So this isn’t exactly the incredibly introspective blog post that I was hoping I would start doing again….but nonetheless….I give you…

A cool survey from Debbie via Kelli…

1. Where do you hang your towel to dry after showering?
on the towel hook thingy

2. What kind of mouse pad do you have?
I have an optical mouse….so I’m with Debbie – mousepad as coaster is good. But mine has a James Bard painting on it – from the Museum collection.

3. Do you brush your hair with a comb or a brush?
there are those who would argue that I do neither. But I really do use a brush. Really.

4. In your opinion, who do you think is the hottest celebrity?
I would still have to say Jim Cantore. Is it hurricane season yet? 🙂

5. You’ve got a project due tomorrow, do you use tape or glue?
Adobo. Oh no wait – that’s the next question. I’ll go with glue as I seem to recall gluing together scale models of the island of Ocracoke for a 4th grade project and a model of Stonehenge for a 9th grade project. I also glued together parts of my latest exhibition. Yeah. Glue.

6. Chicken or pork adobo?
Forget the chicken and pork…..give me the adobo. Actually – we use it in both.

7. By the time you get to school, is the sky still dark?
What is this school you speak of? If by “school” you mean “work” – then my answer would be – sometimes.

8. If you had a choice to see a unicorn or mermaid which would it be?
Considering where I work….I see mermaids everyday. And we have Narwhal horns, too… I would have to opt for Nessie or Bigfoot instead. Or possibly Jimmy Hoffa.

9. What color is your underwear?
Ask my friend Homer, who has been guessing the wrong color for 18 years….

10. What time does the sun usually set?
Depends on what century and whether we are in the British Empire or not….

11. What do you think of last before you go to sleep?
I hope I can slee…p….zzzzzzzzz……..

12. AC or fan?
In an ideal world? A fan. But I live in Tidewater, so you do the Math.

13. What are you listening to?
JMU playing Drexel

14. Can you hand stand?

15. If you were the opposite sex, how would you style your hair?
shave it all off. So I could look like Jim Cantore.

16. What level math are you in?
I was told there would be no Math in this survey. Well, except for the Math I requested in question 12. But I’m not doing Math, you are. I’m still trying for that elusive handstand.

17. What are you doing this weekend?
Going to an oyster roast/baby shower for my brother-in-law- and sister-in-law on Saturday, and then maybe going to the premiere of the latest Civil War documentary thingy that I forgot I was in.

18. Which subject is worse, English or Math?
Hmmm…let’s see….I majored in English. And considering my reaction to question 16…well, you do the Math.

19. What’s one thing you really want to do this very moment?
Find out that I have the day off tomorrow. But since that isn’t going to happen, then I would have to say I would really like to do no more Math.

20. After buying something, do you automatically throw it?
If by “something” you mean “Anne Coulter Book” – then my answer would be no – because I wouldn’t buy anything I am guaranteed to throw that quickly.

21. CD player or iPOD?
iPod iPod iPod!!!!!!!!

22. Would you rather spin upside down going 30 miles per hour or drop 400 ft. into water?
Again with the Math…..

23. Whats your favorite shape?

24. What kind of cell phone do you have?
It’s blue. And it’s smarter than me.

25. Have you ever gone ice skating?
I used to go every Friday after school. And I have my own hockey skates – which is pretty funny since I’ve never actually *played* hockey (though I have watched it on occasion and kind of understand some of it)

26. If you were put in a room with nothing except for a pencil and a notepad what would you do?
craft an elaborate sculpture of the Velvet Underground. oh wait….where’s the clay?

27. Is it always easy finding your remote every time you want to watch TV?
When you have 3 cats, everything is a toy. You do the Math. Because I’m not doing any more Math for this survey.

28. How was your day?
It started with a bagel, it ended with Math. There were oysters in there somewhere, so ultimately, it was pretty good.

29. Do you grow your nails, bite or cut them?
what nails?

30. Describe your handwriting:
Depends. My handwriting is – at times – incredibly precise. But I pride myself on a signature that absolutely no one can fake. Or read. But that’s beside the point.

