Sunday, 17 May 2009

broken/mended - a new DJ mix

Last weekend, I finished and published my first DJ mix in over two and a half years. This post is to 1) tell you about the mix and 2) tell you why the completion of this mix is a significant event for me.

In September of 2006 through a combination of working too much and not looking after myself enough, I developed RSI in both my arms. I'd had some discomfort in my arms for a while, but rather than listening to my body (for reference, pain is one of your body's ways of telling you something) I continued working and did perhaps the three hardest weeks of work I've done yet in my life. When the work was completed and the adrenalin cleared out of my system I realised that my arms really hurt a lot, all of the time.

The doctor diagnosed me with bi-lateral epicondylosis (aka tennis elbow in both arms), prescribed anti-inflammatories and rest, signed me off work and told me I'd be feeling much better in a week. After a week, there was no change, and the doctor moved me up onto diclofenac and signed me of for longer. At this point, everything hurt; getting dressed, washing my hair, opening doors, driving... I couldn't chop vegetables, lift heavy things, type, play video games - in the 12 weeks I spent signed off work my life became increasingly defined by things that I couldn't do. In fact, May became so fed up with taking the brunt of the housework while I was unable that she pretty quickly went out and bought us a dishwasher.

I remained on the diclofenac and started seeing a physiotherapist who turned out to be ex-Army. He put me on a program of regular icing (20 mins ice, then rest) and delivered some brutally painful massage. In January 2007 I returned to work on partial hours and started using Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software instead of typing. By this point, my physio was unhappy with my rate of progress and referred me back to my GP who prescribed steroid injections into both of my elbows. I had these done two weeks apart and just as things were starting to look up I was involved in a car crash which significantly worsened my symptoms.

Shortly after my accident, my ex-Army physio emigrated to Australia, leaving me searching for someone new. I called BUPA and asked to see a physio specialising in forearms which led me to my current physio Sam (yep, from the acupunture story). On my first appointment with her I rather meanly said "I've been told you're a forearm specialist, is that a true statement?" to which she responded "No, I'm a general physio. I suggest that I perform your assessment today and if you're unhappy with me after that I'll refer you to someone else"; great answer. Meeting Sam was a pivotal moment in my recovery as she identified the cause of my problems (restricted movement in my neck causing inflammation of the nerves in my forearms) and started addressing them, as opposed to the ex-Army physio who was just treating the symptoms.

Since then, I've been gradually piecing my life back together and shifting the balance from being defined by things I can't do back to things that I can do - which brings me round in a rambling way to highlight the significance of being able to release a new DJ mix. Putting a mix together in Ableton involves some intensive computer time, and mindful of my tendency to get deeply engrossed in the process, I've been too terrified to start work on a mix for fear of setting back my recovery. Unfortunately I require my arms for my livelihood, so recreational computing has had to take second place.

At the beginning of April, I finally plucked up the courage to start a new mix with the confidence that it would not interfere with my health. Spurred on by my brother's request for a new breaks mix to run to (he'd been using my Air Breaks mix as his soundtrack for a long time!) I produced broken/mended; hopefully the reason behind the titling is clear. Throughout my illness, I continued buying tunes from Beatportand Juno Download and so had quietly amassed a rich seam of quality dance music to mine; I expect this to be the first of a series of comeback mixes.

Broken/mended underwent five revisions before I finally finished it, with some severe nitpicking in the order of the tracks and the addition of more cowbell, crash symbols and square waves. This was mostly as a result of Morcs complaining that the 2nd half of the mix had "nonce-le-ponce singing about the future", which was his way of saying it was getting a little too soft. I'm really pleased with the final result, and for your interest I've included a screenshot of the finished mix as produced in Ableton. The red line is the BPM which as you can see varies between 134 and 146 - hopefully good for the exercise crew.

It's ended up being a full-on, no holds barred rave-tinged electro breakbeat mix filled with big synths, squelchy bass lines, huge drum rolls, crash symbols and cowbells. Please give it a download and a listen, then let me know what you think - I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

The day I went viral

On April Fool's day, I was enjoying a rare day in Hursley as my client's offices in London were closed for the G20 protests. While checking Facebook in the morning, I discovered that I had become a viral phenomenon, with lots of my friends (and "friends") changing their profile pictures to match mine. That was pretty funny for starters, but then there was some Photoshopping and other variations which made it even funnier. The screenshots below are for posterity of the one day that I became a meme.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Status: April

April 1
08:11 Tim is not in London. Office closed due to G20 protests. Looking forward to a rare 2 days in Hursley.
10:27 Tim has taken over Facebook. Sweet.
22:42 Tim just saw A view from the bridge at the Duke of York theatre. It was very good. Guy sat in front peaked a bit early and shouted 'brav-ee' half a second after the last line.

April 2
14:16 Tim is no longer viral.

April 3
14:21 Tim is having acupuncture again this afternoon.
16:46 Tim didn't have acupuncture after all, got a bit too tense beforehand. Pick your battles.
18:22 Tim is on the phone to Natwest. They are a shambles.
22:46 Tim is Friday night, 10.45, bedtime. Shattered. Commuting sucks.

