Sunday, December 25, 2011

10 Deadly Christmas Snakes-#1 Fierce Snake or Inland Taipan AND Belcher’s Sea Snake


Fierce Snake or Inland Taipan

While I did say that I would not include multiple sub-species in this list, the incredible Inland Taipan deserves a spot of its own. It has the most toxic venom of any land snake in the world. The maximum yield recorded for one bite is 110mg, enough to kill about 100 humans, or 250,000 mice! With an LD/50 of 0.03mg/kg, it is 10 times as venomous as the Mojave Rattlesnake, and 50 times more than the common Cobra. Fortunately, the Inland Taipan is not particularly aggressive and is rarely encountered by humans in the wild. No fatalities have ever been recorded, though it could potentially kill an adult human within 45 minutes.


Belcher’s Sea Snake

The most venomous snake known in the world, a few milligrams is strong enough to kill 1000 people! Less than 1/4 of bites will contain venom, and they are relatively docile. Fisherman are usually the victims of these bites, as they encounter the species when they pull nets from the ocean. Found throughout waters off South East Asia and Northern Australia.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

10 Days of Deadly Christmas Snakes-#2 Eastern Brown Snake

Don’t let the innocuous name of this snake fool you, 1/14,000 of an ounce of its venom is enough to kill an adult human. Coming in a variety of species, the Eastern Brown snake is the most venomous. Unfortunately, its preferred habitat is also along the major population centers of Australia. The Brown snake is fast moving, can be aggressive under certain circumstances and has been known to chase aggressors and repeatedly strike at them. Even juveniles can kill a human. The venom contains both neurotoxins and blood coagulants. Fortunately for humans, less than half of bites contain venom and they prefer not to bite if at all possible. They react only to movement, so stand very still if you ever encounter one in the wild.

Friday, December 23, 2011

10 Days of Deadly Christmas Snakes-#3 Blue Krait

The Malayan or Blue Krait is, by far, the most deadly of this species. Found throughout South East Asia and Indonesia, 50% of bites from the deadly Blue Krait are fatal, even with the administration of antivenin. Kraits hunt and kill other snakes, even cannibalizing other Kraits. They are a nocturnal breed, and are more aggressive under the cover of darkness. However, overall they are quite timid and will often attempt to hide rather than fight. The venom is a neurotoxin, 16 times more potent than that of a Cobra. It quickly induces muscle paralysis by preventing the ability of nerve endings to properly release the chemical that sends the message to the next nerve. This is followed by a period of massive over excitation (cramps, tremors, spasms), which finally tails off to paralysis. Fortunately, bites from Kraits are rare due to their nocturnal nature. Before the development of antivenin, the fatality rate was a whopping 85%. Even if antivenin is administered in time, you are far from assured survival. Death usually occurs within 6-12 hours of a Krait bite. Even if patients make it to a hospital, permanent coma and even brain death from hypoxia may occur, given potentially long transport times to get medical care.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

10 Days of Deadly Christmas Snakes-#4 Taipan

Another entry from Australia, the venom in a Taipan is strong enough to kill up to 12,000 guinea pigs. The venom clots the victim’s blood, blocking arteries or veins. It is also highly neurotoxic. Before the advent of an antivenin, there are no known survivors of a Taipan bite, and death typically occurs within an hour. Even with successful administration of antivenin, most victims will have an extensive stay in intensive care. It has been likened to the African Black Mamba in morphology, ecology and behavior.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

10 Days of Deadly Christmas Snakes-#5 Black Mamba

The feared Black Mamba is found throughout many parts of the African continent. They are known to be highly aggressive, and strike with deadly precision. They are also the fastest land snake in the world, capable of reaching speeds of up to 20km/h. These fearsome snakes can strike up to 12 times in a row. A single bite is capable of killing anywhere from 10-25 adults. The venom is a fast acting neurotoxin. Its bite delivers about 100–120 mg of venom, on average; however, it can deliver up to 400 mg. If the venom reaches a vein, 0.25 mg/kg is sufficient to kill a human in 50% of cases. The initial symptom of the bite is local pain in the bite area, although not as severe as snakes with hemotoxins. The victim then experiences a tingling sensation in the mouth and extremities, double vision, tunnel vision, severe confusion, fever, excessive salivation (including foaming of the mouth and nose) and pronounced ataxia (lack of muscle control). If the victim does not receive medical attention, symptoms rapidly progress to severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, pallor, shock, nephrotoxicity, cardio toxicity and paralysis. Eventually, the victim experiences convulsions, respiratory arrest, coma and then death. Without antivenin, the mortality rate is nearly 100%, among the highest of all venomous snakes. Depending on the nature of the bite, death can result at any time between 15 minutes and 3 hours.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

