i love natural history museums


Pictures I took in the London Natural History Museum. Love that place, man. So many skeletons and great taxidermy specimens (though some of them could really use some airbrushing). I especially loved their thylacine, since thylacines are my favourite animals. And they had tons of deer, which I can always appreciate. 

anonymous asked:

Handwriting, #9

(For those unable to read the above)

#9 Pick something from your immediate surroundings and tell the story behind the item.

This is Nemo. Nemo is a Nautilus. I got Nemo several years ago at a natural history museum. He is super cute and I love him.

Mary McDonnell and James Duff REDDIT Chat

Hi Reddit! Mary McDonnell here!
I have been many women in many different times. I’m currently Captain Sharon Raydor on Major Crimes, was the president of the universe on Battlestar Galactica, and a hard headed Stands With a Fist out on the prairie (to name a few).
With Season 4 of Major Crimes now in its second half, I’m here with show creator James Duff to answer your questions! So…. ask us anything!

Here I report the Reddit Chat Questions which were answered!

Why does Rusty seem so hesitant when it comes to Sharon and Andy’s relationship ? He seemed quite supportive of them last winter, and it’s obvious that Andy isn’t like the other guys his biological mother dated.

James: I would say that the pattern in which Rusty grew up included violence and abuse whenever another adult male was entered into his domestic situation. And the pattern creates issues. The pattern supersedes our intelligent observations because it’s not connected to the thinking part of the brain and he’s reacting to the pattern. He’s unconsciously unable not to react to the pattern. This is true in terms of his psychology. It’s an instinctive response, not a thoughtful one.
The truth is he does like Andy and he does want Sharon and Andy to be happy, but he has an instinctual issue that he can’t quite control.

Mary, You’ve been so kind and generous with fans lately and for that I want to thank you. What is your favorite part of interacting with us?

Mary: I think my favorite part of interacting with the fans is that I learn a lot about how our show is doing, but also I learn about what the fans are interested in and it’s kind of given me an insight that puts all the work into a different point of view.
Prior to these years, the last thing you ever did was communicate with fans. We were kept in a bubble.
I feel more interested in the relevance of the material that we are doing. You get instant feedback on it. I find it fun and stimulating.
Thank you, Ilona – we love you!

A question for both of you – Do you think Jack still loves Sharon? Or did his love for her die down many years ago and he’s just manipulated her all these years out of need to feed his addictions?

James: I think he loved Sharon very much, but didn’t know how to handle the responsibilities of a spouse and eventually his faults overwhelmed his virtues in the eyes of his wife.
Mary: My impression of their past is that these people fell very deeply in love. When Jack’s addictions became bigger than Jack, the love doesn’t die when you’re in love with someone who’s addicted, you just have to steer yourself out of dealing with it because you’re risking your life. You’re risking your soul.
James: And there couldn’t be so much anger if there wasn’t a lot of love.

Dear Mary and James, It seems like a lot of the stories you’ve both told are those of growing up and coming into one’s self. What advice do you have for young people- college age or so- who are still trying to figure that out?

James: The two things I would say, as a writer, who worked very hard for a very long time before I got to where I wanted to be is that persistence and discipline are the bulwark of any project and there is no substitute for pursuing your work with industry.
Mary: Lean into things that people tell you are too challenging. If you don’t play it safe, you’ll find a lot of joy.

James – With Rusty’s transfer to UCLA coming up. Could this be an opportunity to look at a possible move into a dorm for him? I love this character – and I would love to see what being on his own, with all that Sharon (and the others) have taught him would look like. Will we get to see how he takes those lessons and applies them as he steps into adulthood?

James: Sharon and Rusty are not going to stop living together. It’s very expensive to live in a dorm. I know because I paid for someone to live in a dorm at UCLA just last year. So, the benefits of living at home and going to college are too enormous to overlook.
However, you are going to see Rusty growing into adult relationships. And Sharon is going to be an ongoing part of his maturation process.
Mary: I love the compatibility of young adults with parental figures and there’s a whole new energy that could emerge in those years. You end up experiencing each other side by side instead of in a meshed independent way. I am looking forward to understanding Rusty as an adult from more of a distance than Sharon has been able to view him. They’re very compatible, Sharon and Rusty.

to Mary: What’s the most important lesson that you learned from Sharon Raydor?

