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This is my 2001 journal.
Also available: 2003 2002 2000 1990s 1980s

Everything on this page:
Copyright 1985-2002 by Thane Plambeck, except where obviously not.

9 May 2001
Crossword Puzzle

I made a crossword puzzle [PDF].

Sharpen your pencil. Or do it in INK, the way I do them.

Here's the solution [PDF].

(Added June 2001). My father points out 41 Across should be "Winesburg ______."

3 October 2001
The Cat Spider

A very persistent and big orb spider (orb spider = the kind that weaves a web with concentric circles) has been repeatedly building a perfect web just behind the side gate of our house. The web gets destroyed whenever someone opens the gate.

Here is one photo I took (left), and another one—brazenly copied from the Internet—of a "Cat Spider" (right) for comparison:

The size of the web is shown better in this photo [Photo].

The description below that I found on the Internet fits it exactly—it sometimes is in the middle of the web, and sometime in a little side pocket it builds for itself. Also it hangs upside down, as described.

On the other hand, maybe every orb spider acts (and looks) like this one. I've noticed it taking prey to the middle of the web before it eats it, as described below.


It has very well developed shoulder humps. This spider can be found sitting in the center of its web. It spins snares in the form of an orb, and while some build a retreat at a distance from the snare, others remain at the center of the orb, hanging head down in most cases, quietly awaiting their prey. Males are not as frequently seen as females. They are found on the outsides of buildings, in barns, or garages.

Family information: Araneidae

Orb Weavers form a family of some 2500 species found in all parts of the world. Several hundred species occur north of Mexico. Almost all of these spiders spin an orb-web, an engineering feat practiced also by the Uloborids and by the related Ray Spiders and Tetragnathids.

Orb weavers have poor vision. They locate prey by feeling the vibration and tension of the threads in their web, they quickly turn the captive with their legs while their fourth legs pull out silk and wrap the victim. The prey is bitten before being carried to the center of the web or to the spider's retreat in a corner, where it is eaten.

Anything inedible is cut from the web and dropped to the ground.

In the fall the female Orb-weavers of many species produce egg sacs containing several hundred eggs, then die. In some species the eggs hatch soon; in others not until the following spring. The large number of eggs produced suggests that these spiderlings face greater hazards than do the young of scorpions, pseudoscorpions, and spiders cared for by their mothers. Orb-weaver spiderlings make a perfect orb-web, but as the spiderlings mature, their webs become more specialized and characteristic of the species.

General Family Information from Golden Guide To Spiders

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Family: Araneidae
Genus: Araneus
Species: A. diadematus
That's a lot of "A" words.

The case of Kenneth and Kristine Fitzhugh

Palo Alto had a interesting murder trial in 2001.

Here's a copy of a one of the stories about it in the Palo Alto Daily News [article].

I prefer the transcripts of Kenneth Fitzhugh's interrogation by the Palo Alto police.

[Part One (PDF)] [Part Two (PDF)]

I happened to be a juror in a different Santa Clara County murder trial that took place not long before the Fitzhugh trial. The defendant's attorney was Tom Nolan in both cases. Here's some information about the trial I participated in:

[San Jose Mercury News (PDF)]
[Victim's Friend's Web Site (HTML)]

Note added 4 March 2004: The defendant lost an appeal on a vote of 2-1.

Note added 15 March 2004: Here's the ruling (84 pages, PDF).