Sunday, June 29, 2008

At Sea

When we last saw Euphrony, he was meandering about Tennessee catching fireflies with his daughter at a friends house. He is still in Tennessee, not on a cruise.

So how many of you know what it means when you say someone is at sea? Besides referring to taking a cruise it can also mean that a person is totally clueless, lost as it were. Apparently, that can be said of a certain engineer on vacation right now.

Go ahead and laugh at me. I'm mentally disengaged. My thought processes couldn't decipher simple algebra, much less the complexities of packing for two adults and two children for a ten-day trip. Yep, the logistics have failed me.

First, a simple thing. I left the kids swim gear at home. No swim suits, no swim toys, no goggles - nothing. Not a terribly unusual occurrence, but it did take me three full days to figure it out. But that's not the worst. Oh no, not by far.

Part of our grand planning was to wash clothes in the middle of our trip. Pack less, much easier. Until I leave our dirty laundry bag at my friends house in Jackson - a two hours drive from Nashville (where we are now). Oh well, so much for planning. Maybe next time my brain will vacation with me (I hope so, at least). For now we'll make due with what we have and be thankful that we're driving back through Jackson in a couple of days on our way home. Clothes will be recovered, and we will survive.

Unless my brain slips into a deeper coma, that is.

Till then, check out the bloggers for the 40 Day Fast - Lorijo talking about justice in Peru and Fayola talking about clean water. Tomorrow is Licia, a nurse in Haiti (I can't read her blog without copious tears), and Chris, talking about Kiva and microfinancing. Go read their blogs today.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Catchin' some fireflies

After driving some 670 miles over the last two days, we have arrived in Tennessee. So, what is the biggest thing we've done thus far? Catch some fireflies, of course. That's what you do on vacation! Here's Lil'E with our friend NatCh
Catching fireflies
Oh, yeah, also play with your friend's papillions. When we arrived, Lil'E made me carry her in on my shoulders to keep her away from the evil dogs. After an hour, she had played with them enough that the poor dogs were worn out and Lil'E was disappointed that their stamina was so low.
Papillon

So the Euphrony's are chillin' for a few days. Maybe get a chance to have dinner with these people in a few days. That'll be nice.

While I'm not blogging, be sure to follow the 40 Day Fast through Inspired to Action. Go read today's posts about the people of Paris or about the Dalit people of India. And keep praying.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

40 Day Fast: Day 2

Man of sorrows
Well acquainted with grief
Drug down to the city dump
Spread eagle on a cross beam
Propped up like a scarecrow
Nailed like a thief
There for all the world to see
You wore the chains so I could be free
Yeah, yeah
Oh Lord, you did that for me
from "You Did That For Me" on Sara Groves' All Right Here (written by Pierce Pettis)

We're on Day 2 of the 40 Day Fast. Thus far, we've had Brant remind us that God is already in the places and with the people we see as hopeless and abandoned, Amy tell us how freedom can be found through the little-considered ability to read, and April tell us the $7 can save lives. That is truly beautiful. I'm grateful for the love and passion that these three have put into their stories - please continue to pray for Amy and April today in their fasting and for everyone coming up.

I opened with those lines from "You Did That For Me" because they are a great reminder. I don't have to cry anymore, I don't have to be afraid, I don't have to know it all - all I need has been given to me already, in Jesus degradation and humiliation on the tree. As I've heard Shaun say many times, it's time for us to remember that for which we have been saved.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lil'E: Most Improved!

Lil'E on swim teamOkay, so maybe this sounds like I'm joining the crowd of helicopter parents who swoop in to make sure that every child gets and equal award, no one gets their feelings hurt, and most of all no one feels like they didn't do a good job. But I'm not - really. What I'm doing is bragging on my little girl.

The swim team season just finished this past weekend, and there was a big shindig and awards party last night. Everyone got a plaque for participating (or a new plate to go on the plaque if they already had one). Lil'E got her plaque, plus she was recognized as the most improved swimmer in the Under 6 age group! How great is that?

