August 7th, 2006

Veronica Mars

Sappy Love Letter References

I have a character that is writing a love letter to a girl. The girl reads a lot (especially victorian-era literature) and the character wants to use literary allusions, references, and quotes. This should involve things like references to a character that had unrequited love, mentions of 'lovers' who were meant for each other, and quotes about love. There's also got to be some mention of a Victor Hugo story (although I'm not sure which one it should be).

My problem is that I'm not the most prolific reader of classical literature. I'm not even sure which books to start with and I'd rather not have to read the entire Victorian canon just to get this letter right.

If anyone can help point me in the right direction in terms of characters, stories, quotes, etc, I'd greatly appreciate it.

** EDIT Thanks for the suggestions so far. They're giving me some great ideas. Are there any famous stories/references I can use where one character is planning on marrying someone that is wrong for her and another character (her one true love, of course) is pining away for her? I feel like I've read that motif in Shakespeare, but I'm not sure where. Other suggestions for that would help too.
I may be some time

Medical question: what turns people off (literally)?

Can anyone here help me determine the most effective ways to "kill instantly"? I'm pretty sure that destroying the vagus nerve would have some spectacularly effective results, but since AFAIK there's no single specific on/off switch in the human body, I need to know which bit/bits would instantly cause the cardiopulmonary system to shut down and would cause a person to silently collapse like the proverbial marionette with cut strings. The actual method doesn't matter - this is for a sf/magical-realism story in which a leading character is able to telekinetically "reach into" victims.

Thanking you in advance for any helpful answers...

EDIT: I'm getting a number of votes for severing the spinal cord here. Anyone got more details about that?
EDIT YE SECONDE: Thank you so much, all of you! I'm now spoilt for choice of targets. C'est magnifique!
silly bitch

Would a Dry Ice or Liquid Nitrogen Burn Scar?

I've found mention that both of these materials can cause burns and that the burns are treated as similar to frost bite but I can't find any information about whether or not they would scar. Does anyone know if they would and, if they do, whether it would be similar to the marks left by severe frostbite?

ETA: Thanks, lederhosen! I have the information I need and can now proceed with the scene realistically.
writing a tragedy

standard-issue ammo clip

Sure, it varies from department to department. But a standard-issue police handgun is the .40 Sig Sauer, which I intend to have my cops carry.

Unfortunately, I can't seem to find anything that says how many rounds are in a basic clip. Googledom says 8, 10, 12... And yes, cops will carry at least two extra clips, but does anyone know what each clip is likely to carry?

I can't very well ask them how many bullets they can shoot before they have to stop to reload. I have an aversion to search warrants for my house. :)
quest

Sunrise, sunset, mountains

http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneYear.html is a useful website to create an almanac for a story, but it has its limitations. Does anyone know if there's a formula to calculate how much longer after sunrise (or before sunset) direct sunlight will hit the bottom of a valley, taking into account both the height of the mountains, the distance from the mountains to the place in the valley I need sunlit, and the curvature of the earth? And do I have to think about atmospheric bending of light?

Barring a formula, does anyone here live in a valley in the mountains I can shift my story to and let me know how sunrise and sunset are affected there in mid-March?
happiness is not being dead

Colonial American Catholicism

I have a character who was born in mid-1600's Maryland. His family is Catholic and, since he is not the eldest son, he becoms a priest. My question is how? How would a young man, with reasonable family assets, join the clergy in colonial America? Would he study abroad and be ordained overseas? Would he study under the priest at St Mary's? Or is there some third option available to him? I have no clue and my Google-fu is weak . . .