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Those of you who are close friends and family have heard me mention the video tutorials I've been doing lately for the top-secret project Tucows would be launching. Well, today is the big day! I'm proud to announce the public beta launch of the tech-tasty, download-delicious, butteriffic butterscotch! is an exciting new technology video content site aimed at technology enthusiasts. Think HGTV meets TechTV for people that love technology, but don't consider themselves geeks. The site will incorporate the file library, bringing in its 10 million unique monthly visitors to the new brand.

butterscotch also offers step-by-step video tutorials, and that's where I come in. Our tutorials offer computer tips and tricks explained in plain English, without all the jargon, so they are easy to follow along with. Short, sweet and to the point, we offer practical advice you can start using right away to save time, money and headaches. Our goal is to help you get the most out of your computer and gadgets.

So check it out and let me know what you think! Remember, it's still in beta; I hear word of official launch after the new year. We'll be adding much more content in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned!

Artist Showcase – Ed McGowin

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Ed McGowin aside from his fantastic body of work, is that he's not Ed McGowin. This Baltimore artist legally changed his name 12 times, and under each name, creating and submitting artworks to the Baltimore Museum of Arts. See, McGowin has a theory that an artist’s will to change has been denied by the repressive demand that an artist's work develop in a sequentially logical, linear progression.
I just briefly wanted to share these excerpts that I've taken from Anders Harm's article, Thoughts About Ed McGowin's project Name Change
“Apparently nowhere else does the repression of names appear as clearly as in the art world and in its history. Names are the elementary particle of subjectivization, which one attempts to press onto our bodies like seals, in order to have them “limit our entire system”, and which in turn, is interpreted as a confirmation of “authenticity” and “purity.” ”
“Each McGowin’s twelve artists are not just pseudonyms. The name changes were more a beginning rather than the final goal of the project. They merely started up the machine of desire, which, at that moment, did not know in which direction it will start to move. McGowin has referred to the linearity of art history as his basic motive for starting the project.”
Personally, I can relate on some levels. My own artistic interests are all over the map. I know that I can do this or that, but it's the very fact that I've never felt the need to progress in a linear fashion that excites me most about the future of my art. I have to agree with his theory though, and I can understand the motives for changing his name 12 times, but in modern society, who has the time to sit around waiting all day on the phone or at the office of the DMV/banks/kid's school/employer/Social Security/credit cards/etc… I've been married twice, divorced once. \Iit's a lot of work to change your name, let me tell ya!
I guess I do know some artists who have created multiple accounts and galleries on the same art site for each style of their artwork, which, if you think about it, seems to stem from the same concept and perhaps, a fear of not being taken seriously by critics who already think they've got you pegged.

Fractal Art

1. Zueuk
2. Nicholas RougeuxDusk
3. psion005
4. onebadpennyinner conflict
5. d-b-c
6. FarDareisMai
7. MelonLogic
8. Gygrazok
9. judazfx
10. deloulark
Digital Painting, Vector, and Collage

11. Shinybinary
12. Jeff Simpson
13. nykolaiIn Nomine Patris and Boy – Intoxicated
14. MiskisHeavenly Bodies
15. saiaii
16. novenarikSturm und Drang
17. SenecalThe Icarus Lepers
18. ChrisVector
19. Paula Rosa
20. jesuschrisGHOST IN THE FOG

21. bittertaste
22. wb-skinner
23. Becky van Ommen
24. bosniak
25. Jeff O'Neal
26. scottbAylin ii and Serpent
27. arachnid15
28. NadIksodas
29. NuclearSeasonsenjoy the silence
30. vidiYucano and Lickspittle
Pen – Pencil – Paint

31. Ben Tolman
32. Anna TulejaQueen playing soft chess and winged
33. Nimra
34. dholmsmidnight opens it's arms to me
35. aaamelie
36. Bernard Dumaine
37. Anita Zofia Siuda
38. gunfighter6Aki and Fathom
39. NonhumanDespair
40. metamorphosys

41. MarkNewman
42. MumboJumbo
43. Yuriy Luzovhexatrans
44. kuksiChurchtank Type 4 and The Guardian
45. Jill Willich
46. mkm3dDemon and Juliet
47. Intro-Extro
48. PixiwillowMad Hatter and Shadow's Realm
49. spiraldreamworks
50. Vili Koskinen

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This is my coming out. I am an atheist.

