Let’s get one thing straight off the top. I really like Hugo, it’s quite fun conceptually, copying things
from Scrivener into a Markdown file is not terrible, and should get quite a bit
easier/automatic once I can get my hands on version 3 and get things set up properly. Now that I’ve just about got my
site’s template files set up properly, that’s all that I really need to do. Hugo lets me fiddle with basically
everything, and set most things up the way I want them. I think it was also probably the easiest way for me to make this
type of website. I’m planning on using it for the foreseeable future.
This whole, fairly uncomplicated site was notably more difficult to set up than I anticipated. I have a development
background, and that helped quite a lot, and my prickly stubbornness got me the rest of the way. There are a few
reasons for why this was difficult.
First, I’m playing with version 0.39 (currently) of an open source tool. This probably means you should take most of my
following complaints with a grain of salt, although you should also remember that I’m claiming that this was the easiest
tool to use that would do what I needed. That says things about my available options. The nice thing about Hugo is that you
can get it as a standalone executable. I didn’t have to install a package management system, or manage dependencies, or
install an entire language interpreter. I did have to install git (a command-line version control system) to make
installing themes easy. I did have to deal with documentation that was pretty inadequate at times.
I left development over five years ago, so practices and tools and workflows have changed, and also
now I get pretty grumpy when software assumes I’ll be some sort of developer when I use it. Hugo definitely does that.
It’s really powerful, but a lot of its power comes because any theme’s template files are written in a combo of HTML and Go
abstracted out from the theme files to the site configuration file, they generally… aren’t. Hugo also doesn’t come with
anything useful in the way of a default theme, so you end up needing to get one from the
theme site, just about all of which are community provided. I think? It’s not very clear.
Which is fine, but an individual theme isn’t guaranteed to be up to date with your new version of Hugo, and you’ll
probably end up wanting to change things a bit, and maybe the template files weren’t quite complete in the first place,
and the next thing you know, you have a bunch of empty pages that should be holding Stuff.
Again, this is the static site generator that had the easiest entrance requirements on a Windows machine.
So I really enjoy what I can do with Hugo, and again, I intend to keep using it, but I’m not sure I’d be able to recommend
it to that many people who want to set up their own site. The learning curve is waaaay steeper than the blogposts by
adoring developers who used it to put up some project notes and a two-post blog about their Hugo Experience would have you
believe. This is extra true for people running things on a Windows desktop.
A lot of this could be fixed with a really solid useful template that tries to abstract out a bunch of settings to the
site configuration file so users don’t have to dig into the template files until they were ready, and that is also kept
up-to-date. Which may already exist! But I was having a lot of trouble trying to find it. A lot of problems could also
be fixed with clearer documentation for Hugo itself, particularly by describing how to put all the various templates and
functions and variables together into a cohesive whole. It’s really very by-developers-for-developers currently, and I
don’t think it has to be. There’s nothing about constructing a static website that demands that only professional software
developers be able do it, and I’d really like to see some more widely usable options here that don’t rely on
software-as-a-service or drag-and-drop hand-holding.
I’m trying to fit my head around the absurdly sudden realization that tech and software and the internet mostly don’t
exist for me anymore. They exist for developers, and they exist for people that use a lot of Facebook/Google/Twitter/Apple,
but they don’t exist for me, user with a Windows desktop machine and a willingness to fiddle with settings and install
bits of software to do individual things, but not to install five package managers and three development environments
just to get a tool running; an entire market sector seems weirdly gone, and I don’t know what to do with this discovery.
I’m probably hitting middle age a wee bit early. Is this how people feel before they have that mid-life crisis? Like
everything they used to know is gone now, and nothing that remains quite makes sense?
You get apps, or you get cloud services, or you get IoT devices, or you get tools made by developers for developers.
There is very little else. Why? I can see how we got to this place, via App Stores, and walled gardens, and Silicon
Valley-style venture capitalism. Either you want everyone as your end-user/product, thus narrowing your design and UX
choices, and your capabilities, or you want to be able to assume that the end-user will just make their own crap or cobble
together a twelve-step workflow if they can’t get yours to work properly. Was this inevitable? Is this the way things
should be? Why isn’t there any middle ground? Why do I keep feeling the need to yell at these kids to get off my lawn?
