7 Quick Takes about winners, 100th birthdays, blue-blocking glasses, and my desperate need for Youtube recommendations

May 16, 2014 | 55 comments

— 1 —

Today marks the end of the official launch party for Something Other than God! To celebrate, we arranged for the book to go out of stock on Amazon just this morning! Okay, we didn’t arrange that. And I stared at my computer and screamed, “WHYYYYYY!” in my head. But the timing is eerily appropriate.

All the contests end at 11:59 PM tonight (Friday), so this is your last chance to break out the boxed wine and espresso to make a SOTG drink that will rival Kelly’s!

— 2 —

The 7 Quick Takes contest ended last week, and I am delighted to announce that the winner is…

CINDY, who mentioned the book in this 7 Quick takes post!

I’ve been familiar with Cindy’s blog, The Veil of Chastity, for a long time, and I’m always impressed with her thought-provoking posts on the modern single life. I keep meaning to take some time to get to know her blog better, and her winning this contest was just the nudge I needed. I can’t wait to browse her archives, and recommend that you do as well!

(UPDATED: I actually forgot when I wrote this that what I had offered as the prize was…the option for me to buy her a banana suit. I’m thinking that Cindy is waaaay too classy for that, but you never know!)

— 3 —

People have been emailing me about Amazon’s out of stock notice, asking when Ignatius Press is going to ship more books to them. It seems like it would be that simple, doesn’t it?

For those of you who are fellow book nerds, publishing nerds, or people who have lost bets that involve you having to read every word of one of my tangents about being a writer, I’ll now share with you an insider glimpse into how the modern publishing industry works:

This is Amazon:

If you’re reading this on email, click through to see the video.

Replace the words “open the pod bay doors” with “accept more copies of my book to sell, ” and you have a very accurate idea of how the system works.

Amazon will not allow publishers to ship books to them unless they request them, and sometimes HAL — err, their internal order algorithm — isn’t properly triggered to request books, even if there is demand for them.

Things are looking good for getting SOTG back in stock, but every time I think of my publisher arranging the shipment, I picture a creepy computer voice saying, I’m sorry, Ignatius, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

— 4 —

I was going to give actual stats for Amazon’s market share in that last take, because evidently I’m running for SuperNerd of the year. Anyway, I set out to type percentage of people who buy books from Amazon, and was startled by the suggested searches Google kept throwing at me:

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 10.28.45 PM

If a time-traveler were to come to me and ask what it’s like to live in America in 2014, I think I might just show him this screenshot and call it a day.

— 5 —

My grandfather turned 100 yesterday! He was born on the family farm, here in central Texas, on May 15, 1914. He remembers seeing his first airplane. He remembers when the radio and the telephone were the big new inventions. His family didn’t have electricity until he was older. He knew people who used horse-drawn carriage as transportation. He turned 40 in 1954. Isn’t it amazing to consider how much change he’s seen in his life?


He’s an engineer by background, a self-taught gourmet cook, and probably the most humble, generous person I’ve ever met. Until recently he made lavish dinners for us on a regular basis — and for my daughter’s First Communion party last weekend, he made a cheesecake from scratch that is quite possibly the most delicious dessert I have ever tasted.

One of his favorite activities in recent years has been cooking for our priests as part of our parish meal ministry. Even though he isn’t Catholic, he has always said that making meals for the priests of our parish has been one of his life’s greatest honors. A couple of years ago our former associate pastor, Fr. Jonathan, sent an email talking about how much he liked my grandfather’s meals. My grandfather was so moved that he posted it on the wall in his dining room.

A few of my grandfather's culinary creations.

A few of my grandfather’s culinary creations.

I’m an only child and my dad’s an only child, so I’m my grandfather’s only grandchild. It is one of the greatest gifts of my life that he’s lived long enough for me and my children to know him well. Please say a prayer for him, as he’s been having a tough time due to failing health lately. He is a very special person.

— 6 —

I got these glasses because they supposedly block blue light and make it easier to go to sleep after you’ve been staring a glowing screens:


I know, know: Flux.

The reason I got the glasses instead of installing that program is because a) I didn’t think Flux blocks blue light (though I might be wrong), b) I look at a wide variety of glowing screens at night and was too lazy to install it on all of them (which probably indicates that I have a problem), and c) I wanted an excuse to have glasses so that I could take a picture of myself wearing them and post it in Instagram (which definitely indicates that I have a problem).

