February 4th, 2009

Your name might make you a criminal

Your name affects how people view you - and how you view yourself. In fact, "Ernests, Prestons and Tyrells of America are significantly more delinquent than the Michaels and Davids." [Full disclosure: David Lubar – why didn’t they factor you in?]

This article in Time magazine also says “The researchers developed an equation that gave the most popular name of the period, Michael, a score of 100. The name David got a 50. Ernest, Preston, Tyrell, Kareem, Malcolm, Alec were each given a 1. Kalist and Lee theorized that the boys with the lower-scoring names might commit more delinquent acts.

"Which is exactly what they found. The relationship is quite predictable and linear: if you pick a name that's 10% more popular than Ernest (Maxwell is the example that Kalist gave me), the population of Maxwells will have 3.7% fewer delinquents than the population of Ernests.” [Full disclosure number two: can’t help thinking of coebooth’s Tyrell.

The article has some interesting insights on who is likely to choose more unusual names. I wonder if the correlation works as well for girls: April is unusual, but I’ve never been arrested. At least not yet.

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Some days it's better not to think about the end

I've embarked on a quasi-makeover program as my birthday that ends in a zero approaches. I'm running four days a week (I was already doing that), riding an exercise bike one day a week (ditto), going to the gym and lifting weights and using the elliptical one day a week (again, ditto), but I'm also kickboxing twice a week, taking Pilates once a week, and taking a boot camp class twice a week.

I am also keeping track of what I eat. So I carefully note down "15 Wheat Thins. 28 wasabi almonds. Three sugar-free cookies." All withing a 15-minute period. I'm sure writing it down is supposed to give me pause, and it does, but not enough of one.

With all the exercise I'm getting, you would think that I would be crafted of steel, but you would be wrong. I still have the same teddy bear legs. Only now they ache. A lot. I'm thinking of buying Naproxen in bulk. And all those planks and bridges and "just 20 more reps!" have affected my running. Made it slow and painful as muscles that have been stressed seven ways to Sunday complain.

This morning I made it through my run by finding different things to focus on, each about 20 feet away. A bottle cap, a bright spot on the pavement, a shadow. And I told myself I only had to run until I got to that spot. That I didn't need to think about the remaining two or three miles. Just the next 20 feet. And then as I came up to the focus point, I found another one about 20 feet away. I got through a whole run like that. And sometimes I walked, but I always kept moving forward.

I think you can apply that to writing and a writing career. Sometimes it's better to focus on what you can accomplish right now. And the rest will take care of itself. Extraordinary days are made up of a string of ordinary days.

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Stewart O'Nan on writing

The Writers Almanac says today is Stewart O'Nan's birthday. I loved Last Night at the Lobster - the characters were so real to me, as was the restaurant. I'm not quite as big a fan of Songs for the Missing because he chose to have some scenes only alluded to, and I found that frustrating as a reader.

Still, I totally agree with this quote of his about writing: "The two hardest things about writing are starting and not stopping."

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