7 Quick Takes (vol. 5)

October 21, 2008 | 18 comments

— 1 —

The other day the kids were watching Barney and he started bouncing around and singing Pop Goes the Weasel with his goofy-voiced dinosaur friends. You know the economy’s bad that I interpreted it to be a mournful dirge. Recalling something I heard once that “popping” the “weasel” was some reference to pawning a valuable items when times get tough, I nodded bitterly as I heard:

A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle,
that’s the way the money goes!
Pop, goes the weasel.

Truer words, Barney. Truer words.

— 2 —

Neat story: there’s an oral tradition in my family — told to me by my 94-year-old grandfather, who heard it from his grandmother — that one night there was a great meteor shower that was so intense that everyone thought the world was ending, and our family members were scared.

I Googled around and found that this story almost certainly refers to “The Night The Stars Fell, ” the famous Leonid meteor shower in November 1833. I thought that was so neat to know about a historical event from family oral tradition alone! Also, here are a lot of interesting stories that came of it that I found in my research: here’s a first-hand account (scroll down), and here’s a story about what slaveholders did when they thought it was Judgment Day.

Thank you for all the great comments about how to make your own yogurt. Unfortunately, I will not be doing this. Not in my house, anyway.

When I told my germ phobe husband about the great techniques I learned that will help us save money by making our own yogurt, I watched his face contort into various expressions of horror as I said things like “…while you let the milk sit out overnight…” and “…then you keep it warm so that the bacteria can incubate and grow…” He abruptly announced that he chooses to believe that yogurt comes from yogurt fairies who fill the jars at the store with magic wands, and that he does not want anything to happen in this house that would shatter that image for him.

— 4 —

I was going through old emails and came across this one from my dad about his experiences with Ramadan while living in Abu Dhabi (more about that here). I thought I’d share in case anyone else finds it interesting:

I have some mixed memories of Ramadan. I remember how impress I was that they could do it. One day I ate breakfast before sunrise and, because of meetings, didn’t eat again until 2:00 PM. I thought I was about the die. The Muslims still had about four hours to go.

I learned not to drive on the roads or streets in the last half hour before sunset. The people heading home to eat are almost panic stricken and their driving showed it. I only did it one time because I didn’t think about it. I was running an errand after work and was wondering what the heck was going on. It was so crazy it was unbelievable!

In the Middle East the official word that Ramadan has started comes, of course, from Mecca. I pictured some Holy men in the top of the minaret at the Grand Mosque looking for the new moon. NOT! They went up in a corporate jet. THAT surprised me.

One day I went to the mall across from my apartment to grocery shop right before sunset. I had to cross one of the widest, busiest streets in Abu Dhabi. While I was shopping I heard the sunset prayer. When I came out, that street was completely empty.

I thought it was interesting, particularly how many people observe these long fasting periods.

— 5 —

To the commenter named Sara who just left a comment to this post: as you may know from perusing the extensive scorpions category on this site, I have made a certain peace with living in a scorpion-infested house. However. When you have scorpions FALLING INTO THE BATH WHILE YOU BATH YOUR BABY and ON YOUR KITCHEN TABLE, it is time to move. I hear that Barrow, Alaska is lovely.

— 6 —

I’m sorry about #5. There’s something about the topic of scorpions that makes me UNABLE TO TYPE WITHOUT USING THE CAPS LOCK KEY.

— 7 —

Back when I did my own post about using Magnart, I had to laugh when I compared my post to Dooce’s original, where mom Heather Armstrong wrote of the artwork she used her Magnart to hang:

It’s the red version of a silkscreen print from Wayne Pate of Good Shape Design. I bought it the first time I saw it because it matches the Flor tiles in our living room perfectly.

Ah, yes. I should have mentioned to my readers that I was hanging the limited edition print “Red Blob on Construction Paper” that I chose because it offered an interesting contrast to the permanent marker stains mixed with crushed raisins on the living room carpet.


Have a great Tuesday night, everyone!


  1. Someone Being Me

    That scorpion thing is crazy. I have lived in Texas my whole life and have only seen one scorpion in person. And even that was at a campsite. I would freak if they were in my house.

  2. Susan Thompson

    A couple years ago I saw an Alabama license plate with the words “Stars fell on Alabama.” I googled it and found out about that Leonid meteor shower.

  3. Jon

    If you really want to get away from the scorpions and other scary bugs, Indiana is probably a better than Alaska. Alaska has gigantic mosquitos, while the hazardous wildlife in Indiana is largely or entirely confined to the rural parts of the state. Besides, I must know a dozen ex-Texans just in the Indianapolis area.


  4. Kylie w Warszawie

    I lived in Damascus for two years and I just have to say that most people do not voluntarily fast during Ramadan. I mean, a lot of it is that it’s just tradition, but if you as a foreigner are eating in the streets they will yell at you that it’s not time yet. Even if it’s a matter of minutes. And that’s just Syria, I’m sure there are far worse places.

    But, I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. I value the freedom to follow Catholicism, but life would be SO much easier if everyone did. So I see their point.

