Thursday, December 31, 2015


It’s the last day of the year! And it’s an etymology day! So let’s have some fun by looking at words that sound dirty but really aren’t.

1. Tittle actually is the word for the dot above lowercase i’s and j’s.

2. Interrobang is just the word for !? or ?!. It just sounds dirty because of the “bang”.

3. Ligatures are two or three letters joined together, like æ, as well as what you tie someone’s hands with when you lock them in your basement.

4. Genericide isn’t the killing of generals. It’s the word for using a brand name as a generic name for an item, like how we usually call them thermoses when they’re really insulated containers. Why it has the suffix associated with killing a human, I don’t know.

Is there any word out there that you’ve always thought sounded dirty even if it wasn’t? And what are you doing for New Year’s Eve?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Reflections 2015

Whoops! This was supposed to go up earlier, but apparently I forgot. Not that I wanted to do it much anyway, mostly because shortly after I made my resolutions for the year my life kind of got upended and then it only grew more upended as 2015 went on. I had to greatly reorganize my priorities, so a lot of things got put on the wayside, including a lot of my writing : (. Basically, this year sucked.

Resolutions 2015
1. Finish REMEMBER. It’s been over a year now! I’m hoping to get it out to beta readers by summer, but if time keeps moving as fast as it is, who knows? (I mean, it’s clearly not me…right?)
Yeah, this was one of those things that got set on hold. Maybe by the time I can finally work on it again, urban fantasy will be in again.

2. Write a new book : ). This should be easy. I have a few ideas rolling around my head, but no spark yet. Which is good, as I have enough on my plate right now.
I wish! I have several good ideas now, but no time to write!

3. Make more manageable goals. Sometimes I think I reach too far, and I end up crushed when I don’t get even close to my goal, and then I don’t think I can do anything…etc. etc. This is me, trying to be more positive by understanding my limits. Let’s see how long this one lasts.
Hey, I actually did this one. Go me.

4. Rewrite an old book. There’s one WIP I’ve been telling myself I’d rewrite for ages and never getting around to doing so. So here it is on my list, and hopefully I’ll get to it.
Sadly, no. This definitely got shuffled down to the bottom of my priorities list. A shame! I’d really like to get to it some day.

5. One stick figure comic a week! More manageable goals, remember? : )
Yes, I did. Aren’t you guys lucky?

6. Cut back on sugar. Ugh, I hate this one, but I really do need to cut back…
Frig, I made this a goal? That was probably a mistake.

7. Be awesome. Oh, wait, I always am anyway.
Well, obviously.

I did pretty good, considering. I just wish I could have completed my writing goals. I need something that slows down time so I can get more done.

What about you? How was 2015 for you guys? Did you keep any resolutions?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Why Does She Even Ask?

My mom does a lot of baking for the holidays, and I always offer to help. Even though the result is always this.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Pre-Christmas Filler

Today’s filler comic is going to be even lazier than Tuesday’s. How is that possible? you might ask. Don’t underestimate me. I am so lazy that I am just going to throw up a comic from last Christmas and pretend that it’s new! And no one can stop me!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


<Gasp> Where am I?

Ive gone to see a certain movie that came out last Friday. Back later. Don’t expect a real post. But I should be around later to comment on your blogs and stuff.

Yes. That’s right. It’s the new Alvin & The Chipmunks movie. You caught me. (PS that’s a blatant lie; you know what I’m going to see)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Additional Options

I hate it when my internet craps out on me.

In all fairness, the computer had it coming as much as the modem did.

Why oh why is it never able to figure out why my internet isn’t working? And then sends me to look up information on my problem online? IF I COULD, I WOULDN’T BE HAVING THE PROBLEM IN THE FIRST PLACE WOULD I?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Language of Confusion: Internal Organs

Because this is something you’re interested in, right? So I’ll etymologize a bunch of organs. Not heart, though, because I already did it in an A-to-Z post. So on to the rest.

Lung showed up in the early fourteenth century, coming from the Old English lungen (which meant lung shockingly enough) and the Proto Germanic lungw. No, I have no idea how it was pronounced. Lungu? Lunge? Anyway, lungw literally translates to “the light organ”, and that’s light as in the opposite of heavy, not the opposite of dark. It comes from the Proto Indo European legwh (nope; no idea), which can mean not heavy or agile, and just happens to be the origin word for lever as well. Now the reason lungs are lights is probably because when lungs were put into water, they floated, unlike the other organs. Um, the lungs of slaughtered animals. I hope.

Liver comes from the Old English lifere, liver, and before that the Proto Germanic librn. The origins are kind of murky, but it might come from the Proto Indo European leip, which could mean adhere or fat. But that’s not certain. Are livers usually fatty? I’m not really up on anatomy.

