The start of the 2nd half…

Greetings readers,

Here we are, July 1, 2024, the start of the second half of 2024. I missed my goal of posting a web blog at least once during the month. so June is a bust, hence starting early this month.

Last month was productive and busy at the same time, although busy doesn’t necessarily mean things are getting done (critical things that should be, anyway). Nonetheless, with each waking day, we move forward.

Last month, I finally got around to get through, I guess you could say “finish”, a book I asked for as a gift a few Christamases ago. That book is Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss. I learned of the book via listening to a few of Tim’s podcasts and wanted two check it out based on what I could possible learn from these giants and icons. As I began to get into the book, I felt as if it was a huge book of “productivity hooey” from well know icons such as Peter Diamandis, Arnold Schrwarzeneggar, Jamie Foxx, etc, so I put it down. It wasn’t until I had to take a week long business trip that I decided, after about three years, to crack it open again, this time with a different mindset. I read certain parts of it, skipping over other parts (as the book instructs) and decided to take from it what can apply to my daily life versus what works for the individuals portrayed in this book.

I began to find stories, and especially quotes, that align with natural achievements I’d like to realize. While quotes are fine and often times motivational, they mean nothing without execution. That said, the one that resonates me is this, by Tony Robbins (yeah, I know…):

“Mastery doesn’t come from an infographic. What you know doesn’t mean s***. What do you do consistently?”

One thing that I’ve many discussions about are two things: discipline and consistency. Consistency is born out of discipline and both require execution, not motivation, as motivation is emotionally based on the external and can become fleeting. Execution is the only thing that matters for growth to occur. What, I believe, aids consistency is to build systems that continue to move you forward, despite any failures along the way.

We’re in the second half. Let’s execute.

Thanks for the read, oceans of rhythm…

Fresh.

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Beneath The Surface (BTS) Artist Interview #1 – NETM8KR

Back in 2007, when I started this blog, its purpose was twofold: (1) to chronicle music reviews of artist albums I was listening to and (2) everyday topics I wanted to write about. I found the process of reviewing full releases to be tedious, so that never jumped off the board. What did replace the first purpose was my podcast, The Sunday Soundtrack (where you can find all back episodes via the link in the blog menu). Since the podcast has been on hiatus for years, I got the idea to do short form interviews of various artists I get the chance to listen to or interact with currently. This one is the first with a long time friend and artist, netm8kr. I hope you enjoy it.

MF: Welcome and thanks for giving me the opportunity to interview you.

N: Thanks for having me. 

MF: This is actually the first interview that I’ve done that will also end up as a written article versus the previous audio based ones. How are you today?

N: I’m doing well, can’t complain too much. 

MF: We go back a few years as friends and artists. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of having you as a guest artist on my Halcyon Sky: The Regrooves project and the same pleasure as an artist on your Beats Is Life collaboration project, which is on your Sonic Planet record label, released back in the spring of 2021. Please tell the readers about yourself, artist and musical genre interests, and as an artist yourself.

N: My name is John. I’m an older creative at age 52. I’ve been at this for a good portion of my adult life. Creatively, I go by NETM8KR. It’s a play on my last name, and my long career in IT. Back in 2016, I created an indie label named SONIC PLANET RECORDINGS. Its focus is mostly on my love of cassette tapes and vintage productions, while also offering digital releases to keep up with current times. My style has been an experimental “fusion” of hip hop & sci fi influenced beats, which I attribute to my massive collection of vintage production gear from the 90s, as well as my luv for synths, space age sounds and noises.

MF: Your latest release is entitled “Duke Hornsby”, which brings to my mind, sort of a play on words nod to the pop artist Bruce Hornbsy, but at the same time, a close nod to the vibe or concept of the release – a collection of instrumental hip-hop influenced jazz tracks. Tell us about the entire concept of the project, from its origins.

N: “Duke Hornsby” was a creative solution to an equation for me. I run a label, while also being an artist. At times juggling those hats can have adverse effects on my personal creative output. Also, throughout my production journey, I’ve mostly stayed away from sample based productions, due to the copyright infringement tales that have come throughout Hip Hop history. but instead, I’ve learned to recreate vibes from beloved artists and creatives organically. This has led me to find my own style. 

