completed trade

3

“I’d rather be a poor master than a rich servant.” says really rich actor with an estimate net wealth of $75 million.

BREAKING NEWS

Detroit Red Wings trade away entire team in exchange for a few draft picks and a taco.

“I’m so fucking done with this team,” GM Ken Holland said when asked about the trades. “No matter what, it’s never enough. So I just said fuck it. Trade the whole team. Just nuke it and start over. I’m just done. So done. Now, if you need me, I’ll be in my office eating my taco.”

about the netflix castlevania series...

I know, I’ve been busy.  I’ve been raving over this series for the past week but I couldn’t get to a proper keyboard so I can a Proper Rave™ complete with gifs and sparklies.  

Seriously, WHERE IS THE REST OF CASTLEVANIA, NETFLIX?  YOU CAN’T LEAVE US HANGING WITH JUST FOUR BLOODY EPISODES, OKAY??!!!!  I NEED THE NEXT SET OF EPISODES AND I NEED THEM NOW. 

Fine, fine.  I’ll be a proper grown up.  I’ll stop sulking and wait patiently. 

Let’s get on with the List of Things That I Really Love About Netflix’s Castlevania animated series:

a.  Dracula - First off, Dracula is not a precious misunderstood Woobie Destroyer of Worlds.  He’s evil.  He’s got a dangerous labyrinth of a castle sitting smack dab in the middle of a forest of skeletons that are impaled on very long sharp stakes, his victims from years ago.  Dracula is bored, mean and absolutely disgusted with humanity.  Apparently, the only reason he doesn’t seem to be concocting some sort of Evil Plan to Cover the World in Eternal Night™ in the first few minutes we see him is because he can’t be arsed to anymore.  

But he is a lot more complex than your average moustache-twirling baddie and in less than five minutes we get the idea that there’s still some ounce of humanity left in everyone’s favorite Evil King Vampire.  He basically gets this OH NO SHE’S ADORABLE AND I LIKE HER SEND HELP look on his face once he gets properly acquainted with one Dr. Lisa Fahrenheights.  

Originally posted by tampire

b.  Lisa Fahrenheights - People who’ve played Castlevania:  Symphony of the Night will know who she is and in the game, she’s pretty much portrayed as some sort of sanctified figure in a Certain Person’s memories.  In this series, Lisa Fahrenheights is smart, sassy and willing to tell off the most dangerous vampire in the world for his bad manners.  And while our acquaintance with her is painfully short, it gets pretty clear why Dracula would fall arse over cape for her.  

And surprisingly, she genuinely seems to love him back and is apparently willing to believe he can be better than his Evil self without forgetting that he IS a terrifying Evil Dark Lord With Fangs™.  We only get like 10 minutes to have her around and I’m actually willing to buy into the Dracula/Lisa love story far more than I did with Twilight or the Star Wars Anakin/Padme romance.  

She’s genuinely a good person without being insufferably saintly and I hope we get to see more of her in flashbacks as this series progresses because LISA FAHRENHEIGHTS DESERVED BETTER GDI.  

Seriously, in the Great List of Incredibly Stupid and Boneheaded Ideas™, accusing Dr. Lisa Fahrenheights Tepes (somehow, I get the feeling she and Vlad had a long and lively discussion about being his Princess/Lady/Countess and she stuck to her guns about being a Doctor) of witchcraft and then burning her alive at the stake is probably in the Top Three.  Right beside the one that says, “Do not kill the Cinnabon Roll Son of the Dark Lord of the Sith while Darth Papa is actually there to see everything.”  

Unfortunately, since this is the Middle Ages and we have all that bullshit about wise women being falsely accused and the Church being corrupt, so this clusterfuckery happens and of course, Vlad eventually comes home to find the house he built for his beloved destroyed and that he’s too late to save her.  He can’t even get the chance to possibly turn her into a vampire.  

Of course he’s pissed off. 

Originally posted by specta-a

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anonymous asked:

how did you get so good at character & story analysis? like you only started homestuck near the end, and in that short time you've developed a deeper understanding of the characters and themes than people who have been involved for years (i.e. me, a dumbass who only figures this shit out after people like you talk insightfully about it).

I honestly & truly believe that I benefited TREMENDOUSLY from starting near the end, actually. When you start at the end of Homestuck, you get to read the entire thing at once, the way you would experience most types of heavy narrative focused media. You get the whole story in one (months long in my case but at least continuous) bite. 

