Thursday, November 30, 2017

Secret Origins: 5

It’s been several months since I’ve done one of these, so why not?

The word five comes from the Old English fif, Proto Germanic fimfe, and Proto Indo European penkwe, all of which mean five. Weird development, right? Penkwe to five, how the hell does that work? Plus it’s the origin of all the five words, like penta- and quint. And words you might not think of, like fist (five fingers in one, I guess), finger (they think), punch (although only the kind you drink, which is a way more interesting story) and Parcheesi. So now you all know that.

The numeral actually started out looking like a curly, backwards four. Then it got even more curly, then was just a circle in Arabic, from which it went to medieval Europe, where it looks like an upside down five. Weird, but it makes way more sense than the word’s origins.

I…guess that’s it? Not a very big one today. Pretty fascinating, though.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Moms and Technology 4

Yes, one more for the road because I don’t want to come up with an original post. This one actually took place the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, while I was baking a cheesecake. I was answering texts while trying not to get cream cheese all over my phone.

Her: How do you put page numbers and a header into a Word document?

Me: Just add page numbers and then type in your header.

Her: No I need them to be on opposite sides.

Me (never heard that before): WHAT?

Her: It’s APA format!

I had no idea. I had to go look it up, and let me say it’s ridiculously complicated. Seriously, APA, what’s so horrible about having a header and a page number on the same side? And boy am I glad I’m not in school anymore.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Moms and Technology 3

Remember the power outage I mentioned? It affected most of the state, including my mom’s house, so she was pretty bummed that she couldn’t watch her DVDs of Friends.

Me: I can bring over my laptop and you can watch it on that.

Her: Yeah, bring it, but we’ll just watch it on Netflix.

Me: I…We can’t watch it on Netflix. There’s no internet.

Her: I know. But it’s Netflix.

Me: …You can’t watch Netflix without the internet.

Her: You can’t? Why?

Me: Because you need the internet to access it like you do any website and you have no internet!

Her: Really?

Me: No power means no modem which means no internet!

Her: …Are you sure?

Me: Yes!


Her: Are you sure you can’t watch Netflix on your laptop?

I start sobbing.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Moms and Technology 2

Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s more actual conversations that I’ve had with my mother.

Her: I can’t get my wireless printer to print.

I go down there, find it’s not connected to the internet. I can’t access it through her computer, so I try connecting it directly through her internet cable, which means I had to unplug her from her modem. That didn’t work so I plugged her back into the modem and figured out how to re-sign in her printer to her wireless network. Lo and behold, it starts printing and I leave her to it.

Five minutes later…

Her: It stopped printing! Right in the middle of a page!

Me: Okay…wait. It’s still connected to the internet.

Her: Stupid thing!

Then she hands me the blue cord that was supposed to be connecting her computer to the modem.

Her: This is useless, right? Because it stopped working right around the time I took it out of my computer.

I couldn’t even talk. I just reconnected it and set up everything again and she swore she’d never touch any wires again. I just. Why did she think I put it back. What did she think her desktop computer was getting the internet from. Why. Why why why.

After that I had to go lie down for a while.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Moms and Technology 1

It’s Thanksgiving week! I have too much to do so here’s a bunch of actual conversations I’ve had with my mom.

Her: I can’t find my paper. I know I saved it on Chrome but all that’s here is a blank page.

Me: Okay, did you save it on Google Drive?

Her: What’s Google Drive? How do I find it?

Me: Just go to the nine dots in the corner and click on it. It should be there.

Her: Okay, the paper’s not there. Can you go to my computer at home and check for it on there?

Me: …Fine.

So I get there and turn it on and…

Her: Never mind. I found it.

Saturday, November 18, 2017


I got a new router to help with my internet issues and…yeah, they’re mostly solved, although there’s still the occasional blip. Anyway, here’s what actually happened the day it arrived.
I politely told them no thank you, but I swear, if disappointment could be distilled into its purest essence, it would be that moment.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Language of Confusion: Eating Birds

Thanksgiving is a week away! So why not etymologize delicious birds that we like to eat?

