What’s In A Name

Have you ever Googled your name?  I have.  I wrote about my findings in this previously unseen piece, completed in 2001, which was rejected by The Hamilton Spectator. 
When I was starting to put together this website back in February, my initial thought was to be particular about what I posted.  I’m trying to maintain a consistent level of excellence on here so visitors will keep coming back to read my stuff.  Also, I was concerned about dated material.  It’s always best, in my view, to post things that are timeless.  That’s why this piece, What’s In A Name, hasn’t been posted until now.  It’s a little out of date.
But after reading it again I realize it’s quite interesting if self-indulgent.  At one point, I talk about how the names “Earl” and “Dennis” are on a list of names for severe storms.  I don’t think there was a Cyclone Earl in 2004 but there was most definitely a Hurricane Dennis last year.  (It was the storm before the infamous Hurricane Katrina.)  Mark Farrell, a stand-up comedian and writer for CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes, has this bit about rooting for severe weather that bears your name.  I can’t help but admit that I rooted for Hurricane Dennis in 2005.  (I know.  It’s terrible.)  Thankfully, that storm wasn’t nearly as destructive as Katrina and Wilma but it left its mark nonetheless.  Hurricane Dennis was considered so bad at the time that it’s been officially retired from the list of storm names.  It was a good run while it lasted.
If you’re ever bored at work or are curious about the originality of your name, Google it.  (Be sure to put quotation marks around your name.)  You might be surprised at the results.

Searching for other Dennis Earls on-line
By Dennis Earl

All my life, I thought I had a unique name. Mom told me so on countless occasions. I tested this lifelong belief out of sheer boredom one day on my computer.

It turns out I don’t have a unique name after all.

On Google.ca, my name (typed “Dennis Earl”) returned over 1,800 hits, although as I went through each page, the grand total increased to 2,400. (A search on MSN.com’s search engine resulted in almost 1,500 hits, although oddly, I could only browse through about 200.) And what did I find? Here are the highlights:

  • I have a school named after me. Dennis Earl Elementary (really named after Dennis G. Earl, a business executive and school board trustee) in Turlock, California which covers grades 1-6. (I also have my own PTA!) Established in August 1998, it’s one of 9 schools in the area that send graduates to the local junior high. The air-conditioned school (lucky kids) enrolls over 700 students a year. Some 200 of them learn English as a second language. Unfortunately, the site is incomplete and hasn’t been updated since 2000. Many features are still under construction. But I did read the lyrics to the school song which refers to its students as “Earl Explorers”. The Campus Tour section has this amusing heading, “Take A Tour Of Dennis Earl.” Best part of the site? Dennis Earl swag. T-shirts, sweatshirts, backpacks.
  • President Bush wanted Dennis Earl Dollar to be the new chairman of the National Credit Union Administration 3 days after Sept. 11. Did he get the job? Yes.
  • American citizens Dennis Earl Dillon, who resided from Jamestown, Pennsylvania, Dennis Earl Koch, a Center Valley, PA resident, Dennis Earl Joy, a native of Imperial, California, Aircraft Commander Dennis Earl Painter from Chicago, Illinois, and Corporal Dennis Earl Ijams, who hailed from Schell City, Missouri, all sacrificed their lives in the Vietnam War. All their names are on the Vietnam Memorial.
  • A quick glance at the University of Guelph website and I find this caption underneath a picture of a guy at a lectern with a piece of paper covering his face. It reads: “The most shy lecturer, Dennis Earl!”
  • Dennis Earl is the VP of Academic Affairs at universalclass.com, an on-line educational site. He handles Investor Relations.
  • Dennis Earl Baker, an independent, finished 7th out of 8 candidates vying for the Okanagan-Coquihalla, BC seat in the House of Commons in the 2000 Federal Elections. Who won the riding? Stockwell Day with 70% of the vote. Mr. Baker had 0.8%.
  • Both Dennis and Earl are tropical cyclone names for the Atlantic region of the world. Dennis would have been used in 1999 if a storm had occurred at the applicable moment but it gets a second chance in 2005. Earl was a 1998 possibility and will be used, if a cyclone happens at the right time, in 2004. And yes, names are recycled every 6 years. Thankfully, there was a Hurricane Dennis in 1999. And I was so proud.
  • A guy by the name of Dennis Earl Charles was baptized at the St. John United Church of Christ in Smithton, Illinois. By the way, my full name is Dennis Charles Earl.

There are many more sites featuring political candidates (from all sides of the political fence and most of them losers), criminals, volunteers, preachers, neighbours, dead guys, writers, husbands, and university professors, all of whom share my name. Isn’t it bizarre how your first and last name can be so commonly used as a first and middle name for so many people both living and dead? In fact, there were more Dennis’ who have Earl for a middle name than a surname.

After sifting through all of this stuff, I wondered if it was ever possible to have an original name, one that no other human being, past or present, would have. I could only think of one: Arnold Schwarzenegger. In case you’re wondering, on Google, his name garnered 142,000 hits. Good luck finding his clone.

Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, July 3, 2006
4:15 p.m.
Published in: on July 3, 2006 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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