NEW Wallpapers

In Orbit
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Extravehicular Activity
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Been passing the time until Friday by trying some new things. Enjoy!

Halloween Vegas Poster

Special Slasher Eve Vegas Poster
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I had the beginnings of this idea back when I interviewed CCP PointyBits for my After Hours Podcast. The new Slasher model is truly boss and I've been wanting to do something with it. Unlike last year, this year CCP didn't ask me to create a special Eve Vegas poster (which is fine, they didn't use the one I did last year anyway), so I just went ahead and made one anyway! So there.

I'm super happy with how this turned out and looking forward to doing more along these lines in the future. Hopefully sooner rather than later.


After Hours Podcast Archive

The After Hours Podcast is something that I am very proud of. I spent years considering a podcast of my own, but real life and other projects always seemed to come first. In addition I just couldn't quite figure out an angle that interested me. As I've said before, I've always enjoyed everyone's podcast and I listen to almost all of them pretty regularly. It was difficult to imagine a niche that wasn't already being serviced.

So why not create a "Inside the Actors Studio" late-night talk show style podcast and invite people that I find interesting to come share their stories? Once the idea had landed in my brain it felt perfect. It's hard to believe that I've done 13 episodes of it already. I've talked with CCP Fozzie, Gabriel Cassata, CrazyKinux, Niden, CCP PointyBits, LennyKravitz2 (A week before the banhammers hit!) and many more. And it doesn't feel like I've even started to scratch the surface of my ever-changing and evolving list. I'd love to get The Mittani on someday, or Sully. (Both of which have been reached out to thru various means btw.) But until then I already have more episodes lined up.

You can catch all of the past episodes over on Crossing Zebras on their podcast page.

And now I'm also going to start archiving each episode over on my YouTube Channel.

I have three up already with more coming soon.

I hope you enjoy the podcast and become a regular listener. My intention is to not only talk with Eve community members but to also branch out into other related fields as well. This community is rife with amazing people who have stories to share. I can't wait to talk to them all.


AT Team Comms

This is the ABA Comms over top of the video of our fight vs Spectre Fleet. We'll be releasing more of these in the future I think, but in the meantime enjoy this one!

Kicking the Rust

Nothing like getting dragged into Court multiple times, selling a house, moving into a new house, finding out your business partner has inoperable cancer, practicing and planning an AT run, dealing with weird kids and moving your entire Pirate base of operations under constant war decs to keep you effectively out of Eve since May. Before yesterday my last in-game fight was on May 24th when I lost a Slicer that I shouldn't have lost. I can still remember that day. Already the strain of real life was showing in how I was playing. After eight years I needed a break.

And while I remained as active as ever, or even more so, in the community at large - I also pulled back from Eveoganda. My posting rate dropped significantly. But y'know, I needed a break here as well. Needless to say I am back to a more "normal" schedule. What that means exactly will have to remain TBD until after next week. But my intention is to return to a more regular schedule both here in these pages and in-game.

So yesterday I finally had the chance to undock and go hunting. And man did I feel rusty. For me the rust shows itself in all the little things that I forget about, or that lack of practice has dulled. Things that constant AT practice doesn't really account for. Not to mention an overall lack of situational awareness that comes from living in a new neighborhood and flying in it every single day naturally brings with it.

So I fit up a Comet and went roaming around town. At first it was intended as a sight-seeing tour with no real plans to engage anything. Just to get my feet wet. But, you know me, that attitude didn't last long. Especially when I spotted the Dramiel. I had engaged a Tristan earlier without being able to kill him before he ran off. And this is where the rust comes back in. Like an idiot I had forgot to set my armor repper reload to off. As soon as the Dramiel explodes the Tristan shows up and points me. My AB is already toast and my repper is busy loading nanite paste. Grumble. I go boom. Shame on me. But lesson learned.

So I fit up a Slicer and go back out. Get back on the horse. And then I spot a couple of Tuskers in local flying around in Slashers. There is also a very young Stay Frostian in local that is learning the ropes. At first I try to get a fight going that I can call her in on at the last minute to help out without too much danger. But two Slashers are a bit much. But I just can't resist. So for what seems like ten minutes we dance, they warp in and out, pull me off the gate, and we all try to position ourselves properly. Eventually all this dancing around gets serious and the first Slasher explodes just as the second one lands close enough for it to explode as well.