  5. Martha

    My mother once dated a Muslim man (mom had problems with discernment.) She said he would pick her up during Ramadan early enough that they could order dinner before sunset and it would be on the table right after the sun had gone down. (this was in Austin, TX, mind you.) Also, my aunt was married to a Muslim man and I remember the family arguments because our family did not think she should fast while she was pregnant, but no one could eat in front of those who were fasting, so some days she would end up fasting all day anyway. Ugh.

    Will save my scary Austin-related scorpion stories. 😉

  6. Anonymous

    We’ll be traveling to TX in the next few months and now I’m scared to sleep there!

    Re Ramadan: my husband’s school has a significant Muslim population, and he has to break up numerous fights by the end of the week. Let’s just say all-day fasting doesn’t help ease ethnic tension any.


  7. Tara Sz.

    I think it’s hilarious – and a testament to Jen’s writing – that people are still leaving comments on a blog entry from June 2007.

    And what a way to evangelize: someone googles ‘scorpions’ and happens upon Jen’s blog. Imagine how a scorpion infestation could lead to conversion. God really can use evil for good…

  8. Pipsylou

    I am friends with Jess – we met at the mall last week and she is bubbling over with excitement over her conversations with you! She’s directed me to the books by Scott Hahn. I am also interested in learning more about this NFP thing, as taking an abortifacient just doesn’t seem right to me. Can I just say, though, that at this point, I am afraid of pregnancy? I know I’m not supposed to be that way.

    The protestant church seems to be so fractured, and the Catholic take on it seems to be so plausible. Anyway, just thought I’d leave a comment and tell you that I really love reading! Jess and I are getting together again soon and I am going to pick her brain! 😉

  9. Shelly W

    Love your Dooce reference. She’s just too much, isn’t she? ‘Nuf said.

    And Barney. Is he still on? I used to plop my kids in front of Barney so I could take a shower in the mornings. I imagined that the water table all over our county was drastically lowered at 8:30 a.m. every day because every mom was showering at the same time. 🙂

  10. Jon

    Would this be the time to mention the Old Catholic churches, the sede vacantists, and the Lefebrists? As messed up as the various protestant churches are, Rome has her own issues which her apologists prefer to leave in the closet.


  11. Jennifer F.

    Would this be the time to mention the Old Catholic churches, the sede vacantists, and the Lefebrists? As messed up as the various protestant churches are, Rome has her own issues which her apologists prefer to leave in the closet.

    Jon – I’m not sure what this is in reference to.

  12. Jon

    Sorry, that was in reference to pipsylou’s grumbling against the protestant tendency toward schism. The three groups I mentioned all broke from Rome long after the protestant reformation. I think the Old Catholic split was over the universal ordinary jurisdiction of the pope, but it may have been over papal infallibility. The sede vacantists and the Lefebrists split from Rome because they felt Vatican II (and the popes who have supported it, including the current pope) was to liberal.


  13. Jess

    It is difficult for me to understand the comparison of a few groups splintering off the Catholic church in the last few hundred years and the Protestant schisms which are extensive to say the least. I don’t have an immediate source to back this up but I know I have read recently that there are around 28,000 separate Protestant denominations. That is more than just schism that is rampant disunity and confusion.

    Jen, the oral tradition history is really cool! The meteor shower must have been magnificent to have been worthy of being told about for generations.

  14. Steph at The Red Clay Diaries

    I love that for the firsthand account on the nasa website, they didn’t edit any of it, and the man’s faith and opinions about “meteor-shower conversions” are still there.

  15. Jon

    Jess, the tendency to schism varies greatly between different protestant traditions. The Anglicans, for example, in the time since the reformation have had relatively few groups break away. Additionally Rome has a share of guilt both in the Reformation and the Great Schism.

    If one wants to join a church that doesn’t schism one is actually probably best joining one of the Eastern Orthodox churches. As far as I know they haven’t had a major schism since the break from Rome. They have other problems instead.


  16. Susan Thompson

    Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia — Where Peter is, there is the Church.

  17. Patrick O'Hannigan

    Dear Jennifer, Have I mentioned that our family cat “Pikabu” proved herself an excellent scorpion killer when we lived in Arizona? Didn’t find out about her prowess until we moved, when we found scorpion carcasses under the bed. She’d dispatched the vile critters with wild abandon.

  18. Jane Levington

    I agree that the oral tradition history is really cool! The meteor showers must have been fantastic to have been worthy of being told about for generations.


  1. 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 150) : Conversion Diary - [...] there is no point in me spending one more second pondering this. My husband, who doesn’t even like to…
  2. 7 Quick Takes about fairy tale neuroses, Jen’s Discount Football Texting Service, and more! | Conversion Diary - […] down through oral tradition. I once told the story of how there was a legend in my family that…

Connect With Me On Social Media or Explore My Site



The "THIS IS JEN" podcast is on Facebook & all podcast apps


- Subscribe on iTunes or Google Play (audio)

- Get weekly bonus episodes on Patreon

- Sign up for my email list to be the first
to know about new tour dates