One Year Anniversary

Yesterday was my one year anniversary as an attorney in the State of Idaho.  We don’t have any plans to celebrate, but I just thought I would make a note of the date.  I wanted to include a picture I took in 2005 and the only one that I could find that really seemed to indicate my fondness for Idaho.  Therefore, this photo of me and George Laird Shoup.

Paul Ross and George Laird Shoup

I don’t expect anyone outside of Idaho to know who George Laird Shoup is or what his relationship is to me or Idaho.  Honestly, I might be surprised if the majority of Idahoans know about him.

As you might be able to tell, his statue is one of Idaho’s two in the National Statuary Hall Collection located in the United States Capitol.  As a side, the other statuary from Idaho is William Edgar Borah, who I could not get a photograph with due to his location in the US Capitol.  This statuary was donated over a century ago.  I do believe he is like many other historical figures, he was just in the right place at the right time.  Shoup was appointed by President Harrison as Governor of the Idaho Territory.  After Idaho became a state he was elected Idaho’s first Governor.  The Idaho Legislature then elected Mr. Shoup as one of Idaho’s first United States Senators.  As Governor, he only served a few weeks.  He served just over 10 years as US Senator before he was defeated.  Other than being the first Governor and one of the first Senators, I don’t know that he leaves any other lasting legacy on our State.  But his statuary still represents us in Washington, DC.

Kennedy’s passing

As ironic as it may seem to some, I want to give a few of my regards to Senator Kennedy.  Many of his lines of thinking with regard to politics I did not agree with, but my experience has shown he was a man whose heart was of gold.  When a person passes, it is customary to share of an experience or two as a tribute to the goodness of a person, and to ignore the bad (of which I have had no such experience).

While growing up there were a number of individuals who made it known to me how very much they disagreed with Democrat Principles.  Senator Kennedy’s name was one that somehow usually found its way into the assault on the Democratic Party and their ideals.  Coming from a heavily Republican territory, of which I make no statements for or against, my views were somewhat colored concerning this man.

In 2003, I paid a visit to some friends in Baltimore.  He was working in Senator Kennedy’s office as an intern.  I guess Senator Hatch and Senator Kennedy’s were good friends and had this sort of ‘trade’ program where the two offices would swap an intern for the summer.  My friend, who like me, tended to find myself in middle ground claiming neither Republican nor Democrat territory, relished the opportunity.  It was with him I learned from his first-hand experience with Senator Kennedy.  It was during recess so the Senator was not in town, but I was able to meet many of his other interns and see his office.  A man’s office tends to tell quite a bit about him.  My impression then was of a man that didn’t necessary come down different than the stories I had heard while younger.  All the signed photographs of notable people on the walls seemed to smack more of arrogance than anything.  A picture of him and his brother (maybe brothers) sat on the mantle showing the classic Kennedy smiles with deceased family members well enshrined in our country.

Anyhow, those impressions were quickly dismissed when I met the man himself in 2005.  My first time meeting him was after having just walked through security in the Russell Senate Office Building I waited for an elevator.  A man with a white tuft of hair walked around the corner with his dogs.  I instantly recognized him, how can you not.  Since it was the Senator elevator that opened, I stepped back to allow him on and watched the doors start to close.  He stopped the doors and asked if I wasn’t going up.  I must have showed my reluctance since staff are to give up their elevator to Senators and let them ride alone.  He smiled and said it was okay, he didn’t mind.  I knew he genuinely meant what indicated and we spent our few seconds riding the same elevator.

Now, you can say he was being a nice guy.  But I can tell you that some of the other Senators are not quite as friendly.  My next story actually deals with Senator Kennedy and his kindness in contrast with the rudeness of two other Senators.

I was asked to give a tour to a family from Oregon.  It wasn’t my turn, but for some reason or another they has asked if I could give their tour.  Honestly, I don’t know why, I had never met them before.  The couple had two darling girls, one about 5 or 6 and the other about 8 or 9.  It was only the four of them and since it was not a usual time, I knew we would have a degree of solitude in giving them a tour of the Capitol.  I had taken my time and given a very leisurely tour of the Capitol.  However, as we were about to exit the Capitol we must have caught the flow of traffic from a vote that had just been taken.  Quite a few staff and some Senators were coming out of the elevators and heading to the tram to head back to the Senate Offices.  We were ahead of the traffic and were waiting for our tram to arrive to take us back to the Russell Senate Building.  Just like the elevator, we are to give up our seat on the tram to a Senator.  As my family was about to board the tram, I recognized Senator Kennedy heading our way and stopped boarding to let him on.  He recognized that I had left him the seat to get on.  Rather than getting on the tram, he stopped to shake the hand of both of the little girls.  He asked their names, he asked where they were from, introduced himself, and asked if they wanted to ride with them.  They agreed and Senator Kennedy helped them on the train, sitting one of them on his lap.  The family got on and I told them that I would walk (the tram was full) and meet them on the other end.  I saw the tram take off and watched the Senator beaming at these two little girls.

