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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Scary Christmas!

Once more, it's the time of year when Sandy Claws comes down the chimney,steals your food, and drops off some of the goods his slave labor force created.  I swear Santa stole the entire six pack of rare microbrew beer I had last year.

And what better time of the year to add some balance to the world and kick off the production of a new dark ambient album?  It seems perfect!

As the New Year approaches, it's typical that I become very introspective, looking back on the year and deciding what changes to make.  It seems as if my music is taking off, I've been contacted by the head of a netlabel (online music label) telling me he'd like an opportunity to promote an album, if only I would make one.

Now, over the past years I've lost a lot of my ability to focus on anything for days/weeks at a time.  As with NaNoWriMo, I worry that 6 tunes into the album, I'll flake out.  BUT - with no time pressure, and each completed track an entity unto itself - I think this is a different enough situation that it's an achievable task.

I guess I'll find out.

Anyway, I wish you all a SCARY CHRISTMAS and a SAPPY GNU EAR!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The engines canna stand the strain!

I think I need fresh dilithium crystals!

Hit 2800 words on my NaNoWriMo novel and have now had writers block for two weeks.  Honestly, I'm getting more stressed out about it than it's worth, so before I blow a gasket I'm giving up.  There are more interesting paths to pursue...

I had a guy on SoundCloud ask permission to play a couple of my tracks on his Web radio show "blind flight".  I've found another place to submit my music for publication SPECIFICALLY asking for dark ambient tracks.  And I've found a way in my video app to morph, mix, and mangle stills into surrealistic nightmares that I can compose soundtracks for, so I an load my music on a YouTube channel.

So far, my music seems to be the only thing going anywhere.  I can't seem to force, coax, or coerce myself into writing anything of any length, so I declare that part of my creativity burned out (le sigh).  But my 3D work inspires my music inspires my 3D art, so they feed off each other, and I don't feel any stress when engaged in either pursuit.. I focus on sound&image for now.

Work goes extremely well, so that's one less source of stress.

Until later!

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20

I freely admit I'm a bit drunk right now.

On October 20, 2003, my love and life Sabine  Sklar went into a diabetic coma, and never came out,  She died shortly thereafter.

Every October 20, whether or not I consciously know it, I go into deep mourning.  I know, I know, get over it and move on, well try having the woman that made your soul sing pass away, then get back to me. I will fight, and being the Serpent I am, I always win.  Sad.

I love you Sabine, I have made you immortal with my poetry, and I can only hope that once the Goddess lets me go, I will spend as much of my existence as I can with you.

I love you beyond life, beyond meaning, beyond reason.

I miss you.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Elec Tronix

I'm not an electrical engineer.  In fact, I can't even solder, much less design a circuit.

But here I am breadboarding a prototype of a board that won't exist until late November or early December.

Now, I'm not averse to learning new things, but HAVING to learn something just to keep the project moving along is really annoying.  I' having to spend days learning basic electronics since the hardware guy isn't here and without some stuff cobbled together I'm ded in the water.  I learn things like what diodes are, how to use capacitors and resistors (and why), how pull-up and pull-down resistors work (and when to use which, and what strong/weak ones are).

And I have yet to burn anything up, which I'm kind of proud of.

So, I'm spending a small pile of cash to load up on components from Sparkfun Electronics and will spend all day today teaching myself how to breadboard up some basic circuits.  Thankfully, I don't need to solder anything!

It sure will look good on my resume', I guess.  And this old dogs learns new tricks all the time, this is just my next one, I suppose.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

OMG PEOPLE BOUGHT MY POETRY BOOK!

Ok, I'm flustered right now so forgive me if this comes out as a verbal hemorrhage..

I GOT MY FIRST ROYALTY CHECK FROM AMAZON!

Well, it's only for seventy cents, which means I sold exactly 7 copies of my poetry book "Love, Dark and Frozen", but dang it, I GOT PAID, and somewhere seven people thought well enough of me to buy the damn thing.

No advertising. Mentioned it ONCE in 2 chat rooms and in message boards ONCE.

I feel, as small as this thing is, validated as a writer.  Somewhere, someone thought my writing was worth going through the trouble of buying it.

