This is a horrible time of year for me.

I have a very big problem with cold weather. You see, I have Raynauds Phenomenon. Some medical websites refer to it as Raynauds disease which I strongly dislike. A disease is something that you catch like the common cold. I’ve had Raynauds for as long as I can remember. I don’t consider myself to be disabled or anything because of it. I just have to take extra care when it gets cold out.

So what is Raynauds?

It’s a circulation condition that affects the extremities. I get it in my fingers and toes. My toes usually aren’t too bad since I can wear thick socks and don’t normally have to take my shoes off while I’m out and about. The fingers are usually where its at it’s worst.

What happens is an exaggerated reaction to the change in temperature. When someone is badly exposed to the cold their body goes into shock and the blood supply will shut down in the hands and feet to go towards keeping the chest and organs warm. You can live without a toe, you need your heart. In a person with Raynauds this can happen by going outdoors when it’s snowing.

Image from nhs.uk

I’ll be honest, the guy in the picture has it a LOT worse than I do. But yes, my fingers do turn white and go numb when they get cold. I have had occasions where I’ve picked up a hot cup without realising just how hot it was and not been able to feel it. Not pleasant. Thankfully this only last a few minutes in my case.

However, after this comes the stage where my blood vessels effectively go ‘Oh $$%^@£, we made a mistake. Sorry!’ and try to make up for it by sending too much blood back to the fingers. This makes them turn purple and the only way I can describe the feeling is like slowly throbbing and burning from the inside out. This part hurts.

I don’t take any medication for it since there aren’t any that really exist. But it doesn’t really bother me that much. Remember, I’ve lived with this for 26 years and I’ve learned how to cope.

Gloves are teh awesomness! I usually end up spending a small fortune on new gloves every year. Also in times of emergencies carrying around a cup of coffee from one of the various coffee shops that are always around works wonders. The paper cups with the extra layer (like the Costa cups, or the brown sleeve that you get from Starbucks) work wonders as I can’t burn myself without noticing on those. I’ve heard other suggestions like carrying around re-usable heat pads, but I find those things annoying and I keep losing them.

So, warm gloves, plenty off coffee and staying indoors when the weather gets bad are all good things. So long as there’s no Annual hike up the mountains in the middle of winter in the pouring rain and snow I’ll be just fine 🙂


MSCSM Blog – Legal stuff and things

First off, I am getting far too tempted to blog about anything and everything so I’ve decided that the Important blog entries from now on are going to get the MSCSM title, just to keep it straight what matters and what doesn’t. Just in case I end up writing a small novel about how great a new shade of nail varnish is.

Now to the important stuff. In class this week we had a look at Copyright laws, The Creative Commons Licence and how things like this impact on people, be they working musicians or average people on the street looking to buy music.

I’m not chatty by nature, and my dislike of heights meant that I was feeling kinda nervous in class so I didn’t just shout this out, but this is a subject that I have looked at before now. Last year I attended a lecture given by Joe Bennett from Bath Spa University on Songwriting and Copyright Laws among other things. (He also has a WordPress site, joebennett.net which is well worth checking out as it has some very interesting and insightful things for anyone who’s interested in the music industry)

This lecture discussed the importance of understanding you legal rights under Copyright laws, especially for young musicians and songwriters. Mr. Bennett strongly urged that anyone performing original music should get themselves a PRS Licence to protect their legal right to royalties and payments, as well as to join the Musician’s Union. Of course this does little when faced with illegal downloading. This was discussed in class and we had a few differing opinions on the matter. Ranging to the outright ‘It’s Theft’ from those against it, to those who argued that it was introducing them to new bands who they were then going out and buying concert tickets and merchandise from.

The thing I found interesting was the point raised that ‘People think they’re entitled to free music, yet still think that they can make a living as a musician’. I’m no saint and I’ll admit to having illegally downloaded tracks in the past through sites like Limewire. These days I purchase legally through the Apple Store because I find it convenient, I often find myself only wanting one song and it can usually be found quickly and easily with a few mouse clicks.

The Music Industry has arguably been one of the slowest industries to adapt to the new Internet age. Music Downloading just doesn’t make as much money for the companies involved as the average person assumes it does, and it has been predicted that Independent Record stores will be a thing of the past by 2015. It can be argued that Live music is the most profitable path that a musician can take. I recently saw a concert by King Creosote and The Earlies at Band on the Wall where they performed a live album that they had no intention of taking into a studio to record and they actively encouraged audience members to bring their own recording devices and make bootlegs. In a similar manner fans of Nine Inch Nails took HD cameras into one of their concerts and filmed footage that they then edited together and make available to Torrent Download. Frontman Trent Reznor was so impressed with the results that he linked the Torrent site off the official Nine Inch Nails blog site.

Quick little P.S, There was talk of Mash Ups and making videos in class. It’s going to be a little hard for me to make anything like that in the immediate future (not ruling it out entirely) but in the interest of sharing here’s some tracks I’ve put on SoundCloud of varying degrees of quality. I truly hate the vocals on one of them as they were done quickly in my old flat in Newcastle through a crappy old Behringer Ultravoice XM8500 that has seen better days, and due to the lack of soundproofing I would quite often have to get rid of whole takes as I’d recorded people having rows or the sound of next doors tv. Not the best working conditions 😦

Brain goes tick…tick..tick…

This blog thing is tempting. Since setting it up I’ve been tempted to write about all manner of strange and random things, from my coffee addiction to the cheese and mustard mashed potato I made yesterday. I’m trying to resist the urge to Spam but I’ve been reading a few of the other blogs that my fellow students have been writing and it’s been making me think.

