Posted onFebruary 21, 2020|Comments Off on The Aftermath: NARBC Arlington Spring 2020 – 4
The spring 2020 NARBC Arlington reptile show is over, but the application for the September 2020 show just went out. Expect a much wider range of plants in September, as the Venus flytraps and North American pitcher plants were still in winter dormancy in February, and expect a whole new range of enclosures as well. Thanks to everyone who came by the booth this time, and I look forward to seeing all of you in seven months.
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Posted onFebruary 20, 2020|Comments Off on The Aftermath: NARBC Arlington Spring 2020 – 3
Astute readers might notice that the enclosures at the gallery and at shows through 2020 so far have nameplates with both basic information on the enclosure and a QR code. Triffid Ranch displays already started phasing out individual business cards as of last year and using QR codes for the main Web site, with overwhelmingly enthusiastic results. The QR codes on the nameplates was based on extensive study of museum display design: the overwhelming number of smartphones today read the QR code with the camera and ask “Would you like to go to (Web site)?” as soon as it’s detected. Among many other things, the individual nameplates are for those who want to take a further look when the booth is overcrowded: take a quick shot and read the enclosure listing at your leisure.
The biggest surprise upon implementing QR codes was with younger attendees: they know about the codes, but overwhelmingly they only see it used for advertising, and advertising for products where they have absolutely no interest, in an attempt to be “edgy”. When they discover someone who uses QR codes that actually impart information, instead of trying to get their email addresses in exchange for a discount coupon, they practically squeal with joy. When I get back to technical writing, this is going to be part of an ongoing discussion on usability that needs to be elaborated further. As Vincent Flanders has been noting for the last two decades, people are willing to use new technology if it actually does something for them, and not because some marketing rep is looking to pad his/her resume with yet more buzzwords. Suffice to say, expect the Triffid Ranch to expand in their use, particularly with more elaborate plant care guides in the near future.
To be continued…
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Posted onFebruary 20, 2020|Comments Off on The Aftermath: NARBC Arlington Spring 2020 – 2
One of the best things about attending the NARBC Arlington reptile show for the last decade is watching the evolution of the venue and the attendees. While Texas had excellent reptile shows on its own in the past, the real conversations involved big shows on either coast of the US, and we were left on the sidelines. The last time I was a vendor at NARBC, back in 2013, one of the regular questions asked by attendees was “Are you going to be at (big East Coast show)?” This time, all focus was on Arlington, with a remarkable number of attendees coming in from outside the state, and some coming from outside the US.
(This leads to an apology in advance: this show and Texas Frightmare Weekend are the two Triffid Ranch shows with a significant number of attemdees who fly in from elsewhere, so a lot of patrons point to a bottle or jar and ask “Could I take this on the plane?” That’s a question I honestly cannot answer, because it depends upon the airline, the baggage handler, and whether or not the TCA rep inspecting your carry-on luggage has issues with you having a flask full of sundews among your lacy unmentionables. The best thing I can recommend is to check two sources before flying out to an event like this: the first is to check with the airline in advance as to its policies about glassware in carry-ons, and GET IT IN WRITING in case someone has an issue during boarding. The second is to check with the state or country to which you will be returning about any necessary inspections or permits needed to bring live plants back home: the last thing any of us want is for you to have your new plant confiscated and/or destroyed because of a regulation or ordinance of which you were unaware.)
This in itself led to interesting conversations with regulars from the NARBC Tinley Park show in Illinois, many of whom hoped that the Triffid Ranch might go transcontinental. Sadly, as much as I would love to attend any show in the Chicago area (I haven’t been in Chicago in 40 years, and a lot of online friends have been nuhdzing about making a trip north for a while), the thought of a trip of that duration depends upon how well the New Orleans Oddities & Curiosities Expo show goes this August. If New Orleans works out, well, it’s high time to head up to Chicago.
To be continued…
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Posted onFebruary 19, 2020|Comments Off on The Aftermath: NARBC Arlington Spring 2020 – 1
It’s been a while since the last time a Triffid Ranch booth appeared at the North American Reptile Breeders Conference show in Arlington: it wasn’t for a lack of interest, but a lack of opportunity. This year, though, it was time to return, both to a new date (the first time since moving to the new gallery space that it was practical or sane to attempt a February show) and to an extensively expanded space at the Arlington Convention Center. Taking over the adjoining hall meant both room for new vendors and much wider aisles between rows than in previous years, both of which were greatly appreciated by new and returning attendees. This meant the largest crowds I’ve ever seen at an NARBC event, and the crowds kept coming all day Saturday and to the close of business on Sunday. Reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, enclosures and accessories: NARBC had it all, and now it included carnivorous plants.
