Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas lists

Long time no blog, I know. I've had many other concerns to deal with and I don't know if I'll make this a regular thing again or not. I'm really just writing this as a catharsis, and I've turned off the ability to comment cause I just want to write not respond.

So, here's my Christmas list - "Things I'm Actually Good At These Days"

  1. Being a good employee - I just passed the 1-year mark at my new job, and it has been going well. I managed to do some interesting things, analyze some things in a way that they have been wanting to do for the last five or six years, lead some interesting groups, and overall bring value to the company. Pretty much what an employee is supposed to do.
  2. Rheology - Well, duh.
  3. Learn managerial skills - I've be put in charge of a few things this year that have made me actually use managerial skills. Scary part - I think I may be good at it. But I still never want to be a manager, as it brings me no joy or satisfaction as a job.
  4. Caring for people in need - While I've not been an online advocate for many of the groups and actions like I used to be, I have, if anything, been more proactive about trying to care for the people around me who are in need. Maybe with less of a panoramic scope I've been able to be more effective in other areas, including understanding more in my heart what it means to do something for others.
  5. Offending other people - Not so proud of this one, and it really is antithetical to the last item on the list; but I've been excelling at it lately. Especially when it comes to friends and family. I've managed to hurt my children, my wife, my parents and brother. Just this week I even managed to tick off a couple of people at work - they did a good job of ticking me off, too, but still . . . It's almost like alienation has been the theme of my life lately. Sadly, I'm getting very good at it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

sic transit Euphrony

Man wakes up, remembers he blogs.
In a strange case of modern amnesia, local blogger Euphrony recently was roused from a month-long case of amnesia. Apparently, while traveling, Euphrony lost all recollection of who he was (online) and for the last five weeks has thought himself to be a race-car driver named Mario whose racing opponents were trying to kill him on the track. As his memories returned, it was a shock to discover he had merely been driving in Houston traffic. Word on the street is that he may blog again.

Hey, everybody. I thought I might want to put up a note of some kind to let you know I'm alive. No, I did not get swine flu (although Lil'E's school was closed for a probable case) - I did get strep throat again. I also managed to see one of my cars partially wrecked and a leak in the upstairs shower take out the TV in my master bedroom.

No, I told a few people about a month ago that I would be backing off the blogging for a while. I've had some things that needed more attention than a blog, so I wanted to focus on that. Really, on top of that, I've not had too much to say. Sure, I might see something that is worth a chuckle and thought about passing on. Strangely enough, I passed it on to people I actually see every day instead of online. And, really, I've just been too busy to really pay attention to blogs, mine or other people's. I find myself leading an environmental action team at work, on the planning committee for a conference next year, actually occupied by more work at my new job, and writing more papers than before. My normal blogging time was during lunch, and right now I crave that as down time from busy days, and time to better connect with my new co-workers.

And, to be honest, I just don't know that I care about blogging like I once did. And that's not by nature a bad thing. I've always maintained that I blogged because I really liked it, just as a catharsis and creative outlet, and did not care who (if anyone) read. That's still true; except for the part about really liking it. So, the internal motivation is pretty well gone right now. As to external motivations (i.e. does anyone care if I blog) I know some people do. But I've watched my stats over the last month. Not surprisingly, my daily pageviews has dropped, almost cut in half. But the number of unique visitors on a daily basis has only dropped around 5%. Translation - most people coming to my blog, both when I blogged regularly and when I haven't blogged in weeks, are random visits coming in on keyword searches. So, I know that a few people are curious about what I have to say, but really no one is clamoring at my door begging for words of wisdom, sarcasm, or rheology. Which is okay - I've never known myself to be a dynamic, engaging person who would or could attract a crowd of dedicated followers. That's life.

The other blog which has held my attention, Inspired to Action, also seems to have played itself out. This I find much more upsetting than the lack of action on this blog, as I really care much more for it. But things do have a finite lifespan, and I2A may have run its (at least, so far as what I see).

I guess what I'm getting at is that I don't know if I will post another blog after this one. I've had this written in my head for at least three weeks, and digitally for three days. Obviously the motivation to post has been lacking. But a few people were asking, so I decided to go ahead and post it. Don't be surprised if you catch me lurking about, though.

TTFN

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Travel

Sorry I didn't get the promised music post up yesterday. I'll get it up later this week - it really is a great artist!

I'm on the road most of this week. Yet another rheology paper brought to you by Euphrony, Rheologist at Large. This week I'm in The Big Easy, New Orleans jazz and seafood are floating around me - I like that. A few quick points:

  • I miss being elite. I was an elite flier with Continental, owing to a lot of travel in 2007. But 2008 had much less flying and I just lost my elite status. What that means is that I had to pay for my checked luggage, did not get to cut in the security check line, and my bag did not get a lovely sticker that tells the baggage handlers to make sure mine is one of the first onto the belt at baggage claim. Ah, well, such is life among the masses.
  • I decided to take the airport shuttle to the hotel instead of a cab, which costs twice as much. In return for being cheap I got to wait 45 minutes for the shuttle to arrive.
  • My hotel room is an "Accessible" room, meaning it is made for a person in a wheelchair. They asked if I was okay with that at check-in, noting it would have a shower and not a tub. Sure, I said, no problem. I didn't realize that meant the shower is zero-entry (as in nothing dividing it from the rest of the bathroom). I'm still okay with that - I just wish they had a shower curtain to keep water from spraying the toilet and towels. On the plus side, the towels. Ahhh, so soft. And big, too! I'm a six-foot guy and the towel stretched from my chin to the floor. Now that's a towel!
  • The conference this year is one I regularly attend. It's usually in Houston, but they moved it this year (for whatever reason). It would seem that a different group is organizing it this year, and it seems pretty slip-shod by comparison. Hope things improve, and we'll see about the quality of the presentations and the attendance in this recession.

TTFN!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Philosophy Phriday

Here are a few random, only slightly connected, tidbits of information that I both want to pass on and to talk about. What are your thoughts?

International Justice Mission: Global Prayer Gathering
I just posted a bit over on I2A about IJM's Global Prayer Gathering, going on this weekend in the D.C. area. I wish I could be there - it sounds phenomenal! In any case, if you're like me and interested in IJM's work but cannot go to the GPG, you can geek out and follow the live blogging from the event. I'll be checking in all weekend.

Sara blogs
Well, she's gonna give it the old college try. Sara Groves, as many of you know, is one of my all time favorite artists. I love her music, and the thoughts she shares in interviews have always made me wish that she blogged. Well, she didn't want to, but to really share her experiences in Rwanda Sara has decided to start her own blog. Go check it out. With a little encouragement, maybe she'll get the hang of it and blog even more.

Cowboy tactics?
Speaking of IJM . . . I mentioned (on I2A and I think here as well) a nice article that was published in the New Yorker about IJM and their work. One of the big problems that some people have with IJM is the way they organize and work with local authorities to raid brothels and businesses that hold people (children and adults) in slavery. The critics label these as cowboy tactics (and directly or indirectly relate them to the Bush administration and their initiation of the war in Iraq) and allege that such strong-arm tactics terrorize the "rescued" prostitutes and slaves and open them to abuses from the local authorities. And, to be fair, there is some truth in that. Gary Haugen (IJM's founder and president) likes to describe the law systems of most developing nations as remnants of colonial legal systems that were designed to keep the local population in check and under the authority of the colonial power. IJM works to change this, but many places the police are seen as at least as bad an option as the brothel owners who enslave and torture the women and children they sell.