Mary: She’s taught me an awful lot. But, she’s required me to kind of bump up against the part of Mary that gets explored through Sharon – she has a hard time letting go and sort of letting change occur. She’s taught me a lot about trusting forward movement and letting go of things that seem unsafe.
James: I think that’s exactly right because in her old job, Sharon has responsibilities that required her to order people around in a ‘I don’t care what you think about it way.’ Her new job is more of a listening role. She’s there to assemble the information and create a strategy.
Fortunately she developed a very thick skin.

Question for both of you: Can you tell us some more info about the five-parter without giving away too much? Totally excited about this 😀

James: A new crime involving heroin, other drugs, gangs, the lower response time to live fire incidents, and a missing Uzi link Major Crimes back to a series of murders from 12 years ago involving the death of a LAPD officer that was never solved. Rushing to make an arrest before a gang war can start, Sharon confronts the most complicated case of her career.
Finding out you have five more episodes before breaking, there was a mixture of cheers and tears in the writers room because we were all getting ready to take some time off!

Will we get to see one of Shandy’s dates?

James: You will see Shandy out together if we see another season. And you will also see Rusty out with someone too.

Hi Mary. Is there an adjustment on how you portray sharon raydor now that she is finally in a relationship with andy?

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Mary: The adjustment is simply that she has had to expand the way she thinks about her response to daily life. In other words, before she opened her heart to Andy the job was the job. She has to sort of check herself to stay clear-minded about it. It is an adjustment, indeed. I don’t know that she is always aware of it, but I have noticed it.

Happy Guy Fawkes from London! My question is for both of you; what are your favourite art galleries and / or museums in the USA or around the world?

James: I love the Louvre, the Metropolitan in NY and the Getty in LA.
Mary: I love the Louvre, I love the Getty and I love the Museum of Natural History in New York.
James: I also love the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I love the Picasso museum in Paris.
Mary: The Rodin Museum in Paris.
James: AND the Cloisters in New York. AND Musée de Cluny in Paris.
Unfortunately neither Mary nor James have ever been to Florence :-(.

To James: Do you have some ritual to turn on your creative process of writting? How do you process all your ideas about the characters?

James: I can’t wait for my creative juices to start flowing. I write for a living. Inspiration is helpful, but I can’t afford to wait for it. For material I usually look for things I don’t like about myself, so I never run out of something to write about.

Hi both of you! Thanks for this. Will we see Emily and Ricky Raydor again this season?

James: Unfortunately, no because we don’t get all the way to Christmas this year on our Fall order. So we will look for them again next season.

Hi Mary! What is your favorite play that you have performed in?

Mary: I just absolutely adored an experience I had recently doing Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.
I think out of all the plays I have done… I was in a production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by David Chambers. There was a pool on stage and when the lovers were chasing each other through the forest, people were diving into the pool and disappearing. It was a highlight of my theatrical career!

Is there a legend that either of you would love to work with, that you haven’t had the chance to yet?

James: I have three names. Matt Damon, who I think is one of the most amazing actors working today. Eddie Redmayne, who is so perfect for so many different things. And Judi Dench. I would like to work with Judi just to meet her. There are so many people though!
Mary: I really want to work with Robert De Niro! I would love to work with his energy before I’m too old to do any of it :-).

Hi James – I was wondering if the experience you’ve had with the fans has changed between The Closer and Major Crimes, and in what ways?

James: The fans of Major Crimes are much closer to the show and much closer to us and much more involved in an immersive way than they were with The Closer. People have embraced the entirety of the show and that has made a huge difference in my own personal relationship with viewers. And Mary has such a centered view of where she stands inside all this that I feel like she offers the audience the kind of stability they wish they had in life. And that center I think has become a gravitational force for our show.
Mary: It’s really great going from the villain to the hero! People now like to see me :-).

Dear Mary and James, do you have any projects you would like to do when you aren’t filming Major Crimes?

