Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Things I'm doing over lunch today

Right now, I am listening on-line to 17 songs that downhere have written for their next album (due in September). Oh, and I'm rating them to help them decide which ones to put on the album. And I'm eating Chinese stir-fry.

So, what are doing for lunch today?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Keep your eyes peeled

Okay, here is a heads-up for anyone out there who likes to see good musicians in concert. Two news items of interest for you here:

Art - Music - Justice Tour Fall 2008First, the Art - Music - Justice Tour, coming in Fall 2008. Featuring artists like Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Sara Groves, Brandon Heath, and Charlie Peacock and sponsored by International Justice Mission and Food for the Hungry.




Also, keep a look out for a limited Burlap to Cashmere reunion tour. This from Steven Delopoulos:

It's true! Burlap to Cashmere is working on a mini-reunion tour with all seven original members. Dates are currently being booked, but if you have a serious booking inquiry, please contact David Breen at The Breen Agency/Nashville.
Not to be missed! All of the above artists come highly recommended by Euphrony, so you know I'm looking for tour dates.

P.S. If anyone reading this blog happens to chat with any of the aforementioned artists, could you happen to drop a hint that Houston is a great place for the tour to visit? Thanks.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Music Monday: Euphrony Euphonic Enterprises

EEE LogoWelcome to the EEE label's website! We here at Euphrony Euphonic Enterprises are all big fans of music and want to share that enthusiasm with you through the music we sell.

The philosophy of my label is four-fold. First, the music we sell all has one thing in common - the lack of hate. By no means does this mean we make only happy music; oh, no, some of it is downright depressing. But it all has the aim of building people up, of encouraging them, of educating them, of showing beauty, and doing so without spreading hate or anger or despair. The songs may tear you down, but they won't leave you torn apart.

Second, our artists make music that they have a passion for making. If you have a great passion for making hard-rock, then by all means go for it! Do you love the sounds of Celtic music or its American progeny, bluegrass? Then indulge yourself. Do you want to make one album that is heavily influenced by jazz and follow it with a punk album or an instrumental collection? Go go it! But, keep in mind our third tenant.

Third, the music our artists make is done to the best of their abilities. If the effort is half-hearted, then back to the drawing boards. No pushing forward poorly worked follow-ups to a smash hit - think Boston's sophomore album, Don't Look Back, which Tom Sholz never did think was done well enough even given a two-year span between releases but was pushed for by the label. If you want to make a different kind of music than you have in the past, then go at it and make the best music you can; but recognize when you can't make a certain music style with a high enough quality and move on.

Fourth, I didn't make the music; I just offer the chance to let it be heard. I get paid for that, and the artists get paid for their music. I'm in it for the love of music, not money, and the artists on EEE feel the same way. Sure, we like to eat and keep the family cared for, but our artists will continue to produce the music we like to hear and I will continue to give them proper monetary credit for that. No funneling all the money through me and dribbling the leftovers to the artists, a la the standard operating procedures of labels since time immemorial - I get paid a fair salary and that's it. And no artist will get dumped for lack of blockbuster status. As long as we can break even selling an artist's music, then we'll make and sell that artist's music.

Artists EEE would sign in a heartbeat include:

Steven DelopoulusNickel Creek
Sara GrovesShaun Groves (no relation)
Máire BrennanThe Chieftains
The King's SingersAlison Krauss and Union Station
Andrew PetersonBruce Hornsby
Mat KearneyJason Gray

And be sure to check out our friends at Katostrophic Records

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Puke N' Pass©: The Family Game of Infectious Disease Exchange

Come on and try the new family game sensation! Everyone is playing it! Your kids will love it! Once you start playing, you'll never stop! It's Puke N' Pass©! You start the game when someone in the family plays with some other person - knowingly or unknowingly - and comes how to introduce the rest of the family to the game.

Once home, one of your children will immediately pick up on the game. Then the real fun begins! You get all the perks - fever, cough, sneezing, runny nose, puking. As an added bonus, the game also comes with whining, crying, fits over medicine and doctor visits, and sleepless nights!

But wait, there's more!

This is the family game, after all. And what is a family game if you don't have the whole family play? When you play Puke N' Pass©, you automatically get the whole gang in the game. No fighting to find time to sit around a table together. No tokens or fake money to keep track of. And, best of all, no cheating is possible because there is only one rule to this game: get sick or stay well. And like Monopoly, this game really never ends. You can play for weeks and weeks - even while your doing other activities - and still not reach the end of the game!

