A riddle.

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If I tell people I am still 21, and there is no one there that knows my real age, would I be able to relive my life and do things differently?

Silly post, I know. I’ll just go and update the ‘About Us’ section.

Back in Business.

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So I’m not going to skip over the fact that this blog has been a bit neglected. It’s been a long time, I know, but I think the demands on both me and my good friend Jas have caused us to focus on other things which meant this blog got pushed to the sidelines. But no worries, here I am, back in business!

It’s been a whirlwind of a year and all the updates of that year will be given in subsequent posts (I’ve had quite a few ideas jotted down that I actually need to formulate and write up). For now, I just wanted to reignite the fire that is this blog! So hello. I have welcomed myself back.

Emily

On the appreciation of art

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Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

~Moby Dick

It’s been one of those days where nothing feels right and you can’t sit still long enough to finish a cup of tea, never mind actually get anything done. A relentless restlessness pervades your soul and it seems the only solution is to take to the sea. Metaphorically. One must completely remove themselves from the environment they’re in and completely give yourself over to the freshness of the experience.

Living in Preston and being in the middle of revision doesn’t give me the freedom to be like Ishmael and take to the sea literally – I mean I could hop on the train to Blackpool but then it can just get awkward with train timings and the dark etc – so I did the next best thing. There’s a park in the center of the city (technically) with a river running through it and sometimes, you just can’t beat the peacefulness of a walk with nothing but your music and your thoughts for company.

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Now I’ve never been massively interested in art – I appreciate it and love going to museums but I never got it. And then today it clicked. It was while I was sat next to the water, mindlessly watching the play of the waning light play on the water and the different directions that the water was flowing and the way the water moved and I realised there are some things that simply cannot be captured in words. Words are beautiful – they can do a million and one things but even if I’d sat there for 5 more hours with a dictionary and thesaurus, I couldn’t have captured that river in words. It’s times like this that art is so completely essential to humanity – it gives us the ability to capture the beauty of a sunset and a river flowing through the city, completely unaware and uncaring of the petty problems that exist less than a mile away.

It’s a new day, It’s a new life, and I’m feeling …

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Blank.

Usually that’s not how the song goes. I would know – Bubbles is by far one of my most beloved crooners. Something about his voice, it just melts me.

But I digress.

As my co-blogger/partner in crime/haven’t seen her in ages friend oh so helpfully pointed out, I haven’t made my presence felt on here. But the strange thing is, it’s not due to a lack of things to say, opinions to voice. I find myself feeling void these days. I have so much to do between the paper, Spanish, my degree, 2 jobs and now the radio that I don’t tend to get a moment to stand still and smell the roses. Not that there are any roses here but you understand my general meaning. The point is, I feel like I haven’t breathed in what feels like ages. Life seems to be passing me by – I’m doing all of these things, taking all of these opportunities but I’m so numb to it all that I may as well be doing it on auto-pilot.

There comes a time when you stop chasing the big things and learn to enjoy the little pockets or moments that life gives you (a bit heavy and potentially depressing but hear me out on this thought..) I had come to embrace the little moments, love them even but it now feels like I’m living underwater. There are two separate worlds in the sense that I’m both part of the world (I do everything, I talk to everyone, I smile, I laugh, I eat, I sleep) but at the same time, everything is like white noise. My mind is so overwrought that it’s stopped processing anything. The world feels silent.

And if there’s one thing I have never been good with, it’s the silence.

Can music be used as a tool for productivity and motivation through association?

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Again, I really need to stop with these fancy titles, but I just can’t help myself.

So recently, I have been a little stressed (which explains the lack of blog posting – although I have no idea what excuse my co-blogger will have!). Having started the journey down postgraduate study, my life now consists of literature reading, trying to understand many difficult concepts all in on go and shadowing the resident PhD-ers to get some answers to the ever-growing list of questions.

Today was a particularly stressful day, albeit, the stress is completely self-inflicted. I like to work by deadlines. Deadlines are what push me to get stuff done and force me to manage my time better. Today happened to be the day before my self-imposed deadline where I had to have all of my chemistry reading and methodology done so that I have something to show in my supervisory meeting tomorrow. I came home from shadowing in the labs and was feeling downright unmotivated. I watched TV, cooked dinner and lounged about on the internet knowing full well that I had not done any of the chemistry reading I was supposed to. So what did I do? I turned on my Spotify web player and I started playing Alt-J’s new album ‘This is All Yours’. This album has recently become my go to album when I am doing work or trying to be productive. And would you believe it, a couple of hours later I am finished with all my reading and not once was there a lack of motivation, or a thought of procrastination crossed my mind. I was astounded. Just a few hours earlier, I was determined to be the most unproductive person ever, and now I have checked off all the things on my to-do list.

