Aussie Oddities

The eastern brown snake is the species responsible for most deaths caused by snakebite in Australia, although, with the advent of efficient first-aid treatment and antivenom, there are now usually only one or two deaths per year. A large adult brown snake is a formidable creature. They may exceed two metres in length and, on hot days, can move at surprising speed. It has a slender body and is variable in colour ranging from uniform tan to grey or dark brown. The belly is cream, yellow or pale orange with darker orange spots. Suddenly Babe stopped, jolting Jen forward in her saddle reacting to something on the ground in front of her, dancing sideways, making efforts to turn around to go home.

Amarna Letters

“Here is one of the great innovations of human history - diplomacy on a truly international scale., when major kings chose not to fight but to seek peace, and created all the neccesary protocols and instruments for diplomatic solutions to international problems” — Brotherhood of Kings, Amanda Podany Tal came in from an adjoining room. “This next room is full of tablets, almost like a library.” “Oh, it's the Amarna Room,” Neal said. “These are the clay tablets Akhenaten used to correspond with the other kings and government officials throughout the ancient world.” “How big was his world? How many people could he have written to?” “Well Katie, the clay tablets, there are more than three hundre

Zenobia Shipwreck

Zenobia is a roll on roll off ferry that sank on her maiden voyage from Sweden to Syria. She never reached her destination, as computer problems with the ballast system caused her to begin to list not far off the coast of Cyprus. Each time the Ship's captain tried to compensate for the listing, she would begin to over-correct and list to the other side. Eventually, a distress call was placed to the Cypriot authorities. Zenobia was not in good shape! The response was not quick enough coming and bit by bit, the crew worked to remove the Computer Systems and the Passengers from the ship as Zenobia continued to list, firstly to the bow then to port side. The last time Zenobia began to list to po


“Rabies, there is no rabies virus living in Australia yet, and the Australian government wants to keep it that way.” Things quieted for a while and Jen changed the subject. “Why are Australians so afraid of rabies?” She asked. “Australians are NOT afraid!” Billy replied exasperatedly. Jen backtracked and tried a different approach although she couldn't hide the irritation in her voice. “What I meant is that other countries have rabies and the people seem to be doing okay with it. What makes rabies such a dire consequence if it enters Australia?” Billy didn’t answer her. They had talked enough. He pulled into the lot at the paint store and exited the vehicle. Jen opened her car door and hurri

Byblos, where the Bible found its name

The drive out of Beirut went smoothly. There were no roadblocks or checkpoints. Jay drove through the suburbs following the coast route. Evidence of the recent battles diminished, and Katie relaxed, at ease for the first time in two days. René gazed out the window. “Now this looks like the Mediterranean vacation I’m talking about.” “We call this the sahil.” Jay gestured to the land between sea and mountain. "Long ago, before the Romans were here, this entire coastal area was covered in forest. Vast stands of giant Lebanese Cypress trees grew tall and fast from the ocean rains. They stretched from the beach to the tip of those mountains.” “I don't see see any trees.” “They were cut down over

Egyptian Connections

“No, it was Akhenaten. That’s what the exhibit explains. It also describes the Amarna letters, a collection of clay tablets. It was the way the major powers communicated at the time. They exchanged letters, and with this brotherhood on neighboring kings, managed to stay out of major wars for two hundred years.” “Oh, I want to go there. Do you guys want to come too?” ”Sure,” Neal said, and Tal nodded his head. Katie paid the admission price and was given tickets with stickers. “Place the sticker on your shirt. It gives you admission to this museum as well as the Legion of Honor, another museum in Golden Gate Park. If you’re interested in Akhenaten, you will want to visit the Tomb of Kha. He w

Flying Foxes Carry Hendra Virus!

