Fountain Pens

An Introduction to Fountain Pens

Despite my heart’s deep desire, fountain pens aren’t named so because they squirt inks into the air. 😩 Or even because they were found at the fountain of youth. A fountain pen is called a fountain pen merely because it has a reservoir of ink for a continuous flow rather than constantly dipping them in ink as opposed to dip pens. The first guy to be credited with the invention of fountain pen was Petrache Poenaru in 1827.

The Fountain pen writes with ink delivered through a metallic nib (stainless steel, gold, iridium,titanium etc). The ink is stored in a hollow body which rests on the writer’s hand. It may be made of metal or plastic. The ink may directly be stored in the body or in a cartridge/converter. The primary force that sends the ink to the nib is our most hated physicist Newton’s Gravity and Capillary Action.

Now, what makes a fountain pen different?

Many reasons actually. It is eco-friendly, lots of customisations of body weight, nibs types and inks are available. It adds a certain style to your personality. Fountain pens have that rustic old charm even when they are made of cutting edge technology. Fountain pens force you to slow down and pay attention to what and how are you writing. It is temperamental, lasts a lifetime if taken proper care of, will be a great conversation starter and will become a writing companion to you, if you let it be.

But none of the above compares to holding a pen in your hand that isn’t disposable. The mere act of holding that pen is what I might say, transformational. The ritualistic process of refilling and flushing (a fancy term of washing) your pen, the weight of the pen, the unique design of the writing nib, the ease of ink flow, the body that reminds you of a love tucked away in the corner of your heart makes you want to write things out on a paper. Get yourself a quality paper and fancy ink and you’ll feel the poetry of motion. This might even inspire you to write poems/letters dedicated to your loved ones, or even make you want to write that book you always wanted to write.

I get it, not all of you would like to have a writing instrument with a personality. Just give a try and who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself in a lifelong affair. It’ll definitely give your signature and your handwriting some metaphorical weight.

A fair bit of warning though, the pens come in variety of costs, sizes and nib types. Make sure to do a bit of research before spending a lot of money on a pen that you turns out to not be what you have imagined. Or even worse, you might become an addict and start hoarding various types of inks and pens. Keep in mind, the pen is not an end. You need a decent quality paper and ink to truly enjoy the writing instrument. A basic information on how the ink flows through the veins (feeder and nib) of the pen, typical issues like nib drying, ink being too wet or too dry on the paper, false starts, jumping, etc will make your life a bit easier.

If you are one of them who use pens just of a quick note or doodle, or just plain hate any maintenance on your writing instruments, but still want to upgrade your writing instruments, by all means use a gel or a ball or a roller pen. If you feel that you are comfortable with pens and still want to level up, buy a dip pen or use feathers as quills. Don’t blame me if it proves to be too demanding.

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Splitting Hairs -Number 1: The Induction Cooktop

A series of my inconveniences with household gadgets – The Induction Cooktop

We have established that I can cook. I use gas stoves and induction cooktop both. The induction stove is 1600 watts max, operates on 220 Volts and 50 Hz current. It can heat only steel and its other alloys. It has a 9-step heat adjustment mechanism and a countdown timer plus a few preset time & heat settings for about 7 food items. The heating area is about 10 inches in diameter, makes limited noise and the device weighs around bare 4 kg.

So much for the introduction. There are a lot of things I like about it and almost the same amount of things that I don’t.

Likes:

1. Portability – It is easier to carry around the house and to other houses too if needed.

2. Eco friendly nature: It doesn’t use fire for heating, but uses electricity which is generated by burning up stuff in thermal power plants. All in all, it uses indirect heat from far away more efficiently than it’d if it were heated directly. It doesn’t produce too much smoke and makes staying in kitchen more pleasant.

3. Quickness: It heats the utensils faster than I am used to and to a pretty high heat (enough to burn your hands).

4. Hating Insects: The cooktop has an in-built hatred towards arthropods, particularly cockroaches. So much so that it refuses to work properly if a cockroach comes near it.

