Thursday, May 28, 2009

I just wanted a reason to post this photo...

... but you can read the history of gnomes here. And I am tempted to join the Garden Gnome Liberation Front. (The French are crazy.) Here's the English Version.

Free the Gnomes!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Have you seen the movie yet?

Here are some of the interviews from the premiere from Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian.

Another one of those days....

"Hundreds of years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove... but the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that my ruins become a tourist attraction." You can get it here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

We Want to Hear From You!!!

Yeah, this is my personal blog, but I spend a lot of time at work here at the Smithsonian. And when family visits, I spend my days off at Smithsonian. I really love my job, and Smithsonian has been going through some growing pains. We have some curators who don't use email and want to play with their taxidermied birds all day, and then we have our techie museum people who want to make everything digital. But really, we want to hear from everyone to tell us what you expect from museums. Really! We do! So much we made a video about it. Send your response to our little corner of the world on YouTube.

Interviews from the Castle...

Go see Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian this weekend!!!

You can see interviews from the Smithsonian Castle here.

It's not whether you win or lose...

... it's how you play the game. And remember, "Adam Lambert was created by God and left in a basket at the theater backdoor of Wicked." And we were lucky God did that.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dear Cleveland, Ohio....

I grew up in your town. I was there at the last game in Cleveland Stadium before it was torn down. I watched Hollywood make fun of our team with the movie Major League. And I'll admit that being from Cleveland isn't the easiest thing in the world with our sports teams. But I have to say one little thing about our mascot.

Apparently, there is controvery regarding the American flag being put on Cleveland Indians baseball hats. It's considered to have the American flag used in this fashion for profit. This special edition is coming out specifically for Memorial Day.

This is the problem people have with the hat. The American flag being used for profit. I'll admit, that's not the best idea. But Tommy Hillfiger made a career out of it. Here's what bothers me:

Nobody made a big deal over the completely racist and innappropriate caricature of a Native American on the hat.
I mean, really?

I know people are going to defend this mascot because of the first Native baseball player, Louis Sockalexis (a Penobscot from Maine), played for the Cleveland Spiders back in the day. But I can assure you, after working at the National Museum of the American Indian and knowing much about this subject, this was not an honor. He was treated like dirt when he played for Cleveland.

So please, Cleveland, keep your priorities straight. If you are offended by the American flag being used in this way, you should definitely re-evaulate where you stand on this mascot.

And you can learn about Codetalkers here, since it is Memorial Day weekend and we should be honoring all veterans for their service, regardless of their racial or cultural background.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Google gives archaeologists a shout-out...

... in their own special way.
Joke of the Day: What do most pirates want to be when they grow up?


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Night at the Museum Cast at the Smithsonian!

The cast was here last Thursday and Friday for all the press that you'll probably be seeing this week. You can read more about the premiere from my friend Beth here. This is a great shot of them in the garden behind the Castle... about a block from my office. But motherhood calls... and I was actually with my husband and daughter checking out her preschool for next fall. We all have priorities.

That's Ben Stiller, Ricky Gervais, Robin Williams, Hank Azaria, Amy Adams, Owen Wilson and director Shawn Levy. (Both Photos by Ken Rahaim)

Go see the movie this weekend!!!

We did WHAT????

In the spirit of pulling out the old black and white photos, I figured this is one everyone should see. Since I do a lot of research at the Smithsonian, I come across images and objects that are really incredible. We're digitizing the collection as quickly as we possibly can with limited funding.

Our big exhibit at the National Museum of American History was the unveiling of the Star-Spangled Banner. The museum had a huge renovation and painstakingly restored the original flag. It's been through a lot between the war, people cutting out chunks for keepsakes, and when we tried to conserve it the first time by sewing a backing, to realizing that was a bad idea and having to remove the backing (one stitch at a time). Now it is housed in a climate controlled area, with just enough light for visitors to view it through glass. It even sits on a flat surface that can be moved inches so it can lay flat and release some of the pressure on the stitches. In it's current condition without any adjustments to our system, it could last another 500-1000 years.
But before we started conserving it, we actually thought it would be a GREAT idea to hang it outside the Smithsonian Castle in 1914. *sigh*


Monday, May 18, 2009

My uncle is known for throwing away everything.