James: Yes, I have a feature film adaptation of a play I would like to do. Not my own play, someone else’s play. We’re negotiating for the rights to do that right now!
Mary: I am in the process of developing a screenplay with two gentlemen I met through a wonderful film that I am beginning to help with at this point and hoping to produce.

Aside from Andy’s surgery, can you give us more insights on what will happen in the thanksgiving episode?

James: I think there’s a road rage incident that tests Sharon’s ability to see past the surface and understand the darker motives of the human heart. And consider all the things that could be said that are not said. And how that impacts her final scene with Andy in that episode.
Mary: Well you know it’s the tricky part for me is that I can never remember the episode until someone stimulates it like you’ve just done! I do remember that final scene and I do remember Sharon having that very human dilemma of not being able to complete something in the way she would like it to have been completed. It’s an imperfect world is what I remember feeling at the end of that episode.
James: The accident Flynn has thrusts Sharon and Andy into a closer proximity faster than they were prepared to be put there. And Sharon is trying to manage that by doing right by Andy and keeping the relationship on a steady pace and it’s a lot. To keep your heart and keep your distance at the same time is very complicated.
Mary: You read something that James wrote and I’ll often have the questions, “What is Sharon thinking? Should I call James and have him tell me?” James always knows if you ask him, but the more you trust the writing, the dramatization, it’s set up beautifully.
Often when the scene is over I go, “OH, that’s what this is about!”

Hi Mary! I just wanna say you are awesome! Thank you for doing this Q&A! My question is what is your everyday lippie/lipstick/lipbalm that you use?

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Mary: Right now I’m using a very pale M.A.C. lipstick, and I’m rather fond of it.

I love volunteering at a natural history museum!! I told a coworker that I clean bones at home (using slowww maceration), and he said I could use the museum’s dermestid colony to clean my next find - so today, I prepped a female roadkill raccoon for them to clean for me! I’m glad her skull was intact. Her heart looked so beautiful that my coworker said I could use some of their formalin to fix it ❤️ It will be my first wet specimen. The museum kept a sample of her liver for their tissue collection, and I learned what uterine scars look like! Such a good day.


Dinosaur Discovery & Updates on Cloud Rats | Natural News from The Field Museum | Episode 1

OH HEY – this is a project a year in the making. For decades the Field has shared, internally, updates, news briefs and discoveries from our research and collections scientists – and we wanted to bring more of that to you. But, like, in a super fun way, and maybe with some parody correspondents, and fake infomercials. 

So I’m proud to announce today we launched our brand-new series: Natural News from The Field Museum. We’ll be posting these updates every other week, in-between our regularly scheduled content.

I hope you’ll watch, subscribe, and stay tuned! There is a TON more where this came from…


The Brain Scoop:
In Search of Night Life

Protip: don’t pick up random insects you find in the jungle, especially if they are ultra colorful and fragrant. Or do, but don’t complain to me when you’re covered in burning a burning rash that smells like pineapple. 


The first of our Peru videos is here, and it’s also the 100th episode of The Brain Scoop. We’re approaching year 2 of the show, a few hundred away from a quarter of a million subscribers, and the future is bright. 

We couldn’t have done this without an army of support behind us - our colleagues at the Field, Corine and her amazing [really, really remarkable] team of genius science field experts, the YouTube community, and all of you beautifully impassioned learners.

Thank you for your love and encouragement, your thoughtful criticisms, your congratulations, and the confidence you bring to our educational mission. 

Let the journey begin! 


It’s International Museum Day! 

728:54 is the number of minutes:seconds worth of Brain Scoop videos. It’s about 12 hours and 14 minutes of educational content, all of it filmed in association with a natural history collection. 

I love museums, as they are one of the most important institutions of learning, culture, and appreciation afforded to us as human beings. They showcase human triumph and failure, the evolution of all species from the beginning of time as we know it, and they hold within their stores the keys to unlocking answers about our future. They shed light on where we are headed. 

The Brain Scoop was created in an attempt to highlight just a fraction of the purpose behind maintaining, growing, and celebrating natural history collections. Unintentionally, it also showcases my personal journey from an unpaid volunteer, a painter and a barista, to my position as a communicator and storyteller for one of the greatest research collections in the world. 

