Thursday, December 31, 2015

#101 - HAPPY NEW YEAR! [off topic]

HAPPY NEW YEAR AND KISS MY BIG HAIRY SPIDER!

My best to you and yours in 2016. May it be rewarding, prosperous, healthy and full of smiles.

Don't be a quitter and make new year's resolutions. Be a winner and strive for your goals!

What will January bring from you? Are you in one of those places that become frozen tundra and everything goes into slow motion as people brace themselves against the winter chill? I am.

But what's in your planner? Have goals? Plans? Changes? Feel free to comment below.

My January begins with the development of a new company. Want to talk about change? I'm going from "Michael Jacobi's SPIDERSHOPPE" to Triggercontrol Tactical, LLC. It's actually a life theme for me that I am always driven towards something new. I have the spirit of adventure and the passion for travel. As I continue work on the launch of TCT, I prepare to travel some more!

My January's theme is EPIC ROAD TRIP!
  • I will depart very early on Monday January 11 and return somewhat late on Monday February 1.
  • I will drive 4800 miles and sleep in hotel rooms for 21 nights in a row
  • I will train for a total of 7 days (a 2 day and 5 day course of fire) and shoot 2000 rounds
  • I will walk about 50 miles over several days at SHOT SHOW in Vegas.
  • I will play poker.
  • I will post pix on Instagram on all 3 accounts: @ExoticFauna (scenery & travel) or @dailyhandgun/@triggercontroltactical (training/SHOT SHOW)

My route goes like this (just for my stalker friends):
Huntley, IL > Lincoln, NE > Glenwood Springs, CO > Vegas (2 days) > Chino Hills, CA; Prada Olympic Shooting Park (3 days, 2 days training) > Vegas (4 nights for SHOT SHOW) > Paulden, AZ/Gunsite Academy (8 nights, 5 days training) > Grand Canyon > Albuquerque, NM > Tulsa, OK > HOME, SWEET HOME

Then I'll be home and BUSY, BUSY, BUSY until Feb 28 - March 7 for the 14th British Tarantula Society Lectures. And, with that, we bring this blog entry closer to on topic (not that it's not still going to piss off someone who only wants to read "epigynal insertion of embolus"). The BTS Lectures and Annual General Meeting will be another magnificent trip to England (my 9th I think?). I love Bristol, home of my dear mate Mark Pennell. I will be under his needle for more Serious Ink. I'll have my bonus dad Joel along and we'll first spend one night in Dublin where I'll make return visits to Jameson's and Guinness. We'll have a car once we land in Bristol and have side trips to Wales, Stonehenge and London planned.

Then its back home to launch TCT, although I'll only stay sedentary until next training session back in the Prescott, AZ area in late April ;)

Tonight I will toast you all a Happy New Year with a glass of American crafted bourbon (Breckenridge) and a Cuban Cohiba from Costa Rica.

Cheers, MJ

Sunday, December 20, 2015

#100 - A NEW YEAR'S GIFT TO KMBHS READERS

POST EDITED 12/20/2015 @ 17:42 CT.

If you are interested in reading Smith & Jacobi, 2015 (Phormingochilus and related Ornithoctoninae revision) I have now updated The Tarantula Bibliography to include a link to download a PDF of the article.

I still encourage all of you to become members of the BTS and get the Journal in its entirety and access to previous issues online, but you can get this one free.

I originally considered it a "gift" to my readership, but since I was made aware that the World Spider Catalog is already making it available (they [and others] don't really understand what copyright is all about) I have added it to my site. At least I'm the co-author and entitled to share it ;).

Here's the link

MJ

PS: As I saw one reader's comment about the WSC having our paper listed as "Upcoming" I went to take a look. There I saw something very coincidental. It seems Gunter Schmidt, a very old man who prolifically publishes sloppy papers in his friend's self-published magazine, has a new paper on the synonymy of Haplopelma and Melopoeus, something we discuss in our own paper. This is old news, of course, but I would imagine Volker von Wirth is really pulling his hair out now. We've just placed all Haplopelma in Cyriopagopus and note that the Myanmar and Thailand material will likely be restored to Melopoeus by future workers (VVW?). However, there is an English abstract for Schmidt's paper and the title is obvious - he is stating that Haplopelma and Melopoeus are not synonymous. Interesting ... No, we are not all hired by Dymo to sell more label tape ;)

#99 - SUNDAY, FUNDAY

#99.
MAYBE I WILL MAKE IT TO #100 ...

November and December have been quiet here at KISS MY BIG HAIRY SPIDER. Of course, I was in Costa Rica for 10 or 11 days in December and November was just me running out of new material to share and having my mind elsewhere.

I noticed yesterday and this morning that Arachnoboards is down. I wonder what the Arachnobored are doing with their time. I wonder if they are suffering from withdrawal and chewing down their fingernails. I wonder if other forums (I imagine there are some; I wouldn't know) have seen increased traffic. I was one of the beta testers of ABs new XenForo platform, but I never had the time or desire to check it out.

The reason I know about Arachnoboards, despite the fact that I normally only log in to post a quick advert and then crawl back down my hole again, is that I have updated my Tarantula Bibliography to include the many changes brought about by the Phormingochilus revision that Andrew Smith and I co-authored in the Journal of the British Tarantula Society 30(3). Whenever I update The Tarantula Bibliography I make an announcement on Arachnoboards. So I wrote up the post and then discovered that I would be unable to post it until the "migration" is finished. I've already summarized the changes our paper established in a recent blog post, but I wanted to post the info to a wider audience.

I miss Costa Rica. It is where I want to be. I'll be there for good some day. But, in the meantime, I have many more things to accomplish in America. The adjustment returning home hasn't been too difficult. I am very busy. I am once again forming my own business, this time one focused on pistol training and the firearms industry, and when I returned I gave On Target Range and Tactical Training Center my "two weeks notice".

I love road trips. When I was younger I toured the entire United States visiting every single mainland state and most of the Canadian provinces. When I was in my early 20s me and a friend would drive to Florida just for the weekend! Those were crazy sleepless days with consumption of alcohol and other substances. I then turned my attention to tarantula hunting in the American Southwest. I once drove back from southwestern Texas along the Rio Grande and the Mexican border in one 25 hour shot.

Now, at 51, I don't think I have the stamina for these sorts of marathon driving adventures, but I am taking on the challenge of spending January 7 to January 31 on the road with over three weeks in motel rooms. Over three weeks of me and my car, driving alone from Chicago to Chino Hills outside of Los Angeles, then up to Vegas for a week and then down to Paulden, Arizona near Prescott. I'll probably visit a few National Parks after that so I may not even be back in my own bed until February. This road trip is to attend two different pistol training sessions (first is 2 days, second is 5 days) and the SHOT Show in Vegas in between. But, as always, my Nikons and camera bag will be along for the ride and I will be looking to do some scenic landscape photography if not a bit of wildlife photography. Travel pix will go up to my @exoticfauna Instagram. Gun pix will only be posted to my @dailyhandgun Instagram.

While I am on the road for January I will be spending some down time in hotel rooms working on the next issue of the BTS Journal, which will be the first with me as Editor. This last issue was outstanding and I need to keep the excellence moving full steam ahead. I may also write some educational posts for KMBHS so this project keeps going in 2016. I'll be starting another blog for my new business, but I think I can still find topics to post here.

So here I am on a relaxing Sunday morning. Sunday, fun day. I'm drinking some amazing coffee and watching a movie on Netflix while I feed the small collection of spiders I still have. However, all spiders must go before my road trip so I am also itching for AB to come back online so I can post another advert. Prices will be further slashed. There's not a lot left, but I do have some interesting projects available like Avicularia sooretama and Psalmopoeus langenbucheri. Plus I have some Harpactira, Idiothele and some Phormingochilus carpenteri (Cyriopagopus sp. Sulawesi). I also have slings of Poecilotheria rufilata, P. subfusca ("highland", of course) and Iridopelma hirsutum 'Recife'. Shoot me an email at spidershoppe@icloud.com if you're interested in anything. I will give rock bottom pricing to blog readers. Advance payment via PayPal required; no payment terms.

I had yesterday off too. Another day of chill. I worked on my new business' website, watched some movies and then watched last night's UFC.

I don't celebrate xmas or any other religious holidays, so I won't wish you season's greetings. However, I do wish you and yours the best and wish you a healthy and prosperous 2016. Happy New Year! My 2016 will involve more change, which seems to be a life long theme for me. #livingthedream.

all the best, MJ

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

#98 - THE REVISION OF PHORMINGOCHILUS & RELATED ORNITHOCTONINE ARBOREALS

In the just released Journal of the British Tarantula Society, 30(3), I co-authored a scientific revision with Andrew Smith.

Smith, A.M. & M.A. Jacobi. 2015.
Revision of the genus Phormingochilus (Araneae, Theraphosidae, Ornithoctoninae) with the description of three new species from Sulawesi and Sarawak and notes on the placement of the genera Cyriopagopus, Lampropelma and Omothymus.
Journal of the British Tarantula Society, 30(3): 26-48.

