I don't receive that many unsolicited phone calls but when I do, it is particularly irksome when the person on the other end of the telephone can't even pronounce my name correctly. I can tell immediately from the background noise that the person is sitting in a phone bank surrounded by hundreds of other unwanted callers. Since these telemarketers are interrupting dinner or Judge Judy for people minding their own business in the comfort of their own homes, the least they can do is to know how to say our names correctly.

You know who probably wishes that she had a different name around this time of year? Any woman named Kris Kringle. There are at least eleven women from Maine to California with that very name. This does not include the Kristens, Kristoffers and men and women named Chris who also share the last name of Kringle. Do they receive a lot of extra phone calls from kids asking for last-minute toys?

At least Kris Kringle is associated with Santa and merriment and driving around in a sleigh at night delivering toys to girls and boys around the world. That's a positive association. But think about all of the unfortunate citizens walking around with the last name of Grinch! In the United States there are several residential listings for Mr. Grinch in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Does the last name of Grinch hold someone back on a job interview? Do neighborhood kids steer clear of old Mr. Grinch when he walks outside to collect his newspaper?

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Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, is credited with popularizing the name Grinch in his 1957 book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Supposedly, Mr. Geisel chose the name Grinch for his main character by blending the words grouch and pinch (the qualities of being disagreeable and cheap). The book was a success and the name Mr. Grinch became synonymous with that Yuletide meanie.
Unusual names for holiday dessert items appear in bakeries and food magazines at this time of year. Have you ever tried Buche de Noel? It's a tasty spongecake filled with cream and rolled up to resemble a log. The outside is frosted with chocolate and sprinkled with powdered sugar to look like snow. You may recognize the name of this traditional dessert as Yule Log.

While we scurry around decorating our homes and preparing for guests, there are dozens of household items that we use every day developed by obscure inventors from long ago. Where is the name recognition for Percy Lebaron Spencer, the American engineer and physicist who invented the microwave oven in 1946? Mr. Spencer worked for the Raytheon Company and was involved in the early days of radar technology developed during World War II. Mr. Spencer apparently made the connection between working with magnetrons and microwaves in the laboratory and the melted chocolate bar in his pocket. Initially marketed as the "Radarange," this time-saving device is in practically every home kitchen today.

Making pesto or hummus in your food processor? The first food processor developed for home use was invented by Pierre Verdon

in France in 1971 and called Le Magi-Mix. American engineer and inventor, Carl Sontheimer, refined Verdon's machine to produce the Cuisinart introduced to home cooks in the U.S. in 1973.

One last essential in every home, especially at this time of year when gifts need to be wrapped, is the roll of Scotch tape. The clear tape we all know and love was not invented in Scotland nor was the inventor Scottish. The first transparent adhesive tape was invented by Richard Gurley Drew in 1930. Mr. Drew worked for a small sand paper company, Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing (3M) company. He invented beige colored masking tape in 1925.

Kim Kovach enjoys learning and sharing odd bits of information in her columns. www.kimkovachwrites.com