Archive for June, 2009

Summer Solstice

June 29, 2009

I’m not a fan of the Summer Solstice.  The summer solstice traditionally falls on June 21st.   That is the longest day of the year.  From here until the shortest day of the year, on December 21, every day is a minute or two shorter than the day before .  sun_woodcut1Then, thankfully, each day gets a minute or two longer.    I call the time after summer solstice the long decline into darkness.  I don’t like when the sun sets at 4:00pm.   I start work pretty early.  I try to be there by 7.  If I work till after 4pm that means I can go days without seeing the sun.  That’s not natural.  Humans need sunlight both physiologically and psychologically.  I don’t need a doctor to tell me that.  And that is why although summer is my favorite season that the summer solstice bums me out.  Because I recognize it’s the changing of the seasons.

People have been celebrating the solstice ever since we began to track the sun and celestial bodies.  Stonehenge is aligned to mark the solstice.   To herald in the beginning of summer the ancients used to build bonfires, get drunk, sing and dance.

How in tune are you with the seasons?  It’s not too late.  Make a resolution to sit by more campfires.  Go swimming in a lake or the ocean.  Go camping.  Ride your bike.  Play tennis.  Have a barbecue.  Rent a kayak.  Walk barefoot.  Eat watermelon and spit the seeds.  Plant some flowers or veggies.  Walk your dog or your kids.

No matter what season you are celebrating…GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY! I thought that this Robin’s egg was a good picture to go along with the one about the shortening days.

p1010011Robin Redbreast
By: William Allingham

Good-bye, good-bye to Summer!
For Summer’s nearly done;
The garden smiling faintly,
Cool breezes in the sun;
Our Thrushes now are silent,
Our Swallows flown away,–
But Robin’s here, in coat of brown,
With ruddy breast-knot gay.
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
Robin singing sweetly
In the falling of the year.

Bright yellow, red, and orange,
The leaves come down in hosts;
The trees are Indian Princes,
But soon they’ll turn to Ghosts;
The scanty pears and apples
Hang russet on the bough,
It’s Autumn, Autumn, Autumn late,
‘Twill soon be Winter now.
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And welaway! my Robin,
For pinching times are near.

The fireside for the Cricket,
The wheatstack for the Mouse,
When trembling night-winds whistle
And moan all round the house;
The frosty ways like iron,
The branches plumed with snow,–
Alas! in Winter, dead and dark,
Where can poor Robin go?
Robin, Robin Redbreast,
O Robin dear!
And a crumb of bread for Robin,
His little heart to cheer.

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Deflation my ass

June 25, 2009

Deflation my ass.  Yeah, I’ve heard how much the stock market and real estate and oil prices have fallen.  It’s all nonsense.  The value of what I may have in my 401k doesn’t matter until I go to sell it.  Sure, there may be a psychological shock when I see my holdings lose 30, 40 or 50% like last fall.  And no one likes to see the value of their house fall.

The way the Government measures inflation is a lie.  I don’t need the Government’s number crunchers and statistics to tell me what’s going on.  I know what’s going on.  I got the pocket book metric.  The prices of what I buy weekly though is not falling.  My grocery bill keeps going up.  The price of gas has increased every day for the past month or two.  Insurance is out of control. Even worse my property taxes seem to be increasing faster than bacteria in gelatin.

With the job market the way it is anyone is lucky to hold onto their present job.  I have three jobs now.  Seriously three jobs.  I know lots and lots of people who have been laid off.  I also know that many of them are having a real difficult time finding new work.  Some have been out of work for well over six months.  (Once their unemployment benefits expire they are no longer considered as unemployed in the eyes of the gubmint.)

So with things the way they are there are not too many employers that are increasing salaries.  Lots and lots of people have taken pay cuts in order to keep their jobs.  With such staples as food, gas and insurance going up every day it’s getting damn near impossible to keep up, forget about getting ahead.

The large fall in gas and oil prices since last summer is hiding the true inflation rateMy checking account can’t be fooled though.

And the conventional wisdom is that within the next six to 18 months inflation is going to come ROARING back. Prepare accordingly.  The days of buy and hold are over. IMHO tangibles are the way to go.  Over the past two years a can of soup, razors, TP have all been better investments than market indexed funds.  I think the same will hold true in the coming few years.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!