April 4
17:12 Tim in London again, to meet Buff Tom.

April 5
09:31 Tim is not surprised that Alistair Darling's economic predictions turned out to be bobbins. Good job he didn't have any credibility in the first


April 6
07:48 Tim is trying the commute from Guildford.
19:42 Tim just missed the fast train for the first time in 10 weeks, now on the stopping service. :(.

April 7
08:37 Tim has upgraded from own brand cereal to Nestle for commuting breakfast. Shreddies this morning.
20:54 Tim is in the Hilton London Bridge. It's MUCH nicer than the Metropole. Bijou exec lounge fully stocked with beers, wines, spirits and snacks.

April 8
20:16 Tim just left work, was going to Wagamama but it's rammo. Humming Ghostbuster's theme tune. Busting makes me feel good.

April 9
18:47 Tim is pretty pissed that £435 of monthly TravelCard does not translate into having a seat. Again. Scrap one of the 1st class carriages kthxbai.

April 11
19:32 Tim is missing Fin and Marl already. :(.
20:32 Tim just used the food processor for the first time. Making potato rosti.

April 12
22:14 Tim is pwning May at Easter Scrabble. Could be close though, I can has vowels?

April 13
12:16 Tim is in Oxford to see the parents. Trying out park and ride.

April 14
13:19 Tim is back in LDN, here all week this week. Another day another dollar.
20:39 Tim is testing out 4oD catchup up over 3.5G on the netbook, works very nicely in full screen mode. Gonna watch Around the World in 80 Trades after

going out to forage.
21:40 Tim is now using Westwood's phrases 'cake up' and 'swag on' despite not knowing what they mean.

April 15
18:41 Tim is away from home and feeling ill ill ill. Shivers and aches FTL.
20:23 Tim has never been more pleased to get back to the Metropole. Couldn't face tube so took taxi with hair trigger on window control balancing


April 16
14:34 Tim is still holed up in the Metropole, trying to gather the strength to set off for home.

April 17
09:48 Tim is glad to be back in Winchester after getting rescued by May yesterday. Still feeling ill/10.

April 18
14:38 Tim is home alone, still ill. Blown away by Skream remix of La Roux, late to the party I know...

April 19
21:16 Tim had a nice day today. Did cool walk from home to Shawford: Dentists at 08:20. :(.

April 20
09:20 Tim has survived the dentist, but can still taste it. Bleagh.
20:36 Tim is on the 2035 home from Waterloo and has had McDonalds. This is living?
23:14 Tim just set a new record for booking taxi to the station. 8 seconds on the phone. Wessex Cars == efficient.
23:53 Tim Sat 31st May. Late night baby! (umm 830?)

April 21
07:15 Tim is possibly at the station too early, first here so don't know if I'm at a door or not. Stick to my convictions and hope or risk and join the back

of one of the queues?
19:47 Tim is watching Skins S3 finale on netbook on the train. Ah, Effy.
23:03 Tim is supposed to order his new car within the next 4 weeks. S40 ruled out, Golf ruled out, 1 Series this weekend and late breaking A3 Sportsback

wildcard. Ideas?

April 22
09:46 Tim is glad May got through the dentist ok. Interesting to be there as an observer and see a filling done.
22:58 Tim is sponsoring Macca for the marathon. First watch the vids: then sponsor him: - great cause.

April 23
08:48 Tim is going straight outta Euston. Word.
21:32 Tim had dinner at Jenny Lo's Tea House in Belgravia after finding out his Pilates teacher no longer runs a class there.

April 24
18:34 Tim made some good progress at work today, and also received some great news that he can't reveal yet.
23:04 Tim is encoding the 5th cut of his new breakbeat mix.

April 25
10:13 Tim has a 118D SE for the weekend, and is going to drive it to the Audi garage to check out the A3 Sportsback.
20:12 Tim is at the champagne bar in Liberty, then going to meet my brother in Soho, before returning to the Marriott to crash Daisy Kumar's 40th birthday.

April 26
10:39 Tim is watching the marathon from near The Mint on East Smithfield. Elite chairs just came back past mile 22 and waiting for elite men to arrive for

mile 13.
13:38 Tim saw cousin Adam run past at mile 13, then again at mile 21. He was well in front of Gordon Ramsay, and probably on for 3hr35!

April 27
08:21 Tim is captivated on the train by the blind guy reading his electronic braille book. I've also filled in my form to replace my lost season ticket (it

had to happen).
23:24 Tim just spotted that there are 2 new Air Woven colorways out next month, Tier 0 mint & melon. Yes please.

April 29
00:20 Tim meant to go straight to bed, but didn't and now it's late. I blame BBCNews 24.
22:07 Tim got a nice surprise on discovering Andrea Corr was in the play. She is still well fit.

April 30
21:08 Tim has just finished the Le Corbusier exhibition with Vik, it was ace.
23:01 Tim took the opportunity to use the Malmaison voucher one last time on the final day possible. Amazing cheeseboard scenes.