We buy ugly federalist townhouses

It’s Wednesday. Expect a warming trend. All the way up to 37°. Happy birthday to Sam Cooke, Lord Byron and Malcolm McLaren.

Last night’s State of the Commonwealth speech was not overly inspirational. It was more of the ‘blocking and tackling‘ that we’ve come to expect from Baker. And that’s OK.

If you’re looking for a fixer-upper, this Louisburg Square gem shouldn’t break the trust fund.

There had been suspicion that it was the Saudis that hacked Jeff Bezos phone back in 2018. The Guardian is now reporting that the hack came in a message from the Saudi Crown Prince himself. Bizarre. It goes without saying that this raises new questions about the Khashoggi murder.

No laptops or smart phones are allowed in the Senate chambers for the impeachment trial. But how about an Apple Watch? They seem to be sneaking through.

And though few even know what a boom-box is these days, this law is still on the books. Radio Raheem would not have approved.

She could steal but she could not rob

A bright Tuesday. The first commercial flight of the Concorde took off on Jan 21, 1976, and the first production DeLorean rolled off the line on this same day in 1981. An anniversary for two products ahead of their time.

Researchers at Stanford poured over old military medical records and other sources and determined that over the last hundred years human body temperature has decreased and is decreasing about 0.05 F degrees per decade. We’re cooling down. The study is here.

A robbery is a specific thing, legally speaking. Breaking into a store overnight is not a robbery. (Just saying.)

David Lynch has a new short film on Netflix called What Did Jack Do, an exchange of weird non sequiturs between Lynch and a syncro-vox’d talking monkey in 1930s film noir with a musical number thrown in. I wanted to like this, or at least find it interesting. Couldn’t do it.

Contact lens displays could be the future of augmented reality. Sounds pretty ambitious and far out but I wouldn’t bet against it.

And the Dorchester Reporter snapped some photos of seals lounging on logs in Lower Mills (via Universal Hub). Who doesn’t love pictures of seals, right?

On the site design

I’m always interested in how website owners arrive at the design for their site and the tools they used to get there. So I guess I should describe how I put this site together. (Jump to TLDR). I should say up front that I’m a little fixated on clean and functional design, mostly in that order. I tend to be a slightly fussy about how the pages look.

My first websites, back in the day, were plain HTML. That was a long time ago. Later I changed to Movable Type and then WordPress. Each required some work to learn, not to mention getting the hang of CSS. But it was fun.

Then sometime around 2007 I stopped blogging and until the last few months or so I was only vaguely aware of the current state of the art. So when I retired recently and decided to start a new blog I took a look around to explore what was out there. I looked at Svtbtle and Medium but I wan’t impressed. I had used Tumblr in the past and I knew it could be extensively customized but its ownership was in flux.

I was ready to just buy a hosting plan and build out a WordPress(.org) site from scratch when I stumbled on the WordPress(.com) hosted service. Out of curiosity I opened a free plan and began to look at themes and configuration options. It was not the old WordPress that I knew. It was a slick but locked-down platform. There were some limited CSS customization options but most of the code was walled off. As a challenge (and with lots of new free time) I decided to work within those constraints to see what could be done.

There were lots of themes available so that’s where I started. I needed something basic, simple and functional but reasonably configurable. Independent Publisher 2 looked like it had potential. It was clean and had the blog-like look I wanted. I added some new CSS to modify the block-quotes, link colors, font sizes, etc. All the WP cruft was removed. I fixed the header and footer to look exactly the way I wanted and came up with a sitemap structure that I could live with and voilà, …almost done.

One little thing annoyed me. The title of a page is also the name of the page in WordPress. And this theme always displays the title (if you enter one) on a page. The title styling is inherited from blog posts, left-aligned, and this looks horrible on a centered page. There’s no way (that I could find) to do a page only title customization. So no page titles. In the WP interface all my pages are named “Untitled.” It’s confusing at my end but it works visually for the end user. And it’s manageable if I keep the number of pages down.

Anyway, I think I achieved my goal of a clean site with decent looking fonts, a pleasing color palette and minimal navigation distractions, just by configuring the theme and adding some custom CSS (documented below). And the mobile rendering is just what I was looking for too. I can highly recommend Independent Publisher 2.

I hope this minimal design works for you. If anything I think it may be too clean. Discoverability for the footer links is low but if I keep the number of front page posts to five or so anyone looking for the about page will probably find it at the bottom eventually.

The photo pages took a little more thought as to how they would fit in with the rest of the site. I decided to put the galleries on pages and use URL forwarding (jjdaley.pics) to go to a photo index page (with an anchor to put the user at the correct header). So far this seems to work and the feedback I’ve received indicates that people aren’t too confused about the structure. Also, as far as galleries, I decided to upgrade to NextGen Pro and use photo tags to manage placement. The native WordPress/CoBlocks photo galleries were not great.

If you have any comments or suggestions or think navigation is problematic, I’d love to hear from you.