Call now! Supplies are not limited, but you simply can't wait to play. Come by and shake my hand and you and your whole family can start playing Puke N' Pass© just like my kids have been. Don't wait! You don't want to miss out on this kind of fun!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sniff, sniff

Lil'E at birthToday was a monumental day. Today we enrolled Lil'E in kindergarten for the fall.

Excuse me while I go have a little parent-in-shock moment. Okay, we can go on, now.

It is seriously hard to believe that this sweet little girl pictured on the right is ready for school. But she will be five soon, and she can already read and write a little so it must be that time.

We went to a kindergarten roundup today at her school - she got to see the kindergarten classes and we got to fill out forms. Yeah! We heard this year's kindergarten class sing a few songs. And then we heard a few words from the school principal - her picture is below.

Okay, so Linda Hunt is not her real principal; I think she is actually taller than Lil'E's new principal. Anyway, it all looks like it will be a good time for Lil'E. She's excited about it all, and talks about starting school all the time. And in just four short months she will!

And Mrs. E will cry for weeks. It is a mother's prerogative.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My wife has a favorite Sonic carhop

Yes, you read that right. Mrs. E not only has preferred Sonic locations to go to for her diet cherry coke, easy ice, but she actually has a favorite carhop at her favorite Sonic. There are a few others, but they don't rank as high in her book.

I guess that's not so odd, really. What I find funny is that all of her fellow Sonic-addicted friends agree with her choice. It's like how they all went to see the same person to get their hair cut, they flock together to Sonic. Except with Sonic they're going there daily, maybe even more often.

I don't know what the point of this is. I'll stop talking now.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Music Monday: Bobby McFerrin

Okay, first of all try to move yourself past a knee-jerk reaction to thinking of Bobby McFerrin as that guy who sings "Don't Worry, Be Happy". If you are not familiar with McFerrin's work beyond that one hit, then you have no idea what you are missing out on. First of all, let me remind you of a few things: Bobby McFerrin is a vocal artist. Emphasis on vocal (as in, he uses his voice to produce a multitude of sounds). Emphasis on artist (as in, this guys knows his stuff, musically). Yes, most people may only know him for "Don't Worry, Be Happy", but before you think his success merely a oddity or stroke of luck be sure to consider his teaching at Harvard and his guest conducting the likes of the Vienna Philharmonic. Oh, and don't forget the 10 Grammy awards and his work with Yo-Yo Ma, Wynton Marsalis, Bella Fleck, Chick Corea, Rob Wasserman, etc.

Here is a video of Bobby McFerrin with Chick Corea at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2001. Enjoy!


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Friday, April 18, 2008

Car DVD Players: Boon or Annoyance?

Boon:

Oh, my! What would parents today do to keep sanity in the car on long trips without the car DVD player? With young kids, especially, who are locked up in their seats and can't roam about the car like we did as kids (tell I'm not the only one who lived on the floorboard or in the space behind the back seat and rear window as a kid). It is truly a God-sent blessing to be able to pop in any old movie and watch the kids be entertained for hours; the peace it brings to the car is amazing!


Annoyance:
Oh, my! Are these car DVD players good for anything? The first thing it does is give your child a sense of entitlement. It's as if the moment they are strapped into their seat they deserve to be entertained with a movie - even if the trip is only five minutes down the road. (Granted, here in Houston 5 minutes may get you out of the neighborhood, but still . . .) And do they every work? Sure, you get a few good plays of DVDs out of them, but then the DVDs start getting stuck. You have to take them out and try to clean them off repeatedly, assuming it is having problems because your 4-year old with grubby hands has been handling this DVD for months. But then it won't even play a brand new disc untouched by PB&J hands. ARGH! And you're constantly having to fiddle with controls, especially if the player is not built into the car and you child can touch them and mess up the normal playback. Absolutely sent from Satan to annoy parents even more in the car.

Care to rebut?

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Overruled

I've been overruled. The contest is not canceled. There were, in fact, five entries. One which I considered a comment is, in fact, an everyday usage of one of the listed words. So says an authority I dare not challenge: Mrs. E.

My guest judge is NatCh. NatCh is a very old friend of mine, who has long been active on various web boards (especially those relating to e-book readers) but does not venture much into the bloggoshpere. His judgement:

I think that the one by "erin" is the most conversation-like, so I'm picking that one.

