June 6th, 2011


Can you ride a horse through a bog?

The setting is medieval Ireland in an area which is now modern County Galway. We've already researched the two types of Irish bogs: blanket bogs and raised bogs. The bog could conceivably be of either type.

The two riders are riding on horses without saddles, although they do have bridles. They're deciding whether to save time by riding through the bog. Would this be a workable idea?  Or is it too dangerous... would the horses be likely to break a leg? What about if they dismount and walk the horses through?

Already Googled "can you ride a horse through a bog", horseback + bog and several other combinations of those terms.

Thanks in advance!

Civil War Slang: Derogatory Words For Yankee

I'm writing a story set in a slightly steampunked American Civil War. Most of the technological deviations have not yet happened, and history is pretty much the same until 1862. The character, who has just joined the Union Army, is listing derogatory slang terms for Yankee. I have scoured the internet and I keep coming up with the same three words: Bluebelly, Mudsill, and sometimes Little Coot. I don't like the last one. It sounds weird and there is conflicting information about it. I could always make something up, but that's a last resort. I'd like to use real terms if I can find them. Knowing humanity's creativity, there were lots of slang terms for Union Soldier, very few of them complementary. I just can't find any. Help, please?
music, serious face

ANON POST: Bedlam and Biology, Circa 1880s-1890s

I'm writing a Sherlock Holmes fic/pastiche, set in an AU in which superpowers have become somewhat common. I intend to expand it into a series, hopefully spanning the entire run of 1881-1914-ish.

The first story, set in 1881, involves Holmes visiting a patient in the Bethlem Royal Hospital. He has visited this patient before with reasonable frequency, and will continue to do so. The patient is a young male schizophrenic (diagnosed at the time as demence precoce, if my research is correct) who is not prone to violence. He is a valuable resource, so Holmes is willing to bend a few rules if need be in order to get access.

So, my first series of questions: What would be the procedure? Did 1881 Bethlem have particular visiting hours? Would Holmes have to claim to be a relative? Did he have to sign in at a front desk? Would he be escorted by a nurse? Would anyone object to Watson coming in with him on some visits? Similarly, would the patient be allowed to write to him? Would the letters have to go through a third party, like a nurse or doctor?

Also, are there any resources that describe or show what Bethlem looked like on the inside? I can find pictures of the outside, but I'd like to have something to describe once they head in, as well. I know Melancholy and Raving Madness was in the vestibule at that time, but that's about it.

My own search attempts include the strings 'Bethlem Royal Hospital', 'Bethlem 1881', 'Bethlem 19th century', 'Bethlem reforms', etc. I'm currently looking through the Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum online, and reading something from the Royal College of Physicians, London, but most of the information seems to deal specifically with treatment of patients, particularly pre-reformation.

Now for my Biology question:

I have two named characters in this setting who are shape-shifters. One of them is a prevalent but fairly minor secondary character, who studied veterinary medicine for a time but is now a nurse. The other is a major villain, who has studied zoology and physiology professionally for most of his life.

Unfortunately, I don't go about shape-shifters the normal way, that is, I don't just go the Beast-Boy route and have them take the form of existing animals. Instead, I pick and choose, crafting each alternate form for a given purpose without regard for ecosystems or evolution. These two characters are both quite knowledgeable about both human and animal physiology, therefore they should be capable of some pretty BAMF stunts, after a little trial and error.

That's the theory, anyway. The problem is, I'm used to living in a period of history where information about animal and human physiology is just a click away, and it's not only convenient but in-depth and generally reliable. Just how much of that would learned individuals in the late Victorian period know? Would they understand *how* the eyes worked, thus allowing them to give their vision an upgrade into the UV spectrum? How about the other senses? Did they know that cheetahs were the fastest land animal, and did they know why? Did they know about the ridges on gecko's feet?

I've tried searching 'Victorian Biology', 'animal anatomy 19th century', 'zoology victorian', and a few other variations, but mostly what comes up for the period is Darwin and Evolutionary Theory.
music, serious face

ANON POST: 90s Culture in Small Towns

I'm writing a story set in 1993 in a small town on the mid-East Coast (neither New England nor below South Carolina) USA. The main character is a 22 year old homosexual male with a partner. What I need help with is the general culture of the 1990s. I've googled "1990s LGBT culture" "1990 gay" "1990 culture" "1990 phrases..../politics/music/etc. but everything I've come up with is too vague to work with.

What I'm looking for is not only the treatment of homosexuals and other sub-cultures but things like legal system differences and skews, pop culture that may have been left by the wayside, the pedophilia scare, things that everyone "back then" knew that have been otherwise lost to try and make the time as accurate as I can. Links would be appreciated, as well as new search words.

Only dreaming of what you know?

Story Details: 

Set in present-day United States 


I have heard this theory that you can only dream of what you know. That nothing in your dream is something that you haven't seen before. Is this true? 

My character is having nightmares almost every night of being chased down a long hallway (a psychiatric hospital) and in this story, he doesn't know that he's been to this hospital before. I wanted his psych to make the "dream of what  you know" argument, but if there is no truth to that, then my story can still work without. 

More info on the story:  My character is a patient at the hospital, although he doesn't know it. He's suffering from severe psychosis and it's causing him to create this new world where he isn't in the hospital. His dreams represent his reality. Make sense? 

Google Search: Do you only dream of what you know?, Dreams, Dreaming and real life