Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beautiful Montana

"A popular Government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both."

-James Madison

I thought the weather in North Carolina was fickle, but Montana is on a wholly different level of capriciousness. For the first three weeks of my time here, it would be sunny one minute, raining the next. And sometimes, just to confuse matters, both at the same time! We had the biggest snow I saw here on June 11th. And then, having had our snowball fights, two days later it was in the 70s and hasn't varied since. I've been capitalizing on the perfect weather, and I've gone backpacking the past two weekends. I couldn't be happier.

I've also been playing the piano a lot. It's really nice to be able to sit down and play whenever I like, and the other ranch residents seem to like it, which is flattering. We watched a movie last week called Once - it's an indie Irish film. One of the tracks of music won an Oscar, so I found sheet music for it. It's called Falling Slowly, and I get requests to play it a lot.

The office is still going well. We had a party in my Key Votes department on Friday, because we interns have been so amazingly efficient. We are completely caught up on this year's work, so they've had to give us work to do from last year!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Politics Everywhere!

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

-Thomas Jefferson

Above is the view of the ranch from a nearby hill where one can occasionally get cell phone reception. I didn't have luck that day, but I'll try again next time I'm up there. The little brown-roofed building to the right of the lake are our lodge and rooms. The building to the left of those buildings and just a little bit set away from the lake is the office.

It's been an exciting week! The Montana primaries were on Tueday, so there was a flurry of activity (and snow, actually!) The most exciting part of the week by far was attending a speech by Bill Clinton. He was campaigning for Hillary, so he came to Anaconda, pop. 9,000. Anaconda is only about an hour away, so we took a van full of people to see his speech. It was a small crowd, so I had the chance to shake his hand! He is truly an amazin
g speaker.

We also had a group of foreign journalists come visit Project Vote Smart. They were also here to observe the primaries and learn more about the American election system. The local news station did a story on it, which you can find at the link below. You can catch a brief glimpse of me shaking hands with one of the journalists at the beginning.

Work is going well, if tedious at times. Project Vote Smart runs a database of nonpartisan information for voters, and I'm in the legislative research department, aka Key Votes. I spend my day tracking pieces of key legislation, entering in votes once they've been taken, and summarizing bills. Bills can be the most frustrating part of the job. Some of the most confusing pieces of work I've ever had to decipher. I'm learning a lot about politics at the state level though, as I generally work on state, not Congressional, bills. I'll put PVS's website here again: feel free to check on your local Senator or representative - maybe I entered in a few of their votes!

The other interns are great. We have costume days on Friday, and so far the best has been Geek Day. Some people joked we should just come to work wearing what we normally wear.

Summer has still not come to Montana. It snowed today, and yesterday, and the day before that! We had six power outages on Wednesday, but only two yesterday. :) One of them lasted a couple hours ago though, which made cooking dinner a bit of an adventure. Besides no electricity, there was also of course no water. We managed though, with some stellar chocolate chip banana bread to show for it.