Thursday, August 30, 2007

Greetings from Grampian!

Amusement area near Patio HotelWell, it's been a busy week here in Aberdeen (part of the Grampian region of Scotland) – long days of rheology training (with me filling the roll of trainer). The picture on the right is of the amusement park area across the street from my hotel, that I've not had time to visit. I'll be headed home tomorrow, so the trip is nearly over. I sure am looking forward to that 6:10 am flight! The hard part of the week has most definitely been the taxis, as in they’re hard to get. The mornings have been alright, getting a taxi to the hotel in five to ten minutes. Afternoons, though, are a different story: Monday it took and hour to get a cab and Tuesday was little better with a half-hour wait. Apparently, they can’t get to me to pick me up because of traffic gridlock.

Dunnottar CastleBut the week has not been all rheology games. I've managed to have a (small) life outside of work here. I was on my own Sunday and Monday nights, just walking into the City Center to eat some dinner. Tuesday night, however, I teamed up with a couple of guys over here from Tulsa and we went for dinner in Stonehaven (around ten miles outside of Aberdeen) for dinner at a nice restaurant on the harbor. It was good getting to know these people (and as a bonus finding that we share the same faith in Christ). After dinner we made a slight diversion and swung by Dunnottar Castle to get a couple of pictures, and then some shots looking down on the harbor and restaurant.

Wednesday night was a treat, as I got together with some friends who live here in Aberdeen. I enjoyed meeting their new son (who is only a few weeks older than Lil'er Euphrony), having some dinner in a house (much better than restaurant food when you’re traveling) and going to their church services that night. One of the two Tulsa guys was there, as well. Very different from the churches you get used to in the States, they have around 50 members (our church in Houston has around 1100) and the focus of how they do things is very different (based on the different attitudes of most Europeans to Christianity, and religion in general). It was great to see them, and hopefully I'll get to introduce them to Mrs. E and the family when they visit Houston in December.

Tonight (Thursday night) I plan on taking the training group out for dinner. I figure I own it to them, since I've grilled them all week. Today is going to be the worst; I told them that they are doing all the work and I'm just going to sit in the lab, reading a book and watching them. It's funny, though, as I sit here vaguely wondering when I became an "important" enough person at work to be taking others out for dinner.

In case you’re wondering, the UK is
cheaper than Norway, but not by much. Housing costs are high, and just about everything here has the same numerical cost in British pounds as do things in the USA in dollars. So, since the pound is worth roughly two dollars, everything here is twice as expensive as back home. And don't get a hamburger over here. They have good beef, but for some reason it just doesn't make for good-tasting hamburgers. I was talking to a lady from the US who lives here, and she said she would buy local ground beef and make a hamburger at home and it still didn't taste right. And I have pointedly ignored the “Mexican” restaurant near the hotel – I've sampled Scotch-Mex before and came away laughing.

William Wallace statue in AberdeenAlso, in case you are wondering, William Wallace doesn’t look a thing like Mel Gibson.

I’m glad to be getting out of here this week. There's a huge oil expo nest week and the place will be a madhouse. There's no hotel rooms for miles; they are bringing in a cruise ship to dock in Peterhead (30 miles away, a £60 cab trip), with the cheap rooms at £1500 for the week, and it’s full up. People are staying as far away as Inverness, a couple of hour drive! If the taxis have been bad this week, next week will be a nightmare.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Ways to inflate my ego

Our rheology expert from the states is over with us next week, and would like to give us a presentation on Monday morning at 10am in the VP meeting room. Please put it in your diary. Euphrony has a wealth of knowledge on this subject and we should take full advantage of the time he is going to spend with us. Please rearrange your work schedulers to allow a needy transfer of knowledge.

It sure is nice to be appreciated. Of course, being appreciated can also have its drawbacks. For example, going on a last-minute trip to Scotland for a week, leaving your wife in the lurch as she tries to take care of two kids and do dress rehearsals for a play that opens the day you return. But still, it makes one feel important to be sent flying around like that.