When you are following any media update by update – this goes for like, everything, comics, TV, etc – you tend to be more easily distracted and misled by both intentional and unintentional red herrings. Like, so many Big Historical Homestuck Fandom Arguments were ROOTED in tons of significance being attributed to things that, on a fresh archival read, were completely inconsequential. When a 10 page update ends on a cliffhanger and you don’t get another update for a week, that’s a week that the entire fandom has to tear itself apart over every tiny little detail in those ten pages, because that’s all they had. And they did. 

And some of those little details mattered, of course, but MOST of them didn’t. It’s that old adage about “can’t see the forest but for the trees.” When you’re following something bite by bite, the bite in front of you is the Most Important Bite, repeated for every new update, forever, and it completely skews your reading and perception of something because it’s so much harder to plug This Piece into the bigger picture. You don’t really care about the bigger picture, because the whole story is years or months or whatever away from being done, you in fact don’t know if it will ever even truly finish, and what matters is what you have in the moment. 

More importantly this leads to just like. Rampant fanon. Just rampant, rampant fanon stuff completely based off hyperfocusing on individual updates and taking every little thing from them and going hog wild. In the spaces between updates, the fandom gives the canon a new layer of meaning. The fandom fills gaps with its own interpretation of what’s going on without the benefit of knowing what’s next. The fandom decides what it WANTS to come next and huge swathes of dedicated, passionate people are either disappointed horribly when they’re wrong or vindicated when they’re right or somewhere in between. 

So you get like… I guess the biggest example of this is the Retcon. 

I have never met an archival reader, someone who did not start homestuck until the ending or just before the final updates, who hates the Retcon. I have met some who will talk about what it could have done better, and the ways in which the device succeeded or failed, and some with mixed opinion, but I have never ever met an archival reader that HATES the Retcon with the passion that so many of those people who read update by update do. 

I know people who I otherwise respect and regard highly who like, for example, can’t get into Davekat as a pairing because it’s representative of the Retcon to them and it ruins it completely because they cannot connect to it or see it as “real.” 

Because a week between updates is one thing, but eight months? an entire year? That was a LOT of time for people to get attached to things the way they were in those pre-pause updates. That was a LOT of time for people to pore over every piece of canon that came before those pauses over and over and over and over and decide what they wanted and become SO attached to the characters and story and plotlines how they were. 

My wife tells me stories about how everyone did a “homestuck ending bingo” right after the update that kicked off the long pause before Game Over. Everyone was so excited to see what would happen next, how the characters they loved so much would overcome this insane trial, how it could possibly continue, how the plotlines would resolve. 

And instead, everyone died. John came in and fixed it all by branching them to another reality, where suddenly, these things that people had spent a literal year investing in so utterly were just… gone. Erased. In some cases almost literally never mentioned again. They never got to see the resolutions they wanted and they felt it was unfair and they were duped and etc etc etc the backlash against the retcon is something every homestuck fan is familiar with. 

But to circle back to my original point – Archival readers just absolutely do not GET that. The version of Dave and Karkat and Terezi and Rose and Kanaya and Jade and John and EVERYONE that existed right up until Game Over were characters hurtling to an obvious Bad End, and the way it went down, archival readers have an easier time processing and understanding and accepting, because we didn’t have the time to get attached to point-in-time versions of things. 

My wife tells me stories of the days when Kare//zi and Joh//nKat were heavily shipped and it’s surreal to me, because from MY perspective, those were blips on a radar. Kare//zi was so early in Karkat and Terezi’s story that to me it was just like, oh, interesting, a failed relationship that informs things about both their characters that they moved on from naturally into other things. (I don’t mean to pick on that ship, btw, it’s just a good example of something that was EMBLEMATIC from a point-in-time perspective that an archival reader would never really hang so much weight on, because it’s there and then it’s gone and we didn’t have weeks and years of space between updates to ruminate on them as a couple or assume that the relationship would continue to be a flagship and how it would evolve in that role.) There are so many more examples. 

I find this with the Alphas, too – Archival readers overall seem to genuinely love the alphas more, on the whole, than people who read episodically (who tend to favor the betas, or the Act 5 trolls.) Archival readers tend to leave the experience MOST attached to characters and relationships that survived to the end, because when you read it as a full narrative beginning to end, that’s just kind of a natural thing that happens.

