Tag Archives: books

7 Quick Takes on Teacher Mode, Twitter, and Chainsaws

7 Quick Takes, hosted at This Ain't the Lyceum

— 1 —

Faculty orientation has begun. I’m slowly getting my teacher vocabulary back (for example, “vertical curriculum alignment”), preparing for the new perspective of younger students (I am moving down to middle school from high school), and trying to navigate my new school.

Some of that is almost literally navigating, via mental map-building; the school has a complex floor plan! I haven’t gotten lost yet, but I’m sure the time is coming. I forgot about that feeling of walking through a new door into a familiar room, feeling like I’ve slipped through a wormhole.

I must say that I love my new commute, though. It’s much shorter and easier, and it gives me just the right amount of time to switch from Teacher Mode to Regular Mode.

— 2 —

I used to listen to music when I got ready for the day. Podcasts were reserved for my exhausting commute, and I only read books. Lately, I’ve been trying audio books. It’s a very different experience, both in the sense of needing to pay attention as I do my hair and makeup and in the sense of listening to a book instead of looking at it. My most recently completed audio book was a huge letdown. It was a good lesson in being discerning about the books I choose. I can only read (and listen to) so many!

Laura Vanderkam left me mildly terrified when she pointed out that our available time to read books is as limited as our time on the planet. I am not sure I’ll be able to keep up my reading pace when school starts. (Audio books will probably help.) At best, I’ll probably only read her approximated 1250 books before I die. That includes books that I don’t wind up liking very much!

That number also makes me think about books that I recommend. Is the book I’m pushing good enough to be one of my friends’ 1250? Is it really a “must-read” when the number of “can-read” books is so few?

— 3 —

“Study: Less sex education leads to less sex.” Yeah, that caught my eye when I saw it, too! The article is worth reading (it ends at the bolded headline, “Is opposition…?”), but the main point is that, across England, when huge budget cuts came for a government program designed to prevent teen pregnancy, the rates of teen pregnancy actually went down, region by region, with the biggest declines in areas with the largest budget cuts. Even the researchers were surprised.

I’m not sure I’m surprised. Is it any wonder that providing less information and birth control to teens makes them less likely to take the risk of pregnancy? If you push information that makes it sound as if they can have sex without babies basically forever, I can see how that might open the door to risky behavior for teens who might otherwise be turned away by the risk of pregnancy.

— 4 —

I have a new level of sympathy for people who work on weekends or in retail. I frequently come to the defense of such workers when other people complain that a store is closed when they wanted to shop (do you want to work on Sundays; if not, why should someone else work, and work late, so that you can shop at 8 p.m.?) and been polite to people in less-skilled jobs. I’m no saint, but I try to keep that point of view in mind and be grateful for the opportunities I have.

But now, I’ve been there, for a little while. I’ve felt the need to cling to my identity (and job) as a teacher when people think of me as “just” a cook. I’ve worked until 9 p.m. Saturday night and then gotten up early on Sunday to go to Mass before working another full 8-hour shift. I’ve been unable to see Mr. Man as much as I had before because we worked on opposite schedules.

I always hesitate to wish or pray for greater perspective because I’ll wind up with a hard-learned lesson. I didn’t even ask for this one, and I got it anyway.

— 5 —

I started getting space warnings on my phone, so I deleted Instagram. It wasn’t a social media self-assessment, like the one that led me to delete Facebook; it was really just about the space. Then the weirdness began.

Instagram started sending me emails. It let me know how many of my friends had posted. It suggested accounts for me to follow. (I will not follow Kim Kardashian unless she’s leading me to emergency supplies or shelter.) It took a while for me to realize that was all triggered when I deleted the app! And then it got even weirder:

I still haven’t reinstalled the app, but I did log in from my browser when I got some likes. Gotta block and report those spammers! Now I think I’m permanently weirded out by how closely these computers are watching me (she says, recounting the whole thing on her blog).

