Where is ‘Sandy’ on the list of most popular baby names?

Between Superstorm Sandy and the Sandy Hook school shootings, most parents likely would show more taste than to name any child the unisex Sandy this coming year.

Still, parents have done worse things.

babyhashtagTake baby Hashtag, please. Possibly the most retweeted newborn name of the year (parents, how could you?), I’m hoping her middle name is not Sandy. The Twitterverse has seen enough Hashtag Sandys to last a lifetime.

The BabyCenter, which polls parents worldwide and tracks baby name trends, shows in its new list that Sandy doesn’t even make its top 100 list — for either girl or boy. Worldwide in 2012, it ranked at No. 2,020 for girls, and peaked in the U.S. at No. 126 in 1960. Other girl names of color — Amber, Blanche, Ebony, Ginger, Hazel, Rose and Violet — have typically out-ranked it. For boys, Sandy is more clearly a vintage name; it peaked in 1886 at No. 329 in the U.S., and ranked at No. 3,137 worldwide in 2012.

For the full list of the 100 top names of 2012, click here.

The baby-naming site Nameberry notes that “Sandy” rarely stands on its own; rather, it’s a diminutive for Sandra or Alexander/Alexandra/Alessandra. The site offers various alternative spellings: Sandee, Sandi, Sandie, Sandye, Sanndi.

(Personal note: Our youngest’s daughter’s name is Cassandra, but we never considered nicknaming her Sandy. We nearly named our older daughter Alexandra instead of Micaela, in fact — how odd it would have been if both girls could have had the nickname “Sandy.” Neither Cassandra nor Micaela made this year’s top 100, although cousin-form Makayla comes in at No. 45, and Sydney, our granddaughter born in January 2012, ranks at No. 67. “Maya” — Spanish for “May” but which was associated with a near-disaster this month — placed at No. 48.)

grease_sandy_1If you’re anything like me, you couldn’t stop singing Sandy from Grease! during coverage of the devastation from the so-called Frankenstorm. That created definite dissonance, although there was something frighteningly bipolar about that sweet-turned-siren Olivia Newton-John character.

Some people do indeed name their children after hurricanes — especially if they were hunkered down during one and gave birth roughly nine months later.

In today’s popular culture, many younger people think of Sandy as the squirrel friend of SpongeBob Squarepants — out of her element but in full protective gear to survive underwater. I knew a male Sandy as a kid. He was one of fraternal twins. He drowned in our neighborhood swimming pool when we were 10.

Avielle Richman, 6, was one of 20 children fatally shot Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This Richman family photo was provided to the Associated Press

Avielle Richman, 6, was one of 20 children fatally shot Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This Richman family photo was provided to the Associated Press.

Some baby-naming trend watchers are predicting that the names of the fallen children in the Sandy Hook massacre may rise in popularity in 2013 — such unusual names as Avielle, in tribute to 6-year-old Avielle Richman.

Ironically, “Sandy,” of Greek origin, means “protector” or “defender of men.”

Unhappy old year, everyone.


Sandy and the Dangling Crane

We create our own disasters sometimes. Whose bright idea was it to leave a crane erected like the gallows over NYC yesterday, for instance? Did they not get the memo about the worst storm of the century bearing down?

I admit I did little myself to prepare for superstorm Sandy. Murphy’s Law might thus have sealed my fate — sparing those who were ready and doing in those who were not — but instead I snugly checked into a king room at the Embassy Suites after my shift, on the company’s dime, and kinda kept working, watching the horrific drama play out on an HD TV. Make that TWO HD TVs, one per room. Drat. I couldn’t quite watch from the bathtub.

“Crane expert” from “Goose Creek”?  I had assumed he was an ornithologist.

I deserved that bath, though, because I managed to turn what was little more than a heavy rainstorm in metro D.C. into an unforeseen (and untold, ’til now) disaster all my own.

Friend and colleague Sharyn checks out the damage to our headquarters.

If you saw my blog yesterday, you’d know that a giant “A” descended from the heavens at US TOD Y headquarters. As an investigative copy editor, I made it my mission to trace the source. I’d already examined two intact USA TODAY signs on the building and three GANNETT signs. I figured there was one I couldn’t see from indoors, so after my shift I meandered onto the median strip between the building and the Dulles Access Toll Road.

Turns out that at that time, about 8:15, our region was being hit the hardest, with gale-force winds and buckets of rain. I nearly fell down or was picked up, unsure which, and as I breached the treeline, I was startled by a CRRRAACCKKKK and blinding flash of light. I figured I’d met my doom. Still, I managed this photo:

Another “A” accounted for.

I also completely peed my pants.

One of these letters is not like the others. Can you tell which one?

