7 Quick Takes in which I demand beverage service during turbulence, laugh way too much on the radio, and try to decide whether to root for Argentina or Germany

July 11, 2014 | 25 comments

— 1 —


Last week Lino Rulli brought his SiriusXM radio show down here to Austin, and I co-hosted it with him all week. For your listening pleasure, here is a “best of” audio clip:


Podcast (catholicguyshow): Play in new window | Download (129.2MB)

As you can hear from the multiple moments when I was laughing so hard I couldn’t speak, we had a ridiculous amount of fun.

(Here is everything you need to know about what you’ll hear if you listen to that audio clip: about two-thirds of the way through, we talk about traditional Christian moral law and salvation theology with Tupac’s California Love playing in the background.)

— 2 —

We wrapped up Lino’s show on Thursday, then this Tuesday I flew out to EWTN to film episodes for Johnette Benkovic‘s show. I did not have a monster truck this time.


The trip was so quick that it was already time to check in for my return flight when I arrived at the airport, yet we managed to record five episodes! Johnette and I didn’t go over what we’d talk about ahead of time — we just started talking, and let the cameras roll. It made for a great series of interviews, since we went on all sorts of tangents that we hadn’t planned to discuss. I think the episodes are going to be a lot of fun to watch. I’ll let you know when they air!

— 3 —

People keep sending me this story about Richard Branson’s glass-bottom plane. It turns out to be a hoax (which is weird, since it seems exactly like something Branson would do), but everyone has been joking that this must be my worst nightmare, given my feelings about flying.

Let me state for the record: I would love to fly in a glass-bottomed plane. In fact, I don’t think that model goes far enough. I want a plane that is ALL GLASS.

What I hate about flying is not being in the air; it’s being crammed into a metal box in the air. I think I’ve mentioned that my dad was a HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) instructor in Special Forces. He spent his early adulthood jumping out of planes that were way too high in the sky, then free-falling for minutes on end. It is in my blood not to be afraid of heights. If airlines provided passengers with an Eject button and a parachute, I’d use it on two out of every three flights.

For the same reason that I always need a window seat, even though it causes me to have surprisingly intense neurotic episodes about how to go to the bathroom, I would be delighted to fly in an entirely transparent plane. For me, a successful air travel experience is dependent on being able to convince myself that that I am speeding through the air at 500 mph on my own, and not doing so while trapped in a tube.

— 4 —

In addition to not having glass planes, there is another airline policy that I would like to protest: suspending beverage service due to turbulence.

Airlines of the world, please read closely when I say: rough flights are when we MOST NEED beverage service. It is especially cruel to suspend it once it’s started; I believe that once the cart is out in the aisle, you have a moral obligation to see that it makes it to every row.

There is nothing worse than being jammed into your wall-locker-sized space, the seat in front of you all up in your face since the guy in front of you chose to recline all the way (we agree that this is a sin, right?), spotting the beverage cart, trying to practice patience as it inches toward you…only to see the cart suddenly start moving the opposite direction. Don’t be surprised if I win a special Academy Award for Off-Screen Dramatic Performance one day for wailing “COME BAAAAACK!!! DON’T LEAVE ME LIKE THIS!” as the beverage cart rolls away during a stormy flight.

Airlines, think outside the box here: Give the flight attendants helmets and some of those poofy protective suits that self-defense instructors wear. Use cart-pushing robots. Employ trained dogs. Whatever. I believe that if we put our heads together, we CAN find a way to make every flight a flight with beverage service.

— 5 —

The Edel Gathering begins two weeks from today! The fact that Hallie and I have managed to pull this thing together with everything else going on is proof to me that this must have been an event directly inspired by God. We have had some major challenges arise, and our to-do lists are a mile long, but I can honestly say that I don’t feel stressed about it. It just feels like it’s all going to come together and be amazing.

One of the things that’s most exciting to me about the conference is that so many of the attendees have told me that they’re coming alone, and won’t know anyone else there. I love that. And I keep telling them that the “not knowing anyone else” part isn’t going to last very long once they’re there.

Hallie and I have put a ton of thought into how to make the Edel Gathering an event that fosters new friendships, yet doesn’t force anyone into social situations that would make them uncomfortable. We’ve come up with some ideas that I’m extremely excited about — I’ll tell you all about it after the event!

— 6 —

I got Michael Hyatt’s free resource ebook a while back, and I was intrigued when he mentioned that listening to focus music increases his productivity.

