Monday, September 29, 2008

So as I walked out from work today to the sound of gunfire, I thought to myself . . .

. . . what a beautiful day this is. Really, since Hurricane Ike blew through we've had just really great weather here in Houston. The skies have been blue, the temperature has been lower, even the humidity has been down the last two weeks! Aside from the mosquitoes, which are swarming thick enough to drain an elephant in less than a minute's time, it's been practically perfect.

I, however, am a totally hopeless goofball. AKA engineer. For example, this morning after I got into work I encountered a minor setback in the clothing arena - the button popped off my pants. All I have to say is thanks be to God for belts! Of course, being an engineer, I found a solution to get me through the day. Enter life's little fix-it device: the paperclip. While the belt helped I looked really goofy with the pants trying to come apart, so I used a paperclip (in lieu of the safety pin I didn't have but wished I did) to keep the top of my pants relatively close together. So I traded one goofy look for another, hopefully less noticeable, goofy look. You see, Euphrony has not informed you, but he has been packing on a few pounds lately. And been in denial of needing bigger pants. Lesson learned.

(Oh, are you wondering about the title of this post? Absolutely true. It happens just about every day, as a matter of fact. When I don't have the small-arms fire, I listen to the lovely squeal of tires. I guess you might be worried about my safety, but don't be; I'm well protected working next door to the police academy.)

Music Monday: Breaking Rules

If there's one music-related rule that I hold hard and fast to, it is this:

One must not listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving or after New Year's Day.
I have lived my life by these wise words. I've even talked about why this is so important to me in a previous blog post. This weekend I broke that rule, intentionally.

How could I not, when just last Thursday I received a pre-release of Sara Groves' new Christmas album, O Holy Night, in the mail? Along with this gem I also received pre-releases of Building 429's self-titled release, first since signing on with INO Records. Also in the envelope was the upcoming release from Disciple, Southern Hospitality, and a three-song EP from Decyfer Down, Crash. I've given them all a quick listen, and there's some good stuff there. Reviews will follow, I'm sure.

For now, I've got some good listening for the near future (thanks, again, to the nice people at INO).

Do you like any of these groups? Which do you think I should review first?


Sara Groves O Holy NightBuilding 429
Disciple Southern HospitalityDecypher Down Crash EP

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Ho do I get myself into these things?

Pillar For the Love of the Fans TourOh, that's right; I know how. I go out of my way to go to the concert of someone I really want to see live. The last time I ended up driving a couple of hours to see Sara Groves perform in a barn. This time I wanted to finally go see Addison Road after missing them the last few times they were in town. They didn't play in a barn at a fair, but it was in a big box - 50' high, 50' deep, and 100' wide. With a stage that was maybe 20'x20' that four bands cycled through. Honestly, I think the barn had better acoustics than this room. I'll be fair, then, and not really talk about how the bands sounded - it was all a little jumbled in that tight space.

Really, though, the evening was pretty good. After I got past feeling like a goofy, out of place adult, that is. There were maybe 100 people there with an average age of maybe fifteen. I came to the concert straight from work, wearing my normal dockers (i.e. not cool clothes). There was no seating, only standing at the stage - I'm waaay too old to be in the mosh pit. But, once the music actually started things got better.

The show opened with Philmont, a new band, followed by Our Heart's Hero. Both of them put on pretty good sets. I've learned something new - to play in a punk/hard rock band one must master Jedi fighting skills and apply them to playing guitar. It looked even better when copied by the six-year old boy down front.

Next came Addison Road - they did a great set, and the crowd seemed to get into them a little more the the first two groups. Of course, it helps that their song "Hope Now" has been all over the airwaves down here, with people really loving it since Ike hit town. After their set, once Pillar was hitting the stage, I got to sit and chat with Jenny Simmons and her
Euphrony and Jenny from Addison Roadhusband Ryan. These guys are always on the road, it seems. Their tour with Pillar ends tomorrow night, then next week they start a month plus with Building 429. They'll be starting work on a new album soon, so be looking for that next year sometime. The first thing Jenny asked me, was to what I do for a living. When I told her I am a rheologist (translate: science geek), she then asked me to explain the Large Hadron Collider to her and Ryan. I did my best.

