The Most Venomous Land on Earth

This post is brought to you by Tim’s imagination, as inspired by the Australian Venom Research Unit: making people scared of Australia sincewell, probably since they began.

When you’re on the cusp of a big adventure, as all you adventurous people know, you tend to think far too much about what life is going to be like once you get there.  You may be like me, and as you lie in bed at night, you envision yourself already at your destination, talking with locals, oohing and aahing (side note: spellcheck accepted oohing but not aahing) at all the novel sights, and so on.  Typically, in the weeks leading up to any kind of big event, I find myself lying awake progressively later and later into the night, my mind racing with all the exciting possibilities.

In my curious and excited state, I figured it might help to do some research on Australia – you know, answer some of those burning questions in advance, to put my mind at ease.  Maybe then I’d be able to rest easy.  It was armed with this good intention, and a healthy dose of Google, that I ended up finding out about a very interesting organization called the Australian Venom Research Unit (linked above – I recommend the For Kids section!).  The AVRU, which is some kind of division of the University of Melbourne, has tasked itself with categorizing, describing, and teaching Australian residents and potential visitors (i.e. ignoramuses) about the abundance of deadly or dangerous creatures in its home country.  And there are plenty to talk about.

Did you know that of the top 11 snakes in terms of potency of venom, Australia has all 11 (according to AVRU)?  Australians always make light of the dangerous creatures in their country, but AVRU seems to indicate that there is a legitimate cause for concern, particularly if you live in isolated, rural, semi-rural, semi-urban, or urban areas, or if you happen to spend time in or near water, or on land, or in trees.  Or in the sky, for that matter.

For your (and my own) entertainment, I have compiled a list of images below that demonstrate what I expect our Australian experience to be like, based on my recent discoveries.  When you wish us bon voyage, keep these images in mind, all of which – according to my research – should be fairly realistic:

Arriving at Perth International Airport - How nice, he's waving!

Downtown, or Central Business District - Perth CBD

Yes, they do have venomous moths in Australia

Kings Park Perth - 400 Hectares of Sheer Delight

40 degrees Celsius outside? No worries, just go for a dip!

A typical home in Perth - hope she doesn't startle when you open the garage!

The Solution

So, if you haven’t figured out the hints yet, here are the answers:

Hint 1: 3317

Hint 2: Leagues

Hint 3: Endeavour

If you’re clever enough to have put them all together, you would have converted the 3317 leagues into 18 429 km. Endeavour was supposed to lead you to the HMS Endeavour of the Royal Navy, captained by James Cook, who sailed the Pacific in 1769 and “discovered” Australia.  You had to be a bit more clever to figure that one out.  If you put them together you might have figured out that the distance of 18 429 km is the distance from Fredericton, NB to Perth, Australia.

A replica of the ship James Cook captained on his voyage of discovery

And that brings us to our latest news: Tim has accepted a job with none other than Rio Tinto (the same company that – mostly – owned IOC in Labrador), based in Perth, Australia.  We’ll all be moving there sometime around the beginning of November.  Med school didn’t work out this year, and right around the time we were feeling most bummed out about it (to say it lightly), a friend and former colleague from Labrador called up and said, more or less: “Hey Tim, you want a job?”

To make a long story short, we’ve decided that it’s too good of an opportunity to pass up, and Tim is only 25, so med school can wait.  It’s not every day that someone just calls up and offers you a job in a foreign land with a Mediterranean climate and awesome accents.  We’re sure it will be challenging with the new baby on the way, especially considering the fact that Tim will work parts of the year on a Fly-In Fly-Out basis (8 away 6 home), but we’ve decided that’s not going to stop us from missing the chance for international travel and life experience.

So if you haven’t already, make sure and subscribe to our blog or at least bookmark it, because our pictures will soon start looking a lot more exotic.  We’ll also be joining a smaller church that’s part of the Newfrontiers family of churches, like The Meeting Place, so that’ll be kinda cool.  We’ve never really been part of what’s basically a church plant, so look forward to our perspectives on that.

Fredericton’s been a wonderful home, and we’ll probably post a summary of the adventures/experiences we’ve had here someday soon, but everyone who knew us also knew that this would never be a settling point for us.  Even with kids, that’s just not on the radar yet.

Anyhow, we’ll leave you with an animated rendition of Australia’s unofficial anthem, “Waltzing Matilda”.  Considering the fact that this is such a popular song, it’s surprisingly difficult to find a good version on youtube, so let us know if you’re aware of one:

Hint #3 – The Final Hint!

