Sunday, July 20, 2014

What's in a name? History, expectations and stuff.

Supposedly a person's favorite sound is his own name, but scientists recently admitted that this is only if your own name is Dale Carnegie.

Or if you are a dog.

Or if your name was recently changed from Horatio.

I am O.K. with "George," which I received in homage to a couple of uncles, but it is not my favorite sound. My favorite sound is a hummingbird's laughter, which is rare because hummers are almost humorless.

Physical comedy works, but it always feels kind of cheap.

Guys I went to school with had cool names like Lyndell and Bud. Wade. Kal. In contrast, George seemed an old-fashioned, stodgy name created, regrettably, even before cool itself.

Nowadays, according to Census data, you can't even find one state in which George is in the top 100 baby names. Americans are naming their babies Silas before they are naming them George. They are naming them Jaxson. Bentley. Jase, even!

I am not complaining. Did that sound like complaining? I am not complaining. To everything its season.

Jase, though.



I guess texting has had an abbreviating effect on everything. I suppose these days "Jason" is just too many exhausting syllables. I wonder how long before they cut "David" down to "Day." Of course, then a parent could have fun at bedtime by saying "'Night, Day." Or "It's Christmas Eve, Day."

"Fun" being, perhaps, a bit too strong a word for it.

On the other hand, naming a kid is one of the few unassailable powers a person has in life, and the temptation to be original is strong. I know several families who have given their children unique, bold names. It's a gamble that the kid will be unique and bold too.

I would have made a poor "Blaize."

I could never have pulled off "Jett."

Popular culture often drives new names, but also cements them to a bygone time. How many kids had to endure the question, "So your parents were fans of 'Gunsmoke,' huh?"

One can only imagine the damage "Game of Thrones" is doing to newborn babies even as I write this.

My wife suggests a kid should be able to choose his own name once he turns 13. If I had had that power, I would probably be known as Young Frankenstein now. The world would be full of Han Solos and Wolverines.

That way lies madness, honey.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday Wa Pic - More funny scenes from Britain

 Seen one morning in Edinburgh. I did not ask him where he was headed. He did not look particularly talkative.

 The Great Hall in Winchester features windows with the coats of arms of important medieval nobles.

 You can still kinda see where they erased the word "people" from in between the two words.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The dog's thoughts on our family's long absence

During the two weeks our family was traveling in England recently, we hired a dog walker to take care of Skipper. He howled so much when we returned I know he missed us, so I decided to interview him, using skills I once acquired in the Orient.

Yes, I speak Arf.

Me: So Skip, we were gone for 15 days. Did you miss us?

Skipper: I thought you were dead.

Me: Dead?

Skip: Dead. You disappeared. I thought the squirrels got you.

Me: The squirrels?

Skip: The squirrels! They take our peaches, they taunt me from walls, they make the world a Hell. I assumed the worst.

Me: I'm sorry, buddy, but we got somebody to feed and walk you.

Skip: I figured she was the Head Squirrel, the shape-shifter. She fed me, yeah, but I'll tell you this—she smelled like peaches.

Me: She walked you twice a day, didn't she?

Skip: Yes, on a leash, and every few feet another squirrel would chitter at me from a tree, mocking my bondage. She smiled! I saw her smile. But hey, I can be big about it. It's in the past. How was the trip?

Me: It was great. Epic. We drove 1500 miles. Hopped a few curbs, I admit, but everyone survived.

Skip: I heard you say that you had to dodge a bus.

Me: Dodge is a strong word. I did have to back out of an intersection, it's true.

Skip: The grapevine tells me you almost hit a bird.

Me: It launched itself out of a hedgerow right in front of me! I braked in time, but I heard its claws tap the roof of the car.

Skip: Why didn't you just take the train?


Skip: Trains enhance the romance of travel.

Me: So do near-miss stories.

Skip: True.

Me: And it was mostly a good time. I met up with old friends. Did some swinging.

Skip: Swinging?!!

Me: On the wooded slopes overlooking Lowther Castle, they had tree swings. We all took turns. It was one of those family moments.

Skip: You know what I was doing right about then?

Me: What?

Skip: No idea. Dogs don't have much long-term memory. Probably sleeping.

Me: Do you forgive me?

Skip: I guess. As long as the hand doesn't stop petting. Ahem, the hand? There you go. That's the stuff right there.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesday Wa Pic - England vacation results in bounty of funny pics

My family vacationed in the U.K. recently, and it was difficult to see the traditionally touristy sights because my head kept whipping around to funny signs. Because of this, for the foreseeable future I will be sharing more than just one Wa pic on Wednesdays.

 In an adorable cafe in Cornwall. There is a very British undertone of sarcasm which I love.

 This is one of those polyester puff balls for creating lather in the shower. It is also the name, I believe, of an actual occupation in England.

 Admit it. This is just hot.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Impressions after two weeks traveling the U.K.

We are finally home after two weeks in the U.K., which included driving 1507 miles in seven days, but that is only like 400 in Californian miles.

I had thought the U.K. used the metric system, but it varies. You buy gas in liters, but the road signs give distances in miles. I certainly broke the speed limit in miles. I would hate to think how many kilometers per hour I was going.

We visited the town of Wall's End, to view the easternmost terminus of Roman Emperor Hadrian's 84 mile attempt to keep out marauders, assuming, I guess, that marauders can't count to 85.

The town has built a 100 foot viewing tower to overlook the remains of the fort, Segedunum (Latin for "Sheep overlook.")

All that was left were the fort's six-inch high foundations, which explains why they try to give you an overhead view. It reminded me of those towns in in the Dakotas where they try to lure tourists in with the fact that they have ice water. It has less appeal once you get there.

I ate haggis for the first time. It was delicious. I did not ponder what it was made of any more than I do when I eat sausage. Haggis gets a bad rap. Not that I would eat it again.

What's the deal with putting pickle relish on cheese for an after-dinner treat?

And baked beans on a breakfast plate?

They could use a Starbucks about midway through Westminster Abbey. I am just throwing out ideas here.

In summer it gets light at four in the morning. I think the Romans broke the sun or something.

Some day they will install the first public drinking fountain in England. I hope I get an invitation.

We came upon a toll road somewhere in the Midlands, and frantically scraped the bottom of a backpack to come up with the right coins, as no change would be given. We were like preschoolers trying to figure out money.

"Is that five pence?"

"No, that's fifty."

"What is that?"

"That's a chocolate coin from the hotel."

A car was waiting behind us the whole time, and it probably took us two minutes to open that gate. Nobody honked. Nobody backed up and used another gate. Maybe we got lucky, or maybe there is something about these people you've just gotta love.