Spleen showed up in the early fourteenth century and its origins aren’t Germanic but the usual Old French. It comes from the word esplen, which in turn comes from the classical Latin splen and Greek splen, both of which are just spleen. Spleen can be traced even further back to the Proto Indo European splegh, which sounds like the noise you make when you throw up but actually just means spleen. We’ve had a name for this particular organ for a long time.

Brain comes from the Old English braegen, brain, and Proto Germanic bragnam. There’s some contention about where it comes from before that. Some say it’s the Proto Indo European mregh-mno, which means skull or brain, but others say it’s the word bhragno, something broken. So it’s either a word that sounds nothing like it or a word that means nothing like it. Sure.

Stomach showed up in the late fourteenth century with the -ch end and in the early fourteenth century as stomak. Why they had to change it, I don’t know. Anyway, before that it’s the Old French stomaque/estomac, stomach, and classical Latin stomachus, which could mean stomach or gullet, or even taste or inclination. Latin of course took the word from Greek, stomachos, which had a similar meaning and was taken from stoma, mouth. Because the mouth leads to the stomach, the Greeks named stomach after it. Which stuck all the way through English, even if stoma didn’t.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

More Weird Searches

Why am I always able to find more of these? And why do I find them so amusing?

Honestly, if you don’t know how to get home I’m not sure the internet is going to help you. And how do I love thee?

How much does water weigh. Not a gallon of water like above query, which is something that can be solved. Just water, in general. It could be the weight of the smallest quantity of water, one molecule (~2.989*10^-23 grams) or all water everywhere (???).

I need a hero? Uh…I’m not really sure how to react to this. But I do need money.

Interphase is the time of rest before a cell divides. Clearly someone is looking up answers to their biology homework. Good luck finding out what happens when you die.

If you start talking about having powers, I can guarantee you a couple of black eyes.

And finally, not long ago, I wanted to go to Wikipedia to look up something inconsequential. So I begin typing the address in. And these are what auto-fills in.

I’d like to point out that I had just, just cleared my history so there was literally nothing for it to base these on. It just gives me Drug Test, something about encryption keys, Windows 8 (ugh), and a Czechoslovakian-Austrian-German millionaire. Okay.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

It Follows

I can’t go anywhere without being followed by Veronica, my giant, fat cat.

It’s like that scary movie. Except real. And a cat. And she doesn’t want to kill me. Just be with me at all times.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Secret Origins: Z

Since it is the last month of the year, I thought it would be a good time to finally reveal the origins of the last letter of the (Latin) alphabet. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for…five years?! Seriously?!!!

Z’s use in English is because of Anglo French, where it represented the “ts” sound, which is pretty close to how we say Z today. If you look at the alphabet gif (which is making its last appearance here, I guess), you’ll see that Z is actually between F and H. That’s because in the Greek alphabet, Zeta comes in between Epsilon and Eta, which are the symbolic origins of E, F and H. Z probably got stuck at the end of the alphabet because the Romans used it for translating Greek words, so they just added it as an afterthought.

But let’s go back to the gif. Between the Greek and Latin versions, there was Etruscan, where the symbol for the “dz” sound actually looked more like an I despite both Greek (which came before it) and Latin (which came after it) using Z. Although if you look at Z’s in ancient English, some of them do look awfully I like. Maybe the Z symbol was influenced by S, which could have a Z sound. But that’s totally guessing on my part. For all I know, the two have nothing to do with each other.

Now, Etruscan took their symbol from Greek, where it was a Z, but in the most ancient version of the Greek alphabet, it was that I so I guess the switch happened somewhere in Greek history. And before Greek, there was Phoenician, which again, was I. The name of it was zayin, which meant, get this, weapon. That’s the earliest known meaning attributed to the symbol as before that in Proto Sinaitic, their Z looks like an equal sign and has no known meaning. Is it the same as that I? Why did they change from I to Z anyway? Did the Phoenicians come up with Z being a weapon on their own? And why?

Ha ha, like anyone actually knows.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015


So a while back, I stumbled across this personality quiz that I thought was amusing and I figured, hey, why not save this for a day when I can’t think up a post? And today is that day.

There are 64 questions about how you feel/act, mostly basic stuff like “You are always looking for opportunities” or “the more people you speak to the better you feel”. You answer from a strong yes to a strong no. It then rates you on introvert/extrovert, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving. Me, I got strongly introvert, moderately sensing and thinking, and strongly judging. I guess that sounds about right.

I always wonder how accurate these things are. So why don’t you guys try it when you have a few minutes and see what you think. What kind of personality do you have? Does it match up with how you think of yourself?

Saturday, December 5, 2015


December: the month where charities assume that by annoying you, they can get you to donate. Logic!