31. Do you consider yourself a stalker?
Ultimately – you can find anyone if you need to. However – I excel at stalking dead historical figures.

32. Do you bruise easily?
Only if I’m moving furniture.

33. There’s nothing on TV except Barney and Japanese news what do you do?
Watch the Japanese news – but only if they are reporting on the recent Barney homicide.

34. Do you know more then 3 myspace codes?
The eagle flies at night.

35. You got a essay due, you either can type or write in pen, which do you choose?
type. unless I can glue it together. Then glue, definitely.

36. Do you wear jeans to relax at home?
Oh yes.

37. Describe yourself using one word?
Hypomyxolydian on some days – but mostly Dorian.

39. Do you like ice in your drink?
Does this involve Math?

11. February 2008 · Write a comment · Categories: old blog · Tags: ,

[Appy polly logies for any cross postings, oh my brothers…..]

A fierce wind and 550 acres of trees has left me without power at Ye Olde Boat Museum today – and hence I am a curator in exile, forced to eke out a historical existence at Panera.

Things could definitely be worse.

It struck me the other day that I have lost all sense of time. Well – I should amend that. I have lost all sense of time unless said item appears on my Outlook calendar. Which apparently means I need to schedule updates to this and other online haunts along with my laundry and other important things. Luckily Jim and the kitties are all good at reminding me that they – and I – need to eat, though I must say that Scylla has them all beat for volume.

My new job started at the first of the year. Same Olde Boat Museum, but new office and more staff. The office is interesting in that it was cobbled into existence many years ago out of a hallway and a loading dock. It appears that my desk is situated exactly where the gentle slope into the loading dock began. The first few days I thought maybe I had labryinthitis or had accidentally imbibed some fermented diet Coke because I kept listing to port. To compound the issue, My chair would slowly – imperceptibly – roll back from the desk and I found myself attempting to rappel back to my computer. And don’t get me started on what happens if I lift my feet off the ground…..

Let’s just say that it is very difficult to maintain an air of authority when one’s chair is slowly spinning of its own accord. Of course – my decor could not be less dignified, with solar powered Hello Kittys, pirate paraphernalia, and Aleister Crowley quotations littered about.

So it’s been a bit busy then, it seems, and I’ve been playing with so many different web applications and 2.0 goodies for work that my own little corner of the blogosphere has gone to radio silence. I’m not happy about that, so perhaps though the world will little note, nor remember what I write here, I’ll pledge on this – the eve of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday – to do better.

24. June 2007 · 1 comment · Categories: old blog

The old monitorkitty can be found on the sidebar to the right —–>


hourglasses and me
Current mood: contemplative

I know I’m crazy – but tonight I had real and true confirmation.

We’re standing out back – waiting to put stuff onto the grill, and I practically choke on my frosty adult beverage….because I see this shiny, black, eight-legged body meandering about underneath the slight overhang on our porch floorboards.

Shiny. Black. Eight legs…….but it *can’t* be. It’s too big.

So we get closer to investigate. Hmmm….yes – there’s something red on the black.

But it’s too big. There’s simply no way.

But there is, my friends, there is.

A frantic drive to purchase bug spray later – and I’m standing there trying to gear myself up for the coup de grace.

And I do it. And I watch the other little multi-legged ones run screaming out of their hidey-holes because SHE lived among them.

And I sobbed like I haven’t been able to for months.

And I ran inside and atoned for my sins by sending beneficial insects to Africa or India via Heifer International.



For those of y’all who’ve wondered where I’ve been lately…..

From The Daily Press

Submerging into history

The USS Monitor Center in Newport New prepares to show off its port to visitors


February 11, 2007

Nobody saw the massive project looming toward the radar screen when The Mariners’ Museum launched an ambitious fundraising and improvement campaign just over 10 years ago.

