Art Monday: search, download, comment

One of the things about blogging that appeals to me is seeing a bit about the people who come across my art. Widgets can help a lot with the ever-welcome lurkers and shed some light on their shadowy existence. Everyone uses them, so I think the Big Brother aspect of them is largely mitigated by their egalitarian use.

The concept of everyone watching everyone else and the failure of privacy as a right is excellently explored in David Brin's Earth and in Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age. In Earth, there is still tension; in The Diamond Age, new social mores modeled on Victorians and Confucianism make spying uncouth.

Anyway, I'm not opening this up to reveal ISP's or anything. But as an artist, the subject of who is downloading my stuff is fascinating and a bit daunting at the same time.

If you don't expose artwork to viewers, you languish in obscurity. No security is great enough to stop someone from ripping you off though. I've heard a number of stories about how people have been caught doing just that.

Today, I would like to look and speculate.

-Someone who works at an ad company in Belgium looked at a few pages of my blog, searched for the word "coelacanth" and finally downloaded my Darwin Day liveblog result.

-The most popular download in the last little while is my poster for The Centre for Inquiry-sponsored PZ Myers lecture last Hallowe'en. And surprising to me, is half again as many people downloaded my scribbly rough sketch! What for?

-The second-most popular download is a photo of an albino squirrel in Trinity-Bellwoods park I snapped here in Toronto. Albino squirrel populations exist in a bunch of places, and I suppose the sight of one is rare enough people go online scrambling for photos of the skittish mammals. Perhaps I should apologize for my photography.

-To the person in Sweden who searched for "fossil encrinurus photo" and downloaded my pencil drawing - I make no guarantees about scientific accuracy. Although I aim for a high degree of accuracy to reach out to my core scientifically-literate audience, sometimes I just like how the pencil pattern looks.

-For the Arizona resident searching under "flying trilobite hoax", I'm kind of glad you didn't find one. I don't paint inaccurately-winged flying trilobites on pieces of shale for the same reason people make crop circles or launch flares. In other words, it is not to test people's gullibility. That's why they are usually labeled "Mythical Flying Trilobite Fossil". I paint flying trilobites largely for the same reason people paint dragons or faeries. It's fun and interesting, and hopefully sparks the imagination. (Hmm, is there a children's book of flying trilobites hiding inside me somewhere?) Can you imagine if I did try to perpetuate a hoax about finding a genuine flying trilobite fossil? How many people would read their morning papers or bloggy news-source and be shocked? Richard Fortey, Marek Eby, and Sam Gon III?

My stuff is under a Creative Commons Licence, specifically one that means you may share, email and download my art, you simply need to a)always cite it as mine with a link to me, b)not alter it in any way, and c) not make any $$$ from it. That last part's my job. So by all means, share and enjoy my artwork.

And don't be afraid to send an email or make a comment! Feedback for a blogging artist is all that and a bag of chips.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

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Albino Squirrels (plural!) of Trinity-Bellwoods

While walking in Trinity-Bellwoods Park a couple of weeks ago, Michelle and I saw two of the albino squirrels!

Yesterday, I managed to snap a photo of them both together before one raced out of frame up a tree. The other is on the ground in the far right of the photo. Click to enlarge.

One seems a little bigger than the other.

Excellent. Perhaps by next winter there will be a whole colony. (What's the group-name for squirrels? Herd? Clutch? Brace?)

You can see other posts about the albino squirrels of Trinity-Bellwoods here.

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All original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details. Please visit my blog, gallery and reproduction store.

What do you read outside?

Spring in the city! The last few days, I've stopped in Trinity-Bellwoods Park on my way home from work, and read a chapter or three of Parenting Beyond Belief, edited by Dale McGowan.

There is something satisfying about reading outdoors in the sun. I pass through Trinity-Bellwoods usually twice a day on my 30 minute walk. I've mentioned the park before, and here are a couple of even better pics of the stunning little albino squirrel, having a snack with a friend.

Parenting Beyond Belief is an excellent book I found out about backwards, through reading the editor-author's blog, Meming of Life. Dale McGowan is entertaining and informative, and also heartfelt. He knows how to mix appealing anecdotes with research, so the literary calories are not hollow.

Here in Toronto, Chapters/Indigo/Coles/World's Biggest has it listed in their system, but I can't seem to find it. A new Book City moved in, and were happy to have it delivered to the location on my walk home. Nice! The sales consultant thought it looked pretty interesting too.

It's easy for me to pick a favourite in this book. Teaching Kids to Yawn at Counterfeit Wonder, by Dale McGowan. I like anything by McGowan in particular. Even the endnotes can be entertaining.

There are science experiments you can do with kids. A beautiful letter to his daughter by Richard Dawkins, whose writing has inspired much of my painting in the past. Essays on how to deal with concepts of death with your children (and for me - this was good stuff).

This is not a ponderous, heavy book, and is not meant to be. It is a nimble conversation-starting book, a catalysing book, a deeply interesting book. It does not matter if you are atheist, Bright, religious-but-liberal-and-a-little-lapsed; a parent of adopted or natural children, an educator, or involved in some young person's life.

Never quite understood the fuss about evolution? Chapter 8: Jaw-Dropping, Mind-Buzzing Science has the easy explanation of what Darwin discovered. Order this book, and while you're waiting for it to arrive, read The Meming of Life.

There is something a little sublime when sitting below a massive, twisty old tree, reading an excellent book while the sun is shining, buds are slow-mo bursting, kids are on bikes, dogs are lolling on their backs in the grass, and you have a bottle of blueberry-green tea.

Spring is back. What have you read outside? What do you plan to read?

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All original artwork on
The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details. Squirrel photos by Glendon Mellow. I tried not to hound the little guy; this was taken from a distance. It's a squirrel, ya gotta be respectful.

Albino Squirrel of Trinity-Bellwoods

The last few years a tiny surprise has hopped and bobbed its jaunty tail through Trinity-Bellwoods Park here in Toronto's downtown. My wife saw this resident for the first time last week, and this morning I was lucky enough to snap a couple of photos.
Trinity-Bellwoods is not the largest or most wooded park in Toronto, but I pass through it to and from work every day. The little albino squirrel, going about its squirrely business with its grey and black squirrelerific friends, is something of a local celebrity. Nearby boutiques on the hipster-filled Queen St. West scene will occasionally have messages in their window, or on their sidewalk signs. One store even had a plush one in the window.
This second pic is horribly blurry. I'd like to blame that on my kindness in not pursuing the squirrel too closely, as I'm sure it is followed by paparazzi hoping to catch a glimpse of a wardrobe malfunction more often than the other squirrels. But I think the picture may be blurry due to the icy ground, and the amount of coffee I had this morning. Blurred like this though, doesn't it look a bit like it's going to pelt an acorn at my head? It's eyeing me, like I'm just another shutterbug.

I love this park. Lots of "refuge-points" in the landscape, trees dotted here and there, trees that rustle in the breeze. Walking through there is one of the best parts of my day.

(For more great posts on albinism in animals, check out Zooillogix.)

All original artwork on
The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow. The contents of this blog are under a Creative Commons Licence. See sidebar for details.