Monday, February 25, 2008

Second big work trip...

Guess which space center we're going to on this trip?

I do so love this job.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Last week we had a mess of an ice storm.

Here are some shots from the back yard.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

So...just what do you do in you free time?

Many people belong to non-profit organizations, I do.

In fact I'm something of a member of the Board of Directors and Archivist at the B&O Railroad Historical Society.

So what does that mean?

It means this is where I spend 11 weekends a year:

The B&ORRHS Archives

Please click, read the captions. These are shots from the archives of the B&O railroad historical Society from this past fall and then this past month's field trip.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Reflections on being a historian who isn't doing history...

Well, it's late winter and this is the time of the year that juniors and seniors in high school start getting ready for college, either visits or making their final selections. At least way back in 1996 I was doing this.

Back then I KNEW I wanted to be a history professor specializing in the Civil War era.
That was it, stone cold lock.

Well, twelve years later I've got one and 3/4 master's degrees and am working at a Contractor-run NASA Records Facility.

You may ask yourself, "What happened?"

Well, I'll tell ya: economics and overpopulation.

By 1999 I was applying for graduate schools after three happy years as an undergraduate history major and quiz bowl team member. Life was good. (Outside of my problem with Rheumatoid Arthritis, but I didn't know it was Rheumatoid Arthritis and that's a whole different saga but let me just say, I missed the last half of Spring 1999 because I was a sick puppy. But I got better and I found out that apparently I have a really high physical pain tolerance.)

Anyhoo...this is when overpopulation reared it's ugly head. There were simply too many people who wanted to get PhD's in 19th Century US History at UVA, PSU, and OSU. I was rejected by all three of my top choices, fortunately, my safety school, UMBC took me in and made me an offer of becoming a Teaching Assistant.

This bought me two years to figure out what to do while writing my thesis.

This is all well and good if you actually finish your thesis in two years...which I didn't do. That's when economics took over. I needed a job. Fortunately, two friends worked at T. Rowe Price and told me they were hiring so I worked there for two years and pecked away at my thesis. Then I decided that answering phones and processing mutual fund trades really isn't a good use of all of my education. So I applied for jobs with records management companies. Lo and behold, I got one!

So now I started commuting to Alexandria for two years and change and then got another job that had me commuting to Arlington for about a year and a half, all the time doing records management work for contractors to federal agencies.

Now I'm here, working as an Outreach Specialist at a NASA Scientific and Technical Library. Ironically, before my frustration with Calculus in high school (I'll get you for that Newton!), I wanted to work for NASA.

What a long strange trip it has been.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tonight on your local PBS Station...

A show that's got some railroad history in it! Hey, how about that?

Grand Central Station on The American Experience
NY Times Article

The American Experience Site

I'll probably watch tonight, but when I heard the previews on the radio this morning, and they were talking about a "wonder" and "New York" and "Train Station," I really thought it was going to be about Pennsylvania Station. Which was the subject of a recent book, "Conquering Gotham" and was the poster-child of historic preservation movements in the 1960's after it was demolished for the current Madison Square Garden.

I have high hopes for this show tonight, American Experience usually does a very good job with their topics, in fact far superior to pretty much anything the History Channel has put out. So please take a gander tonight on your local PBS Station (times may vary, but it's on at 9pm tonight here in MD)