Seriously, Ryan and Jenny are good people. I wish them well in their music - if you've not heard it, go check it out. We talked about Mocha Club and about Inspired to Action, among other things. Jenny, has been a big supporter of I2A - for which she gets a big thanks from me!

The whole Pillar tour is being sponsored by World Vision, and the shows are pay what you want. Having been to this show last night, with a turnout that looked like little more than people from the church where the show was held, I understand more about what Shaun talks about. He does a similar arrangement with Compassion and pushes the venues to seriously promote the show. The point is to bring people in, tell them about God's plan for us, and tell them how they can help save people - free them from the bondage of poverty - through Compassion or World Vision. When all they do is put it in the weekly bulletin they do a disservice to the people footing the bill for the show (Compassion/World Vision); more importantly, though, they do a disservice to the children in need of rescue. I chatted with the people at the World Vision table for a bit - nice folks, too. They told me the night was a bit slow on sponsorships. I hope it picked up after I left.

For my next concert experience I am going in a completely different direction. Tonight Mrs. E and I are taking the kids to see VeggieTales Live. Even a younger crowd; but, at least there's no mosh pit.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

accounting

11 days, 12 hours, and 35 minutes without power
But wait! What's that I hear? Could it be the hum of an air conditioner? Or the whirl of fans? Maybe it's the buzz of electricity in the air and the house!

It's true, we finally have power! It came back on around 3:25 this afternoon! As I type I sit comfortably in my own chair, watching CONCACAF soccer, while the kids sleep in their own rooms! Thanks be to God for restoring the normality of electric life to the Euphrony family!

(Can you tell I'm excited?!?! Maybe from all the exclamation marks?!?!?)

Now we just have to refill the fridge and replace all the food we threw away when it started to thaw and rot.

mixed messages

11 days without power

BUT: there were a double handful of utility trucks in my subdivision late last night!

BUT: Center Point Energy has increased the percent outage in my zip from 33% o 38% overnight.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Euphrony in absentia

While the Euphrony family continue to wait for power to be restored at our humble abode, I thought I would fill you in on the madness that was last weeks "vacation" from work and school. (As a side note, the power company lists our zip code as having only 33% still without power as of early this morning. Secretly, Mrs. E is convinced that, when there are only 1000 or so left without power in Houston, we will be among those lucky few.) Right now we're all worn out, having stayed at three different places in the last week. The kids want their home, Mrs. E and I want our bed, and no one wants to go to a suitcase to find closes for the day. Sometime soon normal life will resume, but not quite yet it seems. While we wait I'll give you a recap of what Euphrony has been up to in absentia.

As I had mentioned last week, we road out the storm in our house. The damage on our street wasn't really all that bad, and between eight (or so) hours spent last Saturday and Sunday cleaning up the yard we were back in shape. Except for the lack of electricity, of course. And the piles of debris that still sit in my front yard. With no reason to stay and several reasons to leave, we packed up some suitcases and headed to my in-laws house in Dallas. Being from some archaic time, they have neither cable nor broadband internet access at their house - but they do have a trove of classic toys that the kids love to play with. Really, not having fast, easy internet all week was a good thing. Having little to keep be busy I probably would have spent hours every day looking at the same information on storm damage and repair estimates, resulting in serious depression. I was already down, feeling rather powerless to do anything to restore my family to "normality", so the barrage of stories would have been less than helpful.

Since Mrs. E's parents both work full-time, we had the days pretty much to ourselves. Monday we hung out with my sister-in-law and their daughter and son (they live not far from Mrs. E's parents) - the Lil'E's always love playing with their cousins. Once my brother got home from work he cooked us some dinner. Now, I a pretty good cook and can whip up a nice meal when I have a mind to; for my brother, cooking is a passion. He grilled some chicken breasts that had marinated in an apricot sauce all day, and some bell peppers and jalapeƱos that were stuffed with cream cheese, green onion, and bacon and then wrapped in bacon. Add in a broccoli and rice casserole and it was pure heaven to people who had eaten little but junk that last few days. Thanks, bro - that's still the best meal I had all last week!

On Tuesday we decided to enjoy the sunny day and cold front (only got up to around 80°F) and go to the Dallas Zoo. It was, apparently, Houston Evacuee Day at the zoo - probably more than 90% of the people there were from Houston. I'm guessing that they did above-average business all last week. As usual, the zoo was a hit with the kids.