This is the crown of a burdock plant.  If you or your dog has come home with little burrs stuck to your clothes or your dog’s fur this is where they came from.

P1010018I think that this is a first year plant.  Oh, burdock is a biennial, which means the plant’s lifecycle last two years.  The first year of life it establishes itself with a big fat edible root and edible young leaves and the next year it sends up a huge flowerstock that makes those little burrs/seeds.  Pretty ingenious aye.  Those little seeds stick to creatures walking by and that is how burdock spreads itself.   Burdock also has a ton of medicinal uses and is greatly used in traditional Asian medicines.

p1010020If you don’t recognize this plant you are way behind where you should be.  This is obviously sassafras.  You can take the young leaves, dry them and crush them up and use it as a soup thickener.  This powder is known down in mosquito land as file (fillay) powder.  My swamp brothers use it to thicken their gumbos.  You can also take the roots, boil them and make a tasty tea.  I love cold, sweetened sassafras tea during the summer.  It really has a great taste.  You should try some.  Sassafras tea is also medicinally used for many things like gout, arthritis, colds, kidenys and fever.  The sassafras plant is easy to spot because of the shape of its leaves.  They look like mittens.

Be vewy, vewy quiet

June 23, 2009

In general I think the human race, and the world which holds us, would be a far better place if the human species was to do a lot less talking and a lot more listening.  My dog speaks very little, but when he speaks he really means what he says.   Being a man of few words he seems to do just fine.

Just like when you take martial arts or yoga you learn how to breath deeply, you also need to train your senses to take in all that they can.  Maybe you watch, but don’t see, or listen, but don’t hear.  One of the best ways of opening your senses is by laying still.  Just stop.  Stop it.  You can’t listen when you’re making noise.

A refrigerator running all the time adds a constant din to your environment.  And I bet that because you are so used to your refrigerator yelling at you 24/7 that you don’t even notice it.  Try to sit at home without running a TV or radio.  Instead of welcoming or accepting unnecessary noise into your life, be aware of it and at least make a conscious decision whether to have the noise join you.  Don’t let noise be a home invader.  Invite it into your life, or keep it off.

Life in the 21st century is already fast enough without constantly being surrounded by noise.  Civilization emits a loud hum.  Unneeded noise adds stress to your environment.

The next time you are walking outside no talking on the cellphonePut away your Blackberry.  If you run or ride your bike listening to music try to keep the tunes off for a while.  Take that stupid Blue Tooth thing out of your ear.  It makes you look like an idiot anyways.  Hey, friends are honest with each other, right? No texting either.

Think what noise you are subjecting others to.  I know you listen to the most awesomest, bestest rap music ever, but please keep it below 80 decibels.   Sunday morning at 07:30 probably isn’t the best time to weed whack your lawn.  And I know you are proud of your custom Sportster, but your neighbor may be trying to put their sick kid to bed.

Listening more will greatly improve your situational awareness.  Next time you’re outside just stop everything and listen to the birds.  How many different bird calls do you hear?  Listen and than try to watch where the sound is coming from.  See the bird?  Listen to the neighbors yell at their kids to turn down the music.  Listen to what your neighbors are watching on TV.  What are the people in line in front of you talking about.  You’ll be amazed what you hear once you start listening.

I’m not saying that you need to take a vow of silence like some monk.  The next time you speak, pause before you do so and really think about what you are about to say.  Ask yourself is each word necessaryIs it really what you mean to sayBe deliberate with your words.  Choose your words carefully.

When someone is speaking with you, you know having a conversation just listen as deeply as you can.  Breath in what they are saying and stop your mind’s racing thoughts of everything other than what the speaker is saying.

Pass it on, shhhh.  Really, please shhhh.

G E T  O U T S I D E  E V E R Y   D A Y!!

So headed back to the ocean this past weekend.  The waves were good.  I’m trying surfing.  So we have some ocean pictures.

P1010007Here you gots your standard beach pea.  These things grow in the sandiest beach sand imaginable.  And this is the fruit of the beach pea.

p1010008I’ve never eaten them, but I understand that you can boil them and eat them while still hot.  They don’t look very good to me.  I’d have to be pretty hungry to try these peas.

p1010011And here is a beach rose, rosa rugosa.  And the fruit of the beach rose is a beach plum.  Also known as rose hips.

