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B9 d+ t+ k+ s u++ f i o x++ e++ l+ c– (huh?)

[As of September 28, 2003, that’s B9 d+ (but really d++ in spirit, it’s just that I don’t happen to have links to every single one of the people listed) t- (but I think being a beta user of TypePad and riding the bleeding edge on Advanced Template modifications counts for something) k+ s u++ f i o x++ e++ l+ c–]

[Funny how this comes out a little different each time depending on my mood and how strictly I read the questions. Here’s January 4, 2004: B9 d++ t- k+ s u f i o x++ e+ l+ c–]

Hi. I’m Dinah

Actually I’m a lot of Dinahs. I could try to split myself up over a couple sites so that someone looking for at my proposal on web design or my resume* wouldn’t get exposed to my random synaptic firings, weird friends, daily blatherings and past Halloween costumes. Frankly, though, if you can’t handle the existence of all of it, I don’t really want to work with or for you.

*Note to recruiters: Dinah is not looking for a job. Dinah already works for a fabulous company, likes the people she works with, isn’t motivated by money, won’t refer her friends to you and will keep you in the loop should this change.

Old Media!

Inkspot Books & Games was a store I opened in downtown San Jose, California’s SoFA district in February of 1994. It was small, 400 square feet, and I ran it all by myself. I specialized in pleasure reading: mystery, science-fiction, fantasy, horror, humor, art, magazines and miscellaneous cool stuff. It took $22,000 to open it, $15K of which I borrowed from an investor with a serious book habit who was attracted by the prospect of getting books at cost and earning 8% interest on the loan as I paid it back over 5 years. (I did pay it back on time. I am proud to have kept my good credit and honored my debts).

In the summer of 1995 it became apparent that the store was still not going to be able to pay me a living wage (due largely to unreliable supplies of the game Magic: the Gathering which had become a whopping 70% of my business) and I found a buyer willing to take on the remainder of my lease, the store fixtures and some of my stock. The store closed in October of 1995 to my relief and sorrow.

With the growth of the World Wide Web and the advent of’s Associates program, I realized that I would be able to do some of my favorite parts of having a store without the financial burden of renting retail space and having to commit all my time to working the counter. I have decided to reopen Inkspot as a virtual store. The change of venue and the orientation of Amazon necessitate a slight change of inventory from books, games and magazines to books and music. I consider this a plus because while I do enjoy games, recommending music is even more fun.

Over the past year, however, I have not worked on this online version of Inkspot very much. My attention has been largely focused on work and the limited time I spend working on my website since completing my thesis project is centered on my weblog. Therefore I’m facing reality and throwing in the towel on this. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, and I am clearly not going to take the time for that. No reason to throw the baby out with the bath water, however, so here are some recommendations gleaned from the remains of Inkspot:


(Through the magic of alphabetization, the book I recommend with the most caveats appears first…)

Web Sites That Work
by Roger Black & Sean ElderWeb Design

Some basic design rules you should know before you decide to break them.

A great overview of design principles as they relate to the web. Engagingly written and beautifully produced, but get it from the library unless you’re new to design. Note: many web designers I respect think this book is not worth your time or money (one’s exact words were "evil evil evil", I believe), so spend a little extra time with it before you shell out any cash and definitely take his "rules" with several grains of salt.

Midnight Blue : The Sonja Blue Collection by Nancy CollinsHorror

Kick-ass cybersuck.

Little, Big by John CrowleyFantasy

“The things that make us happy make us wise.” My favorite book in the whole wide world.

Let Them Eat Cheesecake : The Art of Olivia by Olivia De BerardinisArt

The true successor to Antonio Vargas. Beautiful women, beautifully painted.

Mirror Worlds : Or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox : How It Will Happen and What It Will Mean by David GelernterComputers

Fascinating speculations on the future of computing and our relationship to the miniature worlds we create. A great “knock on the side of the head” to get you thinking about how we might live in the near future. Most amazing is that he wrote this before the World Wide Web existed.

