September 22nd, 2014

shooting a rabid wolf

I'm really not sure how to research this one, so hoping?

Anyway. A man needs to kill a rabid wolf. Story is from man's point of view. He's a cop (his background is being a highway patrolman, but he's, er, not now), but the situation is such that the wolf is not normal (in addition to having rabies) in a supernatural sort of way (not a shifter), so it's basically just frozen in place, although the cop doesn't really realize what's going on.

Anyway, what I need is for the cop to take what he ends up as thinking of as a very lucky shot with what he thinks is an antique gun (a Colt Peacemaker -- it's not antique, though -- he's just not when he thinks he is).

So. Where would he aim to kill? And what else can you think of that's important about this shooting?

Sorry about not explaining the circumstances very well [wry g].

Secular funeral in rural present-day Maine

Setting: contemporary (2009), northern Maine, fictional town of ~20k people. The town is semi-rural: it has a fairly tiny center that mostly behave middle-class-ish, and then a wide rural sprawl of farms and drifters.

This town has only one church. This church functions as the power base for hate activities against a minority that lives in this town. (Supernatural minority. If you think you recognize the fandom, you probably do.) Many (if not most) families of this minority group are organized together as a distinct sub-culture with its own traditions. They have their own defense organization, which is occasionally... overzealous.

Edit: The town's size, location and single-church situation are show canon and moreover, they're major plot points. Yes, I know they're unrealistic; yes, I did my research on this; however, I'm stuck with it - changing any of those things would destabilize the show's world too much. Attacking those points is not helpful. /Edit

Scenario: funeral for a child of a family that is a member of the minority, but at (vehement) odds with the organized community structure due to its excess violence. I have a single parent who needs to bury a school-aged child (there are classmates and families of classmates and extracurricular-activities friends and their families), and who is alienated from both the only church in town, and the organization that fills that void for people on whom the church hates. Making it even worse on the bereaved parent, his break with the organization is recent (no more than days before the child's death) so he has no support system and no experience in managing the vehemently-non-affiliated state.

The complication is that everything I know about North American burial practices I learned from TV, and it's just about 100% alien to me; funeral and burial practices in my country/culture differ that much.

What a need: a walk-through and brackets on relevant parameters.

I've been told that funerals typically occur 3-5da after the death, and that there are "funeral homes" (that are not religious spaces) where it's possible to hold some sort of service/ceremony before the burial itself. I'm still drawing a blank on... a lot of things. What sort of a structure would be expected, for the service? Who speaks? How long is it expected to take - ten minutes, thirty, an hour? Do you bring 7-8yr olds to a funeral (the deceased child's age), or is that frowned upon? And where do you bury - how do cemetaries/burial fields work in that area?

I also need the etiquette for what happens in the days leading up to the funeral and in the days after. I've a single father (now bereaved) whose only remaining social network is whichever parents of his late daughter's friends don't have conflict loyalties; families associated with the town's church won't show up for the funeral, and families associated with the defense organization won't be welcome. The town's only about 20k people, so that... doesn't leave a lot of classmates left. (I figure a school year is anything from 100 to 200 children, but I might have very wrong ideas about the age distribution and so overestimate.) The social expectations where I live are completely different. Do you come over, even if you don't live next door? Do you bring food, and if so what kinds? Is it all right to cook in the bereaved parent's kitchen? Are there any issues with gender and gender expectations here? What's the difference of before and after the funeral? Is any of this affected by the child's death being violent (accidentally killed in an attack on her father)?

Marshall Scholarship/life at Cornell/life at Oxford (80s/90s)

Timeline: starts at Cornell in '89, Marshall Scholar in '93

So there's a certain character I've taken an interest in.

Canonically, he desperately wants to get into an Ivy League college, particularly Harvard. After the events of the story, it turns out that his application wasn't so favourable to him, and the only schools he gets accepted to are Cornell ("but that barely even counts!") and a Tufts-esque fictional institution. He picks Cornell and studies politics (I've looked into this, but somehow failed to find exactly what this major would be called).

So he packs his bags and moves from small-town Ohio to New York.

This is where we hit our first roadblock. This character has a girlfriend (of sorts; their relationship is complex and at this point in the story more of a very intense, deeply personal friendship). She has possible PTSD, terrible memories attached to the town, a very shaky mental state at this point, and a general inability to cope with life. He doesn't want to leave her alone, and even if he did, he really doesn't have that option -- she can't make it on her own right now. Given he's a freshman, what kind of options would he have to let her stay with him? Doesn't necessarily have to be them literally living together (in fact, it works much better if they're separated), just any kind of support system that could allow her to make the move as well. If they need to get married for it, that works excellently.

After that, they're in Ithaca and he's attending Cornell.

What was it like there in the late 80s/early 90s?

I can get some idea of how it is now, the culture surrounding the institution in general, etc. I can't seem to get much for this. I was born after the events of the story and wouldn't be going to an Ivy League even if I did attend college in the United States, so I have little to no basis on what the place was/is like. Most of what I know comes from the college website and some word-of-mouth that tends to more concern the school's status than its culture.

He excels there and ends up becoming a Marshall Scholar, which transports him to Oxford -- which rehashes the questions about Cornell. It also raises a new and rather more specific one: What exactly is life like for a Marshall Scholar? I know about all the opportunities it opens up, I'm talking about how they're perceived by other students at their schools, the 'fish out of water' feeling, etc. More generally, what would that transfer be like overall?

I have Googled extensively, scoured the websites for Cornell and Oxford and the Marshall Scholarship, read a whole bunch of news articles, and spent too much time on college gossip websites.

Thank you for your time!