The question remains, though: what are they (IJM) and we to do? America is currently demonized for our perceived cowboy tactics (rightly or wrongly, we can debate about for years to come). My experience with the people at IJM (albeit limited) is that then are people of peace and of prayer. They cannot simply stand by and watch as people live in slavery (no more than some people could in the U.S. 150 years ago, or in England 200 years ago). They seek out men of peace in troubled areas, to effect change in corrupt and misapplied legal systems. Every person who works for IJM probably spends more time in prayer every day than most Christians do in a month. And, to be fair, some of their critics will never be happy unless IJM concedes to their thesis that the violence and abuse inherent in the sex slavery they fight stems mainly from the criminalization of prostitution itself. In other words, as long as IJM wishes to remain a Christian-based organization, they will also have detractors.

What are your thoughts on this?

So what?
I heard this interview on NPR a couple of weeks ago, and it has really stuck with me. They are talking with author Thomas Ricks, whose new book finds little to like about the ability of the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq, no matter what political party is in control of the White House. His big point is that, from his analysis, withdrawal in the near future (at least the next few years) will almost inevitably lead to genocide in Iraq. A debatable point, but one worthy of discussion.

He mentions, though, that as he recently talked about this to a group of people one person in the audience interjected "So what?" and another chimed in "Genocide happens all the time" (you can here this at about the 5:20 mark in the interview). The audacity, the selfishness, the carelessness of those remarks struck me and sticks with me. Several who commented online took the view that genocide is simply a way of life in some cultures, something that Western culture does not understand, and that Westerners should not try to force change on these other cultures.

Okay, honestly, I cannot express the anger that burns in me when I think of this callous attitude. It happens? So what? Nonsense! Yes, it does happen - in fact, there are multiple places (Darfur, parts of DRC, etc.) where it is happening today, and is being ignored by the global community. And their response is let it!?!? It's too much for us to handle, so let's just ignore it? Maybe it will die off on its own, eventually? I wonder how their thoughts might run if, for example, extreme racial violence broke out in LA or New York, with one group purposefully and indiscriminately inflicting terror and killing off another group? Would their blasé attitude change if it affected them, their families, or their friends?

Okay, so I've been ranting a little bit in this post. Maybe my thinking is off-base in some way on these topics. Maybe there are some things I just don't understand? I know that to be true. Does anyone have any thoughts on these topics? I'd love to hear them.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lil'E and the BFF

Timeline:
Summer 2005 - Lil'E and BFF meet for the first time, at church. Lil'E just turned two, and the BFF was about to (or had just) turned three. They hit it off, quite well actually.

Summer 2005 - Summer 2007 - Lil'E and the BFF request to have play dates at least 100 times a week. They laugh, play, and run crazy as little girls do. In the background to all this, BFF's parents separate and divorce (very sad).

Summer 2007 - Bff and her mom move to another city, some four hours distant. BFF is starting kindergarten and Lil'E has plenty of friends at church and preschool. We figure that, over a few months, the girls will drift apart and stop thinking about each other. After all, that's how preschool friendships go.

Fall 2007 - present - Were we ever wrong. For the first six months, both Lil'E and the BFF ask about the other and tells her parents she misses the other at least daily (sometimes more often); at least weekly Lil'E goes to bed crying that she misses BFF (okay, that's at least partially a bedtime stall tactic). We manage to get them together a few times (for only a few hours) when BFF is in town (BFF's dad still lives here, so she's here every other weekend plus many holidays). Birthday parties are looked forward to by both. Mrs. E and Lil'E go to twice visit the BFF and her mom for a weekend. And the girls write letters and talk about the other. No fading friendship, here. Lil'E talks less about all her preschool friends combined (whom she has seen much more often in the last two years) than about the BFF.

Last weekend - The sleepover. BFF was here with her dad for spring break, and he agreed to allow her to have a sleepover with Lil'E. There was much anticipation from the girls; yea verily, there was much rejoicing. And much crying when the weekend was over.

Somehow, I think this friendship is going to last a little longer.

(P.S. What's you longest friendship?
The BFF
The BFF

Silly Dancing
Silly Dancing

<Thumb War
Thumb War

Sunday Best
Sunday Best

Parting is such sweet sorrow
Parting is such sweet sorrow

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

True story

We here at Euphrony Rambles have been willfully ignoring the internets this week. Aside from posting a guest post from Jason Gray over on Inspired to Action I have not looked at blogs or touched my own. To put it simply I've been freakin' busy at work (translate, at lunch I veg - if I take that much time for lunch) and at night I've been too tired and wanting to do stuff with the fam.

Sad thing is, I've got enough posts for a month rattling in my head. So today I simply give this short disclaimer and a short true story that serves no purpose whatsoever. Enjoy!


When I was a freshman in High School, we took a band trip to Carlsbad, New Mexico. As part of the trip we, naturally, went through Carlsbad Caverns. About half way through the caves, I got a sneezing fit. If you've never heard me sneeze then let me give you a small description. I'm not a small sneezer; no, no mere achoo or stifled snort. I sneeze like a storm coming over the plains - you can see it coming, and you know its big. This was just such a sneeze.

The little group I was with finished walking through the caves, and we were goofing around waiting in the gift shop for the rest of our band group to come through. After about an hour in the shop I overheard someone who was just coming out of the caverns talking to a friend. They said, "Hey, did you hear that sneeze!"

True story. I guess I should be glad no stalagmites came down in the aftermath.


As I indicated above, there is no storal to this mory. But stay tuned - on Monday I plan on having a review of a great new CD that's coming on soon. You won't want to miss it. Or maybe you will. Who knows?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Texas Tradition

Here in Texas, come every spring, it is a tradition to roam out into the fields and along the highways, pull your car over and get out to take pictures with the blooming bluebonnets. Now, I understand that some places consider these a weed (a pox upon their nation!) but we here in the Lone Star state love 'em.

Here's the results of this year's efforts. It's been a dry year so far, and the bluebonnets aren't blooming like they did last year; but it's still a good show. First, here's a bluebonnet for you.

Texas bluebonnet

Now Lil'E in the field.

And here's Lil'er E (when we were not having to keep him from picking every flower he saw).
Lil'er E with Mrs. E Lil'er E admiring the bluebonnets

And the family.
Brothr and Sister
The Euphrony's in the bluebonnets

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Say what?

Accents: Can you understand them, or is it all bliberty bloop to your ears?

Kudos to "Amy Walker" in the above video above, for smoothly transitioning through so many accents so quickly. I've known people from all of these places, and she does a decent job with the accents.

But back to the original question. Can you understand people speaking with an accent? I know some people who can't understand anything spoken by someone from a different region. I'm oppositely inclined, having yet to hear an accent I could not adapt my ear to within a few minutes. (Proviso: If there is a speech impediment, all bets are off.)