During the AT I pretty much exclusively flew large ships. I flew a Svipul a few times in practice, but it was mostly BS and BCs for me. To be honest my small ship skills were really rusty. But the only way to fix that is by getting out there and fighting again. A slicer is not a big ship and it isn't flown like one. As well as I had manually performed in that 2v1 with Nuke, I did the complete opposite in my next fight with another Slicer. I wish I had better news, but I totally derped the fight and exploded.

The worst part was the very slight delay in getting my pod out. During the AT practices and matches your pod is not a target, so apparently my GTFO reflex is also rusty and I managed to get podded as well.

I deserved it. This is what rust looks like. I am still the Pirate Lord of Low Sec and capable of good fights, but I'm also a tad rusty and capable of totally screwing up. Now that I think about it however, this is not all that different from how I normally fly.

It felt incredibly good being back flying around looking for fights again. And it feels good writing about it.



Yesterday's Alliance Tournament Finals were marred slightly by some disconnection issues. This is probably well known at this point. It was unfortunate, no one can argue that. It is always a bummer when issues outside of the normal framework sink into and effect a fight in Eve. Any fight in Eve. Not to mention the finals of the entire AT. Damn that sucks.

Late last night I wander over to one of my many Slack channels to see what the chatter is and discover some lingering anger about it. This is a good eight hours or so after the match. I won't mention names, it doesn't matter. And although I was treated rather poorly and insultingly for parachuting into the conversation, I tried to maintain some level-headed points. All of which were discounted. Anger. Makes people dumb.

I know it is frustrating. During one of our matches one of the other team's pilots DC'd during the match and his ship was exploded. That isn't fair. I wish the world didn't work that way, but it does. Those are the rules. And those rules exist because there is literally nothing else that can be done about it. Nothing. Tough shit. HTFU. You can't re-do the match or magically freeze the match, because people can't be re-done or frozen. Suddenly everyone has more knowledge and time to act on that knowledge creates un-fair advantages. A huge part of each match is the speed, uncertainty and chaos of each match. Just look at boundary violations, something a few teams really seem to struggle with, those are caused by the speed, uncertainty and chaos of the matches as well. Should we change that rule?

DCs are no fun in the Alliance Tournament OR on Tranquility. I can't begin to tell you how many situations I wish I could have back from the last eight years that caused me to lose a ship or a pod due to disconnection issues. Tons. Just as I can't begin to re-count the number of times the server code let me down, modules refused to work, my ship got stuck on an asteroid, or things just didn't work the way they are intended to work. It happens. I believe it happens a lot more than most people realize. But it has always been a part of the Eve experience. If you believe it was wrong petition it. Nine times out of ten the logs will show nothing.

PL may indeed have lost a single match yesterday to disconnection issues. But they certainly didn't lose the AT because of them. They lost because they got out-played. In several instances they shot themselves in the foot. Heck, my Wife believes PL threw the AT because they bet against themselves on the last weekend of AT betting, which is why EveBet was down. Personally I find that much more likely than CCP ever changing the rule about DCs. My Wife is usually right about these things by the way.

The salty tears about losing are to be expected. Most people in Eve cry like babies when they lose. In my experience the winners rarely complain. A few times I've disconnected and still managed to win the fight. I didn't petition those fights. (I don't petition fights by the way, I don't believe in it. My last petition was over five years ago when I lived in Syndicate. It was an undocking error and I won that petition.)

Complain enough and maybe CCP will just decide to stop having Alliance Tournaments.

I wouldn't blame them.

Its Eve. HTFU.

NOTE: Since some people seem challenged here, let me be clear. I do not like DCs and I wish they did not happen. Especially in the AT during a finals match. That sucks and it really is a serious bummer. But that is the reason the finals is a best of five series.

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Yesterday the Eve community got kicked in the balls a bit. No reason to sugar coat it. Changes to the all-powerful EULA and ban-hammers falling like rain everywhere. Like chickens with their heads cut off everyone ran around in circles with signs saying "The End is Nigh!" all day. Quickly posting to Reddit, the forums, podcasts, Twitter and everywhere else you can find an Eve nerd hiding. No stone was left un-turned. It was so bad I even dreamed about it last night. Sorta. Y'know, if that dream involved moving to Iceland for a job at CCP only to learn that they really work in an old Supermarket between the aisles in cardboard cubes. And the Fantastic Four showed up. But enough about my dreams.