— 6 —

In other Twitter news, I started some legit discussion with this tweet:

True story. That was inspired by my actual experience. Some spaces are still sacred! My desire to not have my restroom behavior transmitted via phone trumps your desire to make that call right then. What could you possibly need to talk about with someone so desperately that you must have that phone conversation while in the restroom?

— 7 —

And for a final social media moment, I shared this post from Goodreads on Facebook and got so many awesome responses! What’s yours?


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

Currently: August 2017

Currently at Lindsay Loves

So much for that “first Wednesdays” thing. Posting before the second Wednesday counts for me, even if it means I completely missed the link-up.

Here’s what I am currently…

Snacking (on): Protein! I went hard for cheese cubes for a while, but these days, I am all about soy protein. I found a store-brand protein bar that is very tasty, and I discovered that the same store’s “carb conscious” yogurt is full of protein and low in sugar. They’ve been great reminders that, when I’m hungry, I need protein to fight off hunger, not just carbs to fill my belly.

Anticipating: The start of school. Faculty orientation is this week, so I’ve dialed back my hours at the grocery store. My manager was sad to see me leave. It feels good to be wanted!

Borrowing: Audiobooks from the library. I caught up on all my podcasts and wasn’t in the mood to veg out with the radio, so I decided to try “reading” with my ears. My first selection was World War Z, which I highly recommend. The premise lends itself to a full cast recording, and the story is so compelling. It’s graphic, so don’t listen with kids around. My second selection was a standard YA novel. It has three narrators for the three main characters, but it’s not nearly as good. I might stick to listening to books I’ve already read with my eyes.

Admiring: My grocery store coworkers. It’s not an easy job. I have a new respect for people who make part-time, minimum-wage jobs work for their real lives. I understand how you could be working 40 hours a week and not be able to make ends meet. I’ve seen what great and lousy work ethic looks like in a labor-intensive job. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work this job, one that I’m “overqualified” for, because it helped pay the bills.

Purchasing: A teeny bit more now that I’m under contract with my school (and therefore have increased my income). I’m not going crazy, but I can finally get my hair done to start off the year without split ends.

Recapping: July

  • I got to meet some of Mr. Man’s college friends.
  • We saw a professional production of Julius Caesar in Central Park.
  • I got a gift card for my two-month work anniversary, so I took my man to the Cheesecake Factory.

So what’s new with you? What are you anticipating currently?


Currently is hosted on the first Wednesday of each month by Anne of In Residence. This month’s guest co-host is Shea of Shea Lennon. Won’t you join us?

Booking Through Thursday: Required Reading

This is a blast from the past! BTT started up again recently, but the topics were pretty lackluster. This one, however, is quite interesting.

What books have you been required to read that you ended up loving?

Like many young women do, I adore Pride and Prejudice. I had never even seen an adaptation before it was assigned for our summer reading before senior year Brit Lit, so I checked out a copy from the library. Then I got hooked, so I went to the bookstore to buy my own paperback.

Let’s take a moment to mourn the process of going to the bookstore to purchase actual books. My book churn rate decreased dramatically when I started college, and then I was a reviewer for years, so I could probably list my last ten physical book purchases from memory.

P&P was a big deal. I even took notes in it! Yes, they were just brackets, written in pencil, but it took a while before I got comfortable writing in books. It also took a while before I started reading books that were complex enough to require extensive marginalia. (I’m looking at you, Orthodoxy.)

I’ve also greatly enjoyed:

And some nonfiction books I think should count because we were basically assigned the whole thing:

What assigned reading have you enjoyed?


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

Bits and Bytes on Thriving Parishes (Review: “Great Catholic Parishes”)

Since I stopped working in ministry, I’ve been a regular parishioner, just like everyone else. Having seen things from both ends of the pew, in a sense, I remain interested in the state of American parishes and efforts to right the wrongs and fulfill our mission as Christians. So I read a lot of books about parish improvement. My most recent read in that vein is Great Catholic Parishes: How Four Essential Practices Make Them Thrive, by William E. Simon Jr. of Parish Catalyst. It’s not my favorite in this niche, but I found some gems nonetheless.