This is the first night I’m trying them. I am currently typing at 11:00 PM and hope to go to sleep soon after I finish this post, so we’ll see if they seem to help. I’ll be reporting results on Twitter, as I do with all important news.

— 7 —

Informal survey: Do you follow any Youtube channels? My daughters recently discovered teen vlog sensation Bethany Mota, and because she is made of sweetness and glitter, I couldn’t get enough of her videos either. After a brief detour of being the creepy woman twice her age who watches all her updates and tries to catch her attention with witty commentary about her nail polish choices on Twitter, I’m looking for some (ahem) more appropriate channels to add to my portfolio. Any suggestions?

Have a great weekend, everyone!



  1. Becki Boop

    Oh man. . .number 4! Shudder!
    Happy Birthday to your Grandfather!

    I got your book on my kindle and I love it! Random that Tucker Max reviewed it! haha.

  2. Agnes @ Restless Until I Rest in Thee

    #4 is HILARIOUS!!! Sadly though: herpes, welfare, and tattoos are probably a good way to sum up living in America in the 21st century.

    #5 Your grandpa seems like a truly special person. Happy 100th birthday to him!

  3. George @ Convert Journal

    Per #7 – my YouTube subscriptions are: Christopher Stefanick, EWTN, FOCUSequip’s channel, Father John Hollowell, Fr. Robert Barron, OneBillionStories.com, Rome Reports, SoulPancake, Spirit Juice Studios, TED, TheLutheranSatire, Video Sancto and wordonfirevideo2.

    If I were to pick just 1 for your young daughters, it would be Christopher Stefanick.

    • Paula

      I was liking Soul Pancake until they did that clip of Ingrid Michaelson talking to kids about religion – making it a joke 🙁

      • George @ Convert Journal

        Thanks Paula, I missed that one. It’s disappointing that they would do that.

  4. Jill

    Oh goodness… Zach Anner is amazing on You Tube. My kids are a little afraid of him because he has CP and is humorous about it. But he always has a message of some sort and he’s hilarious. some better than others but love his workout wednesday videos…

    • Jill

      that didn’t come out right…my kids are learning to appreciate differences…let’s just say that. but kids, man, they are honest… some don’t come with a compassion bucket ready to spill over… right?

  5. Jessica Snell

    Your description of your grandfather really makes me miss mine.

    Also, btw, I *loved* your book. I gulped it up so quickly – and so did my mom, who I lent it to. It was wonderful; thank you so much for writing it.

  6. Scott

    Tally Ho!

    Here are a few suggestions of YouTube channels that I subscribe to!

    (in no particular order)

    Goat Milk Stuff

    Ralfy stuff (Scottish Whiskey reviewer; entertaining and knowledgeable)

    Blackfriars media (Dominican friars)

    Kseniya Simonova (Ukrainian sand artist; watch to see, it’s amazing)

    Pomplamoose (a very creative and quirky musical duo)

    Congratulations on your book!

  7. Renee


    No recommendations, but I am amazed how kids do enjoy YouTube. My kids were watch a video about raining tacos and couldn’t stop singing for days.

  8. Mary

    Oh my goodness, I love your grandfather so much. What an amazing guy.

    The only channel I subscribed to is Jim Gaffigan…but I really don’t know what being subscribed to means in Youtube land so you can see how often I actually use it…

  9. Cindy

    Thank you for picking me and for the shout out, Jen! I will use the $50 to buy more SOTG books and give them to my friends (as soon as Amazon gets more in stock).

    #5 Happy Birthday to your sweet Grandfather!

    Thank you again! Cindy

  10. Marie

    #7 I’m not sure if you want more appropriate for you or for your daughter but these two are enjoyed by everyone in my family.
    Piano Guys
    Simon’s Cat

  11. Jamie

    Happy birthday to your grandpa!! Last year I attended a birthday party for my grandpa’s brother who was turning 100, and they had a table set up with all of these congratulatory letters from famous people including POPE FRANCIS, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Queen Elizabeth among others…I don’t know if you’ve done this already, but apparently you can request these birthday letters for centenarians from just about anybody famous that your grandpa might be excited about!!

    John Green, the guy that wrote “The Fault in Our Stars”, has a YouTube channel called “Mental Floss” that is fun and geeky!

  12. elizabethe

    My amazon says it’s back in stock on May 18.

