Answering your questions since about two weeks ago
Flip the Otter searched: Which is better for storing secrets, boxes or bottles?
The obvious answer is boxes. They’re easy to stack (and secrets do tend to stack up). They either come with locks or can be easily fitted with one. Of course, the best secrets are the ones that no one knows you have.
I would choose the bottle. No lock, maybe, but also no key to lose. They have the more elegant storage options and they look pretty in the sunlight. This gives you the excuse to store them in the light, instead of a dark, mysterious corner, which is also less expected.
Kate Kearney searched: What is the origin of the word ‘maharaja’?
Maharaja is a Sanskirt compound word formed from the words mahānt “great” and rājan “king.” No surprise then, that it means “great king” and was originally only used for kings who controlled a large region and had minor kings under them who paid them tribute. Now the title can be held by anyone from a monarch, to a prince, to a Prime Minister, depending on the country.
You might also run across the Maharani (great queen), Maharajkumar (son of the great king), Maharajkumari (daughter of the great king), or Rajamata (queen mother). The moral of this story is, any title that sounds like any of the variants on “great” (mahānt, mega, magnum, etc.) probably belongs to royalty, or someone else with enough power that you should bow immediately, and then consider what strange circumstances led you to be standing in their living room wearing your bunny slippers.
Auntie Em searched: Team Vanilla or Team Chocolate?
Chocolate, because it’s such a wonderful team player. It works great with strawberries, nuts, pretzels, peanut butter, or coffee. It works wonderfully with peppermint. Together they drive away my headaches and my bad moods, and have inspired me to thesis brillance, have fueled all-nighters, and made me new friends.
Kate Kearney searched: Which comes first in your flash fiction: plot or characters?
Around ninety percent of the time, I start out with the plot. Then it goes something like this:
Me: Oh hey, that’s a cool idea.
Me: How many people do I need for this to work? Two. I think two.
Me: Wait. Two? Again? I always have two people. Maybe I’ll try three this time. Oh. No. Now I just have a third wheel. And this isn’t even supposed to be a romance.
Me: Darnnit. They need names.
Me: [writes feverishly]
Me: I hate these names.
Me: [writes a little less feverishly]
Me: [gets distracted by the internet]
Me: [wanders back to her writing]
Me: Wait. This isn’t the idea I started writing.
Me: Are these even the same characters?
Me: Why do I talk to myself so much?
Me: Well… I like these characters. What are they up to?
Me: [finishes writing]
Me: Well… I’m not sure how I got from a little boy hunting his bunny slippers in his Holloween costume to a girl sitting under a waterfall talking to her bodyguard about whether or not places can get used to sounds and miss them when they’re gone, but I like it!
Me: [hits publish]
Kate Kearney asks: Did I use that colon properly?
Neekers asked: The Ancient Greek word for city is polis. Does that have anything to do with the word police?
Yes. Police first showed up in the English language around 1530, around the same time that Henry the VIII became head of the Church of England and St. Felix’s Flood destroyed the city of Reimerswaal in the Netherlands, but having nothing to do with either of those events. At its inception, it meant essentially the same thing as policy: a set of rules for civil government. It may even simply have been a misspelling of policy. Sources vary.
Policy came from the Old French policie (“civil administration”), which came from the Latin politia (“the state”). Latin, as with all their best linguistic ideas, stole the word from the Ancient Greek politeia (“state, administration, government, citizenship” – because Greek can’t have a word that mean just one thing), which was derived from Ancient Greek’s polites (“citizen”), which was derived from Ancient Greek’s polis (“city”).
Thank you for playing Seven Degrees of Etymological Separation. [takes a deep breath]
Kate Kearney asks: Is there a time of day you usually write?
I usually write in the afternoons, for most of the time between lunch and dinner. A few months ago I was writing really late at night (ten to midnight-ish), and I have had weeks where I get up first thing in the morning and write clear through until noon. Basically, my writing life follows the rest of my life: it resists schedules or predictability, and generally meets deadlines at a sprint.
Flip the Otter searched: Why does a game of questions stop being easy after question three?
To help answer this question, I called a few characters out the Character Lounge located at The Back of My Head. Here’s what happened:
Jennika: Is this going to be fun?
Kynbessne: Can’t you make anything fun?
Jennika: Was running from that psychopath who wanted to use our intestines for rigging fun last year?
Kynbessne: [stares for a long minute, trying to think of something else to ask] No.
Jaera: What am I doing here?
Brance: Does it really matter to you?
Jaera: Why did you kidnap me?
Brance: [hesitates] You know I wasn’t the one who did that.
Zain: Would you mind if I nailed the crew’s boots to the mainmast this morning? Just the left ones?
Terius: Would you mind if I punched you in the face?
Zain: If you haven’t hit me for short-sheeting your bunk, stuffing the cargo hold with geese, or shaving your eyebrows, why would you hit me now?
Terius: [socks him]
Conclusion: after three questions, something comes up that demands to be answered. Even if you’re the type of person who compulsively follows rules (like Kynbessne), your mind is so full of the answer you should be laying out, you can’t come up with another question to keep the game going.
If you’re lucky, you’ll survive without punching anyone. If you do though, just remember that you can distract the other person by pointing out that you didn’t actually lose the game. A punch is not a statement. You’ll probably spend the next hour or so fielding his arguments for why it’s more a statement than a question and by the end of it he should forget that you gave him a black eye.
Kate Kearney searched: Why is leaving comments addicting?
It’s part of my clever plot to take over the world. ;)
Keep them coming. I’ll be back to answer more next week.