Despite more than two decades of expeditions, underwater archaeologists had recovered little more than a hundred small artifacts from the wreck of the USS Monitor, the famous Civil War ironclad that lay at the bottom of the Atlantic off stormy Cape Hatteras, N.C. The one large object they had retrieved – a 1,500-pound anchor – still left plenty of room for the museum to fulfill its role as the primary caretaker of artifacts associated with the pioneering vessel.

But with the rescue of the ship’s propeller in 1998 – followed by the recovery of the massive steam engine and still larger gun turret within four years – a responsibility that had long weighed less than 2,000 pounds suddenly exploded into some 150 tons of priceless Civil War iron. That dramatic leap in scale not only pumped up the museum’s long-term plans in ways nobody had foreseen but also sparked a remarkable transformation.

Now nearing completion, the USS Monitor Center represents one of the largest parts of an enormous building campaign in which Peninsula museums have added more than 150,000 square feet and nearly $80 million in improvements over the past year because of the Jamestown 2007 celebration. But when it opens March 9, the 63,500-square-foot, $30 million exhibit hall and conservation lab also will herald a striking change in the character of one of the nation’s leading maritime museums.

“We’re not just trying to make the Monitor Center, we’re trying to change the face of The Mariners’ Museum,” Monitor Center curator Anna Holloway says. “We want to increase our visibility. We want to raise our profile. We want to change not only the way that we’re perceived but also how we do things and who our visitors are.”

Tacked onto the list of improvements targeted by the 1996 capital campaign, the Monitor Center began in late 1998 with a $500,0000 study designed to sketch out what would be needed to conserve and display the mounting stream of artifacts from the wreck. Within 18 months, that exploratory glimpse had grown into a bold plan for a large-scale exhibit hall as well as a state-of-the-art conservation lab whose work could be observed by the public.

The award-winning architectural design that resulted envisioned a sprawling two-level structure in which visitors would be able to walk in, around, on top of and under a full-scale replica of the Monitor. But when potential general contractors began to respond to the plan, the cost of the heroic engineering measures needed to make it work with the unforgiving Tidewater soil was colossal.

“It was a very wrenching fork in the road. We just couldn’t afford it,” recalls David Dwyer, Mariners’ vice president and executive manager of the project. “Because of the water table, the underground gallery – which we dubbed the ‘bathtub’ – would have popped back out of the ground without really robust support. That drove the cost to the point where the first 25 to 30 percent of the building was taking up about half the budget – and we just had to get more bang for our buck.”

Other problems confronted the planners, too, including the difficulty of creating a structure that not only incorporated two distinct functions – an exhibit hall and a conservation lab – but also embraced the complicated storyline behind the historic Monitor of the Civil War and its dramatic recovery nearly 140 years later.

Both topics had scored extremely well with test audiences, Holloway says. But putting them together in a single space proved to be a challenge.

“We have a story that takes place partly in the mid-1800s – and partly today. We have artifacts that are in the process of being conserved – but they may not be ready for years. We have artifacts that may never be recovered – but we have to have places for them in case they are,” Holloway says.

“Put the whole thing together and you have so many parts that it seems almost impossible to get your hands on it all. We actually had some design firms withdraw their proposals because it was just too hard.”

Many of these problems were ironed out through “Ironclad Evidence,” a 2004 exhibit that Holloway describes as a “dress rehearsal.” Equally important was the proving ground that the show provided for the museum’s sometimes heated relationship with the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, the Newport News-based federal agency charged with protecting the wreck and overseeing the artifact recovery and conservation efforts.

Few people know as much about the famous ship as sanctuary historian Jeff Johnston, who Holloway now describes as her co-curator. But past differences between the two institutions have often been wide and deep, ranging from disagreements over the care of the artifacts to turf disputes between the sanctuary’s superiors at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the museum’s board of trustees.

“The whole purpose of ‘Ironclad Evidence’ was to figure out how to work together – and that meant working together at every level,” Holloway says. “We had to learn to speak each other’s institutional language. But once we got over that, we really worked together very well.”

