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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