Sunday, 21 September 2014

'I wish that I could be like the cool kids...



… ‘cause all the cool kids, they seem to fit in' – Echosmith; one of those few songs of 2014 that has substance. The lyrics are simple and straightforward; the meaning, not so much.

I’m not going to drag this by writing a long article, because I don’t even like writing articles. It’s just that, when I first heard the song it immediately made me think of the ‘cool kids’ around me. I’ve just completed my A’levels (as I have mentioned several times before) and I have seen people, even friends, drastically change in these two years.

Monday, 15 September 2014

When motivation leaves you and inspiration fails to come.




So, recently, I have been feeling a little less motivated than I would normally be about writing my novel. It seems to me as if I'm slowly losing my determination and will power. And I know when that happens, everything you hoped to achieve comes cascading down. Every time I start losing interest in a project, it automatically fails. And I fear it's going to happen to my novel too. I haven't lost hope though. I still have the dream alive but the fire is slowly dying.

Why? That's something I ponder over these days and I've come to the conclusion that I'm losing some of the really important things that a writer needs to stay in the writing realm.

#1 INSPIRATION

Here's the thing - the idea for my novel originally came from what I used to daydream a year or two back. And those dreams were something that were basically inspired by people in my real life; people who have moved me or affected me in some way. Lately the inspiration is fading because those people are no longer a part of my life. They were a constant source of inspiration when they were around me but now when they're not, and when I've moved on to the next chapter of my life, so has the inspiration that budded from them.

These days, I get inspiration from other things like music or a good book. Recently, I heard 'A sky full of stars' by Coldplay and there was a spark of inspiration instantly. I could imagine it being the theme song for a movie based on my book (Yes, I like to dream big!)

This song
 


But like every other song, I grew tired of listening to it. And even though I still love it, it isn't a source of inspiration anymore.

I've experienced that inspiration sometimes comes unannounced from the oddest of places. For example, last year I went to a museum in Lahore and I saw a collection of ancient weapons there, and suddenly... INSPIRATION! I quickly thought of an epic action scene that I could write. This year, I went to Thailand and I saw many things that offered ideas of how I should move my story ahead. But those were just bouts of inspiration that were only short-lived. When people inspire you, that inspiration stays for a long time.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Best bookstores in Lahore

Love for books and reading is pretty foreign amongst Pakistanis. In most cities, you can't even find a decent bookshop that sells books other than school textbooks. And the ones that do have a small collection of novels are mainly Urdu novels. Urdu novels are amazing but I still prefer reading English novels. So, after years of scouting and searching around, I managed to find some really nice bookshops in Lahore.

The first and foremost bookshop I would recommend is 'Readings' on 12 K, Main Boulevard, Gulberg 2. It is an amazing bookshop-slash-library where you can find books of all genre organized into many aisles. I have seen many local Lahoris come there not to buy, but to read books. So there is a comfortable environment around. It's a common sight to see students with their uniforms still on sitting on the floor with their noses buried in books. I'm guessing they come directly from school to do some reading which I personally think is really nice. I'm not a Lahori so I can't spend hours there reading.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A'level Guide: How to Smash Your A'levels [Part 4: Chemistry]

Alrighto! Chemistry! The subject I have a love-hate relationship with.
Make sure you have the following books in your possession:

1. Chemistry Coursebook by Roger Norris

http://www.preordersbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/cambridge-international-as-and-a-level-chemistry-coursebook-with-cd-rom-700x700-imadhyapy7zkptgq.jpeg

2. A'level Chemistry Book II by Muhammad Ayub

(The screenshot isn't clear and it's of the Book I for AS level, because I couldnt find any other screenshot on Google. Book II looks similar to this one. It's just purple in colour instead of off-whitish blue)

https://www.xtremepapers.com/community/data/attachments/14/14183-b5f5299bcd90f7094f76c04fa5785ef1.jpg

3. Jim Clark's notes (a.k.a www.chemguide.co.uk)

This here is an amazing website. You should print out the relevant pages, instead of viewing them on a gadget because that is distracting. Jim Clark explains A'level chemistry expertly. All your ambiguities and concepts will become clear if you go through his notes. They're very reader friendly too so you don't get bored.

For each of the following chapters, do go through the AS parts of the chapters that you have studied last year!

➳ Chapter 1: ENERGETICS ✯✯

(Do the entire chapter from M.Ayub)

Okay, so Chemistry starts off easy. It's much easier than the Energetics part we studied in AS level. The Born Haber Cycle is very simple and you just need practice to get it mastered. You must know the equations and definitions of all the standard enthalpies of AS and A-2. Solving the questions and find the Heat of reaction wa sometimes problematic to me. But if you know your maths, and the concept of equations, you'll be fine. Oh, and it's a good move to revise Hess's law. We all hate it, I know. But it'll be helpful.
For refreshing Hess's law from AS level, check this out:  Hess Law Notes by Jim Clark

A'level Guide: How to Smash Your A'levels [Part 3: Physics]

Let's move on to Physics now.
Physics is easy in the beginning so students tend to relax. But it gets progressively hard, so don't slack. It's easier than it was is AS level, rest assured. But the Application part isn't very simple so work hard!

Before you read, make sure you have the following books with you at home. Don't get them issued from the library on a temporary basis. It is absolutely crucial for you to have them with you at all times. (You can get them easily from any good book shops in Lahore. You just have to search around a bit!)  

