You can view all the pictures from last week at my Pierre Technology Internship: Week the First set on flickr.
I began my trip by procrastinating. Truth be told, I was nervous about the trip. I would be gone an entire week, working for some of the most powerful people in the state, all of whom would be constantly judging me, my appearance, my demeaner, and my lineage. So, I putzed around forever.
At around 5 o’clock I departed. I soon found that all roads point to Pierre. Well, Hwy35 does, at least. It’s a long journey, since Pierre is in the middle of the state (think “sinkhole” or “drain”), but with some Family Guy podcasts, I was able to pass the time away, away.
Upon entering Pierre, I discovered one axiom of truth that would come to dominate nearly every moment of my existance in this town: everyone knows Dad. I check in. I say, “My name is Miles Rausch. I have a room reserved.” They say, “Rausch? As in Val Rausch?” And the shadow grows darker. After meeting Jennifer Coats, a Dolandite and my fellow interner, I began to prepare. This would be quite the week.
Up at 8am. Jen drove. At the Capitol Building I met L. Lou Adamson, our supervisor. All interns are hired as part of the Legislative Research Council, or LRC. The L., I would guess, stands for “Louise” or “Loesha”, because Lou is a girl and those are the only L-based girls’ names that come to mind.
Then we got to learn the system. This year there are two new things for the Legislators: webmail and the Agenda and Calendar Tracking system, or ACT. We got some informal training from Lou on this, and then we experimented a little on our own. She gave us handouts, but we didn’t really use them. The webmail system is exactly what DSU has, so both Jen and myself felt fairly comfortable with it.
Then we got to go up and meet with the real interns. These were Political Science majors, graduates, and other ambitiously-minded students of the universities of South Dakota. NSU was representin’, as was SDSU. DSU only brought computer geeks, and there was no one from Black Hills. HAHAHA!!! We learned the basics of the website, and how things all work in Pierre. They urged us not to write anything for newspapers or publication while interning, so I think the rest of my post will be absent of names unless it’s Jennifer or Lou or Representative Val Rausch. So, I’m posting anyway (!), but I’m not going to dish dirt. Except I did hear from a Senator that Rep. Rausch is a jackass.
Jen and I ate lunch at China Buffet. Despite it’s horribly uncreative name, the food was pretty good. Upon returning to the Capitol, we got to go on a tour. The place takes a little getting used to. There are all kinds of rooms tucked away, staircases around corners, and break-away floor panels. Honestly, it took me a couple days to figure things out. I took plenty of pictures, of course. After Lou and Scott showed the rest of the interns the new system, we went back down to the LRC and began to make our rounds, helping where we could. At 5:00pm, we were allowed to leave.
At 6:00ish, Dad came by, picked me up, and we hit the South Dakota Retailers Association banquet hardcore. This was a banquet for the Retailers, but it was also a way to smooze the politicians. Dad introduced me around to an assortment of politicians. I had to inform all the Representatives that I would mostly be looking over the Senate, and I had to inform all the Senators that I would be their babysitter for the next two weeks. I think I heard the line, “I’m the worst with computers!” 32,400 times. This means, to find the person that IS the worst, I’m going to have to do a lot of digging. One neat sidenote, the guy who runs the Dairy Queen in Madison got an award at the banquet. Then Dad took me back to the hotel. I got changed, called Holli Gregg, told her all about my day, she made fun of me for saying “though” so much, my phone died, and I went to bed.
The first day of our real job. Walked around in the morning. Gave a training session on Webmail and ACT System. This was open to everyone, and we got about 10 or so legislators in for it. Helped out Senator D**pst**, from Sioux Falls. He had just backed up his system, and then it wouldn’t start anymore. So, we tried to restore to another hard drive, but it didn’t work. Then we just swapped hard disks. He seemed quite pleased with the results, and now we’re buddies. Had to help out the lobbyists with all kinds of connection problems. This would not be the day to get them resolved, either. I had three lobbyists, however, with problems. Ate lunch in cafeteria which had hot sandwiches and then didn’t. Let me explain: when we were standing in line, they had hot sandwhiches on the menu. So I ordered one, which was met with a little consternation and confusion. After purchasing said sandwich, I consumed it, and we left. Then I chortled as I noticed that the “Hot Sandwiches” had been erased from the board.
Then there was the State of the State. Took all kinds of pictures. It’s neat to watch the session. I got a little bored, I’ll admit. And it was crowded and warm. Jen couldn’t stop stressing how important it was that we get a good seat, so we sat down a bit before the session even started. There were all kinds of formalities surrounding the first day. They had to “elect” a Speaker of the House, which was Speaker M*c**ls again. Then the Governor walked in, cape trailing like Batman. He grabbed the mic from the Speaker, and he declared, in a rough and throaty voice, that “there are still good people in South Dakota.” With a strong sense of urgency, he urged the legislature to declare a state of emergency. Not a sound came from the floor. Then, slowly, my father stood. In a clear voice he called out, “Mr. Speaker?” The speaker answered, “Yes, Representative Rausch.” Dad turned on his mic. “I would like to nominate the Governor.” “But, what would you like to nominate him for?” “How about chairman of the Kick-Ass Squad.”