Mainly I’ve been thinking about my relationship with computers and technology in general. I’m an avid Mac user and I hate PCs to the point where I struggle to understand them. This could be simple stubbornness on my part and I respect that. But I’m so used to my Macbook that I don’t even need to look where the keys are to type. The keys are in different places on a PC and it confuses me.

(I’m not trying to do a Mac vs PC thing here. I’m too biased in favour of Apple, the room I’m sitting in right now has a total of 4 Macs in it. My Macbook, my boyfriend’s Macbook Pro and two old Macs from the 90’s. Add to this my boyfriend’s iPhone and iPad, plus my beloved iPod Nano and my plans to get an iPhone of my own in a month or so when the contract on my current phone expires. It’s safe to say I’m an Apple Fangirl)

The first ‘computer’ I have any real memories of would be a friend’s Nintendo 64 and losing badly at Mortal Kombat, and wanting one of my own so I could practice and not get beat within seconds. I had IT lessons at School, where we learned Word and how to make spreadsheets in Excel (Which I have never used once since then) but they were boring. Computers were things to do work on and writing with a pen was faster. It was the games consoles that were interesting. One Christmas my Mum bought a Sony Playstation with the rule that it was to stay downstairs and everyone could use it. This didn’t stop it from eventually moving up to my brother’s bedroom but that is the way things go. There were also a few games that came with it. Some Barbie one for my younger sister, a Tomb Raider game that nobody ever got past the first level of and Resident Evil 2. That it the one that made me want computers in my life (I was quite young and couldn’t get the whole ‘consoles are different from computers’ thing).

A few years later we got a PC to help with School work and for a while things were ok. However by this point we’d all learned about the Internet, and brother and sister were both addicted to stuff like Bebo and MSN. They’d be on the PC constantly and fight over who got to spend more time on it. They would race home from school and dive right into the computer chair without even taking their coats off or closing the door. So to me, the PC was something that got fought over and I was better off without. I didn’t care. I thought it was insane that they would rather sit indoors and ‘talk’ to their friends online when they only lived a few doors down the street. I could use a computer, same as anyone else. It just wasn’t worth the screaming match that it would have got me into to use the thing. I had a few websites that I liked and would probably go on them on saturday or sunday morning before my lazy siblings got out of bed but it wasn’t all that important to me.

When I started studying my Foundation degree I was told I’d be needing a laptop since my tutors did most of their work online and there would be a Student Website I’d need to have access to. (Gateshead College used Moodle, Salford uses Blackboard). I got a Mac based off my tutor’s advice that it would be better suited to the type of work I’d be doing. It took me a few weeks to get used to it but once I did I loved it. I do believe that it is so much easier to work with than the PC ever was. Best of all, I had moved out of my Mum’s house by this point so there was no-one to fight over it. I could use it whenever I wanted. And since the Mac was so ‘different’ my siblings didn’t want to play with it when they came to visit.

Something I’ve just remembered. Moving into my little flat was an interesting affair. I actually bought an Xbox 360 before I even bought a TV. I spent close to £250 on it if I remember right, and I only spent about £150 on a cooker from Argos which I didn’t get for a few weeks after the Xbox 360. Talk about getting your priorities wrong. Take out and microwave food is no way to live.

Today is October 6th 2011, the day Steve Jobs died. And I am kind of sad about it. 56 is too young to die, especially when you consider that people are living to be 100. At one point in my life I was describing myself as a technophobe and I had no interest in computers at all. Today I’m willing to admit to being an Apple Fangirl and I’m quite happy with that fact. So if anyone ever catches me giving the University PC’s evil looks or struggling with the keyboard, just remember, the @ key is in the wrong place and it has confused me.

Blog Time?

Hi people

This is my first ever blog so I’ll try to keep this making some kind of sense. My name’s Paula and I’m studying MSc Audio Production at the University of Salford. I like music of all kinds, my favourite bands/artist include Nine Inch Nails, The Foo Fighters, Fleetwood Mac and Newton Faulkner. I used to sing with the Gateshead College Splinta’s jazz band (or The Splinta’s for short) which was massive amounts of fun. I started out wanting to be a singer but found myself at my best when I was working with others, especially when it came to recording, editing and mixing tracks that I’d helped to write. It seemed like a rather good idea to pursue this further, which is why I’m studying a Master’s Degree. Other random info includes, I like make up and spend far too much money on the stuff and I have obsessions with the work of George R.R. Martin, kitten videos on Youtube and icanhazcheezburger.com. I will own a cat one day but my current living arrangements don’t allow for one.

I’ll be honest here, I’d never heard the term ‘Digital Identity’ before I started the Social Media Module and I had little idea of what it meant. In a way it’s like creating an Alter Ego online that you (hopefully) control and that you can use to create the way the world, or at least the Internet, perceives you. It looks to me like it works both ways. For example Amazon is still trying to sell me books by Christine Feehan, who I lost interest in years ago. Yet because I bought those books back in 2009 they’ve collected that data about me and send me an email every time she writes a new book even though I have no interest in buying it. So while I control what I put out there I have no control over how the world takes it or decides to use it…

…better make sure my embarrassing baby photos stay hidden then.

As for what I want to get out of this module. Well, a Twitter account was never on my list of priorities. But in all seriousness the Internet is an invaluable tool in todays world and I’d be crazy not to learn how to use it to my advantage while I have the chance to. Modern technology is changing the way the world works all the time and I want to understand that better.

Just to see if I can do this. I like pictures