On a side note, as that tram took off, the other one arrived for the Russell Senate Building.  It was then I was rudely pushed out of the way so another man could pass.  The man beside me responded by saying, “Who is the prick?”  To which I saw a tall man turn back and look, and instantly recognized Senator Kerry.  I thought to myself what a contrast in the two Senators from Massachusetts.

It is about a 5 minute walk to the other end of the tunnel to where the tram stops and there I saw my family still talking with Senator Kennedy in the hallway that leads to the Russell Building.  They were kind enough to wait for me, and Senator Dodd had joined them.  Senator Kennedy said he was going to take them up to see his dogs and office.  We rode in the elevator to the 3rd floor, left Senator Dodd in the elevator, and went to see his office.  He totally treated that family as golden, let them take a couple of pictures, and we were on our way.

My impressions of Senator Kennedy were nothing but respect for a man who obviously treasured people more than prestige.  In my personal interactions with him, I have seen nothing but kindness.  Now I don’t know otherwise, but I was impressed.

We left the office and the family was obviously impressed.  The father’s comments were along the lines of what I was thinking.  “I have been misled about that man.”  Being a staunch Republican from Oregon, he had a paradigm shift.  Too bad as the elevator stopped on the 3rd floor to go up, we were just getting in when another man approached.  I recognized him as Senator Specter.  He entered the elevator and since we were on the inside, I didn’t attempt to get the family with me out of the elevator.  He was alone so I thought it would be okay.  As the doors closed, he stopped them and made it clear we were to leave.  Our little brush with Camelot quickly came to an abrupt close as we realized Kennedy’s kindness didn’t extend to other Senators.

Back on the 4th floor, I lead them to the office and we parted ways.  We were all changed individuals.  Just because I am getting long, I will just mention my profound respect for a man who still recognized the common man and was happy to mingle with them despite his busy schedule.

My only other experience with the man was again in an elevator, this time in the Capitol himself.  Just the two of us, he turned to me and asked a question.  Of course, I was caught completely off guard, and really didn’t have much of an opinion or knowledge about what he just asked me.  I told him I didn’t know enough to answer his question.  We were both getting off on the same floor and I let him lead out.  It was then he turned as if to ask me another question.  The doors closed and I found me face to face with the man.  He said he really wanted my first impressions on the subject.  As an idiot, I rattled off some answer that was not well thought about and tried to give some justification and reasoning for what I thought.  He then asked me a very penetrating question that indicated how very ignorant I was on the subject.  I made a slight comment about how he was probably more informed and I really didn’t know.  To that he patted me on the arm and walked away, but it was with a twinkle in his eye.  I don’t think he did it to show that he was more knowledgeable, but just to get another opinion on something he was thinking about.  Looking back, I made an idiot of myself.  But he didn’t make me feel that way.

I know he is much maligned for many things.  I cannot speak for his morals, his history, or his doctrine.  Ultimately, we all answer to God for that.  But I saw a man who still knew how to connect with people.  Something I saw in very few other Senators.  Since I doubt God respects Senators, I wish Edward Kennedy the best in the realm he now finds himself.  I love the man, and feign to believe the friend, I had a brief acquaintance with here in mortality.

