The Creepiness of Research

Creepy smiling doll with unblinking eyes

Caring is Creepy by brainware3000 / CC BY 2.0

I’m in research mode again…for better or worse. What letter is in the same sound family as D? Turns out, it’s T. When did Lexington, KY enact a city-wide smoking ban? April 2004.

Then comes finding the answers that, as a human, I’m not sure I ever wanted to know, but as a writer I’m excited about. Answers like length of time it takes to ID a body that’s been in a plane crash. Or what telltale signs indicate an in-air explosion vs an intact plane upon impact. Did you know there’s actually an act of Congress that dictates that lawyers etc. cannot contact families of airplane disaster victims, unsolicited, until 30 days after the crash?

During my commute, I’m reading a few books on different airplane crashes. I’ll read a few pages, scribble something down, ponder the implications for my story and then go back to reading. Everything I’m learning, about planes, about crashes, about investigations, about death, is really interesting.

Then I take a step back and kind of creep myself out. I can only imagine what I look like, excitedly picking up a book about crashes and death.

Last week at work, several people from out of town were in for meetings. We all went out to dinner the night before they left. Part of the conversation turned to their flights back since a few were headed into DC’s looming storm. I heard a few people name their airlines. Then I became petrified that someone would turn to me and ask what I was currently reading (this despite the fact that books hadn’t even been glanced at sideways as a topic).

“I’m reading this really awesome book about the your-airline-here crash in your-home-city-here. It’s fascinating. You should really read the cockpit voice recorder transcript for the last thirty seconds of the flight…don’t you think it’s interesting that many pilots are now saying fuck instead of shit as their final words?”

I don’t think that would have gone over well. So, luckily, we avoided all things literary and stuck to bemoaning the fact that snow might disrupt their flight or waffling between the BBQ pulled pork sandwich or the Obama burger (with BBQ sauce, pineapple and bacon).

For the record, I went with the Obama burger: an excellent choice, should you ever have the chance.


5 thoughts on “The Creepiness of Research

  1. Emily

    Both “D” and “T” are dental consonants. The rigidity of your tongue and how that changes the force with which you force air through is what makes the different sounds. Like how both “B” and “P” are bilabial consonants.

    And… pulled pork with a molasses based sauce, all the way. Add pickles and onions or coleslaw… mmmm

  2. bethfinke

    Let me know if you ever research the flight that left DC and crashed into the Potomac. I *detest* cold water and ever since that crash I’ve used it as a “could be worse” phrase. You could always survive a crash only to be plunged into icy waterand then die of hypothermia.

  3. Cam

    Thanks for pointing out the bright side of plane crashes, Beth! I haven’t picked up anything on that crash yet, but I’ll let you know if I come across anything. So far, I’ve only crashed in Pittsburg and Cali, Columbia.

    I read “I detest cold water” as “I detest cold weather” and thought you had certainly picked the perfect place to live. How’s Hanni dealing with the snow storm?

  4. bethfinke

    Funny. I don’t mind cold weather at all! It’s just being immersed in Cold *water* that bugs me. Those people who jump into Lake Michigan in winter for a thrill, for example.. That drives me crazy!
    Thanks for asking about Hanni — we are in Milwaukee and so far they haven’t shoveled the hotel sidewalks, which is good for her– no salt to wedge in her paws!

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