P1010013These beach plums are super high in vitamin c.  They’ll ripen to a nice rich red color.  You can make a tea from them.  I’ve known people to make a cordial by stuffing a mason jar full of rose hips, adding a lot of sugar and topping it all off with good vodka or grain alcohol.  You turn it over every day for three weeks and then drink it down yum.  I bet homemade beach plum cordial would be good for a cold or sore throat.  Folks also make beach plum jelly.

Pee and Poo

June 18, 2009

No one likes talking about them……….. except for seven year old boys and me.  We had termites.  The termites liked our bathroom so we had to rip everything out.  When is the last time you’ve been without a bathroom for more than a week?  Using buckets and bags sucks. Think you could get your wife or SO to squat outside for a week or more?

You best start thinking about how to make life easier for the females in your life should the SHTF and you are having a tough time getting rid of your own.  Because if you don’t make life easy for the females in your life, they won’t make life easy for you.  What are your preps for the brown and yellow stuff?

When we used to go canoeing on the Saco River in Maine it was beautiful and we were able to drink the untreated river water.  Not so much any longer.  Last time I went, all along the river banks were piles of toilet paper in various stages of decomposition.  Don’t be like that.  It’s dirty, nasty and puts others at risk of illness.  Dig your own hole for your own crap.  Dispose of your waste responsibly.

It got me to thinking that my preps in the liquid and solid waste disposal areas has something to be desired.  How about you, what is your plan and backup plan for bathroom needs? You need to take this seriously as it can develop into a major problem.  Crapping outside in the winter isn’t a plan.  Your butt needs to be cleaned a lot more frequently then your firearms.  Plan accordingly.  If you are spending more time in the gun department of Wal-Mart then the toilet paper department, IMHO, your priorities are reversed.

You need to be careful where you go to the bathroom.   Pee and Poo attracts flies and insects and animals and vermin.  Then you got disease and have to be careful where to plant your garden.p009518vr03

You can use a bucket with a toilet seat attached to the top or make a seat out of some scrap lumber.  This is probably the cheapest solution next to a plain bucket and bags.

Then you need to dispose of your stuff there are generally two ways water or burying.  We’re fortunate in the Northeast.  We have so much water around here that even if the town’s pumping station is down we can pour water into the toilet tank and flush.  Water also keeps the smell drowned out.

There are different ways to burp013058hz08y it too.  Some composting toilets use sawdust.  You go to the bathroom in a fancy bucket and then cover it with a cup of sawdust.  The sawdust is carbon for the nitrogen in your stinky stuff and when Poo and Pee are mixed with sawdust the three are supposed to compost quickly.   So the theory is that you keep layering everything into some sort of disgusting lasagna and then you empty the bucket into a compost heap.  Layering some regular garden lime in there too would be a good idea too.

You can also dig a latrine far away from where your pad is.  Stay downstream from your source of water.  You basically dig a hole, cover it with some sort of bench/seat and you are in business to do your business.  When it gets kinda full, you top it off with soil and dig a new hole and move the bench/seat to the new spot.

You can buy a camping toilet too.  They’re obviously more comfortable than buckets and bags,but you still need a solution for where to dump the holding tank.

Coleman

This Coleman unit seems pretty good and Coleman usually makes a decent product. Amazon The Coleman unit pictured above also has a fresh water tank for flushing.

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People seem to love this one available at Amazon.  It holds five gallons of waste and around three gallons of fresh water for flushing!!  You still need somewhere safe to dump the holding tank once it’s full.

TP, chemicals, lime, sawdust, TP, TP, TP, bags, bags, bleach, shovels, sawdust, soil, so don’t be caught with your pants down.  Don’t run out of toilet paper.  As long as you protect TP from rodents and wet it will last a long time.  You also can’t have too many plastic bags in different sizes and shapes.  And no matter what the Big Gee Government says it ain’t getting any cheaper.  Deflation my Ass!

And this guy earns an honorable mention with his Bumper Dumper.  It connects to the trailer hitch.