You might remember I just interviewed Lenny Kravitz2 last week.  Interesting in hindsight that he just recently tried to divest himself from IWI. I guess that didn't work. The point being that there is no middle ground when it comes to RMT or "gambling" in or out of Eve. The potential for real money means that there will be real money. Humans being human. This was a problem before PLEX. Before Casinos. Before it became easy to do. So obviously it would continue to be an issue after it became easier. Duh. I believe there are monkeys in Kenya that know this.

So yeah the isk faucet is closed now. And my friends at various community activity centers are going to suffer for it. All the Slack lit up yesterday. All the Discords. All the channels. And yes that is all extremely unfortunate. And probably unfair. A bad system built some good things. Casinos are good for the... wait a sec! I sound like one of those people that testify in front of Congress about the Mafia! "But Senator, Don Moneybags built the Children's Hospital!" So yeah, let's move on to the next paragraph.

Out of game sources of income are not good for Eve. Everything in-game can be countered. You don't like someone then camp their system, declare war, gank their stuffs, any number of things can help you combat them inside of New Eden. Outside? There is nothing you can do. And while I enjoyed WWB as much as the next intelligent adult, the Goons did have a point about that. It was unsettling frankly. When it is happening to someone else fine, but what if it was happening to you? Might be a different story.

I am diametrically opposed to RMT. I've also advocated here on this very blog against the system which makes it easier to accomplish. I've never been comfortable with the need to gamble. Even in the real world it is a system that is rather notorious for being abused. It always manages to achieve the exact opposite effect than it was intended to accomplish.

On the other hand, it is the system we had. And everyone got a little fat from eating off that plate. This is unfortunate and it makes going on a diet hard on everyone. Support, prizes, isk, all went into a lot of great community projects. And those are going to suffer, no doubt about that. Eve is at once much better off and also much worse than it was earlier this week. What springs from this ruin is anyone's guess.

Eve is a global game with its footprint in countries around the world, each with their own laws, rules and guidelines regarding multiple issues that deal with gambling and its side-effects. In addition, with the opening of the floodgates to Alpha clones coming up, a new wave of Eve players (of all ages) will be descending into the fires of New Eden. Given these conditions it is no wonder that CCP brought out the hammers and cleaned the house. Guests are coming after all and we needed to red up a bit.

There are no winners. Only ash and ruin. But every once in awhile a forest needs to be burned so that new growth can spring from the ashes. I can only hope that such will be the case here. And that stronger and better growth will spring forth from this great community.

Keep the courage.

The Inspection

Shadow Series: Inspection
Click to download
You can see the entire Shadow Series at this link.

To me there is something truly majestic about Eve spaceships rendered against the inky blackness of space. Stripped of the nebula and stars that dominate screenshots from the game itself and presented in a more "realistic" space environment, stark, cold and dark. In such a setting the ships themselves seem to come to life and the true dangers of space seem to seep into the image. 

Whatever it is, I like it. And I'll probably keep doing these for awhile longer. I'll give you a glimpse into the process that goes into the idea for a new one. Over the weekend, between AT matches, I finished work on a piece that featured the Naga. You can see that piece here.  In order to create that piece I had a ton of Naga reference on hand. As I often do, I began to think about the ship and its role in New Eden. Not so much from the players perspective, but from the rest of the universe. It reminds me, from certain angles, of the Sulaco from Aliens. A troop carrier, planetary assault craft maybe? Military for sure. And then I thought perhaps the Caldari Navy uses Naga-class vessels to patrol the Empire. And maybe one of the roles those patrols have is to inspect the new player-built stations that are suddenly popping up all over the place.

Each Shadow Series piece has a story of its own. The one I had in mind when I created it and the one that it evokes in the viewer. I hope that they inspire their own stories in your mind. And that you enjoy them as much as I have in creating them.

Which is your favorite?

Keep the courage.