Idaho’s Craig

It seems I keep getting this bombardment of what I think about Senator Craig.  Well, here we go.
I have no quarrels with the man.  He wasn’t always the nicest man in the hallway when passing.  Then again, I don’t think I have met a Senator yet who really went out of their way to say hello.  That is the extent of my personal experience with him.  I think I said hello twice passing in the underground tunnels between the Dirksen and Russell Buildings.
Beyond that, here is my take on the scenario.  Idaho seems to like him and have always done so.  He met their needs and I think he enjoyed his role as Senator.
However, the little ordeal in Minneapolis is something that was quite foolish.  Having been in stupid positions before, I know all the little ways you try and weasel out of it.  Which it surely sounds like he did.  I am not so much concerned what happened in that stall, whether he was soliciting or not, but he played the weasel in trying to get out of it.  For the most part, he was successful.  They only charged him for disorderly conduct.  It would be hard to catch him on more unless he allowed the police officer to actually climb in his stall or he climbed in the other one.  Then I would say we have serious grounds for what his intentions were.  Picking up toilet paper, a piece of paper, with whatever hand, or just waving a nice hello to the person in the stall next to him doesn’t really matter.  To me they don’t prove anything lewd or a great breaking of the law.  Now if there was a mirror in his hand, there are some issues…
It does bother me that police don’t have something better to do than sit in a bathroom stall to find those who want to enjoy some time with another man.  On the other hand, I am disappointed that people actually do this enough that it is a public disturbance that the police have to be called in to do this.  At any rate, it is a bad note of commentary of the society that use the restrooms at Minneapolis.  I expect this is a wider problem than just the cold and snow of Minnesota.
Alright, the Senator got caught with his hand in another stall.  For what reason, I don’t think I or Idahoans generally care.  The lying or trying to back peddle out of it, that seems just human nature to a large degree.  I can even see pleading guilty to the charge to just be done with it.  How many of us could really fight that speeding ticket they say we were going 11 over when we are pretty sure it wasn’t more than 8?  But we pay it just to be over and done with it.  That seems like what has happened here.  Okay, I am fine with that.
I am somewhat concerned that a US Senator would be allegedly caught doing something like that.  I think his electorate might even think twice before reelecting him.  But what concerns me is that a Senator seems to be so thoughtless in his actions.  For his being not very nice in the hallway of the Russell Building, he sure seemed pretty nice to say hi to the person in the stall next to him.  That was not thinking.  Next, he should have made it public knowledge and just been done with it.  It is a petty situation but not reporting it to those who care about it made it stink.
But the thing that alarms me is that he isn’t willing to fight.  For a man who sits in Senator William Edgar Borah’s seat and perhaps even behind his very desk, he seems shameful.  The Lion of Idaho would be ashamed a man would falter and not raise his mighty fist to the party.  What comes first?  Idaho or Republicans?  Senator Borah was known for standing for principle, for his state, and not ever being dictated to by the party.  This man seems to be weak and willing to forfeit what he was elected to in Idaho for what the party thinks elsewhere.  I still don’t hear many people calling for his resignation in Idaho.  It is elsewhere, some of his own selfish companions in the Senate.  What happened to principle?  What happened to standing up for something?  What happened to honor and integrity.  Well, we don’t really know what happened in that stall.  Whatever it was, I hope his honour and integrity is still intact.  But sadly, it doesn’t appear to be.
A straight man doing actions confused with being gay?  A Senator claimed to be doing something in a bathroom stall?  A State Representative faltering to a Party?  If he is a good man, he will stand up and serve the remainder of his term, regardless of who calls for his resignation.  He has nothing against him which disqualifies him from finishing his term.  A Misdemeanor does not remove a Senator from office.  Even an Ethics Committee wouldn’t remove him for that.  If he serves Idaho, he will remain.  If he serves the party, he will leave.  If such is the case, good riddance.  Let’s find us another man to honorably fill Senator Borah’s shoes.