I was born and raised Church of Christ. We attended three to four times a week. I was baptized twice, once at the age of 12 and again in my early 20s. I attended a Christian school in junior high and high school. I have read the Bible in it's entirety multiple times. I know a thing or two about Christianity and it's many sects as a result of years and years of study. I believed in the verses in the Bible that claimed if I sought the truth, it would be shown unto me. “Seek and ye shall find”… I found the truth by adhering to these important instructions: “Think for yourself. Question authority.” Five simple words, spoken by Timothy Leary that opened my eyes and changed my life forever. I asked questions. Christians would say my first sin was to doubt in the first place. I no longer accept things on faith alone. I no longer accept that the Bible is the inspired word of the one true God, nor do I believe in the trinity, angels, or miracles.

I recognize that I may have a problem with intolerance toward religions, largely because I'm angry (about many issues but to name just one personal blow, this church baptized my child against my expressed wishes and without either parent's consent) and outraged by their numerous atrocities. I have resolved to keep my outrage from turning into hatred toward individuals, but I do feel my anger toward organized religions that teach hate, intolerance, fear, terrorism, slavery, etc. is merited and justified.

My husband and I have recently become members of the Unitarian Universalist church so that my children can learn about other religions and make their own educated decisions about belief, morality and social issues. Yes, a church that accepts everyone, atheists too.

