Saturday, May 22, 2010

What’s in a name?

Recently I had the pleasure and honor of presenting scholarships to two graduating senior high school students on behalf of the company I work for.  These two outstanding scholars were certainly deserving, and one was the Salutatorian of her graduating class.  As I sat on the stage and listened to other awards being presented, I couldn’t help but notice a very high percentage of non-traditional given names of the students.  My favorite was Toshiba.  She reminded me of one of my first laptops.

Other interesting names of people getting awards included Shenequa, Woodrow, Laquita, Tyshanna, Ta’drien, Devontay and I could go on.

Similarly, I have noticed that my children’s friends have some odd names as well: Gage, Briggs, Kennedy, Breck, Destrey, Kenzington, Garren, Kyler, Draven and I could go on.  And on.

Not to mention some teens and twenty-somethings we know: Skyler, Starling, Utahana, Amberly, Caitlyn, Clayn, Hyacinth, Janny, Leleza and I could go on.

Don’t get me started on alternative spellings.  I know a Hailee, Hailey and a Haley, not to mention a Destiny and a Destinee.

Maybe I know so many people with strange names because I am Mormon.  For some reason Mormons, and especially Utah Mormons seem to pick strange names.

And then there is the tendency for some families to concentrate on a single initial character, like several families we know (for example: Aaron and Autumn had four kids, Andrea, Audry, Anna and Adam.  My Aunt VelDean and Uncle Roy had Jaimee, Jessica, Janelle and Julie).  One family we are friends with named all their kids with the same first two letters (Brock, Breandan, Britt, Brailey).  I have a hard enough time with calling my own kids by their right names without swapping them and their names don’t even sound like one another!  If my kids were named Brock, Breandan, Britt and Brailey I would never be able to call them by the right name.

Even though we both agreed that we would use more traditional names for our children, my wife and I had more than one argument about what we would name each of our children.  Our oldest we named after me, as I am named for my father, his father, and so on.  Our next son, Nigel is named for my best friend.  Emmaline is probably the most non-traditional name (named for a minor character in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Windy Poplars), but her middle name is Eileen, named for my mother.  Our youngest child, Maxwell is named for a well respected religious leader and author, the late Neal A. Maxwell.

I have often wondered how much our name shapes who we become.  If I had been named Demetrius, for example, would I behave any different?  Since my given name is Ernest (the 655th most popular boys name in 2005), would I have been any less truthful if my parents had named me Mendacious?  Will my son, Nigel (which means, “dark and swarthy”) become more tan with age?


Maxwell (Left) and Nigel (right)

I came across an interesting website that you can use to see what historically have been the most popular names in the US:  You might find it interesting to learn that for the last 10 years, Jacob has been the most common boy name each year, while Michael was the most common name each year in the previous 35 years.  Since 2000, the Name Emily has been the most popular each year, while for the prior 15 years it was Jessica.  From 1880 through 1960, the name Mary was the top picked girl’s name each year while that honor rotated between John(1880 through 1920), Robert (1921-1939), James (1940-1954),  and from there Michael and David took turns.

My wife, Rebecca has joked that I should get her name tattooed over my heart.  I told her that doing so would be tempting fate for us to break up (Remember Angeline and Billy Bob’s tattoos?)  If that did happen, I could try to hook up with another Rebecca, just so I wouldn’t have to have it removed.  While the name Rebecca is only the 34th most common female name in 2005, there were over 600,000 women with the name Rebecca in the 1990 census, and there is roughly 130,000 women named Rebecca that are within the ages of 26 and 40 (which is the target age range!).

Maybe I’ll get that tattoo after all!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Caprice Classic


For some reason, Americans feel the need to customize their car more than any other country on the planet.  What about Japan, you might ask?  I’ve been there, and they don’t come close to our need to modify, upgrade, customize, tweak, soup-up, pimp and “detail” our rides.  The word “detail” by the way, is a fancy way of saying that you will have someone else wash your car for you.

For some reason, most Americans feel that their car just isn’t good enough the way the design engineers designed it, and the factory assembled it.  This is a phenomenon that transcends race, gender, socio-economic status, geography, education level and income level.  If you don’t believe me that old-money, upper class millionaires don’t do this, then check this out: Forbes list of top cars chosen by Billionaires

Around where I live, the Caprice Classic, manufactured by GM is a fave. 


Whoever Bootwal is, he dropped some serious bank on this 1996 caprice Classic.  Check out the custom upholstery:

DSC_7005 DSC_7003

I am not sure what “Ant Walker” means, but the red and white are very catchy colors.

Let’s say you are a tall fellow, and that you hate bending down to get in your car.  Certainly a large pickup truck would be an option, but if you really loved the Caprice (or the Pontiac version, the Bonneville), and didn’t want to compromise, this is what you would end up with:


If you have kids, though, you better get a stepladder.


I saw this car at a local lot and was amazed that it was going for only $8,000.  The wheels alone (26” chrome rims) probably cost the owner more than that.

Speaking of kids, if you are really into your kids, and love toy stores, you should go for this look:


Again, stepladder will be needed for your kids to actually get in your car.  Maybe this guy has a rope ladder that unrolls every time he opens the back door so that his kids can climb up.  Sorry for the poor photo quality as I only had my camera phone when I saw these two gems.

People around town call this car the Skittles Car.  Not sure why, but the colors sure do make me hungry for some skittles.

Green n Purple

I know that this isn’t a Caprice (it is a Mercury Grand Marquis), but the colors sure look tasty.

And suppose you are a guy who loves both guacamole and station wagons, well you have options, too.


It is a shame that GM discontinued the Caprice in the US back in 1996.  GM will be importing a current-production police version that is currently being produced in Australia in 2011.  I doubt those will be sporting any of the fine mods you see here on my blog, though.  Pity.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brick and Mortar

In B-school (that’s Business School for those of you who aren’t familiar with the term) we learned about how the Internet has changed forever the business landscape (although there are some folks out there who still think the Internet is just a fad), and also about the concept of “virtual stores” as an alternative to the traditional “Brick and Mortar” stores. 

The concept that was discussed was that for certain goods like electronics, music, videos, etc the consumer doesn’t need to touch, feel, try on the product, and therefore there is little need for actual physical retail locations.  Eliminating the retail outlet saves on all sorts of overhead (rent, utilities, certain liability insurance, etc)

Although it is true that the Internet has killed off a number of traditional “brick and mortar” businesses, I have been pondering other low-cost, non-traditional approaches to selling products other than the internet.  Here are some interesting other alternative, low-tech approaches I have seen lately:

Pet store

Instead of leasing space for a pet store, why not squat in the Walmart parking lot to sell pets?

Or, another option is to partner with an existing business and sell your products in an existing location.  This is particularly beneficial if you have complementary products or services, like putting a car-rental agency counter in an airport, putting a bank in a grocery store, or selling tobacco products in an insurance agency:

Insurance tobacco

Or possibly heavy machinery and furniture:


Anyone need a good diesel engine to go with your loveseat?

Another low-overhead approach is to build a micro-building (essentially a kiosk):


This approach isn’t just for sno-cones:


Another low overhead approach is to use only the most essential equipment materials. Who needs refrigeration, for example?


River cat fillets anyone?