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nomadic diary-Ibiza update August 15, 2010

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Mobile Blogging from here.

Greetings all. I am working on a long form Spain diary entry, but I feel like i should update a bit more frequently until the big post is ready, and since I have a bit of time before my pasta is finished cooking, I figured I should do one now.

Since my last post, I have arrived in Spain and spent a bit of time in Barcelona, sitges, and currently, the island of Ibiza. Long story short…I don’t think I investigated Barcelona properly as I found the city irritating and overcrowded with easy-jetsetters. I found the police to be overzealous and the people Met weren’t very friendly. Notice I said “I met” meaning that I simply didn’t investigate as much as I should have to find the cool peeps, although my friend t-bird introduced me to a couple of very cool locals, so I feel that I didn’t look hard enough.

Sitges is a small gay resort town south of barca and it was way more fun and chilled out, but Ibiza so far is amazing and not for the commonly publicized reasons. I have only been to one club since I got here, and that was SPACE where I played last week. No, the best parts have been things like camping on the beach at la playa d’en bossa, performing at esXiringuito, and bartering 3 nights at the es Cana campground in exchange for a live set. There is so much to say and talk about but I wanted to post something in between just to not let it get too ungainly.

I am looking at being back in Berlin by early sept, when I will do a full audio visual recap butnsuffice it to say that this expereince will have lasting repercussions for me and my art. And I am actuallynlooking forward to the german winter so ICANN get back to work on the controller project and the book.

Til later, ciao!



Obituary for a Hat. August 3, 2010

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This is an obituary for a hat.  My beloved hat was lost to me on July 20th, 2010 as (or just before) i was checking into the Bois de Bologne campground in Paris, France.  I paid for my camping spot, came out to my bike and gear and noticed that the hat wasn’t on the rear bike rack where it always rode.  and that was that…poof!  back to the essence.

During My hat’s short existence, it was loved.  I had spent 6months in London in the first half of 2009, and had decided that i wanted to busk throughout the summer.  there were 3 things i knew i simply had to have; a folding bike, a bike trailer and a nice hat.  with a nice hat, you can wear almost any bullshit you want from the neck down because the right hat will make the statement.  it will tell people that you may dress like a hobo, but you have style that may not be fully on display today.  and for someone like me, who has dressed like a hobo on more than one occasion, that’s a big deal.

the other thing is that i have an abnormally large head.  I like to think that it houses a big brain, but more than likely, Its just a really big head.  for almost 17 years, i sported a full head of locks that, at their longest, were waist length, although from 2000 forward, they were usually shoulder length.  I loved my locks!  they had the effect of disguising the true size of this fully functional deathstar, but they also had the side effect of making even XXL hats look like a yamika.

In 2005 I cut my locks, mostly.  hats at that point were more for covering my “creative” haircut, than for style, so i was now free to find find a slip cover for this bus, but its not as easy as that, is it. when you cut off your locks, you change. your perspective. your style. clothes that looked good with long hair, now look silly.  you must redifine your aesthetic concept.  and lest we forget…my head is big so it restricted me to hats with stretchy headbands and such, which was how i rolled for 3-4 years.
but then in May of 2009 as i prepared to return to Berlin from my 6month sojourn in London, I happened upon a clothing shop on oxford street and noticed, as i do, the great selction of hats they had. classic hat designs but slightly more updated colors and materials.  but i’ve been hurt before.  i usually see such hats and decide to attempt to try it on only to have it balance on my head like a thimble on a beachball.  everyone points and laughs and i run, crying, into the street,big head tilting uncontrollably from side to side like a newborn baby.  but a funny thing happened…i picked up the hat,placed it on my head and…IT FIT PERFECTLY!  PER-FECT-LEEE!

