What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

27 January 2014

Fuel to the Fire

Last week, I realised I was going to miss kind of an important deadline at school, so I dashed off an apologetic email to a prof (and then was too nervous to check my email for three days) and then spent the rest of the week stressed out and trying to finish off the project that was already late.

When I finally checked my email, I found out things were not as dire as I had thought they were. But the project is finished and turned in, and I'm exhausted


Chadwick asked me this afternoon if I was feeling okay, and I had to explain to him that while he's grown accustomed this week to me racing about in an adrenaline-fueled panic, which was aided by my own insistence in getting up in the middle of the night for two weeks to watch Australian Open matches, that's not actually my norm. In fact, I've spent most of the day trying to remind myself that I have no reason to be stressed out today, because by some miracle I'm caught up with all my homework right now and even have a handle on things at work. (For normal people, being caught up during the second week of the semester would not require any miracles. Not me, though.)

It can't possibly be this healthy for 21st-century people to burn through our adrenal glands this fast. But I hate to be left out, so I'm sure I'll be back on it in a couple of days.

What do you do to handle your stress?

23 January 2014


The Walton name with a special place in my heart-- and everywhere else, actually, because it's my middle name. I get a lot of mileage out of it when explaining to people that in my case, "Susan" is shortened to "Su"-- if you add an 'e' to the end of my nickname, I will presume that you're using my middle initial. Incidentally, I went by Elizabeth for many years, just because I liked it so much more than my first name. Now that I've settled on "Su", though, I like my first name a lot more.

Some days I feel like half the women I know have Elizabeth as a middle name.

From the Hebrew name Elisheva, which means "my God is an oath" or "my God is abundance". Since record-keeping began in 1880, Elizabeth has never been out of the top 25 most popular names for girls in the US-- which is probably why she's walking around with every second person I know. Currently #10 in the US and #26 in British Columbia, Canada. She's also hanging in the top 100 in other Commonwealth countries, although it's considered more an old woman's name in places where Her Majesty is on all the money.

Famous Elizabeths: Elizabeth I; Elizabeth II; lots of other queens of assorted countries; Elizabeth, the Biblical mother of John the Baptist; quite a few other saints; Tina Fey, actress (I was surprised, too!); Elizabeth Barrett Browning, poet; Elizabeth Gilbert, writer (Eat, Pray, Love); Elisabeth Sladen, actress (Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures); Elizabeth Montgomery, actress (Bewitched); place-names all around the world; I'm just going to stop here.

I just watched the BBC miniseries of
Pride and Prejudice a few weeks ago.
Holy wow. Source.
Fictional Elizabeths: Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice; Elizabeth Bartlet, The West Wing; Beth March, Little Women; Liz Lemon, 30 Rock; Elizabeth Wakefield, Sweet Valley High; Elizabeth Swann, Pirates of the Caribbean; Elizabeth, The Swiss Family Robinson; Elizabeth Walton (obviously); better stop this one, too.

My Elizabeths: Like I said, I know bunches of people with Elizabeth either as a first or middle name. The one I've known the longest is the woman I was named after, although I don't know her well, but I think the second-longest is a high school classmate I first met when we were about 8 or 9. We were never more than really good acquaintances throughout school, but she was one of the first people I went looking for when I got my Facebook account a few years ago. There really is something to be said for staying connected to the people you have that much time in common with. And I also have a couple of characters called Elizabeth-- one of them is pally with my MC and will probably get more screen time, so to speak, as I go along.

Are you an Elizabeth? Do you know an Elizabeth? Are you happy I've reached the end of the Walton family and their many names? (Seriously, I don't know what I'm going to do next.)

Behind the Name

20 January 2014

Little House on the Prairie: I'll Never Be an Ingalls

I've been watching a lot of Little House lately, so that's what I'm in the mood to blog about. If it's not your thing... well, sorry.

My entry into the world of chapter books was with Little House on the Prairie, mainly because I watched the TV show and had to know more. My favourites of the books? Farmer Boy and Little Town on the Prairie. (In other words, ones that are not related to the TV show at all.) Does it bother me that the TV show is so wildly different from the books? Not in the slightest. There isn't enough material in the books for more than a couple seasons of TV, and a lot of it wouldn't translate well: an episode about Laura learning to play checkers would be too much for even the most die-hard Little House fan to sit through.

Aren't they sweet? Who
wouldn't want to be friends
with them? Source.
Plus, if not for the show diverging from the books, my favourite characters would never have been introduced: the Garveys.

The Garveys were a lot more like my family than the Ingalls were. Jonathan and Alice disagreed, and argued, a lot. Charles Ingalls got along with pretty much everybody; Jonathan Garvey actively disliked at least one person in town. When Alice was frustrated with their son, Andy, she said so instead of waiting a few days to see if he would figure it out on his own-- even sometimes taking it too far, you know, like a real human being does sometimes when she's frustrated.

The Ingalls? Not so much. When Caroline and Charles "disagreed," it lasted for three seconds and without any raised voices. My mother sometimes tried to convince me that I should be more like Laura, without noticing the TV Ingalls children were always doing really dumb things that I would never dream of doing (especially Albert, the little hooligan). The perfectly patient Ingalls parents always knew exactly why their children were going off the rails and always said exactly the right thing at the right time, before suggesting that the offender go fishing. (Would it have killed these kids to be sent to their rooms from time to time?)

Nellie being horrible to Andy.
Not my favourite episode.
Which I guess is why Andy Garvey, and not any of the Ingalls, is my favourite Little House kid. Although, here's what my young self learned from Andy: It's perfectly acceptable to lie to your parents if you're willingly cooking up a ridiculous scheme with the Ingalls children (Lake Kezia Monster), but not if you're being manipulated by the mean girl in town against your own better judgement (The Cheaters). Either way, everybody needs a friend like Andy.