I really, really hate them. So much.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Language of Confusion: -Tain-ted Love, Reborn

Remember way back when I etymologized a bunch of words that ended with -tain? And I said there were a bunch that weren’t etymologically related to the others and I’d do them later? Well here. I finally got around to it.

Attain showed up in the early fourteenth century from ataign-, part of the Old French word ataindre, which has pretty much the same meaning ours does. Further back, it’s the Vulgar Latin attangere or classical Latin attingere, which means touch or reach. The at- part is from ad-, to, but the second part comes from the word tangere, touch, and the origin word for tangent. Apparently, it comes from the idea of “meeting at a point without intersecting”. Tangere can be traced even further back to the Proto Indo European tag, which is also touch. So basically, when you attain something, you’re touching it.

Certain showed up in the early fourteenth century, coming from the Old French certain, which meant pretty much the same thing. Before that, it was the Vulgar Latin certanus and classical Latin certus, also certain. This certus came from cretus, the past participle of cernere, separate or distinguish. Which is the origin word for discern, appropriately enough. And crisis. Which is a bit weirder.

Next, we’re going to look at fountain, which showed up in the early fifteenth century. It comes from the Old French fontaine and before that, the Medieval Latin fontana and classical Latin fontanus/fons, and yeah, all of those words just mean fountain. It comes from the Proto Indo European dhen, to flow. So yeah, it switched from a d to an f. I can’t even begin to fathom that one.

There are a few other -tain words, but the last one we’re going to look at today is curtain. It showed up in the early fourteenth century, from the Old French cortine, curtain. Before that, it was the Late Latin cortina. Which—and I’m not making this up—in classical Latin means cauldron or tripod and cortem, which means yard or enclosure. Apparently, for some reason, common Latin speakers used cortina as a replacement for the Greek word aulaia, curtain. The Greek word aule means courtyard, so I guess this made sense to the Romans. I don’t know. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: words are weird.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December Goals

Well, it’s December. On one hand, Thanksgiving is over with for another year. On the other, Christmas is less than a month away.

Is it January yet?

November Goals
1. Keep writing! I’ve been so busy doing other stuff that it’s important that I don’t give up.
Yes, I have been doing this. I’ve had a lot going on, but I haven’t given up.

2. Work on my special secret project. Can’t tell you more about this one yet…
Yes, I did, but I still can’t talk about it and I don’t know where it’s going right now :P. Hopefully there will be answers soon.

3. Prepare for the nightmare known as Thanksgiving. <shudder>
…No comment.

Not bad. I wish I had more concrete goals to work on. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I could swing that…

December Goals
1. Look at one of my old projects and revise it.

2. Hopefully finish up with the secret project.

3. <sigh> Christmas…

Somehow I think goal number three would be a lot more fun if it wasn’t for two thirds of my family.

What are you up to this month? Any last minute 2015 goals you need to finish?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Peaches 3

Here she is again.

Oh. Wait. That’s a 700 pound pumpkin I saw at a fair.

You can see how I made that mistake. The resemblance is uncanny.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Peaches 2

Frigging hell, it’s Thanksgiving. Ugh. I’m sure it has found a way to be even worse than I expected.

Here’s more Peaches.

Yeah. In a bowl. For some reason she decided that was her new favorite spot. She fills up the entire thing, plus some.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Peaches 1

Well, it’s Thanksgiving week here in the US and honestly, I’m expecting it to be a very unpleasant one. So I’m partially unplugging this week in hopes of saving my sanity. And because pictures of cats always cheer me up, I’m putting up pictures of my cat Peaches for posts this week.

Here she is, totally broken on the couch after an exhausting day. She actually blends in with it surprisingly well.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I Have No Idea Where She Got It

One of the cats (Peaches, the orange one) got out of the house one day. Thankfully, she was back in a few hours, yelling at the front door to be let in. She just brought something with her…

I’d like to point out that this happened in the morning, not typical hamburger time. And if someone threw it out the night before…wouldn’t another animal have gotten it already? There are tons of raccoons and possums and other animals that should have devoured it. But no. Peaches found it, brought it home to show me, and then proceeded to eat it in front of me.

Sometimes the world makes no sense.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Language of Confusion: Shapes

Sometimes I really have no ideas on what to etymologize. So I pick some random word and try to find some theme to build around it. This time I saw kind of a square so I’m like…shapes? Have I done that before? And it turns out no, I have not. So here we go!

Square first showed up in the mid thirteenth century, but only as a tool. You know, for measuring right angles...which makes me wonder what they used to make sure the right angle of the tool was in fact a right angle. Imagine that the first one that they used to measure out squares was off by just a little. For centuries, every right angle could have been eighty nine degrees. But I digress. Square the shape actually didn’t come around until the fourteenth century and actually came from the tool. Wow. Anyway, square comes from the Old French esquire/esquarre, and before that the Vulgar Latin exquadra and exquadrare. Those words are a mix of the classical Latin prefix ex-, out, and quadrare, which means to square. Gee, I never would have guessed. And quadrare is actually the origin word for quadrant, too because of course it is.

