Thursday, September 28, 2006
At one point, after our son was born, our marriage hit the rocks - neither of us were sure if it would survive or not. I knew that I needed to try and focus on the positive aspects of my husband, but all I could see were his faults.
My mother told me that men need to see that they are respected - but at the time, I saw nothing in my husband that I could respect. So I prayed to G-d and asked Him to show me what there was to respect. Over time, our marriage began to knit back together. Now, I see that my prayers of over two years ago are still being answered.
I've had the pleasure of seeing my husband develop a good work ethic, which once involved him biking to a job, five miles there and five miles back. The man that once seemed to put his social activities above almost everything else in his life has now put them on the back burner in order to go back to college while working full-time. He's paid off his debts and improved his credit, and we now have a growing savings account, which will in time go towards the down-payment on a house. He runs his larger fiscal choices past me, and actually takes what I say under consideration when making his decisions. He's an excellent father, and it is one of the biggest pleasures in my life to see him spending time with our son, something he goes out of his way to do, despite a busy schedule that includes working the night-shift. His parenting skills make me realize that my own could use some work. I've also come to appreciate him much more in his role as husband. I can tell that I really mean something to him and that he loves me. I no longer feel taken-for-granted, and get to see many instances of his kindness and consideration towards me. There is even more than what I have mentioned here, but I think you get the idea...
It surprises me, sometimes, to realize that in the space of two years I have gone from believing myself married to an irresponsible jerk, to counting myself greatly blessed to be the wife of a man who really is a man. I know that this change is not all due to my husband, though - it's also due to the changes in my own attitude which G-d has helped work in me. I just hope that as time passes he will continue to find reasons to appreciate me, the way I have been finding more reasons to appreciate him!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
I think G-d must have enjoyed designing the stonefish.
The Reef Stonefish is the most venomous fish in the world. It has thirteen stout spines in the dorsal fin which can inject a highly toxic venom. The venom causes intense pain and is believed to have killed many Pacific and Indian Ocean islanders. No deaths have been recorded in Australia since European arrival (Underhill, 1987). An antivenom developed in 1959 further reduces the likelihood of death. Despite this, many people suffer the agony of a sting every year. Very hot water (not scalding) can be used to relieve the pain, but medical treatment should be sought.
The Reef Stonefish eats fishes and crustacea. It usually waits for prey to swim past, and then strikes with incredible speed. High speed camera equipment is required to record the feeding of this species.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Meet the world's largest known living reptile, the saltwater crocodile.
Hatchlings contain a good yolk supply, on which they can survive for days and even weeks if necessary, although they have sharp teeth and will begin feeding almost immediately. Juveniles take a wide variety of small prey items such as insects, other arthropods, crustaceans and small fish. Larger animals take bigger versions of these prey items, plus amphibians, reptiles, birds and small mammals. Very large animals will take almost anything including dingos, wallabies, shore birds, other crocodiles, large reptiles, domestic animals, cattle and even people. They will also eat carrion, being attracted from some distance to reach it (even out of water). Smaller animals tend not eat carrion, however, which can rot in their guts before they have chance to digest it. Teeth are designed for holding rather than cutting, but they help to penetrate and crush the prey within the incredibly powerful jaws. Larger prey are broken into smaller pieces either by a violent flick of the head, or a twisting / rolling action of the body (if the prey is secured or held down by its own weight). Swallowing must occur above the water surface, or water will flood the lungs and the crocodile may drown. Normally, a fleshy "palatal" valve at the back of the throat prevents this from happening when the head is submerged. The typical crocodilian feeding strategy is to wait close to the water's edge and pounce upon prey which ventures too close. Larger animals will actively follow and move towards potential prey items, but in most cases the animal doesn't reveal itself until just before the attack. Stones and pebbles are often ingested to aid digestion - crushing food by a grinding action within the gizzard of the stomach. Stones also act as a ballast, which is important in maintaining bouyancy.
Fatalities are very uncommon - there have been only 7 deaths in 27 years of protection in the Northern Territory, and 14 throughout Australia. In most cases, the victim was swimming. In virtually all cases, death could have been avoided with correct education. The low incidence of attacks is due to the fact that most people in Australia are well educated about crocodiles.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Our next subject is certainly not as pretty as the other two, though certainly more well-known!
The great white shark, one of the most well-known predators in the world.
