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Alex of AMProSoft.com
07 March 2013 @ 04:14 am
During the month of February I took another unexpected turn. Deviant Art was one of the first websites I listed on WheretoGoOnline.com and in January I created a deviant art page


And in February I started using it. And then I got sucked in. Deviant Art has the unfair advantage of being a place where I can look at absolutely gorgeous images all day and study a new (new to me) Social Network at the same time.

I produced a lot of art that I'm very happy with. I learned A TON about creating digital art and creating it faster. A lot of the art I created contains copyrighted characters from huge corporations so I won't be posting most of it here on AMProSoft, but do pop on over and browse it for a few when you get a moment [link]

Current Music: Do You Even Know? by BloodThirsty Vegans
Alex of AMProSoft.com
26 January 2013 @ 08:33 pm
    In November I set everything aside to try to organize and complete all of my web design software so that it would be usable to my web clients and I would be able to work faster. It's always a lot harder than I think it will be trying to be a coder while being a full-time parent at the same time, but by the end of 2012 I had gotten pretty close. So close actually that I decided I wanted to try to come up with one piece of content for every day of the month in January 2013.

    I underestimated how difficult that would be also. My experience so far indicates that everything that you think you will be able to find time for is much harder to find time for when you're doing childcare at the same time all the time. But, so far I have not yet missed a day and there are only 5 days left to go in January. Looks like I might make my goal.

    There have been days like yesterday where all I've had time to produce was a touched up Computer Generated Image. But actually, that's a pretty interesting/cool image and I did spend a good bit of time modeling those old AMProSoft characters in order to now be able to just tell the computer to crank out some images of them.

    My biggest challenge with creating a content item each day --my biggest problem with anything really-- is I get side-tracked. I have so many diverse interests and there is so much available information about all of them out there on the internet that it's hard to maintain a focus. One day I was intending to make one 3D model in blender for my computer generated images gallery. The next thing you know I've discovered they have a new version of the software available, tons of new tutorials are out there for free on YouTube. A few late night/early morning hours later I'm finally past my old road block (an inability to put skeletons in my models and move them all around and pose them.) Next, I'm totally diverted into digital sculpting again.

    Oh well, I have had a lot of fun creating content this month. I've also managed to cobble together some more substantive efforts like YouTube videos of my own. This recent one of my daughter Aya is particularly good.

    The other big bonus of having gotten sucked back into digital sculpting a bit is that the very bleak, desolate looking "under construction" page for AMProLand may get to come down some day soon. I bought a domain name for AMProLand many, many years ago with the intention of resurrecting the old AMProVerse characters from the 90s. Well now that there are 3D models of the characters all of that is much more of a possibility. I don't want to get into to many "I'm gonna" plans because it'll all probably be a lot harder than I think it will be while juggling child-care, but I'm pretty impressed with the "What I already did" with what digital sculpting I've gotten through so far. Just as an "oh by the way" the featured image for this blog post over to the right is an old Pirate Ship from the old comic books. It looks a lot better in the 2013 beefed-up version.

    In February I will definitely be slowing way down with the content creation. But man-o-man has it felt nice to have AMProSoft.com be an active website again. Slowing down will hopefully allow me to fix a lot of the broken stuff and complete more of the incomplete stuff. But it's great to sit back and realize that AMProSoft's output for 2013 is already comparable to 2012 and January isn't even over yet. Taking a bit of time to get a little more organized last year and then taking some time to pick up new skills this year has already been an incredible tangible boost in my web abilities.

    So that's pretty much what I've been up to this month.

Alex of AMProSoft.com
12 January 2013 @ 07:49 pm
    I have a great many anti-capitalist friends. Several of whom will often say things like "Yeah, I admit that I hate capitalism because I suck at it." Taking a quick look around at the debt to income ratio of the average person in my circle of friends, a LOT of us suck at capitalism. Not me though. I was pretty good at it.

