bringing ideas to light

I was hoping that posting daily again would bring some ideas to light. For a start, I had the idea to look for some photos of light. I found this one, which I think shows that some spiders had a pretty bright idea (if spiders can be said to have ideas).



If these aren’t examples of effective web design, I don’t know what is.

my spiny invertebrates

This week’s friday foto finder theme is “invertebrate.” Given that it is Halloween today, and given my recent exposition of spider webs, how could I resist sharing these favorite Halloween decorations of mine?

These little guys (or big guys, seeing as they are spiders) are made of spiny metal and wood, and perch very nicely on all sorts of surfaces.

To see what other invertebrates are on display, pay a visit to the fff blog!

8 simple tips for effective web design

Web design has come a long way in recent years, and the many varied themes and templates can make much of it easier for the casual web designer. But before you get started, it’s still helpful to know a few basics of web design that can lead to a more effective web site.

  1. Clarity: Probably the most important element of web design is clarity. The strands of content should be clearly highlighted, and easy to discern and interpret.
  2. Simplicity: too busy a web design can make it difficult to find the critical content, and visitors may not even know where to land.
  3. Effective use of space: A more effective web design makes better use of space put the content in focus, and make the navigation structure clear.
  4. Integrated designs: Another type of web design is for smaller sites that are integrated into larger sites. This clever design makes use of a small space in a larger layout. Its sparse but elegant lines integrate well into the aesthetic of the larger site.
  5. Background: One simple but important detail of good web design is background color. In this example, the web designer tried to make use of too bright and bold a background, making the important details of the design hard to spot. Designs like this are more likely to draw attention to the web designer herself, rather than the web content, which is a deterrent to most website visitors.
  6. Visual elements: Choosing the right images for your web design is also key. Choosing a unifying theme, repetition of design elements, and subtle use of color can give pleasing harmony to the web design.
  7. Stickiness: One of the main goals of good web design is to get visitors not just to fly through, but to land and stay. This web design may not look like much at first, but its structure has great elements to get visitors to really stick.
  8. Upkeep: One also must not forget to maintain one’s web design. It doesn’t take long for a web site to start to look dated. Even if a web site has compelling visual elements to attract visitors to the site, multiple broken links will guarantee that visitors will take off soon and land on more frequently updated web sites.

When you start out on your own web design, try to keep these points in mind to make your site more effective. Of course, never lose sight of the ultimate goal of web design: to trap visitors and drain them of their bodily fluids.

Giant spiders of Northern California (friday foto finder: spiders)

Back in June of 2008, we had a trip to California to see my family in Oakland. One of our favorite things to do is to take the ferry over the bay to San Francisco. This particular visit, we were greeted by this cheerful fellow:

This is a sculpture by Louise Borgeois, and it apparently left the piers of San Francisco not too long after I saw it there.

The spider sculpture may have left, but I believe that there may be other giant spiders in the greater San Francisco area. At the Oakland Zoo, for example, the playground has a super cool spider web made of ropes for kids to climb on. At least, I believe it to be made of ropes. It is just possible that it was made by a giant spider who was scared off by the swarms of small children.

This week’s friday foto finder challenge was to find and share photos of spiders. I’ve got quite a few photos of real spiders in my library, as well as photos of their webs. I have posted photos of real spiders before, too. (One of my favorite posts with photos was about a little green spider.) Come to think of it, I also have a fairly large collection of things with a spider or web motif, thanks to my love of Halloween. (I did, in fact, put spiderweb placemats on my wedding registry.) When it came time to post, though, this spider scuplture came to mind. (Perhaps because I missed the statue fff a couple of weeks ago.)

To see what other spiders have been caught, or to find out more about joining in on the foto-sharing fun, check out the fff blog.

I feel I must offer an apology to Sally, who has a phobia relating to all sorts of arthropods, for the images and especially the title of this post. Sorry, Sally. I hope that I haven’t given you nightmares!

I also thought of YTSL, who has displayed many photos of interesting spiders and webs from her hikes around Hong Kong, including some real giant spiders. Check out her tag critter spottings to spot a few such critters. (Sally, I strongly recommend that you don’t do this…though you may enjoy some of her other photos of critters, some of which have fewer than 6 legs!)

eat or be eaten

This afternoon, when I stepped out on my front porch, the glint of a new spiderweb caught my eye. (I knew it was a fairly new web, as it was connected to some things I had moved around in the last week or so.) I looked at it admiringly, and saw that the spider appeared to have caught an insect. They hung there together in the center of the web.

