Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgrieving III

I can honestly say I'm surprised. This Thanksgiving wasn't a total sh!thole, which makes it the first one not to be since I started this freaking blog. Apparently changing urls really did wonders for a lot of things.

There were no fights. No crying. No jerkwad relatives who have to be threatened to be physically thrown out of the house then physically thrown out of the house because they think I'm too small and they won't make that mistake again. Mostly because said jerkwad relatives weren't invited. I also wasn't blindsided by having total strangers invited so I'm all anxious through the whole thing and then angry when everyone tells me to suck it up.

I could get used to this. I hear there are some families that even manage to get along through most holidays! It sounds like a modern day fairy tale, but wouldn't it be something?

Oh, and it's Saturday. The reason why this post is happening now is because it's time for a new poll! I'm really going to try to make this work so you better all vote!

Now! Do it now!

How was your Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Off For Thanksgiving

Read the title. But here's something for you...

The only thing that isn't true is that I don't have a clock behind me when I'm at the computer.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Winter Break

Thanksgiving is coming, which means I have to prepare for dealing with (shudder) my family, so fair warning: my posts this week are going to be very lazy. No thinking things through, proofreading or fact checking at all. I’m not even going to try to be interesting. I mean, it’s not like my blog stats can get that much worse.

You know what? I’m not even going to post anything else. Instead, I’m going to send you to Newgrounds again to play a puzzle game about sheep. It also has several sequels, which I also advise playing, including one in space. You better go play the games because I’ll be expecting a report on my desk by Monday.

Wait…where the hell did that come from?

All right, no more making posts at midnight.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Informal Poll

I’ve been thinking of starting a new weekly post for my blog. A little like Thursday is always for etymology, Saturday will have its own theme. Except it probably won’t be every week. Maybe every other. Ish. We’ll have to see what I can come up with.

As the title of this post clearly says, plus the big new gadget you scrolled down to read this, but maybe you skipped over them or your aggregator doesn’t do titles or something, which I guess is possible although unlikely since it seems weird to not look at a title, but that’s just me and maybe you feel differently, and at this point I’m just trying to see how long I can get this sentence to be, although I bet it’s still not a record breaker, I’m going to start doing informal polls. The basic idea is that I will have a question every other week or so, talk about the topic for a bit, then open the floor to responses from you guys, and then I’ll post the final tallies before the next informal poll. I’m not quite sure what ideas I’ll come up with, but you can expect something appropriately insane.

So to start things off appropriately, what do you think of the idea of informal polls? Please scroll up to answer : ).

Oh, and it had ninety three words.

EDIT: You know what would have really helped? If the poll actually went up when it was supposed to instead of just not working. Thanks for the embarrassment, Blogger.

By the way, I was being sarcastic.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Lost in Translation: Sunday

Ah, my last one. Of course, there’s always months left to do.

Spanish: domingo
Portuguese: domingo
Italian: Domenica
French: dimanche
Romanian: duminică
German: Sonntag
Norwegian: søndag
Dutch: zondag
Danish: søndag
Icelandic: Sunnudagur
Sweedish: söndag
Polish: niedziela
Serbian: nedelja
Ukrainian: nedilya
Bulgarian: nedelya
Albanian: e diel
Latvian: svētdiena
Estonian: pühapäev

I’m sure the etymology won’t be a surprise to anyone. Sunday comes from the Old English Sunnandaeg, day of the sun. It was what’s known as a loan-translation, which is taking a foreign word or phrase and translating it into your language so you can use it without those pesky foreign sounding words. In this case, Sunnandaeg comes from the classical Latin dies solis, which has the same meaning and is a loan-translation itself of the Greek hemera heliou.

The sun’s day happens to be the name of a pagan holiday in Roman culture, but interestingly enough, the Romance languages instead have the Latin dominica, God’s day, as it’s root. The Germanic languages preferred to keep their pagan reference, thank you very much. Eastern Europe gives us more variations. Sunday is the first day of the week in the Albania, so they call it “first day”. Latvian very obviously has day (diena) in it, but I have no idea about svēt. Estonian also has day in it (päev), and püha just happens to translate to holy, so I think it’s obvious what they were going for there. In Polish, dziela is close to dzień, day, but I’m not familiar enough with the other languages to be sure if the others are the same word. The same with the first part, which might mean “not” in Polish, or could be me totally not understanding a language I’m not that familiar with. You guess which.