Bumper Dumper

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Anytime you can sit outside, take a crap and shoot a bird is fine in my book.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!! Even if only to take a dump and shoot a turkey.

p1010011Some wild berries.  You can spot em by their thorns and strange colored branches.  They really stand out.  Make a mark in your memory where they are.  Then the race is on between you and the birds.  Try to come back for them when they are ripe, but wait too long and the wildlife will get them.  Mash some of them up with some red wine or Chambord and put it on pound cake.  Maybe add some fresh mint.  Make a cordial by soaking berries and vodka for a while.

P1010015This is a typical New England trail.  Narrow and overgrown.  You can see how thick the woods are around here.  No shortage of water.  You could probably dig a well ten feet deep and hit water.  You obviously aren’t taking any 200 or 300 yard shots at some mule deer or mountain goat.  When the woods are fresh this time of year you can feel all of the plants breathing.  The air is as clean as it is after a thunderstorm.  Come the fall all the leaves will be brown and down and the woods will be open, only separated by bare naked trees.

Bug Out Vehicle (BOV)

June 16, 2009

Someone sent me an email with pictures of a great BOV.  Check it out.

ATT00000It reminds me of a Unimog.

ATT00010Looks rugged.  I wonder how the mileage is.

ATT00009Even load a bike on it.

Now check out the inside.  It’s plusher than my house.

ATT00001

ATT00002

ATT00003

ATT00004

ATT00005See the coffee maker built in over the sink?

ATT00006This has to be German or Swedish engineering.  It’s so organized.

ATT00007

ATT00008Get Outside Everyday!!

P1010097Just a little waterfall near me house.  Do you know the places in your AO that are nice to walk?  Do you know all the paths and trails within a few miles of your house?  You know where berries grow wild?

p1010098

Termites Part Dos

June 12, 2009

Got termites?  I hate those little evahl white bastards.  Well what was supposed to be a simple tile change out, you know rip out the old and cement in the new, turned into a major rehab.

P1010050It may be tough to see without clicking on the picture, but in the lower right hand corner you see that stud closest to the right?  No not me that wooden piece of crap hanging from the ceiling.   All the way to the right.  It’s gone.   Imagine our surprise when we ripped out that old vinyl bath liner.   We started at 8AM Sunday and the plan was to rip out everything and rebuild what we needed to all before quitting time that day.  Well the bathroom wall spilled into the drywall in the living room, then the living room floor.  We stopped at 8PM and we were still only 90% done with the demo and didn’t even start reframing.

p1010052You see kind of in the middle of the picture by that single blue tile, so you see all of that chewed up wood that those little evahl white bastards made?  Those studs were like dry newspaper.  You could literally put your finger through the studs.  I’m also happy to get that black mould out of the house.  That can’t be good for you.

So we obviously had to keep ripping out in every direction until we found no more little evahl white bastards.   So now we had the exterminator guy out – cha ching.   Another trip to Big Sucky Orange Store – cha ching.  The plumber – cha ching.  Big Sucky Orange Store – Cha Ching.    Debris disposal – cha ching.  All the tradespeople I know hate the fixtures and supplies that Big Orange Sucky sells.

If you haven’t done the Gee-See thing, general contractor thing that is, then you don’t know how tough it is to coordinate things.   People show up before materials or with the wrong tools.  Surprises come up. E can’t be done until A, B, C and D are finished.

So if you think you have termites, don’t mess around call in a professional.  The little evahl white bastards can wreck your house.

trmvsantWe didn’t get any swarms.  They also say that you can see termites mud tunnels outside of your house.  Termites don’t come for wood; they come for wo0d and water.  So if you have a water leak, or suspect a leak, fix it before the wood frame gets wet and becomes a target for termites.  Make sure there are no wood products like firewood or wood mulch right up against your house.

The exterminator is going to use termite baits dug into the ground.  There are wooden disks made from wood pulp and a insect growth regulator that keeps the little evahl white bastards from reproducing.  The bug killer will also use spray in some areas and drill some holes through the bathroom floor and inject poisons down there too.  The liquid insecticide they use he said was the same as is in Frontline that some folks put on their dogs and cats.  He said the Frontline was at least ten times stronger than what he uses.

The positive thing is that now I’ll have a nice new bathroom.  Plus I was able to take out all of the old fiberglass insulation and replace it with nice new fluffy thick insulation and also get rid of all that black mould.

