7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 154)

December 2, 2011 | 59 comments

— 1 —

As you know if you were following me on Twitter on the evening of November 20th, some planes have wi-fi now! Which means you can tweet from 30, 000 feet! Throw in some claustrophobia, a little wine, a few bouts of turbulence, and the hashtag #thuglife, and you have a quick and easy way for ruining any reputation you may have had for maturity, holiness or fortitude. (What? Nobody thought I had any of those qualities anyway? Hmm, all those people must have unsubscribed for another reason. Was it the link to the Jersey Shore Christmas ornaments?)

Anyway, I hereby declare that we must immediately come up with a universal hashtag for use by people on planes. I cannot be the only one who turns into a prodigious source of neurotic 140-character missives when stuffed into a metal cylinder that’s bumping around thousands of feet in the air, and I want to be able to find these kindred spirits on Twitter. I’m telling you, this would be the best hashtag to follow ever.

— 2 —

It is worth noting that less than 10 days after my tweets from an American Airlines plane, the company filed bankruptcy.

— 3 —

Speaking of the crazy things that can happen when you’re way too far above the earth, my husband and I got in an interesting email discussion with my dad the other day after someone sent out this crazy article about high altitude skidiving. My dad was a HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) instructor in Special Forces, and had this to say about a jump that didn’t quite go as planned:

It was a six-man jump made from 44, 500 feet, at night. Almost all the guys had frostbite of the eyes. One of the HALO instructors when I was there had been on that jump, and said that at that altitude the C-130 couldn’t slow down much, so when they jumped everyone’s goggles were blown off. My friend was about the only one not hurt, since he immediately rolled over onto his back and covered his eyes with his gloved hands until he was lower.

The scary thing about that jump was not only that it was at night, but the record they were attempting to break was for how long you stayed in freefall. Their plan was to open at 1, 800 feet, about 400 feet below normal opening. That meant having a lot of faith in your altimeter and stopwatch, which had just been through a 250 mph blast into temperatures around -80° F. And they were trying to read these instruments after 4 1/2 minutes of falling, in the dark, with frostbitten eyes. He said they were scattered all over North Carolina but no one was seriously hurt.

I just added a few items to my List of THINGS THAT ARE NOT FOR ME: 1) Jumping out of C-130’s going at full speed. 2) Jumping out of C-130’s at night. 3) Frostbite on the eyes. 4) Not opening your parachute until you are very close tho the ground, which you can’t see, not just because it’s dark, but because your eyes are frostbitten.

— 4 —

Although I will say, the subject has made me realize that my main issue with planes is claustrophobia, and possibly some deep-seated issues with control. The idea of skydiving actually sounds okay to me. I am always so ready to get off of planes that it doesn’t make much difference to me whether it happens at the airport or while the plane is still in the air. I guess there are some extreme circumstances under which staying on the plane would be preferable (see take #3 for more on that), but those are few.

— 5 —

Remember that piece I wrote for the Register about all the benefits of not having a smartphone? It’s like the people at Verizon follow my blog over there, and rubbed their hands together while cackling “MWAHAHAHA!” when they saw that post. I got an offer to upgrade the very next week, which made it extremely cheap to get a smartphone. We were thinking of canceling our home phone service anyway, since it’s about as effective a form of communication as smoke signals, so the money we save there would make up for the increased monthly bill. Long story short, I now have an Android.

So far it’s been great, although I think my friends would give me a D- grade as a smartphone user. Because I’m really into limiting distractions, I promptly turned off the sounds that let me know when I have a text message or email; I manually check for new texts every now and then, but other than that don’t know when I have a new one. It leaves me having conversations like:

FRIEND: “Did you get my text?”
ME: “I never check texts. You should email me.”
FRIEND: “I did.”
ME: “Oh, that’s right, I avoid email as much as possible.”
FRIEND: “Did you at least get my voicemail?”
ME: “I hate checking voicemail. I only do it about once a week.”
FRIEND: “Soooo…I guess I need to come to your door if I need to get in touch with you?”
ME: “Yeah. Although sometimes I hide behind the couch when I hear a knock.”

As it turns out, limiting smartphone distractions is easy when you’re an introvert! Anyway, what apps do I need for my Android?