Yes, Gelernter is the guy who was almost killed by the Unabomber. That Gelernter takes such an optimistic view about the uses of pervasive data-gathering is the primary weakness of his vision.

Burning Chrome by William GibsonScience Fiction

Where to start with Gibson. His best stuff is here.

Andy Goldsworthy : A Collaboration With Nature by Andy GoldsworthyArt

Something very different; simple and full of meaning.

Tao of Pooh
by Benjamin Hoff – Spirituality

Actually a wonderful introduction to Taoism and how
can you go wrong with Pooh?

ARTISTRY: more than code
by Ardith Ibanez & Natalie Zee
– Web Design

Bringing it all together. Another great book from the
New Riders press. One big flaw: they suggest detecting the browser and
customizing the page, rather than detecting functionality. Listen to
on this subject

Ever-Lovin’ Blue Eyed Years With Pogo
by Walt Kelly – Humor

Just plain good stuff. Profound and hilarious by turns.
Clearly an influence on Bill Watterson, few other strips have been so
consistently simple and universal.

As Nature Sees God : A Christian Reading of the Tao Te Ching
Rev. Dr. John R. Mabry – Spirituality

A beautiful book; poetic, peaceful and profound. And
John is a dear friend. (Now if we could only get Amazon to carry his
dadaist poetry…)

Official Couch Potato Handbook
by Jack Mingo – Humor

Sic semper potatum reclinus.

Designer’s Guide to Style Sheets
by Steven Mulder – Web Design

Mulder did Webmonkey’s
cascading style sheets tutorial
. I liked that and his book is also
useful though it could use an update now to integrate it with dHTML.
(Go, Steve, go!)

for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide (2nd Edition)
Tom Negrino & Dori Smith – Web Design

A good way to learn Javascript. The Visual Quickstart
Guides are all really helpful in the way they arrange the description
of what you’re doing, the code you’re writing and what you’ll actually
see beside each other on the same page. The 2nd edition has a good diagram
of the Javascript objects (a.k.a. The Object Hierarchy) and you’ll find
you want to place a tab on that page, you’ll use it so much.

I recommend Javascript as a starting place for anyone wishing to beef
up their technical side. Scripting is the gateway to programming and
tags & objects are the wave of the future.

Another winner from Peachpit Press’ Visual Quickstart Guide series.
If you see the running rabbit, you’re probably buying a great book for
getting started. Only downside is poor proof-reading & code triple-checks,
so visit the website for each book for typo information.

Design of Everyday Things
by Donald A. Norman – Design

I have had this book recommended to me by lots of people.
Lots. And they were right. (By the way, this is the same book as The
Psychology of Everyday Things, they just changed the name when they
went to the paperback edition).

Flanders Panel
by Arturo Perez-Reverte – Mystery

by Dorothy Sayers – Mystery

The first of the excellent series of books featuring
Lord Peter Wimsey.

by Neal Stephenson – Science Fiction

A helluva good ride and a brilliant cyberpunk vision.

Diamond Age

Better written but less of a kick in the pants than
Snow Crash.

Distant Mirror
by Barbara Tuchman – History

Concept & Design : A Comprehensive Guide for Creating Effective Web
by Crystal Waters – Web Design

A great introduction to the entire act of creating a
web site. Deals as much with the process of design as with specific
code techniques. Waters does a great job introducing traditional design
theory and adapting it to the web. Her treatment of the ideation phase
is the best I have seen. This book is a “must read” for any new web
designer and a good brainstorming tool for more experienced designers.
It was required reading in my web design class in Summer of 1999. An
update & expansion would be good, but I fear Crystal is probably
way too busy these days.

and Hobbes
by Bill Watterson – Humor

Calvin and Hobbes is one of the finest works about childhood
of all time. Absolute genius. This is the first in the series.

Book : On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are
by Alan W. Watts
– Spirituality

A good kick in the head. Try your local library for
audio and video tapes of Watts – he’s delightful.

