Tuesday, September 29, 2015


I am SO excited! I love Halloween. It’s the best holiday. You get candy, to dress up in costumes, go to parties, and best of all, there is no obligation to see your family so you can just have fun! And candy. Lots and lots of candy.

In honor of this greatest of holidays, all of October will be dedicated to spooky things. Well, not really the etymology days, unless you’re scared of large blocks of words. And the comic days are going to be funny, not scary. So really only the Tuesdays. Except next Tuesday, which is my goals week. But the rest of the month will totally be about scary things! Scary websites, scary stories, scary movies! Scary!

Scarier than this little guy.
Get ready, because I am going to Halloween the crap out of you.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


This is a story about the last time there was an earthquake around here.

Seriously, I slept through what was, for the region, a rather large earthquake. But five seconds of the fan clicking and BOOM. Awake.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Secret Origins: Y

I can’t believe the last time I did one of these was April. What took me so long?

Y is a weird letter. Not because of the whole sometimes-a-vowel-sometimes-a-consonant thing. It’s weird because while the sound has been around for a long time, the symbol for it has changed like a million times.

First of all, why do we pronounce it, well, “why”? No one knows. In Old English, the Y at the beginning of words like yard and yield was a throaty “gh” sound. The symbol wasn’t Y back then, but Ȝ, or yogh (pronounced “yokh”), an Old Irish letter that kind of combined G and Y. But then the French decided they weren’t going to use Yogh when they were transcribing in English anymore because waaaah! it wasn’t Latin! And in the early thirteenth century started using either Y or gh. Because of course they did.

So where’d the Y symbol come from? Good question, self (thanks, self). Up to T, our letters are all easily traced from Phoenician to Greek, Etruscan, and finally Latin. When the Romans got to it, they added V (which eventually also became U and then W) and X. Because they also took a lot of words from Greek, too, they added Y for Greek words they needed to spell. And they just straight up used the symbol from the Greek letter capital upsilon: Υ. They chose only capital upsilon because lower-case upsilon (υ) was too busy being the inspiration for U.

Dr. James B. Calvert at the University of Denver’s page on the Latin Alphabet.
Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Reflections on a Blogiversary

I always spelled it “blogiversary”, but I know some people spell it in different ways. That’s the problem when you make up words. You have to agree on a spelling or it’s just confusing. That’s literally the reason spelling was invented.

Anyway, it’s been five years—five—since I first decided to start blogging because I had heard things about writers having “platforms” and it seemed like something I should do. I kind of thought that by this point I would be published, but, obvs, that didn’t happen. I don’t blame myself for that as much as I blame the fact that life just gets in the way sometime. I know a lot of you have managed to do so (and hey! Congratulations. It’s really great), but perhaps I don’t have the same fortitude as you. Or free time. There could be a million reasons. It’s not like I’m journaling your every single move throughout the day. Although if I was (not that I’m admitting anything!), it would explain a lot about my lack of free time.

I’m not all together pleased with my lack of progress, but I’m not blaming myself either. I had to make choices and some of those choices involved putting writing to the side. It’s disappointing, yes, but…well, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. And please forgive me for using the improper “gotta” but it would sound funny if I didn’t.

Also, blogging has changed quite a bit in the last five years. So many fellow bloggers have vanished into the digital ether! I’m glad all the cool people are still around and reading this blog. How boring would it be otherwise?

Five years. Wow. It just keeps hitting me. I wonder where I’ll be in another five years. What about you? Where do you think you’ll be?

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Going Postal, Part 3

Last day of reposts! Time to think up original content again. Dammit. Anyway, this isn’t really a stick figure comic, which is Saturday’s usual fare, but it was my first attempt to do something humorous using Paint. Um, I’m not sure it succeeded.

Happy Thanksgiving! Or November 25th. Whichever. [First posted 11/25/2015]

Updating super early because I’m probably not going to get a chance to see the precious internet until super late tonight, and only if I’m not too tired. Spending time with my relatives is exhausting.  

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been working on: The Flowchart of What Writer’s Do All Day Now Stop Asking. Subtitle: Why I never get anything done. 

I just find flowcharts hilarious. Click to embiggen.

Edit: I increased the font size in the boxes to be easier to read. I hope it works!

Looking at these old posts is so embarrassing. I remember how hard it was to get the stupid thing large enough so that people could actually read it. Not that reading it made it any funnier…Look, I’ll make up for it next week, okay?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Going Postal, Part 2

Yay, more reposts! This one is my very first Language of Confusion post, back when I didn’t think it would be a weekly thing (just count yourself lucky that it doesn’t have a ridiculous title after it, which I kept up for a while for some reason). Anyway, here’s desert and desert!

The Language of Confusion [First posted 10/17/2010]

It’s a good thing we have context. How else would you tell what I mean when I write tear? There’s a tear in my eye right now. Yeah, a stick poked into my cornea. It didn’t rip, but now it’s been crying a little (just kidding by the way ;))

But the English language (I can’t really speak for other languages) is full of words like that. Is it wind or wind? Wound or wound? Desert or desert?