I take the hat off and examine it.  nope…no whistles or beer holding apparatus…it was a real hat.  next i go outside the store to make sure it wasn’t a “big headed man hat” store of some sort, but no…it was a typical oxford street urban mens store. I try the hat on again…oooh, so this is what it feels like to wear a nice hat for hats sake. the front sitting just above my brow,and the back resting just below my crown.  the rim hovered about an inch above the tips of my ears.  it could move around on my head, meaning that it wasn’t so tight that i would get a headache!  and it looked good with my T-shirt!  it didn’t look like I stole it from some country preacher.  it was contemporary and classic simultaneously!

there were at least 2 dozen hats of slightly varying styles and color combinations,but i wanted a proper summer look; light color,classic wear-with-anything style and just like that, there it was. a very nice beige and black herringbone design.  i put it on and knew that it was coming with me.
from that day,i wore that hat almost everyday last summer,and much of the winter.  it made me feel my age without feeling old. it made me feel like my head might not be “that” enormous if someone made such a nice hat to fit it perfectly.  i purchased a bit of confidence when i bought that hat. and even after i tired of wearing it so much and especially seeing it in so many pictures, i still had a bond with it and simply gave it new duties, like collecting tips and blocking out sunlight when  i need to sleep on long trips.  at clubs, i had to remain vigilent because at least a half dozen people a night fell in love with it and tried to separate us,to no avail. alas, it seems as if it was one speed bump, or strong wind or both that dislodged it from my life and i will miss it.
All things must end and  so it is with my hat.  i hope that whoever finds it gets as much pleasure from it as i did.  i’m much happier with my head and hair than i was last year at this time,so maybe i’ll just rock that for a while until the next hat finds me.

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Bon Jour from Paris! August 2, 2010

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onyx and eiffel towerLINK; New EP Recursive Artifacts II; Nomadic Summer 2010 Edition

LINK: Video Blog from Paris

Ahhhh, Paris! What is there to say really?  Paris is beautiful, but not perfect….not even close. But here us my recollection of this great world city as I believe it to be.

(note; my infamous hat was lost or stolen while in paris. proper obituary forthcoming)

first, it IS Paris, so you have to go to the primary sights. After reassembling my nomadic existence in the bus station, I discovered that although it is obvious that they have invested much effort into creating a viable bicycle infrastructure, not enough was put into making it coherent. Sometimes theres bike paths…and hey, sometimes there’s not! Hey! Let’s put the bike path on the left side, except, when it’s on the right side…or in the median! WTF?!? And DAMN, these fuckers will KILL you at those round about. ITS every man/woman/cyclist for himself!! I hated being the American we get portrayed as, but screw that! If you’re about to hit me at a corner, I’m gonna scream, in english, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING ASSHOLE?!” to bewildered looks of shock and horror…ahhhh, yes…this was in the first 3 hours of arriving in Paris on my way to the Eiffel tower. Bon jour for real!

So i’ve readjusted to bike courier style riding-a marked departure from the biking perfection that is holland-and set my gps on the center of the city. It’s early yet, so the traffic isn’t as horrendous as it becomes later in the day. First stop was the Louvre. Which, to be honest, was a bit underwhelming. The Eiffel tower was cool as an “I was there” thing, but there’s only so many old European buildings you can take pictures of before they all start to look the same. I’m here to PLAY MUSIC! besides, I like the vibe on the people of a place, so I decided to head to the campground, bois de bologne and get settled in.

bois de bologneHmmm, remind me to never camp at the busiest innercity campground in Paris again. It was nothing even slightly comparable to my time at fort aan de komp in Utrecht, which was perfect. This joint was overcrowded, with many unfriendly campers and, here’s the clencher….NO WIFI!!! In the city but no wifi?!? Hmmm, I wonder why that is? Oh wait, I know…because they charged extortionate amounts from their 1998 computer terminals running, what looked like, AOL or some equivalent bullshit. And while I’m ranting (it wasn’t a bad trip, but I want to get this stuff out of the way)…

Every single thing you buy in Paris is Ex-spen-sive as helll!!! My mind was completely blown!! As was my wallet. I’m a bit cheap,and this place was testing my price guessing skills to death (“hmmm…thats probably [math-in-head] 3.50…WTF!?! 7.25!!!ARRRRGGHHH!!!) Luckily, I purchased a camping stove while biking from Amsterdam to Utrecht and that saved me quite a bit of money by allowing me to cook at least one meal a day and endless cups of espresso.  I say one meal a day because the campground was approximately 8-9km from the prime performance locations, which, for this trip ended up being almost exclusively the Paris Plages; a road on the canal that had been converted into a pedestrian/beach type thingy.  very cool!  and they allowed busking there. very cooler!!

