Saturday, June 30, 2012

Insanity You Have to Read to Believe

I had to post this because I’m not sure I can convey how insane my mother is otherwise. Like most things, this started because of Dinosaur Comics, specifically this one. I mentioned it to her, via the internet, because she’s always saying “I feel like there are bugs on me.” This is the actual exchange that followed. And yes, she really does IM me with no capitals.

Her: Isn't it somewhat ironic that you post a thing about being covered in ants, when you are so paranoid of them?

Me: I’m not paranoid of them. I think they
    're gross.
    Accidentally hit enter there. Whoops.

Her: I needmore traps

Me: It's those stupid big, black ants, isn’t it?

Her: bastid ants

Me: I thought you'd think the quote was funny since you're the one who's always claiming there are bugs on you.

Her: well there always ARE bugs on me!!!!
    i think there's one on me right now!

Me: T-rex thinks so too.

Her: what?  what does that mean?

Me: He's the main character of Dinosaur Comics. He's a t-rex named T-Rex.

Her: well of course, a t-rex should be named t-rex.
    that's my favorite dinosaur
    for obvious reasons

Me: The tiny little arms?

Her: yup!  and the attitude

Me: Yes. They're very tough.
    T-rex once claimed the end of Jurassic Park wasn't realistic because the t-rex didn't kill everyone.

Her: he's absolutely right.  they nail everything.

Me: They have very big teeth.

Her: and they take no GUFF.

Me: No guff!

 Her: not a smidge of guff.

Me: They won't accept it.

Her: at all

 Me: It's not even in their vocabulary.

 Her: guff?  what guff?

 Me: Not if there's a t-rex around.

 Her: t-rexes are the coolest.
    just like me

 Me: Yes. Yes of course.

 Her: i sense guff

 Me: No. None at all.

 Her: i am part t-rex and we have a highly developed sense for guff.  and I SENSE GUFF!!!
    you're in trouble you diplodicous

Me: But as a t-rex, you wouldn't know what guff is. You have no word for it, so the concept is hazy.

Her: oh shut up or i'll rip your head off
    i may do it anyway, just because i can

 Me:  Not if there's a meteor coming down.

Her: meteor shmeteor

Me: T-rex can't bat it away with its tiny arms.

 Her: he'll bite it.  you can't do anything except look at it because of your tiny brain
    huhhhh?  wassat?  big ball in sky?

 Me: T-rex's brain is quite large. Large and unwieldy.

 Her: large and smart.  diplodicus has a tiny brain and an extra tiny brain to run it's big fat tail.
    too dumb for one brain
    and big fat feet that get stuck in the mud

 Me: You know way more about dinosaurs than I ever thought.

Yes, my mother insults me by calling me a diplodicus (she probably means diplodocus, but honestly I have no idea). If Sh*t My Dad says can get on TV, this is at least worth a pilot.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Language of Confusion: Rupture

The word rupture comes from a huge family. Bankrupt, interrupt, abrupt are all related through the “rupt” despite having such different meanings. And we can’t forget corrupt, erupt, disrupt and irrupt.

Since they were all adapted from preexisting words in other languages, they did not appear in English in the order you might expect. The first of the words to show up was corrupt in the mid fourteenth century. It wasn’t until fifty years later that rupture itself appeared, along with interrupt. Disruption and eruptionalso showed up at this time, although it wasn’t until a few centuries later that just disruptand eruptwere part of the vocabulary. In fact abruptand bankruptboth predate disrupt and erupt. Irruptionalso appeared before irrupt, but the former didn’t show up until the 1570s and the latter until 1855. Not that it’s even a common word now.

So that’s their English history. Big shocker—they all come from classical Latin equivalents. There’s corruptus, disruptus, abruptus…I think you get the idea. Ruptus with a prefix attached. All come from past participles of rumpere, which means “to break”. Although rupture has a different meaning in English (more like bursting or exploding), the general feeling of destruction is the same. What’s interesting is what happens when the prefixes get attached.

Look at corrupt for example. There’s no active destruction, more a moral one. The prefix comes from com-, which in this case is supposed to be an intensifier. This makes more sense in Latin, where corruptus has both a literal (destroy) meaning and a figurative one (our definition of corrupt).

Interrupt has the inter- prefix, which means “between” and can be traced to the Proto Indo European enter (before you ask, yes). The word’s meaning is “to break between”, but in a figurative sense. Similarly, disruption means breaking apart figuratively, although in Latin it meant “shatter” or “break to pieces”, with the dis- prefix meaning apartit was “shattering apart”.

To us, abrupt usually means a sudden change. In Latin, abruptus meant “broken off, disconnected”, which probably greatly influenced how we use the word. The prefix ab- means “off”and with the figurative “break”…well, you get it.

Erupt comes from the Latin erumpere, which means “to break/burst out”. The e comes from the prefix ex-, which means out. It’s one of the few words that stayed with the literal meaning even in English. There’s also irrupt, which comes from irrumpere. The ir- comes from in-, which in this case means “into, in on”, making it “to break into”. It’s not used very much but it means either “to break in suddenly” or “violent activity or emotion”. Can anyone use it in a sentence? How about a dirty sentence?

