Little Details

A Fact-Checking Community for Writers

Founding a Religion - benefits
Time: 1995 - present
Place: USA

I want my character (SPN Universe) to found a religion. He doesn't plan to make money of this and the tax exemptions are just a nice bonus. He also doesn't try to get others to believe in his religion but would have others joining, he (and the other members) would use it as an excuse to get away with some very odd things that are frowned-on or downright illegal outside of religion.

My question is, what other benefits other than taxes do churches have. Like, would it make it harder for police to prosecute or investigate him, or just to get on the church land? Anything that can useful concerning the law enforcement side of things for this as well.

I tried googling the issue but was left mostly with either people going on about their own religion, a how-to (create your god, pick a symbol...) or entries concerning the game Civilization, looked through the religion tags here and went through, which only confused me more.

Thank you

Sabotaging a vintage bicycle
I need to describe how a smart ten-year-old sabotages a sibling's bicycle in 1930, in such a way that the rider will have a wreck going down a hill--maybe when he hits his brake?

The bike is a low-end model, manufactured some time ago and bought used by the sibling in 1929 or 30, in the rural US Midwest. The kind of bike that might have been for sale cheap during the Depression. Could be, for instance, a Kenwood from the Sears catalog originally bought in 1914. I'm not attached to make and model.

The sabotage needs to be something that can be fixed afterwards.

I have searched under vintage bicycle, history vintage bicycle, sabotage bicycle, sears kenwood bicycle...looked at some sites about vintage bikes, but somehow nobody's talking about how to break them...:) Also talked to a bike repair tech who seemed to think I was trying to ruin his day...

Medical questions about drug interactions/overdose
The Doctor travelling man
Cut for potentially triggering references to drug abuseCollapse )
Thanks in advance, everyone!

Could an FBI agent on a case speak to a US Army Ranger on duty?
Survived every winter
To clarify: this is on American soil, in the near future, outside a fictional town on the eastern seaboard.

Details and specific questions behind the cutCollapse )

[ANON POST] Organization of US Army and Endangering A Subordinate
Time: Ambiguously present
Place: United States with just a little bit of magic

Research so far: Wikipedia entries for Structure of the U.S. Army, Conscription in the United States, and the groups and ranks involved,, the UCMJ, the U.S. Army tag on this community, and a few other websites that were not helpful. I'm having trouble finding the Google terms I want (if they exist). I mostly used variations of "officer endangering subordinate".

I'm creating a military background for a character, and I want to make sure I'm putting it together right. She was drafted in college because she has special skills disarming magical bombs. From what I read, the Dept. of Defense has drafted people for special skills before (specifically medical professionals during the Korean War, but I'll take that as a precedent) and the draft deferment for students is only until the end of the semester, so this makes sense so far.

From what I read, I think she would start as a Private on a Team of three, with one other Private and a Specialist in charge. A Team is part of a Squad, which is part of a Platoon. Would that be the usual group to interact and operate with on a regular basis, or would it be the larger Company?

It doesn't make sense to me for the whole Platoon to be made up of people with these specialized skills; it seems like there should be one Team of bomb experts attached to each regular infantry Platoon. Would that be plausible?

For my last rank question, would it be possible for her to spend about five years in the Army and leave as a specialist? I see that one usually becomes a Specialist after about two years, but moving on after that is not as automatic. She has no desire to be promoted and no inclination towards leadership positions.

Okay, the second part is more complicated. The leader of the Platoon (Side question: would she interact more with the Lieutenant [or Captain if we're talking about a Company] in charge, or with the Sergeant?) doesn't like her and he wants her gone. He leaves her alone in the company of a poorly restrained prisoner who slips the restraints and gets in a few good hits before the leader-type "realizes" that something is wrong and gets the prisoner off her. If other members of the Platoon spoke up to say that something wasn't right, would the leader suffer any consequences? I couldn't find any specific portion of the UCMJ that would cover this, especially if it looks more like a mistake than an intent to cause her harm.

Thank you for staying with me so long, and for any help you can give. All of this is far in the past for my story, but my character is going to suddenly encounter the leader in her civilian life, and I want to make sure I'm clear on the relationship between them so that I can figure out how they interact.

Need translation from English to (Mexican) Spanish
I tried several of the on-line translators, but each came up with a different translation, and when I tried translating back to English, none came up with what I'd started with.

I'm not sure if time/location/situation are relevent, but this is set in South Texas in the mid 1980's.  Drug lord is talking to his bodyguard/second in command, and is referring to some of his lower ranked henchmen having drugged (by injection) the hero with something to knock him out.  The lines I need translated are:

Drug lord "How much did they give him?"