About 35 years or more ago, me and a bunch of my friends at the time bet on who would sell something creative first.

I was voted LAST.

As time has passed, I've watched my friends vanish, "settle down" with a family, give up on their dreams.  Honest to Deity, I have no idea why, or even HOW, I kept on.

And here I am at 55, my music selling on two collections to support a Website (both sold really well), and now.. even though the money is meaningless.. this is an incredible milestone for me.  I feel validated as a writer.

Someone cares. Someone appreciates my words enough to go through Amazons checkout process.

It is a moral victory, and meaningless to the outside world.  But inside me, I'm glowing.  MY WORDS MATTER, even if only to seven people.

I'm celebrating tonight, and will of course laminate the check and frame it later.

Seventy cents has changed my worldview.  I feel inspired to write, more and more.

It's not a living wage, but for my soul, it's a feast.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Holiday Season.. in Tulsa

It looks like I'll be in Tulsa long past the end of October.  There's WAY too much work left to do, and it looks like it could drag on into January.

This will sure look good on my resume', though.  Tons of I2C and SPI bus work, LCD drivers, PWMs.. it's a massive project and being the ONLY software person is a heck of a challenge.  If I can pull this off, I'm going to party for a week straight!

Not much else going on.. Tulsa Fair and Rodeo this weekend, going to take my camera and field recorder and have a good time damaging myself with fried food.  The weather should be perfect.

No9t much going on musically right now, doing a lot of background story work  for Vicky's Diner, filling in the villians,  figuring out where rivalries are, minor characters, and the like.

Oh well, back to reading manuals for the DRV8301 chip!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ambient Online Compilation #3 - RELEASED

Yes, it's out! 50+ tracks of ambient heaven for less than the cost of a six pack of good beer!

https://ambientonline.bandcamp.com/album/ambient-online-compilation-volume-3

Music from dozens of talented people, and then two tracks from me.  Comes with a killer PDF book of artist bios and artwork.. learn all about us!

Buy today, don't delay, send before midnight tonight!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ambient Online Compilation #3: Pre-Order NOW

http://ambientonline.bandcamp.com/album/ambient-online-compilation-volume-3

For nine bucks US you get over eight hours of music,. pure ambient bliss from the top talents at Ambient Online.

And somehow, two of my tracks made it on.. so, SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION!

Get it while it's hot!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Write OR Wrong

One thing that working on the Webcomic has done is to make me re-discover my love of writing.

While it's been ages since any serious writing on my part, sitting down in front of Scrivener with an ice-cold beer was such a pleasant experience this weekend that I want to do it again!  There's just something about the flow of prose out of me into the wide world that's very satisfying.  I can do writing along with Webcomic  work without stressing myself out as neither is done on a deadline right now (heh).

Time to resurrect my writing blog!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Insanity, Headaches, Chaos..

I know, long time no blog.  But DANG has work been insane!

The hardware guy keeps getting sucked into meetings and not designing the hardware.  We discover each day a new thing missing from the code the previous contractors left.  And in that, I get to learn to do new things that I wasn't supposed to have to.. ugh.  It'll look great on a resume!

I'd be sightseeing a bit on the weekends but it's HOT - over 105F.. and that highly de-motivates me from doing anything but either hiding at home or the local bar.  It should cool down in a couple of weeks, but we'll see if that actually happens.

This contract could go until Christmas.. good thing I like Tulsa.  Fun times.

Some 3D being done, small animation tests and such in prep for pre-production work on my Vicky's Diary Webcomic.  Yes, I'm trying the Webcomic thing again!  Just one, though.  There'll be a Blogger blog for it shortly.

Ugh, back to studying motor control theory.. my head hurts..

Friday, August 1, 2014

My But It Got Busy...

Well, I've been on my new contract a little over a month now.  It's in Tulsa, OK. and should run until close to the end of October.  It's writing firmware for an electronically-controlled security fence product, very interesting, motor control, graphics display, on an MSP430-based platform.

Tulsa is a nice town - less crowded and more laid-back than Austin.  Still some good music here, especially rock and blues.  The place I'm staying is less than 2 blocks from a nice bar that has live music almost every night, which is great!  Except for the amount of time I spent there checking out new bands (heh).

