I could get used to this style of conference

I’m enjoying this method of attending a conference. I can just sit back in a comfy office chair, the slides are projected crisply right in my face, and if a talk doesn’t interest me, it’s easy to tune out and do something else for a while. We just had a break, and I could go fix my own coffee and didn’t have to talk to anyone but my cat (which is kind of a diminished experience, but I have a serious flareup of imposter syndrome when I talk to real arachnologists anyway), so I’ve got nothing to complain about.

If/when this COVID-19 isolation ends, I’m going to have been spoiled and will want every conference to run this way, or at least have a set of concurrent online sessions.

P.S. I have decided definitively that solifuges are far more terrifying than spiders. If you don’t believe me, look below the fold.


  1. Guenter says

    I always thought the most valuable part of conferences were outside the presentation rooms, and those moments before and after a presentation when you can connect with the presenters and with your fellow attendees. Plus, if you pick your conferences judiciously, they will have interesting field trips.

  2. unclefrogy says

    the first time I saw one of those things it literally gave me the shivers and a panicky feeling that I haven’t gotten over yet a very they still kind of freak me out! fierce looking alien beastey and that’s no lie
    uncle frogy

  3. hillaryrettig says

    still traumatized, years later, from the tongue-eating isopod, so I don’t dare look below the fold. (I turned away when this page was loading.)

  4. robro says

    Guenter @ #1 — The “social” aspect of conferences and most in person contact, like the office, is important and can be lost with online substitutes. However, I suppose conference organizers could do something to simulate that experience. Not perfect, of course, but better than nothing. As an example, my boss has set up an occasional “Happy Hour” for our team to just chat. It’s helpful. It also saves some time because we noted after we started remote-only meetings that the first 10 minutes of every meeting was chit-chat causing the meetings to run over.

  5. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin points out that cute little beastie in the OP is the ancient astronauts’s equivalent of a rat on a flying saucer. To-date, they haven’t adapted sufficiently to Earth’s conditions to invade the cities in vast numbers, but that day, that invasion, is approaching, approaching, soon…

    The current plague of cannibal rats in some cities could be the result of test invasions, she speculates, but probably not. For one thing, the invasive ancient alien flying saucers rats appear to have lost control of their aerial allies, the murder hornets. It’s faster and more effective to take over the cities by air drop from murder hornets of solifuges, along with riding planet-native rats as calvary.

  6. says

    This meeting had a multi-hour happy hour last night, setting up multiple breakout rooms in Zoom by topic, and people could just wander about and talk to people. I thought it worked very well.

  7. christoph says

    A coworker told me a story about when her husband served in Iraq. One of his team members lost a toe to a camel spider. Seems the camel spider secretes an anesthetic in its saliva and can munch on much larger animals without them knowing.

  8. unclefrogy says

    that is one soldier’s story I would have to say is just pulling your leg
    I could believe a swarm of ants could do that to someone sufficiently drunk and passed out maybe but………..
    uncle frogy

  9. wzrd1 says

    @8, I agree, as I was in country. Someone just telling tall tales.
    However, there have been verified stories of the camel spiders stealing service members hair for their nest. There are videos about of one eating a dead mouse, which I’m quite certain it didn’t kill, given that they have no venom or secretions. They can give quite a pinch though, from what others told me. I simply kept my distance, leaving them alone and overall, they left me alone.
    When out and about, they are known to borrow a convenient shadow, which is understandable in a desert, we’d borrow whatever shade we could get too. That gave some the mistaken impression of being chased – but, it was simply the animal trying to stay in the shade.

    Damned if I know how they keep the dust out of their book lung though, that dust is insanely fine and most of what’s in the air during sandstorms is extremely fine dust that the eye cannot resolve. I seem to recall the dust remains suspended, not by wind, but electrostatic charges accumulated from the wind. That was a secondary finding when NASA was studying dust devils, with an eye toward the rover designs. The dust devils can accumulate quite a high charge that, had that not been known, would’ve damaged or even destroyed our rovers electronics.

  10. azpaul3 says

    I have decided definitively that solifuges are far more terrifying than spiders. If you don’t believe me, look below the fold

    That’s OK, Doc. Araneae are bad enough. I’ll pass. Thank you very much.

  11. christoph says

    @ unclefrogy # 9, wzrd1, #10: Damn, turns out you both were right, my leg was being pulled. I just looked it up on the Burke Museum website-camel spiders have no venom, anesthetic or otherwise. At least I can sleep again, that story gave me nightmares for days.

  12. Sengkelat says

    I picked up someone else’s discarded chip bag out in the Mojave and, once in the car, discovered an unexpected passenger hiding in it. It was a huge relief recognizing it as a solifugid rather than a spider.
    This is why it’s such a good idea to look at pictures of odd beasties on the internet; you never know when you’ll have one in your lap.

  13. wzrd1 says

    @christoph #13, yeah, some guys who were new in country freaked out when they’d seemingly chase after them. Nope, they were only trying to stay in the soldier’s shade.
    Quick little critters as well!