Within moments of this journal landing first on British doorsteps, one knuckle-dragging knucklehead with too much time on his hands had already posted the title and abstract on social media. I don't use Faffbook anymore, but while in Costa Rica people sent me screenshots of the heated discussion that followed. We knew our paper would be controversial. We knew we would stir up some shit and piss off some other workers interested in this material. Fortunately for me, I am insulated from the controversy as I don't read FB or other social media or forums, and Andrew is the senior and corresponding author. He is the chief "feather ruffler". Write him.

I have repeatedly urged you to join the BTS and receive its prestigious Journal of which I am now the Editor. If you want to read this article and more you can go to http://www.thebts.co.uk/bts-e-store/bts-memberships/ and get at least a digital subscription so you can download the PDF. Since the abstract was typed in full on Faffbook by one particularly annoying faffer, I won't bother to do so here. I will, however, provide a synopsis of our work.

#1 - We describe three new Phormingochilus.
  • P. kirki Smith & Jacobi, 2015 gives a home to Pocock's male "P. everetti", which has long known to belong to another species
  • P. carpenteri Smith & Jacobi, 2015 is a new species from Sulawesi that is almost certainly our hobby's "Cyriopagopus sp. Sulawesi black"
  • P. pennellhewletti Smith & Jacobi 2015 is a new species that was discovered about seven years ago by Mark Pennell and Dean Hewlett in the Kelabit Highlands of Borneo. In some ways you could say that it is the darker and differently colored and marked highland version of the lowland P. everetti.
Additionally, we note that while no material of P. fuchsi was studied we believe that it is very likely what we in the hobby call "Cyriopagopus sp. Sumatra tiger". We treat "P. tigrinus" as a junior synonym of P. everetti.



***ADDED 12/19/2015: Understand that no pet trade material was examined for this revision. My personal feeling is that "Cyriopagopus sp. Sulawesi" is, in fact, Phormingochilus carpenteri, and "Cyriopagopus sp. Sumatra" is Phormingochilus fuchsi. In the comments to the original post Tom Patterson asked about "Lampropelma sp. Borneo black". Although still undescribed and not examined by our paper, this spider should now be more appropriately called "Phormingochilus sp. Borneo black".***

***ADDED 1/1/2016: Understand that no pet trade material was examined for this revision. Another reader asked about what to call "Cyriopagopus sp. hatihati". This is an Indonesian spider very much like O. schioedtei and therefore I would call it Omothymus sp. hatihati.***


Moving on to other genera, we resurrect the historical genus Omothymus to contain the Malaysian mainland arboreal tarantulas. This means that Lampropelma violaceopes is now Omothymus violaceopes and Cyriopagopus schioedtei and C. thorelli are now O. schioedtei and O. thorelli. These two species may prove to be synonymous. The final Omothymus is O. dromeus, but we note that this Philippine species certainly belongs in another genus. Personally I think it will eventually be treated as Orphnaecus, but this isn't a conclusion of our paper and Orphnaecus is Selenocosmiinae, not Ornithoctoninae! So the jury is definitely out on that one!

The only species left in the genus Lampropelma is L. nigerrimum, a very different and stocky black arboreal found only on the isolated Sangir (Sangihe) Island.

With its existing species removed, Cyriopagopus is treated as a senior synonym of Haplopelma thereby relegating all valid "Haplopelma" to the genus "Cyriopagopus", which is in line with the type species C. paganus. We do note that further work on this material will likely restore Haplopelma and split the species into different groups with the Thailand and Myanmar species returning to the genus Melopoeus. But this is for other workers to decide.

So buy some more label maker tape and correct your terrariums ;) And buy a BTS membership and read the paper in full. And stay out of conversations with the Arachnobored and Faffbookers. They will rot your brain.

BUT ... If you do see discussions of this paper online feel free to post a direct link to this blog entry in the comments ... Thanks!

http://kissmybighairyspider.blogspot.com/2015/12/98-revision-of-phormingochilus-related.html

MJ

#97 - COSTA RICA 2015

Hello again,

I have just returned from an amazing holiday in Costa Rica with my bonus dad Joel. I fell in love with Costa Rica, its people and the pura vida lifestyle during my 2006 field trip there and returned telling anyone and everyone that I would be moving there within a few years. Obviously, that hasn't happened. When my marriage ended I took on a job in Seattle and stayed there for five years until the tragic loss of my beloved mother. I can tell you that this past two week's stay in Costa Rica has rekindled my desire to retire there, but I am now looking at doing it when the time is right, not just spontaneously pick up and leave now.

The key word in the first sentence is "holiday". The Brits I normally travel with on field trips are understandably looking to travel on a budget. We are spider hunters. Jungle trekkers. We don't require fancy accommodations. That said, I am appalled by some of the quarters they are willing to stay in. This trip to Costa Rica was all about holiday and zero about field trip. Joel and I travel in luxury. We are hedonistic and make no apologies for staying in five or six star resorts and living the dream.

My field trip mates like to say "this is a field trip, not a holiday". Well, I thoroughly enjoyed being able to say this is a holiday, not a field trip. We stayed in fine suites with flower petals on our bedding and jacuzzi tubs surrounded my amazing stonework. We ate fine cuisine and enjoyed local flavor and live music. We were comfortable. The trip was not about spiders. It was about showing Joel the majesty of Costa Rica's natural world. We hiked to the top of Poás Volcano. We trekked the Monteverde Cloud forest. We took day and night hikes in the lowland rainforests of Sarapiquí where we stayed in cabins right along the river. We found zero tarantulas and I couldn't have been happier for it. One tarantula and the holiday would have been tainted as part field trip. I wanted to enjoy the fauna of Costa Rica, but without any considerable effort. Those of you who have (or will) check in on my Instagram account (http://www.instagram.com/exoticfauna/) will see many of the spectacular creatures we saw. There are over 160 images from our trip that also show our beautiful hotels and the wonderful food we ate.

For reptiles I saw no snakes, but instead saw caimans and amazing lizards like the emerald basilisk, brown basilisk, spiny-tailed iguana, yellow-headed gecko, myriad house geckos and anoles. For amphibians I got great photos of the "blue jeans" or strawberry dart frog, the green and black dart frog and a few other frogs and toads. I saw many fascinating insects like dobsonflies, blue morpho butterflies, extraordinary katydids, moths and more. The birds were spectacular. Costa Rica is home to 52 species of hummingbird and 30 live in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. I captured amazing images of some. One avian highlight was the aracari (pronounced ahr-uh-SAHR-ee), which I was able to capture with my camera on two occasions, but saw countless others speeding through the rainforest. I even was fortunate enough to lay eyes for the first time on a male Resplendent Quetzal in Monteverde. However, before I could photograph he was gone in a colorful flash of blue and red. Another incredible sighting was scarlet macaws. Each time they were soaring above the trees and eluded my camera. Once again I struck out on seeing a sloth. But I did enjoy other mammals like a nine-banded armadillo on a night hike and some roadside coatis. There is a video of me following a male coati (pronounced kwah-TEE) down the path in the Monteverde Cloud Forest on my Instagram as well. I got a nice image of a two-lined bat, and saw and shot images of other mammals. The primates were a special treat. Near Cañas we encountered a large troop of mantled howler monkeys. As I began photographing them I noticed that one was a white-faced capuchin. It was obvious that the howlers had adopted the capuchin and made it part of the family. During our last breakfast in CR just before heading to the airport a group of capuchins descended from the trees and invaded our resort's open air breakfast area. We learned that they weren't after fruit (the squirrel monkeys go for that), but rather the sweetener packets on our tables. The staff quickly rounded up all of the sugar and then tossed one cheeky monkey a mango that he then focused his attention on.

A trip to Costa Rica without one tarantula or one snake. If it had been a field trip this would be a major disappointment. But, as it was a posh holiday, what we were able to see was nothing short of incredible. My 73-year old bonus dad, who has a bad hip, was a trooper doing the hikes that we did enjoy. But the trip was about chilling and I spent more time in the pool or on the beach than I ever have on any vacation. It was paradise. Joel also caught his first sailfish and I was overjoyed for that.

Did I look at all for tarantulas? Yes. I returned to a roadside in Cañas where we had found many A. seemanni in 2006. Nine years later most of the embankment was eroded and the vegetation had been allowed to overtake the roadside. I found one burrow and went back at nightfall, but had no luck. Three times I visited an area where we had found many M. mesomelas in 2006. The area was under construction and the road bank had been stripped. The soda (little shop/restaurant) that was next to our "honey hole" had been demolished. I also stood right where Paul Carpenter had found our first Sphaerobothria hoffmanni. I searched that embankment and found nothing. I gave it a cursory effort before returning to holiday mode and enjoying a fine Costa Rican coffee on a sun porch while watching darting hummingbirds and various tanagers.

Pura vida, MJ


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

#96 - AQUÍ VENGO COSTA RICA!

It's been awhile. 

My apologies. 

Been real busy as I am exploring opening a new business and have been training. 

In a few hours I am off to the airport, on to Costa Rica via Houston. 

I bought a selfie stick just for the occasion. To follow my pix you'll have to Instagram @exoticfauna. I'll be posting as much as possible. 

When I return I'll share some Tales from the Field and update you on some arachnonews. 