Haven't done a lot of music since the move, it was INSANE - I woke up in Austin on a Monday and woke up in Tulsa on a Wednesday!  HUGE rush of a move, I threw all I owned into one large suitcase and a backpack and made the jump.  Thankfully the bus service here is acceptable, and there are plenty of extended stay hotels that are very affordable, so I managed to drop right in and get to work.

I'm also restarting my 3D artwork, since I have lots of free time after work and on weekends.  I'm not too close to downtown, and there's no late bus service to speak of, and NO bus service on Sundays, so I get to spend a lot of time at home or at the local bar.. might as well get creative!

I'm thinking of writing an autobiography, just for fun.. nothing meant to be published before I die, though!  But half the time even I can't believe all the things I've been through.  I'd better get it all down before I forget it all, and given my current lifestyle I'm sure I'll have a bazillion experiences to write about in the future.

Ah, well, back to digesting my pizza and watching the BIOS/RTOS re-compile for a new chip model.. boring!

Take care!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Project Endings

Well, I've completed all my projects here at my current contract, so my boss and I have decided it's time for me to move on.

It's not like there was no warning, it's been clear that I was working myself out of a job, so I'm prepared.  I have great references - including my boss - so I'm leaving behind a pile of clean code, tons of documentation, and a happy boss.  I already have some nibbles on new work, as well.

I'm going to TRY to take a week and just chill.. it's been a very stressful year for me here, finding and fixing bugs that have shipped in the product for years, shipping new products, and generally being in Senior Firefighter mode.  My birthday is the 20th., so this means I can party out instead of having to work all day (heh).

While I'm in job search mode, I'm going to teach myself HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript - this to compliment my C#/.NET work.  I'll also continue to learn C#/.NET better and read up on algorithms, design patterns, and UML.  Never stop learning!

I also intend to compose more music, and try to write more.. that will help keep me sane while waiting for the next thing to come along.

But, for the next week - VACATION!  Chill, read, write, compose!  And send out resumes.

I already have a few nibbles.. one locally, one in Minneapolis (long shot), and one in Irvine, California (another long shot).  Call the the migrant programmer!

Until later, take care!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A fantastic new ambient/electronic album!

..No, I'm not on it (heh), but you need to give Source Transmissions a listen if you enjoy ambient or electronic music:

http://ambientascendant.bandcamp.com/album/source-transmission

If you enjoy Tangerine Dream, or Klaus Schulz, then you'll love Source Transmission.  I put the album on Winamp and shuffle/repeat it when I'm writing, it gets me right into The Zone and I can just watch the words flow out.

Check it out!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Yum, Cold Turkey...

After throwing away an entire 3-day weekend in chat, it's terribly obvious I'm a  chataholic.  I can't just go in for 1/2 an hour, or just certain days.  I need to just QUIT.

So, today we start.. no getting into online chat, PERIOD.  It's far better if I spend the time watching Travel channel or Animal Planet, there's a chance I'll learn something new doing that.

Chat never changes.  It's always the same people, saying the same things, in the same way, over and over, until Real Life (sometimes) comes and takes them away.  It is much sound and fury, signifying NOTHING.

In the amount of time I've spent in chat, I could have finished my novel, produced at least one album, finished several short stories, visited all the restaurants I want to check out, and caught up on my sleep.  Really, this is WORTHLESS.

So wish me luck - I'm going to need it!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Re-purposing laptops

The problem with older technology is that nobody wants it.

I have a perfectly working Asus dual-core Pentium T4400 system that I can't even sell for $50.  I didn't even get an offer for the Lenovo X61, and it's a tablet PC with a Wacom pen/touch screen!

I have no idea what I'm going to do about the Asus machine, but I'm installing Ubuntu on the Lenovo to re-purpose it as my portable Linux box!  I can use it for Linux development, or just to fiddle around with Linux without worrying about taking out one of my primary machines (or running VirtualBox).

