Blood:Water Mission
Compassion International
International Justice Mission

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.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009


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.


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

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?

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.


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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