All the best, MJ

Thursday, November 12, 2015

#95 - A BRIEF GLIMPSE INTO THE SPARASSIDAE

I'm going to begin working on an article for the BTS Journal about the husbandry of huntsman spiders (Sparassidae) with an emphasis on the genus Heteropoda. In fact, I think I may ask Tom Patterson and/or John Apple to co-author it with me. (Tom and/or John please email me some of your tips and tricks to spidershoppe@icloud.com and I'll put you on as co-author. Photos also welcome, preferably by email not text!). I'll write the piece, but I am happy to incorporate info shared by Tom and/or John and have them be junior authors.

But, since I've neglected this blog of late, I thought I would just give you loyal KMBHS readers some photos and a few text blurbs as a sort of preview of this upcoming article. This is exclusive to KMBHS readers and I will share nowhere else. However, I will also be posting some of the new photos to my @exoticfauna Instagram today. I've been neglecting posting there too, and have instead been focused on my @dailyhandgun Instagram.

Yesterday, I shipped out my Heteropoda lunula and H. davidbowie. Yes, I was sorry to see them go, but the truth is that I was really only raising them to get photographs. I had no intention of breeding them as I have neither the time nor the desire to feed fruit flies to a hundred or more tiny huntsman spiderlings. I've mostly stayed away from breeding true spiders for this very reason. Raising even the smallest tarantula species is so much easier than sparassids and ctenids. They require more frequent feeding and tinier food. I don't enjoy making fruit fly cultures and the task of getting the little flies and such into vials with speed demon huntsman and wandering spider babies is time consuming and frustrating.

Here is a brief glimpse into the Sparassidae focusing solely on the genus Heteropoda. There currently are an astounding 197 species in this genus! The species that is one of the most widespread is H. venatoria, which has a pantropical distribution. In fact, although the genus is Asian and Australasian in origin, this species has been introduced around the world. We believe that the spider being sold as Heteropoda "Cameroon Giant" is actually a large form of H. venatoria. H. venatoria is also the type species of Heteropoda, described by Linnaeus himself way back in 1767 but originally as Aranea venatoria. The genus Heteropoda was created 37 years later by Latrielle.

This first image is of a wild-collected specimen of Heteropoda venatoria that was sold to me as "Heteropoda sp. 'Phetchaburi'", suggesting that it was found in the Phetchaburi Province of Thailand.



Sparassids have a very distinctive appearance with two rows of four eyes and the crab-like habitus. There is perhaps no huntsman spider more spectacular than Heteropoda davidbowie. This species is known from Thailand (Yala),  Malaysia (Padang), Singapore and Indonesia (Sumatra) and was given the rock star legend's name by Jäger in 2008. Females may vary from grayish-brown to orange.  Males have a median longitudinal reddish line that runs from the eyes to the middle of the abdomen. The following spider is one of those I shipped out yesterday. It is still young, but the beginning of the reddish median dorsal markings are becoming apparent and it is likely a male.



H. davidbowie is certainly a gorgeous spider, and it's "facial makeup" is what led Peter Jäger to name it after the glamour and glitter pop star, but I think the most beautiful is Heteropoda lunula. I will miss having these around more than almost all the tarantulas I have sent away. The species was described in 1857 by Doleschall as Olios lunula. It is known from India to Vietnam, Malaysia, Java, Sumatra and Borneo. Taxonomically, it was transferred to many different genera and species over the years until Jäger reestablished called it Heteropoda lunula in 2002. The photos below will show you why it is my favorite.





Of course, as BTS North American Coordinator, and now Editor of its prestigious Journal, I would be remiss if I did not once again solicit your membership. We are putting the finishing touches on the next issue of the Journal right now and I was pleased to see the list of new members to include more Americans including at least two KMBHS readers (John Apple & Kiffnie Holt). Please consider a digital membership if you can't spring for getting the Journal by mail. Here's a link. The upcoming Journal features a major taxonomic revision that I have co-authored. That's all I can say for now ... You'll have to wait until it hits mailboxes some time in December.

My editorial reign begins in the new year and I will look to get my full feature on Sparassidae in one of the three issues of 2016. I hope you've enjoyed this sneak preview and a quick glimpse at three species of the huge genus Heteropoda.

Please remember to follow my @exoticfauna Instagram for pix and such, including spiders and herps but also my other interests like travel and food/drink and tattoos (don't worry I save the firearms for my other IG for the most part). I leave for Costa Rica in three weeks and I will be posting images daily to this account. Now is the time for you to create an Instagram account if you don't have one and give me a follow. I will follow you back. I will be documenting every step of my journey in the land of Pura Vida accompanied by my "bonus dad" Joel.

All the best, MJ

Monday, November 9, 2015

ADVERT :: ABSOLUTE FINAL LIST :: 10% OFF TODAY ONLY

EXCUSE MY COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION ...


THIS IS MY FINAL LIST AND ALL MUST GO. OFFERING 10% OFF TODAY ONLY FOR ORDERS PLACED AND PAID VIA PAYPAL.

SEE: http://www.arachnoboards.com/ab/showthread.php?278866-ABSOLUTE-FINAL-SS-LIST-all-must-go-everything-reduced!-10-OFF-TODAY-ONLY!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

#94 - SUNDAY FUNDAY #9

Crikey, it's November. Just over one month until I depart for Costa Rica!

We have an extra hour of fun today. I'm glad my phone is smarter than my watch.

I am busy working on material for the next issue of the BTS Journal. I am co-authoring a paper that you will not want to miss. I can say no more. It is the last issue with my mate Peter Kirk at the helm and then I will take over as Editor in Chief and pilot it into its future.

I spoke to Chad Campbell on the phone earlier and he promised he'll get around to answering my Questions for Chad post from OVER A WEEK AGO! No biggie though ... I may or may not comment on his question about the whole decline of the western hobby thing and his insistence that there are more hobbyists. As I wrote, I've touched on this earlier and would rather just link the relevant blog entries. I'm not really interested.

I responded to a couple of comments earlier today. As KMBHS moves forward I expect my posts to be less frequent and them to mostly focus on educational material. The rant is gone and readership is down. Before I completely sail off into retirement, I would prefer to share my experiences in keeping and breeding and give those who read this some wisdom before my memory fades.

And completely off topic, I think I'll go take a nap and get ready for tonight's The Walking Dead. No spoilers, but this season has been crazy and I'm looking forward to seeing if I am right about the most shocking moment from last week.

See you next time with some mad knowledge to share ... MJ

Friday, October 30, 2015

#93 - TEN THINGS

1. It has now been almost a week since my #91 - QUESTIONS FOR CHAD post. He hasn't replied. I've talked with him and know he was out of town, but if I don't get a reply by tomorrow I will just ignore his question regarding what he purports is a decline in the hobby despite an increasing number of hobbyists. Instead, I will post direct links to the blog entries I have made previously that touch on my feelings on this same topic and add a few brief comments and leave it at that.

2. THE TARANTULA BIBLIOGRAPHY - My October and November releases of the Tarantula Bibliography have just occurred in quick fashion. October saw me adding the 7 new species of Cyriocosmus and the new species Tmesiphantes minim. The new November release launches a couple of days early to include my friends' Ray Gabriel's and Stuart Longhorns transfer of Brachypelma angustum and B. embrithes to the genus Sericopelma with an in depth look at distinguishing female Sericopelma. In addition to using the site's database and bibliographic references, don't forget that you can always download the complete Theraphosidae species listing in PDF format. There are currently 975 species in 130 genera.

3. I was surprised at the lack of comments to my "end of" blog entries related to SPIDERSHOPPE and ArachnoGathering. I expect you've all heard more than enough of my permanent retirement from the exotic pet industry, but I expected some comments about my not hosting a 3rd annual AG in conjunction with the March NARBC event in Tinley Park. Comments are actually few and far between, except for the regular submissions by John Apple and a couple of others. Feedback is part of what drives this blog. Page views is the other. If both of these show greater decline I will be less inclined to spend my time with KMBHS.

4. Regarding Page Views - As I approach #100 blog entries since June I look back and reflect on the most read entries. It is no surprise that most are the controversial rants and highly opinionated calling out of asshats. However, it is great that mixed in are some of the more educational/instructional posts. Since this blog entry is called ten things I'll list the TOP TEN most popular blogs. If you missed any of them please go back and read. They are linked below for your convenience. These are the most important messages I have attempted to convey. Unfortunately, the last blog entry to have over 100 page views was #67 back on September 4, and that post was my only guest blog and written by Chad Campbell.

