Little Details

A Fact-Checking Community for Writers

Help me source a folktale I heard about-- not sure if this is the right LJ
As it says I'm not sure if this is the right LJ for this. If it isn't, please tell me a better place to post it. This isn't really about story details but about sources.

(Partially crossposted in various different places, including some Google Groups.

I recently started drafting a fantasy story based on folktales about Knecht Ruprecht as a side project to the one posted about here, including one that a friend of mine told me through FB messaging on the 27th last month. This friend was an exchange student at the girls' high school I went to here in Australia until pretty recently. The story that she told me (she lives in a town on the German-Dutch border) was that her region's version of St. Nicholas and Knecht Ruprecht come over on a boat from Africa, similar to how Dutch kids are told that Sinterklaas sails from Spain on a boat with Black helpers, the Black Petes. I actually posted about that one on one forum I'm on.
Since then I've done a lot of research (I did do some before she told me this story and one source I found was a post from 1999 in the cecil adams group). Now some scattered references I came across refor to a folktale that KR was a feral child like a 4th century version of Victor.

Supposedly according to this tradition St. Nicholas found, adopted and raised him and when Ruprecht got older he became Nicholas' sidekick. From (English) Wikipedia:
According to some stories, Ruprecht began as a farmhand; in others, he is a wild foundling whom St. Nicholas raises from childhood.
That story is actually the basis for the version I'm writing, which is a combination of it and the one where he's a Black African/Moorish servant like Black Pete was traditionally supposed to be. Other common stories are that he's a devil, an evil priest or monk or "a criminal who helps St. Nikolaus to make up for his crimes."
Thing is even though I asked around about this folktale the closest thing was a story somebody else on another forum I'm a member of told me about where Ruprecht was an orphan taken in St. Nicholas but a war orphan (they think it might come from during the Napoleonic Wars).  The other substantial reference I've found to the feral child story is here.
Has anyone heard this specific story ("a feral child adopted by St. Nicholas") before? I know that Ruprecht folklore differs from region to region but I want to know about this specific feral child story, just to be sure that it exists.
Thanks for any help and apologies for the long post.

Profile Page Update
I've given little_details' rules page a quick update. It is now permissible for posters to delete obvious spambot comments, which should (if the protection feature keeps working) be going into the "Suspicious Comments" section on your posts. I will also delete them when I see them, but you have our go-ahead to do it yourself if you want.

Other changes: the mods' contact information has been updated!

Is Headmaster or Professor the correct form of address?
Where: Great-Britain
When: 1984


Albus Dumbledore is visiting Petunia Dursley. Petunia is being exceptionally polite in addressing him. Would she call him Headmaster Dumbledore or Professor Dumbledore?

I've tried searching for proper forms of address in Great-Britain, but can't actually find what to do in a situation where someone is a Headmaster of a school. In the books I think he's addresses as Professor Dumbledore a lot, or as 'the Headmaster' but also as Headmaster Dumbledore. However, that is situation dependent and none of the people there are trying to do the whole proper manners thing. Also, Rowling might have gotten it wrong/rules of address might differ between Muggle and Wizarding world.

Paris, France: supermarket checkout area and CCTV
blue ruiner
Greetings! I have two bizarrely specific questions, but they're actually pretty plot-significant, so.

Where: 18th arrondissement, Paris, France
When: present day (spring of 2013, really, on the off-chance that there've been major changes to the answer in the past year).

1) In the US, supermarkets often have security cameras that film you entering, along with a monitor in the entryway so that shoppers can see that they are being filmed. I am trying to find out how common this practice is in Paris. I don't care about the specific name brand of store or anything, but a discount market like Dia is the right kind of place for this particular scene, and while some Dia markets in other countries definitely do have the screens [IMG], I have no idea if they all do or only some of them or only that one or what (not sure where that is, but the sandwich board is in Spanish, so I'm guessing: not France).

2) I also need to know what sort of things are sold as near as possible to the checkouts. I have a character who needs to control his leaving time, so I want him to be browsing/picking up something extra just by the registers. What'd that be likely to be, in a discount supermarket sort of place? Are there the impulse-buy/forgotton-sundries displays of gum and Chapstick and batteries, like we have over in these parts? If not, anything else he could be looking over on his way out?

