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Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Academy of Natural Sciences's Members' Night 2015

As most of my dear readers are aware, I'm a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. After going faithfully for a few years, I decided in January 2015 that it would be beneficial to become a member for both me and the museum. On Friday (September 18, 2015), the Academy of Natural Sciences held their annual Members' Night.

For Members' Night, members get an evening (5 PM - 9 PM) to see the behind the scenes of the museum. The Academy opens up their departments and members can see how collections are made, the research involved, how insects are pinned, the library equipment up close and personal, and a bunch of other things! I wanted to go because I wanted to see behind the scenes.

After work, I went into the city. I had lunch at this halal food cart. If you remember from three weeks ago, it's the cart where the guy gave me free food. I loved the food and decided to go back. I had a chicken and rice salad; couldn't beat it for $5. I actually like the street carts. The guy was happy I came back and we talked for a bit.

I then went shopping. I bought a makeup kit from Ulta after trying on a brow box, mascara, foundation, and eye shadow. I bought the kit with the brow box and foundation, they gave me mascara free. I love walking in the city and walked around Center City. On my way to the Academy of Natural Sciences, I noticed that Love Park dyed their fountain green for some reason. I only had 10 minutes to spare before 5 PM, so I whipped out my phone instead of my DSLR camera and snapped a picture of the greenness. I also wanted a selfie - you can sort of see the makeup.

When I arrived, there was a man standing outside of the Academy with a boat and a collection of sea life from a nearby waterways. The man introduced himself as the Academy's Scientist and his name is Paul Overbeck. That was really cool to see. When I stepped inside. the Museum Director and CEO greeted everyone individually and personally.

I went downstairs first to order a ticket for the buffet. After that, I decided I would work backwards and go to the second floor to see the owls and the library. I went to the library first, where two typewriters sat on a table. I went over to the manual typewriter first. I have used the electric ones before, especially since I work in a library.  The manual typewriter was awesome, although I had to pound very hard to get the characters to show up. If I typed too fast, like I was typing on a computer keyboard, the keys would jam. I had to hunt and peck. However, it was so much fun. It reminded me of Summer 2006. Aunt Kelly had dementia and would be living in a care facility. One of her daughters, my cousin, gave me her old Corona manual typewriter. That typewriter was kept in Nan's basement and I would use that typewriter religiously at Nan's, until the ribbon ran out of ink. I cried when that happened. Yes, I love typewriters.

While I was walking around the library, I was chatting with a few of the Academy's librarians. I explained that I am a page for Upper Merion Township Library and would love to work full time in a library. One of the young volunteers said, "Yeah, it's very hard. I have the degree and it's still hard with the degree. A lot of positions are volunteer." We chatted a bit about other things, but it was so nice to talk to other librarians. I loved seeing the library collections - which this month is all clergy scientists because of the Papal visit. I love looking at Audubon's works and the big book of his drawings were out, from the page turning earlier.

After that, I went to the owl pellet dissection. That was really cool. I put on my goggles and dissected the poop. They gave me a chart of all the bones I'd find and I was amazed at all the bones I found. I could name them all. After I tore apart the pellet, I put the bones into a plastic bag and headed over to the microscope. A volunteer put the fragments, one at a time, under the microscope and explained what I was seeing. It was surreal.

I loved seeing the barn owl as well. His name was Jagar and he was handsome. I stood there mesmerized for a good 20 minutes, just taking pictures. Owls are some of my favorite animals. I then went to dinner. I had baked ziti, Caesar salad, and a brownie.

After dinner, I went to different departments. Ichthyology, or the study of sea creatures, where I saw trout being dissected. When I went into the lab, I saw a bigger trout. The scientist was showing me the insides. I explained to him, "I would love doing this. I loved doing this in Middle School. In fact, my seventh grade biology had a running joke - he would call me Dr. Jessica [last name redacted... so I use my first name instead] because I was the only one in the class that wasn't squeamish." He laughed. Biology has always fascinated me, especially botany.

I went to the botany section next. Forensic botany. I learned about the Autumn Clemetis, which looks like honey suckle, but is toxic. It killed a 25 year old man two years ago in Philadelphia and the Academy was called to test different plants he was eating in Fairmount Park. Turned out the Autumn Clemetis killed him, probably because he thought it was honey suckle.

Between the twists and turns and stairs in the Academy, I was exhausted by the time I left. Before I headed out, I had to see the butterflies. They had preserved monarchs on display. I was telling the one staff member that we spent the latter part of the summer raising monarchs, which mom released the last two monarchs on Friday, and it was a very awesome experience. It was just so beautiful and the life cycle is a miracle. We talked about butterflies and milkweed for a bit. I then went into the butterflies and hung out for a bit.

You can tell it was night - here is the Luna Moth. Gorgeous, but I still don't like moths!

Yet, I love butterflies... I guess they're less scary looking.

On my way home, I saw the LOVE Park fountain was still dyed green. I took some pictures with my DSLR and had someone take pictures of me in front of it. I thought that was so cool.

I really had a great time and learned so many things. I really liked seeing behind the scenes and I never realized how big that museum is. Here are some other pictures.

I can't wait for next year's! I love being a member of Academy of Natural Sciences - I love their displays, I love their staff and volunteers because they're so knowledgeable, I love that I can always learn, and I love their programming - especially Mega Bad Movie Night and Bug Fest! The museum is really great.


  1. Was that free food thing really a few years ago? Hmm.

    My mother drags me to Ulta every now and again - last time right after we went she plucked the hair from between my eyebrows.

    I've never really had a typewriter. I'm sorry you cried when there was no more ribbon ;_;

    I was told while wandering around Exton Elementary that Clarion and Drexel are the closest places for LIS certification.

    Excuse me, owl pellets aren't poop, Jessica! They are undigested bits of the bird's diet I imagine which haven't even really gotten past the crop - that pouch in their neck - to be crass, it is throw-up.

    See, my childhood expertise is in ornithology, as it related to dinosaurs, all of which relates to Latin/Greek.

    So owl pellets don't even reach the birds' stomachs, or that is what I had gleaned from my studies in ornithology.

    Talk later! *has to run*

    1. Ah, no wonder it didn't smell and it looked like a hair ball! It was cool picking it apart, though. I learned a lot about the diet.

      Yeah, Drexel is. I can't justify the cost, especially when I have a bigger goal in mind. So, I'm doing the next thing I have experience in: office work and writing.

      Typewriters are awesome! You'd enjoy them!

  2. Oh my gosh. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.
    I love butterflies and Ulta:)

    1. I did! I want to write a poem about the adventures for my upcoming book.

      Between work, applying for 2nd (full time) jobs, and life, I've been exhausted to write. I think I caught a cold... so one poem before I relax. I want to get this book done by mid-November.

  3. I did not know that about Autumn Clematis!

    1. Me neither. Now I'm on the lookout for it because I thought it was honey suckle! I love eating honey suckle.

  4. That owl is gorgeous.

    Did you ever learn anything more about the green fountain?

    1. Nope, nothing was ever published. :( The Pope will be here this weekend, so maybe it's something with that.

      I know! Owls are my favorite birds!