"I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth."

--Ursula K. Leguin

November 2009



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May. 24th, 2017


Pneumonia and hospital stay.

Hiya. I am writing a fic where my main character has pneumonia and could do with some help on a few technicalities. It is set in Oxford,U.K, in the not too distant future. About 30yrs. I'm aware that things could have changed by then but I'd like to get an idea of what it's like now to build on.

For background, my character is a 76 year old male, in reasonable health, aside from fairly bad arthritis in his left knee and hip, which he uses a walking stick for. He lives with his son, daughter-in-law and grandson who is 17 at the time, and has a very good relationship with all of them. He doesn't have any sort of dementia or Alzheimer's, but he was diagnosed with PTSD in his mid forties. He has that under control for most of his adult life, but his triggers were being in hospital and having difficulty breathing.

So far I have that he ends up with pneumonia, possibly complicated by ARDS. His family are at home with him so when he suddenly seems to get very ill, they are there and call the ambulance to get him quick medical aid. He ends up in ICU for 5 days,four of which he is on a ventilator.

After this he is moved to a general ward. Sorry, there are a fair few questions.

1) After 5days bed rest in ICU, how weak will he be once transferred to a general ward? As in, will he be unable to walk? Unable to sit up unaided? Unable to feed himself?

2) He has had nightmares for most of his life on and off, that get more frequent at stressful times. Would his experience of ICU be likely to make them worse? Also, could this set of the PTSD, even if he's had it controlled previous to his admittance?

3) What would the set up of the ward bay be? Would it be all male? All geriatric? Would all the patients on his bay be in hospital for similar things I.e lung problems, or would it be a mix of ailments? How many are there likely to be in the bay?

4) Is there a sense of cameraderie on the ward? Do patients typically chat to each other if they aren't too ill?

5) What kind of equipment would he be attached to? I know about the ICU but I'm not sure about a general ward?

6) Would it be reasonable for him to be kept in hospital for a couple of weeks? When will he be allowed to move about on his own? Will they let him use his own walking stick or are they more likely to insist he uses a wheelchair or a walker?

I have searched many, many search terms and they all seem to throw up wildly conflicting results or no useful results at all. Thank you for any advice given.

May. 22nd, 2017


WITSEC  Witness Security (Witness protection)

Modern day setting, Washington D.C.

Ive got an 18 year old male character that was rescued from a human trafficking ring that will testify against the main members of the ring, except the brains behind the trafficking ring and the money man as both of them got away.

Due to his evidence, as well as the fact that theres a price on his head, hell be placed in witness protection.

Later, hell want to go into law enforcement himself. Would he be able with his new identity to become a police officer and later a federal agent, like an NCIS agent, FBI agent or a Marshal?

I did some research on the following, but couldnt find the answer, I was looking for.

How stuff works  How witness protection works
Wikipedia  United States Federal Witness Protection Program
Mental Floss  12 secrets of the witness protection program
U.S. Marshals Service  Witness security program
WikiHow  How to become a federal agent
U.S. Marshals Service  Qualifications
Criminal Justice DegreeHub.com  How do I become an NCIS agent
WikiHow  How to become a police officer

Proper form of address?

So I'm reading a lot of Harry Potter fanfiction, and have recently come across something (again) that's been bothering me for a while.

In a lot of fics, mostly those where Harry is more independent/escapes the Dursleys/is raised by someone else etc., he gets to interact with "new" adults, either canon or non-canon characters. Very often, he is initially addressed as "Mr. Potter" by them and he then immediately asks to be called simply "Harry", which is perfectly fine as far as it goes. After all, a lot of the time he's still quite young in those fics; I get that a child -- especially one not yet exposed to the customary form of address at Hogwarts -- might be more comfortable with the use of his first name.

However, the thing that bothers me is that almost invariably, the adults in question immediately reply with "Very well. Please call me Jack/Jill". No matter who and what those characters are, other parent/guardian, Ministry official, hired professional, it's always the same reaction.

My question now is -- would an adult British person, especially in a professional situation and/or position of authority, someone who most often is a virtual stranger to Harry, respond like this to a child/young teenager who asks them to use his first name? On a first encounter? (Also bearing in mind that we're talking about a period of close to thirty years ago when the plot is set pre-Hogwarts?)

I understand that offering to use one's first name is supposed to put people at ease, but ... would an elderly lady like Augusta Longbottom, someone like Amelia Bones (the head of Magical Law Enforcement), or any other person Harry either hires (most often a lawyer of sorts) or meets socially, really do that? After all, in the books Harry still thinks of Arthur and Molly, people he's come to consider his surrogate family, as Mr./Mrs. Weasley even after seven years of knowing and interacting with them.

Sorry, I'm not buying it. It seems ... well, inappropriate, I guess. Other words that come to mind are "unprofessional" and/or "disrespectful".

Now, it might simply be a cultural thing; I'm German, and we just aren't as free with such easy familiarity. I mean, I'm still calling (mainly older) neighbors Mr./Mrs. X even though we've lived just three houses apart for close to forty years because we're just not that close. In fact, it strikes me as a rather American thing to do to offer the use of one's first name so quickly. (Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Americans and love the general openness and friendliness I've encountered in the country!)

My gut feeling is that this scenario seems a bit off. Am I on the right track or simply out of tune, if you will, because of cultural differences? Or because I'm just too old and stodgy? ;-)

Any help/comments would be appreciated.

Crossposted to fanficrants

May. 18th, 2017


What would someone expect to eat in a Jewish household in the US around 1914?


