Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Let's Call It Steve

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

By the way, has anybody noticed that I usually start off by saying “Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen” and then follow it up with a lot of sex & fart jokes? Classy, I know…but that’s what you’ve all come to expect…and as always, I try to keep it PG-13 (or Mature or Teen or whatever the equivalent is for online rating, NP for Non-Porn maybe). Let’s talk about the Future. Now, I’m going to take a step aside from my usual look to the Future…which usually involves Sexbots, reviews for movies that haven’t even been made yet, or the Apocalypse foretold in the Book of $teve brought upon by the rise of the Serpents. Instead, it’s going to be a little more… family-oriented. (Gasp!!! $teve talking about a future family? I believe this was in the Book of Revelations) Enough. As many of you know, family’s pretty damn important to me. So much so that instead of just saying “pretty important”, I decided to insert the “damn” at the last minute. Oh yes, it was cleverly thought out ahead of time. Now you know how I work. You know that I always talk about my mom, dad, even stepparents in the highest regard…and that’s because they’re basically the best parents a guy could ask for. I give my brother a hard time with some of the choices that he’s made (crack whore ex-wife) but hey, we all f**k up…and he’s done a great job of raising his two kids by himself (well, my mom helps). You all know that I have the cutest niece & nephew in the world…and I’m amazed with how quickly they’re growing up. “But $teve, what about you?” What about me indeed. Sure, I think about my future family from time to time…but as you know, I haven’t exactly been waist-deep in the ladies for a while (in this case, While is to Time as Nile is to River). Regardless, I’m looking to change that a bit. The past year or so has been a wee bit hectic…but I want to set up some roots. I plan on being here for a while…so we’ll see what’s out there for me around these parts…but until then, here are a few stories about the future that you might want to take note of.

Double Whammy – Fathers, husbands, have you been asked in the presence of both your wife & your children, “What’s the happiest day of your life?” Depending on who’s asking the question, it could just be a trap to either make your kids lose respect for you…or make your balls blue for the next few weeks. However, once in a great while, it’s pretty easy to please both parties. For example, an Ohio woman taken to a maternity ward in her wedding dress became a newlywed and a new mom on the same day. Jamie Phillips says she felt contractions while her father walked her down the aisle during her wedding ceremony Saturday in Toledo in northwest Ohio, but she thought it was a false alarm (“Oooh, too much hot sauce…”). It wasn't until after her water broke at the reception (“Don’t worry sweetie, we’ll get the waiter to bring you a new glass”) that she was rushed to a hospital in Sylvania. The baby boy, named Tova (sigh… more on this later), wasn't due until March 7th. His mother and her new husband, Mark Phillips, didn't think the baby would come quite so soon when they planned the wedding two weeks earlier. The parents say they wanted to "do the right thing" and get married before the baby's arrival, which is why they cut things so close. So from now on, whenever somebody asks Mark Phillips when the happiest day of his life is…he can reply Saturday, February 27th, 2010 and not be taking sides. “I married the love of my life, the same day that she gave birth to my glorious son…and the bachelor party the night before was pretty f**king awesome too. I had a good buzz going throughout the entire day.” “That’s great daddy. What was the 2nd happiest day?” “It was the day I divorced your mother & changed your name to Mark Junior. Seriously? Tova? What does that even mean? That’s like a test for alertness for ADD & concussions…or a company in Louisville that distributes baby formula. I even googled it…and it’s a girl’s name in Norway. Son, please don’t do drugs.” Come on now, you knew I was going to take it there. Everybody’s got to get that first marriage out of the way, right? I wish the Phillips a long & happy marriage until death do they part. I just think Tova’s an unusual name…especially for a boy.

Don’t Let Bills Get Out of Hand – In these rough financial times, you really have to stay on top of your bills. Keep track of all income and outgoing expenses…and maybe see where you can save a few bucks here and there. Why? Because otherwise this could happen. A Utah woman who lost title to her house over an unpaid $68 dental bill has been given a reprieve. The Utah Court of Appeals ruled Capri Ramos is entitled to another opportunity to void the sale of her house at a county auction for $1,550 (I wonder if it had the distinct smell of cat urine). The collection agency North American Recovery sued Ramos in 1995 over the dental bill. She didn't contest the lawsuit, not realizing the consequences. Her house in the Salt Lake City suburb of Glendale was sold the next year to a group of investors (again…for $1,550). On Thursday, the Utah Court of Appeals sent the case to 3rd District Court for a hearing on whether Ramos had proper notice of the sheriff's sale and whether the sale price was "grossly inadequate." Having lived near Glendale for a few years, that may be difficult to prove…but then again, not really. Hell, buying a house for what I usually have to pay for a month of rent, utilities & food? Maybe I need to learn Spanish and go to the county auction to see what’s out there. I’ve often thought about settling down and buying a home…but you know how my nomadic situation has been. It’s not bad…but I do sometimes feel like I’m wasting money by renting. So yeah, keep track of your bills. You don’t want to lose your house over a $68 dental bill. Even if she gets to keep it, it’ll cost her thousands in court costs at least.

