I finally gave in and forked Bozhidar Batsov’s Emacs bundle, Prelude. Initially I resisted using an out-of-the-box setup and tried to roll my own, but as I added more customizations I realized that I was slowly incorporating all of Prelude. Then I recognized that Prelude’s organization is much cleaner than my approach. It’s also very easy to fork the repo and add in personal touches as I’ve done here.
I’m working through some growing pains in the switch to Prelude from my spaghetti framework, but Bozhidar provided one line install scripts and I also like how all external packages are auto-downloaded from the package manager. If you are new to Emacs or you want to use a customization that 409 other forkers are using, try Prelude (must have Emacs 24 btw).