Circle showed up in the early fourteenth century actually meaning the shape this time. It comes from the Old French cercle, which means circle or hoop, and the classical Latin circulus, ring. And because they have rings in them is why a circus is a circus.

Cube is relatively recent, having shown up in the mid sixteenth century. It comes from the Middle French cube and classical Latin cubuscube, of course—and before that, the Greek kybos. I bet you can’t guess what that means. Anyway, that word can be traced even further back to the Proto Indo European keub, bend or turn. Oh, and apparently we have Greek dice to thank for bend/turn becoming associated with cubes.

Sphere showed up in the mid fifteenth century from the Middle English spere. A sphere back then was literally space; like, they thought that the earth was surrounded by a hollow sphere made up of outer space. I guess it made sense to them. Spere comes from the Anglo French espiere and Old French espere, and before that the classical Latin sphaera, sphere. And once again, the Romans took the word from Greek, where it is sphaira, also sphere. Before that, no one knows. Maybe they made it up when they came up with that ridiculous Earth-in-a-space-sphere idea.

Finally, cone, which has a fairly simple origin. It showed up in the mid sixteenth century from the Middle French cone and classical Latin conus, a cone or helmet peak. That also comes from Greek, where it’s konos, again, cone, and possibly before that the Proto Indo European ko, to sharpen. You know, since cones are sharp. Oh, and I’m not doing triangle. I’m assuming you know what tri + angle adds up to.

TL;DR: The Greeks named the shapes. And all squares could be off. Shut up, it might be true. Go measure all of them and prove it’s not.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More Movie Reviews

What can I say? I like to watch movies. Mostly scary this time, because of course last month was October.

The Babadook
TL;DR: Woman finds a weird story book and reads it to her young son. Weird things start happening, adding to the stress of raising her hyperactive son. And then it gets worse.
I’m definitely ambivalent on this one. The horror is pretty good and I thought the characterization of Amelia, the overwhelmed single mom, was great, but yeah, it definitely has problems. I actually liked the ending, but I can see why other people don’t; in some ways, it’s a non-ending and you’re left with the feeling of not being sure what the hell happened, and not in a good way. Give it a watch if you’re in the mood for a very creepy first half, but you might end up being disappointed in the rest. Unless you’re really into symbolism.

The Mirror
TL;DR: Three roommates obtain a supposedly haunted mirror in order to prove that the supernatural exists. Things…don’t go well.
This movie was okay, though personally, I think Oculus did the whole haunted mirror thing better. I didn’t mind it, but it really didn’t leave much of an impression on me, like to the point that I don’t really have much to say about it. Still, it’s perfectly watchable and you might even like it.

TL;DR: Family goes out for a vacation at their country and when they wake up in the middle of the night to find their son is gone, they realize that someone is out there hunting them.
I would give this a solid seventy percent. It didn’t take any chances or do anything new, but it still managed to have a fairly interesting story. Probably the worst fault is that the end feels a little obvious. I also felt like there wasn’t enough explanation as to the motivations of the villains.

TL;DR: Videographer Aaron takes a job filming a dying man named Josef, who seems a little off. Then he seems really off.
I definitely liked this one, but I found myself constantly asking why Aaron was going along with what Josef wanted, especially as time went on and it became obvious that Josef wasn’t who he claimed to be. This is also a found footage movie, which is totally overdone but actually works here to enhance the creepiness. So if you can ignore Aaron’s questionable choices, then yes, watch it.

Time Lapse
TL;DR: Three roommates, Finn, Callie, and Jasper, discover that their dead neighbor has a camera that takes a picture of their apartment…one day in the future.
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. At first, I was so annoyed with the tropes that were appearing, especially involving Callie, only for those tropes to be turned completely on their heads. This was a brilliant picture and I definitely recommend checking out this twist on a time travel story. The ending was one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

I’m Still Gonna Do It

The other day, I was reading an interesting article…

Of course the cat who sleeps on my head also weighs almost fifteen pounds. It’s quite suffocating.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Lost in Translation: April

April! It’s a month, right? So why is it April? And why is April a name? All this, and more, tonight, on Still Writing! Or right now. You know. Whenever is convenient for you.

April first started being called April in the early fourteenth century, where it was aueril (although I think that u was pronounced like a v because letters are dumb). It comes from the Old French avril and classical Latin Aprilis, both of which are obviously just April. There are a few theories as to where the Romans (who made the calendar) came up with April. Some think that they took it from the Etruscan Apru, which in turn was taken from the Greek Aphrodite. But it also may be from the Latin aperire, to open, like the buds of flowers. Maybe.