In other words, don’t use me as an academic reference.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

My Advice to You

I tend to do my writing in bulk, over about three hours, four or five days a week. My productivity is usually pretty good this way (I did nine thousand words last week and eleven thousand the week before; not bad, right?). But there are times when I can barely put a hundred words down no matter how much I sit staring at the screen, willing myself to write. It’s at these points that I often go searching the internet for other people who have gone through the same thing in hopes of learning how to make the words just get out on the screen.

There are a lot of writers out there, and most of them seem to have blogs, and the one thing they like to do is give writing advice to other writers. You know. Like I’m doing now. Anyway! I find that sometimes, the advice is quite helpful. But truth be told, it often isn’t. Now, I’m not saying the advice is bad. Most of the time, it’s well written and at least gives me something to consider. It’s just that for whatever reason, I can’t make it work for me.

Going back to the writer’s block example, I have read a lot about how to slay that insidious beast. Some advise powering through, typing something, anything until the will to write returns. Others say you should switch to another project. Still others say take a break (a day or a week or however long it takes). Or go edit what you’ve already written, skip the part that’s bothering you, do some outlining, etc. There’s no end to it. But nothing I’ve read has really helped me get over a writing slump. I’ve always had to work through it on my own doing one or more (or none!) of the above, because I am a very different writer than all of you, just like each of you is very different from everyone else.

Is all this advice bad? Far from it. In writing about what works for us, we are giving ideas to others that may or may not help, and even if it’s probably not, we are clarifying to ourselves what we need to do when the situation arises. These blogs—or mine, anyway—isn’t just about connecting with you guys and spouting boring facts about word origins. It’s also a record of what I’m doing. So I can have an alibi for when I’m on trial remember what I’ve done and what I need to do.

Or something. Thoughts? What is your advice about advice?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Complaint Free World? No Thanks

Okay, I haven’t done a rant in a while (or at least I haven’t bothered to check and see if I have…same dif) so here we go.

I read online about some movement encouraging people to go without complaining for like three weeks. My reaction: sweet lord, NO. What would I tweet about? The only things I do on Twitter are complain and tell people when I’m going to bed so they don’t expect a response from me. Which would be another complaint. Cutting out complaining would basically kill me on social media.

I’m a pessimist. I admit it. I also don’t think this is a bad thing. Being a pessimist doesn’t mean I’m constantly ragging on everything that goes wrong or warning that when things go right it’s only because they’re getting ready to go wrong. It means I tend to see the negative outcomes first and the positive second. The worst thing it does is make me more indecisive. It doesn’t make me a whiner.

I understand that the idea behind the movement is to stop complaining and get out trying to change things, or and don’t whine about the things you can’t, but come on. Yes, doing something is better than saying you want to do something, but sometimes things seem cruddy and you rail against it because you just want to feel heard, even if it’s only by the universe. To me, acknowledging something is the only way to move past it. It’s not giving it power over me. It’s not me moaning and groaning instead of acting (usually it’s me moaning and groaning while I’m acting : ). It’s me voicing something. Unless I’m at it constantly, I don’t see how it hurts anyone or anything.

I’m going to complain if someone stops at the flashing yellow light even though no one is in the crosswalk. Because it’s not a big deal what I do alone when I’m driving. I’m going to complain if I wait a half hour in a restaurant for my meal because they forgot my order. Because I should get the food I order. I’m going to complain if I read a story about a girl getting shot for knocking on someone’s door while she was looking for help. Because I want to remember how awful that is.

If you don’t like it, go complain about it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Language of Confusion: The Friend-Ship

Man, I cannot wait for the holidays, because I sure don’t feel like doing anything. At all. Anyway, let’s talk about the word friend or whatever.

Friend comes from the Old English word freond, which I think is much cooler. It has the same meaning as friend, but it also happens to be the present participle of the word freogan, which means to love or to favor. It can be traced to the Proto Germanic frijojanan, to love, but that’s as far back as that particular word goes. Also, I absolutely love that the Online Etymology Dictionary lists the creation of friend as a verb to Facebook in 2005.

