This morning’s shower thought

If “virtuous” is connected to “virtue,” then “vicious” must be connected to “vice.” Seems obvious in retrospect, but I never connected the dots before.

I did a quick lookup (after drying off), and sure enough, “vicious” and “vice” both derive from the Latin vitium, meaning a defect, fault, or blemish.

Go forth, freshly enlightened, and do with this knowledge what thou wilt.



Word: nelse

Language: English-ish

Part of speech: noun

Definition: additional food to eat beyond what one has eaten already; a snack

Etymology: evidently coined by Evan Buckley in January 2019; shortening of “somethin’ else”

Example: The two-year-old gazed longingly at the kitchen cabinets. “Nelse?” he queried. “Nelse?”

Baffled mathematicians discover that one is not, in fact, the loneliest number

“Frankly, we were shocked,” admitted Dr. Sue Deaux-Nimm, Senior Professor of Mathematics and Assorted Philately at the moderately prestigious MT University. “We mathematicians, much like you ordinary goons, had long accepted that the song was right — that one was the loneliest number. But we couldn’t have been more wrong.”

After some thought, she added, “Well, we could have been more wrong, in a variety of ways. But we were pretty wrong.”

She and her colleague — Dr. Chuck Waggon, Junior Professor of Mathematics and Various Nonmathematical Uses of Numbers — announced their discovery at a press conference yesterday. Several persons, who could conceivably have been reporters, were in attendance.

“One is the second-loneliest number,” explained Dr. Waggon. “It turns out the loneliest number is 37,505,111.62555555 repeating. The proof is absolutely solid and leaves no room for doubt. But, I mean, it’s just so weird.”

“It’s bizarre,” Dr. Deaux-Nimm affirmed. “Why that number? We can’t think of any reason at all. And we tried for several hours.”

“Several,” nodded Dr. Waggon. “I mean, you look at plain old 37,505,111 with nothing after the decimal point, and it isn’t yearning for companionship at all. So, like, what’s the deal?”

(The question What is the deal? has since been referred to the Philosophy Department, which evidently has already been working on that problem for some time.)

Both mathematicians, however, were quick to reassure their listeners that the loneliest person still is — and will continue to be — you, the person reading this article.

Have a good weekend!


A lover, not a fighter

Well that’s neat

The word child can mean young person, but it can also mean offspring. The difference is small but distinct. A five-year-old boy is a child (young person) even if we have no idea who his parents are. And a middle-aged woman can say she has three children (offspring) even if they’re all in their 20s. (Hence the odd phrase adult children.)

We rarely think about this distinction, since we have a single word to cover both meanings. But it wasn’t always that way. I just learned that child has meant young person for pretty much its entire existence — back to Old English at a minimum — but the offspring meaning is relatively new, dating only to the 12th century. Before that, the word for offspring was bairn.

In summary: Isn’t that neat?


The last month has been a whirlwind, and the next month will be a whirlwind too. I can’t get into a lot of details yet, but life in Buckleyland has been changing — a lot. Good changes, but stressful at the moment. We’ll be glad when it’s over. And of course it’s been Christmas time too, so that’s added to the frenzy (but in a positive way). Christmas is more fun with kids, and we went to visit Betsy’s sister for the holiday, so we had a total of three munchkins’ worth of fun. Also, yesterday we got to see my friend Pat and his family for the first time in ages, which was likewise great and featured two munchkins’ worth of fun.

It’s been a little over a month since my last blog entry. Strange that the times in life that you most want to write about, allow the least time for writing. In closely related news, it’s been a little over a month since I last worked on Crane Girl. Just yesterday I finally picked it up again and re-read my new draft. Still excited about it. Maybe I’ll have some time to work on it today.

Here’s a picture of Evan, to prove that we still have him:

He continues to be wonderful.

As for me, I just finished reading the gigantic nonfiction book Why Nations Fail, which is excellent but probably could’ve been about half as long (spoiler: nations fail when citizens don’t get to participate in the government or the economy), as well as the complete short stories of Oscar Wilde (also excellent). My latest book is a fabulous Christmas present called The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology (yes, really).

Have a lovely day, hypothetical reader, and a better-than-satisfactory weekend. I’ll keep you updated — sooner or later. Good luck with your own personal whirlwind(s). Happy New Year!

Crane Girl progress meter

I most likely won’t reach my NaNo word count goal for November, because of Various Reasons, but I’ve written a lot more this month than I would have without the goal, so I’m still feeling good. What’s more, I’ve got some momentum going — dare I say it, some excitement — and I’d like to keep it up, because I want to finish this novel sometime in the next three decades.

So here it is — my Crane Girl word count progress meter!

As you can see, I just passed the 10,000-word mark recently.

Why is it all fancy? Why can’t you just have a solid blue bar like a normal person?

Because this is more fun, and hopefully more motivating.

Okay but why the Avatar characters? What’s the connection with Crane Girl?

No connection, I just like Avatar.

From bottom to top, we have Suki, Sokka, Toph, Katara, Zuko, and Aang. Not that you asked.

Whose art did you steal? I know you’re not that good of an artist.

I don’t care for your tone, but the artwork is taken from the show itself (from the first episode of Korra, actually). I did some editing — okay, a lot of editing — in Paint.NET, and voila! Progress bar.

Geez, how long did this take?

I don’t want to talk about it.

If you’d taken all the time you spent on creating and explaining this progress bar, and spent it actually working on your book …

I said, I don’t want to talk about it!

Why is the goal 128,000 words?

The first draft was around 127K, and the second draft will probably be longer. Really, anywhere in the 125K-150K range wouldn’t be a surprise. But 128K is just a good, semi-arbitrary number to shoot for.

Are you going to put word count updates on the blog?

Yeah, probably every week or so.

Why are you doing this to us?

Well, it’s not really about you. I’m just trying to motivate myself.

None of this interests me at all.

That’s not a question.

No, it’s really not.

I see what you did there.

Okay, I’m off. More words today!