Wednesday we hung out more with my sister-in-law at the Firewheel Town Center and let the kids play. Firewheel is an open-air mall, with and outdoor playground, a huge fountain with fish, and a stream that the kids could play around. With Mrs. E pushed a napping Lil'er E in the stroller and did some shopping, Lil'E and I spent two hours running around the stream and playing games. The most common game lately has been where she pretends to be a princess and I'm the prince she marries. We fight off bad guys, get married, and on this occasion had a baby. She actually led me to where the "hospital" was beside the stream, laid down on a rock, and I swear was about to start making birthing noises before she declared the baby was here. (Do any guys out there besides me feel a little odd pretending to "have babies" with their little girls?)

On Thursday we pretty much just chilled around my in-laws house. Mrs. E shopped.

On Friday we put Mrs. E on a plane to come back to Houston while the kids and I went to stay the weekend with my brother. Mrs. E was in a play that was supposed to perform the weekend of the hurricane (but didn't, for obvious reasons). They were, however, able to reschedule for the following weekend; so the organizer paid for Erin to fly back (since we only had one car in Dallas) so she could round out the cast. There was no reason for me and the kids to be there so we stayed the weekend in Dallas. The kids and I had fun at my brothers on Friday afternoon and Saturday, then got up and drove back to Houston on Sunday morning.

Now I'm back at work and Lil'E heads back to school tomorrow morning. I'm planning on going to go chat with and see Addison Road in Conroe on Thursday night while they are here with Pillar, along with Our Heart's Hero and Philmont. I've heard some of Our Heart's Hero's music, but not anything from Philmont, so I'm looking forward to getting a taste of their music as well.

Normal life. Right now, that is our dream. We're making a start on it.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

still counting

10 days without power

And counting.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

and counting

9 days without power

And counting.

I'm back at work tomorrow, and we're back in Houston. We're staying with some friends who have power until ours is back on. The power company tells us that our zip code is not slated to have "substantial restoration of power" until sometime after Thursday, September 25th. No definite date. As of this moment ~53% of our zip code is still without electricity. At least our water and sewer is in working order - some people don't even have that much.

(More later on our week in exile.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Riding the storm out: 3 Stories

Story #1: Justin
Justin in recovery, Day 6I had asked everyone to be praying for Justin, who had heart surgery a week ago today. He and his parents rode out Hurricane Ike in the hospital and probably fared better there than most anyone else. The hospital never lost power and Justin is progressing remarkably well. In fact, the question is starting to become what to do if he is ready to go home but has no electricity at home. He has most of the lines and monitors removed and has started smiling again!

Story #2: The Euphrony's or A (kid) hurricane within a (big) hurricane
The last time I updated I talked about our preparation for Ike and how someone was offering to give Ike away on Craigslist. As Friday night went along we got the kids in bed, Lil'E in our bed downstairs and Lil'er E in his room upstairs. Then Mrs. E and I watched Monk and we went to bed. Around 1 a.m. (shortly before the eye was hitting land) we brought Lil'er E downstairs - he never went back to sleep. And, with him awake, Lil'E woke up. So, as Mrs. E and I tried to sleep on the couch and recliner, the kids ran circles around the living room; all the while outside the wind whistled and howled and trees creaked and popped. In other words, they had a blast of the night! Finally, around 5 a.m., they fell asleep in our arms. The electricity had gone out shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday morning, so most of the fun was in the dark lit only by LED lights.
View from the front walkway