It’s part of the magic of words. What’s interesting is the etymology surrounding the words.

First, let’s take desert. In the abandon sense, it comes from the Old French (twelfth century) deserter. No, that isn’t very far. But that word specifically meant to abandon one’s duty. And no, that isn’t the end. Deserter comes from the late Latin desertare or desertum, which is a verb-izing (okay, aside: my word verbizing is essentially doing the same thing as what I’m describing; it takes one word and makes it a different tense to describe something) of the Latin deserere, which also means abandon. Parsing the word gives us de (undo), and serere, which the word series also stems from. So deserere means undoing a series or repetition, stopping an act that is supposed to keep going on.

But what about the desert wasteland? Thank the Old French again, although instead of deserter, this one is exactly the same: desert. It, not surprisingly, means wilderness, destruction, ruin. And like the first, it also stems from the late Latin desertum and Latin deserere. So how did the two different meanings get to be the same thing? That’s the fault of Middle English, who decided it was appropriate for a waterless, treeless region.

So the reason these two words are spelled the same is because two different languages (Middle English and Old French) used the same derivation to mean different things, and as they evolved, they became the same. If you check French, the word is désert, although as you can see it has a tilde over the e. That’s more of a French thing.

All this may not be correct (although they are precise as two sources corroborated it), but if you have anything to add, or any more dual words, let me know. Words are fun.

Okay, the humor is painful and I was really way too fond of parentheses, like even more than I am now. Plus, no sources?! Frigging hell, four years of college! Source your material! This isn’t Wikipedia, dammit!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Going Postal, Part 1

Oh, ha ha, I just realized that today is my blogiversary and I can use this as an excuse to put up old posts under the guise of reminiscing when I really just don’t want to think up new posts! Awesome, right? Anyway, here’s the very first post I did, which I had to copy directly from my blog because apparently I don’t have a copy of it in Word. Man, I did not know what I was doing back then.

Day One [First posted 9/15/2010!]

I suppose I’m not quite sure what to say, perhaps because nothing I say hasn’t been said before. A thousand monkeys typing for a thousand years might reproduce the works of Shakespeare, but a single writer most definitely will. Not on purpose, not even consciously. But it does happen. Is that necessarily a bad thing? No. Not if the writer is good.

Back in high school, I was taught there were only five types of stories: man vs. man, man vs. himself (or woman versus herself…I’m a terrible sexist! and a bit lazy), man vs. society, man vs. the natural, and man vs. the supernatural. If I’ve forgotten one or more, forgive me. It doesn’t matter anyway as my point is that reducing stories to man vs. anything is a gross oversimplification. You can say The Scarlet Letter is a person versus society and miss the point entirely, because it isn’t about Hester bearing the punishment for adultery. It’s about Hester. It’s about morality. It’s about love. And it’s about a million other things.

There are other stories that are man/woman versus society. Are they The Scarlet Letter? No! Are they even in the same genre? Nope! Because the real story, the real writing, is in the details, not the one sentence summation. That’s the reason why John Steinbeck could write the story of Cain and Abel and have it come out a book completely different from the book of Genesis.

So, how was this for the first post? Maybe once I get some followers, it will be a bit more impressive. Maybe.

Well, I can answer that question now: it was dumb, but luckily no one saw it. I have no idea what even prompted this line of thought. And how weird that I actually used to post about books and writing. It’s almost like this used to be a writer’s blog or something.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


It was the best and worst day of my life…

Seriously, it was all 8s for like half an hour! Why would they be so mean and ruin that?

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Language of Confusion: Incidences

Sometimes words just strike me as weird. Like, accident and incident both end in -cident…but what does that mean? Are they even connected? Or is it just another coincidence?

Oh, coincidence. That’s another one.

Accident showed up in the late fourteenth century actually meaning an event or incident (-_-). It comes from the Old French accident and classical Latin accidentem/accidere, which can mean accident, to happen, or to fall out or fall upon. The a- comes from ad-, which means to, and the suffix comes from cadere, which means fall. And is, weirdly enough, the origin word for case which used to mean “what befalls one”. So it went from “to fall to” to something happening to happening by chance to accident. With that fall in there, it kind of makes sense.

Incident showed up in the early fifteenth century meaning “something which occurs casually in connection with something else”. Which sounds a lot more like accident than accident does. Anyway, it comes from the Middle French incident and classical Latin incidentem/incidere, incident or fall. The in- means on in this case (don’t ask; prefixes are weirder than actual words) and added to cadere, it’s to fall on, which somehow morphed into what we know it as. Coincidence and coincide are both related, although they didn’t show up until the early seventeenth century. Those two words come from the Medieval Latin (so later than classical Latin) coincidere, which is incidere + co-, which is together. This makes the word “to fall on together”, which actually sounds a lot like what a coincidence is.