But that’s not the end of the story. That Old English freond happens to be related to the Old English freo, which means free. It comes from the Proto Germanic frijaz, which is quite similar to the above crazy word frijojanan. Unlike frijojanan though, frijaz can be trace to the Proto Indo European prijos, which means beloved. Beloved like a friend perhaps. So yes, free once was closer to love, which makes a lot more sense for friend. As for why free is like that, there’s only guessing.

We’re still not done. If you take that r out of friend, you basically have the opposite: fiend. That’s true in Old English, too, where the word feond means enemy. It happens to be the present participle of feogan, to hate, coming from the Proto Germanic fijaejan and Proto Indo European pei, to blame or revile. This means that the lack of an r has made these two terms opposites as far back as etymology can trace.

Like, whoa.

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spaced Out

Spaces between sentences. I can’t remember what brought about this thought, but I’m guessing it was something boring.

When I was in school, we got marked down if we handed in a paper without TWO spaces after the period. College was the same. Two spaces, the professors insisted. Well, the English professors. My science teachers cared not even a little as long as it was in semi-coherent English. But that’s getting off topic.

There’s a lot of talk about what started the two space rule, with some insisting that it has to do with the use of strange devices known as “typewriters” and their monospaced fonts. However, there’s just as good an argument that using two spaces has nothing to do with typewriters, or typesetters and printers desiring a wider space between sentences, and the only reason for the abolishment of two spaces is to lessen printing costs. The only facts that are definite are that large gaps between sentences were common for centuries before the printing press and the typewriter were invented, and using only one space is a recent habit that seems to be getting more popular.

For a while after I started writing, I stuck to the two spaces. It wasn’t until I started blogging that I found out that two was becoming passé, and now even the MLA says one space is preferred for papers and manuscripts (although the APA is still sticking with two). But there are those out there who are literally insane about two being more aesthetically pleasing, and the vitriol is almost as bad as the people who want to abolish the apostrophe.

What say you, peeps? Which did you learn was the “right” one? Which do you use now?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Eternally Yours

Since I’ve been hinting at it for a while, I might as well fill in the details. Remember when I was talking about the Slender Man a few weeks ago (visit TV Tropes if you want to know more about it, but fair warning, that site is a timesuck)? Yeah, it’s based on that. Enduring Eternity is a horror story that I’ve been “blogging” for the past few months about a guy who calls himself Axel trying to make sense of the events that turned his life into a waking nightmare.

The last post went up on Halloween (which ended up being a happy coincidence), bringing the total to thirty nine (a multiple of thirteen, another happy coincidence). It follows Axel through his ups and lows in his personal life as he tries to piece together what happened after his car broke down, leaving him and his friend stranded in the forest. There is no violence, but some gruesome imagery (although only in a couple of posts). Also, he swears kind of a lot. And comments are off so if you have anything to say, you have to tell me here (I hang out on a forum for these kinds of blogs, but I’m guessing you guys aren’t there, so…).

In total, it’s about 37,000 words, so basically it’s a novella. If you like horror and creepy things, I hope you check it out. The blog is here, in the Dynamic Views format, but it actually works for a blog like this and it’s really easy to scroll down to the beginning. Or if you prefer, the first post is here.

Thanks for listening! Um, reading.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Language of Confusion: Metal Madness

I already did iron (to see if it was related to irony—nope) and lead (to compare the two different verbs and their pronunciations), so I figured why not see where the names of other metals come from. Not that I’m sure anyone is pausing from NaNo long enough to read my blog so I can just stop trying. Anyway, here we go:

When it first showed up in the early thirteenth century, gold was just an adjective, not a name of a metal. It didn’t get attached to the metal of that color for another two centuries. The word “gold” comes from the Old English gold, which evolved from the Proto Germanic gulth and further back, the Proto Indo European ghel, which means yellow/green (in fact, in my colors post I mentioned that ghel is the origin word for yellow). In other words, gold is basically saying “that metal that’s yellow”.

Silver comes from the Old English seolfor and Mercian sylfur, which meant silver or money. In Proto Germanic the word is silubra, but from there it’s uncertain because Proto Indo European bequeathed arg- (shine, white) which gave us the Latin argentum and even the word argent here in Modern English. Silver jumped in over a thousand years ago (possibly of Asian extraction) and just stayed and now we use it to describe the shining white metal.