At the time I was having trouble getting my email inbox under control. I kept setting aside time to work on it, but then I’d get distracted and give up after only a handful replies.

I looked up the focus music that Hyatt talks about, and found this hour-long sample on Youtube:

I’ve been listening to it while I work, and I’m shocked by the results: I estimate that I was 4 – 5 times more productive more productive with that music on my headphones. I strongly recommend checking it out next time you need to focus!

— 7 —

How cool is it that the countries of the two living Popes are facing off in the World Cup this weekend? I can’t decide whom to root for: I’m a huge fan of Pope Francis…but I think of myself as a BXVI Catholic since Benedict had such a profound influence on my conversion. I have German heritage…but my all-time favorite travel memory is from Argentina (in the Mendoza wine country). Clearly, I’ll be torn during the game.

Also, here’s a bit of fun trivia that Catholic soccer nerds: Did you know that uber-popular soccer writer Mike Foss is the son of uber-popular homeschool / Catholic writer Elizabeth Foss? I’ve been reading about Elizabeth’s life as a homeschooling mother for years now, so it always leads to a surreal worlds-colliding moment when I see my husband retweeting her son’s soccer coverage.

Which team are you rooting for?

Have a great weekend, everyone!



  1. George @ Convert Journal

    Thank you Jen, midnight or whenever… it’s 1am for me. It’s harder and harder for many of us to keep up with the pace of things.

    Great pictures with Lino and at EWTN!

  2. Kendra Tierney

    I think maybe you should look into being flown around on these trips by Wonder Woman.

  3. elizabethe

    The beverage service technology on airplanes is really woefully out of date. Airlines need to hand out reusable sippy cups or straw cups with a lid and fill your drink up in that.

    Even better, as you get on the plane, they give you a 32 or 64 oz cup and give you access to a soda fountain machine to fill it up along with a bar to buy your little tiny alcoholic bottle if you want that. For shorter flights, that could be beverage service, for longer flights, they could offer you another beverage later on in the flight.

    Then, they just send a little automatic rolling cart with a soda-stream on it up and down the aisle — this thing could go during turbulence, no problem.

    The whole idea that we need this personalized wait service while we’re flying is really a holdover from a time before the ubiquitous get-your-own-drink era ushered in the 80s and 90s. We’d all rather do self serve now anyway.

    Have a bottle of water at every seat along with this and you are good to go.

  4. KyCat

    When my husband and I were newlyweds we flew out from Kentucky to California to visit extended family. On one of the flights we had STRONG turbulence. One of the flight attendants was not yet seated when we dropped a bit and she fell. THE scariest moment of the entire episode was the other flight attendant in a loud strong voice yelling “STAY DOWN Linda” and knowing that the flight attendant, a professional, was lying on the floor holding on for dear life. So , I will not be voting with you for drink cars during turbulence. Maybe passengers could just pass things over the seats?? This story comes up often because we have started helping couples preparing to marry in our parish with their FOCCUS assessment. I always teased my husband that he had LIED on ours and just put what he thought the priest wanted by saying that we were comfortable praying together. He claimed that our going to Mass each week together was praying and he was very comfortable with that. I stated that was NOT what the question meant and he knew it and we never prayed together. Well, the turbulence showed us that we can definitely pray together when push comes to shove and in such a situation there’s no one I’d rather pray with.

  5. Amelia @ One Catholic Mama

    I think your post is very illuminating as why so many people hate flying. Flying is torture for both the acrophobics and the claustrophobics. I think you’ve hit on something here. Now all airlines need to do is offer seperate planes for seperate phobias. All glass planes for the claustrophobics and totally enclosed, no-windows planes for the acrophobics.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Now all airlines need to do is offer seperate planes for seperate phobias. All glass planes for the claustrophobics and totally enclosed, no-windows planes for the acrophobics.

      Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! This would solve everything!

  6. Anne McD

    See, when they keep the beverage cart going during turbulence, its proof to me that “Everything Is Under Control” and “The Plane Will Not Fall Out Of The Sky And Land In A Firey Crash.” “Pinky Swear.”

    Glass plane? Kill me know. I’d have a heart attack.

  7. Kathleen Basi

    I have to admit I’m suspicious of music increasing productivity. I am the odd one out because I have two degrees in music, and I need silence to concentrate. Music distracts me. But I’m playing the video now out of curiosity. 🙂 It’s different than I expected.

  8. Emily B

    I am so excited and happy for you! Can’t wait to see the interviews and can’t wait until you are in DC. The Arlington diocese has just started to promote your event with Fr.Longenecker.

