7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 221)

— 1 —

I just got back from taking all six kids to a park for some mandatory frolicking.

You know what takes an incredibly long time? Getting six young children ready for a trip to the park. I had finished the five-hour process of feeding them all breakfast (didn’t time it, but that’s my estimate) and then started finding shoes and spraying sun screen and arguing with the four-year-old who insisted on wearing a long-sleeved black shirt on a 97-degree day because it had a picture of a kitty on it. Then the baby started crying, so I had to stop everything to feed him and change his diaper. By the time I got him settled down and got the four-year-old into a t-shirt and found all the shoes…enough time had elapsed that they were all hungry again.

I explained the myriad benefits of fasting and told them to enjoy the autophagy while we went to the park, because there was no way I was preparing another meal. By the time we actually got there it was 1:30, and as long as you stayed in the shade it felt comfortably like the surface of Venus. Unfortunately, all the play equipment had been baking in the sun for hours. I sat sweating under a tree for a while, listening to the sounds of laughter intermingled with cries of “OW!” any time the kids tried to slide or touch a swing. We gave up after about 20 minutes, fighting heat stroke as we trekked back to the car, and I finally got lunch served around 2:45.

I give myself an A for effort in the fun department today, and I hereby declare that it’s time for Netflix and Mommy Computer Time.

— 2 —

I’m speaking in Bismarck in the fall, which is sounding pretty good about now. I’ll be at the Thirst Conference, along with Cardinal Dolan, Scott Hahn, and a bunch of other amazing folks. You can see the whole list of speakers here. I’m not able to do much travel right now, so this will be my only speaking engagement for the rest of 2013. I’m really looking forward to it!

I actually used to live in Bismarck, and have fond memories of the city. If I recall correctly, it has very friendly people and you can leave your house without worrying about stinging insects attacking you.

Ah, memories of living in a climate that was hospitable to human life.

— 3 —

It’s Flag Day! Every time I see this holiday on the calendar I’m reminded of my plans for having a hugely successful band.

“A band?” you say. “But haven’t you said before that you have zero musical talent?” Yes. But here’s the thing: you know how radio stations will trot out songs that maybe aren’t all that great because they’re relevant to a current holiday? Like, let’s face it: New Year’s Day is not one of the highlights from U2’s impressive catalogue of work, but we always hear it five times on New Year’s Day.

My genius idea is to create a pop album that is entirely devoted to holidays that nobody has sung about yet. Who cares if all the tracks would be me singing horribly off-key over some canned music samples that came with my laptop? Radio stations would be obliged to play them to have some music relevant to the holiday. Here are some songs my debut album will include:

  • Boxing Day – O Canada Remix
  • Gonna Lose My Mind, It’s Daylight Savings Time
  • Flag Day (Holla’)
  • Crazy 4 Columbus Day
  • Time to Party Like It’s Spring Equinox
  • Prezident’s Day
  • Summer Soulstice

It’s going to be huge.

— 4 —

Joe has been kind enough to let me sneak out in the evenings to do some writing at coffee shops so that I can hit my big deadline. Does that sound like a simple activity? Going to a coffee shop and writing something? Alas, for me, it’s not.

In order to be productive, I really need access to a plug for my laptop. Now, here’s where it gets complicated: HOW CAN YOU KNOW whether the coffee shop you’ve just pulled up to has a plug available? What if you walk in the door and see that all the tables near plugs are taken?!?!?! I mean, it’s not like you can just walk in, take a look around, and walk out. I feel like if I did that, all the employees would gasp and whisper, She was just here to use us for our electrical outlets! and my face would be put on some Most Horrible Customers list that they keep behind the counter. The other day I almost overdosed on chamomile tea because I walked into a coffee shop and saw that there were no good tables available, but I bought a tea because I felt like I had to, and then I had to buy another one at the place where I finally stayed.

Anyway, if this book never gets finished and I end up going broke from spending my money on overpriced brewed beverages, that’s why.

— 5 —

I'll be confessing the sin of envy soon.

I’m aware that part of the problem here is that I want to maintain my non-Mac-owning status more than I want to have a positive computing experience.

Pretty much every other person in the coffee shops these days has a MacBook Air, and sometimes I stare at them as I openly weep tears of envy. These people just open up their laptops, and they turn on right away! And the screens are bright and vivid!

