Monthly Archives: December, 2015

7 Quick Takes on Sunrise, Taglines, and Catholic Calendars


— 1 —

I thought about waiting to post this until Friday, but my blog goal for the month is to do every 7QT. I’ll just have to read and do some interesting things over the next few days to compensate. I will say that I’ve been personally pleased with my posting frequency this year. There have been a few dry spells, but I haven’t completely quit on it like I used to. Not being in school anymore helps.

— 2 —

I changed my tagline. If you’re not reading this on, you might not have noticed. The previous one was “Jesus, grammar, and Harry Potter: a life lived contrariwise.” That was a throwback to my blog’s previous name, Contrariwise. (I rebranded in 2011.) I still love Jesus, grammar, and Harry Potter, but my life isn’t about being contrary anymore. So, on the advice of Tico & Tina about brainstorming taglines, and with a bit of soul-searching, I picked a new one.

My new tagline is “Live joyfully.” I was inspired by Hallie Lord’s recent foray into encouraging women to live fearlessly. Her husband wrote a book I haven’t read about choosing joy, though, so I know she likes joy, too. And so do I. I sign all my emails (and regular mail) “with joy.” It’s not the same thing as happiness, and it’s the shortest version of why I remain a Catholic. It’s neutral enough for every message and religious enough to satisfy me.

So my blog and my life has always been about joy. Now I’ve made it official. Thank you for joining me on the journey.

— 3 —

Doing GTD means living out of your calendar and your task manager. For months, since the lovely Miss Beth Anne recommended it, I’ve been using Sunrise. The developers created it because they couldn’t find a calendar as useful or elegant as they wanted. I tried it and loved it immediately.

Then Microsoft acquired them and shut down development of the apps. Perfect. I thought I would still be able to use it for a while, but the notifications weren’t working right. How am I supposed to remember to pray the Angelus without a bell? So I had to switch to the official Google Calendar app. The colors are too intense, and I don’t like the custom alarm sound (which can’t be changed; fail), but it’ll do for now.

Microsoft has also acquired Wunderlist, but that iOS app just got an update, so I’m hoping they’re not planning to shutter it, too. I really don’t want to have to develop a whole new GTD workflow, and GTD is nothing without a good workflow.

— 4 —

On Thursday, I volunteered with my company at Special Olympics Texas. We’re in construction, so I represented the women of the company, for better or for worse. I did data entry, and some of the others sorted t-shirts and banners for the upcoming Winter Games. Then we got to play bocce ball with some of the athletes. We picked up a few pointers from them, and despite all odds, I actually managed to get the hang of it and start improving. I swear, I’m only good at the most basic of sports.

— 5 —

A dear friend threw herself a birthday party this weekend. I was not expecting it to be a big party, but there were so many people we barely fit in the house! She continues to credit me with introducing her to our young adult Catholic community. After she read my review of The Catholic Girl’s Survival Guide for the Single Years at Austin CNM, she reached out to me to ask if I had any connections. I invited her to Spirit & Truth, and she met some other people there, and the rest is history.

For the record, I do not take credit for all her new friends. That’s the community’s doing. Even as we come and go geographically and vocationally, there’s always room for newcomers and for building real relationships. That’s the work of God.

And you never know who you might meet through your blog.

— 6 —

In case you missed it, I published updates to my Catholic calendar. If you’re subscribed, you’re all set for 2016. If you aren’t subscribed, instructions can be found in this year’s Catholic calendar post.

— 7 —

I am not ready for Christmas at all. I barely remembered to get my Advent wreath out before the Second Sunday, Mary and Joseph still need some superglue surgery before they can arrive in my Nativity scene, and I have no idea what to give my sister. Is it just me, or did time pass much more quickly than usual these last three weeks?

For more Quick Takes, visit Written by the Finger of God this week!

Booking Through Thursday: Audiobooks


I’m guessing most of you like reading (or why would you be here?) How do you feel about audiobooks?

For me, “reading” means using my eyes, not my ears. As much as I acknowledge their usefulness while doing chores or using your hands, I only ever use audiobooks for the rare long drive—listening, no matter how pleasant, is not reading, yet people persist in telling me they like to read and that audiobooks are their favorites. Am I the only one to feel that’s just not the same thing?

