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Solarbird

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continuing economic impact
[27 Jun 2016|09:03am]

[ mood | busy ]

GB£ is down now roughly 12% from pre-Brexit intraday high, the day before the vote.

Friday was the worst single-day stock rout by dollar value on record.

Asia did well overnight, Europe did very badly. North America isn't looking good today either, but is decently off morning lows.

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65 woman-fronted metal bands Decibel can’t bother talking about
[27 Jun 2016|08:30am]

This is kind of a guest post, a sharing – with permission – of a list of female-fronted metal bands that Decibel magazine can’t seem to bother talking about. It was assembled specifically in response to both an older article ranking bands, and a more recent idiotic article claiming that “social justice warriors” are destroying the underground metal scene. (Other metal magazines and websites are not impressed either. See also.)

So, courtesy Ian, let’s go down this list of 65 female-fronted metal bands of at least equal quality to their d00d counterparts. Why don’t you know the majority of them? Editorial choice. Period.

From A to F we have: After Forever (symphonic metal, Netherlands), The Agonist (metalcore, US), Amaran (power metal, Sweden), Amberian Dawn (symphonic metal, Finland), Angtoria (blackened symphonic metal, Sweden), Arch Enemy (death metal, Sweden/Germany), Asrai (gothic metal, Netherlands), Astarte (all female black metal, Greece), Ava Inferi (art/doom metal, Portugal), Battle of Mice (post-metal, US), Battlelore (power metal, Finland), Beautiful Sin (power metal, Belgium), Benediction (gothic metal, UK), Birthday Massacre (Hot Topic metal, US), Blood Ceremony (doom, US), ChthoniC (black metal, co-vocals, Taiwan), Delain (pop-gothic metal, Netherlands), Diathra (doom/gothic metal, Belarus), Doro (power metal, Germany), Eyes Set to Kill (metalcore, US), Eths (nu metal, French), Epica (gothic progressive metal, Netherlands) Evanescence (pop-goth metal, US), Eyes of Eden (symphonic metal, Germany), Fairyland (symphonic speed metal, France)

F to L: Firebrand Super Rock (heavy metal, Scotland), Forever Slave (symphonic gothic metal, Spain), Gallhammer (terror-doom/black/crust metal, Japan) The Gathering (Progressive metal, Netherlands), Holy Moses (thrash, Germany), Kittie (alt.metal, Canada), Flyleaf (nu metal, US), Hammers of Misfortune (doom, US), Iwrestledabearonce (spazz metal, US), I:Scintilla (industrial rock/metal, US), In This Moment (metalcore, US), Jarboe (unclassifiable, US), Jex Thoth (extreme doom, US), Julie Christmas (alternative metal, US), Kylesa ( female guitar/ vocals, sludge, US), Lacuna Coil (pop/death metal, Italy), Landmine Marathon (death metal, US), Leaves’ Eyes (symphonic metal, German-Norweigan), Lita Ford (glam metal, US), Ludicra (shared-vocals/black metal, US),

And finally, M to W: Madder Mortem (progressive metal, Norway), Made Out of Babies (post-hardcore/noise metal, US), Melencolia Estatica (one-woman black metal, Italy), Nashville Pussy (camp peckerwood metal, US), Nightwish (symphonic metal, Finland), Octavia Sperati (gothic/doom, Norway), Otep (nu/feminist art metal, US), Penumbra (gothic-progressive metal, France), Pythia (heavy metal, UK), Rolo Tomassi (mathcore, UK), Saros (death/doom, US), Sirenia (symphonic metal, Finland), Subrosa (unclassifiable, US), The Devil’s Blood (Satanic classic metal/rock w/ female vox, Netherlands), The Project Hate MCMXCIX (Sweden, melodic death/art metal), Tristania (symphonic doom/goth metal, Norway), Unsun (pop-goth-metal, Poland), Within Temptation (symphonic metal, Netherlands), Walls of Jericho, metalcore, US).

You’re welcome.

