Veni, Vidi, Ventus --
The randomly chaotic and crafty scribblings of a deranged, wannabe artist allowed too many colours in her Crayon box.

Surgeon General's Warning: Some content of "From Pooka's Crayon" may not be suitable for: work, blue-haired little old ladies, the politically-correct, rabid moonbats, uptight mothers, priests, chronic idiots, insurance claims agents, Democrats, children, small furry quadropeds from Alpha Centauri, or your sanity.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

AETNA Asshats Revisited

"I reject your reality, and substitute my own."

And right now, I'd really like to substitute my own reality, thank you very much.

I'm supposed to have an MRI tomorrow. I'm not. Why?

Oh, come on. You KNOW the answer.

Insurance turned it down.

Because, you know, a neurologist and medical tests are not enough.


I am actually speechless this time.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

SNAFU Central

So ... nerve induction was today.

My wonderful PCP set me up with meds so I could handle it, both before and after, so I'm not suffering nearly as much as I should be.

The good news: My left arm, the one that was totally rebuilt a few years ago, was textbook perfect for nerve response. YAY. My right arm, while not perfect, was still within normal limits. This surprised me.

The bad news: My right leg, which we have known was screwed up for some time (I walk with a cane, after all), showed marked neuropathy.

Guess who already has an MRI scheduled to take a look at my knee and ankle? Whee.

It's not like it isn't anything I didn't expect. I mean, I'm already 'permanently handicapped' as it is. However, since that right knee has been dislocated several times, it's entirely possible that the MRI will find something that's FIXABLE. Not that we'll be able to afford fixing it, what with insurance being a collective group of flatulating asshats.

AETNA did finally come through on accepting that I am Fucked Up, and approved my Neurontin dosage. But only for a single year, whereupon we will have to go through this shit all over again. Of course, by then, we'll probably have ended up with yet another insurance company, considering how amazingly organized and consistent the city is (Ha. Ha. Ha.).

I shall now go drug myself into a wonderfully insensible coma and try to forget that my ankle is in full protest over the treatment today and is trying to take itself off on a vacation elsewhere -- without me.

Friday, August 19, 2005

... And I'm here to save the world.

I refuse to accept that this might fall under the category of Guilty Pleasures.

Disney's 'Kim Possible'.

First off, you've got to be relatively proud of a show that manages to keep very strong female positive characters for kids to emulate. Kids get the whole Super Hero thing, but with a wonderful twist of Normal. Kim has Real Teenage Problems: her nemesis on the cheerleading squad, Bonnie, dating, zits, keeping the wardrobe 'perfect', annoying siblings (the Tweebs from hell), peer pressure. She's a strong, intelligent, and pretty female lead, doing damage to the old stereotype that Pretty Equals Dumb. There's a great deal of subtle instruction on keeping your friends close, and being loyal, no matter what. "Doesn't matter where, doesn't matter when, I will be there for you till the very end." She's a positive role model. Kudos.

Her galpal Monique is just as much fun, and provides Kim with some reality checks, while the 'high school evil" Bonnie is so perfectly annoying -- you -know- these characters. After all, you went to school with them too. And then there's Shego (stop drooling, DG), who gives the evil Dr Drakken his own intelligent reality checks. Poor girl, how does she manage to stand being a sidekick to an idiot? With STYLE, baby -- and a whole lot of perfectly timed comedic sarcasm.

And even though Kim's sidekick Ron is a Classic Sidekick with all the foibles you expect, he's her best friend through everything. A healthy example of a male and female being FRIENDS and it working. Sure, Ron's a goofball, but he's a perfectly loveable goofball, and his "pet", a naked mole-rat named Rufus, isn't so much a pet as he is a part of the family. Ron's a nerd, a goof, a geek, and he's proud of it. "Never be normal!"

Yes, all right, it's a cartoon. It's for kids.

But is it?

I love watching this show with my kids. I love watching it without them. It's FUN.

Check the opening credits for "So the Drama". Pure James Bond tribute, and how many kids in 2005 are going to really GET that? Buddy Wade, the kid genius, functions as the show's Q.