Baby Name Update – Ah yes, the children. We already talked earlier about Tova…but here’s a study to follow that up. Celebrities aren't the only ones giving their babies unusual names. Compared with decades ago, parents are choosing less common names for kids, which could suggest an emphasis on uniqueness and individualism, according to new research. Essentially, today's kids (and later adults) will stand out from classmates. For instance, in the 1950s, the average first-grade class of 30 children would have had at least one boy named James (top name in 1950), while in 2013, six classes will be necessary to find only one Jacob, even though that was the most common boys' name in 2007. The researchers suspect the uptick of unusual baby names could be a sign of a change in culture from one that applauded fitting in to today's emphasis on being unique and standing out. When taken too far, however, this individualism could also lead to narcissism, according to study researcher Jean Twenge, of San Diego State University. The results come from an analysis of 325 million baby names recorded by the Social Security Administration from 1880 to 2007. The research team figured out the percentage of babies given the most popular name or a name among the 10, 20, or 50 most popular for that year and sex. Since it wasn't required that people get a social security card until 1937, names before that time may not be random samples of the population, the researchers note. Results showed parents were less likely to choose those popular names as time went on. For instance, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, about 5% of babies were named the top common name, while more recently that dropped to 1%.

  • About 40% of boys received one of the 10 most common names in the 1880s, while now fewer than 10% do.

  • For girls, the percentage with a top-10 name dropped from 25% in about 1945 to 8% in 2007.

  • Similar results were seen for the top-50 names. About half of girls received one of the 50 most popular names until the mid-20th century. Now, just one in four have these names.

(A list of top-10 baby names by year, and their popularity, can be found here.) This trend in baby-naming didn't show a constant decrease. Between 1880 and 1919, fewer parents were giving their children common names, though from 1920 to the 1940s common names were used more often than before. Then, when baby boomers came on the scene, so did more unusual names (I blame hippies). The biggest decrease in usage of common names came in the 1990s, said Twenge, who is also an author of "The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement" (Free Press, 2009) and "Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled - and More Miserable Than Ever Before" (Free Press, 2007). The results held even when the researchers accounted for immigration rates and increasing Latino populations, which could bring relatively less common names into the mix. "The most compelling explanation left is this idea that parents are much more focused on their children standing out," Twenge told LiveScience. "There's been this cultural shift toward focusing on the individual, toward standing out and being unique as opposed to fitting in with the group and following the rules." The positive side of individualism, Twenge said, is that there is less prejudice and more tolerance for minority groups. But she warns that when individualism is taken too far, the result is narcissism. "I think it is an indication of our culture becoming more narcissistic," Twenge said. Past research has shown that back in the 1950s parents placed a lot of importance on a child being obedient, which has gone way down. "Parenting has become more permissive and more child-focused and [parents] are much more reluctant to be authority figures." As for whether these unusually named kids will have personalities to match is not known. "It remains to be seen whether having a unique name necessarily leads to narcissism later in life. If that unique name is part of a parent's overall philosophy that their child is special and needs to stand out and that fitting in is a bad thing, then that could lead to those personality traits." The research is detailed in the January issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, since I know you’re interested.

Now, I’ve talked about naming my future children before… and with the proper warning that it will never truly be considered in real life…because I give that duty to the future mother. I mean…let’s face it. If she passed the child through her Holiest of Holies, then I think she gets to name it. Think about it. That’s like her claiming to name one of your deuces (and yes, I just compared a child to a log of feces…but it’s to prove a point). That being said, I think that a man is entitled to a veto vote. “There’s no way you’re naming my son Jasmine.” “But we’ll call him Jazz around the house.” “In honor of the racist Transformer? That’s ridiculous…and even if I like it, why not just let it be Jazz?” “Because he’s Mine too. Jazz-Mine, Jasmine.” “Jasmine is a scent of shampoo and the b**chy princess from Aladdin. Not a man’s name.” Trust me, I’ve witnessed worse conversations than that when discussing baby names with friends & family. Ladies, here me out on this. It’s called Compromise. Google that sh*t.

