The final week was a blast and a blur. Knowing it was the last week, there was a lot of preemptive goodbye’s that took place all week. Monday and Tuesday I spent meeting with the chairman of the committee, ranking member, and my congressman from San Angelo, TX. Wednesday morning a Nuclear Waste Bill was pushed through our Energy and Environment Subcommittee and then the AIP staff and interns showed up for a tour! The tour was a lot of fun, and I hope everyone enjoyed it.
After the tour I finally got to meet Dr. Mather, who has ultimately financed my summer through his program. I was so happy to get the opportunity to introduce him, Mr. Hammer, and Mr. Hehn to the Chairman and show them a bit of what I have learned this summer. Following the meeting with the Chairman, Gary and Kendra came by for a tour of my committee offices and got to meet the people I work with.
I’m writing this as my last official act of duty at a Congressional Computer. My desk is cleaned out, I’ve said my goodbyes, and it’s a little sad to say I have to leave. But this has been an awesome summer, and I will cherish this journal and all the photos I have taken as a reminder of the small details of the summer. I have made some genuine friends this summer, and I hope that I can stay in touch with everyone.
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Wow, this week was pretty amazing. Monday…not so much, but the excitement started on Tuesday. We had a hearing on the Economics of Science, and a Nobel Prize winner was present to testify before the committee. Then Wednesday, the Smithsonian Institution brought all kinds of interesting visual aids for their hearing on Smithsonian Science Education Initiatives. They brought jumbo shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, mosquitoes from across the country, and a four billion year old meteorite from Antarctica! Quite unexpectedly, I ran into the undersecretary of Science in our hearing room lounge, and after a short conversation she allowed me to pose for a picture with the meteorite! Needless to say, I was blown away.
I also got to take a bill to the Office of the Speaker on Wednesday morning, where it was read and debate on the House Floor later that day. Some serious badge flashing was required to get to the Office of the Speaker. And on the way to the Capitol building, I rode on an elevator with the Ranking Republican Member of the Science and Technology Committee. It is rare to see a member of Congress in a ‘passenger’ elevator, because they have ‘members only’ elevators. It is equally rare that strangers talk in an elevator, but I was surprised and proud to say that Congressman Ralph Hall (R-TX) spoke to me in the elevator. We had a short conversation (elevator speech: Texan style), and I scheduled a meeting to go by and talk with him more next week. I have met with two Texas Representatives already this summer, and I can say I am genuinely impressed with their character. Especially that of Mr. Hall, who stood to gain nothing politically by speaking to an intern in an elevator, but did so anyway.
Thursday involved me working the timer for a six hour NASA Authorization Act of 2010 markup. It is so amazing that I was present, and in fact played a small role in the Authorization of NASA for the next three years! Long-lasting science policy decisions were debated and decided in front of me! Including, but not limited to the “Hug a Nazi make a Liberal” foreign policy as explained by Mr. Rohrabacher of California. Yes, that was a big joke, but it was a hilarious one in a very tense room.
On Friday morning, the office clerk for the S&T Committee arranged for the interns to get a personal tour of the National Archives Building, before the public is allowed in. We got to see some amazing documents that spanned the lifetime of our great nation! For example: George Washington’s hand written inaugural address, the first Journal of Congress, letters from President Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘Day of Infamy’ Speech (with hand-written corrections!). Then we got to go into the Archival Rotunda and see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution before anyone else was crowding in. Overall, this week has been my best week in Washington so far!
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Ah, another week gone by. They seem to be flying by now. Last weekend most of the interns went together to the top of the Washington Monument. The view from there was fantastic, even in the Saturday morning drizzle.
This week posed a few new experiences for me. First of all, I got to work the timer for my first ever Committee on Science and Technology markup. A markup is where the committee gets together to agree on a final version of a bill before they send it to the full House of Representatives to be voted upon. The bill had passed subcommittee, and must be passed through a full committee markup before it is voted on by all of the Representatives. There were many proposed amendments, accompanied by moderate amounts of argument and compromise. On Wednesday, I truly got to witness the American government at work. A final decision was reached and the bill has now been sent to the House floor with full recommendation of the committee. I am sure that the markup over The Oil Pollution Research and Development Program Reauthorization Act of 2010 and The Safer Oil and Natural Gas Drilling Technology Research and Development Act will be one of my longest-lasting memories of this summer.
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Well, this week was generally pretty slow. The House of Representatives was in recess for the entire week, so work was very relaxed. Each of the interns got one extra day of vacation this week, so I took off Tuesday to spend an extra day with my family while they visited DC. I was really blessed to be able to spend that unexpected time with them! We toured the National Air and Space Museum, Mt. Vernon, Gettysburg, and Arlington National Cemetery. We also got to watch the best fireworks show in the country from the lawn of the Lincoln Memorial. That was amazing!