  1. #9 - DON'T SHIP BY USPS (or give a penny to those who do!) - 255 page views since posting on 6/11/2015
  2. #10 - PSEUDO DEALERS AND WEEKEND WARRIORS - tied with 255 page views since posting on 6/12/2015. It is interesting that these two were posted on consecutive days and saw a combined 500+ page views. I expect they have been linked and shared by others. If I educated one douchenugget, job done. But many twats were probably twats like Joe Rossi who proudly proclaim that they ship illegally by USPS. Postal inspector please visit him.
  3. #47 - CASA DE TARANTULA #3 - 238 page views since July 28, 2015 - This entry covered my housing of tarantulas and obviously it was very popular and was shared. I appreciate you spreading the KMBHS word. I encourage you to share via social media or direct link posts on forums.
  4. #35 - CASA DE TARANTULA #1 - 180 page views since July 8, 2015 - I love that this is an important husbandry related post and it reached a decent audience.
  5. #37 - CASA DE TARANTULA #2 - 174 page views since July 12, 2015 - Again, this is an educational post teaching husbandry techniques developed over forty years. I am glad that people are reading these.
  6. #11 - MEMORY LANE ... AND FEEDING & NETFLIX - 167 page views since 6/13/2015 - This entry covers a brief history of my career as well as that of American tarantulaculture. I consider it a must read for the neophyte keepers.
  7. #15 - BROWN BOXING CRIMINALS - 154 page views since June 18, 2015. This post should be #1 or at least tied with the first two posts. It is one of my three biggest rants, and it is a topic that many are ignorant on. Although many illegally import knowingly, there are those that are truly ignorant that they are breaking the law. This post should have been read by more people.
  8. #7 - PHOTO THEFT ... & MUSIC, BRIEFLY - Tied with the above at 154 page views since June 9, 2015. This entry covers more activity that could result in criminal or civil charges and should have reached a wider audience.
  9. #9B - A RETORT - This post was my response to Chad's comments on #7 and saw an astonishing 147 page views since June 11, 2015. The funny thing is that this entry is only two brief paragraphs and a photograph and yet it attracted a crowd.
  10. #38 - BREEDING TARANTULAS #1 - POECILOTHERIA - 146 page views since July 13, 2015. Another husbandry related post, this time focusing on captive propagation of a hugely popular genus. To be honest, I am surprised this isn't #1. I reveal many "secrets" that I developed over 15 or more years at the forefront of Pokie breeding.
5. Now that we've looked at the numbers for the 10 most viewed KMBHS postings let's look at the numbers for the 10 most recent posts. I realize these haven't had the time for more and more people to find them, but the numbers aren't stellar. From #80-90, which covers October 3 to October 24, the most page views is 63 (the oldest, #80) and the fewest is 24 (END OF SPIDERSHOPPE). This means two things: to get the numbers at 150+ such as in the TOP TEN LIST above I must stick to two general topics - RANTS calling out the asshats and exposing criminal and immoral activity within the hobby AND educational posts covering more of my tarantula husbandry and breeding techniques. As I've mentioned I am less motivated to cover the former and feel like I've said my piece and covered the issues I had to rant about. But if you really want me to write about why Todd Gearheart is a scumbag that should have been blacklisted from the hobby over a decade ago I suppose I could get myself in the mood. But teaching is what I do so I am very inclined to tackle the educational subjects. I guess what is most disappointing is that none of my Tales from the Field posts made the top ten. If I was a reader of this blog rather that its author, those are the posts that I would most enjoy.

#6 - BLACKHAWKS VS. THE WILD - The Chicago Blackhawks have 6 Stanley Cup Championships and three of them came in the last 6 years. The Wild have none. I shouldn't even have to waste my typing. But since Chad added it to his topic suggestions I will just say that we are now 10 games into the season and the Wild only have one point up on the Hawks. We'll chat about it mid-season. I expect Chad will again be buying me a bottle of Jameson's Black Barrell. That is if his Minnesotan team in green can even make the playoffs.

#7 - I've posted an advert on Arachnoboards that contains my absolute final retail offerings of my career. As I continue breeding on a limited basis, any offspring will only be sold wholesale or to close friends that are breeders. Please give the ad a peek. For any readers that are legitimate resellers, I currently have a 30-lot of Iridopelma hirsutum 'Recife' that I will let go at only $200 shipped and I have a sac of Poecilotheria rufilata about to hatch.

#8 - I don't know what my posting frequency will be moving forward, but there will be some gaps when I am out of town or out of the country. I will be in Costa Rica December 3-13, 2015; Chino Hills, CA from January 11-16, 2015; and Dublin, Ireland/Bristol, England February 28 - March 8, 2016.

#9 - Social media and the Arachnobored will rot your brain. Cease using them and you will find the peace that I have.

#10 - Don't let the bastards grind you down.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

#92 - STAMP COLLECTORS

RFWhen I was a boy I collected beer cans. It was something that many kids of my generation did. There were few beer bottles back then. I also collected police department shoulder patches. My father was a policeman who eventually retired as police chief. He was able to get me law enforcement insignias from all over the country and even some from international forces. I never collected coins or stamps, but many of my classmates did. Today I am the polar opposite of a pack rat so I don't accumulate things, but I do have a small but growing coffee cup collection.

When people talk about "stamp collectors" in the tarantula hobby they are referring to non-breeders who buy one of every species they can find.  There are many species of tarantulas available to hobbyists and most dealers try to outdo each other by offering the greatest variety. "Stamp collectors" fall in line with this and try to buy as many different forms as they can. Is this a bad thing? Not to the dealers. As a dealer it was easy to tell the "stamp collectors". When I would hatch or import something rare, the "breeders" would order perhaps a half dozen of a species to have the greatest chance of obtaining a least one sexual pair. "Stamp collectors" would buy one, or sometimes splurge on two in case one died. "Stamp collectors" place orders for six tarantulas and the order is one each of six varieties.

There is an elitist attitude among the "breeders" or self-proclaimed "serious hobbyists" who use the term "stamp collector" derisively. When this topic was suggested I got the sense that it was implied that "stamp collecting" is a bad thing and that I would agree with that sentiment and rant against the practice. Sorry to disappoint. That's not how I feel. I am a libertarian. I believe in personal freedom and individual choice. I am also a capitalist. I believe in people spending their hard-earned dollars in anyway they choose. Not every arachnoculturist has to be a breeder. Not all species should be bred. Even rarities can be kept without propagating, at least by those with the means to purchase them and, more importantly, the desire. If you wish to keep one lone Sahydroaraneus raja or Harpactira pulchripes or Thrigmopoeus psychedelicus more power to you.

Some of you may have listened to my interview on Herp Nation Radio's "Nick Mutton Show". The only segment I hated was when I began to go off on a tangent about "stamp collecting". I became less eloquent and didn't complete my train of thought. I had heard so many colleagues bemoan "stamp collecting" that on auto-pilot I brought up the topic, but then I just didn't have the strong opinion against it to make my point. I realized that I have no distaste for "stamp collecting" of my own. Part of the reason is that I made my living selling exotic animals for three decades. I'd rather sell one T. psychedelicus than none. Sales are oddly enough the goal of a business that sells. But even philosophically I couldn't rail against those who keep rare species and don't breed them. Sure, I'd rather if all species that are in short supply got into the hands of breeders instead of any "collector" who can afford them. But it is un-American to restrict free trade.

Let's not get too philosophical about this. Let's further examine the realities of "stamp collecting". First, let me educate you: the average American hobbyist, including the "breeder" or "serious hobbyist" does not have enough disposable income to purchase many rare spiders. I can tell you firsthand that I expected my first US-bred Pachistopelma rufonigrum and Harpactira pulchripes to sell out in one day. That didn't happen even though I basically cut the selling price of the latter in almost half. Years ago when I was among the first to breed Poecilotheria metallica I actually sold my first sac in three days. At that time it was still an expensive spider too! Maybe it was just because it is blue, or maybe it is just because it was a Pokie, or maybe the average hobbyist had more money. It is an interesting thing to contemplate. Regardless, most people bought one or two H. pulchripes, not the four to eight that a breeder would need to buy. The same was true for my P. rufonigrum and other American firsts I produced. So I ask you this: shouldn't someone who wants to spend $200 on a tiny bug (plus shipping!) be able to do so? How many of you out there wish you had even one H. pulchripes and don't? Should you only be allowed to keep the species if you buy six with the intention of breeding them?

Let's move on to a different species. We'll choose one that I have never had a commercial interest in. In fact, I have never seen a Thrigmopoeus psychedelicus "in the flesh" and have no interest in keeping it. They were collected and bred by Denmark's Nicolai Pedersen and came into the country exclusively via one seller I won't name. The price was/is ridiculous. I tried to educate Nico about the economics of the American spider hobby a couple of years ago when he first collected and produced Haplocosmia himalayana, but he found someone ignorant enough to think there was a large market for the "hot new tarantula", T. psychedelicus. How many were sold? I know one person who bought a few and he is a "breeder" not a "stamp collector". I hope he produces the species and the price comes down and availability goes up. I am very pro-breeding and very pro-AMERICAN breeding. But if any of you only could afford one and it is the pride of your collection I fully support you as well. There only is a market for so many "pet holes" no matter how uniquely colored they are. That's the truth that is overlooked by many. The American market quickly becomes saturated, no matter what the species is. When I produce more Harpactira pulchripes I will once again cut the price in almost half. Other people will breed it too. Before long it will be $50. So do we really need everyone who buys them to be a breeder? If we really want to expand the debate we could even go so far as to suggest that "stamp collectors" serve the hobby by limiting the explosion of availability that quickly affects the commerce within the hobby and makes it difficult for dealers to earn a living.

You have to realize that tarantulas are fecund. That is, they are prolific breeders and we do our best to work against nature's plan and keep every little spiderling alive. I've bred tarantulas so long that I've seen every species I've bred go from "hot seller" to "can't give it away". I've seen the same in my herpetocultural career, of course, too. It's the nature of animal breeding. I covered this in an early blog entry. Customers become your competitors. Rare becomes common. Everybody is looking for the next new thing. And it better be blue.