Union Street in Aberdeen, ScotlandI fly out tomorrow to Aberdeen. I'll return on Friday the 31st. Quick trip, and it'll be a busy one. I'm going over to do some training on rheometry for guys in our lab there. I'd been expecting this, kinda. We had talked about it earlier in the year but I was told that I wouldn't be going in support of corporate travel reduction measures. I was told that three weeks ago.

My, how things change.

Last Thursday I was reinformed that I would, in fact, be going in a week's time. Well, as they say, no time like the present!

We had hoped that Mrs. E would be able to go with me on this trip. Unfortunately, the timing ended up overlapping with the play she is in and she can't go. I will get to see a few people I know over in Aberdeen - outside of work, that is. And I get that many more frequent flier miles, with the promise of taking Mrs. E on an actual vacation to Europe sometime soon.

Now, if only I could get a corporate travel agency that doesn't have it in for me. When I went to Norway in June they had somehow managed to cancel my reservations on the connecting flights from Amsterdam to Stavanger. That was fun to resolve at the airport at 5:30 in the morning, let me tell you. Luckily, I've already checked on reservations for this trip and discovered that they only told me that I had a hotel reservation, and somehow neglected to inform the hotel of the same. So, now that I've reserved my own hotel room I'm ready to go. Of course, I'll be flying on KLM and I'm not just a huge fan of their airline (or the older 747's I'll be flying in). I will say that I kind of enjoy the food on their flights - it's not that it is any better than the food on Continental of American, just a different (more European?) style of food and the change is nice.

Off I go. I'll post some nice pics of bonny Scotland for you all to enjoy vicariously. TTFN! Ta ta for now!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Belated birthday gift

From my friends at work:

This email is a confirmation that your online entry at the site of Blood Water Mission was received. Following is the information that was recorded:

Account Name: Euphrony
Amount: $50.00
Fund: 1000 Wells
Comments: gift for birthday



They had found out I was fasting on my birthday, as part of the 40 Day Fast that Kat set up. I didn't want to insult them by not eating the cake they would have gotten me, so I told the lady who usually organizes such things and she told everyone else. They waited a little longer for people to add their desired gift and gave me today $50. It is now in the hands of Blood:Water Mission. Give a cheer for the people who are going to get clean water because of this! And thank God for this generosity!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How to say thank you

PaybackI need some help here, guys. I want to say thank you to a very close friend of the Euphrony's. She did something really special for us last week, and I need to find the proper way to give recompense. In a moment of kindness, she taught Liler'E how to blow raspberries while eating his oatmeal and pureed squash. How can we let her know just how much we appreciate sticky slobber flying from our son's mouth and splattering about the room?

Help me out, my friends. What should I do?

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

What's missing here?

Found this from Lifehack.org (they expand on these more in the article):

"10 virtually instant ways to improve your life"
  1. Stop jumping to conclusions
  2. Don’t dramatize
  3. Don’t invent rules
  4. Avoid stereotyping or labeling people or situations
  5. Quit being a perfectionist
  6. Don’t over-generalize
  7. Don’t take things so personally
  8. Don’t assume your emotions are trustworthy
  9. Don’t let life get you down. Keep practicing being optimistic
  10. Don’t hang on to the past
Okay, who caught what is missing in this list? Besides the lack of ambiguity in this list of rules, that is. (How can you follow these rules when #3 tells you not to make up rules?)

Here's a hint: what are you supposed to do?

Answer: nothing, apparently.

Don't do this, don't do that, don't do the other thing. These all sound so good, but what are you supposed to do in the end? I'm not sure they know. The kicker is, of course, that we have to do something. Practically everyday I do something. Now some people might argue with that, but upon further review I seem to have done something everyday this past week. I even enjoyed some of it, like going to see Love's Labor Lost at the Houston Shakespeare Festival on a date with my wife. That was something, wasn't it?

May I suggest that the people at Lifehack read some of good ol' Paul's letters. Maybe start in Colossians; I'd suggest
20Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21"Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? 22These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
Colossians 2:20-23 (NIV)
Eh, just a suggestion, guys. Take it as you will.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Talk of fairies, wermaids, and God

Editor's Note: The editorial staff (e.g. Mrs. Euphrony) has read this post and found its numerous grammatical errors detract from the normal quality of this blog. The author has been placed on probationary status and the errors corrected.


