October 30th, 2007

John Locke

Incense in Historical Japan...

I have a question about Japanese incense. Well, really a couple of questions. I have been researching both incense in general and Japanese incense in specific. One thing I have found is that incense can be either directly lit on fire or can be burned indirectly by placing it on top of charcoal or embers or etc. I have found things online (by doing Wikipedia searches for "incense" and "Japanese incense" and etc.) that suggest that both types were used in Japan, but haven't been able to find anything that directly, positively, 100% confirms this. If it's true, I'm hoping that the indirect burning incense will work for the purposes of my story (takes place between Heian period and Edo, exact year left purposefully vague). What situations would indirectly burning incense (in powdered form or cakes/balls/etc.) be used? (Religious purposes? Time measurement? Games? Something else? Etc....)

Also, in the situation my story calls for a character wants to light incense but she is in a situation where she does not have a censer handy. Is there any way she could improvise one using natural materials?

Thanks so much! Let me know if I've left out any other relevant information.
rain, paper boats

Public/Private US Elementary Schools: What goes on in them?

So, it's NaNoWriMo season (well, nearly there), and I still need to set a few details down pat.

My character has kids in elementary school (1sth, 2nd or 5th/6th grade), living in the US, somewhere in New England (right now I'm thinking Vermont, though information on other states is OK). I've googled the terms and found many useful sites, but I'm looking for more 'anecdotal'/practical information on the day-to-day workings/happenings in school and the homes of the students. 

So, my questions are:

1. How does a typical school day go? What time does a school start, when do parents wake up to prepare for their kids, etc.

2. The school: What is the usual curiculum/schedule of classes? Are there after school programs? What are they?

3. School events: What are the usual school events that would require parental participation? When are they held? What usually happens in these events? And also, what do parents talk about in PTA meetings? I assume this is like what we have over here, an open discussion of the problems/suggestions/opinions of parents and teachers. I understand some schools even offer free babysitting when there are PTA meetings.

4. When do parents typically start preparing for the school year, and what preparations do they make (aside from the buying of clothes and school supplies)?

God, I sounded like a survey there. Feel free to share any wacky experiences or disasters if you want. 

Thank you in advance. :) 

ETA: YOU ARE ALL BEYOND AWESOME! Thank you so much for your help! :)

Tree sap drying times

Really esoteric question here: how long would it take the sap of a Southern Beech tree to dry to tackiness?  To dry completely?  The tree is in New Zealand, in winter, and it rained during or shortly before the tree was cut. 

ETA for clarification: the tree has been cut one and a half to two days before our intrepid hero comes across it.  I just wanted to know if it would be feasible for him to be able to tell how long it's been since it was cut.


The specifics of Catholic infant baptism

I have a scene coming up in which a Catholic baby is baptized. It's an emotional moment for the father, so I want to go through the whole event in detail.

Google and Wikipedia only turn up general requirements. I grew up in a Presbyterian church, and saw a lot of baptisms there, so I have a general scenario in mind. Trouble is, I don't know how a Catholic ceremony would differ, even if I remembered the exact wording of the Presbyterian one.

Can somebody give me a play-by-play of a typical ceremony? (Held in a church, on a Sunday, in the United States, no extraordinary circumstances.)

A few specific questions:

1) One thing I remember very well from the Presbyterian baptisms is part of the line the pastor asks the audience: "Will you so order your lives so as not to cause this little one to stumble? If so, answer, 'We will.'" Also, he always walked the infant up and down the center aisle to "introduce" s/him to the congregation. Can I use that?

2) There's a person present who, to my understanding, cannot be a godparent (he's not Catholic). Can he still stand at the altar with the parents? Could there be questions for him as part of the ceremony, or would he just have to stand in the background?

Aside from this, what I really need is as much specific script as possible. If you can steal a priest's Book O' Sacraments and scan in the relevant pages, that would be fantastic. (Just as long as you give it back to him afterwards.)
Sherlock is tired of your bullshit

San Francisco Water System Pre Y2K

Googled: San Francisco Water, San Francisco Water System, Gravity Fed.

My Google-Fu has always sucked, but now it's failing me entirely. My story takes place about modern times (+/- a year or two from now), but it's set in a world about 12 years after some plague decimated most of humanity. There's not much left as far as technology goes, but what I'm hung up on is the water system in the San Francisco Bay area. I've tried Googling it, and my results were all for some improvement plan circa 2005. I do know that it's "gravity fed," but I'm not even really sure what that means. There wouldn't happen to be an engineers out there, would there?

raise your eyes up into the sun.

Student/teacher relationships in Japan?

I'm writing a fanfic based on an anime. I have a question: In Australia, we have fairly specific laws regarding sexual/romantic relationships between students and teachers. I wanted to know about the law regarding such a relationship in a Japanese school - is it allowed, and if it isn't, what are the legal ramifications for being caught having a sexual relationship with a student? The setting is somewhat futuristic, but not to the extent where the law would be very different. I've Googled various combinations of the words "student teacher relationship romantic sexual law", to no avail. Thanks in advance.
paws off

RNLI training, UK

I have a story set in the Orkney Islands, set in the present. Several of the characters are crew for the local lifeboat. My main character is rescued by them on his very first day (when the ferry sinks) and being a youngish, fit male, who feels fairly grateful to them he eventually volunteers. Now I've done the research into how you do that and what it's like being on the crew - ie how they get notified, when they get called out etc etc but I'm fuzzy on one actual detail.

I've been to various sites including the RNLI official site. They all talk about the training you get, where you get it, how long it lasts, and how much it costs the RNLI. What none of them say is what the training is actually *like*. Precisely what you learn, how much is theory, how much is practical, how many hours a day the training is, what the centre is like, how big the classes are etc etc.

Basically I need an account, preferably from personal experience if anyone has that/knows someone who does of what the training is like. I can tell you the precise type of boat if that matters - it's a Tamar class

I've been to the official site and googled RNLI training/lifeboat training and variations on those.
Happy Place

UK Law Enforcement Guidelines

I'm looking particularly to see if there is an official stance or guidelines regarding fraternization between officers. What is considered appropriate and inappropriate conduct amongst officers? Is there a specific penalty for non compliance?

Edit: Fixed my grammar issues. Whee.

Edit 2: Information needed and then some found! Thank you very kindly!