Bodyguard "What does it matter?"

Drug lord "I intend to find out what he knows."

Thank you in advance!

Minor pedestrian versus car accidents and a little bit of German language & medical culture
blue ruiner
My setting is present day (2013), Germany (Frankfurt am Main); technically Sherlock fandom but that's largely irrelevant; emergency room/A&E or other walk-in clinic where you might go after an accident. My character is John Watson, so he has a medical background and I'd like him be to some extent self-diagnosing—that part is plot relevant. I usually operate on the assumption that Sherlock canon universe is squishier than reality, what with all the ~magical science and everything, but I'd prefer to know how this works actually IRL and then squish from there, rather than just totally wing it.

Cut because there's sort of four questions on two different subjects and also because this is long (I feel like I've gotten halfway there on everything in here, *sigh*).

The medicine/injuries/accident logistics part [not Germany specific].Collapse )

[ANSWERED--thank you all!!] The German medical culture & language part.Collapse )

I'm American but obviously spending a lot of time writing in a British fandom, so I apologize if I swap back and forth between American and British terminology in here—I tried to stick with American terms just for consistency but I'm sure I slipped up on some.

Thank you very much in advance for any help or info you have—this community is always invaluable, and the assistance is very much appreciated. ♥

Applying for a US Passport
change my world
Setting: present day Virginia

I am looking into applying for a US passport (obviously not for myself, but for a character). I found this which is super useful. My character has never had a passport before and needs a photo ID to get one but my character also has none of the things listed as valid photo ID. The above website goes on to say:

If you do not have any of the above documents, you will need to submit a combination of secondary identification documents with a photo and signature, such as:

Expired Driver's License
State-issued ID Card
Student ID Card
Employment ID Card

What does "a combination of secondary identification documents with a photo and signature" mean? Does that mean that you need to send off two or more of those documents? My character is a student so would have a student ID. I don't know if you also have to send the originals off in this case (I could find anywhere that said either way) but if you do, what do you do in the meantime? What is an employment ID card outside of the obvious? Would all employers have one, or is it for bigger companies/institutions? Would, say, a little bookshop or auto repair shop have one? And what is a state-issued ID card and does everyone get one/do you have to pay for them/what is their purpose?

Within the Passport application itself it also says this:

IF YOU CANNOT PROVIDE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE OF IDENTITY as stated above, you must appear with an IDENTIFYING WITNESS who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen U.S. national, or permanent resident alien who has known you for at least two years. Your witness must prove his or her identity and complete and sign an Affidavit of Identifying Witness (Form DS-71) before the acceptance agent. You must also submit some identification of your own.

I'm assuming that "identification of your own" is what is listen above. However, the identifying witness, can they be younger than you though still over the age of 18? Essentially, can my character have his best friend vouch for him? She would have a passport and a drivers licence and be able to provide all documentation required. I'm assuming the answer is yes, but I just want to make sure. Also, where would this be done? Is this something that can be authorised in a college town, or does it have to be a state capital or other municipal town/city?

Also, proof of US Citizenship is requires and without a valid passport, this means a birth certificate. My character is in college outside of the state he was born in (Virginia), and was in the foster system/a group home within the state he was born in prior to that (Iowa). How likely is it that my character would already have a copy of his birth certificate and if it's likely he doesn't, how easy would it be to get a copy?

"Whetter" or "Cutler"?
Hi guys, I'm wondering if you can help me.

I recently read a Japanese short story. The protagonist's profession is a "cutler" (刃物屋 / hamono-ya). He sells a bunch of cutlery, sharpens them, washes knives, etc. There's a translation up, and the translator translated his profession as "whetter".

In the end the translator asked if it was accurate to use "whetter" instead of "cutter" (he's not a native English speaker) I decided to do some googling, and it's really not helping. Technically both "cutler" and "whetter", "should" be the same thing but I'm not exactly sure.

To put it simply: Is someone whose profession is to sell, wash, and sharpen cutlery a "cutler", or a "whetter"?

Thanks. :)

Edit: Thank for all the help. I asked another translator and he explained that basically "cutler" translates to 刃物師, and whetter means someone who whets in particular; 研師.
If this person is specialized in whetting, he should be called 研師. But if he does all the process of making 刃物, then he's a cutler.

I've never seen these words used before, so I guess that's what really hit me.