Losing My Religion
God is Imaginary
10 Myths and 10 Truths about Atheism

Okay, this is a continuation of the the posts here and here. In which I detail levels of suckiness as they have been predominant in my life lately. Yes, I have already admitted to this being very emo of me, but karma has been smacking me around.
22nd February, 2008 530am In a driving snowstorm we travel to the MRI clinic in Holly Michigan, and it looks as if the city and county are completely failing the morning rush crowd yet again. The roads at every level from side street to Interstate have not been plowed, salted or touched except by other traffic. I get to experience the MRI tunnel for an estimated 18 minutes! To keep myself sane while being loaded like a torpedo I use the simple expedient of running over the entire In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida song in my head. Let me stress that both the person working the front desk there and the MRI tech were both some of the best people I have met in the medical profession.
22nd February, 2008 0900 My wife manages the superhuman task of dropping the kids off at their north eastern suburban school, and getting me back to the south suburb containing the Hospital and Doctors office, all in under an hour. While we are waiting, Stacy points out an article on the wall about a woman who had already been diagnosed as having just a flu by 10 plus other doctors. But Dr. Lisa Guyot caught that she had a brain tumor with the end result being that she saved her life. I am comforted, but still in dread.
I now get to meet, the now famous in my mind, Dr. Guyot. She pops my MRI results (Link to a near full size You can see a moderate size at the bottom of this article) up on the wall, and shows where my spinal cord is a normal looking white line, then where it stops completely, resumes weakly, then stops completely again the next vertebra down, and then shows us a top down view showing how two of my discs are completely out of place. She then introduces Stacy and I to our new vocabulary words for the day “Laminectomy and Discectomy” and the code phrases “L3-4 and L4-5”. Let me sum this up for you, she recommends surgery. I still cannot beat the dread that surgery will result in bad things for me, so I ask about options and if I could possibly heal normally over time. She gives me the truth, which in summation is, perhaps over much time and pain. Time measured in years. Since then a solid net education has shown me the question was dumb, and a few medical professionals seeing my MRI’s have actually gone pale or flushed. So, I ask for a minute, Stacy and I talk, and I decide to hell with it, this doctor has the solid level of confidence that I demonstrate when fixing a computer hardware/software/network issue, so I suck it up and let her know we are ready to go. She really knows her stuff!
22nd February, 2008 – 10AM After being warned I may have to be catheterized to provide a urine sample before my surgery, I use the warm water method to provide said sample, No one who has ever experienced catheterization will willingly undergo it twice given an option :-)
22nd February, 2008 – 1130AM – I am taken back to be prepped for my surgery, where a nurse named Jennifer (matching the name of my ex-wife, setting my sense of dread up a notch) sticks various things in my flesh, and lets me know a nice person will be around soon to make me go beddy-bye. I start going over my life in my head because I figure this is my last chance to reconsider anything I have ever done. I find a good deal of peace, a good deal of sorrow and am actually shocked to find that I am free of a lot of the drama I have faced in life. My only concern is that I will never be able to spend another night living with Stacy, that my mother will be really bummed, and that I will never be able to make amends for any mistakes, and I have made a few ( … “And bad mistakes, I've made a few, I've had my share of sand kicked in my face, But I've come through”… oh great! Lyrics from a dead guy in my head) I get to see Stacy a last time, and try to do the stiff upper lip thing (While in the back of my head the tune to “Modern Major General” plays, so I realize the drugs are REALLY kicking in) but fail miserably.
22nd February 2008 – Sometime roughly between 1130AM and 3pm – I remember waking as I was wheeled into another room, and I try to be jocular in my drugged state because I expect to die in that room and figure it will be enough of a bad day for the people working there. I hear the words “combative” and that is it. Since then I have talked to a nursing professional who told me that people with strong personalities tend to freak a little as they go under and come out of anesthesia so the odds are that I was being combative, but I was trying to be a good guy.
22nd February, 2008 – Roughly 3pm I wake up and realize I am in a different room than the one I lost consciousness in, this is heartening, and I first try to move my legs and cannot, this really sucks! I call out, and a voice answers, and my first question is, “Am I okay?” When the voice answers in the affirmative I ask her name, then apologize for probably having asked that question before since I am hit with a sudden rush of déjà vu so I figure it is my fifth time asking the same question. Turns out her name is Gail and she is my recovery nurse. Around this time I start to finish my self-inventory and realize a few things. First, I can move my legs, but still do not have sensation in any place I had lost previously, but my feet are strapped into those little devices that inflate and deflate which once gave my mother weird hallucinations of roller skating while recovering from surgery. I have an oxygen line in my nose, the IV with the HUGE gauge that had been in my left hand was now in my right hand, and I was hooked up to a lot of wires and such. Lastly, but certainly most noticeable was that my back felt, well, PAIN, and oddly enough my chest was killing me. Also my head was more than a little woozy.
I asked Gail if the pain would be going away and I was told that some things had to occur before she could give me much more for it. The monitor kept being unhappy with my heart rate and oxygen level, so I was trying to casually breath in through the nose, out through the mouth thing since I have had practice over the years finding my happy place. Gail (The Angel Nurse of Recovery) told me something along the lines of what I was thinking, which was to think of a place that was happy. I told her I couldn’t do it without Stacy there, so I picked a spot in Northern Germany. Out in the woods behind The Bistro near Loruper Weg in Sogel Germany about late August, with the sun coming through the trees. I remember playing war games out there and during the breaks it was a great place to lay back and enjoy what were some very old woods. Imagined Stacy sitting there with me, and both of us just digging on the riff of a wonderful moment. Gail kept checking on me, and helping me out, she was the best single nurse I have encountered in my entire 38 years, she made me keep my head up during a rotten time and set the highest level of professionalism and patient care that I have ever imagined existing. (Gail Boone, 3rd Floor Recovery, Genesys Hospital!!!) She set a standard that most nurses SHOULD aspire to achieve.
Finally, I got to see Stacy again in the real world, and it was delightful! I blew the stiff upper lip thing again (…I am the very model of a modern Major-General….) but made it by, and I could tell she was hurting for me without a word being said. Gail the Wonder Nurse lets Stacy stay as long as she can, but then they have to clear her out and I start waiting for a room. Waiting….waiting…..(….” Here behind my wall, Waiting for the worms to come. ( worms to come. ) In perfect isolation, Here behind my wall, Waiting for the worms to come.” Drugs still working!!! But now they are onto Pink Floyd!)
I get the news that a room is ready for me, and they dispatch my mother who has been watching one of my stepdaughters while Stacy hopped out to take care of life (She had spent the entire day caring for others and needed food and shower) to the room. Waiting… They change the room I am getting! Waiting… Gail the Wonder Nurse manages to find my mother through the art of cell phonage and persistence and lets her slip into recovery along with Brienna to see my weakened state. I am actually glad my step daughter was there, because honestly, if it had been just my “Mommy” I might have broken out crying.
22 February 2008 – Now they finally move me to a room, which seems like a wonderful idea until I realize it means giving up the bed I have occupied for hours and actually having to MOVE, well, shift, movement is out of the question. The great news is that Stacy is on her way back, and Sara (without an H…heh! The things you remember while on morphine), my new nurse is both efficient, cool, and pretty to boot.
To be continued…

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This is a continuation of the article found here and yeah, I admit to whining a bit, but this IS a blog and if we are not emo occasionally we may have our blogging rights removed.