So this used to be the wall between the bathroom and the living room.

p1010059So it all had to go.  Also had to rip up a wood laminate floor – Pergo by Manning.  Pergo sucks.  Pergo sucks. Pergo sucks.  Don’t buy Pergo.

Then you got the wall all framed out.  Is it me or has l umber gotten real expensive?

P1010064

Which reminds me, going to the bathroom outside sucks.  Plastic bags and buckets suck.  Not having a hot shower sucks.  Think about how your preps are in the bathroom, bucket and shower department.  Maybe you need to plan for these critical areas.  A dirty ass doesn’t only stink; it’s also unhealthy.

Get Outside Everday!!!

P1010042If you had your own field guides you would know that the multitudes of green berries on this plan don’t make it a greenberry plant.  You would know that this is a blueberry with gobs of immature blueberries.  Go ahead and click on the picture to expand it.  Quite a few berries, huh?  Once they ripen and turn blue you can pick them and dry them in the summer sun.   Should be next month when they start to get pickable.  I used to make wild mountain blueberry wine.  It was a deliciously sweet syrupy concoction.  Then you got ya blueberry pancakes, fritters, waffles, crepes, cookies, muffins with duck breast or pork or in a salad.

Termites

June 9, 2009

Well we wanted to redo the bathroom a bit so the other day my buddy came over to help.  We got going and discovered termites.  I’ll have a post soon about surviving termites.  Until then it’s twelve hour days, ripping, tearing, measuring, sawing, cementing, grouting, cutting, etc.

Assembly Required

June 5, 2009

This blog has to do with suburban survival so I sometimes deal with boring things, like BEING ABLE TO READ AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.

Have you ever put a gas grill together?  I bought a relatively cheap gas grill that cost under $100.   The last time I put a grill together I screwed up one of the left legs and one of the right legs and ended up having to take almost the whole thing apart before I put it back together with left and right legs in the appropriate places.   I wasn’t going to let them happen again.

memorial day 0919Here I have everything laid out on the picnic table.  The label on the box said it would take 35-45 minutes to put the grill together.  It took me 20 minutes to unpack and organize everything.

The other thing that helps me when I do some assembly project is to turn the thing the same way as the drawing in the direction.  It makes it easier to make sure that I am putting left where left is and right where right is and front to front and back to back.  Got that?

I also find it helps to  slow down and move deliberately.   The old adage measure twice cut once, holds true.  Read the instructions slowly and carefully.   Then read them again.  You almost want to cross things off as you do them to make sure that you don’t miss anything.

memorial day 0927The fasteners were well organized.  I took a break to go to Home Depot for something else.  Altogether I would say it probably took me between three and four hours from beginning to end.  And you’ll be happy to know that it works fine.

So remember –

1.) Before you start to assemble something new make sure that you take everything out of the packaging, organize the parts and familiarize yourself with them.

2.) As you assemble the thing orient it so that it is turned the same way as the drawing/pictures in the assembly instructions.

3.) Slow down and move deliberately.

4.) Read the instructions slowly and carefully

Get Outside everyday!

You have to know what this is –

memorial day 098

You may notice that it’s starting to look a little dark out in the picture.  Please don’t be afraid to go out walking in the woods at night.  The woods are another world at night.

I don’t do the religion thing.  I don’t care what you do or whether you do anything at all.  But this dandelion flower to me is like Proof of God.  I don’t even like the word “God” because it is too limiting.  But looking at this perfectly symmetrical flower you just know that there has to be a Major Force at play.    It’s like a perfect geodesic dome.  Then you think that it is a way for the plant to propagate.  And in order to do all that it had to look nice enough to attract bees and other buzzies to pollinate it.  Amazing.  There is your Proof.

And since we are on the subject of dandelions you do know that the dandelion is mighty yummy.    The flowers make a brightly colored dandelion wine.  Imagine cracking a bottle of dandelion wine during a cold January day.   I like the young leaves added to salad.  People say dandelion leaves can be bitter, but they’re not as bitter as arugula.  If they’re too bitter for you just boil them a bit.  Some folks dip the flowers in batter and fritter them up.  Root tea has a ton of medicinal uses, but you would know that if you read my entry on field guides and had your own field guides.  And I’ve read that you can roast the root till brown, grind it and use it as a coffee substitute.

