Eking out a little spider time

This has been a stressful year, and I haven’t been giving the spiders the time they deserve. So I’ve recently resolved to spend an hour a day in the lab, even if all my other work is screaming at me, just tending to the basics. It’s soothing, I think, and it’ll make the spiders happy, which is what counts.

I have to go in to the university every morning anyway, to open up the fly lab and check on the status of student experiments, and now instead of rushing back to prepare for a lecture or do some grading, I have a zen-like period of contemplation in which I, for instance, feed the spiders, or wash dirty spider cages, or throw out old accumulated debris. I still have some plumbing and aquarium supplies that I’m moving out to our departmental dumpster a bit at a time. Anyone want a bucket of sand? An aquarium pump and filter? I’m putting those all behind me.

This morning I fed the babies; I’m trying out a daily feeding regimen, rather than twice a week, to see if can get them to grow a little faster. I’ve also moved some of the up-and-coming generation from the 130ml plastic cubes to 5.7l adult cages, to see if the expanded space promotes expanded growth. They look so tiny and lost in there! But they are cobwebbing them up well enough. I just hope that the flies aren’t getting lost in all that volume.

I’m also working at spiffing up the lab a bit, picking a stretch of bench every morning, cleaning it up and scrubbing it down, and just generally making it all shiny and tidy. I’ve been neglecting my patrons at my patreon account, and on my list of things to do is, in addition to more spiders as they emerge this spring, a video tour of my spider lab, maybe in the next two weeks (next weekend is hellish with grading, but maybe the weekend after that). This will initially be a patron-only video, but maybe I’ll make it public the month after. Sign up if you want to see the premiere! All the money donated every month goes to pay off our legal debt! I look forward to clearing that debt in the next few years so I can sink the money into the lab instead.


  1. timmyson says

    This sounds like really healthy self-care. You’re probably already aware of this, but aquarium supplies are often in hot demand in the maker community. If UMM has any makerspace or anything, you might be able to divert some of your old supplies there. I’ve seen projects for aquarium pumps for DIY hydroponics, and aquarium heaters for sous-vide cooking. One podcast I heard remarked that the maker-movement would be years behind where it is if not for the hobby of fish-keeping.

  2. nicknamenone says

    You know what might make you feel better is reading the stories from Australia about massive amounts of spiders fleeing floodwaters. Invading homes and climbing on boats and people to stay dry.
    I mean, you will feel bad about for the spiders getting flooded but you can also see images of thousands of spiders in one place.

  3. beyondhope says

    I can only speak for myself, but re the exclusive Patreon thing, I’d urge you to de-stress about providing such content. I’m happy to help in my small way, and my (admittedly small) support isn’t transactional. It’s been a genuinely awful few years, and Pharyngula is one of my happy places, so thanks for YOUR support and work. Hoping others agree.

  4. nomdeplume says

    PZ the message I am getting from the posts of the last few days is that you need a hobby or two to keep your brain active…