No, Deb (host of BTT), you are not alone. I hear the Bible read out loud to me every Sunday, but that doesn’t count as reading. I prefer not to read along, although that is an option, but that’s a different story.

I just don’t like audiobooks. The last time I remember liking them was when I was so little that my books on tape were reading to me. (People of a certain age still call audiobooks “books on tape.”) That was because I couldn’t read yet, though. I’m a grown-up now. I can read. I read my own books. Listening is such a different experience that I just can’t bring myself to do it. Even on long drives, I would rather sing along to music. (I occasionally talk with my fellow passengers, but that’s because I rarely have passengers.)

I do have a long commute, though. My coworkers have recommended audiobooks, but my antidote to that daily dead time has been podcasts. Those are designed to be listened to. Books are not meant to be listened to. There was a weird genre of French plays written specifically to be read and not performed, but with that exception, works are best in their original form.

For more short queries about books and the reading life, visit Booking Through Thursday.

Catholic Calendar 2016

It’s that time again, dear readers! This is my annual Catholic calendar update post.


Photo by Joe Lanman at Flickr.

If you’ve already subscribed in years past, you have the 2016 dates ready to go. I’ve been doing this since 2011! I recommend subscribing because you only have to do it once.

If you want to subscribe and you use Google Calendar, here’s how:

  1. Copy this link:
  2. Log in to Google Calendar.
  3. On the left-hand side of the screen, click the small arrow to the right of “Other calendars” and choose “Add by URL.” Paste in the URL you copied above.
  4. All the U.S. Catholic holidays since 2011 should be visible now as all-day events. If you open the event, you can see the liturgical color and the rank (from the Table of Liturgical Days) in the description.

If you want to subscribe and you use another calendar app that accepts iCal subscriptions (such as Outlook), your steps will be similar. You’ll need that same link from #1. Check your app’s support or help feature for specific instructions. (Google Calendar’s help page for subscribing to a calendar will give you the same steps I posted above.)

You can also import the calendar with the same link from #1 (if you click it instead of copying, you’ll get the download), but I don’t recommend that anymore. It’s much easier to mess up.

If you want a printable version, you have two options here:

  1. Print the Google Calendar (or use the Print button to save it in your preferred format). The single-page, fullscreen online version is best for that purpose. Month View will give you something that looks like a regular wall calendar. Agenda View is a simple list. You can select your desired date range, but even the smallest font size won’t show the whole title for some days in Month View. There are a lot of letters in “Saturday of the Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time”!
  2. Print the USCCB’s 2016 calendar PDF. It is only available in list format, but it has all the dates and information printed clearly. They used to hold out on making this PDF available until the relevant year was basically over, so it is quite progressive to have it available right now.

Some notes on how my Catholic Calendar differs from the basic data (kindly provided by Romcal):

  • I added my favorite novenas, as usual.
  • I included feast days for St. John Paul II, St. John XXIII, St. Junipero Serra, St. Marianne Cope, and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.
  • The Ascension is on a Sunday for most of the U.S., so I listed it there. (If you are in an Ascension Thursday diocese, you probably know that already.)

This year’s liturgical oddities:

  • Easter is pretty early, so the Annunciation gets knocked clear into April.
  • The Assumption is on a Monday, so it is not a Holy Day of Obligation.
  • The Feast of the Holy Family is December 30 since there is no Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

If you have trouble, please comment or use my contact form. I will do my best to help. I also appreciate comments letting me know that it worked. It brings me great joy to help others live liturgically!

The Most Powerful Woman in the World (A Response to the “National Geographic” Feature)


Photo by dogmadic at Stock Xchng.

Everybody loves Mary. If you’re a Catholic reading this on its original publication date, you have recently gone or will be going to Mass to honor her as the Immaculate Conception. (Otherwise, the next page you visit might be the closest parish’s confession times.) You probably heard the same homily reminder you get every year that the Immaculate Conception is Mary, not Jesus. Or maybe you heard something different. And if you’re not a Catholic, Mary is probably not particularly important to you on this specific day.

But she may well be important to you anyway. Even non-Catholics have a great affinity for the woman whom Maureen Orth, writing for National Geographic Magazine, recently declared “the world’s most powerful woman.” I know I wasn’t the only person pleasantly startled by that headline, so I dug in to the article to see how, from a journalistic perspective, the Blessed Mother has enraptured so many.