    About 15 years ago when I was willing to play the game of Capitalism I was a recent college
graduate with one of those highly touted computer degrees. I was an entry level contract code monkey working on Y2K fixes at a time when entry level contract code monkeys working on Y2K fixes made a pretty decent buck. I had 401k and 2 retirement accounts, benefits and very modest habits and interests so I was able to save and invest even more. I was pretty brainy so I was reasonably good at investing and in the span of a few years I had amassed half of my first 100ks of net worth. It was easy to see how I could just keep doing what I was doing and keep being rewarded and make a game of how fast I could become a millionaire. 60? 55? 50 years old if I really went after it maybe.

    Even when I was fired and I decided to go into business for myself and look after my ailing mother rather than shop myself around I viewed it as a temporary hiatus. I figured after a few years I go back and get after it again with the movers and the shakers.

    And then George W. Bush happened.

    A lot of folks think that the W derailed our country and steered us down a frightening imperial path. I tend to believe that W just made it so obvious that we couldn't ignore it and more. Lots of folks like me who were just coasting along had to put on the emergency brake and get out and try to figure out what happened.

    I never really got back in the vehicle, figuratively or literally. For a while I thought maybe I could just amass a million dollars and use it to smash capitalism? Or, the ever popular, maybe there's an ethical path to obscene wealth? But in a very short time I just felt an unavoidable need to withhold my participation in the system while I started looking around for an alternate system.

    As to capitalism: who knows what its potential could be. It never really had a shot. Autocratic monarchical systems ruled the day and then some Capitalists appeared to throw them off one day and start something new. But the elites just poisoned capitalism in its sleep and put on its clothes and have been masquerading around as capitalism since well before I was born. All of the obvious alternatives to capitalism don't seem any less cooptable to me.

    As I see it. We live on a world where greed is revered and rewarded. As a consequence an ever increasing portion of the ever increasing population is ever greedier (among all socio-economic strata) and greed is the determining factor in so much of the decision making on planet Earth. Humanity needs to figure out, FAST, how we can make greed the reviled human characteristic that it once was, that people are inspired to turn away from it. How do we reempower the least greedy among us and disempower the culture of death and destruction before we are dead on a destroyed planet.

Alex of AMProSoft.com
03 January 2013 @ 12:58 pm
this journal entry posted on January.03.2013

    Today would have been my mother's 69th birthday. When my mother passed away in 2001 it left me shattered in a way that took years to put myself back together. I literally spent a year in my house just figuring out what does life mean and how could life work in a world without my mother in it.

    In 2003 and 2004 I found myself writing a book. An autobiography. I made my best effort to gather up all of my feeling about growing up with my mother, the last few years of taking care of my mother, and the devastation of loosing my mother and throw them all into the writing and then not dwell on how difficult it is not to have my mother around any more. You know, start living with what you do have and can do instead of remaining stuck on what you don't and can't.

    I did well with that. Considering what the bond with my mother was like I would say I've done a job job of not allowing myself to be paralized by its absense. But now I have a child of my own. And every time I see other parents of young children just reach out to their own parents for help (or get help thrust upon them without even asking for it) I am forced back into that mentalspace, daydreaming about the infinite love my mom would have for my daughter and the limitless life lessons, the infinite patience, all of the qualities and gifts that my mother had to offer.

    Barely perceptable in my childhood were my mom's gifts for removing obstacles. I was able to develop and flourish believing that many obstacles must not exist. The last ten years have been an exercise in learning not to just stand and marvel at the enormity of the obstacles that can exist in this world and set about to work chipping away at or toppling them.

    I am extremely grateful that my daughter has two parents taking obstacles out of her way. A lot of qualities in my love person, Sophia, remind me of my mother. And of late I'm finding obstacles removed and stunned by not having had to remove them myself.