To give you some perspective, she was 4 when the swim team season started, and turned five towards the end. The first practice, she merrily jumped in the water and started screaming bloody murder; one of the coaches jumped in in full clothes to save what he feared was a drowning child. But, instead of drowning, she was just upset that she had jumped in without her goggles and got water in her eyes! Her times improved at every swim meet, knocking around 20 seconds off her freestyle time and around 30 seconds off her backstroke. At the end, she was still just about the slowest child on the team, but seeing the progress she made and the fun she had tells Mrs. E and I that it was worth it all.

So here's a tribute to Lil'E: great job, sweetie! Mom and I are proud of you! Now, just swim as well between the lane ropes as when there are no ropes around and next year's season will be even better. Love ya, girl!

(As a side note, for those who live in areas not like ours, swim team is the competition between subdivisions. Some of these people take it way too seriously, and frankly Mrs. E and I still choke at having paid $50 for a swim suit for Lil'E - and that with a 33% discount for being on the swim team! Our subdivision placed second out of six teams at the divisional meet last weekend, and I've heard people talk about us maybe getting moved up to a tougher division next season because we did so well this year. Yeah!)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The 40 Day Fast (6 billon or One?)

It's incredible! Really, it's amazing the response we've had thus far to this year's 40 Day Fast. We already have 62 people, and I expect more will join in as the word continues to get out. If you've not signed up and you still want to get involved, you can continue to sign up to participate on the registration page.

The Fast starts tomorrow, with Brant Hansen - who is really an incredible writer, by the way. Having worked with Amy, Kat, Kristin, and Texas in Africa organizing this year's fasters, and seeing the people who follow and the causes they want to talk about, I know that this is going to be a great time. Last year's Fast was like going to summer church camp and coming home with that spiritual high - except instead of a week or so this lasted way more than 40 days. I look forward to hearing from everyone and learning what they are trying to do to change the world for God's sake.

One thing I want to mention before the Fast begins is this quote from some goofy movie:

I came here to save my wife and my two children and... six billion lives... it's too much. I just hope I'm, I'm smart enough and brave enough to save three.
You know, the guy who said that almost had it right. The problem is, none of us are smart enough or brave enough to save anyone - not 6 billion, not even one. As we begin this Fast, let's try to remember that we are not going to change the world - no matter how well we fast or how good a job we do talking about some organization or group. Only God can do this, and this Fast is our entreatment of Him to change the world. Please, remember to put God first in this Fast and He will lift us up and answer our prayers.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Go ahead, laugh - It's allowed

There's nothing else I can say. Nothing at all.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In need of prayer

Kat is rounding up prayer requests and God things today. I've been meaning to talk about these for a few weeks, but had not really had a chance. Now is a good time.

Mrs. E and I have a couple of friends that really need prayer these days. First are some friends from our church, Randy and Danielle, whose new son, Justin, has been diagnosed with Downs syndrome. He has some heart problems as a result, but his renal system seems okay. They've got a long road ahead of them and they are going to need a lot of prayer and support in the coming months and years.

My other prayer request is for a friend from college, Brad Wims, whose wife Jenny maintains a blog of their journey. I've talked about Brad before. Brad was diagnosed last year with a rare form of bone cancer. They thought then it was treatable, but earlier this year they discovered that the particular form he had did not have any proven treatment options. Without treatment, the doctors have given him only a year or two to live. Currently they are spending a few weeks in Germany (taking their two young children and some other family) while Brad undergoes some pretty radical therapy that they hope will make a difference. Pleased pray for them, for Brad to find healing and strength through this this trying ordeal.

One more thing to pray over. Next week begins the 2nd annual 40 Day Fast. Last years, hosted by Kat, moved many people and resulted in the birth of Inspired to Action. This year's Fast will be hosted through I2A. Go read some more about the fast and register to participate. We'll take more than 40 people, but will be selecting the initial 40 this Thursday night. Anyone over that will be doubled up on days. Everyone who participates will be highlighted and asked to blog about the reason for their fast.

