June 7th, 2013

Dialling home from Kurdistan

Location: An imaginary rogue state in Western Asia, roughly where Kurdistan is now, and similar in general ethnic & geographical character. Present day.

I have a European character (Italian, as it happens) who has been arrested on a charge of spying and is being held in an ad hoc facility in a provincial town. An earthquake caused major structural damage to the lock-up and distracted the guards, thus giving her a chance to escape from there, and she is lurking around the ruins foraging for useful stuff - food, warm clothes, etc - before taking off into the hills. In a wrecked house she comes across a functioning mobile phone. I know nothing at all about using mobiles in that part of the world and what kind of networks they might be connected to. Supposing this were real-life Turkish/Iraqi/Syrian Kurdistan, what are the chances that she could simply flash up this phone and dial home to Italy?

I really can't think of any search strategy for this other than asking somebody who knows! I've tried Googling 'mobile phone Kurdistan' and similar, but got nowhere.

[ANON POST] English Meal Times

Setting & Time Frame: This story is set in a small English town somewhere near Carlisle. The time frame is rather loose - sometime between 1960 and 1975 or so - and in any case, most of the characters are elderly and/or very traditional, and would be hesitant to adopt any changes viewed as too "modern" to their old-fashioned sensibilities. (If you have ever read any of the romance novels by Betty Neels, this is the rough feeling I am going for.) The characters are very English, nearly to old-fashioned cliches: ladylike, proper, polite, quietly proud of their heritage and family.

Search terms: English school schedules, English class schedules, English time tables, multiple school websites for holidays/exeats/school menus, English tea, English meal times, typical English schedule, English breakfast, English meals, elvenses, high tea, low tea. Wikipedia proved less than useful for suggesting new research sites and much of what I've found seems to be "touristy" rather than actual, or more modern information. I also found a blog everyneelsthing.blogspot.com which helps with Betty Neels-like recipes, but doesn't have times listed.

Question: In my story, there are two sisters living with their elderly aunt. They were upper middle class in better days, and the aunt especially is unhappy with admitting that now they are living a rather more shabby lifestyle to make ends meet. Of the sisters, one is in her early twenties, and keeps house for the aunt; the other is around thirteen or so and still in school - a day school to which she buses each day. The sister at home is a good and willing cook, and has the time to devote to making home-made meals and baking so that they can economize the household budget.

However, I am unable to find out the timing of meals for this family. What time would breakfast/lunch/dinner be? The younger goes off to school, leaving the other two at home. If they are barely clinging to middle class (living off a pension and not much else), I am assuming they would not have elevenses but rather wait for a more substantial lunch? One of my searches indicated they may have a coffee service before lunch as a bit of a perk-up.

What about tea? The internet has told me that it was generally between 4 and 6 in the afternoon, and could substitute as a supper when needed if it was done as a "high tea" by lower classes, to save on money. Is this something this group would do? Or would they have a less substantial tea when the schoolgirl returned home, followed by a more traditional supper later in the evening?

I would appreciate any help on this, especially as it involves the mind-set of "old-fashioned" in a historical setting - much of what I can find in my research seems too modern to be of much use.

Thank you!

[ANON POST] Bio Child of Non-Jewish Woman + Jewish Sperm Donor = Jewish?

EDIT BY MOD: When I posted this, I initially misread the question and put that the bio mom was Jewish in the subject line. Corrected now. On to the post!

Setting is modern-day US.

I've been searching all sorts of variations on ''Reform Judaism sperm donor," but I haven't come up with an answer to this. If a lesbian couple has kids through artificial insemination, and the bio mom isn't Jewish but the sperm donor is (as is the non-bio mom), would Reform Jews consider the kids Jewish? Obviously no one else would unless they underwent conversion, but I haven't been able to find if a Jewish sperm donor counts as a Jewish father for Reform Judaism.