As I looked again more closely, I saw that my first impression was wrong: It was not the spider who had captured the insect.

What looked to be shaped like a rather large mosquito, with a body perhaps a centimeter long, was affixed to the abdomen of the small green spider. I could see slight movement from the pair, and as I looked closer, I could see fluid moving and pulsing in the insect’s translucent abdomen as it drained the spider.

Upon further examination, I saw that the insect looked rather like a small dragonfly, but with wings lying down flat along its abdomen. (I have since decided that it must have been a damselfly.)

I’d never seen anything quite like it, this tiny drama of life and death. The embrace of the two creatures looked intimate, their bodies pulsing slightly and glowing in the late afternoon light. (Ever the voyeur, I naturally ran inside for my camera.)

I watched (and photographed) for a few minutes before I tore myself away to run an errand. When I returned, perhaps an hour later, I found the web empty. It was remarkably unscathed from the recent drama. The damselfly was long gone.

I looked around for the spider, so obviously not on the web. I found its little body just below the web. I nudged it out into a patch of sunlight with a straw that had broken off a nearby broom. The body was stiff and very light, drained as it was of fluids.

Sometimes things really don’t turn out how we expect. The spider had built such a lovely web only to be caught in it itself. It met an insect that was rather more than it had bargained for.

along came some spiders

spiderweb1.pngHalloween’s around the corner. One thing this means is that people break out the creepy crawly decorations to get festively creepy. It’s harder to get much creepier or crawlier than spiders. So I offer you a whole mess of festively creepy crawly eight-legged critters for this week’s Themed Things Thursday. Enjoy. (Or shield your eyes, depending on your feelings towards spiders.)

A Few Spiders

  1. Charlotte’s Web, by E. B. White. A novel featuring a very smart spider who could weave a remarkable web. One of my favorite books of childhood.
  2. Little Miss Muffet
    A nursery rhyme about a little girl who was frightened off her tuffet by a spider.
  3. black_widow.png       black_widow.png       black_widow.png                 black_widow.png

  4. “The Spider and the Fly”, a poem by Mary Howitt. A poem best known for a first line that doesn’t actually appear in the poem: “Step into my parlour, said the spider to the fly”. Here’s how the text actually begins. (You can read the full text here.)

    Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
    ‘Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
    The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
    And I’ve a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
    Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
    For who goes up your winding stair can ne’er come down again.”

  5. Seven Spiders Spinning, a kid’s novel by Gregory Maguire, an author best known for writing Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.
  6. Anansi: A spider who is a trickster character in many West African folktales.
  7. peter_sm4_8001.jpg

  8. Spider-Man. (Or Spiderman.) The superhero of comics, cartoons, and the more recent live action movies. A man was bitten by a spider and got spider-themed superpowers. Such as a spider sense. Which tingled. (When I’ve been bitten by a spider I’ve gotten a red welt. I guess you could say it tingled. But I wouldn’t.)
  9. Spider-Man,” the song. The theme song from a cartoon version of Spider-Man. Since performed by a variety of artists, including Moxy Fruvous and the Ramones.

    Spiderman, Spiderman,
    Does whatever a spider can
    Spins a web, any size,
    Catches thieves just like flies
    Look Out!
    Here comes the Spiderman.

  10. “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” A children’s folk song. About a small spider, itsy bitsy even, who went up a spout. Then down, then back up.
  11. Spiders,” a song by Joydrop

    When love was fresh like a web we’d mesh
    Nothing felt better than your flesh against my flesh
    One fatal slip one rip a tear
    Touch me now and every single hair on my body stands on end
    So don’t touch me anymore
    ‘Cause it feels like spiders
    Like spiders all over me
    Like spiders
    Like spiders all over me

  12. It: a book by Steven King and miniseries based on the same. Involves a big evil spider. (And a clown.)
  13. spider_1.png

  14. Shelob: A giant, nasty spider from the Lord of the Rings
  15. Aragog: A giant, nasty spider from the Harry Potter books and movies
  16. Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)
    A TV movie with William Shatner, about evil, venemous spiders that infest a town.
  17. Arachnophobia (1990)
    A movie about evil, venemous spiders that infest a town.
  18. A few other random spiders include: spider(a type of pan, basically a frying pan with legs), web spider, Alfa Romeo Spider, Spider (2002), and spider veins.