I’m gonna take you back almost 30 years into the past to a young married couple in Utah. They were expecting their first child…and at the time, didn’t know if it was going to be a boy or a girl. If it was a girl, the wife had always wanted to name her daughter Amber Dawn (lovely ring to it, right?) and the father was cool with that as well. Then there was the situation of a son. The mother had always liked the name Todd…because let’s face it, girls love gay men. That’s the only reasoning I could find for that name. The father did not agree. He was named after his father…and thought maybe his son should be the same. Surely not Todd. (By the way, if there are any Todds out there reading this, please don’t be offended, I’m sure you’re still cool) Well, it was almost game time…and the doctor informed them that their first child would be a masculine child. Now it was time for The Talk. They had to get a divorce. (Ha!!! Gotcha) No, not really…they just had to talk about what they were going to name this supreme being that will one day rule the cosmos with an iron fist & a golden rod…er, scepter. Jesus? No, it’s been done…and too much pressure to go to church, whereas the father was raised Catholic & the mother Mormon. Cobra? It is kinda cool to name a child after the place of conception…but that’s more of a codename for a secret mission into Nicaragua or something. How about a traditional Ottawa name like Comes with a Thunder? That would be difficult to fill out forms. First name Comeswitha, last name Thunder? Is that how it would work? So the discussion raged on (okay, probably not but just go with it) and then they stumbled upon a name…perhaps The Perfect Name – Steven. (Didn’t they say something about narcissism the last paragraph?) It was perfect. It was the father’s Christening name. Stephen is the patron saint of bricklayers, deacons & Hungary. Oddly enough, he too was a man filled with grace & power…and when it came to debate, there was no match for his wisdom & spirit. However, he died in 76 AD much like Jesus did – falsely accused & brought to unjust condemnation because he spoke the truth…and was stoned for it. Hey, I just googled all of that. I had no idea either. Weird, right? Not only that…but Steve McQueen was the King of Cool. But then another important decision had to be made – The Spelling. Do they go with Steven? Or Stephen? Or Stefan? Or some other unholy combination of letters? “Why don’t we go with the P-H spelling?” “Honey, he’s a man. To an illiterate person that might look like Stephanie. I think we should go with the V…and a dollar sign $ instead of an S.” So when it was all said & done, they compromised…and went with Steven with a V...and the middle name was that of the mother’s father…and the Love family lived happily ever after (until the divorce about 13 years later). So there you go, the story of my name. I’d bore you with the tale of my brother’s name…but I think they screwed up the spelling on that one. The point is to just communicate…express your Top 5 names or something…and who knows, you may stumble upon a similarity. If not, basically the final vote goes to the woman…but ladies, be considerate of your child. Sure, it may sound cute when they’re a baby…but they’re going to grow up and go to school one day & rue you for naming them Enis or Apple or Gilligan or whatever. It’s like the Knight in Last Crusade said, “Choose wisely.” And if you ever need ideas, I’m your guy. I’ll make it a process that you’ll agree with. I’m a great Delegator.

So there is hope for the Future…and it’s rooted in Love & Communication. Being honest now saves so much time & frustration later on. If you don’t like the name, let them know now…and more importantly, why. “Why don’t you like the name Troy?” “Because Troy Aikman’s a (bleeping bleep)” “Who’s Troy Aikman?” “The reason no self-respecting man would ever name their son Troy.” Just remember, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet…and I’m a huge fan of the traditional Chinese way of waiting 100 days before naming a child…but then what would you call it the first three months? The baby? “Aaaaw, what a cute baby. What’s her name?” “We’re waiting 100 days before we decide on one. It’s the traditional Chinese way.” “Oh. Any top contenders?” “I’m thinking Sh*t Machine but my wife’s been calling him Shudafukup…and he seems to be responding to that.” Gosh, I keep getting off point. Anyway, the Future is bright. Love. Communication. Hopefully one day I can share the story of my own children’s names and how they’ll forever hate me for naming them after a character in a Luc Besson movie or sold his naming rights on eBay…but hey, time will tell. Until then, have a great day everybody!!! Say it with me, “$TEEEEEEEVE!!!”

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