There are a couple that use more than one word, but they're not really conversational, except for the one that used the words in incorrect forms, so that's why I picked this one. :)
There you have it folks, erin it the official winner! Yeah! Just e-mail me at euphronyatsbcglobald0tnet and I'll send you the goods. If you don't like the results, sorry. This judge will not be overrulled!

P.S. Some might cry fowl if they knew that NatCh's wife works with erin. But knowing NatCh, he is completely clueless to this fact and I feel his objectivity is not compromised.

P.P.S. Mamasboy, I'm not going all girly on my blogging with a give-a-way. I said then and reiterate that isolated incidents do not a trend make. And as to your sentence of reading a dozen tribology papers - too late! I'm already ahead of you on that one. HA!

Contest canceled

I requested at least five entries for the contest to get a $10 iTunes card. I received four, therefore the contest has been called on account of lack of interest. I'll try to be more interesting next time, and you can try to get more excited for free music.

TTFN

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The tax man cometh . . .

And the tax man taketh away. Have you turned your tax forms in yet? You still have nine hours to get to the post office, so hurry!



(Don't forget, there is only one day left to enter my odd-word usage contest for a chance to win a $10 iTunes gift card. Go read the word list and submit your entry sentence(s) now! If I don't get at least five people entering the contest, I call the whole thing off and keep the iTunes for myself, so encourage your friends.)

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Monday, April 14, 2008

The Count of Monte Cristo

(There are only two days left to enter my odd-word usage contest for a chance to win a $10 iTunes gift card. Go read the word list and submit your entry sentence(s) now!)

I recently finished reading Alexander Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. Really an excellent book. I'm almost ashamed to say that I had never read it until now (my high school required reading list was a bit odd, so that maybe explains it). The high points are, of course, the action and the way Dumas weaves a picture of 19th century French life. The low points would be in a moderner reader's difficulties in following some of the characters as the are alternately referenced by first name, by title, or by assumed names. I also find it interesting how Dumas (an atheist, I believe) writes on Edmond Dante's growing religious convictions and his reliance on / usurpation of Divine Providence to accomplish his justice / revenge on those who imprisoned him. Does he (and do we) truly leave to God's hands the actions of justice and punishment, or does he (do we) act in His name with self-interest? Deep question.

I also find Dumas, the man, a very interesting character. A famous anecdotes about Dumas relates the escalating confrontation between him and a politician. As a duel was eminent and both were considered excellent marksmen, they decided to draw straws - the loser was to shoot himself. Dumas lost the draw and retreated to a side room with pistol in hand. Moments later those gathered heard a shot ring out and rushed into the room. On opening the door they found Dumas alive and well. To relieve their curiosity, he told them "Gentlemen, a most regrettable thing has happened. I missed."

So, have you read The Count of Monte Cristo? What did you think of it, or of other of Dumas' works?

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Try these words on for size

I'll lay it on the line, here; no beating around the bush. I'm a strange man.

No, really. Strange, like me and other people don't work on the same wavelengths kinda strange.

Here's an example. I have been wanting to work these (among other) words into a normal daily conversation, but I live with disappointment as I continue to fail in this goal. Perhaps there have been times I could have used them, but I have refrained as I would have seemingly been showing off.

Here's the challenge. Can you use one of these words in a mostly-normal conversation? Bonus points for using more than one! You may use a form of the word if you wish.

Here's the prize. The winner (who will be chosen by a neutral agent) will get a $10 gift card for iTunes. The only caveat is that you reveal how your winnings were spent.

Here are the words:


The contest will run through Wednesday, at which point I will have finished the next great paper in the Euphrony rheology repertoire and will need a good laugh. Good luck, and have fun with this!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Things I've learned in the last few days

  1. There's one in every crowd
    Okay, so this really isn't something new I've learned; but the truth in this statement was driven home again yesterday. You see, Euphrony has been at another one of his conferences and I presented a paper yesterday afternoon. There is a certain guy whom I always see at this conference who can be counted on for a few things. First, after a paper is presented he will ask a question. Second, the question will be some off-the-wall, make me look smart and the presenter look dumb question. Third, I - as a general policy - ignore him. As the first two were proved out many times before my paper, I was reassured of my assumptions as he stepped to the microphone when I asked for questions. Since he followed the same pattern, I decided to stay with mine and just ignored him.