    I loved your book. At my Catholic homeschool co-op your book came up in a few casual conversations.

  13. Tacy

    Bethany Mota is awesome.

  14. Anon

    The internet is a mystery to me, but we have a great family run bookstore in Omaha called Adoremus Books and they have an Amazon storefront and are an Amazon supplier. Maybe they can fill your Amazon orders.

  15. Christine Niece

    Hi everyone-
    If you have a moment, take a peak at my friend Adam Crawford’s blog, A Faith-Full Life. He is new to the blogging world and I was happy to see him linked up this Friday.
    Give him some encouragement…new to the Catholic faith and new to blogging..

  16. Katrina

    Shameless self-promotion here. You could follow my Youtube channel. I do hair tutorials and product demos, my channel is https://www.youtube.com/user/thekatrinaburbank. I only have one video up right now so this is my accountability to edit the others and get them up there!

  17. Teresa

    Jennifer – love the words about your grandfather – he sounds so wonderful – so sweet – I will keep him in my prayers.
    Youtube channel must-have subscriptions:
    Father Barron (of course)
    EWTN has one also, as well as the Vatican
    I also like NPR Music and a bunch of others that I just like for particular hobbies, interests, etc (a very wide range of stuff)
    THese are just the ones off the top of my head you might want to check out
    Loved your book so very very very much

  18. Melissa

    Happy birthday to your grandfather! My mom’s parents were born just after the turn of the last century in southwestern Oklahoma, where their parents had come from central Texas to homestead as part of the Oklahoma land rush. They talked about going from riding a horse to school through long grass prairie, to cars, to airplanes, to seeing the Space Shuttle as it stopped over at the Air Force base near their house as it was being ferried back to Florida. I was always amazed by the changes they saw during their lifetimes (just shy of 100 years for my grandmother), and miss them terribly.

    • Caroline M.

      I bet they have some intense stories of the Dust Bowl.

  19. Ethan

    One of the only channels I really like on YouTube is Community Channel with Natalie Tran (https://m.youtube.com/user/communitychannel). Every week she uploads a little comedy video that usually is so relatable.

  20. Jenny

    Those glasses are smokin.

  21. Jenny

    Happy Birthday to your grandfather. My grandmother is 102! I hadn’t thought of it until I read your post, but my mom is an only child, so her only grandchildren are my sisters and me. I had the privilege of helping care for her while my father was ill. I will cherish that month I spent with her, listening to all her stories, especially since we are now stationed in Germany for the next three years.

  22. Kathleen Basi

    Re #4: I’m always chuckling and/or shaking my head about the autofills. Although sometimes they’re so intriguing I actually get sidetracked.

    Re your grandfather: That is AMAZING. We lost my grandmother at 98 last fall, but she was no longer cooking by then. I, too, was grateful my kids got to know her–and my other grandmother is still kicking, so I’m doubly grateful for that. But I am in awe of your grandfather. God is good!

  23. Caroline M.

    Somehow, the fact that your grandfather was 40 in 1954 made a huge impression on me, maybe because my dad was born in 1954. That really puts it in perspective – by the time Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon, your father had already put in what we commonly think of as a “full career.” Sometimes I wonder about our common perception of retirement, in which couples leave their homes, their roots, their lives to live in Florida or Arizona. It seems backwards somehow. I love that your children are growing up with such a compassionate, talented great-grandfather who is still living locally and enjoying life.

  24. GeekLady

    I’ve handled the issue of screen time before bed by putting down my phone. Which is really, really hard. So I’ve started reading aloud to my husband for twenty minutes or so before bed.

    It is astonishingly nice and cozy and comforting.

  25. Rachel

    I follow HISHE (How it Should Have Ended) on YouTube. I think I’m a different kind of nerd, so I’m not sure if you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.

  26. Jessica

    Hi Jen! I work at Amazon in the Kindle side of the business. Just wanted to offer up a solution for the out of stock issue you are having. You should ask Ignatius Press to enroll your book in in stock protection with print on demand. They only print in the event they go out of stock, and include the printed copies in the algorithms for future orders to help ensure more accurate ordering volumes going forward. This is also really helpful to have in place in the event your book gets picked up in media and there is a sudden spike in ordering volume that couldn’t be predicted. I’ve seen the stats on this print on demand program and I definitely think it’s worthwhile. Your publisher should be familiar with it, but feel free to message me if you have any questions they can’t answer or you are interested in knowing more.

