Category Archives: 7 Quick Takes Friday

7 Quick Takes on Getting Stuff Done, Egg Freezing, and Zombie Science

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— 1 —

I have been on a quest to make better use of my Saturdays, so this is the first time I have sat down at the computer for anything besides Hulu. So far, I managed to drop off my library books, go grocery shopping, cut my nails, and get most of my laundry done, so I’m going to call that a win.

— 2 —

I promise to stop talking about Pocket every week. Eventually. This week is a compliment, though, instead of a complaint. I use Feedly to keep track of the many, many blogs I follow (98 at the moment, although not all of them are actively publishing). Not all of them publish full-text feeds, though. Some might not be able to control whether they do or not (Super Swell Times, I’m looking at you), but I’m pretty sure others are trying to drive up page views (like the CatholicMatch Institute.

Pocket conquers both of those. When I add an item to Pocket, it pulls in the full text from the link. It’s not 100% accurate; it doesn’t always pick up footnotes, and it sometimes ends before the end of the post. It saves me from needing to go all the way to the main blog, though, which is ideal because I am sometimes doing my reading on my work computer. I know they could track everything and possibly already are, but I like to live in my bubble where I’m not that interesting anyway.

— 3 —

I’m sure you heard about Google and Facebook offering to freeze female employees’ eggs for free. Were you horrified, too, at the implications? Don’t let having a baby get in the way of working for us just as hard as ever! Freeze your eggs! We’ll pay for it! No guarantees that it will work, though. Ugh.

We’re unfortunately living in an age where what used to be a slippery slope argument is just news. The Onion took the egg-freezing offer to its extreme conclusion (possible objectionable content in other articles there). But how long will it be before that isn’t so ridiculous?

— 4 —

I had my last salsa lesson on Sunday, so it’s back to coming straight home from church. I’m hoping that this means I will get more items crossed off my to-do list, but I make no promises there. I’m going to miss it, though. I had so much fun! The group has plans to go out social dancing in the future, but nothing has been decided yet. It was nice to not feel awkward about being single for a little while, to be in a place where coming alone was actually a benefit and not mildly pathetic. That was a good feeling.

— 5 —

I bought my plane ticket home for Christmas. It was much less expensive than last year’s last-minute ticket. I had saved so aggressively, though, that I am sitting on top of a huge pile of cash (in the bank; please don’t try to show up at my house and rob me) even after making that purchase.

I can pay for Christmas in cash this year. The plane ticket, gifts, and cards. I skipped cards last year for the first time since middle school. My financial life has turned around so much, and it is all thanks to YNAB [referral link]. More on that on Monday.

— 6 —

Coming up this week, I have a mall shopping trip with Pure Fashion, an in-person meeting with the Austin CNM team, a Friday evening wedding, and my next hair appointment. It will be a much busier week but hopefully not a less productive one.

— 7 —

Here’s a TED educational video of the science behind zombies. Even if you’re sick of the zombie fad, this is pretty cool. Enjoy! Learn something!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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

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— 1 —

NaBloPoMo_November14

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, 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!

7 Quick Takes on Prayer, Going Paperless, and Pocket

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— 1 —

This post is not on Friday in the slightest, but it is going up today, thereby raising my NaBloPoMo streak to two days! I’m still optimistic about my plan to do 30 posts in 30 days. There’s still time to join in by the end of tomorrow!

— 2 —

Since this is the beginning of a new month, Pope Francis has offered a new set of intentions for the month. This month’s universal intention is “that all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.” Man, can I relate to that! As I’ve written about in my posts for the Not Alone Series and other posts, I would like to be married, but I’m not. I don’t want to hear any platitudes or complaints from lonely married people. I just want my feelings to be acknowledged, and I feel like the Apostleship of Prayer and Pope Francis just did. And that is grace.

— 3 —

You may not have known that the pope has intentions for each month. One is a universal intention and one is focused on evangelization. Both are promoted (and perhaps composed for the pope’s approval) by the Apostleship of Prayer, a lay organization dedicated specifically to praying for the pope’s intentions. The most common way to do so is through a daily offering.

I’ve been praying a Morning Offering every day since college, especially when I prayed with my students at the beginning of each school day during my second year of teaching. I don’t remember exactly how I wound up at the Apostleship of Prayer page, but I was inspired to officially register as a member. I was in a commitment-making mood. Swing by and see if dedicating your day in this way is right for you.

