What's In a Name? Well, a Free Nintendo DS Lite, For a Start...

Well, wow, that was fun, wasn't it? Thank you so much to everyone who entered my competition; I can't tell you how interesting it was to read through all those middle names. I'm slightly obsessed with names, you see---I have been for as long as I can remember; I actually got a baby-naming book for my seventh birthday---and having 655 people present me with their middle names, one after the other like that, was as exciting as Christmas morning!

(As you can tell, I'm very easily pleased. In fact, if you should ever come for dinner at my house, don't worry about bringing a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine. Just tell me your middle name---and your mother's name and your father's name and your mother's middle name and your father's middle name, and how you spell all these names and where they came from---and I'll feed you lasagna and we'll call it even, okay? )

The thing that struck me most when reading through the comments---apart from feeling sad for all the people who lost their middle names after they got married; I think if I get married, I will just keep building and building onto my name, like a well-orchestrated game of Tetris---was the fact that certain names kept cropping up again and again.

The big players, of course, were Ann---both with an "e" and without---and Marie, which were followed closely by Leigh/Lee and Lynn(e). Do you have one of these four very popular middle names? Congratulations! You are in the majority!

In fact, look, I even have some very official pie charts to show you exactly that. Sean made these for me---he deals with the pie charts in this relationship, I'm responsible for pointing out errant commas in his email correspondence; that's our arrangement and it works for us---and I must say, the results were rather interesting. 

Out of 655 middle names---the majority of which were female, sorry boys---a whopping 65 of them were Ann(e). And there were 50 Maries! There were 26 Lynn(e)s and 24 Leigh/Lees, and then a whole bunch of Kayes, Joys, Renees, Michelles, and Jeans. There were also a lot of Elizabeths and Jos, and one particularly awesome Dagmar. And then there was Loth, who delighted in the fact that she didn't have a middle name, because if she did have one, it would have been her dad's middle name: Flucker. Yes, FLUCKER. Thank you Loth, that truly made my day. I think I just found my new favorite swear word.

(I was also charmed by Clare's middle name---Buckles!---and the comment left by a hilarious person named Eva, who said "Well, this is the craziest of coincidences, but my middle name is actually Nintendo! It's an old Italian name! My sister's is SegaMegadrive.")

But anyway, enough about this: you just want to know who the winner is, don't you?

First of all, I tried my best to go through the comments and delete any repeats: incidences where someone thought their comment hadn't posted the first time and so tried to post it again, for instance. There were only five or six of those, but I just figured it would be a little fairer if everyone only got one shot.

After that, I wrote out the numbers zero through nine three times with a Sharpie.....

......and folded them up and put them into three separate hats, the idea being that I'd draw three numbers---one from each hat---to make one complete number. This seemed like an infinitely better idea than writing the numbers one through 655 onto very small pieces of paper. (And actually, hat number one only had numbers zero through six in it, seeing as having 655 comments meant we had no need for a first number than went higher than six.) (Are you following this? I'm not sure I'm explaining it very well. The pie charts kind of topped out my Math Limit for the day. Next someone will be forcing me to do some long division.)

So who is now the proud owner of the Nintendo DS Lite and the copy of Brain Age, courtesy of Nintendo, as well as the copy of Guitar Hero On Tour, courtesy of a kind reader named Three Days Apart? Well, you'll have to watch the video to find out! And please forgive the weird buzzing noise my camera seems to be making, as well as the strange fluorescent flickering. Despite the way it looks and sounds, I am not, in fact, filming this from an underground bunker fifty thousand miles under the earth. In 1974.

Congratulations to the winner (I'll email you, winner!), and to the rest of you: thank you all so much for entering. I really wish I could have given all of you a prize, but I guess that would have been a little silly and also maybe a little impractical. I mean, just imagine how long I'd have to spend in line at the post office sending them out.

1
katie
Sep 09, 2008

congrats to the winner! and you are just the cutest, holly!

i will now go play tetris on my cell phone and pretend it is actually a nintendo ds...pretend very very hard...

2
jcristg
Sep 09, 2008

Wonder how many people just clicked back to that post and confirmed that no, dammit, I'm not the winner.

3
Julie
Sep 09, 2008

You? Are the cutest thing ever and I could listen to that lovely British accent all day long. Can I just come hang out? I will bring my extensive family tree full of names.

4
elizabeth
Sep 09, 2008

I refused to give up any names when I married. and divorced. and remarried. I figured I earned them. In fact, I made sure to use them all when I graduated from college (for the second time at the tender age of 41) They practically had to use an extra diploma - and they messed it up when they called it out for the walk.

5
elise
Sep 09, 2008

TWO numbers off! I was 196!