  27. munchie mommy

    Re #7: Flippycat. It’s basically a guy who sets up incredibly elaborate domino rallies, knocks them down, and then lets his cat walk all over them. Such is the intellectual and/or edifying nature of our family youtube viewing.

  28. R

    Regular Ordinary Swedish Mealtime. Epic. 😀 I think it needs a language warning, can’t remember atm. Still, very funny! Should probably be watched in chronological order.


  29. Elizabeth

    Really enjoying your book! Everyone else is being so intellectual…I have a couple makeup/style related youtube suggestions. Hot and Flashy https://www.youtube.com/user/HotandFlashy/featured As a 38 year old I get frustrated that all the make up gurus are 20 or younger. Angie is 51 and gives some great advice. I also love Cardigan Empire. https://www.youtube.com/user/reachelbagley/featured Great fashion advice (see her website too). How to be cute and modest.

  30. Rakhi @ The Pitter Patter Diaries

    You’re a best-selling author now. The glasses are mandatory. I love everything about the ones you picked – they look like they complement your face nicely. By the by, your eyes look stunning in that photo – what a beauty you are!

    Happy birthday to your grandpa! What a sweet man he sounds like. I did not know my grandparents. Being halfway across the world from the rest of our family, and with early deaths on my mom’s side of the family, it was not something I got to experience. What a blessing that your grandfather has been able to share in your life is such a special way. Many more blessings to him!!

    Incidentally, we got hooked on the Maccabeats You Tube channel when one of their songs was a instant soother for Gianna (Candlelight). They parody current music with stories of the Jewish faith. Candlelight is about Hannukah. There’s one using a Les Mis medley that is about the Exodus. Pretty funny. We should get a Catholic one going!

  31. Karyn

    #7 I love Convos with my 2 year old and Horrible Histories.

  32. Sarah Damm

    Your grandpa is wonderful! Birthday prayers for him!!

  33. Will

    I’m not sure my favorite youtube channels will be helpful, but I’m a gonna list ’em anyway.

    Alton Brown: His new channel has something nifty about once a week. It’s like a 5-minute episode of Good Eats.

    Danny Harmon’s “Distant Signal”: High-concept railfan videos. He’s a professional voice-over guy by trade and it shows.

    FlippyCat: Crazy-complex domino tipping.

    Hickok45: Guns, guns, guns. Witty man with his own personal shooting range. All about responsible gun ownership.

    Mugumogu: Home of the world’s awesomest cat: Maru. And his sidekick Hana.

    NapierNimbus: UK railfan videos. Also very high-concept.

    Periodic Videos: Nifty videos about chemistry from the UK. Starring Prof. Poliakoff’s hair.

    Ralph Phillips: Fun with MS Excel, Access, and web design.

    I’m a nerd with very nerdy tastes, as you might guess.

  34. Bonnie

    My guilty pleasure is makeup YouTube videos! Here are some of my faves, enjoy! MakeupTIA, HeidiCupcake, Crystalis007, EssieButton, FancyThatWithCandice, KristinGehm, LeighannSays (she’s from Houston), LisettesBeaute, LoraBora, LolaMarie7. Wow, that’s a lot– hope you find a new favorite 🙂

  35. M/Amma Dawn

    Your grandfather’s recipes – have you written some of them down? Nothing will bring his memory back like some of the dishes he’s cooked. This should be your next book, a sort of remember grandpa cookbook!

  36. lizzy

    I really like Rhett and Link on YouTube. They have a daily morning show and are super funny. They’ve been best friends since the first grade, and hearing stories about their friendship is one of the best things about the show. They’re Christian, married with kids and their wives homeschool. They recently moved to LA to take their careers to the next level. Their shows are always wacky, fun, and clean. They’ve dabbled in advertising, and also do silly music videos that I really enjoy.


  37. Nina

    Bill Whittle channel and Daniel Hannan — caution, politics

    Loving #SOTG thank you Jen

  38. Lena

    Can people order your book directly from Ignatius Press???????

  39. Erin

    I’m probably the last Catholic in the world to ‘discover’ Jim Caviezel? anyhow found this youtube where he talks so passionately about Jesus. Awe inspiring
    so this led to me finding out more about this guy (you know like maybe the Holy Spirit is using him to convert Hollywood;) anyhow then found this youtbue with EWTN about his TV series Person of Interest
    having never heard of the series I admit I’m intrigued.