Little Euphrony has been a talkative one this weekend. Her imagination is great to see at work, and her heart is so sweet. Here are a few of here her conversation points for the weekend.

First, fairies visit her every might night to put strong glue on her fingers, toes, arms, nose, ears, etc. so that daddy cannot pretend to pull them off (note, it is strong glue, so it is stronger than daddy). Previously, Lil'E did this herself; but since I've tried to catch her just waking up she has apparently hired out the job to fairies to make sure it gets done before I see her. The fairies spent all weekend with her, with Lil'E carrying them around cupped in her hands and playing with them at meals. She even (pretends) to order food for them, so they don't go hungry.

Now, apparently Lil'E has also been playing with wermaids (mermaids) as well as the fairies. The wermaids also traveled with her this weekend, but they didn't get food ordered for them. Perhaps this is because the actions of the wermaids are a bit more nefarious: they come in while Lil'E sleeps and tangle her hair! When brushing her hair on Saturday, I suggested that she had a rat's nest in her hair (like in Ratatouille) but I was wrong. The wermaids are responsible, but being a good little girl she doesn't hold them at fault. I get the blame for trying to brush her hair : )

(As a side note, I think Lil'E gets her imagination from her mom. Mrs. E does not make things up like this anymore, but it sure shows in the dreams she has. Alas, I have been forbidden from blogging about her dreams - how I wish I could!

Aside from her imagination and being garrulous, Lil'E is a bit comic and you never know if she'll answer a question with a serious response of or pure silliness. Yesterday afternoon I asked her what her favorite thing was (completely out of the blue, no leading in the question). I expected her to say something like ice cream or pink shoes. Instead, she told me "My favorite thing is to worship God and love Jesus." That sound you hear is not global warming melting the polar icecaps; it is Mrs. E and my hearts turning to mush at our sweet girl.

A little later, Lil'E asked me if she tould could take her pillow. "Take your pillow where, sweety?" "To heaven, daddy." "Oh, sweety, I think God will have everything we need there." "Okay." She really likes her pillow. She's been talking a lot about death lately ("Everyone dies, daddy.") - just curiosity, I guess. But I love where her heart is. And the fairies and wermaids are fun, too.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Birthday Music: Pierce Pettis

Some of you noted that I recently celebrated my 34th birthday. And what did I get for my birthday? Music, of course. But since I like to have the CD case and read the liner notes I didn't just download it off iTunes; thus it has taken a few days for me to select, buy, and receive in the mail my music. Now that I've had a few days to listen to it, I'll give you a little taste of what I got.

Making Light of It


Okay, by a show of hands, who reading this has ever heard of Pierce Pettis? Who has heard his music? Chances are, you have heard his music but didn't realize it was his. Besides his own recording career, Pettis has spent the better part of the last thirty years writing and co-writing music that other people have recorded. From collaborations with the likes of Art Garfunkel to the numerous covers of his music by artists like Joan Baez, Sara Groves, John McCormick, Geoff Moore, Andrew Peterson, Randy Stonehill, and Dar Williams, it is quite likely that you know his music. His most famous song, originally recorded for this album, is "You Move Me", which was picked up and taken to #2 on the country charts by a little-known fella named Garth Brooks.

Pierce Pettis at the RymanWhile his worldview is decidedly Christian, and much of his music deals with spiritual topics very openly (see the songs "Miriam" and "Absalom, Absalom" on Making Light of It), Pettis has not sought to be a part of the CCM "establishment" - he's not on a Christian label, has no real air-time on Christian stations, and does not tour with Christian concert series. Honestly, most CCM stations probably wouldn't have him, anyway. His music deals very openly with life - in joy and sorrow and with his own divorce; he has a propensity to play at bars (hey, they'll let him on stage) and even for some light drinking during a set. These things do not tend to endear an artist to the general CCM audience.
My motive – that is, if I have a motive, is to write songs that connect people to themselves and to each other. I’m no sage: the best thing I can do is remind us all of what we already know.
So says Pierce Pettis, and his music reflects it. From the start of Making Light of It, his somewhat gravely voice is earnest in singing, as though trying to draw our attention in to what we've ignored or forgotten. Opening with a song from mentor and friend, the late Mark Heard, "Satellite Sky" is a cry for peace in a world afraid, remembering the time of Sputnik and the fear and competition that came with it. (Pettis opens every album with a Mark Heard cover, ever since Heard's death in 1992.) "My Life of Crime" is a reflection of Pettis' life as a musician on the road, with lines like "I have held some people up / I have robbed the stage / With my trusty six-string / I have made them pay". The song "Miriam", which you can listen to below, is about Mary - that pregnant teen who brought into the world a savior. ("Miriam" and several Pierce Pettis songs can be downloaded for free from Paste Magazine. Just enter your e-mail. If it takes you to a page that streams the songs but won't let you download, go back an try entering your e-mail again.)