February 8th, 2008 – I manage to drag myself face first (Thanks low crawling techniques of the US Army!) from our living room futon into our bedroom, and after a few hours to recover and with Stacy doing her best to help, I get into bed. Later that evening (CHEER!) I manage to urinate into an empty milk jug like a bloody animal.

Mid February – I am trying to find a job during all this so it is making it even more fun! Trying to update my resume on a laptop while laying flat on your back and actually feeling the pins and needles sensation in your legs growing worse is not what anyone sane would define as something fun to do. I am so far gone on crappy drugs, and as an aside I think that perhaps the FDA should reexamine what those two drugs do to people, because I was seeing things, and even imagining my wife plotting against me. I also took the max prescriptions once or twice and went to talk to my Union people, which led to me learning that I had better just plan on finding a new job. It was clear that my position was not a top priority to them, I have a bad habit of speaking the truth and it makes politicians, union or otherwise, uncomfortable.

February 10th, 2008 – I managed to make it to the bathroom today, sensation loss increasing along with pain, but I am actually gaining some functionality.
February 11th 2008 – I can stand now, but I am basically faking it using arm strength and abdominal strength and a lot of crutch as my back seems to be completely useless. Once any downward or side to side pressure is applied to my lower back, my loss of sensation increases and my pain becomes so bad that a month later I still have bite marks inside my own mouth from trying to not let my wife know how badly I was hurting. I grow tired of the taste of blood. I have a follow-up at the doctor’s office today, I reiterate the loss of sensation, and the pain level etc and he has me x-rayed, which does not indicate anything abnormal. He schedules me for physical therapy this week and I am not looking forward to attending.

February 12th 2008- Physical Therapy – WOOOO, have to love knowing that I will find out just how bad this is going to hurt. John, my PT guy gives me a group of tests and realizes just how little strength and range of motion my right ankle possesses. He also notes that other than very slow, very planned movement I cannot do anything without suffering immensely as a variant from my regular suffering. I like him though; he seems to be genuinely concerned for my well being. I would highly recommend him, so if you are looking for a PT guy in the Flint area, just ask and I will send you his details.

February 13th 2008 – I cripple, limp, crutch, pull and semi crawl myself into a mandatory visit to the unemployment office, and found some surprisingly nice people there (I also found a flight of 5 steps that made me have to stop, cry and gather myself). That evening I have another bout of Physical Therapy, which accomplishes little but increasing my pain. I have to say again that the people there are very nice, from reception to the PT specialists.

February 14th 2008 – Valentine’s Day… Which does not mean much to us, because our first date was on a 15th of February. I had planned so many cool things for our 5 year date anniversary before my job was destroyed by magical budget deficits and I became nothing much more than a cripple. However, I had another PT appointment and I went and suffered through it, joking that people working in that career field must have to suppress their empathy, but it was pointed out that they can get a lot of satisfaction from seeing people improve. I am semi mobile using crutches but only by ignoring the grinding pain, the shooting pain, the burning pain, the, well, that 1-10 pain scale failed me because I was running a Spinal Tap level 11 pain.

February 15th, 2008 – I actually start a mean argument with Stacy because I am hurting physically and bumming out and feeling generally as if life is one rotten experience. This is not the first time I have wanted to be mean to her lately, I have actually laid in bed thinking she was plotting against me and hating me for being hurt.

February 17th, 2008 – I stop taking the Vicodin and Flexeril, there can be no denial at this point that I am delusional while on them and there is no sense in making my loved ones suffer with the loss of mental stability in exchange for their complete lack of relief.

February 18th 2008 – I had two temp crowns added to my mouth. Thanks Dr. Trina Floyd! aka Best Dentist in the Known Universe! See… I told you I had been biting down to control the pain. She was remarkably patient with the fact that I had to shift often, and interrupt her work because of my back.