This brings me back to the title. I can’t quite explain why it is that when I am listening to the mellow tones of Alt-J that I suddenly focus on my work. Maybe it’s a Pavlovian response that when I hear those particular songs, I am more focused on work. Again, I am sure there is literature out there investigating this kind of effect, but I’m done reading papers for now.

Emily

Gaming: Analysis of personal risk assessment and decision making.

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First of all, excuse the fancy title, I’m practising my scientific writing and it seems to have seeped it’s way through.

So here I am, on a slightly chilly Sunday evening playing Borderlands on my laptop. As you may have gathered from my little ‘About Us’ section, that I am a newbie at gaming. The games I have managed to play in the past have been games which involve time management (Sally’s Salon) and games which involve exploration of the environment with no real objective or mission (Terraria). Where as these games may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I enjoyed these very much. The time management element of a game showed me that I am good at prioritising and keep on track with all the tasks undertaken. The exploration element appeals to me because having learnt the basics of moving, I was immediately able to wander aimlessly and discover without any real threat (apart from some pesky slimes etc).

When choosing games, I am a sucker for fun and lively and I am definitely not the one for immersive games with horror elements. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind a good horror film every now and then, I sometimes even enjoy it (depending on if there is actually a plot), but there’s something about immersive games or even first person games that scare me. Something about experiencing the environment first hand and the fact that any second now, something could jump out at you scares me more than just watching a horror film.

So this brings us back to the beginning. I am in my living room playing Borderlands. It just so happens that today was one of those days that I felt like playing a video game, so naturally, having just started playing Borderlands in the summer, I decided to put it on and have another stab at it. Upon getting into the game, I decided to spend some time recalling on how to get around and how to use my gun. Instead of going on a mission, I decided to wander the little safety zone I was in until it became night time, and of course, my brain then tells me, it’s too dangerous to go out of the safety zone at night and it was best to stay until the light comes back. I wandered around some more, looting as I went and happened to end up on the boundary between my safe zone and the dangerous zone beyond. Hovering on the edge, I could see two dots of red pop up on my map indicating the enemy. Whilst pondering whether or not I should actually just go and kill them, an enemy happened to appear, frantically running towards me. My finger rapidly clicked my mouse button and fired him down, and all that was left was me with a slightly faster heart rate. It was then that I decided to quit the game. That was enough for tonight. But then that got me thinking. By doing what I did, does that describe the kind of person I am? A person who sees difficulty in a situation and decides to not go for it? A person who uses any excuse in order to justify not completing or even starting a mission? A person who is so scared of the unknown that they decide it’d be better to leave then to deal with it? I don’t know, but it was definitely a thought-provoking moment and I’d thought I’d share it.

I am sure there is definitely some scientific literature that would provide some answers but my head is swarming with more relevant papers for my literature review and I just can’t face opening more tabs on my browser right now.

Emily

Homemade gifts.

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Whether it’s birthdays or the holidays, I love making and receiving homemade gifts. They just mean so much more to me when someone you know has dedicated time to producing a gift, and it means EVEN more to me because I know how long it sometimes takes to make these things.

So when a certain someone’s anniversary (i.e. mine) came round, I decided that it would be nice to make the gifts rather than buying them (cue the sock bunny from Friends, which I actually really wanted to make but then decided that it probably wouldn’t even register on the receiver’s mind as a Friends reference).

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Although I am no good at making physical objects, I have been known to draw a little and therefore decided to use that to my advantage. After many hours of drafts and dead-end ideas, I came up with this:

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The writing on the bottom says: “I pika-choose you!”.

What I got in return was so much cuter:

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I feel pretty bad having neglected this blog a little, BUT it is only because I am working on a few projects for Christmas and a birthday that is way too close to Christmas (I’m looking at you, Jas)! I’m hoping my days get filled with much more PhD-ness so I can update the blog with my PhD happenings!

Emily