I understand the basis for the belief that "stamp collecting" is bad for the hobby. I just don't agree with it. There isn't a tarantula in the hobby so endangered, or rare, or difficult to breed, or that produces so few young, that those who keep one of the species are negatively impacting its captive propagation. There isn't a Bornean earless monitor or Fiji banded iguana. Those are lizards that are very rare. The former has just been bred for the first time. It would be horrible if there were only twelve in captivity and ten of them were kept individually by ten different wealthy collectors. That is the scenario that I expect those against "stamp collecting" in arachnoculture are envisioning. I just don't see an analogous situation. If the only adult Thrigmopoeus psychedelicus that were collected had been sold one each to different collectors around the world then I'd be at the forefront of condemning the "stamp collecting". But that isn't what happened. Nico kept them and bred them and now spiderlings are available to anyone willing to pay the price, both those who want only one to keep on their office desk or those who want to raise twelve to establish a breeding colony. Within a few years it will become widely available. Eventually they'll be hard to give away.

In closing, I suspect there is a bit of envy involved when people are adamant that "stamp collecting" has a negative impact. What is stopping anyone from buying up a species so there aren't many to go around for the "stamp collectors"? Money. That is the point about the American hobby and its commerce - most hobbyists don't have the funds to spare. Many live paycheck to paycheck and shouldn't be strapping the budget by buying bugs at all. Some are maxing out credit cards to serve their arachnocultural obsession. It's a free country. 'Murica. Don't covet thy neighbor's big hairy spider. Focus on your own breeding and leave those who choose to just have cool terrarium pets be. Divided we fall.

$0.02, MJ




Saturday, October 24, 2015

#91 - QUESTIONS FOR CHAD



Now that I've covered the first two topic suggestions listed by Chad in his comment to #88 I move on to number 3. He wrote: "What has caused the US hobby's decline even with hobbyist numbers going up? Are these two figures related?"

My questions are: How are you measuring "the US hobby's decline" or the "hobbyist numbers"? What is the source of your data? Are these conjecture or do we have evidence?

Riddle me this. Are we convinced that American arachnoculture is in decline quantitatively or do we just have a consensus that is sucks more now than it once did? Are there really more American arachnoculturists today than yesterday or last month or last year?

Y'all are welcome to weigh in on Chad's suppositions in the comments below too. Once I get some sort of elaboration or concurring or dissenting opinions I will chime in with my opinions on the state of arachnoculture in the United States.

MJ



#90 - POECILOTHERIA AND THE ESA

This is going to be a very short entry. I requested topic suggestions and I got a number of them from Chad Campbell. Poecilotheria and the ESA was his second request. Last night #88 tackled his first suggestion (handling), which was seconded by Kiffnie, especially comments on Poecilotheria. Actually, although I did mention Poecs, I didn't focus on them specifically. It is believed by many that Poecs have the strongest venom based strictly on anecdotal reports not science. I assume that was why Kiffnie emphasized that genus. All I'll say is that since there have been reports of "coma" or "coma-like" (whatever that means) effects from Poec bites I certainly would least like to be bit by any member of the genus. My worst bite was from Haplopelma lividum and the resulting four days and nights of muscle cramps particularly in the hamstring and calf were bad enough for me.

But here I am asked to comment on Poecilotheria and the ESA (Endangered Species Act). The truth is that Chad probably knows more about this issue than I. There was a Faffbook group created on the topic by Christian Elowsky who would be a better author of this blog entry as well. I hated Faffbook groups and people adding me to them long before I hated Faffbook in general and left this group after a short time.

This is all I have to say:
European collectors have smuggled Poecs out of India and Sri Lanka. That is why almost every species in the genus is well established in the hobby. This has not gone unnoticed by wildlife officials in the countries where Poecs are found or our own USFW knuckleheads. Long before the mention that Poecs might become CITES listed there was the IUCN red listing of the genus. My knowledge of the inner workings of these threatened and endangered species list inclusions is limited. What escapes wildlife officials is the fact that our hobby Poecs are all captive bred in numbers AND HAVE BEEN FOR MANY GENERATIONS and their value has mostly become laughable. Many species can barely be given away. Even "newer" species like P. hanumavilasumica are difficult to sell. I just wholesaled my recent hatch of P. smithi, which by all reports is the least abundant (most threatened) Poec in the wild for 10 bucks apiece. There is no incentive for anyone to collect Poecilotheria for the pet trade. But wildlife officials get paid to officiate. They don't always base rules on science. Look at our own USFW ridiculous actions related to pythons. They don't even have to pass legislation. They can just whip up arbitrary rules. There is a yet undescribed species of Poecilotheria. I know exactly where it can be found in Sri Lanka. Am I spending thousands of dollars to return to Sri Lanka to collect it for the pet trade to "get rich"? Did I seek it when I was there one year ago? No! Even if I was a collector it would hold no money making possibility. One guy in a room somewhere half way around the world looks at a web page and sees an adult female P. metallica that is third generation captive bred offered for $400 and his little automaton peabrain leaps to the conclusion that there are collectors scouring the Indian forests. He is ignorant to the fact that perhaps 100-200 total Poecs have ever left India and Sri Lanka bound for German and Dutch breeder's terrariums. I'm guessing, but the point is that they aren't Chilean rose hairs. They haven't been raped for profit by the pet trade. 

I believe the whole point of the aforementioned Faffbook group was to get breeders to send data to USFW in support of what I've presented above. I didn't. I've bred as many Poecs as anyone outside of Henrik Wessel Frank or Thorsten Kroes, but I had no inclination to try to enlighten the moronic USFW. Never have a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

If Chad or Christian want to blog themselves on the topic they are welcome to. My breeding of Poecs is at its end and my interest is the discussion is nil. I've wrote all I have to honor Chad's prompting. I can't imagine I'll have more to say on "stamp collecting", but that will be next. ask and ye shall receive. mj

Friday, October 23, 2015

#89 - NO TOUCHING!

You want to interact with a non-human life form? Get a dog or a cat. A dog is man's best friend. There is no better pet. A cat is typically indifferent and aloof, but some will receive pleasure from being stroked. You like things more exotic? I'm not going to get into how exotic you like your stroking. That's a whole different blog. But if your tastes go beyond canine or feline consider a rat or a ferret or a parrot. The latter are messy and often noisy and, although I wouldn't trade my 25-year old dusky Pionus Jesse for the world, I'd talk anyone and everyone out of owning a parrot or other bird. Ferrets have their own undesirable traits. They are musky and messy and their waste is vile. Go with the rat. It's by far the best small animal pet. Intelligent, quickly docile and within two or three years or so they are gone. There's no long term commitment.

But keep your grubby paws off of tarantulas and other arachnids. As they say in "Arrested Development", NO TOUCHING! Same holds true in most cases for reptiles, and certainly for soft, moist and permeable skinned amphibians. These are terrarium pets. Your pleasure comes from observation, not interaction. Your joy comes from simulating their natural environment and watching them thrive within it. They receive no pleasure from interaction and, in fact, can be put at great risk. Your touching them is, at best, very fucking selfish and, at worse, reckless and dangerous.

The British Tarantula Society at has always been at the forefront of opposition to handling tarantulas. We've had a no handling policy for years. Handling photos are forbidden on the BTS Forum and BTS Facebook page and any handling at BTS events including the Exhibition results in immediate expulsion of the offenders. By contrast, the American Tarantula Society and American forums like Arachnoboards have historically done little to discourage the handling of arachnids. I believe that through the efforts of individuals such as my bud Chad Campbell handling pix are now banned from the ATS Facebook page, but over the years the ATS had refused to take a strict stance against the endangerment of arachnids through handling. In fact, much to my horror, then ATS President Darrin Vernier actually began his lecture at one of the Phoenix ATS conferences with a scorpion in his mouth. I think this behavior alone is indicative of the vast difference there has always been between the American hobby and its European counterpart. Imagine the world's premier serious arachnocultural organization (the BTS) tolerating this sort of bonehead activity by its leader.

Tarantulas and other arachnids are fragile creatures. They are also primitive organisms that act solely by instinct. They gain nothing from being touched, but touching them puts them in dire danger. Believe me, I don't give one shit if a knucklehead like Vernier or Mike "Troll" Dame is stung by a scorpion or bit by a centipede. I don't give one shit if a Poecilotheria envenomates some selfish cretin who thinks he's "cool" for "gets a thrill" from being reckless and holding it or allowing it to crawl on himself. May each asshat get bit. I do, however, care that these beautiful creatures are treated with such disregard. Again, the spider or scorpion or centipede gains nothing from interaction. It has no positive outcome, only a chance for injury or death. So if you handle for no reason you are a shit and you deserve a bite. Or me to punch you in the throat.