Or, there's the 'inside jokes' -- after all, her mother is a brain surgeon and her father a rocket scientist. Yes, anticipate the jokes there, but again, how many kids would get the absolute irony there? 'Golden Years' has a couple of 'Shaft' references. 'Vir-Tu-Ron' tackles Everquest. One episode, Senor Senror Sr. has a running monologue about how the villain is SUPPOSED to expose their evil plot to the hero before leaving them alone with the potential to escape the fate before them ("always leave the room after tying your foe to an overly complicated death machine"). 'The Fearless Ferret' is a tribute to old school Super Heroes, with Adam West doing one of the voices.

And that's another thing. The voice actors. All right, some are Disney staples: Kim is Christy Carlson Romano, Monique is Raven.

But Ron Stoppable? Dude. Will Friedel, aka 'Terry McGinnis', Batman Beyond's new Batman. Patrick Warburton is the voice for the coach. Ricardo Montalban voices a character that gives serious flashbacks to old roles. 'Simpsons' favs Nancy Cartwright (Rufus the naked mole rat) is an every episode regular, and Dan Castellaneta shows up on occasion. Fred Willard, Elliot Gould, George Takei (yes, THAT George), Michael Dorn ("Shall I blow it up for you, sir?"), R. Lee Ermey (yes, THAT R. Lee), Debbie Reynolds .... these are names the PARENTS know.

Fun spoofs abound, from Indiana Jones, to a jab at a Perfect Storm. There's so much to catch that not only do you need to be an adult, but a quick-witted ad sharp adult to not miss some of it. And you do not want to miss it.

Call me, beep me, if you wanna reach me.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

AETNA, acronym for .... ?

I'm trying to figure this one out. Asshats Everyday Throwing Need Aside ... no, that doesn't work, not firm enough. Asshats ... well, no matter what, it involves asshats.

Insurance is the current pain in our ass. No handshake, no reacharound, just the splintered broom stick. You see, when the department was taking bids for new insurance carriers, AETNA in all the wisdom they've shown since, seriously underbid themselves and screwed the pooch. Now we get screwed in return.

They're going to be doubling our rates, providing fewer services, more expensive copays, and a huge-ass deductible. Which means that I won't be able to afford the 400$ a month GENERIC seizure meds I MUST have and can't live without. Yes, that's 400 a month for the GENERIC version, not brand name.

But that's all right, because they don't want to let me have them ANYWAY. Saw the neurologist today, and he changed my prescription. Now insurance, who obviously knows FAR more than any specialist about my condition and how to treat patients, refuses to pay for the new prescription because they don't pay for that sort of dosage.


The pharmacy is helping out, and they're talking to the doc, and trying to get other paperwork handled to get it approved, but we go through this Every Fucking Month for my seizure drugs. I think CVS cringes when we drop prescriptions off, because they just know there's going to be a huge hassle involved to get it filled.

Then there's the fun of gas prices, school clothes for two wildly growing kids, school supplies, band uniforms ....

Neurologist, right. The man thought he had the wrong room. Nope, didn't recognize the New and Improved Diet Version of the Pooka. Now that we've established that although losing all that weight did wonders for SOME of my problems, it hasn't done Jack or Shit for the RSD, it was time to make some changes. My meds are getting increased, though only a small bit. But the new body means it's time for the fun we've all come to know and expect from doctors -- the tests.

Nerve induction next Wednesday. Universal ARGH. I hope to see my regular MD before then to get meds to prepare me for it. See, I don't handle needles well, especially not the kind involved in the necessary nerve induction tests to see just how bad the nerve damage is. And he wants to test ... yes, all four limbs. Which means that I will not only be in massive pain, but black and blue pretty much everywhere at this time next week. Suffering R Us.

In addition, he wants me to see a rheumatologist to get new baselines for connective tissue damage, to try to get a handle on the arthritis now that Vioxx is off the market (and Mobic, while it works, utterly tears my stomach up), and see if there's anything else undiscovered that we can add in so that AETNA begins to automatically decline everything the moment they see my name on the forms. Yay.

