Jachin's Blog


The 8th Christmas playlist is also the biggest, clocking in at 77 minutes. Why so much music, you ask? Well, we (mostly Erin) found a lot of good raw material this year. Several of the albums that showed up on this years playlist will probably show up again on future playlists.

Rupe Family (November 2018)

We realize that CD players are things that most people only have in their cars now a days and we want people to be able to enjoy this music however is convenient. There are links to buy the songs, in the playlist below. You can also listen to the playlist at the following places (note, that most streaming services only have some of the songs):

Brennan and Erin

If you need more good Christmas music, here are the links to past playlists.

(2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010).

Brennan and Erin

Merry Christmas! 🎄

  1. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Holley Maher - Sorted Noise Records: A Holiday Album, Vol. 1
  2. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - The Sweeplings - Merrier Days
  3. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - The Once - This is a Christmas Album
  4. Silent Night - Lowland Hum - Songs For Christmas Time
  5. Room by the Fire - Hannah Miller - Sorted Noise Records: A Holiday Album, Vol. 1
  6. O Holy Night - Gungor - O Christmas
  7. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Bright Eyes - A Christmas Album
  8. All the Gifts I Need - JD McPherson - Socks
  9. Christmas in Prison - The Gregory Brothers - Sleigh Ride / Fireside (Deluxe Explicit)
  10. Happy, Happy Christmas - Ingrid Michaelson - Ingrid Michaelson's Songs For The Season
  11. What Child Is This - Lauren Daigle - Behold (Deluxe)
  12. White Christmas - Bright Eyes - A Christmas Album
  13. The First Noel - Future of Forestry - Advent Christmas EP
  14. The Friendly Beasts - The Gregory Brothers - Sleigh Ride / Fireside (Deluxe Explicit)
  15. I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day - The Once - This is a Christmas Album
  16. Christmas Lullabye - The Gregory Brothers - Sleigh Ride / Fireside (Deluxe Explicit)
  17. Our Best Noel - The Sweeplings - Merrier Days
  18. Silent Night - Gungor - O Christmas
  19. Christmas Waltz - Holley Maher - Sorted Noise Records: A Holiday Album, Vol. 4
  20. We Are The Shepherds - Lowland Hum - Songs For Christmas Time
  21. Every Day is Christmas - Alec Duffy - Lonely Man of Winter
  22. ‘Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming - Perrin Lamb - Sorted Noise Records: A Holiday Album, Vol. 1
  23. Auld Lang Syne - Ingrid Michaelson - Ingrid Michaelson's Songs For The Season


I finished 25 books in 2017. Not bad. I got the number up from last year but I think it's mostly because I read lots of "fun" books. Lots of fantasy. Another factor is that now with 2 children I have less time for things like movies and TV shows, audiobooks and podcasts are what I have time and energy for these days.


Politics: The Dictator's Handbook by Bruce Bueno De Mesquita and Alastair Smith it great. I read it early in the year and the ideas in the book really have stuck with me and I've thought about them a lot.

I don't know if what I learned in the book really "matters" that much at this point in my life, or if it ever will ever lead to some sort of actionable item that I can take up. However it has shifted my perception in ways that make the bad political situations and home, and even more so, abroad in a much less stressful way. I'm much less shocked and aghast when I hear stories of political corruption and other bad behaviors.

I learned about the book from a great YouTube channel CGP Grey, specifically the excellent video "Rules for Rulers". If you find the video interesting you really should read the book, the book is even better.


Fantasy: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson was my most anticipated read of 2017. I've been looking forward to this book for years. I was not disappointed. Sure, it's not a perfect book, but for me it has a lot of entertainment value.

Science Fiction: I read a couple Science Fiction books and I think the one I want to highlight is We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. It's an old book, one of the original "dystopian" novels. It was a strange book, I have to say I'm not sure I got all of it, although I'm pretty sure that's part of the point of the book. It's told from the perspective of a man who doesn't really understand a lot of what's going on around him and his perspective is down right alien to mine.

At least part of my excitement with finishing it is that it means I've finally read all what I'm lead to believe are the 3 foundations of all the more recent dystopian literature, Brave New World, 1984 and We.


I do not usually take much time to reread books. I have recently read that, that may be because I do not read books that are worth rereading. I hope that's not the case. I'd like to think I retain so much that rereading a book does not have as much value for me as others, but I suspect in another decade or 2 a much bigger percentage of what I read will be reading a book for a second or third time.

I reread Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis, at least in part because my wife read it for the first time …


This is the 7th year for the Christmas playlist and at this point I was expecting to be scraping the bottom of the Christmas music barrel. Good news though, I'm quite happy with this years playlist. I found a couple of great compilation albums including one from a couple years ago. Maybe I'm not as good at searching the Internet for stuff as I thought.