— 6 —

I’ve stumbled upon one of the best parenting hacks ever: Instead of folding all the baby’s clothes, I just toss them all into an open box. I do make an effort to toss them in such a way that they don’t get too crumpled up when they land (I should write that one up for Martha Stewart Living), but other than that I don’t fold them, separate them by type, or anything else. I just rummage through the box, sifting through jammies and onesies and day clothes for whatever I need. Amazingly, her outfits never look wrinkled when she wears them. Especially in this phase were spit-up incidents mean she goes through multiple outfits per day, and I feel like I’m constantly doing baby laundry, this is a huge time and stress saver. (Even though this particular idea was my own brainchild, me being the Albert Einstein of figuring out how to do as little work as possible and all, I feel like I should give credit to the fantastic book Organizing Solutions for People with ADD, which has tons of awesome suggestions like this one.)

— 7 —

Do yourself a favor and start your weekend off the right way, by watching this compilation video of street musicians throughout the world singing Stand by Me.

I hope your Advent is off to a good start!



  1. Mandi

    I was actually following you on twitter that night! And laughing!

    I’ve never been afraid to fly, but I am terrified of heights, so reading that description from your father was horrifying! And frostbite of the eyes sounds like just about the most painful thing ever. And to think it was all done ON PURPOSE!

  2. Leila

    Are you seriously *trying* to make me giddy by blogging about your introversion in almost every Quick Takes? Because it’s working!! I’d say we were separated at birth, but you are a foot taller, a decade younger and much cooler. But still.

  3. Elizabeth

    A couple of apps you might like…Google Reader works great. Also Open Table so you can make dinner reservations without ever talking to a person. : ) Enjoy your new phone.

  4. Blair

    I guess I need that book for people with ADD because pretty much my whole family is forced to live out of baskets of clean laundry. If only it was just the baby!

  5. Ashley

    Re: Apps.

    I too am new to the smartphone… and like you, got the Android.

    The first thing I got was the iMissal.

    In total, I got iMissal, Confession: A Roman Catholic App, Endomondo (though I don’t use it since I haven’t been riding my bike, which is why I got it in the first place… to track exercises.)and a Doctor Who app. That’s it.

  6. George @ Convert Journal

    There was a time that I flew weekly, experiencing emergency landings and all manner of turbulence. Unless they make the flight attendants sit down and buckle up, it won’t be too bad. I remember one time that seemed to catch the pilot off-guard and we suddenly dropped like a rock. The plane is safe, but the people in it can get hurt from falling (or falling luggage). The most unexpected part is everyone’s drinks don’t just spill but fly up. Usually when that happens I raise the glass quickly to contain it, but this time it was so fast that my OJ landed on the overhead (I wasn’t alone with this problem). Of course, that is quite a mess then as it drip, drip, drips back down on you.

    My entry this week… The reason for the season (from Advent Conspiracy). Not only the most seminarians in years, but very impressive ones too. Rolling back the “spirit of Vatican II” changes – not everyone “gets it.” Another Planned Parenthood worker leaves their evil empire. WKRP Turkey Drop, still a hoot! A heartwarming story of 9 beagles. Our federal government is shutting down the work of the Church – we should be alarmed.

    • George @ Convert Journal

      A technical note – if you take too long composing your comment, errors result from the captcha file being prematurely removed. Some timer must be causing it to be cleaned-up too quickly.

      • Jennifer Fulwiler

        Oh, weird! So sorry about that. I’ll look into it.

    • Javier (JCA)

      What nightmare of airline company was –I suppose low-cost, isn’t it?– in order not to fly with them?

  7. jen

    i think that jumping out of a perfectly good plane PERIOD is not on my list of things to do in my life.

  8. Maria

    Thanks for making me laugh so early this morning! Your Dad is amazing! But jumping out of C-130’s is not my kind of thing too.

    As for Android apps, I love my Divine Mercy app, Google Sky and iBreviary. Also they have Free Scrabble!

    Happy Advent! We’re doing the Jesse Tree again this year. Kids are enjoying it!

  9. Jen G

    I really like the Catholic One app.

    Loved your airplane tweets!

    • Tara Sz.

      I was hoping to see the Catholic One app recommended! I love it.

  10. Michelle

    Ha! I do the same thing with my baby’s clothes! Never fold. It’s silly! But honestly, as often as I change his clothes, it works out. I also use this tactic for my older son’s (almost 3) underwear and socks. Just throw them all in the top drawer…we’ll get what we need. LOL

    Smartphones! Yay, I love mine. I need more useful apps though so I’ll be watching the combox!

  11. Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy

    I’m chuckling at the airplanes 🙂

    This is a great time to say THANK YOU for turning me on to Organizing Solutions for People with ADD!

  12. Mary

    Check out divineoffice.org It gives the Liturgy of the hours and other great info!