Proof of that partnership can be found not only in NOAA’s leading financial contribution to the project – an estimated $10 million so far – but also in the close attention that Holloway and Johnston have learned to pay to each other’s interests. Working with New York-based exhibit design firm DMCD, they’ve striven to hammer out an experience that transcends both the Monitor and the Civil War by emphasizing the human stories associated with the ship. They’ve also insisted on moving far beyond the traditional exhibit paradigms associated with history museums.

“We’ve got great stuff – really great artifacts – and really great stories to tell. But when you move through most of our galleries, it’s just a cabinet of curiosities unless you have one of our fabulous docents there to make it come alive for you,” Holloway says.

“We can’t have docents in every spot all the time. So we had to find new ways to take the stuff we have and make it more interesting and relevant.”

One strategy came from the National Aquarium in Baltimore, from which Holloway and Johnston borrowed the meandering but carefully calculated floor plan that has helped make the attraction one of the most popular on the East Coast. Marked by dramatic twists and turns that often lead to unexpected theatrical vistas, it animates the visitors’ experience in ways rarely found in history museums.

“We want people to say ‘Whoa!’ when they see what great stuff we have,” Holloway says, “and that’s what all these twists and turns are about.”

Computer technology plays an important role, too, especially as a means of engaging visitors and immersing them in the rich array of objects found in both the Mariners’ and the Monitor collections. In one attraction called “100 Days to Build a Warship,” visitors can interact with a computer screen that moves along a wall-sized timeline, accessing reams of audio, video and animated footage in addition to photographs, documents and artifacts explaining how the Monitor was constructed.

“NOAA’s collection is huge. The museum’s collection is huge. So how do we show people all this stuff?” Johnston asks. “The answer lies in technology like the I-Wall, where they can immerse themselves in all sorts of things if they want to – and where, suddenly, as you’re going through all this information, something like the receipt for the Monitor‘s paint job can become a really cool document.”

Similar kinds of technology power the exhibit’s personal story stations, enabling visitors to understand the people and issues surrounding the Monitor in a vivid and unexpectedly comprehensive manner. Other computer stations use challenging interactive games to explore such otherwise obtuse topics as designing an ironclad and maneuvering a wooden warship.

More digital magic waits in the museum’s new Battle Theater, where visitors will come as close to experiencing the historic clash between the Monitor and the CSS Virginia as current exhibit technology can make it, Johnston says.

“The great thing about the Monitor Center is that it allows you to experience the traditional and the new side by side – and the mix between the two works really well,” he explains.

“People will be able to see cool artifacts in cases – and we’ll have plenty of those. But they’ll also be able to push buttons and do things with these cool interactives.”


Well then…. the days they do fly. So much has been going on that I can’t even begin to keep up. Perhaps things will slow down in …oh…March?

Anyway – I’m sitting in a hotel in Chinatown at the moment. The reason? Well – first and foremost – we flew up here to see the Sneakers show – the first one since 1979 – at the Bowery Ballroom this past Saturday. The bonus was that Mitch Easter played (with Shalini and Eric – doing some Let’s Active tunes) and the the dBs finished out the evening.

I’m not sure when was the last time I saw The dBs. Or Let’s Active – for that matter. (My band did open for them on July 15, 1984…I do remember that, and lest you think that’s too weird a thing to remember, let me point out that in the recording of the show Debbie wishes everyone a happy day after Bastille Day. Kinda burned on my memory, that one.) Of course – I’d never gotten to see the Sneakers, but played their little ep incessantly after Chris sent it to me when I was in junior high.

I’ll write more later on this, I’m sure – but right now I’m tired – and tomorrow’s going to be a long day (we’ll be filming some stuff in NYC with an actor who if I told you who it was I’d have to kill you. or me. or someone, I’m sure)

So anyway – Saturday was an awesome night – meeting new friends, seeing old ones and feeling kinda old – but kinda not.

And for a moment it was 1980 all over again.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


So my iPod cried last night.