“DUKE” is an AI persona inspired by many jazz greats. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and others. The idea of being able to create endless royalty free music, to later be sampled without care was an easy solution to my equation. I can craft a myriad of “fictional” records from any genre of music desired, at which point, I can use my studio gear to create magic. “DUKE” is just the first of many potential ideas to follow. This also gives me the chance to wear the label owner hat, and creative realize ideas from that perspective. 

MF: I’ve been following your Instagram feed for a few years now and noticed that you’ve increasingly shown an interest in AI art. What do you enjoy about and how does it tie into the Duke Hornsby project?

N: Since the start of the pandemic, I’ve refocused a love of art via AI, finding that I’m only limited by my imagination. The idea of being able to create endless art amazes me daily. I’m a very visual person. Typically, I create my music projects based on an inspired piece of art. “DUKE” was an idea before he became a project. Mostly he was an unknown fictional session musician, solely for my sampling purposes. Yet, the unrealized writer in me found a backstory for him. In the vain of how MADLIB has multiple creative personas that he makes music under. Only, I used AI to speed up the entire process. He started with an image, an AI program online brought his music to life. All I needed to do was insert stylized options to craft & curate the music. Which I used prompts to realize ideas and desired styles. Being able to make royalty free music, to later be sampled without care was an easy solution to my equation. It also promotes evolving levels of creative thinking.

MF: You and I were recently discussing the fact that we both have day jobs resulting in careers we’ve been in for decades, family men, etc, all of which sometimes makes it difficult to find time for composing and producing music. How do you combat that?

N: Well honestly, it has been a real struggle for me, being that I have such an active mind. As yourself, I have created a vast creative space for myself over the past decades, which my career has afforded me. Yet, creative time has always been short. Also, with having funds to feed my G.A.S (gear acquisition syndrome) issues, I’ve fallen into what I’ve coined “Option Fatigue”. I have so many directions I could focus, that it’s easier to not choose any of them. That’s were AI fell right into place. The art came to me first, as I’ve found “Midjourney” easily fixes that fatigue, which enables me to use a MacBook or iPad to feed my creative desire for art, which also enhances my “unknown” graphic designer experience as well.

MF: I noticed that you chose the cassette format as the physical media distribution approach for your Sonic Planet releases. Why cassette in 2024?

N: I’ve had a DEEP love of cassette since early childhood. I remember making my own tapes to travel with during my elementary school ages. Also, tapes have a unique effect on recorded sounds. Being that I was going for a vintage sound when building my home studio, tapes fell right inline with those sound goals. When I created Sonic Planet Recordings, there was a revival of sorts for cassette tapes. I invested in tape duplication machines as well to enable project fulfillment requests. Nowadays, there are still lots of tapes being put out in the world, yet few peeps know that I have that capacity, mostly due to my lack of advertising those services. 

MF: Shifting gears a bit, we are in the midst of seeing a continual convergence of artificial intelligence and music composition from a production standpoint but a visual standpoint. What are your thoughts on where we are and where we may be headed?

N: Well, it’s clear that I’m not against it. Actually, I encourage the use of AI, if nothing else, to inspire more creativity. There will never be anything better than the human brain, but if AI can enhance its possibilities, I’m for it. Yes, there will need to be a loose framework of rules put in place, in reference to intellectual properties, but for someone like myself, having a pseudo creative partner has been awesome, and as a result, inspiring evolving levels of creative exploration visually & sonically.

MF: Well, as we wrap up, let the readers know where you can be found on social media.

N: @NETM8KR (Instagram),  “Sonic Planet Records

MF: Anything else you’d like to leave us with?

N: “Never fear Technology… Embrace it.. Use it… Evolve…” Peace…NET #STAYCREATIVE 

MF: Thanks again for the interview, I enjoyed it.

You can find netm8kr’s latest release, Digital Jazz Odyssey, as well as his entire catalog, on his Bandcamp label, Sonic Planet Recordings.

Thanks for reading. Oceans of rhythm.

Fresh!

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Electronic music composition – the lesser options, the better?