And the battery life, oh, the battery life. It is as if these devices don’t even use traditional batteries at all, but tap into a power source from some unseen dimension full of awesomeness. Last night the lady next to me slipped her weightless MacBook out of her stylish little bag and start delicately clicking away on the keyboard, and when I looked back at my own laptop I felt like I’d hauled in a mainframe computer on a forklift.

I’ve resisted getting a Mac for years. I used to use them when I worked at a newspaper, and I never could get comfortable with the interface. I watch those Mac/PC commercials and feel like they’ve captured the two cultures perfectly, and I am proudly in the nerdy PC person camp. But they’ve really got my number with the MacBook Air. I may go over to the dark (and fabulous) side after all.

— 6 —

I made the terrible, terrible mistake of having some potato chips on Monday. The kids asked for them at the store, and as I had recently had a satisfying meal, it was easy to tell myself that I would not even be tempted by these nasty Omega-6 PUFA bombs, as I choose to eat only healthful food. (Yeah. You know where this is going.)

A couple of days later, I spotted the bag of chips after I’d forgotten to eat lunch. I morphed into Hungry Cravings Jen, which is sort of like when Bruce Banner turns into the Incredible Hulk. A beefy body guard could have stood with his arms crossed in front of those chips, saying that he refused to let me have them, and I would have picked him up with one arm and tossed him through a wall. All the chips went immediately into my mouth, along with about a gallon of ranch dressing.

Right on schedule, an hour later I crashed. HARD. I don’t know if other people experience this, but when I eat junk food it doesn’t just make me feel a little bit sluggish. I am simultaneously angry and depressed and anxious and very, very, very tired. It was shocking to consider that, before I clued in with all the “saint diet” food sensitivity stuff, I used to crash like this every single afternoon. I seriously don’t know how I survived.

— 7 —

A little amusement to start your weekend: how to be an unpopular blogger.



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  1. says

    As a fellow Non-Mac-er (though I still do not covet the dark side.) I say look at the Chrome book (cheap and light! basic and smart!) or for a more advanced other Samsungs or Sonys are light and airy and BONUS still in a glorious PC format that makes sense! Oh and Gonna Lose My Mind, It’s Daylight Savings Time is amazing.

    • says

      I whole-heartedly agree; take a look at the Chrome book! I’ve alllmmmoooost got my husband convinced to get me one for my birthday/push present and I’m so excited. We’re an android/pc/google family through and through – not even an ipod in this house!

      • Steph says

        I definitely am in the same camp as Madeline and Kayla. Macbook air is not the only way to have a light, quick functioning, long battery life laptop. Don’t do it, Jen! :)

        Also, as an aside, last year I bought a knock off battery for my (6 year old?) Vaio on Amazon for $30. My battery now lasts for 5-6 hours (even after using it for a year). Best 30 bucks I’ve spent in a long time.

        • says

          I have a Dell Inspiron N5110 laptop. Running Win7, I get about 4.5 hours of battery time with a white background and the screen fully dimmed (white takes less energy than dark on LCD screens). However, with Linux Mint 13 KDE (the LTS release), with Jupiter from WebUpD8, fully dimmed with a white background, I get an estimated 7 hours. And I use kwrite to write absolutely everything. No LibreOffice, no Abiword, no Calligra Words, just very simple kwrite. And I have a pretty fresh battery also. If yours is aged, replacing it will make a huge difference.

  2. says

    #1 “enough time had elapsed that they were all hungry again” -spot on. Oy, even to get ready to go, this is hard for the introvert parent! It took me the greater half of today to recover from yesterday’s celebratory birthday outing, and I’m only working with three babies!

  3. says

    What? Walking in, looking for an outlet/good table, then leaving is rude? Oops. I did this ALL THE TIME writing my thesis. I ended up at Denny’s a lot because it’s always empty and they give coffee refills. Even though at ours, when I asked about the outlets the guy pointed to the ceiling.

    Yes, I stood on my tip-toes on the seat and tried to reach the outlet.

  4. Ann Marie says

    Happy to hear you’ll be in Bismarck this year as our daughter begins her studies at UMary there in August! Off to check out conference webpage. Please know how your blog posts make me smile and often, truly laugh out loud.

    • says

      Ann Marie, besides having a great name you are a great mother. UMARY is the best! Can you tell I am an alumi. The campus is so pretty overlooking the river. If your daughter has the chance she should head to the campus in Italy and enjoy some on the ground studing of history and art.