I was down there most days, playing and interacting with fellow performers who, unsurprisingly, viewed the art world the way i do; busking is something that allows one to grow within ones art as well as become a better performer in the commercial world. the cats there were very unique and very french. from 50’s frech bar songs to cirque du soleil juggling, these guys had loads of class and were very friendly and tolerant of my lack of frech language skills (still finding that when someone speaks any foriegn language to me, i answer with german words…wierd).

there were a few interesting cats too.  hung out with one young rasta dude who seemed very very personable and friendly until people would come up to ask me about the music or instrumentation, at which point he would stare at them with the intensity of someone who is very close to murdering you with a coffee stirrer.  i had to breath really deeply to keep from laughing everytime this would happen.  and on my final sunday (wish i had pictures or this) an unassuming cat that look EXACTLY like Bejamin Linus from LOST was peeping my set and i was in particularly good form that day. out of nowhere this cat just starts THROWNIN DOWN! he was dancing his ass off! i wanted to take notes!! if you can imagine benjamin linus throwing down to the heaviest broken groove i could muster, you can imagine why this image sticks in my head. classic!

of my side notes from the trip so far are that my big ass battery is starting to get on my nerves. super heavy and super long to charge.  as soon as possible i think i will try a different combination; a smaller battery and a larger charger. something i can run my setup for 3-4 hours,instead of 8-12, BUT, recharge in 1-2 hours instead of 1-2 days!  the damn thing is killing my trailer, but i must admit, the excercise is priceless.  I’ve never been in such good shape! probably that and the mostly rice diet ive been on for the last few weeks (easy to carry and cook on a campsite).

having everything with me like this is very freeing, but i do feel like i’m going to have to invest in a brompton with more than 2 gears for the next time (foreshadowing).  and maybe more of a mix between camping and something like couchsurfing.com because it can get really lonely, although i’m sure i will develope methods of conteracting this.

so, in conclusion, Paris is cool. on a scale of 1 to 10 – 10 being great, and 1 being a trailer park, located under powerlines in a mosquito infested swamp – I give Paris a 7.  beautiful, but not as diverse as London (although very very diverse), not as chilled as Berlin (or, contrversially, as sexy [flame war!]), busking is far to limited and it is waaaaaaay too expensive!  that said, I look forward to getting to know the city in the way i know London and berlin.  I can see that my opinion is based on not having been there long enough to really feel Paris’ vibe fully.  so, please note, before anyone sends me hate mail, my “personal” score of Paris is based on my own ignorance rather than some deep algorithmic analysis of the city!

so I have now scraped together my hard earned change and bussed myself to spain.  I arrived in Barcelona on Tuesday, and am currently flat-sitting for friends in a small resort town called Sitges, which just happens to be a very well known gay resort and home of the PACHA megaclub francise this place is dope! you can walk from end to end in less than an hour, the streets are so clean that they SHINE (I shit you not) and 7 foot drag queens intermingle with small children and balmly warm summer night weather, but that will all be in the next post.


before i go, I want to bring up a few things.  starting with this post, every post will have some call for you to be able to be a part of this ongoing narrative thru financial contrbutions.  truth is that THIS is my life. the busking, the blog posts, the wierd stuff.  I am not working toward fame and fortune, only toward creating art…living art, to hopefully be able to start a family at some point and to leave behind a great of a body of work as i can, a long long time from now. I dont believe in charging for every little thing. paying for every little byte is, i believe, unsustainable in the long term,  but it does cost money to live in this society and i will be “passing the hat” from now on, with everything i send out because, point blank, I need money to do these things and “This” IS my Job.  you dont “have to” do anything, of course, but you (yes you!) are my sponsor, my patron, my audience…I need you and the story only gets more interesting from here.

truth be told, I’ve already made that life commitment that I will do what i do, even if i have to live in my tent, camping gearwith my enormous battery and my folding bike, eating rice. but if you would like to be part of the story, feel free to click below, or download one of my pay-what-you-want music collections. the experiences from this trip are going into the book i talked about at the begining of the year “A 21st century musicians guide to Busking”, which will be another way of diversifying said art. If this all sounds a bit too spammy for you, i understand, and there is a very convienient “unsubscribe” button for you to click instead because, as i said before, this is just the beginning and i will find ever more creative ways of asking for your monetary patronage. til next time, Bon Jour!