Now, while April wasn’t the first name that English called that particular month. Before the 1300s, it was Eastermonað, which looks like “Easter Month” for a reason, namely that’s what it literally translates to. Easter actually comes from the proto Germanic austron, which meant dawn and was a goddess of fertility and spring. Which would at least fit with the buds of flowers thing from April.

So, because April is the first real month of spring, it has a spring related origin. I guess this one wasn’t much of a mystery. As for the name, it actually started being given to babies in the 1940s and it is just from the month. Seriously, people started naming their children after a month of the year. Obviously we need to start naming kids after other months. Why not February? Sure, it’ll ruin the lives of the first people it’s given to. But then a celebrity will give it to their kid and everyone’ll start using it.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

From The Spamfiles

Yes, it’s that time again! I’m feeling too lazy to come up with a post so here’s a selection from my other blog! Exclamation point!

Here I got a bill for driving on a toll road. But I haven’t been on a toll road in years. Nor do I own a car.

And why exactly do I have to be quiet about this? Will it scare the loan away if I’m loud?


I really love the sparkles this one comes with. All emails should come with sparkles. 

How about instead of using my phone as a fax machine...I use email like a normal person in the twenty first century? Crazy idea, I know.

Bank error in your favor! This is Monopoly apparently!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Like A Jungle In There

A mostly true story…

 My mom will complain about me having the least bit of clutter. But an onion threatening to engulf her house is okay.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Language of Confusion: The -Firm

October is over. Time to get back to etymology with even less of a theme. Today’s word/suffix is: firm. I mean, obviously. Read the title.

Firm showed up as a verb in the early fourteenth century and an adjective in the late fourteenth century—the noun didn’t show up until about four hundred years after that. Interestingly, the verb first appeared as fermen and the adjective as ferm, although both had pretty much the same meanings as today. Ferm comes from the Old French ferm (we’re so original) and the classical Latin firmus, which is just firm, while fermen comes from the Old French fermer and classical Latin firmare, to strengthen. Another funny thing is that the noun firm actually came to us by way of German firma, company, and Italian firma, signature. Apparently, the Late Latin idea of confirming by signature passed on to Italian as signature, which then I guess went to German as a business because…businesses had signatures? Whatever. That firm also comes from the Latin firmare, which can be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European dher, hold or support.

Confirm first showed up in the middle of the thirteenth century, making it older than firm. It was originally confirmyn, to ratify, and comes from the Old French confermer, which basically means confirm, and classical Latin confirmare, also confirm. Yeah, not a lot of changing with the -firm words. The prefix com- is just used as an intensifier here, which is probably why this word’s meanings are so close to firm.

Affirm showed up at about the same time as firm, the early fourteenth century. It comes from the Old French afermier, affirm, and classical Latin affirmare, which could mean affirm or to strengthen or steady. Which is also pretty much the same thing as firm. Seriously, can we have some variety here? The prefix comes from ad-, to, so the word is just…to firm. No frigging creativity here.

Finally, infirm. It showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning weak or unsound—so the opposite of firm. It comes from the classical Latin infirmus, weak, with the prefix in- meaning “opposite of” here. Which is exactly what I just said. No big mysteries this week, huh?

TL;DR: Firm and all its offshoots are void of originality.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November Goals

Wow, is it November already? Of course, I think I’ve been saying that every month since January. It just really feels like time is flying by. Anyway, let’s see what I was supposed to be up to last month…

October Goals
1. Celebrate Halloween as much as humanly possible. I figure with eight hours reserved to sleep each night, I can get a lot of fun in.
I think we can all agree that this was a total success.

2. Tackle some of the books on my TBR list. I know that I don’t usually make reading a goal, but that list is getting ridiculous.
Not nearly enough, but yeah, I did get some of them off : ).

3. I don’t know…WRITE SOMETHING. It would be nice!
Even more not nearly enough! I miss having free time to write…

So I did okay, mostly because I set goals that I knew it was possible for me to reach. It’s important to strive to exceed expectations, but it’s also important not to set yourself up to fail.

Now, for this month.

November Goals
1. Keep writing! I’ve been so busy doing other stuff that it’s important that I don’t give up.

2. Work on my special secret project. Can’t tell you more about this one yet…

3. Prepare for the nightmare known as Thanksgiving. <shudder>

These are my November plans. What are you guys up to this month?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Scariest Sight

And now, to end the month, the most horrifying tale of all…

Seriously. This happened at the beginning of the month. It’s October. October.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Language of Confusion: Feeling Sick

So we’ve done slitheries and creepy crawlies. Now it’s time for the tiniest killer of all: disease.

