The Week at Toronto City Hall #3

The big event this week at City Hall: the launch of the rate-supported budget (water, waste, and parking). But there’s also audits galore, electric car charging stations, new appointments to the Zoo and Exhibition Place Boards, and more. Also, spiders make their debut in the weekly Bug Report!

Read the whole thing at City Hall Watcher.

The Week at Toronto City Hall #2

On the agenda next this week at Toronto City Hall: a long-awaited but underwhelming affordable housing policy, park winterization, the future of CaféTO, SIU investigations, fixing up the Gardiner, and a couple of Committee of Adjustment items. I break it all down for you! Plus, your weekly Bug Report.

Read the whole thing at City Hall Watcher.

The Week at Toronto City Hall #1

So, uh, yeah, this is a thing that’s happening: I’m doing some City Hall previews for Matt Elliott’s newsletter City Hall Watcher. I didn’t get less disenchanted with politics or anything, but I’ve been getting tired of not knowing things, and also this is basically the one gig on the planet I am perfectly qualified for so I kind of had to apply.

Next week, Toronto City Council’s various committees discuss the 2022 shelter plan, Open Data, zoning by-laws, arts grants, Indigenous entrepreneurship, and more. I’ve pored over the agendas to summarize the key items for you. Yep, I’m back. As Lil Nas X might say, “The break is over.”

Read the whole thing at City Hall Watcher.

Minecraft Math: How To Calculate Stronghold Locations With Polar Coordinates

Note: If you just want to know what numbers to plug in where, skip to here.


So, Minecraft strongholds. These are rare underground structures that contain End portals, the only way to access the alien dimension called the End. Here, players like to build high-powered XP farms, one of the quickest ways to accumulate levels for mending gear or enchanting. It’s also the only place to get valuable items like shulkers and elytra. But getting to an End portal can be annoying, especially if, like me, you are an extremely lazy coward. Continue reading Minecraft Math: How To Calculate Stronghold Locations With Polar Coordinates

My spidering kit

You don’t need a DSLR, professional science equipment, or even a really expensive smartphone to get up close with spiders (or any other bugs). I’ve been using my cheap-ass smartphone and gear cobbled together from the dollar store for years. So, here’s what I’m using right now, as well as some recommendations for other stuff I’ve used in the past. Continue reading My spidering kit

Update: CBC Radio stream URLs

I’ve updated my post on CBC Radio stream URLs after someone found links to MP3 versions of the streams. I’ve put together a second playlist which will work for older applications like Winamp that don’t support HLS. Yes, there are multiple people out there still using Winamp. I guess it really does whip the llama’s ass.

Update: Pinecone Spiders

Summer spidering season is well underway, and I’m no longer turning over pinecones in search of spiders. But I just stumbled across this 2016 blog post by Rod Crawford (of Seattle, WA’s Burke Museum) about Laurel Ramseyer’s research! Since 2008 she’s been sampling fallen pinecones for spiders—apparently a niche unexplored till now. This turned up the first record of the jumping spider Pseudoeuophrys lanigera in North America and has also proved useful for tracking the range of the crab spider Ozyptila praticola.

In 2015, Ramseyer and Crawford wrote a paper summarizing their findings about the pinecone-dwelling spiders of Washington State. A lot of mesh-web weavers (family Dictynidae), ground spiders (Gnaphosidae), sheet-web weavers and dwarf spiders (Linyphiidae), and cobweb spiders (Theridiidae). A lot different from all the running crab spiders (Philodromus) in my lakeside pinecones. They also mention finding a lot of Euryopis, a spider I’ve failed to find at all in my area despite seeing their distinctive tufty egg sacs all the time. Maybe that’s where I should be looking.

Time to do some reading and up my pinecone game…

Arachnews: May 3, 2021

Well, I’m back. Much like a tarantula, I felt the need to seal myself into a burrow for several months on end for no particular reason. This isn’t even close to covering the backlog. But here is a sprinkling of arachnid-related art, news, and science from the last several months, including:

  • VR spiderweb sound art
  • slingshot spiders and harvesters on treadmills
  • new species with nerdy and musical names
  • upcoming arachnology conferences
  • and more…

Read more on Medium.

Field journal: Sumo mites

I just love red velvet mites—their soft, plush coats, their Shar-Pei wrinkles, that eye-popping red. Until now, all I’d really seen of their behaviour was eating midges, aphids, and other small insects. But recently I saw something quite astonishing for the first time. Continue reading Field journal: Sumo mites