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Nomadic Diary-Amsterdamto Utrecht-Just BuskingThrough August 2, 2010

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no video collage this post.  Just a “proof of life” to let you know that i havent been

eaten or abducted by aliens (yet).  This post is coming from Holland.

Last week, after the Northsea Jazz Festival, I had planned to the bike from Rotterdam to

Amsterdam,but it rained HARD that monday. I want to be official-ish with this whole bike-touring-nomadic

thing,but damn that…i’m not riding in pouring rain ifi dont have to ESPECIALLY with so much electronic

gear.  Egberth, one half of  ‘da Sole Collective’ drove me and all my shit to Amsterdam, along

with his girlfriend and mutual friend, Garth, from London, in a 2 door hatchback…Thats an  experience

that everyone should try at least once,but afolding bike fits nicely between 2 people,so it worked.

onyx on abikeOnce in Amsterdam, I decided to stay with my old friend Philip.  Philip has the

distinction of being the exact FIRST person i met in europe,literally.  It’s always good hanging out

with him so we made a week of it.  I had wanted to play more than i did while i was in Amsterdam, but

it rained quite a bit during the week, so I decided to take in the sites a bit and absorb the city.

LeidsepleinAmsterdam is a fresh city, but may i suggest

that they not fret so much about immigrants and work on figuring out the tourist problem.  SO MANY

TOURISTS!!  and not the cool ones, but the ones that rent a bike but dont know how to ride it, or walk

out in traffic because they are too busy staring at architecture.  there really should be a manual for

them.  and they converge on very specific areas en masse, which makes the center of  the city a

headache to go to.  Luckily for me, i have 2 advantages; 1. philip is a local, and 2. google maps on my

iphone allows me to find places that arent overrun with tourists, so, for instance, if i want to go to a

“coffee” shop, with wifi, google maps shows me many locations that the swarms wont go to because

its more than 200m from their hotel.

a side note that almost affected my ability to enjoy my time here was finding out about the

characterisations portrayed during their Dec 5th celebration.  I wont go into a lengthy description

here,but i suggest, if you are curious, google “Holland, dec 5th, black face”…and to quote

Forrest Gump,”that’s all i have to say about that…”

towards the weekend, the sun re-emerged and i was able to get back down to business.  i went to Damm

Sq and met a few of the local buskers and  got the real 411of the legalities and politics of busking

the city, as opposed to the out of date crap you get online on the subject (I’m working on a solution to

that…stay tuned…).  there are licenses, and rulesand no amps, but they arent enforced until there

isa problem,so i was able to do my thing for a bit (thanks vince[busker-guitarist])

On saturday,I made my way to Vondel Park.

this park is gorgeous!  loads of space and the landscaping is amazing (although I still prefer Mauer

Parks “open lot full of weirdo’s”) I found a bridge (the acoustics are great under bridges) and

met this kid playing guitar and we traded stories and information about places we had both been and

busked.  he gave me quite a bit of neccessary information for going forward into cities like paris,

Barcelona, ibiza, lisbon,oslo…I played after him but it was sunday that turned out to be more

advantageous.  I played until my show was interrupted by a bike accident right in front of me resulting

in a woman getting a  bike-pedal sized gash in her shin…yeah…it looked like it hurt,especiallywhen

the blood started dripping….time to go…(she was ok and rode away on her bike)

So Amsterdam was cool and relaxing,but they aredefinitely going to have to design a tourist-flow system

because the overwhelmingly large clumps of dumbfounded people made it a bit of a headache to get

around.  but a great time to chill and catch up with friends nonetheless.

fort aan de klopMonday, I inched up my biking mileage to 50km

when i biked from Amsterdam to Utrecht.  the route is stunning.  thewhole country has integrated

bike paths along side highways, train lines and canals.  it was definitely worth the extra 2 1/2-3 hrs

it took to get here.  I biked to a camp ground i found online, Fort Aan De Klop.  there is

actually a MOAT around this place!  and about 1km down the canal is Utrechts Red Light district with

Hookers in HOuseboats!  hahahaha!!!  that is some seriously funny shit!  there is a

round-about at both ends of the stretch of road so guys can go to the end and just turn around and drive

back! well designed and everyone wasvery well behaved.

