Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Guitar Delivery

I put the finishing touches on Eubanks Guitars #002, plugged it into my amp to make sure the pickup worked, then called the owner, Mike Jensen, and told him he could pick it up whenever he wanted.

He wanted now.

He was working up in Thurmont at his body shop, "Mike's Auto Body," and couldn't wait to come get it. I let him borrow one of my cases so he could safely transport it home.

He's happy.

The guitar looks good, plays great, and has a nice sound that will only get better. I told him to play the heck out of the guitar over the next three months to break it in.

The top (not called the front, even though it's the part that faces the front) is made of spruce, which sounds better and better as it ages. The next few months it will adjust to the vibrations caused by playing. It will loosen up, which means it will vibrate more, which will loosen it up even more--and a top that vibrates more loosely is a top that will sound better and better.

The first Eubanks Guitar is the one I made in Vermont. This is the second Eubanks Guitar, but it's the first made here in Maryland by myself. And it's the first made for someone else.

But not the last. Pam's itching for me to get to some things on the Honey-Do List, but when the weather warms up and I can control the humidity in the garage, I'll start on the next one. There are dibs already for #003 and #004, but if you're interested--seriously interested--let me know. It'll take a few years to get to you, but as long as you're not in a hurry, I'll add you to the waiting list.

This was a lot of work. It was frustrating at times.

But it was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

23.5 degrees

Long before there were scientific instruments or calculations to figure such stuff out, prehistoric people knew something was up. It was getting colder. Nights were getting longer. More disturbingly, the sun wasn't rising as high in the sky. Each day, its peak was closer and closer to the horizon.

If something didn't happen, maybe one day it wouldn't peak above the horizon at all, and there would be nothing but frigid darkness.

Prehistoric people didn't know exactly what the sun was, but they knew it brought light and it brought warmth, and their lives depended on both. When it was warm and daylight lasted longer, plants grew and animals were plentiful. There was food to be found.

But when the darkness lasted longer and the cold grew more bitter, plants withered, animals became scarce--and people died.

Around this time of year, they noticed that the sun started rising again. We know that the sun stops descending in the northern hemisphere on December 21st, and the very next day--today, in fact, it starts rising a little higher.

Solstice. From the Latin sol, meaning "sun", and sistere "to cause to stand still." The sun stops descending and starts heading in the opposite direction.

It's not easily noticeable at first, not without instruments and mathematical formulas. It took a couple of days for people to notice that the sun had started rising higher in the sky

Probably around December 25th is when they saw it. The promise of warmth. That the darkness wouldn't overcome the light. That Life had returned to earth.

And so they celebrated.

And so do we.

"What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it." John 1:3-5

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Beyond $50K

WFC has raised over $40,000. That was before yesterday's "$10 Friday," and we know over $4,000 was given yesterday--we may have even dug a well in one day. I'll let you know as soon as I know.

We are going to blow past $50K.

We keep counting until the end of the year. How many more wells will we do?

Thanks, everyone.

The XVI?

Today I received two very nice Christmas cards saying that someone had donated $20 to Water For Christmas in my name. Very nice, and much appreciated.

But the "From" line was left blank. Either the person wishes to remain anonymous, or Charity: Water made a mistake.

I'm guessing the former, because both cards were addressed the same way (which is why I think it's one person.)

"Dr. Laurence Lee Eubanks XVI"

OK, it's not Laurence or Lawrence or anything. It's Larry. It's on the birth certificate.

But someone is just jerking my chain, and I have my suspicions.

So, thanks for the donation.
If Charity: Water made a mistake and you don't mind telling me who you are, shoot me an email.

But if you're just jerking my chain, I'm calling you out, and daring you to call me Laurence to my face. :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Movies, Pt. 2

Last week I shared my list of must-see Christmas movies. Some people questioned why certain movies, like "White Christmas" weren't included.

Because I didn't watch "White Christmas" growing up, so it never found a place in my nostalgia bin.

I've watched it as an adult. Nice movie. Bing and Danny Kaye were big stars, and nothing beats Bing singing "White Christmas." But it's not must-see for me.

There are some Christmas movies that, when I've mentioned I've not seen them, I get incredulous looks from people. See, I'm not a big movie-watcher. I go to the theater maybe 6-8 times a year. Maybe. And I don't rent movies a whole lot. Seems I can always find something better or more pressing to do with my time.

So there are a lot of good-to-great movies out there that I've never seen.

