Wednesday, January 7, 2009


It's tough to find a name that isn't taken, these days. Tougher still to find one that is free, and that you like. Many clever little two-word combinations that I'd thought of ages ago, and which used to be -- near as I knew -- unique to my brain have since occurred to other brains, and other people have now claimed real estate on the World Wide Web using those phrases.

So I went with an extinct animal that I happen to find interesting. You can look it up. Hemicyon was a dog-bear -- a hunting, hypercarnivorous, pack animal that roamed the plains of the Northern Hemisphere way back during the Miocene. The body was powerful like a bear, sleek and fast like a dog, and in behavior might be thought of as a velociraptor with fur. You would not have wanted to stumble across a hungry pack and have them see you as dinner.

What does this choice symbolize? What is its secret meaning? I don't have one. It was a cool animal, and the name was available. So I went with it. Maybe I'll think of a message for it later, but right now, it's a nearly random name pick. That's not such a strange thing to do. Parents do it all the time: Pick names for babies, with no idea what they mean, or not really caring. My name is Graham, which means "gray homestead." (That's why I go by "Gray" for short.) My son's name is Ronan, which is Irish, and means "baby seal." When we picked the name for my kid, my wife and picked it because it sounded neat, and we didn't know anyone else who had it. We didn't attach any importance to the baby seal thing. And I'm pretty sure my parents didn't mean much when they basically called me a house. Frequently, names are just names, and it's not a good idea to read too much into them.

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