Setting: The fanfiction I'm writing is set around 1914 in Manhattan. The main character is an Italian kid. He starts working for a Jewish man, delivering stuff for him. The employer ends up starting to care about the kid when he finds out his father his physically violent with him; he often invites him to have dinner with him and his wife, if only to give him an excuse to spend some time away from home and in a better enviroment.
Judging by the employer's name, he's of German origins. The source material doesn't specify if he moved to the US or was born there. He's wealthy enough to be able to afford paying the kid a bit more than other kids his age get for the same job and around the same area, but he's in no way a rich man.

I'm trying to figure out what the kid would eat while having dinner at his employer's household. I have absolutely no first-hand experience about this, being born and raised in Italy.

I have a good idea of what they would eat for Shabbat dinner, but that's pretty much it. What I need here is to figure out what they would have for every-day dinners.
I googled 'German-Jewish cuisine', 'German-Jewish food', watched several youtube videos about Jewish food, and tried to get an idea of what's kosher and what's not; but although I now know of several Jewish dishes, I still lack the knowledge to know what an actual, home-made dinner would be like. I don't want to select random dishes and just pile them together without knowing what I'm doing.

Thanks in advance!

May. 13th, 2017


[Anon Post] Swapping Bodies at the Hospital, Not Getting Caught

I have a complex scenario that my mystery story hinges on. The setting is present day Chicago.

The police and medical examiner need to believe that B's body is actually A's body, but it can't look like the hospital lost B's body. How can my ER doctor and a handful of accomplices pull this off?

The Swap
1. Character (A) attempts to strangle a woman in a hospital parking garage. She fights back and he hits his head on the concrete.
2. A security guard arrives and calls for the hospital to send help. A is unconscious and either not breathing or struggling to breathe.
3. Staff rush A to the ER, but he dies within a few minutes from bleeding into the brain.
4. When police detectives/the Medical Examiner arrive, they are shown a different body (B) and told this is the man who died in the fight. The body is taken for autopsy and the investigation proceeds, only the ER doctor and a handful of other people can know the swap has happened.

About B - B is a homeless man of the same race as A, and around the same build, height and age. He hit his head when he fell down stairs while intoxicated or high. An ambulance crew take him to the hospital. He can die in the ambulance or just as he reaches the hospital. The ER doctor is the one to declare him dead.

Research so far - I've googled what deaths are investigated by the Medical Examiner's (ME) office in Chicago/Cook County. It appears that all accident victims are taken by the ME for autopsy. The hospital is supposed to report these deaths to the ME, but I can't figure out exactly how that plays out in practice. I'm guessing that B's accident and transportation is going to leave a trail (911 call, some kind of statement by EMS about where they took him) but I don't know what all the pieces of that trail would be, or how my bad guys can cover the trail so it doesn't lead to the hospital.

Experience of Polish refugees coming to/settling in 1940s America

I wrote an earlier post about a noir I'm writing set in NYC in 1947. Today I'm looking for specific information for two of my characters, a brother and sister from Poland who flee to the US during WW II. While I've been able to find out a lot about the Polish communities in New York at the time, it's all been about immigration in the 1800/1900s, and I've found almost nothing about what it would have been like in the 30s and 40s.

Escape from Poland

My plot at this point is that the siblings escaped either on the eve of the Nazi invasion or within days of it happening. (Their plan was for their parents to follow, but it didn't work, leaving brother and sister to navigate war torn Europe alone, while the rest of the family remains unreachable in Poland.) How realistic is the timing of their escape? What path would they have taken from Poland to the US? How long would that likely have taken?
Experience in USA
After fleeing Europe, the siblings settle in New York city. They can read and write basic English, but have no contacts in America. The brother, a musician, eventually joins a club band, and the sister works in a munitions factory.
I know that the number of European immigrants per country per year was limited, but I've been unable to find the number of Poles allowed in at the time. How difficult would it have been for them to enter America once they'd arrived? Would they have been allowed to become citizens? If so, what would that process have been like? Would the brother have been allowed to fight in the US army during the war? What other service could he have been involved in?
What kind of hostility would they have been met with upon arriving in America? Was there the same kind of strong racial hatred of Poles in America that existed in Europe? Would they have been encouraged to keep their Polish identitees, or would they have been pressured to assimilate in order to find work etc?
Post-War Contacts with Poland
The major storyline takes place in 1947 by which time Poland was under Soviet control. How hostile was US/Soviet interaction at this point? Could the siblings have freely travelled into and/or contacted people in Poland to locate their family or would the Iron Curtain have blocked them out? And if not, when would they have had a shot at making contact again?

Thank you so much! Your answers were great help last time.



Eurovision Song Contest 2017

So, ESC tonight! This year's motto is Celebrate Diversity. I'm definitely going to watch, actually really looking forward to it. I'm about to start warming up with watching my favourite entries from the past years on YouTube. *g*

As usual I'm going into it unspoiled. I didn't watch the semi finals, I have no favourites or even any idea who's going to sing for Germany.

Also, I hope it's not getting too political, and that the German commentator can keep his insults and stupid opinion to himself this time. Ugh, not much hope there, so I better start on the alcohol now, too.

Are you watching? Even if not, have something fun to get into the mood: Love, Love, Peace, Peace - How to create the perfect Eurovision Performance | Tutorial

ETA: So, voting is almost over. I split my votes mostly between Poland, Armenia, Moldova, Hungary, Croatia and Azerbaijan. Liked the songs better than last year, too.

ETA 2: Urgh. I'm so meh about this year's winner. I found that one even more boring than our entry.

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