To be continued…
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Posted onAugust 14, 2013|Comments Off on NARBC August 2013: The Aftermath – 4
Still more happy Triffid Ranch customers at the NARBC:
And now some interesting stories. This gentleman and his son recently moved to Texas from South Africa, where he had exceptional results raising Sarracenia and Nepenthes before he had to move here. While discussing the best ways to bypass the insanely low humidity throughout the area, he mentioned that his Sarracenia were absolute magnets for the local mantids. Naturally, I was intrigued, not just because I’m looking for confirmation that predatory arthropods are viewing the ultraviolet-fluorescing structures on many carnivorous plants, but also because I’m still learning the bare basics of the fauna and flora of South Africa. Literally hours after talking to this gentleman, who else but Ryan Kitko should send me a photo of an American mantis camping out atop his own Sarracenia? To steal from cartoonist Sam Hurt, it’s not that it’s a small world, but a big world that’s folded over so many times.
Speaking of a big world that’s folded over a lot, let me introduce you to Petra. Year before last, Petra was an attendee at All-Con, where she purchased a spoonleaf sundew as I gave her grief about needing to come out the next year as an action figure. I usually don’t see a lot of crossover between different types of shows, so you can imagine my surprise at seeing her at the NARBC. You can imagine further surprise at discovering that she was working at the The Reptile Report booth across the convention hall with her mother Judy.
Okay, that’s cute but not surprising. What was surprising was realizing, as I was packing up at the end of the show, that I knew Judy from high school, and hadn’t seen her in nearly 30 years. Even better, she married one of my best friends from that time, so our personal game of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” got even more surreal. Now to see if Dean still has the book I lent him in November 1983 that he wasn’t able to get back to me after I graduated…
Anyway, thus ends the first multi-day August Triffid Ranch show, with the Anime Fest in downtown Dallas still to come. As for a Triffid Ranch presence at the next Arlington NARBC show in February 2014, expect details shortly.
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Posted onAugust 13, 2013|Comments Off on NARBC August 2013: The Aftermath – 1
August in North Texas is, under the absolute best of circumstances, an utter bear, and the weekend of August 10 was bad even by our already hellish standards. By Friday afternoon, the temperatures at the Triffid Ranch were around 40 degrees C, with anywhere between 15 and 20 percent relative humidity, making potting and packing plants an adventure. Even with plants literally dying in my hands as I’m potting them, and a late start due to logistics with the truck loading, the caravan heading to the North American Reptile Breeders Conference in Arlington made it, with a relative minimum of aggravation from traffic conditions. When it’s too hot for most attendees of Six Flags Over Texas next door to the Arlington Convention Center, the roads tend to remain nice and clear.
This August marked the second NARBC show held in the summer in Arlington, with a lot of the usual suspects in attendance. The folks from ZooMed, as always, dominated the hall with their gigantic inflatable tent, and it made quite the gateway to the rest of the convention hall. Since this was a working show and not an opportunity to wander around, this meant I wasn’t able to see everything, but both the crew at ZooMed and at The Reptile Report were more than willing to come by and chat for a bit. With the crowds on Saturday, we were all lucky to see the outsides of our booths anyway. (More on the Reptile Report crew shortly.)
And speaking of which, the Triffid Ranch booth was located this year behind and to the right of the ZooMed tent from the entrance. Five years after the first Triffid Ranch show, and it may be time to hire an assistant for larger shows such as this one.
(Oh, and a gag for a few friends. When taking this photo, the automatic portrait function in the camera focused on the head on the top shelf on the left. In the process, though, when actually taking the shot, the camera read “Blink Detected”. Should I be worried?)
Since this show’s dealer space had considerably more room than what is usually available, it made sense to bring out a pair of converted and repainted Nepenthes enclosures. While they were a bear to transport, they also gave plenty of kids the shocks of their lives when they realized that the tanks didn’t contain any animal life that wasn’t intended to be food for the plants. Combine that with the TCU fine arts student who went into shock herself when she recognized the Olmec head in the larger arrangement, and that led to a command decision: next year’s show needs an arrangement with a large Upland Maya backdrop, full of Mexican butterworts. Thankfully, I still have six months with which to set it up.
To be continued…
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Back on October 13, I accepted an invitation from the Dallas-Fort Worth Herpetological Society to show carnivorous plants at its first annual Reptile & Amphibian Day. The photos continue, starting with the one reptile most herpetophobes can tolerate. Yes, it’s time for turtles.
