be wrapped for the cost of a donation. The volunteers were extremely helpful and asked many questions about Sparky, why I was giving certain things to certain people etc. I am now done with my shopping and wrapping before Thanksgiving!
That night Maggie and I got SugarHouse BBQ and watched one of my favorite movies that Maggie had never seen the Maltese Falcon. Saturday Maggie worked a few hours and attended some BYU vampire movie with bad lighting (Twilight). I went to class for more scenarios one of which was really funny, but I can't put it in writing so please ask me about sometime. That night we went to see Westminster's production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." I have mentioned before that I am a big Steven Sondheim fan; which is as big a fan as I am of musical theatre...which isn't much. I decided however that Sondheim is more light opera than Broadway musical theatre and therefore more a kin to Gilbert and Sullivan (which somehow makes me like it more). The production was very well done. We both really enjoyed it. The other good news is of course the result of the Holy War. Utah won and is going to a BCS bowl.

Comedy Tonight!

Sunday we went to church I had to stay for Elder's Quorum meetings. I then went home and watched football. The Bears won against one of the worst teams in the NFL so that was good as well. We then headed up to Elton's for Sunday dinner. Which was very entertaining complete with a fashion show and my learning of the existence of Hobbit Town.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In Other News

This past week was for the most part relatively uneventful. I actually had three nights off from class, but Maggie had to work on two out of those three nights so I finished the final season of Six Feet Under on DVD, and I have to say that its series finale was possibly the best I have ever seen. I also managed to finish season one of the Sopranos on DVD. I am a huge fan of mob movies. The Godfather really can teach you some of the most important lessons of life (my wife and I had our first dance as a married couple to the Godfather Waltz. How freaking cool is my wife? Pretty cool I know.) and Goodfellows? Fa get about it! I started the Sopranos before I went on my mission during the first season's run on HBO, but when I came home it was on its third season and I was too far behind to catch up. This was one sacrifice that I placed on the mission altar that I have now taken back thanks to the miracle of DVD, and the large collection at the Salt Lake City Public Library.

"So there's no frigin ziti."

"Six Feet Under RIP 2001-2005"

Friday night we went to dinner with our friends Liz and Robert at Maggie's former stomping ground the Old Spaghetti Factory. She was really excited to see the changes including new Italian soda glasses, menus in plastic (not just paper ones covered in dried spaghetti sauce...very la ti da), and former specials now as regular entree options. I had crab stuffed ravioli in a creamy pesto sauce. Maggie had mushroom and mizithra. We then tried to go see Quantum of Solace, but would be unable to get in a show until well after ten. Instead we went back to our place to watch a film. It was Robert's birthday so he got to choose (this is a good thing, because it meant I was assured to not have to watch anything where Meg Ryan or Reese Witherspoon falls in love.) He selected Open Range (Kevin Costner should be allowed to make two types of movies westerns and baseball, and that's it). I am a big fan of the western genre so this was more than an acceptable choice. Maggie ,who is not the biggest western fan in the world, even enjoyed the movie. In her defense most of the western I have exposed her to are the Man With No Name series, and other Clint Eastwood or Sergio Leone films that could be considered an acquired taste. She did love Lonesome Dove, but how could you not?

Saturday I went to scenarios in the morning and I am happy to report I did not get shot. I then went to a shotgun familiarization course in the afternoon. This was a lot of fun. I have always liked shooting shotguns more than any other firearm, and after shooting some of the triple-ought buck shot and big slugs I made the decision that I want to find a way to carry my shot gun on my duty belt. That night we went to the Plothow's for dinner. We picked up baked beans from Sugarhouse BBQ and Apple Beer from Costco as our contributions to the last BBQ of the season. Brad cooked up some awesome burgers, and Steph made a fantastic pumpkin pie. We watched Get Smart, which I really liked. I was worried because I loved the old TV show on Nick at Night, and this movie got such terrible reviews. I thought it was funny, and Steve Carell was a great Max Smart.

Sunday we went to church, and came home so I could watch the Bears lose to Green Bay, even with Kyle Orton behind center (it was so much easier when I could overlook poor defensive play and the lack of solid running game and blame everything on Rex Grossman). We had a pizza and watched one of my favorite Mark Wahlberg movies, and went to bed. The upcoming should prove to be exciting with my having courses on building clearing at a middle school with Simmunition this could result in welts and interesting stories. More on that in my posting, or the posting after that depending on if I get inspired to write some more odd ramblings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Family Isn't It About Distance?