When I did return to work on Wednesday, it was casual week because of recess. Jeans every day! And we usually get out of work thirty minutes early during recess as well. So I enjoyed this week of slow, easy days. I just got a research project pertaining to renewable energy policy, and I am very excited about it. This is a very long-term project, so I may be working on it the remainder of my time here. This evening after work SPS is taking all the interns to a Washington Nationals Game. I’m pretty pumped for the game and even more excited that I got to wear jeans to work today…meaning I don’t have to wear a jacket and tie to the ballgame!
The June newsletter published by the Committee on Science and Technology was recently released, and the link to it is as follows. Many of the hearings discussed in the newsletter were mentioned earlier in my journal, and I even took some of the photos used in the newsletter. http://science.house.gov/docs/ENEWS/2010/June_10_ENEWS.pdf
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So it’s Wednesday, and because this week has just been awesome so far, I decided to go ahead and write down some details before I forget. Monday was the first absolutely-full-of-stuff-to-do day I’ve had this summer, but I loved it. Last week I got a project that involved combing through a 197 page senate bill on cybersecurity and finding the sections that pertained to the Research and Science Education Subcommittee. That took most of Monday, but there were two hearings in our committee on Tuesday, so there was plenty of preparation work to be done. Tuesday morning, I showed up and went straight to a House of Rep. Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee hearing titled Wind Farms: Compatible with Military Readiness? Because I am technically committee staff, I got to sit in the actual committee hearing room and not in the overflow room where most interns sat. The guest list was pretty impressive for that meeting, and most interns were being sent to an overflow room if there congressman was not on the subcommittee, but I just hid my intern badge, acted official, and didn’t talk much, so nobody bothered me. The witness list for the hearing contained but was not limited to, a deputy of the Secretary of Defense, and the Commander of NORAD. It was awesome, and I got an amazing seat. The topic itself was very interesting to me. Wind turbines are creating electromagnetic fields and RADAR obstructions, and this hearing was to discuss and analyze ways to solve this problem without sacrificing military readiness.
Later that day I ran the timer for the first half of a Science Research and Science Education Subcommittee hearing over synthetic before I sprinted to the capitol building. Although I didn’t get to stay at the markup, I did get to go and save a seat for a member of the Science Committee staff in the House Appropriations Hearing Room, which is in the basement of the Capitol building. That in itself was pretty impressive. The Appropriations committee has been meeting in that room since the 1800’s! I had to flash my badge and get all official to get through the line…awesome.
Today, Wednesday, I met with my congressman Randy Neugebauer and got to talk all about home and wind energy. Meeting with him was definitely the highlight of my day. I was also supposed to go to a Senate Hearing this morning, but when I got there the room was full. I really want to make it to a Senate Hearing while I am here, just for the experience.
Thursday was great. My parents are visiting for the 4th of July Weekend, along with my brother. I got to give them a personal capitol tour after working a hearing on smart-grid technology all morning on Thursday. It was a fun way to see my parents as well as fill an afternoon. After work the Dylla family hosted the SPS interns along with a few people from ACP for a Bar-B-Q at their house in Maryland. It was a great way to spend the evening. Because I don’t work at ACP every day like most of the interns, it was nice for me to get to see many of the people who were instrumental in placing me to this intern position. Friday has been pretty slow so far. The House of Representatives stayed in session until midnight last night to wrap up their work so that they could get an early start on the District Work Period (the week of July 4 they go home to relax/work in their district). I am really excited about seeing my family this weekend and getting to celebrate the 4th of July in the Nation’s Capitol!
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Alas, another week has flown by. I’m getting pretty used to working hearings now. I ran the timer again, and I am running the timer again next week. On the whole, the week was pretty low-key, but I did get my first official assignment from the subcommittee on Research and Science Education. I was moved to a desk in this subcommittee last week, but I feel much better about sitting here now that I have an assignment!
The highlight of the week was Thursday morning. I got to sit in on a meeting with executives from Lockheed Martin and hear the latest news on their GOES-R satellite. I have been interested in Lockheed and aeronautical engineering for a long time, and getting to hear first-hand about their space engineering department was awesome. I got to meet some really high ranking people in that company, and who knows, maybe someday that meeting may get me a job!
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Oops, I apologize to all that this journal comes a few days late, but I’ll make up for it and fill everybody in on the weekend as well. :o)
Last week was quite an interesting one. Monday and Tuesday at I went to training sessions on Capitol tours. I am now officially qualified to give tours of the Capitol building. Anyone interested, give me a call! Regardless of how many tours I will be giving, the historical aspect of the training was awesome. I learned so much about the history of the building and the American government. The best part of the whole tour is that I get to point out Sam Houston’s preferential seat that he received so he could put his cowboy hat on the floor during Senate meetings (A little Texas trivia that gets shared with the world on a daily basis).
