I am still sober – now 45 days.
It will be a few days yet before I get back to my novel. I am taking a longer break than originally envisaged as I am now totally preoccupied in getting my music audio and video files up to date. I have been downloading new music that has been released since last August and making new music MP3 compilations to play in my car as well as video clips to play on my computer media player at home. I have been working on this for two days now and it will be another day or so before the project is completed.
It has been quite a complex task. After trying to work with ‘VLC’ as my video media player of choice for several months, I have now reverted back to using ‘Winamp’ which is much better for my purposes as it has all the attributes I require: a media library which automatically lists every single track by artist and/or song title in alphabetical order (I now have over 2,500 video tracks); an easy, ‘one click’ transfer of selected tracks from the media library to a play list (which can be saved for future use); a great sounding media player which can be enhanced substantially by Winamp plug-ins and I have now downloaded a facility which equalises the output volume on Video tracks.
It is a relatively easy procedure to ‘normalise’ audio tracks but very difficult to do on video tracks without stripping out the audio, ‘normalising’ it, then ‘re-connecting’ it back to the video track – a very onerous and time consuming process. My system does not change anything on the video files, it simply ‘normalises’ the sound output that emanates from the media player.
Win amp also provides the facility to ‘detach’ the media player into separate components – i.e. I can display the video screen, the ‘control panel’, the ‘media library’ and the ‘play list’, all as separate ‘floating windows’ on my PC screen. Why do I need to do this? Well, there are many reasons, but the main one is that I have multiple LCD (TV) screens connected to my lap top. The lap top’s own screen is the ‘control panel’, with all the win amp control windows on it. My other, larger screens are attached by VGA cables, via a junction box and I can have a video clip (or movie) showing on my TV screens and still have the media player ‘control’ windows showing on my lap top screen. This enables me to operate the controls, add music to the play list, adjust volume or change the video while not interfering with the full image showing on my TV screens.
I had previously dumped Win Amp as it had become very unstable (it kept crashing) and it wouldn’t play certain video formats. I have now downloaded a new version which has been adapted for Windows 7 and it seems to be much more stable. So far it hasn’t crashed once. But it still wouldn’t play a certain video format. I then realised that the unplayable format was one that I had converted to when ‘cropping’ and ‘stretching’ video clips to make them fit my flat TV screens. I have now used a different format and this works fine in Win Amp. But I had to go right back through my entire video library to convert all the previously converted files to the new format; quite a job.
I used to buy music videos and split out the tracks for my media library but these days, my source of all video and audio music material is ‘You Tube’. I download the videos, crop and stretch them where necessary and then copy them into my Win Amp media library.
For my music CD’s, I run the video files through a programme which extracts the audio and converts them into MP3 audio files and then finally, I process the newly created mp3 files through an audio ‘normalizer’ programme so that the tracks are all of equal volume. Last but not least I burn the result and product onto both CD’s and DVD’s (sound only) to play in my car and also make copies to give to my friends. My latest project will produce 130 new video and MP3 audio tracks for me to watch at home and listen to in my car. Thus I will keep my knowledge and appreciation of the popular music scene completely current.
I find this ‘work’ extremely therapeutic. Apart from working out how to do things and solving problems that inevitably arise; much of it is laborious and mechanical. I can sit at my PC for hours and hours doing this work, while at the same time, listening to BBC radio streams.
This is quite different from when I am engaged in creative writing, as it is impossible to write and listen to the radio at the same time. (Although it is always on in the background, but I miss much of what is being broadcast when I am stuck into writing).
Anyway, when I complete my current music project I will return to my novel.
Some days I wake up and feel pretty good about life and I have a quiet determination that on that day I will something really constructive – especially in the ‘getting fit’ department; but on other days I still feel rather ‘down’ and very lethargic.
It may be that I am being too hard on myself. I came down with a cold and hacking cough after my friend Bob departed; but I was feeling better for only one day, Saturday, when I was laid low on Sunday by a very bad dose of diarrhoea. I was in and out of the loo all day long and was feeling very ill. I put it down to some chicken rice (‘Kow mun gai’) that I had in South Pattaya on Saturday afternoon. So yesterday, I was feeling better but still very lazy and lethargic and actually stayed at my computer from about 11 a.m.in the morning until past 10 p.m. that evening, working on my music project. I know I am exercising my brain and hopefully helping to ward off ‘mad cow’s disease’ but my physical state is forever getting worse.
I also resolve every day to start attending AA meetings, but every day something seems to get in the way of me going – basically my own procrastination. So there is much ‘guilt’ and a certain degree of panic associated with my life at the moment.
I am definitely feeling less ‘dopey’, now that I have reduced my anti-depressant medication and I still remain resolved to cut those meds completely at the end of February.
Maybe I am just trying to run before I can walk. I have been a hopeless drunk for so many years that I guess I am being overly optimistic that I can be free of this disease and it’s side effects in such a short time. Certainly, I haven’t been particularly well of late; my stomach is still a bit delicate, I am still sniffing and have a congested chest; so all this must be having a debilitating effect on my overall demeanour.