Dow Jones Industrial Average

June 3, 2009

If you’re curious enough to be reading my little blog, then you know that GM was dropped from the Dow Jones Industrial Average (“DJIA”) and replaced with Cisco Systems, Inc.  Well at least one company that made something is being replaced by another company that makes stuff.  Another component of the DJIA was dropped, Citigroup, Inc. and replaced by Travelers Insurance Co.  Replacing one money shuffling leech with another money shuffling leech.

So it got me to thinking how the makeup of the DJIA may have changed over the years so I did some light research.  October 1, 1928 is the first time that the DJIA was made up of thirty (30) companies.  Here they are:

October 1, 1928

Allied Chemical General Railway Signal * Sears Roebuck & Company
American Can Goodrich * Standard Oil (NJ) *
American Smelting International Harvester Texas Company
American Sugar International Nickel * Texas Gulf Sulphur *
American Tobacco B Mack Truck Union Carbide *
Atlantic Refining * Nash Motors * U.S. Steel
Bethlehem Steel * North American * Victor Talking Machine *
Chrysler * Paramount Publix (formerly Paramount Famous Lasky) Westinghouse Electric *
General Electric Company Postum Incorporated * Woolworth
General Motors Corporation Radio Corporation * Wright Aeronautical *

Look at what we got here – manufacturers, auto and truck manufacturers (3),  steel companies, GE, railways, rubber, commodities and an aircraft manufacturer.  Then you have three, what I would consider, consumer driven retail outlets – Sears, Woolworth and Victrola.  I don’t see one bank or insurance company.  All in all, the DJ Industrial Average, looks, well, Industrial95% of these companies seem like they made something.

Then as of the latest reshuffling:

June 1, 2009

3M Company Dupont Kraft Foods Inc.*
Alcoa Incorporated Exxon Mobil Corporation McDonald’s Corporation
American Express Company General Electric Company Merck & Company, Incorporated
AT&T Incorporated Cisco Systems, Inc.
Microsoft Corporation
Bank of America Corporation Hewlett-Packard Company Pfizer Incorporated
Boeing Corporation Home Depot Incorporated Procter & Gamble Company
Caterpillar Incorporated Intel Corporation United Technologies Corporation
Chevron Corporation International Business Machines Verizon Communications Inc.
Travelers Insurance Co.
Johnson & Johnson Wal-Mart Stores Incorporated
Coca-Cola Company J.P. Morgan Chase & Company Walt Disney Company

Now let’s look at what makes up the DJIA.  Well the first thing I notice is that auto/truck manufacturing is no longer represented.  The banks/insurers/money changers are well represented however with AmEx, BofA, J.P. Morgan and Travelers.  Then as far as consumer retail types I’d say we have Coke, Home Depot, McDonalds, Wal-Mart and Walt Disney and maybe even Johnson & Johnson, Kraft and Proctor & Gamble.  A couple of telecomms and electronic manufacturers.  It seems like a lot more useless junk in the latest DJIA then the original in 1928Now I only count seven companies that actually make something. And no, I don’t count Coca Cola as making anything other than cavities and obesity.

It’s no longer Industrial. So what’s it say about our country and what we’re making now.  We don’t seem to be making much now.  What’s that saying I heard about paying each other to do each other’s laundry.  To use the newest hyped vocabulary – It’s unsustainable.

I may be wrong, probably am, but I expect another leg down in the economy.  I don’t think nearly enough malls, stores, office parks, restaurants, mattress stores, cell phone stores and auto dealers need to close. I think we have many more great adjustments to suffer through.  Don’t let your guard down.

I live in the suburbs with the two lane divided roadway that is plastered with junky stores, big box stores, strip malls and restaurants.  It’s my belief, and I may be wrong, that one third of these will be closing over the coming years.  Next time you are driving around imagine one third of the crappy, little junk stores that get by on consumers spending their money closing.  Consumers are tightening their purses like a frog’s ass, and a frog’s ass is watertight.

GET OUTSIDE EVERYDAY!!

memorial day 092Pretty cool picture, huh.  Unless you have allergies.  The reason you can see the web so well, and the reason the web looks kind of fuzzy, is because it is totally covered by a thick layer of pollen.  You can see Spidey waiting in the center for her next visitor.  Yum!