Tuesday, July 24, 2012


A "captcha" is ostensibly designed to weed out automated programs which are designed for getting past the security precautions of web sites. They usually say something like "type the captcha characters to prove that you are not a robot". Trouble is, the characters you're supposed to type are almost invariably presented in such a way that it's almost impossible to read one of the two words. To the folks who design these things, I want to scream, "Hey, STUPID, I am not a robot, but I am getting exceedingly angry when you force me over and over again to guess what your intentions were when you distorted the image so much that it was next to impossible to read.

And by the way, the audio versions aren't necessarily an improvement in terms of legibility.

Eventually one might be successful in getting past the captcha. But it can take seemingly forever, as it did just now for me when I tried to shorten a URL at a site run by Google.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Christageddon and DeGarmo and Key

I just checked out a link today on the Facebook memorial page for Dana Key of DeGarmo and Key. It was for a band called Christageddon, and the text which accompanied the music which played when I hit the link described the vocalist Richard as "vomiting vocals", which was a pretty appropriate description of the sound which reached my ears. The band describes its music as "unblack metal".

I understand why some traditionalist Christians had issues with the hippies and "Jesus Freaks" which formed Christian rock bands like Love Song (which was very mellow, a bit like the secular band Bread) back in the 1970s when I was in high school. But that stuff was way tame compared with bands like Christageddon. Even hard rockin' bands like Resurrection Band were tame in comparison!

I admit, "unblack metal" is a little harsh on the ears of an old 55-year-old fart like myself. But I still know of no scripture which specifies exactly what musically constitutes holy and unholy music, notwithstanding the existence of people who would have you believe that anything more modern than a Gregorian chant is of the devil.

Even if it's unlikely that you would ever pay for an "unblack metal" album or music download, pray for these young people. Someone WILL listen to them, and if it brings even one individual to salvation, then it's worthy of support in my opinion.

While you're praying you might pray for the singers' voices. It sounds to me as if it would physically hurt to try to sing that way. It's a bit like listening to Tom Waits on acid.

If this stuff is your cup of tea, you might also want to check out Demon Hunter at

If you want to see a video which comes closer to representing my own musical tastes, watch the video of Jesse Dixon performing with DeGarmo and Key, at A version without Jesse Dixon can be found at  Another tune to check out is the D&K video for "Competition" (

Saturday, July 14, 2012

To Gluten Or Not To Gluten

Back in the 80s, I bought and read a book entitled "How To Make All The Meat You Eat Out Of Wheat" by Nina and Michael Shandler. I never actually tried making gluten burgers according to the directions in the book, but a small food court restaurant at which I worked in Cambridge, MA offered such burger patties in its pita bread sandwiches (in addition to excellent New York Style cheesecake).

Just as I suspected they would (on the basis of the book's descriptions), their gluten burger patties tasted very meat-like (and NOT grainy, unlike the vegetarian burgers sold in local natural foods grocery stores, although those were OK in their own way). I'd have preferred to heat them up and melt cheddar cheese on top, and add lettuce, tomatoes and BBQ sauce, but that wasn't how Baby Watson's served them. And although one could buy tofu and tempeh at a local natural foods grocery store, I don't recall that they offered gluten burger patties.

The weird thing was that the entire book of recipes was reliant on wheat gluten. So I was puzzled when it later became fashionable to preface the names of many dishes by describing them as "gluten free", as if gluten was evil or at the very least unhealthy. How was it that people referred to gluten in very negative ways, if gluten was also capable of partially or completely replacing meat in a person's diet?

As I had suspected must be the case, it turned out that some people had allergies to gluten, and it was apparently a significant number of people; therefore, it made sense to cater to such people, just as it would make sense to advertise that particular dishes were "peanut free" (again, allergies) even though peanut butter had been a basic substence food for many people.

So, OK, if you have an allergy to gluten, then stay away from the recipes in the aforementioned book. But if you're a vegetarian (or just a normal meat eater like myself who

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Digital Flatbed Printers and Fine Art

When I was still living in Chicago, I had the opportunity to see a large flatbed printer owned by Digital Imaging Resources, Inc. DIR was closely connected with Printmakers Chicago, a giclee printing company owned by John Cisco. Even though it appears to be two separate companies, in fact the two companies work together on some projects. They were and are both located at 650 W. Lake Street.

The giclee printing (Epson, mostly) is done by Printmakers Chicago, but when they want to print on rigid substrates, such as Duho panel, they use the Durst Rho owned by DIR.

The Durst Rho and other similar digital flatbed printers offer certain advantages one can't get from even the best giclee printers, including the ability to print on diverse flat and rigid substrates such as glass, metal and wood, and the ability to print with opaque white ink (which is particularly handy on glass). Typically, digital flatbed printers are used to produce POP (Point Of Purchase) displays, where the graphics are printed directly on rigid materials such as Gatorboard or Sintra, as opposed to having to mount the prints on such materials.