The Probationary Game

Sometimes the days go by so quickly it is hard to keep up with everything you want to do.  I suppose it is part of the probationary game that we play.  Do we do things we want to do, or do we do what needs to be done.  Is there ever a point where you have everything done you need to do and can do those things you want?
To add to that problem, what about when it comes to the needs and wants of others.  I have come to believe that my needs come before my  wants.  What happens when somebody else has a need, for which I can help, does that trump my wants too.  So far in my life, it seems that is to be the case as well.
Today is a great example.  Brother and Sister Swapp were moving from their present house to another home within a mile distance.  I volunteered my time knowing how much it helps in having people to aid in moving.  I could very well have stayed at home and done many more other things, even things I think are more important.  But the need of the Swapp family ranked higher on the priority list.  For the most part, we finished all the move in about 4 hours.  I then had to very quickly, go home, get ready, and be back at the church in order to play piano for a baptismal service.  It went well, I enjoyed a few visits with some good people, took the missionaries home, and here I am back at home.
We are still not totally unpacked.  I feel like I should unpack, but I also feel a need to inform other people and let them know what is happening here.  I think there may be some procrastination in there, but I really want to record some thoughts and update the family and friends.  It takes time and effort to do this.  But I hope is that I feel a need to keep others informed and that overrides my wants of having my whole house unpacked and put away.  It will come.
I find myself at work 40 hours of the week.  The time we have for breaks and at lunch is not sufficient time to even read much of my book.  That is if I am a complete hermit and choose not to spend time with my classmates.  So half the week I spend eating lunch with them and listening most of the time.  I am the only guy in the group and they have a whole different set of things they want to talk about.  I will probably have to cut back some of that time as I don’t see it really doing much more than listening to conversations which are not of much value intellectually or socially for me.
I have books I want to read.  I still have McCullough’s Truman on the shelf and have had it for a couple of years.  It is a big book so it keeps falling down the list from other shorter books.  I have been struggling to find the time to finish Tiger in the Senate about Wayne Morse.  (He was a Senator from Oregon in the senate during the 40′s-60′s.)  I want to learn French, I want to relearn German, I want to learn Welsh, I want to write a book on C Ben Ross, I want to live in England, I want to visit friends and family, I want to read many more books, I want to learn so much, and yet these things keep falling by the wayside.  They really are good things, but somehow I cannot justify they are needs.
Just this week we helped the Jeppesen, Maravilla, and Swapp families move.  I have gone out with the missionaries and I have gone Home Teaching.  In addition, I have tried to make sure our budget is still planned, keep up to date on the registers and bills, answer the mail, write a letter to Mom, and many other things.  On top of that are the every day walk requirements of religion and life.  We wake in the morning to read a chapter of scripture together, say our prayers, shave, shower, dress, look pretty, and by that point we are racing out the door with our one auto world to be on time to two locations.  Sadly, the other half always runs late constantly and usually by the time I make it to work have lost any hope for maintaining the spirit that our reading and prayer is supposed to provide.  The single greatest blessing in my life to come will be the day when we have separate vehicles.  I know I am off on a tangent, but I know of only one thing that upsets me really, one thing that pushes me towards what I believe is anger, one thing that makes me forget my religion and want to be unkind, and that is tardiness.  I think that is why I married Amanda.  I have come to appreciate more fully the need for promptness, preparedness, and arriving early.  Many says it teaches us patience.  I find my patience wearing thin more and more when I know there is very little or no valid reason for being late other than somebody procrastinated getting ready.  I think nearly daily about President Kimball’s comments, “One of the most serious human defects in all ages is procrastination, an unwillingness to accept personal responsibilities now.”
The bulk of the day is found at work.  Then there is the time to go home.  Evenings are usually not just our own though.  Amanda does have much of her evenings home, but being in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency pulls me often to different locations.  Every evening is usually taken by the little required activities of eating, preparing for bed, reading and responding to mail (email too), writing bills, and planning for the next day or something else.  It just seems like there isn’t enough time in the day for what needs to be done.
It seems if I were to spend more of my time doing what I wanted then I would get more done.  I would certainly know more and be learning more.  That is not to say I don’t learn from those I help.  I saw a map of the human genome this morning.  How is that for interesting?  I witnessed two other ways in which I would certainly never design a home.  I learned a few more details about Brother Pyron’s life and about a shooting at a school in Grundy, Virginia.  I met a man who moved into the ward from Mobile, Alabama with his wife for a residency.  Really, while it is all interesting, and applicable lessons are available in my own life I yearn to be learning something more.  Perhaps it is the fact this is all too close to home.  It is another life of the same life I am living.  Perhaps I yearn to be learning and living in the life of another time and another person.  I just think I really want to be learning something more than the activities and daily lives.