As far as local turtles and tortoises are concerned, the alligator snapping turtle (Macrochelys temminckii) is about as large as we get. To see a truly exceptional specimen, make plans to visit the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park Dallas to see one the size of an 18-wheeler tire. This Aldabra tortoise (Aldabrachelys gigantea was about as large in life, but nowhere near as snuggly.
And then we come to the stalwarts. The Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) doesn’t make it this far west, more’s the pity. One of the first turtles I ever kept was a beautiful male Eastern rescued while attempting to cross a highway in northern Michigan, and if you’re able to get out to the Fenner Nature Center in Lansing, you can still see him. One of these days, I need to head up that way to visit: I know perfectly well that the turtle won’t remember me, or recognize me, but I know I’ll recognize him.
Texas, though, isn’t lacking in box turtles, and these two are native to my immediate area. On the left is a classic example of a three-toed box turtle (Terrapene carolina triunguis), and on the right is an ornate or Western box turtle (Terrapene ornata ornata). Both are steadfastly terrestrial turtles, although they both like the occasional soak, but the ornate box turtles are generally found more in cattle fields and plains, while the three-toes tend to stick to scrub and forested areas. Either way, I’d recommend them as pets, but I heartily recommend working with captive-bred turtles, as they’re rapidly disappearing in the wild thanks to fire ant depredations of their nests and habitat destruction.
A few friends may remember “Stella,” the three-toed box turtle I rescued in the late Nineties. Stella became best-known for falling madly in love with Leiber, and she’d chase him all over the house, desperately trying to get him to notice her. What’s funny is that she actively tried to attack humans, earning her the nickname “The World’s Meanest Box Turtle,” and I joked that this was a turtle so hostile that she had zimmerit on her shell. She looked harmless but tried to wipe out all mankind: by comparison, ornate box turtles all look vicious, but they’re almost always sweethearts. Go figure.
Finally, we have the height of herpetological cuteness: box turtle hatchlings. Well, they’re almost as cute as crocodile monitors, but you can’t convince the Czarina of this. And so it goes.
Posted onOctober 24, 2012|Comments Off on Catching Up: the First Annual Reptile & Amphibian Day – 1
Whew. It’s been an interesting week. Between strangeness at the Day Job, weather fluctuations, preparations for moving a greenhouse from underneath a dying silverleaf maple, and a resolution of the issues with Cadigan and Leiber (it turns out that Cadigan’s issues lay with cat litter that was too rough for her to use), the last few weeks have been a bit different. I haven’t even started with discussing the upcoming Shadow Society Halloween event this weekend and the upcoming Funky Finds Experience show two weeks after that. *deep breath* You know it’s a rough time when I do the math and realize that if I live exactly another six months from today, I’ll have outlived H.P. Lovecraft.
Anyway, on October 13, I accepted an invitation from the Dallas-Fort Worth Herpetological Society to show carnivorous plants at its first annual Reptile & Amphibian Day. As opposed to most Triffid Ranch shows, which are intended to show and sell plants, this one was purely a “look, but don’t purchase” show. Not that this was a problem: it meant that we had a lot of attendees who simply wanted to learn more about carnivorous plant care, as well as more who had never seen any carnivore other than Venus flytraps This worked out remarkably well.
Partly because of more abnormally dry weather, and partly because I was rebuilding and propagating stock after last month’s FenCon, the examples were a little small. This time around, it was a basic presentation of the major groups of carnivore (sadly missing both a Heliamphora or Cephalotus this time around, due to the insane dryness), with demonstrations on how their traps worked. This led to one of the most satisfying things a carnivorous plant enthusiast can hear from interested laypeople: “You mean that there are other carnivores besides flytraps? COOL!”
And don’t think I was the only purveyor of botanical wonders at the show. Shawn Crofford of the Greater Dallas/Fort Worth Bromeliad Society was out as well, demonstrating the value of bromeliads in providing nesting habitat for arboreal frogs and other amphibians. (And yes, that’s a life-sized cutout of a saltwater crocodile in the background. One of the draws was a whole set of Masonite cutouts of various giant reptiles, from leatherback turtles to reticulated pythons, to give attendees a sense of scale. It definitely confirmed that if I’m going to raise salties in the back yard, I’m going to need a bigger pond.)
And then there were the folks out to see the real beasts perform. Snakes, turtles, lizards, frogs, salamanders, toads…I think someone brought a few caecelians, and only the regular influx of new attendees kept me from exploring the far side of the display hall. Next year, then.
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And for the record, no, I’m not getting a crocodile monitor on this trip. It’s not even because I fear the Czarina’s fearsome, unnaturally sharp and venomous elbows. It’s just that I learned one lesson a very long time ago: if your life starts resembling a GWAR video, it’s getting a bit too exciting.