T-Shirts for the Masses

Since sixth grade I’ve been putting stuff on T-shirts. Back then I used a magic marker. That was fun, not just for the creativity. Back in the Sixties a magic marker smelled like an auto body shop and would get you high as a kite! Today I doodle mostly with Photoshop and a digital camera, although I still sketch by hand occasionally. And instead of drawing on spare tees from the underwear drawer I let Cafe Press print them for me.

Buy or Create Hilarious T-shirts and moreCafe Pressis a unique marketplace that makes all sorts of stuff– shirts, postcards, mugs, panties, posters, etc. The neat thing is none of the stuff they make is their stuff. It’s your stuff!

You create a design or take a photo, then create a product with your image. They take care of all the fussy stuff like making it, packing it, shipping it and taking money for it. The best part is you decide how much you want to make and set the markup– if any.

A similar scheme is offered by Zazzle. They promise 24-hour-turnaround on orders and claim superior printing quality to Cafe Press. Either offer a quick way for you to start up for free.

Another unique approach to embellished clothing is Threadless. Think of it as My Space meets Cafe Press. The idea here is to rate submissions then produce those with the highest approval. Site visitors create designs or create slogans and post them on the site. Other users rate them on a scale of 1 to 5 and can also post their comments. If the design garners sufficient interest Threadless prints the design and offers it in their catalog.

Here’s a few of the designs I’ve dreamed up and posted on Cafe Press:

Maduko SpA
Ever since Quasi Maduccino invented the Space Tube they’ve been exploring the cutting edge of the unnecessary at Maduko. It’s been my lifelong goal to document it.

Oklahoma Centennial Blackout Mother never let me out of the mainframe. Air Racing Team featuring a Caproni Ca.133

Radio Milan
Back in the Eighties I played in a band originally called The Insects, later the name became Radio Milan. You can buy recreations of the band T-shirt as well as a compilation CD online.

Audio CD of Insects and radio Milan recordings. The classic Radio Milan tee. Wake up to coffee with the Insects!

Places 2 Ride
These are shirts promoting my motorcycle web site. It’s basically a list, as the name implies, of places to ride your motorcycle.

The Green Tee I get to ride home. The HANG UP AND DRIVE sweatshirt.

More Various and Sundry T-Shirt Information

Incidentally, my Threadless design didn’t make the cut, but it was fun just participating in the process. Here’s a thumbnail:

My design for Threadless called They Keep Making Them Smaller

True Beauty

Over the last several years I’ve noticed an odd evolution in photos of scantily clad women.

Where once were curves and soft mounds of erotica I see hip bones. The body shapes you see today are more akin to a 14-year-old boy than a woman (the bags of saline known as “boobs” are being ignored for the purpose of this comparison). Models that look like real women are forced to work for “plus size” catalogs.

Dove, the soap people, have launched a campaign of sorts to challenge our current perception of what a women is supposed to look like. This short film is part of their Campaign for Real Beauty. It shows, in compressed time, the evolution of a normal woman into a fashion magazine tart.

I thought their film was excellent. Their goal is to expose our current perception of beauty for the heavily retouched photo it really is. They seek to showcase true beauty. Raise self-esteem. Exalt curves.

I applaud them.

UPDATE: March 3, 2017— The video above is more than 10 years old, but its message still rings true. Dove has produced a new portfolio of photographs by Mario Testino that depict #RealBeauty

60 Years of Real Beauty

Pennytech: My Five Dollar Teleprompter

This article was originally posted June 2005 on the Red Dirt Roundup TV show website. Since then the original images have been lost. I will be improving the design and will be sure to post photos when I do.
— Rex

The need for a teleprompter becomes pretty obvious the minute you start doing any sort of video. After some research I discovered that there were two options:

a) spend a buttload of money

b) make one myself

After a little research I discovered several homemade examples of teleprompters and tons of advice on using a teleprompter. The most helpful articles I found were Brian Lawler’s Forget Cue Cards, Make a Teleprompter! and the Plasti-Prompter devised by video blogger Max Rottersman. The latter was especially helpful because I was under the impression that a one-way mirror was required. After seeing what Max had done with nothing more than a lid from a CD jewel case I realized this was not rocket science.

No Rockets, Some Science
Here’s the basic idea of my teleprompter made from a wine box, packing tape and a $5 piece of glass. A piece of glass held at a 45° angle to our laptop screen reflects the image toward our talented viewer. On the other side of the glass is a camera to take it all in. But for some magical reason the camera doesn’t see that reflected image on the glass. Maybe this is some rocket science after all?

My first challenge was to determine the optimum size for the piece of glass. I wanted it as large as possible to show the entire display of my laptop. The 15″ display on my Dell Inspiron 5500 was about 12 inches wide and 9 inches tall. So the width was easy- about 12.25 inches would be great. That would allow my “frame” to be about 12.5 inches wide, which would fit perfectly on the bezel surrounding the laptop’s display. But the height was another matter.

