Pain, music, and DDR

I’m fully off the nortriptyline and I haven’t had withdrawal side effects for several days now. On the other hand, my persistent fibro dizziness is back, and when I hit a wall with a pain flare I really feel it. I’d forgotten just how much more intense that was before nortriptyline. (Of course, while on nortriptyline it’s not like the end result was any different so I don’t feel like I’ve made a big mistake getting off of it.)

My pain doc recommended trying low-dose naltrexone, which is something my previous pain doc had scoffed at1, but anyway I’ve sent a message to my GP asking about getting on it, and if she can’t take care of that then maybe my psychiatrist can, or maybe the pain doc can (but unfortunately he’s really busy and appointments with him are booked to well over a month out at this point).

I’m pretty happy with my output for Novembeat this year. I didn’t manage to do a track yesterday due to pain and distraction but maybe I’ll catch up tonight, and maybe I’ll even manage to get a 30th track down tomorrow. But if not, that’s okay. There’s no prize for having done a song every day, and I feel like my ratio of good to meh stuff is a lot better this year than usual anyway. Regardless, the official Bandcamp release will be on Friday, and I’ll also submit to Distrokid sooner rather than later (probably on December 1, meaning it should hit iTunes/Spotify/etc. around Friday as well).

Usually I spend a lot of time on mastering but ever since I started using YouLean Loudness Meter as a guide for Spotify normalization I’ve found that there’s really not a lot of fiddliness I need to do anymore; getting my overall loudness to -14dB LUFS and using YouLean’s visualizer as a guide for where to tweak things has made the rest of the fiddly mastering process way less relevant/necessary. Like, the main purpose to mastering is to try to get a good loudness overall, and targeting Spotify’s target has the nice side effect of happening to do that. Clearly Spotify didn’t arrive at their loudness targets arbitrarily!

(The other major thing to do in mastering is equalization but I’ve gotten a good handle on just doing that as I record, and using EQ tweaking as part of the loudness targeting.)

Anyway. Now that Novembeat’s finally nearly over, I can maybe get back to working on Lewi, and of course I have some other musical projects I’ve been putting off but Novembeat always makes them feel a lot less daunting, which is sort of the point to doing that, right?

Also, back in grad school I played DDR a lot — like, multiple hours a day — and it’s a workout which worked really well for me in terms of raising my dopamine and lowering my heart rate and blood pressure. Over the years I played it less and less, and in 2012 I ended up selling all my DDR stuff since it was just taking up a lot of space and there wasn’t anywhere good to put it in my home. I’d occasionally go to Gameworks to revisit it but it was hard to keep the habit up. But now I’m back in the mood to start it up again, and have finally figured out how to accommodate it in my home… the hard part being finding the hardware to play it on now!

It’s still fairly easy to find the crappy soft pads online, and back in grad school I always had pretty good luck by duct-taping those to one of those spiky chair mats, which kept them in place really well. But they’d still wear out pretty quickly, and in 2005 I bought a pair of Cobalt Flux pads which were amazing. Rumor has it that Cobalt Flux is going to start production back up early next year, but in the meantime there’s several opensource/DIY CF clones out there (and the design really isn’t all that complicated in the first place). Re:Flex Dance is an opensource/DIY kit that will supposedly become available in about two weeks (I’m only linking to the placeholder site right now as a reminder to myself for later).

There’s also a Polish manufacturer which is very well-regarded, but they only produce USB control boxes for Stepmania and of course shipping from Poland is expensive. The control box situation isn’t a huge problem (it’s easy enough to repurpose an old PS2 controller’s innards) but I’m not really into the idea of paying more for the shipping than for the pad itself. It’s also not clear as to whether these pads have a modular control box or if the USB stuff is integrated directly into the pad.

Anyway, the big breakthrough that made all this possible was figuring out how to accommodate this stuff in my home. My home’s layout is a bit hard to explain but basically I have my den loft which is directly over my kitchen, and has very low ceilings and thin floors — not a great spot for DDR. Downstairs I have a living/dining room which is much better for this stuff, and I finally realized that I can, in fact, put a small TV there. I already had all the hardware needed for that, anyway. A couple years ago I had swapped my second computer monitor for a cheap TV to make my streaming setup work a bit better (it’s complicated™) but I don’t need that for my streaming anymore, and the TV had some other annoying side-effects on macOS anyway, so I’ve gone back to my regular second monitor and have put the cheap TV in the sitting room. And my old PS2 still works2, so now it’s sitting comfy there.

I also put my old Apple TV there and have a nice visual display when I’m doing AirPlay, which will be especially nice if I can ever have a party again.


Oh, and this means finally having a good space to play Ring Fit Adventure; previously I was playing it on the TV-monitor in my studio but that was really hard to accommodate, what with my whole recording setup there. So even if the DDR plan never materializes I’m still better off with electronic exercise entertainment than I was before.

Or at least, I will be able to when my left joy-con comes back

  1. His reasoning being that it wasn’t properly studied and all relief people had been claiming for it was anecdotal, and therefore he couldn’t recommend it and my insurance wouldn’t cover it. Never mind that pain management is very personal and weird and the fact that something only works for a few people doesn’t make it not worth trying! 

    Anyway there’s a proper study underway now so clearly it’s worked for enough people that someone thinks it’s worth trying.

  2. Amazingly enough, its RTC was still accurate to within a few hours even though it hadn’t been powered on in close to a decade! 

    Incidentally, the last time I turned it on would have probably been to play some DDR. Go figure.

    Also I guess the RTC drift would have happened regardless of how long it had been turned off; it’s not like this thing uses NTP. It’s more that I’m impressed by the battery in it holding out that long.


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