February 19th 2008 – Another day of physical therapy, and while I am able to move better, the simple exercises completely wipe me out, and I have to be almost carried out of the place. Nothing seems to have improved since the first weekend after I started to hurt other than my ability to deal with the pain. Still no real strength in my right ankle, near total loss of sensation in my right leg which is now from above the knee down, pins and needles in my left foot and constant pain. In some ways, the pain seems less now, almost as if the receptors must be burned out from over use.

February 21st 2008 – Follow-up with my doctor, who is now back from being out of town and overwhelmed with patients, and my 11:45am appointment slips for hours. All the while Stacy sits patiently with me in the waiting room and watches me suffer we both read four complete National Geographic magazines. I know a lot more about Malaria in Africa, Oil Company Abuses in Africa, and just how sad Disney in Florida is, go ahead and quiz me :-) I finally get to see the doctor just before 2pm. The long wait was made worse by the fact that we are both more than a little concerned for Stacy already as she has some exploratory surgery scheduled for the 27th and is not feeling well herself. I repeat for the third time what my symptoms are to my doctor, stress the lack of value gained from the meds he has given me, and restate my concerns about loss of feeling and strength along with my pain. He seems to be really motivated to get me to see a specialist and have the situation examined at this point (To which I have to say, WOOOO) I can hear him calling around trying to get me into someone quickly which I really respect and he lets me know they will be scheduling me an MRI and getting me into a specialist as soon as possible. I just wish he had felt this way about it, and taken me seriously about my pain weeks ago rather than just letting me suffer.

Still February 21st, 2008 – I get a call from the Doc’s office confirming a 6am MRI for the next morning, and an appointment with a Dr. Lisa Guyot for 9am the same morning. Dr. Guyot personally calls me (Which is bloody well impressive, because I categorize her somewhere between genius and gift of karma) and asks me not to eat or drink after midnight in case she needs to operate the next day. At this point I completely break down, and start to have the worst feeling of dread. When the medical profession moves that quickly it is never GOOD, and when a prominent Board Certified* Neurosurgeon (Goooooogle!) calls you at home after 7pm it tends to upset your view of the universe. After hours of basically breaking down emotionally, Stacy and I finally go to sleep. My last conscious thought is just how convinced I am that if I have surgery it will result in death or paralysis.
* For all you Grey’s Anatomy fans, (and I admit sheepishly to being one) I think that anyone who would choose the character of Meredith Grey over that of Addison would be an idiot. An Addison who cheated is still 50 times the woman Meredith has ever shown herself to be, and the actress is 50 times sexier too :-)