“Flying-foxes are natural ‘hosts’ of Hendra virus, meaning that they carry the virus but it has little effect on them. The virus may be transmitted from flying-foxes to horses via exposure to urine or birthing fluids. Humans contract the virus through close contact with infected horses.” — Department of Environment and Energy Little Red Flying Fox lives throughout most of northern and eastern Australia. Australia has four types of Flying Foxes, and all are capable of shedding Hendra Virus without being at all affected by the bug. Scientists call that the reservoir of the virus, it's the organism that keeps the pathogen alive. Hendra Virus wasn't discovered until 1994, when the first outbreak

Lady of Byblos

The most important temple in Byblos is the temple of Baalat-Gebal or the Lady of Byblos, the goddess who was to preside over the city for over two millennia. Constructed when Byblos had close ties with Egypt, this large and important temple was rebuilt a number of times, remaining in use until the Roman period when it was replaced by a Roman style structure. The Goddess Baalat-Gebal with the sun disc on the head was represented on cylindrical seals found in Byblos and in Egypt. A photo of a stela found at Byblos of the King presenting a libation in a bowl to "the Lady of Byblos." "I am Yehaw-melek, king of Byblos, the son of Yehar-ba'l, the grandson of Urimelek, king of Byblos, whom the mis

Personal Protection Equipment

"The government is constantly updating the guidelines a vet must follow when approaching a suspected horse. Currently, we are told to wear splash-proof overalls with long sleeves, impervious boots, double gloves, a face shield or safety glasses, and a P2 particle respirator to prevent inhalation of aerosols." -Chapter 13, Death From Down Under “Hendra is a living nightmare! Vet students learn zoonotic diseases during school, but this virus is sneaky as well as deadly.” “What do you mean when you say zoonotic?” Jen asked. “Those are diseases that can jump from animals to people.” “And what do you mean by saying this virus is a sneaky one?” “After the first two incidents occurred in Hendra the

A Single God Before Yahweh

Hebrews Plagiarized Akhenaten's God, Aten They called him Yahweh “Monotheism owes its origins to ancient Egypt. From 1379BC to 1362BC, during the time that the Israelites lived there, the country was ruled by Amenhotep IV. He substituted a universal and virtually exclusive supreme god, Aten, for the traditional polytheistic pantheon. So convinced was Amenhotep of the existence of this supreme deity that he changed his name to Akhenaten, meaning literally, “raising the high name of Aten”. No icon of this super-deity was allowed but, in Akhenaten’s imagination, the god was symbolized by the disc of the sun, winged and with outstretched hands. The god Aten and the notion of the pharaoh return

Observation Deck

Hamon Tower has marvelous views of San Francisco The three friends walked across the atrium of the De Young, and found the elevator to the Hamon Tower. In the elevator, Tal was standing in front of Katie. She smelled him and smiled, his scent was familiar to her. They had been through a lot together, and his presence warmed her. His hair was newly washed and bunched with an elastic band. Bored, feeling playful she gently tugged on his shiny black ponytail. “What was that for?” He turned around, smiling in surprise. “I’ll tell you when we get off the elevator.” Neal was oblivious to the fleeting flirtation. He gestured to Tal. “What were you looking for?” “What do you mean, Neal?” “You were b

Sugar Gliders

“The foal looks good. Congratulations,” Doc Leighton announced, and gave Nick a reassuring smile. While she was washing up she asked Nick if it would be ok for him to show her guests his sugar gliders. "Absolutely!" The fellow replied. "But why are you hesitating to ask? “Because I’m not entirely sure having these boogers is legal. I didn’t want to put you in a hard place.” “Oh I have a Queensland Wild Life Demonstrator Licence,” he replied. “It allows me legal possession of the sugar gliders so long as I hold a demonstration on them at places other than my home at least once a month. The hope is to use these presentations to promote wildlife conservation. Follow me.” He led the way behind t

Oya, Turkish Lace

Oya, Turkish Lace that conveys the lady’s thoughts While staying in a Lebanese home Katie is introduced to the specific language of the embroidered cloth referred to as Oya. Ancient needlework from Turkey and Lebanon shows everyone how the wearer is feeling. Katie helped Nouhad carry cups of tea into the living room. The shared womanly duties eased Nouhad's discomfort; Katie noticed she was much more relaxed when they returned to the kitchen. Nouhad sat down slowly at the table, exhaling loudly as she settled in. “Sit down, please.” She gestured to Katie. She played with a garment she spread on the table, counting the small objects dangling along the cloth’s edge, pausing briefly to let her