The rest of the week was relatively uneventful at work. I received word that I will be moving out of the ‘Bat Cave’ and into the office of the Subcommittee on Research and Education. I’m pretty excited about that. One of the most influential interns in helping me get settled into the office is leaving on Friday. I’m going to miss her little pick-me-ups around the office.
As promised, I’ll dish the dirt on the weekend. Friday I got a chance to go on an outreach trip with the AIP people, taking a much needed break from work on the Hill to have a little fun. This weekend was a blast. I’m really getting to know the interns a lot better. I taught Linda how to two-step Friday night and she shared a few East Coast Swing moves. We are going to try and find somewhere to go out on the town and dance, if there is such a place in DC. Saturday was photo-op day. We walked to a huge Einstein statue and took pictures climbing all over Einstein. And of course, I had to get a staged picture of me ‘leaning’ on the Washington monument. I give props to Pat for the great camera work. We met the new intern, Wahab Salami on Saturday night. Everybody watched Tropic Thunder and then went out to play pool. Wahab and I lost by one to Pat and Carl, but a rematch is definitely in order soon! I’m looking forward to the upcoming week and getting to know everyone even better.
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Wow, it has already been a week. It seems like every day lasts forever, but then again it doesn’t seem like a week since I wrote my last journal entry. I haven’t gotten lost this week, which is a big improvement over last week!
Last weekend I got a chance to visit the American History Museum (one of the Smithsonian museums). It was really amazing. Probably the most impressive part to me was the top hat that President Lincoln was wearing the night he was assassinated and the white flag that General Lee used to surrender at Appomattox. I am a bit of a civil war history buff though, so my opinion may be biased.
This week at work there were two subcommittee hearings: one for the Energy and Environment subcommittee and one for the Research and Education subcommittee. The Energy and Environment hearing made national headlines because one of the witnesses before the committee was actor Kevin Costner. I thought it was a little bit ridiculous, but there were cameras everywhere! That hearing lasted almost four hours, and Mr. Costner spoke last. So I stood along the side wall for nearly four hours and listened to everyone’s testimony and cross-examination by the committee in order to hear what Mr. Costner had to say to the committee.
The second committee hearing, by the Research and Education subcommittee, was much more low key, but was very interesting to me. The hearing was officially titled Entrepreneurial Education and Proof of Concept Funding Will Improve Technology Transfer. Overall, the committee was interested in hearing from experts how to better encourage academic institutions to do progressive research in areas immediately applicable to the commercial market and how to get this research introduced as quickly as possible into the commercial market. I actually ran the timer at this hearing, meaning that rather than simply standing along the wall I had an actual assignment. It was a little intense, but I enjoyed it. This week has been a lot of fun, with celebrities popping in and out of the office and a capitol tour…can’t wait for next week!
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So, wow. Week one is over. Lots of crazy stuff happened in week one. My current situation best reflects the theme of the week. Learning three things at once and bluffing my way two of them at any given moment until I can master the first one. Everyone on the hill talks softly (to keep from being over-heard I guess?), quickly, and uses lots of acronyms. I am swimming in a sea of acronyms. So getting an explanation on how to do things requires careful listening skills and the use of some extreme context clues at the speed of light. I am getting much better at deciphering the acronyms mid-sentence.
This week started with a flight into DC early Sunday morning and a great day Monday hanging out with my dad and exploring the city before I started my summer internship. Having a free day to explore Washington on Memorial Day was pretty amazing. After navigating the subway to my work building, my dad and I wandered down the mall where we came upon the Memorial Day Parade. The Marine band was the most impressive part of the parade to me.
On Tuesday everybody got oriented and Wednesday I got to start my first official day in the House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology. Awesome right? I was on cloud nine for about an hour as I got my desk and computer login. I even have an official House of Rep. email address. Then the computer system decided to hate me, so I logged out and couldn’t log back in for the rest of the day. Because the House is in recess, there wasn’t much going on and I resigned myself to reading Time magazine. Cover to cover. It happened. If you have any questions about the top 100 most influential people as listed by Time magazine, just ask me…I am now officially certified on the matter.
But other than that I’ve met some awesome new people here in the office. The interns have been really helpful in teaching me things (in a slowed down, acronym free language) and making sure I don’t get lost in the tunnel system connecting all of the buildings underground. I would be totally lost without those guys! I’ve been through a lot of trainings (which explained some acronyms) and have gotten my computer back up and running, so things are looking up! I’m learning a lot of information really quickly, but I love every second of it.
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