Disease is pretty easy since it’s just dis- + ease. It showed up in the early fourteenth century meaning discomfort or inconvenience rather than an illness (although an illness certainly is a discomfort and an inconvenience) before taking on its modern meaning at the end of the century. It comes from the Old French desaise, which had meanings from discomfort to misfortune to disease. The prefix dis- means lack of or not, and ease is…well, come on, you know this. Makes sense, right? A lack of ease certainly sounds like what a disease does to you.

Sick comes from the Old English seoc, which is pretty much just sick, and before that, the Proto Germanic seukaz. As to where it came from or when exactly it showed up…yeah, no one knows. You should be expecting that by now.

Flu showed up in 1893 as a short form of influenza, which showed up earlier in 1743. It actually comes from Italian, where it’s also influenza and can mean the disease or, seriously, influence. Apparently in Italian, a disease is considered an influence of some higher power. So the flu is the flu because of superstitions. Of course.

Fever comes from the Old English fefor/fefer, fever. Before that, it was the classical Latin febris, fever, which is related to fovere, to heat. It’s possibly related to the Proto Indo European dhegh, burn, and possibly even the Sanskrit bhur, to be restless. Which is interesting, if it’s true, and raises a lot of questions as to where that F sound came from.

Plague showed up in the late fourteenth century as plage, which meant calamity or scourge before settling into its current epidemic definition. It comes from the Old French plage and Late Latin /classical Latin plaga, wound or stroke. It’s probably related to plangere, to lament by beating your breast (I could not make this stuff up) and the Greek plaga, blow (like a hit or strike), which can be traced all the way back to the Proto Indo European plak-, to strike or hit. So plagues strike figuratively, so we use the word for striking literally. All right. Moving on.

Pestilence first showed up in the early fourteenth century, coming from the Old French pestilence, which was a plague, and classical Latin pestilentia, also plague. Pestilentia comes from pestilentem, infected or noxious, and pestis, which means…pest. So pestilence is a pest.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Scary Books

And now, for this last week of October, we have a scary book. And it’s a good one, so pay attention.

Penpal by Dathan Auerbach
Plot: 10 Characterization: 9 Writing: 10

This book was just amazing. I actually didn’t first read it when it was a book but online when it was just a series of posts the author made. It was so popular that he had a Kickstarter and raised enough money to not only e-publish it but also to print physical copies of the book. And I’m not surprised because it’s really an excellent read.

The writing is good (that 10 was not given out lightly), very deep and easy to get lost in. The story is the narrator piecing together strange events from his childhood that he assumed were unrelated at the time, but looking back on it as an adult, he can only conclude that someone was stalking him. Their motives are unknown but as the book goes on, it’s obvious that whatever the stalker wants, it isn’t good.

The book isn’t very long, but thoroughly enjoyable. Everything about it feels realistic and natural, which of course enhances the terror. Unfortunately, it’s a bit limited by being in a first person-limited point of view. The characterizations of the other people could have been more fleshed out, like the narrator’s mother and a few other adults. It’s not really detrimental to the story as a whole or anything, just a minor issue. Overall, if you like non-paranormal horror, yes, get this now.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Horrifying True Tales

This might be the scariest thing I’ve posted yet. It happened just last week, while I was trying to make a comic.

Did you know that not all programs automatically save copies of what you’re doing, so if you forget to save and something happens it’s just gone? And that sometimes computers just shut down because they’ve downloaded updates and need to restart even though they haven’t told you that they’re going to and given you warning to save what you’re working on? Did you know I F$@&*#G HATE WINDOWS?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Language of Confusion: Fliers

So we’ve had eight-legged bugs and six-legged. Now it’s time for the ones that annoy you from the air.

Fly comes from the Old English fleoge, which could mean any winged insect before that one specific insect, and before that it was the Proto Germanic fleugon, flying insect. Of course it’s related to the verb fly, which was fleogan in Old English and fleugan in Proto Germanic—so only different by a couple of letters in both versions. To fly can be traced even further back to the Proto Indo European pleuk/pleu, flow or float. Um, I guess it’s good that we don’t call them plies then. And as for butterfly, it’s just a combination of the words butter and fly. There’s no real reason for it, although the theories are that it was either due to an old belief that butterflies ate butter that was left out or because many butterflies have pale yellow wings.

Bee comes from the Old English beo and Proto Germanic bion, both of which are just bee. Bumblebee is a little different. It showed up in the early sixteenth century, replacing the Middle English humbul-be, probably because of the influence of the word bombeln, which meant boom or buzz. That word is an echoic word (as in onomatopoeia) from the Proto Indo European echoic word kem, which means hum. So basically bumblebees are buzzing/humming bees.

