PapaScott And you know what they said? Well, some of it was true!

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25 Years

Another half decade, another milestone. Just five years ago I was waxing poetic about how we had already been in Germany for 20 years, and now it’s already been 25 years. Strangely enough my passport from then bears no entry stamp for 1 September 1990.

At the time our entry into Germany was uncertain. Reunification was in the air, everyone knew it was coming, but the details were still being negotiated behind closed doors. We boarded our plane to Frankfurt on 31 August without knowing our fate. Luckily for us, while our plane was in the air, the “Einigungsvertrag” was signed by BRD Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and DDR State Secretary Günter Krause, clearing the way for our entry into the soon-to-be unified Germany the next day.

Einigungsvertrag 31-Aug-1990

That document did however leave several details open. It never was determined whether our cats would remain American citizens or whether they would obtain German citizenship.

Taking your Place

For our son’s Confirmation yesterday I gave a toast that went quite well. It sums up pretty well how I feel right now about our son and parenting, so I’ve modified it a bit and posted it. I wrote it in English so my mother could follow along, but I gave it in German, translating on my feet.

I’d like to take this chance to talk directly to you, my son. This is one of the few chances that I know you’ll be listening. At church the pastor talked about how Confirmation is a decision, an active decision, that you make. It is also an positive action… you are finding and taking your place.

You are of course taking your place in the church. We were all just there, of course. The church is a human institution, of course, it is not perfect. But the humans in the church usually do the best they can. And the church has been around a couple of thousand years… if you have a question or a problem, chances are someone has come to the church with that before and it can give you advice.

Confirmation is also a family event. They have all come to celebrate not so much because they are interested in your faith but because you are taking your place in your family. Confirmation has played a role in both our families, in Germany and in the US, and is something that binds them both. It is a family milestone, a sign of a new generation, and time and life moves on as it always has. Time only moves in one direction and at one speed. It always gets to its destination, even when we want to take detours.

In rural Germany Confirmation is also a community event, much more so than in the US. It is the line you cross to become an adult. For your parents our town is a place we moved to, but for you it is where you grew up, your home, your Heimat. And now you will be taking your place in your community. You will no longer sing for candy on Pentecost, but plant trees with the young men. Later you can graduate from the youth fire dept to take responsibility for your community with the active fire dept. A hometown is something precious. A place where you can put down roots, find your peace, a place to belong. Your older relatives can tell what it is like to lose your hometown, your Heimat. It is something to be cherished in your heart.

Finally, you are taking your place in world. Unlike in our town, in reality becoming an adult is not a solid line to be crossed. It’s a process that you have now started, and maybe never ends, and process that you are now taking over for yourself. For your parents it means that we have taught you pretty much even thing we can, we cannot “raise” you anymore. We can’t tell you anything anymore, as you remind us when we try to say something you disagree with. We have to start letting go, to stop setting rules and instead give advice and let you make your own mistakes. We are very happy and very proud for what you are and what you will become. I am certain that you have the qualities for success, in every sense of the word. Your self-confidence, your sense of fairness, your intelligence and stubbornness… a positive stubbornness, I should point out. It’s OK to dream big, that’s the only way big dreams can come true, just have a flight plan filed, just in case. As pilots say, flying is the second most exciting thing in life. The most exciting thing is landing.

Today is your day. Cheers, Prost, auf Dich!

See What Sticks

So now that I’ve changed my blogging platform, I have something to blog about: my new blogging platform!

From the WordPress eXtended RSS file of the contents of my blog I found I had exported 3273 posts. Jekyll re-renders every post every time a change is made… on the default template it takes 3 minutes, but on the Lanyon template it ran over 20 minutes before I cancelled the build. That’s why I started with only a few dozen posts.

I then changed my archive strategy, using yearly and monthly archives similar to what I had used with WordPress instead of the pagination used in Lanyon, and lo and behold the build took only 2.5 minutes. The disadvantage is that GitHub won’t run the jekyll-archives plugin for me, so I have to render the site locally and push the rendered HTML to GitHub. I can live with that.

The next question was whether Google (and everyone else) could find the old links on the new site. Jekyll is able to use the same archives/:year/:month/:day/:title/ permalink stucture I was using before. But were all my links the same as before? Do they all still work? Well, that eXtended RSS file contains all the permalinks that WordPress had generated…

 <link>http://papasc.home/archives/1999/12/05/it-worked/</link>
 <link>http://papasc.home/archives/1999/12/06/week-37/</link>
 <link>http://papasc.home/archives/1999/12/07/ready-and-waiting/</link>
 <link>http://papasc.home/archives/1999/12/09/linux-fever/</link>
 ...

(Yes, that’s a fake URL. My hoster timed out producing the eXtended RSS file so I had to use a local install.) I then ran the links through a shell script I found on Stack Exchange:

 #!/bin/bash
 while read -ru 4 LINE; do
     read -r REP < <(exec curl -IsS "$LINE" 2>&1)
     echo "$LINE: $REP"
 done 4< "$1"

And, indeed, all the links work. Whether the content still makes sense is another question, but PapaScott is back online in its entirety!

Transition

So maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but this blog looks a little bit different than a week ago. Behind the scenes it looks a lot different. After over a decade of blogging on WordPress (I actually started using its predecessor B2 in 2002), I’m now on the static site generator jekyll. My posts have been exported to text files. No more mysql database, no PHP, no more web interface.

So everything is new and things are still broken. I don’t have all posts imported yet, I’m only back to 2012 and not 1999 when this thing started. There are a lot a worthless one-line posts from the olden days, since back then we didn’t have Twitter and Facebook yet for worthless posts. So I have some work to do. But I’m looking forward to it.

The design, however, is absolutely fabulous, even on mobile, and for that I can take absolutely no credit. It’s the lanyon theme for jekyll by @mdo, who co-wrote (Twitter) Bootstrap, and I thank him for making his work available to us mere mortals.

Confirmation

Policke Last week we bought a confirmation suit. Of course we went to Policke in Hamburg. It’s the perfect place for young (or older) men to shop. It has the feel of a 1920s haberdasher, full of dark little rooms connected by narrow halls and staircases. You’re met at the front door by the head sizer, who determines your size with a glance and with a slight movement of his eyes directs you to the room where your size is stocked. Once there, you nod at the salesman (they’re all men), who from your nod determines the style and price range you want. You’re in and out in 10 minutes. No words are necessary at any time.

Well, maybe not quite. :-)

The confirmation will be at the end of May, on Pentecost Sunday. My mother will be flying in from the US. My father won’t be there, of course. He made a huge impression on his grandson, though, despite living an ocean and thousands of miles away. He thought of his grandfather when he chose his confirmation verse*. We also legally added his grandfather’s name as an additional middle name for him. He will carry his grandfather’s name the rest of his life, and he will be confirmed with it next month.

So I guess my father will be there after all.

*Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”