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pickup chamber with animated spectral analysis
[25 Jun 2016|10:45am]

I’ve been playing with that ‘added pressure adds bass response’ idea, for use with these piezo pickups. I made a little wooden chamber that would let me add light pressure, as with the bridge pickup design. It would be held down with a clamp for testing, but would isolate that pressure from the piezo itself.

Anyway, I made a bunch of recordings, two for control, and eight with a range of pressure in the chamber. The controls were made with the pickup taped to the front of my zouk with double-sided tape (standard attachment), and with the pickup directly clamped to the front (also a standard attachment) and come first and second in the recording. The other eight were with the pickup in the test chamber, with increasing amounts of pressure on the crystal, applied by inserting paper as seen here:


With thin cardboard and two sheets of paper

Note again that the clamp is not adding pressure to the disc in any way.

Audio samples in a single mp3, here. There is some extra noise in these recordings; I was trying the modular approach again and that’s the result. I think the TRS connectors are inherently noisy. But that’s a separate matter.

I also ran spectrographic analysis on each recording, and combined those into a single animated gif that cycles through the recordings in order. Here’s the key for both. The gif is repeating, so each frame is labelled in the upper left.

 1: taped to top
 2: clamped directly to top
 3: in chamber, no paper
 4: in chamber, thin cardboard (0.46mm)
 5: in chamber, cb+1 sheet  (+0.11mm)
 6: in chamber, cb+2 sheets (+0.21mm)
 7: in chamber, cb+3 sheets (+0.31mm)
 8: in chamber, cb+4 sheets (+0.42mm)
 9: in chamber, cb+5 sheets (+0.52mm)
10: in chamber, cb+6 sheets (+0.63mm)

You’ll note in both the graphs and the audio that bringing in the chamber at all, even with no additional crystal pressure, caused a big drop in high-end oversensitivity, and boosted the low-end. That was interesting; I have suspected for a while that the crystal side of the disc would actually be better as a source-facing element, but there are physical issues to doing that, since the wires have to attach on that side.

Adding pressure continued to boost low-end response through test 7, without inhibiting high-end response. After that, I think additional pressure began to overcome the benefits, and you see a return to a more midrange-heavy sound – though in all cases, I think it’s better than either traditional mount.

This is consistent with tests made in the bridge pickup from last week, and reminds me of a diagramme I saw of a period crystal microphone that implied the crystals themselves would be set up forward-facing.

Anyway, data! And lots of it, for lots of your crystal/piezo experimental needs.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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£ vs. USD
[24 Jun 2016|05:00pm]

[ mood | curious ]

I did not realise that US$1.40 was such a big support level for the GBP, but it was:

Not Your Everyday Pounding
Dana Lyons


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nope
[24 Jun 2016|03:07pm]

[ mood | amused ]

I want to say "Incompressible Jizztrumpet is my Kenny G cover band," but I don't want people to jump in saying "he's a sax player," because then I would have to talk about the history of saxophone as a sexy instrument, and I don't want to, particularly not where Kenny G is involved.

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Arrest I-1515 signature gatherers.
[24 Jun 2016|11:57am]

[ mood | furious ]

Seriously, arrest these fuckers. I-1515 signature gatherers are now attaching OTHER PETITIONS TO THEIRS, and so fraudulently getting you to sign THEIRS. How is this not illegal, and how are these people not being arrested?

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2016/06/24/24253588/watch-out-for-i-1515-signature-gatherers

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on the (dis)united kingdom: brexit, scexit, and irexit
[24 Jun 2016|10:28am]

I was up all yesterday and last night watching votes come in on Brexit, and I’m as surprised as the next supervillain, or, for that matter, the next Briton who has been googling exactly what is the EU, anyway? after the vote.

I posted a bunch on my old LJ/DW account pair, which you can read here if you want, but that’s just tracking financial reaction. I’m really thinking about just the UK, at the moment, and what happens politically now. In that, I’m assuming in this that the EU manages to stay together without the UK, which will certainly be the number one project of everyone over there for the next five years.