If you need more good Christmas music here are the links to past playlists.

(2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010).

Merry Christmas! 🎄

  1. Holiday Ease - Amy Stroup - Holiday Ease - Single
  2. Sleigh Ride - Shel - Walker in a Winter Wonderland
  3. Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella - Great Lake Swimmers - They Don't Make Them Like That Anymore - EP
  4. Good King Wenceslas - Pure Bathing Culture - Walker in a Winter Wonderland
  5. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Phoebe Bridgers - Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
  6. The Holly and the Ivy - Adam Brock - Walker in a Winter Wonderland
  7. All I Want for Christmas Is You - She & Him - Christmas Party
  8. Feliz Navidad - Houndstooth - Walker in a Winter Wonderland
  9. I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas - Lake Street Dive - Holidays Rule (Vol. 2)
  10. Jingle Bells - Lullatone - Walker in a Winter Wonderland
  11. Jesus Christ - The Decemberists - Holidays Rule (Vol. 2)
  12. Wintertime (the Snow Is Coming Down) [Amazon Original] - Josh Ritter - Wintertime (the Snow Is Coming Down) [Amazon Original]
  13. It’s Beginning To Look Like Christmas - Calum Scott - Holidays Rule (Vol. 2)
  14. The First Noel - The Ruby Pines - Walker in a Winter Wonderland
  15. Oh Winter (Amazon Original) - Eisley - Oh Winter (Amazon Original)
  16. Joy to the World - Christian Stropko - Walker in a Winter Wonderland
  17. Silent Night - Fruit Bats - Walker in a Winter Wonderland
  18. Edelweiss - Nataly Dawn - Edelweiss
  19. Please Be Patient - Feist - A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All
  20. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) - Judah & the Lion - Holidays Rule (Vol. 2)
  21. Go Tell It On The Mountain - Bailey Bryan - Go Tell It On The Mountain
  22. What Are You Doing New Year's Eve - Andrew McMahon - Holidays Rule (Vol. 2)
  23. Auld Lang Syne - Black Prairie - Walker in a Winter Wonderland


According to what I tracked on Good Reads, I finished 20 books is 2017. I feel OK about that. I wish I had a done a bit more "serious" reading, there was a lot of entertainment in there, but it was all fun (at least most of the time) and even in the fluff there were some interesting ideas.


Politics: The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt is one of my favorite books of all time and one of the most important books I've read. So far I've been able to talk at least 3 other people into reading it and they've loved it too.

The book is divided up into 3 parts and each part has enough insights that would make the whole book worth reading.

While I do not agree with everything in the book (doubtless this is by design), the book accomplished its main (very excellent and very important) goal of helping me to better understand people with different opinions on the most important subjects of religion, politics and morality. Even more than that, it gave me a better vocabulary for talking about those differences in constructive ways.

The book opens with the following wonderful quote.

I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, not to hate them, but to understand them.
-- Baruch Spinoza, Tractatus Politicus, 1676

If that does not make you want to read the book, you are either crazy, evil, stupid or some combination of the 3. (That's a joke, read the book and you'll get the joke.)


Science Fiction: Red Rising trilogy by Pierce Brown. These books are a lot of fun. Technically I think these books are considered YA, but there a bit more sophisticated with some bigger ideas then your average YA book (that I've read).

Brown brings in lots of fun and interesting ideas to the story, at times he relies on your standard SciFi tropes but the first book came out in 2014 and he wrapped the trilogy up in 2016 and he's not that old, so considering how much time he had to work on them I'm prepared to cut him a little slack.


This year got our act together before the 1st of December so you can enjoy a whole month of hand picked Christmas music.

If you need more good Christmas music here are the links to past playlists. (2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010).

My goal is make it to 10 of these. That should be close to 12 hours of better than average Christmas music, then reassess. We'll probably keep doing a Christmas playlast but we might lighten up our rules. For instance, so far we haven't allowed any repeats.

