# Hearing trouble, things to hear
This summer I've been wearing headphones a lot. I've also been
swimming a lot. Eventually this combination did a number on my ears,
or rather the wax inside. Apparently I've had a pretty nasty
build-up of that wasn't being pushed out properly.
Finally, I had a "cave-in" after a swim and the wax almost
completely blocked my hearing on one ear. I tried getting rid of it
in all the wrong ways (doctor said you shouldn't stick anything
pointier than an elbow inside your ear) and eventually tried some
better techniques, like using oils to loosen it up. This didn't
work, so today I went to the doctor to have it sucked out.
For about two weeks I was effectively deaf on this ear. At first I
thought it was really debilitating; I couldn't hear what people were
saying for background chatter or other noise, and socializing was
exhausting because of it. Then I think that I sort of adapted. I
instinctively cupped my hand around my good ear to tune in to what I
was listening to. I noticed that when I was walking, I was leaning
my good ear forward. It's amazing how quickly you can deal with
these types of changes, unconsciously changing your habits.
...but when I was done at the doctor's, I couldn't wait to hear
music *in stereo*! What a relief to have both ears in good shape
again. I've been using them all day!
For the non-squeamish, heres's a description to cringe at: when the
doctor sucked it out it sounded like someone drinking the last
milkshake through a straw. Sscchhllrrrff!
In other news I treated myself to a Behringer TD-3. It's a TB-303
clone, probably the cheapest you can get. I have friends that swear
by the RE-303, which is likely the most accurate clone, meticulously
recreated with parts you can (mostly?) source today. I've been using
the open source x0xb0x myself (built by Mode Machines), which sounds
great but isn't that great as a clone, in terms of both sound and
function. The TD-3 sounds closer to the real deal AFAIR, but it's
been a while since I heard an actual 303. It also operates more like
a 303, with the strange sequencer and all. RE-303 goes a step
further here by allowing people to run the firmware of the original
in an emulator, but the TD-3 does a good job here anyway.
Behringer is known for their long history of blatantly cloning
popular/vintage hardware and selling it for a relative bargain. I
remember the cheap Boss pedal clones they peddled, long before they
got into the synthesizer business. They get a lot of flak for this,
with people saying that they're leeching off of other people's R&D
investments. They say that it may be legal, but is immoral.
With their clones of older hardware I personally don't see the
problem myself. It's patents working as intended. For investing in
R&D and inventing something novel you get exclusive rights to your
invention for, what, 20 years? Then it's up for everyone to grab and
use for themselves. Patents have one function and a two-sided
approach in this sense: First, to reward and incentivize innovation
by giving the inventor exclusive rights to the invention. That way,
the inventor can profit from the invention by selling products based
on it or licensing the idea for others to do the same. Second, to
reward and incentivize innovation by making this exclusive right
temporary, so that people have to invent new things to have
I think we're getting too used to companies extracting rent from
their intellectual property for lifetimes if this seems appalling to
us. Copyright, for example, has been Disneyed up to extend long
after the death of the author and it no longer seems crazy to us.