November 10th, 2007

  • orthent

A basement room in a Japanese house?

According to canon, the viewpoint character of my fic was locked in a basement room in his parents' house whenever his psychic powers manifested themselves during his childhood.

The house is a large, old, traditional country house in (IIRC) Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It's listed on some kind of historic register, so that it cannot be altered, and portions of it are said to date back to the 14th century. The family are the local gentry, and they've lived in it since that time (if you take the mangaka's word for it; she's almost as unreliable about dates and ages as J. K. Rowling).

It's hard to tell from the manga what the room is like. In one frame in the first volume, there seems to be a grid pattern of light on the floor, as if it's coming through a square lattice of some kind. Beyond that, though, I'm at a loss.

I've Googled "vernacular architecture--Japan" and "traditional architecture--Japan" and found photo sequences of several well-preserved historic houses. But none of the photographs seem to show anything below ground level, or even partly underground. So I'm left to wonder: would such a room have stone walls and floors? Packed earth? Plaster? If there were a window, presumably it wouldn't be glassed--so would there be any protection from the elements? Could a house like that be built on a slope, so that a room below the main floor would be partly aboveground and partly underground?
SGA - Now Kiss!

Aconite poisoning

Or more accurately, murder by aconite. I'm writing in a fantasy setting, so I could always make up a flower, and I might very well do that still, but I want to be based in what's biologically possible. Never mind the fact that my main character is going to sprout wings by the time I'm done with him.

So, I have this main character who rather wants to kill someone. He does that quite often later on in the story, but at this point, he's not quite gotten into the swing of things yet. And because he could never beat the other in a fair fight, he's opting for poison, especially since he rather wants the victim to suffer. Now, I have a lot of aconite growing outside my house every year, so I have the look, smell and area down, and know my character could easily find it nearby his home.

A bit of research has made me even more determined to use it as at least a base template for my poison, because the symptoms of the poison and the relatively short time it takes to work. And my character would take the fact that the victim remains lucid until death as bonus, because he is a sadistic wretch like that.

What I'm trying find out, though, is how death by aconite would be seen by doctors using what's basically late 19th century knowledge. From what I've read, it kills by causing respiratory or cardiac failure. Would a doctor who had not seen the symptoms before death nor having them described, but just examining the corpse be able to see that it had been poisoned? I find a lot of information about the symptoms before death, but very few that even mention what happens afterwards. And that it's detectable today. But there's a difference between 2007 and say the 1880's.

Swiss Bank Account Numbers

Hello, again! 

Does anyone here know what form a Swiss bank account number takes? Does the sequence of numbers include alphabetical code as well as numerals? How long is an "average" Swiss bank number? I'd imagine that each bank has its own format, but does anyone here know how to make an appropriate fictional number code for one? 

I could simply write "a Swiss bank number," but the story is told in the first person and the revelation of that number comes through an e-mail featuring that code. I could go with the anonymous approach - which would save me from accidentally revealing an actual Swiss bank account number - but I'd like to at least know what such a sequence might look like.  

Related question: Anyone know the name of a good Swiss bank? :)

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Visiting Versailles in the '50's and Russian vocab


I have two questions related only by the fact that they're for the same story. Thanks in advance for your help.

1) One could visit the Palace of Versailles as a tourist in the early 1950's, yes? I found on their Wikipedia that throughout the 30's to the 60's tourism was encouraged but I just want to check that it was possible in 1952 or 1953. I also found out that restoration projects were begun in the '80's, so do you know at all what differences there would be in the '50's visit and, say, the visit I did in about 2000? And, last question about that, in the story, three of the visitors are small kids, (with their moms and grandma.) Is there any reason that babies and toddlers would not be allowed to visit?

2) How would a mother say, in Russian, "calm down" to her kids? Her children are running ahead or making noise, doing what little kids do, and she wants to bring them back beside her and to quiet down. Her sister will say 'eh, doucement!' in French, but she will say the equivalent in Russian. Should this be "Тихо"? Or more, "По-Тише?" Or, rather something else? What would the different ways she could say it imply?
Sources checked -- The Palace of Versailles' Website and Wikipedia in both English and French. For the Russian question I just thought what I know and am not sure.

Thank you very much! 
Bloody tears

Sterile injection colourings

Setting: Canada, Toronto, present
Previous Searches: Not sure what to plug in. Any pointers would be appreciated.


Are there any kinds of sterile food colourings (or any other colouring agent, perhaps tattoo ink?) that can be added to sterile saline for direct injection into a vein or for intramuscular injections?

I'm thinking along the terms of mind fucking a victim into thinking it's an injection of SOMETHING instead of an injection of harmless saline (we're talking, at most, three CC's or possibly more in one session).

I'm looking for something safe and easy to acquire for your every day average Joe living in a large metropolitan city (IE, Toronto). I know there are tattoo supply shops that don't require any kind of ID or any other checks for their products but I just don't know how safe that would actually be and have no clue where to look for the answers.

Any help, or pointers would be greatly appreciated.

E.T.A. : I need a colourant. Clear is not workable. If it was, I'd use it. I understand a lot of people can easily get freaked out by needles, or whatever have you, but the question is quite specific and it will come into play later on in the story. There is a reason for this, trust me, k? If you can't think of anything, thank you for trying.

E.T.A. 2 I cross posted this to no_drama_bdsm as well, since I'm a kinky little wench it seemed logical. After the first response, however, I realized I needed to widen my search and came here. (I thought kinky first, and honestly forgot about this comm until I was talking with my beta). ANYTHING I get here will of course be checked through other sources to find out if it's actually workable.

Superpowers in accordance to the brain

I don't THINK this has ever been explored before, according to tags, but... well.

I've done my fair share of Googling and Wikipedia-ing (is that a verb? It is now) about this topic, but it's a hard one to figure out solely on the internet... I'm curious, though, and the character in mind would most certainly know the answer to the topic.

I play Sylar, from the television series Heroes, in a few roleplaying communities. For those who haven't seen the show before, it's all about superheroes, blah blah blah, and Sylar has the power of intuitive aptitude - he understands how things work. He was a watchmaker, to be precise, and I'm assuming his power is limited to mechanical, logical things.

At any rate, he's a serial killer, and takes on other people's powers by cutting open their skulls and - still to be disputed, but this is how I play him - studying the brain. Some people say he picks up the powers through ingestion, but I think he uses his own power to understand others'.

Basically, I'm wondering what people think as to where the evolved humans' powers would be located in the brain. Would it differ, from person to person? Would it be localized in a particular section of the brain? The cerebrocerebellum controls actions, I believe I read somewhere - correct me if I'm wrong - and is located on the lateral sides of the hemisphere of the brain, which could be one possible location of the powers, but mostly I just wanted to see what y'all were thinking XD Some people think it's localized in one area, some people think it's all throughout the brain, perhaps why Sylar tends to pick up other subtle personality traits as the show goes on, but I figured I'd get opinions on the matter.
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  • tabaqui

Painter's name...

Okay - i *know* this artist, but the name *will not* come and it's driving me nuts. I need a better quality image of this, so please - if anyone knows who the artist is...!!

I've googled 'man turban garden woman pre-Raphaelite illustration' and gotten lots of images, but not *this* one.
I'm sure i'll have a huge Doh! moment when the name of the artist comes up...

ETA: Found! Thank you so much.