Animal Magnetism
Eight Legged Karma

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Spider in the computer room, January 1989
Click image for an even more hideous enlargement.

In November 1987 I was summoned to attend a March 22, 1988 meeting of the National Computer Graphics Association in order to accept an award for something or other I was alleged to have done. I had problems with this: accepting the award would require traveling to Los Angeles and giving a speech, thereby involving three of my least favourite things: air travel, Los Angeles, and public speaking. So, I decided to blow off the award and, as things worked out, the night I was supposed to have received it I was home alone engaging in the kind of wild hedonistic debauchery which makes me so loath to travel—on this occasion cleaning the dishwasher.

Here I pick up the narrative from an E-mail I sent to colleagues shortly after things got terribly wet, red, and salty that night.

Date: Wed, 23 Mar 88 00:53:03 PST
From: John Walker
To: redacted
Subject: Turbo Karma

The voice of experience sez....

Don't cross the NCGA.

Sunday, I decided not to go to NCGA & accept their "award"
on 3/22/88.

Tuesday, shortly after said "award" was to be delivered, I'm
passing the time waiting for a document to be printed on the
LaserWriter by cleaning out the Muir Beach Water Company gunk
from his dishwasher.

Did you know that that little popper valve at the back of your
dishwasher has a knife edge right below the edge of the cap?  I
do, now.

So....23:00 on a fine Tuesday night, and we have bright red
arterial blood going blop-blop-blop from the left index
finger.  Serious medical problem... this calls for a Band-Aid! 
Uhhhh....slight difficulty...the Band-Aids are at the other
house.  Do we feel like a 10 minute drive with the finger
pumping vital fluids into the footwell of the Honda?  Nope. 
Messy, and possibly embarrassing.

So, wrap a Kleenex around it and compress with Scotch Magic
Tape.  Well...that seems to have stopped the bleeding for the
moment.  Time to think about the problem.  Hey...there's the
apocalypse-hedge med kit downstairs, in the room with the
wolf spider.  Gingerly the kit is retrieved....hmmmm....
pre-threaded sutures...I always wondered if I could do
this....three stitches ...problem solved.


        1.  Never run out of Band-Aids and butterfly closures.
        2.  "Survivalist" equipment sometimes pays off.
        3.  If you have to do it, it's not that hard.
        4.  Never cross the NCGA.

Hey, it's OK.  Please don't call the Marins.  See 'ya
tomorrow.  The fact that it's essentially funny compensates for
most of the travails of life.

Suture self! But let's get back to the mention of the wolf spider in this E-mail. When, Kleenexed and Magic taped so as not to create a blood and spatter trail likely to attract Henry Lee, I made my way down to the bunker to dig out the field surgery kit, what should I espy when I opened the door but the hairy lady pictured above, doubtless looking right back at me with four times the number of eyes I'd brought to our inadvertent first date.

I did what any rational primate would do under the circumstances: screech ook!, then ignore the icky arthropod and get on with the business at hand. When you're about to bleed out because you've almost cut off the end of your finger, spider bites are pretty far down the risk continuum. Naturally, the next morning, the spider was nowhere to be seen. Walker's First Law of Spiders, however, says “Once you've seen a spider, you'll always see it again”. Spiders, like ants and female cats in heat, are no more constrained by walls, windows, and closed doors than neutrinos. To wit, the following Saturday when, notwithstanding assiduous, bordering on compulsive, looking for beings with more legs or eyes than I am endowed with sneaking through the airlock with me, shortly after watching the latest episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, I toddled down to the computer room to find my chance acquaintance fixing me with an octo-ocular stare. After taking these pictures, I released the spider a long, long way from the house. And I never, ever again crossed the NCGA!

This photo was taken by John Walker in March 1988 with a Nikkormat camera and Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens on Kodak ASA 100 colour print film. Aperture and exposure were not recorded. This image was produced by scanning the original negative with a Nikon 8000 ED film scanner and postprocessing with The Gimp.

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by John Walker
July 10th, 2003
This document is in the public domain.