I hooked it up to the computer to feed it yummy good new music and it cried.

Actually, it whimpered like a newborn. This sad little mewling sound that let me know that something was wrong.

Then the computer imploded momentarily and put an exclamation point on the iPod’s distress – like a mother looking after its young.

Seems it had to be restored.

Now – I had never realized that my iPod believed in reincarnation – but that was what it was craving – a new life.

We restored.

We fed it music anew.

And we fell asleep to its happy purring as it played the dBs.

Does it get any better than this?


Well it seemed like a good idea at the time…

Our water heater had died a horrible, wet, smoke-filled death right in the middle of Yorktown’s 225th anniversary. Neither one of us could do anything about it because of responsibilities at our respective museums. So we gritted our teeth and lived a semi-late-18th century existence of chilly water, quick baths involving steaming tea kettles and the overwhelming conviction that this too shall pass.

And so it did. On Yorktown 225th + 3, I went to Lowe’s to purchase a water heater that would be the greatest water heater we would ever own. And while I was at it, I reasoned, I would get a new dishwasher as ours was clearly ailing – but still serviceable.

And that was my mistake.

The water heater arrived with no problem – promptly, courteously and soon was full of gloriously hot water. It was a beautiful thing, sitting and blinking its wise little lights at me in its warm and happy closet.

But the dishwasher…..oh, the dishwasher….

Clearly, our current dishwasher did not want to be supplanted by this young, upstart KitchenAid with its deep bins and its come-hither winking buttons.

At first, they said, the KitchenAid was out of stock. It would come later, they said.

But somehow, the box on the form at Lowe’s got checked that we had received the dishwasher and it was happily washing dishes in our house.

For three weeks we tried to convince the folks at Lowe’s that we had not received the dishwasher. That we had been denied its shiny black exterior and alluring stainless interior.

All the while, our old dishwasher behaved. It stopped groaning. It stopped refusing to use water. It mostly deployed the soap.


Even so, we continued in our campaign to have delivered what was rightfully ours.

We went to Lowe’s in person. We talked to them on the phone.

Still, they blithely called – the happy voice chirping on the phone – “We were just checking on how your new dishwasher is doing!”

“But it’s not doing anything at all!” we would sob into the phone “It’s not here! Why are you denying us the pleasures of power scrub and the removable utensil caddy?”

Finally my husband arrived at their managers office with a four page saga (which I had written lovingly by hand recounting the circumstances of each and every interaction with Lowe’s – and might I add that companies should fear me – for I do have a memory for details of this sort that would down an elephant at 40 paces).

“Either install it tomorrow or feel the wrath of Jim” – he intoned to the customer service folks. The manager blanched when she saw the four page manifesto written on laid paper with a purple ink.

My triumphant Jim arrived home with the installation time guaranteed for the following day.

Our old dishwasher sat sullenly.

We cooked a celebratory dinner to end all dinners. We loaded the old dishwasher, lovingly fed it the soap and pushed the button for one last cruise.

But it had other plans, my friends.

In a scene reminiscent of Up-Helly-Aa, (except think of it in Gloucester, VA instead of the Shetland Islands. Oh – and substitute water for fire. And picture a dishwasher instead of a boat. Otherwise it was exactly like Up-Helly-Aa…except not. Come to think of it, it was more like The Exorcist) the old dishwasher erupted in watery vengeance all over the kitchen.

The floor was wet. The cats were wet. The dishes were crying for help.

And that’s when we knew that it wasn’t the incompetence of the staff at Lowe’s that had denied us the sweet charms of the new dishwasher. It was not their fault that we could not enjoy the special knife caddy and the whisper-soft operation…

Oh no, my friends. It was the vengeance of a Kenmore spurned.

We’ve given you fair warning.


I appear to live in a commonwealth that would codify hatred and fear.

That would legislate whom one may love and with whom one may spend one’s final moments.

That would denigrate my own marriage because we married for love, and no other reason.

I am not very proud of my adopted home at the moment…..