By the time I made it to the hotel, drenched to the bone and smelling vaguely of urine, I figured I deserved that bath. Because I’d learned from the security guard upon exiting work that my mad search was for naught: The “A” on the ground was but a protective sheath of the letter on the building that had blown off.

My initial photo clearly shows the “A” in “USA” is receded. No great mystery. The “D” sheath also fell, about two hours afterward. A dropped “AD.” Happens all the time in the newspaper biz.

I’ve doffed my own protective journalistic sheath as I remain glued to the sad news elsewhere. My warmest, driest thoughts go out to those truly suffering in this storm — people who didn’t create their own suffering.

And, with my free oatmeal, grapefruit and piping coffee, I’ll have a side of rainwater as I watch the hotel’s atrium leak  — safe from any further embarrassing leaks.

Then … it’s back to the office and being on the lookout for dangling modifiers, not building scraps.

The leaky atrium at the Embassy Suites Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia.

Big news at USA TODAY: Sandy swiped our ‘A’

ImageAt about 3:52 p.m. ET, we in the newsroom heard a loud crash, and ran to the window. That’s the dropped ‘A’ there, in the flower bed below. Collective “gsp.”

It appears we could be reduced to: US TODAY. Or USA TOD Y. Not sure which.

Below, buildings crew worker Carlos recovers the ‘A’ from the 2nd-floor balcony garden. He tells me: “Miss, it is not safe to be out here right now.” Yes, but I am COVERING THE STORY. Maybe only a copy editor could understand.

Photo and 2012 copyright by Terry Byrne, USA TODAY

Update at 4:45 p.m. ET: Thinking now it must be the “A” in GANNETT. All the As in USA TODAY are accounted for. I even went to the rooftop to photograph the second photo, and it’s pretty gusty up there, which makes me pretty GUTSY.

All right. The puzzle deepens. I have photographed three sides of our headquarters. All three GANNETTs look fine. What we need is a traffic helicopter, or maybe some iReports from citizen journalists on the toll road to find the missing vowel.

A ‘Sandy’ foot in my mouth

I used to groom myself this way when I was young. Disgusting, I know, but what I’d give to have that flexibility back.

So maybe I spoke too soon there (in my previous post) sneering at the severity of “Frankenstorm” and my neighbors’ panic in hoarding survival kits and caboodle.

As the alerts intensity, my skepticism dissipates. And now, gah, there’s no water or “D” batteries to be had anywhere within 50 miles of my home.

Lucky for you, my power will soon go out, and you won’t have to read any more of my reckless posts. I’ll be reduced to eating peanut butter, wilted lettuce … what else do we have here? Oh, nuts.

Hunker down, everyone, and stay safe.

Below, a snapshot of my TV, tuned relentlessly to The Weather Channel … the last thing I’ll see when the power goes out.

For those of you who no longer read the paper (a once-a-day updating of the news, like taking your vitamins).

On fear of ‘Frankenstorm’ and water pressure

Draining supply of water at my local Safeway. By Sunday, no bottled water or “D” batteries could be found anywhere in town.

Someone ‘splain me this: Why the mad rush on water in advance of the monster hurricane, cleverly dubbed “Frankenstorm,” which promises water, water everywhere?*

The toilet paper I can understand. It is, after all, days before Halloween and its companion Mischief Night — lots of TP’ing and mummifying ahead.

The water I don’t get.

At first I thought people were confused by the National Weather Center’s official moniker for the beast: “Sandy.” Is it a sandstorm?

(Aside: Has NOAA ever named a hurricane Noah? Might set off even more panic, even induce ark-building.)

I asked someone in line at my Safeway just now, who had her cart loaded down with jugs and bottles: Isn’t it more likely we’ll just lose power … not sewage services? Our taps should still work. Right? She shrugged.

She may have been on auto-pilot, as so many Snowmageddon survivors are.

The way I see it:  The only thing you should really be stocking up on right now is candy. Either Halloween goes off as scheduled, and you’re prepared and won’t get your house TP’ed, or you can’t cook and will still have plenty of survival calories on hand.

Otherwise, my short list for Frankenstorm preparation:

1. Flashlights/batteries

2. Candles/matches

3. Board games, for if you get bored.

4. Condoms, for if you don’t. (See No. 2)

I just can’t fathom the water thing. Unless hydropower is further along than I thought and people are practicing the dam thing at home.

(*Note: I mean no disrespect to serious victims of hurricanes in places where disaster truly strikes, such as my beloved New Orleans, tsunami-stricken Japan, the Caribbean, where people have already lost their lives from this beastly storm. But this is Northern Virginia. That’s all I’m sayin’. Yeah, famous last words.)