November 8th, 2006

KH - OT3

I need some riddles.

I have a couple of characters getting into a riddle contest, and I need some riddles my characters could use. And some answers, because, though my characters are good, I stink at them.

Poetic ones are good, but not ones that would be difficult to translate, because one of my characters isn't a native speaker of the language.

I have tried google, and it returned not one thing I could actually use.

Getting through a busy switchboard? (ca. 1920s)

So I have a character trying to place a call out to another city. He's a few blocks away from where the main government building partially collapsed after several explosions, and he really, really, really wants/needs to call another city to 1) make sure the same thing's not happening there and 2) make sure his brother's okay.

Here's some facts:
1) It's 1922. While it's not Earth, it's very comparable to Western Europe/USA around that time era.
2) He's a government official, in a station that used to have a lot more authority than it currently does, and his name is fairly well-known.
3) He's calling from a personal residence approximately 15-30 minutes after the explosions about a block away.
4) The government headquarters building is being evacuated and it's currently mad chaos on the scene.
5) The explosions felt more like an earthquake -- where the character had been about a mile away, it was comparable to a 6.0, due to the size of the building and the weight of the materials involved.

If I recall what I know of phone operation back then, even if you dialed a direct number, the call was often manually routed by an operator at a switchboard, correct? I'm assuming that right now, everyone's trying to make calls, and they're likely overloaded.

What might the character encounter -- what would he hear if he can't get the call through and would he get a chance to speak with an operator to argue for his call to be put through on a higher priority?

(xposted to Character and Plot Realism Q&A since it's NaNo-related)

Translators on TV, UPS trucks

Hi! A shout-out to all my NaNoWriMo compatriots - best of luck!

You know how on a lot of TV shows, they have someone start speaking another language and then their volume goes down and you hear the translator cut over top of them in English (or whatever the native language of the TV station's country is)? What I want to know is: can that be done live? If not, how does the TV station handle a live interview (say, police at a crime scene) who speak another language, assuming they do have translators at the scene? Alternately, how likely is it that a random Japanese policeman would speak English?

This is separate, but I don't think I submitted the post right when I tried to ask this earlier, as it never showed up: Can anyone tell me what the inside of a UPS truck looks like? Seating in the front? Removability of shelves in back, and avaliability of space in the back?

Thanks so much!

Rituals and Practices for Protection

What are various practices/rituals you know of that are used to ward or protect rooms from evil, ghosts, people who intend harm etc? Any culture, any time frame, anywhere.

I've heard things about salt, water basins, and candles in the corners of the room depending on the culture. Any clarification you can provide on those, as well, would be greatly appreciated. Just any practice you've ever heard of, and maybe the reasoning behind it if you happen to know (if not, just the act itself is fine).

((cross-posted between ask_me_anything little_details supernatural_tv and my personal journal))
httyd--hiccup and toothless
  • nebulia

Whipped Cream in Japan

Googled and wikied this, but it's incredibly odd (ah, NaNoWriMo crack!fic!), so naturally I got no results.

I would imagine whipped cream would be available in Japan. Is it? Is it hard to find, or accessible at just a random grocery store or whatever? When was it first introduced in Japan?

And so on. Help, please?
Heart shadow hand

toothpaste flavors, tennis gear brand in the UK

1. What toothpaste flavors do you have in the UK?
(The crazier, the better--e.g. green tea flavored toothpaste in Japan)

2. Do adult toothpaste in the UK have various flavors, or only children toothpaste?

3. What do people in the UK call children's toothpaste? "Kiddie toothpaste"...?

4. What's the most famous and/or the most expensive tennis gear brand in the UK? (Nike, Adidas, etc.)

5. How popular is tennis in the UK? (To average 14 y.o. boys)

Thank you for your help :-)

Crossposted at hp_britglish
Glider Gun

The number of conscious minds required to alter reality

I'm hunting a term that I've seen before. I want to say it's the Dyson Principle, but I've googled that, and I'm not getting anything definitive.

Anyway, the layman's version is basically that if the number of sentient beings who perceive a version reality reaches a critical mass, that reality will physically manifest itself. i.e. if enough people believe that the Earth is the center of the universe, it will be. I seem to remember that this theory actually quantified the number of discreet conscious entities required to push that reality.

Anybody out there know what I'm talking about, and what that magic number might be?