  5. says

    You seem to be in musical state of mind these days! I love your Holiday song lists. Flag Day is my nephews birthday and my sisters and I used to call and sing “You’re a Grand Old Flag” instead of Happy Birthday. We’d laugh like crazy hyenas over our brilliant sense of humor as he rolled his eyes (yes, you could hear it through the phone!) mumble thanks and quickly hand the phone to his mom.

  6. Jen says

    I want a Mac Book so bad. My husband hates laptops
    (he’s a network engineer and says all laptops are craps with
    the exception of that one). Alas, I’m stuck with the computer
    as the 12 year old got the netbook we had to type
    up her home school assignments and upload them
    online. And the junk good crashes. Yep. Same here.
    My husband has issues too, so we are going whole
    foods. Have you ever looked into a grain mill? We purchases
    one a few years ago and we make our own bread milled
    from wheat berries (you can do all kinds of grains, although
    spelt is tricky). Anyway, a friend of mine with ten kids…ten!
    had one and I loved her bread. It’s SO simple too. 30 seconds and you
    have whole wheat flour. Throw everything in the kitchen
    aid mixer, let it rise, throw the the risen dough in bread pans,
    another rise, bake…and you have bread. We make pancakes, muffins,
    etc. Saves a lot of money.

  7. says

    1. I’m off for the week from work and with a 100degree temps yesterday, I was PRAISING GOD that we can’t go outside due to our youngest daughter recovering from her tonsillectomy and that they are “too cool” for the park these days.

    Blessings and stay cool!!

  8. says

    Wow, I just got up but somehow reading your QTs made me exhausted. Hope you have a great Father’s Day weekend (Hey, you should add that holiday to your list of songs).

  9. says

    Ha….I laughed so hard at your #7. I think I do all those things!! LOL (and I’m definitely an unpopular blogger..so she’s right).

    And, I would have no qualms about walking into a coffee shop, and walking back out again if there are no outlets or they are all taken. But, I’m cheap and annoying like that.

  10. says

    Jen! I have something valuable to contribute! I have solution to #4 for you. When I go to a coffee shop with my big old laptop I take a multi-outlet surge strip with me. Then if there are no outlets, I offer someone surge protection if they allow me to plug the surge strip in. Then that person and I both plug into the surge strip! Figured this out last year during a 4 day power outage. Everyone was driving to the one coffee shop that did have power.

  11. says

    I’m not even going to get into the Mac or PC thing, but Mac. Love my Air.

    And, chips? I did that exact thing yesterday. Paying for it.

    Oh, and how about Mayday! Mayday! It’s May Day.

  12. says

    I had Mac envy too until my husband got us an Asus Ultrabook – it’s tiny and light, with awesome battery life and fast processing. The only problem is I’m currently holding the charger in with a belt, but that’s more because my kids keep playing with it than a fault of the computer…

    Also, I vote playground in the wee hours of the morning – make them eat granola bars or bananas in the car and don’t worry about getting dressed. Nobody else is ever at the playground at 8 AM, and you might have to wipe the morning dew off the slides yourself but it’s SO much cooler and then the kids are all exhausted by 10 AM!

  13. says

    I agree go to the park early in the morning before the equipment heats up. You can be like me and don’t worry about breakfast cleanup just put the milk away and then go.

    I am so excited to hear you are coming to Bismarck. I am already registered for the conference!

  14. says

    Dude, we converted to the church of Apple six years ago. I’d be happy to take you to the Apple store, iffen ya want! I have a MacBook Pro and I LOVE it. I also have an iPad mini that Neil got me for my bday recently and it’s my dedicated blogging tool. Father Dean was even impressed with all it does and you *know* that’s saying something!! :) the iPad fits in my purse and has a tiny purple Logitech keyboard. ‘Nuff said. Anyway, if you ever want to talk conversion, let me know. One more layer to Conversion Diary, eh? 😉

  15. says

    OMG – I have to go to that conference!! Just emailed DH, telling that is what I want for my 50th bday gift this year!!! PLEASE don’t go over to the dark side!! How about a Chrome Book???

  16. Christina says

    I switched to a Mac 5 years ago. I had waited a long time for this – making due with really old windows laptops until I had enough money to get a Mac. That laptop is still going strong – my sister who bought a windows laptop at the same time, is now needing a 3rd. It’s sturdiness has made up for the initial investment. Although I keep Norton on it because I don’t believe the “you’ll never get a virus” line…seriously – someone will create a virus for macs at some point.