    As of January 1st I have vision care. I have hope, for the first time in a long time, of getting new glasses and lenses. If anyone ever closely examined the pair of glasses that I have been stitching back together and squeezing more life out of for the last couple years they might get some small sense of what the prospect of new glasses means in my life. On nearly no income I have twice saved up multiple hundreds of dollars and deployed them in the pursuit of new lenses only to end up with no lenses and no money. The idea of Sophia having access to things like family vision plans and health spending accounts seems like "fantasy things" rather than real world things.

    A few months from now I will even have health insurance. When the Health Insurance reform was a big news item, my natural reaction was "Oh great, another huge obstacle for me to have to fight." As a person with no income in a country that self-describes as FREE to anyone who will listen, the idea of mandatory purchases of any kind seems very counter-intuitive. So off I went trying to figure out what are the punishments going to be for not being able to afford to feed the health insurance corporations. And then suddenly there was Sophia telling me that all of us will just have health insurance.

    You don't like fighting but your in a fight whether you like it or not. You're tired from the fighting but you still have to defend yourself. Fighting is constant. As you finish a fight you must ALWAYS be ready for the next fight. You must always be ready to be fighting on multiple fronts at any given time. Suddenly, you look up and the fight just isn't there. And you get to stop and rest for a minute. I almost don't know what to do with myself.

    Health insurance, that's such a not real thing for everyone to be having all of this fuss over.

    When it's all said and done the best I can do with the days ahead is summon those gifts of ease that my mother so graciously gave to me and pass them on to my daughter and then let her know where they came from as I am able. She contines a long life of truly remarkable women and I tremble to imagine what she will be able to achieve with her gifts.


Alex of AMProSoft.com
13 December 2012 @ 06:06 pm
Randomly Accessed Memory
this journal entry posted on December.13.2012

    I was cooking eggs with my daughter the other night and I had a strong recollection of the scene in Kramer vs. Kramer where Dustin Hoffman is making "crunchy" french toast for his son, Billy.

    In 1979 I was 8 years old. My mom's best friend was talking about Kramer vs. Kramer and what an amazingly good movie it was and my mother was very interested in seeing it. I became interested in seeing it as well. But the adults informed me that it was an adult movie about adult things and assured me that children would not find it at all interesting.

    I think I recall having to do a lot of promising to behave no matter what my opinion of the film was and needing to do a bunch of all-around-convincing. There was no such rating as PG-13 back then there were G, PG and R (and beyond R). There were no movies on cable, there was no cable. Seeing a movie that was PG rated and not Star Wars or Grease was a bit of a right of passage back then.

    I can remember feeling very adult. Sitting in the theater with my mother watching an adult film about adult things. Being so relieved when I could understand the humor and comprehend the gritty drama. I can recall the feeling of privilege as I summarized the movie for my friends who had no chance in hell of being taken to see it (and probably not much interest either).

    Yeah, I remember all that.

Alex of AMProSoft.com
25 November 2012 @ 11:43 am
this journal entry posted on November.25.2012

    About seven years ago I wrote a gratitude journal entry. About four years ago I went missing from my blogging/journaling. This is the time of year when gratitude is supposed to come back into focus. So, let's combine tasks and have another gratitude post while filling in some of the blanks from the missing years.

    First let me step back a bit to the year 2007. In 2007 I joined the band called BloodThirsty Vegans and the first gig that we played out was an annual party called the Lizzard Ball which I've mentioned in many years past. The Lizzard Ball had evolved into an annual fund raiser for the local Green Party.

    In 2008 the local Green Party was unable to sustain enough volunteer energy to host the Lizzard Ball. In unrelated news 2008 was also the year that BloodThirsty Vegans switched all around and new band members joined in the summer of 2008. So time out just to say extreme gratitude to all of the BloodThirsty Vegans who have played music with me over the years.

    In 2009 there was, again, no Lizzard Ball. It was in serious danger of becoming a series of memories rather than an annual awesomeness. So the Peace Education fund asked the Green Party if we could take over the hosting duties and just like that we inherited an awesome annual shin-dig to begin in 2010.

