20 Reasons to Visit Australia – Small Water Creatures

Box and Irukandji Jellyfish

Names: Box Jellyfish, Irukandji, Sea Wasp

Recorded Deaths: 80+

Appearance: Clear jelly-like blobs. Box Jellyfish are larger with very long, invisible tentacles (50cm+); Irukandjis are about 2.5cm across.

Location: Beaches all over Australia.

Venom: Is inserted through spikes on tentacles, which can wrap you up and inject in many places at once. Box Jellyfish venom kills within three minutes, attacking the nervous system, heart, and skin at once. Irukandji venom can kill in three days, even with medical treatment.

Tips: Get help as fast as possible. Don’t swim if there are clear blobs on the beach or in the water.

Blue-Ringed Octopus

Names: Blue-Ring Octopus

Recorded Deaths: 4

Appearance: Yellow, with eight legs. It has blue rings when angry. They can also re-grow limbs when they lose one. They have blue blood and three hearts.

Location: Beaches on the southern coast.

Venom: They have enough poison to kill 26 humans in minutes and the venom causes paralysis. However, more deaths are caused by food poisoning from someone improperly preparing their cousins, the fugu, a Japenese delicacy.

Tips: Only sting when threatened or angry. Only deaths have been caused by people picking them up. So don’t pick them up.

Stonefish

Names: Stonefish, That-Brown-Rock-On-The-Ocean-Floor

Recorded Deaths: 1 (in Australia), hundreds (Pacific islanders)

Appearance: Brown and rock-like. They have 13 dorsal fins on their backs which can easily be trodden on and which administer their venom.

Location: Mostly on north-eastern beaches, but also in Western Australia.

Venom: Causes intense pain which cannot be relieved with painkillers (including morphine). However, very hot water can be used to relieve the pain. Stonefish are the most venomous fish in the world and can kill a human within two hours. Medical treatment should be sought.

Antivenom: Since 1959.

Tips: Don’t step on rocks when walking in the sea.

Cone snail   

Names: Cone snail, That-Pretty-Shell-I’m-Going-To-Pick-Up

Recorded Deaths: unknown

Appearance: It lives in a cone-shaped shell, with a harpoon-shaped proboscis sticking out. It’s about 15cm long.

Location: the ocean floor

Venom: Is injected via means of the aforementioned harpoon-shaped proboscis. One sting is enough to kills 15 adults, and depending on the sort of cone snail, it causes a variety of reactions, such as swelling of the lips and tongue, sweating, headache, weakness, lethargy, difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, poor co-ordination, followed by paralysis, turning blue, an inability to vocalise, breathlessness, wet coughing, low blood pressure, seizures, sometimes a coma. In severe cases, an erratic heartbeat can precede respiratory failure and heart attacks.

Antivenom: None – treatment is simply keeping the patient alive until the venom has worked its way out of their system (presumably by means of the nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea mentioned).

Tips: Make sure the shell’s empty before picking it up.

Bluebottle Jellyfish

Names: Bluebottle, blue blob, herd of blue blobs

Recorded Deaths: none, but there are over 10 000 recorded stings each summer.

Appearance: blue and blobby, usually in groups.

Location: floating on ocean currents

Venom: painful, but not usually fatal.

Antivenom: none. Pour vinegar on, the site of the sting to lessen pain. DO NOT urinate on the sting. THIS IS A MYTH and will make matters worse.

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20 Reasons to Visit Australia – Snakes

Did you know that of the 25 most venomous snakes in the world, the top 11 are found in Australia? A total of 20 of the 25 most venomous snakes are found in Australia. Two are found in Asia, and 1 each in PNG, North America, and South America.

Snake tips: Freeze, and wait for it to go away. With the exception of the death adder, snakes are more scared of you than you are of them. Also, wear jeans. The fangs of the majority of Australian snakes are too delicate to bite through jeans.

Coastal Taipan

Names: Taipan

Recorded Deaths: unknown – almost always fatal without antivenom

Appearance: brown, and between 1.5m and 2m long. They have the longest fangs of any Australian snake (13cm).

Most Venomous Snakes in the World Ranking: 3rd

Location: Along the northern coastal areas.

Venom: Almost always fatal without treatment. The venom affects the nervous system and blood, causing nausea, convulsions, internal bleeding, destruction of the muscles, and kidney damage. Death can occur in as little as 30 minutes.

Antivenom: Since 1956.

Inland Taipan

Names: Taipan.

Recorded deaths: unknown

Appearance: brown-grey, and between 1.8m and 2.5m long.

Most Venomous Snakes in the World Ranking: 1st

Location: in cracks and crevices on dry, rocky plains – mostly in the border area where QLD, SA, NSW, and the NT meet.

Venom: The most toxic in the world (according to tests on rats). It is estimated that it would kill an adult within 45 minutes.

Antivenom: Yes.

