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Prelude to my next musing (#999)

Topics/tags: meta-musings, language

Tomorrow I will post my thousandth musing or rant [1,2,3]. As I’ve been getting closer and closer to that deadline, I’ve found myself reflecting on what to call that musing.

Musing 1000 is a bit boring. It is a kind of milestone, so that provides one possible title, albeit with different variants. A milestone. My latest milestone. Of course, the part of my brain that likes puns [4] always turns milestone into millstone.

Now that I’ve written those words, I find myself wondering whether either metaphor makes sense. As I understand the words, a milestone is a kind of achievement and a millstone is a significant burden. Let’s see what the Interweb [5] says. Depressingly enough, the first result of my search is the Milestone Gold Master Card and the second is Milestone Systems, which appears to be a provider of video management software [9]. Fortunately, the kinds of things I am looking for appear next.

Merriam-Webster [10] online provides the following definition:

1 : a stone serving as a milepost (see milepost sense 1)

2 : a significant point in development // Graduating from college was an important milestone in her life.

The latter matches my understanding and intent. So far, so good.

Now let’s turn to millstone. I no longer trust Interweb searches, so I’m just going to search within Merriam-Webster online. However, the first result is far from promising.

504 Gateway Time-out

Have I mentioned how much I hate computers?

Strangely enough, an Interweb search for millstone does allow me to reach the Merriam-Webster page. Things did not look promising on the search results page, which indicated only either of two circular stones used for grinding something (such as grain). I suppose the musings crush somebody [11]. But my musings are not circular stones, at least in any way I can find to interpret [12] the words. However, the second definition, which appears only on the M-W page, is the one I was looking for.

2 a : something that grinds or crushes

b : a heavy burden

Examples of millstone in a Sentence \ College loans can quickly become a millstone for students.

Now, I don’t really think of the musings as a millstone; I enjoy musing. Nonetheless, I must admit that some musings feel a bit like millstones, including my most-recent post-prereg musing.

Of course, that punny part of my brain now wants to change millstone into Millistone. Is that correct? Milli comes from the Latinmille, which meansone thousand. But it strikes me thatmilli" is more frequently used to mean one thousandth, as in millimeter and millilitre [14]. The kilo prefix tends to mean one thousand. But changing millstone into kilostone doesn’t make much sense. I also expect that a kilostone represents a unit of mass that’s about seven tons [15,16]. That’s definitely a heavy burden. Is that what a millstone weighs? The first source I found on the Interweb suggests that each millstone weighs under a ton.

Wait! In some cases, milli is used to mean one thousand rather one thousandth, such as in millennium, or one thousand years [17]. So I could call my next musing my millimusing. I suppose that would tempt me to keep it small. Perhaps kilomusing. Or is that kill a musing? I know that some people would like to eliminate some of my musings. And neither kilo nor milli is strictly correct since some of the one-thousand postings have been rants and others were labeled as essays.

Of course, I’m a computer scientist, of sorts, so my kilomusing or kilopost or whatever should be my 1024th and numbered 1023. But I didn’t start at zero and I’d still like to celebrate the more traditional thousandth anniversary. I guess I could call it only twenty-four more to go, or something like that.

On that note, part of me considered calling it my final musing. But it’s unlikely that I will stop writing. Still, I could have chosen that name and then revealed that I was renaming the pieces I write. Such an attempt would have been more appropriate for the spring day in which I often wear a Tigger costume [18].

I have trouble stopping when I start thinking about these kinds of alternatives, so I also considered discussing how I represent the number of the musing: Up to four digits, Adding another digit.

If I logged the time per musing, I could have chosen a name that reflects that effort: A half a year of full-time work down the drain, or something like that [19]. But the drain metaphor doesn’t work. Perhaps the product of … or … and what do I have to show for it? But I have something to show for it. Words. Lots and lots of words: endnotes and postscripts and puns, oh my. Hey! That’s a good potential title. You just have to envision Judy Garland saying it.

When I realized that this month would likely include musing #1000, I listed some things I might do in preparation. For example, I hoped to list the partially written musings, do a bit of text analysis (e.g., How often do I write really?) and topic analysis (e.g., What is the most common topic I have assigned to a musing? [20]), update some of the underlying software, transition to a new server, and such. I didn’t get any of that done. I’m unlikely to get any of that done in the next. So perhaps, Failing to prepare for musing #1000 would be a good title.