    Around this time my number of relationships would fluctuate between one and zero, often stopping to spend long stretches on zero. My feelings about the state of the world and the overall direction of humanity were not especially positive. I was in serious need of putting some joy back into my life as soon as humanly possible. And so the capacity for joy was high atop my priorities list as I began to compile lists of compelling attributes in all of the people for whom I had attractions.

    One such person, for whom I had always felt a strong attraction but who had always been in a category called 'unavailable' was my Ice9 Performance Poetry sister Sophia. There can be no denying that she has a world-class capacity for joy and laughter. As fate would have it she sent me an email asking her to be in an Infringement Festival show with her so I responded with a counter offer of a date. As keen as we both were to go on said date, our busy schedules made picking a time nearly impossible. Finally we discovered an opportunity to be at the same place at the same time in the aforementioned Lizzard Ball--a fine, fine venue for a first date.

    As a BloodThirsty Vegan I had had the opportunity to be in the presence of truly great music. Our music is not to shabby and among the many bands we've shared stages with there has been a lot of exceptional talent. We have made friends with many bands and several of my favorites were on hand to play the Lizzard Ball that evening. Also my friends Jason and Kirk from the MAP open mic nights came back to host the evening. Surrounded by good friends and awesome music Sophia and I danced our way into each others lives. And the BloodThirsty Vegans were gracious enough to let me slip away without packing up so that Sophia and I could wander off and gaze into one another as we caught up on one another's lives.

    Sophia is a wonderful wonderfilled woman with an easy and intense laugh who moves with simultaneous grace and ferocity. Over the ensueing months as we prepared to perform together in her Infringement show, danced together to countless old music videos on youTube, shared stories and laughs into the morning light, we were falling fast in love and folding our lives into each other's. Eternal gratitude for our love.

    At age 39 the possibility of having a child some day was still at the very top of my list of unfulfilled desires. And it had not been lost on me that Sophia embodied all of the qualities I would hope for in a person to co-parent a child with me. But I was at the age where I was finally coming to the sobering, lamentable realization that I might never become a parent. It was around that time, some eight months on as the calendar had recently turned to page 2011, that we discovered that Sophia was with child. The child that is currently toddling around as my daughter Aya.

    Aya has Sophia's same capacity for joy. She has an intense curiousity about absolutely everything. She has compassion for cats and is a fun companion for daily adventures. She has patience and confidence that permit her to pick up talents easily despite her young age. Endless gratitude for our wonderful daughter.

    Sophia and I recieve a lot of compliments about all of her fine qualities. I feel like a lot of the credit is due to my mother. I see a lot of my mother and my grandparents in my daughter. I feel like I learned so, so incredibly much about how to be a loving parent from getting to spend three decades observing how my mother did it. She was forever setting me up to succeed and surrounding me with opportunities to learn about the important things in life. For her guidance and that of the other formative women in my life: Mrs. Huey, Kathy, Ms. Tartiglino, Heather K, and the list goes on, just infinite gratitude.

    I am so grateful to be standing here where I am.


Alex of AMProSoft.com
10 November 2012 @ 07:30 pm
this journal entry posted on November.10.2012

So... shortly after the 2008 election I wrote a blog post with some songs and artists to watch out for and check out for inspiration. Since that time I have been immersed in music and I figured I'd post a quick update with some of my latest favorites. To any and all interested parties, for your listening pleasure, here are four artists that you might really like:

1. Dizraeli and the Small Gods - Hailing from Bristol in the U.K. this massive awesome band combines elements of Hip Hop, folk and the kitchen sink. The band is built around the charming storyteller/MC Dizraeli. They have an excellent turntablist in DJ Downlow. And in addition to the rhythm section elements you might expect from a hip hop centered band, they have many folky elements like viola, accoustic guitar and stand up bass. Definitely worth a good checking out.