  40. Steve Finnell


    Is it a sin to pray to the Virgin Mary and other dead saints?

    Matthew 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go Satan! For it is written,’ “You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ”

    Praying to any person or anything is worship.

    WORSHIP DEFINED: To revere, stressing the feeling of awe or devotion. Adoring reverence or regard.

    Any worship of anyone or anything other than God is sin.

    The Virgin Mary is not God nor does she have the power to grant petitions of prayer. If men could pray to dead saints and get them answered, then why not pray to saint Moses, saint John The Baptist, saint Abraham, saint Job, saint Enoch, saint The Thief on The Cross or any other dead saint?

    Dead people cannot hear your prayers and if they could they would not have the power to answer them.

    Prayer is worship and only God deserves our worship.

    God knows our every thought. God is aware of every sin we commit. God knows our every move.

    God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. Those are the attributes of God and what you would need in order to answer prayer.

    Neither the Virgin Mary, Moses, John The Baptist nor any otherdead saint has the attributes of God. They cannot hear you nor can they answer YOUR PRAYERS.


    YOU ARE INVITED TO FOLLOW MY BLOG. http//:steve-finnell.blogspot.com

  41. Fernando

    Hi Jen,

    I just finished reading you memoir. I find it very moving at times that I have to pause to grab a tissue. Thank you for sharing your story. I would say that yours exemplifies in a vivid way the truth that God seeks us out, one by one, and is ever so patient with us. Sometimes, in readying your book I would like to plead from you for more details such as: the day you were received into the Church, your first Holy Communion, your new life as a Catholic and what had changed, your personal devotions, how you are raising the kids in the faith, etc. But I guess there will be another book for those, a sequel I hope.:)

    Now to some trivial considerations. I was reading the last paragraph of your book when, instead of soaking into the precious considerations summing up your journey, my attention was being drawn to something else. My eyes were on the hunt for one word and I was eagerly anticipating to encounter the word “listlessly”, remembering that blog post where you mentioned omitting the word when you were reading aloud the book for an audio version. I knew it was toward the end. I was flustered when I didn’t see it. It occurred to me that probably I got a book that was from a different manuscript. I was shortchanged, so I thought. I was becoming deeply concerned. I want the whole deal, the complete version, the original version.

    Then, I was really becoming so uncomfortable that I decided to search that blog post where you talked about it. When I got to that section where you narrated your omitting the word “listlessly”, I threw a sigh of relief. It was in Chapter 33. It was toward the end but not at the last paragraph. So I am not hoodwinked at all for getting the wrong book. I was laughing to myself about this incident and I wanted to share it with you. I’m sorry that, instead of finishing your book with a big, ” What a great read!”, I ended with being uselessly irritated at not finding a word that has hardly anything to do with the story. To make up for it, I promise to get another book for my sister.

  42. Casey@MyLoveIsTooLittle

    Re:#7 – Epic Rap Battles of History. Not for the littles, but oh so awesome, especially the battle between Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

  43. Gina

    Happy birthday to your dear grandfather! Praying for him!

  44. Suzanne

    We enjoy watching Rhett and Link on YouTube. They are a clean comedy with hilarious song skits.

    By the way, I finished your book in two days flat. My children may or may not have been trashing the house, but it was worth it. Thank you for sharing your story!

  45. Anne

    Oh, I loved the story about your grandfather’s meals! How lovely. I just prayed for him. Did anyone get a chance to videotape him telling his stories?

    I think I’m only subscribed to Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show channel, which has had some funny stuff, but I don’t watch it regularly. (Have you read about how Jimmy and his experience as a Catholic? Interesting stuff….)

    Also, I had a nice reading session with your book last night. (I stayed up too late, but I’m doing okay, all things considered! 🙂 ) I just loved the parts about evil and lies, Tupac, abortion….I’ve enjoyed the whole book, but those parts really stood out at me. Looking forward to reading more!

  46. the other Becky

    Until I read this I didn’t even know that youtube HAD channels. I was not so far behind the times that I didn’t know about youtube, but I thought it was just random what people put up. So with this hint to guide me I did a little searching, and I discovered that youtube DOES have channels. I guess that means that some people put things on youtube regularly? Anyway, my very favorite person to watch on youtube does have a channel. I recommend anything by Stacy Westfall. I have not watched everything she has but what I have seen is very good. And plenty beautiful to watch with the sound off.

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