Merry Christmas! 🎄

  1. Christmas In Killarney - Neil Diamond - Acoustic Christmas
  2. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - Sufjan Stevens - Silver & Gold
  3. Marshmallow World - Emmy the Great & Tim Wheeler - This Is Christmas
  4. Mvmt IV, "Every Bell On Earth Will Ring" - The Oh Hellos - The Oh Hellos' Family Christmas Album
  5. Go Tell It On The Mountain - Branches - Songs For Christmas
  6. Hibernation Day - Jars Of Clay - HGTV + NoiseTrade Ultimate Holiday Soundtrack
  7. O Holy Night - Heck Ya the Halls - Heck Ya the Halls, Vol. 1 - EP
  8. Silent Night - Sinead O'Connor - Gift Wrapped 3 - A Holiday Smörgåsbord
  9. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - The Dirt Drifters - Gift Wrapped, Vol. II: Snowed In
  10. Cinnamon & Chocolate - Butterfly Boucher - Ten Out of Tenn Christmas
  11. O' Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fideles) - Bob Dylan - Christmas In the Heart
  12. Fairytale of New York - Communist Daughter - Sing Sad Christmas
  13. Mele Kalikimaka - She & Him - Christmas Party
  14. Hark The Herald Angels Sing (2016 Version) - Neil Diamond - Acoustic Christmas
  15. Is It Far To Bethlehem? - Kacy & Clayton - Is It Far To Bethlehem?
  16. A Change At Christmas (Say It Isn't So) - The Flaming Lips - Gift Wrapped: 20 Songs That Keep On Giving
  17. Alone on Christmas Day [feat. Buster Poindexter] - Phoenix - Alone On Christmas Day
  18. Christmas In Washington - Steve Earle - El Corazon
  19. Auld Lang Syne - Barcelona - Auld Lang Syne


I've had my eye on OpenBazaar for quite a while now and at the start of April of this year (2016) it went live.

You should check it out, but a short summary would be that it's a distributed on-line marketplace. It uses bitcoin for it's currency. Anyone can join the network and sell their products on-line for free. The software is free, setting up a shop is free, accepting payments are free. All you need is an Internet connection and a computer.

To run a shop (not just be a shopper) you'd probably want your shop available all the time, and that will require running OpenBazaar on server. However hosting a shop would be very inexpensive. I've already seen hosting companies offering OpenBazaar hosting packages. I'm sure OpenBazaar hosting will be commoditized and very easy to setup very soon (if it isn't already).

I was chomping at the bit to try out OpenBazaar, so I figured I should buy something. There wasn't a whole lot of sale right when it launched, so my options were limited. I wanted something physical, costing more then $10 but less then $50. Eventually I settled on a 1 ounce silver bar.

I'm afraid I probably over paid. With shipping I paid 0.06178382 BTC ($28.11). At the time I'm writing this, silver is worth about $17.46 an ounce. I'm sure if I had ordered more, the shipping would have been a lot smaller percentage. This is actually the first time I've bought precious metals in something other then jewelry form. Maybe it's normal to pay that much of premium for this sort of thing.

Aside from feeling like the price was a little high, the whole process could not have been smoother. Shortly after I placed my order I got a confirmation from the seller that my order had been received and shipped. A few days later, the silver bar showed up in my mailbox.

The way OpenBazaar is setup now, you can tell they are targeting people who'd be selling on Etsy or maybe eBay or Craigslist. There's a 'search' feature that looks like it has potential but I'm not sure what would happen if someone hooked up an e-commerce system with 10,000 products. I don't know how people would find what they were looking for.

If you want to just browse what's for sale without having to download the software, there's a site called BazaarBay that works pretty well.

Here's my page on OpenBazaar. It probably won't work because I'm not running the software most of the time. My next OpenBazaar project will be to setup a server. Then, maybe, try selling something.

OpenBazaar still feels a little buggy and slow, but some of that might just be the distributed nature of it. One thing I haven't been able to get to work, even after some trying, is OpenBazaar's address system. They are using something called OneName. It's pretty cool idea, basically a distributed DNS system on a …


First off while, I was writing this article, I had Robot Parade by They Might be Giants stuck in my head the whole time.

I've been reading a lot of economists deriding a higher minimum wage and they've got me a bit riled up (here's a very small selection).

Where I live in Minneapolis there is an annual May Day Parade. After the parade they have a free speech section. Every year I've watched the parade the group Fight for $15 has marched.

All this has got me to thinking, there should be some sort of response to all this minimum wage non-sense. How about a robot parade?

A bunch of people could dress up like robots and hold traditional demonstration signs. There's probably some good visual jokes in unpacking "how would a 'handmade' protest sign look if a robot made it?".

The signs could contain slogans like:

  • Robots in support of a $15 wage for human workers
  • Make low skill human work illegal.
  • More work for robots! Less work for humans!
  • Make human labor unfordable.

Technically there would still be time to do it this year, but I suspect this topic will still be relevant this time next year.

I am probably the wrong person to try to organize something like this but I might shop the idea around a little, maybe someone else will take it up.


At this point I've bought lots of things on-line with Bitcoin, but I have not been able to buy anything locally (in Minneapolis MN) until now. I was surprised to find one of my "go to" Thai restaurants Krungthep got a new (to me) website, that accepts Bitcoin.

It looks like they use Menufy and it looks like there are several restaurants in the area I can also order from using Bitcoin.

The whole experience was great. The Menufy interface was super slick and made ordering easy. Paying with Bitcoin was also super easy. 20 minutes later the delivery guy brought delicious Thai food to our door.