We’ve tried many things and have grown a lot in the last 2.5 years, but one thing that has not changed is my commitment to championing Museums of every kind. I’m proud of our show, and humbled by the hard work Michael Aranda, and now Tom McNamara have both poured into helping me create what is one of the most unique educational programs on the Internet. 

This post is to say thank you to Hank for seeing the value in my efforts, to Michael and Tom for making it happen, and to The Field Museum for taking me on so many journeys. 

Love a museum today!

Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft Overview
Due to Rise of the Tomb Raider releasing in mid November (later on PS4), I thought it would be a good idea to replay all of the Tomb Raider games before it, but in order of which games in the series I played my first time through. I’m going to write an overview of each game in the main series. I was going to include the ‘Lara Croft’ series, but I currently do not have my copy of The Guardian of Light, so I figured that writing about the main series main be easier. Enjoy! :-)


I was first introduced to Tomb Raider III when I was just five years old. My Dad had bought a PlayStationOne for us all to play, and one of the game he bought for it was indeed Tomb Raider III. When I first picked up the controller to play as Lara and explore her home, I fell in love. There weren’t many female protagonists around that were the main star of a game, and Lara was in full charge. She did not have men assisting her or rescuing her, like in other 90s titles at the time. If anyone was to do the rescuing it was Lara. Even though there was a lot of sexualised marketing at the time of Tomb Raider III’s release, being a five year old, it felt weird seeing this intelligent, intellectual character being portrayed in the media by posing in bikinis and barley wearing any clothing whatsoever in the promotional images. As a five year old, I could barley understand it and was totally oblivious to the marketing, but now being older, I realise how cringe worthy some of the marketing for Tomb Raider III was. If I had of been older at the time, I wouldn’t have played Tomb Raider III at all. But, I’m glad I was young as dodgy marketing aside, Tomb Raider III is my favourite of the series. It was my first love and step into gaming, and that’s probably why is without a doubt one of my favourite video games of all time. Okay, let’s talk about the game shall we?

One of the many cringe worthy marketing advertisements for Tomb Raider III.

 India (Jungle, Temple Ruins, River Ganges & Caves of Kailya)

The game starts off in India, with Lara searching the Indian Jungle for the Infada stone. Jungle is quite a straight forward level, but it can be a long level if you’re new to the game. There are traps about the level (boulder traps galore!).Plus the monkeys in the Jungle are little shits and love to take all of Lara’s small medi-packs and numerous keys for themselves. Overall it’s a good introduction to the game, as it nicely introduce all of the new mechanics of the game.  Temple Ruins is a beast of a level, filled with traversal, a tonne of traps and nasty monkeys that like to chew at Lara. Take that for stealing my medi packs you little shits! River Ganges introduces one of the few vehicles in the game, the Quad Bike, which is a ton of fun to control Lara in! This is one of the fun levels in Tomb Raider III, and I had a blast driving the quad bike around the jungle. (And blowing Lara and the Quad Bike up when missing numerous jumps). The last India level is made up of a maze puzzle, which still confuses me to this day when replaying the game. The last boss battle with Crazy Tony is fun, with you having to make Lara dodge his constant fireball attacks and the firey water. Lara pretty much finds out that the Infada Stone has power (like what sort of stone allows a man to set water on fire??) and meets Doctor Willard outside the jungle temple in his travelling boat. Lara learns that there are three more of the stones around the world (Nevada, South Pacific & London), and Doctor Willard asks her to find them. Lara of course accepts. My main reaction to this scene is always: “Lara, don’t accept contracts from people ya don’t know! *ahem* Natla). But she does it anyway.

This is to be Lara’s reaction when she find out Dr Willard is a fraud. (Source: Katie’s Tomb Raider Site).

 Nevada: Desert, High Security Compound.