  13. Javier (JCA)

    Ha, ha, ha! I agree entirely with #5

  14. Stacy

    Two of my favorite apps are Saint of the Day, which shows the name on the phone each day and you can click it to read the saint’s story, and Locavore, which shows you what produce items are in season in your area so you can be sure you are buying local and in season at the farmer’s market. My fiance has Catholic One which shows the daily readings (and meditations I think), but I pull usccb.org up on my phone each day. I have a knock off weight watchers app called Ultimate Weight something or other that was $4.99 and worth every penny lol. All the others were free.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Just downloaded the saint of the day app. I love it!

  15. Michael

    So the wine made you do it…and it cause the entire airline to go bankrupt. 😉 Good list, but I don’t suggest jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. (from the director of the NY Aviation Management Association)

  16. Kathleen basi

    Laughing as usual. Typing from postpartum on an iPad. Let me say I HATE.!!!

  17. Elizabeth


    I wish I had seen your tweets when you were tweeting them!!

    Bah, humbug. I will resist smart phones for as long as I possibly can. I just know that I’ll get obsessed.

  18. Kendra @ The Nerdy Wife

    I do not have a smart phone yet. I feel like there will come a point where they are more reasonably priced and stuff and I will get one. For now, I still don’t even have a laptop and I’m on my computer alllll the time. Just look at my twitter timeline some days and you’ll know what I mean. I can’t imagine how bad it would be if I had the internet with me at all times.

  19. Jeanne G.

    My smartphone is not so smart. I can get on the internet, but it is clunky to send an email, and I can’t look at most websites. My husband has an Android and I appreciate how it works together with gmail. I think you’ll like that.

    LOL about hiding behind the couch when someone knocks. I am similar. I check my email as little as possible, texts when I have to, but voicemail I check whenever I have one. I don’t like the way the voicemail icon looks on my not-so-smart phone. And when someone knocks on the door, I often feel like yelling “Go away!” Luckily, people don’t come knocking too often.

  20. Steph @ Moving to MD

    Jen, you are cracking me up this morning! In fact, you are totally *this close* to convincing me to sign up for twitter just in case you ever are tweeting from 30,000 feet again.

    Proposed hashtags:

    And how totally crazy is it that I just made the jump to smartphones this week too! I got an android as well (for a penny! Thank you 1-cent cyber monday deals at ATT&T).

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      LOVE these hashtags. LOL!! And welcome to the world of smartphone ownership. 🙂

      • Anna Macdonald

        Did you try searching for #ImOnAPlane ? Because that tag’s already getting at least a little bit of use.

  21. Melanie

    Thanks for the laugh this morning! I think I am getting a smartphone for Christmas so I appreciate all these suggestions in the combox.

  22. Stitchwort

    Oh my! These are the funniest Quick Takes I’ve read in a long, long time.

    Thanks for the laughs! I needed them this morning.

  23. Becky

    I love that video! How creative!

    I put the baby’s clothes in one of those storage saver drawers thingys. It saves on a lot of space and time, and every 3 months, I change the clothes out until the about 9 months, when the baby’s clothes are bigger and take up more room. Then I switch it to a real dresser!

    Don’t have a SmartPhone and don’t intend to buy one either. Phones are getting way too complicated when all you want to do is make a phone call. 🙂

  24. Sarah in MI

    I don’t fold most of the kids’ clothes. They are forever rooting around in the drawers and messing it all up, so I just gave up and make sure things get into the right drawers but forego the folding. They mostly wear knits, so the clothes still look OK. Nicer stuff gets hung in the closet.

  25. amy2boys

    Four and a half MINUTES of falling? Holy cats do you know how long that is? I can’t stand by the microwave for a minute without being amazed by how LOOOONG a minute can be — simply beyond my comprehension to be falling for 4.5 minutes.

    Apps for your Andriod – Catholic One. The daily Mass readings, the stations, the rosary, lots of prayers, and the Douay-Rheims Bible. Also there are devotional apps for Blessed John Paul II, St. Joseph, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla that I really love.

    “The Journey Abingdon Press” is an Advent app for kids with games and quizzes that follow Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem. Super cute!

    The Evernote app is a MUST, and Twitter.

    One more – My Fitness Pal totally rocks. You can track calories and nutritional value and exercise, and you can scan barcodes on your phone and all the calorie and nutrition info goes into your daily log. This app is one reason my husband switched to a smart phone.

  26. MrsDarwin

    Pish, I never take anyone’s clothes out of baskets. That’s how I have time to browse the internet.

  27. John Henry

    Must-have Android apps:
    Dolphin Browser
    Catholic One
    Google Reader
    Google Docs
    Amazon Kindle
    Google Plus (tell it to not auto post your pics!)
    Google Music
    Cubed Music Player
    (all free!)

