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Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

It’s been about 12 hours since the scorpion delivered its venom to the tip of my pinky finger.

At first I think a stray cactus spine has somehow lodged itself into the carpet by the foot of the bed where I was reaching my hand. But when the tip of my finger just keeps buzzing with pain, and then the buzz and tingling starts traveling down my finger into my hand and toward my elbow, I start considering other options.

I carefully lift the frilly decorative sheet that hangs to floor at the edge of the bed. And there, partially visible in a crevice between the mattress and box-spring, is a tan scorpion.

I’m no stranger to things that bite and sting and know that all scorpion venom is not created equal.

Am I a little freaked out? Hell yes!

I want that scorpion in a container to identify it so I’ll know if I’m just going to experience some major discomfort or something worse that requires medical attention.

I position a yogurt container where I anticipate the scorpion will fall when I harass it with the end of a broomstick. (Side note: In the midst of all this my wife and I are both googling “scorpion bite” on our laptops and finding some gruesome stuff.)

The scorpion misses the container, skitters under the bed, and I attempt to pummel it with the broomstick figuring a dead scorpion is much preferable to a live one. But even peering with a flashlight after my attack, I’m not sure if I got it.

I call the people we’re renting from. Luckily they live right next door and turn out to be scorpion experts. They come over with a black light (that’s the best way to find scorpions since they glow), and shine it under the bed, and yes, we find some scorpion parts, but we’re not sure if they’re from the scorpion.

They offer us the spare bedroom in their house but we decide to stay at our place. We strip the bed, do a thorough search and find nothing.

In the meantime, the pain and numbness has traveled up my arm to the base of my shoulder, but I’m not experiencing any of the really bad symptoms, i.e. foaming at the mouth, shortness of breath, profuse sweating, so I’m pretty sure all I’m going to have is a local reaction.

When I wake up the morning, the numbness and buzzing has retreated to my pinky finger. It’s hard to type because I can’t feel my finger when it presses on the keys, but supposedly it’ll be much better in another 24 hours. We’ll just have to wait and see.

So, if you’ve got a character in your novel that experiences a scorpion sting I’m your go-to guy for information.

This scorpion incident ranks second worse in my continuum of sting experiences. Sometime I’ll have to tell you about number one.

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We’re in Indiana visiting family but I wanted to write about something cool that happened before we left Alaska.

A couple days before leaving Alaska we took a hike on a trail that borders the back of our property. We wanted to check the remains of a fire that had burned just a half mile from our house while we were away on a river trip over the weekend. But before we got to the burn we saw this young bull moose just off the trail.

 

I was so focused on getting to the burn that my wife, Dana, had to tap my arm and say, “look,” or I would’ve missed him.

I was interested in the burn because the MC in the story I’m writing spends a lot of time in a place that has recently burned.

I stomped around in the burn, watching the way the ash puffed up from my shoes.

Then I inhaled deeply through my nose trying to experience the smell, and ended up in a sneezing fit.

I put my hand in the ash. It was still a little warm, and was neither as dirty nor as fine as the ash from my woodstove.

Hands-on research. It can’t be beat. You feel it, smell it, taste it, or hear it.

Last year I tried to set a space blanket on fire but all it did was crinkle and melt so I had to change that little detail in my story. I was hoping it’d burst into flames. The label said, “flammable.”

Have you done hands-on research for your stories? Did you find out anything unusual? Did you have to change your story based on your findings?

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