Online Insights on fiveAA, Sunday, December 28, 2008

December 28, 2008

Introduction to Snakes of Australia
I have found a powerpoint presentation online that is an introduction to a more in depth presentation on snakes, snake bites, and how to treat them. It was put together for an organisation called Living With Wildlife, which is based up in Williamstown, South Australia.

Here are some fascinating things:

  • If a snake species lives across a wide geographical area – its venom is likely to be very different in the different zones to the extent that that snake’s anti-venom might be rendered useless.
  • Venom does not remain a static composition but changes over time
  • There are different types of bite from a scratch on the skin to a chewing bite
  • Sometimes snakes can bite and not inject venom
  • When Brown Snakes are disturbed, one in four of their strikes are bluff strikes in which the snake does not even attempt to bite
  • There are some snakes with very weird names such as small-eyed snake, bardick, Stephen’s Banded Snake, curl snake, greater black whipsnake, lesser black whipsnake.

One of the most encouraging slides covers the snake’s hierarchy of response mechanisms. When they become aware that we are near, they first try to hide, if that fails they try to escape, if that fails they give a warning (hiss), and if that fails they bite as a last resort.

The snake first aid slide is worth noting too, as it covers the main steps in dealing with snake bite including making sure there is no danger, contacting emergency services, not disturbing the bite, wrapping a bandage around the whole limb, not removing clothing, and not giving the patient food or drink.

This is an excellent mini-presentation and there are contact details on the starting page if you want to find out more about the course.

Fail Blog
Fail Blog is a simple blog that captures images and videos that convey the spirit of “fail”. Fail is a popular term among geeks, in particular, as shorthand for “this is wrong, this is not working”, and it is particularly laden with sarcasm.

Some of them push the boundaries a bit, so enter with a broad mind. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Girard’s Hardware sign – “everything on sale at regular price”
  • A terrible model-elephant playground in which children slide down a slippery dip that emanates from the elephant’s rear end – charming
  • A video clip of a soccer game in which a player wins the ball off the goal keeper, has nothing between him and the goals and slams the ball with a big kick, directly into the air, into the crossbar and back into the field of play – whoops
  • An unfortunate placing of a “no standing” warning, directly under a wheelchair/disabled sign
  • A box of shatterproof Christmas ornaments, in which one of the baubles had shattered
  • And I love this one – the cover of a book entitled, “Finer points in the spacing and arrangement of type,” and it is terribly spaced
  • And my absolute favourite is a postcard with “greetings from Amsterdam” emblazoned across a photo of the Eiffel Tower!

When you have some time to spare and need a smile –

50 ways to improve your life in 2009
US News and World Report has compiled its fourth “ways to improve your life” list with its usual eclectic array of activities and challenges. Now please don’t get me wrong, this is not a list that will change your life or save you from yourself, it is simply a list of quirky things to consider incorporating into your life for a little more colour and variety.

The list is broken into four categories and here are my picks of the bunch:

  • Money – lose the microwave mentality. Microwave ovens teach us to seek instant results and that can be disastrous on the financial front. This article points to a financial version of the slow food movement, teaching us to save for things and not seek the quick fix or the easy credit. It points out that retailers in the US are bringing back layaways (what we call lay-bys) as part of this movement. It predicts that “slow money” people will be the ones with better credit in the future, making them able to dive in and buy bargains when they present, even though they won’t always carry the latest gadgets.
  • Body – an afternoon nap. Latest research covered in this article says a 15-20 minute nap is more refreshing than a couple cups of coffee to get you through the afternoon. It claims it is also more effective at keeping you alert than grabbing an extra 90 minutes of sleep in the morning. There is one catch though – if you go beyond 20 minutes you risk entering deep sleep and that will make you wake up groggy and feeling much worse for wear. In which case you will probably need to have some coffee when you awake!
  • Mind – publish your book yourself. On-demand publishers are sprouting up on the internet and the new breed allows you to print one book at a time if that is all you need. Lulu and blurb are two services mentioned and there are plenty more online, and in Australia, if you search the internet. Most services allow you to get an ISBN number which means you can then see if a local bookstore will sell it for you.
  • World – learn to hypermile. This is strange practice in which people drive to save fuel. On the surface, that sounds fine, but some extreme hypermilers go to extremes such as turning off their engines when going downhill or going down exit ramps, and driving close to semi-trailers to take advantage of their draft. The practice hinges on keeping tyres fully inflated and driving at 90 km/h rather than 110. One aspect that is counterintuitive to me is that using cruise control saves fuel. Apparently it cuts out a lot of the little accelerations that we do as we drive manually.
  • Play – learn to play Bridge. According to this article, Bridge is not only good for the brain but good as a social activity. And it is not just little old ladies who play – Bill Gates and Warren Buffett love playing the game too, and they’re billionaire businessmen!

You can look at all the suggestions at the US News and World Report.

Bleed The World
This is a spoof of Feed The World, aimed at satirising the original effort for feeding the poor, instead turning attention to world bankers and share trading companies who have fallen on hard times – the ones who “bleed the world”.

I think the site sums it up best, “At Christmas time we should always spare a thought for those less fortunate than us. After 20 years of bleeding the world, the global financial community has fallen on hard times. These people desperately need our thoughts, prayers and lots of our money. If you have any investments or savings left, or any money left over at the end of the month please, please give generously. Merry Christmas.”

You can watch this music video at bleed the world.