Anyway this post is already way too long, but my point is basically, the experience of reading homestuck from beginning to end all at once with very little knowledge of it going in is COMPLETELY different from the experience of reading it episodically. The emotions you have and the things you care about and just the FEEL of your entire experience is so different. 

And yes, I think the archival experience is “better,” when it comes to like, an understanding of the work as a whole? I don’t think this just with Homestuck, btw. I feel this way about, for instance, episodic television shows that tell ongoing continuous stories too. I much prefer to binge watch an entire series on netflix in a week than to watch every friday because I just GET things better. I feel I come away with a more complete experience. 

It’s a trade off, obviously. Reading episodically is better for like, having the FULL homestuck as an explosively popular fandom experience. Us archival people will never know what it’s like to have been around in the full swing of Homestuck’s popularity, never be able to roll around in the absolute GLUT of content that was out there, never be able to engage with SO MANY diverse voices and opinions, never be able to ride the high that comes with caring a lot about one of the most popular fandoms around. We’ll never have memories of this update or that update or what arguments and discourse and fanwork and other stuff spawned from this or that, we missed a lot of cool stuff I’m sad to have missed, and a lot of terrible stuff I’m glad to have missed, but yeah. 

But an episodic reader will never get to be able to read Homestuck from beginning to end with no preconceptions or biases formed from their earlier experience or the hopes and wants and theories they had the first time around, update to update. They’ll never get as clear a picture of the Whole Story. 

It’s a tradeoff. Idk. I’m glad I came in when I did, overall, but I think that most people feel that way about their own experience with it. 

All this to say, I think that the things I and other archival readers are able to connect over the course of the long narrative are less because of any outstanding individual ability in analysis (although I mean, obviously there is some of that or we wouldn’t be meta blogging in the first place) but rather just a simple raw advantage of extra clarity because of our late arrival.

Reunited

Just something I had in mind. I tried writing this 10000 times but kept deleting it cus I thought it was crap. So please tell me what you think. 

The reader moves back to Riverdale after being gone for 10 years. 


Originally posted by dailycwriverdale

After having left Riverdale 10 years ago I thought I would never return. To my surprise, my parents entered my room the tell me that I was wrong. We were finally going to move back. I was overcome with joy. I was finally gonna see Betty, Archie, Kevin and Jughead again. I missed them so much.

When I left I had been on good terms with all of them except Jughead. He was angry that I was leaving. His little hands curled up into fists and he even refused to hug me goodbye for a solid 20 minutes until my mom said we had to go. He opened his arms and held me close and whispered in my ear “I’ll always love you” before handing me a gold necklace with a tiny heart on it.

“What’s this,” I asked completely surprised.

“My mommy said I should give it to someone special and that’s you,” he said and kissed my cheek before running away.

A small smile appeared on my face when I thought back to the times I spend with all of them. I just couldn’t wait to get back.

I stepped into my old room and all the memories started flowing back. Sitting with Betty and trying to do makeup. I looked out of the window and memories of running around the garden with Archie came to me. I missed my friends so much. We had completely lost touch after I moved.

Since I was starting school pretty soon I thought I would just wait until then to see them. I couldn’t go now since it had become quite dark. I decided to call it a night but remembered how much I missed Pop’s burgers. I would have waited but trust me you can’t wait when it comes to Pops.

As I walked down the streets of Riverdale I got, even more, memories. The usual road to Pop’s had this secret turn Jughead and I only knew about. It was way quicker and way more efficient. I entered Pop’s and saw the one and only Pop. It didn’t seem like he noticed me.

“Can I get a burger and a strawberry milkshake?” I asked him. It seemed like he realized who I was by the sound of my voice.

“Y/N?” Pop said disbelieve in his voice. I nodded my head a smile appearing on my face. He pulled his arms around me and hugged me tightly. “You’re so grown up,” he said.

“Yeah being away for 10 years does that to you” I laughed.

“Well your food will be ready soon but please stay for at least 15 more minutes,” he said. I looked at him confused which made him continue. “Trust me you’ll be happy” he smiled.

I decided to believe me and sat down in the booth Jughead, Betty, Kevin, Archie and I used to sit in. I pulled out my phone and started looking through my usual social media. Pop came with my food a little while later and gave me a warm smile. I was already here so I just started eating here instead of waiting until I got home.