10 Days of Christmas Snakes-#6 Tiger Snake

Christmas Tiger Snake
 Found in Australia, the Tiger snake has a very potent neurotoxic venom. Death from a bite can occur within 30 minutes, but usually takes 6-24 hours. Prior to the development of antivenin, the fatality rate from Tiger snakes was 60-70%. Symptoms can include localized pain in the foot and neck region, tingling, numbness and sweating, followed by a fairly rapid onset of breathing difficulties and paralysis. The Tiger snake will generally flee if encountered, but can become aggressive when cornered. It strikes with unerring accuracy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

10 Days of Deadly Christmas Snakes-#7 Philippine Cobra

Christmas Philippine Cobra
 Most species of Cobra would not make this list; however the Philippine Cobra is the exception. Drop for drop, its venom is the most deadly of all the Cobra species, and they are capable of spitting it up to 3 metres. The venom is a neurotoxin which affects cardiac and respiratory function, and can cause neurotoxicity, respiratory paralysis and death in thirty minutes. The bite causes only minimal tissue damage. The neurotoxins interrupt the transmission of nerve signals by binding to the neuro-muscular junctions near the muscles. The symptoms might include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, collapse and convulsions.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

10 Days of Deadly Christmas Snakes-#8 Vipers

Christmas Saw Scaled Viper
 Vipers are found throughout most of the world, but arguably the most venomous is the Saw Scaled Viper and the Chain Viper, found primarily in the Middle East and Central Asia, particularly India, China and South East Asia. Vipers are quick tempered and generally nocturnal, often active after rains. They are also very fast. Most of these species have venom that cause symptoms that begin with pain at the site of the bite, immediately followed by swelling of the affected extremity. Bleeding is a common symptom, especially from the gums. There is a drop in blood pressure and the heart rate falls. Blistering occurs at the site of the bite, developing along the affected limb in severe cases. Necrosis is usually superficial and limited to the muscles near the bite, but may be severe in extreme cases. Vomiting and facial swelling occurs in about one-third of all cases. Severe pain may last for 2-4 weeks. Often, local swelling peaks within 48-72 hours, involving the affected limb. Discoloration may occur throughout the swollen area as red blood cells and plasma leak into muscle tissue. Death from septicaemia, respiratory or cardiac failure may occur 1 to 14 days post-bite, or even later.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

10 Days of Deadly Christmas Snakes-#9 Death Adder

Christmas Death Adder
 The appropriately named Death Adder is found in Australia and New Guinea. They actually hunt and kill other snakes, including some on this list, usually via ambush. Death Adders look quite similar to vipers, in that they have triangular shaped heads and short, squat bodies. They typically inject around 40-100mg of venom with a lethal dose of 0.4mg-0.5mg/kg. An untreated Death Adder bite is one of the most dangerous in the world. The venom is a neurotoxin. A bite causes paralysis and can cause death within 6 hours, due to respiratory failure. Symptoms generally peak within 24-48 hours. Antivenin is very successful in treating a bite from a Death Adder, particularly due to the relatively slow progression of symptoms, but before its development, a Death Adder bite had a fatality rate of 50%. With the quickest strike in the world, a Death Adder can go from strike position to striking and back again within 0.13 of a second.

Friday, December 16, 2011

10 Days of Deadly Christmas Snakes-#10 Rattlesnake

Christmas Rattlesnake
 The only snake from the Americas on the list, the Rattlesnake is easily identifiable by the tell tale rattle on the end of its tail. They are actually a part of the Pit Viper family, and are capable of striking at up to 2/3rd their body length. The Eastern Diamondback is considered the most venomous species in North America. Surprisingly, juveniles are considered more dangerous than adults, due to their inability to control the amount of venom injected. Most species of rattlesnakes have hemotoxic venom, destroying tissue, degenerating organs and causing coagulopathy (disrupted blood clotting). Some degree of permanent scarring is very likely in the event of a venomous bite, even with prompt, effective treatment, and can lead to the loss of a limb or death. Difficulty breathing, paralysis, drooling and massive hemorrhaging are also common symptoms. Thus, a rattlesnake bite is always a potentially fatal injury. Untreated rattlesnake bites, especially from larger species, are very often fatal. However, antivenin, when applied in time, reduces the death rate to less than 4%.