The headaches and nausea, well, he's hoping the increase in my dosage will help. IF I get my meds BEFORE next Wednesday, and IF they haven't helped, or if the headaches get worse/continue making me miserable, I get to go back for MRIs again. Which makes sense, as it's been several years now since my last one anyway.

I wonder if I can just blame AETNA for the headaches to begin with.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Waiter, there's Pr0n in my book!

You know, if I want porn, if I want to be stimulated in that way, I'll watch porn, or read erotica intended to be erotica.

Where do I NOT want to find gratuitous and graphic sex? In the middle of: action novels, sci-fi books, historical novels (the current source of my malfunction being Neal Stephenson's "Quicksilver"), or any other book that isn't intended to be SEXY.

It's disconcerting at best to be wading through something filled with detailed explanations of mathematics and alchemy and astronomy, and suddenly stumble into a relatively graphic scene involving someone's hand up another's ass. EXCUSE ME?

I think it's a "suspension of disbelief" thing for me. You're cruising along in your book, secure in how the story is going, your disbelief is appropriately suspended to enjoy the story unfolding before you, only to turn a corner and be smacked upside the head with a force relative to having the Mythbusters team dropping Buster out of an airplane from 2000 feet. Terminal velocity, and it's the sudden STOP at the end of the fall that kills you. WHAM. Suddenly, the spell of the book is broken.

Most of the time, I just roll my eyes and skip through the book until the scene is over and try to ease back into the story. It just didn't happen with Quicksilver. After that point, I had trouble enjoying it. I had trouble reading and paying attention, because little things kept creeping on back and throwing the whole pacing off yet again.

Don't get me wrong. Sex, porn, graphic, what have you, it doesn't bother me for the most part. However, as far as I'm concerned, there's a time and place for it, and if I want graphic sex, I know where to find it. Hell, I probably have over a full gig worth of erotic manga on my computer. But I know where I don't want to be finding it.

Look, authors, it's pretty simple. If you want to write erotica, write erotica. Don't hide it, flaunt it, be proud of it. And for cryin out loud, stop hiding it where I least expect to find that sort of thing. Give me porn, or give me literature. Just stop combining the two already!

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Image Stream - Darkling Girls

Kiss in the Dreamhouse
My first and only attempt at pseudo-Royo work. Ow. My hand hurt after this one.

Bottle THIS!


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Zombies, Cabana Boys, and Sex Droids, oh my

TehMadScientist: What form would your heaven take, were you to choose?

Pooka: A big soft comfy squishy bed, lots of very sexy cabana boys all willing and eager to appease my every single whim, utterly pain free Pooka, nice temperate weather, not too hot, not too cold ...
Pooka: And being able to eat anything I want without it making me sick or fat. :D

TehMadScientist: Hmm.. (goes off to ponder how he can fit all of that into a UPS box .... "In pieces!" is heard in the distance)

Pooka: Cabana boys with removable parts. You know, that has a certain allure

TehMadScientist: Oh good. The other prototype I was going to test against were some form of zombie / conjured cabana boy look alike

Pooka: We can do without the zombies, although that would be nice for some target practice. I've got these new rounds for the Beretta that I haven't fired yet, you know

TehMadScientist: Oh? What form? Silver, gold? Osmium? Osmium would be hot against zombies.

Pooka: I don't know, Daddygod won't let me play with them, he just starts mumbling "MY precious" and gets all weird

TehMadScientist: Teflon coated osmium bullets with a suppressor = HAWTNESS. And my super-heavy bullet idea will be employed QUICKLY to get rid of these nasty sex-zombie prototypes. In hindsight, I don't quite get why I made them .. oh well.

Pooka: Well, it was a good idea in theory. I think. Or maybe you were sniffing the Soju a bit too much

TehMadScientist: Oh I see. The sheet with the 'pros' of the idea was on the table. The packing crate with the 'cons' is still downstairs on the forklift, and so I forgot about them. Eh. hindsight.