And now, for the most evil of all insects, the wasp. Wasp comes from the Old English waeps/waesp, which comes from the Proto Germanic wabis, although the p was probably influenced by the classical Latin vespa. Either way, the word traces back to the Proto Indo European wopsa/wospa (I guess they really couldn’t decide), which means wasp. So wasps have had their name for a long time. I’m guessing because people really needed a way to label those little buggers.

Mosquito, a word I’m always impressed that I can spell on the first try, showed up in the late sixteenth century, coming from, well, Spanish. I know. It’s weird when it’s not Latin or German. Actually, before that English had another word for the bug: midge, which I think I’ve heard before but totally never connected to mosquito. Midge comes from the Old English mygg/mycg and Proto Germanic mugjon, while mosquito comes from the classical Latin musca, fly, and Proto Indo European mu-, also fly. No idea why we switched words like that. I guess we liked the Spanish way better.

Finally today, gnat, a word which for some reason has a G at the beginning. It comes from the Old English gnaet (gnat of course) and the Proto Germanic gnattaz. That word is thought to be related to ghen-, the word for gnaw, making the word “biting insect”. At least, maybe. Sometimes etymology is one big if.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Short Scares

Several months ago on Tumblr (wait! Don’t leave! It’s good, I swear) I stumbled across a blog called Sixpenceee (the extra E’s are silent) that is absolutely filled with scary goodness. Her posts range from scary stories to weird events to random science facts. Being that this is October, we’re going to stick with the scary stories, but there’s a link to all the different subjects she covers over in her sidebar.

The scary stories she posts are (mostly) written by other people and range from mediocre to downright frightening—she’s actually also holding a short story contest this month and you can take a look at the entries on her forum. Anyway, I’ve tracked down the ones that I think are the best, as well as several others that have been highly recommended:

The title is pretty self-explanatory for this one.

A quick one, definitely amusing in a horrifying way.

Considered one of the best stories on the site.

Made even more horrifying by the fact that the writer claims these are real events that took place in the late seventies.

Really short but really good.

Another that’s considered one of the best, and it’s definitely a punch to the gut.

A psychological mindscrew.

Another psychological story, this one about the degeneration of the mind.

Another short, creepy and amusing story.

Short and scary.

This one’s probably going to squick out a few people…

More sad than scary, but definitely good.

In my opinion, the best one.

Okay, I guess that’s enough. I actually had to trim this back a bit because I just wanted to link to all of them if you like scary things, I suggest you try them. And definitely check out the Short Stories link because there’s a lot more where that came from. Just clear a few days off your schedule first as you won’t be sleeping.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

I’m Honestly Not Even Sure It Was There

But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Look, until your hair is as thick as mine, you don’t know how scary it is to think about something nesting inside of it.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Language of Confusion: Crawlers, Part II

And now the conclusion of our look into the etymology of things that creep me out. This week: eight legged monstrosities.

Spider first showed up in the late fourteenth century with the much cooler spelling of spydyr, and earlier on it had some other (equally cool) spellings: spiÞre, siÞur, and spiÞer. That symbol is thorn, which is the old symbol for th, which means spider used to be spither. Earlier, it was the Old English spiðra, and that symbol is another th one, making this word spithra. It comes from the Proto Germanic spin-thron, which literally means “the spinner”, and yes, is related to spin. Actually, calling them spiders wasn’t common in Old English. They were called loppe /lobbe (which was more specifically a silkworm), and atorcoppe. Atorcoppe literally means “poison-head”, and although the word is never used anymore, a vestige of coppe remains in cobweb.

Tarantula showed up in the mid sixteenth century, literally meaning “wolf spider” because plain old spider wasn’t enough. It actually comes from the Medieval Latin tarantula which comes from…the Italian tarantola? Seriously? Huh, apparently they were named after the Italian city of Taranto because they were common there. And hey, guess what place I will never, ever be visiting?

I’m sure most of you know of the constellation Scorpio, which one of the zodiac signs comes from. But scorpion like the bug showed up in the early thirteenth century, from the Old French scorpion, classical Latin scorpionem/scorpius, both of which just mean scorpion. Latin took it from Greek, where it was skorpios (because Greek words have to have Ks in them), which actually can be traced to the Proto Indo European sker-, to cut, the origin word for shear, like you would wool. Apparently ancient Greek scorpions didn’t just sting people, they sliced them up ; ).

Ew, ticks. The word for the little bloodsuckers comes from the Old English ticia and West Germanic tik. And before that…??? It’s another no one knows, although it’s definitely not related to any other form of tick (like to tick someone off or tick-tock like a clock). One possibility is that it comes from the Proto Indo European deigh, which means insect. So we have the origins of like ten words for spider, but no one knows where tick comes from? Words are really dumb sometimes.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

You Know What “Horror” Means, Don’t You?

Well, I watched the first season of American Horror Story. Not my idea, I assure you. I honestly would not have finished it except I don’t like to criticize something I haven’t completely watched. But now I have and I never, ever have to watch it again.

