Friday, 25 March 2016

Bye for now

Posted by: Dom Lowth

Recently this blog has slowed down a lot. We’ve gone from posting every week on a Sunday night to posting most weeks, and the content isn’t good. Two weeks ago I wrote about paper aeroplanes - that says it all. The problem is that updating thunk weekly can never really work because, unsurprisingly, the school routine doesn’t give you much to write about.

Midway through last week I realised Ryan hadn’t posted, so I sent him a message to check he’d remembered it was his turn. He replied with this:

I’ve got nothing to write about. Tbh I'm sick of doing thunk. Both of our recent posts bear that out. I'll do it but it might be time to call it for a while.

I was pretty surprised at first, because we’d recently had a chat about the site and agreed to treat it like a sort of regular diary that we could look back on when we were older and laugh at, and remember stuff with. I realised he was right pretty fast though.

So thunk needs a change.

The actual site’s staying where it is, but from now on there’s not going to be a post every week. We’ll write when we have something we actually want to write about, and that way both the quality of our writing and the content should improve.

People do read thunk, so it would be a massive waste to just throw it away and give up. It’s a platform that we can use to post the stuff we want people to see. That's what we’ll do.

See you soon. (ish)

Monday, 21 March 2016

现实 | Crossroads

Posted by: Ryan O'Riordan

How do people do stuff like this with any regularity? Lately I've been finding writing these to be a struggle because to be completely honest there isn't an awful lot going on in my life that would make an entertaining read for anyone who isn't me.

On the school front, we're settling into the revision/existential crisis cycle that will be familiar to anyone who is also in the run up to their exams. I could write about my feelings concerning the imminent end of my school career, but I think too many of my recent posts have been about that, and the very last thing I want in the world is for you to be bored, dear reader.

I could write about what music I'm listening to, but no-one's music taste is truly interesting except for your own. Besides, the little recommendation left at the end of every post (which is usually alright you know) fulfils the music quota handily.

At this point I'd like to make it clear that this isn't a super agnsty post about how nobody gets me, or how nobody understands what it's like to try (and fail the vast majority of the time) to write on a blog once a week. Rather, consider this a meta-post; a post about posting. The thing is it's tricky to decide on what to write about.

I could take the BuzzFeed approach and write posts with annoying amounts of capital letters in their titles and the occasional inane list thrown in for good measure. A quick perusal of their homepage at the time of writing offers the following nuggets of inspiration:

"Raise Your Hand If You Fucking Love Chillies And Don't Care Who Knows It" 
"18 Times Lady Gaga's Dogs Proved They're The Most Glam Pups Ever" 
"19 Photos Anyone Trying To Adult Will Understand"

To be fair to BuzzFeed, that is a horrifically cherry picked list that ignores the amount of legitimate journalism on that site. thunk however, is meant to be a fairly light-hearted blog, and so in the absence of any investigative journalism skills of my own... all I'm saying is that there may come a time in the near future where I ask you to raise your hands if you love a fruit/vegetable, and you need the world to know.

An alternative to BuzzFeed-style posting is to take my lead from Vice, but similar problems arise. At this point in my life I'm not really able to investigate, for example, the heroin trade in the Philippines as part of their documentary team. This leaves me with their more casual content, which sadly I am equally unqualified for. Despite the weird assertions from friends that I'd fit right in at Vice, I don't consume nearly enough illicit substances to make that particular cut. I'm much more likely to sneak a chocolate digestive or two when my mum's not looking than to do a few cheeky lines of cocaine before I get down to that English essay. Some people might grow to appreciate this more personal style of journalism, but as a headline

"What the Slight Thrill of Eating a Forbidden Biscuit Taught Me About Life"
is slightly less interesting than
"My Memories of Being in Prison with the Infamous Gangster Whitey Bulger"
or... "A £150 Blunt and Other Products from the World of High-End Weed"

It seems like in order to supply you all with the high-quality, relatable content you've all come to expect from this blog, I've either got to either significantly increase my familiarity with American celebrity culture, or develop a dependency on at least three drugs of my choice, and really work on becoming more jaded and gratuitous swearing.

You know what? Fuck it, WHO LOVES CHILLIES, AM I RIGHT?

Ryan's listening to: 'The Modern Things' by Björk

Read my previous post here.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

知觉 | How to make a paper aeroplane

Posted by: Dom Lowth

Here is a step-by-step guide to making a paper aeroplane. As you go through the stages, it should become clear that you are actually putting together a paper version of Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Model 10 Electra, the all-aluminium aeroplane designed to carry as many as 12 people with variable pitch propellers, flaps and retractable landing gear.

(1) Find an A4 piece of paper. Fold it in half width-ways, so that the long sides meet each other.