“You’re in my booth” a voice came. I looked up and was met with the same blue eyes I had missed so much. My heart was about to explode. Jughead Jones the third was standing in front of me for the first time in 10 years.

“Sorry, although this used to be mine too” I laughed. To my surprise, Jughead didn’t seem like he recognized me. I laughed at his confused expression.

“Who the hell are you,” he said getting a little mad. I didn’t blame him I look completely different. I traded the pink skirt and ballerinas in for some combat boots and an oversized army jacket. The bow that used to be in my hair was long gone and now I was very over the top with my makeup.

“Your worst nightmare,” I said as a joke before pulling the necklace out from under my shirt. The gold heart had always been with me. Since the day Juggie gave it to me I never took it off.

“Y/n” he whispered before pulling me up for a big hug. His arms snaked themselves around my waist. I put my arms around his neck.

“Hey, Juggie” The nickname was one I had given him when we were younger. “You’re back?” He said hope laced in his voice. I nodded my head quickly. It was amazing being back and even better to be in Jugheads arms. We both sat down in ‘his’ booth and started talking.

“You know I really missed you right,” he said after awhile of talking. We had had about 4 milkshakes each and I ate my burger while Jughead kept stealing my fries.

“I missed you too. Thought about you every day though. The necklace reminded me” I smiled. Every day when I came home from school I would think about where Jughead, Kevin, Archie, and Betty were and what they were doing.

“You really always wore it,” Jughead asked like he didn’t believe me. I mean I understand why the same piece of jewelry every day for 10 years is a long time.

“Every single day Juggie. People at my school would always ask me why I wore it so much” I laughed.

“What’d you tell them,” he said with a small smile.

“It was a present from an old friend I wanted to have in my life forever,” I said a blush rising to my cheeks.

“Really. Forever.” He said in disbelieve. I nodded my head slowly. I saw how Jugheads eyes widened while laughing at his reaction.

“Jug you were my best friend. That was the best friendship I ever had. I missed you a lot and the necklace kinda made it better” I said.

“Well, then I have a confession” he started. “That necklace is actually worth a lot more than you would think. When my grandfather moved out from his parent’s house he only had a little money but he put all of it. And I mean all of it into that necklace for my grandmother. Then my grandmother gave it to my father to give to mom and then my mom told me to give it to someone special” he finished a shy smile on his lips.

“Wait what” the necklace was worth something. I had never known. But why didn’t he tell me when he gave it to me. Or after. And what if I didn’t come back.

“I knew that we were meant to meet up again.” he said

“Deep for a six-year-old” we both laughed.

Flash forward.

Riverdale’s sweethearts Y/N and Jughead had now been dating for 2 years. From when they were kids everybody knew they were destined to be together. The lonely boy who only wore black finally found his princess. And from the day they had their first kiss, Jughead knew they would spend their lives together. And she knew he would always be there for her.

The prince and princess of Riverdale

youtube

[Speedpainting] Axetale from @thebananafrappe


Oh hey lookie here, my first speedpainting ever :’D 

From now on I’ll be trying to upload speedpaintings everytime I complete a commission, art trade or gift. Here’s to hoping. 

So go on and hop in! :D 

Klaine fic - “Need for Speed” (Rated NC17)

Kurt Hummel moves from California to Lima after his dad’s heart attack causes them to lose their repair shop. Kurt leaves his prestigious performing arts school and any chance of moving to New York and getting into NYADA. His only other joy in life is custom tuning cars, but his father doesn’t approve. Things seem to get back on track when he joins the Dalton Crew as their mechanic, behind his father’s back. He’ll make the money he needs as long as he can put up with the unwanted attention of Sebastian Smythe. But, how will his dreams change after he meets the head of the McKinley Crew, Blaine Anderson, who decides that winning Kurt Hummel will be his next big challenge?

