Jachin's Blog

Articles in "Personal"


After 8+ years of faithful-ish service I'm ditching WordPress for the great static site generator Pelican, written in my very favorite language, Python.

If you're a "feed subscriber" sort of a person, you will probably need to updated/re-subscribe to this site, I think the feed's URL is different now.

The migration has been rocky and still is not done yet. If you are reading this shortly after I've published it, and you were to go back through my archives you would find a lot of broken images. Hopefully those will be fixed soon.

The inspiration for this move came when, while looking back at some of my old blog entries I discovered that some mean bot had gotten into my site's database and had tried to hide spam links in my blog posts.

I've setup lots of WordPress site's over the years and I always try to update regularly because WordPress is a huge target for this sort of SPAM-ing. I thought I was staying on top of things, but apparently not. I still don't know exactly when it happened, probably some time in the past year.

After cleaning things up I had a chat with a former Coworker Dez (we worked at Clockwork together). He's started his own company doing many things including "managed WordPress hosting". He shared a bunch of his best practices with me, and after thinking about what it would take to do it right, I concluded (not for the first time) that there are very good reasons people pay Dez for the work he does and what he knows and I should go a simpler route.

I had a great experience setting up Pelican for the Zombie Translator blog and I wasn't doing anything with my site that a statically generated site couldn't handle any way, so Pelican seemed the obvious choice.

I started the process of converting my content from the WordPress database to reStructuredText (still on going) and started picking out a theme.

After looking for a while I decided I wanted a Material look. I found one theme that was close to what I was thinking: pelican-material. It was in French though, so I forked it and translated the templates over to English.

However after working with pelican-material for a while I didn't much care for CSS/Javascript library it used: Materialize. It was not a "bad" library, but among other things it seems to be lacking an easy way to change up colors easily.

Then I found Material Design Lite right from that the horses mouth it self, The Google. I converted the theme to use Material Design Lite, added some features pelican-material did not have, and gave it a new name: thomomys.

In case you're wondering where I came up with that name, I used another half baked project of mine, Randomium.

Soon I hope to add thomomys to the Pelican theme library, but I need to clean things up a little bit more.

Just to keep things interesting …


Me and Carol had our last adventure today. I was driving Carol around on Friday night and I smelled gas. That made me a bit uncomfortable so I planned on taking her in to get that checked out, plus an oil change. She was also due for a new set of tires.

Carol's Windshield

Can't see out the windshield for all the fire retardant.

This morning I made an appointment at Gorshe Auto (my wonderful car mechanics that I would recommend to anyone) and hopped into Carol for the quarter mile drive. As soon as I turned the car on I noticed, what I thought was an unusual amount of exhaust. As I started to back up, realized, "Hey, there's smoke coming out from under the hood." A second later, "Whoa, there's ever more smoke coming out from under the hood." Followed shortly by, "Uh oh, I probably should turn off the car." I parked the car open the hood and was meet by orange flames.

What happened next might have qualified as 'panic.' I pulled out my phone. "Wait." I though, "I can put this fire out, I just need to get a fire extinguisher." I ran through the first floor of my apartment building looking for a fire extinguisher I was sure was one there. I could not find it though. Then I ran back out side. Sure enough the fire was bigger and people were starting to watch.

Carl next to a much nicer car.

Carol next to the nice car I was worried would be caught up in the blaze. From this angle, she almost looks OK.

A lady who lives in the building next to said, "Hey, you should get a fire extinguisher." I said, "I know, I looked I could not find one." She said "I think there's one in my building, I'll go get it." I think it was at this point I decided to call 911.

The 911 operator was very prompt and sorted me out in less then a minute, I think it was less then a minute, it seemed really fast. I was in such a hurry I gave my work address not my home address.

Under the hood.

The fire melted a whole bunch of stuff, fortunately none of it was too dangerous (I think).

As this point, more people were watching and someone else in my building pointed out that there was a fire extinguisher in the hall. I went back in, and there it was, in one of those little cubbies with the glass you have to break. I must have ran by it 3 times. There was nothing to break the glass with so I ran into my apartment, grabbed one of my roommates dumbbells and smashed that glass good. Then I put out the fire. First time getting to "In Case of Emergency Break Glass" and use a fire extinguisher. Both of which, all things considering, were a lot of fun.