Family Isn't It About Distance?

This past week I was very excited that my cousin Brady was coming home from his mission in North Carolina. I was going to try and go see him on his layover at the Salt Lake City Airport, but those plans fell through when the mission home would not let me talk(on his last day in the field...give me a break) to him arrange plans. This was still okay because Maggie and I were planning on heading south Saturday after I got out of class around five. We would be there in time for his homecoming Sunday.
I was extremely excited for his homecoming. Brady is the first of my cousins to serve a mission. I have known him his whole life and feel like he and his siblings are the closest things I will ever have to little brothers and sister. I have been really proud of him for the past two years, and enjoyed reliving my glory days in Oakland through his letters and emails.
Maggie picked me up after my scenario training at the academy. We then headed south to St George. The drive was long, but Maggie and I had a good conversation. We listened to a lot Jimmy Buffett, Grateful Dead, and a little AC/DC when I was getting sleepy (Back in Black always wakes me up). We went to see my cousin's now finished and open salon. We then went home and celebrated Judy's birthday. We also learned that somehow Sparky has learned how to work my mother as well as I do, and is now able to sleep inside as long as he stays on his bed. Which he does...most of the time.
Sunday morning Maggie got up and went for her run, while I got up and watched the NFL pre-game show on ESPN (ahhh cable...just hook it to my vein). I was nervous about the day to say the least. My cousin and her boyfriend were coming, and her boyfriend is far from welcome by her mother and other members of my extended family. I was nervous this would erupt in grand show of Sims Family melt down. Once ready Maggie and I left to pick up my cousin Ceira who recently moved home to St George. It was so good to see her again. She has become such a wonderful young woman and I know how proud her late father and grandmother would be of her. After I took us to the wrong church on Snow Canyon Parkway in Ivins (seriously can't we just build bigger churches instead of ones on every street corner?) we arrived at Brady's homecoming.
It was so good to see some of my family and friends I have not seen in long time. Uncle John's Family, Steve and Jill, the Madsens and Sprages. It was also great to see my cousins who I have not seen in several months. Of course it was great to see Brady home from to two years of service. I was just a little annoyed that he came home skinny however and I came home heavier even after getting sick. His talk was excellent he has really improved over the two years. His little brother was one of the youth speakers and he also did an excellent job. I still had a few notes for both them(mostly about eye contact or building the emotion...there are so few us who can wow a room like Obama), but I was overall very impressed.
I went to say hello to my great aunts and my Aunt Becky only to met with a somewhat icy reception. Becky refused to acknowledge my existence. Her husband was warm and still offered me his hand once again validating my belief that he was a "good guy." This hostility mostly stems from my mother's decision to to allow Sariann's (Becky's daughter) boyfriend Mike back into our lives after he has made several stupid choices. This following in the grand tradition of those who made bad choices in our family, but were still welcome at every holiday or family event with open arms Sariann's companion will not be afforded the same grace.
Once back at the Ences' home I was good. I hung out with my cousins and old family friends. The great aunts however decided to let it out on my mother, and tell her what a terrible daughter she was to my now departed grandmother. This after my mother was trying to get to the bottom of why this year they decided to not exchange gifts with the rest of the family. I was to say the least pissed at this. What really annoyed me however was the way they made Maggie feel. Maggie has totally stayed above the fray with all of my family drama, she stayed neutral and loving to everyone in the family. During the fights after grandma's death she would be the first to leave the room and comfort the crying daughter which ever one the other two were mad at. She only got see the remnants of how close my family once was, and this was the first time she felt pushed her aside and made to feel unwanted. This made me mad. I can handle someone being mad at me, and my mother is more able to cause ire in someone, but Maggie had done nothing wrong.
I am not sure where to go from here. I felt awful that the whole drive home, and I never thought that Salt Lake's freezing cold temperatures could feel warm compared to cold hearts in St George. I didn't feel clean until I was in smoggy air of Salt Lake. Its hard to feel this way about the Aunt who taught me to foxtrot, the one who gave me my first haircut, or shares my love for Sinatra and mob movies, but I do. These were the people who hugged my when my father died, and came to my school plays, and now family almost makes the Corleons look functional ("Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.") I recently read an article that was in The Daily Spectrum years ago written by Mary Phoenix and Clark Hafen that talked about the Pymm family and how close we were, and how we were always there to support one another, my how times have changed. It is truly a testament to how strong my grandmother really was to be able to reign in all of the insanity the boiled under the surface. I am about to enter a dangerous and dirty profession, and feel terrified that if the worst should happen, my family would not be there for my loved ones.

