Wow, there were a ton of great responses to the form about the possibility of a book tour! And the notes that people wrote in are pretty much the best.
But the real excitement came when I mapped the data. I took all the zip codes and input them into a program that plots them on a map, then Joe and I pored over the data.
We were surprised that nobody from Connecticut or Massachusetts was interested in me coming to that area, but we were delighted to find that my blog seems to have a small cult following in Luxembourg! The map showed a heavy concentration of responses near the Belgian border — so much so that Joe and I decided that we should ask Ignatius if they’d send me out there as part of the book tour.
I had a note that said Book tour – Luxembourg? all set for my next call with the marketing team…and then I happened to notice that the Google Drive spreadsheet I was using had automatically shortened zip codes that begin with zero to make them four-digit numbers.
On a hunch I fixed the numbers and re-generated the map, and suddenly saw all sorts of responses from Connecticut and Massachusetts…and none from Luxembourg. Evidently the mapping program had placed all the erroneous four-digit zips in that part of the world.
When I called Joe to give him the update, I was laughing so hard I could barely stammer out the words as I visualized myself sitting in an empty bookstore in Luxembourg, noticing that everyone around me speaks French and German, wondering where on earth all the Conversion Diary readers are.
Earlier this week one of Joe’s friends offered us two free VIP tickets to the Snoop Dogg concert for SXSW, and, of course, Christian charity demanded that we accept them. (Don’t analyze the last part of that sentence — just pretend it makes sense and move on.)
The evening was kind of surreal. Of all the things I could have imagined myself doing on a random Wednesday night, hanging out in the VIP area at a Doggfather concert was barely in the top five.
Anyway, the salient takeaway here is: See what you miss when you don’t follow me on Twitter? Sometimes I end up live-tweeting Snoop concerts and if you’re not following me YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.
One of the opening acts was Phranchyze (pronounced like “Franchise”), a young rapper who specializes in rap battles. I was so excited he was there, because I adore rap battles. I think that they require an incredible amount of talent and raw intelligence.
If you’re not familiar with this form of entertainment, a rap battle is a cross between freestyle rapping (think of it as “extemporaneous poetry” if you prefer) and a roast. Rappers face off with one another and exchange (mostly) good-natured insults in the form of witty rhymes. I never cease to be amazed by how these guys come up with zingers that display an incredible breadth of knowledge and deep understanding of human nature.
So when I saw Phranchyze swagger into the VIP area with his entourage, I went over to talk to him. They were all huddled together, chatting and smoking, and I broke into the group and tapped him on the shoulder to introduce myself. I said that I’m a Catholic speaker and wanted to hear some public speaking secrets from a rap battle master. (Because nobody who knows me is going to believe that I actually did that, here is a picture to prove it:)
We ended up having a fascinating conversation where he pointed out that the key is to be curious. He said that he’s always reading and learning, because the more you understand people and the world, the more knowledge you’ll have to draw from.
He was incredibly gracious and generous, and I learned a lot. I’m speaking along with Dr. Scott Hahn at Ignited by Truth in Raleigh later this month, and if he challenges me to a rap battle, won’t he be surprised when I break out the mad skillz!
It seems like I should be able to find a better segue than this, but…my friends the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist are having a golf outing and dinner on Monday, March 24 here in Austin, and you should come! You can go to either/or, so if you don’t play golf, you can just go to the dinner. You can get tickets here.
My dad is playing in the golf tournament, so maybe they can get a little agnostic vs. Catholic betting pool going. And of course I wouldn’t miss the dinner.
Hanging out with the Sisters is pretty much my favorite thing in life, so I’m really looking forward to this one!
If there is anyone out there who was at the Snoop concert on Wednesday and will also be at the Dominican Sisters’ event next Monday, please contact me so that we can have our Best Friends Forever t-shirts made IMMEDIATELY.
Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of Pope Francis’ papacy! Last year I snapped this picture as I watched the live coverage, and I’m so glad I have the reminder of that day:
I was slouched on the couch, barely able to breathe, not able to walk more than a few steps without pausing to gasp for air, and feeling really dejected about the state I was in. Benedict XVI was extremely influential in my long conversion from atheism, so I was even more sad that he was no longer pope.
Yet when this new pope with his brand new name and his totally different style walked out onto the balcony, I suddenly felt so filled with hope. I was reminded that God is in charge — both of the Church, and of my crazy life — and that I’m just along for the ride. It was a wonderful little bright spot in a really difficult time.
Speaking of the Dominican Sisters and Pope Francis, one of my favorite Youtube videos is the footage of their reaction to the announcement of the new pope. The Sisters at the Ann Arbor, MI house were in the middle of recording their first album when they heard the news that there was white smoke.
The short video below captures the moment, and I dare you to try to watch it and not smile:
Since watching that news is one of my own favorite memories, I love knowing what they were doing at the exact same moment.
Happy weekend, everyone!