June 18th, 2009

Divining stones

Hello. My thanks to chipmunk_planet for telling me about this community, and here is my first post.

Time: present
Place: English West Country
Searched: runes; rune stones; runestones

Can anyone suggest a search term to help me find information about a system of divining which uses a set of small pebble-sized stones with various symbols painted on in either red, white, or blue? The only symbol I know (or think I know, from an old and unattributed note in my research file) is an open eye painted in white, which is called the Sun and means "yes".

Thank you.

Gunshot wound to head causing erectile dysfunction?

I've done some searching of my own, through both the archives of this community and the almighty power of Google (mostly variants of "brain damage" and "erectile dysfunction", but I'd like to get some specific answers as well.

I have this character who gets shot in the head point blank in the forehead - not just a graze or injuries to the craniofacial area, but a bullet through the brain. Said character is whisked off to the ER and survives the injury, but I'm wondering whether it's possible to have said character suffer from erectile dysfunction as a direct result. I also need the character to survive without considerable disabilities aside from what I've mentioned. I'm thinking, minor loss of motor and speech functions is fine, as is anything else that doesn't cause the character to become severely disabled.

From what I've found Googling, it can be simply caused by a psychological or emotional change after the incidence, but I'm looking for something more physiological and would prefer not to use psychological damage unless all else fails.

Going by what I know as well as what Google and Wikipedia tells me, damage to the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland can also cause disruptions in sex organ functions. I'm not sure, however, whether it would be plausible to have said character live through the injury without severe damage to the brain stem or anything that would cause effects like I've described that I want to avoid.

If not those two glands, are there any other parts of the brain that a bullet could plausibly damage enough to cause erectile dysfunction, but not death or anything like that? Could the resultant blood loss be enough to damage the specific parts of the brain enough? Or perhaps could the character fall and hit his head hard enough to cause erectile dysfunction?

And if it's of any relevance, said character is shot by a SIG Sauer P226 pistol, though that can be changed if necessary. The character is also very much drunk when he gets shot, if that helps with the hemorrhage thing.

Any help would be great. :D

WolframAlpha Resource

WolframAlpha is a search engine that a friend linked me to earlier today. It has a number of interesting application, but the one I though would really interest people here is that you can type in a date and location and it will give you (among other things) the temperature highs and lows, general weather conditions, and the times for sunset and sunrise.

Obviously, there are limitations to dates and locations, but it does pretty well with recent dates and major locations..

So if you're not having any luck finding someone who remembers what the weather was like on November 27, 1987 in Toronto, here you go.

Open-air cremation, 101

Multiple questions about burning bodies open-air style!
 
I have a race of humanoid creatures who have just been killed.  There are 11 of them in total.  Setting is a compound in the mountains at the onset of winter, containing about 150 children ranging in age from 6 to 16.  The new leader of the children has decided to dispose of the bodies by burning.  (Not enough stones nearby, ground too hard for digging, don't want to dump them in a heap to get gnawed on by critters.)

Technology is roughly that of 1600s.  Fuel supply in this isolated area is limited to wood and lamp (whale) oil, no gasoline or pitch.  Trees are all around.  Some of the bigger kids are used to chopping wood, so they can get a good supply if they work at it.

Questions:

1) How much wood would it take to burn 11 bodies, given that no accelerant is available and that ambient temperature is below freezing?  Is it reasonable that you could build up this much wood over six days?  Would wood chopped a few days ago be too "green" to use?

(This site mentions that it takes 480 kg (~1000 lbs) of wood to burn one body in the Hindu tradition.  Can anyone confirm?  That's a lot of wood!  http://www.zundelsite.org/debate/041_jam.html)

2) For burning that many bodies, would it be better to stack them all on a single pyre?

3) Would whale-fat lamp oil help the burn?  How much would you need?

4) How long does a pyre have to burn before you just have bones?  (Assume that the fire is as hot as you can get it, given the information above.  Winter, no advanced accelerant.)

I've tried Googling "open-air cremation", "funeral pyre," "funeral pyre winter", "how long to burn body".  Found very little detailed information on the criteria above.  I did find the following page on how to build a pyre, but it advises using kerosene (don't have that) and doesn't talk quantity.

http://www.ehow.com/how_2226696_build-funeral-pyre.html

Starting to think that cremation is just not reasonable, and the outdoor predators will be having a great snack after all.  :-(

Any advice or info is appreciated!



Flowering trees

I need a tree for the purposes of my story.  I thought I had a perfect one, but it turns out that it didn't meet one of the criteria I had for it.  The tree must have the following properties:
  • A relatively short height, around eight feet tall
  • Pink flowers, preferably on the small side
  • A fairly noticeable sweet fragrance
  • Flowers that bloom in early spring
  • Presence in the American midwest, as well as some Appalachia
Any suggestions, botanists, horticulturalists, etc? 

I've tried searching google...and my search is too generic for wikipedia. 
Thanks!