I've been searching (both text and image) pretty fruitlessly for both of these in Google, Wikimedia Commons, and on Flickr—various combinations of "supermarket"/"supermarché" "paris" "france" "checkout" "register area" "cctv", et cetera. Not a lot of luck.


Killing through eye poking wound
Hi, guys:
(First, please excuse my poor English; it is not my primary language.)
I must warn you; this is a bit gruesome. This is the thing:
I am writing a fighting scene in a late medieval setting. The main character uses his thumbs to poke into the eyes of an enemy, killing him.
He wore a full plate armor, with steel gauntlets. The idea is to break the eye sockets and cause internal bleeding and brain damage.
Do you think it is plausible?

My search terms were: eye-gouging, eye-gouging with thumbs, eye socket, eye poking kill.

Thanks in advance and greetings from Spain!

How would one character explain to another why kissing is pleasurable?
I'm not sure it's really relevant but the fandom is Sherlock Holmes (original canon) and so the setting is late Victorian era England. This is something I'm not entirely sure how to search/ask so forgive me if I ramble a bit trying to explain it. I've tried searching phrases like 'why is kissing pleasurable' and 'why do people enjoy kissing' which brings up both articles and similar questions on yahoo answers but those mostly seems to consist of a lot of theorising about the science behind kissing which is not what I want to know, and also a fair bit of ignorance/erasure of the existence of asexuality, aromanticism and the fact that some people don't desire/enjoy acts of sexual/romantic intimacy which is not helpful or particularly pleasant to read (I am asexual and aromantic, feel absolutely no desire to kiss and find the idea of kissing and 'swapping spit' myself really repulsive so this is not something I can ever research or answer directly and this is also why many existing answers are not helpful to me because often people assume these experiences and desires are universal when they're not).

The scenario is I have two characters (Moriarty and Moran) in a relationship which has been up til this point more of an emotionally intimate friendship which then developed to them also having a sexual relationship but until now Moriarty has never allowed Moran to kiss him because he doesn't see the point of kissing. Moran is bisexual and leaning towards homoromantic and has had many sexual partners in the past, many of whom he did kiss just before or during sex, but Moriarty is pretty much the first person he's deeply fallen in love with. Moriarty is asexual and essentially aromantic and has had very few sexual partners and if he did kiss any of them he got nothing out of it. Moran does want to kiss Moriarty and when he finally does so he really enjoys it and wants more of it and I think as much as he loves sex, he would be quite happy just kissing Moriarty for hours without having sex or without assuming it would ultimately lead into sex.

Moriarty though still doesn't get kissing. He doesn't find it repulsive and I think he enjoys being tactile with Moran but he gets no real direct enjoyment out of kissing and doesn't see why it's especially intimate or special to Moran. His enjoyment is more secondary (because Moran enjoys it and he likes giving Moran pleasure) so he is curious as to why Moran enjoys it so much. This is what I don't know how to write, how Moran would explain the pleasure he gets from kissing to Moriarty, and that's why I don't need to know about the scientific theories about why people kiss, I want to know the stuff which people don't seem to be able so far to explain to me, the more subjective and emotional aspects to kissing (obviously to someone who enjoys kissing) - how does it make you feel physically (especially other feelings beyond just sexual arousal), and things like is the pleasure primarily physical or primarily emotional or a fairly even mix between them, or do those experiences change the longer kissing goes on, and especially how things feel when you're just making out for longer periods without it automatically involving/leading into sex? What emotions/any other sensations does kissing make you feel? And why is kissing often seen as just as intimate or even more intimate than sex (hence why apparently many prostitutes won't kiss clients and why passionate kissing doesn't always have to involve/lead to sex)? Moran doesn't need to give a really long-winded in-depth explanation of it or anything but I would like to have him express himself slightly better than merely "it just feels good". Thanks in advance if anyone can give me any kind of help with this.

Japanese Red Cross Disaster Response
gem beasts <3
Search terms used: Mostly I've been reading the actual website of the Japanese Red Cross, but I can't seem to find the kind of detail I need.

Setting: Japan, a decade or two in the future, a (fictional) city comparable in size to Tokyo.