What's the hardest accent for you to understand? And for another example of trouble with an accent, look at this video of a Kiwi trying to train Vista's speech recognition program.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My life is surreal

Any man who has daughters will tell you this. At some point - actually, at many points - you will find yourself doing things that no man ever thought to do as a little boy. Most likely, these kinds of "games" never crossed a man's mind until well after having a daughter.

Take, for example, my quality time with Lil'E last night. She's in kindergarten, so she knows everything by now. Or so it seems. We were playing on the bed - the perfect place to jump, hide from monsters - and she introduced this role-playing game.

Lil'E: (jumping on top of me and staring at me seriously) Okay. Tomorrow. You. Me. Dinner.
Me: Okay . . .
Lil'E: Next day. You. Me. Marry.
Me: Uh, okay!
Lil'E: Now, let's sleep together.
Me: !!!!!!!
Lil'E: (noticing my expression) Just a sleep over, daddy.
Mere minutes later we were married. Minutes after that we had a baby. In an odd way, my masculinity survives. Who knew?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Music Monday: And now for something completely different

"Don't Download This Song" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

Disclaimer: I downloaded this song.

Just for the record, I do not in any way support music piracy. I often tell friends, when letting them borrow a CD, not to burn a copy for themselves. I know and interact with some of these artists, and the real impact that it can have on their lives - not all musicians can afford a solid gold Humvee. But I also have very little support for the . In premise it's a good idea, but the legislation is so skewed in favor of big corporations that it is ridiculous, and Weird Al's satire of it's use as a club is perfect.

In fact, I was chatting with a friend last night and found out that he has run afoul of the DMCA. He's a big contributor on the MobileRead forum, and Amazon has threatened them with a lawsuit over their offering a link (just a link) to a script that allows people to nefariously use their Kindle mobile reader (sold by Amazon) to read e-books that were not purchased from Amazon! Oh, the shame! I fear the next time I visit my friend it will be at Club Fed. (You can read a CNET article on this here.)

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

I would be broke if . . .

I would be broke if I tipped at restaurants commiserate to the mess my children make. Today at Chili's, Lil'er E managed to toss his 1) milk, 2) water, 3) oranges, 4) corndog, 5) multiple spoons and forks, 6) coloring page/menu, 7) some french fries, 8) chips . . . I felt a little guilty, as I ran out the door.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Feeling blessed (even though its been one of those days)

My last 24 hours, starting with the most recent events:

  • Driving home from wok in the rain this afternoon. It took me twice as long as normal - nearly an hour. Arrgh!
  • I had to walk through a cold rain to get my lunch - brrrrr.
  • I got in to work at 9:00 (two hours late). As I'm walking in from my car I notice that my pants had ripped, along the seam from my right front pocket down about three inches. I just had to deal with it (subtly letting my arm hang down and cover the hole and keep it from gaping open to show my undies). It probably happened when . . .
  • I was finally ready to leave for work at 7:00; walking out to my car I get in and back out of the driveway. Something was wrong - I could feel it by the way the car pulled. Sure enough, the right front tire looks like a pancake. I get the tire aired up, check to see if it'll hold long enough to get to the shop, and head out. Discount Tire gets me a whole new set of tires (the one had a slow leak for a while, but finally went out on me, and the others we nearly bald). So it makes me two hours late for work; but that's okay because . .
  • Lil'er E woke up at 5:20 this morning. Mrs. E tried first to get him back down, then I took a turn. By the time he was in bed again, I was running late to get ready for work. Luckily, I had only had to stay up with him until 11:30 to get him in bed. But the day had already been a long one because . . .
  • I found out the company I used to work for, and left at the first of December, just had it's second round of layoffs in my division in the last month. Several people I know are now looking for jobs. I feel bad for them, and from what I hear it's like walking though a morgue over there - no joy, everyone wondering when the next bomb is going to hit. But it does make me feel blessed. I wasn't looking for my current job - they came looking for me. If they hadn't, I would still be in my old job, either with a pink slip or wondering when one was coming my way.
An overall crappy day, but I'm feeling blessed. God's been taking care of me and the Euphrony's. Thanks - I know we don't deserve it, but we do appreciate it, God.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Music Monday: Sandra McCracken

I really first listened to Sandra McCracken and her music when I got a sampler from artists on the Arts*Music*Justice tour last October. Based on the two songs on the sampler, I loved her music and her voice; this was only reinforced when I heard her live at the AMJ concert. I got her latest album, Red Balloon, for Christmas and love it. This is perhaps one of my favorite songs off the album - "The High Countries". Just beautiful.


This song actually appeared on the Caedmon's Call album Back Home, a few years ago. Here's what she has to say about this song:

This song is based on C.S. Lewis’ book "The Great Divorce." It borrows Lewis' spiritual analogies of the things that would keep someone from salvation. The term "high countries" represents heaven and a chance to be reconciled with God. The lyrics are pulled out of the book with detail and description, but even for those who are unfamiliar with the text, the song circles universal themes of brokenness, spiritual indecision and the human heart's natural resistance to salvation.
Just another song for your Monday enjoyment. Have you listened to Sandra McCracken's music? What's your opinion?

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I want this for my birthday

This would be the perfect cake for my birthday. It would be even better if it were Galaga instead of Space Invaders. But still, pretty awesome.

Cake courtesy of Hello Naomi
HT: Cake Wrecks


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Monday, March 02, 2009

Goodbye, Brad

Today, my friend Brad Wims was called home to be with God. I asked you to pray for him last week, and now I ask that you pray for peace and comfort for his family. He leaves his wife, Jenny, their five-year old son Zeke, and their two-year old daughter, Kaelyn. Here's a pictuer of him from last Friday, napping with his little girl.

Bram Wims with his daughter

Goodbye, Brad. See you on the other side. Or, since I know how much you loved your Aggies - see you at the 12th Gate.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Music Monday: Pierce Pettis

This is "Something for the Pain", from Pierce Pettis' recent album That Kind of Love. The lines below, from the second verse, I have had running through my head since I first hear it.

You can go to church on Sunday
You can put on your best clothes
But God always sees you naked
With all your sins exposed
Down here with the savages
In a world of freed Barabbuses
Where nuns carry guns
To protect themselves from rape
Let me give you something for the pain
Cutting. The whole song, in lyric and mood, is just so melancholy (the whole alum, really) and shines a harsh light on the reality of modern life.

At least, that's what I think.

What's your opinion of the song? Do you know much of Pierce's work? Personally, I am a pretty big fan - I think he's one of the best song writers out there these days. But that's me.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

2y (24m) (731d)

Yesterday was a big day - Liler'E turned 2 years old. That is, 24 months, or 731 days (last year was leap year). Just look at how happy he is! (Of course, if you had that much food on your face, you'd be happy, too.)
Lil'er Euphrony with a happy food face
Big party today - Elmo themed, for the Elmo lover. A few friends (as "friendly" as a kid just turning two gets) and some family. At least, everyone who isn't sick. But he's happy today, and having fun.

No more computer for me today - it's all party from here on out.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sometimes there is no happy

I read this post in The Rabbit Room last week, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. The writer, Jonathan Rogers, is amazing in his honesty with this post. Here is an excerpt from that post.