Pooka: Yeah. I mean, not having to worry about any number of communicative sexual diseases is nice. Unfortunately, the one contagious thing they DO have is sort of fatal.

TehMadScientist: well and the SMELL! I don't know about you, but I actually use my nose during recreational coitus, and the zombie's need something ALOT stronger than a shower to rid themselves of their funk

Pooka: And the tendency for body parts in action to sort of detach unpleasantly

TehMadScientist: bah, Gorilla glue fixed that part in the early trial runs.

Pooka: Yeah, but do you really want to dig it out?

TehMadScientist: the test zombies did have a nasty tendancy to get together, though. Should probably add that to the 'cons'..... here we go, section 5, paragraph 34, section 7, sub section 4: The dangers of decompsited organic material and forign substances

Pooka: Perhaps we just need to stick with willing and living participants for the frolicking cabana boy fest.

TehMadScientist: Microsoft word couldn't spell check the thing for me, it coughs and dies after breaking the 2 GB limit on doc size.

Pooka: Before it turns into the undead cabana boy feast. I mean, being eaten is one thing, but that gives it a really unpleasant little twist

TehMadScientist: Yes, I think so. Well, the sex-droids are behaving themselves well. Their batteries died. TehMadScientist: Want me to send them along? Assembly could be turned into a party game of sorts.

Pooka: Rechargable solar cells. Much better

TehMadScientist: especially the later ones, their bodies are fully modular

Pooka: Mix and match! Yes! Perfect! Upgrade city!

TehMadScientist: that, combined with the extensible learning algorithms I had to include to surmount certain ... difficulties ... make "pin the tail" MUCH more exciting! Is is a man-droid? A fem-bot? Why not both? How many arms does it need? How many do I need it to need? All these questions and more ... so many more ... DAMNED CRITICS! Always asking questions ...

Pooka: Both. Hmm, she-male sex droids. With multiple arms. This has much promise. Perfect partner for the couple that just can't decide what they want their third to be.

TehMadScientist: Yes, well ... Like I said, their batteries died. I'm taking the opportunity to finish some of the bug fixing that is apparently needed... I mean, those trials progressed well through the initial stages before even the slightest hint that something was amiss emerged...

Pooka: I'm tellin ya, rechargeable solar cells, wave of the future, you don't brownout entire cities when you turn the vibrator up to High

TehMadScientist: And it's not so much of a bug, really, just more of a needed feature control of sorts. Perhaps a questionaire built in for use at each start-up

Pooka: Passworded override system, yes? Voice recognition?

TehMadScientist: Erm, more like selectable comfort limits. Perhaps a dual layered system, yellow zone and red zone sensibilities. for those who don't mind certain surprises. Yes, I think I am onto something here!

Pooka: Learning mode to figure out that the red zone isn't off-limits, but needs to be built UP to.

TehMadScientist: OHHHH! Excellent as well! Hmm, a fourth black zone will need to be added

Pooka: I mean, there are certain places you just don't go without at LEAST some sort of warmup drill

TehMadScientist: green, yellow, red, nono's

Pooka: Indeed, absolutely. Cover those Absolutely No Way In Hell EVER bases

TehMadScientist: Commandeering livestock for ... uses ... I think will be hard-coded black. It will also be programmed to ignore the phrase "Think of the children!"
TehMadScientist: *shudders*

Pooka: There is now great fear in my heart. Excuse me while I cower under my desk

TehMadScientist: So lets see...We have the DIY droid toys ... some mandatory attendance plane tickets for some of your choice vic... sla.. erm .. servants? ... that will do ... and catering by Whole Foods grocers? TehMadScientist: I think that should round things out nicely.

Pooka: With Alton Brown to do the cooking

TehMadScientist: One more plane ticket, check. *pondering* Still, I wonder ... nono, it would never work...

Pooka: Never is such a harsh term

TehMadScientist: Well, the third series of prototype was more of a research venue

Pooka: Got to earn that grant money somehow

TehMadScientist: The information is still ... unsatisfactory. My data-mining tools have yet to recover any completely effective demon-summoning rituals, for the particular spectrum of species that I have selected

Pooka: Oh, well, Google.