In the story I'm writing, a city is facing imminent disaster that requires large-scale evacuation and medical help. I'm a member of the Belgian Red Cross myself, so I know how things would proceed in Belgium, but I'm not about to assume that the exact same thing would happen in other countries, so I'm wondering several things:

- When would the Red Cross get called in? Who would get called in first and who only later on, if such a distinction exists? How many people would be volunteers, how many professionals?
- How would Red Cross members be alerted? Phone, text message, pager, ...? (I can probably make something up here, because the story takes place about twenty years from now.)
- Who would be responsible for coordinating the whole intervention?
- When things get too dangerous, who makes the call to pull out? How would that happen and what would happen to any victims who can't be transported?
- How would the different zones be structured? What happens where?
- Which codes would be used to communicate (especially emergency codes)? A search for the codes we use in Belgium only gave me local results, so I don't think our codes are international.

Thanks in advance!

North American Indigenous Herbal Medicines
Pretty Blue Tom
Setting: Not exactly Earth, but a region with great similarities to the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains. Time period is indeterminate, but pre modern medicine.

I'm looking to create an arsenal of medicines so I don't have to spend hours and hours researching every time I come across a new ailment. One of my MCs is the equivalent of a doctor/medicine man, so it is rather important that I know something about her practice. I've found a few helpful things, such as desert parsley/lomatium, osha root, and arrowleaf balsamroot, but it's very slow going, especially when so many sources just say something like, "this is a plant, with these identifying features, and Native Americans used to use it for medicine!" without any mention of which part of the plant was used, how it was prepared, or even what it was used for. Previous research has been googling of variations on "Native American medicine," "Great Basin indigenous medicine," "Rocky Mountains indigenous medicine," and the like.

What I am looking for are any North American medicinal herbs in general, though I would love it if y'all know of any native to the Great Basin and/or Rocky Mountains in specific. Also, I would like to know: 1. What they are used for (sore throat, upset stomach, cough, etc.) 2. What part of the plant is used (leaves, flowers, root, etc.) 3. How it is used (eaten raw, smoked in a pipe, steeped into a tea, etc.), and optionally, 4. What specific ceremonies or rituals were practiced with or around it (does it need to be harvested at a certain time of day or year, should it be ceremonially washed or parts of it burned before or during use, anything else you might know about it) Obviously I don't need #4, but I would be very interested to know any surrounding rituals.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Lower-ranked officer relieving superior officer of command - medical reasons?
Zayne confused
I'm writing in the Star Wars universe, Old Republic era. Both of my characters are former Republic military, but left the service before my story starts. One was of much higher rank, and is currently the informal leader of the whole group of characters I'm writing about.

In this scene, my leader has just been through a day full of both physical fighting and emotional turmoil (she returned to a place she once called home to find it ruined). She's really not in the mental state to be doing more leaderly things, but she's stubborn and wants to keep trying anyway. I want my other character to say something that references a Republic military rule that allows lower-ranked officers (or maybe medical officers?) to tell their superiors to take a break, because they aren't fit to be commanding right then. This would be a temporary thing, along the lines of "go get some sleep/get that injury looked at", but enforceable.

I am totally okay with something that "sounds right" but doesn't actually mean anything. I'm making up a hell of a lot for this already, but for the life of me I can't find a phrase that sounds right.

Everything I've tried to search - from "emotionally compromised" to "unfit for duty" to "relieved of command" to even "can I relieve a superior of duty for medical reasons" has come back with nothing that feels really useful. Lots of Star Trek hits, but I'm a little wary of leaning too heavily on the "wrong" space opera. ;) If there's any such regulation in Earth militaries, I just can't find it.

Thanks in advance for any help!

Commercial Insurance US
kirk spock red
My OC is the owner of a carpentry business that has just burned to the ground (he owns the building in rural Maine). I am trying to establish a reasonable scenario in which the insurance does not cover everything that was lost. One of the ideas I came across in my searching is related to additional riders for things like fine arts. The business specialized in furniture making, but the OC was an artist, as well, and his highly sought-after work was destroyed. I toyed with that idea, but could not make it work.

Other ideas included having recent updates to the building or expansions that were not covered by the policy, or having other valuable pieces that were being restored, but none seem quite right, and I don't feel knowledgeable enough to write about it.