. . . Looking at Susan O’Farrell’s notebook I was struck by something so obvious I couldn’t believe I had never noticed it before: that second ‘r’ in her last name could easily be made into a ‘t’ so as to read O’Fartell. Get it? Fart—right there in the middle of her name! I pulled the pen out of her spiral binding and scratched the ‘t’ in its place, a little larger than it needed to be, just to be sure my efforts wouldn’t go unnoticed. . .
Susan’s eyes widened when they fell on her notebook. Then they filled with tears. . .
But as Susan scanned the room, I made a very mature calculation. I realized that I was literally the last person in the room Susan would suspect of such a meanness. If I played it cool, she would never know I was the person who had hurt her. . .
So I never told Susan what I had done. I let that suffering girl believe that, on top of the rejection she felt every day, she had an unknown enemy actively seeking to hurt her. I felt the cowardice of it, but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything about it. . .
I don’t suppose I even heard her name mentioned until one day in high school an old classmate from Miller Elementary asked, "You heard about Susan O’Farrell, I guess? Dead. She had some disease. Had it for years."
Man, do I ever relate with this. I was the good kid. To this day I do my best to make people feel included and not outside the group - Mrs. E is the same, and it is one of the things I love most about her. And yet, like everyone else, I pulled stunts like this. I've grown a lot since childhood; now I can see more clearly how best to act and do so with courage - but I'm still that little twerp sometimes.

The thing of it is, I can't forget these things. I remember the time this stupid, clumsy kid got a nice box collection of records with lots of stories on them - got them from some friends of my parents who were big time antique collectors - and leaving their house I sat them in the car and sat myself on top of them. Broke every one. I never told my parents, though I imagine they knew, and hid the broken collection away for years. I remember with crystal clarity the taunts I casually tossed (with bravado as my "friends" did the same") to girls in junior high. I know every detail of the time I got really mad at my parents for inviting a boy to my birthday party that I didn't want to invite - and the way I ostracized him the whole time. The list goes on.

All this from me, a kid whose last name is synonymous with feminine hygiene.

I should have known better how to treat people, because I knew how I did not want to be treated. And most often I did good - but the rest of the times I carry with me, not so much as a burden of shame (I'm past that, though regret will always linger) but more the polish of wisdom from experience. It's one reason that I feel so strongly about Matthew 5:23-24 and the desperate need for men to be reconciled, to each other and to God.

It's also a big reason that I (and Mrs. E) want our children to learn that there is a better way to act, a better way to treat people, than what seems so common - in children, of course, but also in too many adults I know. We don't try to burden Lil'E with more responsibility and maturity than she can handle, but we do try to get her to think about what her actions mean to other people.

Because, sometimes, there is no happy ending. No reconciliation, no amends made. Sometimes, we just have to live with ourselves and the knowledge of our sin. And that can be a heavy burden, indeed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

There's an app for that?

The mighty iPhone. To some a symbol of pure excess. To others, an invaluable tool for everyday life. To others still, its a new way to make rude noises.

Apple, famously, discourages people from hacking the iPhone - as a way to us it with a different wireless provider than AT&T or as a means to write your own apps. They have all the apps you would ever need, they say, in many a recent commercial. View an MRI - there's an app for that. Drink a virtual brew - yep, there's an app for that. Digital flatulence - they got you covered!

This video is from some people at the Houston Chronicle. It made me laugh.



Do you use an iPhoney or a CrackBerry? Or are you more simple than that?


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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Mighty to Save"

16On that day they will say to Jerusalem,
"Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.

17The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

Zephaniah 3:16-17 (NIV)
Isn't it funny how some phrases can become so oft repeated that they become cliché? The frequency with which I've heard "mighty to save" used in recent months brings this thought to mind. Literally everywhere in religious circles, this phrase is en vogue and everyone seems to be using it. I hear it in sermons, I heard it used multiple times in recent concerts. The song by the same name (now up for a Dove Award) has been on the radio. The phrase so permeates Christian culture today that I almost wonder if it is becoming a lip service to those who use it so glibly.

And yet, this is an old, old truth. I just recently realized that a favorite hymn uses this same line, "Rescue the Perishing", written by Fanny Crosby in 1869 - "Tell them of Jesus, the mighty to save.". These words, spoken to give hope and comfort to the people of Judah that, despite the coming wrath of Jehovah, He will always be their strength and refuge. These words, which still give peace and hope today. They meant so much to Laura Story as she and her husband dealt with his recent cancer that she included the popular Hillsong song on her recent album - the only song on the album she did not have a hand in writing.

No, these words are not cliché.

I pray these words for a friend today. Like Laura Story's husband, his body is wracked with cancer. Brad has been fighting this for some two years, now; he has been under Hospice care since just after Christmas. Read more about his fight and his family at his wife blog. I've mentioned Brad before and his and his family's struggles. Brad's had some good days and bad days in the last couple of weeks. He's still praying and believes in God's mighty power to heal him.

I don't know God's will in this. I know Brad has been through much, and his family have cried with his pain and rejoiced in the triumphs. Please pray with me today that God sees fit to bring health to Brad, and that in these days of struggle every moment with his wife and two young children be moments that will last a lifetime.

Jehovah is mighty to save.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Things I cannot do

Stroll
Seriously, strolling is the bane of my existence. Well, one of the banes, along with strong perfumes and disco music. When I walk as slow as I can - when I feel like I'm moving in slow motion like in the movies - I'm still moving faster than half the people around me. This is one of the reasons I don't like clothes shopping, because all you do is slowly stroll through racks that are placed close enough for a small child to fit between (but not a full grown man). I mean, seriously, I was walking around work on Monday - limping is more accurate, with my freshly trimmed ingrown toenail scrunched tenderly in my shoe - and my limp was faster than anyone I saw walking around that day.

What makes my inability to stroll even worse is when I get trapped, like when I'm walking down a hallway. Invariably I will encounter "the group", two or three people walking together and talking, side by side, completely blocking off the hallway. As they are deep in conversation, they are oblivious to the fact that they are walking slower than a snail and that someone is trying to walk by them. Yea verily, I am afflicted by the slow stroll of others. This is apparently a genetic problem, as I most definitely inherited this walking style from my mother. She's 73 and can still outpace me.

things you cannot do on Zurich public transportation

Sleep late (and by late I mean 7:30 a.m.)
Here's the deal - I'm prone to getting bad headaches, migraines, and they ain't fun. I've a new(ish) friend who mentioned that he has only gotten two or three headaches in his whole life, and the first wasn't until he was in his thirties - I can't fathom such a life (but he makes up for it with terrible food allergies). Anyway, like I said, I'm prone to headaches. When I sleep in, unless I'm really sick, I'll wake up with a mild headache. This headache will defy all medicine, growing and concentrating into a migraine by mid-afternoon. When I was younger I could sleep in, till around 9 in the morning; but the older I get the earlier I have to get up to avoid the headaches. Now a days I really can't sleep much past 7:30 without consequences. Luckily the kids help me out by never sleeping that late, anyway. I guess they just really love and care for their daddy.

