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


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.