Given this animal's reputation, I was a little surprised to find that there have only been 64 recorded deaths caused by great whites worldwide since 1876. Recorded non-fatal attacks number 212.
Australia holds the dubious honor of the most fatalities per attack. 37 attacks, 27 fatalities.
It would seem that the reputation of the Australian great white is not wholly undeserved! Apparently, that's where all the big sharks like to hang out.
Friday, September 08, 2006
This installment comes courtesy of Morris. Until he brought it to my attention, I had no idea this nifty little animal existed.
Blue Ring Octopus
With a beak that can penetrate a wet-suit, they are one little cute creature to definitely look at BUT Don't touch.
The bite might be painless, but this octopus injects a neuromuscular paralysing venom. The venom contains some maculotoxin, a poison more violent than any found on land animals. The nerve conduction is blocked and neuromuscular paralysis is followed by death. The victim might be saved if artificial respiration starts before marked cyanosis and hypotension develops. The blue-ringed octopus is the size of a golf ball but its poison is powerful enough to kill an adult human in minutes. There's no known antidote. The only treatment is hours of heart massage and artificial respiration until the poison has worked its way out of your system.
The venom contains tetrodotoxin, which blocks sodium channels and causes motor paralysis and occasionally respiratory failure. Though with fixed dilated pupils, the senses of the patients are often intact. The victims are aware but unable to respond.
Although the painless bite can kill an adult, injuries have only occurred when an octopus has been picked out of its pool and provoked or stepped on.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
My previous post on Australian wildlife was largely facetious, but I must assure Morris that the reputation of his native wildlife stems more from scientific fact than from the embellishment of his fellow Australians. Australia truly does have a rare collection of some of the most deadly creatures to be found anywhere in the world, though the actual danger posed to the population is fairly slight.
I thought I'd offer a glimpse of some of Australia's dangerous wildlife, beginning with the box jellyfish.
Box jellyfish is considered the most venomous marine creature. It can kill more people than stonefish, sharks and crocodiles combined.
The body of a sea wasp can weight as much as 2 kg. The tentacles are armed with up to 5,000 nematocysts, or stinging cells. Certain chemicals on the surface of fish, shellfish and humans activate these. Contact with only 3 m of tentacles may be fatal for an adult. There are many (about 70) reported deaths that have occurred in northern Australia between November and April.
It has a certain ethereal beauty, though, doesn't it?
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Great white sharks, salt-water crocodiles, deadly jellyfish, poisonous sea snakes, poisonous fish - and now giant stingrays capable of stabbing a man through the heart.
Not that you're much safer on land - some of the world's most poisonous snakes, spiders - and even that giant attack bird, the Cassowary.
It's a wonder any of you Aussies survive leaving the house. =P
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The universe does not want our car to look remotely respectable. After I finally got around to cleaning out all the trash and vacuuming the interior, the liner fell down and coated everything with yellow fuzz, then my husband got stuck in the mud and tracked a bunch of dirt in, then later spilled stuff on the upholstery. I have to admit, feeling like white trash because of the state of your vehicle hurts one's pride just a bit. At least I've got it cleaned up again, though the liner is only loosely tacked back into place and the outside is still mucky. Being eight months pregnant, now, I'm not going to wash the vehicle myself, and I'm pretty sure my husband has decided he's not going to wash the car himself, instead waiting until our son is old enough to do it. =P
Speaking of my husband, he'll be gone all weekend at Dragoncon with friends. I won't go into an explanation of what Dragoncon is, it'll suffice to say that it will be a very large amount of geeks collected into one spot. Feeling a bit lonely knowing I won't see him until Monday afternoon, but fortunately I'm not the kind to get overly emotional about short separations.
In a half hour to forty-five minutes I'll be heading out with the rugrat to go visit the in-laws. In a way, I'd rather stay home, but I know they get lonely too, and my son does love visiting his grandparents.
I'll have to call my sister (the one that still lives in Florida) and find out if there are any family plans for Labor Day. They're usually not very good about remembering to tell me - they just take it for granted that somehow or other I'll hear about it. I can't fault them for this, it's a family trait which I have a large share in myself.
Less than four weeks until my due date, now - frankly, I hope this baby decides to come a week or two early. I'm tired of feeling like I've got a large bowling ball strapped around my middle!