We have rejoined the Internet cognoscenti: Netflix

This week, we received in the mail, our first Netflix discs. Now, we were member of Netflix briefly a couple of years ago (or was it just last year?). But we didn’t watch enough to justify it. Now that we have decided to cut back on our television watching, we seem to believe we have time for more movies. The irony is not lost on us.

But ever the modern couple, we soldier on.

This first batch of three discs includes Sex and the City, Season 1, which comes on two discs (they count as two of our three, and come under separate cover), and Saved.

Plus, we can now trade our recommendations around with all our friends and family that use Netflix! Come, join the party. Join the latest craze on the Internets (no, not Netflix, rather the latest craze is for social networking systems where you can exchange ideas, lists, recommendations with people of similar interests).

Anyway. So click on the Friends tab and invite us! Unless we invite you, first.

Pay attention, I need your help picking a domain name

Okay, my Internet Service Provider, Globat is having one of their periodic, “75% off everything!” sales. I have seen several of those go by, and haven’t pulled the trigger, but I think I am ready to do so this time. The price is low, and we’re several months from the annual due date of the service on my current domain (dannytiffanyandfamily.com), so the bills won’t be right on top of each other.

So, I think I am ready to get another domain name. This one would be for this web site, my personal blog, projects, etc. I have but one problem, really. I don’t know what I want to register. Here are the ideas I have had, and the reasons I haven’t rushed them into service.

www.dannylastname.com Yeah. I have a pretty hard and fast rule about putting surnames on the web. I try not to. I’ve seen blogs where people refer to themselves as “BloggerOne” and their children as “Monkey, Pillowhead, and The Nibbler”… and I’ve seen blogs where people are free and clear with all their names, mailing addresses, clothing sizes… I prefer to run a line in the middle. Which means I don’t have to worry about what to do with e-mail: danny@dannylastname.com? me@dannylastname.com? mailbox@dannylastname.com? Actually that last one works pretty well…

www.mingofaust.com This has been my default handle for quite a while now. Allegedly, I was nearly named after an Argentine historical figure, one Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. But it is a bit unwieldy. It doesn’t roll off the tongue. It has to be explained. But at least it means something. Unlike…

www.fiddicult.com Totally random, meaningless word that is a fever-dream jumble of the word “difficult.” Nothing much to recommend it, except that it is fun to say.

www.parentheticalremark.com I can’t believe that this one is available. OMG. Should I snap it up? Does it sound good with subdomains? photos.parentheticalremark.com? memory.parentheticalremark.com? The plural, parentheticalremarks is also out there to be claimed. Oh, crap, there’s a Blogger site using this name (if not this domain). Can I run him out of town? Maybe he’d pay me for the domain name? Is this where I point out that www.snideaside.com, is also available?

So, you can tell I need help. Suggestions? Ideas? Thoughts?

The weekend we saw really good movies

So, this was a few weekends ago, but I was reading a “Best Movies of 2004” article, and the reviewer had these three movies in his top ten. We had gone to see The Incredibles in the theater, and rented Spiderman 2 and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind over the weekend.

You can’t go wrong with any of the three. I have to say that the one that left me most affected was Eternal Sunshine. This is an amazing movie, amazing in that the writer and the director and the actors managed to pull it off. There’s a crystallizing moment, right at the end, that just about blew my mind. All the timeshifting, all the effects, all the scripted-shenanigans… it turns out that, while I thought they were fun and cool for their own sake, kind of a “Wow, they actually pulled this off,” thing… it turns out they were all leading up to this one point, this one… realization.

It was really pretty cool.

Wistful for the Creative Life

This morning I did a little surfing in the blogopshere within the immediate vicinity of Arlo. He is surrounded by creative, fun, probably somewhat unstable, yet awesome people. As one person said, Arlo’s life will definitely not suck.

It made me think of the path not traveled in my life. As I get further in time (and space, as it turns out) from my college career, it becomes clearer to me that there was a Turning Point back then. The choice I made set me on a path very different from what the other choice would have done.

My freshman year at Brown, I took an introductory art class. Why? Because I’d taken art all through high school. Because people told me I was good at it. Because I liked drawing and stuff. My teacher… what was her name? James had a good nickname for her, too. I want to say Marla, but I’m sure that’s not it. Anyway, at the end of the class, which was sort of a technique-survey class (one week with charcoal, one week with collage, one week with watercolor, etc.), Marla asked me to choose art as my major. I think I was flattered–though clearly not enough–but I said no, thanks. I was going into biology, or environmental studies, or whatnot.

And that, as they say, was that.

It took me seven years to get back into doing any kind of creative work, and even then, it was making newsletters with a computer. As I worked, at various jobs in various states, I gradually did more creative stuff, on the web, a little in print. My creativity found an outlet in freelance web design, on my own sites, in our life a little. And I was fine with that. Then a couple of years ago (three years now?) I took an oil painting class at Iowa. And I loved it. I flat-out freakin loved it. I loved being creative, I loved oil painting (which I had never tried before), but mostly, I loved having the time set aside to dedicate to being creative.

In the work I do now, I try very hard to be creative. And my employer, earning my undying gratitude, have seen fit to let me expand my job duties such that I can make things: signs, posters, creative stuff. My life is very busy now, with Aidan and… well, with Aidan. It is just not easy to find the time to do non-critical things, and when I do, there are so many of them that they crowd each other out and leave me feeling spent, with nothing to show.

It’s life. And don’t get me wrong, I am not unhappy.

But reading about Arlo, and immersing myself a little in his life, I find myself feeling a little wistful. I wonder, from my current path, where I would be had I made the other decision back in 1989. Brown is cheek to jowl with RISD, one of the premier art and design schools in the country, and I could have taken classes there, even transferred. My sister was living in NYC, and I probably would have moved there after college regardless of my major, but as an art student, I would have explored/seen/enjoyed a whole different world in the City. I might find myself in Arlo’s circle, or in a similar one. As it was, as an environmental studies major, I was just biding my time until something drew me away.