Simon begins with an interesting overview of the history of Catholicism in the U.S. I’d never really thought about it from the perspective of the parish before. In Catholic countries, Simon writes, the parish wasn’t important because the Faith was everywhere. In the New World, however, Catholics clung to their parishes as cultural, social, and religious centers. It wasn’t everywhere anymore. Considering that difference got me to thinking about what the ideal situation would be today: to have the faith “in the water,” or to have it be something you have to choose and fight for. One could make a good argument for either.

Cristo Redentor statue

Unfortunately… Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Pocket-Sized Pointers for Picking a Partner (Review: “101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person”)

Today’s review is of a short book, so this will be a short review. Following on the heels of their successful book 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage, Jennifer Roback Morse and Betsy Kerekes have released a guide for getting to marriage in the first place. This new title basically begged me to read it: 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person: Helping Singles Find Each Other, Contemplate Marriage, and Say I Do. Yes, please! In this tiny tome, I found much to support my previous thoughts about important premarital decisions and a few new points to ponder.

As the authors note, it’s much easier to have a happy marriage when you’ve married the right person in the first place. Thus, most of the book is given over to how to improve yourself as a single, how to date wisely, and what to look for when the possibility of marriage pops over the horizon. They’re definitely on the right track there. I have never been married, but I used to do marriage prep (for other couples, not for myself), and I have a personal interest in improving the way marriages begin. Starting off on the right foot sounds like a good way to set yourself up for marital bliss.

Photo by Billy Quach

Photo by Billy Quach

Some standout tips are… Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

Literature Teaches Us What It Means to Be Human (Review of Laura M. Berquist)

Forgive me for geeking out a little bit here. I studied English and education in college, and I used to be an English teacher, so it’s safe to say that I like reading. In particular, I like stories.

For my writing at ATX Catholic and for much of my pleasure reading, I cover a lot of religion, personal finance, and productivity. My heart still lies in the pages of a good story, though. I firmly believe that literature teaches us what it means to be human; thus, when we read stories, we turn into better people.

You can imagine my delight to come across the speech “Reading Literature to Reveal Reality,” by Laura M. Berquist, in which she combines some of my favorite things: Jesus, stories, and learning. It’s a long one, so allow me to share some of how her paradigm fits so well with the one I’ve developed over years of education, reading, and life.

books on stairs

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

The Bible Is a Story About Jesus (Review: “Walking with God”)

I love to read. I also love Jesus. I must confess, however, that I do not always love to read about Jesus. I would wager that most Christians (and many non-Christians) know that the Bible is a book about Jesus. I would also wager that many of those same people might struggle to explain how a long list of “begats,” hundreds of detailed Levitical laws, and Joshua fighting the Battle of Jericho are about Jesus. It’s not their fault, though; they have never been taught that the Bible has a story. Just one. It is a story about Jesus. But it’s not easy to read.

Thank God for Jeff Cavins and Tim Gray. Along with several other gifted writers, they have developed The Great Adventure: a series of books and Bible studies that reveal the narrative story of Scripture. I had the opportunity to participate in a summertime study of the short version of the Bible Timeline at Emmaus Catholic Parish a number of years ago. Those eight weeks changed the way I read the Bible. It makes sense now! If you’re thinking, “But I don’t have time for eight straight weeks of homework and driving to meetings,” then I know Walking with God: A Journey Through the Bible is for you. It’s a book. You can read it at your own pace. You don’t even need to read the referenced verses in order to understand (although that will help). No more excuses.

The Bible is a story about Jesus! A review of "Walking with God," by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins, at ATX Catholic

Read the rest at ATX Catholic.

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