This made more sense in my head.

Turkey showed up in the mid sixteenth century—at least, in regards to the bid that we now call turkey that is North American in origin. Before that, the name turkey was applied to a completely different species, the guinea fowl, which is from Africa. Those birds happened to be exported through the country of Turkey, so people started calling them that, but then when American turkey got introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century, people were like, well, clearly we have to call this bird from a different continent than Turkey turkey. It just makes sense.

Chicken comes from the Old English cicen, which meant a bird, but originally specifically meant a young bird. You know, like we use chick for today. It comes from the Proto Germanic kiukinam, from keuk-, which was a word for the sound a bird makes (and is possibly the origin of cock). That means it’s like “cluck”, so a chicken is… a clucken.

The bird duck comes from the Old English duce (pronounced duke), which is obviously just duck and is thought to be from the Old English word ducan, the origin word for the verb duck. But that isn’t sure, and it does seem kind of weird that ducks would duck. The previous word for duck was ened, and that word comes from the Proto Indo European aneti-, which is where a lot of other Indo European language derive their word for duck from. But not us anymore.

Goose comes from the Old English gos, which is a much more simplified spelling if you ask me. It comes from the Proto Germanic gans and Proto Indo European ghans-, which is actually thought to be another word taken from the sound the bird makes. And the reason the plural is geese is because of something called i-mutation, which means that people get lazy in their speaking and start pronouncing oo sounds like ee. And for some reason that became a popular way to pluralize things.

Pheasant showed up in the late thirteenth century (although it appeared a century earlier as a last name). It comes from the classical Latin phasianus, pheasant, from the Greek phasianos, also pheasant. Apparently it was named after a river called Phasis (now called Rion in Georgia) where there were a lot of the birds. And the T at the end just showed up because people said the word wrong because that’s ninety percent of etymology.

Plato and His Dialogues

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

From The Spamfiles

I just…really don’t feel like coming up with a post idea.

They give me the angry emoji in the subject line, but then a smiley emoticon in the message (which is in quotes for some reason BTW). Very inconsistent tone.

Sure, this makes sense. Presidents contact me all the time.

It’s from the Olivia Cake Designs branch of Bank of America.

This is…I don’t know what this is. They’re threatening me with photos. Are they, like, cursed or something?

What they do is within ambient of the law. I have to admit, I’ve never heard ambient used that way and have no idea what it’s supposed to mean. I even looked it up in the dictionary to see if there was some obscure definition I was unaware of, but nope. Not a clue what the hell that’s supposed to mean. Yet the rest of the spam is surprisingly well written.

Amazon wants me to see their pic. How naughty.

Honestly I’m a little disappointed in the quantity of spam I’ve been receiving lately. Some days I don’t get any at all, let alone one worthy of being posted. So if you get anything funny be sure to send it my way.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


I hate power outages.
It was horrible. I mean, I still had my handhelds but come on! I was in the middle of a game!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Language of Confusion: -Trude

I saw the word obtrusive the other day and I figured it was a good word to etymologize.

Obtrusive first showed up in the mid seventeenth century from the classical Latin obstrus-, but obtrude first showed up a century earlier. Its Latin origin is the word obtrudere, thrust into, press upon, or even presume. The ob- means in front of or toward, while trudere is thrust or shove. I guess something that’s obtrusive is shoved in your way. Trudere is also from the Proto Indo European treud-, which means press, push, or squeeze and is the origin word for threat. Which actually sounds like it has a more interesting origin than obtrude.

Intrusive has a kind of different, kind of similar origin. It showed up earlier, in the fifteenth century, from intrus-. Not much different so far. Intrude showed up in the early fifteenth century as a church word that meant to take possession of part of a church that doesn’t belong to you. Wow, specific. It wasn’t until the mid sixteenth century that it started to mean what we use it as. In any case, it’s either from intrusion (which showed up in the late fourteenth century) or directly from the classical Latin intrudere, to thrust. The in- means in (shocking!) and the trudere is the thrust, so thrust in. Which is pretty intrusive. Plus there’s also extrude, which means to thrust out, the ex- of course, being the out part.