(2) Probably best to take a break now. Paper modelling requires concentration and a delicate touch, so if you’re exhausted you are likely to struggle and let yourself down with the final product. Have a quick sleep or a shower. Go for a walk. Eat 3 bagels and a bowl of cereal. Get some marmite on that bagel, and some crunchy nut cornflakes in that bowl. Now continue to step 3.

(3) Put away the bagel packet, the cereal box and the milk. If you have not already, wake up from the quick sleep or step out of the shower. If you’ve only just woken up, you have dreamt the previous steps, so get on with your walk, the bagels and the cereal. If you’ve only just stepped out of the shower, clean the bagel crumbs out of the plughole and empty the water out of your bowl. That was silly. Learn from your mistakes.

(4) Fold one of the corners down into the centre-fold, and repeat this on the other side.

(5) If you’re working without any music, you’re going to get bored. This isn’t really on. Paper plane making should be fun and engaging. Hit up Spotify and find a suitable playlist to accompany your modelling. The music should be something you like, but not distracting. I find Satanic death ritual metal or dubstep to be perfect. Alternatively listen to an audiobook or one of those 5 hour ‘sounds of a river’ YouTube videos. They're actually really lovely.

(6) Fold the long side of the triangles (the hypotenuse) on each side down into the centre-fold.

(7) You might be feeling quite lonely now. This is completely normal for someone who looks up paper plane making instructions online, but there are solutions to it. Start by logging onto Facebook. Once you’ve scrolled through a couple hundred videos, 50 friends quizzes and a few ‘YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT’ posts on your news feed, create a completely public event titled ‘House Party – bring your own’. Invite everyone on your friends list, and ensure that they invite everyone they know too. The rest should sort itself out. Leave your front door open from now on.

(8) To make the wings of your plane, fold the edge furthest away from the centre-fold downwards, so that the new folded edge is parallel to the centre line. And there you have it. It's an aeroplane. If it's not an aeroplane, find a new piece of A4 paper, start from step 1 again, and pull yourself together.

(9) Throw it. Pick it up. Throw it again. Do you feel that? Wow, yes. You’ve really made something special here. Let your pride soar with the plane.

(10) Welcome the hundreds of guests into your house and get started with the party. If you went for the audiobook or the 'sounds of a river' video earlier, now's probably the time to put some dance music on instead. Insist that the police stay for a couple of shots too. Be sure to explain the situation to your parents and neighbours, who may be confused.

For the more experienced paper plane builders, I can provide instructions to build the Western Electric communications radio and a Bendix radio direction finder as additions to the model.

(Apologies to any genuine paper plane enthusiasts for this.)

Dom's listening to: 'Old Friends' by Pinegrove

Read my previous post here.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

现实 | Limbo

Posted by: Ryan O'Riordan

To hear some of the assemblies I have been subjected to in this, my final year of school, you would think we as a group have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses, or were stepping into a spaceship for a mission to the uncharted recesses of the galaxy, instead of simply leaving.

The overriding theme is our 'legacy'. In fact, in the little notebook we're given to write down homework and stuff, I am told that my year's task is to create a "legacy for all", with duties as exciting and essential as:

  • Ensuring the "transfer" of the School Council!
  • Continuing to "set tone and standards over uniform and behaviour"!!
  • Leading "elements" of the school's pastoral programme!!!

(If there's one aspect of life in a British secondary school The Inbetweeners didn't quite nail, it's definitely the love of duty for duty's sake to be found in any healthy teenager)

Needless to say, I have never seen a single one of my peers show any kind of commitment to these tasks, which is exactly as it should be! Who cares about leaving a legacy at your secondary school? I may not have access to the classical deathbed when my time comes, but I can promise you now, whether or not the years below me at school took my passionate PowerPoint presentations to heart will not feature in any pre-mortem reflections.

To me, this focus on legacy-building and such seems like an attempt to alleviate the sense of limbo pervading the final year at school. By now, most of the people who want to go to university will have got offers back from wherever they want to go, and those who don't want to go to uni (at least those I know) have already got alternative plans in place. With such exciting times on the horizon for everyone, it's no surprise that the spark has gone out of the whole school experience somewhat. When referring to teachers by their first names during a conversation with a friend becomes routine, instead of a tiny act of rebellion, it's a sure sign that the ride is coming to an end.

For many in my year, I think, school has become primarily the place you have to go in order to get the exam results you want. I mean, yeah, it was always supposed to be that, but now it really is. For the (lucky) few who have managed to get unconditional offers to their university of choice, exam results don't matter any more, leading more than a few of my friends to question why someone with an unconditional would bother to go to school at all.

So there we are each day, in a kind of limbo between school and the next step, whatever it may be. If it were up to me, I'd recognise the reality of how people approach their last year of school, because no one actually cares about securing a legacy for themselves. They care about making their last few months with friends they may never see again as memorable as possible.

Ryan's listening to: 'Ode to Viceroy' by Mac DeMarco

Read my previous post here.