Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Grander than a Cactus

Thanks to the good folks at SpiderIdentification.org, we now know what Cactus Spider is!

He's a male Mecnogea lemniscata, otherwise known as a Basilica Orbweaver.

They're named after the structure of the web used to catch prey, which supposedly resembles the "domed ceilings inside some cathredrals." I had no idea our humble cactus spider was an arachnid of the cloth!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cemeteries: Boston

Part two! A few photos I took while on our Honeymoon in Boston. The place is full of old graveyards and this one - on the Freedom Trail - was my favorite. Favorites: death dancing the with the maiden, and the metro hole that blew hot air, and creepy noises, up into the graveyard like some spooky gateway to the underworld.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Son of Cactus Spider - TRIUMPHANT!

Sad news, everyone. When I went to check on the spiders who live on the cactus this afternoon there was only one. ONLY ONE! Son of Cactus Spider now as the cactus monopoly.

God speed, Original Cactus Spider, where ever you are.

I was also able to witness something I had NEVER BEFORE SEEN. This is kind of a big deal because I have spent a lot of time over the years observing nature. I thought I wanted to be a naturalist. But then I learned that it entailed more than creeping around in the woods, dictating into a microphone, pretending to be Sir. David Attenborough.

What I saw was Son of Cactus Spider shedding. I didn't know that spiders shed! But it makes perfect sense: what else are you supposed to do with an exoskeleton that's starting to pinch in all the wrong places?

It was hard to photograph because he was twirling around the entire time. But here we go:

This is how I found him. What are you up to, Cactus Spider?

He was really twisting around in the "wind" - though I'm pretty sure all that twirling was on purpose to speed along the shedding process.

Here he is, peeeeeling out of those old legs. I imagine it's like taking off panty hose after a hot day.

He's free! and dangling from his discarded exoskeleton. He kind of looks like an octopus or something, I think.

He's finished! No longer floppy and octopussy - it looks like his legs are in full working order.

Good work, Son of Cactus Spider!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cemeteries: New Orleans

Cemeteries are something I enjoy, aesthetically. A couple years ago I was visiting New Orleans, so of course I had to check these world famous cemeteries. Here's a collection of my favorite photos from the visit:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Farmers Market

Every weekend there's a Farmers Market in Old Greenbelt, and every weekend I try to remember to go. Like a lot of people who frequent Farmers Markets, I go to support local farmers whose practices I believe make for healthier food.

It's also a more tactile experience. In a typical grocery store I feel like all the offerings are the same - tomatoes, peaches, and so on, all roughly the same size and color. At the Farmers Market there are different booths with food form different farms. The selection process takes more time, checking the variety of offerings, assessing each item. It's a conscious effort.

Look at that color. OM NOM NOM!

I can't get everything at the Farmers Market. I also shop at MOMs (My Organic Market), and a grab couple of basics at the regular grocery store. It does take more time to do the grocery shopping, but I love the way my refrigerator looks afterward.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rad Animal Rights Design

I love nonprofits. Thanks to my parents I always had a strong sense of community service. But it wasn't until I fell in with the nonprofit crowd that I realized I could make a living supporting my passions.

Nonprofits are great to work for. There are few opportunities in the corporate realm to produce great work that is both personally and professionally satisfying. As an art nerd, I've found that producing work for a nonprofit offers this most excellent blend. A nonprofit without much cash to spend is often more willing to take design chances, and pro-bono work can be a fantastic way to build your portfolio and get your work noticed. A nonprofit with a healthy budget can provide you consistent, gratifying work for years.

I recently attended the Animal Rights 2010 Conference and was reminded of how rad animal rights organizations can be with their designs. A few favorites below!

Alley Cat Allies
In the interest of full disclosure I have to say: I work here. Of COURSE I like our publications. As an organization that advocates for the humane treatment of stray and feral cats it's important to come off as looking professional, organized, and consistent. I love our colors (bold! poppy! contrasting!) and our clean design.

We've also got t-shirts and other products to raise awareness for our cause.

The Classics
These examples aren't of great design per se, but I think they capture the climate of Animal Rights design in general. It's an odd blend of old conventions: ribbon magnets, bumper stickers, familiar themes; and new perspectives: snappy, sassier phrases and images.

Herbivore Clothing

So, they're not a nonprofit but they do extol the virtues of "cruelty free culture." It's for a decidedly younger generation, loaded with curse words! clever and catchy phrases! and trendy design!

Compassion, and specifically not eating meat, can sometimes be seen as an un-masculine. With designs like these the wearer can assert otherwise.

Calico Dragon Bags
These bags are similarly tough and trendy. Their subject areas are broader: vegetarianism, anti-fur, ant-animal exploitation, and so on. They all communicate a similar theme, though—I'm young, I'm cool, and I care.

Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe
This company not only sells well designed products, but they also have a host of vegan foods, cosmetics, and other stuff. My favorite category is their jewelry. They're made of recycled material, and communicate cruelty-free ideals with simple design.

Animal Art
Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary was selling art created BY animals. Issues of animal exploitation aside, having art created by a nonhuman is certainly something that would appeal to those who communicate about animal issues. This isn't design, really, but it does reinforce a desire to express the animal's perspective.

The painting I bought, created by Joey.

Thanks to some marketing savvy leaders in the animal rights world, key concepts are being communicated with bold, trend-embracing design. Appropriate for a movement known for its revolutionary concepts.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Autumn Tease

Spied this leaf on our evening walk today, and almost was tricked into thinking Autumn could be near. But no, it's still hot and humid and undeniably SUMMER.


I came home from work today and checked on Cactus Spider only to find he's got a NEIGHBOR now.

I think they may be the same kind of spider? Maybe one is a female (my guess, original Cactus Spider) and the other male? Or Maybe one is the offspring of the other? Hm..

Original Cactus Spider.

Son Of Cactus Spider - with a tasty morsel!

I wonder how long these two will stick around? Who knew cacti were such swanky digs for spiders?