And something did, and it was marvelous. Love, family, Aidan. The other path might not have given me any of those things, and so I would never trade for it. Despite the entirety of this post, I have never regretted my life, and I still do not. I do, in fact, love my life.

But I find myself wondering if I couldn’t straddle some space between these two paths. I’ll have to think on that. You know, when I have time.

The cost of being an Apple fan [updated]

I’m in the middle of following Steve Jobs’ keynote from Macworld, and it sounds pretty cool. The price of some of their software has gone up, however, and it reminded me of a post I’d wanted to write some time ago. Between text-based page refreshes seems like a good time.

Apple’s products have always been expensive. I understand that. But lets add up some of the numbers after you’ve bought your computer. It comes with the operating system and a whole passel of Apple software for “free.” And that’s good.

But a year later, they’ve updated the OS, they’ve updated iLife, and your yearly subscription to their online .Mac service is dues, and you’re looking at, well:

iLife ’05: $79 iWork: $79 OS 10.4: $129 (okay, not exactly yearly any more…) One year of .Mac: $99 (for… the slideshow feature, that’s all)

Yearly: $386

Ouch.

Update: Denny pointed out that the prices are a little less for education-discount-getting folks like me. Those prices would result in a yearly payout of $276. Still a lot.

Best color picker on the Internet

In my roamings, I have come across many a hexadecimal color-picker on the Internet. Most of them let you choose one of the 214 “web-safe” colors, and as such, are about as useful to me as a box of rocks. (Thanks, Greyson, for moving the box of rocks for me!) I stopped using the 214 colors when I got a color monitor that could show millions of colors. Usually, I just use the built-in color picker in whatever I’m using to make web graphics, either Photoshop, or Dreamweaver.

But lately, I have been returning to my roots and coding a lot of my html and css by hand, without special software, and usually remotely (with just a web browser). So I’ve been using a web-based tool that’s pretty good. It is the MediaGods RGB to HEX color picker and it works pretty well.

But the other day, I found the most awesomest hex color picker on the Internet. These are the Hex Color Chips at december.com and with a good scroll wheel on your mouse, it’s the best way I’ve found to find different shades of a single color that look good together. It is inspired, and has made some of my sites much prettier.

And as you know, that’s what I’m striving for here.

And some I’m not throwing out

As I was (in the previous post) tossing many of my sci-fi and fantasy books, I came across several that I wasn’t throwing out, and probably won’t ever throw out. In the interest of a little ying in my yang, here’s some of what’s not in the heap:

  • Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, which gave me weird psychedelic nightmares when I was a kid, and which I have always intended to read again as an adult.
  • Elizabeth Moon’s The Deed of Paksenarrion. It is, far and away, the best story of how a Paladin becomes one. The end is a little bittersweet, the prequel is just disappointing, but this is fine fantasy.
  • Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series. Still one of the best out there. Writes circles around Robert Jordan.
  • Brian Daley’s Star Wars: The Han Solo Adventures is still good, rollicking, swashbuckling, Star Wars fun.
  • Anne McCaffrey’s Dinosaur Planet books. Small, tight, well-written and fun. There are just two of them, and they are often overlooked in favor of her dragon books. But not to be missed.
  • Lawrence Watt-Evans’ Esthshar books, of which there are many, each standalone. These are humorous fantasy novels, I consider them to be Xanth books for grown-ups.
  • The E.T. novelization, which is an awesome, funny, enlightening read.
  • Everything I own by Connie Willis, especially To Say Nothing of the Dog.
  • Most everything by Guy Gavriel Kay. The first books I read by him were the Fionavar Tapestry books, which in the end are a little self-involved, but his stand-alone books are very good, especially The Lions of Al-Rassan, and A Song for Arbonne.
  • Ursula LeGuin’s _Earthsea_ books, so recently maligned by the SciFi Channel.
  • John Christopher’s _Tripods Trilogy_ which I read when I was twelve, and a Boy Scout, and loved, and now think might be subtly religious in tone, but I don’t know because I haven’t read them in twenty-two years and I should, so I’m keeping them.

Throwing out sci-fi/fantasy books

I know, I know. Gasp! Danny throwing away fantasy books? Well, it is happening, even as I type. I’m finally opening my boxes of books shipped from Iowa, and I am tossing some books I have carted with me for a long time, some since college!

Why? Well, I don’t have any time to read anymore, and I suspect I won’t have much until Aidan turns into a teenager (that’s when he’ll start actively avoiding me, right?). Which means I’ll have even less time to re-read anything I already own. So I am tossing those books which I might once have thought I’d re-read at some point.

Mostly I’m keeping the good stuff, and the sentimental stuff.

On the heap:

  • Everything by Robert Jordan. What a hack.
  • All of Raymond Feist’s books after the first three.
  • Everything I own of Katherine Kurtz, and Katherine Kerr, whose books I couldn’t tell apart in my memory, anyway.
  • All books by Janny Wurts. Though I enjoyed them, I can’t remember anything about them.
  • I’ve also decided to take a principled stand and junk anything I own by Orson Scott Card. He’s a fascist, a homophobe, and a good writer, but one out of three is not enough for me.
  • All 3,180 pages of Tad Williams’ Otherland series.
  • Gregory Keyes’ Age of Unreason series, though I’m keeping his first two-book series, The Waterborn and The Blackgod.
  • Other standouts on the heap include some of Brin’s more self-serving works, Star Wars fluff books, Zelazny’s books, and The Mists of Avalon which Tiffany saved. Boy, that was another bad TV adaptation.