Yes, I have handled tarantulas. I have used my hands to quickly transfer a male to a female's cage for breeding. I have quickly scooped up a spider to move it to another container, but more often than not am sensible and use a catch cup if I feel it is more safe. The fact is, that I feel I can often move some spiders more safely and with less stress by acting as a "bridge" of sorts between one container and another rather than trapping it in a cup and brushing it back out. The spider touches my hands for seconds and no more. I seek no thrill. I don't pose it for a photograph so I can stroke my ego or prove my masculinity. I don't put them in my fucking mouth to shock or amuse or entertain.

Yes, I have allowed others to handle tarantulas. I used to do some educational programs and also worked with people with true arachnophobia and used incredibly docile species like Eupalaestrus campestratus or Grammostola pulchripes to dispel irrational fear. Years ago I would allow children to watch me handle these spiders in a controlled manner only inches off a carpeted floor to prevent risk of injury due to a fall. However, I do not advocate this today. I have friends who make their living with educational programs using invertebrates and they can teach the children or other participants about the amazing lives of arachnids just fine without allowing interaction. Still, some degree of touching may be used in arachnophobia workshops under great supervision while exercising extreme care. Nothing is black or white. It would be hypocritical for me to have a 100% anti-handling stance when I have done so and even recently have moved males into female cages by allowing them to quickly move across my hand and into a new enclosure. I've had 40 years of practice and I am certain that I don't put the spiders at risk. Otherwise, I never touch a spider and, in fact, leave them completely alone in natural terrariums with a great deal of cover. I leave them to as natural a life as I can provide. So, let's say I am 99% against any touching and that most of the "educational handling" I did in the past I would not do today.

I wonder how people who post photographs of holding species with significant venom like Poecilotheria tarantulas or giant centipedes justify their behavior. Do they really think that a serious arachnoculturist will hold them in high regard for their recklessness? Why is it that they feel the need to photograph handling and share the images? Do they willing advertise their foolishness or are they expecting admiration? The only respect they will get is from other asshats. Is this the audience they seek approval from? Is there one person ignorant enough to think that Troll is cool because he holds giant centipedes? Or do most, like me, immediately lose any respect? I have no use for anyone who sensationalizes the creatures I love. I have only disdain for those who threaten the hobby by risking personal injury that might lead to fuel for antis (e.g., irresponsible behavior with dangerous animals). I have only contempt for anyone who risks even slight injury to a creature that has no say in its situation.

It is time for more organizations, groups, social media groups, forums, etc. to take an anti-handling stance. I condemn any that permit handling photos and indirectly advocate the practice. Terrarium pets should be provided with as close to natural conditions as possible and be enjoyed through observation alone. It is their incredible behaviors, beautiful form and amazing appearances that give us something. They have no affection to give like true pets. There is no basis for interaction. What we can give in return is proper environmental conditions, conscientious husbandry and a HANDS OFF mentality to keeping terrarium pets.

MJ






Wednesday, October 21, 2015

#88 - IT STARTED WITH A BANG ...

I resurrected KISS MY BIG HAIRY SPIDER at the beginning of June. I blogged with a fury, tackling all sorts of subjects while trying to entertain. Nothing was out of bounds and I called out many a douchebag. My "rants" saw the greatest readership (most page views - controversy attracts), but I ran out of both topics and desire. I'm in a happy place now and don't want to let the bastards grind me down. I choose to live by the faux-Latin motto Illegitimis non carborundum, if you will. I've told many a story from my worldwide field trips in search of tarantulas and reptiles and I've done my best to educate with some posts related to "Tarantulas in the Terrarium". However, my blogging output certainly has decreased.

June saw 32 posts. Obviously, that's more than one per day. July was almost as prolific, with 26 individual blog entries. However, both August and September had only 16 posts, and my average frequency had been cut to every other day. We are now 21 days into October and, after two brief posts yesterday, this short entry will be only the ninth. Although yesterday's blogs were "end of" messages, I am not ready to cease blogging. I have to at least reach #100. However, I do need an audience. Page views and comments keep me going. I've asked before for topic suggestions and heard little from y'all. Please email me at spidershoppe@icloud.com with questions or to tell me what you'd like to read about. If everyone reading this sends me one short question I can do an "reader mailbag" entry of sorts where I answer your questions. No topic is off topic or out of bounds. By now you know I'll write anything and call a spade a spade. Provoke me. Stimulate me. Challenge me. I will give a brutally honest and frank answer to anything asked. Personal. Professional. Private. Anything.

Let's see if any of you take me up on this ... MJ

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

#87 - THE END OF SPIDERSHOPPE

I've been phasing out the business in steps. But tonight I finally removed all spiders for sale from my website, while also removing the link for ArachnoGathering (see previous entry) and updating The Tarantula Bibliography.

As I still maintain a small group of spider species of interest (see Ongoing Projects sidebar on SpiderShoppe page) I will still have offspring to sell, but these will only be offered in bulk for resale to legitimate dealers.

I have a few items left that I will post via Arachnoboards adverts. These are just a handful of surplus males and such.

I think final retirement is deserving of a nice glass of the Jameson's Signature Reserve that Mark kindly bought me at London's Heathrow airport. Life is good, MJ

#86 - THE END OF ARACHNOGATHERING

It's official. I won't be hosting a 3rd Annual ArachnoGathering. As I mentioned in earlier blog entries, I did consider it and I did go as far as sending Russ Gurley an email to offer to do a public lecture at the mid-March 2016 NARBC Tinley Park show in return for once again being provided with the facility and A/V equipment for ArachnoGathering. I am not surprised I have received no response. There are few people who are worse at replying to emails than Gurley.

Fact is I didn't miss not being at the Tinley NARBC earlier this month one single bit and have no intention of returning even to visit. In fact, the event was the same weekend I had a little ArachnoParty at my home for close arachnofriends and I didn't even realize it. The guest of honor was by best mate Mark Pennell from Bristol, UK and the next day I took him and Chad shooting and later that night surprised Mark by taking him to a Chicago Blackhawks game. Never once did NARBC cross my mind.

As I mentioned in the last blog, I will be spending the first week of March in the UK for the BTS Lectures. I've repeatedly informed y'all that the BTS is my primary focus and responsibility related to arachnoculture as I cease most other arachnocultural and herpetocultural activities while moving into full retirement. I have no interest in trying to arrange another ArachnoGathering and having to spend the weekend in Tinley, especially ten days or so after returning from England. Much like ArachnoCon, which I was heavily involved in, ArachnoGathering is going to have to go down in American history as two done and out.

I thank those who came out to one or both of the ArachnoGatherings I held. I thank the donators of raffle prizes that helped me raise money for the ATS in the first year and USARK in the second year. I especially thank my speakers: Christian Elowsky who spoke both years, Chad Campbell and Jason Newland who joined Christian and myself during the inaugural event, and John Apple and Sarah Schrader who shared the stage during the second AG.

To be honest I just have no interest in the American hobby anymore and no inclination to involve myself further. As my Brit mate Mark would say, "end of".

Most of my arachnofriends are in Europe. I will see many of them at the BTS Lectures. The European hobby is so much stronger and the enthusiasts are so much more serious about breeding and learning. I will focus my efforts there through my roles as BTS Journal Editor and North American Coordinator. But I am glad to have good arachnofriends here, some of which came out to my ArachnoParty on October 9. There will be another next time Mark visits. Thanks to my bud Chad Campbell and David Lawrence for again coming down from Minneapolis. I hope next time some others from Minnverts will join them. Thanks to John Apple, Rob Mitchell and Norman Culp for coming over from Michigan. Thanks to local arachnofriends Jason Newland, Randy Martinez Jr., Randy Martinez, Sr., Margaret Larson, Jaimie Little and Scott, Brian "Gator" aka "Hulk" and my bonus dad Joel. The booze and Tiger lager was flowing, Chad got us all playing "My Penis, My Vagina", and the catered ribs and Italian beef were supplemented by Margaret's awesome falafel and many snacks.

All the best, MJ

Monday, October 19, 2015

#85 - TRAVELIN' MAN



Travelin' man that's what I am, no woman puts a hold on me
You'll see me once or maybe twice that's all you'll see of me
No, all you pretty women Lord, I hope you understand
Don't be a fool Lord no and put your heart in a travelin' man


- LYNYRD SKYNYRD, Travelin' Man


It's been awhile ... Did you miss my words? My life is less about big hairy spiders these days. I've moved on. I apologize for my silence.

As autumn winds blow outside, and winter threatens to drive me from home, I begin thinking like the "travelin' man' that I am. I once lived in four different states in one twelve month period. Until my return to my homeland of the northwestern suburbs of Chicago, I had spent thirteen years away, with stints in eastern Washington, Nashville, Seattle, Milwaukee, and Seattle again. That's just me living in different areas of the good ole U.S. of A. As you've read, I've also travelled the world, sometimes circumnavigating the globe in a short period of time, especially during my February 2015 31,000 miles in the air. I daydream about moving again. I hate the upper midwestern winters and have been giving much thought to relocating, perhaps to Arizona.

With my new job in the firearms industry I figured I'd become a bit more sedentary, but I've spent most of this evening on Expedia planning more travel. I am hoping my new employer will tolerate my taking unpaid leave. If not, I may be forced to do something hasty. Neither woman nor job puts a hold on me. And my daydreams may lead to me taking my act back on the road ...