Historically accurate but non-offensive words for African Americans in 1940s US
Setting: 1941, USA, before Pearl Harbor

Googled: I searched through the writingwithcolor tumblr (and they're not taking Asks at the moment) and I googled my subject line but didn't come up with much except for words that ARE offensive

I'm writing a detective story taking place the summer before Pearl Harbor. I was planning for a PI that my main character goes to for a job to be African American, but then it occurred to me that "African American" may not be a historically accurate term for the 1940s. I'm trying to include diversity in my cast so I'd rather not make him white - but since it was a time of segregation and discrimination, I can't just have her gloss over his race either. However, she is a polite woman and would not needlessly offend him if she can avoid it. What terms could I use that are accurate to the 40s but aren't automatically associated with a racial slur?

Reward for a Good Samaritan in London in 1988
I have a plot point in my story where a bartender saves a young woman from being raped (someone tries to roofie her, he notices and calls the cops on him.)

The young woman happens to be from a really wealthy family, and when her parents find out what happen, they want to give the bartender some kind of reward, especially once they come to know that he's working to pay for college. My question is, what would be an appropriate amount? I'd like it to be reasonably significant- enough to make a sizeable dent in his college tuition (he's studying in London) but not crazy extravagant. If this was present-day US, I'd say the parents give him $5-10,000, but I'm not at all sure what that would translate to in 1988 money, leave alone pounds.

I did some research on currency exchange rates and what $5000 would have been worth in 1988, but I couldn't find the information I needed.


ETA: Looks like my effort to simplify things backfired on me!

This is a Harry Potter story, and the bartender in question is working at a Muggle bar on the side. (It makes sense in the story, I swear.) So offers of accomodation and such wouldn't really work, but a favour or similar is a good idea. He does have a sister, so would it come across as less gauche if the money were framed as something he could use to treat her? Otherwise the idea of a powerful contact in the Muggle world does have potential...

Also, re: the acceptability of her being slipped a mickey, the barman is a progressive sort. Would it work for him to have a friend on the force he can ask for a favour? The plot really does hinge on the guy being caught for attempted rape, sadly...

Kidney surgery
In my story, two of my character, a father and a daughter, go through surgery : the father is giving one of his kidney to his daughter.

So I search with "kidney disease", "kidney surgery", "hospital procedure", and "recover from a surgery" but the infos I gathered were pretty general, I need more specific info.

So if you went through a kidney surgery, as a donor, or as a receiver, if you're a surgeon used to those kind of surgery, could you talk about your surgery, how long it took you to recover from it like when did you got out of bed for the first time after the surgery, was it painful, was it itching, did you feel tired, how long did you stay in hospital, did you have medicine to take? (As a receiver, I know you would have to, but what kind? From my research, I gathered it's different from one patient to another).

To give you more details about my OC, the father is in his early forties, and in good shape, the daughter is 18 and got a PKD disease. Her kidneys started to shut down after she spent several months not taking care of herself (short night, no that healthy food, travelling in the country).

Also, I set my story in Sheffield, in the UK, could someone describe me what a hospital room looks like? At what time do you eat?

Thanks for your help!

Knee problem to order
I've been hand-waving a knee problem for a modern-day (well, maybe more like 2000, if that matters) athletic 16/17-year-old boy, enrolled in boarding school in Washington State but with local outside-of-school adult support and parents an hour or two away - i.e., he's not on his own really.

Symptoms to this point have been general knee pain; a feeling of knee instability; and occasional knee collapse if he puts too much of the wrong type of pressure on it.

I'm looking for a diagnosis that

(1) Could possibly be resolved by months of immobility/brace-wearing, plus major PT
(2) Is a good candidate for surgical repair, with a PT-compliant recovery time of 3-5 months (i.e., it's February, I want him able to play HS soccer in the fall - or at least to have this be his motivation). I want the surgery to be the more sensible option; to have it be worth missing some school for.
(3) Has an out-of-school hit of only a few days.
(4) Surgery should require general anesthesia.

I know there are various ligament injuries... I keep on trying to dive in and figure something out, but I get squicked quickly by reading/hearing about things medical in all but the most general of terms (though I don't actually mind dealing with blood/injuries IRL - go figure). If I have a diagnosis, I can deal enough to write the required 100-200 words of actual medical stuff, inside of 5,000 words of teen angst.

[ANON POST] Police Procedure and Legality Questions (Texas)
Story type: Alternate reality, fantasy story

Place: San Antonio, Texas

Time: April-May, 2008


I am a non-American, and I need some help with how the cops work in the USA -- basically, how legal stuff goes down, both with cops and with hospitals. I hope I'm clear enough with my questions, but if I'm not, please let me know! And, the... events might seem ridiculous -- but it's supposed to be that way, according to the world this takes place in.

