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Avoid an Awkward Family Thanksgiving with the Federal Apps Mobile Directory

Closeup on a Thanksgiving turkey, with a large white dog eyeing the food in the background

Are you like me? Do you consistently eat too much on Thanksgiving to avoid invasive family conversations that have a high probability of 1) turning awkward and 2) forcing you to abandon a sworn blood oath to never again reveal details of your private life to loved ones?

Don’t be like me. It’s your holiday, too, and there’s no need to sit quietly at the table with a full belly and sweating.

Take control of the situation by steering the conversation away from when you’ll be having kids with help from the Federal Mobile Apps Directory on USA.gov.

A trio of apps from the U.S. Census Bureau comes to the rescue by offering fascinating reads on big data on a national level and in communities across the country. First, get the pulse of the U.S. economy with the America’s Economy app, which provides key economic measures on employment, manufacturing, international trade, retail sales, and residential construction and sales. You’ll be able to speak intelligently on the economy and have the facts to back it up, which is not a requirement for any family debate but will earn you street cred around the table.

Three screens of the dweller app on different mobile devices
Next, plan your escape from the table, at least virtually, with the Dwellr app by discovering the top 25 cities that might interest you based on your lifestyle.

Then, take the conversation far away from the weight you’ve gained since last Thanksgiving, by getting everyone involved in Census PoP Quiz, a new population challenge about the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

A great resource to keep the discussion relevant to Thanksgiving instead of relevant to how much you’re earning compared to your siblings is the Ask Karen app from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Ask Karen is available on iOS, Android and mobile Web platforms and provides around the clock virtual assistance and tips on preventing foodborne illness, safe food handling and storage, and safe preparation of meat, poultry, and egg products. For instance, it answers questions like whether a wood or plastic cutting board is better to use, and if a turkey should be cooked breast-side up or breast-side down. Quick answers from the app: plastic, and it’s personal preference, although USDA recommends breast-side up the entire time.

The iPhone app for Ask Karen

Finally, don’t forget to take a few minutes for yourself. You’ll no doubt be exhausted from hearing cute stories from when you were young and wet the bed. Check out for a spell and play “Solve the Outbreak” from Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, available for iOS and Android tablet devices. This app casts you as a disease detective with a mission to save lives. Turn your tablet into a crime scene investigation by gathering clues and analyzing data to solve the outbreak.

Screen shot of the first clue for the game Sugar Plantation Blues showing a photo of a swamp.

The Federal Mobile Apps Directory is here to help make this Thanksgiving a successful one; all it takes is a can-do attitude, a little preparation and a mobile device. Federal agencies that have other apps that keep the holiday civil should register them in the Federal Mobile Products Registry.

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