Monday, June 16, 2008

This caught me completely off guard

I saw this for the first time at about 11:30 with Mrs. E. We were both taken completely unawares and just about died laughing. I so sympathize.



I almost hate to ask, but what are your diaper experiences? Go ahead, get it off you chest. It won't make me sick to read the stories.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vacation fever

So here's a couple of pictures from the vacation thus far. This is where we are staying: The Great Wolf Lodge, with promised indoor water park.
Great Wolf Lodge

And this is Lil'er E as we take him to the doctor. Yes, Vacation Fever did hit the Euphrony's, and sleep was not obtained last night. But we're pressing on, and Lil'E is having a blast. She's got a magic wand that she can wave at various items throughout the hotel and go on "quests" (while she's not swimming, that is).

Sick Lil'er E

Having a good time, anyway. See ya later!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I've got a fever

Vacation fever! I've been seriously burned out the last few weeks. Doing way too much both at home and at work, plus the ol' blogosphere. So the Euphrony family is getting outta here for a few days. I'm taking the rest of the week off and we're going to meet the extended Euphrony family at a hotel with an indoor water park. All the fun with half the sunburn!

I've gotten, like, nothing done at work the last two days. Too distracted I guess, or too much of a migraine this afternoon. We'll have computers with us - Mrs. E still has to teach her on-line class - but the internet will not be my big focus. I just bought a couple of new books and want to see what kind of a dent I can make in them when I'm not swimming with the kids.

Do be looking for some action from me on
Inspired to Action, though. I just posted some thoughts earlier today, the first I've been able to contribute in a while. Plus, I'm getting an interview together with a teenage girl named Ellie. If you live in the Nashville area you may know her name - three years ago, at the age of 10, she organized the first Ellie's Run for Africa to raise money for schools in Africa. The fourth annual run is this weekend and I've been talking with her about it all. Also, I've been talking with Jason Gray and hope to have an interview with him on World Vision and IJM pretty soon. Keep your eyes peeled over on I2A!

See ya!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Music Monday: A page from the past

It's been a few weeks since I put up a Music Monday post (and it seems that Kat is focused on other things right now, as well). But I've had this playing in my head the last few days. This is a small step back in time to the late 80's, and a revisit of one of the best guitar-rock albums of all time: Joe Satriani's Surfing with the Alien.

I remember when I first heard this, just after it came out in 1987. The guitar licks just blew me away. Seriously, just some of the best guitar I'd ever heard at the time. The album is all instrumental, which is just fine because it takes the emphasis of melody away from the voice and lyrics and allows Satriani to put it all on his guitar. I had already become a fan of one of his former students, Steve Vai, and now had the chance to hear the man who taught him. Besides Steve Vai, Satriani has taught many rock guitarists from the 1980's, including Kirk Hammett (Metallica), Larry LaLonde (Primus), and David Bryson (Counting Crows), and he is recognized as one of the most accomplished players of recent times.

Here is the titular song from Surfing with the Alien, played live by Satriani. Enjoy!


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Friday, June 06, 2008

A tale of two birthdays

We're celebrating two birthdays this week at the Euphrony Homey. First is the lovely Little Euphrony, who is now five years old. I blinked and here we were, watching her dance recital, seeing her compete on swim team, flying through preschool graduation, and celebrating our not-so-little girl.

Ballerina Girl

Ballerina Girl

Swim Team Girl
Swim Team Girl

Graduation Girl
Graduation Girl

Birthday Girl (Oh, yeah, those are fresh blueberries and strawberries on her cheese pizza. This from the girl who at McDonald's mixes the ranch dressing for her chicken nuggets with the caramel for her apple slices.)
Birthday Girl


Birthday #2 is for the newest and oldest child in our family. Brenda, a girl who lives in Uganda, just joined our family two weeks ago and turned six this week. She is the child we sponsor through Compassion. Sadly, she is actually a replacement (of sorts). We were sponsoring a girl in Brazil, but the project through which she was helped was non-cooperative with Compassion and they were forced to cease operations with them. So please pray for Syng, that she continues to find help now that we are no long in touch and helping her; and pray for Brenda as we get to know her better.