Shoot, I had never even seen "Casablanca" until last year.

So, here's my list of Christmas movies that I haven't seen that everyone seems to think I should:

1. "A Christmas Story." When someone mentions something about a Red Ryder BB Gun and I look at them with a puzzled look, I end up being the recipient of some diatribe about what a great movie it is and how in the world have I not watched it.

Truth is, until last year I had never even heard of "A Christmas Story." It's been out for 20 years; where have I been? Sorry; I know I must be some kind of cultural Philistine for having missed this bit of classic Americana. I'll watch it, I promise. Someday. When I don't have something more pressing to do.


2. "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" starring Chevy Chase. Never seen it. Never even caught five minutes of it on T.V. All my friends talk about how funny it is, share their favorite scenes with each other, and I have to stand off to the side and watch. I'm not allowed to play in any reindeer games, because I'm the only one who hasn't seen the movie.

That's it; that's the list. Every other Christmas movie that I haven't seen I can find plenty of other people who haven't seen it or who have but don't think it's the greatest thing since Rudolph's red nose.

There is one more list of Christmas movies/specials that I need to mention. Go on Amazon or something and search for Christmas movies, and you'll find some that will make you wonder, "Who thought this would be a good idea?" Really, really lame Christmas specials.

So here's my list of Christmas Specials I'm Glad I Never Saw:

1. Donny and Marie's Christmas Show. Too much teeth.
2. Barbie in a Christmas Carol. Barbie--yes, the long-legged doll--as a Scrooge-like diva?
3. Barney: Night Before Christmas. I'm dreaming of a purple Christmas? Don't think so.
4. Ernest Saves Christmas. Ernest was funny for a commercial or two, but not for a full-length movie.
5. A Carol Christmas. It "stars" Tori Spelling, William Shatner, and Gary Coleman. Thespians everywhere must have gone into mourning.

Unfortunately, this list could go on and on and on.

But I can't.

Catching Up

I'm a pastor, husband, father, son, brother, and uncle, and Christmas is just a week away.

Been a tad busy, so I've gotten behind on my posts.

Truth is, if you want to know what's going on with Water For Christmas, Jody's blog is the best way to go. It's almost in real time.

I get all my information from her anyway.

But in case you haven't heard, WFC has raised over$35,000. The WFC Benefit Party Sunday night in Muscatine raised over $15,000.

That's seven wells. I predicted six, Jody challenged us to hit ten.

I was wrong. Jody is going to be right. We're going to hit ten. Maybe more.

5,000 people won't have to drink disease-carrying, disease-causing water.

Tomorrow's Friday. You know the drill.

FBC's Choir has their annual Christmas party Saturday night. They usually do a gift exchange. They still are, but instead of buying gifts, they are going to bring something from home to give, and give the money they would have spent on gifts to WFC.

Gloria in excelsis deo, indeed.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Well A Week

We did it!

We've raised enough money for four wells.

The pace has picked up to a well a week. With a little less than two weeks to go before Christmas, six wells is within our reach. Things will have to really pick up to get to the ten wells that Jody has challenged us to reach, but it's not out of the question.

Tomorrow night in Muscatine there is a big WFC Benefit Party. It's at a country club. There's a vacation package and lots of other neat things to be auctioned. Who knows how much might be raised--maybe enough for Well #5. Or #5 and #6.

You just never know.

Regardless, Water For Christmas has been a big success, if for no other reason than that our awareness has been raised.

Aw, forget that. You can't drink awareness. It's a success because people will have water and will not have disease. Children will live. That's why it's a success.

So let's shoot for the ten. That's a lot of water.

A lot of life.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Another Friday; Another Well?

I love Fridays; they are my day off, which means Friday is Myday.

Yeah, that was really lame.

Two more Fridays before Christmas; let's see how many wells we can dig between now and then.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Movies

When I was a kid, back in the Stone Age before Beta, VHS, DVD and Blue Ray brought T.V. shows and movies into our homes whenever we want; back before cable brought us a zillion channels 24/7, back when we had all of 6-7 channels to watch and there was no On Demand, if you wanted to watch your favorite Christmas movie or Christmas special, you had to watch very carefully for when it was scheduled.

We would carefully preserve the T.V. listings book that came in each week's Sunday Washington Post, and we would look at the week ahead to find out what was scheduled when. There was one T.V. in the house, which often led to arguments when we disagreed as to what to watch at any given time. Such arguments were rare, however, when it came to Christmas. Most of the shows we would watch together as a family, and they were favorites for all of us.