    Like I said, there's one in every crowd. He happened to be in this one, and I've seen many others in the past. Whenever you try to answer their question you just get nowhere. They are like black holes for information - it sinks in, but what happens after that is a mystery. For example, after speaking for 20 minutes on the relevance of rheology to drilling fluids a few years ago, I had a gentleman stand up ask ask me "So, why is rheology relevant to drilling fluids?" Either I did an extremely poor job in the presentation, or the problem is on the other end of the line (if you know what I mean . . .).
  2. My rheological tests have a monetary value
    I won't say how much, but I found out today what we were planning on charging a customer for me to do some very basic rheological tests (the kind that takes little effort and only an hour or so of my time). Were I ambitious, I could use such information to set up my own independent rheology test company. The first year would be pretty lean, but if I had some business I could be doing pretty well by the second or third year. I mean, vacation home well, like those commercials you see on T.V. But it seems like too much trouble, so . . .
  3. There is an opposite to germaphobia
    And it is embodied in my daughter. I got a note from my sister-in-law about their little girl having to get stitches on her chin after a fall a few days ago. They wrapped her up tightly in a blanket, like a mummy, so they could sew the stitches. If that were Lil'E, we would have had to tranquilize her just to get her to the car. You remember the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? "Black Knight: 'Tis but a scratch! King Arthur: A scratch? Your arm's off!" That's Lil'E. She goes into hysterics if you try to put a band aid on her, and she could be bleeding profusely and insist that she's just fine. She hates and fears being doctored, with a passion.
  4. I have the sweetest little girl in the whole, wide world
    But while I'm talking about Lil'E, let me tell you what a sweetie she really is. While attending this conference I found myself in the unenviable position of being sick at the same time. So, as I got home at night I was just plain too tired to do much of anything - much less play with the kids or do my normal bedtime routines with them. Lil'E was so understanding. On Monday night, she came down after I sent her up to bed and handed me a picture she had colored. She told me "I drew this to help you feel better daddy. I love you." Oh, how sweet it is.

So, have you ever been hit by a drive-by question? How did you handle it - I'm always looking for better (professional) ways to do this. And do you know any germaphobes?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Music Monday: Movie Mania

So Kat asked this week about our favorite music from the movies.

I could go with something obvious, like John Williams - who doesn't know his movie work by heart? Between Jaws, Indiana Jones, E.T., Close Encounters, and Star Wars just about everyone can hum a few bars of his work.

I could go with something that became a cultural phenomenon, like O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Who would have ever guessed that a collection of "old timey" music would hit #1 on Billboard charts, sell seven times platinum, a Grammy for Album of the Year, and reintroduce much of America to its musical heritage.

But, no, I've decided to go another direction altogether. I instead chose to highlight the toe-tapping move stylings of Kenny Loggins. He, in my mind, is the reigning king of 80's movie rock.

Exhibit #1: "Footloose" from Footloose


Exhibit #2: "I'm All Right" from Caddyshack

Exhibit #3: "Danger Zone" from Top Gun


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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Odds and ends I've been meaning to blog about but have not had the chance, still really don't have time, but did anyway in slapdash fashion

Here is a collection of brief notes, of which I have been wanting to post but I have not had the chance to do so. Until now, that is.

Directions onto the MIT Campus:
Here are my directions from the hotel I stayed in to the offices of the professor I was meeting with at MIT.

Leave your hotel, cross the street and go past the T and cut through the lobby of the first building. Go straight through the courtyard until you get to the building that looks like a 30-60-90 triangle. Enter through the 30° angle, walk through and exit through a corridor at the 90° angle. Follow this hallway as it takes you through several connected buildings. Turn right at the Infinite Corridor, go to the end, up a flight and to your left at the top of the stairs.
Only MIT has 30-60-90 triangle buildings and Infinite Corridors.
MIT directions

If I wanted to hear heavy panting, I'd solicit for crank callers:
Is it just me, or is there a profusion of music out (in many genres) in which the artist feels their music so profound that they simply must exhaust a lung-full of air to sing three or four words? The result of this emoting artistry is a breathless singer who must gulp enough air to spew out the next phrase, ad nauseam. Imagine if people, wrote this way - in every; single thing they put down, as I'm sure many, teachers - have seen, before and expect, to see again? To the gasping artist I say this: it is proven that you can add emotion to your music and take deep breaths without a gasp showing up in the recording. And if I wanted an over-acted musical interpretation, then I would buy
Capt. Kirk's album. Lecture over.