There is some rambling of thoughts here.  Part of the constant debate I feel.  Really, history and everything we know is because of the life of someone else.  I love and enjoy learning of those around me but perhaps want to connect with something outside my culture or time.  This morning I read of Nephi and really felt like I understood his sentiments when he wrote, “Oh, that I could have had my days in the days when my father Nephi first came out of the land of Jerusalem, that I could have joyed with him in the promised land; then were his people easy to be entreated, firm to keep the commandments of God, and slow to be led to do iniquity; and they were quick to hearken unto the words of the Lord-  Yea, if my days could have been in those days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness of my brethren.  But behold, I am consigned that these are my days, and that my soul shall be filled with sorrow because of this the wickedness of my brethren.”
Often the thought crosses the mind, “if I could have lived in the days of Brigham, I would have more time to follow more personal pursuits” or something along those lines.  “If I could have been raised in France to have less of a workweek so as to pursue other intellectual activities.”  There are many times I think how much I would have loved growing up in the Rome and going to watch the Senate and learning of far away places.  I wish I could have worked on a ship where I would have plenty of reading time as I traveled the world and met people all over the globe.  I think how fascinating it would be to dive into the archives of Rome, London, Moscow, Baghdad (what is left), and Paris.
Then it dawns on me how much more information we have available to us in our day and I am glad I was not confined to a bookless world, or a carless world, or a electricityless world, and on.  There is so much available to me and I certainly believe I seek out and gain much as it is in everyday life.  But there is so much more!  It is funny at times what dawns on me as a miracle.  When I place a dozen letters in the mail and am dazzled to think they will arrive all over this country the day after tomorrow.  I wonder often how much fun it would be to host Thomas Jefferson, Brigham Young, Constantine, or other individuals for a day.  Sometimes I sit in a room and look around at what would not have been present even 50 years ago.  What questions would Brother Jefferson ask upon appearing in my living room about what was not present in his day?  How would I answer his questions?  How would I walk him through the 181 years since his death to arrive at a particular object sitting in the room?  What would he think?  Would he be astounded?  Would he comment, “Who would have thought” or “That makes sense, why didn’t we come that that?”  What would he see in my life as useless or meaningless?  I hope that we have maintained a lifestyle that is for the most part Spartan.  Just the basics for what we need in our earthly journey.  Truly, our lives are surrounded by objects that are miracles in their history and they are every day.
I hope I am showing to some degree what there is to know and learn.  The history of places, the history of possessions, the history of people, the progression of societies, and much, much more.  Perhaps I have a disconnect in the run of the mill people to those few who seem to alter the future of societies and civilizations.  Not that they are greater, or run of the mill is lesser, but that I have enough experience with the every day that I want to get beyond it all.  So many conversations, so many thoughts, so many activities just seem to be in place in order to bide the time and endure.  I seek out the activities and people who are not just enduring life, but trying to do something with it.
That really takes us to the next part of the struggle.  I do believe I have learned quite a bit and come to an understanding of many things which are not common knowledge.  But what am I to do with it.  Knowledge is very lonely stuff.  Some people it seems to puff up and make them become showoffs.  Nobody likes a showoff and it undermines what it is they really know.  Generally, many people don’t seem to care about the details of life.  How do you maintain the relevance of life when you live in more and more in a world that doesn’t exist to other people?  I believe I have come to understand and know a few things about the interactions and play of the US Senate from about 1900 to about the 1950′s.  Who in the world will I ever have a discussion with about that?  Very few people indeed!  Who will I talk to about England and what readings I have been doing?  Who will I chat with about Manchester and the mission?  Who will I talk to about Idaho history here?  How many Idahoan’s can I talk to about Idaho history?
It really is amazing how much the church plays a role in all this.  With all the separation and divisions knowledge provides, especially the more as a society we do learn, the gospel provides an amazing link to others.  It links us and connects us on the most basic and fundamental level.  Then we can build from there.
Then we come back to the needs of others.  It seems to me we can’t really pursue our wants until we have met the needs of others.  I suppose children and a larger family would compound this question many times.  I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there.
I think often of the comment about President Kimball at his funeral.  How his life was like an old shoe, worn out in the service of others.  Did he spend much time pursuing his own wants.  I am sure glad reading the scriptures and serving in the church are commandments.  That takes them from the realm of needs and wants to must do.
There really doesn’t seem to be an answer before me.  I guess we all need to answer it for ourselves.