For those of you who don’t know, this is one of my first and, in my opinion, flagship fics, so I’m doing a little touch-up job on it in preparation for the sequel. I’ll be posting the revised chapters here one at a time to give everyone who wants the chance to re-read it and get re-acquainted with it. It is posted in its entirety on AO3 and FF.net, with the majority of the chapters revised, if you want to go that route, but if you guys could also spread this around, I would really appreciate it <3 The cover for this story was done by the incredible @freakingpotter so you guys should all go and give her some love because she hella deserves it :)

Chapter 1 (2772 words)

Kurt sat cross-legged on his bed, elbows propped on his knees, head in his hands. He felt like crying, and not just a calm, rejuvenating sob, but an all-out, throw-yourself-on-the-floor-kicking-your-legs-and-flailing-your-arms-while-you-wail-like-a-skewered-seal tantrum. He looked around at the worn cardboard boxes piled high in his room, each labeled accordingly - clothes, books, music, Vogue magazines, misc. - all waiting patiently to be unpacked and put away, but Kurt wanted none of it. Unpacking his things and settling in felt so permanent. It felt like giving in. Once he put his clothes in his closet and his books in the bookcase, it would all be real.

Setting his room up would mean he was staying.

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madamemarquise  asked:

Hello, it´s a little strange for me to ask for my own birthday present, but I´ll try anyway. My b-day is on 16th of February and I´d love me some "it would have happened anyway" in Panem AU or historical Everlark, rated M. Thank you for this wonderful blog!

Originally posted by pastel-spotted-weeb

Happy birthday @madamemarquise! It is always okay with us to send in your own ask. ;) We hope your day is amazing! Here is your ‘It would have happened anyway’ ficlet, courtesy of the very talented @xerxia31. Enjoy!


Destiny

rated T

The day of Peeta Mellark’s last reaping dawned gloriously, with a pink-and-gold sunrise sliding back to reveal blue skies, and a soft breeze fluttering through the open windows. But he couldn’t enjoy it, and not just because he was holed up in the bakery, toiling in front of the ovens.

He couldn’t enjoy it because he was terrified about Katniss, the girl he’d had a crush on since forever. It would be her last reaping too, one way or another.

It was the another thought that had him so worked up.

Peeta had spent three-quarters of his life watching Katniss Everdeen. Watching the sweet, vibrant girl who sang like an angel - but was forced to grow up far too fast - turn into a strong, independent, often-scowling woman. In the years since her father died, in the years since that gut-wrenching day she’d appeared at the back of the bakery, skeletal and with eyes already dead, Katniss had learned to take care of herself and her family. And Peeta had been watching. He knew each time she took out tesserae, had been mentally counting her slips in the reaping bowls for six long years. And this year, her name was in the reaping twenty-eight times. Twenty-eight!

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anonymous asked:

what r u working on rn?

Obito had known, distantly and with a vague sort of recollection that meant he’d learned it under a haze of sleep deprivation, that there was a Kiri delegation visiting Ame. He doesn’t really remember, though, until the moment he and his squad are stumbling up to the village’s gates, on the tail end of a border patrol mission that was only supposed to take a week but had managed to stretch out into three with all the problems they encountered.

He’s tired and filthy and limping painfully from an Iwa nin’s lucky blow, and Kyūsuke, leaning heavily on his shoulder, looks even worse. They haven’t lost anyone, but Obito feels that’s more down to luck than their skill at this point. Everything aches, and if he thought he could get away with it—and that he wouldn’t drown immediately, Ame’s weather being what it is—he’d happily lie down on the ground right now and sleep for a week.

The guard at the gate waves them to the side before they can take so much as a step into the village, though, his expression faintly apologetic. “Just a minute,” he says quietly.

“Daibutsu,” Kyūsuke complains, even as the big man herds him and Obito out of the way. “If you keep us out here I’m going to—”

The gate creaks open, slow and ponderous, and a host of shinobi—bundled up against the rain in a way that means they’re foreigners—starts through. Obito is more concerned with his patrol than the strangers, because foreigners are usually here to hire cheap shinobi and nothing more, and—

Somewhere in the midst of the group, there’s a flash of red hair.

Obito stiffens sharply, jerking around so fast that his bad leg almost buckles under him. Kyūsuke makes a noise of alarm, trying to steady him, but Obito has no attention to spare for his fellow Ame shinobi, eyes locked on the source in an instant.

It’s not Kushina.

Of course it’s not Kushina. There’s no reason for the Hokage’s wife and Konoha’s jinchuuriki to be in Ame, especially with the Fourth War still raging on two fronts.

He breathes out, slow and careful, and tries not to stare at the auburn-haired woman passing by. Too dark to be Kushina’s crimson hair, too young, too self-contained. There’s a hitai-ate looped around her waist, marked with Kiri’s symbol, rather than Konoha’s, and she doesn’t spare him a glance as she walks by, deep in conversation with the white-haired swordsman beside her.