Pierce PettisThe rest of the album is one good song after another. Of special note are the above-mentioned "You Move Me" and "Absalom, Absalom", a lament on the lessons a son learns from his father, from the perspective of David seeing his rebel son dead. Pettis closes the album with "Love's Gonna Cary Me Home", looking forward to when our giants are slain but remembering that "life is a song / it's not very long / so I sing it that much louder". Really, a good reminder to us all to do what we are here to do without hesitation or fear.

If you get a chance, take a few minutes and check out Pierce Pettis. He's a great writer, has a compelling voice and delivery, and is well worth a listen.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Filler

I want to blog, but just don't have anything to say. So here's some filler and fluff.

Mrs. E and I had a great anniversary. Between an excellent dinner, the main magic show, and two close-up magic shows we spent over four fun-filled hours at Magic Island on Friday night. One tag line sticks with us, from a very funny magician: "Some people clap, some throw money. Others just say 'wow'." After an early-morning birthday party to Lil'E's best friend on Saturday, we all went down to Galveston and spent the afternoon on the beach. Beautiful weather and a great day. Maybe I'm just too content to have anything interesting to blog about.

Kat is starting a new get-to-know each other series, with ten questions answered by each person who responded. Watch her blog daily to learn more about the some people you may or may not know.

We've started reading Lil'E the Little House series, starting with Little House in the Big Woods. Not very far into it, yet, but thus far Lil'E has learned about slaughtering a hog, playing with the inflated bladder like a balloon, making headcheese from the hog's head, and cooking the tail. Interesting, as she will likely never do any of that in her life.

Hmmmmm, that's it.

Here's a nice picture to spruce up the bland post.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Because I love her

Today is a special day. Mrs. Euphrony and I are celebrating our 11th anniversary. Tonight, Mrs. E' sis will come by to watch the kids for us while we go to The Magic Island for an evening of fine food, laughter, and slight-of-hand. But, for now, I want to tell you all some of why, after eleven years, I still love this woman.

My beautiful wifeWe first met some thirteen years ago. From the start, and straight through to today, her smile melts me. I love her laughter (probably a big reason I go for light humor so often) and the gleam in her eyes. When we met, she was fresh out of high school and I was a college senior; now she wears the marks of gray in her hair and the weariness of mothering two children, but she is just as fiery and beautiful to me as ever. She has the temper stereotypical of the land she is named for, but her heart is deep and the compassion she has for those in need is phenomenal in its depth. She has taught me much from both - how to better express myself rather than keep in my thoughts and feelings, and how better to care for and show God's love to others. And she still can teach me much more.

Talking to her is a joy. Just talking about little things, the inconsequential, can be such fun. I'm not a good listener, so she sometimes has to repeat (and repeat) something for it to sink into my thick skull; but she is often right in what she's saying and I'm thankful of her reminders. One of our favorite things is to sit at night and play a game of Skip-Bo or Uno, teasing each other over who is better or who had bad luck in the draw. I'm not a fan of reality shows, but I watch to watch with her - and even then it can be fun to talk about who's doing what. (Trivia: One of Mrs. E's cousins was on Survivor: Africa.) And I love hearing her talk about the things she is most passionate about - acting and the theater and birthing and motherhood.