Finally some time to read

Life is great. I have not any complaints in the world. I get off work at 4:30 in the afternoon. Just in time to pick up Amanda from school if I need
to. The tank of petrol in the car has already lasted over a week. The miles on the car don’t even seem to be adding. I love my job. I love what I am doing. I have a corner office. I am now promoted as of today. Life is looking pretty darn good to me. Now if I can just get hired on full time….Another highlight about all of this is that I have time for more personal things. The Lord has poured a veritable landslide on me in regards to family history. The past week alone has kept me swamped in trying to keep up with family history. The Sharp door has opened and fully unleashed some of its storehouse. I stumbled on the first pictures I have ever seen of my Great Grandparents, John William Ross (Jack) and his wife Ethel Sharp. I found links, contacts, even spoke with members of the family who personally knew them. Photos have come from left and right. On top of it all, I received about 50 documents, all original, of correspondence on the Andra/Wanner/Schneider line from Germany. They are all in the German so I have to find a translator, but I have not even started that pile.

The time has been wonderful. It is like the old story of the treasure hunter who was introduced to the cave of mountains of treasure. It all laid before him, and yet there was one clause to the entry. I could only take one thing. That is how I feel. Every moment of every day, there is only
one thing I can do, and i might never have the opportunity again. Great Aunt June to interview. I arranged for Dad and Grandpa to go down to
Victorville, California to visit with her. Grandpa has not seen his own sister for over 50 years. Her daughter is going to start interviewing her for me. She asked me to give her a list of questions I want asked. She should have asked for the host of questions I want to ask.

I finally have time to finish typing up my Great Grandmother’s journals (on my mother’s line) I have typed up another 3 months of her 1962, which has been very interesting. From earthquakes in Richmond and Salt Lake City to my mother losing her finger at Dr. Gibbons office in Lewiston, Utah. These journals are more valuable just to me than I could ever have imagined. Never would I have thought my family would have played so central to some of the stories that are unfolding.

Despite all that I am learning through what is being heaped upon me in family history is the rest of the time I have for personal things. I can
run two or three times a week if I choose. I don’t have the motivation up there just yet, but it is coming. But my passion, my favorite, the
opportunity to read.

I read Borah by McKenna about Senator William Edgar Borah. Who now ranks as my all time favorite politican of all time. Wheeler ranked up there, but there is something akin to godliness in Borah. Which is attested of what happened at his death. They held a funeral for him in the Senate Chamber, but nobody spoke. President Roosevelt opened the solemn assembly, and closed it. Nobody spoke because they believed there was nothing to say. This man had lived it. He was known to all, the whole country over. Europe, Germany, and Russia even paid their respects despite what was happening. He had a whole train dedicated and given to take him home to Idaho. He laid in state in Idaho and the stories of that. I wept at the end. It was as if my own friend had died. What a powerful man.

This week I also read Morris K Udall’s book, Too Funny to be President. Another great book. Another good man. It was interesting to read of him.
He reminded me so much of Cecil Andrus, and then when he talked of Andrus, I was honoured. The book was not so much about Udall as I would have liked, but I sure enjoyed the read. One of my favorites, “If Abraham Lincoln was alive today, he would be turning in his grave.”

I also read Mafia to Mormon today. That was a very interesting read. Not talking of great literature here, but I am glad I read it. The editor should be fired, but I enjoyed it.

So it is. I feel like I have a life that has been given to me. What is even better, I am making more money than slaving those long hours. Who could ask for more. What will life bring next?

Time to close for the night.

Ask and ye shall receive…

Ask and ye shall receive, perhaps not at that moment, perhaps later, but you will always receive the intentions of your hearts.

Well, here is a story of such.  To cut the extra details, one day the interns had Soda with the Senator.  We all were able to ask one question, and then we were to have like a general overall question.  Nobody came up with the biggie, so I proposed one we had all talked about.  Let’s ask the Senator if he will arrange for us to go up inside the dome of the United States Capitol.  Well, we went into the meeting, and I got in a bit of trouble, but I asked it.  I was in trouble because we found out the Member of Congress has to do it themselves.  This would be a scheduling nightmare for the Senator.  Well, we all understood and went our ways.

Well, the time for our internship was winding down.  On the Thursday before I was to come home, the Senator asked me to escort him to the floor.  We walked along, he gave me a Christmas present, and gave me some advice.  The advice came from his personal experience as a husband, and also from his experience as a Bishop.  He then with excitement announced that he had arranged that he could take us into the dome of the Capitol.  It would be the next day at three PM.  Well, obviously I was excited, but it just so happened, that I was leaving the next day.  I informed him of this and he said he was most sorry.  He had made this happen mostly for me and that he was sorry he waited too long.

