Little Details

A Fact-Checking Community for Writers

Accessing military records, 19th century
Misc: teapot
mickleditch
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
Inara
orange_fell
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
Writing
writersaurusrex
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
minusfractions
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
robert_huff
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
tory
peacewish
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
pisica
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?)

Parameters:

- 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 (https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/chronic/). Thanks!

A non-fatal gunshot to the chest?
minusfractions
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
mickleditch
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 ?
pickamix
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!!!!

Accommodation for a Ph.D student studying at London School of Economics
avengers
fringedweller

I'm looking for help in deciding where in London my character, a young woman in her mid twenties, would live while she's studying at the LSE. I've looked at their website but that only has details about their own accommodation and I'd prefer her to be in private rented accommodation. My own uni years were spent in a beautiful Welsh seaside town so I just don't know where to go with a city as large as London.

I know that London rents are extortionate and it's likely that she'd have flat mates to share the cost, I just don't know where their flat would be. I don't want to put her in an area that isn't 'studenty' - she has a part time job outside of her research hours, but not one that could put her in a delightful pied a terre In Knightsbridge, for example. Having her travel within London on the Tube wouldn't be a problem and would help the story.

Any advice would be very gratefully received. Thank you.


Modern Boston slangs, idioms
Dawn
paraph
Hey there folks,
I need a little help with current Boston area slang. My attempts at googling have brought me to multiple, dubious travel guides and endless copy-paste pages whose info seems to originate from the Boston page of the Language Schools site and relies heavily on an exaggerate Boston accent.

What I'm looking for specifically, are regional slangs, idioms and even speech patterns that a young, male, non-native Bostonian might pick up after ten plus years of living in the city and might reasonably continue to use outside of the Boston area. (i.e; things like local place names/nicknames won't be of any help) The character in question would have moved to Boston at eighteen, lived there up until 2013 and socialized (outside of school) in mostly upper middle class circles.

For example, what are the three main meals of the day called? Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner? Breakfast/Dinner/Supper?
Does your car have a "turn signal" or a "blinker?" Is it "soda" or "pop?"

That sort of thing, plus any local, notable speech patterns or idioms- like how I've noticed as native west coaster, that people in the midwest love the phrase: "Don't you know?"  

Any help would be much appreciated! 

Former samurai as doctor in Tokugawa or Meiji-era Japan
Chuck!
rose_in_shadow
Googled: ronin doctor, samurai as doctor, intermixed with various qualifiers like "edo" and such. Didn't get much and have been unable to find where I first saw the idea.

Setting: Original fantasy world influenced by Tokugawa or Meiji-era Japan.

Scenario: Though it is an original fantasy world, I rather like the idea of some of it being based of real life probabilities. If I can't find anything I'll just make something up. But in the course of my research for this part of my book, I came across the idea that a few ronin in Edo-era Japan became wandering doctors. I've been unable to find this information again, and I've searched the internet and my copy of Dunn's Everyday Life in Traditional Japan to no avail. Has anyone else encountered this? My questions are these: where, if anywhere, would they have gotten medical training? Or was it simply an occupation they fell into and became sort of hedge-doctors without any real knowledge (except maybe that of sword wounds)? How were they looked upon by society at large? Doctors were outside the class system but as former samurai there must have been a mixture of disdain (he's a ronin) and respect perhaps? What was a doctor's income in this era? I've written my character as poor - essentially requiring a move to the next village to ply his trade where he is sometimes chased out by doctors already in residence. Would it be likely that if he so desired he could settle and pursue his vocation either as a doctor in general or maybe even as wealthy family's doctor-in-residence?

Gay cruising in Nice, France.
→ hiroomi
whitenights
Hello, all.

I am trying to write a scene where my character, a Japanese visitor to the French Riviera, is looking for a quick, anonymous homosexual encounter in the city of Nice. He's 17 and is relatively competent at both conversational French and English. I've decided to have him search at a gay sauna -- reason being that for the plot it needs to be during the day, he needs to be able to have sex right on the spot, and there needs to be a condom vending machine on the premises. (Also, he is the sort of person who would draw the line at having sex en plein air, so beaches and parks are out.)