Read the rest at Austin CNM.

What I Wore Sunday: Purple, but Not Winter


It was definitely in the low 60’s today. I barely needed a coat. I have no idea what’s going on with the weather, but at least it’s better than the summer. In summertime, I stop checking the forecast because it’s the same thing every day: oppressively hot. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that the only way I feel oppressed is by the weather.

On to brighter things! Here’s what I wore:

What I Wore Sunday, December 6

That was the clearest full-length, believe it or not. #mirrorselfieproblems

Top: Target
Skirt: Old Navy
Shoes: Old Navy
Necklace: Charming Charlie
Earrings (tiny little things): old gift from my mom

I remembered to wear purple this week! I realized as I was picking out clothes today that I only actually have one more chance to dress liturgically in purple until Lent. Next week is the Annual Pink/Rose Fight (not to be confused with the Annual Lent Fight. I will have to stock up on purple church clothes in the interim (and some warm-weather ones, I guess).

Mass was largely unremarkable (except for the part where it’s always a miracle, I mean). We managed to use different Mass parts than last week (a late music ministry decision?) and sing the same song that is “The Advent of Our God” with different lyrics. Call me crazy, but I was pretty sure that Mass ends slightly early during Advent due to the lack of Gloria. We’re still coming in at about an hour. That’s no big deal for me, but it makes me wonder.

Fr. Associate Pastor started his homily with the delightful note that all three readings plus the psalm reflect the themes of joy and hope in the Lord. It’s so rare that I hear any homilist acknowledge that “the readings” include the psalm (because of course they do) that I get very excited when it happens. I also love hope, and also joy. If “Lindsay Joys” were not kind of a dumb-sounding brand, I would have picked that instead. I was a very happy parishioner.

He continued on to ask how we can crush the mountains, fill the valleys, and make straight the paths of our lives. Where do we have mountains of pride that need to be made low? Where have we failed to love or give to fill in valleys of selfishness? How can we straighten the paths of our immorality? I realized the other day that I have not been on a retreat in a long time, so I haven’t been putting in as much time as I used to for reflection and introspection. Maybe I can work on that while I’m home for Christmas.

Aside from a couple of weird tangents into men’s facial piercing and the danger of applying makeup while driving (I kid you not), it was a good night all around. Now that I finally have my Advent wreath out and have started my Nativity scene, I feel solidly in Advent. Christmas shopping is a whole different story.

For more Mass fashion and commentary, visit Fine Linen and Purple.

7 Quick Takes on My 7QT History, and Also Markdown


— 1 —

Well, hello there, 7QT! I haven’t done one of these in so long that I almost forgot about it. I have been trying to ignore the backlog of items I set aside to share here, but that could only happen for so long. So now I’m back. If you’re coming through from Kelly’s and would like to know more about me, I suggest my tl;dr post from yesterday to catch you up quickly.

I also recommend posting a monthly tl;dr if you’re a blogger. It was a great idea with an even greater name, and I’m sad it didn’t catch on. I’m grateful to Jenna for starting it!

— 2 —

I was gone for so long, in fact, that I missed Kelly’s special Link-toberfest questions for the anniversary of 7QT. Although I managed to link-up my takes to the post in which she announced the questions, I then failed to post at all the week after that. And the week after that. And so on, until today. Yikes.

I still want to answer them, though, because they were delightful. I can’t win any of the prizes at this point, but I’ve won plenty of prizes in my life. And I’m a book reviewer, which means I get free* books all year long.

*Technically, I’m supposed to write a review in exchange for the book. I occasionally have to send a decline note to the publisher after I’ve read the book because I prefer not to publish negative reviews of ARCs (advance reading copies). Library books are fair game. Happy, FTC?

— 3 —

When did you post your first Seven Quick Takes?

Memories! Also, archives! My first 7QT post was on May 16, 2009. Back then, I was nearing the finish line of my first year of teaching. That was a tough year. I am just as glad then as I am now that I never have to do that first year again.

Of course, I went back to ND for summer classes very shortly after I wrote that post, so my next 7QT was the following January. And then I started posting them regularly two years after that.