Finally today, we’re looking at protrude. It showed up in the early seventeenth century (and protrusion not until the middle of the century), initially meaning thrust forward before it meant something that sticks out. It’s from the classical Latin protrudere, which means protrude or push, the pro- meaning forward and the trudere… well, you know. Thrust forward. I guess something that’s protruding is being pushed (or thrust) out?


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

November Goals

Ooh, this is going to be a bad one, I can tell. October was a tough month. It seemed like there was constantly something going on, I wasn’t sleeping well and tired all the time, and, oh yeah, it finished off with a power outage that meant I couldn’t use my electronics. Because it’s not like I need those!

It was a frustrating month and I’m glad to see it gone.

October Goals
1. Write in my WIP! Please actually finish it this time!
I’m sad/frustrated to say that I didn’t work on it at all. I couldn’t figure out anything I wanted to write so rather than push it, I ignored it for a month in hopes that I would feel better about it later. I guess that’s kind of true.

2. Halloween spooky stuff, yay!
At least I did this!

3. Rake the pine needles. Yes, it’s that time of year again.
Okay, I did it, but I’ve only barely started. But this one’s not my fault. The first have of the month was so warm that the pine needles weren’t dropping, which means I can’t exactly rake them. So I’m going to have to finish this one this month, too.

Man, October sucked.

November Goals
1. Sigh. Write in the book. Let’s see how badly I’ll fail it this month.

2. Thanksgiving. Ugh, did anyone feel a foreboding chill just now?

3. Go through some old projects and notes and see if anything’s worth salvaging.

What are you up to this month? Are you hoping it’s better than October, too?

Saturday, November 4, 2017


It’s possible that I eat too fast.
I’m pretty sure it was chocolate. Like ninety five percent.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Language of Confusion: Middles

I did highs and I was going to do lows next, but then Liz reminded me that middles exist. Yeah, she does a lot of prompting for this blog.

Middle comes from the Old English middel, which of course means middle and… is it just me or does the spelling make way more sense? Anyway, it comes from the West Germanic middila, Proto Germanic medjaz, and Proto Indo European medhyo-, which again, means middle, and is the origin of a hell of a lot of words with mid and med in them, like medium and medieval and some without, like milieu and Mesopotamia. What a weirdly eclectic word. And speaking of medium…

Medium showed up in the late sixteenth century and comes from the classical Latin medium, which means half. Or, you know, middle. After it showed up as middle, it somehow got turned into “intermediate agency” or “channel of communication”. Maybe like a metaphorical halfway point? I don’t know. And like I said, medium is also from medhyo-.

You’d expect this one to be related to middle, and it is. It’s also from Old English, where it means with or by means of, and it’s traced back to medjaz and medhyo. Midst is also related, having shown up in the fifteenth century from the Middle English middes. Not much else to say here.

Center showed up in the late fourteenth century meaning the middle of a circle or a point around which things revolve. It’s from the Old French centre and classical Latin centrum, center, which originally meant the fixed point of a drafting compass. Did you ever use one of those in math class? Boy, were they tedious. Anyway, like most things, Latin stole the word from the Greek kentron, which could mean center as well as a sharp point (like in a compass!). And that word is traced to the Proto Indo European kent-, to prick. No snickering. Okay, some snickering. Fun fact of the day, the –er ending of center is older than the –re ending!

Half comes from the Old English half/halb/healf (depends on which dialect), which just meant half, but could also mean side or part instead of equal halves. It’s from the Proto Germanic halbaz, something divided, and might be related to the Proto Indo European skel-, to cut, but that isn’t certain. Funny how it used to mean only part of something!

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English