2. Solillaquists of Sound - (often shortened to Solilla) an American hip-hop quartet based in Orlando, Florida. Its line up currently consist of MCs Alexandrah and Swamburger, poet Tanya Combs and producer/composer Divinci. Solillaquists utilize elements of melody and harmony in their vocals. The two lead vocalists also frequently employ a style of delivering many punctuated syllables in rapid succession sometimes in tight synchronicity. Most of their song lyrics feature socially conscious content based on life-affirming, justice oriented views held by the group. They have attracted a dedicated following in underground Hip Hop for their sophisticated musical compositions as well as their unique vocal delivery and politically aware lyrics.

(ps: yes I did lift that synopsis from Wikipedia, but that's totally okay because I wrote their wikipedia entry)

3. MC Xander - MC Xander is a London Cat. He is a one man wall of sound. With loop stations and effects rigs this fellow starts with the raw material of his own voice, he constructs an irresistable sound tapestry, and then as you are picking your jaw up off the floor he blasts you with amazing intelligent Dance Hall/Hip Hop vocals. Just check out this video, you'll see.

4. The Reminders - The reminders first came to my attention when they shot a video for their collaboration with another favorite of mine, Rebel Diaz. They then came back to my attention when they landed on tour with Brother Ali. Who is this husband and wife duo that keeps kicking out awesome music with all of these well respected emcees? I started digging through their music to find out. I'm glad I did. You should do the same.


Alex of AMProSoft.com
29 October 2012 @ 07:32 pm
this journal entry posted on October.29.2012

 As you might well imagine... a good deal has happened to me in the three years since I was last able to blog regularly. So the super quick synopsis is this.

 In April of 2010 my friend --and fellow Ice9er-- Sophia, embarked on a love adventure of epic proportions with me. A little more than a year and a half later I realized a life-long dream of mine when I became a father to our outrageously special daughter, Aya(pictured with me). They are the lights of my life and Aya is the greatest adventuring partner one could ever hope for.

 For the past year and change I have been a stay at home dad. My days are presently filled with learning and napping and various other 1-year-old type things. Trying to concentrate on coding and design work and creative endeavors in general has become very difficult, but lately I have begun to get a little bit of traction.

 Well, I hate to reappear and run but my daughter just woke up from her nap.

good to be back,
Alex of AMProSoft.com
15 February 2009 @ 03:49 pm

So this storytelling painting here (unlike the last two) I'm pretty sure I know what it's supposed to be about. There's happy people in it, and they're touching each other. That's one of my favorite stories.

So this weekend has been a really interesting BloodThirsty Vegans week (that's the name of my band). The old school UU BloodThirsty Vegans met last night and started planning this year's church service (YES! I get to rap in church again!) which will take place March 22nd. And the current BloodThirsty Vegans are meeting tonight to rehearse for a bunch of shows coming up in March (including one on March 21st) so if any of my out of town friends would like to come visit that weekend I will find you a nice place to stay and make sure you are fed. If not, we'll try to get out of Buffalo this summer and come play shows around (maybe you can find us a nice place to stay and make sure we're fed.). The BloodThirsty Vegans also have back to back shows on March 6th and 7th (Dance Alive and a show at Merlin's Saturday Night). Come see us and dance with us and stuff. We have fun new songs (and fun old songs).

Alex of AMProSoft.com
10 February 2009 @ 01:43 pm

So here's another storytelling painting I did in January. Again, not really sure what the story is exactly, but I learned to use the flat brush to paint the background here which turned out nicer than the backgrounds I'd done before.

Yesterday I did my first ray tracing in about 4 years. Ray tracing is a way to create 3D photorealistic images that come out pretty good. You can get a free copy of the program I use here (PERSISTENCE OF VISION - RayTrace Engine). And now I've started creating Ray Traces and doing digital painting on top of them which looks reallyy super cool. So that might help me make better looking backgrounds than ever. I should really get a move on about putting a decent gallery up at AMProSoft.com. That's been on my to do list for a year now. *sigh*.