Hi folks,

For those of you who didn’t feel like solving hint two or hint one and finding out the distance, I’m not going to tell you what it is… but I am going to give you one last hint.

Travel hasn’t always been as easy as it is today.  I’ve heard it said that during the dark ages, the average person traveled a mere 7km from their home in the course of his or her entire life – that’s close to what I drive every day to and from work (just one way).  Can you imagine never seeing anything beyond what’s basically already within view on a clear day, for your entire life?!?  Perhaps it’s easier to imagine when the only available option was walking, and when there were numerous perils all around – starvation, wild animals, threatening weather, bandits – and substantially less medical care.

Even if you were able to save yourself a pile of effort and time by riding a horse, it could still take days to get from one town to another, and you’d have to keep your horse fed and watered.  Plus, you’d probably have to be fairly well to do (kind of like today) just to be a horse owner in the first place.

International travel would have been even more of an ordeal.  Whether traveling by zeppelin, aeroplane, boat, or whatever, during the early days of each the hazards were abundant.  I read the story recently of one man who, in the early days of flight, was determined to get home to the UK from somewhere in Oceania; in the process, he survived no less than three plane crashes – virtually every leg of the journey ended in the destruction of the plane.  I’m pretty sure I would have stayed put after surviving the first crash, somewhere in Indonesia.

So the focus of tonight’s hint is probably pretty clear by now – using the answer contained herein, plus the distance acquired from previous puzzles – see if you can figure out our destination 🙂  If you have trouble with numbers, try drawing a number line for some of them…might help!

Hint #2 – units

Thanks to all of you who participated in the last hint post.  For those who didn’t solve it, or who just kept their answer to themselves, the number you needed to find was:


Congrats to those of you who got it.  Tonight’s hint is brought to you by Tim.  I – Tim – wanted to make the last one harder, but Kathryn suggested we take it easy on you the first time around.  So tonight’s hint will involve a little more thought, I hope, or at least a couple more steps.  The answer will provide you with the units, so you can put the results of Hint #1 and this hint together to figure out the distance to where our next adventure will take place.  It still leaves a lot to the imagination, but you’ll at least have the scope of distance to ponder.

Get out your pen and paper and tackle this puzzle:

Units are very interesting things.  They are kind of like languages, in that it’s hard to imagine a group of people sitting around one day deciding “this will be called a house, that fruity drink will be called guice”, etc., and everyone else agreeing.  Yet somehow a consensus has been reached over the years so that one particular collection of syllables has one particular meaning (or maybe a couple at most) in one particular langwage.  It’s pretty cool.

To make the history of units more exciting, I like to imagine that the metric system was invented by a single, brilliant man who then traveled the worbd like a door-to-door salesman, championing his cause, until everyone (except the United States) was convinced, ’cause thay’re too stubborn.  The Metric Man, as he eventually became known, was the first person to say, “Hey, why do we uze all kinds of arbitrary units that don’t make any sense in relation to each other?  Why not make them all consistently into divisions of ten, across all unit types?  That way, we could use the same prefixes on different units and it would be so much more intuitive.”  You can see why he was so successful in championing his cause – it is a wery sensible solution!

But if the metric system isn’t for you – if there is something that just doesn’t seem quite right about it – feel frie to replace it with one that suits you better.  After all, for some people, consistency isn’t the most impowtant thing at all.  In fact, some people may prefer Imperial just because there is more variety in the names.  For example, in the metric system you may comfuse decimetres with decametres, even though they’re two very different lengths.  In Imperial, you never have to worry about mistakenly picking yards instead of inches (then again, how oftin are decimetres and decametres even used, other than in school?).

Alas, that brings us to the end of Hint #2.  If you’re sharp, you’ll find yourself with a sequence of ten letters that should lead you to the units you seek.  If you’re stuck, feel free to email/DM (@timthegeologist)/Facebook message us and we’ll give you a hand.  If I don’t get any solutions within a couple of days I’ll post a clearer hint in the comments, but I think you’ll get it 🙂

Weaning and Sleep Training

Ah yes…if you’re a parent you will most likely be familiar with this topic.  The question of when to wean is always a tough one and it can be a controversial one depending on who you hang around with.  Sleep training also goes hand in hand with it, especially if you’re still breastfeeding a lot.  I can really only speak from my current experience on the matter. Every child is unique so you can’t really apply someone else’s method verbatim, however, it’s always good to seek advice from experienced moms who have already been through the trenches of sleeplessness and sore nipples.