Ubuntu 13.10 so farh as recognized the pen input, the keyboard, mouse, trackstick, display, HD.. things that I've read older versions didn't do without extra work.  Once I can get it online, I'll install OpenOffice, NetBeans, Python, and probably Ruby, along with the Java SE SDK.  A portable software development system, wheee!  Maybe even Gimp so I can use the pen to doodle with.

This will leave me with the big Lenovo i5, the little X61, an Android tablet, and a Windows 8.1 tablet.  Woo-hoo, Computer City!

I'm such a geek...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reload, restart, get 'er done!

After the successful launch of The Loach Report, a tabloid humor blog, I gave a lot of thought to writing, and how much I really enjoy it when I'm pressuring myself to write 10,000 words a day.  And I look at how I run The Loach Report, and I think..

..why don't I write serials?All of my novel ideas would work well as serial novels, I can belt out 100 or so words without stressing out, and Blogger lets me save drafts.. I can work from home or the office.. why not!

So I'm setting up another blog, Wooly Writings, that I will post all my writings on.  Love Dark and Frozen will become a static page, and I'll tag each episode with the novel code so it's easy to get a list of all of just one series.

This will take a bit to set up, but I will put a link up here when it's ready to go and has some content ready.

Until later!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Ah, it's Spring, and an old mans thoughts turn to.. cleaning things up.

Due to my major change in musical direction, I find myself loaded up with gear I don't use, and don't intend to.  So, today I started my search for a place to donate all my goodies to.

Sure, I could sell them on Craigslist, but I'd REALLY rather a school or charity get them.  I know that anyone who knows me is wondering if I've lost my mind, but no, I feel (gasp!) charitable!  Run away run awayyyyy!

I'm throwing in one of my old laptops as well, which will leave me with 2 laptops and 2 tablets.  This should be fine.  It also frees up room for a guitar, and yes, as soon as I can I'll start shoving money on the prepaid card to save up for one.  Probably a Telecaster of some kind, I've been lusting after one for ages.

So much to do.. so many things to replace!  I need a lightweight Summer wardrobe, urgh.

Maybe a Vegas trip in May for a chat meet!  Just have to save money.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Take 2 Tablets, Call Me In The Morning

After a fair amount of work, I've managed to replace two of my aging laptops with tablets.  I wasn't sure it would work, but it's perfect.

The trick is, that since I only write and compose music when I'm home, there's no need for a powerful portable machine.  What I do when I'm out is record audio (Zoom H2N field recorder), take pictures (Panasonic Lumix), or listen to music while I read books under a tree (Asus Memo Pad 8).  These three items all fit in my backpack and are about 1/2 the weight of the Lenovo Tablet PC that I had normally tried to use as my 'portable solution.

Then, I needed a backup machine to get online, check/send email, and do Windows-type tasks with if my main machine was down/out for repair/busy/etc. - that's where the Asus VivoBook Windows 8.1 machine comes in.  With a wireless Bluetooth keyboard in a leather case, and a small wireless Bluetooth mouse, it works out quite well as a backup/second machine, and it's far easier to move and deal with than the Asus laptop it's replacing.

The whole affair actually takes up less space than before, allowing me to look at replacing my Lenovo Core i5 machine with a 17 inch screen Core i7 Haswell laptop, likely in August or September.

Hooray for portability!  And yes, tablets ROCK!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rights of Spring

It appears to be consistently warmer in Austin, so I will tentatively declare that Spring has begun.

Now, in Austin we get maybe 2 weeks of Spring before Summer comes in.  Sometimes, Winter comes back, then a second Spring, then BOOM Summer.

So, if I'm right, starting this weekend I'll have my best opportunities to get out on the weekend and do some hiking and field recording!  The new 16GB card for my Zoom H2N will arrive Thursday, so I'll be prepared for long recording sessions in full 4-channel surround.

And more cooking!  I love to cook in the Spring and Summer, lots of fresh things to fry up.  I need a better solution for getting veggies home during the heat, time for a new insulated bag perhaps.

I've started writing again, but this time it's a parody tabloid blog.  Quick short articles that amuse.  Maybe I'll add a link to it from here.. someday!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Cheeseburgers!

I'm not normally a food blogger, but this worked out so well I feel duty-bound to share.