Finally, there’s no one’s favorite word to hear, bankrupt. I’m going to assume we all know what bank means, making bankrupt a “breaking of your bank”.

TL;DR: “Rupt” means break, usually figuratively, sometimes literally, with a prefix thrown in to taste.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Or maybe a-muse-ing.

Anyway, last week was a killer, temperature-wise. I remember going to bed Tuesday and being chilly. On Wednesday, it took about an hour of avoiding looking outside for the heat to really hit. I sat down to write wondering how I’d get anything done. And I wrote three thousand words in two hours.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a good idea what I was going to write and I prepped myself with a good book beforehand. But there have been days when I’ve done that and nothing worthy has come out. This was 3K without even trying. I’d say “without breaking a sweat” but it was ninety five degrees out and I don’t have air conditioning.

Maybe because I was driven to escape, the adverse conditions inspired me. I kept looking down and finding a thousand words added. And then I’d go for a popsicle. (I’d be worried about all the sugar except I probably sweated it all out.) It probably helped that my WIP is set in a world with constant hundred degree heat. Write what you know and all that.

The moral of this story? Absolutely nothing. Sometimes it’s just funny to share something weird.

Is your muse as weird as mine? Do you write well under adverse conditions, whether physical (like a heat wave) or mental (like stress)? Any funny writing stories to share?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Random Thoughts

---Yay! It’s strawberry season!
---Oh, adverbs. Get the hell out of my MS. And take the –ing words with you.
---Granted, there are occasions for them. But not as many as I have adverbs.
---“Pleonasm is the use of redundant, unnecessary words to express an idea!” Have I told you I’ve been reading Dinosaur Comics lately? ‘Cause it’s all kinds of awesome. To wit: Ryan North has managed to use the same six panels almost every day for nine years and still be interesting and creative. That’s some five star writing ability right there.
---Apparently, it’s not only society who has a prejudice against left-handed people. It’s nature, too. Higher incidences of mental disease and they get sick more often. Poor lefties do not get a break.
---Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for stiff penalties for drunk driving. But…45 years? Okay Texas. We get it. You’re the toughest.
---Are weaksauce and awesomesauce in the dictionary yet? Because they need to be. You know. Instead of stupid frigging ginormous.
---If I had a mortal enemy, it would be the word ginormous. Also NBC.
---They know why.
---“Ooh, I really don’t want to miss this seven hour concert, honey.”
            “Me either. But we have this baby. Should we get a sitter?”
            “Nah. We’ll park in the shade and lock him in the trunk. He’ll be fine.”
---While not worse than having no bandages at all, band aids aren’t very good at what they’re supposed to do, namely keeping the wound moist (uh oh, I used it…you know it’s got to be gross).
---Scientists finally figured out why Guinness bubbles fall instead of rise. Also, they cured all forms of cancer. What? They didn’t? Cancer’s still out there? AIDS too? Heart disease, diabetes? Sorry. I must’ve assumed.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Secret Origins: K

The symbol K has a pretty straight forward history. We got it from the Romans, who used it—sometimes—in their Latin language. They got it from the Greeks, where in its lowercase form it was κ and its uppercase is indistinguishable from ours. It can also be seen in Hebrew as כ. Slightly different, but K was often written backwards and if you take of the vertical slash it resembles kaph somewhat. Both kaph and kappa come from the proto-Sinaitic kappu. If you look at the alphabet.gif, you can see the origins of K in there.

From the origins of our Latin based writing system, K was in competition with C. The Romans preferred to use the latter and as you know, pretty much anything the Romans did stuck. You might not remember this from when I went over C’s history (over a year ago! Wow!), but the influence of the Irish language involved consonants with different pronunciations based on what vowel follows. We kind of kept that with C. After e and i (and y), it’s almost always “suh”; after a, o and u, it’s “k”. The main reason K is used is to put the “kuh” sound in front of e and i, as in the words keep and kit.

So K is our backup C. It handles the words C can’t because it doesn’t go soft in front of e and i.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Second Thoughts

A few weeks ago, I started writing a blog post and then, as per usual, got distracted by something else. I had plenty of other ideas for posting so I decided to let that one wait for a while. And boy am I glad I did.

It was terrible. When I read it back, I thought it was whiny and I couldn’t understand the point I was trying to get at—despite being the one who actually wrote it—and I’m thinking that’s a sign it’s time to scrap the whole thing. The worst part is I came perilously close to publishing it before I decided to go with something else (even then I had a feeling it was weak) and thus left it for a time when I fully realized how bad it was. Whew!

It happens. That’s why we have to take time off between the first and second drafts and after writing “The End” and getting ready to query. You should do it even if you think it’s strong because you might be under an O-M-G-I’m-finally-done high. And there is nothing, nothingworse than declaring your work “complete!” before it really is.

Make haste slowly.

Have you ever had any close calls? How do you know when something is “done”?