branch in our driveway
Come "daybreak" the eye was over us. We could look outside for a bit and see some of the damage before the wind and rain picked back up. Finally, around noon, things were calming enough to go outside and begin some cleanup in the rain. One of our sweetgum trees in the front yard had snapped 20 feet off the ground and fallen on our neighbor's car (sorry!). First priority was getting it sliced up enough to allow them to cover up the hole in the windshield and to move the car so they could get a generator running out of the rain. After this we waited until the rain died down a bit more and began cleanup in earnest. I had another sweetgum drop a large branch over our driveway, and pine branches and pinecones everywhere - but no damage to the house (whew!). Our neighbors across the back fence had a pine snap and fall on their house, but only damaged the covered patio. Down the street a large tree fell and crushed a garage. Any trees with shallow, small root systems were pulled completely out of the ground. Power was out almost everywhere, with random spots around town having electricity. One of those was an intersection about a mile from our house - frustrating! As the day progressed we ate what we had, drank the water I had laid aside (there was a boil notice for all water around town) and made it through until evening. At least we could flush without problems! By 8 p.m. it was dark and the kids were in bed. Mrs. E was in bed, too, and I stayed up to read for a little while. We were hot, but we slept okay.
snapped tree on neighbor's car
Sunday was a new day, with some new damage. We had more rain overnight and branches and trees that were loosened by Ike came free and came down. The kids had faired well on Saturday - Sunday they were just plain cranky. With no cold drinks, they wouldn't drink anything. No more milk. The foods in the fridge were gone and the stuff in the freezer were going. No ice. Oh, and did I mention cranky kids? Once the novelty of it all wore off they decided they had had enough! Lil'er E walked up to the TV every 10 minutes and tried to turn it on; persistance was not rewarded this time. I finished cleaning up the yard around 4:00 p.m., had the fridge and freezer cleaned out by 5:00. Before six o'clock we were on the road to Dallas to stay with family until either the power came back on or we had to return for work/school. Lil'E's school is out until at least Thursday, and my work until at least Wednesday. At last check, the electric company that services us was still showing 98% of their customers without power - some 380,000 households. We didn't need to be there, and we could get away. Let someone else have the ice they're shipping in, they need it more than we do.
debris pile #1

debris pile #2

Story #3: Mrs. E's grandmother
If there's a bad time for something to happen, it probably will. Last week, before the hurricane, Mrs. E's grandmother (in Port Arthur) had a stroke; it was a full day before anyone found her. She's been in the hospital recovering, and was not able to be evacuated before Ike hit. The hospital did not lose power, but Mrs. E's mom got a call this morning that her condition had deteriorated and she was put on life support. So not ten hours after we got to her house she was headed out to be with her mother in what could be her final days. Please pray for my mother-in-law (going into the blackout) and for her mother and family.

This has been a long post but I hope you read all of it. I wanted to update on several fronts and figured I'd mash it all into one. I'll keep everyone informed on the further adventures of the Euphrony's over the next few days.

While I'm at it, I'll ask a question: What is the longest you've sat in your house without power?

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Friday, September 12, 2008

You can find anything on Craigslist

Free hurricane on Cragslist
Seriously, any takers?

It's almost 7:00 pm around here and the wind is gusting up. One minute it'll be totally calm and the next the wind hits at 50 mph! About an hour ago we took a walk as a family - nice evening, all things considered. After that I got out to see if Sonic was open (wasn't) and ended up stopping at a gas station to pick up some fountain drinks and ice cream (the necessities). Around 10% of the houses are boarded up, and 5% of the cars on the road are cops.

We're ready for the worst, but I expect things won't get too bad. Plenty of water, from an unexpected place even. The stores have been crazy busy - I should have taken a picture of the lines 30 people deep to checkout at Kroger and Wal-Mart - but I noticed that Specs Liquor Warehouse was open. They had plenty of 1.5-liter bottles of water for 90¢ each, and no line to check out. Not a bad deal.

I'll take pics and keep people updated on our situation, as long as we have power. For now I'm going to work on getting kids in bed. It looks like Austin is staring to get the same type of winds right now that we've been getting all day here - enjoy the breeze!

Everyone sleep well. TTFN!

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ike and Me

Hurricane Ike and Euphrony

So, here we go again. We're not on the run, like we were from Rita in 2005, but we're battening down the hatches and storing up the food and water. Looks like the next few days will be F.U.N. We could have serious winds (hurricane force) at our house for 18-24 hours as it passes overhead. Work is closing down at noon today for the weekend, and I seriously doubt that Lil'E will be in school tomorrow.

Ironic thing. Our next-door neighbors are getting ready to move and put their house up for sale about a week ago. When they bought the house the closing was delayed because of Rita. So, their time as our neighbors is bookended by hurricanes. Good memories for them of Houston.

But, seriously, we'd appreciate any prayers you throw our way. And for baby Justin in the hospital recovering from heart surgery, too.