That is the closest I have ever come to winning anything. I'm kind of happy anyway :) I feel the winning vibes.

6
Kelda
Sep 09, 2008

"I think if I get married, I will just keep building and building onto my name, like a well-orchestrated game of Tetris"

Me too! (and me too to elizabeth) I have my own middle name, my dad's last name, my mom's last name, and my husband's last name. They are all spelled out in full on my driver's license, and it makes me happy.

7
slynnro
Sep 09, 2008

I kept all four of my names. There is precedent!

8
geeky
Sep 09, 2008

Well I didn't expect to win, but can I just say it stings a little to be #195? Yes, one comment away from winning. Ouch. But, your adorable British accent definitely softened the blow :)

9
Marguerite
Sep 09, 2008

congrats to the winner, and thanks for the show! very cute hat, BTW!

10
Laura
Sep 09, 2008

This was so much fun! I second Julie, can I come hang out just to listen to your cute British accent all day? I have a slight southern twang, especially when talking to my mother, even though I now live in LA. Oh! And I love game night too :)

Anyways, thanks so much for the contest! I too enjoyed reading about everyone's middle names! And I promise to bring my family tree, in which the name La Gendre (which of course sounds much cooler than it spells when you say it with a french accent) appears as a middle name quite often! Plus my mom was one of 13 children, which just calls for some creativity after a while :)

11
DiaryofWhy
Sep 09, 2008

While I may not be the winner of the Nintendo DS Lite, at least I have the solace of knowing that I win the most common middle name award! (Ann). It helps a little, I suppose...

And I'm sure you must have mentioned this somewhere and I've just overlooked it, but what is your middle name?

12
Georgia
Sep 09, 2008

1. Love that little typewritter behind you.

2. I don't have speakers at my work, so I can't hear who won. I'm just going to assume it's me, cool?

3. I love stories of why people were named what they were named. It always bums me out when someone shrugs and just says "My parents liked the name".
I was named after my grandpa George, btw. He was a butcher from Russia, who looked like he was in the Jewish mafia.

13
Kerri Anne
Sep 09, 2008

I LOVE your vintage typewriter (Hurrah for all things teal!), and for the past two weeks I've been finding and nearly buying vintage fans like the one on your desk. They are so cute to me, and yet most of them pack a mean fan punch. In fact, I'm pretty sure all of the ones I've seen work better than the brand new fan we bought earlier this summer.

Because you posted that video I will herein also freely admit to how silly I still feel about first meeting you in San Francisco, because I was all "Oh! You DO sound British, which, hi! you said you would, but you REALLY DO, and hi, my name is Kerri, and I like to state the obvious." OK, so I'm thinking (and hoping) I didn't really say just that, but it was something similar and now you see why first meetings aren't always my forté.

14
NothingButBonfires
Sep 09, 2008

I KEEP meaning to tell the great story of that typewriter. It is full of coincidences and the marvel of the Internet, just like an old Shakespeare tale! As for the fan, I bought it at the Alameda Flea Market this weekend. Best ten bucks I ever spent. Except immediately afterwards, the temperature in San Francisco dropped from 85 to 60 overnight. And is holding fast. I estimate that I will next need to use that fan sometime in 2012.

15
Christina
Sep 09, 2008

What about comment numbers 1-99? Were they eliminated from the running? (I mean, I was 300-something. I'm just concerned).

16
Christina
Sep 09, 2008

God, my reading comprehension skills could use some work. Nevermind.

17
vague
Sep 09, 2008

Great new hat! Totally off the subject, but I must also say that I love your typewriter. I have a very similar looking one (same blue color), but I don't think they are the same model. Mine's an Underwood.

Anyway, congratulations to 194, whoever you are!

18
lea ann
Sep 09, 2008

WOO HOO. I have TWO of the names mentioned in the Deluxe Pie Charts shown above. Do I win a pie?

Lovely voice. Could you please call me and read the first 10 pages of the phone book to me? Thank you!

Congrats to the winner!!

(and yes..I've no clue what number I was..so now I'm going back to look)

19
NothingButBonfires
Sep 09, 2008

Christina -- comments number 1 through 99 could have won if I'd pulled a zero out of the first hat, then anything from 0-9 out of the second and third. In that case, it would have been anything from 001 to 099. Make sense?

20
Christina
Sep 09, 2008

Yeah. A classic lesson in thinking & reading before you comment. :)

21
Camels & Chocolate
Sep 09, 2008

Cool! I'm common! My middle name is Leigh, and my sister's is Lyn. Wow, my mom sure was creative, it seems.

22
Raven
Sep 09, 2008

I kept my middle and dropped my maiden when I got married. When I got re-married, I kept my middle again and dropped the name of my first husband. I was never partial to my maiden name so there was no need to keep it.