Bungee jump
Okay, so technically, this is more a will not than a can not. If you were to tie me to a bungee cord and push me off a ledge, gravity and the cord's elasticity would take over. But the point is that you would have to tie me and push me. No way, baby - not gonna do it.

Anything you can't do?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lather, rinse, repeat

Streptococcus pneumoniaeExhibit A: Wednesday, February 11th - stomach bug. I was the third in the family to get it.

Exhibit B: Sunday, February 15th - ingrown toenail. My toe still hurts from where the doctor cut out the nail. And frankly, I'm not sure if I preferred having my toe numbed for the nail removal or would rather have suffered that pain and not the extremely painful shots in my toe.

Exhibit C: Wednesday, February 18th - strep throat. Yep, this is the second time in four months I've had strep.

I am so sick of being sick!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Music and apropos thoughts

Ladies and gentlemen, Fernando Ortega. ("Sing to Jesus", from the albums Storm and The Shadow of Your Wings: Hymns and Sacred Songs). I become engrossed, oblivious to other things, when I listen to this song.


My views on modern worship music are generally well known - I'm not a big fan. Honestly, Fernando Ortega is one of the few who produces music in this genre that I really love. His lyrics are so perfectly matched with the music, so healing to listen to, so deep in reverence and awe of Jehovah, yet as light and gentle as a butterfly's wings. Absolutely beautiful.

I read a quote, from a recent interview with Ortega, that I've been pondering for the last several months.

Well, I think that most of today’s Christian music is based on a thin premise. When you take a pop song and weigh it down with the gospel it sort of cheapens both. The theology is too heavy for the song, and the song usually ends up being too light for the theology. Often I feel like you end up with some sort of fuzzy Christian propaganda that doesn’t do music or the gospel any justice. That’s why I like hymns so much. The early fathers wrote many of the texts to hymns that we sing today. I like that they attach us to our Christian history and remind us of what in our faith is worth preserving. Hymns were written by theologians, not pop stars, and that is why when they are sung, we so tangibly feel the weight of glory.
There was some interesting discussion on this in the Rabbit Room. This sounds like something I would say. In fact, when I read it to Mrs. E, she said exactly that. I'm not sure that I 100% agree, or even that Ortega was able to get his full thoughts out in the small conversation recorded there. But I often wonder at the trite approach to the writing of much of today's "Christian" music.

Take this, for example. This weekend at our church we had some guests in leading us in worship. They lead a couple of songs that I had never heard before. Let me emphasize, I had never heard them sung, nor as much as heard the titles of the songs before. Yet I was able after hearing only a few bars to pick out (predict, really) the melody and harmonies, know when to expect a bridge, and even do a decent job of guessing words. I'm no musical genius, though I've studied some music theory (20 years ago). To be able to predict the music so readily makes me wonder at the writing, itself - we who are to bring first fruits, to know God well enough to know the works He desires for us to accomplish, we should be able to do better.

Of course, only one in a thousand songs has ever been good enough to survive in peoples ears for more than a few years; much less those enduring for hundreds of years. Just look at the shear number of hymns written by Luther or Wesley, and how many are remembered and sung today, to see how the "great hymn-writers" fared. Perhaps my expectations are too high for imperfect beings.

But I can't help but wonder: do we need more worship music written and produced, or do we need more effort put into crafting a few songs? Fernando Ortega puts out that effort, and it shows.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Disney Fan or Dirty Truck?

When most people find a car that is very dirty, they either ignore it or, at most, write "wash me" in the dirt. Not this Rembrandt. I was driving (more accurately parked) behind this truck on the highway yesterday. The original is on the left, and on the right I played with the contrast to try to make it more visible.

dirty truck on highwayenhanced pic to see the tree
What do you think? A bit excessive? Does it add levity to the highway? Do you feel like going to the Animal Kingdom to see the full-size Tree of Life?

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

My new favorite quote

In many cases, as far as viscosity is concerned, the Brookfield is to the quality-control laboratory what the Hoover is to the home.
Howard Barnes, "An examination of the use of rotational viscometers for the quality control of non-Newtonian liquid products in factories", Applied Rheology 11, 89-101 (2001).
I read this line today in the referenced paper by Howard Barnes. And I just about died laughing. (Can you tell I'm writing a new paper? And I have to turn it in tomorrow? And I'm a little brain-dead?)

You don't get it. I know you don't. But that's okay. I'm the rheologist around here, after all, and not you.

No, seriously, I'm still laughing. And you're probably wondering about my sanity. But that's okay, too. I'm the nerdy engineer around here, after all, and not you. (Or, not most of you.)

To fill you in on the aspects of this, let me tell you a few simple things. First, Howard Barnes. He is a crusty old Welshman, with many years of willingness to take a critical but tongue-in-cheek look at rheological issues. Seriously, to hear him dead pan some of these lines is just hilarious. If you are a rheologist.

Secondly, the Brookfield. Brookfield Engineering makes a variety of viscometers and rheometers (there's a difference, folks! Amazingly, Wikipedia is missing pages which describe the differences.) for industrial use. They're a nice company, and I know a couple of nice people who work there. The viscometer to which Barnes is referring is a truly ubiquitous instrument, used anywhere a fluid-like substance needs to be tested. And it's good for it's purpose. I won't bore you (TOO LATE!) with what distinguishes it from other, more rigorous viscometric methods. Suffice to say, it differs.

And that brings us to the third point. The people who use a Brookfield typically have no clue that there is a difference. I would liken it to reading the temperature off a thermometer. Never mind that the thermometer you are using is encased in ice melting in the Death Valley summer sun - when you see it reads 32°F, you dutifully write down that number and dare anyone short of God to challenge its validity. I have lost literally weeks of my life explaining this to people who don't understand why the data they're getting doesn't match with data from other sources or what was expected for the sample. Literally, weeks I'll never have back.

And that's why I'm laughing. Because someone else feels my pain.

Uh, hey, where did everybody go? I guess I lost you somewhere up there. Goodnight every body!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Music Monday: Now with 90% More Wednesday!

So I mostly had this done on Monday, but I've been busy. And sick. And apathetic about posting. But, in this new, improved Music Monday - with much more Wednesday than ever before! - I'm presenting Jason Gray.

I'm not sure if I've talked about Jason Gray too much around here. He's not that widely known, but among Christian artists he is one of the best writers out there. He is certainly one of the most self-demanding in his writing (he's told me and many others that his next album has been ridiculously slow in coming because of his own perfectionism in writing). And the results are some great music.

His last two albums - All The Lovely Losers and the live Acoustic Storytime - are great listens. The combination of music and story in the live album is wonderful. For example, you get to hear about his struggles with stuttering and with people who try to bring healing to his tongue. With salty hands. Eww.

Here is a YouTube clip of "I'm Not Going Down", one of my favorites off of All The Lovely Losers. None of the YouTube live clips of this song were that great, but this one includes a bit of his testimony and only cuts off the end of the song (sounds bad, but the song is great). You can see a differect version here

Have you heard Jason Gray's music before?



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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pre-School Elvis

Yesterday was a big day for the Euphrony children. Imagine The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Picture Elvis singing "Hound Dog" on The Milton Berle Show. It was that big of a day. We took the kids to see the pre-school Elvis.

We went to see Elmo live.