— 4 —

The pope’s evangelization intention (“that young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors“) fits nicely with National Vocation Awareness Week. It’s usually in January (around the Baptism of the Lord), but it was moved as of this year. This is the narrower version of vocation, meaning priests and religious. Honestly, I’m pretty glad that marriage isn’t lumped in with the other permanent vocations for once, and since I don’t think single life is a vocation, I’m especially glad not to see that.

At the core, though, I’m glad to have seen at least a little publicity for vocations, particularly as we enter a season where being single is especially difficult. (Winter is full of couple-y and family holidays.) The shuffle of All Saints Day and then All Souls Day on a Sunday crammed in so many things to pray about that I barely even heard about faithful citizenship or vocations. I suppose it’s a blessing that there are so many causes deserving of our prayers.

— 5 —

Turning to other areas of inspiration, I recently finished reading Jamie Todd Rubin’s Going Paperless Series. It was definitely enlightening and made me think deeply about how I manage all the paper that comes into my life—or rather, how I don’t manage it.

Like Jamie, I dislike tags. I use them on Twitter and Instagram only because they’re native to those platforms. I never use them on Facebook. That’s easy because I rarely post photos there, and I think check-in tags are creepy. (If you want to know where I am, ask!) You’ll notice that I don’t have a tag cloud on this blog; that is intentional. As Jamie explains, search functionality is much better than tag organization. I just search for things in my personal and work email and even on this blog. It saves me the time of tagging everything, and it works well.

I don’t think I’m quite ready to go paperless, though. I don’t use Evernote, I don’t have unlimited data or the cash for a premium Evernote account, and I don’t have a scanner. My personal laptop is slowly decaying, so that is my biggest computing priority. I got a lot out of the Going Paperless posts, though. Jamie says he uses Evernote to “remember everything,” so I wondered how frequently during his day he actually stops to enter things. As it turns out, it’s not much. It’s probably the same amount of time I spend recounting the events of my life here on my blog. Similarly, I wondered what it was like being paperless around paper-full people, and he covered that with a solid dash of humor. The organization tips alone made the (finite) series worth the read.

— 6 —

I was only able to read Going Paperless thanks to Pocket. I’d heard of Pocket back when it was called Read It Later, but I didn’t start using it until several weeks ago. Now that I’ve been dipping in frequently, I don’t know how I lived without it.

One of my favorite things about Pocket is that it catches links without exposing me to too many others. I still collect a lot of internal links, but I don’t wander down as many rabbit holes as I used to. I just right-click to send to Pocket (or use my one-click browser plugin), and move on. I can even go straight to the page in Pocket if I just wanted to clear up some crazy formatting (I’m looking at you, black background with white text bloggers).

It took a while to settle on a workflow to get through all the articles, though. I started by deleting everything I’d already read except the gems and the useful ones. The gems got starred as favorites, and the useful ones got archived. Then I downloaded the app to my iPhone and, by looking at the feature requests, realized it could quickly eat up a lot of space on my phone if I didn’t delete as I read. I have been giving it a try, and it actually takes up less space than Instagram. Once a month, when I do my computer cleaning, I will also clear out unstarred archived Pocket articles. I still need a solution for keeping articles I want to have forever, though. Saving print-friendly PDFs seems so retro.

The takeaway is that I am still keeping up with my reading and powering through the articles I want to read. Hooray!

— 7 —

I had a plan to post twice today to catch up for NaBloPoMo, but then I spent a solid chunk of time watching videos from Theology of Dance instead. It meshes well with my recent dive into dance lessons. This one sums up the message nicely, I think. Enjoy!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on Weddings, Dancing, and Pure Fashion

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— 1 —

I was doing well with all my weekly theme posts. Then I stopped doing so well. I haven’t given up, though (and it’s not my fault Booking Through Thursday wasn’t posted two weeks ago)! One of my central qualities is that I don’t give up. I’m also very stubborn. Thus, I will charge on with these theme posts and these quick takes. Huzzah!

— 2 —

I went to another wedding of friends last weekend. It was my first time being inside St. Mary Cathedral, if you can believe it. I never went there for work. Our big diocesan events are always held in larger churches; there’s only such much room downtown. I’d never been invited to a wedding there (until this one). As it was, I was just barely on time (curse you, Austin traffic!), and we were squeezed in between an earlier wedding and confessions, so I didn’t have much time to look around.

