Saturday, March 22, 2008

When one site links to another, that's when the magic happens

So for the first draft of this post, as I described to Mike offline the other day, I had thought that I would lace some interesting information about the Museum's web site traffic with some witty commentary, even a few jokes. I get jokes. After torturing that draft for a while longer this afternoon, I'm just going to get to the point. So, if you were looking for some self-deprecating humor or hilarious observations about the state of the PR profession, too bad. Maybe another day.

I thought our eight or nine readers might enjoy this sampler of links gleaned from our Web site statistics:

Among the sites offering links to us with some significant traffic so far this month: a Wikipedia page on hairballs that links to our virtual exhibit; two different but related pages about the Lincoln assassination; a government site about pandemic flu planning; a 2005 Medgadget post about our Human Body Revealed exhibition; a tourist-focused site called Things to Do. To all those sites, and others, we appreciate the business.

If I find any other statistical goodies, I'll be sure to post those, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You think web site stats are funny?

Get real.

For real humor read this from a blog that was written by one of the people who helped to bring the Penelope robot to the Museum:

"Dr. No meets Illya Kuryakin "here"

Here is the requested story of our recent company trip to Washington.
Kudos to anyone who understands it--every time I told someone about it, I seemed to see their eyes glaze over halfway through in the maze of agencies, acronyms, TV shows and horribly deformed fetuses. Perhaps it
will be more digestible in written form.

So the National Museum of Health and Medicine (previously known as the War Museum), which is part of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (the best place in the world to send tissue what got somethin' wrong with it for analysis), on the campus of the Walter Reed Army Medical
Center (where they send most or all of the amputees and other wounded from Iraq), wanted our robot in their museum. We were supposed to have already done the first real procedure and then bring the robot down for
a victory lap, its historical significance and museum-worthiness at least partly established. But it had been delayed, and so instead this was a strange blip in the process of getting ready for the procedure.

Getting down there the transportation arrangements were strange in the extreme. Six of us were going. The robot had to be brought down, and for that we rented a cargo van which had only two seats. The boss wanted to
ride his motorcycle down. P. was driving her Porsche Boxster, which
could uncomfortably fit one more person of normal size. That left me to take the train. I was glad I had done so when P. and S. arrived with awful sunburns from riding with the top down the whole way.

I find the Museum to be a fascinating place. Others had different words for it, such as "I...I don't want to see any of this." Being attached to
the AFIP, there's a lot of pathology on view. One of the biggest draws are several items associated with Lincoln's assassination: some fragments of his skull, the doctor's sleeve with Lincoln's blood on it,
a lock of his hair, the bullet that killled him, and the probe used to locate it. A favorite of one of the curators are the leg bones of Daniel Sickles, a Major General in the Civil War who had his leg sent to the then-recently established museum after it was shattered by a cannonball,
and in later years often went to visit it in the museum, though he was disappointed that they had disposed of his foot (the rest of his life is equally amusing. Then there's a preserved elephantiasis-afflicted leg, the world's largest* hairball which took on the shape of the stomach in which it was lodged, a reserved brain with spinal cord still attached, and several fetuses with horrible ailments
such as anencephaly (no brain). They also have lots of really nice
microscopes! The museum director's name is Dr. Noe, which is really
pronounced No-eeh, but she refuses to correct anyone who calls her Dr.

The black-tie affair that we were there for was the AFIP's annual Ash
Lecture, coinciding with the opening of a new collection for the museum, of which ours and one other device were the first items. This year the lecture was being given by two people: David McCallum, an actor who used to play Russian agent Illya Kuryakin on the 60s spy TV show "The Man
From U.N.C.L.E.", and who now plays a medical examiner on the show NCIS, a pseudo-CSI offshoot about the Naval Criminal Investigative
Service...(pause for breath) and a real medical examiner named Craig
Mallak. The lecture consisted of watching clips of NCIS followed by
comments from Dr. Mallak about the show's realism. The lecture hall
filled up so we sat in the overflow auditorium and watched other people watch it on a video feed. This left the question of whether we should stand up when the people in the main room were asked to, for example when a military brass band played some songs. No one would know if we
didn't. But it was a classy crowd and it was silently decided that we

The first NCIS clip showed the scene after someone had died aboard Air Force One. There was the classic squabbling between agencies, until the
NCIS agents and a Secret Service agent somehow locked out the FBI and 'hijacked' the plane to take the body back to where they could analyze it. I had some trouble myself with the realism of this scene, but Dr. Mallak didn't comment on what I thought was most obvious. There was also the typical lionizing and mythologizing of the agency concerned, with some official solemnly saying "I'll do what I can...but I can't control
NCIS." I think in the real world the dialogue might have been more like "Who the @#$! is NCIS?" In later scenes we saw his punky, attractive young assistant, and heard many more lines of stupefyingly obvious dialogue that is presumably meant to sound clever. "What is this?" "It's
a flash memory card sir, for a digital camera." "Why the devil did he swallow that?" "He was trying to tell you something!"
>Some of Dr. Mallak's portions of the lecture were enlightening for me, such as a short flm about AFDIL, the department that keeps DNA samples of every single person in the armed forces, and that is consulted when remains need to be identified (the film itself really wasn't necessary, it's pretty much a whole lot of shelves and little envelopes). Also the facility that the bodies from Iraq come through, where they can only keep them for 24 hours before sending them to the families, so they do
extremely detailed 3D body scans which they can later use to assess the performance of the body armor and such. But this couldn't help but be overshadowed by the Doctor's extremely nervous and nerdy demeanor. His uniform pants were way too short, and he spoke awkwardly, quite the opposite of the charming and comfortable McCallum. Compounding the
problem was a very strange glitch in the PA system which sounded like a buzzer going off at random intervals. This seemed to only occur while Mallak was talking, and each time it caused him to nearly jump out of his seat. We were glad to be able to laugh at him relatively freely in our unsupervised overflow auditorium.
>Other stuff...after tweaking it for several hours straight the robot suddenly stopped working 20 minutes before the black-tie people were to arrive, and some gears had to be lubricated with motor oil from the boss's bike, which worked like a charm. The affair was catered, but being in a museum, there was pretty much nowhere to put down your plate
or glass, and so several people tried to put theirs down on a table
which was symbolically set with a POW/MIA flag. Not getting much of a
chance to eat ourselves, we went afterward to Ruby Tuesday (there aren't many options in Silver Spring, MD after hours), where after 45 minutes we were told our check had been lost on its way to the kitchen, and we'd get the food for half price with free dessert. The boss and I took them up on some cheesecake."

*The writer of this blog, who is anonymous, was mistaken. The Museum has NEVER had nor claimed to have the world's largest hairball (human or animal) in its collection.

From my perspective, I have a really cool photo of me and David McCallum standing together when I gave him a tour of the Museum. This is a lot more interesting to friends and family than my story about how I gave a tour of the Museum to Lieutenant General Mushtaq Ahmed Baig, Surgeon General, Pakistan Armed Forces, although he did give me a nice tie pin and cuff link set with the logo of the Pakistani Armed Forces ...

Steven Solomon
Former PAO