The grass withers, the flowers fade…

My friends Kara and Ryan, who founded and run Imana Kids, posted a photo to the Imana Instagram account with the text of Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”

This verse imprinted on me in a most unique way when I was a teenager. Anyone who knows me knows I was a metalhead in my teen years (and I still am). After I discovered Stryper, and the realm of Christian metal, I came across a Christian rock band called Ruscha. The band was founded by brothers Nikolai and Peter Pankratz, who escaped Communist Russia in the 1970s. They started the band in the 1980s as an outlet for their love of music, and as a vehicle for giving witness to what it was like to be a Christian in Soviet Russia. Andy Denton, whose vocal range is highlighted on the song “Come Home”, was the group’s frontman.

There was a church in one of the Baton Rouge suburbs, Baker or Zachary maybe, I don’t recall which, that hosted the band. (It was the same church I also saw Wayne Watson perform at.) My dad went with me to the event, part concert, part testimony. I’d gotten their album “Come Alive” at a local Christian book store, and loved some of the songs. I can still see in my mind’s eye Andy, Nikolai, and Peter on stage in that church.

There are two things from that album and concert that have stuck with me to this day:
+ Nikolai and Peter talking about believers smuggling individual pages of the Russian-language Bibles in slits in potatoes, and how if the pages were left in there too long, they were ruined by the potatoes’ fluids. They salvaged whatever pieces they could, because people were that starved for the Word of God.
+ The song “The Word Stands Forever”, which uses Isaiah 40:8 as the chorus. It’s the only Ruscha song I can still sing by heart.

The memories I just shared, stirred up by the Imana Kids post, sent me on an Internet hunt, and the Internet delivered. There’s a Wikipedia entry for the band, linked to earlier in this post. Which led me to wonder if any of their music was available online; the copy of “Come Alive” I have is on cassette, and most likely buried in a shoebox in a closet. We have an Amazon Music Unlimited subscription, and lo and behold! The Pankratzes released a remastered version in 2012, and I’m listening to it as I type this post, with a smile on my face as I sing along to “The grass withers, the flowers fade, Heaven and Earth will pass away, the grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of God stands forever.”

First impressions of The Passage premiere

  • I was worried about the Wolgast/Amy connection; I’m not worried any more
  • as one expects of book adaptations, there are noticeable changes
  • some of those changes are character-related, and I think I see where it’s going with one, and I approve. With another, I’m not so sure.
  • I think Gosselaar is a good choice for Wolgast; I think Saniyya Sidney is an excellent choice for Amy
  • Jamie McShane as Fanning looks like he’ll be perfect
  • a little too early to make the call on McKinley Belcher as Carter, but I like where it’s going

Nathan told me that he’d read they’re taking this a little more linear than the books do, where the timeline jumps back and forth between the past (and multiple characters’ pasts) and the present (and multiple characters’ presents). I think that will be a benefit. Author Justin Cronin is listed as an executive producer. I’m really hoping that means he has real input and it’s not just an honorific. The Passage trilogy is epic dystopian myth-making. I’m actually considering stopping all other reading to pick up the first book again.

There’s also a strong adoption theme to the Wolgast/Amy relationship.

I generally give a new show five episodes to keep me as a viewer. Given I read the background material for this one, I’m likely already in. I’m anxiously awaiting the next episode.

Hello, again, early 2019 edition

Retrophisch.com lives again. I have wandered aimlessly in the wilds of the Internet for far too long. It was finally time to own up to one of my mantras regarding one’s online presence: own your own domain, own your own content.

History, and the way forward

When last we left this site, I had eschewed WordPress for Tumblr. Given one of the constants of life is change, it was only a matter of time before WordPress evolved to the point where I would make the leap. And it was so easy. I wonder why I took so long to do this. (Oh, right, life with three boys, and being hockey dad, Cub Scout dad, swim dad, golf dad…)

I have had a Dreamhost account for a few years. The only real use it had been seeing was serving up email for my oldest, on one of the domains I registered for him a decade or so prior. When the server this blog and its predecessor had been living on suffered a catastrophic hardware failure, it was time to make the move to Dreamhost full time and relaunch. So here we are.

WordPress installation on Dreamhost was a snap with their One-Click Install. Importing my Movable Type archive went seamlessly. Well, seamlessly after I figured out I needed to install and turn on Markdown plugins for some of its and the Tumblr archive’s posts to look as they should. Said Tumblr archive followed soon after. My Tumblr site remains up, so long as Tumblr survives as a corporate entity. Should that fail at some point, the posts live on here. Which is the whole point: owning my own content.

Years ago, Michael Hyatt blogged how he looked at his online presence as revolving around his blog/site. That was home base. Everything else—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, what have you—were simply outposts. They were never to be one’s only online presence. While this resonated with me, having had an online presence before any of these companies came into existence, I stumbled in hewing to it. Nevertheless, thanks to catastrophic hardware failures, corporate buyouts, and creepy corporate policies, I began anew to prepare myself to giving up one or more of those entities should I feel the need arise.

Manton Reece reiterated, repeatedly, that which Hyatt promoted, and I internalized: own your own content. Manton left Twitter in 2012, but didn’t stop with posting tweets. He just did so on his own blog, in the form of snippets, or micro posts. This eventually led him to launch Micro.blog on Kickstarter two years ago. I backed this project, and was among the hundreds of original tenants of the Micro.blog ecosystem. I mainly set it up as the own-my-own-content side of my social media. You’d see these same posts on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere, but they lived on Micro.blog first. This became my default online presence.

Yet there was still a sense of unease behind it. Yes, it was a service I was paying for. I was the customer, not some corporation paying Manton for all my info so they could sell ads to me. You know, exactly what Twitter and Facebook do. But it still felt like another layer to deal with. It was better than what I was doing before, and I continue to enjoy the community aspects of Micro.blog, but it didn’t feel like home.

Now those posts will reside here. I ran into an issue importing my Micro.blog feed, and I’m working with Manton to resolve it. Those will cross-post to Micro.blog, and thus to Twitter (and Mastodon, for what it’s worth).

There’s still a lot of cleanup to do on the older posts. I’ve gotten through 2002 as of this post going up, which means there’s a long way to go, but it’s worth it to me.

I do not plan to delete old posts. Some of these I’ve read and winced. My thinking has changed on some issues in more than a decade since these old posts were published. With others, maybe I could have been nicer and less sarcastic. (Hey, I said maybe.) But they are what they were at that time in my life.

Much thanks is due to Webmistress and CSS master Raena for assistance in getting things looking just the way I wanted, and to Michael for bits of advice on WordPress, Dreamhost, and importing content.

Why do all this?

Because I can. Because I want to. Because I determined I am going to own my online presence and not outsource it to others. You may not feel this way. That’s cool. But this is the way I want it for me.

Own your own domain. Own your own email. Own your own content.

So what’s next?

A few years ago, when I was throwing around the idea for a new logo, a new tagline appeared in my mind: Navigating the waters of faith, family, and fiction. While that isn’t displayed overtly on the side, it is embedded in the code. So those areas will be my focus, along with the tech and nerdery I’ve long been involved with.

In the latter vein, I already have a draft about Mac portables going, based upon some recent experience, recent news, and recent blog posts by others.

I hope you stick around!