A very short time later I flagged down the fire trucks going to my work (fortunately …


There is a new blog that I am contributing to about surviving the apocalypse. It is a series of how to articles, commentary and advise all about surviving apocalypse.

Warning: Some of the language is a little strong, and the topics can be a little heavy. I'd say it's about a *PG-13* website.



I found a sweet web app Geni. It has one of the slickest interfaces I have ever seen. It is a social networking site based on family trees. You build out your family tree and invite the members of your family to join.

Among other things, it is a really cool way to keep track of family birthdays and compile your genealogy.

I am also excited about its ability to be a "gateway drug" into social networking sites for people who would otherwise not see the appeal


There are many things I find unhelpful in American political discourse. At the top of this list: the rampant overuse of two labels that are so ambiguous it hurts my head when I think about it. This is a very long post, it is something that has been on my mind for a long time, and I hope you agree with me and a will be willing to act.

First off, some definitions:

  • Conservative - Holding to traditional attitudes and values and cautions about change or innovation.
  • Liberal - Open to new behavior or opinions and will to discard traditional values.

So if I am a "liberal", that means, on any given issue, odds are, I would support "change for the better" conversely, if I am a conservative I would usually want to "leave well enough alone".

These are straight forward an sensible definitions. However I will bet, based all political discussion in the media, on the interwebs, or my own friends and family, if I hear those two words said, the speaker has much different definitions in mind. I am sure, if American's adults were asked to define what it meant to be a liberal or a conservative volumes could be filled the different definitions. However one trend would undoubtedly emerge:

  • Conservative = Republican
  • Liberal = Democrat

Why we do this? We take perfectly good words with clear definitions and then twist them to sort of express things we already have perfectly good words for already, yet now we can be even less definitive then the already massively huge tents the major political parties represent.

Here is my understanding of why these words came to this sorry state. First off, English politics, in the UK there are political parties that are actually named Conservative Party and Liberal Democrats. So if I were in England it would make sense to call my self a "Liberal" if I supported the Liberal Democrats, maybe a little ambiguous, but given the context most people would know if I was referring to the political party.

The second reason for the slide of these words into ambiguity is that someone, (possible Rush Limbaugh) decided to make a list of the major issues and determined what positions represented traditional American values and which ones did not. That way you could run down a score card and decided just how liberal or conservative someone is. Then we get to make everyones decisions easier by labeling people.

This second (and primary) reason represents flawed thinking and resulted in a semantic disaster. There are so many examples of this, I do not know where best to start, so I'm just going to list a a few and, hopefully the idea will come through.

  1. Take abortion, my parents consider supporting legal abortion a liberal thing to do. I do not, abortion has been the law of the land my entire life. Not only that, but according to polls most Americans think abortion should be legal. I think if something is widely supported and the …


As promised, here are the results of my beard growing.

The poor quality (for the most part) is due to the fact that almost all these images were taken with my iSight. The one big exception is day 13, which was taken by Sharyn (a fellow Clockworker) who is pretty good with a camera.

Day 5

Day 7

Day 9

Day 11

Day 13

Day 14

Day 18

Day 21

Day 23

Day 27

Day 30


Those of you who know my Father and of his mighty beard may find it surprising that I have never attempted to grow any sort of facial hair (I did have some pretty sweet side burns on several occasions I do not think those count). However, as of November 1st, I'm giving it a shot, as part of a company wide mustache contest. There will doubtless be pictures taken by the many fine photographers at the office during the various stages, but I'm planning on using my iSight to snap a picture of the progress every couple of days as well. In a couple of days I'll put some up.


In case of you have not heard, my brother Derek recently moved out to Crested Butte Colorado. Hopefully he will get back to writing on his web log a little bit more.


There is some general family news I thought I would pass on. My Dad, has just accepted a job at YMCA Camp Fitch and will be making the move with Mom and the twins to North West Pennsylvania sometime early next year.


I'm sill not writing enough in here, at best (depending on how you count), this is the second post this week, not good.

On top of that I was a little disappointed with my last post, apparently I can not count syllables. I made an attempt to write a haiku and failed. I changed the post so the haiku now has the correct form, but now I do not like it any more.

I had a very good weekend. I saw lots of old Augsburg friends. Good times. Made me miss the newness that used to come every fall. New classes, probably a new professor, possibly a new subject, hopefully new friends, and new books.

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