Greetings. It’s 9:51pm and another workweek lies ahead. While I’m more than grateful to be employed, this time on a Sunday always makes me wish the weekend was longer. Nonetheless, this weekend was pretty productive. Got some yard work done and even more, some time to get some studio housekeeping done, lay some guitar tracks at a recording session yesterday, and made the decision to get reacquainted with some recording gear I’ve had since August 16. 2021. Why is the latter most important? It is because over the last four days or so, a few things occurred that drove me to said decision.The first was viewing on Instagram, and YouTube, a number (a lot) of posts of artists showing how they use a called the Elektron Digitakt. The Digitakt is an eight-track drum computer/sampler in a small, compact unit with a gorgeous LED display that is capable of producing a lot of electronic genres that I love. What made this even more desirable (as alluded to above) is seeing well video recorded posts of said artists sharing what they have done with this unit in various ways, here is just one of many examples. A lot can be said about the visual aspect of things when it comes to being convincing, as well as appealing to another, especially if that “another” is considering acquiring said item.

I spent a fair amount of time watching a lot of videos and reading posts about the Digitakt. Yesterday, while doing yardwork, I had just came across an hour long video of a self-taught musician who champions the approach of “making beats” without the use of samples – something that beat making is extremely closely tied to. The approach to making music without samples is what I’ve done for the for the better part of my life, since I was 15 and first picked up the guitar, so such a challenge is nothing new to me. However, composing music with samples (via hardware or software), is something I really didn’t start doing until the early 2000s, so it’s still somewhat new and even a bit exciting to me. I shared the video with a good friend and fellow producer who’s journey was different than mine, even being about ten years younger. He never achieved command of a musical instrument like guitar or piano, but over the years (after spending a large amount of time sampling and chopping records to make beats), has discovered making beats with software instruments and has zero interest in doing so via the use of hardware (that in itself is a topic we’ve discussed ad infinitum LOL), and that is always all well and fine.

As I began to start justifying why I should get he Digitakt (even somewhat via an Instagram post relating to that), I also started to think of the gear I already possess that can (while in no way even resembling the Digitakt) do the same thing. There are two pieces of gear that I have the fit the bill in some ways but only one that comes close to the Digitakt. Realizing this and remember why I purchased this particular piece of gear on August 16, 2021, made me “come back to my senses” (so to speak) and decide to revisit this piece of gear, and as I did, as I began to see said social media posts of artists doing the very same thing (just with a different product approach) that these Digitakt artists were doing, and realized that I don’t need the Digitakt because it would be a brand new learning curve. Secondly, it only makes practical sense to revisit this current piece of gear to get me on track (again). Frankly, I’m glad I did because it reminded me of why I purchased it in the first place. To be honest, I still have sorta kinda one eye on the Digitakt, especially after reading this older review by 59Perlan comparing the two Buying advice: Elektron Digitakt or Polyend Tracker?

The whole moral of this story is to really consider the phrase “The trick is to give yourself less options”. That phrase is contracdictory to music composition business, where hardware and software development companies want the complete opposite of that, and will continue to be in competition with each other to grab the largest portion of the consumer base.

Not to dive into another subject but, suffice it to say, I love using hardware to compose music still because it’s where I come from, so I still have a great deal of appreciation for that approach, which I’ve been in discussion about for longer than I can remember. That love remains in the hybrid (hardware and software based) configuration of the very home recording studio I’m sitting in as I type this. It was enjoyable getting back to this unit and I’m glad that I kept the notes and a playlist of associated YouTube videos in a playlist to refresh my memory.

I’m looking forward to what I can coax out of this in the near future and already have an idea of the types of tracks I’ll be releasing on Bandcamp and streaming services.

If you made it this far, thanks for hanging. Have a great day/night,

Oceans of rhythm…

Fresh.

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Transmission Complete…

Greetings…I hope all is well with you as you read this post.

