December 21st, 2006

Cremation

I have asked something similar to this in the past but I did not completely ask what I needed to ask, so I apologize. This one is more specific. I actually spent a couple hours searching and searching for information on this, and maybe I am just really dense, but I didn’t find much.
Setting: present day U.S., non-religious family
1. When someone is cremated (assuming the actual cremation takes place shortly after the viewing/service, on the same day), how long is it until the remains are turned over to the family?
2. Two part question: if the remains are ready very soon (for example, within a day or so), is it acceptable for the family to delay getting them for a couple days until they are personally ready to take possession? And in order to get them, is it an option for the family to go directly to the crematorium to pick them up, or are there other methods?
3. There’s really no incredibly polite way to ask this, so I’m sorry: what kind of ‘package’ are the remains in? Like, maybe, a box, a velvet bag type thing… I know there are urns, but this is where another question comes in: there are two people, a mother and a son, who will be receiving an equal share of the remains. It can be assumed that one portion will be saved, probably in an urn, while the other portion will be scattered. Would it be possible to receive half of the remains in an urn, and the other half in some kind of small box or bag?
4. And for one last awkward question, about how much of an average sized person is left after the cremation process? Is it even logical to think that the remains can easily be divided between two people?

Victorian-era novel/story involving magic circles?

This is kind of an odd one, and google searches result in a glut of unhelpful sites, alas.

I have a young character who, in the late forties/early fifties, inherits a relative's library and becomes fascinated with the the accounts of pagan rites and rituals (and fabricated/fictionalized versions thereof) to be found in said library. She decides to play-act at the ritual of drawing the circle and summoning a spirit for the fun of it. Plot ensues, but that's not what's important here.

I know that pagan tradition and the occult were very popular during the Victorian era, so I figure if necessary I can just say that she got a hold of a bunch of old penny dreadfuls or magazines and that's where she got the idea for the magic circle. I was just wondering if any of the obscenely-well-read folks here knew of a particular story that describes the circle or summoning rituals? I had planned on blaming this all on the Victorians, but if there's a work from some other era that would fit this description, that works just as well (assuming it's before the fifties, of course).

I am hoping to find a work of fiction that fits the bill, here. Otherwise, I know there are a few works of a more nonfictional nature that were published in the fifties that I could probably use...Gerald Gardner's books spring to mind...but since this is a young character who is attracted by the pulp-fiction romance of the concept, I would rather the book(s) be fiction rather than anything didactic. So extra points for bodice-rippers taking place against a faux pagan backdrop.

Thank you in advance, sorry this is so long and wordy!

HELP ME

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modern day polio

What are the chances, if any, of an average 5-7-year-old kid getting polio in modern day (i.e., the vaccination failing, et cetera)? More generally, is it even the slightest bit possible?

Setting is Anywhere, USA, prety affluent (upper-middle-class suburbia), 2004-2006 (unspecified between those years).

Conditions causing leg weakness

Tonight I was suddenly struck by a character for a story who only has a minor role to play but I'm incredibly anal about these things and I want to get her back story right.

She is in a wheelchair but uses crutches (and presumably leg braces) around the house/for short periods of time.

At first I was thinking that this could have been caused by some sort of paralysis but the problem is I don't want it to affect anything other than her legs (from maybe her mid-thigh/knees down if possible, if not including her hips) but paralysis will affect her bladder, kidneys, etc. and I'd rather it was just weakness in her legs instead of a full blown spinal injury. Although if that is to be the case I'd imagine the injury would occur between T10 and S3 (Woo Hoo! for Google!). What might cause this region of the spine to be injured?

As I realised that what I was actually looking for was conditions that might cause lower limb weakness or paralysis (Ugh! I'm starting to sound like one of those medical journals now!) I began Googling that but to no avail. I simply don't know enough about it to understand what I'm being told.

So, now I turn to you. What diseases, illnesses or accidents might cause some sort of weakness (or paralysis) of the legs (without affecting the torso and it's organs too badly)? I'm thinking something which would have happened at around the age of 10, though if there's something that could have happened when she was younger I'm open to anything.

Thanks in advance.