In my latest playthrough, I sent Lara straight to Nevada. As I had played the game numerous times before I knew that Lara would have all of her weapons taken from her in High Security Compound, and since the next locations in the game are quite tricky, I figured I get the Nevada no weapon section of the way. The first Nevada level "Desert” is quite straight forward, and I always find myself passing it without any difficulty. For me, it’s one of those levels that have quite a straight forward and non-cryptic approach. The enemies in the level are quite easy to beat, but the jumps in this level are very, very tricky! The jumps are my favourite thing about this level, even though they can be so infuriating at times! And the Quad Bike makes another short but fun appearance, where Lara jumps the fence with it to gain access to Area 51 in order to get the artefact. But, knowing Lara and her misfortune with vehicles, things take a very unfortunate turn, with her getting knocked out on her quad bike, and getting caught and carried away by some Military Police. High Security Compound starts with Lara waking up in a prison cell, with absolutely no weapons, except for a single small medi-pack. The most fun part about this level is releasing and setting all of the other prisoners against the Military Police. I think this is fantastic level design, and I applaud Core Design for putting it in this level. It makes it so much more challenging, and is quite rewarding with Lara gets a bunch of prisoners to take out a guard. The rest of the level is pretty straight forward, with Lara having to find her weapons. Once you find Lara’s weapons, you can blow all of the enemies away, and Lara sneaks her way into Area 51, through yes, a food truck. I bet the guards felt stupid after discovering that she got through Area 51 that way. Now, onto Area 51, which is no doubt my absolute favourite level in this game! I love the whole sci-fi element to it, and the constant nods to the X-Files and no doubt the challenges that face Lara with the technology in the base. Plus, you get to launch a freaking rocket, just to gain entrance to a door!! What other video game has ever had that put in it? When Lara gets the artifact inside the UFO, it makes me wonder, did she fly that UFO to another location? Because if she did that would be pretty damn cool, even though she probably would have crashed it in true Lara Croft style :P.

Stealth +1. Food Truck! (Source: Katie’s Tomb Raider site).

 South Pacific Islands: Costal Village, Crash Site, Madubu Gorge & Temple of Puna.

I must admit, the South Pacific Island levels are very pretty, but under that beautiful tropic surface they are deadly, filled with a native cult, dinosaurs, dart traps and crazy canoe rides through the rapids. The first level, Coastal Village, is great, as it gives you a chance to pick multiple paths in the level, which I think is a really cool level design addition. The first route is deadly and full of traps and enemies and the second route takes you on a more linear path. I, of course, always go for the first route through the hut. I think it’s cool that both paths used in this level are catered to different styles of play. The second level, Crash Site, is freaking awesome. There’s velociraptors, soldiers that assist you (unless you accidentally shoot at the like I do all the time) and a T-Rex, a freaking T-Rex! Near the end of the level, you’re able to blow up a crap load of dinosaurs and blow up a path in order to finish the stage! It’s probably one of the most epic things I’ve done in a videogame! The next level, Madubu Gorge, is one of the most frustrating but fun levels in the whole game. You’re able to control the canoe to progress through the level, and let me say, it looks light, but it sort of controls like a tank. There are also two routes used in this level, one linear one, and one non-linear route, which as I mentioned before is one of my favourite level design features in Tomb Raider III. After making your way through the rapids, you progress through to the next level, Temple of Puna. Temple of Puna is a short level, but is filed with blade traps, spike traps and a couple of freaking massive boulder traps. The boss fight with the Tribal Leader is easy (if you have to Dessert Eagle like I did) and after defeating him after he blows himself up, Lara is able to retrieve the next Meteorite Stone.

Run Lara, Run!!! (Source: Katie’s Tomb Raider Site)

 London: Thames Warf, Aldywch, Lud’s Gate & City.