Were/are you a Little House fan? Do you identify more with the sidekick than the main character in your favourite TV shows? Are you ready for me to get back into the routine of class and homework so I'll stop watching so much TV?

16 January 2014

I Knew The Walton Series Would Come to This: Jim-Bob

Oh, yes, it's the Walton with the goofiest name. Even worse than John-Boy, it's Jim-Bob. Why? Why in the world?? No wonder he was so sullen. Eventually, as he got older, he was called James Robert more and Jim-Bob less, but I'm not sure that was much of an improvement.

Walton trivia: Jim-Bob had a twin brother, Joseph Zebulon, who died shortly after birth. Poor kid-- would they have called him Joe-Zeb? Presumably, this is to match up with the real-life Hamner family, which had eight children instead of the Walton seven, but it's the Ben character who is based on two brothers, not Jim-Bob.

Jim-Bob isn't smiling, but he's not
scowling, either, so that's something.
This is from The Homecoming, the
Christmas movie that started it all.
James Robert
It's not really a two-for-one day, though, because I did a James post quite some time ago. Robert is from the Germanic Hrodebert, meaning "bright fame." (I don't know what dull fame is like, but whatever.) Was the #1 boy name in the US from 1924 to 1939, then hung in the top 5 until 1971. Also got up to #314 for girls in 1929. Currently it's #61 for boys in the US, which is surpassed around the world in Hungary (#48), Ireland (#53), and Scotland (#57).

Famous James Roberts: All these guys.

Fictional James Roberts: Just Jim-Bob Walton, as far as I can tell.

While I do use compound names from time to time, it's safe to say Jim-Bob will never be one of them unless I start writing The Waltons fan fiction.

How about you? James? Robert? Both?

Behind the Name

11 January 2014


My name post is late this week, yes. I was building anticipation!

I watched a few episodes of The Waltons during the Christmas/New Year week, just for my own amusement, and ran across a YouTube comment that said Ben Walton was good-natured. Which was amazing, because I've always thought of Ben as the cranky Walton.

Is short for Benjamin, which is a Hebrew name meaning "son of the south" or "son of my right hand." Ben's pretty popular around the world: #1 name for boys in Chile; #8 in British Columbia, Canada; #9 in Bosnia and Herzegovina; #15 in New South Wales, Australia; and #16 in the U.S. Ben's first popularity peak in the U.S. was in 1889, when he got up to #21, then he took a bit of a nose dive until the late 1960s, when he started creeping up again to his current highest point of popularity.

I had trouble choosing a pic
for this post. So: Dr. Regina
Benjamin, former U.S. Surgeon
General. Source.
Famous Bens: Benjamin Franklin; Benjamin Harrison (23rd U.S. president); Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister; the Biblical son of Jacob, who was the father of one of the 12 tribes of Israel; Ben Affleck, actor; Ben Stiller, actor who annoys me; Ben Barnes, actor (Prince Caspian); Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. (I also want to mention Ben Savage (Boy Meets World), but his full name is Bennett, not Benjamin.)

Fictional Bens: Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce (M*A*S*H); Ben Seaver (Growing Pains); Benjamin Tennyson (Ben 10); Benny Pearl (Benny and Joon); Ben Grimm (The Thing, Marvel Comics); Benjamin Button (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button); Ben Walton.

My Bens: I have a couple Benjamins in a character list, but haven't written one yet. I know a whole bunch, though, probably from being born while the name was on the rise in popularity-- there was always a Ben or two in my class all through school, and I've taught a few in Sunday School. Definitely no shortage of people named Ben in my life.

Are you a Ben? Do you know a Ben? Is it just me, or does every name I've looked at so far start to look weird after I've written it down 30 or so times?


02 January 2014


(I may do a New Year post sometime this month. Maybe. But not today. Stay tuned.)

So over my break, I've been binge watching The Waltons, along with some of my other old favourites (Boy Meets World and Little House on the Prairie). You know what's great about all these shows? The plotlines are exactly the same. Only the clothes are different. That doesn't stop me from watching all of them.

Anyway, we've come to the Walton middle child, Erin. I can't really say anything about being a middle child, since I'm the oldest in my own family, but I imagine middle child syndrome is exacerbated when you're in the middle of seven.

Anglicized version of "Eireann", which means "Ireland", which works out well for the red-headed Walton clan. Peaked in the US as the 18th most popular girl name in 1983, and is currently #262. It also made an entrance to the charts as a boy name in the '60s, sticking around until the '90s, but never more popular than #442 for boys. In the British Isles, where you might expect Erin to be popular, she is: #20 in Northern Ireland, #47 in Ireland, #22 in Scotland, and #39 in England and Wales.

You should read this book.
Famous Erins: Erin Brockovich, environmental activist; Erin Moran, actress (Joanie Cunningham, but she also guest starred on The Waltons!); Erin Andrews, sportscaster (her birthday is the day after mine, so she gets a mention); Erin Morgenstern, writer (The Night Circus).

Fictional Erins: Erin Whitney, The Whitney Cousins; Erin Hannon, The Office; and of course, Erin Walton.

My Erins: I was born during the Erin boom, so much like Jason, I went to school, summer camp, and church with a bunch. There is no shortage of Erins in my life. I also have one minor character called Erin.

Are you an Erin? Do you know an Erin? Do you wish I watched more TV shows so I'd give The Waltons a rest?

Behind the Name
This List (but I only used people I've heard of)