That said, as a straight woman, there are probably things I don't even know I don't know about gay cruising, much less in France -- "unknown unknowns" in the words of a certain former U.S. Secretary of Defense. For instance, a lot of people seem to think there are "body language signals," but all I found when I googled "gay cruising etiquette" was general stuff like "make eye contact and strike up a conversation," as well as a lot of advice on how to be safe and avoid trouble. In an unrelated search, I also found that in Japan there really is a code of specific signals to indicate homosexual interest (handing someone a single tissue on the street, tying your locker key to your ankle in a sauna, nudging someone with your umbrella, ticking the inside of their hand while shaking it), but I'm still on the fence as to whether my character would know about these things; he's still a bit green after all.

I've looked up "gay cruising in Nice, France" and "gay cruising etiquette France" on google, which has been very helpful as far as picking a setting and confirming that yes, Nice does happen to be a GLBT-friendly tourist destination. I also learned that in France, cruising (both gay and straight) is something of a national pastime, happens everywhere, and French people express interest more with the eyes more than with the tongue, flirting being a matter of engaging in a battle of wits. But I'm not sure if that would apply to a place where everyone knows that everyone's there for sex.

So yeah. I suppose my character is relatively new to cruising in general, and on top of that there's the cultural difference (whether real of perceived). As a consequence, any ideas of rookie mistakes he might make, things he may observe others doing, anything at all that might make for an authentic description of the experience would be very helpful.

multiple myeloma, bone marrow transplants, hospital procedure, and an insurance question
Alan Shore looking
trovia
Setting: Massachusetts, within the last five years.

I'm working on a fic about a doctor who befriends a cancer patient. Since I'm neither a doctor, nor do I have any experience with cancer (and I don't live in America), I'd really appreciate some help to get my facts straight. Cutting for length:


1. taking charge of patients in another hospital unit / geriatrician substituting for oncologistCollapse )

2. symptoms of a patient with multiple myeloma waiting for a bone marrow transplantCollapse )

3. visitors in the isolation room?Collapse )

4. Would the isolation room necessarily have to be in the ICU?

5. The first time my doctor skims her chart, what's a thing she might take notice of / check out specifically? (something like, "Her XXX was way down, but at least her YY count remained steady.")

6. When my doctor checks up on the patient, what monitors would she check? What kind of tests might she order? What would she write down on the chart? Assuming the patient remains stable.

4/10 match sound good for the transplant?Collapse )

8. My patient had no health insurance when she was diagnosed with cancer. Am I right in assuming that she would not have been able to find an insurance company who'd take her on after that diagnosis? Because I have the rich dad of the fiancee paying her bills.



Google foo: all the variations of bone marrow transplants, multiple myeloma and its symptoms, isolation rooms, hospital procedure, hospital protocol. There's plenty of medical information, but none of it easily individualized. I found some awesome things on hospital procedures, and a couple of entries here on the comm on what medication she'd receive, what's it like in an ICU, what's the atmosphere. I'm all set on isolation room procedure, too.

I'd be grateful for anything you can help me with. Every additional realistic detail will make this a much better fic.

[ANON POST] Diagnosing Fatal Pregnancy Complications
Inara
orange_fell
My story takes place in a very remote location with no access to the outside world. Among my characters I have a pregnant woman in her second trimester (I could change that to the third, if necessary). She is very young, 18 is the oldest she can be in this story. There is a doctor with them - a family doctor with modern USA education and background. They do have some medical supplies with them: I can make them have whatever can reasonably expected to be found in a department store pharmacy. For instance, the home variety of the blood pressure monitor or glucose monitor for diabetics, but not ultrasound machine or any kind of complex machinery you see in the hospitals.