Pre-School Elvis
There were a dozen Muppets on stage, singing and dancing. Grover, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, the Count, Bert and Ernie, even Oscar. But, when Elmo came out . . . well, imagine The Beatles hitting the first chords of "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on Sullivan and the screams that went out - same thing, only it was a bunch of kids screaming for their superstar.

In case you're wondering, the letter of the day was "F". And the number of the day was "6".

Seriously, it's a rare thing that gets Lil'er E to stop in his tracks and cease his wild and destructive ways. Elmo is magic like that. (Really, we can count on Elmo and Kung Fu Panda to stop him dead.) Just take a look at the attention he's giving to the big red guy.
enthralled little boy
Of course, the kiddie-crack (cotton candy) was a big hit, too. We got Lil'E a pink sno-cone, but she didn't like it. She said it tasted like skin. Mrs. E gave it a try - she said it pretty much had no flavor at all, but no skin. Poor kid.
It tastes like skin!
But she got a Zoe doll, so she was happy. Lil'er E got a small Elmo, naturally. And everyone went home happy.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Dream a little dream of me

About a month ago I wrote about some weird dreams I had been having. Now, I could tell you some dreams that Mrs. E has had over the years and you would be going to the ER in need of a laugh-ectomy. But she knows where I sleep, and I want to live to see another day, so I will share more of my own personal strangeness.

Have you every noticed how really horrible fairy tales are? I mean, swindlers, child abandonment, being eaten by wild animals, self-mutilation - come on, this ain't kiddie lit! Take, for example, the lovely story by Hans Christian Andersen, "The Little Match Girl" - you can read it on-line here. I read that to my daughter when she was three, reading out of a big book of fairy tales. I'd never read the story before, so you can imagine how I felt as I concluded the story by retelling how the little girl froze to death on a street corner on New Year's Eve! And it was because she was afraid to go home to he father because he would beat her! Is it any wonder that we aren't all in desperate need of therapy?

Needless to say, one of the most enduring childhood dreams in my memory relates to a popular fairy tale. I had this dream I don't know how many times, and I still remember it like I had lived it only yesterday. In my dream I was Jack, and I had a beanstalk to climb.

Yep, that was the fairy tale dream I had.

Except it didn't go as well for me in my dream as it did for Jack in the fairy tale. And, considering the above observations, that means things went pretty bad for Euphrony and the Beanstalk. You see, I climbed the beanstalk, no problem. But my skills as a thief weren't as good as ol' Jack's and I didn't manage to get away with anything from the giant's castle.

Oh, and apparently my woodsmanship was not up to snuff, either, because I couldn't chop down the beanstalk. So, that means that the giant chasing me made it down to the ground safely - leaving me on the run in fear of becoming a man-pie at the giant's next banquet. I ran for safety and tried to hide at my grandparent's house, underneath a bed, and would occasionally peek out the window to see if the giant has given up yet. (As a boy I figured my grandparent's was a pretty good place. I mean, I would stay there and get a breakfast of Malt-o-Meal, biscuits and sausage, have sweet tea in the evenings, and pretend to take a nap while actually spying through the door to watch General Hospital with my grandma. Is there any better place to be?)

So that's how the dream would end, me cowering under a bed and the giant stomping on nearby houses trying to find me. I think one of the last times I had this dream (which I actually had into high school!) I woke up but couldn't move a muscle - I was frozen in place by what is known as REM atonia, which is scary as all get out.

Is it any wonder that I turned out the way I am? Some of you may still think I need to lay off the crazy juice, but I'm afraid I have to break the news to you - I don't need no juice to be crazy, it comes all on its own.

Anyway, do you have a fairy tale that has left you in need of a little catharsis? Do tell . . .

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

So sweet

I love my little girl. Of course, what sane father doesn't end up wrapped around his daughter's finger? Little E is stubborn as a mule (just like both her parents), is deaf like a teenager, and falls apart at the least little things. But, that's small compared to how sweet and beautiful she is - inside and out.

Little EuphronyHere are a couple of snippets of recent conversations:

  • Saturday night I was driving her and Lil'er E around to go pick up Mrs. E's birthday cake. I had my iPod playing on shuffle and she commented that she liked several of the songs. Then she told me "Dad, if a radio station has a competition you really have to enter your iPod! You'd win for sure!" Thanks for liking dad's music so much. I don't remember what was playing exactly, beyond an Enya song and some old Rich Mullins.
  • After listening to "If I Stand" and I told her that was Rich Mullins (I've been introducing some more of his music, lately) she said that he sure wrote a lot of good songs (true). After thinking for a minute she asked me "Dad, why can't we talk to God like they did in the bible [meaning face to face]. I wish we could talk to God like that." So do I, little girl, so do I.
  • Tonight at bedtime I asked Lil'E if there was anyone she wanted to pray for. After acting shy for a minute she said she wanted to pray for a boy at school - he's been mean to her and her friends and she wanted to pray for him.
  • On Sunday she drew a beautiful birthday card for Mrs. E. I tore it out of the sketch pad along the perforation, so she could give it to her mom. But, in doing so, tore off a small piece of one letter in Mrs. E's name. It was ruined, an she was inconsolable for hours. Literally, hours of crying. She just wanted the perfect card for mom.
Love ya, big girl! You're a sweetie and you make mom and I proud!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Music Monday: Are you ready for some football?

In honor of the recent big sporting event, I thought I would pose the question:

What is your favorite football song? Or, if not a football song, any sport song?
So, here's my answer: "Just Like Jim Brown (She is History)" by Pierce Pettis. (Who's Jim Brown? Now you know.) Who, besides a man, could write a song using football as an analogy for divorce? Who, besides Pierce Pettis, could make it melancholy and heart-wrenchingly beautiful? Listen to the song and tell me that it isn't a great piece of art - I dare ya'!


You can watch a live performance of "Just Like Jim Brown" here.

So, any other favorites out there? I mean, besides something from Hank Williams, Jr.?


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Happy Birthday, Mrs. E!

Today, Mrs. E celebrates her 30th birthday. She should do well, as she has had a few years practicing being 30. (Hint: she's still not older than Jesus.) Ah, well, she ain't all that old, and she's still younger than me.

I love her so much that I got the whole nation to throw a party in her honor. Sure, for some people I had to use the ruse of a silly football game to get them to throw a party; but we all know the real reason for today's celebration.

Any birthday wishes out there? Feel free to embarrass her all you want - I know I do every day.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Captain, she canna take much more!

STOP! DO NOT READ THIS IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CHILDREN AND/OR HAVE A WEAK CONSTITUTION.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Caddyshack pool candy bar
I'm glad he was wearing his little corduroy overalls. They absorb a lot without much getting through. This is very, very, very important when a hull breach occurs.

What on earth is Euphrony talking about? Well, the other night - just before Wednesday night classes started at our church - my son's diaper had a hull breach. And I'm talking total failure, here. It's amazing how a kid almost two can run around and play, not a care in the world, while half of his leg gets coated in poop oozing out from its failed containment system. And, of course, not being at home, I had no change of clothes with me. I say "I" because Mrs. E (to her benefit) was absent this experience. It's truly amazing how a child of a mere 28 pounds can produce his own body weight in scat in a single "sitting". I feel I should call the EPA and report the trash can I threw that diaper in a Superfund site. But, alas, that is not my problem now.