"Don't ever go against the family Fredo."

The only hope I see is that all of the cousins in my generation get along really well. To explain it in Star Wars we would be the Luke and Leia to the Anakin and emperor( I know they weren't really related, but there was family feel to it). We all love each other, we are proud of each other's accomplishments, and enjoy seeing each other, and I believe this will continue in spite of the ice formed between the previous generations.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Got Just What I Wanted for my Birthday...A NEW President!

I have been delaying writing my blog because I have not downloaded any pictures. I decided that I better just write the thing and add pictures latter if I can. I will start by writing about the election. November 4th was my birthday. Maggie worked very hard to make the day special for me and truly succeeded. That morning I had an interview with a Salt Lake City Homicide Detective about my background and suitability to become a police officer; the detective came to my home. The interview went really well I think. The fun part for me was that I was watching one of my favorite shows Homicide:Life on the Street while waiting for the "murder police" to arrive at my door.

We then opened my birthday gifts. Maggie gave me a new ski coat, and a movie I wanted starring her favorite actor Mark Wahlberg. My mother gave me the complete Young Indiana Jones on DVD, and copy of Indiana Jones' Lost Journal. Judy gave me Terms of Endearment on DVD (NOTE: This may sound out of character for me, but it is part of my goal to own every Academy Best Picture and it is based off of a book by one of my favorite authors Larry McMurtry). There were also cards from friends and family with cash that allows me to shop for something fun. So thank you to all of you I have not thanked.

Next we went to Gateway Mall to look for something fun for me to spend my birthday money on. Maggie ended up with new running attire (which she totally earned by doing her five miles in pouring rain one day, and falling snow the next). I got a Bobby Flay cookbook. We went to the Broadway and watched the new Oliver Stone movie W. We both felt that it was an appropriate way to say goodbye to the past eight long years. The movie was good with great performances, but it was defiantly directed by Oliver Stone with lots of strange stuff. I would recommend getting the Red Box DVD.

I went to class that night and learned about accident investigation, but was mostly concentrating on my mothers text messages...we got Pennsylvania...OMG AZ too close to call...waiting on Florida, damn Florida. I normally love class, but I flew out of there like Seabiscuit when we were done. I got home in time to watch Ohio called, and the rest of the election.

I can say I have not felt like this in a long time. I was so impressed with John McCain's concession speech. He sounded like the man I have admired for years again. I hope that this speech is how we remember John McCain, and not for some the past two years pandering. When Obama took the stage and began to speak I could not contain my emotions (something that for those of you who know me, know is something I do well). I cried, and I am only a little ashamed of it. I felt hope and excitement. I partially wondered if this speech really was that good or if after having W. for president for eight years the bar was so low on what a president should sound I could not tell the difference. I however am sure it really was that good. My friend Holly came over and ate birthday cake and celebrated change with us.

Over the weekend we went to Park City Saturday night to see some friends of mine and mother's that we have not seen years. We spent most of Saturday night talking with them drinking tea and eating pie. It was good to reconnect with old friends and for Maggie to make some new ones. Sunday we had dinner at the Elton's, I correctly guessed both dinner and dessert this week in Maggie and I's weekly guessing game "What's for Sunday Dinner?" We ended the night playing Mario Kart on the Wii.

On Halloween Maggie and I went to the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Tower Theatre. The Rocky Horror Picture show is yet another event that everyone needs to do at least once in there lifetime. If you don't know what happens the movie is played on the screen while people act out the parts in front of the screen. The audience participates by throwing rice during the wedding scene, yelling lines back at the screen, dancing the Time Warp in the aisles. Our friend Qualye(there is no way I am spelling that correct, but its pronounced qu-a-lee) played Rocky and got us the hook up for some sweet tickets. I didn't do anything spectacular other than put on the Elvis costume, and Maggie revived her costume from last year which was a black slip covered in the words Id, Super Ego, and you get it? She was a Freudian Slip. Its very clever. We then went home watched my Halloween tradition Young Frankenstein.