5. Timer: It has a built-in timer which can be programmed to supply heat for a specific number of minutes (max 2 hours).

Dislikes/Drawbacks:

1. Non-Versatality:  Doesn’t heat up all utensils, only specialized flat base cookware work with it. It is also not very good for searing, stir frying or any technique which requires a good amount of heat.

2. Temperature Issues: It stops heating if the glass surface heats up to a threshold.

3. Heating Technique: It uses eddy currents produced in utensils to hear them up. In the bottom half of the control settings, the device just heats for a minimum short period time instead of decreasing the intensity. It is the equivalent of taking the utensils on and off the stove to keep the heat low.

4. The Food: Due to heating my magnetic rubbing, the pans get heated on a very specific spot. Even the medium thick pans tend to cook the foods unevenly, causing a not-so-easy cooking experience.

Few incidents:

– I have burnt milk, oats, rice , lentils, etc at the bottom of my pan.

– Once there was a power cut during cooking and I had to eat uncooked pasta for dinner.

– I tried to heat water in an insulating steel mug, I have maybe damaged the mug and the cooktop both.

– Metal chains, spoons, coins and key rings are best kept away from the heating coil (learnt it the hard way). 

– I was very confident in the portable nature of the top, but it is highly dependent on the vicinity of a power outlet.

Having finished this article, I thought of deleting it about three times. But what kind of a man would I be if I deleted the posts I didn’t like? Answer: A thoughtful one. So I decided to write out a series of articles about what I own and what I like/hate about it  The induction stove was one of my favourite pieces of kitchen equipment and probably still is. Hope the next one is as fun to dissect as this one. 

The Taxi Fare Problem

A Solution to an old problem

 

This problem was probably the first problem that was presented to children learning linear equations in one variable. The objective was to simply put a mathematical equation of the given word problem. Simple, isn’t it?

 

The statement: Design an equation to calculate the fare of a taxi subject to following rule- 80 units for upto first kilometer and 50 units per kilometer after the first. (I used units because…well because I fancied it).

Now, if x is the distance travelled in kilometers and y is the total fare, then the equation comes out to be:

y = (80+50x)

Once again, simple. However, I was smart and asked my teachers if I should pay 80 units to the taxi-man even if I traveled 0 kilometers.  My teacher glared at me and made a correction on the board.

y = (80+50x) , for all x>0
y = 0        , for all x=0

He also dared me to try and travel negative distance and figure out the fare then.

I considered it a low-blow. Now because I couldn’t prove him wrong, I had to accept that he was right (mathematics is full of clever proofs in similar manner).

Fast forward to 8 years later:

I made a small but significant change to the original equation:

y = (x/x)(80+50x)  , for every non negative x

Now what would that change? I think that we wouldn’t need to develop a step break in the function. My function would just cease to exist when a traveller travelled zero distance. Which kinda makes sense because if I didn’t travel anywhere, I’d like to not pay the fare. Which isn’t the same as paying the fare of ‘0’ rupees. Naturally, I didn’t play with the left hand side of the equation because I didn’t want to touch the dependent variable.

My friend thinks that this isn’t the optimal solution, but this is my blog, and I’ll write whatever I want.

 

 

A Sense of Touch

A tribute to the one I love

Let me begin by saying that not quite recently, someone visited my life again. If she is reading this, and I know she is, I want to say that she is the inspiration right from the very first penning down of thoughts and she continues to be, all these years later. I will always be in love with her, as I have been all these years.

Now, enough emotions! Let’s talk science. Oxford defines touch as Come into or be in contact with. While the dictionary named after mother mary defines it as: to bring a bodily part into contact with especially so as to perceive through the tactile sense : handle or feel gently usually with the intent to understand or appreciate. What they seem to convey is that touching involves some sort of closeness with the object and the receiver (you). We associate touch with something in contact (almost zero distance) with our skin. Touch gives us a sensation of texture and temperature of an object. Usually touching something gives us way more emotional contact with a subject than vision or audition (audition does mean a sense of hearing). So yeah, whatever! Touching is physical contact/feeling something. One might even call it a kind of collision.