  28. Smoochagator

    You know, your jokes about introversion have helped me see my introvert friends (who I figured just didn’t like me very much) differently… and a little more kindly. I wonder if it is possible to turn into an introvert as you age. I used to be someone who felt compelled to answer EVERY! SINGLE! FORM! OF! COMMUNICATION! IMMEDIATELY!!!!1! and as I get older, I find that I have less and less patience for actually interacting with people. I remember in college a friend saying to me that “A ringing phone does NOT have to be answered,” and I thought she was NUUUUTS. But it’s my mantra now.

    Also, I did something similar with my son’s clothes when he was itty-bitty. I did divide them rougly by type (bibs, onesies, pants) but I tended to just stuff them into baskets inside a dresser drawer. It seemed as though I never had any clean bibs, in spite of the fact that we owned about 3 dozen of them…

  29. Jamie @ A Rough Diamond

    I just got a smartphone, too, and thank you for the last list of Catholic gift possibilities! I love it!

  30. Shannon

    I first learned about Evernote from you. I have the app on my iPhone and love it. I have it set up to sync certain folders from my laptop. So far it’s been extremely useful. (I’m sure I’ve seen posts that they also have an Android app.)

  31. elizabethe

    I am so down with organizing for ADD — this is my natural organizational style.

    Sadly, my husband actually prefers things to, you know, look neat.

    He’ll look into a drawer and say “this needs to be organized!” and I’m like, “what? I know everything that’s in there. If you want the tracing paper for the kid’s project, just move the kids’ tool box, the portable dvd player, and those 5 study workbooks over to the left, take out all the wrapping paper, and then lift up the corner of the Pirate’s Booty game, and voila! you can kind of jerk it out! Simple.”

    Scarily, all those things actually fit into a logical category in my mind such that storing them in the same drawer actually makes sense to me. Not sure what it is, but, there you go.

  32. Trisha Niermeyer Potter @ Prints of Grace

    I was truly LOL at #5! My phone works just fine, but my mom and sister both have phones that work at random intervals or not at all. For example, earlier this week, my mom got a message on her phone that I called Jan. 1, 2012 at 4:00pm. Mom called to check in and see how things were with me in anticipation of a message she might not get. Wow! My mom does check e-mail, voice messages, and such pretty regularly, but there are plenty of times when she leaves her cell phone at home or in the car or has it with her but the thing isn’t charged. It’s hard raising parents these days!

  33. Pere

    Long time lurker and new commenter here:

    The hashtag! I saw this West Wing reference & clip on Fr. Z… maybe it’s stealing, but I suggest:


  34. Kimberly

    I never even considered the possibility of getting frostbite on my eyes until now. That sounds awful. And you sound like me as far as technology and communication are concerned. I check my email for work, but other than that, who knows how long it’ll be before I realize you tried to get a hold of me?

  35. Jess G.

    Because I am an absolute nerd my favorite app is free and old-school – Words With Friends. It is a version of Scrabble that you can play with other friends with the app. I’m “seccang” if you decide to download and give it a whirl. – J

  36. Jess G.

    Ha, ha! I’m reading through the comments now *after* I posted and I guess I am the least pious of your Catholic readership! Words With Friends definitely beats out iMissal and iConfess for me . Catholic apps are great – I had an older priest in a confessional (I like to go face to face) chastise me about checking my email while in Confession when really I was trying to read the Act of Contrition – as a convert I am still trying to memorize the gazillion prayers that seem to be second nature to every cradle Catholic I bump into! I explained what I was doing and he said, “Wow, we’ve got to tell everybody about this – that is so great!”. Um, yeah, Fr. – the entire world probably already knows. I was ready to go out and buy Father an iPhone to get him up to date. 🙂

  37. Brittany

    #5 – Songify is an app you would deeply appreciate. It’s a great way to send yourself and others voice reminders AND make them laugh at the same time. You’ll also be able to prove to everyone that you are in-fact a musical genius that’s about to be discovered.

    Also, I’d highly recommend Divine Office. It has morning and evening readings and prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours set up for you read every day. This way you receive messages from God every time you check your phone. It’s something I always look forward to.