Info from:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mars Water: Brought to you by......

They are certain Mars has water. The Mars rover, Opportunity, has found a vein of water deposited material. They have named the vein "Homestake."

The names they assign these things are telling, "Opportunity" and "Homestake." So we sent something to Mars named Opportunity. Opportunity for what? Sure, sure. I know they would say, "An opportunity for new discoveries and furthering the exploration of blah, blah, blah." Nobody in the United States seems interested in pure research or furthering ourselves as humans unless there is a big monetary payoff. So really what did they think they would find? What commodity were they looking for? And the vein of water is "Homestake," as in, someone has a "stake" in what happens to the the water. 

I hate that I can't even get excited that we have "discovered" something new on Mars. Down in my bones, I know better. Perhaps in a few years we will all be enjoying pure Mars DuPont-Exxon Water.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Poem About the Night John Lennon Was Shot (in progress)

What I Carried
I can't remember what I carried
the night John Lennon was shot
but after a few hours
my hand ached
as if I had dragged an anchor across 1381
and uprooted an innocent medieval family
just trying to grow turnips.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Religion of Santa Claus or Jesus vs. Santa

When I was a kid, I never really believed in Jesus. Jesus was too far away and too holy to hear me. It seemed anything I wanted to talk to God about would be considered so small and self-centered. Plus, I didn't understand how to read the bible. When someone would tell us to go to a certain bible passage, I didn't understand how to look up chapter, verse, etc. I would look thoughtful and flip the thin pages. I stopped flipping when everyone around me found what they were looking for. I pretended to read along, but whatever page I happened upon, never had anything to do with what the sermon was about. In fact, it seemed to be the opposite: they would be talking about do unto others, and my bible would be open to something about shaking wheat.
My friends occasionally talked about seeing Jesus or hearing the voice of God (they also claimed to see ghosts and Bigfoot). Even though I didn't believe them, I was jealous that they had a connection to Jesus. Jesus was not comforting to me at all. In illustrations of Jesus, he was barefoot and wimpy looking. I never thought he would stand a chance if he had to pave roads or lay bricks. I didn't think he could do the work or handle the construction worker's language and drinking.
Where Jesus failed me, Santa delivered. Santa was everywhere: TV, magazines, newspapers, parades, department stores. I actually went to see Santa and sat on his lap. Now, I thought even then that this was not the "real" Santa, but this stand-in Santa had authority. Everyone accepted that this Santa was "authorized" to hear our Christmas wishes. I remember sitting on Santa's lap and being respectful, full of awe. His plush red velvet pants were always so soft, a special shade of Santa red that I couldn't find in the real world. I never felt this at church.
More evidence that Santa was really real was the insistence of our parents that we write letters to Santa. They actually went to to the trouble to make us write letters and mail them. This seemed a time-consuming chore that grown-ups wouldn't do unless they had to.
On Christmas Eve, there was some mention of the baby Jesus and the manger. We even had a wooden nativity scene sitting on top of the TV, but I was interested in what was "real." I wanted to know where Santa was in the world. I wanted to stay up as late as possible to perhaps see him, but I understood that I had to sleep for him to come. I laid in bed and listened for jingle bells and footsteps around the house. I never heard any.
But the final proof of Santa's true existence was the presents under the tree, around the tree and on the coach on Christmas morning. I firmly believed in Santa. When all else failed, I KNEW Santa was at the North Pole actually caring who was naughty and nice. During the year, I thought about the consequences of being bad in terms of how it would upset Santa, not Jesus.
So finding out Santa wasn't real was a massive trauma for me. I found out while standing in the bus line in the fourth grade at Chilhowie Elementary School. Several kids in line turned and looked at me like I was completely delusional and made fun of me for still thinking there was a Santa (although they believed in talking snakes, men living in whales and a burning bush). Perhaps at the time, I knew there wasn't a Santa. The horrible evidence was stacking up so that it was becoming unavoidable. However, I had managed to push it into some closet in my mind longer than most kids my age. But the most painful thing were these little pricks in the bus line flinging open the closet door and confirming this dreadful fact. I didn't mind finding out about sex from the kids at school, but having these little freaks tell me there was no Santa was tough to take.