The scenario: In San Antonio, Texas, there's a string of murders. The victims are buried alive in a cemetery, and the murders are creating quite the racket (they would, wouldn't they?) And then the MC, X, is kidnapped and buried alive. Except, someone manages to smell a rat and call 911, and he is rescued before he can die.

The only identity the authorities manage to find on him is his name on the credit card he's using, which is fake. He also has his phone when he's found, and they all refer to him by the name on his credit card. The phone has stopped functioning. Another thing he has is some stationery from the hotel he was staying at.

Lo and behold, cerebral hypoxia be forgotten, X makes a miraculous, mysterious recovery -- he wakes up, fully conscious, in a few hours. Except for one small point: he has amnesia. Everyone is surprised he's awake, and he is questioned about his kidnapping -- about whether he remembers being kidnapped, his attacker, yadda yadda, but of course he doesn't.

Later that evening, X escapes the hospital.

Now, to enable this, I did conduct some searches. I looked up the following terms on Google:

Fake Credit Cards
Hospital Insurance

Honestly? I am very confused. Mostly because I don't belong to the country, I can't figure out how to look for what I want, and would really, really love some information from someone who has knowledge about this. Where I come from, we also don't have a system of insurance in hospitals. I'm a doctor myself but the hospital I work in is extremely affordable, most treatment being government sponsored, and people prefer to pay cash for whatever remains. So I really have no clue, and help would be wonderful.

My concerns are: (Cut for length)Collapse )

Life with a beard
verbs or adjectives
Hello! I have a main character who is not going to shave for a full year. He's a white man in his forties, living in a medieval setting, previously suffering from malnutrition but with regular access to food and water for this year, a bit scruffy but not bearded at the start. I've done some Google searches ("what is it like having a beard," "growing a beard," "how fast do beards grow") and got some good info (when it starts/stops itching, when waves/curls appear, potential effects of genetics on hair-growth), but I'd really like to collect some more personal details about what it's like to have a full beard. So, any bearded individuals out there, preferably those sporting something on the heavy side, what's it like having that thing hanging off your face all the time? My character will be outdoors often as well, so any accounts involving weather/seasons' effects on your beard would be great.

ETA: Thanks for all your responses, folks! I'll definitely keep in mind the mustache hair stuff, that hadn't occurred to me as a thing that would be an annoyance.

Underground Structure Design: multiple-level "adventure's" housing complex
Project: Post Apocalyptic & Fantasy Online-Graphic Novel
Setting: 2100's ~20 years after Nuclear Armageddon, Carlsbad NM area

I'm hoping to get advice on an underground complex about structural stability, ventilation, proportioning, construction requirements, and similar. Specifically about an underground housing/apartment complex, Los Lobo Loco (the Crazy Wolf), housing nuclear wasteland "adventurers" (monster hunters, mercenaries, scavengers/explorers, mages, and similar).

The floors in the Wolf are built circularly with a central common room that is connected to an inner ring by eight radially branching halls, and then an outer ring connected to the inner by 24 halls. The area between the outer-inner ring and along the outer-most wall are used the housing. The area between the common room and inner ring are rented work spaces or public facilities such as gyms, conference rooms, rented secured armory, target range, and anything else an adventurer might have need of.

1: what would be needed to keep the facility ventilated?
2: how stable would the structure be?
3: what would be a reasonable max resident capacity (per floor)?
4: what would be required to expand the Wolf? would it be better/safer to expand down or build additional outer rings? (it under goes expansion over the course of the story and during the 20+ years prior)

I have done research on mine construction, building ventilation, and but would like advice from someone experienced om the field.

talking one’s way out of a street fight
(Setting: alternate universe similar to contemporary northeastern US)

I want to write a scene in which: Two characters, a teenage boy and girl, are volunteers for a left-wing political party, canvassing a rough neighborhood to drum up support for the party. They are accosted by one of the neighborhood toughs—not a “gimme all your money” confrontation, but more like “what are you punks doing on my turf”. I want the boy to defuse the situation in a way that demonstrates his street smarts, manly virtue, and grace under pressure. Unfortunately I have none of these traits. :-/

Googling “how to talk your way out of a street fight” seems to turn up a lot of articles about how to win a street fight, and not so much about diplomacy.

Any suggestions? Do any former volunteers from the Obama campaign have stories to share?

(If it matters, the teenagers in question are from a middle-class background; the boy is black, the girl may be either white or Asian; I am flexible regarding the ethnicity of the neighborhood.)


