October 30th, 2010


Voodoo Signs and Portents

I am getting ready to dive into my very first zombie novel.

It is set in Louisiana in the mid-to-late 1800's, and I've managed so far to discover information on nearly every topic that I needed to find, except some of the Voodoo details.

I found a wealth of information about Louisiana Voodoo on Wikipedia, but despite my google-foo I could find nothing about the specifics I need.  I used "Louisiana Voodoo signs and portents" and "Voodoo nature signs" as my search terms.  I did find one really promising looking book, but the nearest one is on the other end of my state (and its a pretty long state XD )

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Thank you thank you for any help you can give! :D

Duty on glass early 19th century England

I'm having difficulty finding out how it was shown that duty had been paid. For most commodities, a paper stamp, bought in advance, was affixed, but what was done for glass items? I do know that it was payable according to the weight, which made small ornate items more profitable than larger plainer ones, but need to know how anyone could tell that duty had actually been paid.

Terms searched on: variations on glass, tax, stamp duty, glass duties act. A lot of information on what was taxed when, but nothing on this practical side of it.
color me, normal profile, bandana me

Debilitating Knee injuries and Eye Injuries

hey there. One of my main characters is an ex-goalkeeper in the Premiere league. He's fifteen years out from a debilitating knee injury that still causes him pain because he didn't take care of it properly, either putting off surgery or rehabilitation or something.

I searched medhelp, wrong diagnosis and about.com for "major knee injuries" or "common soccer knee injuries" but they were all just lists. I did gather that probably the most severe would be a torn ACL or MCL, but they didn't really describe the pain or whether or not it would cause limping.

I'm trying to weave in symbols from greek mythology, most of all Orion and the Pleiades. Near the end of the story I would like him to be blinded (but not disfigured). Can normal assault and battery cause blindness? Once again I searched medhelp, wrongdiagnosis and about.com, as well as wikipedia for "causes of blindness". Most of them were degenerative or lifelong damage. I've read about tortures involving forcing the victim to stare at the sun, but this is supposed to be a fast, attacked in an alley type thing.

I also searched the little details archive for eye injuries and soccer injuries.


On farming and species diversity in a smallish space

I partly have the problem of not having any idea what to search for the main question.

Fantasy setting. Several generations ago-- I've not settled on an exact number of years-- there was a great magical war in which one side sought to corrupt the other side's land, turning all that lived on it into monsters. The spell went out of control, and the corrupting energy spread to cover all the world except the city-states that managed to raise wards before the energy crept over their land. Even with the wards, most of the population of the world died-- from the war itself, disease, starvation, riots, and countless other factors-- and humanity entered a long dark age from which it is just starting to recover. In recent years, as the old magics begin to be rediscovered and the spell of corruption starts to reach the end of its long duration and fade, the new mages have started to expand the wards and purify land, allowing for more population growth.

(Google search one: how much farmland does it take to feed a person? This, I got an answer to.)

The problem is, these spaces are relatively small-- I've yet to do calculations on how many people make up a sustainable population as a baseline so I can work out the current size of any city-states that survived the dark age, but I doubt it would be more than a day or so of travel from the core of a city-state to the borders of the ward. There is a small amount of trade between city-states, but this is difficult and dangerous-- it usually involves caravans with guards to fight off corruption-maddened monsters and mages casting wards over the vehicles to keep the traders from being mutated.

My concern is that any animals that strayed outside the ward would, in theory, be corrupted, meaning that roaming or migrating species wouldn't stand a chance. Assuming that I don't just handwave and say magic did it or start making up animals, how would I start to find out what animals and plants could survive in such conditions? Would losing some species-- such as bees, as I've often heard since the recent crisis with hives dying like... well, flies-- have a devastating effect on the food supply (possibly corrected by magic, possibly devastating?)

I have no idea what to research to even try to answer this one. Thank you for any help you can provide.

aftereffects of penetrative liver trauma

I have a character who, about a year or two prior to the story, suffered a severe injury. Basically he was gored, and his liver suffered extensive damage. At the time of the story, he is largely as healed from this as he is going to get, but what I'm interested in learning is what complications he may have to deal with in the future. Particularly, what kinds of illnesses/complications is he going to be susceptible to, what triggers them, what kinds of things he'd need to watch out for. What I'd like to find is something potentially serious, but avoidable under the right circumstances, or simple things that exacerbate his condition (I'm led to understand that because the liver screens toxins, any illness or infection is going to be more difficult for him to shake.)

Oh, and for what it's worth, this takes place in a fictional country that is roughly analogous to early 1900s Europe. Similar technology to that era, but with a few notable exceptions that include things like advanced prosthetics, so there is a certain amount of wiggle room for medical treatments.

I've searched on wikipedia, google and bing, (search topics: penetrative liver trauma, aftercare of liver injury, etc), but most of what I've found is either unrelated (probably due to not wording my searches properly) or so steeped in medical jargon that I can't make heads or tails of what I've found. I'm more than happy to explain further about what I'm looking for if need be (I don't know if I'm being terribly clear), but if anyone has some information they can share on this topic I'd be immensely grateful. Or if anyone knows of an 'ask the doctor' comm out there, that might be useful as well. (Yeah, searched for one of those too, but my search skills have always been made of fail.)

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me!

Legal drinking age in New Jersey prior to Prohibition

Searched: Wikipedia (read the entries on Prohibition in the US, Legal drinking age, the entry on the 18th Amendment itself, and a few others tangentially related) and Google using various permutations of "alcohol law New Jersey", "liquor law New Jersey," "minimum alcohol purchase age New Jersey," with and without "historical" added. I actually turned up this US history of alcohol minimum purchase age by state entry, but unfortunately the state/time period combination that I need most are not filled in.

What, if any, was the legal drinking or purchase age for hard liquor in the state of New Jersey prior to the ratification of the 18th Amendment/Prohibition?

My story is set slightly later (mid-1920s), but my MC is 19 and what I'm trying to determine is whether he would see himself as "too young" to drink alcohol if it were offered to him by a recent acquaintance (in addition to existing qualms due to Prohibition, of course - I know he'll have issues with that, but I don't know if his age would also play into it).

Thank you very much!