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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

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?


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.