I discovered these fascinating little flatbread-like things.. about as big in diameter as a normal burger bun/sandwich slice, but about 1/3 if an inch thick.  I saw them and grabbed the multi-grain ones to experiment with.

Last night I took 12oz of 80/20 ground chuck and mixed in about 5 tablespoons of horseradish mustard, then made 2 patties and fried 'em up.  Put one in the fridge "for later" and stuck th eothr one between 2 slices of cheese, on one of the multi-grain flatbread buns.

It was GOOD!  The bread was strong enough to hold the burger but wasn't a nuclear carbohydrate bomb, the burger came out with a nice flavor and kick,   I was worried that the thin break would collapse, but it worked out perfectly.

Now, of course, I'm hungry. Argh!

This weekend is Laptop Clean-up Weekend, I want to clean off the Asus and Lenovo devices so I can donate them and get them to someone that can use them.  Next weekend it's sell used music stuff, just for beer money.  Minimize, reduce, optimize!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SxSW, tourists, and the common cold

South by Southwest is in full swing, which means traffic downtown is a nightmare, every hotel and cheap room is booked solid, there are tens of thousands of new faces visiting and you cn't get into a bar or restaurant downtown for love nor money.

And when you get an influx of tourists, you get lots of new imported diseases.  as I sat stuck in traffic on a busload of coughing tourists, I knew that I was going to end up sick.

Lo, on Sunday morning, the nose runneth over and I felt horrible.  Thanks, visitors!

After 3 days of hot soup, coffee, Nyquil, and really boring daytime TV I finally feel "iffy".  That's good enough to go back to work which is good because I can't afford to lose more money (being paid by the hour has its downsides).

Despite it all, much was accomplished! Composed 2 new ambient pieces, got my Win 8.1 tablet working with a Bluetooth mouse, got my Bluetooth headphones working with my Android tablet, loaded the Android tablet with all my music, and generally cleaned things up in between coughing attacks, sneezing bouts, and being knocked unconscious by the cold meds.  Not bad!

Also broke out my field recorder, and if it's not raining too hard I'm going to head downtown this weekend and grab all the audio I can.  You never know when a snippet of crowd noise or general street ambience might come in handy.

Time for more hot tea.  I'm already getting tired of it..

Monday, March 3, 2014

Wooly Thoughts..

Today, I switched my primary Web domain to redirect to here.

It's 1000 times easier to maintain a Blogger blog than trying to run a full throttle Website, specially since this is mainly for me to post various thoughts and experiences on.  My other blog here handles my music project and it works exceedingly well for getting out information on new releases and album projects.

So, if any of you folks hit www.woolyloach.com and ended up here - yes, this is by design!  You'll get more up-to-date information in an easy to access format as a bonus.

I eventually need to figure out how to get a picture of a loach as part of my blog header..!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ambient Online Compilation #2 - Sample Out!

For anyone that wants to hear a sample of what's on the Compilation #2, they put together a nice teaser track of a bit from each composition in the compilation:

https://soundcloud.com/s1gnsofl1fe/preview-ambient-online

Go check it out! Try a taste, then buy the meal!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We're #1 in Ambient on Bandcamp!!!

I know, I know, I get excited!

Thanks to the hard work, time, and soul S1gnsOfL1fe has put into the album, Ambient Online Compilation #1 has hit #1 in the Ambient genre!  Woot!  If I weren't at work I'd be partying in the streets!  Or not, it's about 45F outside and raining.. I'll have a few beers when I get home.

Can't sit on my laurels, though.. it's time to get my tail in gear and start on "The Feathered Serpent"!  Must.. compose.. perform.. music... AAIIEEEE!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ambient Online Compilation #2 - with a track of mine!

In the shameless self-promotion department, Ambient Online has released for pre-order (available 2/27) the Ambient Online Compilation #2, and yes it has one of my tunes (Pulsar) on it!

This is a collection of some of the best an most interesting ambient music from independent artists.  The money collected from sales will go to support AmbientOnoine.org, the online home of ambient musicians and fans worldwide.