I’ve failed to prepare in at least one other day: I thought I had a few more days before musing 1000. You’d think I’d have paid attention to the numbers, but I had planned a musing on an alum for today and my week in review for today, this musing for tomorrow, and musing 1,000 for the next day. I guess the musing about the alum will have to wait a few days.

Looking back at this musing, I’ve represented the subsequent musing’s number in multiple ways. I even used two models in the prior paragraph, as 1000 and 1,000. If I were writing in some other countries, I might use 1.000 or 1 000. In some of those cases, I should probably write adding a digit and punctuation. I’ve also used one thousand and perhaps even one-thousand [21]. Have I used a thousand? I’m not sure. I wouldn’t hyphenate that. I guess the way to name the concept is another issue to worry about.

Which did I decide upon? Perhaps that should be Which will I decide upon, since I have not yet decided. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s musing to find out.

Postscript: An alum pointed me to XKCD #1000, which includes the same concept of which I was thinking. Wow - Just 24 to go until a big round-number filestone [22].

A drawing of what appears to be 1,000 stick figures, arranged to make the digits '1000'.  At the bottom, between the last two zeros, we see a stick figure with black hair saying 'WOOOO!' or 'W0000!' and a slightly taller stick figure with no hair saying 'Wow-Just 24 to go until a big round-number milestone!'.

Postscript: The XKCD comic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License. No changes were made, other than the addition of a set of alt text [23].

As you can tell from my footer, my musings are licensed under the newer and more permissive Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

[1] At least I plan to post my thousandth musing or rant tomorrow. I suppose something could happen that prevents me from doing so. Or maybe my muse will tell me to take a day off. But the odds are good that I will post the musing tomorrow.

[2] I expect that it will be a musing, not a rant.

[3] Or essay, as I called them in the early days.

[4] Perhaps that’s all of my brain.

[5] Should that be InterWeb or perhaps interweb. The former follows the computing world’s tendency to use CamelCase. The latter is in keeping with the horrendous AP decision to stop treating Internet as a proper noun [6]? CamelCase feels too much like a product [7]. And you can tell how I feel about the decision to treat Internet as other than a proper noun. I’ll stick with Interweb.

[6] Why does the Wikipedia article begin with This article relies too much on references to primary sources? Shouldn’t you primarily rely on primary sources? I’m so confused.

[7] I suppose the Interweb is a product of sorts, particularly with the planned sale of the .org TLD [8].

[8] Top-level domain.

[9] Perhaps I should rethink my capitalization of Interweb.

[10] With regards to my somewhat recent musing on misnaming, I wonder how often that’s misspelled as Marian-Webster, or something similar.

[11] Perhaps me.

[12] Or misinterpret.

[14] Or milliliter.

[15] Perhaps exactly seven tons, depending on how you interpret things.

[16] Or is that seven tonnes? Or perhaps approximately seven tonnes.

[17] The Interweb tells me that some people use kiloyear. I have not met such people. And why prioritize the Greek over the Latin?

[18] A.k.a. the First of April.

[19] If we assume the average musing takes an hour to write, one thousand musings represents 1000 hours of work or twenty-five forty-hour weeks. That’s about a half a year of full-time work.

[20] I realize that’s not what people normally mean when they say topic analysis.

[21] I should only hyphenate when I use one thousand as an adjective, as in one-thousand musings but not musing one thousand.

[22] If you count the associated things I’ve written, such as the Makefile and template, it’s more than 1000. Still, filestone seems appropriate. I’m surprised that I did not mention it earlier.

[23] Here’s what I wrote as the alt text.

A drawing of what appears to be 1,000 stick figures, arranged to make the digits 1000. At the bottom, between the last two zeros, we see a stick figure with black hair saying WOOOO! or W0000! and a slightly taller stick figure with no hair saying Wow-Just 24 to go until a big round-number milestone!.

It did not seem worth my time to attempt to describe each of the 1,000 stick figures. I wonder if someone has done so. Oh, right. I could look on Explain XKCD. The page says about 2/3 are described on this page. My count is that there are 354 without an explanation as of 26 January 2020, making it slightly less than 2/3 described.

Version 1.0 of 2020-01-26 .