Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Useful Links

If you're like me when you write, you do a lot of research to make sure you get things accurate.  The past two days as I work on the fourth Adepts Novel (still untitled but I'm having some ideas), were research heavy.  Today I had to deal with time zones . . . a lot.  Horrible things, these time zones.  My main character was flying from Tehran, Iran (in 1976, before the revolution) to New Orleans on a military VIP small jet (a "VC-140 Jetstar").  Because of the plane's range, it had to stop at Rhein-Main Air Force Base in West Germany and St. Johns in Newfoundland, Canada, before getting to New Orleans.

Here was my challenge: the plane left Tehran at about 6:00 P.M. on May 10, 1976.  When would it land in West Germany, Canada, and finally New Orleans?  I figured each leg would last about 6 hours.  So it would land in Germany at about midnight, Tehran time.  But what time was that in Germany?  And Iran is one of those weird half-hour off time zones.  And so is St. Johns (but of course, Germany and New Orleans aren't).  This got beyond my ability to easily calculate.

So here's a website I used to figure out when the plane would land at local time:  I would figure out what the time was the plane landed at the last place it left from, and use that website to figure out the local time where it landed.  Ended up it took off at 6:00 P.M. May 10th and landed at about 6:30 A.M. May 11th.

The other thing I worried about was when it got dark.  Was it dark when the plane landed in Germany?  (It landed in St. Johns at 2:30 A.M. local time so I was pretty sure it was dark).  Was it light when the plane landed in New Orleans?  So another website I used was:  But for small towns, rural areas, or anywhere out of the U.S., you have to know the latitude and longitude.  That's available various places but I used Wikipedia and checked it with Google Earth.

And this hasn't come up in this story yet, but say you are dealing with money.  And you think "My character should earn $100,000 per year in current dollars."  But what would that be in 1976?  Well, try this website: which will give you the answer back to 1903.  (The answer is $24,508 by the way.)

So, I hope those are helpful in your writing.

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