My son is, in actuality, a goat:
Let me say that this has absolutely nothing to do with an
Edward Albee play. I know he looks like a normal little boy; but, in reality, Lil'er E is a goat in disguise. I have come to this conclusion after watching him gleefully grab at a magazine, coupons, or any other paper product and promptly attempt to eat it whole. He does this, as well, with anything he gets his hands on - from toy balls to human flesh. One of his favorite delicacies is toes, with him sneaking up on the bare foot with the stealth of a lion and pouncing with the voracity of a piranha. Truly a frighting thing to behold; but his penchant for omnivorous behavior, including all things inedible, has lead to the label of "goat".

This makes me a little uneasy:
My work just put these in some of our bathrooms, replacing the paper towels. Besides the fact that it looks a bit odd, and you actually have to put your hands inside of it to dry them off, I have one more problem. I feel somewhat uncomfortable putting any part of my body into something called and "airblade". But maybe that's just me . . .

Good tips for penny pinching at the pump:
I think this has been making the e-mail rounds. If you have seen it and question the validity of the tips, I can vouch for them. If you've not seen it, read and it will give you a few ideas for possibly saving some money when buying gas.
  1. Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. (The pumps are not adjusted for temperature, so filling up later in the day - when the gasoline has thermally expanded - you will get less mass for the volume you pump. And you pay by volume.)
  2. When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode. (Pumping faster results in the volatile gasoline vaporizing more readily. This vapor is either recovered by systems on the pump or escapes to the atmosphere. Either way, you pay for volume that does not end up in you tank.)
  3. If there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, do not fill up. (The truck pumping gas into the tanks is stirring up sediment in the storage tanks. If you fill up your car, you will suck some up this dirt/etc. into your tank and that can impact engine performance.)
  4. Do not wait to fill up your car until the tank is nearly empty. Fill it when it is around half-full. (Again, this is because of how easily gasoline vaporizes. By filling when half-full, you lower the losses to vaporization.)
Well, that's it for now. If you've managed to read down this far I congratulate you for your perseverance. Have a nice day!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Because Shaun asked . . .

I commented on Shaun's blog today, mentioning that I am reading rheology journals. Shaun responded:

rheology: the study of the deformation and flow of matter under the influence of an applied stress

What on EARTH do you do for a living?
Well, Shaun, since you asked - I’m a rheologist, of course!

I work for an oilfield services company, in research, developing and studying drilling fluids. I could give you a couple of references to papers I authored, but that would ruin my anonymity and you would probably lose interest in them before you finished the title. I did
post an excerpt from a paper on my blog some time ago, pretty much just to scare people.

For me, I try to make fluids that you can pump down a hole that can be five or six miles long, have it viscous (thick) enough to remove the drilled up dirt from the hole but not so thick that it’s like pushing bread dough through a straw. Plus about a hundred other considerations. Oh, bonus! The common vernacular for drilling fluids is to call them "muds" (since they consist mostly of dirt and water). So I get to tell people I play with mud all day long - every little boys dream!

As for rheology in general, it has great application in everyday life. For example, take peanut butter. You want the processed peanut butter thick enough so that it doesn’t separate into that oil layer on top like organic peanut butters (most people like it this way). If it is too thick, though, you can’t spread it on bread without tearing the bread. There is a nice, non-scary article
here that gives a basic explanation. The premise of rheology is that everything flows, everything is deformable, given a long enough timescale and the proper environment.

Rheology trivia:
  1. The longest running laboratory experiment (as recognized by Guinness) is a rheology experiment. (Unsurprisingly, I’ve blogged this, as well.) In it, pitch (you know, the stuff Noah used to seal the ark) at room temperature – which will shatter like glass if hit with a hammer – has been left in funnel to drip for the last 78 years. In that time, it has produced eight drops. It has won both an Ig-Nobel Prize and Dull Website of the Year from the Dull Men’s Club.
  2. Glass panes in very old churches in Europe are a prime example of everything flows. The glass is noticeably thicker at the bottom of the pane than at the top. Even though the glass seems "solid" it is really flowing over a very long time.
  3. There is a rheological parameter named the Deborah Number, after Deborah in the book of Judges. In her song praising God in Judges 5:5, she sings "The mountains flowed before the Lord." She is thus commonly recognized as the first rheologist noting that, given God’s long-term objective, everything does indeed flow.
So, too much information? You can read some more that I’ve talked about rheology on my blog, if you’re interested. I wouldn’t be surprised if that link never gets followed, though.