January 24th, 2011

Russian comfort food

I checked the 'Year Abroad in Russia' site and tried Googling 'Russian comfort food', 'Soviet meals', etc. Also checked tags.

Scenario: 1967. Moscow area, early January. Russian male, in a powerful but -- uh, unofficial government role, has brought his eight-year-old son to his dacha in the countryside. Although he's in a state of profound bewilderment and excitement, the father attempts to care for his son alone, and that includes preparing some kind of meal for them.

Considering the time, place, and people involved, what is something that he could be reasonably expected to prepare himself, with foodstuffs available in a dacha's kitchen? I might be wrong, but I can't picture him making caviar for him and his kid. The father grew up in a rural environment, if that would make any difference.

Inner City Schools & Computer Use: Late 1980s

Setting: New York City (Harlem), around 1986-1987; Modern day with some sci-fi elements, including aliens and robots

Databases & Search-engines used: Google, Wikipedia, some pdf documents

Search terms used:
computer use in 1987 ; computer use in schools+1980s; computer literacy in the 1980s

Scenario: Basically, I'm setting up a character to be contacted by an alien using what effectively is a ultra-tech version of a PDA (he'd been given it earlier in the story by another alien he'd befriended). He's established as being an inner city kid, so I was trying to figure out if it was possible for him to have at least some rudimentary experience using a computer via a school or a typing class. I was working on the presumption that he was attending a Catholic school that had been given a donation of some older Apple IIe desktops (like a 1985 model).  None of my research turned up much more than very basic facts and statistics for use mainly about use in 1985 then jumping to the early nineties.

Also, any additional comments about internet access and what kinds of knowledge the average PC user would have during this time would be appreciated.



EDIT:
Thanks for the quickness and all the information. I've also gotten a couple of very good ideas from them. 8D

Kitchen sink dropped by plane: how much damage on a slab?

Hello all, new here; I've read the rules but I still hope I'm not making any mistake.

So, I've a question that can't really be solved with a simple google search, at least not by me, because it involves math and physics, and I'm thoroughly rubbish at both. Here's my question:

Say, if you drop by airplane a cast-iron kitchen sink (approx. 130 pounds) at an altitude of 6000 meters; say that drop speed is about more than 200 km per hour, would it be enough for said sink to smash into a concrete slab (for the foundations of a small building, like a house; let's say the height of the slab is about 40 cm) down below, and how much damage will it do? Like, how deep would the sink crash in? Any chance it would shatter the slab?

If there is also some sort of formula that you can give me along with the answer (even a very simple one involving speed, weight and resistance, stuff like that; again, math and physics, not my thing), it would be a fantastic bonus, and I will be forever grateful.

The numbers were provided by search word "parachute" on wikipedia and "cast iron sink weight" on google; as for the slab's height it's a rough approximation I got from different sources. Thanks in advance!

Presents for, and expectations of, servants over Christmas in the 1890s

Christmas, 1893, London.

Searched "victorian housekeeper christmas" "victorian servants christmas" "victorian servants jobs", and again with "19th C" or "1890s" in place of "victorian". Also I did various book searches with the parameters set to pre 1920, "presents for the servants" "presents for the housekeeper" etc.


I have a recently widowed middle-class man (oh, what the hell, it's Dr Watson) who employs a housekeeper and a housemaid.

I want to get rid of both servants for Christmas so that he may have the Mopiest Christmas Day Ever all alone without inflicting his misery on innocent bystanders or it coming off like this.

What I can't work out is where servants at this time and this kind of establishment would expect to spend Christmas. I've read that servants routinely spent the day with their employers, but the sources concerned were often talking mostly about large aristocratic households, and I've also read that expectations of servants were less rigorous as the end of the century approached. But on the other hand, going a day-- let alone Christmas--   without any servants at all seems like it might be pretty unusual for someone in his position. Or did servants ever work part of the day and then go home? And where would "home" be likely to be for a housekeeper?  I've read that a housekeeper would be called "Mrs" whether she was married or not -- if she was married, and not widowed, would she... commute in from her own home, as it were, rather than live on site?

I just need to know whether him giving them both the entire day off is very weird, mildly weird, or not weird at all.

He also needs to give them Christmas presents. I know a very usual present was a bolt of fabric to make a new dress (fun.) I want him to give them something more, in recognition of the fact that they've helped see him through a tough year. Something not particularly personal and certainly not inappropriate, but still genuinely nice.  I'm going to steal inspiration from The Crimson Petal and the White here -- ( in which a character prides himself on giving presents his servants might actually want --chocolates, kid gloves) -- which seems to work fine for the housemaid but I'm not so sure about the housekeeper. What should her "basic" present and her extra, "thank you for everything" present be? 

I'm imagining the housemaid as about 20 and the housekeeper as in her late 40s or early 50s.

MTF Crossdressing during Civil War?

I've been on Google for hours now searching for everything within the realms of male crossdressing, victorian era and civil war as well as everything in between it seems and I'm still not getting a very good idea of what I'm looking for.

I play a male - very fair skinned, thin, naturally wavy hair - who was 16 at the start of the Civil War and crossdressed to stay out of the war. There was a lot of thought and planning that went into it and his father was involved in the planning as well (preferring to have a son act as a woman than to lose the last leg of his family tree entirely; not to mention the fact that he was already a little "delicate"). He's 19 now and has been living as a woman full time for the entire three years.

My question is sort of multi-part:

+ What sort of resources would be available to him in the 1860's? Would it just be the normal female clothing and some very creative hair pinning?

+ If after 3 years of a male being constantly corseted, how much his body would change to accommodate the shape and if being mid-puberty at the time it began would have any additional affect?

+ If he was going to go all-out and really push this transformation as far as he could go with the intention of permanently staying female, how far could he go?

Apparently practical, modern experience with crossdressing isn't useful to me at all when I'm writing a character trying to do it a century and a half ago.

Thanks!