[ANON POST] Escaping from an Intensive Care Unit
Looking for some advice to help my characters make medically irresponsible life choices. USA, 2006.

Research: Googled variations of "ICU equipment," "throat slashed recovery," and, cringing somewhat, how to remove a catheter. I visited to the Cascade Hospital website and went through the stab wounds tag in this comm. I have some experience of waking up in ICU hooked to various tubes myself, but I was heavily medicated so they're vague memories indeed.

The scenario: Character A has been stabbed in the back and had his throat slashed. A week or two after the attack, he's conscious, breathing on his own, albeit with oxygen tubes, and on a morphine pump. For reasons, Character B breaks into his hospital room and busts him out. B is not a medical professional of any description, though he's reasonably well-educated and has had to keep himself and others from not dying in the past. Swift escape is a higher priority than A's survival, but B is aiming for both.

So, while acknowledging that kidnapping someone in a fragile condition from a hospital is a terrible idea:

1. What kind of equipment would B have to be disconnecting? I assume A has an IV port in his arm and a heart monitor, as well as the aforementioned nasal cannula, but am I missing anything else? Is it difficult for a relative amateur to remove without, say, blood spewing everywhere?

2. From A's POV, how painful is this process? Everything I've read, and my own experience, is assuming planning and medical expertise, which is not the case here.

3. Once they're away, what should B be doing to keep A alive, minimize infection, etc.? He has access to basic first aid supplies where he's going, plus not really being adverse to stealing things on his way out of the hospital.


Life of a hospital pharmacist in the UK
(story is set in the 1980s in the UK, but information about current-day UK practice would also be welcome).

I've read various articles for people thinking of becoming hospital pharmacists, and interviews with people who are one. I still have a couple of points I'd like to clear up, particularly because a lot of the stuff I read is from the US and I'm not sure if it applies to the UK.

Here's what I've figured out (of course I'd like to know if it's correct) and what I'm still not sure about:

  • Hospital pharmacy is open during the day (also at the weekend) and doctors and nurses come to get prescriptions filled, ask advice from the pharmacists, etc.

  • Some nights, a pharmacist may be "on call", i.e. at home, but near the phone in case the hospital calls. In that case, would they just be giving advice over the phone (e.g. about dosages) or would they actually have to go into the hospital to dispense medicine?

  • Is the hospital pharmacy also open during the night? Maybe this depends on the size of the hospital? If the pharmacy is open during the night, why are there also "on call" pharmacists? Maybe senior pharmacists advising the more junior one who's on duty in the hospital?

    • What I'm hoping is that my character can sometimes work during the day, sometimes be on call at home, and maybe sometime have to work nights as well. Does that sound plausible?

Heart Diseases That Cause Problems After Surgery

So, the book I'm writing has a male lead character that suffered a heart disease when he was a baby, he's 15 in the book, and the setting is present day California (I haven't chosen the exact location yet). I have been leaning towards him having Endocardial Cushion Defect (also known as Atrioventricular Canal Defect), but, from my research, it doesn't have the affect I want. In the book, he is adopted, but due to a screw up in the system, his heart problem, and the surgery he had to fix it when he was a baby, wasn't told to his adoptive parents. The disease, if possible, will have later complications; in the book he is supposed to suffer from them, but no one knows what it is.

Endocardial Cushion Defect leads to lung disease if untreated too long, but I'm not sure if the lung disease would still be around when the kid was 15, or would do any damage to him.

My questions are:
1.) Is it resonable that a adoption agency could screw up so bad that they missed a baby's heart surgery? Or is that too out there?
2.) Would Endocardial Cushion Defect work for the story I want to write, or would the lung disease be non-existant, or have killed him already?
3.) If ECD is plausible, would the lung disease he would have in the present be fatal, or just something minor? Would the character be hospitalized, or could some medication work?
4.) If ECD isn't plausible, what heart disease would be? Is there any heart disease out there that could match what I'm talking about?

If it's not already obvious, I'm very new to diseases. I'm certainly not a doctor, nor am I close to one, so feel free to correct me on anything you feel the need to. I'd hate to write a book with the details incorrect and end up offending someone.

I have done a lot of research, but I can't seem to find exactly what I'm looking for. Some articles are very vague, and don't specify when the lung disease could happen, or if it would just go away after the surgery. The two main websites I researched from are:
and .

The search I've searched are "lung disease from endocardial cushion defect", "lung disease from Atrioventricular Canal defect", "complications with Atrioventricular Canal defect/endocardial cushion defect", and "heart disease for baby that needs surgery".