This is the CSS I added…
H4 a {
	text-decoration: none;
	color: black;
H4 a:visited {
	color: black;
H4 a:hover {
	color: #dec63c;
a {
	text-decoration: none;
a:hover {
	color: #dec63c;
.widget-area .widget, .comment {
	word-wrap: break-word;
	text-align: center;
blockquote {
	border-left: 3px solid #edebeb;
	margin: 1.5em 10px;
	padding: .5em 10px;
	quotes: "\201C""\201D""\2018""\2019";
blockquote p {
	display: inline;
.site-title a {
	text-decoration: none;
	color: #c8dec8;
	font-size: 50px;
.site-title a:hover {
	color: #379928;
.entry-title a {
	color: black;
	text-decoration: none;
.entry-title a:hover {
	color: #9d9fa1;
	text-decoration: none;
.entry-title {
	font-size: 1.8em;
.page-header:not(.page-header-light) h1 {
	margin: 0;
	text-align: center;
	font-size: 20px;
	color: #d4d5d6;

TLDR: I’d like to be able to say that I coded the engine and styled all the pages from scratch but really it’s just a customized theme on a WordPress hosted site.

On down the line

Monday morning. January 20th. MLK day.

Garrappolo is going to the Super Bowl without us.

There’s still time to bid on a bunch of old MBTA trolleys. Not sure what you would do with them but I suppose with a little imagination you could come up with something.

In an op-ed, Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and Google, writes that AI is too important not to be regulated.

I’m just catching up on these details about the Christmas Party from hell that left 3 dead or seriously injured and several more in jail.

NYT: “Amazon customers use Amazon cameras to watch Amazon contractors deliver Amazon packages.” Never thought of it like that but it pretty much sums up Ring.

And in the battle between environmentalists and single-use plastic bags, the bags are winning.

From gold to bronze

January 19th. Sunday. A day of rest and popcorn.

Self driving cars? Never say never.

Charlie Baker has been dethroned as the most popular governor in America. But it was close. It’s actually a three-way tie for highest favorability but Baker’s unfavorable numbers pushed him down overall to number three, behind Mark Gordon of Wyoming and Larry Hogan of Maryland.

Curb Your Enthusiasm is back for season 10 this evening. The trailer bodes well.

The drama at Reddit Boston continues. And now there’s a breakaway sub.

Brian Chen advises us not to be over-reliant on the cloud. If, at some point, you decide to cancel your subscriptions you could lose a lot of data if that data is not backed up locally. So do that.

Fox Business counts two billion reasons how Bloomberg can unseat Trump.

And while local TV newscasters are in a lather over several possible inches of snow this weekend, the folks in Newfoundland really have something to complain about.

And that’s the way it is

A snowy Saturday? We’ll see if the weatherman was right.

The new rules for r/boston are not being embraced. What’s wrong with “generic images of the Zakim Bridge and Acorn Street”?

Hiawatha Bray cites a NewsGuard report about unreliable media sources, a problem that’s not going away. Almost 10% of Americans on both sides of the aisle engage with fake news sites. Strangely, in Britain, famous for its unrestrained tabloid media, only about 1% were gullible to wacky news.

Printer ink is too expensive. And now you have to pay a subscription fee for the privilege of buying overpriced cartridges? Insult to injury. No wonder printers are going away.

Just in time for flu season, a new virus originating in China is beginning to spread with annual travel for the Chinese New Year. More from the CDC.

And while it’s not exactly Gawker Stalker, this column in the West Side Rag is a fun read every once in a while.

After a nationwide search

We made it to Friday. It’s a cold one. The Cherry Orchard had its opening on this day in 1904. The gun did not fire.

Meet Scientist Barbie. And she’s not the only one challenging gender stereotypes around girls and science.

If Governor Baker follows through on his proposed law change allowing an outsider to run the State Police, it could bring big changes to the agency. Sure, there are benefits to knowing the culture from the inside. But being restricted to insiders only, as the MSP is, only guarantees that the culture will stagnate. Other large forces, like Boston PD and NYPD to name two, have benefited from bringing in leaders from the outside, alternating with insiders. It’s time.

Your car may know you better than your friends do.

A prominent chef says to forget dry January. He wants us to drink by the bottle, not the glass. That seems like a lot of drinking. But don’t worry. Science says it probably won’t kill you.

And apparently all sorts of bad behavior can be rationalized as long as it leads to victory for our side.

An artificial heart

It’s Thursday, National Nothing Day. (Yes, that’s a thing.)

Deleted tweets, recriminations and retractions. A political firestorm is brewing in New York over a toasted bagel.

iHeart Radio owns a bunch of stations around the country, including local news institution WBZ 1030. The Texas based-chain has decided to focus on technology and artificial intelligence and so they’ve begun laying off the humans. In Boston, Jon Keller, Deb Lawler, Bradley Jay and Tom Cuddy received pink slips.

Keep your eyes out for Elvis if you ride the Fitchburg commuter rail.

The Chief Justice wanted to know if saying ‘OK Boomer‘ was actionable. Now Vice News has declared the meme officially dead.

And speaking of boomers, fashionable new hearing aid technology is arriving just in time for us and our Led Zeppelin-battered eardrums.

Home is where you make it

Wednesday the 15th of January and the anniversary of the Great Molasses Flood.

Going green is killing birds. At least in one building in Providence.

This is an interesting case: A college kid walking in New York one night in 2018 kicked in a pile of boxes he thought was trash on the sidewalk. But it was actually a constructed cardboard structure built by a homeless man who was sleeping inside. The homeless man was jolted awake and fatally stabbed the kid kicking in his home. He has been charged with murder and is invoking the castle doctrine as a defense.

An academic paper aimed at email spammers. I agree with both the premise and the conclusion. But I have to wonder about the peer review process.

The Verge has a more balanced account of the back and forth between the DOJ and Apple on retrieving info from the Pensacola shooter’s phones and iCloud accounts. Apple continues to be adamant about not providing backdoors, for good reason.

And it doesn’t look like there’s an Impossible McBurger on the horizon anytime soon.