I did look around some, though. Our cathedral is super small! I’ve seen photos, of course, but it seemed much, much bigger. This wedding had around 250 guests, by the bride’s statement, and the church was nearly full. It’s the TARDIS of cathedrals, basically.

— 3 —

Dance classes have continued to go well. I didn’t get to practice at the wedding, though. I don’t know if any of my friends can salsa. I was waiting in line to have my silhouette done for the favors/guestbook when the country songs came on, and I was wearing heels, so I couldn’t practice two-step, either.

Overall, I’m just glad I’ve found a casual, free (except for donations) opportunity to learn to dance with other single people. I don’t have a built-in partner, but it’s nice to know that I will be able to follow when I get one!

— 4 —

Also related to the wedding, I think that’s the largest one I’ve ever attended. The reception hall was a great size, and the food was delicious (I think they sprinkled magic on the broccoli), but I didn’t get to see anyone!

I’ve lived in Austin long enough that my friends are all getting married and inviting me to their weddings, so I usually see the same people at every one I go to. This is good because it’s an excuse to buy a new (budget-friendly) dress every time. This was bad this time because there are people I remember seeing only once or twice during the several hours of the reception. It’s such an odd problem to have: I’m so popular that I can’t get around to seeing everyone I know!

— 5 —

In addition to dance lessons on Sunday, I volunteered at this month’s Pure Fashion event. I was running late there, too. (I’m getting good at putting on my pearls at stoplights.)

This session was Dessert with Dad, so we went to a fancy country club resort and had yummy cakes while learning about chastity and the importance of family relationships in being a lady of grace. I manned the boutonnière station, mostly because I was the only volunteer who knew how to do that part. And I didn’t even stick the dads (and brothers, and one mom). I call that a win.

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Me with my fellow Young Professionals volunteers. Photo by Anastasia Curtis.

— 6 —

Since Sunday night has rolled around before I managed to get this posted, dance classes have switched to salsa. I’ve had a few salsa lessons before, so it was good to get a refresher of the basics. I’m nervous about learning something new next week, but I was nervous about two-step, and that turned out well.

I even got used to moving in high heels tonight. It felt so natural that when class was over and I walked back to change into driving-friendly flats, walking felt lame. Dancing was much more exciting. Then, my flats made my feet feel weird! I’ve always enjoyed dancing, and now I think my body is getting with the program my brain’s been pushing already.

— 7 —

When I was in undergrad, some friends of mine formed a traveling Theology of the Body evangelization group. As they walked from Maine to Maryland, they gave presentations in parishes along the way. One of their regular presentations involved teaching swing dancing. In partner dancing, there is a lead and a follow. Both must do their part and not do the other’s part for the dance to work.

Recently, I stumbled across Theology of Dance, which is the direct version of that presentation.

I realized tonight that there’s more to the dance than just leading and following, though. As a follow, I have to trust my lead. There is one particular lead in my class who I just don’t trust. Our paths have crossed off the dance floor, and I try to be encouraging, but I struggle with letting him lead. Maybe it’s just me, but I get the feeling that he’s actually not a very good lead. Dancing with him goes best when I completely ignore the music, don’t chat with him, and just try to follow.

That’s not much fun, though. With every other lead, I have fun. I even got called out as an example of a good right turn tonight!

Any advice for how to follow when you don’t trust your leader? (Only on the dance floor, not in life.)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes on Being Not Alone, Trying Not to Judge, and Children

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— 1 —

I did a lot of staying at home this week. One of my friends threw a birthday party at her apartment last night, and I invited my roommate who was also home to go with me. It was a good party, but when we left (early), I realized just how much I’d needed party adrenaline to keep me going. (That’s not a euphemism.) After working all week and all day on Friday, I struggle with Friday night parties. I’m getting old, guys.

I was also especially grateful to have the roommates that allow me to live in our house. I enjoy throwing parties here occasionally because we have the space for it. In my old one-bedroom apartment, I barely had even one person over because it felt too small. Without roommates, I could never afford our cute little starter home, and I would still be both lonely and alone.

— 2 —

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I finally got it together on time to join the Not Alone Series this week. My post practically wrote itself since the topic is so directly applicable to my life and easy to talk about. I’m hopeful that the women participating in the series each week will be able to commiserate with me, to confirm that I’m not just thinking myself in circles or in destructive patterns. It should be interesting!