But let us zoom in to the big picture here. The idea of atoms as solid ball bearings is so wrong that I am not even gonna talk about it. When seen through a microscope, atoms of one body are grouped together and tend to stay together while same thing happens inside the other object. When one set of atoms comes is close proximity of the other set, they start to repel. Once that distance reaches a threshold, atoms would rather break their pre-existing bonds than let other atoms ‘touch’ them (to penetrate atoms we need smaller particles like alpha rays, gamma rays etc). Even when you look at the famous experiment on atomic collision, namely  Rutherford’s alpha scattering experiment , you’ll see that atoms don’t really collide with each other. I mean even the alpha particles were repelled by coulomb’s force rather than through touching. The point I am trying to make here is, we don’t know what touch feels like. Nothing ever touches, or is touched by something. We are merely floating on a bed of electrical forces acting on our body. The touch we feel is, in reality, our own atoms trying to not fall apart.

Yet,there are times when a single gesture of love was enough to rouse up my insides. The sound of her voice, the smell of her breath & her memories are enough to make my body shiver up. In many ways, she has touched me, without coming in contact with my body. This is what I want to say. I confess that I am hopelessly, irretrievably, shamelessly, completely, heels over heads in love with her ;as she is with me.

You have guessed it right. I am more out of my mind than I was before. But I have talked to one or two people about this concept of touch, and they were of the same opinion too that I need to see a psychiatrist. Please don’t call those guys with white aprons!

 

More Mathematics

Imagination is a very useful tool

Imagine a number, now imagine an imaginary number; multiply them both and you have what we can mathematically define as the imaginary part of a complex number. Sounds weird? This is the just the beginning.

Complex numbers were created just for the sake of defying reality and laughing at its face while doing so. Suppose you want to find out a number which when multiplied by itself, gives you 2. Skipping the not so easy calculations, you get the answer as 1.4142(approx). However, if you are clever, you might argue that the answer will be same if you did that with (-)1.4142 . And since I can’t prove you wrong, I have to agree that you are right (which isn’t how things work in the real world).

Now, can you think of a number which when multiplied by itself, gives you the result as (-)2 or negative two? Honestly, one can not. But science wasn’t going to let a few constraints defeat it. Hence, we ‘discovered’ imaginary numbers (cuz as if all the other numbers exist in the physical plane). Scientists decided to give i the value of square root of negative one. Thus, i1.4142 gives you negative 2 when multiplied by itself. I still believe that this was a low blow, but the official ruling is in favour of mathematics.

Mathematicians of the early days refused to believe that i existed. (I am not even sure how they were convinced that all the other numbers existed). But not understanding something and not utilising something are two different ideas. We may be bad at guessing how something works, but we can, with great efficiency, make use of it. Electrical engineers, signal analysts, extra-terrestrial communication experts,weather report guys, piano simulation designers, satellite designers and various other jobs that require fancy mathematics make use of complex calculations.

Some weird properties of imaginary numbers:

-If you know exponents, you can’t raise a positive number to any power and expect to get a negative value. The lowest power (negative infinity) will give you answer closest to zero and the highest power will give you an absurdly big number. But, raise some positive numbers to imaginary powers (sounds like an old prophecy) to get negative numbers. Ex- Euler’s formula.  Thus, imaginary numbers have made moving beyond infinity a little bit easier.

-A comment on Mathematics Stack Exchange stated: Imagine an electronic piano. Each key produces a different tone. A volume control changes the amplitude (volume) of all the keys by the same amount. That’s how real numbers affect signals.Now, imagine a filter. It makes some keys sound louder and some keys sound softer, depending on their frequencies. That’s complex numbers — they allow an “extra dimension” of calculation.

– People say that complex numbers are used in computation and propagation of signal waves and that modern communication wouldn’t be possible without the use of complex numbers.

– Generally, complex numbers are used in their ‘geometrical representations’. Which means that they provide a new degree of freedom to the points on the number line. Our numbers can now rotate and move above or below the number line all thanks to the complex numerals. Effectively, it means that our number line is just a projection of one or more complex number lines.

– There is no difference between 3i and (-)3i , apart from the fact that they point in different directions. Also (2+3i), (2-3i), (-2-3i) and (-2+3i) represent different points, if you plot them on a graph paper. So in a way, imaginary numbers give a sense of direction to the already existing number systems.

