January 13th, 2008

[writey] ideas

Leap Years/Unusual Things in Calendars

Googled: calendars + leap year, various incarnations of gregorian/russian/jewish/hebrew/chinese/etc. + leap year, cultural + leap year + various incarnations of all calendars mentioned previously, calendar irregularity, etc.

My questions are fairly simple but proving annoyingly difficult to answer, I fear.

The universe is pretty much our current one, except supernatural beings like vampires, werewolves and demons exist on earth. I want to know if leap year is observed in any calendar besides the "normal" American calendar (which I believe is the Julian?). If not, is there any kind of irregularity that might prove an equivalent.

I have a character faced with a series of murders, and I want them to all tie in (in some way) to the date of February 29. Obviously, it'd be a pretty boring book if I had to wait four in-verse years between murders, so I'm looking for other ways to tie them in. :D

Thank you in advance for your help - mods, I have not a clue what to tag this, sorry :-/
  • icyblue

What did explorers in the 1400s bring with them on their ships as they explored the world?

Hello! I was referred to this community by someone in thequestionclub.

Here's what I need help with: I need to know what kinds of supplies, as well as quantities, explorers took with them on their ships as they sailed across the Atlantic to try to discover routes to Asia in the late 1400s. Specifically, I'm looking for the stuff Christopher Columbus took with him.

I have Googled "Christopher Columbus ship log" and "Christopher Columbus ship manifest" and "Christopher Columbus ship supplies." I've discovered a ship manifest, listing the people who were on board, Columbus's ship log where he detailed what went on onboard the ships during their voyage, and have found out that they ate mainly salt pork, salt cod, and hard biscuits. But I haven't been able to find a list of amounts. I'm also looking for supplies other than food. Is there such a document on ships where they kept track of this kind of thing? They seem to be so meticulous at documenting with the manifest and the log.

Thanks in advance for any websites you can send my way!

What makes a substance toxic?

I have a question that unfortunately seems very basic, but that seems to be the reason why I can't find proper information. I've tried googling "chemically poisonous" and "chemically toxic" and similar but nothing explained my question. They rather went on about the amount or dose entering a system, general toxicity and removal from the body.

My question is, how can you tell something is chemically toxic? Imagine you have a substance you've never seen before. How can you tell it's toxic without doing the obvious test (i.e. injecting it into a lab rat or something). Is there a test to tell? Anything? I know zilch about chemistry, so I don't even know where to look... Thanks a lot!

Military means of clearing a building of its occupants

Ok, so here's the deal: I have eight paramilitary protagonists who for reasons relevant to the plot need to somehow eliminate around 35 enemies who have gathered in an empty building without making a scene that would be impossible to explain away (at least superficially) as a gas leak/ tragic arson/etc.

Since the city in which my story takes place isn't an all-out warzone they can't just call in an airstrike, so I was planning on having one of them toss a concussion grenade into the room they feel would be most occupied, cover all the exits and wait for the survivors to come running out. I need for the grenade to even the odds at least a good deal without bringing the building, or the surrounding buildings, down, and it (the building) can be made of as solid enough material needed to prevent that from happening (I'm willing to use the power of artistic liscence for that at least, to a point. If it really has to go, it really has to go). I chose a concussion grenade as opposed to a flash bang because I'm not sure that the effect would last long enough to create a significant advantage when the odds are so skewed.

So, the question: Is this plausible?

-If so, how many people would the grenade most likely kill / incapacitate? (The enemies are not expecting this attack / aren't aware of the protagonists' presence, so they probably won't toss it back)

-If not, what would you suggest? (It's about eight at night, in a fairly deserted section of my fictional city, and to avoid getting rediculous my characters have access to the more subtle end of military-grade munitions that can be transported without a great fuss and, preferably, can be bought on the black market. Time period is present)

I have done enough research on grenades to make me feel like a terrorist, but if anyone can suggest something to look into, I'm not opposed to doing more digging! My characters are supposed to know what they're talking about...the problem is that I have no real idea.

Thanks in advance! 

EDIT: The opponents are for the most part untrained, without clear leadership, and not expecting an attack of the size of the one they will be recieving. They are armed, some with automatic weapons, although they have only a basic understanding of how they work. None of them are wearing body armor or anything of that sort. I picture the building they are in to be a small warehouse, two stories max.
Big Bad Wolf, Bigby

Off-duty EMT proceedure

Setting: Modern day California
Search terms used: various combinations of "emt+procedure+paramedic" in Google. I also perused back entries here without finding quite what I need.
The set-up: An off-duty paramedic goes to pick up his daughter at an outdoor cafe and finds she and her friends have been attacked by rather large birds. One has large scratches on his back, the other has a gouge on his head. Nothing life threatening, just deep, maybe need some stitches. (This is an urban fantasy novel, btw, so these aren't normal birds, in case anyone was wondering)
The question(s):
Would my guy be likely to have his EMT kit in his car?
Would he feel like he needed to call in back-up or anything to deal with deep cuts he can stitch up himself?
Would he want the boys to go to a hospital anyway after he'd seen them?
If he does have a kit, what would his treatment entail? Clean it, stitch it, bandage it? Even though he knows the boys he would still wear gloves, yes?

If there are any real paramedics out there feel free to chime in with personal experiances, but all pertinent responses are welcome!

Thank you in advance for all your replies.