23
Anne in SC
Sep 09, 2008

What an exciting few days. I loved reading all of the posts and was truly WoWed at the sheer numbers. Thanks for the pie charts. I can hardly believe there weren't many duplicates. I hang my head to say I was one, but at least I mentioned it first off in the post and referenced family members' middle names instead of my own again. I'm thankful that I wasn't totally disqualified.

I knew I wasn't the winnder, but I instantly went back and read post 194...what a lucky girl. And especially since she says she doesn't win anything and had already contemplated the DS purchase.

24
Hank
Sep 09, 2008

Georgia beat me to it, but how much did I love that 1970s typewriter in the background?

A lot.

I think I'm going to go back, find the winner, and take his or her middle name for myself. I'm sick of Mark.

But then, I have to have a name with the same first letter, so my monogrammed stuff doesn't change. Hmmm.

Maybe I steal this idea and have a "give Hank a middle name" contest on my blog.

OK, I'll stop now.

My main thing from this whole contest is: my G-d, who gets 655 comments!

25
Gretchen
Sep 09, 2008

Cool contest and great video. Love Hat #2. And I will jump on the "love Holly's accent" bandwagon. My son Matt is in kindergarten with a set of twins whose mom is from Devon. The kids were born here, but they have their mother's delicious accent. We met them at the park today, and I can't wait for little Rosie to learn to read so she can read my cell phone bill to me aloud,.

26
ashley
Sep 09, 2008

you are so cute.

27
magpie
Sep 09, 2008

Holly, you have a great voice! You sound exactly how I imagined you sounded, and yet, nothing like it. That makes no sense, but that's how I roll.

28
Sarah
Sep 09, 2008

shucks, no DS for me! But congrats Lau-oo-rah!

29
Sensibly Sassy
Sep 09, 2008

You are too cute! Seriously.

30
ellbee
Sep 09, 2008

Man, I was actually pretty close! Not that it counts, but hey. I always like to tell people my middle name, I think it's pretty cool. Also, I guess I'm just glad to have avoided what happened to my grandmother...
As the story goes, my great-grandfather was in charge of picking my grandmother's name, due to the fact that my great grandmother was
A. In labor,
B. Fairly occupied,
and
C. Could have cared less, given the circumstances.
My great grandfather couldn't make up his mind, and the nurse got tired of erasing and re-writing names on the birth certificate, so my grandmother came into the world bearing the name(s)
Cherry Rich Pigeon Lee Daynes. And that doesn't even count her married surname. So, there is that.

31
brandi
Sep 09, 2008

I missed the contest, but my middle name is An, so at least I'm in the majority! Kind of. I was surprised to see so many Lyn-with-one-n's, but I don't think I saw any An-with-one-n's. On my birth certificate it actually says "(correct)" next to my middle name because so many people during the processing came to double check with my mom that that's what she wanted. You'd think she would have learned, but NO.

32
beth
Sep 10, 2008

Holly - random.org is a random number generator, you just plug in your range and it pulls a number out a virtual hat for you. Probably easier than scraps of paper!

33
Scarlett
Sep 10, 2008

But one can't deny the total cuteness of the hats and the presentation... you can't get that with a random number generator!

Congrats to the winner. I was 5 away- closest I've been to winning something in 12 years.

34
Clare
Sep 10, 2008

I feel special just because I got a mention. Thank you, parents, for burdening me with "Buckles"...that will be the only time I ever say thanks for that.

Congrats to the winner! I like your system, I don't think I would have thought of that. I would have been faffing around with 655 bits of paper, probably.

35
Nothing But Bonfires
Sep 10, 2008

Beth -- I know all about random.org but I thought this was more fun! Plus more authentic, so you can totally all see that I didn't cheat.

36
Jordyn
Sep 10, 2008

Hm. I like the nice sandwich effect of having three names and since I could NEVER EVER EVER get rid of my middle name I guess I'll end up dropping my maiden name when I get married.

Which is sad really, not because the name is so awesome (it isn't) but because I love being part of the family tree that way.

Ha maybe I will make it another middle name.

37
Andra
Sep 10, 2008

Sorry!!!! I really forgot to check you latest post, and I just got your e-mail and I am totally dizzy with excitement!!!!! Thank you!!!! I never, ever won anything remotely cool like this and I just don't know what I'll do with myself until the DS Lite arrives! Thank you again!

38
kimblahg
Sep 14, 2008

your desk is so cute! i didn't enter because we have one so i didn't get a chance to say that my middle name WAS ann but i changed it when i got married and made my maiden name my middle name. i'm a former ann.