 

Well that’s it. I can’t think of any other normal way of working around imaginary numbers. This was a big waste of time.

 

 

 

A Recipe for Disaster

A guide on cooking

Yep, I like to cook. Scratch that. I can cook. There’s nothing wrong with being able to cook for your own self. Many bloggers get views based solely on posting recipes and food porn pictures. I would like to top that. This recipe goes out to all those people who can’t cook, those who think they can cook but can’t, and also to those who try to teach others how to cook. I believe it was myself who said that “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can not even do that, make fun of it”.
In the style of your favourite celebrity chefs, let me begin by saying that cooking is not a hobby, it is a life skill. Recipes aren’t set in stone. They are more of guidelines. But if you follow recipes to the point, you will almost always end up with a good dish. This recipe is close to my heart.

 

You’ll need:
1. Inferior Equipments.
2. Poor Quality Ingredients.
3. Impatience.
4. A poorly explained youtube video which is more of a show-off than a how-to.
5. Lack of knowledge and practice of the simplest of culinary skills.
6. Good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (obviously).
7. Salt and pepper and various other seasonings as per your taste.

 

Equipments Needed:
A really big-ass sharp knife. A small knife. Frying pan, small saucepan, large saucepan, wok, spatula, fork, food processor, chopping board, baking tray, pasta rolling machine, hand-held blender, potato masher, apple corer, garlic mincer, pestle & mortar, digital weighing machine, electron microscope, laser-precision cutter, mass spectrometer and also the hubble telescope.

 

Procedure:
1. Begin by prepping. Chop your not so fresh vegetables in fairly not-so-equal sized cubes. Cut one or two of your fingers while you are at it.
2. Preheat the oven to 180° Fahrenheit because you forgot to check if the recipe said degrees.
3. Put your pan on high heat and add all oil and butter. Wait till it smokes.
4. Once your pan has finished its cigarette, add all your prepped veggies into the pan with complete disregard to the cooking times of different vegs. Do not use common sense at this point of time.
5. Once half the vegetables are burnt, add your meat (I mean NOT ‘your meat’). Keep the flame high and cook the meat till it is burnt from the outside while still frozen in the middle.
6. Prepare a nice potato salad for a ‘healthy’ side dish. Top it off with a fried egg, just for fun.
7. Without tasting even at the very end, serve it on the plate. Don’t worry about the portion size.
8. Garnish with grated cheddar cheese, coriander leaves, thyme, parsley, lemon wedge, mini umbrella, pencil shavings, the blood of your sworn enemy forcibly taken, dead carcass of five cows, three virgins, tear from the left eye of a right handed mermaid and finally a dash of olive oil.

 

Pair with a completely random glass of wine (the more expensive and the more weird tasting, the better). Always say ‘mmm’ after taking the first bite.

 

Cooking Eggs

The Only Useful Tip to Work With Eggs

As you all don’t know, I live alone. And what activity does a guy do most frequently when he lives alone?… yep. I cook! Now, I know I am no Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Jamie Oliver or Heston Blumenthal. Neither will you find my Instagram stories full of hashtags #instafood. I am not a food blogger or even a “foodie”. I don’t own a fancy set of knives and/or 10 different pans. I can neither pronounce CrĂšme brĂ»lĂ©e right nor distinguish between 101 different pastas. I can not distinguish my olive oil from popeye or brutus.

But I do eat food. And I want my food to taste good. So I have looked over the internet and experimented with cooking methods to make a tasty egg. Boiled, fried, poached, scrambled, baked, roasted on top of a bun, made up into a carbonara, mixed in with veggies; you name it. If cooked perfectly, the egg needs just a tiny touch of seasoning and it tastes heavenly. The only catch – they need to be absolutely fresh.

Just hen or duck eggs for me. I don’t prefer gamey eggs. Okay, the secret to a perfectly cooked egg is –  Low and Slow heat. Never cook them on a high heat. That’s it. Want to make a good omlette? Turn down the flame. Poached? Bring the water to a boil and then off the heat before putting eggs in. Scrambled eggs need to be taken on and off the stove for a good texture. Boiled eggs need to be kept in a low simmer.

