Nightmare Rectangle Round-up: Municipal Finance, Black Widows, Migrants, and More

Header: This image from Lisa Jackson’s Biidaaban depicts a decaying Toronto City Hall surrounded by forest, on the edge of a flooded Nathan Phillips Square.

Trying a bit of a new thing. I occasionally do linkdumps via Twitter threads, but I felt like doing something more permanent. Title inspired by this ever-relevant @TechnicallyRon tweet:

Continue reading Nightmare Rectangle Round-up: Municipal Finance, Black Widows, Migrants, and More

Winter Spider Diary

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

So last November, I found dozens of tiny baby orbweavers in my bathroom. They were probably the offspring of the big grey cross spider who lived just outside the window, feeding on insects attracted to the building lights.

It was bad timing. Grey cross spiders do most of their courting and mating in the fall. The spiders guard their egg sacs into the winter, until they die. In spring, the babies emerge and go their separate ways. Most will die soon after; a lucky few will survive to continue the cycle. I don’t know why this batch hatched.

I painstakingly evicted at least a dozen, but the next day they were back. I decided to let nature take its course. Over the next few weeks, they gradually disappeared, to starvation or cannibalism or other insect predators. Then, one day, I saw one I’d missed. She had woven the tiniest of webs in the basil plant on the kitchen windowsill. All her siblings had died, but somehow she had made her way to this small oasis.

It was one thing to let the spiders starve to death when they were just black specks on the bathroom ceiling, but I felt a vague sense of responsibility to this lone survivor, and decided to keep her alive as long as I could.

Continue reading Winter Spider Diary

Social media resolutions for 2018

More creating, less commenting.

’Nuff said.

Ranting about racism in the media or whatever outrageous thing an outrageous person said is exhausting and it doesn’t change anything and I’d rather just take a nap or whatever. I need to make the stuff I want to see.

More Mastodon, less Twitter.

This is partly because Twitter has become a deluge of terrible news at a scale beyond the human mind’s ability to process healthily, and also on principle. Proprietary platforms funded by ads and venture capital don’t make for good communities. I’ve put my money where my mouth is and joined social.coop, a co-operatively run Mastodon instance. No ads. No algorithms. No Nazis.

This means my coverage will change—less livetweeting, more aimed at people beyond Toronto. What would a German hacker or an Appalachian activist or a Filipin@ K-pop fan want to know about what’s going on at Toronto City Hall? Why should they care?

More iNaturalist and BugGuide, less Instagram.

I’ve been using Instagram for my spider photos, but have been neglecting to upload my photos to iNaturalist and BugGuide. I love the stuff I see on Instagram, but all the ads and the lack of chronological order is extremely annoying. So I’d like to shift my focus and try contributing to different communities.

More PayPal, less Patreon.

In the wake of Patreon’s unpopular and quickly walked-back fee changes, I think a lot of us users recognized the precariousness of depending on a platform we can’t control and whose goals do not necessarily align with ours. I’d like to cut out one of the middlemen and encourage patrons to switch to going directly through PayPal, which also allows for automatic monthly donations.

A platform like Liberapay is more in line with my needs. Right now it’s at a stage where I’d be comfortable asking people to switch to it, but I will be keeping an eye on its development, and on similar open-source platforms.

Less Facebook.

I’m just going to stop trying to “engage” on Facebook. Aside from the ethical and privacy considerations, it’s just plain hard to use. None of my devices have more than 2 GB of RAM! I can’t handle all that! Also, I hate finding out about my neighbours’ terrible opinions.


Adapted from this toot.

Spiders of Toronto: #2017bestnine

So there’s a thing going around Instagram where you post a collage of your top nine photos from 2017, ranked by likes. Here’s mine:

As determined by 2017bestnine.

Maybe not surprisingly, there wasn’t much overlap with what I considered my best photos! I couldn’t quite narrow them down to nine, but here they are, in chronological order. Continue reading Spiders of Toronto: #2017bestnine