— 4 —

How many Seven Quick Takes posts have you written?

This is a toughie. I was glad when Jen stopped numbering them. The numbering seemed to have gotten off already, and I also noticed that some bloggers were numbering each of their posts (as opposed to using the numbers Jen did), so I was living in the land of confusion. The template I use for these posts is one Jen created herself, so that made finding them all a little bit easier.

Thus, my current count, including this post is 98. Whoa. Maybe I should do something special for my one hundredth.

— 5 —

Who is your favorite blogger that you discovered through Seven Quick Takes?

That is like asking me to pick a favorite child.

I love Kendra, like everyone does. She’s one of my Catholic mom role models. I commented on one of her Pentecost posts, which might have been the first time I visited her blog, and I still get referral traffic here every time she links to that post.

I also love dear Elizabeth, even though she stopped posting and tweeting when she started her master’s program. She’s still on Insta, though, so I know she’s alive.

And I’m pretty sure I found the Not Alone Series through 7QT. That’s not a blogger, so I have both answered and not answered the question.

— 6 —

What was your favorite, or most popular, Seven Quick Takes post?

That’s two different questions. I do like my most popular posts, but my favorites are usually my essay-style posts. You can check out the popular posts in the sidebar. My favorite essay-style post in recent memory is “Single Life Is Not a Vocation.”

I used SiteMeter from way back in the Calliope Calls days until it started wrecking my site. If I were willing to log in there, I might be able to see my complete stats. I’ve been using WordPress statistics for several years, though, and I generally like them better anyway. According to WP, my most popular 7QT post is volume 160. Upon review, that is, in fact, a spectacular set of takes.

— 7 —

There were only four questions for the four Fridays of Link-toberfest, so here is a regular, timely take, for something completely different.

I often refer to myself as a “stealth techie,” and I had a serious techie moment of joy yesterday.

This blog has run on WordPress self-hosted since 2006. This year, I began writing almost all my posts in Markdown, which is a way to add in-line formatting that is readable by humans in plain text but can be converted to HTML automatically by a computer.

At some point, I realized that when I used Quick Edit to change a post’s tags (because I chronically forget to add tags), WP changed the Markdown to HTML and saved it that way. I wanted it to leave the post in Markdown and only convert it for display (which is what it usually does).

So I got frustrated. And then I hit Google. I wound up at a Github page that showed (a) I was not the only person having this problem, and (b) it was a bug in WP, so I’d have to wait for a fix. I get more tech than people expect me to, but I’m no developer.

Fast-forward to yesterday. I also use Jetpack, a powerful and wide-reaching WP plugin. It had an update, so I clicked through to see the details. I like details. Lo and behold, the bug was fixed! Hooray for bug fixes and for smart friends!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.

tl;dr December 2015


Woo-hoo! I’m a little sad that there is no Booking Through Thursday prompt today, but that gives me a gap to do this month’s tl;dr in a reasonable timeframe. Last month’s was so late that there hasn’t been as much time to do stuff, but here’s what I have to report from the last couple of weeks:

  • I took a hip-hop West Coast Swing workshop (my first dance workshop ever), and it was delightful. WCS dances well to hip-hop music, so we learned how to add some hip-hop moves into regular WCS patterns.
  • I spent Thanksgiving with an old friend and his new wife. A few international Ph.D. students rounded out the dinner guests, so, for once, I wasn’t the only person who doesn’t understand football but watched it anyway.
  • I finished my fall Bible study, on the Book of Revelation, just last night. I feel like this sunk in much better than reading The Lamb’s Supper or the young adult book club I was in when I read that book a few summers ago. Maybe Scott Hahn is just not my jam.

I think that’s it. Looking forward, my company’s Christmas party is on a Thursday, so I’m not taking my regular dance classes this month at all, but I might check out another local dance event. My brother requested his Christmas present on Cyber Monday, but I still have to do all the rest of my shopping. I made out like a bandit with Epiphany cards last year, so that’s still the plan this time around.

The great thing about December holidays is that everything is both gearing up and slowing down. I’ve got some solid end-of-year plans in mind. Even if 2016 is no better than 2015, this year was good enough to repeat!

Thanks to Jenna for the genesis of tl;dr. Visit her at Call Her Happy.

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