This way, the egg doesn’t become all leathery and loose it texture. You may add cream or milk as per your needs. The result will always be an egg cooked to perfection.

 

 

A Poetic State of Mind

I know I don’t write lovey-dovey poems, but this one is a recent creation and I don’t hate it as much as I did my previous works. I have been irregular with my posts (I prefer chaotic), but it really sucked that my little cousin’s blog got over 200 views in single day; on his first post. He writes about “fashion and style”.

While this poem was being written, my thoughts were wandering away at scenarios that will never happen. About how different we could be if we hadn’t gone through what we have gone through. I know, I sound like a teenage girl with a crush, or an old man with a regret. I am still debating which side I belong to.

 

After Goodbye

Two winters have already passed by

Two whole years without sadness, without joy.

The memories are still alive & fresh in my mind

Not alone, but still lonely most of the time.

 

Imagine a world where the past was different

Where we wouldn’t hurt each other

Our suns shone alone on different skies

Where our tears still rolled out

But not through each others’ eyes

 

A butterfly passes me by,

wings carrying storms of your place.

Sunlight reflects on its wings.

As if a long forgotten melody it sings

 

Carry on, as if it doesn’t matter.

We have been long alone together

 

Carry on, it doesn’t really change.

The fact that our lives we live are strange.

 

Carry on, Carry on till the piper plays.

Carry on, till the our paths cross again.

 

– The End

The Small Things

Wow! Two posts, on the same day! Is it Christmas already? Yeah, it was. But, you know what I mean.

I was reading something about history and wondered how the people lived in the old days. I have looked at paintings, focussed on the photographs, bent my head over books written in a dead language and even listened to stories from my grandmum and grandad. They seem to remember only few ridiculously unimportant details of their past. I wondered what an average day would feel like in the life of a person 200 years back?

What food would he eat? What type of clothes would he wear? What was an average day in his life like? What would he do for social interaction? What did his bed look like? . . . Then I had a brilliant idea to put down my little stuff (not talking about my small penis) preserved. I thought too much valuable information is being lost because all the people do it and it’d be considered foolish to take note of it.

Thus, my brilliant mind had an idea to change the way people write, to make sure no information is lost, ever , and to make millions and billions in terms of money…….. Only to find that what I was thinking of is a diary. A fucking diary. A small notebook which is generally found in the hands of teenage girls.

*Starts to question his own sanity and masculinity*

A Rant on Introverts

Against the Introverts, by an Introvert

I hate tags in all forms. Be it clothes, weblogs, lifestyle or price tags. No, not actually hate; I just don’t think they have a point except for prices and various other consumer details. I am sure you’d agree with me when I say that our society over-generalises everything nowadays. And now since I’ve got you to agree on this one tiny thing, you’ll agree with me that we introverts are what is wrong with the world today (because I’ve read about Ben Franklin Effect).

Yes, we have always shyed away from the spotlight, but know who holds the reins when it comes to working behind the scenes. Majority of artists, writers, scientists and internet trolls are us. We seem to be quiet around people. But give us anonymous masks and see our true colours shine through. We can be the most obnoxious people you will ever meet in your pathetically short life.

Introverts are self obsessed to the point that it hurts those who watch them. Look at us fumble, tumble and rumble as we keep our heads down and walk around. We NEED to stay alone, we don’t LIKE to stay alone (just as I need to wash myself daily, I don’t like it). We stay in our ivory towers, looking down on people who are a bit more social than us. We like giving off orders and make sure to punish those who don’t follow them.

We tend to belittle others because well, we have been made fun of too. We would have made an ‘Introverts Club’ and met regularly, but our natural inclination won’t let us be around so many strangers. The only support you see us giving to social causes is a share button. We may prefer texting over talking and staying outdoors with a book. You may find us in Libraries or swimming pools or taking a hike or painting or even conducting a scientific research. But generally we are behind the screen of computers and mobile phones.

All I am trying to say is, the world may see introverts as shy and awkward people; we are. We like to show ourselves as being holier than everyone; we aren’t. But we are all much more. We all are. That includes the extroverts too.