I didn’t think it would be this hard to keep blogging – or the cheats way of writing an essay

20 Apr

So I didn’t think this would be so hard

Blogging should be easy I thought, I’m constantly in connection with the digital world, my iPhone is at my side 24/7 I’m on my laptop at least twice a day, my old archaic desktop is always on if I’m at home, my iPod is on me when I go for a run, how many more connections do I need.

But it just doesn’t happen, I start articles, do some research and before I get a chance to finish something else appears that steals my interest, bundles it up, and runs away with it.

On some fundamental level I suppose I lack the mental discipline to simply sit and write for an hour, I should mention at this point that I have a degree, I have written a 10,000 word essay, surely I should cope with a 200 word blog article??

So I have tried to trick myself, I am decieving my concious by writing about writing, it seems that whatever level of procrastination I am sitting at I can always write a plan.

Plans are easy, they don’t count, they really contain no information in themselves, just metadata about the essay, the layout, the structure, the content.

But if you look back at an essay plan and fill in some of the gaps, inserting nuggets of actual relevant information, you can pull it apart like an accordian, extend it beyond a simple plan into an ever more complex and factual plan. It’s still not an essay, there’s too many bullet points for that, instead of flowing paragraphs you have simple single statements of fact. Sentances that mean nothing to one another, ranks of ordered lists with no connections.

When there is no more information to add, when you know exactly what info is going where due to this beautiful plan that you have created, all that is left to do is to get creative with words such as ‘and’ ‘therefore’ and ‘but’ to link all your bullet points together. Always re-read what you create, edit it, introduce it and conclude it, and then write your essay by copying word for word your ‘plan’

Obviously that last stage is optional…

How did that happen you may ask, my plan has evolved into an actual essay…

I don’t know, and I don’t want to, my concious will never forgive me.

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What’s in a name, the birth of VisceralPlasma

25 Mar

This blog was dragged kicking and screaming from the dark depths of my imagination, as a child of the digital age it was always a certainty that I would create this beast, it was, as always, simply a matter of time.

VisceralPlasma is a place to splurge the contents of an overly active and somewhat twisted mind, to share, with anyone who has a mind to listen, my views, ideas and experiences of the world at large.

The name is an amalgamation of two words, Visceral, which means characterised by intuition, and Plasma, the forth state of matter and also the transparent liquid in which the cells of your body are suspended.

Combined these words form a very powerful concept, this blog is the medium in which my gut feelings and intuitions about life, the universe and everything are suspended. This blog provides a space that allows those things to exist, without it these thoughts would wither and die in seconds.

There are other meanings I could draw from these things, as an MSc Physicist I studied Plasma, the forth state of matter, to a very high standard. I can, and possibly will, talk about electron cascades and dielectric breakdowns, very romantic and poignant concepts when you understand them.

The notion of plasma itself is a very enchanting one, a supercharged or superheated gas that has reached such a highly energised state that it begins to pull itself apart, creating an area of superhot space radiating all manner of energy, light, heat and even noise.

The flame of a candle, ceaselessly shifting in a light breeze, a streaking lightning bolt, electric and immediate, or the gargantuan sun, burning hot and huge in the heavens. All of these are plasma and all are incredibly hard to define spatially.

Next time you look at a flame try to define where the flame stops and the air surrounding it begins, assuming you could look at only one instant in time, a freeze frame if you will, it will still be extremely difficult to define a limit of that plasma.

Visceral also has an absolute meaning, it refers to the viscera, the internal organs, both these words have a scientific meaning then and yet both can also refer to something undefined, the intuitive guesswork that seems to contradict logic, or an area of super charged energy radiating to all who can see.

This then is the real meaning of the blog, my unrefined and energetic thoughts radiating out for all to see.

Joe’s Home Cooking – Shortbread

20 Mar

The finished ShortbreadToday I am going to make shortbread, a delicious biscuit that goes very well with a cup of tea and a dollop of cream.

The ‘short’ nature of the biscuit comes from crumbliness, a result of the high fat content of the butter, anyone interested in an actual history and other facts about this tasty treat should check out this Guardian article on Shortbread, they include their own recipe which I cannot comment on as I have never tried it, I can vouch for my own though, it is tried and tested and I have no reason to alter it.

Ingredients

  • Plain Flour                           260g
  • Caster Sugar                       100g
  • Rice Flour                            40g
  • Unsalted Butter                 200g
  • A pinch of Salt if you think you need it
  • More caster sugar to sprinkle over the shortbread at the end

Equipment

  • A food mixer
  • Scales
  • Two 7’ sponge tins, the removable bottoms are essential
  • A fork and a spoon

The Equipment for making Shortbread

Method

Start with the butter, cut it into small cubes and leave to soften, if fresh from the fridge this will take quite a long time. A good tip is to half fill a saucepan with lukewarm water and place the cold butter cubes into it, it should take around 10 mins to soften the butter to the point where you can easily squash a cube between your fingers.

Next weigh out the plain flour, the sugar and the rice flour into the mixing bowl, mix this for about 5 mins on a low speed, be careful of going too fast as the mixture is very fine and will puff up in a dust.

When the butter is soft pick the cubes out of the water, shake off any excess water and drop into the powder mixture, mix slightly faster than before until most of the large lumps are gone and the mixture is like fine, moist sand, if the dough is a solid lump you have mixed for too long. The idea of shortbread is to be light and airy, I cannot be sure but I believe this texture comes from the looseness of the dough at this stage, if you mix for too long the dough combines into a very dense slab and when cooked retains the denseness, still nice but not ideal.

Divide the mixture equally into two 7’ sponge tins and press down evenly with the back of a spoon, again try retain the looseness of the dough by not compacting it too much, if the mix is firm enough mark out the portion size with a flat knife and prick the dough in the relative pattern, I often don’t bother with this stage and just bung them straight into the oven.

Bake on 180°C, 350°F for 20-25 mins, I prefer to overcook mine slightly, I allow the full 25 mins and allow the edges to crisp up and go quite a dark brown, it’s a fine line between well done and burnt and any longer than 25 mins is too long.

When they are done take them out and immediately sprinkle with a little more caster sugar, be liberal and don’t worry about making a mess, leave to stand for 10 mins before pushing the bottoms up and leave for a further 30 mins or until completely cooled to remove from the tin bottom, place on a wooden board and cut with a long knife.

Store in an airtight container, but eat within a couple days anyway.

The finished Shortbread

Image

A cat

19 Mar

A cat

This is a cat, so therefore… this must be the internet

Hello

19 Mar

The First Post

This is my first post on a blog site, ever, I have no idea what to write about, I’m a little nervous.

I’m going to attempt to supplement an academic career with a bit of money earned as a freelance writer, to that end I am thinking that a regular blog would be a good aide to showcasing my ability and to also get me in the mindset of thinking and writing about a wide variety of topics and things.

I have many interests and I often find I have strong views about many subjects, I also have two cats and a dog, so if all else fails I will resort to cat pictures.

So heres to a hopefully successful and fruitful career as a blogger