    To make the transition I used a training website, lynda.com. They have a great video on switching from Windows to Mac that alone was worth the $25 (which opens up all their videos for a month).

  17. Marie Adams says

    Jennifer, your Mac envy had me and my husband in tears! We were laughing so much! I used to be very staunchly in the PC camp too. But since my husband’s business is web design/graphic design, he obviously lives in Mac world. Then we got an iPad and iPhones. After using android devices for years, I can honestly say the user experience is worlds better on the iPhone. I LOVE IT! So I guess it was my iPhone that finally converted me. I say rip the bandaid off and join the rest of coffee shop nation! Also my husband says that Apple is releasing soon a new MacBook Air that has a battery life of 12 hours :)

  18. says

    Junk food: could you have a glutamate sensitivity? I have serious crashes and brain fog when I eat certain things… I traced it to a super-sensitive reaction to MSG and glutamates. I cut out all the junk (kept organic chocolate ice cream, it’s fine), and my moods and energy are much better. I never ate much junk at all, but even a bite of junky hummus can send me over the edge.

  19. Will says

    As an Apple-hater, I’d suggest looking at Samsung ultrabooks or Lenovo ThinkPads (particularly the T and X series). I have had four ThinkPads, starting in 1996, and they’ve all been wonderfully well-built machines with excellent keyboards. My most recent laptop is an Asus VivoBook X202E which was less than $500 and came with a touch-screen. It’s a terrific little machine, apart from a mushy keyboard.

  20. says

    Your prep for the park sounds exactly like every time I try to leave the house. Getting kids ready and fed and baby nursed and etc etc etc takes FOREVER. Oy.

    • says

      Also, thanks for the link re:autophagy. That is really interesting. Since I’m facing the likelihood of arthritis, another weapon in the arsenal is welcome.

  21. says

    I’m a Mac girl for life, for lots of different reasons but mostly because the Macbook my parents bought for me back in May 2003 when I graduated from college is STILL up and running. Granted, it’s had its share of issues – not least of which is the fact that the battery no longer holds a charge at all, so I feel your cafe-plug-problem, but I’m sure it’s still outperforming any PC laptop of that era.

    Also, I refuse to click the “how to be an unpopular blogger” link because, well, I think I’m already an overachiever in that area 😉

  22. Amy says

    You should try Bennu Coffee Lounge in Austin. It is on the East side (MLK, east of Chicon). They have installed hanging power strips over each table, so no need to worry about whether you will get a table with an outlet. Unless you want to sit outside (in this heat? yeah, right). Open 24 hours and they sell TacoMex breakfast tacos! Although, TacoMex is so close, you could just order fresh (my fave is the Migas breakfast taco with avocado. Delish!). Anyway, the problem for you is that it is located in central Austin, which is a trek for you, but whatever. Also: hipsters. But you know, desperate times, and all that. Here’s the website: http://www.bennucoffee.com/ Good luck!

  23. says

    My husband and I were just admitting last night that we may have made a hugely expensive mistake buying an Imac. Don’t drink the Kool-aid, sista! I’m so glad you admitted online that you don’t like the Mac interface. At this point, I’m just plain grouchy that I can’t do several of the things that I liked to do on my PC on the Mac. And Mail doesn’t work half the time, so I quit using it. I’m hearing from friends that its getting a lot easier to keep PCs virus free than it used to be, and that was a huge reason that we bought the thing. All those people who screamed, “Get a Mac! Get a Mac!” on Facebook when I asked what to do about our computer crash? Yeah, I should’ve ignored them. I love the Ipad. Imac is NOT the Ipad. End of rant.

  24. says

    So, whatever you buy, buy it from Best Buy. No, they aren’t the best in the world, BUT they have “Black Tie” which is a scam unless you live with young children who do terrible, unspeakable things to electronics.

    In other news, we have 5 kids, the youngest is 15 months. I would like another baby, but also living in an unbearable climate with insane wildlife, I feel as though God should also grant me live-in help. Not too much to ask, right?

  25. Mark S. says

    A fantastically funny post as usual. Yours is the blog I simply must read and on top of being entertaining you have so many insights that make me think. Please be assured of my prayers for you and your family. May the Lord keep you in the palm of his hand.

  26. Bethany says

    So very excited that you are coming to Bismarck! I am from good ol’ ND (eastern diocese of Fargo) and plan on being there. :) I look forward to hearing you speak!