Saturday, September 28, 2013


I read an article saying (okay, if you want to get technical reading) that an apple a day may not keep the doctor away, but it certainly lowers cholesterol. And helps fight heart disease. And can help you lose weight. Now if only I had some idea of where to find some apples…

Oh, look. There’s a bowl of apples from the tree in the backyard.

And a bigger bowl.

And a basket.

Nope. No idea.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Language of Confusion: Gooder

Good, one of the most basic descriptions, is a weird word. Its comparatives (the degrees of the word, like greater to great), are completely different words. There’s no gooder. There is only better, and above that, best.

Good comes from the Old English god, which had a long o sound so it would be pronounced like goad, and despite the similarities, it actually isn’t related to the word god. Well, at least not in terms of etymology. Anyway, the Old English god meant varied things like virtuous, valid, and desirable, so it was fairly similar to how we use it now. It can be traced to the Proto Germanic gothaz, which originally meant something like belonging together, and the Proto Indo European ghedh, suitable or to unite.

Now better has a verb form as well as an adjective one (to better oneself or something). The adjective comes from the Old English bettra/betera, while the verb comes from the Old English beterian, to improve. For the adjective, Proto Germanic gives us batizo and Proto Indo European has bhad, while for the noun, the first gives us batizojan and the latter gives batiz. Best’s history is closely related. It comes from the Old English beste (same meaning), which is a change on another Old English word, betst (if you try to pronounce that, you can see why the changed the word). Originally, beste/betst was the highest degree of the Old English bot, reparation. The words go further back, to the Proto Germanic bat and its higher forms batizon (better) and batistaz (best). And somewhere along the line, it switched from reparation to good, possibly because good never really had higher comparisons.

TL;DR: Better and best were adopted by good.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Z is for Zombie

Well, I finally got around to watching World War Z last weekend, so spoilers ahoy if you haven’t seen it yet but still want to. It has already been reviewed by more articulate people than I (who also saw the movie when it actually came out, thus making the reviews actually useful), so I’m not going to go into much depth about it. Suffice to say it was a very standard action film with characters that weren’t realized enough to be compelling and despite being a zombie movie, wasn’t really scary. Honestly, reading the news about its troubled production was way more entertaining than the resulting film.

The real point I want to get into is how it was a very poor adaptation of the book, like adaptation in name only. The book is about societal collapse and eventually, its reconstruction. It’s accepted that the zombie plague can’t be cured, can’t be prevented, and is always fatal. Conventional methods of warfare are ineffective. Ruthless, amoral methods end up being the only way to survive, from cannibalism to using humans as zombie bait.

The movie shows none of that, except maybe the plague being incurable. Zombies are unstoppable excepting headshots, like in the book, but there is never any modification of tactics beyond that “infect yourself with a curable disease and then the zombies won’t want you” thing. Even though I would think that the rotting undead wouldn’t be that picky. Seeing as they’re dead.

But that’s beside the point. The movie is weak. The societal upheaval is replaced with a man searching for clues about the disease so he can reunite with his family. Granted, the original framing of WORLD WAR Z had no main character (except maybe the guy conducting the interviews), but still. They could have come up with something better than the weaksauce every-action-movie-ever plot they had. They didn’t try to make a WORLD WAR Z movie (or they tried and failed…miserably). They made a zombie movie with World War Z as its title.

Finally, I would like to point out that just because this movie of a book was bad doesn’t mean all book-movies are bad, even the ones that are bad adaptations. The original version of Blade Runner is hardly the adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? but most consider it a good movie in its own right. So if you’re not going to make a good adaptation, at least try to make a good movie.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Kitty Pictures!

Because some days, you just don’t feel like writing a blog post.

And be real. You know you want to see them.

Veronica, in her favorite sleeping position.


Sometimes when I’m writing, I’ll be leaning forward, concentrating. And suddenly, I feel a heavy weight pressing up against me.

Isn’t this cute? That’s my mom’s new kitten, who I was taking care of while she was in New York.

She named him Roger. Then she took him to the vet. Now his name is Rosie. And he’s a she.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Language of Confusion: Liar, Liar

Because I wanted to etymologize the word every writer has to look up to use properly, lay, and that can’t be done without looking at lie in all its forms.