I will do a full Utrecht report once i’ve attempted to play and decided where i am going next but my

“ride around” vibe of theplace is that it has thebalance of culture and tourism that amsterdam

needs to strive for. and they have very interesting dual level canal bars that are actually “in”

the canal about 20cm above the water.  pictures forthcoming.

tommorrow, I will head for parts unknown,but

more than likely, Paris, as i head further south by next week.  I do not know what to expect,but at

very least, I have a bike,a tent,and a stove,so everything “should” be cool #famouslastwords.

sothats it for now.  I must go find  somewhere to play.  live long and prosper.

Northsea Jazz Fest Recap July 14, 2010

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pic of me and my bikewow, what a weekend!  Played my first Jazz Festival (Northsea Jazz Festival) and it was great.  I look foreward to more of these! you can watch my video diary here!

The whole trip was cool, figuratively, because literally, it was HOT! really really hot on the train from Berlin to Holland.  And that coupled with the delays was enough to drive you crazy. through it all i got to speak to some american sustainability engineers about the new fed mandate for pedestrian and cycle access in the US and agreed that it was MAJOR (check it out)  but when i got there i met the cats who had brought me to the festival.  Egbert and Humberto  (da Sole Collecitve) were super cool and showed me the funkier side of Rotterdam…and it definitely has one!

the first night, I played the Boogie Ball.  I was supposed to play on the saturday night before Questlove, but it didnt happen, so got to be the feature guy for the Friday night!  and besides the sound system problems early on, it was dope.  I was really happy that people were getting into the sound.  sometimes you dont know how a new audience is going to respond to a dude with a carbon fiber helmet and a digital horn, but people were vibing (whew!)

I also got to hang out at the Festival the next day.  there was definitely a vibe in the air, and not just because the World Cup finals were the next day (more on that in a sec…).  And some amazing artists.  a wide range of artists for whom improvisation is a way of life.  I think i might work on doing more of these things.  it was like a convention for sound.  like you were going to presentations of metaphor.  and everyone in these presentations is there to gain something valuable.  that music is tangible and respected.  it felt as if “jazz” is finding new life in a new century.

the following day was performance day and there was one topic; World Cup.  Our set had been rescheduled because it was during the World Cup and apparently, no one would be there if we played thru it (they’re “little” football crazy here), so we did one hour before and an hour after and after the result (Holland-where the festival is-lost) so we had to really work, because people werent happy.  we did our thing and thru down, but we had to work for it because of all the crushed dreams littered around.

afterward, i decided that i had not been able to express myself fully, so i got my gear and did a make up set in the parking lot!  felt really good to be able to use both methods (stage and street) to get the word out and connect with new fam.

so, now i am in Amsterdam plotting my next trajectory.  i think i am going to head to paris for a bit, camping along the way, then on to Spain.  been wanting to investigate Barcelona for quite some time and see how it affects my playing and sound ideas.  then ideally ending up in ibza where i hope to not get arrested for all the playing i’m going to be doing there.  But “ideally” is pretty relative.  the goal is to play many interesting places this summer and hopefully have new places to come back to.  Iwill report back after the next FTL jump is complete.



first post to my nomadic diary blog; Northsea Jazz edition July 6, 2010

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image30276578.jpgI am hoping that this will be the first of many posts to this woefully underutilized “nomadic diary”. (side note: DAAAAMN! €2.70 for à Cup of coffee on this train to Rotterdam?! Looks like I’m gonna be a thirsty, hungry mutha by the time I get there…). I set this blog up specifically so that I could make use of my iPhone as a diary. This blog will be used to chronicle things that happen on these, hopefully more frequent, nomadic journeys.

This trip Is special for a few reasons:

1. The most obvious; the Northsea Jazz Festival! I attended this festival For the first time, last year and I was blown away by the variety and quality of not only the artists in attendance, but also the audience. There was a buzz around the convention center that housed the fest, not dissimilar to that of a good rave from the 90’s. It was electric and alive with youthful energy and visions of a future in which not only was jazz still around, it was prospering!