The Day After

As most of you probably know by now A Band Apart's run in Alliance Tournament XIV came to a rather abrupt end yesterday at the hands of PFR. Kudos to them for a good fight and for their win over Ronin later in the day to make it to the third weekend. And best of luck in the rest of the tournament. You can't help but root for the team that knocked you out, especially when they are good people. So congratulations to PFR and to all the other winners from this past weekend.

Having played six matches this year (4-2) and two last year (0-2) I can tell you I have a new appreciation for the sheer amount of effort, willpower, stamina and determination it takes to succeed in the Alliance Tournament. I've always appreciated it, but until you actually live it... like anything in life. I can tell you we played over 200 practice matches leading up to the AT both on Singularity and Thunderdome. In addition many of our pilots also participated as part of other team's to help fill out their practices. And I can only imagine the number of hours spent working up comps, fits and theory-crafting. It is an incredible amount of work.

I've said this already, but it bears repeating - I am incredibly proud of our pilots. Despite the odds, real life commitments, and other challenges, they came thru and excelled. Top 16 is an excellent result in only our second year and they should all be proud of that accomplishment. I enjoyed every minute of the practices and the matches. Except for those two losses. Frankly I didn't enjoy those.

But I am confident that all of us learned and experienced a lot this year. All of which will only serve us well when it comes time to do it again next year. As I said in an earlier post, next year is our year. Our team is seasoned now, more experienced and they've seen for themselves what hard work, dedication and time spent gets you. And, maybe more importantly, they've each experienced first hand what the AT Meta really means from a practical standpoint. Until you fly in the AT the "meta" can be a joke, or at best a theoretical concept. But once you fly in the tournament and watch every match carefully, only then do you start to understand what it truly means. And why stepping outside of that concept is so dangerous.

Let me explain. Imagine hundreds of Eve nerds that are smarter than you spending hundreds and hundreds of hours theory-crafting fleet compositions and ship fits for months and months. (It is always best to assume that everyone else is smarter than you.) And you are doing this as well, as best you can, practicing with people that will practice with you. And then you show up for the first day and another team lands across from you in the arena. And you either know one of two things - 1) Our fleet is going to be ok, or 2) We screwed up somewhere. As the day goes along you notice all the other comps and trends start to emerge, common threads, similar ships, and tactics. This is the emerging reality of the tournament meta. Either your comps are along similar lines or you are in serious trouble. And yes, every year a few teams manage to buck the meta and win a few matches with something unique. This year it was hull-tanked Battleships, or Double Moas, or Double Paladins. But, just like every year previously, those eventually get wrecked.

In hindsight it is easy to see that both of our losses came upon a combination of Sleipnir compositions. While our missile based and Astarte based comps fared extremely well. In all of our matches our support wing excelled at their jobs, providing excellent control and dominating the other team's support in every match. This was expected. Our pilots are excellent. In the matches we lost the difference was in the survivability of our core dps. And in the Rock, Paper, Scissors environment of the AT, our two Minnie-based comps landed across from good counters. There is nothing inherently wrong here. Mostly bad luck, bad timing, and good counter punches from good teams.

Like I said above, until you participate in that insanity you cannot truly understand what a crazy journey it really is. And just how much of it comes down to the match-up you face in the arena.

There is nothing else like it in Eve. And I honestly can't wait to try again.

Best of luck to all the remaining teams.

32 Teams Remain

We achieved our goal of making it to the second weekend, now what? Only 32 teams remain from the first weekend and a large number of those already have one loss on their record. A Band Apart among them. It isn't the strongest position to be in, another loss and we go home. Our 3-1 record doesn't mean anything now, all that matters is the match in front of us. One fight at a time.

I have no idea how things will go this weekend. And I'm not stupid enough to pound my chest and make dumb claims about us winning this or that match. I've been around Eve long enough to know better than that. So much of the AT comes down to Rock, Paper Scissors luck. Land in the arena with the wrong comp match-up and watch your team disappear around you. Land in the right comp and have a fighting chance. The trick is to find that "right" comp against an invisible enemy. You can't plan for everything and bans mean you can't plan for anything. The good news, is that the other team is in the exact same boat.

Add to that the chance that the enemy burns out their webs. Or that their BS is actually DC'd. John Madden once said that a winning football team often comes down to which way the ball bounces for them. So far, the ball has been bouncing in our favor. Mostly. It didn't in our match against GMVA. And it might just decide to do that again.