While the lion's share of the work done by companies offering digital flatbed printing is commercial in nature, it also has fine art applications, and it's being used in that way by artists such as Bonnie Lhotka.

The ability to print directly onto plate glass would be useful as a prelude to creating the etched or engraved pieces of plate glass needed for a fine art printmaking process known as vitreography. One could just print one's reference image on one side of the glass, and then hand engrave the glass using a tool such as the Turbo Carver.

One might also use a digital flatbed printer for making negatives to be used for a historic process known as cliche verre. That process was traditionally difficult, inasmuch as it involved a reverse process involving coating the glass with dark tallow and then selectively scratching it away (a bit like scratchboard), but the digital equivalent would be much faster and easier.

From my perspective, the option I would like to explore involves digitally printing images as "underpaintings" on panel board, and then enhancing the prints with real paints such as acrylic paint, if desired. (Of course, that isn't essential, since there are software programs, such as Alien Skin Snap Art 3 and Topaz Simplify, which can do a very good job of emulating the look of natural art media.) There are various ways of transferring digitally printed images to art panel, but some of those ways are a hassle or a mess, involving such things as heat or solvents or acrylic medium. How much easier to simply send one's digital files to a company like DIR and to specify the substrate on which the images should be printed.

To see a video showing the use of the Durst Rho, visit

It should go without saying that the average home computer user lacks the funds with which to purchase one of these huge printers, to say nothing of lacking the space needed in order to install and use one. Therefore, for the foreseeable future, there will always be a need to work in partnership with a company such Digital Imaging Resources.

I know that all of the things mentioned in this blog post ought to be possible, and I look forward to exploring these options in the future in order to create high quality pieces of fine art.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


Fine art reprographics could be defined as the art of digitally reproducing fine art paintings by means of high quality giclee prints and digital prints created with large printers, usually but not always inkjet. Many companies offering this service to artists and photographers also possess Betterlight digital scan backs (for view cameras) or Cruse copy cameras. It is possible to use digital SLR cameras for such purposes (especially now that such cameras come in resolutions as high as 25 megapixels or more), but not everyone can afford such a camera, and there are also times when even 25 megapixels are insufficient (although it helps if one uses what was once called Genuine Fractals, or another comparable program such as Alien Skin Blow Up).

A cool solution can be found in a product called the Gigapan. For a video which will give you an idea of how the product works, see: Now, the Gigapan is great for creating panoramic photos (even with people in the photos, if you don't object to the odd fact that you will sometimes see individuals in multiple areas of the same photos), but where it really shines, it seems to me, is in the reproduction of really large paintings. By definition, such artworks are not going to be moving around while the device is working, so simply by stitching multiple images together, you can get a super big file even without the use of interpolation software. Doing this type of thing manually is usually a pain in the behind, but with the Gigapan, you don't have to worry about whether or not each of the images you'll be stitching together is properly composed.

It also bears mentioning that a lot of new DSLR videos are capable of shooting great videos. With the Gigapan, you don't need to do your panning and zooming with the software, you can just do it in-camera when creating your video documentation of the painting.

Death and Taxes

It's been said that death and taxes are the two things which can't be avoided.

Taxes are probably less inevitable, inasmuch as they are a reflection of whatever economic and legal system exists in any jurisdiction, and not every jurisdiction is the same. But death is definitely part of every person's life, and even though every person grows up with the consciousness of mortality in the back of his or her mind, that awareness seems to grow with each passing year. Reading about the death of a person who played a big role in one's life can feel like a significant marker in one's life. What starts with a trickle can grow until it seems like an avalanche. (Sorry about the mixed metaphors.)

We can't totally control how (or if) we will be remembered after we have died. How we have treated other people will definitely affect our legacies.

Our accomplishments will play a role, too. There isn't much point in achieving great things, though, if we are such jerks that people remember us not for our accomplishments but for our needlessly unpleasant personalities.

Of course, that's assuming that we're remembered at all. That's always been the purpose of obituaries, since not everyone will be remembered by a professional writer in the form of a biography.

Obituaries, however, tend to literally disappear with yesterday's news.

Thanks to the Internet, however, we now have other options, in terms of ways to insure that the obituaries of the deceased last longer than they would be likely to last if they were published in a local newspaper. for example is an online obituary service I found a while back. Judging by the fact that the site doesn't seem to be online anymore, however, I'm thinking that the person who ran that site might have run out of funds with which to pay the hosting fees. That's too bad. But other sites of that nature appear to still be available. for example is specifically for Christians. I think the thing I especially liked about, though, was the fact that one could upload various files such as audio, video and more, associated with one's loved one. seems pretty lame in comparison with what I remember seeing at But seems comparable in terms of cool features.