There are 4-5 standalone RSS readers for Windows. Maybe one or two are being currently updated, the rest have had their
development abandoned. The ones that exist don’t really do what I want them to, or are annoying to use. I can sign up for
an online RSS aggregator, or install my own on a server, or use a browser plugin so I will have to figure this out all over
again the next time I switch browsers. None of these things are exactly what I want. It’s so weird to not be able to find
exactly what I want. I need to think about my wants and needs again.
I’m starting to think I may be old and crotchety.
I set out to make this static website, and the only tools I could find for this were developer-oriented. Hugo was the only
one that didn’t require me to install a full-on development environment, although I still needed to install git (a version
control system) to easily download themes for it. Dreamweaver still exists, but it’s an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription
app now. You can only buy the very basic set of Microsoft Office applications as a one-time purchase. Everything else is
subscription-based. All of this was coming, I heard people yelling about it ten or more years ago, but it didn’t seem to
apply to me then, and I didn’t think it would really turn out this way. The height of hubris, really, for me to assume
that software and the internet would continue to exist in ways that I enjoyed and found useful while I waltzed off to
poke around in the shiny new ecosystems that were springing up.
Now, as I want to pull back into more individualized options from the larger internet ecosystems that have taken over so
much, as I want to feel like I own my own systems of working again, those options are disappearing. Or have been
disappearing for the last decade. I feel like I should be in mourning, but I’ve still not really convinced myself that
that’s reasonable or sane.
At least PC games have never really gone away. Escapism is vital.
Here I have, finally, a first stab at a fresh website construction. Ideally this will be a place I can put bits of blog
writing about various things I will never get paid to think about, maybe some random thoughts about video games and books,
as well have a semi-organized place to put links to writing and non-writing projects and whatnot.
I have a lot of thoughts about the process that I took to get this up and running, and the current state of Hugo
(the static site generator I’m using to make these pages) and the internet in general. I was going to put some of them
here, but it got far too long. I might flesh that out a bit later, if it still seems worthwhile. For now, I’ll just end
with a link to this Anil Dash piece from 6 years ago that I’ve been
thinking about a lot lately.
I’m going to run the risk of defining a newly-resuscitated blog as being part of a genre I don’t actually spend that much
time in, but I’ve been obsessing about something for a few weeks, and we all know that never ends well.
Some background: I grew up evangelical fundamentalist. I basically remained so, until I got out of college, started my
first job, and suddenly had the space and time to form my own opinions about things. I’m also not stereotypically feminine,
in a number of ways.
Fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity, as it embraces gender stereotypes, reinforces them through religious and
Nope, nope. Far too abstracted. I’ll try again.
Suppose you’re a girl in a fundamentalist church. More specifically, suppose you’re an introvert who has a difficult time
with small talk, enjoys playing video games and reading science fiction, and has way, way more of a logical bent than an
emotional one. You hear sermons and lessons about what being a good Christian woman means, and you want to hear these,
because seriously, who doesn’t want to be the best person they can be? But part of this is hearing that God has designed
women to be emotionally-oriented, nurturing, supportive, and good at verbal communication, because leaders and teachers
in your church believe that this sort of stereotype of what women are like is true and useful. These things, individually,
are all good traits to have, but not every woman has these traits, and you definitely do not have all of these traits. So,
Different people have different responses to this, but most of the responses involve leaving, changing part of yourself, or
hiding part of yourself. The part that took me the longest time to figure out was how much of the changing or hiding is
completely beneath the surface. The changing and hiding also explains why you end up with a situation where a lot of women
in a given church really do seem to meet a stereotype, which reinforces teaching that stereotypes have a basis in fact,
and look, here we go around again.