“Kiri?” Kyūsuke mutters, watching the group with narrowed eyes. Obito blinks, dragging himself back to the present and focusing on the group as a whole. Kyūsuke’s right; all of them are sporting Kiri hitai-ate, and that’s definitely a guard formation. He turns, looking for who they’re guarding—

Blue robes, covered with a traveler’s cloak, a four-cornered blue hat marked with the kanji for water, white veils hanging down from its edges to brush the hilt of a massive, bandage-wrapped sword. Beneath Obito’s arm, Kyūsuke stiffens, cat-like eyes widening sharply, at the sight of the Mizukage strolling out of Ame without any apparent cares.

Well, Obito thinks, eyeing the big man. Now he remembers Yahiko saying something about Kiri visiting, but he certainly doesn’t remember Yahiko saying that Ame would be playing host to one of the Kage.

Without warning, the Mizukage pauses for half a step, his head turning. Sharp eyes lock with Obito’s, steady and assessing, and between the steady downpour and the veils, Obito only catches a flash of the man’s expression, but he doesn’t let himself look away. It’s only belatedly that he remembers his Sharingan is still activated, Kamui the only thing that got his patrol back before they had to spend another night huddling under the shelter of boulders and scraggly trees. He doesn’t let it fade, though, no matter how recognizable it is as the Uchiha’s signature dojutsu, just tips his chin up and meets that level stare squarely.

At this point, his presence with Akatsuki is hardly a secret, and if the bastard wants to make a comment on it, Obito will teach him the same lessons he’s taught every asshole with an opinion since the day Nagato dragged him out of hell.

And then, without a word, the eyes are gone. The Mizukage keeps walking, turning back to the swordswoman beside him and picking up their low conversation as if it had never been interrupted. Nervous tension prickles across Obito’s shoulders and down his spine, but the man doesn’t look back.

“Fuck,” Kyūsuke murmurs, and Obito makes a sound of complete agreement. They trade looks, and then Kyūsuke rounds on Daibutsu with a scowl. “When exactly did Hoshigaki Kisame decide to grace Ame with his presence?”

Daibutsu, eloquent as always, simply shrugs and waves them into the village.

Obito blows out a heavy breath, hitches Kyūsuke’s arm a little further over his shoulders, and says, “Come on. If I get rained on any more I’m going to start sprouting flowers.”

Thankfully, Kyūsuke snorts, and his irritation fades. He waves their squad forward, then gamely wraps an arm around Obito’s waist, and they limp through the gate together. “I’d call bullshit, but I could swear your hair is greener than when we left.”

Obito rolls his eye, but he can’t fight a smile either, even as he casts a glance back over his shoulder at the departing Mizukage. “Yeah, well, you smell like swamp.”

Kyūsuke elbows him, almost making him trip, and Obito retaliates by pinching his side. Within moments they’ve devolved to hairpulling, and Daibutsu rolls his eyes as he waves the gate closed behind them. 

America: Your “cultural exception” rules are completely unfair to trade!! I should be able to–

France: Give up all your sugar subsidies. 

England: Not to mention cotton. Have you mentioned cotton? 

America: *Backs out of the room yelling justifications.* 

Questions from young person and my answers

A friend’s son interviewed me for an assignment. Here are the Qs and As if you want em.

1) Are the animals at your zoo happy that they are being held captive?
2) How well do you know the animals at your zoo?
3) How well do you treat the animals at your zoo?
4) Are there more animals at your zoo that are there to be saved , and not just for entertainment? If so, how many more animals are there to be saved?
5) Does your zoo take care of Panamanian Golden Frogs?

Dear C——,

Thanks for your thoughtful questions! I answered them in between tasks while I was working, so I hope the answers make sense. You chose a couple subjects that I am passionate about, so I was very excited to talk about them. If there are things in my answers that need clarification, please let me know, or feel free to ask follow up questions.

Best of luck with the assignment!
Sincerely


1) It’s not clear that animals can understand the idea of “captivity.” Humans feel very strongly about the concepts of freedom and captivity, to the point that we punish lawbreakers by putting them in captivity. But animals don’t seem to have much ability to think about the future, or to imagine things other than what they are experiencing. What we do at a zoo is to give the animals as many choices as possible—places to go and experiences to have—within the space that we can safely give them. We also have a hard time telling if animals are “happy” or not, since that is also human concept. We try to provide an environment that has everything the animal physically needs in order to be comfortable and healthy, with enough choices so they can demonstrate whether they are suffering stress or not.