Scotland will treat this as an abrogation of promises made in 2014 to entice it to stay in the UK. A big one of those was continued and certain EU membership.

Scotland, of course, voted overwhelmingly – and across all of the country – to stay. Northern Ireland voted soundly to stay as well, but less overwhelmingly, and doesn’t have a recent close referendum on leaving. Both the SNP and Sinn Féin have called for new referenda on separation, and everyone’s treating the Scottish call more seriously – including, I note, the Scots.

But I’m not sure that’s the right analysis. I think it’ll come down to borders.

The biggest question in both cases comes down to free movement. Within the EU, you have free movement; border controls are not really a big issue for Europeans.

But outside the UK, there are, of course, plenty of border controls. If those controls reappear, I think Northern Ireland tells the UK to fuck off. The smart thing for Sinn Féin might be to wait ’till those border controls start showing up.


It won’t be like this, because that’s Africa and the racism is fierce.
But it’ll be controls of some sort, and this is the image to use.

And if those border controls reappearing are part of Scottish independence, I can’t but wonder if that means the Scots will stay.

Scotland and England have had free borders for a very, very long time. In the last vote, that was brought up, but you’d’ve had EU co-membership, making the issue moot. In a new vote… not so much.

So I think they might well have it backwards. Irish reunification, yes; Scottish independence, no.

And, of course, across all of it, ample chances in destabilisation. Supervillains and day-traders, be on alert, opportunity goddamn knocks.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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more reaction in europe
[24 Jun 2016|12:14am]

[ mood | reacting ]

Royal Bank of Scotland plunges 34% after Brexit vote

U.K.'s FTSE 100 slides 7.7% at 5,849.41 after U.K. votes for Brexit

Breaking Barclays tanks 30% after U.K. votes to Brexit

Losses deepen for European banks, Stoxx banking index down 11%

U.K.'s midcap FTSE 250 plunges 11.5% as U.K. votes for Brexit (yes that's four points from the above AS I'M TYPING THIS)

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the pound has stabilised a bit, as european markets open
[24 Jun 2016|12:07am]

[ mood | curious ]

But wow, Europe is not happy.

Barclays tanks 30% after U.K. votes to Brexit

Germany's DAX opens 10% lower at 9,232 after U.K. votes to leave the EU

Stoxx Europe 600 down 5.5%, falling further in opening trade


PM Cameron speaking in seven minutes.

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jfc - brexit is a reality
[23 Jun 2016|09:43pm]

Whelp, the United Kingdom is leaving the EU. Europe has to be panicking, behind close doors, trying to figure out how to save the European project now that the second-largest economy in the EU has voted to leave.

The Pound Sterling is down around 12%-ish against the USD, lowest since the 1980s. The Nikkei is down close to 8%, with trading suspended by circuit breakers. London banking is going to be kneecapped. Do not get that wrong: kneecapped. People wanting access to the EU in English now need to go to Ireland.

The SNP have already said that this abrogates the promises made in the independence referendum in 2014, and Scotland in this election voted overwhelmingly (and in all ridings) to stay in Europe; commentators are assuming there will be another independence vote in the next couple of years, and that it's likely it will pass. Even one of the BBC's Scottish employees said that last time they didn't take independence seriously and of course voted against, but this time, they will.

In the short term this is going to throw a chunk of money at the US and Japan, as perceived safe havens, but that'll mostly be currency; the general freak-out will hammer the markets and won't help any part of any economies. (I just saw a flash update that Dow futures are down 650 points, which is a pretty big gut-punch.)

Everyone is assuming that PM Cameron is going to stay on for a bit; possibly even a few months, until the summer Conservative Party conference, at which point there'll be a transition and possibly a new election.

This is a remarkable monkeywrenching. Even the Leave side going into tonight were talking up the idea of this being proof that people have to take Euro-scepticism seriously - not that they were going to win. And now they have a victory.