In general, I am looking for insurance lingo and concepts that I could use to establish significant financial losses (around $30,000 or more that isn't covered) due to the fire. The insurance would cover much of the losses, but not quite and the difference is financially ruinous for the OC.

I've googled 'commercial insurance losses' and 'common insurance mistakes' and terms of that ilk, but am feeling a overwhelmed by the options. I want to come up with something simple and straightforward that I can summarize in one conversation.

Thank you in advance!

Accessing military records, 19th century
Misc: teapot
1850s: my character wants to do some investigation regarding a former serviceman in one of the East India Company's European regiments about 30 years prior. He doesn't need details of his whole career; he's only trying to identify the man in the records and hopefully find out the circumstances under which he left military service (discharged? killed? deserted? etc.)

As a random civilian, what sort of records might he be allowed to access, and how would he go about it? If he wasn't permitted the Muster Rolls but could view casualty lists, that might be enough. If he lied and said he was a relative of the serviceman in question, would that make a difference (and would officials simply take him at his word, or demand proof)?

I've found this incredibly difficult to Google as all terms relating to accessing 1800s records bring up accessing them in present times. :(

Addressing the Spam Problem
Recently, old posts on little_details seem to be being attacked by spammers. I have turned on Spam Protection for the community, which means that comments with links in them may be screened. I try to maintain an active presence around this comm, so unscreening should happen without too much delay.

If you have been getting notifications for spam comments on an old post, please leave a comment here if you would like a mod to remove it for you. You can also contact us through the Help Me post.

British Graduation Songs
What song (if any) is traditionally played at graduations? (For example, in the US, it's Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D", aka "Land of Hope and Glory".) Or do they play the school song, or does it vary wildly from school to school.

If it matters, it's for the equivalent of secondary school (specifically, Hogwarts).

Research: Googled British/English/Scottish (traditional) graduation songs, British/English/Scottish graduation traditions

Shoulder injury to order
So I have a young, healthy woman being run through in the shoulder with a very sharp (very little resistance when she is stabbed), clean sword (it is also very thin if that makes a difference). She is then thrown in a cell (a very clean environment in this case).It's a science fiction story set in the near future.
What I need is (if possible):
For there to minor muscle damage that affects the movement of her hand, but not enough to disadvantage her, eg. stiffness in hand but still full movement within a year (she could do excercises if that would help?), occasional pain. What would the muscle damage be and would it require surgery for her to have full movement again?

Also, if the wound is put under any strain (when she is escaping) will this affect her recovery?

Its her left shoulder and she is stabbed from behind if that makes any difference.

googled: shoulder wounds, shoulder muscles, muscle damage in shoulder

UK engineering programs circa 1980
Terms searched: none

It's 1980(ish) and my MC, Adam, needs to decide where to apply to uni.
He's looking for a school with a strong engineering department; right now he wants to study aero-/astronautical engineering ... but that could change.

Unfortunately, he doesn't quite have the academic resume to get into any of the big(gest) name places. So he's looking for somewhere - in the UK or Ireland - that gets an A- or B+ for content and a B or B- for reputation. (Tuition is not an issue; both parents are moderately successful white collar.)

Anyone have ideas as what is going to be on his final list?

Also: was acceptance entirely about grades, or did they look at things like school activities, community service, etc.?

random translation time: Arabic and Persian speakers needed
I can Google translations to certain words, yes, but I've learned that there's just no substitute for getting a native and idiomatic translation for a whole phrase. Can anyone please supply the following? Please supply at least transliteration, for pretty as foreign characters are, I will have no ability to reproduce them in my story.

Arabic: "Drop it now." As in, 'stop talking about this conversation topic immediately, please' but in as few words and with maximum urgency as possible. If it matters, the speaker is of a social rank beneath the listener, though he's anxious enough to give this order regardless. Both are adult male.

Persian: "You shouldn't watch." This can be slightly more polite, because the speaker isn't angry with the listener, he is trying to gently suggest that he look away before an unpleasant scene unfolds. If it matters, the speaker is of a social rank beneath the listener. Both are adult male.