The glass needs to be set at 45° to the display. So I drew a right triangle with a base of 9.5 inches (the laptop display) and a leg of 9.5 inches (distance to the glass) which left the size of the glass a mystery. I knew the answer involved calculating the length of the hypotenuse and the Pythagorean theorem was involved. After a search on Google all that math fun came rolling back: A² + B² = C² That calculation gave me 13.435 which I rounded to 13 7/16 inches and called the glass shop. $4.68 later I was rummaging around for something to mount the glass in.

A wine box for 6 of the 1.5 liter bottles happened to be almost exactly 12.5 inches across. The top flap was already cut off, as is the custom at most fine liquor stores. So I cut the front and back out which leaves us 3 sides of the wine box. Then I cut a couple of thin strips from the scrap to make a pair of supports. These are taped inside the box at the magical 45° angle, then the glass rests on them. A couple more pieces of tape keep the glass from bouncing out of place.

After about 15 minutes of slicing and taping we had the laptop fired up and made some final adjustments. To get it just right I ended up trimming a couple of inches off the box, giving it a final overall height of 11 inches. You’ll notice I used Priority Mail tape, and since the wine box was also free I’m actually under budget. So my teleprompter actually cost less than $5, but I allowed a little leeway for those of you that splurge for packing tape.

For displaying our script we use Prompt! on the PC and Mac. It runs the script mirrored with one click and allows the operator to adjust the speed easily via mouse or keyboard. The basic version is free and the only drawback is a 2500 character limit. If you plan to do War and Peace you’ll need to pay, but even so it’s quite reasonable. Once you learn about 4 of the hotkey combinations you can easily operate the camera and the `prompter from behind the laptop.

Materials Needed:

Glass, plain old window pane, thinner the better, cut to 12 1/4″ x 13 7/16″

Wine Box

Packing Tape

Originally published at www.reddirtroundup.com/2005/06/my-five-dollar-teleprompter.htm

Lyra Wireless a Happy Surprise

How many times have you been burned by techie gadgets? I lost count a long time ago. Probably sometime around the 8 track-to-cassette adapter I hoped would make my AMC Hornet a cool ride.

So imagine my amazement when I bought a wireless music gadget that works great and is…
a) relatively inexpensive
b) easy to use
c) made by RCA

Yes, that last one is truly amazing. Despite a glorious history RCA has become better known for cheap stereos that fall apart. But their Lyra Wireless RD900W Transmitter/Receiver is a very cool thing. I was surfing around on Buy.com shopping for Wi-Fi hardware when I browsed over to their deals page. I’m not usually an impulse buyer- but this time I fell for it.

This rig involves two boxes and a remote that allows you to beam sound from your PC up to 100 feet to your stereo. It’s a 900mHz signal so the quality is better than the more common FM transponder thingy. It’s bundled with Musicmatch Jukebox, although you don’t have to use it to get MP3s from your workstation to your home thee-ah-tray.

It only took me about 15 minutes to hook it all up and start grooving. Playing a CD was no big deal so I tried something a little trickier- online radio from Live 365. I was impressed that Musicmatch had no complaints about playing the stream from Generation 80s (since they also have an online radio product I thought they might block it). Pretty soon I was downloading my faves from Emusic in the office and rocking out at full volume in the living room.

The universal remote it comes with is very nice and hefty. It allows you to launch tunes from afar. It also can control your TV, cable box, DVD, VCR and audio gear. I haven’t programmed it for all of our other equipment yet, but it appears to be compatible with jillions of electronics.

And the best part is it all costs less than $4o bucks!

RCA RD900W Lyra Wireless Transmitter/ Receiver
RCA RD900W Lyra Wireless

Now you can listen to all your PC based MP3’s and Internet Audio from the comfort of your living room. The new RCA Lyra Wireless transmitter and receiver send crystal clear digital audio from your PC to your stereo. Included is a Universal Remote Control so you can surf your collection from the other room. The RCA Lyra Wireless is the simply best way to listen to your digital music selection away from your PC!

Motorcycle Consolidation


Last week I purged the inventory to make way for my latest mechanical acquisition. My trials bike went to a good home locally and the Transalp took a road trip to Colorado with its new owner. All this effort was to make way for a new motorcycle that is comfortable two-up and more capable on the highway.

It’s a 1995 BMW R1100 GS.

I found it on eBay and hauled it home from Hot Springs, Arkansas. It has high mileage (for a bike, not for a BMW I’m told) and some loose bolts here and there. But it’s getting sorted out and promises to be a fun bike. Most importantly, it has met with the approval of My Passenger.

Sold by Weight…
Pound for pound I’ve made a pretty good swap. My observed trials bike was a 170 pound Beta and the Honda Transalp was around 400 lbs. The towering Bimmer is a 500 pounder but easily hauls another couple of hundred if you fill up the topbox and pannier cases. So far I have no plans to re-create the Long Way Round, but I am hoping to get back on the road and take some longer trips.