The EU needs to be scrambling now, as hard as it can, to try to figure out how to salvage the rest of the project. Europe has a long and very, very bloody history. It does not need to be starting that up again, and a lot of the hopes have been hooked to the EU.

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it’s not a lair, really, but…
[23 Jun 2016|08:30am]

[ mood | pleased ]

This building isn’t a Lair. It’s not. It might be a retirement villa for the successful supervillain, though – I know I’d be happy to have it. But no matter how you classify it, it’s lair architecture, in oh so many important ways.

And it’s unremittingly lovely, and I want to stress most strongly, this is not a drawing, this is a real, actual, extant place, no matter how much it looks like some 1960s futurist vision, possibly in space. This exists.

This, like the previous, is also actually real.

So is this.

Here’s the listing. When that goes away, here’s an article that I hope will last longer. Lots more photos. Enjoy.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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the bridge pickup improved
[22 Jun 2016|08:30am]

A couple of months ago, I tried making a Cortado-based bridge pickup for the octave mandolin. It worked okay – better than the ad-hoc clamp arrangement I’d bodged together for last January’s Conflikt show, but not what I’d hoped. It was a lot more stable, but still needed lots of equalisation help.

I’ve built a new one, with a new design! It’s much better. Here’s an mp3 of the previous design alternated with the new design, on octave mandolin – no eq of any kind, no effects, just raw output from the old design vs. the new. (Old design is first.)

While working with the previous attempts, I’d figured out what really improved things was the right kind of pressure on the piezo disc itself. My thumb was pretty optimal, but you can’t exactly do that and play at the same time. The clamp wasn’t bad, but it was slippery and awkward and actually came off on me during rehearsal, so I didn’t trust it. Most piezo-style pickups live under the bridge of an instrument, but you can’t do that the usual way with this one, it’d be destroyed by the pressure.

So I went about trying to fix that.

First was to take the bridge plate and add a wide, flat channel – one wide enough specifically to contain the entirety of the Cortado piezo element. I made it by wrapping sandpaper around a flat piece of metal, and scrubbing back and forth to excavate out the wood I needed removed.


This is actually a new bridge plate.
But it’s made of the same material, so no real diff.

You need to sand away enough wood to make room for the piezo and all the tape wrappings, and some extra. But you do not need to sand away enough for the wires soldered to the disc – you want to avoid those entirely.

Keep sanding away wood until the bridge slides freely over both the new channel and the piezo, like so:

What this makes is basically a wide clamping chamber around the pickup element itself. It doesn’t do any clamping yet; it just creates a space for it. At this stage, in fact, if you hook it up and try it, there’ll no change in sound from the previous version.

(In fact, the “old design” recording I used in the sample is actually this version at this point in the process. I verified that it sounded exactly the same as the previous version, as predicted, which means I’d re-established the old baseline. Important for science!)

But now, of course, I have a clamping chamber! We just need something to apply pressure.

So what’s our clamp? Pieces of paper. Post-it notes, to be specific, just because they were handy. The right number of sheets in this exact case turned out to be four.

Five also worked, and did not feel like too much pressure inserting the papers under the bridge. But it did sound like a bit much compression, tonally, so I went back to four.

(Here’s that sample track again, alternating old design and new, old first.)

The beauty of this is that since it takes several thicknesses of paper, and since that paper be changed out without taking apart the pickup, you can use any number you like. You could even adjust the tone on the fly.

Interestingly, the pickup didn’t even get quieter with more paper. I’d worried about that, but didn’t need to. In fact, adding more sheets made it louder, meaning that the pressure is not so much “damping down treble” as it is pulling up bass. Which, in turn, makes me wonder if it’s not so much “resonating better” as moving the zero/no-vibration point of the crystals’ charge state from all-electrons-in or all-electrons out (doesn’t matter which) to a more middle-range position, which…

…hm. Actually, that’s interesting. No, that’s really interesting. That would explain why the pickup got louder with more clamping, rather than muffled or…

…huh. This is an hypothesis. If I’m right, I can make my next crystal mic substantially more modern sounding, by enclosing the piezo in a small clamping chamber, which is, like this, attached to the resonating disc of the microphone, and possibly…

…possibly I should take my SRMD meds now or I’m going to be up until 5am next Thursday playing with crystals and possibly taking over the moon again, aren’t I? Yeah. I am. Okay. BRB.