1. International Physics by Chris Mee

http://covers.booktopia.com.au/big/9780340945643/international-a-as-level-physics.jpg 

2. Coursebook by David Sang and Graham Jones

http://education.cambridge.org/media/569308/Cambridge_International_AS_and_A_Level_Physics_Coursebook.jpg 










 
3. Physics Pan Pacific Volume 1 and Volume 2

http://i01.i.aliimg.com/photo/v0/112552917/Pacific_Physics_Vol_1_by_Poh_Liong.jpg 

4. Longman Physcis bu Loo Kwok Wai

http://www.pearson.sg/pearson/slot/u100/K12_Catalogue/9789812476661.JPG 

For Physics, you should also refer to the notes you take during your Physics lectures. Because sometimes Physics is better understood that way. I have attached the relevant notes I took during my Physics lesson. I hope they help! Please ignore some of my doodles on the notes. I do that when I'm bored :)
(These lectures were delivered by Sir Waseem Hassan who teaches A'level Physics in Beaconhouse Palm Tree Campus, Gujranwala.)

Chapter 1: CIRCULAR MOTION

Physics Notes of Circular Motion: Download here
You can download the ZIP folder of all the notes of this chapter: Here

First Chapter - easy and really basic. You must understand the concept of Angular Frequency, and the relevant formulas. Remember, you need to get this chapter on the tips of your fingers because these concepts are used again and again in the later chapters as you will see yourself. I did this chapter mainly from my notes so take a look at them.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

A'level Guide: How to Smash Your A'levels [Part 2: Biology]

OKAY. Now, let's begin with the first subject - Biology.
Before you read, make sure you have the following books with you at home. Don't get them issued from the library on a temporary basis. It is absolutely crucial for you to have them with you at all times. (You can get them easily from any good book shops in Lahore. You just have to search around a bit!)  

1. A'levels Biology by Mary Jones

http://cache1.bdcdn.net/assets/images/book/medium/9780/5217/9780521703062.jpg 

2. Biological Sciences by D.J. Taylor

http://www.ektabooks.com/pictures/product/rqn__Biological_Science.jpg

3. Advanced Biology Priciples and Applications by D.J Mackean

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41tQdRk8kgL._SY300_.jpg 

4. Biology by Campbell and Reece 

http://img6a.flixcart.com/image/book/0/9/5/biology-with-cd-400x400-imadcz2a3adjdrj7.jpeg 

5. Longman Biology by Hoh Yin Kwong

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51R5C2JWWJL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
 
6. A'levels Application Booklet (That you can easily download)

I have dealt with all the chapters separately and divided all the elements and from which book to study them from. I have also given each chapter stars out of five that, in my opinion, is it's difficulty level.

Chapter 1: RESPIRATION ✯✯✯

Need for energy in living organisms
(Mary Jones pg. 196 - 198)
ATP, structure, and as an energy currency molecule
(Mary Jones pg. 198 - 199), (Longman pg. 243)
Energy value of lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins
(Mary Jones pg. 207 - 208)
RQ, Respirometer
(Longman pg. 258 - 261)
ATP in muscles and active transport
(Mary Jones pg. 200 - 201)
Glycolysis
(Longman pg. 245 - 246), (Campbell and Reece pg. 165 - 167)
NAD, FAD
(Mary Jones pg. 202)
Link reaction 
(Campbell and Reece pg. 198), (Longman pg. 247)
Kreb's Cycle
(Longman pg. 248 - 249)
Electron Transport Chain
(Campbell and Reece pg 170-171)
Chemiosmosis
(Longman pg. 249 - 251)
Anaerobic Respiration 
(Longman pg. 254 - 257)

Respiration is the first chapter in A-2 and let me tell you, the first time you go through it, it's not going to be easy. Especially learning all those names of the sugars and enzymes involved in Glycolysis and the Kreb's Cycle. And then the Chemiosmotic theory really is addling. But just follow the books above, and go through this chapter again and again and finally things will start to make sense. Infact, it would become a pretty average chapter.

Friday, 5 September 2014

A'level Guide: How to Smash Your A'levels [Part 1: General Tips]

Just a head's up, I didn't exactly 'smash' my A'levels. I had 1 A* and 2 A's. But I do know how to. I made some fundamental mistakes in my last year because of which I didn't achieve the result I could have. They don't have anything to do with how I studied, but more of how I wasted my time instead of studying. Had I put in more effort and been less waeli, I could have smashed them.

But I am going to share the study plan that my sister and I used. Just for the record, my sister had straight A*s plus a distinction. Credit goes to her for actually making this up. I just followed it. Well, tried to anyway. 

It's only for A'levels (A-2) for the subjects Physics, Chemistry and Biology because those were the subjects I had. I might post a guide for AS level too but I don't remember AS so well like I remember A-2. Anyhow, I will try my best.

Before I move on to specific subjects, here are some general tips for any subject you've opted for. And even for anything that you're studying, whether it's O'levels, FSC, A'levels - anything!

Do NOT waste your time!
Trust me, that's the last thing you want to do. If you're a business student - sure, chill out. But if you're doing Pre-Medical and planning to give the MCAT (or any other Medical Entry test) next year, get ready to brace yourself. A'levels scores make up 40% of your aggregate for the MCAT and so, they matter greatly in determing your future education. So do NOT slack.

Organize yourself
Try and revise everything you study in your college at home everyday. And once you have completed a particular chapter, practise the relevant past paper questions. I know it's hard to do this everyday and I wasn't so regular about it either, but it's always a good move to keep ahead of your classmates. Most students would open the past papers for a test or for the Mid Year Exams. Don't make yourself another fish in the pond.