I've already cleared the time off for my upcoming Costa Rica trip with my bonus dad Joel. I hope the adventure will be featured in future installments of "Tales from the Field". Although it is a vacation with my 73-year-old stepdad, you can't keep me from chasing spiders and snakes, and Joel is eager to see tarantulas in nature. I will spend plenty of time in the field and have even made arrangements with a guide in the Monteverde region.

But Costa Rica isn't all the travel to come in the next six months... Tonight I booked flights and hotels for another trip with Joel. He's making his third trip in as many years with my sister and her family to Cabo San Lucas in February (maybe he is the Travelin' Man...) and will come home for only one week before I whisk him away to the U.K. Mark Pennell only left the U.S. a couple weeks ago, but I am already eager to spend time with him again. I will be returning to Mark's native Bristol for the BTS Lectures the first week of March. Joel and I will spend one night in Dublin on our way to Bristol and then spend a week in England. Bristol will be our base, but we'll have a rental car and likely make a couple of day trips so Joel can see Wales and London.

December 3-13 in Costa Rica and Feb 28-March 7 in Dublin and Bristol/England. I'm also considering a quick mid-January excursion to the L.A. area for a special handgun class taught by two legends. You only live once my friends ... live life and live it big. Travel is so rewarding and feeds the mind. Adventures give life purpose. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Fly your coop. Be as free as a bird now ...


MJ







Thursday, October 8, 2015

#84 - TATTOO THURSDAY

Round two. Mark has the two Randy Martinez's - junior and senior - arriving this afternoon for ink, but first he's adding a bit of elbow gap fill to my sleeve. 

Yesterday we went shooting after he did a morning tattoo on Jaimie. (Check out Mark's @mark_seriousink Instagram). Then we went shooting. My new $4K Wilson Combat 1911 had arrived and proved itself perfection worth every penny. 


Last night we ate bison and had more than a few cocktails at Wildfire Steaks and Chops. 



We got home in time to watch the last two periods of a 3-2 Chicago Blackhawks loss in their first game of the season. Sadly, we missed the beginning when the 6th championship banner was raised to the United Center rafters. 

This morning it was another good breakfast and then some shopping for party snacks. 

John Apple should be on his way here right now so I expect tonight will be the pre-party to tomorrow night's ArachnoParty. 

Well, Mark is jabbing my elbow as I type this one thumbed on my iPhone. Until next time, MJ

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

#83 - TATTOO TUESDAY

After the travel woes detailed in Blog #81, Mark arrived one day later yesterday afternoon. His American holiday has begun and I am on vacation until Monday. So we immediately began to drain some Tiger lagers. Then it was out to The Lucky Monk, a gourmet burger restaurant and microbrewery where we met my bonus dad Joel. Then back to my house for a couple of more Tigers before Mark finally hit the wall. It was 10 pm here, which meant it was 4 am for him and he'd been awake almost 24 hours.

This morning we went to my favorite local breakfast joint where we ran into my sister Lisa having a work breakfast and now we're back at my place. 

It's Tattoo Tuesday as we will work on finishing as much of my right sleeve as possible. I'm hoping to get it all done as I can sit forever. It's 9:30 am now and we have a dinner reservation at Wok 'n' Fire at 7:30. Looking forward to starting my pain therapy now. Will post pix here and on my @exoticfauna Instagram later. Revisit this entry as I'll edit the pix into this post tonight. 






Five hour session complete. That's it for this trip ... Right sleeve will be completed in February or May ... Watch vid of today's brilliant addition at http://youtu.be/Wkr82zCJsb0 (Blogger video sucks). 

After the tattoo session it was a quick Tiger lager and off for some shopping at Cabela's. Now we are having our dinner at Wok 'n Fire. 

My sushi

Mark's Korean BBQ



And after dinner it was out to the porch where it was a beautiful 68° clear evening. Mark brought me a bottle of Jameson's Signature Reserve as a belated birthday gift and I enjoyed a glass with a cigar. 



Then we watched Ink Master before retiring for the night. A fitting end after a day of body art from an ink master. 

Later, MJ

Sunday, October 4, 2015

#82 - MORE SPIDERS

It's amazing how my collection has disappeared. I just got finished cleaning the spider room, which is being reclaimed as an office/den, and it's shocking how much is gone. When Mark was here, with wife Kim and daughter Brandon about four months ago, my party goers got to see the rebuilt-a-breeding-spider-collection-in-two-years at its peak. I was proud of how I had gone from zero to thousands in two short years and produced a good number of egg sacs including a heaping handful of American firsts. I imported, I sold, I bred. I first hatched the bromeliad dwellers Pachistopelma rufonigrum and P. bromelicola. An Avicularia hirschii sac that didn't hatch was produced. ;) I first hatched Harpactira pulchripes, Avicularia sp. Colombia, Tapinauchenius sp. Colombia., etc. I hatched five sacs of Iridopelma hirsutum 'Recife' and FINALLY am down to only about 60 left to find homes for (party attendees may take freebies with them as party favors).

But, as much as I have downsized my rapidly created breeding operation, I continue to pair species that I am working with for a bit longer. I have two H. pulchripes, two H. chrysogaster and one H. marksi paired, plus a Monocentropus lambertoni. I'm kinda starting to give up on the marksi and only mated the chrysogaster one time each, but I'm hopeful for more Harpactira. I've hatched more M. balfouri (I've hatched three sacs in last five months), but they have small sacs and the spiderlings sell very quickly. These African species are the focus of what I am continuing working with over the next year. But I'm also hoping to produce the US first Avicularia sooretama.

I still love my Poecs though and P. subfusca and P. rufilata have recently hatched. I have another P. rufilata sac still with mom (I RARELY pull sacs) and I just hatched Poecilotheria smithi, naturally in the terrarium, as well. So, I suppose there will be - MORE SPIDERS - babies to feed until I cease all operations. No worries. I can take care of everything in a half a day now. It's very chill. You haven't been rid of me yet ... MJ

#81 - TRAVEL WOES


Right now I should be greeting Mark Pennell at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. I'm not.

I'm sure my lectures and Tales from the Field blog series have had many of you envious of my world travels. I certainly have been fortunate and I wouldn't trade my travel experiences for anything.

However, the actual traveling part can suck monkey ass. Take it from a guy who flew 31,000 miles alone in February 2015 - airplane travel gets old fast.

Now I have no problem with flying. I definitely have no "fear" and I actually very much enjoy both takeoff and landing. However, I am 6' 2". And a tad claustrophobic. So the thrill wears off quickly. I also am extremely sensitive to motion sickness. Fortunately, it doesn't usually affect me when flying, and I typically take Dramamine as a precaution and, rarely successful, sleep aid. But my ears always get buggered up and I am also sensitive to jet lag. It took me a month to recover from my February circumnavigation of the globe. I was not well at all. The other problem is I can't sleep unless I am in a bed in the dark. I had four 15+ hour flights in February and just tossed and turned and read and wrote.

Of course, the worst part of air travel is delays and cancellations and that brings us back to me not greeting Mark. He's en route back to his house in Bristol right now instead. Therein lies the first story ...

My first text came at about 1:30 a.m., which is 7:30 a.m. in the land of Mark. His KLM flight from Bristol, UK to Amsterdam direct to Chicago had been cancelled. For fuck's sake. KLM booked him on an American Airlines flight. But this flight would leave from Heathrow. That's outside London and about one and a half hour's drive from Bristol. There is no puddle jumper. Mark's wife Kim would have to take him almost to London for his new flight plan. So Mark checked his bag at Heathrow and waited for gate assignment for the AA flight ... and waited ... and, then, CANCELLED. I would be so fucking livid. He was. I don't know why either of these flights were cancelled, but the end result is that all they could offer was to put him up in a hotel overnight that would take a 50 quid taxi ride to get to plus some lame meal voucher. Instead, Kim drove all the way back to Heathrow to collect Mark. She spent her day driving between England's west coast and London and Mark spent his day fuming in an airport and being driven back and forth.

Tomorrow morning he will (hopefully) successfully (please, oh, please) get his new flight from Bristol to Dublin to Chicago. This is the Aer Lingus route that I normally take between here and Bristol. The best part is that there is US Customs in the Dublin airport so you clear there and arrive as a domestic passenger in Chicago. Big time saver.

So today's travel disappointment for Mark (and I, of course, as I am looking forward to chilling with me mate!) leads me to thinking about my own hassles when traveling the many air miles I've flown in the past ten years alone. [And as I typed the last sentence Mark texted me to say he's finally back home in Bristol and crashing to start fresh in the morning].

Lost luggage obviously sucks. When I arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in February my back was still stuck in Hong Kong. It didn't make my next flight to Langkawi Island so I spent my first several days during my surprise arrival for Mark's 50th Bday Celebration without my clothes. When you're a large American it is tough to find clothing in a country of small brown people. I had the same thing happen when my family traveled to Ixtapa, Mexico some 20 years ago. Our luggage didn't accompany us and I wandered around trying to find an XL t-shirt that wasn't actually a small. And forget about finding size 12 flip flops. I learned the lesson of dressing for the destination, not the weather you departed from. And I carry travel soap so I can wash clothes in the bathroom sink as I had to do in Langkawi.