Web Graphics 2
by Lynda Weinman – Web Design

If you’re producing graphics for the web, the current
edition of this book should be first on your shopping list.

4 for Windows (Visual Quickstart Guide Series)
by Elaine Weinmann
& Peter Lourekas

A really huge help in coming up to speed on Photoshop
for newbies or those out of practice. Once learned, it remains a handy
reference. There is also <A
href=””>a version
for Macintosh. Another winner from Peachpit Press’ Visual Quickstart
Guide series.

Page Confidential
by Bunny Yeager (Photographer), Stan Corwin
Productions – Art

Some of my favorite pictures of Betty/Bettie/Bette with
interesting text including a great introduction by Buck Henry.

“These photographs are not about sex but about exuberance, the sheer,
physical delight of corporeal existence. Betty is Eve before the apple.
She has no shame. She is in her favorite place, doing what she loves
best, her magnetic vitality transporting us all. The secret of Betty’s
appeal isn’t mysterious. She found perfect pleasure in simply being
alive. And she gave it to us.” – Gary Meyer





Verve Story 1944-1994
(boxed set) Various Artists – Jazz

One of the better collections to convey the history and
spectrum of jazz. Somehow it feels fresh and diverse yet flows smoothly
from piece to piece. Bonus: Blossom Dearie’s sublime cover of &quot;Surrey
With A Fringe On Top&quot;.

)- Clint Mansell and various others – Urban/Electronic

This movie was my favorite in 1998. The album continues
to be one of the best collections of music to accompany productive work
trances – what Justin calls &quot;web juice&quot;.

Winds White Sky
Bruce Cockburn – Pop/Rock/Folk

Very early Bruce. Warm, gentle, healing. Favorite tracks:
“Let Us Go Laughing”, “One Day I Walk”.


I’ve always had a fondness for this album because I saw
Bruce perform it live. Favorite tracks: “Gospel of Bondage”, “Radium Rain”.

Devo – Urban/Electronic

Despite the title, this album has some of the best Devo
songs and some cool alternate versions. Favorite tracks: “Pink Pussycat”,
“Timing X/Space Junk”.

Listening Disc

Trance-y and cheesy at the same time.

Boy Named Charlie Brown
Vince Guaraldi Trio – Jazz

Pure joy. &quot;Linus &amp; Lucy&quot; is just incomparable.

And Birds And Rocks And Things
Loud Family – Pop/Rock

Brilliant, intricate and a little bit odd. Favorite tracks:
“Spot The Setup”, “The Second Grade Applauds&quot;.

Music From Peter Gunn
Henry Mancini – Jazz

For Echo
Rush – Rock

How can 3 guys make so many layers of sound and rhythm?

Gonna Be A Country Girl Again
Buffy Sainte-Marie – Country/Folk

&quot;I tell you all the lights on Broadway don’t amount
to an acre of green…&quot; Ah, it sounds like my house when I was growing
up. Time for me to remember how to sing again.

Short Sharp Shocked – Michelle Shocked – Country

When I grow up I’m gonna be an old lady, but ain’t no
way I’m having that many babies. [album out of print, apparently]

The Woods (Original Broadway Cast)
Stephen Sondheim – Musicals

Much deeper than it appears at first glance. Favorite
tracks: “Agony”, “No More” (but Mark Bakalor did it better…), “Last

Tool – Industrial

The best hard music I’ve bought for years. Highly recommended.
Favorite tracks: “Ænima”, “Hooker With a Penis”.

Other recommendations:

Grim Fandango


[The date of this post is a best guess made in February 2004. This used to be a separate web page rather than a post and the earliest version of that file I have dates to November 18, 2000. I think that it was actually a modified version of an earlier text – the “I have decided” in the third paragraph supports this vague memory – and that the earlier text was written in 1998, possibly but probably not earlier. I think the introductory text modifying that version and giving up on the idea of the virtual store was written sometime in 1999 or 2000.]