Well, let me tell you, the office was excited.  The lowly intern, asked an unaskable question, and they were now benefiting.  They promised to think of me, they promised to take pictures of the expedition.  You will notice that there are some new photos in the ‘Leaving DC’ gallery.  That is what those photos are containing.  The staff’s pictures of the Senator’s personal tour of the Capitol Dome!  Enjoy them.  There is a classic of looking down into the Capitol Rotunda.  There are pictures that include the Senator.  Enjoy.

There is a little more to the story.  The next day, I am filling out a marriage application in the Salt Lake City Clerk’s office.  My phone rings.  On the other end, I hear Gavin Bruce announce he was speaking to me from the top of the United States Capitol Dome overlooking the city.  In the background Senator Smith bellows, ‘Wish you were here Paul’.  I was so completely jealous.  Greg, Gavin, Steve, and others all sent emails afterward thanking me.  Apparently the Senator at every high point in the tour commented something like, ‘I think Paul would have enjoyed this’.  Oh well.  As they were telling it to me in the Clerk’s office, Amanda caught my attention and pointed out a sign that said thank you for not using cell phones.  The folks to our side looked like they would appreciate my obedience.  I finished our conversation, and again felt left out of the chance of a lifetime!

I want to say here, that I hope someday, somehow, I will again have the chance to ascend to the top of one of our country’s most prized possessions.  A place that only 535 people have permission to go, a few caretakers, a few construction workers and cleaners, and those who are personally escorted by one of those people.  Someday……..

The Approach

Everyone keeps asking me if I am nervous and anxious about what is coming.  Well, honestly, much to everyone’s dismay, I am completely calm about all of this.  I am reminded of the classic Smith saying, I am as calm as a summer’s morning.  Now, that does not include the preceding sentence about being a lamb going to the slaughter.  Some might say that, but I most surely do not.  It must be admitted that my still being here in Washington DC and not seeing anything leading up to it might be helping.  We are within a week.  I feel no apprehension at all.
On another note, yesterday I walked out of the elevator reading a letter and accidentally ran into a man.  He fell backwards and against the wall.  I apologized and helped him into the elevator.  It was only as I walked down the hall I realized it was Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina.  It made me feel bad.
I will definitely miss Washington DC.  It is such a beautiful city.  I imagine the feeling here is like the first visitors would have been to Rome, London, Paris, or some of the other ancient magnificent cities.  Plus there is a certain ability to keep learning here that I enjoy.  Many other jobs are not so requiring on a person to continue to learn.