Death Adder

Names: Death Adder

Recorded deaths: lots

Appearance: short and fat, not more than a metre long

Most Venomous Snake in the World Ranking: 8th

Location: all over. They aren’t scared of humans and will sit in the path until touched.

Venom: Contains and neurotoxin which causes a loss of motor and sensory function (including breathing), resulting in paralysis. ½ of all bites were fatal before the antivenom was introduced.

Antivenom: Yes.

Brown snake

Names: Brown Snake, Eastern Brown Snake, Common Brown Snake

Recorded deaths: lots

Appearance: brown, and usually between 1.5m and 2.3m.

Most Venemous Snake in the World Ranking: 2nd

Location: populated areas, particularly farms or anywhere with mice.

Venom: causes death to humans very quickly if untreated. It causes progressive paralysis and stops blood from clotting. Victims can collapse within a few minutes.

Antivenom: yes, but it takes multiple doses to reverse a brown snake bite.

Tiger snake

Names: tiget snake

Recorded deaths: lots; second-highest number of bites in Australia

Appearance: striped, 1.5m long

Most Venomous Snake in the World Ranking: 6th

Location: farms and outer suburban houses, or anywhere with mice.

Venom: fatal if untreated. It causes pain in the neck and feet, tingling, numbness and sweating, followed by breathing difficulties and paralysis. The tiger snake also damages blood and muscles, which can lead to renal failure.

Antivenom: yes.

Mulga snake

Names: Mulga, King Brown, Pilbara cobra

Recorded deaths: yes

Appearance: brown, 2.5m to 3m long.

Most Venomous Snake in the World Ranking: 20th

Location: most of Australia, except eastern and southern coastal regions.

Venom: output is the highest of any snake in the world, injecting up to 150mg at once. They bite savagely, hanging on and chewing as they inject the venom. It destroys blood cells and affects muscles and nerves.

Antivenom: yes; black snake antivenom should be used.

Black Snake

Names: Black snake, Red-Belly Black, common black snake

Recorded deaths: unknown

Appearance: black, with a red belly. 2m long.

Most Venomous Snake in the World Ranking: 21st

Location: eastern and south-eastern coastal areas, very common in urban areas

Venom: causes muscle and nerve damage.

Antivenom: yes, although tiger snake antivenom can be used at a lower dosage with fewer side effects

20 Reasons to Visit Australia – Spiders

Red-back and Cupboard Spider

Names: Red-back

Recorded deaths: yes

Appearance: black, with a red bit on their back. Very small – less than 1cm in size.

Location: everywhere, under or in something. Very common in cities.

Bites: 2000 reported each year. Because they’re so small, bites are rarely effective in administering venom to veins.

Venom: affects the nervous system. Symptoms include severe and persistent pain, nausea, and lethargy. Cupboard Spider venom is less potent.

Antivenom: Yes, since the 1950s. 250 people receive antivenom per year.

Funnel-web spider

Names: funnel-web

Recorded deaths: yes

Appearance: black, with eight legs

Location: forests and urban areas in NSW. They like burrowing in humid and sheltered places, and can be found in backyards and swimming pools.

Bites: aggressive. The fangs are larger than those of a brown snake, and powerful enough to pierce nails.

Venom: attacks the nervous system and alters organ function. Venom from a male can kill.

Antivenom: Yes, since 1981.

Paralysis Tick

Names: tick

Recorded deaths: unknown

Appearance: small at first, but red and pea-sized after drinking

Location: everywhere

Saliva: dilates blood vessels, prevents clotting, suppresses the immune system. They are ordinarily little worse than mosquito bites, but allergic reactions are very common. They also secrete a protein which causes localised paralysis. Around 20 000 dogs and cats are paralysed annually, causing hundreds of deaths. Marsupials are immune. Bites may also Lyme disease.

20 Reasons to Visit Australia – Other

Crocodiles

Names: saltwater crocodile, salty.

Recorded deaths: approximately 2 per year (with between 5 and 10 non-fatal attacks)

Appearance: between 4 and 7 metres long

Location: to the north

Sharks

Names: sharks, (various others)

Recorded deaths: yes, approximately 1 per year.

Appearance: usually grey, shark-like. Big, with lots of teeth.

Location: in the water.

Other information: shark attacks are very infrequent. You should be more scared of jellyfish than of sharks.

Bull Ants

Names: bull ants, big ants

Appearance: ant-like, 2.5cm long.

Location: everywhere.

Venom: painful, but not fatal unless allergic.

Other information: Very aggressive.

Centipede

Names: centipede, big millipede, worm with legs

Appearance: pink, worm-like, with legs

Venom: injected from limbs and can cause renal failure. The Australian Centipede is less poisonous than other centipedes and almost never causes death.