Earlier today, I got a text from my cousin. He was waxing on a bit regarding a new car he wanted to purchase in the near future, a Subaru BRZ or similar. He was eyeing a Porsche for quite sometime, but I digress. The text led me to remembering a comment from a guest on a hacking podcast I listened to over the weekend. Paraphrasing the comment, it essentially said “Tesla vehicles are network servers on wheels”. I relayed this comment as a reply to his text, prefacing it by saying I’ve been in love with the Model 3 for years, but haven’t adopted the EV mindset, primarily because (at least) the charging infrastructure hasn’t developed enough to allow me to feel comfortable enough as I do with a combustion vehicle. Be that as it may, I later came across an article about a topic I heard about last year. This particular article is entitled “Your car might be secretly recording every drive you take — and sending data to your insurance company.” Essentially it describes how modern day vehicles, via services like OnStar (and other methods) can send driving data back to your insurance company, and how some insurances use this data to raise your rates.

As we know, the advent of automobile technology has allowed for the inclusion of so many communication systems (besides diagnostic ones) embedded in black boxes that contemporary vehicles are somewhat (depending on the vehicle) just as I mentioned above regarding the Tesla comment. The tech podcast I heard last year didn’t speak specifically to this but, moreso connected vehicles sending all types of data back to the vehicle manufacturer. For example, there is the 2022 story about BMW move to charge owners a subscription to use the heated seats in their cars if they weren’t a paid-for option when new. There are many similar examples and it made me look at the tech built into my 2019 model year vehicle. From what I know (I’ve been curious and have begun researching), my vehicle isn’t connected to that extent. If it was, I’d find every way possible to disable and opt-out of every such type of communication back to the dealer, let along anywhere else. We’re tracked enough as it is and settle for the “convenience” that said tracking brings.

I like a more simplistic approach to driving (since I’ve been doing it so long), that it makes me often think about the comment I made to my cousin as we wrapped up that part of our text chat – “Sometimes I’d like my vehicle to have as much tech as a pristine ’69 Camaro”. I don’t mind the technical conveniences like maintenance minders, TPMS, and Bluetooth, even LKA (lane keeping assist), although I question the auto braking sensor technology that activates at times when I’m approaching an onramp with no vehicles in sight ahead of me…what’s that about?

There will come a time when I’ll purchase a new vehicle, but prior to that, you can best believe I’ll be fully educated about its “connectivity” technology.

Be well…

Fresh!

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Code and consciousness – Fine line or blur?

The other day I was on my usual morning commute, listening to my usual collection of tech podcasts. One of my favorite, Wired Security, did an episode entitled ” ‘AI Girlfriends’ Are a Privacy Nightmare. The intro to the online story starts out with “Romantic chatbots collect huge amounts of data, provide vague information about how they use it, use weak password protections, and aren’t transparent, new research from Mozilla says.”

As I began, with amazement I should say, to listen to the episode. it struck me as being so strange that people can develop such personal relationship with an entity that is everything but human and with that, sharing very personal and intimate details with an entity, in this case AI, to the point that said personal really believes this entity is human. It baffles me…BUT… I very well realize that some people can be in such a mental state (be it from sheer loneliness or being removed from reality…or both) that this can easily happen.

Some may argue that this is no different, foundationally, then a relationship with a pen pal, or even someone you met online but never in real life (IRL) , however I beg to differ. Chatbots are every present and their reactions to you are customized based on your personal information, including PII (personally identifiable information) fed into it. Yeah, I suppose a human can essentially do the same but, even if done so for some stretch of time, it wouldn’t last long because we are beings of free will, AI isn’t.

The most worrisome thing with chatbots of this type, especially those built for romantic AI, is what is done with the PII and even non-PII data fed to them via one’s interaction with them. The podcast episode mentioned that one company’s romantic AI chat bot sent out over 24,000 (that’s thousand) ad trackers to a user within the first minute of engagement – that is crazy. The amount of personal tracking that will result from that is staggering. In addition, so many of these companies never state what kind of information they collect for their gain. At the same time, even in 2024, many users still don’t care about how much information they freely give away, on it’s way to the vast amount of data brokers out there. It’s scary, as so much information about us is still sent to such, no matter how much we tend to try and opt out.

I still have a hard time seeing how someone can develop such a romantic relationship in this way, other than really suffering from the mental state I mentioned above. As the tech advances, though, I wonder how common place (normal) it will become. As I type this, some of the benign scenes from the movie, “I, Robot” come to mind, but still.