The hoopla was incredible.
From there we walked the floors looking for people who needed help. We were supposed to have training again, but the one person didn’t show. Accompanied Dad to the Pierre Chamber of Commerce food event. Met some lobbyists as well as more legislatures. Shook hands with the Governor of South Dakota. Saw D***y J**ns**, the oldest 18 year old alive, who I have a hi-res picture of on my system, but we didn’t talk to him. Dad wanted me to tell him that I had a huge version of his pic (can we say Senior Picture??), but that would have been creepy. Too, too creepy.
I discovered this morning that my brother had called me. So, up at 6:45, and with nothing to do but to get ready for the day, I figured I’d call him back. He didn’t seem game for this. I called him later and we cried for about an hour about our feelings. No, if I remember right, we both spent nearly the entire conversation on speaker phone doing other things like chatting online and reading old Balderdash definitions and saving the funny ones. But, back to that mornining, we hit the floor right away, checking for problems. Then went straight to Appropriations where we loaded a new type of software for those who wished to go paperless. Midway through the process, the meeting starts. The chairman, Senator *p*, asked the interns to introduce themselves. I figured, “We’re safe. We’re not real interns anyway.” I was wrong. He pointed out that there were technology interns at the back of the room, and could they please do the same. So, I did. “My name is Miles Rausch. I’m from Dakota State. And… I love it here….” Of course, the Senator asked if there was any relation to the bald man at the end of the table, to which I replied by turning bright crimson and burying my face in my hands.
Lunch at Pizza Hut. Not my favorite, but I made due. Breadstick heaven! Got back, and had to move a projector. Lou asked us to move a projector to room 468. So we walked up there, and we found the doors to be closed. So, Jen suggests we try the other door. We’ll be at the back of the room and unnoticed. We were dead wrong. We walked in to find the meeting paused, and every staring at us. I wheeled the projector in, set it down, and we left. How’s that for a good impression.
We walked around some more. Then we sat and watched the State of the Judiciary by Chief Justice Gilbertson. I took more pictures. The guy I was sitting next to kept asking which one was the Governor. He said he was from Wisconsin, but in my head I thought, “More like Wish-you-weren’t-bothering-me-onsin” The big topic of the State of the Judiciary was that twenty years ago, nearly ##% of crime in South Dakota could be traced back to alcohol. Today, nearly ##% of crime in South Dakota can be traced back to meth.
Did more walk arounds. I would get into long conversations with the politicians who were older, didn’t know the system very well, and were just used to talking. About everything. I’m sure that you’re children have great jobs as electrical engineers, and I know that you wish you were more computer savvy, but you are not the only person I have to teach double-clicking to. After work was over, I felt so tired. Declined to accompany Dad to another banquet and, instead, went with Jen to Guadalajara’s down the street. To tell Dad that I wouldn’t be going with him, I called while he was in Appropriations. Now, they have this rule in Appropriations that if your cell goes off, you have to buy donuts for everyone. I knew this, but I thought that Dad, having been burned before, would have his phone on vibrate and I could leave a voicemail. Oops. He had the buy four dozen donuts the next day. I told Holli about the incidents, which she found quite humorous.
Up at 7:30 again. We had training in the morning. We had set up the projecter in room 468 (see Day Three’s events), but we had to do it again. It was all out of whack, and skewed and such. We were set up to help out the House Commerce Committee. We taught them the Webmail and ACT system. For some legislators, it takes three or four times. For some of them, they don’t pay attention the first time, so it takes a while. For some, one time stepping through it is all they need. I believe they left satisfied. Then, we moved the damn thing back.
My next task was to figure out what was wrong with Senator D**ip**n’s system, which I had to uninstall some stuff from. AOL had taken over her computer, like the red weed, and I had to destroy it. Note to everyone: McAfee and Norton DO NOT play well. I was virus scanning as a precaution when Dad came in. He needed me for Representative H**h**f. He had called me, but I had turned my phone off in the Commerce Committee. I got a donut, the fruits of my phone-calling labor. Then I had to help K**hr** H**n**g (lobbyist) again. This time, successfully. I swear I know her, but I can’t place when or where. I helped another lobbyist who had a WEP key was entered incorrectly.
Then Lou sent us to room 462, but we couldn’t find it. I paged her (my first ever page), which she ignored. Then we talked to an intern, Daniel Haggar, and the three of us still couldn’t find it. But I got them digits. Apparently there is this whole social scene that the Real Interns hit up that we had no idea about. Then Jen talked to the committee chair, Representative C**l** and she discovered that it was in room 468, not 462. We set up the projector and made our way back to the LRC to find out why Lou hates us. Room 462, we later speculated, is a closet behind the the floor of the House. What hurt most is that I had almost gone in there, too.