What I need is for her to develop a complication that would satisfy the following conditions:
1. Serious and almost certainly fatal without access to a modern hospital, but treatable if she is sent to said hospital on time.
2. This condition has to be diagnosed under the circumstances I described - that is, by a family doctor, but without machinery of any kind, except what you find in a local pharmacy. The diagnosis has to be fairly certain - not "there are a dozen things it could mean and one of them is serious", more like "9 chances out of 10 say it is a very bad thing that will kill her".
3. Once it is diagnosed, there has to be at least a few days before the situation becomes dire. It cannot be something that requires her to be in the hospital within a matter of minutes, like a heavy hemorrhage.

If necessary, I could have the pregnant woman have some kind of chronic health condition, but it has to be something that was not too much of a problem before pregnancy.

What I tried to research, through Google and Wiki:
1. A breech birth. It doesn't seem to be dramatic enough, the baby can always turn before the delivery date, or a doctor might be able to do something during the delivery.
2. Placenta previa. This seems serious enough, but the diagnosis seems to require ultrasound. The painless bleeding during the second or third trimester is also mentioned as a symptom, but I am not sure what kind of bleeding that would be. Could it be something mild every now and then, or will it just continue on and on, once started? If the former is true, this will work for me.
3. Placenta accreta. Looks like this also requires scans to diagnose before delivery.
4. Eclampsia. For preeclampsia, the high blood pressure should be easy enough to spot, as well as vomiting and headaches. Don't think protein in urine can be found without a lab. But whether or not it will turn to eclampsia seems uncertain, and that will not work for me.

Also searched for "pregnancy complications" and "reasons for c-section."

Thank you!

Metal alloys
rufus1
ness_du_frat
Ok, this is probably the weirdest question I've ever asked… I've done some research on google about metal alloys, but so far I haven't found the answers I'm looking for.
In one of my books, a character finds a strange object, made of some metal alloy. He can't dissolve it or break it apart to test it against some reagents to find what the different constituents are. He doesn't know how many components are involved in this alloy, nor which they are.
I was thinking that maybe radiation could help in a way? Sorry, my chemistry years are far far away… I have the vague notion that every atom has its own kind of "signature" and that it would be a good way to start. But maybe I'm really going the wrong way about that.
It's happening in the near-future, so the technology doesn't have to exist yet. But if I'm right about the "signature" thingie, I could elaborate on that to have him determine the different components.

Another question, still about my metal alloy… How would it be possible to determine how old it is? Carbon 14 doesn't work for metal, cesium 137 neither, if I'm not mistaken, and the regular methods (like the aging of the metal, the oxidation on its surface, etc.) aren't usable here. Is there a way to determine the age of the alloy, again without breaking it apart?

Thanks a lot, and sorry for the really weird question :/

[ANON POST] Waking Up from a Coma
Inara
orange_fell
Setting: Modern time, New York. E.U.

Search Terms: coma, waking up from a coma, waking up from a coma symptoms, coma progression, and other variations of the same idea. Also, I have read the coma tag in the community, which brought up several details I will be using also, but it is a bit hard to fit fully a specific idea with other cases.

So, hi everyone.

I have a couple of questions regarding a coma, but first of all, I would like to run by you the original idea I had before doing any research.

Basically, I had the character opening his eyes after around five months of being in a coma. It would be only for a couple of seconds, no words spoken nor any other thing. The thing is, I had the doctor telling the family that it's a good sign he opened his eyes, but that doesn't give them (the doctors) room to ensure he will wake up soon or not, basically they are in the same place regarding that. After that, I have my character no showing any other sign for 10 days or so, and then starting to wake up gradually.

I would like to know if any of this/none of this is medically possible.

Now, to the questions:

My character is a male in his middle twenties, early thirties, in extraordinary physical condition. He's almost but not quite an athlete. So after four/five months of being in a coma, I would like to know a very general view of how he would be waking up. In fact, I would appreciate anything you can tell me in this particular case I'm proposing here, since I already have general information about being/waking from a coma.

Is it possible for the ventilator/breathing machine to be out even before he starts showing signs of waking up? If so, how long after falling into a coma could it be taken out?