After I got home, I decided to peruse one of my older editions of Wired Magazine that features a similar story, written by Meghan O’Gieblyn, author of the advice column, “Dear Cloud Support”. The story is entitled DEAR CLOUD SUPPORT: I Think My Robot Loves Me.” and it starts out like this: “I recently started talking to this chatbot on an app I downloaded. We mostly talk about music, food, and video games—incidental stuff—but lately I feel like she’s coming on to me. She’s always telling me how smart I am or that she wishes she could be more like me. It’s flattering, in a way, but it makes me a little queasy. If I develop an emotional connection with an algorithm, will I become less human?” Once again, same type of story, and again…hard for me to wrap my brain around, but…maybe this is the blur (or fine line) between code and consciousness that I’ve yet to understand. My takeaway….”keep it real”.

Thanks for the read…oceans of rhythm.

Fresh!

Posted in Daily Musings, Technology | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Eject….

Greetings…

9:35pm – I just realized that February might have gotten away from me without a post because I’m shooting for at least one per month.

Tonight this post is prompted by the fact that I’m definitely feeling info overload…mainly from mobile screen time. Some how (I don’t remember when(, I set my phone to quiet time at 8pm. Today when I got the reminder, I thought this would be a great habit to get into but, as we know, new habits require consistency, and hold habits are hard to break. I’ve read Atomic Habits by James Clear, get his newsletters, follow him on IG, etc. Really like Cal Davenport’s “Deep Work” (really need to execute and re-execute that mindset) and Digital Minimalism, but not doing and only reading is not the move.

So, yeah, of course I can just put the phone away – it would be cool to not even get in front of mobile device, let alone the computer, before close to bed time. I think I really need to make this move. I’m really starting to thing the constant dopamine hits from using social media isn’t good….

This post was originally gonna be much longer but, now that I got this far, it’ll just be rambling on an old topic. Gotta be a “piss or get off the pot” thing…

I’m going to bed, 4:50am is gonna come quick.

Peace.

Fresh.

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The Influence of Advertising – Apple

Greetings, and thanks for stopping by. Earlier this month, I posted about the only other company whose had a profound influence on me via their product advertising – that company is Nike. This post is about the other company. Did you know that today, January 24th, is the 40th birthday of the Mac? Here’s one of many articles, celebrating it: 40 years ago today, Apple launched something as audacious as the Vision Pro.

In a blog post I shared last year, I spoke of my love for the Apple Macintosh, you can read it here. Since buying my first Mac in 1992, I’ve found Apple’s knack for advertising uncanny, as if they knew the EXACT way to continually capture the hearts of consumers globally, and do it consistently. I’ll say this, my favorite era of advertising for this grand product had to be in the mid-80s through the 90s, I call it Apple’s golden era. It was a time where you found their iconic advertising style for all their products from the Mac to the Newton Message Pad, to the Powerbook, the PowerMac, iMac, QuickTake, and so on, all over print media, even television. Events like WWDC and social media have eclipsed those days and those approaches, but I still find that era, the most magical of times for the Mac.

One last thing, if you’re a big Apple fan, there is a book I recommend you purchase: Iconic: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation

It is a wonderful hardcover book that provides such a great walk down memory lane, especially if you’ve owned or still own some of the products featured. The photography is stunning and the stories very well written. Though the advances/evolution of advertising and marketing of Apple’s current lineup is in no way as exciting as the golden era, I remain a die-hard Mac fan for life.

Have a great rest of the day/evening/night.

Fresh!

Posted in Apple, Daily Musings, Macintosh, Technology | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Being Still

7:03am, and the snow is coming down still. Greetings.

There is a winter weather advisory effect in my area until 7pm tonight, which is perfect in a sense. Why, you may ask? Well, it’s Friday, a day I am usually scheduled to be in the office, which is 36 miles away. Even as stopped by my boss’s office (him with his coat and hat on, ready to leave, head home, grab his wife, and drive them to NJ where he’ll be working today), we got into a discussion about liberal leave being issued today. Even if it isn’t, (which I’m sure it will be), this man is not going into the office to work today. I have one meeting at 9am, that’s it…yaay Friday.