Overall, though, Lil'er E has been less of a #2 problem than was his big sister. When she was a newborn she would wait until we started to change her diaper before letting go. And when I say let go I mean it - it was projectile poop. Seriously, we had to clean crap off the walls five feet away from the changing table. More than once. In a single day. What a parent won't do for love. In comparison, Lil'er E has been a tame excrement factory. At least, nothing flies across the room with him.

Well, maybe I should amend that last sentence. I should say that the brown stuff rarely flies with him. A couple of weeks ago Mrs. E had put the two kids in the bath together - always a fun playtime for them. She stepped out the the bathroom for a minute and as she did I was walking up to the bathroom door. What I saw I will never forget. There was Lil'E jumping out of the tub. Little brother had "dropped a snickers bar" in the bathwater. And picked it up. And threw it on the bathroom floor. And was he ever laughing the whole time.

Ah, memories. I'll cherish these when I'm 102 and the kids have to change my diaper.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

If I could . . .

acoustic guitarSo, here I was thinking the other day about how I have a hard time seeing some of my favorite artists in concert. The reason, I was guessing, is that many of these artists tend to perform in small, acoustic settings. And Houston just doesn't have anything set up for small venue acoustic concerts that includes Christian artists in the mix. (By "Christian artists" I mean artists who predominantly produce CCM style music. I know that there are plenty of artists that hit the small Houston venues who are Christians.)

So, as I said, I was thinking (a dangerous pastime, I know) that I would absolutely love to open something like a coffeehouse which would regularly feature live acoustic performances from some great Christian artists (and by "Christian artists" i mean - well, we've talked about that). I can name a laundry list of people who I would invite in to play. Jason Gray, Pierce Pettis, Andrew Peterson, Steven Delapoulos, JJ Heller, Cindy Morgan, Sara Groves, Shaun Groves (no relation), Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Charlie Peacock, Matt Brouwer (he's here in Houston, so that shouldn't be hard), Fiction Family (seriously, have you heard this collaboration between Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek?), Andrew Osenga, Emily DeLoach - and that's just for starters.

I only forsee two problems with ever pursuing this dream:

  1. I have no business acumen and less ability to promote events. Seriously, I'm lousy at selling anything or running a business.
  2. I detest coffee. I mean, I even hate the smell of the stuff. I'd get nauseous being in a coffee house for too long. (Maybe I could go with more of a pub theme?)
So, other than those two setbacks, I could be well on my way to my dream.

What would your dream job be?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pray

Bart Millard is the lead singer for MercyMe. You probably know that. His baby girl, Sophie, is in the hospital with RSV and has been since Sunday. She's not doing well and they moved her to ICU this morning. Please pray! (Read updates on Bart's Twitter.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

joy comes in the morning

I'm a pretty serious person, really. Mr. Euphrony will occasionally ask me if I'm unhappy, because I just don't seem to smile. It's not that I'm sad, just serious.

I guess that's who I am - an engineer who looks through eyes for the best, most efficient (perfect) way to do things; for what needs to be fixed and how; for cause and effect, a chain of events that leads to this moment and beyond. I can't shut it off, can't even imagine what life would be like if I did. This is to my detriment, at times. As you can imagine, it has caused a fair amount of friction in interpersonal relationships over the years. It causes problems with my relationship with God, too. I've talked about how my approach to God can be too analytical and I will forget that it should be a pursuit of the heart, as well.

That's why I need art.

There is an ongoing debate in modern Christian music about the necessity of artistry. Some of the most popular groups on the radio today are lauded because they "bring the word" and "sing the name of Jesus" in every phrase of every song; and they and their fans will argue that any lack of artistry should be excused or is irrelevant because they are singing about Jesus. I'll be the first to admit that I need that, at times. I'm rather pig-headed (yeas, Mrs. E, I admit to it freely) and sometimes I need that 2x4 up against my head to knock sense into me. I need the reminders, both of God's promise and faithfulness and of His call to live a life of righteousness.

But I still need art.

I need art because I need to pursue God with my heart, and art speaks to the heart much more than the mind. Here is a video of Rich Mullins' "The Color Green", from A Liturgy, a Legacy, & a Ragamuffin Band. How can anyone call a song about a color an amazing, powerful work that can draw you near to God? And yet, it does so magnificantly because of the artistry of the song.


The last two minutes of the song don't even have words, just a repeating melody that, were it ever to get on the radio, would be chopped off to make room for other songs in the playlist. But these two minutes leave my mind reeling as I visualize the idea of running free through green fields. And I experience joy.

I experience joy, because the artistry of the music, the beauty of the simple words, the heart of the artist in his work, they all bring me to a moment when I truly experience God in all His majesty. I find again that I love God, beyond the minutia of daily life and deep within my being. And that is a moment of true joy.

We read in Psalm 30:5 "weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning." I think there is a good reason for saying joy comes in the morning. The hope of a new day; the beauty of God's pallet.


Part of Bloggable Music Network's Music Monday.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

the Taco Cabana of football

As many of you know, I am a proud and loyal Aggie. Despite the fact that the recent incarnations of the football team bears little resemblance to the teams fielded in my day, I still love my Texas Aggie football.

But after watching this video I can honestly say that I've been like Hitler. And yes, that is somewhat disturbing.



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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Egad!

kids kissingYikes!! Lil'E went to a friends birthday party today. On the way out one of the boys there, who is in her class at school and was on swim team with her, kissed her!

Run for the hills, everyone, Lil'E is bringing 'em in!

If he had kissed her on the lips, we may have had to sit ad talk a little bit. Okay, a lot. I asked Lil'E what she thought about him kissing her - she said it was funny. I almost told her it was sick, disgusting, and she would get cooties. But I knew that Mrs. E would kill me and she would need years of therapy later, so I refrained.

But I'm still somewhat off-kilter. I just can't believe she's getting this old already. Typical daddy feelings.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lil'E is growing up

Lil'E and Lil'ESo the other night at bedtime, Lil'E run's downstairs is is very excited about something.

Lil'E: Guess what! My bottom's big enough now that I don't have to use that thing on the potty!
Mrs. E and I: ? ? ? What . . .
Lil'E: That white thing. I don't have to use it anymore!
Me: Do you mean the toilet seat!?!
Lil'E: Yes! The white thing you put your bottom on! I'm big enought that I don't need it!
Mrs. E: Sweetie, that's the toilet seat. Everyone uses it. Mommy's bottom is much bigger than your's and I still use it. You always need to use it!
Lil'E: Oh, okay. (but still confused as to why)

I must say that I've never heard women so freely discuss the size of their bottom's before. I'm still laughing at this who episode.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I talked to the guy behind the president

Signing ceremony for the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act
So, here I am looking at a photo of a guy I interviewed, and he's standing behind George W. Bush at a signing ceremony at the White House. I'm thinking "that's pretty cool". I know it's not as if I was the one standing behind the president, but still pretty cool.