After retrieving the second stone, Lara travels to London. The London levels are tricky beasts to get through, and are not linear at all. I found myself getting lost on numerous occasions. Lara starts off in Thames Warf, where in order to get to the next level, she has to make tricky rooftop jumps, kill some well payed guards and drain some water drains. After doing all of this and completing the level, one of my favourite cutsecenes plays, where Lara completely sasses a guard out by letting the bell behind him shove him off the rooftops and fall to his timely demise. The line “Happy Retirement” that Lara mutters to the guard after he’s knocked off the roof kills me with laughter every single time. The next level, Aldywch, is set in the abandoned train station, that is actually in real London. Lara has to find her way through the train tracks whilst dodging numerous trains and make her way through to Sophia Leigh. Sophia is a beautician 'genius’; until Lara discovers that the henchmen hanging out in Aldwych are failed experiments. They’re mutated and immortal. Lara discovers that Sophia is attempting to make an immortality elixir and her experiments are obviously failing in the beauty department. Lud’s Gate is one of those levels that I love to hate. It does get easier every time I replay TR: III but boy that Underwater Vehicle drives me up the wall! It’s probably one of the most difficult level in the games for me, but I must say, I did love exploring the Natural History Museum. After Lud’s Gate, we move onto the next level to fight Sophia Leigh. Lara confronts her about her “experiments” and her selfish intention for the use of the meteorite artefact. This boss battle is not a simple shoot and jump like usual TR bosses. You have to get Lara to shoot an electronic fuse box to electrocute Sophia. It took me ages to figure this boss battle out when first playing the game and I just shot Sophia and died over and over again. Needless to say, I did need a walkthrough for this level ;). After the level ends, the final section starts, and we find Lara in Antarctica!

My favourite moment in the game: “Happy retirement”. (Source: Katie’s Tomb Raider Site).

 Antarctica: (Antarctica, RX-Tech Mines, Lost City of Tinnos & Metorite Cavern).

The Antarctica levels are by no doubt the most difficult levels in Tomb Raider III. I still get stuck on them from this day, and that’s probably why I love these level so darn much. There’s an eerie creepiness, as Lara discovers what Dr Willard really wants the artefacts for, especially in the latter levels. The first level, Antarctica, is quite straightforward for me. It is, however, really difficult if you are collecting secrets. One secret require you to swim through water to obtain a key, and as Lara has a water temperature level on her in these levels, it is very, very difficult. Needless to say, it took me numerous tries to collect that key. The level overall is quite fun. Lara can drive a boat through the level, which I thought was pretty cool. If you do some exploring through the level, you will find out what Willard wants the artefacts for. It’s pretty damn creepy when you discover one of his experiments, and it scared the absolute crap out of me! At the end level cutscene, Lara confronts Willard, and he surprise her by knocking her out and taking the artifacts out of her possession. Lara follows him but ends up missing him, as he jumps into a lift down into a mine. In the classic Lara spirit, she jumps on top of the lift to follow him. This leads up to the next level, RX Tech Mines. RX Tech Mines is a very difficult level if you do not know what you’re doing. I found the level straightforward when you figure out where to go, but the swim at the end of the level is very difficult with Lara’s temperature bar. I do love this aspect of the level, but it can be a little frustrating at times. There are many of Willard’s experiments throughout the levels, with some of the being more bigger and deadly. There is a part in this level when you’re guiding Lara through a dark mine shaft, and two of them jump out of nowhere around the corner. It scares me everytime. This level is so atmospheric, and I just love it. After completing RX Tech mines, we go onto Lost City of Tinnos, which is, in my opinion, the hardest level in the whole game. There are bug enemies which annoy the absolute crap out of me, and more of Willard’s creepy experiments. On top of that there’s deadly trap rooms and puzzles galore. Like Lud’s Gate, everytime I replay the game, I warm up to this level more. The level design for the traps and puzzles are well thought out, and I applaud Core for their work in this level. Everything is so complex, and it left me scratching my head on more than one occasion! After Lost City of Tinnos, we arrive in the Meteorite Cavern, were Lara fights Dr Willard. He turns himself into some sort of spider, all in the name of evolution (???) and the fight begins. This fight is difficult. If Lara treads outside of certain tiles, she is instantly killed by one of Willard’s powers. I always save ammo for the Dessert Eagle in this level. It makes defeating him a bit more easier. After defeating Willard and collecting all of the artifacts, we escape the cavern, and have to fight Willard’s goons. This part of the level is good fun, and I feel Core balanced it well after the difficulty of the boss fight. Lara soon escapes (by killing a helicopter piolet. Nice one Lara). After being chased by more of Willard’s goons in helicopters, she escapes, and the game ends! Next up, Tomb Raider (1996)!

Who knew that driving mine carts could be so much fun? (Source: Katie’s Tomb Raider Site).


Note: I was going to discuss Lud’s Gate, but I feel that it is a short level, so there wouldn’t be much to talk about. If you want to be to discuss it, I can edit this post and add it in.