Tin comes from the Old English tin (I’ll never be able to pronounce that!) and Proto Germanic tinom. There’s nothing further back than that as Latin uses a completely different word, stannum. Most European countries use variations of both the Latin and Proto Germanic for tin to differentiate between the raw form of the metal and the plate form of it.

Unlike the other words here, platinum first showed up as a metal, and relatively recently in 1812. Its name comes from Latin, of course, but that was from the Spanish word platina or plata, which means silver. Apparently when it was first discovered, it was thought of as a lesser form of silver.

Or “aluminium”, for you UK types. It’s another one that didn’t show up until 1812. Its oxide form “alumina”, actually came first, and was named from the classical Latin alumen, which means alum, a salt used in medicine, tanning and dyeing among other things.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
Orbis Latinus

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November Goals

Oh, god, it’s November and I got nothing done. October was the WORST. I was hardly able to write at all because I was so busy with stuff. First there was construction going on outside, then it got cold but the frigging heater wasn’t frigging working (frig!), plus, as anyone who follows me on Twitter has heard non-stop about, I hurt my neck at the beginning of the month (no idea how) and it’s only just now started to not kill me every day. Concentrating on writing is made extra hard when you have to keep taking breaks to lie on the floor because your neck can’t hold up your head.

Okay, enough complaining. Let’s see how I actually did (shudder)…

October Goals
1. Finish Horror Project A, also known as Enduring Eternity. Maybe I’ll share it with you guys.
Yes, it’s fully finished, although it mostly was anyway. As for the sharing, maybe Saturday?

2. Get 30K words down, preferably more in the paranormal apocalyptic than my other horror project.
Nope. Not even close. The above problems really grinded this one to a halt. At this rate, I’m never going to get those projects done!

3. Keep updating my etymology page. Remember all the trouble I had with that? Oh, man, this is not going to be fun.
Ha, I actually did this at the beginning of the month. If you look up, you’ll see the new pages I have for easily confused words and other etymology things. Because they’re not nearly as long as the Language of Confusion page, it ended up being a lot easier than I expected.

So I got the easy ones done. I hope I actually have a chance to write this month and oh, no, it’s November, which means Thanksgiving is going to eat up my time in a few weeks, great.

November Goals

1. 20K in my paranormal apocalyptic story! This is the more important project, so I really want to focus on it. I think some of the reason I’ve been having trouble is because I’ve been working on multiple things. It’s time to stop doing that.

2. Be more active on social media. Of course, since everyone is off doing NaNo, it’s not like anyone will be around to notice.

3. Learn more about computer coding. Yes, really.

Okay, so that’s what I’m up to this month. What about you?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Random Thoughts

---Dolphins might have better memories than elephants. I think this means we have to change that old saying.
---Hawaii is moving towards Japan at a rate of about four inches a year. Those thieves!
---Quint: to deliberately insult someone who is fishing for a compliment. And my new favorite thing.
---An animal control officer was found with 850 snakes in his apartment. I’m thinking he doesn’t understand the purpose of his job.
---Wait…pasty is a food? I only knew it as…something else.
---I’m surprised there aren’t more sci-fi works with titles that start with a Q. The letter just naturally lends itself to sci-fi, like X and Z.
---Whenever I get to hoping for humanity, I remember that there are still people out there who think Onion stories are real.
---“For each person, there is a sentence—a series of words—which has the power to destroy them.” Screw quint. THIS is my new favorite thing.
---“Scientists run dinosaur wind-tunnel tests”. They had dinosaurs and didn’t tell us?!!
---“Jon Gosslin threatens photog with gun”. Oh no! I scrolled down too far in my news feed and accidentally got into Entertainment “news”.
---I read a game review that claimed GTA V was ruined by “stubborn violence and sexism”. While the violence and sexism part is completely true, what did this guy expect the game to be about? If you’re going to protest the violence and sexism in GTA, go ahead and do it, but don’t act like that’s not what every GTA game ever has been full of.
---James Blunt was a captain in the British Army. Yes, that James Blunt.

---A guy actually computed what the difference is between a geek and a nerd. Apparently, a geek is someone who likes movies, television shows, and comics while a nerd is someone with interests in science and mathematics. I’m assuming this means the guy who made said computation is a total nerd.