And they still are.

Here's a list of my favorite Christmas shows/movies. Now, almost by definition, Christmas shows tend to be sappy. Whether comedy or drama, cartoon or real actors, there's usually a moment when something catches in your throat and tears form, no matter how many times you've seen it. Sappiness is allowed at Christmas. Expected, even.

OK, so here's my list. You can disagree, that's fine, but don't get all self-righteous on me. It's a matter of preference.

Any list starts with "A Charlie Brown Christmas." As kids we never missed this. It wasn't Christmas without Charlie Brown. As an adult I am struck by how primitive the show is. The animation is bad, and the kids reading the lines do so without any feeling or inflection. The music is first-rate, however, and who among us hasn't imitated some of the repetitive dance moves of the kids on the stage?

Please tell me I'm not the only one.

The whole thing is redeemed by Linus quoting Luke on a darkened stage, and the kids somehow adding, not just decorations, but also branches and needles to Charlie Brown's scrawny tree. Classic.

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas" was next on our "Must-See T.V." list. And as good as Jim Carey is in the movie version, nothing beats the original. That's true for everything on this list, mainly because of nostalgia.

That's why the original black and white version of "A Christmas Carol" starring Alastair Sim is still the best version. I thought George C. Scott made for a great Scrooge for the same reasons he made for a great Patton, but Marley and his chains and the graveyard scene with the Ghost of Christmas Future should be seen in black and white.

No one has anyone ever tried a remake "It's a Wonderful Life." Who would want to mess with perfection? James Stewart, Donna Reed, a perfect villain in Mr. Potter--and Clarence gets his wings.

I know that "Miracle on 34th Street" should be on this list, but we never watched it as kids, and I've only seen it a couple of times as an adult, so it can't really be on my list. But if it were, the black and white version would be the one.

OK, you may disagree with the next two, but it's my list.

I think "Home Alone" is a great movie. Improbable, maybe, but few modern movies can pull off slapstick, and this is one of them. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern are great as bumbling bad guys, and when the old man neighbor is reunited with his estranged daughter at the end...

Finally, "The Santa Clause," if for no other reason than it gives a credible answer to every kid who has ever wondered how fat Santa gets down a skinny chimney, or what happens when there is no chimney.

So, here's my list. There are some movies that should be on that aren't. I'm not a big movie-watcher, so there are some movies that are people's favorites, and when I admit I've never seen them I always get, "You mean you've never seen 'A Christmas Story'?" Or "I can't believe you've never seen 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation'!" I know, maybe someday I will, and maybe they'll make my list.

But probably not. There's just something about the Christmas shows of your youth that later productions can never match.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Earlier today I said that I thought we would dig 6 wells by Christmas. That would be $30,000 collected by Water For Christmas.

Then Jody trumped me by challenging everyone to help us reach $50,000. That's 10 wells.

OK, let's go for it.

Get the word out. Every little bit helps. Big bits help too.

Can you say "$20 Fridays"?

My Christmas Gift

Pam and I have some good friends, Laura and Paul Peeling, who live up in PA. Laura and I have known each other since 7th grade down in Rockville. I never had a sister, but if I did I imagine she'd be like Laura.

This year Laura and Paul emailed a Christmas letter to everyone on their Christmas list, and told them that the money that they saved on postage and Christmas cards they were going to give to Water For Christmas. They gave the URL to the WFC website and encouraged everybody to take a look Laura said that they have gotten a great response so far.

Sometimes the best presents are those that you didn't ask for, didn't expect, that take you completely by surprise. This was one of them.

Laura and Paul are good people. I wish that we didn't live so far away and live such busy lives that we couldn't get together more often than just once a year on our birthdays (Laura and I were born five days apart; she's older than me, and I remind her of that often to keep her in line.)

But friends like them are what make a person's life rich.

1500 People Will Get Water

We did it. Well #3 is a reality.

Thus far Water For Christmas has taken in more than $16,000.

Thank you.

First Baptist Youth collected about $300 on Saturday; $100 of it came from the Amazing Grace Sr. Adult Sunday School class. But a good bit of the rest came from the youth sitting outside in the bitter cold on Saturday at the Rt. 40 Shell station. The owner gave the youth quarters so that people could vacuum their cars for free, and then the youth told them about Water For Christmas, and people gave.

Our youth rock!