Lie as in not true first appeared as a verb in the late twelfth century, while the noun didn’t show up until the end of the seventeenth century. It comes from the Old English legan/ligan and its earlier incarnation leogan, all of which had the same basic meaning we know it as. Further back in Proto Germanic, the word is leugan (the g is still present in other Germanic languages, like Dutch and of course German) and even further back, we have the Proto Indo European leugh, to tell a lie. And I promise, I’m telling the truth. : )

And we all know the word liar, which is what’s known as an agent noun, a word for a person who does something (writer from write, for example). It came into existence in the early thirteenth century, from the Old English leogere, also liar. It doesn’t seem to have a version in Proto Germanic. Instead it seems to have evolved from the West Saxon (southern England, one of the most popular dialects before the Norman invasion in 1066) leogan and the Anglian (northern England, consisting of all the dialects of Mercia and Northumbria) legan, words meaning to lie. The word seems to have appeared because people wanted something to call people who tell untruths. I guess the middle ages were as long as they could go without it.

Then we have the other kind of lie, the one that gives us all the trouble with its tenses. It showed up in the early twelfth century from the Old English licgan, meaning it was similar to the word for lie even then. It evolved from Proto Germanic as well, coming from legjanan, to lie or lay. Lay, as in lay something down, has a very similar etymology. It comes from the Old English lecgan, with an e, which evolved from the Proto Germanic lagjanan, with an a. So apparently the confusion existed even a thousand years ago.

No one ever said languages evolve in a way that makes sense. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve been saying the opposite ever since I started these things.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
University of Texas at San Antonio’s page on Proto Indo European language

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Oh, right. My cache of previously written posts is used up. I have to start actually writing them again.

First, the good news. Roland Yeomans has a new book coming out! The title is LUCIFER'S ORPHAN, and it’s quite good. I even reviewed it for him. I’m not going to rehash everything here (you can go read the review for that), but the short version is that it’s a Paranormal full of romance and magic, MG technically, but that didn’t stop me from loving it. Roland does a great job with crafting characters. I read it in two sittings because it was that hard to put down.

As for this blog’s news, you may or probably not have noticed that I added a new page to the top of my blog. Go scroll up and look. I’ll wait.

See? Etymology. It’s my birthday gift to the blog, which turned three yesterday. Can you believe it? It’s potty trained and completely off the bottle! I swear, I came this ][ close to just deleting it in frustration after I spent two hours trying to get the formatting right (the reason I was almost completely absent from the internet is because I was so annoyed with it). The reason the columns are so terribly uneven is because apparently, Blogger hates the column function. It won’t even keep the tabs I used in Word, which…well, let me show you.

I assume you notice how nice and even they are. BUT NOT HERE. That just drives my inner neurotic nuts, especially since for some reason the “Edit” function keeps selecting everything so I can’t add spaces. If any of you have any idea how to create even columns in blog pages (or anything else that might work for the word list; I’m open to suggestions), let me know. It will be your birthday present to the blog.

All right, I’m off to try and fix the blog page. Wish me luck. If you never hear from me again, assume I got lost in the html.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Going Postal 3

And here’s my third and last repost to celebrate my third blogiversary, which will actually occur on Monday the 16th. As I already did my most viewed post and what I think was the best one, I’m now going to repost my overall favorite…

Why You Should Use Bags [Originally posted Saturday, December 24, 2011]

Have a very merry Christmas. Or, if you prefer, holiday. Whatever you do, have fun and be safe. Here’s my gift to you. I worked very hard on it.

Okay, I worked on it.

…it’s filler so I don’t have to think up a new post.

Click to embiggen.

Let this be a lesson to all of you. Don’t wrap presents. Use bags. Because wrapping is really, really annoying. Oh, and the environment or something.

It may just be something I scribbled in Paint, but I still find it hilarious. And also accurate. Cats do not make good helpers when it comes to wrapping presents. A close second in my favorites, perhaps only skipped because it was so recent, is my post about giant candy buttons. Further proof that the world doesn't love us.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Going Postal 2

Okay, so I did my most “popular” post, now I’m going repost the one that I think is the best. And the winner is…

You’re Welcome [Originally posted Friday, June 24, 2011]

I was reading the newspaper’s letters to the editor when one person complained about receiving a “No problem” from a teenaged server rather than “You’re welcome.” The writer did not explicitly state annoyance at the response, but he implied he was insulted with the response.

This boggles me. When someone tells me “Thank you” I usually say “No problem” or some variant. I’m not sure why this would insult anyone since it’s an acknowledgement of the thanks just like “You’re welcome” is. “But ‘No problem’ is slang,” one might say. “The proper response is ‘You’re welcome.’”