  38. Sarah

    Google Sky is a really fun app–it tracks your orientation thru GPS, and gives you diagrams of the constellations. My kids love it–and Angry Birds. 😉

  39. LP

    I too have found teeny baby clothes WAY too much of a pain to fold and organize as “normal” laundry! The other trick that helps a TON in the first 6-9 months or so is to have a container (mine is a mesh laundry hamper) in a corner near the changing/dressing/clothing area to toss outgrown clothes into. I have a 7 month old, and all summer/fall I felt like each laundry load returned just as many outgrown, now-obsolete items as it did clean, wearable clothes! And not having a clean outfit that fits available when there’s a diaper explosion is just not an option, especially if you have other little bodies to keep track of! So I would just throw clothes (same technique, we must have read the same manual, lol) into the container and when it was full, I sent it home with my mom so she could organize it and store it for me (not kidding – she’s amazing). I was elated – these tricks are life-savers!

    ps – I am SO checking out that book. Badly needed!!! 🙂

    Advent blessings to you and your family

  40. Stephan

    I’ve been a “Trittbrettfahrer” on the 7 quick takes for a few weeks now, without ever commenting on your blog. It was not in response to yours that my 7 quick takes this weekend mentioned CarrierIQ’s “rootkit” on Android phones, but enough of a coincidence that I thought I’d point it out to you. It’s #4 on my post.

  41. DawnGes

    LOVE the street musician’s video–AMAZING! Thanks for humoring me/us.

  42. Jen G

    Another Android app that I cannot do without is Shush! It lets you turn your phone’s ringer off for a set period of time. When the time’s up, it turns the ringer back on again. I never have to worry about forgetting and leaving it off!

  43. joy

    Love the Stand By Me video! I’d heard it on the radio three years or so ago, and I kept thinking about it. The video is as good as I’d hoped it would be — and my hopes were high!

  44. Michael

    #7… PSH! I’m 29 and I find the same procedure still works for my clothes. 🙂

  45. Lorelei

    Funny, almost everyone recommended “holy” ‘droid apps. Here are a few non-holy (free) apps I use all the time:

    ShopSavvy- it scans a barcode and finds the price of the item at local stores and online, along with reviews. Fantastic shopping aid! I’ve saved $$$ using it.

    Pandora- internet radio. Type in a piece of music, artist, etc. and it will play pieces from what you entered AND pick out others that you might liked based on your choice.

    Advanced Task Killer. Saves your battery. Amazing all the stuff that automatically kicks off.

    Simple Weather- sends severe weather warnings to your phone.


    Flashlight- use your phone as a flashlight, which everybody does eventually.

    Google navigation (also maps and places)- toss the GPS. It does suck battery, use with a car charger.

    Kids doodle- my toddler loves it.

  46. Sister Anne

    Android apps I like:
    Evernote (!!!!)
    Key Ring (you can put all your shoppers’ discount cards on it)
    Rosary Miracle Prayer (very classy: you can select the kind of images you want to see, which series of meditations… plus, I am really close to the developers…)
    xPiano (if you need to learn music, you can plunk it out on a variety of instruments using a keyboard that appears on your screen); since I am in a choir that is mostly professional, this helps me cheat a bit (I can’t sight-read music),
    PdaNet: this is very pricey ($15!!!), but allows you to use your phone to create an internet connection for your computer. It worked so well that last night we were able to watch our Christmas Concert on NET NY in streaming video without hiccups. Since we travel a lot and can’t always count on wifi in convents and retreat houses, PdaNet is invaluable.
    I also love Pandora
    and the Southwest Airlines app which lets me check-in so conveniently. Barcode scanner is fun for taking advantage of QR codes or for comparing prices of items.
    Of the free apps, the very very very best is SWYPE (still in beta–go to beta.swype.com), which allows you to simply move your finger from letter to letter to type on your phone screen’s keyboard, “swiping” the letters rather than trying to individually hit each letter. Just slide your finger around and the app intuits which word/words you probably want. It is quite accurate, and allows you to add your own words to the dictionary. I can’t see ever using the phone’s native keyboard again.

  47. Milehimama

    I think you should turn that in to Martha Stewart. Once I was watching her show and an expert on ironing came on. Her tip to reduce your ironing time? Wear sweatpants. I kid you not.

  48. Sarah McCabe

    I wouldn’t fold the baby clothes, but if I don’t organize them then when my husband dresses him he would be incapable of putting an outfit together in a logical way.

  49. Bessie Richardson

    And to think it was all done ON PURPOSE! I remember in college a friend saying to me that “A ringing phone does NOT have to be answered,” and I thought she was NUUUUTS.

  50. AshleyK

    I’ve gotta put in a plug for my husband’s app company – Little iApps. They have created some great catholic apps such as Confession: A Roman Catholic App, Evotions series (novenas for JP2, St. Gianna, etc.), and Catholic Vote. I hope you decide to try them out on your new phone!

  51. Jack

    It makes me laugh all the time, every time I watch the video.:)

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