So what is the answer? The only answer is hard work. Preparation, determination, practice and teamwork. Our team has excelled at all of those. We've put the time and the work into this run of ours and I could not be prouder of our pilots. Whatever happens this weekend I know we will give it the best that we have. What more could you ask for?

Our goal now is to win the Alliance Tournament. It is the same goal that the other 31 teams share. But it all comes down to the match in front of you. You have to win that one first.

So let's play this thing out and see where it goes.

After Hours Podcast 12

After Hours Episode 12 with Lenny Kravitz2 is now up.

Roll Tide

A Band Apart: Roll Tide
Click to download

The odds are not good. In fact Eve Bet has us at 100-1 odds against right now, with pretty much everyone else. The only good odds are with the top tier undefeated teams. Which is more than fair. It isn't supposed to be easy.

I've been playing Eve for eight years now. Prior to creating Stay Frosty every Alliance I was in folded, disappeared, lost a war, or otherwise wasn't prepared to compete in the Alliance Tournament. So four years ago, after my first attempt at building an Alliance went ka-put, I decided two things: 1) I would create one of the best pirate corporations in New Eden, and 2) I would build an Alliance around it that could win the AT at some point. It was a long-term plan, a goal that continues today. Let's call it a five year plan. It might be hard for some readers to remember back to the beginning of this journey, but back then, no one believed me.

It didn't matter, because I believed me. And surprisingly, so did a few other people. And then, as we went along, more and more people started to believe. And lo and behold here we are almost four years later. Stay Frosty is unarguably one of the best pirate corporations in New Eden and A Band Apart is one of only 32 teams remaining in the Alliance Tournament. Whatever happens the rest of the way in this AT, and no one (not even me) knows how it will go - next year we will be even more prepared. Our pilots more experienced. With two AT appearances under our belt. And next year would be how many years? Oh right, that'd be five.

Things could have gone off the rails at any point along this journey. Goodness knows we've fought and scrapped our way thru a ton of problems, conflicts, issues and challenges. Friends have come and gone, and sometimes come back. And sometimes they've left us for good, both in game and out. We've fought wars, we've taken systems in Null, we helped remove certain blue doughnuts from certain people's hands, and we've taken on all challengers. That is the story of the journey that has brought us here today.

If you are reading this and you don't know who ABA is, let me introduce ourselves. The concept behind our Alliance is quite interesting. Each corporation has its own area of interest, from piracy, to wormholes, to industry, mission running, and much more. Often they share interests, or often ask for assistance from each other. A Band Apart operates like a big family, because we are family to each other. No one person is more important than another, no one corporation is more important than another. This is the way it has been since the beginning. And this is the way it will remain. When someone comes up with a hair-brained scheme, someone will be there to try it. And the rest of us will be there to help.

We do not tolerate cruelty. We rarely experience any drama, and when it does happen it comes from outside sources. If this sounds like the kind of environment you might be looking for in your own gaming time, then I encourage you to look into one of our member corporations. We even have a new player corporation, if you need to get your legs under you first.

After the AT we'll be competing in the EVE-NT Collides Tournament and then back to normal for awhile until it's time to do something else. And then next year, who knows, maybe you will be one of the pilots that helps us win the Alliance Tournament?

If you keep the courage anything is possible.

AT First Weekend Battle Report

Despite being over 5-1 odds against at one point yesterday (one mention I saw stated 5.7 to 1 briefly), and the most heavily bet match so far, A Band Apart managed the upset of the first weekend and defeated Shadow Cartel 60-45 in what was a very good fight and well played. Anyone who knows me knows that I am all about good fights and this was a good fight. I also happen to be a good sport, so good sport stuff towards the Shadow Cartel pilots. Was good fight.

I won't bother mentioning why defeating SC was important, besides the obvious. I won't mention the trolling, the nasty comments in local, the spam emails, the lies, their support of Tuskers during the early days of Stay Frosty, the down votes on Reddit, and all the others reasons why beating them on Saturday was priority number one. I don't feel like I should have to mention it. Those of you who really know me already know I don't forget, and I suspect you don't either.