Layovers also suck. When you have a 15 hour flight between Dubai and Chicago having a 9 hour layover in Dubai isn't fun even if it is a pretty spectacular modern airport. Arriving in the Kuala Lumpur airport in the wee hours of the morning when it is deserted and having to wait there in the 100 degrees and 200% humidity for six hours is a horrendous experience. Especially when there are creepy guys walking around with rolls of Saran wrap. I had been warned before Sri Lanka about how guys in that part of the world use it as condom during gay sex. The film is found behind trees, as is piles of human excrement. Yes, world travel is glamourous. Cling roll guy actually followed me into a bathroom at KL airport. I'm sure he could tell that I would eviscerate him with my bare hands and was best avoided.

There also is no place like home. I've had amazing experiences in exotic places chasing extraordinary creepy crawlies, but I always look forward to the last day when I am headed back to my own bed. I used to miss my dog so much, but she remains only in my memories. I might not have her pull in the future, but it's always comforting to land back on reality's terra firma.

Take care, MJ

Saturday, October 3, 2015

#80 - WITH APOLOGIES

Happy Rocktober!

Greetings KISS MY BIG HAIRY SPIDER readers! I must offer my apologies for the fewer posts of the past few weeks. I have been very busy and my mind has been occupied with other things.

Most importantly, I've been preparing for Sunday's arrival of Mark Pennell who again is making the journey from Bristol, England to Amsterdam to Chicago. I pick him up at about 3 Sunday afternoon and since I've have his canvasses, other houseguests and Friday evening party guests in my home I am spending any free moment when I am not working or shipping spiders trying to organize and clean the bachelor pad.

I don't have much to say that is arachno-related and, thus, on topic for this blog right now. I don't give arachnids much thought these days except when I am editing the articles for the next BTS Journal. Again, I urge you all to JOIN - even if only through a digital membership - and get the current journal with my two articles. However, when I find the time I will make at least one of those articles available here as a bonus to the loyal KMBHS readers who have now stuck with me through eighty posts.

Since I do enjoy calling out douchenozzles and asshats, I may as well end this with doing so. In an earlier blog on novice "pseudo dealers" I had called out some people and one was some guy who uses the alias widow keeper or something like that. During a phone conversation, Frank Somma defended this guy whose birth name is Nick Krueger and said that he is eager to learn and has sought Frank's counsel. Well, he may be open to fast-track learning by asking questions of an expert like Frank, but he is still a d-bag as the below Faffbook exchange sent to me by Chad Campbell proves.  The post was in a shitty classifieds FB group that doesn't have good moderators. Apparently this twirp is selling spiders of the highly dangerous genus Phoneutria. Not really something a novice or d-bag should engage in ... this is territory for only the highly experienced keeper, seller and buyer. Chad tried to educate him and he doesn't seem here to be as eager to learn as Frank made him out to be. He seems more like a kid who needs my foot on his throat. Read the twat's response to Chad and you'll see he's just another punk who sadly is the typical arachnid hobbyist these days.



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

#79 - TUESDAY, SHIP DAY

Today is my day off work and the day that each week I ship the bulk of the orders of my closeout spiders. It's actually not a full day off as I have to go in 5:30 to 7:30 to teach a class using our Virtra simulator that utilizes shoot, don't shoot scenarios.

I won't be able to get all pending orders out today and should be boxing them up instead of typing, but I thought I'd post a quick hello and direct you to the comment section below my recent FINAL COMMENT post (#77) on the whole FedEx/USPS shipping can of worms. John Apple commented informing us that there actually IS a process where you can get "approved" to ship arachnids via FedEx. He will be my houseguest next week and I hope he'll sit here at my laptop and hunt and peck off an explanation of this as a "guest blogger". So watch for that...

I am now only 5 days from seeing my best mate/top bloke Mark. I look forward to my drive to the airport. I'll be posting pics from his visit to this blog, especially of our October 9 ArachnoParty that is open to anyone who can make the trip. It will be Camp SpiderShoppe, my last hurrah, so bring a sleeping bag, pillow and a toothbrush. I do have one spot open in my bed, but photos and safe words will have to be exchanged prior to the invite ;) (Sorry, couldn't resist). Party attendees will be able to pick through my 'GARAGE SALE' of jars, cereal containers, a few acrylics, ExoTerras, cork, plants, misc deli cups, etc. and I'll be letting them set the price and donating the funds to the Wounded Warrior Project or some other similar cause.

Hopefully Andy Daugherty and his "crue" will be making an appearance this time and there should be a few new faces as well.

OK, back to finishing the boxes and packing the spiders. I'm going to have to drop off at FedEx on my way to work at 4:30 and I'll begin running out of time if I don't shut down my electronic devices. I think the soundtrack for this morning's work with be Opeth Blackwater Park ...

As a final word, I am open to negotiations on my remaining inventory. I just want it gone. Email reasonable offers to spidershoppe@icloud.com. Those who can pickup at my party or have delivered in Chicagoland will get the best deals.

Have a good rest of the week. See some of you in just over a week.

MJ

Sunday, September 27, 2015

#78 - SUNDAY FUNDAY RANDOMNESS #8

My iPhone started yelling at me at 5:30 a.m. It wasn't a pleasant sound. I'm an early to bed, early to rise sort of guy, but last night after a special event at work and myself and some of my colleagues retired to the local watering hole once we closed shop. I had some drinks and cheated on my diet a bit. I was up later than is my norm.

Today was actually my first real day off in a couple of weeks. I've been working six day weeks with only Tuesday off, but the Tuesday isn't really a day of rest as that is my spider shipping day. So, the "SPIDERSHOPPE" is still open on Tuesdays. So after a stretch of 17 or 18 working days in a row why did I set my alarm for o' dark thirty? Because I had a BTS Committee meeting to attend!

No, I didn't take a red eye to the Hilton in Bracknell, UK, west of London, where the meeting was held at noon (6 a.m., my time). I attended the three and a half hour meeting via Skype. In my underpants!


Here is my view of the meeting from the perspective of Mark Pennell. I nodded off a few times, but for 3.5 hours I sat here at my desk and took part in the meeting. Straight ahead is Chairman Peter Kirk. On either side of him are Ange and Ray Hale. The hands belong to Kim Pennell and the shaved head bloke behind them is Lee Cole who is blocking his wife Shelley. Across from them is the membership team of Phil and Erin, and the closest on the right side of the screen is Dr. Stuart Longhorn, BTS Treasurer. Out of picture is Mark, whose laptop was showing the committee my sleepy carcass (bottom right inset image) and Martin Nicholas who was to Mark's left. This is our entire BTS committee taking care of the business of running the world's greatest and longest running tarantula society.



As I mentioned previously, I am taking the reins of the Journal of the British Tarantula Society and it will be my number one priority when it comes to the tarantula hobby. During the meeting we decided that Pete will serve as editor for the next Journal, which he and I are currently editing articles for, and then I will pilot it moving forward. For those of you who remember my ARACHNOCULTURE magazine (2005-2007), one of my features was "Inner View". This was my interview with some of arachnoculture's leading forces. The first was Rick West, followed by Andrew Smith, Elizabeth Mulé,  Steve Nunn, Ray Gabriel, and Volker von Wirth with Martin Huber. As I take over as Editor of the Journal, an interview feature will return. This time BTS membership co-administrator Phil Geraghty will interview me for the first issue with me at the helm. I expect one question will be: "Why the hell is a bloody American editing a British society's publication?

One other thing decided at the BTS meeting this morning/afternoon was with regards to the competition at the annual May Exhibition. I will be judging the photography and artwork categories and also will be photographing the entered spiders and scorpions instead of Peter Kirk. The live spider and scorpion categories will be judged by Mark Pennell and Stuart Longhorn, perhaps with the aid of a "guest judge" likely to be mon ami Jean-Michel Verdez.

After the meeting I just wanted to crawl back into bed but I had some errands that needed to be taken care of. One included buying Tiger lager and Jameson's whiskey for my ArachnoParty at my home Friday, October 9. I came home so exhausted that I fell back asleep immediately and missed my scheduled noon rendezvous with Randy Martinez to deliver him some spiders. When I woke again at 3:30 p.m. I had to send apologies and reschedule.

Yes, time flies, and Mark Pennell will be here NEXT SUNDAY!!! Can't wait to see my mate and spend a week with him. It also means that one week from Tuesday will be spent finishing the tattooing of my right sleeve! We have one more major piece to add to my "tricep" and then loads of roses and stuff for gap filling. Have some surprises in store for Mark and we'll also go shooting at least twice. On Saturday morning after the party all of those who sleep over at my house will join me for breakfast at a local restaurant and then Chad, Mark and I will hit the range to make some smoke and noise.

I am hoping some of the party attendees will help me out by taking home some of the empty jars, containers and cages that used to hold many tarantulas. After Tuesday's ship-out, my collection will be really small and I am now going to end this blog to work on further slashing a few prices on my remaining closeout list and perhaps add a few more things. I will be dismantling some of the shelving racks this week and reclaiming my spider room as an office that holds a small collection of spiders. Transitions. Changes. All for the good and mental health. Sell off spiders, buy yourself your dream $4000 handgun (Wilson Combat Hackathorn Special). Win, win.

Catch y'all soon ... MJ