  9. Mary Helen (A Helping of Home)

    First, AMEN to beverage service during turbulence! If we can put a man on the moon, we can figure out beverage service. haha

    Also, I feel equally conflicted about the World Cup. I think in the end I’m going with Germany though–German heritage, love me some Pope Benedict, and Coach Jurgen… But either way it’s going to be a great match to watch.

    Good luck with all the Edel planning!

  10. Tammy

    Reclining ones seat is NOT a sin!
    I understand that it may be very uncomfortable for the tall person behind me. But as a short person with back pain, keeping ones seat upright is cruel and unusual punishment.
    For starters, what you call a neck rest, I call a push-your-head-forward-for-no-good-reason bump!
    Not only is it uncomfortable, but because I have a strained neck (as a result of a car wreck 20+ years ago – which now that I think about it is probably the fault of the drivers seat being designed for tall people!)
    I guess every uncomfortable position has an equal and opposite uncomfortable position. Just remember that when the seat goes back.

    For the record, as a 5’5″ adult, your seat going back, in front of me, has no impact at all. No reason for someone not to recline.

    • Tammy

      Oh, I missed a point… With neck strain, pushing my he’d forward at such a cruel angle often undoes all my massage and chiropractic efforts in one short flight.
      I know someone who pays the guy in front of him not to recline.
      If someone asks me not to recline, I’ll ask for about $90 for a chiropractic adjustment!

  11. Tanya Gallo

    I was on a work trip up to Oklahoma this week and it never fails, commuter jet, isle seat, last row next to the bathroom, hurling through the sky at 500 mph, turbulence, and they stop serving 2 rows before mine. They need vending machines in the airport that serve wine and other drinks in the mini bottles. Grab two before you get on the plane just incase they stop the cart and there you go. Everyone is served and happy! See you at Edel

  12. Lisa Schmidt

    Great week of shows with Lino, Jen! Nice work. He’s bringing his show to Des Moines in August. My hubs and I are so very excited to host him. We were able to work it so that his live show will be from a brewery! Wheeeeeeeeee! That should make for interesting live CATHOLIC radio. 😉

    TWO WEEKS TO EDEL! See you soon.

  13. Karen


  14. Leticia Adams

    Bwahahaha!! Any radio show where the host is Catholic AND hungover is a win. That is all.

  15. Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany

    I don’t much care who wins the soccer game, but I have really enjoyed the pope/World Cup memes floating around. My favorite one is if the two popes kneeling in prayer with a caption that says, “Germany and Argentina in the finals. We know why,” or something like that.

    Can’t wait for Edel!!

  16. Kristin Sanders

    Awesome job on the Catholic Guy Show!!! Loved listening.

  17. Paula Kiger

    So cool that you got to spend that time with Lino Rulli/on his show! And the focus music definitely intrigues me. I like to have music on in the background when I am proofreading (as opposed to utter quiet). It kind of depends on the type of work I am doing but music is usually a plus. Now that my father in law has moved in with us (a/k/a my #3 in my #7QT this week), there is a perpetual barrage of very loud golf/tennis/classic movies. I’m learning to tune it out. FORE! 🙂

  18. elizabethe

    Just wanted to check back in about the focus music.

    I didn’t think it was working while I was listening to it — I didn’t feel any more focused, and I took at least one short break, and the first 5 minutes or so it was really annoying — but in the end I wrote in an hour what it would normally take me 2 – 3 hours. And I still felt energetic and ready to go on. I also really liked that it was sort of a timer. I could say to myself, “I’ll just write till the music stops and then be done.”

    In short, I’m going to keep using it and see what happens! Maybe I’ll play it for my kids during math time.

  19. Manny

    Go Germany! Has nothing to do with eiter Pope. I wonder if they’ll be watching together over a beer and placing a friendly wager? LOL.

  20. Sarah

    Having just finished a cross country flight while 30w pregnant I have changed my opinion on the seat recline. It is a sin to do… except while in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy. I was so uncomfortable on the flight, but I hate it when people recline on me, so I never ever do it but my husband finally said “stop squirming and recline the seat.” It was heaven. So that’s my revision to the rule 😉

  21. Thompkins

    Nice to see Leno Rulli again. He started out in the Twin Cities and was usually pretty funny. Go Leno!

  22. Michelle

    Did you read about the Ukraine flight that was brought down?

    Turbulence in the world is becoming too much these days.

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