For those who don't recognize the man I'm referring to, that's Gary Haugen - president and CEO of International Justice Mission. And he was there, with others from various human rights groups, for the signing of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (originally passed in 2000, this reauthorization will increase funding and institute several policy reforms). A pretty big occasion, if you ask me. Sure, laws are passed all the time, but they all mean something and we should all have an interest in them.

Oh, and speaking of IJM, I'm not the only one speaking of IJM. They've been in the news a lot lately. The New Yorker just ran an article on IJM and Gary Haugen, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Samantha Power. You can read the article here, which I recommend. In fact, I'm not the only one who recommends the article. You can read some comments about it from The Wall Street Journal Law blog, who were quite impressed both with the article and the subject.

Oh, and I've a new post up on Inspired to Action. It's about Nicholas Kristof, an editor at the New York Times, and some of his recent articles on modern slavery and the sex trade. Not about IJM, but closely related to their work. Check it out and tell me what you think, okay?


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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm qualified, sign me up!

Job on the Great Barrier Reef islands
Job responsibilities include:
  • Exploring and reporting - There’s so much to see and do, so you’ll have plenty to write about in your weekly blog. And with so much life above and below the water, you’re sure to capture some entertaining moments for your video diary and photo gallery. To keep you busy, Tourism Queensland will organize a schedule of travel and events on the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Your schedule could include sampling a new luxury spa treatment at qualia on Hamilton Island, trying out new snorkeling gear on Heron Island, or bushwalking on Hinchinbrook Island.
  • Feed the fish - There are over 1,500 species of fish living in the Great Barrier Reef. Don’t worry – you won’t need to feed them all.
  • Clean the pool - The pool has an automatic filter, but if you happen to see a stray leaf floating on the surface it’s a great excuse to dive in and enjoy a few laps.
Having reviewed these job responsibilities, I believe I am more than qualified to spend six months on the Great Barrier Reef islands and get paid $100,000 to blog about it. I know I just started a new job last month, but I could come back to it later - this sounds better!

Hinchinbrook Island
Hurry, there's only 39 days left to apply.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

cause you don't mess around with a Norse God


Copyright 2008 News Group Newspapers Ltd
A builder scared off a house-breaker by running at him dressed as the Norse god Thor.

The terrified intruder leapt from a first floor window to escape Torvald Alexander, who was dressed as the Norse god of thunder in a red cape and silver helmet and breastplate.
Sometimes it pays to read The Scotsman. Really, I can't say anything else - mainly cause I'm laughing so much.

By the way, for those who are thinking jumping from the first floor window is nothing - in Europe, the first floor is the second story (above the ground floor).


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Friday, January 09, 2009

These dreams (or, a little therapy)

So, many of you may realize that I am a little bit on the weird side. I like math, I read encyclopedias (don't let me get started on Wikipedia, or I'll never get off), I look for new words and try to use them, I talk about rheology, etc. Well, lately my brain has been vividly releasing the more peculiar of the random firings of neurons in the old gray cells. I've had some doozies of some dreams.

In the spirit of getting things off my chest, while simultaneously giving you something to laugh at me about, I'll share. Aren't you the lucky ones!

So, here is one of the more traumatic of my recent dreams. The Euphrony family is driving in the euphony-mobile (a lovely minivan, if you must know). We pull up to a shopping mall of some kind, and we're near the doors - still in the car. I start getting everyone out of the car when suddenly a couple of guys jump out. One is unarmed but the other is holding a knife on me and shows me a gun in his coat. (You know, like all the bad guys do in the movies.) They proceed to rob us and then let us go. I get back in the car and drive the family around (I don't know where) and we end up back at the crime scene, talking with the police. I'm trying to explain that we were robbed but they don't know what to think; you see, the thieves didn't take everything we had. They left some money in my wallet, but took the big bills. They took my camera but left the telephoto lens. They took some things, but left enough that the cops don't think we were robbed. I look up and the next thing I know I see the guy who had the knife and gun walking out of the mall, like nothing had happened. I start yelling to the cops that that's the guy, but they look at me like I'm crazy or accusing the Pope of taking candy from a baby. Then I wake up.

So, what do you think? Am I loony? Have you had dreams like this? Hey, at least I didn't get stabbed (that was in a dream two weeks ago).

Next time, I'll share one of my favorite childhood dreams. If you care. (Hint, it involves a popular fairy tale.)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Things you don't know about me, and probably don't really care about (but I'm telling you, anyway)

When I was around three years old I got sick and was extremely dehydrated. My parents had to put me in the hospital, the dehydration was so bad. They hooked me up to an IV, and I didn't eat anything solid for I don't know how long. My mom had to sleep with her arm draped over me; this was to keep me from getting out of bed and trying to drink from the toilet.
kid on airplane

(I only have vague memories of this event, but my parents tell this story to this day.)

Finally, the doctors said I could have some plain, dry bread to eat. I was hungry, and they said I could have BREAD! Not good enough, in my three-year old mind. So I tell my parents, in what must have been my best "I'm 3 and know it all so do what I say" voice:


Man shall not live by bread alone. So put some ham on that!
Now, I bet you all feel like you know me a little better.

FYI, I'm still just that smart. And I'm still just that much of a wisenheimer. And how many of you would use "wisenheimer" in a sentence?

Any funny stories about you as a kid?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Music Monday: iTunes for Christmas!

Happy Music Moday New Year, everyone! I know all my readers (and after the holiday hiatus, I think that includes Mrs. E and myself) have been long awaiting more posts about music. Here it goes!

For Christmas, Mrs. E got me a $50 gift card for iTunes! Don't ya just love her? And, even though I found it two weeks before Christmas I refrained from pulling the trigger and buying until yesterday. Such decisions take time, you know? So here is the list of the official Euphrony Christmas Gift Music buyout.

  1. First on the list was one I had been holding out for the last two months - Andrew Peterson's Ressurection Letters, Vol. II. As I knew it would be, it's worth the wait.
  2. Next up, I had heard many good things about Jason Gray's live album, Acoustic Storytime (Live Songs and Stories). It's a blend of music from his latest album (All the Lovely Losers) and older music, with some stories in between. I love it.
  3. Next up was one that I had just heard about, from Stephen's blog - Béla Fleck and the Flecktones Jingle All the Way. If you've never heard the Flecktones or Béla play then you're missing out. One of my new favorite Christmas albums - it even has me listening to holiday music after New Year's!
  4. I'd never really listened to Sandra McCracken's music before the Arts*Music*Justice Tour, but I fell in love with her voice and style there. So I decided to get her latest album, Red Balloon.
  5. A few years ago I borrowed a copy of Down the Old Plank Road, a collaborative work between The Chieftains and a bunch of others. I played it solid for a couple of days, until I felt like I had to give it back. Why it took me so long to add to my collection I'll never know.
  6. Now we're into some bonus time. But this is a small one. Laura Story recently released a single, Emmanuel. It was worth adding onto the list.
  7. Okay, now I'm just cheating. And this isn't through iTunes, either. I pre-ordered a copy of Pierce Pettis' upcoming album, That Kind of Love. I should get it in the mail soon!

Now, who out there can count the musical connections in the above selected artists? I've got just about all of them connected, in one way or another.

This is part of the Bloggable Music Network's Music Monday.

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