(originally published Dec. 2010)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Santa's Chimney Tradition

The tradition of Santa Claus entering dwellings through the chimney may reach back to the tale of Saint Nicholas tossing coins through a window, and, in a later version of the tale, tossing coins down a chimney when he finds the window locked. In Dutch artist Jan Steen's painting, The Feast of Saint Nicholas, adults and toddlers are glancing up a chimney with amazement on their faces while other children play with their toys. The hearth was held sacred in primitive belief as a source of beneficence, and popular belief had elves and fairies bringing gifts to the house through this portal. Santa's entrance into homes on Christmas Eve via the chimney was made part of American tradition through Moore's A Visit from Saint Nicholas where the author described him as an elf.

From Wikipedia

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Polar Coke Tastes Different!

Coke launched "Artic Home" to raise awareness and funds for the polar bear, but Coke is discontinuing its "Artic Home" campaign early. The problem, some say, is that the silver polar bear cans look too similar to the silver Diet Coke cans. So people were grabbing a real Coke thinking that they were buying Diet Coke.

This is not the deeper problem. The polar bear Coke tastes wrong! It is not real Coke. I drink way too much Coke, and I can say without question the polar bear Coke in the white cans does not taste like the real Coke in the red cans. The polar bear Coke has a light, metallic taste, whereas the REAL red Coke has a big, sweet, full-bodied flavor.

This reminds me of 1985 when Coke changed it's formula. My mom was completely addicted to Coke and completely freaked out at the thought of not being able to buy her precious mead. She bought cases of real Coke before the release of the new formula. She had so many cases, I remember them being stacked nearly to the ceiling in her bedroom. Of course, Coke brought back the old formula, and we drank the Coke from her hoarded stash for months. When the bedroom Coke was gone, I must admit I felt exposed.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Encounter with Mentally Challenged Boy Who Was Murdered Eight Months Later For Disclosing the Location of a Meth Lab – Hungry Mother Park, Marion VA , July 2010

I'm so honored to be included in the inaugural issue of Thrush:

Encounter with Mentally Challenged Boy Who Was Murdered Eight Months Later For Disclosing the Location of a Meth Lab – Hungry Mother Park, Marion VA , July 2010
      For R.T.
Those who cross over
the bridge to the little amphitheater
have the impulse to jump on stage,
bow to the empty pine benches.
Everyone shares this primitive instinct
to be on the stage.
That day he came right before the rain.
Do you think he bowed like we did?
He was too slow for regular school,
too slow for me.
I’m not that kind.
So I missed a chance to photograph him,
to freeze him, to add him to my collection.
Only eight months later he was nailed to a tree
like a yellow swallowtail
pinned in a cigar box
and set on fire.
He was a spirit when we met him,
a ghost, an annoying insect
I wouldn’t tolerate in my ear.
I regret shutting him out
of a chance to say something.
I know this is hypocritical now,
but I’m not that kind.
What kind will you be?
Will you be a generous woman who smiles
while enduring dim court jesters?
Years from now will you be satisfied
with the photos from that day,
knowing there is a phantom
just out of sight?

-Cindy Goff

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December is here

December  is the 12th and last month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian Calendars and one of seven months with the length of 31 days. December starts on the same day as September every year and ends on the same day as April every year.

In Latin, decem means "ten". December was also the tenth month in the Roman calendar until a month less winter period was divided between January and February.

December's flower is the narcissus or holly. December's birthstones are turquoise, lapis lazuli, zircon, topaz (blue), or tanzanite.
December is the month with the shortest daylight hours of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest daylight hours of the year in the Southern Hemisphere.
December in the Northern Hemisphere is the seasonal equivalent to June in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa.
In the Northern hemisphere, the beginning of the meteorological winter is 1 December. In the Southern hemisphere, the beginning of the meteorological summer is 1 December.

From Wikipedia