No, I don't get any money, this is kind of a charity thing for me - and I'm happy about it!

http://ambientonline.bandcamp.com/album/ambient-online-compilation-volume-2

For around eight bucks you get literally HOURS of ambient music - I defy you to find a better deal for a better cause!

Go forth and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Statics vs. Dynamics

As I'm sure many of you know, I'm a chataholic!

Realtime chat with other people seems like a decent substitute for real interaction with annoying human beings, as I can ignore anyone and not have to listen to their bandwidth-wasting drivel (heh).  And it almost feels like actually connecting with another person!

BUT!

Come on, you KNEW there was a BUT, right?

Chat never changes.  I was away from one chatroom for over a year and when I came back.. same people, same topics, same behavior from everyone.  It was like Time had stopped.

Now, I don't know about anyone reading this, but I want to grow, to change, to evolve.  I want to wake up tomorrow a little different than I was today, keeping the best and dumping the rest.  To stop changing, is to effectively die.  You are what you are, forever, like a statue.  Blech!

So, I'm going to try to break my chat addiction again.  I've found my place in the musical world, composing and performing ambient tracks.. in fact, one of my tracks made it on to the Ambient Online Collection #2! GO BUY IT, I don't see a penny, the money goes to support our site.. and the music is great!

Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to shed my skin!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Officially Hate Windows 8.1

Well, I got this cheap used Windows 8 tablet and upgraded to 8.1, and the damn thing has NOT worked ever since.

It won't stay connected.  Updates stick in the "pending" state forever (known bug, no fix).  Stupid Metro music app will not play music from the SD card.

I will never, ever, for the rest of my life buy another Windows tablet, nor will I ever own a Windows phone.  Google got it right, Microsoft screwed it up completely.

Now if only I can find someone stupid enough to buy this off me...

Meditation, Relaxation, Medication

My blood pressure is making my blood pressure go up!

So the doc gave me these tiny little pills to take, and they're having a microscopic effect on my blood pressure.  Yet less than a year ago, I was in the hospital for my foot injury and my blood pressure was acceptable.

What happened, I asked myself, to screw things up so badly?

Well, the list is immense.  The fire at the place I was staying and having to move, work stress that drug out for 4 months of stop-ship insanity, some IRS woes, and.. me quitting my meditation and also being unable to walk my stress off.

D'oh!  No WONDER nothing is helping!  So, this morning I did an experiment.. when taking my blood pressure, I put on my ambient music mix and did some deep-breathing exercises.  And.. as I expected.. my blood pressure was 10 points down on both sides!  Still bad, but WAY less bad.

And this is BEFORE I took my BP pill.

I think it's time to get back to my meditation and my ambient music, before I blow a gasket.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Unsound Design

The key to a good ambient track is motion, interest, and unusual sounds.

While I have a massive arsenal of audio sources (both loops and synth patches), and have enough effects to mangle the life out of (or into!) them, it's not ORIGINAL sounds.  For Synthetic Aurality, I need something.. different.

There are several ways to approach this.  One would be to grab my field recorder and run all over the place, recording everything that didn't run away (and chasing anything that did), then processing them into new oddities.  The second would be to learn to actually program my more complex synths and come up with new sounds never before heard.  Both of these are paths I intend to pursue.

But there's one more choice: create my own custom instruments and effects.  And this appeals to both the engineer and artist in me.

So today I joined the Steinberg developers list and grabbed the VST SDK, and soon I will learn to create my own VST plugins!  BE AFRAID.. BE VERY AFRAID!

This could be.. interesting.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Music, Video, and YouTube

I've been spending some time thinking about putting my music up on my YouTube account, but.. I find slideshows boring, or those music videos that are just a shot of the album cover and the lyrics scrolling past.

Given this, I've been considering different ways of getting video for my audio.  My choices are:

BORING SLIDESHOW.  Ambient-y stills slowly fading from one to another.  Cheap, simple, yawn.

2D ANIMATION.  I own Anime Studio Pro 8.5, so I can hand-draw all kinds of things specifically for each tune I post.  Cheap, but more manual labor, and might involve me reconnecting my Wacom tablet.. and I have no desk space or USB ports available!  OR - AFTER EFFECTS.  Cough up for a Creative Cloud subscription and use the power of After Effects to help generate ambient-y motion and effects.