To be continued…

I have had several people asking where I, Kylere, aka Michael aka Stacy's lesser half have been. I have been summarizing just how thoroughly rotten the last few months have been in my head and thanks to a handy laptop and pain meds I am going to present SOME of how badly karma has decided to dump on me. As an important note, without my Wife, Mother, a few friends and really cool people at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Flint I would have to have given up on the very concept of karma.
December 29th 2007 – 1900 hours (7pm for the 24 hour challenged) I get a call from an unexpected source and discover that due to a family member having the wisdom to add my name I have a membership to a nice little vacation spot, that I now have 5 get away places available to me in the Michigan area. I celebrate!
December 29th, 2007 – 2230PM (1030pm your smart-alecky writer) My beloved gets a call letting us know that one of my stepdaughters has decided to behave rather badly. I mourn. She starts living with us on what may be a permanent basis, rather than on the joint custody basis we had prior.
January 8th, 2008 – I lose the election for my Union 1st Vice President slot; this is not that huge a thing, as I had not expected to run, or to win. But my involvement with Union politics was now official, and I was not going to stand by and let our union be used, nor let down the people who had actually accomplished good with the union, or those who really worked hard for my city.
Mid January – While going crazy over some general life stuff, I toss out a pair of friends because I was losing my mind and they seemed to not get it.
January 26th, 2008 – While getting into my car with my wife, I noticed a smashed window, the single most expensive window in my car to replace
January 29th 2008 – My wife's car develops a sudden crack in her front windshield requiring replacement
January 30th 2008 – I am informed that due to budget cuts caused by the city moving from a early November and Pre-election “budget surplus” of over 6 million dollars to a Mid January deficit of 4 million that my services will no longer be required. I had no union representation for this, my department director was not involved in the decision and he found out seconds before I did. Interestingly enough as a citizen I received a taxpayer funded notice the week before the election CERTIFYING that the city had a financial surplus, and as an employee of the city I received a taxpayer funded letter stating the same thing with my paycheck. Just in case you are reading this and need a great Information Technology and Services employee, you can grab my resume here.
February 5th 2008 – My wife's ex accepts his older daughter home when faced with having to provide support or having to let us change her school rather than having to drive her back and forth for 2 hours each day.
February 6th, 2008 – With a mild back ache, I went to address some early snowfall of a predicted 15 inch hit. After clearing the street in front of my home, my driveway, and sidewalk I notice the pain has become intense. Within an hour I am trying to do laundry and cannot actually lift a wet sock from a washing machine.
February 7th, 2008 0400hours (4am :-) I break down and call my doctors number as the pain has grown to a level that is causing me to have a loss of sensation in my right leg from the knee down and the left foot, all the while feeling as if someone is twisting a crowbar around my spine, running a red hot poker down my legs and making me scream and cry in agony. He lets me know it is not an emergency, so I am stuck in bed unable to move to even urinate and he recommends I try some Motrin and see if my wife can “massage the area”.
February 7th, 2008 0900hours (9am) I get a call from my doctors office asking me to come in, I state that I am still am unable to move and in excruciating pain and really think I should go to an ER, they insist that I come see them. My car with its manual transmission is blocking in my wife's car, and she does not drive a stick. Not to mention, there is no way she could have managed to move me to her car alone. We contact my mother for assistance. She recognizes the scale of the problems and brings her next door neighbor along to help. On arrival it requires her, her neighbor, my wife, and a crutch to barely drag me to the back of my mothers car. I am almost completely non functional due to screaming pain and frustration. We are barely able to slide me in face first and down in her back seat. Why not take my car? Because the snowfall has hit, the roads are the worst they have been in 5 years, my car is a rear wheel drive, and it turns out that of the four, I am still the only stick driver.
February 7th and an hour later we arrive at the doctors office (that is in the completely opposite direction of every hospital within 75 miles) and it turns out they have no method to help get me indoors better than offering a wheelchair that I could not sit in without biting my tongue bloody, or killing everyone within reach, so I crawl slowly across the snow covered lot with my family, friends, and the other doctor in the practice assisting. They get me onto a table and the doctor tells me it is just muscle spasms, gives me a shot in each hip, and a prescription for Vicodin and Flexeril. I am then sent home, still unable to stand on my own, sit up, walk, or even urinate.
February 7th in the evening, my step kids return home, and I am most likely not nice to them, something about the Vicodin/Flexeril mix and the fact that they were doing nothing whatsoever to dull the pain seemed to be making me delusional. Adding to the fun is that merely trying to roll onto one side or the other is impossible, and laying in one position seems to be making it worse.

To be continued…

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I just set up a couple of new galleries while I was reviewing Image Compressor 2008 for Tucows. Turns out, it's a fun but powerful software that does more than just compress images. It also has a photo editor that can import Photoshop filters and it's web album creation tool can recognize templates for Picasa. I found some really cool free ones over at Paul van Roekel's site that were super easy to implement and use.
The article I've written about Image Compressor went live over at Tucows on Friday.
And check out my new totally stellar interactive showcase galleries by clicking on the images below!
Fractal Showcase

Traditional Showcase

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Ben Tolman's talent and ambition are awe inspiring. I met Ben over at deviantArt in 2004, about a year after I became a member. Since then, he has inspired and amazed me time after time with his detailed, psychedelic ink drawings and collaborations. I think you'll agree that they are bizarre, compelling and beautifully executed.

This video shows segments of a collaboration project by 14 talented artists that is currently in the works:

The Antipodes Project
Ben Tolman's Website
Ben's deviantArt Gallery

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Alena Wooten is one of my favorite sculptors. I've been keeping an eye on her amazing progress over the years as she has built up a remarkable gallery over at deviantArt. This young woman has an uncanny ability to take a picture of something and make it 3 dimensional. She's definitely an inspiration to many and a real sweet girl too!
As a fellow sculptor, I highly recommend visiting the WIP gallery on her website to take a peak at how the magic happens.