September 19th, 2010

  • kchasm

valid-sounding names - possibly French

So I'm writing a story that takes place in the present day, and in one early scene I mention--just mention--a guy/girl named "Mouru". I figure that's a real surname, and I don't bother looking it up because I'm an idiot.

This Mouru person isn't actually ever supposed to make an appearance. He/she is just filler text, plain and simple, but somehow...

So now I actually have to create a character to go with this name. And suddenly, it occurs to me--wait, is this an actual surname at all? I do some searching and, luckily for me, find a bunch of listings at, it's French. So this character must be French.

...I don't actually know much about naming procedures in France.

I hit Wikipedia. To my relief, it's pretty simple. All I need is a French given name to go with my French surname. I pick "Ange", because it's short and easy to remember, and now I've got "Ange Mouru", and I'm staring at it and feeling pretty proud of myself and then I start to wonder and that's why I'm here.


1) Does this actually look like a valid French name? Does it look ridiculous to someone with actual knowledge of French culture? I lack French culture, so I wouldn't know.

2) How the heck do you pronounce this? I figured the "Ange" would be the same as the identically-spelled French word for angel, but that audio thing doesn't seem to match up with the written IPA pronunciation at all. In addition, I can't find anything about "Mouru".

EDIT: Thanks for the prompt and useful replies! From what you've all said, Mouru isn't a very valid French name--I'll probably end up making the character American, as I've recently found out that a couple named "Mouru" died in new York in the nineties. I'll probably give her an everyday American given name, too.

Again, thanks for the help!

EDIT the second: It should be noted that I had no idea whether "Mouru" was actually a French surname or not. That it might have been was purely an assumption on my part, and this possibility should be dismissed now that I'm aware that it's definitely not. Of course, now I have to figure out what nationality it could be...
  • tsuruai

Aquarium Closing Procedures

For a story set in the present time, likely in an undisclosed big city, possibly a suburban area, I was wondering if it was possible for two teenage girls to be able to hide out in an aquarium until after it closes a la The Mixed Up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler. More specifically, I was wondering what sort of closing procedures are in place for different parts of the aquarium- front desk, tanks, any tide pools- what sort of things get left on, what gets locked up, would the girls be able to get out of the aquarium, or if doors are unlocked, there'd be an alarm, ect. Basically, any details concerning after hours at an aquarium, including possible ways to hide, would be really helpful. At the moment I'm thinking something like the Newport Aquarium in Northern Kentucky if you know it, since that is where I've been before, if that helps at all.


Search details: "Aquarium closing" "Aquarium 'closing procedures'" "working at an aquarium" / These mostly gave me aquariums closing down or job descriptions, minus any helpful details. 
girl piano

Visiting a pre-trial inmate in NYC

Setting: An alternate earth a few years in the future. So far, I've kept it pretty close to the current earth, so I'd like to be accurate, but I could take liberties, and it wouldn't be too big of a deal.

My character is visiting her mom pre-trial. A few questions:

1) Would she be in Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan? It seems the best fit ("an administrative facility housing male and female pre-trial and holdover inmates.") but then I read here that it's a place mostly for drug dealers, gangsters, and terrorists. Her mom is being convicted of a military-related crime - too long to explain, but she's been taking microchips out of retired soldiers, a huge no-no in this society. Should she be at Rikers Island instead?

2) Any specifics I should know about visiting an inmate? I already read the visiting rules at, so I know what my character should be wearing, the medical detector, what she shouldn't have in her purse, the time limit, etc., but any personal stories? Will they be in a large room with other visitors and inmates, too? Like at picnic tables, like they have in the TV shows/movies? Or maybe speaking through telephones (I don't think this is the case for MCC, because an inmate is allowed 3 adults and 3 children at a time)?

research done:,, wikipedia, google searches: visiting inmates, visiting inmates in nyc, pre-trial inmates in nyc, pretrial inmates in nyc, military criminals in nyc, Rose M. Singer Center, rikers island (and during that, I found this and it seems like all kinds of criminals get sent to Rikers Island)

Thanks in advance!

Guns, guns, more guns and some illnesses

You all have been so lovely so far, so I hope you can stand my incessant questions a little bit more.

I wasn't even sure where to begin researching for this, but I did read the wikipedia article on firearms, which left me with little useful information.  I also read a few articles on fatal diseases, but again came away with little.

