October 1st, 2010

Blonde girl
  • cantras

Corpse decay, specifically hair

Five years after death, will a non-embalmed corpse's (chin-length) hair still be attached?
If it is, and one touched it, what would it feel like? (I'm assuming not conditioner-silky-soft, but probably also not breaking off at a touch either)
Less important: Facial skin, same questions
Even less important: level of smell, if any, through a fist-sized hole in the coffin.

Character wants to give something to a dead guy. Intends to dig down to his coffin, crack open a corner, and drop it in. And because of circumstances between them (and because this sort of thing does not make her squeamish), perhaps reach her hand/fingers through the gap to stroke his hair.

If this hair is there. And she'd know whether it's there. But of course *I* have not lived a rough and tumble life of guerrilla para-military or casual work acquaintance with graverobbers or anything interesting that would give me the knowledge she has. So I turn to you. (I'm assuming those of you with this knowledge got it in some other way, but I'm not judging ;)

Relevant environmental stuff:
Buried in a simple wood box. Nothing lined or fancy.
Not embalmed or any special treatment.
Probably a good 5-6 feet down. His best men aren't going to let the lackeys handle this burial.
Strong guy, age 50ish, fit, casual smoker, probably died of a stab to the back (Though I imagine after 5 years the difference any of that makes is pretty negligible).
Region he's buried in is mostly-dry grassland. Good farmland.

Read a bit of the Wikipedia on decomposition (Oh, wikipedia, how can you be so amazing and so useless at the same time?), various google terms of rate of decay/composition, five year corpse, +/- "hair".  Google images, actually, returned a photo of a corpse with hair still wondrously attached, (and kindof terrifying skin, but I can't judge touch-texture from a picture) but the story behind it was that no-one had claimed it from a funeral home -- so presumably embalmed(Hell, may even have been a staged photo to go with the blog post about the news story). Ditto to a bit of real-life story I remember of researchers digging someone up to investigate something -- mentioned he had great hair, but also mentioned embalming, I think? Or maybe they said he hadn't been... oh dear. Plenty of yahoo questions type answers, and a really interesting and distracting guardian article about the modern death process from declaration of death to autopsy to interment ... More info than I would ever want to sort through on what happens to a body within the first 2 weeks or so (thank heavens this guy is long dead, I suppose?). googled a bit about touching and just got some taboos and links to the body museum (and instructions for making some terrifying looking skeletons for halloween).

Not a lot of info on corpse touching. Wonder why. >.>

Edit: You lovies are amazing. This post from the blog linked byvanessagalore  was a big deal. Having it pointed out that hair doesn't really decay very much on its own is also helpful. I knew that. /facepalm
music, serious face

ANON POST: Drive or fly from Oakland to San Diego?

Setting: USA, a few years in the future

My character finds out on a Saturday morning that his mother is in the ICU, so he and his family need to get to her fairly quickly. The mom lives a little inland of San Diego, CA, and the character and his family are in Oakland, CA. My question is this: considering that the character's kids are 3 and 7, would the best option be to fly there, or to drive? According to google directions the drive is roughly 8 hours (up to 10 in traffic, but maybe this wouldn't be an issue on a weekend?), while flights are about 1.5 hours to San Diego + a 40-min drive from the airport.

I've done google searches for multiple variations of "traveling with children" "driving vs flying with children" "trips with kids on short notice" "drive or fly Oakland to San Diego" (all to little avail), and I've read several sites doing cost comparisons of driving vs. flying that come out in favor of driving, but my character's family is fairly comfortable financially, so the cost of flying wouldn't be prohibitive. I did find a page comparing the duration and experience of a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles with flying vs. driving, and its final recommendation was to drive, but my planned trip is a little further than that and there's still the issue of the kids.

So basically I'm looking for people's opinions/experiences and what would be the most logical option for this situation. I'm inclined to think flying would be the obvious choice because it would allow for more time to get things in order at home before leaving, while still getting to the destination in good time. However, I have no idea how much of a pain it is to fly with small children and all of their stuff (carseats, strollers, whatnot) and then still have to rent a car and drive longer. Any insights/anecdotes/opinions would be welcome. Thanks for the help!

Same Sex Domestic Violence - Police Response

Setting - Present Day California, USA

I'm trying to find out how police in California would respond to a call reporting suspected domestic abuse between two men. One of the men is living in the house of the other. The house owner is a wealthy, respected, professional man and the house is a luxurious one in a good neighborhood. The person doing the reporting is the maid of the house-owner. She is not reporting something happening right then, but something she believes is ongoing, having seen injuries on the man who is staying there, and misinterpreting the interaction between the two men.

I have googled "domestic violence California," "intimate partner violence California," "California domestic violence police response," etc. I found a lot of useful things but there are still some details I'd like to have.

In the circumstances would the police who responded be plainclothes detectives or uniformed policemen? How quickly would they be likely to respond, if the call was made late afternoon? Would next morning be reasonable? If not, what sort of time would be reasonable? It doesn't have to be precise, just a window in which it's plausible they would turn up to ask questions. The way I've written it so far, two men turn up, and the householder answers the door. They insist on speaking to the other man, without mentioning the reason for the visit. They are allowed in, and invent a ruse to separate the two so as to question them individually. We only see the questioning of the householder, who answers honestly but refuses to answer questions about the other man's injuries. The policeman eventually reveals the reason for the visit, and the householder denies being abusive and asks him to leave. The policeman meets up with his partner, who shakes his head, indicating that the supposed victim hasn't alleged any abuse. They leave.

Is this a reasonable way for the incident to play out? If not, what changes do I have to make?

Thank you very much in advance for any help you can give.