So. Yeah! I’m super-pleased with this result. I’m also thinking that maybe this could be used on other items that have flat surfaces which need pickups – like, a piano, maybe – and instead of the bridge, as here, you use a weighted flat bar of some sort across the pickup plate to create the clamping chamber. Then you’re off with tonal control via paper again. I have no need for this functionality at the moment, but it strikes me as legitimate nonetheless.

And most importantly for me, I now have a much more conventional DIY pickup for the octave mandolin. Here y’go, doc – just plug ‘er in, and we’re off.

Much better.

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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another weekend of noodling with electrics
[20 Jun 2016|08:30am]

[ mood | busy ]

I have some mics that react badly to phantom power, so I made a phantom power blocking took. I had an old Smarties block handy, so I made it out of that.


It seemed appropriate. ^_^

I also went at improving an effects box I built a while ago called the Trash-o-Matic 68000. You would have heard it on Daleks Behaving Badly (Dalek Boy), a joke track that really needs a shorter edit, because it takes way too long to build up.

The best part of this box is the Berthold Ray effect circuit that I legit invented. That must have happened in a pretty heavy Science-Related Memetic Disorder attack (or spark hyperfocus, if you’re a Girl Genius reader), because I was trying to figure out how the hell it worked and I am here to tell you that this is some serious-business Oscillation Overthruster bullshit right here.

It’s basically a multi-store self-reducing sampler feedback effect with frequency shift that’s using the device’s amplifier as a delay loop and sending the amplified samples back to the input via a combination of the internal system ground and negative phase of a balanced signal lead. Both matter. I… don’t entirely know why.

Anyway, the whole thing is noisy as hell, and much of that is the platform I was building onto, and I was hoping to fix that. I was able to reduce noise levels somewhat – no, that’s unfair, meaningfully, it’ll be easier to gate out noise now – but it’s still buzzy as hell.

I’m kind of interested in seeing if I can re-implement the Berthold Rays in a less trashy environment. Sure, it’s fun in this mess of noise and grind and crunch, but it’d be nice to have in a cleaner box as well. Maybe I’d use it more then.

I’ve never used it for music before, but here’s a little bit of noodling I call “Broken Music Box, Found After a Fire,” played on Irish Bouzouki and run through Trash-O-Matic voice 6, with full Berthold Ray attack:

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'Beta Males' Want To Kill Women Because They Can’t Get Laid
[19 Jun 2016|08:09pm]

This article talks about some of the centres of active personal/deep-social misogyny online, as opposed to the more directly political misogynist sites like the neofascist Return of Kings. I was actually watching - and quoting from - 9k1 et al during and immediately after the Isla Vista, California murder spree; this article is reasonably accurate. Much of it is actual "joking," but much of that is "joking" with a palpable sense of, "if only."

http://bust.com/feminism/15551-mo-beta-blues.html

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anti-queer initiative signatures lying about their initiative
[17 Jun 2016|03:56pm]

[ mood | pissed off ]

PAID I-1515 SIGNATURE GATHERERS ARE IN SEATTLE TELLING PEOPLE THAT IT'S A PRO-TRANS-RIGHTS INITIATIVE, RELYING ON COMPLETE IGNORANCE - DON'T FALL FOR IT, DON'T BE STUPID, REPORT IT IF YOU SEE IT.

In real life, I-1515 is a vicious anti-queer initiative that actually targets trans kids with abuse and puts a $2500 bounty on their heads and I am not even making that up.

IF YOU SEE IT, SAY SOMETHING.