Proper? Not slang? Do you realize who you’re dealing with?

There’s a reason I put this post on etymology day. “You’re welcome” was not always the proper reply for “Thank you.” When someone says welcome, usually they’re referring to an invited guest they’re glad to see. The word itself is from the Old English wilcuma, a—no surprise here—welcome guest. Wilcuma is a combination of willa—pleasure or desire—and cuma—guest. Those are also the origin words for will (not well) and come.

“Will come” is like saying “invited” and that’s the meaning wilcuma had when it was first recorded in the 1530’s. It wasn’t a polite reply until 1907. “No problem” is linguistic evolution, just like “you’re welcome” was last century.

The issue seems to be that “No problem” turns the focus from the thanker to the thankee by saying “It’s no problem for me to do what you asked” rather than “I’m glad I could help you.” I’m not sure why this would be. Why can’t “No problem” mean the same as “You’re welcome”? The latter certainly did not have that meaning two hundred years ago—saying it in reply to “Thank you” would be nonsensical.

I’m honestly not sure why I say “No problem” rather than “You’re welcome.” It just sounds right to my ears. See, I’m someone who worries about bothering people. I hate to ask for things. So when someone asks me for something, I tell them it’s no trouble for me because that’s what I’d like to hear in the same situation.

The problem is that you may not think the same way I do. It may come off as rude, but in terms of acknowledgment of thanks, “No problem” is no less steeped in meaning or response than “You’re welcome,” “No worries,” “Don’t mention it” or “It’s nothing”.

There’s no call for insulted replies, either. What if someone says “No problem” and others retort with “Well, it shouldn’t be a problem!” Is that any different if someone says “You’re welcome” and the reply is, “Well, I’m glad I’m welcome here or I can’t do my job!”?

What do you think? Is “no problem” really a problem? Should this even be a point of contention among people?

Big surprise, I think an etymology post is my best one : ). It’s good because it’s a mix of my two favorite kinds of posts: rants and word origins. It manages to be informative as well as interesting. Or maybe I’m just kidding myself with that.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Going Postal 1

As it is the week of my blogiversary, I decided the laziest best way to celebrate would be to have some reposts. Today we’ll have the post with the most page views, according to my stats page. And the winner is…

There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Also spiders. [originally posted Monday, December 20, 2010]

I read an interesting article the other day. It seems this woman (only identified as SM) isn’t afraid of anything. I mean that when she’s exposed to things that normally scare people (spiders, threats) she barely feels anything. She has been in violent situations, scary situations (domestic violence, held up at knifepoint), but still isn’t afraid. The question is why.

Part 1: The Disease
SM fascinates the doctors studying her. Due to Urbach-Wiethe, an extremely rare genetic disorder (there are only three hundred known cases in medical literature), her amygdala is damaged. The disease causes physical symptoms like thickening of the skin and mucous membranes, and can cause epilepsy, attacks of rage and mental retardation. There are other neurological symptoms, too, including schizophrenia and mood disorders. I think it’s safe to say that the neurological phenomena occur based on where the UW affects the brain.

Urbach-Weithe disease is caused by (according to this article) “a defect in the metabolism of basement membrane collagen.” For everyone who isn’t a doctor, the basement membrane according to is “A thin membrane upon which is posed a single layer of cells…made up of proteins held together by type IV collagen.” It’s located directly under the epidermis, hence the reason it’s called “basement.” In UW disease, the basement membrane doesn’t regenerate (metabolize) properly, resulting in lipids (fats) being created throughout the basement membrane. This results in a lot of problems in the skin, mucous membranes, eyes and even the brain. The disease is usually detected in children because of reports that their voice is hoarse and cuts and scrapes don’t heal properly. The disease causes both; the hoarseness is caused by the calcification of the vocal cords among other things, while the scars are caused by improper healing.

The calcification builds up and affects other parts of the body: the eyes, scalp, and of course, the brain.

So now we know how the brain is altered. Tune in tomorrow as we continue to probe the mystery of the fearless woman.

I don't think I did a very good job writing the article (forgive me! It was only my third month in my blog) but it was still an interesting subject. If you check the old post, you'll see that there are only four comments, (I love that two of them are from William and Kathy, who I'm still blogging buddies with). But this is indeed my most viewed page. If you just have to see the rest of what I wrote about fear, here are links to parts two and three.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Story Time

I always like to do something fun in my Saturday posts. Sometimes it’s just fun for me, like in one of my rants, but you guys have put up with that enough lately, so I decided on something that’s actually fun for everyone: short stories.