The one 'question' I have left is that I think they are only accepting Bitcoin for on-line, takeout/delivery orders. I'm guessing Menufy is making the experience for restaurant owners so seamless they don't have to know or care what Bitcoin is.

Hopefully the next thing I'll get to try soon is to an actual store/restaurant that accepts Bitcoin for in person (POS) transactions.


How to Setup a Soundboard

This article will show you how to map a set of sound effects (I'll show you how to do 10) to keyboard shortcuts that will be ready any time you need a rim shot, or sad horns or whatever else.

You need to be running OS X. I've set this up on a 10.10 and 10.11. I do not know how far back into older versions of OS X this will work (or how far forward).

tl;dr We are going to use Automator to make some Services that know how to play 1 sound each and then assign those services keyboard shortcuts. You can download a set of sample sound and the services from the SimpleSoundboardForMac repo on GitHub.

Step 1 - Get Some Sounds

Obviously there is a lot of room here for personalization, but here are some classic choices.

You probably want pretty short sounds because stopping them will be difficult.

You need to save your files in /Users/<your username>/Music/SoundBoard. Like a lot of these instructions you can change this path but you'll need to make sure you change it everywhere it's referenced.

The sound files should all be named using the following pattern. <number>-<description>.<extension>. For instance a sad trombone sound effect could be name like so 1-sad-trombones.mp3.

The numbers should go from 0-9. You can feel free to leave some out. If you want to swap out some sounds just rename the file so the number is gone from the front of the file name, and put the number in the new sound effects file name. Old: sad-trombones.mp3 New: 1-crickets.wav.

The following file extension will work:

  • mp3
  • mp4
  • wav
  • aiff
  • aac

Step 2 - Build the Services

Start up Automator. Make a new "Service" that accepts no input and can run in any Application.

Add a "Run Shell Script" action to it. The script can be /bin/bash and it should be as follows:

find ~/Music/SoundBoard -maxdepth 1 -type f \( -name "1-*mp3" -o -name "1-*wav" -o -name "1-*aiff" -o -name "1-*mp4" -o -name "1-*aac" \) -exec afplay {} >/dev/null 2>&1 \; &
Automator window.

Save the service as Sound Board 1 in /Users/<your username>/Library/Services.

Test it out by going to the services menu and running it.

Step 3 - Setup the Keyboard Shortcuts

Go to "System Preferences..." -> "Keyboard" -> "Shortcuts" (tab) -> "Services" (from the list on the left) then scroll all the way to the bottom and you should find "Sound Board 1". Double click on the faded out "none" and punch in your keyboard shortcut. For sound #1 I recommend using "⌥⇧⌘1". It seems like a shortcut other programs aren't using.

Automator menu.

Try it out, once it's setup hit the keyboard shortcut, you should hear the sound effect.

Keyboard system preference pane.

Step 4 - Repeat

Now that we have it working for '1', we need to set it up for the other 9 number keys.

This …


The bad news is I only read 17 books in 2015. However I feel pretty good about that because I read all 10 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson, which are all massive. All 10 averaged well over 40 hours a piece. It's kinda scary to think I spent so much time listening to those books. Recording them must have been a massive undertaking.

The Malazan books were good books, an absolutely massive world with lots of interesting stuff going on, however I may have over done it. At the end I felt like I had been put through a lot, given it a lot of my time and the end just didn't quite satisfy as much as I had hopped. Maybe I'll feel differently about it in a few years. Mostly I blame my self. If I had stretched it out a little bit longer, read some more different kinds of books in the gaps (like what would have happened if I read them as they were published), I suspect I would have enjoyed the experience a lot more and would be raving about how good they were right now.

There are more books in the same "world", I'm sure I'll read those sooner or later.

Anyway, I spent too much time with those books not to mention them, now for the 'best books' which I happened to read in 2015.


History: The Last Battle - The Classic History of the Battle for Berlin by Cornelius Ryan. This is laid out like a novel and it reads like one. The most "page turn-y" history book I have ever read. Plus I was in Berlin for a few days this summer and that added a lot of context for the book that made it all the more interesting to read.

Theology: Celebration of Discipline - The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster. A classic I had never read before but I imagine I will read again some day. The book was a nice combination of encouraging and challenging. It's given me a lot to think about, it's already changed my perspective and it hopefully turns into some substantiative changes in my life.

Politics: The Three Languages of Politics by Arnold Kling. I bought this book a while ago after hearing a great interview with the author on EconTalk. Calling it a "book" is a little generous, maybe more of a pamphlet. It's great though, and serves as a great introduction to it's subject. If you have been bothered by un-constructive and uncivil political discourse you should read this book. You can read in a single sitting and it will give you valuable insights into how and why so many political discussions feel like people are just talking past each other. At the very least I'd recommend listening to the interview on EconTalk.

Autobiography: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby. The best book I've ever read that …

 1 / 13