June 2nd, 2011

help identify a fairy tale

hello, Community!

i'm trying to track down a fuller telling of a fairy or folk tale based on the few details i can remember.

what i remember is that there's a great stone sitting on the side of a green hill covered in daffodils and the stone thinks life is pretty beautiful. but after hundreds of years on his side, he gets to wondering about the other side of the hill and one day when a mouse passes by, he as asks the mouse to look at the other side of the hill and tell him what it was like. the mouse comes back and tells him that the other side of the hill is much more beautiful than this one, it's a shame the stone can't see it. and this little cycle goes through a few more animal friends and another few hundred years, each reporting that the other side is totally awesomely better, until one day the stone asks a bird to go look and report back. and when the bird gets back, he tells the stone that the other side is just the same, covered in green grass and daffodils.

i feel like i'm forgetting a lot of details, especially at the end, and definitely the specific language of the story.

i hope this rings a bell for someone! thank you all so much!

ANON POST: Math and other Intellectual Things during the early Dark Ages

Setting: I'm going to be writing a fic set during the early Dark Ages, er, sorta. (It's Merlin fandom. It's technically Dark Ages but is one giant anachronism stew, so I can get away with quite a lot). The plot is somewhat Good Will Hunting - basically some Super Smart Guy comes to Camelot and to show off how epic he is at mathematics and possibly other things, he posts a challenge...except someone solves it, anonymously. And he keeps posting similar challenges, until finally a.) he posts something that even he didn't know the answer to until b.) the person solves it, but c.) gets caught. The last one I'm thinking will be a mathematical proof or theorem of some kind which was unsolved until that point.

Searched: I've searched the history math, a timeline of math, proofs, theorems, ect. - I've been finding a lot of stuff on when things were discovered or solved, but I'm not sure how helpful that stuff is. Especially since my knowledge of math in real life only goes as far as *extremely* basic algebra, at best. So, my questions:

1.) What kind of mathematical quandries would fit the bill of "it's just sitting there" and possibly "really useful", but also "unsolved" at least in the Dark/Middle/vaguely-medieval-enough-for-a-"Renaissance Faire" ages? If nothing, what sort of math equation would be considered the most difficult to solve of that time?

2.) Even if there is something that "needs to be solved", what types of mathematical proofs, equations, ect. would be considered difficult, and thus a sign of extremely high intelligence or saucery to solve? If someone wanted to show off their brains, basically, what kind of math would they be putting on the table?

3.) Any other scientific, or even pseudo-scientific, challenges that someone could put on parchment and post on a wall you can think of, i.e. I'm thinking chess strategies? Anything which, again, would be good for showing off how smart you are to those around you?

Thank you!

Appropriate way to refer to a child of colour in a fic set in the near future?

This is an odd one, but I don't have anybody I know personally who I can ask. I'm writing a fic set in the near future (think within the next 5-10 years at the outside), in which two Caucasian men in the US have adopted a couple of kids. One of said kids is black/white biracial, and I want to make a reference to how time has passed by pointing out how her adoptive grandfather on one side has mellowed and become more accepting since his son's marriage to his partner and adoption of the little one, which by necessity is going to require bringing up that she and her daddies are not the same race.

This truly is a little-going-on-outright-nitpicky-paranoid detail, but I'd rather not inadvertently step on a bunch of toes, so could some little_details members of colour tell me if you'd find it offensive or in some way inappropriate for me to refer to said little girl as having "melted-chocolate skin" instead of just saying "she's black"? Up until yesterday I wouldn't have thought anything of it because my thought process was "everybody knows what colour melted milk chocolate is, chocolate is sweet, I don't want to steal 'coffee-and-cream babies' from Neil Gaiman because I want something more directly relatable to children, there's a nice subconscious metaphor about her being a sweet child in there," but then I found out Cadbury is getting their confectionary behind sued off for comparing an African-American model's skin to chocolate, and I kind of went "shite, I do not want this to become known as 'the story where Nina proves she grew up in deepest, whitest suburbia and couldn't be arsed to check if this is okay'."

Anybody feel like weighing in and saving me from myself? :S