2) Some animals I know very well, some not as much. As a quarantine keeper, I take care of almost every animal in the zoo eventually, but only for a limited time, usually 30 days. Other keepers work with a limited group of animals and may work with those animals for many years. Almost every animal at the zoo has a training program, with a keeper whose job it is to work with that animal, understand its behavior, and use positive reinforcement training techniques to get the animal to do certain things willingly. Most of the animals, for example, are trained to go to a specific place and wait there—when an animal can do this willingly, we can weigh it on a regular basis, visually examine its body for injuries or other changes that might indicate a change in its health, and so on. We even have several gorillas who are trained to offer their shoulder so that we can give them a flu vaccine. The zookeepers who train their animals know them very well.

3) We like to think that we treat the animals very well, and that as we learn more about animal husbandry and veterinary medicine, that we are treating them better now than we were just a few years ago. We have access to the latest science about animal nutrition so that the animals can get the best possible types of food available for their health. We have three veterinarians on staff and four veterinary technicians so that if any of the animals gets sick or hurt they can be taken care of right away. The animals all get regular vaccinations and physical examinations. The keepers are very protective of the animals—if they think there is something a little “off” about an animal they will let the vet staff know immediately. We provide “enrichment” for all the animals, which is our way of saying we give them toys and games, but also expose them to interesting smells (the big cats love the smell of sheep’s wool, for example) and sounds. We have an enrichment committee whose job it is to make sure that all of the animals are receiving enrichment which is safe, species-appropriate, and effective. (Enrichment is considered effective if the animal interacts with it in a way that displays normal behavior—playing outside is good enrichment for human children because it causes the children to climb and play and throw and dig and all the other normal human child behaviors).

4) When I think of animals at the zoo being there for “entertainment,” it makes me wonder if people think that the exhibits in a science museum are entertaining, or if visitors to an arboretum think the trees are entertaining. Zoos are science museums that exhibit animals and animal behavior—and it’s true, animals and animal behavior can be entertaining. Everyone finds monkeys and tigers entertaining, but what about the frogs, or songbirds, or insects? We want all of the exhibits to be interesting, we want people to want to experience the zoo in a positive way.

Back in the bad old days zoos would allow guests to throw things at the animals, or feed them unhealthy things. We do not allow any kind of “entertainment” that is detrimental to the animals. We allow guests to interact with some animals, like petting the goats or feeding the parakeets or walking among the butterflies—each of these activities is carefully monitored so that the guests can have a good time without doing anything that could harm the animals.

Many of the animals at the zoo belong to species that are endangered, some very endangered. Gorillas, pygmy hippos, and mandrills are all animals from parts of Africa where habitat is disappearing and it wouldn’t be safe to release more animals into the habitat. All of the zoos in North America work carefully with one another to exchange animals when necessary to make sure that the zoo population is stable and that no more endangered animals will be taken from the wild to replace them.

You probably know that zoos are responsible for rescuing certain species of animals from extinction, like the black-footed ferret, the California condor, the golden lion tamarin, and recently the Lord Howe stick insect. The zoo I work for has brought Siberian crane eggs (laid by our birds) to be raised in Russia, preserved vital DNA and gametes (reproductive cells) from Mexican gray wolves, we helped save Bali mynahs (a kind of bird) from disappearing completely into the pet trade, and we help out with Blanding’s turtle recovery efforts here in Massachusetts. None of the animals we keep are there just so they can be released to the wild, but it’s something that could happen in the future. Because zoos hire and train people who are experts at caring for, training, breeding, and providing health care for animals, zoos are the logical places for these recovery efforts to be located.

There are thousands of species of animals that are in need of protection and recovery. Zoos are one piece of it, along with protecting habitat, conserving resources (recycling!), and changing the way that we treat animals and their environments around the world.