And there’s one more word we’re going to look at. Occident showed up in the late fourteenth century, meaning western, coming from the Old French occident and classical Latin occidentem, west. Occidentem comes from occidere, which can mean “fall down” or even “kill”. The fall down part at least makes sense, since the sun sets (or “falls down”) in the west. And amusingly enough, that word is also the origin for occasion, although via the Latin occasionemopportunity. The o- comes from ob-, which means down or away. Not sure how falling away means opportunity, but there you are.

TL;DR: -cident means fall. Everything else is really confusing.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

From The Spamfiles

I’m pretty sure I had another idea for a post, but I totally forgot what it was so here’s more from the Spamfiles.

I just love this. Jaack with two A’s. It’s more precious than gold.

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of these offers to go to an online university to get a degree in psychology. Because if you want a psychologist, definitely go for the one who got her degree over the internet.

Sir and madam. Also, I really have no idea what about me would make them think I need plastic, rubber, or metal parts.

Okay, this one came out blurry but it’s really funny. This woman, from Trinidad & Tobago, is in the Ivory Coast (FYI: T&T is in the Caribbean , so she’s a long way from home). She was poisoned (of course) by her step mother (double of course) for her inheritance (the much vaunted triple of course). And for some reason she wants me to contact an “orphan child” named Jonathan Walter so we can both get her millions. This spam really hits all the marks in Scam Bingo.

 By the context, I know “prom.” is short for promotion, but I still like to think that it’s a really awesome sun-themed prom.

…What’s an Akshaya Tritiya and why should I want one? Or do I not want to know? I probably don’t want to know.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Humidity Levels

There’s a reason I pretty much always have my hair up.
It’s a surprisingly accurate way to measure the humidity, though. Scientists are hoping to create a new measuring tool by analyzing my hair.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Language of Confusion: Meal Time

And now we’re going to learn the etymologies of all the different words for meals. Because!

Breakfast showed up in the mid fifteenth century, a combination of break and fast (duh). Of course there were other words used in Old English for the meal we had after waking up. First was morgenmete, morning meal—morgen is morning and mete has a few different translations, most of which relate to food and meals. There was also undernmete; the mete is the same as before, but the undern is an old word from Old and Middle English that also meant morning. Undern actually shifted which part of the day it referred to over time. Early on it was specifically from 9 a.m. to noon, but then in the thirteenth century it was just midday. Which is why undernmete also at one point meant lunch.

Lunch didn’t show up until 1786—before that, it was always luncheon and even through the nineteenth century lunch was considered colloquial at best. Luncheon showed up in the late sixteenth century as a thick piece or hunk of something, not meaning a meal until the mid seventeenth century. Its origin is unsure, but it’s probably related to an old English word lunch that means a hunk of bread or cheese. It also might be related to the word nuncheon, which, shockingly, is not something I just made up. It was an actual word in the mid fourteenth century that meant a light refreshment, a mix of none (from noon) and shench. Shench is another obsolete word, but it comes from the Old English scencan, pour out a drink. So because people like to have a light meal and drink, by some roundabout way we get to lunch.

Dinner showed up in the early fourteenth century from the Old French disner. Originally it was used for breakfast and then for lunch, but always used to signify the main meal of the day. Dinner obviously is related to dine, which also comes from disner, to dine. It comes from the Gallo-Roman desjunare, which translates to “break one’s fast”, and comes from the Vulgar Latin disjejunare. The dis- means undo and the jejunare comes from the Late Latin jejunare (iejunus in classical Latin), to fast. If you’ve ever heard of the word jejune, yeah, that’s where it comes from. So dinner was a really shortened way of saying breakfast.

Finally, supper. It showed up in the mid thirteenth century as soper, the last meal of the day. It comes from the Old French soper, evening meal, which is probably related to soupe, broth, and the origin word for soup. While most Old French words are traced back to Latin, the French took this word from Proto Germanic. Supper, sup, soup, and sop all come from the Proto Germanic sup-, and before that the Proto Indo European seue, to take liquid.

So, yeah. Those were some weird origins.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English
The Phonetic Origin and Phonological Expansion of Gallo-Roman Palatalization” by Eugene Buckley at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Goals

Ugh, my vacation was not as restful as I would have liked. I could have used another month or two. And is it that time again already? I swear, it should only be April, May at the latest…

August Goals
1. Try to write 10K on one of my WIPs. I hope I have the time! Maybe during my vacation.
Ha ha, no. No. Because life saw all the free time I could use for writing and punished me for it.

2. Get my birthday week posts ready. These will probably be stick figure comics : )
Well, at least I did this.

3. VACATION!!!!!! Do I have enough exclamation points?
Finally, a goal I can get behind!

I was so optimistic then. That should be a lesson: never, ever feel good about anything ever. Because life will hurt you for it.

September Goals
1. Make food money. ‘Cause, you know. Eating and stuff.

2. Don’t let life sucker punch again.

3. Maybe, just maybe, get to write.

September will hopefully be better, but again, any optimism will be punished. What are you up to this month? Glad that school is starting again?