I will be playing 2 events-one as part ofthe festival and one that is associated with it. I was asked to do these performances based on videos and music I have uploaded over the years, which is a big big deal for me. Sometimes it feels as if you are pissing in the wind when it comes to the value of posting ones art online. It’s great conceptually, but can feel like a waste of effort sometimes. Well, I can report that it’s not. This marks the first time I have been asked to do an event of this level, based only on Internet based content, which bodes well for the future as more and more people take seriously the artists they discover online, regardless of their associations or lack thereof.

This will also represent a sort of coming out party for beatjazz on a world stage. Although I don’t expect that much to change in the short term, I do feel that this is a big step in a long series of existing and future steps towards bringing the beatjazz sound to a wider audience.

2. My first biking/busking tour. Last month when I biked the 15 miles from bristol England to Bath, something awakened in me. The feeling of independence was exilerating. As you may gather from some of my exploits and writings, I don’t have alot of money. But i do have plenty of energy, so if I have to bike from place to place or busk instead of do a well paid venue show, so be it. I have structured my life in a way that allows me the freedom to go where I want and do what I love. So I figured that since I’m going to be in a bike friendly, FLAT, country like holland anyway, I may as well take both concepts to the next level.

After the fest concludes, barring any crazy storms, I plan to bike from Rotterdam to Amsterdam, busking in towns along the way over the course of 2 days or so. From there, I will busk around Amsterdam for a bit before heading to Paris, part bike tour, part bus, to busk, which, by design, should lead to a few club shows and new “family”, then on to spain in the same manner, and finally ending up, ideally, on a beach in ibiza.

3.Why and how? Why, because I allow my fear of many things to define me for a long time but as of late, I find myslef less fearful and more confident everyday, but the idea of biking more than 30 miles and possibly camping in unknown areas was a big no no. Camping especially. I always felt like I’d get eaten or murdered or both if I ever ventured off the beaten, well lit path. But I am realizing that just because the worst CAN happen, doesn’t mean that it WILL happen. Life is too interesting
To let it be defined by fear.

The “how” is a complex and evolutionary concept. Bringing a big ass battery to allow presentation of a music, born of the street yet comfortable in any venue while distributing a cheaply yet artistically produced CD to generate immediate income as well as act as a gateway to myself and beatjazz, to music lovers and potential clients alike. Although the description took less than 3 sentences, the execution has taken the better part of 15 years!

So basically, this trip represents an evolutionary process and concept to sustainably create and distribute my art while actually having a life that doesn’t tie me to some dark studio somewhere. It is a marriage of many of my passions-biking, busking, beatjazz, travel- into one unified concept. Something I feel is sustainable in terms of income to expense ratio, as well as artistic trajectory. Or, at least, that’s the idea. So I will keep you posted, from here, on how this all works out in the real world. Thanks for coming along on this ride with me!

It takes me a second sometimes December 24, 2009

Posted by onyxashanti in studio notes.
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I think I may have finally found the valuable use of this blog. I don’t blog as much as I should. I have my main blog which is more of an article library of long form thought that is well thought out and concieved. I just don’t do much short writin there. And then there is Twitter which I LOVE!!! But as you already know, it’s only 140 letters. So boom! It just hit me today. This blog will be the stufff that is too short for my main blog and too long for my Twitter acct. Oh…and everything here will primarily be coming from my iPhone and usually when I am doing studio work or something dangerous. Whew! Glad I figured that one out.

Requisite useless first post September 11, 2009

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I’ve now added a new tab to my website for a wordpress blog. I picked it for 2 reasons; 1. Ning, the site provider, just added a wordpress app to the network and 2. I just added the wordpress app to my iPhone. So all my ramblings that are to big for Twitter yet too short for a full post on my primRy blog will now go stright to my new nomadic blog.

Now, I did have a nomadic blog before, but I didn’t have a device capable of posting from anywhere attached to my hip so I feel, as with Twitter and all the rest, that I will be a bit more prolific now that I can do these joints from truly anywhere.