Happy Birthday, Girls!

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Dead giveaway

I've received this spam a couple of times recently, but the subject in this one stuck out. FYI, Mr. Spamalot, this contains a dead giveaway that it is not legit:

We are pleased to inform you that upon reviewing your
fiscal activity, we have determined that you are eligible to
receive a tax refund of $429,54.
Sorry, we in the U.S.A. use a decimal point, not a comma like they do in other places. Do try again (not), but thanks for the small amusement! Oh, yeah, the tax ID you listed as mine doesn't is wrong; sorry, but that's another giveaway.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Package, or My Foray Into The World Of International Smuggling

So I've not been much into posting lately. I'm alive. I'm well. I'm busy. Dance recitals, swim meets, preschool graduation, birthday parties (pictures to come). I've also been looking over my shoulder the last week, on the lam so to speak, because I have recently earned the nickname "Captain Contraband" at work. Yep, I'm an international smuggler.

Not that I set out to smuggle; its not like I woke up one morning and said "Self, you're getting nowhere with this 'rheology' farce. Give it up and start earning some real money on the global black market. Then you can earn enough to buy that vacation house working part-time from home, just like those people on TV." No, like most people, I just stumbled into it rather blindly.

I've got a coworker, you see, who is Chinese. He's home for a month in China, taking care of some family business; while he's there, though, he's talking to some chemical suppliers and getting me some samples for a current research project. Here's where the trouble comes in. You know all that stuff you here about the global market and the Chinese beginning to dominate it, sometimes through shady practices? For example, how many kid toys have you thrown away in the last year because of lead content? Well, the complaints are little exaggerated.

I got the samples I was wanting, through a shipper. Below is a picture of what was labeled as "PVC Carpeting Samples".



The problem - I didn't ask for PVC anything. In fact, I was expecting a black powder (hint: you'd find it in roads). So I'm thinking two things: 1) I'll take these home and use them for a mat for the kids to play on and 2) They probably hid my samples inside these packages. BING BING BING BING BING BING! Give the man a prize!



Ah, there's my black powder, tucked inside a hidden pocket in the innocuous "PVC Carpeting". Conveniently shipped without proper safety information, proper hazard notification to the shipper, and likely avoiding high shipping costs and customs delays.



Just look at that little pocket. What could have been secreted in there? Cash? Coke? A popular poppy product? A statuette of Jesus made out of cocaine? Plastic forks? Plastic explosives? The possibilities are endless.

So, I spent a little time last week documenting this arrival. Talked to my boss. Talked to my Chinese coworker to let him know what they did. Tried to make sure that the chemical supplier knows we don't do business this way. So far, no visits from men in uniforms with hats and guns, so I'm probably safe. But if I do disappear, you'll know that Homeland Security has me and someone needs to help Mrs. E and the kids with legal bills.

In other news, I've been tasked recently with pricing and arranging demos for a new microscope for the lab. I didn't have the final decision in which one we got, I just did the leg work. And now that we've selected one, I'm the one getting pestering and even angry calls from the people whose microscopes were not selected. It feels really good to be made the scape goat, ya know.

How's your week been?

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Monday, June 02, 2008

FREE MUSIC: downhere

downhere banner
The boys in downhere are getting ready to release their new album this September. In preparation for that, they have generously decided to give away their last album, Wide-Eyed and Mystified, for free download. I've talked about downhere before (here and here, for example) and I've got their drummer, Jeremy Thiessen, over in my blogroll. The music on Wide-Eyed is some of their best, to date.

Don't miss out. If you've not got their music, go get a free big-gulp now.

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