One week ago I was pretty much fed up, to be honest. I was resentful that I was nursing Eden so much and due to my pregnancy it was sore, especially when she nursed for long periods of time.  I was tired, from multiple nights in a row of her awake for 2-3 hours  screaming and the only way I knew how to sooth her was to nurse her. So it was all on me, Tim really couldn’t do much other then be awake from all the screaming.

I talked with my sister about it and she suggested talking with a seasoned mom in our church who is currently weaning her twin boys (who are Eden’s age) and who had a really difficult time with her toddler. I ended up talking with her Tuesday and what an encouragement she was! She has 4 kids 5 and under and also a teenage step-daughter, talk about busy! She took a quite moment she had to call me and encourage me. WOW!

It’s hard as a first time mom you know? You have no reference point and you don’t really have time to sit and do a lot of research. I was honestly at a loss when it came to weaning and I knew that I had to start there before I tackled sleep, because the only reason Eden was waking up was for comfort and to nurse. She had no idea how to sooth herself to sleep and would often cry until she threw up if I tried to get her to “cry-it-out”. Not really that effective since she would then be hungry and end up nursing more (after I changed her bedding, sleeper, and blankets…).

Anyway, this super mom who called me was so encouraging and she gave me some different ideas to try out. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to get too extreme and use the “mustard approach” or the “mom goes away for a weekend approach” (although that didn’t sound too bad I would feel like I was abandoning her and Tim). That night I didn’t nurse Eden at all, we decided to just lay her back down in her crib if she woke up, comfort her a bit and then leave the room. If she was still crying after 5 minutes Tim would go back in and lay her back down. We increased the waiting time to 10 minutes shortly after that. The first night Eden was up for 3 hours, practically screaming the whole time (thankfully she slept in a bit the next day). The following day I believe I tried to reduce the amount I nursed her throughout the day but it was difficult. She askes for it and doesn’t give up until she gets it, it’s heart breaking. It was also difficult because I’ve always nursed on demand, meaning we didn’t have a schedule or anything like that, so it was hard to keep track.

The following night Eden only had to be laid down 2 or 3 times I think (I mostly slept through it!) and I was hopeful! That morning I decided that I was only going to nurse her in the morning when she woke up and before bed. This was quite a drastic reduction but we managed through the first day. She had a total of 3 major meltdowns and I managed to distract here with food or going outside. At the end of the day I was so happy! I really felt like I could do it! Since then Eden has only woken up once per night and sometimes not at all. Tim just goes into her room, lays her down and that’s it. She learned that quickly how to fall asleep without nursing. I also continue to only nurse her morning and evening and that’s working for us at this time. I honestly don’t think it will be that hard to get rid of those nursings altogether but we’re in no rush, to be honest it’s really nice cuddle time for us:)

My relationship with Eden is better for it too, I’m less tired and resentful. Some days I felt like she was sucking all the life out of me, between her and the growing little one I was exhausted. I have a lot more energy now and enjoy playing with her down on the floor more often. She’s not constantly hanging off me (well some days she still is…) so I cherish those snuggles more.

To be honest I went through a period of time when I felt guilty about wanting to wean Eden, like I would be depriving her or something. Some people believe this is so, but I realised that since I was feeling resentful toward her weaning her would probably do more good than harm. Now I wonder why we didn’t at least try the whole sleep training thing sooner! It’s amazing to be able to stay in bed all night when I haven’t had that privilege for more than a year (especially if you include all the bathroom runs late in pregnancy).

It’s so hard to find a balance as a mom sometimes. You always want to do what’s best for your children, sometimes it hard to figure out what that is.  For now we’re enjoying the fact that Eden’s in bed early (8ish) which gives Tim and I some time in the evenings. We even had a babysitter last week and went out on the town for a couple of hours! Eden’s also been sleeping until 7 or 8 am, meaning she’s getting a good long sleep, we’re getting a good long sleep, and we all wake up happy (most mornings). Her afternoon nap has been only around an hour long but oh well, you can’t have it all right? That was long enough for me to get supper made and answer a few e-mails/check FB today!

It’s been almost a week and those first few nights of crying have definitely been worth it. I don’t think Eden’s been permanently damaged by the whole process, if anything she’s learned that “hey, mom and dad haven’t abandoned me, they will come when I cry but I might as well just fall asleep unless I really need something” – or something along those lines!

Thanks to encouraging, experienced, Godly moms who willingly give advice. I hope that one day I will be the one giving advice to a struggling new mom!

Afternoon nap in the hammock

Stay tuned! The next post will be Hint #2!