My Scenario: This story is the brain child of a Civilization 4 scenario and a documentary I saw on tv. The basics: My main character lives in a city which has a vague location of somewhere in North America.  It takes place about 20 years in the future and this character's city is in a state of anarchy.  The streets are a warzone and there is disease ravaging the city.

My first question: Since The City is in a very dangerous state, my character keeps a shotgun with him at all time.  The only issue is that I have never used, touched or seen a shotgun outside of photographs.  Therefore, I haven't a clue what model he should use or how he would even use one.

My second question: The City is full of disease.  I am looking for a disease that would be contagious and have very few symptoms before death.  The first thing that came to mind would be something like H1N1- where it was worse for people in poor health.  Is there anything like this with few symptoms?  Most of the hospitals/clinics were destroyed in the start of the stage of anarchy, so vaccinations that would be available in an outbreak wouldn't be available to these people.  Ambulances wouldn't be able to get access to the city so that isn't an option either.

Anything you can tell me would be helpful.
elegant lady

Irish Republican Brotherhood uprisings/raids in Cork

Setting is November and December of 1867 in County Cork, Ireland.

I've been having a devil of a time hunting down anything more than one or two sentence blurbs about the details of the uprisings and raids that went on in the area. Found that there was a monument dedicated to it that is in Skibbereen, West Cork and I've googled using the terms in my title there, read the articles on Wikipedia and also used Fenians and Fenian Brotherhood in my search terms though I am right in thinking those terms applied more to the movement in America rather than Ireland? Anyways some websites I've found (in case anyone else might need them) sorry it's so long

So was it merely a series of bloodless arms raids or were there any real skirmishes or deaths during this period? any more information I can find I'll be very grateful for. Thanks :)

WW2 Registering for eligibility for conscription

 Year: 1942

Location: UK

Have already tried: Internet extensively, including official UK military sites, historical war sites, educational sites etc.

Reason for question: I am editing the memoirs of someone born in 1924 who cannot himself adequately answer this question!


I understand that when war broke out in 1939, men of 18 - 41 were required to register their eligibility for conscription into the forces. This age range had previously been 20 - 22 (since earlier that year). The author of the memoirs did not go into the army however until he was 20 in early 1945. Why? My questions:

1. Because he went into the army in 1945, he was obviously able-bodied and not in a reserved occupation. What reasons could there be for him not being called up when he was eighteen? 

2. Students were exempt but he was attending night classes only, not full-time. (In mechanical engineering. He worked as a mechanic). Surely part time study didn't count?

3. When men registered their eligibility, what details did they need to supply?

4. What were the timescales involved? For instance, if someone registered, how long would it normally be before they received their call up papers?

5. Were the details on registration forms taken at face value or were they checked? For example, if someone registered themselves as a worker in a reserved occupation, how was that verified?

6. Were these registration forms studied and evaluated? Or were there simply certain criteria that had to be met?

7. How was employment verified? In those days, I imagine people were paid in cash, but did they have to show payslips to prove their employment?

Here are the reasons for the questions:

I have a theory that he was actually working two jobs when he was eighteen. (Surely this was common in wartime?) There was the mechanic job but also his family owned a farm (which is where he lived). I imagine he was also helping on the farm and farming was a reserved occupation. (His elder brother never went into the army because of the farming work).

So when registering, he may have entered two occupations; farming and mechanical engineering. If another question on the registration form was "are you still receiving education" the answer would have been in the affirmative, of course.

Would those factors exempt him from call-up? And if so, why would this change when he reached the age of twenty? I understand that students were eligible once they had received their qualifications but would this still be the same for part-time study?

The reason for my last question is that in both his jobs, his employer was his father. If he was paid from the farm (officially) would that make him appear to be full time in a reserved occupation? And if so, what changed when he was 20?

Sorry for the long ramble. I've spent a lot of time looking at this site and the answers people receive are fantastic, so thank you in advance for your help!







What's On The Rooftops of New York City

This is a personally embarrassing question for me as I was born and raised in New York City. :)

Setting: Modern times, 2010
Location: Chelsea, New York City

Scenario: I have 2 characters running across the rooftops of two factory type buildings in a typical chase scene. My dilemma is I don't know the exact names of what's on top and I can't keep using the terms vents, ducts, water towers forever.

Can anyone help me with identify what is typically on a NYC rooftop?

Search terms:

GOOGLED: new york city buildings, nyc buildings, new york city structures, nyc structures, nyc rooftops, industrial roof tops, water towers, chelsea structures

WIKI: water towers, architecture in new york city, tenements, new york city neighborhoods


Thank you!