ANWR, Secret Prisons, and a Judge

Things seem to be a continuous cycle of interesting things.  The blessings and opportunities of rubbing shoulders with the powerful men of the world is instructive.  The office has provided a great opportunity for these things.  I am shocked though how it appears that I am always in the right place at the right time.  There are those in the office who seek out to put themselves in positions so they will have the opportunity of meeting those who they know will come through the office.  There are those who always seek the spotlight and will do about anything for it.  I don’t mean to sound diminutive, we all have our quirks.  This one just seems to annoy me at times though.  Since I have this impatience, I find myself laughing when I end up in the right places by coincidence and they do not.  I know, this is a form of pride, puffing myself up.  Something I must work at deconstructing.  I do not say anything of it though, so in a sense I keep it locked away and find that very pleasing as well.  Unlike the person of whom I speak, I don’t have to broadcast my thoughts and meetings to the world.  Saying this, aren’t we all full of irony?  Commenting about how I don’t have to share with the world, and then I place it in my blog.  I hope that I can keep the pride in check and not sound off in a way that is condescending.  Hopefully I can share the truth of my privileges without saying I am better.  There is always such a fine line in all things, what is right and wrong.  Silence benefits nobody, yet preaching seems to turn away as well.  The middle, temperance is always to be sought, but I struggle on knowing where that territory is placed, and if I am staying in it.
Jarrett had to make a run to the Capitol and I was asked to take the phones in his place.  While I was there answering phones, I was made aware of the fact that the Supreme Court Nominee, Samuel Alito would be paying a visit to Senator Smith that afternoon.  I thought it was interesting and found myself excited as the press began to accumulate outside our door.  Surely, I was on watch when he came into the office.  Genny greeted him, we shook his hand, and I invited him to have a seat as Genny went to get the Senator.  I commented in the blog about how I felt distinctly impressed I felt with Judge Roberts at his hearing and after I met him briefly in the Senator’s office.  After he sat down I went back to typing my e-mail on my computer.  I did not wish to be another soul who just looked.  Former Senator Dan Coates began speaking with him and he laughed.  I looked up to see him laugh and watched for a moment the expression of his face.  His humility and quiet way struck me as good.  With all the press and stories of Judge Alito in the press, one never knows how one should think, but I was impressed with this man.  It was an honour to have met him.
The next day I was asked to give a tour for a group of students from the Portland area.  Their tour guide was from Charlottesville and I got her information.  She agreed to give me a tour of Charlottesville the next time I visit.  Their teacher, and her mother, were both wonderful individuals.  I came to find out they were LDS and the teacher had met her husband in Logan at Utah State.  Small world isn’t it?  As we were giving our tour, I was explaining the Senate Rotunda when a group of individuals were sneaking behind my group.  I recognized Judge Alito in the group and watched him slide pass unnoticed.  It was after he was down the hallway approaching the Senate Chamber that I pointed out to my group who he was.  Again, that impressed me with his willingness to sneak quietly past.
It was a great contrast when we were waiting from the tram back to Russell that my group was waiting at the dock.  The students had come alive and finally responded to the tour.  They were excited.  After all, they had seen the Senate vote and remain waiting for another vote.  The Senate proved to busily engaged for them and they felt some of what was happening before them.  Still talking about it, Senator John Kerry came down the escalator.  I knew Senators had priority and attempted to move my group so he could get by.  However, moving 15 high school students is not an easy thing.  Very abruptly Senator Kerry just pushed right on through the group.  I was not impressed by this at all.  Despite that, I found it very amusing to see the faces and expressions of the students as they realized who was pushing them around.  One boy’s mouth literally fell open.  While some did not know what his name was, they recognized him and were giddy about that.
As a little extra note, we arrived at the elevators in the basement of Russell and waited.  As we rounded the corner I saw Senator Jeffords coming, so I hit the button for the Senator’s Only and the elevator opened.  I suppose to save face, he invited some of the students to ride up the otherwise elevator.  Arriving at the top, they were excited to have shaken hands and rode an elevator with another Senator.  It was a good day.
Later on that day, I had to run something to the floor for Senator Smith.  It was a late night.  The man at the reception desk in the Senate Reception Room was not there.  So I waited.  This man walked up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder asking if I was waiting for him.  I turned around and informed Senator Sessions I was not there for him.  He chit chatted with me for a minuted and then somebody pulled him aside.  I watched for a moment thinking what an opportunity this was to be in this room when somebody started talking to me from my right.  I had to let Senator Snowe that what I had was not for her.  For some reason, she is smaller than I thought she was.  She excused herself and finally the reception man came back and took my notes and parcel to Senator Smith.  I then walked back to the basement for the tram back to Russell.  I sat in the tram and this little disheveled lady sat beside me to ride back.  Senator Mikulski instructed me that I was not to ride with her.  I apologized and removed myself from the tram.  After the two good experiences, then to have that one.  Funny how different people are, even in the United States Senate.
Well, that is my brush with those of name.  They are all so different from each other.  Senator Smith is nice one on one, otherwise very silent normally.  The interns all had ourselves shot with him on Thursday.  I don’t really care about the photos, I knew it is something I should have for later in life.  I won’t care any more, but I know Amanda would shoot me (not with a camera) if I could have but did not.
The rest of the week has been very occupied.  I had several projects dumped on me.  I continue to do research on a variety of subjects.  However, they were all trumped by the Washington Post story about the CIA having secret prisons.  This kept us busy in doing some research into congressional records and statements by various people.  It also dealt with some very interesting phone calls.  It is odd sometimes what the response is for some people when you comment you are from a United States Senator’s office.  Some instantly shut down, others open up and always tell far too much.  Fascinating.
This week has been quite the struggle over ANWR.  Last week, the Senate voted to keep it in the Budget Resolution.  This week the House removed it from the bill and removed the whole bill in frustration.  However, it looks lik ANWR might have been protected at least for another little while.  Whos knows what next week could bring.  It is always this constant struggle.
Anyhow, this week has proved very instructive to me in goverment as a whole.  Everything always has another side to it, whether it is right or wrong is not the question, but can we see the other side.  Only when we can understand the other side can we make any determination whether what is right and wrong.  This seems very applicable to all aspects of life.  Always learn the opposing view, and from that perspective work back to your own.  You will always be much for effective in understanding and in your reasoning that way.  Well, until next time…