7 Quick Takes on Twin Vocations, Pocket Frustrations, and Publications

— 1 —


So close. I caught up on my posts for NaBloPoMo on Friday, but then yesterday was full of no posting. This is one of the times I’m glad I went for “30 posts in 30 days.” That’s a challenge I can do. To be fair, NaNoWriMo doesn’t require a daily word count. You just have to log 50,000 words by November 30. If you jet off to an isolated cave and crank out 5,000 words each weekend day, you’ll get to your goal. I think I should be able to count 30 posts in 30 days even if that’s not one per day.

— 2 —

When I was in grad school, I didn’t do much blogging, but I did a lot of living, and I lived with a lot of people. Two of them have now entered formation to become Holy Cross priests. The Congregation of Holy Cross runs Notre Dame, so I’m not surprised that they chose that particular order, although I am surprised they entered. I would have sworn up and down that Brendan would be a great dad. I guess he still will, just in a different way than I imagined.

I pray for them often, and I write to them, but I don’t hear from them very often, so I was delighted to read a post about them on our grad program’s blog. I was one of those carpoolers Brendan mentions. I’m glad he’s found joy in his new life.

— 3 —

Remember how I’ve been so excited about Pocket for the last month or so? I have some distinct frustrations, too. Primary is that I can’t use the right-click context menu to save to Pocket from Google search results. Since I use Gmail, I’m usually logged in when I run a Google search. (I know they’re watching me, blah, blah, blah. You’ve picked your battles, and I’ve picked mine.) That means that the URL Google shows me is not the same as the URL it links to. There’s a redirect. It only takes milliseconds, but it’s there. Thus, when I right-click to save, I save the redirect URL, not the target URL. It’s not helpful at all to save a bunch of gibberish that starts with google.com when what I wanted was a blog post.

A lesser annoyance is the behavior of the web app when I read, archive, and delete saved items. Sometimes, and through no pattern I can discern, I click the check to archive an item I’ve read, but it doesn’t disappear from my list. If I click to archive it straight from the list, nothing happens. If I click to open it again, it behaves as through it’s in the archive (i.e. it won’t let me archive it again). To make it dissappear from my list, I have to refresh the page. This also happens when I delete items, and again with no clear pattern. I’ve been locked in a string of support emails since October 23.

If you use Pocket, does this happen to use? I’m using Firefox 33.0.3, and I do not want to switch to another browser. Unless it’s for work, I shouldn’t have to.

— 4 —

As frustrated as I am with Pocket, I’m still using it. It led me to an article in First Things about the endangered existence of the humanities at universities. In it, the author suggests that religious colleges are better at truly supporting the humanities because religious people tend to embrace them more and still believe in things like universal truths and the wisdom of ages past.

I’d never thought about my affinity for the humanities in its relationship to my religious life, but it makes perfect sense. I love stories. Jesus was a storyteller as much as a miracle worker; we have a whole list of parables to attest to that. The Bible is a collection of stories that are not necessarily factual but all completely true. Being Catholic, I tend to know the Bible more by stories than by the chapter-verse style of Protestants and evangelicals. In an age of indexed search, I can usually find the chapter and verses I want in a matter of moments. But I don’t repeat “Matthew 11:28” to myself when I need comfort. I say the words. Text citations don’t inspire my faith; the text inspires me.

— 5 —

Speaking of religious college and Holy Cross, I was able to attend our local Hesburgh Lecture on Thursday. I can’t remember if I’ve actually been to one before. I’ve never been in Austin, but I don’t remember whether the one in Birmingham was a Hesburgh Lecture or Universal Notre Dame night. I went to this one, anyway.

The topic was particularly intriguing: “What Race Is, What It Is Not, and Why It Matters,” presented by Professor Agustin Fuentes of the anthropology department. I’ve written about my opinions on race here before, and I do loves Bones, so I was hopeful about what he’d have to say.

I was not disappointed. He spoke about how continents are not a useful genetic division. All the genetic variations found in humans worldwide can be found in sub-Saharan Africa. The only useful geographic factor for race is proximity to the equator. That, however, applies around the globe, such that people from Papua New Guinea might be mistaken for black Americans or Caribbean islanders since they’re from the same latitudes.

The takeaway was that, since we use the characteristic we call “race” to divide people, we should acknowledge that and start conversations that call people to task for race-based assumptions. Why are there a disproportionate number of black men in jail and prison? Why are less “ethnic” names on résumés more likely to get people hired? Why are people so surprised to find out that I am not biracial? Education is the first step.

— 6 —

My trivia team won last night! I play pub quiz (trivia hosted in a bar) almost every Saturday. We usually place between 7th and 12th out of 14-ish to 38-ish teams each week, respectively. My affinity for radio-friendly pop hits and our combined team knowledge let us to my first victory with that group in the several years since I’ve been playing with them. $40 off our tab translated to sweet, sweet victory.

— 7 —

I’ve been steadily working on my series answering the questions from the pre-Synod survey that Pope Francis issued. Thursday’s installment was probably the most profound and controversial. Take a look and let me know what you think.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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