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Update on Justin

A couple of weeks ago I asked everyone to be praying for Justin, the 5-month old son of some good friends of our. Born with Downs syndrome, he had several heart defects that required surgery. When I asked you to pray earlier it was in preparation for his surgery - it got postponed. Then I asked you to pray again - it got bumped again for a higher priority surgery. The family has held up well as delays kept their son from getting the surgery he needed, and God finally provided the opportunity for Justin's date with the OR.

Justin finally had his surgery yesterday. From about 9 in the morning to half past five in the afternoon Justin was in the OR. The docs were able to repair the known problems with his heart; there was an additional problem that was observed in surgery that they worked on, but will have to wait and see for final results. Below is a picture of Justin after surgery. If you're like me, it just breaks your heart to see a child like this - and Danielle (his mom) says that it actually looks worse in the picture than in person.

Justin after surgery
If you could, please drop by Randy and Danielle's blog and let them know that Justin and the family are in your prayers. Also, please pray for good weather here in Houston: Justin should be in recovery at the hospital for a week or two and, if you haven't noticed, there's another hurricane ransacking the gulf and aiming for Texas. It looks like it is trending more and more towards south Texas (which already got hit by Dolly earlier this summer), but if a major storm hit here in Houston while Justin was in the hospital it could cause serious problems for him.

I want to praise Randy and Danielle for their patience through delays and the hope the have for their child - really a wonderful example of God's peace on their hearts. And I want to say thanks to everyone who has been praying for Justin.

Included as part of Brody's Positive Post Tuesday.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Music Monday: The commercial

I laugh at this one every time.



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Music Monday: This guy shouldn't be on America's Got Talent

He should be in a studio recording his breakout album. But that's just my opinion. I think he would be wasted just performing in Vegas, much too good for that. What do you think?

Taken down

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Little Euphrony's brush with greatness

So we're two weeks into kindergarten around here. So far, Lil'E is loving it! She's been having fun, making new friends, and behaving herself for her teacher - she even got to get a prize on Friday because she's gone two weeks staying on green. (The class runs a behavior system similar to the color-coded system that Homeland security uses. Green is best behavior, the yellow, orange, blue, and red - on red you go to the principal.) One of her new friends is a girl in her class; in the first two weeks of school she has been on orange three or four times (we get daily reports from Lil'E, like an intelligence agency). What do you do as a kindergartener to get in that much trouble the first two weeks of school? We've mixed feelings about Lil'E's further association with such a "troublemaker".

prima donna tee shirtBut maybe we know where the trouble comes from. You see, we're thinking that maybe this little girl is a prima donna. Lil'E (our spy) has informed us that this girl has been on Hannah Montana! She's a bona fide young star - even the teacher recognized her from the show. Now, we don't think she's a regular, because we can't find her name anyway on the cast lists - probably just an extra. But we are left to guess that the stardom has gone to her head.

It's interesting, though. Lil'E doesn't watch Hannah Montana - we think she's a little too young for it - but she's a bit fascinated since she sees and hears about it everywhere. This little girl has been teaching Lil'E the inside stuff of how they act on the show. So now she comes home, very smugly, and tells us "I know all about Hannah Montana." Yep, she's showed us.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

An idea for a new life application note

You know how all the specialized bibles these days have little sidebars where they give some kind of life application of the scripture? Well, in that vein I have a suggestion based on the observations of Lil'E tonight.

The Situation: Euphrony is driving the Little E's home after Lil'E's dance class at the YMCA. A black Camry (remarkably antithetical to Euphrony's white Camry) pulls out into the turn lane and proceeds (with utter disregard to the presence of my car) to pull into my lane and nearly hit me. When Lil'E asks what happened I tell her which car nearly hit ours.

The Application: Lil'E wisely comments "I know what kind of car that is. Do you know what kind of car it is, dad? It's a tax collector!" Since ancient Jews seemed to think all tax collectors were evil, then it is reasonable to believe that all people who do bad things are tax collectors. Right?

I don't know how biblical this really is, but it sure seems profound to me. Words to live by. And remember, whenever a car almost crashes into your own it may well be a tax collector. And beware when you drive of acting like a tax collector and driving recklessly. Or collecting taxes.