My beautiful familyHave I mentioned that she is an awesome mother? Well, she is. She's no housewife - loving to be on the move more than sit at home - but the way she raises our children in wisdom and patience humbles me. I've told her, and I say it again, that I could never take the task she has of caring for two (even one) children with nearly the patience or ability she shows. How she does it, I'll never know; but I'm grateful she can and does. Our boy and girl are in good hands every day, and I'm confident that I can return home from work every day and find them safe and cared for.

We've had some hard times in our run at eleven years, no doubt about it. But who in any relationship hasn't? The thing is, we've also had some pretty fine times. I know that we'll have more downs, but we'll have the ups, too, as we continue on together. And that's what I look forward to. You're my wife, my friend, the mother of my children. I love you, my blushing bride, and always will.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Rheology in action (or, How to be dull and cool at the same time)

Yesterday I promised Chaotic Hammer that I would provide something even more exciting than watching glitter settle, watching paint dry, or watching grass grow. As it so happens, it is something right up my alley.

What I speak of is an experiment in rheology. But first, let me introduce you to Deborah - judge of Israel and the first recorded rheologist. There is a relation, called the Deborah number which relates the time over which an object is deformed to some characteristic time of the material. If the deformation occurs faster than the characteristic time, the object behaves like a solid. But, if the deformation occurs over a long period of time the material will flow. Deborah described this in her song of praise when she said "The mountains flowed before the LORD" (Judges 5:5). Yes, even rock flows, given enough time.

Pitch drop experimentAnd so, the experiment I speak of is The Pitch Drop Experiment - recognized as the longest running laboratory experiment by the Guinness Book of World Records. Started in 1927, this experiment has won its initiator an Ig-Nobel Prize for Physics in 2005! What you see here is a funnel which was filled with hot pitch in 1927, allowed to harden for three years, and then in 1930 the stem of the funnel was opened and the pitch allowed to flow. For those of you not familiar with pitch, it has long been used to seal boats against leaking; however, at room temperature it is hard and glassy and will shatter when hit (see below picture).


Are you bored yet? Well, it gets better. As I described above, even rock flows over time, and this pitch flows much faster than rock. In the 77 years since the stem was opened and amazing eight drops of pitch have exuded from this funnel of "solid" pitch. Wow! And a ninth drop is forming. They have a webcam on it, but I cannot seem to get it to work for me - ah, well. The current curator of the experiment, among others, hope it will continue for another century - "sympathetic custodians permitting".

This website and experiment are so blandly exciting that they were awarded the
Dull Website of the Year — 2006 award by The Dull Men's Club. It was tough competition, but they edged out the International Vinegar Museum in South Dakota, Mushy Peas, Turnips, and Something. Again, wow; although in all honesty Turnips and Something hardly deserved to be in contention.

Really, you should take some time to check out
The Dull Men's Club - just make sure you have been highly caffeinated before viewing their site. They currently have a vigorous conversation ongoing over the best marmalade and have highlighted a new documentary film honoring the fiftieth anniversary of "the world's font" - Helvetica. It is actually a highly-rated film on Internet Movie Database. Again, wow. But don't get too excited.

In the vein of today's post, I will close with a dull piece of trivia: what do the following words have in common?

AssessBanana
DresserGrammar
PotatoRevive
UnevenVoodoo

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

What I got to do today

Today, I got to present some of my research to the top corporate executives for my company. The CEO was called away to chat with investors, but the COO and others were there. Mine was a part of the technology review of the status of recent projects. We each had about ten minutes, including questions from the big boys, and needed to include a demonstration.

Here is my demonstration. Now, I know this may look like glitter settling in a tube - okay, it is just glitter settling in a tube - but it really demonstrates the way in which particles settling in an angled hole will evacuate the fluid more quickly. They first only have to travel to the edge of the tube, instead of the bottom, and then they slide down to the bottom (called the Boycott effect). This is a critical problem in drilling fluids called "sag".

Watch the whole video - it's worth it. There's a big payoff near the end.


Okay, I lied. There's no payoff. It's just glitter settling in a tube. If you're still awake, get up and move around to try and restore circulation before you're whole body goes numb.

I'm sorry. I can't promise to never do this to you again, but I'm sincerely apologetic for today's imposition.

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