Write off

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I knew there was something amiss the other day when a man dressed in sack cloth and ringing a bell walked past my house calling ‘bring out your dead!’ He moved on after drawing a chalk mark on my front door to indicate that there was a plague victim within.

The ladies in my life refer to this as ‘man flu‘, which scarcely does justice to the Ebola like symptoms of the flesh eating virus I appear to have succumbed to.

The consequence of blog silence however is a heartwarming one – and today my mobile has been buzzing away with people making sure that I’m not hibernating or on a downward spiral.

I can confirm to those who have asked about my welfare that reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

In truth I have a really annoying chesty cough thats been nagging away in the background for days. On Tuesday afternoon, shortly after a walk with a fellow Slimming World’r around Arrow Valley it turned into a constant cough, runny nose and banging headache.

I fear that this week (in diet and exercise terms) may well be a write off. My appetite has confusingly swung between absolutely ravenous and completely disinterested – with daily exercise in much shorter supply than normal.

Initially this depressed my mood greatly. I’ve also had to cancel several social engagements – one of which was planned months ago – and I hate to let people down.

I dislike feeling like I’ve overeaten and been ‘lazy’ even more.

However – this is just life. If this week goes a bit south I’m just going to have to deal with it when I stand on the scales. I already have a (nearly) full week of walks in the calendar for next week and will make up any ground lost.

So – thanks to all those who asked after me. I’ll be back in service soon hopefully.

(cough, cough, splutter, sniffle)

Davey

Apple Music Sucks

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I cancelled my subscription to Apple Music recently – which I’d been meaning to do for ages, as I’m really not getting what I would consider ‘worth’ out of a streaming music service.

I’m also beginning to think that maybe I’m not all that willing to embrace what appears to be the future. I rather resent the fact that I will end up paying for the same album again and again and again over the life of my subscription, and I can’t store it anywhere or put it on a CD. Plus if the internet drops dead then my world becomes completely silent. This has happened a few times and honestly there’s nothing more annoying than your music just stopping while you drive.

Apple Music appeared initially unwilling to let go, and like a jealous ex stalked all of my devices for a few weeks after we broke up. Its music was still everywhere and during this period of initial separation I had access to all of the playlists I created while using the service.

Then the jilted Apple music decided to cut one leg off all my jeans, take custody of the family pet, and close down our joint accounts.

I looked at my music collection and without warning it was a shambles. Somehow music I had never listened to now filled my iPhone and all playlists containing my OWN music were now gone without a trace.

HulkSmash

However, sometimes an event like this is a positive thing.

The very first time this happened some years ago I had innocently clicked ‘yes’ when Windows Media Player asked me if I would like help organising my music.

Until that time I’d been very impressed with Windows XP, and had no concept of how bad things could get when you let Windows manage tracks that had not been ID3 tagged when ripped from the original CD.

Microsoft’s efforts produced approximately 80gb of music with no album art relabelled as ‘unknown artist’ from numbers 01-10000 mixed in with…. ‘less legitimate’ tracks harvested from Napster which had been renamed seemingly at random.

At the time there was no such thing as a hashtag, so I instead went for a really long rant on the phone telling anyone that would listen what a bunch of ****s Microsoft were.

This was one of the things (but not the only one) that initially propelled me to Apple – at the time a plucky rival to the evil of Bill Gates’ Behemoth. The simplicity of the iTunes eco-system when I had my first iPod seemed way better and a billion times more intuitive.

It was a breath of fresh air.

It existed just to manage my songs and make them look pretty. I spent a very long time repairing my albums and re-adding art, genres and higher quality files. It took me about a year here and there and I was quite proud of the outcome.

Lately however I feel when I open iTunes that I’m using something that’s becoming increasingly bloated and shaky.

My music is still there and well ordered, but iTunes is no longer lean and useful. It’s become a badly bolted together Swiss army knife being used for purposes that it was never intended and sadly it shows. It’s creaky and unreliable and I feel that its designed to thwart me at every turn. I feel something needs to change or they may loose me as a customer.

One of my favourite stories about the power of starting over is that of Robert Louis Stevenson’s initial treatment of ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’.

As most will know – this is the story of a good man struggling with his uncontrollable duality, and the devastating consequences of human experimentation. The themes it explores resonate with almost all who have read it (myself included).

Writing in a fevered state of illness Stevenson produced a huge first draft that he showed to his wife Fanny so that she could critically assess his efforts.

Fanny – believing (after reading it overnight) that his initial attempt was so poor that it should never see the light of day immediately committed it to the flames of the fireplace in the family home, destroying it completely.

Initially distraught and angry, Stevenson had no choice but to sharpen his pencil and begin again.

The rest is history, and an initially bloated and badly written novel became a smaller, leaner novella that is still extremely popular 130 years after its original publication. The Penguin Classics version is only 96 pages long, and proves that sometimes taking the best bits an throwing away the rest can be a sound recipe for success.

Musically today has been a wonderful journey down memory lane thanks to my new ‘Stevenson playlists’.

Rising early this morning, I deleted all the random crap skulking on my phone and started adding various music from my collection to my phone in preparation for a Saturday in work. Anyone sitting in an office that’s largely deserted will know how much music can help time pass quickly.

Thankfully the day (and journeys to and from work) have been greatly enhanced thanks to Apple Music’s jack booted approach to my files, and I’m still listening to a wealth of tracks that I haven’t heard in years.

I’m also working through some older playlists – some created nearly a decade ago – and they’re really fermenting the nostalgia.

Due to these uniquely ordered songs I’ve been mentally travelling back and forth in time, buying my house, living with my brother, driving to Cornwall, eating homemade cake, buying a huge leather beanbag, going to weddings, playing video games, visiting friends and sharing time with people I care about…

There’s also now a huge amount of space on my previously jam packed phone.

It’s made me think about things outside of the limited, digital sphere of my music, and about my house.

Its currently not just full of my mom’s crap, but my own crap. Some of it has been in boxes almost as long as I’ve lived at my there.The more I’m wondering why I need it all, the more I think that I’m just doing what my mom did and holding onto loads of crap that’s just gathering dust, that I will never use again, and that desperately needs to be shredded or thrown away.

Thanks Apple Music – you’ve inspired me with your fat, flabby digital underbelly. Next week is the start of some serious de-cluttering at Casa de Davey.

(I’ll be listening to my own music while I do this.)

Davey