24 July 2015

Star Wars Illustrated: The Empire Strikes Back Princess Leia Sketch by Angelina Benedetti

I meant to post a couple more times this week, but I got sucked back into my Out of the Park Baseball 16 campaign. In case you haven't heard about it OOTP, it's a super-detailed baseball management simulator. Instead of playing with a historical MLB league, I created a small fictional league located in the Pacific Northwest. Anyway, it is super-addictive and it can be hard to close the game down. I always want to play just another season to see if my roster moves will get my team into the playoffs.

I have a contest running on my blog right now, with a couple of prizes available from the 2015 BBM True Heart Women's Pro Wrestling card set out of Japan. Go here to enter. All it takes is a comment on the post to enter, and you can get an additional entry by promoting the contest on your blog and posting the link in the comments. The deadline is this Saturday evening (25 July 2015), so you've only got a couple more days to enter if you haven't already. On to this post's real content!

I picked up another Star Wars sketch card featuring Princess Leia. I believe this is my fifth sketch card featuring the character. This one was done by artist Angelina Benedetti and comes from the Star Wars Illustrated: The Empire Strikes Back trading card set. Benedetti is an artist out of Germany who seems a little obsessed with Natalie Portman and also Star Wars. She does some decent artwork and I am glad that I was able to add this sketch card to my collection.

Storage is a bit of an issue for me at the moment, though, as this is a two-panel booklet card. I don't have any double-sized top loaders or magnetic cases, so I don't really have an effective way to store it without keeping it folded. Keeping it folded would keep me from displaying it, and if I am always opening and closing it to look at the art I risk having the hinge wear down. I guess worrying about how to display your artwork would qualify as a #firstworldproblem.

In other news and changing the subject completely, I was running a little late for work this morning and that meant I missed my ride on the commuter van. So I had to go out to the garage and get my motorcycle, which I haven't ridden for a couple of weeks. While I was closing the garage door I noticed a rather large Black Widow spider hanging from one of the door panels. I tried to take a picture of it with my phone, but it was too dark and I couldn't get a decent focus, so I determined that I needed to capture the spider

I went into the house and got a jam jar (and put on my gloves), and raised the garage door back up until the spider was at about shoulder height. It sidestepped the jar a few times, but I finally got it captured without injury to myself or the critter.

One of my sons was awake already, so I ran to show him my prize. The ruckus woke up my wife, who wanted to see the spider, but also wanted to make sure I had a plan for disposing of it. All of the noise and light in the hallway woke up another of my sons, and he came out of his room to see the spider. I didn't want to kill the spider, but I was now quite late for work and also didn't really want to take time to find a good place for it. So the jar went into my bike's saddlebags and off we went on a motorcycle ride. People at the office were sufficiently impressed by the size of the spider, and I made sure to keep it away from anyone who might be sensitive to that kind of thing. I don't want to cause anyone trauma just because I am fascinated by creepy crawlies.

Here is the star of the show.
My family was leaving on a trip today, so they had to drive through the city where I work in the middle of the day on their way through. The boy who did not wake up for the spider show in the morning really wanted to see the spider, as they had been talking about Black Widows a few days ago and he didn't want to miss his chance to see a real one. He was kind of interested in the spider until he saw the donuts on my desk. Then he was mostly interested in his donut.

When I got home from work I let the spider go out behind my back yard. Our house backs up to a canal with trees and junk along the banks, so it should be able to find a place to live over there somewhere. It didn't seem to be any worse for wear from spending a day with me at the office and traveling over 40 miles by motorcycle.

From another angle.

This was probably the fourth- or fifth-largest Black Widow I have ever seen, and the second-largest I have caught in a jar or bottle. When I was in fourth or fifth grade my dad and I (probably mostly my dad) caught a small one in a baby food jar. I received permission from my teacher to bring it in to the classroom as long as it stayed on the teacher's desk during the day. I thought that was pretty cool. That spider was squashed to death by my mom. I forget the exact circumstances, but for some reason the jar was opened (maybe to put a bug in there for the spider to eat) and the spider made a run for it across the kitchen counter. There was plenty of squealing done by all parties and my mom found something to smash it with.

The largest Black Widow I remember catching in a bottle was during a job I had milking cows in high school. After a batch of cows was done being milked, I would pull a lever that released them from their stations and they would run out the door into the yard. On this occasion I saw that one of the cows leaped to the side and bellowed in pain as it ran out of the milking shed. Then I saw a huge spider hanging in the doorway. Upon further inspection I saw that it was the largest Black Widow I had ever seen. This sucker was huge. So I caught it in my water bottle. Unfortunately it died because there was still a little water in the bottle and it got caught up in it.

The next day when I got to work I saw that the farmer was picking up the cow with the bucket on his tractor to haul it away because it had died. I assume that as the cow went through the doorway it got bitten on the face or something and that was enough to kill it. I think there were only 80-100 cows being milked and I got pretty good at recognizing them, so I am certain it was the same cow. It had to have been bitten on the nose or the eye or something vulnerable, because I don't think a spider could really bite a cow anywhere else due to the bovine's thick skin and hairy coat. It was just one of those weird circumstances that sticks with you.

I have had a few other run-ins with these spiders, although I would imagine that utility workers and folks who work in crawlspaces for a living aren't even fazed by these things. I guess that is because in most cases spiders don't bite. Even though spider bites are super rare and unlikely to kill you, I still get a shiver when I think about venomous spiders living in my home. But really, spiders do not (usually) bite.


  1. Interesting post! I feel bad for that cow, but then again, I ate a hamburger today.

    1. I am just guessing that dying to provide meat for a hamburger is a (slightly) better fate than spending most of a day being killed by neurotoxic spider venom. Maybe you can take some solace from that.

  2. Wow. Crazy to think a little black widow could take down a cow. I guess you gotta love and respect even the smallest creatures on our planet. Here in the Bay Area, I'll come across a black widow about once a year. They're usually in really dark places like behind storage bins or in the dark corners of my garage. You're a lot nicer than me. I usually stomp on them out of fear of getting bitten.

    1. I kill most spiders that happen to invade my personal bubble, but when a spider isn't really bothering me I try to let it live. But if there's a chance that it could run up my leg or get in my hair or something like that, it's getting squashed. In this spider's case, the fact that I saw it from a distance first saved its life. If it had been on the same side of the garage as me when I first spotted it then it would have gotten the boot.

    2. Yeah... I generally allow spiders to roam free... even in my house and classroom. I'd much rather have them wandering around than insects. So they're like my own bug patrol. However... black widows are the exception to this rule :)