I love short stories. I love long stories, too, but this week’s about the short ones, namely those of the sci-fi genre. We’re lucky to live in a time after the explosion of sci-fi shorts left us with thousands of varying quality to choose from.

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov
I actually mentioned this one before, but at the time was unable to find a copy of it online. The prolific Asimov calls it his best work. It’s certainly one of the smartest, most amusing ones.

The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin
If you prefer to be depressed by your sci-fi, look no further. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching, emotionally driven stories I’ve read period.

And He Built a Crooked House by Robert A. Heinlein
And He Built a Crooked House is par for the course time travel-y confusion. Seriously, you might need to write down detailed notes about what’s going on. Still fun though.

The Unreconstructed M by Philip K. Dick
It’s Philip K. Dick, so that right there should tell you it’s going to be cynical.

Ugh, I just realize there are all guys here. Lame. However, I’ve also been reading through MACHINE OF DEATH, a collection of short stories by various authors based on the premise set forth in one of Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics. And lucky for us there are plenty of females in there as well as males. So it’s proof that women can A), write science fiction, and B) be funny. Suck on that, SFWA.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Forgotten Letters

All of us who type solely in English are probably used to twenty six and only twenty six letters (some other languages get more, the lucky ducks), but as I’ve mentioned in several Language of Confusion posts, there have been tons of changes to the Latin alphabet over the years. Some letters have appeared out of nowhere (we’re all looking at you, J) and many have just disappeared.

These are their stories.

…I miss Law & Order.

Yogh (capital Ȝ, small ȝ, although it evolved over time much like other letters) came from an Old Irish form of the letter g. The pronunciation was a hard, throaty y-g sound, if that makes sense. Because it looked like a Z, a lot of words that were supposed to have yogh instead had a z. It’s how the name Mackenzie got its Z.

Thorn (capital Þ, small þ) is one of the old th sounds. It has a straightforward pronunciation, like th in math or thesaurus. The reason old timey signs say “ye” is because that y is supposed to be a thorn, making it “the”. It’s because thorn kind of looked like a y in some of its evolutions.

Eth or edh (capital Ð, small ð) is the other of the old th sounds. It’s pronunciation is much softer than thorn’s, more like if you barely said the th (compare how hard you th when you say the word “math” to when you say the word “this”).

Wynn or wen (capital Ƿ, small ƿ), from an old runic alphabet, is an old character for w back before w existed. When W showed up, wynn wasn’t cool anymore and faded into obscurity.

And there are plenty more where those came from, but I’ve bored you enough for today.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September Goals

Hello from the past! I’m actually writing this in the middle of August because the week that you’re reading this in is part of my blogcation and I’m not going to feel like writing then. What’s it like in the future? Are there any flying cars yet? I mean, besides the one that’s half-car, half-plane.

Writing form the past might make it difficult to evaluate my monthly goals, seeing how the month isn’t done yet, but considering the fact that my month is ending early anyway because of my vacation, who the hell cares?

August Goals

1. Keep on social media and keep searching for more beta readers for my YA apocalyptic. I really hope I remember it this month. Not that I know how to go about doing so…well, the goal should be to figure that out, then.
            Dang it, I was so bad with this one. I should have joined up with Write On Con, but it really happened at a bad time for me—I was busy with stuff that kept me from the computer and then was so worn out I didn’t feel like it anyway. Bah. Excuses!

2. Add 20K to new project. It’s a paranormal with an apocalyptic twist because I can’t really stray that far.
            I didn’t quite make this, but I was close, and I did try as hard as I could to get this done. I call this one a win.

3. Add 10K to my horror side project. Also, maybe reveal the horror story I wrote to you guys.
            Not ten thousand words, no. I did work on the horror story I wrote, but there was no time to share it. I’ve been thinking of waiting until October anyway. So it will get done, just not right now : ).

September Goals

1. Work on being more social online. It’s hard for me, but I want to be more active on the sites I’ve joined and get myself more out there. Ugh, I’m not looking forward to this.

2. Add 30K to my new project. I better do it, too!

3. Actually add something to the horror side project this time. I also have a few more horror ideas I want to expand (they’re just fragments right now; I’d like some actual thoughts on what to do with them).

I hope I’m successful this time. So what are you up to this month? Do you parents have more free time now that the kids are back in school or are you busier than ever?