Okay, recap: the first season is about a family moving across country after the wife’s miscarriage and husband’s affair. They move into a house that’s way underpriced because the previous owners died in a murder suicide. Obviously the place is filled with violent ghosts and…I guess that’s supposed to be scary? I don’t know. I never found it to be. Granted, these ghosts can actually hurt people and then disappear so they’re actually a threat. But honestly, I thought the show spent too much time confusing gore and shock value (and rape; lets not forget rape) with horror. Probably the only thing they did right was the accurate portrayal of an abusive parental relationship. I guess that was certainly horrifying.

The characters are, for the most part, as dull as dirt, with no characteristics besides “Wife and mother” or “rebellious teenage daughter”, to the point where after watching thirteen episodes I can’t even remember their names. It doesn’t help matters that the overall story is completely incoherent. Things are thrown at you with no explanation and you’re expected to remember them if they’re finally brought up again—which is definitely an if as there are several things that are just there to be weird (or gratuitously sexy) and then…that’s it. There’s no reason for it. Take the sleepwalking that seems to afflict the men of the house. It’s mentioned two or three times, but there’s no explanation as to why it happens, why it only affects some men, and why it happens once or twice and then never again. And even if something is explained, it might seem really half-assed, like the writers couldn’t think of something good so they just went with the first idea that popped into someone’s head. Case in point, the reason they cobbled together as to why the house is haunted. Really, sometimes there’s nothing wrong with there not being an explanation. In fact, the not-knowing can be part of the horror. But they came up with this nonsense and it’s not scary or satisfying and that’s basically the entire series in a nutshell.

If you enjoy it…well, go ahead. I didn’t. Except for Jessica Lange, who is both the best actor of the bunch and the only well defined character. Seriously, I would watch an entire show of just her and I can see why they’ve brought her back for every subsequent season.

Bonus Review: Fear the Walking Dead

Yeah, I watched this one, too. The Walking Dead is a show I could generally take or leave. I enjoy it when I watch it and the good points outweigh the bad ones (unlike the above). This sequel series however...not so much. It fails at literally everything the primary show succeeds at.

It is so, so boring. Like, ridiculously so. Six episodes in and I was still waiting for something to happen, and when it finally did, I found it underwhelming to say the least. I didn’t care about any of the characters except for Daniel, the Latino barber who was trying to keep his wife and daughter safe. They really should have made them the focus of the show. It might have been watchable.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


The only thing that drives me nuts about October…

If I’m lucky, I’ll be done raking in time for Halloween. And I swear, they really do all come down at once like that.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Language of Confusion: Crawlers, Part I

Bugs are scary. Well, gross. I don’t like them in my house. And they always seem to be in my house. And there are so many of them, that I needed two parts to do this. First up, six-legged creepy crawlies.

Ant first showed up in the early sixteenth century, coming from the Middle English ampte and Old English aemette, and before that, the West Germanic amaitjo. Apparently that’s a mix of two other word parts, ai (off) and mai (cut), so an ant was “cut off” or, to make more sense, “biter off”. That mai actually comes from the Proto Indo European word mai, to cut, the origin word for maim. Basically, ant = biter. Or maimer.

Flea comes from the Old English flea, which means flea (stop me if I’m going too fast for you). Before that, it was the Proto Germanic flauhaz, which likely derives from the Proto Indo European plou, also meaning flea. And have you ever heard of the color puce? Well, it turns out, that it also comes from plou, apparently because it was the color of fleas. Oh, and flea isn’t related to flee. Probably.

There’s two kinds of cricket, the bug and the English game. Are they related? Probably not. Yeah, I’ve been using “probably” a lot in this post. Sometimes words are really hard to figure out, especially nouns. Cricket the bug showed up first in the early fourteenth century, with the game showing up in the late sixteenth century. Both come from an OldFrench word, criquet, but one version of criquet means a cricket and the other means a goal post or stick. And apparently they aren’t related since the latter comes from a Middle Dutch/Flemish word, cricke, while the former is what’s known as “echoic”. Basically, they thought the noise crickets made sounded like “criquet” so they named the bug criquet.

Cockroach showed up in the early sixteenth century (shortening it to just roach didn’t happen until two centuries later). It actually comes from Spanish, believe it or not, where the word is cucaracha. Cuca is actually a kind of caterpillar, although for some reason I can’t imagine people think it means poop.

Termite showed up in 1849. Well, really it showed up in 1781, but people only used the plural form. Which I guess makes sense. It’s not like you ever see just one. Anyway, it comes from the Modern Latin termites, which is just termites, which is derived from the Late Latin termes and classical Latin tarmes, which means wood worm. Hm, nothing super amusing about that one.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Find the Data