Tomb of Kha

“What do you know about the Akhenaten dynasty?” Katie turned to Neal. “This was the 18th Egyptian Dynasty, Katie. The pyramids were ancient then, already over a thousand years old. Both the 18th and 19th dynasties were the famous ones. Akhenaten, one of the pharaohs and Tutankhamen, his son, were rulers of the later times of the 18th dynasty. When Akhenaten died, the next ruler was a female named Smenkhare, but she was Nefertiti, Akhenaten’s most famous wife, using a new name.” “Why would she change her name?” “Her husband was being vilified by the priesthood. Maybe this was a way to deflect some of the criticism about her succession. She was like a stepmother to Tut; his real mother was one

Taronga Zoo

They were both lost in their thoughts when she said: “Can I ask you a personal question?” “I suppose,” Billy replied nervously not sure if he wanted to answer. “Have you had another woman since Holly?” No answer. Billy took a big gulp of wine and Jen did the same. He hadn't spoken about Holly to any other woman before. “I owe you an honest answer; you have been forthright with me. The answer is no, for a lot of reasons. At first, it was pure sorrow. We loved each other so much, and we were such good friends, and Holly was so unique. I, all of us, missed her for a long time, maybe too long. By the time the pain ebbed years had passed. When I finally did pick my head up and look around everyon

Akhenaten's Lineage

Monotheism came from Zoroastrianism The Babylonian captivity was a turning point in religious thought exposing the Hebrew intellectual elites to concepts which were developed in more Eastern areas, notably Zoroastrianism. Though Zoroastrianism gained the status of "state religion" in Persia only later on, the basic concepts were older (the exact date is highly disputed, but the current consensus points to "some time in the 2nd millenium BC"). The ideas had begun to percolate to neighboring Babylonia at the time the Hebrews were there. Among these concepts was the notion there was a Supreme Deity (Ahura Mazda). All other "gods" were really subordinates, even proxies; every prayer sent to any

Quarantine Release

Release from Quarantine Jen needed to be in the western suburbs of Sydney between 1:30 and 3:30 to collect Pounder. Billy brought one of his dog carriers at Jen's request. He had three he used to transport his Heelers to other farms and stations to help round up the livestock. It was big enough to house Pounder comfortably. “That looks like a bank deposit box with air vents in it,” Jen observed. “I had these custom-made. They are stainless steel and I think they’ll last longer than I will.” Billy pulled up to the quarantine station, and Jen went inside to arrange the release. Billy went to the back of the Land Rover to retrieve the carrier. As he was wrangling the massive thing out of the ve


The ruins of Baalbek are the largest ever uncovered, bigger than the structures in Rome," Jay explained as he drove the car from the hills into the Beqaa Valley. But the place was well known before the Romans, even the Greeks settled, ruled alternately by Egyptian and Canaanite priests. During the Canaanite period, the local temples were largely devoted to the Heliopolitan Triad: a male god, Baʿal, his consort, Astarté, and their son, Adon. Ba'al was the early Canaanite's sky god, their King of Heaven, and Astártē was their Queen of Heaven," Jay explained. The site of the present Temple of Jupiter was probably the focus of earlier worship, as its altar was located at the hill's precise summ

Eagle Falconry

“Can I pet her?” Katie asked as Chloe moved up and down, back and forth on the glove. Katie could feel the pressure from her strong talons pressing on the reinforced glove. Hannah Hartsell and Celilo, Bald Eagle, photo by Craig Volpe. CascadeRaptorCenter.org. “No, she’s working, Katie. She’s a machine, with only one focus. Emotional rewards don’t do it for these guys. Petting is just a distraction for her. When you want to get rid of her, stretch your hand out and, as you do so, and just turn your hand over, and she’ll take off.” “Those bells on her legs were jangling when she came to me. What are those?” Eagle Falconry, Chapter 16 “Bells are used to help locate a bird while hunting. Some fa

Hoof Abscess

Hoof Abscess Jen and Sandra started taking morning rides together. Most every weekday morning they would meet for coffee at Jen’s house after which they headed to the stables and checked on the sugar gliders making sure they were fed and watered. Also, it was just fun to play with them. With the sugar gliders attended to the women gathered halters and lead ropes. Jen’s favorite ride was Candybar the quarter horse mare who was Rory's love as well. Sandra rode an eight-year-old black gelding named Mozart. They saddled the horses and traveled down Jack Creek using one of two main routes. The easiest way was to drop right down into the canyon and head north towards the cemetery. The other way wa

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