TehMadScientist: Oh. duh. *runs off*

TehMadScientist: that's just returning erotic fiction to start with. Perhaps I need quotes around my string?

Pooka: That usually helps. You have to be very specific to weed out the trash, although at least now you got your porn

TehMadScientist: fascinating, according to this page I need to get together a more extensive list of reagents than I had first anticipated... ew. Some of them are yucky.

Pooka: Well, demon summoning isn't pretty

TehMadScientist: well that has been the problem. I have summoned MANY test subjects at this point, usually while waiting for the droids to recharge but they have all be very unsatisfactory, usually not even from the right genus, let alone the individual merits of a subject. Most have been entirely incompatible with human anatomy. Like the cactus demon. NOT COMPATIBLE.

Pooka: More research for true names required, perhaps some arcane literature with more information on the species you are attempting to acquire

TehMadScientist: perhaps. I should run off to the local library, they are always advertising how wide the range of books they have is.

Pooka: Just avoid the whole new age bookstore thing, they're useless, really, except in bad movies

TehMadScientist: Oh I know! That whole Blair Witch thing? ugh ... I actually got physically ill during that movie.

Pooka: Never watched it, mercifully

TehMadScientist: And then all the copycats afterwards! Freshman college students thinking they can all be witches now just because they butchered their roommates in a field at night.

Pooka: Though it does do wonders for bringing down the population of idiots. Has to make it easier on dorm housing too

TehMadScientist: Yeah, but I was a glorified janitor through college. Hence, where I found all the parts for the zombies.

Pooka: So what you're saying is they were already partially decomposed when you started. Maybe it would work better with fresher corpses

TehMadScientist: No, it really doesn't. Even if you get to them before the smell, the cold clamminess is still there. And those dumb hand warmer heat packs can only do so much.

Pooka: Right, I suspect the zombies are pretty much a dead end. (snicker)

TehMadScientist: No, I am going to call that line of research terminated.

Pooka: Deceased, even

TehMadScientist: Well, I'll just bury it with the other paperwork I never want to see again.

Pooka: I don't know, subjects like that have a way of returning to life when you least expect it

TehMadScientist: I hate when dead projects get reanimated, it's always embarassing to have to explain away your closet skeletons.

Pooka: .... we are so sick. *laughing*

Image Stream - BTRC

The following illustration images of my work were all used in BTRC gaming modules.

"Do you hear that?"



Critter Patrol

"Mama, Mama, you gotta come look, we've got an armadillo in the yard!"

Thing 1 and I look at each other in disbelief. Yeah, right.

"No, really, Mama, you gotta come see it!"

Sure enough, not only has Thing 2 spotted, but correctly identified an armadillo, having never seen a real one. A big one. A HUGE armadillo, and one that has in the space of about 24 hours, torn up a large portion of our backyard.

Awfully cute, really, for an armadillo, but that destructive little critter has got to go!

Our neighbor said she saw one about 6 months ago, but hasn't had a problem. Her yard looks perfect. Ours looks like a mortar range now. She suggested calling Animal Control to get a trap to remove him to somewhere a little more appropriate. I think we're going to do this. We've got enough erosion problems as it is without this little guy helping the damage along.

Probably could have just picked him up and moved him ourselves if we'd had gloves. He wasn't the slightest bit afraid of us, and I swear to God he SHRUGGED at me. The critter looked up from his hole at us, wrinkled his little face, twitched his ears, SHRUGGED, and went right back to digging.

A day in the life, man.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Image Stream - Deviation:Android

I'm going to start posting a few of these, various pieces of illustration work from the past. Blah blah, Copyright of, etc.

"Work is Hell"

Catch My Fall

Liya by Gaslight, from a slightly gothic cyberpunk tale.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

In Search of the Lost Chord

I'd like to know where the words went. If you find them, please send them home with a nice note pinned to their lapel so that I might properly recognize them. I haven't seen them for so long that they've become strangers to me.