So. You’re not about to leave the church because you don’t fit in, because that’s not what you want, because you have
a vested interest in being the best sort of woman you can be, so what do you do instead? You emphasize those parts of
yourself that match the stereotype, and ignore, downplay, or just don’t bring up actual character strengths that you have,
but which don’t match the stereotype. Or you figure out a way to describe your individual strengths in the language of
the stereotype. For instance, you’re not great at the small talk thing, so you focus on being a listener in those social
settings where women are talking amongst themselves. You read a lot, so you start reading what the other girls are reading,
to have some sort of commonality. You resist the urge to tell people when they’re not making logical sense, because since
women aren’t supposed to be good at that sort of thing, maybe you’re wrong about yourself anyway. The stereotype
There are more complicated social aspects as well, which are actually really interesting in a social observation sort of way.
I’m a bit of a loner, but I know that social interaction is important. Churches also recognize this, and conservative or
fundamentalist churches, especially, really want most of your meaningful social interaction to take place within the
church, or with like-minded believers. But organized or off-the-cuff social activities among women in the church tend to
reinforce the sorts of things women are commonly supposed to enjoy doing, like cooking, or gardening, or talking about
books, or arts and crafts, or decorating, because it’s assumed that they’ll benefit or be of interest to most women there,
since the stereotype says so.
None of this is actually as intentional as I’m making it sound; it just kind of happens, as a result of everyone working
from the ‘women are like this, not like that’ playbook. In order to have these social interactions (which, again, are
supposed to be a Christian woman’s most meaningful interactions with other women), individual women need to either like
doing these sorts of things, or learn to like doing these sorts of things. Activities like cooking and gardening and
scrapbooking and visiting Victorian-esque tea houses are fantastic if you’re the sort of person who enjoys them, but so are
things like building computers, playing MMOs, and fixing small engines, and you won’t, generally, find women doing these
other sorts of things as social activities in fundamentalist churches. Again, the stereotypes reinforce themselves,
this time through activity, rather than personality.
In fact, changing what sorts of things you enjoy doing, in order to get social interaction that you need, makes changing
who you are in order to match ‘how God designed women to be’ a bit easier. Both of these threads play off of each other in
This whole process causes problems. Individual strengths and interests get ignored, left behind, or completely covered up,
because they don’t fit into the picture that conservative and fundamentalist pastors and teachers draw of Christian women,
and that these Christian women draw of themselves. Some people spend incredible amounts of time working on characteristics
that fit the stereotype, while their own individual strengths wither away, unacknowledged. Because almost everyone has
spent years unconsciously learning how to downplay or ignore or restate certain aspects of themselves (because almost no
one matches a stereotype exactly), hypocrisy is easy. Because almost everyone has put aside vital parts of themselves,
in some way, the church is less than it could be. Because everyone is focused on being the same sort of person, fewer
people outside the church can see themselves in it.
I’ve referred mostly to women and girls throughout this, because that is what I’ve experienced, and what I’ve observed
the most, but I’ve talked this over with male friends from similar backgrounds, and this same sort of process happens for
men in fundamentalist churches as well. It makes sense. This is a human process, not a female one.
Every once in awhile, someone will say to me “Well, of course individuals have their own individual strengths, and that’s a
fantastic thing, which we celebrate” about two minutes after they’ve got done telling me about how wonderful and vital
God’s design for men and women is. I laugh, or I cry, depending on how much I care about the person, because you
really, truly, cannot have both. Every Christian really wants to be a part of God’s wonderful design, and no one,
absolutely no one, wants to be the exception that proves the rule. People will bend themselves very, very far out of
shape in order to fit themselves to what they believe that design is, and will continue to do so at great personal cost.
I’m not sure where to end this. Don’t become a part of this, it’s an incredibly difficult thing to unwind yourself from?
This is a way of making sense of the sameness you see in people from certain churches? There’s also an entire other
discussion about how this whole concept of our gender telling us who we are influences marriages and the ways we think
Maybe it’s just enough to say that this is a process that happens, and this is how it hurts people in ways they
shouldn’t have to be hurt, simply because we find it so easy to categorize people and to use gender as a shortcut for
talking about the complex individual differences God has given us.