So, on to Well #4. The last $10 Fridays generated about $2000; there are two more Fridays before Christmas. We ought to get at least one more well out of these Fridays.

And I haven't received my Christmas "presents" yet. I think we'll get to 6 wells by Christmas.

That's 9,000 people who will get clean water. 9,000 people who get life.

This is the best Christmas ever.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Well #3

We are less than $2000 away from digging well #3.

It's Friday; let's do it today.

You know the drill: $10. Friday. WFC's Red Donate Button.

This time we have artwork!

What more do we need?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Quiet Christmas

It was such big news in Israel that King Herod had to learn about it from some foreign dudes more than a year after it happened.

Shepherds lying around in the fields just a few miles from where it happened were oblivious.

No big deal.

The birth of most babies born in this world is no big deal to anyone except the immediate family and friends of the parents. Babies are born every day. No big deal.

Unless the baby is born to a king and queen, prince and princess, president and first lady.

Or Madonna. (Oh, the irony there!)

You even get the sense that Mary and Joseph didn't quite get what was happening to them, even with the angels talking to them.

Jesus was born, and it was no big deal.

My, oh my, what have we done with his birth?

If we wanted to have a quiet Christmas, would we be able to? Maybe seal ourselves off in a room somewhere and don't come out for a month or so. Don't watch T.V. Don't go online. Certainly don't go to any malls.

Even then, I don't know that it's possible. A quiet Christmas? Does that constitute an oxymoron?

I wonder if many of us feel that a quiet Christmas would be a lonely Christmas. No parties to attend, no meals to share, nobody to exchange gifts with. There are probably people who have those kinds of Christmases, but they don't sound like much fun. They sound depressing. Avoid at all costs.

So we have active, lively, music-filled, decorated Christmases. Nothing wrong with that. I love the parties, the music, the decorations at Christmas. Last Monday the staff attended the Adult II Christmas luncheon at Ceresville Mansion, and a few hours later a dinner at the Red Horse Steakhouse for area ministers sponsored by Keeney & Basford Funeral Home.

Broiled scallops wrapped in bacon. Mmmm.

I like it all--the parties, the decorations, the music--both secular and religious--the traditions. I like the Christmas productions like "Imagine Christmas" that we are doing next week. (It is really going to be cool; we are tapping into some unseen talent that I think you are really going to enjoy.)

But the trend is moving away from quiet. From reflection. From worship.

A guy at a Wal-Mart gets trampled to death because a crowd can't wait to get in and save 25% on a plasma T.V.? They actually took the hinges off the door and stampeded into the store. People even bumped into rescue workers trying to do CPR on the poor guy.

No, this isn't going to be rant against a mindset that killed a man. Too easy.

But maybe the Church ought to find a way to try to reverse the trend toward Christmas madness, standing against a cultural mindset of bigger is better, more is better, most is better, better is better.

Trying to move our culture toward simpler, quieter, more reflective.

Maybe, just maybe, singing "Silent Night, Holy Night" by candlelight at the end of our Christmas Eve service ought to be seen as the first act in a counter-cultural revolution to bring Christmas back to the way it began.

A Couple of Water Ideas

Two people from the First Family are working on some projects to raise money for water. Beth Jones is selling red "" rubber bracelets for $5, with the proceeds going to WFC.

Alex Nunemaker has started an ambitious project with a goal of raising $4,000 by Christmas. Called "Stuff for Water," he is encouraging people to sell their unused stuff and donate the funds for water. He can explain it better than I can:

“Stuff” for Water
This Christmas, I’m asking friends, family and strangers to take advantage of online auction sites like, or Ebay to bring water to a community in need.
The concept is simple: Most of us have things laying around our house that are rarely used or we don’t need or want. It could be old video games, books, CD’s, collectibles, household items… anything! I’m asking people to list items like these on the online sites that I have mentioned. By pooling our proceeds together I hope to raise $4000 by the end of December. To achieve this, I estimate we would need about 150 participants.

If you would like to participate or have any questions you can send me an email at or by phone at (240) 285-5335. If you are not comfortable with computers or these sites I can also list items for you, or help you decide where and how to list items.

Alex has created groups on MySpace and Facebook where you can learn more and communicate with others who are participating in "Stuff for Water." Go here for his MySpace group (check out Alex's "Why This is Important to Me" forum topic) and here for his Facebook group.

These are the kinds of simple things that regular people can do to provide something that we take for granted--clean water--but rare and precious in many places in the world.