Part of my brain told me very early on that I was going to be a writer. That subversive element was encouraged by a handful of family members, gently molded and warped and coaxed into growth by those that believed in me. It was a thing that wanted to become so very real to me, and I've clutched desperately at clinging tendrils of coherent thought for as long as I can remember.

That part of my brain didn't listen to the other bits that decided to develop a debilitating neurological condition that is slowly eating away at not only my ability to think clearly, but to remember.

The words are nowhere to be found.

Yes, the words filling this post are words, but they aren't The Words, the elusive ones that remind me what it was that I wanted to do with my life. They aren't the words I've been searching for, you don't need to see our identification, move along.

I fear that my condition is growing worse, a stealthy intruder that only steals away the bits and pieces that you think you won't miss until one day you're looking for them, only to realize that they've simply vanished. Teri had a brief bout with my hysterics over it one afternoon when we were discussing the glories of her new DSL, and I suddenly discovered ... that I didn't know anything anymore.

I couldn't tell her what we were using, if it was a switch, or a router. I didn't KNOW anymore. I eventually had to ask DG, King of the Luddites, because I couldn't wrap my brain around simple concepts that I SHOULD have known.

I'm living a Jackie Chan movie, where everything new I attempt to learn and everything old that I struggle to remember is peppered with a loud chiding, "Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?"

No. I don't. And most of the time, I barely understand the words that are coming out of my own.

I'm not a particularly verbal person on an aural level. Conversation has never been particularly comfortable for me unless I'm surrounded by close friends. My stutter was beaten into submission years ago, but still chooses the worst possible times to reappear and torment me. The chemical reactions that link thought to word to speech don't connect properly, there's a short circuit in there that tangles even the clearest of thoughts until they come out jumbled and stammered. It isn't performance anxiety. I could make it through a script and belt out the lines without errors up on the stage. It's simple, normal, conversational speech that trips me up.

From thought to word to fingers, however, has generally remained constant. I type as swiftly as I can think up the words, my brain whipping along at violent speeds without my train of thought suddenly skipping over and taking Greyhound instead.

The words have left me. THE Words. In preparing a journal revue, I was horrified to discover so precious little of true substance to present. I could follow the slow seepage of coherent thought as I went through the years, seeing the words sliding away into some unknown place that I no longer seem to be able to access.

Where do the words go when they're cold? When they're lonely and scared, do they hide beneath the desk as I did when I was a child, with a blanket pinned down by books, reading in the near-dark by flashlight as I tried to ignore my parents screaming over the topic of the evening (usually "Where did we go wrong with that girl?" "It's all YOUR fault, you didn't ....")? Hiding in the sheets among the nest of pillows that only provide comfort and not protection from the harsh voices? Are they timid, like me?

Do they hunt for the sunshine like cats, languishing in puddles of light and waiting for someone to come along and stroke them? Are they out in the garden, drifting between the flowers and leaves and kissing the butterflies that pass them by? Have they sought the candlelight, dancing in the flames?

Where are the words? They're not in bottles of alcohol, or hiding under cigarette butts in the ashtray. They aren't littering the floorboards of the car, or hiding in the dirty dishes crowding the sink. I've looked there, I know.

Yes, these are words. But they are not THE Words.

I am searching for them, while my mind is still able to wrap around them, to caress and know them intimately, while I am still able to reach out and touch them and mold them into the shape that my thoughts desire.

If you find The Words, I beg you: Send them home.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Prevalence of Public Domain Thinking


Seriously. Last few days have been particularly unpleasant on a professional front. Lots of BS going on with several major players pulling copyright infringements, and of course the shit is rolling downhill and burying those that had made purchases. I'm lucky enough to have avoided all the products involved, but it's still making the whole scene really ugly. And like rats deserting a sinking ship, we're losing a lot of really good people that have had enough.

I've finally settled on being utterly disgusted with the whole mess.

If you park your car on a public street, does it become free for others who have not purchased the car to use?

When an artist's image is displayed in a public gallery, is it free for the taking?

So when you post an image/story on a public website, does it then become free for anyone to use?


No. Absolutely, positively Not.