We ate lunch at a packed Subway. I finally watched a session of Senate, which was nice. I still missed the first part, though. Appropriations needed some help. There is a person responsible for scanning the documents and converting them to journal files, and she had rescanned all of them except what they had already heard. So, we had to delete and resave all those files for the Appropriations people. I was working on one Senator’s computer when he got an MSN message. All it said was, “What’s up, bitch?”, and it made me smile. With that done, we made our way back to the floor, walking around until we were done.
That night, at dinner, Dad took me to the South Dakota Rural Electric Association banquet. There was a large turnout here, due in part to what a great job they did during the ice storm power outages. I met and conversed with U.S. Senator Johnson, the Lieutenant Governor (who was the only person I’ve encountered all week to comment on my DSU pin), the Secretary of Public Health, and the Treasurer of the South Dakota Rural Electric Association. Except for Senator Johnson, they all sat at our table! Plus there was Matt, a member of the SDREA, and Senator Gr***f***d, from Doland. I got to hear a lot of interesting conversation, and I had a lot of interesting conversation, too, with the members of the table. The problem with Holli being from Iowa is that I can’t say, “I met Senator Johnson!” I have to say, “I met the U.S. Senator from South Dakota, Senator Johnson!” And I think I fell asleep during that sentence.
Woke up. Finished packing. Jen said, “Let’s drive seperate.” Drove to the Capitol with horribly fogged windows and a poor sense of direction. Luckily, I never lost her. Did a walk around. Today I had to conquer WestLaw. WestLaw is a database of the codified laws and statues of South Dakota. They have all this stuff in books, and on the website, but it’s also nice to have it on the computer, I guess. I have never used or been trained in it, so the WestLaw problem would last for a little while. Then I sat up in the House Judiciary Committee, and, while sitting, got a call from my father. Man, I’m popular! He told me that Representative P***rs was having problems. I got to Appropriations, and I heard that the problem was that no one had the budgets for the Department of Personel. So, I found Lou, and she said that it wasn’t out yet. Then I get another call from my dad. That wasn’t the actual problem. It turns out I had to delete one of her journal files and reload it. It had downloaded incorrectly, and it wouldn’t let her view it.
Back in Judiciary, we listened to two bills and waited for their meeting to end, which would mean the beginning of our training of them. Then we presented, helped with problems, and packed it on up. I walked around for a bit, checking on the Senate, then the House, then Appropriations, and then back to Senate. There were some high school tours going on, and they would watch mostly nothing going on. Then came our first defeat – a smudging printer that we just couldn’t clean. I was heart broken and devastated.
For lunch we hit Burger King hard. That was nice. They have the Rodeo Burger again! That was probably my favorite Burger King burger. Then we got ice cream at McDonald’s. Once we got back, we walked around the houses. I helped my Dad specifically, setting up his new Blogger for Word toolbar so that he can post to his website (valrausch.awayken.com) right from the article that he sends to the newspapers. That is a great victory. Another great victory was determining the problem Representative T**n** was having with his Acrobat printing. He had the box “Print to file” checked, for some odd reason. I should have checked that sooner.
Jen had to help Representative Gl**s** learn the new system, so, feeling bad for her, I stuck around and took pictures inside the Capitol building. Then, with Jen done, I got my coat and stopped to say “Goodbye” to Dad. Then I got a call from Holli. She had gotten a call back from Daktronics and they wanted her to intern with them over the summer! It was great news, and it meant that she’ll be even more busy this semester, but that she’ll have a steady job doing graphic design for the summer. Then I got stopped by one more Representative before I made my way to the door and to the open road.
The ride back was relatively uneventful. I did notice some strange signs in Howard. I think that they must have an ice cream place, or had an ice cream place, because there were originally four signs reading, “I scream”, “You scream”, “We all scream”, and “For ice cream”. Now all that were left were two signs reading “I scream” and “We all scream”. Ominous, to be sure. To add to that feeling, there is a bison farm on the other side of town. Did they get out? Did they kill? Did “we all scream”?
All-in-all, I had a great week. It was long, and tiring, as we spent pretty much our entire time walking and talking, but I’m eager to see what next week brings. I’m sure there’ll be a lot less pictures to share, but I’ll take them when I can (of course). I’ll try (maybe, hopefully) to post at least midweek. Tuesday, the 17th, is Madison Hosts the Legislature, and Holli is going to come out and see Dad and I in action and attend the banquet that night. Then it’ll be my turn to introduce her to people, and then I’m sure I’ll hear, “You associate with this jackass?”
Yes. She does associate with this jackass. And you can install your own printers from now on.