It doesn’t hurt that it was fantastic for my stats, either.

— 3 —

Verily published an article this week venturing into the debate over children. The title is misleading. It capitalizes on the happy news of Kate and Will’s new baby on the way, but it’s not just about judging “women who have multiple children.” Taken along with its comments (which are worth reading on Verily), it’s about judging couples and their children, period.

I must admit that I have a hard time with this issue, but I’m intentionally trying to improve. We live in a world where many Catholics ( by baptism, which is the most basic definition) are using contraception and see no problem with that. That’s a reality, and it’s awful. The knotted part of the situation is that, along with those couples, we also have those who:

  • have zero, one, or two children, but can’t have more (or any) by moral means, although they want them
  • have zero, one, or two children and have used moral means to intentionally not have more, although they probably biologically could
  • have more than two children who were all morally planned
  • have more than two children who were not specifically planned but were joyously welcomed
  • have any number of children conceived through immoral means
  • have any number of children without moral consideration of the effect of each child on the existing family

And there are situations I haven’t even considered.

It is so easy to look at a couple and their children and automatically place them in one of these groups. I find myself doing that more than I’d like to admit. I shouldn’t, though; none of us should. All couples, parents or not, deserve our prayers for their marriage and any children they have now or might have in the future. That is all.

That is hard, too. Anyone have ideas about how to make it easier?

— 4 —

On a lighter note, Verily also posted this image as their Daily Dose. I read them all, but this is the best one I’ve seen so far.

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— 5 —

I also read a book proposal of sorts about “how American parenting is killing the American marriage.” I clicked through to read about the authors’ book (on marriage). It sounds like the exact opposite of everything I believe about marriage.

Their parenting versus marriage comments, however, sound spot-on. Life is valuable at every stage, not just when we are cute, cuddly babies. That means spouses have just as much value as children—maybe more, since the children usually come by way of the spouse. We demand a lot more of mothers than of fathers, to the point that a “mama’s boy” is a bad thing, but “daddy’s little girl” is okay.

When I did marriage prep (for other couples, not for myself), many couples were surprised at the FOCCUS idea that their future spouses should be more important than their children. I laid it out like this: after you get married, any children you have will also be parented by your spouse. You need to be on the same page with that other parent, 100%. You need to accept that your children might turn out just like your spouse and nothing like you beyond biology (and they might get all of your negative biological traits). When the children grow up, you want them to have the experience of a good marriage—yours—as they prepare for their own vocations. And when they’re out of the house, you will be left alone with only your spouse. Try to make that a peaceful image, not a depressing one.

It’s nice to have some secular support.

— 6 —

I had one more article to share last week. I thought about doing a whole separate post on it, but now it’s going here.

I think I clicked through from Boundless to wind up at Shauna Niequists “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other.” Her main point is solid, but some of her support veers off base.

We help newlyweds set up households because, until recently, most of them had only lived in the homes they grew up in. They didn’t have furniture, kitchenware, or fine china. These days, not only do we have more unmarried people living away from their parents than ever before (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I’m doing it), we also have more cohabitors than ever before (which is a bad thing; I won’t do it). You can make a “moving out on my own” registry, but you can’t throw a shower for yourself, either.

The idea of a coffeemaker as a “basic human right” does not help Shauna’s argument. It’s not a humorous article! I do agree with her, though, that if you can afford the good stuff, you should buy it for yourself instead of waiting for your wedding day.

Except that not everyone will have a wedding day. She doesn’t actually address people who won’t get married. She writes, “Some of the people I love most in the world are single—either because they haven’t yet found their person, or because their marriage has ended” (emphasis mine). Not everyone will get married, and divorced people are not the same kind of single. Those groups should not be lumped in together.

Furthermore, as Maddie Joy notes in a comment, being single is not just about not having something. It’s also about having someone to be your person. Being single is lonely. And as she also writes, it ought to be okay to be unhappy about being single.

I hear that. I’m burned out on everyone that implies I will get married, or I just need to “get out there,” or I must have so much time/money/energy/freedom because I’m single. I should be able to feel however I want to feel. I’m tired of hearing all those marriage platitudes.

— 7 —

That was a lot, so let’s just make it six takes today, shall we?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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