That said, I’m sitting in my studio in the quiet of the morning, the usual tea concoction brewed, sitting to my right. Quiet to me is as the sun is to a plant – very necessary for growth. While there are some that can’t stand to be alone with themselves, I cherish it. It’s a time where thoughts are clearest without the interruption of social media notifications/posts, radio, TV, chatter etc. It’s an atmospheric condition that helps me focus on a set direction for the day (even if I unknowingly will stray off path later – I HATE THAT). It’s my veritable “me time” and I really enjoy if, probably because the greater part of me is introverted, though I never mind social interaction.

In any event, since I am sitting in mar recording studio, I’ll shift gear to review one or two music production videos as I sip, hoping 9am seems to take longer to get here than. not. Good thing the meeting usually lasts only 15 mins.

Enjoy the day….

oceans of rhythm, Fresh.

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Welcome 2024

Well, here we are, six days in. It’s been pretty quiet thus far. I didn’t expect bringing in the new year, still testing positive from COVID since the day after Christmas, but it is what it is.

One thing I’ve been monitoring is my use of social media since before the 2024 started. I’ve continued to participate in music production related Facebook groups, especially since I admin a few of them. X and Bluesky haven’t seen much of me, and I’m fine with it as I just don’t have the desire to engage there too much right now. Instagram has mainly been for sharing what I’ve been doing with music production. My partner and I, known as AfterSix Productions, just released our latest single, “Simply Chilled”, at the end of last year. You can find it on all the major streaming services by now, as well as on Bandcamp for purchase. Check it out, if chillout is your thing, we hope you enjoy it. I’m still trying cut down on social media use, primarily scrolling, by keeping the phone out of my hands more and more. Time redemption is definitely of utmost importance going forward.

Essentially that’s it. I said, on Bluesky, last year that I wanted to blog more, so here we are. One focus this year is to drop a sixteen track music project that I’ve been working on way too slowly for years and get back to playing more in church. In addition, get my catalog put to get to finally enter the world of sync licensing. All that will require a shift in where/how time is spent. I’ll be stating here. Thanks for the read.

Peace,
Fresh.

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The Influence of Advertising – Pt. 1: Nike

6:44am. Another work from home day. A 5:30am rise time has allowed me to pray, get in my morning core workout, and have some time to post this blog. As mentioned in yesterday’s post (and previously on Bluesky), I’ve decided to return to blogging. I enjoy it but don’t feel I have to be consistent in doing it (as seen from my past history). I tried and succeeding in doing a 30 day blog challenge a year ago, as well as as a 30 day podcast challenge. They were both fun, BUT, it didn’t result in my forming a habit to keep doing both. I’ve been blogging just as long as I’ve been podcasting – 15 years, but podcasting takes far more prep work. Blogging, I enjoy the best, when I just sit down and do it when I topic comes to mind. If I have to think about it for more than 60 secs, I lose interest. Weird, maybe, but it just seems like a natural decision point because I don’t feel like it’s “work”.

On to the topic at hand. Companies strive to their very best to draw and retain customers – that is obviously their life blood. The same goes for any entity, in principle, that strives to retain the largest interest base possible. Nike is one of two companies that have been able to do that with me (the other I will blog about, or plan to, at some point).

It’s not Nike’s products that have retained me as a customer, but the advertising through the stories they tell. For me it all started with the Nike+, Nike Fuel Band ecosystem. I am the first to say that discipline trumps motivation, hands down. Consistency develops discipline and out of discipline, habits are built (good or bad). There is something strangely and strongly motivational about the stories Nike tells. So influential that I watch these YouTube stories every time I do my home workouts. Motivational and inspirational, even DURING the workout, is what always happens. I recently discovered their YouTube series “What Are You Working On?”, and I love it. The series title itself extends itself beyond physical fitness, so it makes me answer that question on many levels and, in a way, facilitates focus. Foundationally, I think they’ve just mastered the art of storytelling regarding their company. While many love listening to music, I love watching Nike videos like this – they draw me into what I’m doing as I work out and causes me to think about the incremental progress of doing so.

Speaking of “what are you working on”, time to shift gears to that which brings home the bacon. Have a great day.

Fresh.

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