Couple of notes. Apparently the Bhaalgorn pilot used the MJD on purpose from what SC pilots told us after the fight. I suspect the strategy there was to get him out of the main fight and into neut range. Although it didn't work out that way at first. We figured they'd primary me in the fight and sure enough they did, this is why I went straight for the Machariel and OH'd everything in his face. If I was going to die I'd at least get him into structure. So that plan worked out almost perfectly.

Has anyone ever gotten as much wrong as Chessur did in that commentary? lol.

This was a huge emotional win for us. But our next fight was less than three hours away.

This fight was not a let-down because of the SC fight earlier. We had plenty of time between matches to get ourselves prepared for VA. This fight is a perfect example of how fights often come down to the smallest of things.

My Sleipnir died in-between boosts. In what is perhaps the luckiest combined alpha you can imagine, both the Machariel and the polarized Hound managed to land rounds at the same time while I was being grappled. The combined Alpha damage was enough to overwhelm my ancillary reps and kill my ship. It took a lot of post-match analysis to figure this out, but if either of those volleys landed apart from each other my ship would have lived. I'm not stupid enough to cry about it, but my ship living even another few minutes could have changed the course of the fight. Maybe.

But it didn't. And full credit to VA for the fight and for bringing two Moas. I don't make excuses, every fight hinges on the small and the large details. Shit happens and when you fight as much as I do, you quickly learn that fact. There is no room in Eve for what might have been, only for what is. And we lost that fight fair and square. Kudos to our friends in VA, well played.

Sunday morning and everything was fine until it wasn't. The entire area's Internet service disappeared suddenly and was down for over three hours. I was unable to get on comms, or log into Eve. I can't begin to explain to you how hard those three plus hours were to live thru. Not being able to be a part of the team, the planning, the bans, everything. It was rough. I hope that never happens again.

Confidence in my team never wavered however. We have an awesome group of pilots who often practice without me, we are deep and well practiced, so while I was worried (of course), I wasn't worried. If you know what I mean.

Kudos to Prda Prda for headshoting that Ibis! I'm not a fan of the all BS comps with no logi and this match is the perfect example of why. I think people often make the mistake of thinking DPS is the same as Applied DPS. They are two different things. I won't say much else about this one since I wasn't there. I was watching the match on 4G on my iPhone. Ugh.

Our last fight of the day isn't up on YouTube yet, but I'll post it here once it is available.

Our fight versus Snuff is one of those were your heart goes out to the other team. It is something that can happen to anyone and is a fact of life for anyone that plays Eve. Several of their pilots DC'd during form-up and CCP waited for them to log back into the game before starting the match. Sadly they were unable to warp into the arena and the rules state that CCP will pick you up and place you at zero, which is what they did. Its certainly weird when a Rook and a Eos pop into space right next to you. Obviously when the match started I pointed that Rook and made him die in a fire.

Apparently Snuff's troubles continued and their Phoon pilot DC'd during the match. There has been some salty tears shed over this and I'd like to make a few things clear. There is NO alert in-game that appears to tell anyone that a ship is DC'd. Everyone knows this. So during the heat of a fight no one is going to notice. Your ship is on field and it is a target. It really is as simple as that. So any crying about us shooting the Phoon is wasted on me, of course we shot the Phoon. We had no idea he was DC'd. IF he was. All we have is your words about that after the fact.

It sucks. No doubt about it. But that is part of Eve. I can't begin to tell you how many fights and pods I've lost over the years to DC'ing. It happens. I spent an entire match on the sidelines earlier in the day, which we could have lost, so I have little sympathy. Other than it does indeed suck.

My goal for our team all along was to preform better than we did last year and to make it to the second weekend. We are 3-1 this year and on our way to the second weekend. So my goals have been met and exceeded. Whatever happens next is gravy as far as I'm concerned. Our team is incredible, dedicated and experienced. We put an amazing amount of time and effort into this team and everyone has participated. I could not possibly be more proud of our pilots and our Alliance. No matter what happens next.

I think we have more wins in us. And I think we will remain competitive and strong next weekend. So much of what happens is rock, paper, scissors - and that is a component you cannot ignore - but right now I think we match up strong. So let's see what happens next.

No matter what we had an incredible first weekend and nothing will ever change that.

Stay Frosty my friends.

PS: And Kudos to the team at EVE-NT (and ISD) for broadcasting the first weekend on Twitch! Well done to everyone, a quality broadcast you should be very proud of.