3D ANIMATION.  Particle effects! Alien landscapes!  The rising of a black sun!  Anything I want - at a tremendous cost!  My laptop is nowhere near powerful enough so I'd have to invest in a small-form-factor 3D rendering and animation machine.  I do own some kick-butt 3D software (Poser Pro 2012, Vue 11 Complete) so there'd be no software cost.. but I'd end up forking over about $1200 for hardware capable of producing 3D animation.

AUTO VISUALIZER CAPTURE.  VLC will render out its visualizer output to a movie file, which I then just upload to YouTube.  The visualizer does an OK job, but it's kind of predictable over time.  But it's cheap (VLC is free), and easy (visualizer renders out REAL fast even on my laptop).

Decisions, decisions...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gearing up

The last piece of music equipment on my wishlist will be delivered tomorrow - a QuNeo.  The price is going up next month, and Musicians Friend had a mint-quality used one, so.. I bought it!

Thankfully my Ramen Planet order arrived, so.. plenty of noodles to tied me over the month, since I spent all my backup money.  I just have enough for bills and food, sigh.  Suffering for my art again!  But the ramen noodles are high-end imported ones, not like the lame cheap grocery store type, so it's not too much suffering.

At this point, I just need a few specialized sound effects for one music contest and I'm done buying things "in advance".  I have a vast arsenal of effects and instruments, gigabytes of loops and sound effects waiting to be mangled, and all the hardware an ambient/electronic musician could ever use.

Best thing - it all fits in my rolling suitcase!  The EWI, the QuNexus, the QuNeo.. no problms, they drop right in.  Add the laptop, the Tablet PC, and my Win 8.1 tablet and there's still room for critical paperwork and my stuffed toys.  Woot!

This weekend - music ALL weekend.  I have one contest to submit to, and one collection to submit to.  I better get my tail in gear!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Yes indeed, getting old SUCKS!

I have high blood pressure, on top of my diabetes.  Lovely.

I suppose that, after 35 years of enjoying a fast lifestyle of partying, women, and musical instruments (heh) I should expect some damage.  Especially since my young programmer lifestyle when I was growing up involved massive quantities of pizza, sugary soda, and of course beer.

So now I pay, as the Cake song goes, for those youthful magic moments.  Feh.

Today I start on my blood pressure med, Losartan (25mg., the lowest dose).  It should keep me from blowing a gasket, with any luck.  Both the doc and the pharmacist warned me that for the first few days it would possibly make me dizzy, so I'm prepared for it.  Since I don't drive I'm pretty unconcerned.  I had the meds last week, but I decided to start after I got comfortable using my home blood pressure monitoring cuff (yes, more expensive medical gear).

I feel like a medical experiment.

In better news, I love my EWI!  It's a different experience, and it's going to take time to learn to play it, but I'm up to the challenge!  Hopefully in a few weeks I'll have music to share.

Until later!

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Joy of Absynth

Not absinthe the drink, but Absynth the software synthesizer from Native Instruments.

This thing is AMAZING.  I had always been told it was a pad/ambient/experimental monster, but I wasn't willing to cough up $200 to find out.  Thanks to a friend (shout out to Vurt!), I got Absynth3 for the price of 2 six packs, then upgraded to Absynth5 - for a total of under $100.

Absynth is also no-joke complex.  It's going to take me  while to learn to program it, thankfully it comes with a bazillion patches right out of the box and can import Absynth2/3 banks as well.

It plays well with the QuNexus, which is a good thing.

Speaking of the QuNexus, I'm loving it! Small, sturdy, very programmable.  You need to know MIDI pretty well to set it up but the factory setups (it comes with 4) work fine out of the box if you don't want to bother customizing it.

My Akai EWI is at the front desk, but (sigh) they open at 9 and close at 6, so I have to wait until Saturday to pick it up.  Delayed gratification, for sure!

Next up: making a new, more reasonable profile pic for Soundcloud, and then actually putting up a website for Zombie Slugs Music!