5) At the moment we don’t have any Panamanian golden frogs, but we have cared for them here. I’m super glad you brought them up because they are part of one of the most amazing projects I’ve been involved with at the zoo. My boss, the head veterinarian here, was on a team of researchers who joined scientists in Panama to study the impact of the fungal disease that is killing so many species of frogs. They determined that the problem was severe, even worse than they expected, and if no one did anything the Panamanian golden frog and dozens of other frog species would be wiped out. They created a project called the Amphibian ARK, like Noah’s Ark, to rescue the frogs. They are keeping the frogs in disease-free quarantine spaces, in Panama but also in zoos all around the world. If they hadn’t acted fast these frogs would just be gone. The frogs are being bred and protected, at the same time that the disease is being studied. It’s pretty complicated stuff that I don’t fully understand, but I think some of the effort will be to breed and release many thousands of tadpoles—there will likely be some that are more resistant to the disease, and they will pass their genes on to the next generation.

A few years ago I was privileged to take care of 15 Panamanian golden frogs in the zoo hospital where I worked. It was amazing to think that I was working with an animal species that had completely disappeared from the wild, and that I was one of a handful of people who had ever seen one. Of course, once they were put on exhibit, then hundreds of people could see them, and learn the story. Someone will be inspired by the experience to figure out what we need to do to keep the frogs from going extinct, and then they will be wild, and we will have prevented extinction.

10

It’s a White Tomorrow, Team Rocket!

The day starts as usual for Team Rocket. An attempt to capture Ash’s Pikachu results in being blasted off again. As they argue about whose fault it was, Mondo appears. Jessie and Meowth don’t seem to know who he is, but deduce that he is a messenger from the Boss. James seems to know who he is. It turns out that he is a “Rocket Gang Special Delivery Member Trainee” and he provides them with food and funding for their various activities. Mondo spends a great amount of time gushing about how cool the trio are.

James puts on a film and shows Mondo their first meeting with Pikachu in Viridian City and explains why they’re after Pikachu. Mondo continues to be impressed with the trio’s stories, and Jessie challenges him to a battle, in which her Arbok defeats his Ditto. Jessie and James ask if he’d like to trade his Ditto, and he agrees, so Jessie and James trade away Meowth, much to Meowth’s shock and horror.

After the trade is complete, Jessie and James request that Mondo order a hot-air balloon. After a quick radio transmission, he just pulls one out of his bag. The trio are obviously surprised to Mondo explains that his “sending bag” uses the same technology that keeps Pokémon in their Poké Balls. The balloon is still shaped like Meowth, and Mondo promises that the next order of balloons that Team Rocket produces will be Ditto-themed.

The groups separate, and Mondo gives Meowth a massage. Mondo asks if he will become as “great” as Jessie and James and Meowth tells them that he will because of his help, saying that Jessie and James were idiots who brought his abilities down. Meanwhile, Jessie and James plot to have Ditto transform into Pikachu and then give it to the boss. As practice, they have him transform into Weezing. When the transformation is successful, they ask it to transform into Venusaur, but it turns into Bulbasaur instead. James yells at it, asking it to make it “perfect”, so Ditto transforms into Zubat. Another misunderstanding has Ditto transforming into Hitodeman (Staryu) instead of Hitokage (Charmander), and Kabigon (Snorlax) when they asked Ditto if it had mold in its brain. As Ditto keeps transforming into random Pokémon, they start to hear the sounds of a Beedrill swarm. When Ditto only continues to transform, not battle, James gets Weezing to send up a smoke signal. Mondo and Meowth notice, but Meowth refuses to go help, saying that Jessie and James always screw up and that he doesn’t want to bail them out any longer. Mondo gets in his SUV anyways and speeds off to rescue them, leaving Meowth behind. Meowth continues to lament that he will help no humans.

Jessie returns Ditto to its Poké Ball but it’s too late—they are surrounded by Beedrill. They start to run, but they fall into a trap hole that they had dug earlier. Mondo uses a Tauros to ward away the Beedrill while he tries to find a rope to get Jessie and James out of the hole, but ends up falling into the hole himself. The trio trapped in the hole, they lament all their regrets and wonder what the Beedrill plan to do with them.

Suddenly the cries of the Beedrill change and sound a lot more disorganized. Meowth attacks all the Beedrill and Arbok and Weezing are sent up to help. The Beedrill are sent away fleeing. As Jessie and James start to leave, Mondo realizes that he admires the trio because they are a trio, and insists on trading Meowth back for Ditto. The trio reunited, they venture off in a new Meowth balloon, waving farewells to Mondo as they continue on their separate journeys.