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three-gear meshes that actually work
[17 Jun 2016|08:30am]

A nice little bit of fun on Friday. You’ll see, pretty often, illustrations of gears for some sciencey or engineering-invoking illustration or logo, and they’ll be all shiny and pretty and stuff, right?

Problem is, those gears can’t turn. They’re wedged together. Play with it in your head, you’ll see one gear is forced to turn in two directions at the same time, and of course can’t.

So Numberphile – who has a youtube channel – decided to come up with some three-gear systems that actually work. They’re really cool. Enjoy:

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talking of anti-lgbt bills
[16 Jun 2016|10:01pm]

[ mood | pissed off ]

Paid anti-trans signature gatherers threatened a woman over her trans son at a Walmart in Renton, Washington on Tuesday. The Walmart manager referred to her son as "it" and was belligerent towards her as well. Here's her story.

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Hate crimes don't happen in a vacuum.
[16 Jun 2016|07:59pm]

[ mood | tired ]

254 bills aimed at limiting queer rights introduced since 2013. 254.

This is just since 2013. It sure as hell didn't start then.

Fighting this has been my entire adult life.

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not so much a primary lair, but…
[16 Jun 2016|03:00pm]

A new lair is on the market! Yes, it’s small, might be a good starter lair for the aspiring supervillain, but I’m really thinking more a… rural redoubt, perhaps. And it’s got extra bedroom space for the minions you might bring along.

As I understand it, the Tesla Death Ray tower behind the lair is included, so that’s definitely added value there. A starting supervillain wanting to use this as a primary lair should convert it to a shield dome emitter, but, of course, that goes without saying.


Not Fancy, But Strong – that’s all rebar and poured concrete!


Features include a spacious meeting room for discuss your plans.
Note the built-in control panel by the couch –
I presume that’s for the ejector chairs that fling your enemies into the fire pit.

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a close call with hiatus
[16 Jun 2016|10:59am]

Yeah, yesterday was fun.

Night before last I started having these visual effects in my left eye. Now, I have a history of repeated childhood head trauma, and visual effects are real bad because it turns out when you have that trauma history, your retina can start to disintegrate in adulthood. That’s how I lost most of 2014 to repeated eye surgeries.

So when I started seeing these odd effects in my left eye, some of which were similar to previous effects, I was pretty much freaking out, because Oh Shit Not Again. But they weren’t exactly the same as the previous times, and what I was seeing also matched the description of a strange and rare migraine variation called ocular migraine, where it’s basically a migraine, but entirely confined to your retina and optic nerve.

And that’s there the ophthalmologist went, too. The good news is: no surgery. The other, mostly good news: it’s probably a clean bit of vascular membrane separation. This happens all the time, including to you. If you see floaters in your eye for a while? That just happened to you.

For most people, it’s harmless. In large cases, there’s a small (2-3%) chance of retinal involvement, and that’s not at all good – if your field of vision changes, that’s the sign you need to see someone immediate.

For me, by contrast,, that percentage had so far been 75%, not 2%, because if there is the outer edge of a bell curve to be found, I will goddamn well find it.

Those odds now down to 60%, which is much better. He examined the hell out of my retina and couldn’t find any sign of disturbance. It looks healthy as all hell.

Which is why haven’t actually ruled out ocular migraine either, because what I’m seeing with the neon-like lights business actually fits that better. If I didn’t have a big new floater, that’d probably be the only thing under consideration. Good part of that is: nobody understands it, but it’s confined, and has no symptoms – no headache, even – other than the optical effects, and the prescription is “well, just put up with it, it’ll go away. And then come back, and then go away, but it doesn’t hurt and generally won’t change much.”

The doc doesn’t think anything will happen, I just have to keep an eye on it – EYE on it! HA! – for six weeks to be safe, and I have a follow-up appointment in July. If something retinal were to happen, well… I’d be back on hiatus.

But not today.

I gotta say, I have never been so happy to be working on a drum track all my life. 😀

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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