Terminal illness for a man in his early 50s, modern day setting (UK)
doctor ten mini
I'm writing a story set in the present-day UK, and one of my secondary characters needs to have a terminal illness, but I am not sure what. Most likely cancer, but I'm open to suggestions. (I read some previous "medicine: illnesses to order" entries and I'm wondering if pancreatic cancer might fit?)


- The character is in his early 50s. He's a university lecturer. He does not want anyone to know about his illness unless it is absolutely necessary.

- It doesn't matter how long the illness has been going on for; it could, for instance, be a case where he had major treatment years ago and has been in remission/not getting any worse for quite some time, but now it *is* becoming worse. But it could also be a quicker onset. Regardless of which it is, from the time the story begins, he has (as far as anyone can predict these things) maybe a year to live, and there will be no miracle cure. This is why I've tentatively ruled out anything where a transplant could help.

- He could have chemo or other regular treatment, but it isn't required (and he might decide not to have treatment if all if it would prolong his life by no more than a few months).

- Other people need to notice that he isn't entirely healthy, i.e. he gets breathless easily while walking or simply looks ill. And this is likely to become more obvious over the course of the story. However, I don't want him to have something degenerative such as motor neurone disease that will put him into a wheelchair and make it blatantly clear that he's deteriorating physically. In other words, the signs of illness that he's showing will preferably be things he can pass off as minor symptoms ("I'm walking slowly these days because I have sciatica") for as long as possible.

- As he's a lecturer, he can probably get away with hiding things longer than he might in a different job. He's only with other people for a reasonably short part of the working week - a few seminars and some faculty/committee meetings - and could reduce that even further by having gone to a part-time position, which could be publicly disguised as his being on research leave. The Head of Department is fully apprised of his illness and willing to make adjustments.

- Around 6-8 months after the beginning of the story, he needs to be admitted to the hospital for something related to his illness, but not "you're about to die this minute". He needs to be able to have conversations, so no comas.

I know this is vague, but hopefully something will fit!

Research: I've done some reading on various chronic diseases ( Thanks!

A non-fatal gunshot to the chest?
I realise something simmilar may have already been posted, but I haven't been able to find anything that fully clarifies what I need.
In my story, a young, reasonably fit, perfectly healthy man is shot in the back. I imagine that the bullet goes right through.
I was wondering what area of the back/chest would this kind of shot been non-fatal?
In the story they are stuck in the middle of nowhere at this point so they have limited access to medical treatment. However they have herbal medicine to stop the bleeding and have minor antiseptic effects (I'm unsure whether such a plant exists but it's a sci-fi so it doesn't have to) and a man who knows how to use them properly.
Also, I imagine a minor infection (nothing fatal) setting in in the few days efore they reach a modern hospital, what would the effects of this be? Would they increase day by day?

EDIT: I should have specified that the shot is at a long distance with a pistol.

I searched gunshot wound to the chest, non-fatal gunshot wounds to the chest, gunshot wound to the chest with little medical attention etc. but did not find anything to help enough.

Carrying keys in Victorian era
LOTR: Bag End
Decade: 1850s.

A housekeeper would have had a large bunch of all the household keys, but I'm thinking about the master of the house, who would have also carried a few keys such as those for the front door, his desk, etc.

Would/could he simply have kept his keys loose in a pocket, or would they have certainly been on some kind of key chain? His watch key would have been on the watch chain, but what about the door key? These were quite large and heavy in the 19th century, usually some 4" - 6" - yet I'm assuming the master would have wanted his key on him at all times.

Will blood wrinkle fingers?
BtVS Willow ?
Okay ... so I've used every possible useful permeation of the phrases: blood wrinkling fingers, what causes fingers to wrinkle, things other than water that can wrinkle fingers ... (I retried all these search phrases substituting the word wrinkle for prune as well.) And the only thing people talk about wrinkling fingers is water. Now I know that at least certain juices will wrinkle fingertips after a while from first hand experience ... but ... will ... blood?

Things like setting and time frame for the story don't really matter as far as I can see. So let me tell you all you need to know.

My human character has just spent an entire day torturing vampires and has the blood all over her ... she's completely coated in the stuff and has been for at least 10 hours.

Since her hands have been wet with blood all day ... will her fingers get wrinkly (pruny)?

Thanks in advance for any and all assistance in this matter!!!!