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Hurricane Of Music

I hate sales.  I fell for one this morning, I had the opportunity to upgrade my Music Creator Touch to full-on SONAR X3 for $49, and well.. I went and did it!  Time to move on up in the world of music creation.

In the same spirit, I'm re-downloading all my Cakewalk products and will be re-installing all my synths and sample libraries.  I feel a hunger for raw materials to process to death!  Between my Dimension and Rapture libraries I have nearly 4GB of instruments.. should work out pretty well in my quest for mangle-able audio.

Amazingly I also found a source for Tibetan singing bowls and meditation bells!  They're in SF2 (Soundfont) format so I need to convert them, but I have the tools and I think it'll work out well.

And finally, I coughed up for Audio Damage Kombinant DVA - some seriously twisted distortion going on in this thing! Perfect for really trashing a sound up.

Next up - begin work on my first full-length ambient album!  Tally ho!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Stuff and Such Part, oh, who remembers?

Well, after yesterdays ice storm and missing taxis and random bus schedules, it's ice to sit down in front of the computer, sip hot coffee, and work on music!

I've been moving slowly but surely to focus on ambient/cinematic/soundscape again, that seems to be what I like to compose and perform, and I've gotten back into listening to my ambient roots music (Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Tangerine Dream).  I've purchased a QuNexus keyboard (super small and insanely programmable) and an EWI USB wind controller!  Yes, I've played trombone and recorder in the past so it's not as weird as it sounds (heh).

Not a lot of writing right now, I'm trying to decide if I'm ever going to be A Famous Author or if I should focus on lyrics and poetry like I have for most of my life (heh round 2).  I feel like I'm seriously swimming upstream when I sit down and try to crank out a novels worth of words, even short stories give me a lot of pushback.. but I can sit down in front of Acid Music Studio and have a complete track out in a coupe of days!

Maybe I'm not cut ut to be a writer of prose.  IT just doesn't come naturally, and my writing teacher says that past 5000 words I just lose interest.  She's right, of course, but it's nice to get validation from someone outside my head.

Much thinking to do.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Another year, another bunch of things to do.. and NOT do!

Well, here it is 2014, and it's another chance to actually do something with my life!

This years goals are pretty simple: complete an album of ambient music.  Finish a short story.  Simplify my life further.  Quit going to strip clubs (heh).  Walk more now that my foot and ankle are healed up (mostly). Clean up my finances.  Open a savings account and start saving!

Current short-term goals are to replace my Lenovo Tablet PC (which works OK) with a Windows 8 tablet, which I should have done by the end of next week.  My poor Asus with the battery that won't charge.. I'l likely replace the battery and sell it for $150, or sell it as-is for $75.  The Tablet PC becomes my backup, the Win8 tablet becomes my eReader/music streamer/email backup, an the big Lenovo stays the main machine.

As to simplifying, well.. I'm now only running 2 blogs, this one and my Red Room authors blog.  I might blog at AmbientOnline,org about my music production if I can figure out how (lol), but that's going to be it.  Trying to maintain more than 3 blogs is just plain insane for me.

The album? Well, I've beefed up my music production gear to the point where I can't really see needing anything else.  I might need a couple of patch libraries for my Alchemy synth, but that remains to be seen.  I've run out of effects to buy, as well (at least for now).

For writing, well, no novels this year.  I need to pen a few flash fiction stories and get a short story or two done, to make sure I have the fundamentals down.  I *might* pursue a novella at the end of the year, but only if I meet my short story goal.

This year, getting healthy and STAYING healthy are top priorities.  If I'm not healthy, nothing else is going to happen.  This means get out and walk more, start walking the downtown trails again, and cutting back on taking the taxi to work every morning.  Alas, the taxi bit (while it'll save me a ton of cash) will mean getting up at 5:20AM!  Ouch!  Fortunately, once I get used to it I don't think there will be an issue (and now that I have good, imported instant coffee, I can make my own cuppa in the morning before I go catch the bus).

Financially - pay off a raft of bills and start a savings account for emergencies.  I also have a prepaid credit card I want to load up for taking REAL vacations and not just "staycations".

So, that's the start to my year.  I hope your year has started well!

And GO NINERS!