Drop Bears

Names: drop bears, rabid koalas

Recorded deaths: unknown

Appearance: large and furry, with huge claws and teeth

Location: everywhere where there are trees

Tip: eat or wear vegemite as it is a good drop bear repellent

Being Silly With “Twinkle, Twinkle”

So, yesterday I posted about Mozart’s variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je, maman!”. Well, I can never remember the words to even the first verse of this:

Ah! Vous dirai-je, maman,            (Ah! I tell you, mum,)
Ce qui cause mon tourment.          (What torments me.)
Papa veut que je raisonne,             (Dad wants me to reason)
Comme une grande personne.       (Like a great person.)
Moi, je dis que les bonbons            (But I say that lollies)
Valent mieux que la raison.           (Are better than reason.)

So, whilst trying to the song today, I ended up with something that sounded rather more like this:

Ah! Vous dirai-je, maman,            (Ah! I tell you, mum,)
Je ne sais pas les mots                 (I don’t know the words
.         
de cette chanson,                                       to this song)
Parce que je suis anglaise,            (Because I’m English)
Et je ne parle pas français.           (And I don’t speak French)
Ah! Vous dirai-je, maman,            (Ah! I tell you, mum,)
Je ne sais pas les mots                 (I don’t know the words
.         
de cette chanson.                                       to this song)

It fits best to Mozart’s VAR IX, because of the extra words in the second and last lines.

13 Observations on a Mozart Piece

VanGoghOR, Zwölf Variationen in C über “Ah, vous dirai-je Maman” (KV 265).

OR, Why we sing “Twinkle, Twinkle”, “ABC”, and “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” the way we do.

An observation for the theme and each variation.

THEMA: Not good to play in public. With the exception of a couple of extra notes and a trill, it sounds just like a certain nursery rhyme.

VAR I: The right hand has a seizure and just about loses the tune.

VAR II: Now the left hand goes crazy while my right hand sings about the stars.

VAR III: Mozart teaches us how to play arpeggios and trills in the right hand.

VAR IV: Now we practice the arpeggios in the left hand.

VAR V: Very pretty for about four bars. Luckily it recovers after another four bars.

VAR VI: An oversized bee flies to the twinkling stars. It briefly overwhelms the stars for a bit in the middle, but then the stars make a comeback.

VAR VII: This is the one where Mozart teaches us how to play scales in the right hand. He adds in a few awkward intervals for good measure.

VAR VIII: Mozart has a cry. Or, it’s fashionable to change into the tonic minor at least once in the piece.

VAR IX: Light and airy at first but very mad towards the end of each phrase.

VAR X: In which the right hand stims and the left hand fills in for the tune at times.

VAR XI: An exercise in the most awkward rhythm to play, with runs consisting entirely of leaning notes.

VAR XII: Turns and trills in left and right. OR, the oversized bee returns with a friend.

If you want to hear (and see) what I’m on about, here is a good clip on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NO-ecxHEPqI.

Bible Study – 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

(10) I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. (11) My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. (12) What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ”.

(13) Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised into the name of Paul? (14) I am thankful that I did not baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius, (15) so no-one can say that you were baptised into my name. (16) (Yes, I also baptised the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptised anyone else). (17) For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

I like these verses. It’s basically one great big warning not to divide off into little groups with slightly differing teachings – and Paul repeats this warning in Chapter 3. Thus, we can surmise that it’s probably something Paul felt strongly about – especially as my Bible gives me references to other books (letters) where Paul says the same thing. So one has really got to wonder why the Church has splintered into so many denominations today.

Anyone who’d known me for any great period of time has probably heard me say that I don’t understand the point of having denominations. To me, it seems a lot like drawing inconsequential lines in the sand and then arguing – bitterly – over them. In other words, childish and pointless.

Of course, I understand why there are different denominations – it stems from differences in interpretation of the Scriptures, differences in traditions, and all sorts of things. But the fundamentals never change: that God came to earth as a human (Jesus) and was killed in a gruesome way so that we had a chance to be with Him in Heaven. Some denominations get caught up in their differences and refuse to accept that people in other churches might be Christians. But most – most Protestant denominations, at least – will view people from other denominations as being Christians, too.

However, the whole thing – mutual acceptance of Christianity aside – is certainly nothing like what Paul was intending when he said for us to all “agree with one another, so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united”. But it just goes to show that even back in the early days of the Church, people were splintering off to follow different leaders who probably had slightly different ideas of how Christians should live. For those who are wondering, the notes in my Bible tell me that Cephas was another name for Peter.

I had to chuckle over verse sixteen. It seems as though Paul kept adding in afterthoughts as he remembered other he had baptised. The Bible – particularly the New Testament – is full of little things like this; human quirks and comments which simultaneously bring it to life and show us that, just like us, these early Christians weren’t perfect. You can also see this in verse eleven, which does little other than let us know that some people from Chloe’s house were tittle-tattles and that the Church in Corinth often got into arguments with each other.

In the second paragraph, Paul goes on to ask a bunch of rhetorical questions, all of which should be answered “no”, and all very good reasons why people shouldn’t divide off like that. Then he reminds us that the Gospel isn’t human wisdom, it’s from God, it’s about the cross, and really, that’s what we should focus on. Not on tiny differences, but on what Jesus did for us.