If he has no use for it or his kids haven't claimed it, they are tossed out of the house. So I was a bit surprised when he sent me this photo a few days ago. I'm starting to wonder what kind of photos he has stocked away that we've never seen. This is of my Grandpa Francis (but we called him Grampa Fat... I forget why he was called that, he's pretty skinny.) He's the guy on the right. But we aren't sure who they guy is next to him on the left.

I really wish I had an audio recording. He was from Scotland, and from I've heard from my mom, had a pretty cool accent. Unfortunately, I never met him. He passed away before my mom was married to my dad. But I gotta say, he's pretty handsome. Grandma had good taste.

Ummm... Donald Duck and Taxes

My taxes were never this easy. Maybe it was easier during World War II.

This is a documentary short done by Disney for the Department of the Treasury to encourage people to pay the "Victory Tax". A year after the United States entered the Second World War the federal government needed additional revenues to pay for the war effort, but at the time most people didn't pay income tax. Considering we all pay taxes out the nose (unless you are a congressperson, and then you pay only if you get caught), it's interesting to see this video today. We are at war, we are in a recession, but is it propaganda to ask people to pay their taxes or is it a patriotic duty? Hmmm....

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Today is the 19th anniversary of Jim Henson's death...

... and I consider him a hero for what he's done for children's education and informal learning. Not to mention reminding us all about following our childlike moral compass. Be good to each other, be good to yourself, and remember: Simple is good.

In honor of Jim Henson, enjoy this classic about being alive:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Space Crap.

Is there anywhere that we don't dump our junk? I guess our next strategic move is to shoot our garbage out into space by using a massive slingshot.

Here's the info about the image:

This computer generated image, supplied by NASA, shows objects that are currently being tracked in Earth orbit. Approximately 95% of the objects in this illustration are orbital debris, i.e., not functional satellites. The dots represent each item. The orbital debris dots are scaled according to the image size of the graphic to optimize their visibility and are not scaled to Earth. This image provide a good visualization of where the greatest orbital debris populations exist. The space shuttle Atlantis is flying at about 350 miles above Earth, an area littered with more dangerous space junk than the lower orbits where shuttles normally park at the international space station.(AP Photo/NASA)

I work with really, really smart people...

... but sometimes I wonder....

Yeah, I still love my Cabbage Patch Kid....

Dixie Loren lives with my mom, and Sadie plays with her when she visits. I'll admit, Dixie is a bit dirty, but only because I took her everywhere... including the Grand Canyon when I was 10 years old. And I have to say, hearing about those poor abandoned kids kind of tugs at my heart. My mom found Dixie before all the hoopla and bought her for my 6th birthday. I don't follow trends, I make them. You can see other videos at the Smithsonian Channel.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

More cool Smithsonian stuff that only I would find....

Thank you to the awesome reader who suggested this website! HistoGrafica has some really great images from around the world. If you have old photos to share, this is a great place to share them. You can check out photos based on Google Maps. This is one that I found from 1898. My office is about a block from the Castle. But I have meetings in there every now and then. Here's some more history on the Smithsonian Castle.

Bert, Ernie and Egyptian Archaeology...

Okay, this is a little creepy for the younger crowd, and I don't remember seeing this when I was a kid. If I had, I probably would have reconsidered my career path. But this looks like old school Sesame Street and sometimes they get a little weird.

As for real-life creepiness, Egyptian pyramids are really bad for claustrophobics. Trust me. You have to do a duck walk up a plank to get into the main chamber in the Great Pyramid. I was 16 when we went to Egypt, and the tight spaces didn't bother me too much. But the people staring at me because I had red hair did.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I love these things (in this order):
1. How I Met Your Mother
2. Les Miserables
3. Doogie Howser, MD

And here is a glorious mash-up of all three in one glorious tv moment:

Monday, May 4, 2009

Today's Shorpy Picture...

looks like it was right out of a classic mystery movie. I can hear dramatic music in the distance.

New York. December 15, 1931. "River House, 52nd Street and East River. Cloud study, noon, looking south from 27th floor."

Friday, May 1, 2009

This weekend...

... you should go visit a museum. Here's why: