July 5th, 2007

Tea party or equivalent?

Hi, me again, with another 'German children before/during the Second World War' question:

Little girls, ages 6-12. Would they have tea parties for their dolls and each other? I mean, as I understand it, Germans don't really do tea, but then neither do Americans. If not, is there an equivalent adult social ritual they might imitate? (Kaffee und Kuchen??)

Middle-class Berlin girls, if that makes any difference.


getting married in Italy

What do present-day Italians in Italy need to do to get married?

I mean things like: does a religious ceremony count as a legal marriage (as in the UK) or do you have to have a civil ceremony as well (as in France)? If both, is it usual to have both on the same day (as in France where the wedding party typically leaves the church and goes straight round to the mairie)? What paperwork do the bride and groom have to produce and how much notice do they have to give? Is it at all normal among urban professional people to have a civil wedding only, or is that strictly reserved for non-Catholics, fervent atheists, and oddballs generally?

I've tried googling "weddings in Italy" and "getting married in Italy", and all I could find is information for foreign nationals wanting to get married in Italy, and Italian-Americans talking about wedding traditions in the Old Country (which of course may be anything up to 100 years out of date, and/or specific to particular regions).

Archaeology and Excavation

I have a feeling this is going to be a tough question to answer, but I'm hoping their are a few people out there who have a specific interest or knowledge in at least a few of the subjects I need information on.

In the subplot of my novel, an art history professor/author has reason to believe that a secret catacomb is beneath the chapel within the dome of the Florence Cathedral. I would like for him to go to Italy in order to excavate and find out for sure as it is the basis of a book he writes. Here are my painstaking (probably annoying) questions:

1. Would it be feasible for a researcher like my character to get permission to excavate in a prestigious site like the Florence Cathedral?

2. What would be necessary for him to get permission or what kind of hoops would he have to jump through with the government and a financier in order to get the go-ahead?

3. How might an excavation go? Through my research, I am aware of the machines and tools necessary, but because my guy is American and he plans to work in Italy with the NYU art history and archeology branch there, would he be getting Italian archaeologists to work with? Under what kind of jurisdiction might he be under when working in another country?

4. In New York he has several research assistants, none of which have any experience with archaeology or excavation. They are invited along for the month or so of excavation but could they be in any way part of the "dig" or would their inexperience and lack of knowledge prohibit them?

I think some of my questions might be something I could invent fictionally, but I don't know a lot about archeology or the process of excavation and I'd like to stay as true to form as possible. Any information would be helpful; even a link or personal experience would be fantastic.


Also, I tried googling, "archaeology," "catacombs," archaeology italy," "archaeology architecture" and various other forms. I basically got information on archaeology and the process of excavation in the field, rather than inside of buildings. What I need is more specific...thanks again.

EDIT: Wow, the information pouring out is amazing, thank you all very much. I had the thought at the back of my mind that the Duomo would be a little extravagant. I wanted something big, but it's not necessary. I agree with several people who made this fact known to me and actually, it's somewhat of a relief because I knew I'd have to research like mad just to describe all those things above. Either I can change the subplot a bit or move the excavation to a smaller, lesser known church?

unconscious, brought into hospital

I suspect this will be an easy question to answer, but there's nothing relevant in the group tags under Hospital Procedure, and Googling attempts have failed as my search terms are simultaneously too generic and too specific! So, here goes...

What's normal hospital procedure when a patient is brought in from an accident site, unconscious? (Think of a train derailment, or bus accident...not massive injuries, but a couple of people who get bonked on the head and need treatment immediately, but aren't able to speak for themselves. Male, or female.)

Specifically, I was wondering how contacting relatives is handled, especially if items like purses or wallets are missing. Do employees go through cell phones to find contacts?

Also, do doctors check for previous conditions or ailments in the blood, if the patient is taking meds, or if they're pregnant, before administering treatments?

Thanks in advance!

eta: modern day, US or UK (or European countries).

Buried Alive

I am writing a modern day story where the victim is buried alive inside a pine box, six feet under ground. If the victim actually remains calm, considering the circumstances, how long would they have before suffocation set in? Would hypothermia be a factor as well?

I searched google with the keywords: buried alive and premature burial, but only received info on the books, poems or movies with those titles/topics.

Edit: I'm not so much worried about the box collapsing or the dirt, etc. I need to know how long can a person usually survive before rescue comes.

Chicks in cakes

Okay, somebody talk to me about having a scantily clad entertainer jump out of a birthday cake.

Where do you find such people? How much do they cost? Are there high-end and low-end outfits that employ them?

How big do the cakes tend to be? Are there any specifications for the decoration? What's the inside like? I assume the cake is built around some kind of inner container that the person hides in; what would it be made of? Do they just get out by pushing the lid up? (Wouldn't that dump the top layer of cake everywhere?)

Anything else I should know?

Modern day, present time, real world, so there's nothing unusual to take into account. I've seen it in movies, but they tend to be from the point of view of the partygoers, not whoever sets it up. And I'm hoping to find information about seamier setups (assuming there are such), which I am terrible at doing first-hand research on.

All help is appreciated!

Hand-operated bilge-pumps, medieval style

Setting: Medieval-tech (with matchlocks) fantasy pseudo-Vikings, a merchant ship hold, a rough sea.

I'd like to know what a hand-operated bilge-pump looks like (particularly one actually used in the late Medieval era, if possible), how to operate it, what it might sound like when operating, as much detail as possible.

I've Googled 'bilge pump' (after tooling around in Wikipedia enough to find out that's what they're called ... LOL), 'hand operated bilge pump', 'medieval ships', 'medieval navy', 'viking merchant ships', and probably other things I've forgotten. I get all sorts of ads for modern-day electric pumps or pictures of the outsides of ships.

Any information, advice, or links greatly appreciated!

New York City, 1929 - best residence hotel?

What would the top-of-the-line residence/extended stay hotel be in 1929 NYC, pre-Crash? What were the rates per night/week/month?

I've googled pretty thoroughly, but anything I put "hotel" and "rates" in the same string I get all modern stuff. I have to have read 10 books cover-to-cover, but I haven't been able to turn anything up in NYC.

Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Fallout Shelters

Time: Cold War Era, roughly mid - 1950's. (Although probably not too historically accurate in some parts.)

Location: Insignificant to plot at this time.

Searched terms: Fallout shelters, depth of fallout shelters, and underground fallout shelters.

My MC has found himself in a fallout shelter for protection of what many fear will soon be an area destroyed by radioactivity. Their government has failed to provide them with a fallout shelter of their own due to the overall poverty of their specific region, so the residents have taken the time to build their own underground shelter.

I would like my MC to be able to slip out of the shelter through a nearby exit, but was wondering two things:

1.) Would the other occupants of the shelter notice him leaving, given that there are what I plan to be at least one hundred people taking up the shelter itself?

2.) How deep underground would their makeshift shelter typically be, and what kind of exit strategy might a large group of people set up in order to eventually leave said shelter?

Thanks very much in advance, everyone.

Slow times at the strip club?

I have no idea how to begin searching this, as this is more a gut-check thing- I doubt there are statistics on strip club business, and I suspect my keywords would lead me some unsavory places (y hay thar pr0n).

Oh, now I have your attention.

Setting is modern-day Seattle, and I need to figure out what would be the slowest night of the week for your average strip joint/"gentlemen's club"/place with the mostly naked womenfolk and the dollar bills.

I assume not Friday and Saturday, if only because woo, weekend. Something tells me not Wednesday, either, for some strange reason. Any tips, either on the actual question or how to search for an answer to said question, would be much appreciated.

edited to add: little_details is God. Thank y'all for your input- I've got some additional useful details as well as the proper night.