The concepts are very much the same. Being able to view something in a public place does not mean that it has become "Public Domain." It is not "free," and the copyright and ownership belong to the creator, just as the car parked on the street belongs to whoever owns the pink slip for it.

For many internet users, however, the concept is foreign. They feel they have the right to take and use (and in too many cases, claim as their own) a piece that has been publically displayed.

Education of the legalities is a start, but it isn't a catch-all solution.

Time after time, the arguments crop up. Copyright is established the moment any form of intellectual property is created. A determined thief will claim this is incorrect, and unless it is filled with the US Copyright Office, the item is free for the taking -- a misconception that often leads to legal battles.

A signature and copyright line are most often not enough. A thief with graphic tools will merely remove them, and you're back to square one. In this case, your best defense is maintaining working files for proof that the image in question is your own. Posting your images in a public gallery can help, for it gives you a time and date stamp to assist in proof of ownership.

Watermarks are another solution, but as controversial as the entire copyright issue is itself. They deter theft by rendering an image unusable without obvious marks that it belongs to someone else, but they also ruin the image for viewers as well. It takes a lot of effort for a thief to remove one, but is the volume of complaints worth it?

Digital watermarking services such as Digimarc have their own problems. The effort required to remove one from an image is staggeringly simple.

And despite proponents claims, the Digital Millenium Copyright Act is little help. ISPs and web hosts are learning ways around it so that they don't have to defend copyrights. They require that your personal information be added to the forms -- which will then be forwarded to the thief -- without any information on the offender in return. This is how Lycos/Angelfire works, from personal experience with them.

Think about that -- if someone has already stolen your work, do you REALLY want them having your complete home phone number and address?

Community watchdog groups are showing better successes. "Know thy neighbor" has proven invaluable in many cases. Users wander internet galleries, and by knowing their fellow artists, are able to easily recognize works that are being illegally distributed and showcased by others. Unfortunately, all it does is point out the offenders. The copyright holder still has to struggle with the offenders website to get the infringing works removed.

So where is the solution? Obviously, education on copyright myths and law is a start. Awareness of the problem and the determination to make a stand and do something about it will get further than sighing and letting it go. It's not an issue to be taken lightly.

There are no hard solutions, at least for the moment.

If it's not YOURS, don't take it. Didn't your mother teach you better than that?

Potential infringers are being sent the message that as long as they and the store can make a few quick bucks off someone else's work, all they'll get is a little slap on the hand and a red face when they're caught.

What's the current tally on Important People in the texturing zone that have been caught with infringments in the last few months?

What is that telling the community?

Trust? What's that?

I do commercial images on a regular basis. I get paid for this. I can't afford disasters like this, and neither can anyone else that recieves money for their work.

I'm now to the point that I won't use ANYONE's textures for anything. Texture packs that permit commercial works from them have been tossed out of my folders and into personal use only. I won't use anything in products that I didn't take the photograph of myself. I don't care if I was given permission to use them.

Purchasing? Oh, just forget it. I've spent some 80% of my store income right back into the store in the past. I can't remember the last time I bought anything because I can't risk it.

Your average consumer may not be paying attention to what is going on.

But I guarantee that the professionals, and the potential infringers sure as hell are.

The Right Thing needs to be done, and the only way that can happen if there is a consistent policy towards infringement that is KEPT, regardless of who the merchant might be.

I'm not taking sides. I don't know any of these people. I don't care how nice or generally honest and caring they are, or how rude or obnoxious they are, or how long they've been ... (insert any and all "I know this person and..." comments as required).

If you are getting paid for your images, and something within it is an infringement, YOU can be sued for its use. YOU can be held responsible for that inclusion. Your client can be sued. You will no longer get work from that client because they were sued. As the end user, YOU pay the penalties for the infraction of another.

It isn't a matter of how nice someone is, what their personal standing in a community might be. As an end user, if I cannot absolutely verify the origin of something, I cannot allow myself to use it, especially in a commercial venue.

Bottom line: As an artist, and a fellow merchant, I'm concerned as hell about the results.