I know he wouldn't be able to speak or move right away, would need physical therapy and stuff like that, but assuming he has an average/slightly speedy recovery and no further complications, who long after waking up could the feeding tube and catheter be taken out? How long before he can be send home, even if he still have to come back for his therapy?

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I would be forever grateful for any help you can give me. Thank you!

-Jennifer.

Lethal knife wounds
none
salamandraugr
Setting: Early 1800's secondary world
Search terms: lethal stab wound, fatal stab wound, lethal knife wound

I need an injury made to order. A character gets into a fight and is stabbed several times with a knife. His wounds need to be lethal, but not immediately so. The character needs to be able to launch a feeble last ditch attack and remain lucid enough to talk for another two to three minutes. If it matters, the knife he's being stabbed with is similar to this one. I need to know what areas of the body will deliver what I'm looking for and what organs are likely to be hit in the attack.

[ANON POST] Injuries Occurring by Accident in an Unequal Struggle
Inara
orange_fell
Setting: Cornwall, 1905. Slight AU (transport technology has been affected by the handwavium used in Rudyard Kipling's sci-fi story 'With the Night Mail', if this is relevant).

Situation: Character A is a big tough fellow who knows his way around a scrap (his principal forms of recreation are boxing and creative troublemaking); character B is a young woman half his size who's never been in a fight before. B has just come across evidence of something that will get A into serious legal trouble if it comes out, and A, desperate, is about to crown his recent string of bad decisions by abducting B, to keep her from telling while he works out what to do next. This will involve getting her into a vehicle that's about thirty yards away up a cliffside path (AU-ness here; the vehicle's nothing that would have existed in 1905, but for present purposes it's similar to a van - automated and with an enclosed compartment where a person can be shut in).

A doesn't want to hurt B at all (he's by no means a hardened criminal, he rather likes her, and he's trying to quash his qualms about the use of force by drawing a clear mental distinction between simple force and violence). B doesn't know this; it's plausible from her perspective that A may intend to murder her, and she'll fight as hard as she can to get away.

I want B to sustain an injury or injuries, not horrible or potentially life-threatening (so no falling down and cracking her head on a rock), that will nonetheless hamper her movements, render her escape a few days after this more difficult and unpleasant, and make A feel very guilty (and therefore even more trapped in his current course of action - part of the story is about him, a man of decent-to-middling character, doing increasingly bad things for reasons which always seem compelling at the time).
I've tried to work out various ways in which this might happen, but I'm not sure how realistic any of them are.

Questions for people who know more about fighting than I do:

- If they trip and fall with him on top - facing uphill, so they wouldn't fall as far as they would on horizontal ground - could this be enough to crack any of B's ribs, if she's about eight stone and he's about fourteen? Is it even likely that they'd both go down? (Big-brother-wrestling experience on my part suggests that it's very hard to trip a large, athletic person who doesn't want to be tripped.) I can make the ground bare rock, soft turf, or anything in between that will help produce the desired result.

- If he twists one of her arms behind her back to make her move, the way bouncers do, is it likely that her shoulder could dislocate, given that he's trying to avoid anything of the sort? He's used to manhandling people, but none of said people have previously been so small or fragile or panicky, so is this a reasonable misjudgement?

- I'm told by smug martial-arty types that someone as inexperienced as B could sprain her own wrist or break her hand by punching him. Would this only happen if she hit the skull? Is is possible to break one's hand on someone's ribs? Ribcages seem to have a lot more give in them than heads. What about when striking back at someone holding her from behind, rather than punching forward?

- Can anyone suggest other useful injuries and how they might happen?


Research: Googled 'judo injuries', 'wrestling injuries', 'common brawling injuries' and variations thereon; the trouble is that the former involve contests between people of roughly equal size and skill, and the latter involves deliberate damage. Read several illustrated women's self-defence books for ideas, but they all seem vastly optimistic about the hypothetical woman's chances, and anyway, I want A to win. Wrestled with brother, but he was alarmingly enthusiastic about hurting me for the sake of verisimilitude, so stopped before any bits of me actually got broken.

Sorry for the anonymous post; I don't have an LJ account. I'd be grateful for any advice.