One month review of WordPress

I thought I would just share my experience of posting on this platform for the past month. Without any effort on my part, other than writing posts, I have gained 6 followers, 43 views and 22 likes. From looking at the accounts that have followed, I have realised that all but one are liking and following in the hope I will do the same to there blog, and therefore, increase their followership. This does not work.

Without doing anything to promote my blog, all the readership comes from WordPress’s Reader. I would like to see how far this blog can grow organically, so I do not intend on spending money to promote this. However, I may soon upgrade to the next level of WordPress package so I can get a better URL, and more importantly, remove ads. I will upgrade once I have a few more followers, maybe 50?

Orientation and training – Week two as a PhD student.

Scholar has jumped to the front of my tiles on the google dashboard, like a new acquaintance jumping straight in at number one on my Myspace top ten friends. Before I continue, I feel obliged to let you know that the most interesting thing I did this week was fire safety training.

The week started with ‘Health and safety introduction’ which, despite its captivating title, wasn’t in the top three of training courses I attended this week. If you were to put a gun to my head I would say that ‘Lab awareness training, was number two, and that ‘Fire awareness and the use of fire-extinguishers for lab-based staff’ was number one. It took the number one spot purely because it involved putting out fires, in a lavish waste of perfectly good fire extinguishers.

Next week I have two courses and a chocolate tasting session to look forward to. The main bulk of my work this week has been searching through the literature trying to find papers that match the research I want to carry out. I am not sure how many hours a day it is possible to read scientific papers for, and still take in information, but from this weeks experience, I would say it is about 3.5 hours, dispersed over 7 hours with procrastination included. One thing about reading all day is that it is very tiring for minimal kcal expenditure. I am unsure if this will improve like a muscle being trained, or I will develop into someone that doesn’t need to read journal articles all day.

There were lots of other menial tasks that had to be done this week such as: changing my email to a post-graduate email address, getting forms for a locker, getting access to certain areas of the building etc. It seems I have sorted all the little things that come with being a new-starter, and now all I have to do is a PhD. I feel I should be less hard on my self for procrastination in the early stages as the work will build up. If I had started a new job the feeling would be the same, and it has been in previous employment. ‘Hi, sign this, then read this, and now shadow this person etc.’ If all the people in my department are anything to go by, I will soon be too busy, and will have to let down at least one person a week. Stress levels will also be ten levels higher, whilst feeling completely normal, so that is something to look forward to.

Being a post-graduate has so far, for me, been more lonely than under-grad. So when I am saying yes to almost every social event, so I don’t become the hermit I’m perfectly capable of becoming. I still need to take up a hobby; solving a Rubix cube in under two minutes does not satisfy me.


P.S. I know the writing is fairly poor here; see ‘About this blog’.


Week one – Mediocre expectations

First of all, I think it is important for to me to explain the position I am in, and how it came to be. Just this year I graduated with a 1st class honours degree from the University of Reading. My degree was in Nutrition and Food science and I had a year in industry between my 2nd and 3rd years. My expectation was to go into industry after my degree and nine-to-five-it until I had accumulated just enough resources to not have to do that anymore and sit around all day doing ‘whatever I wanted’, being perfectly mediocre, all the while imagining being rich and successful.
During my final year, I did my dissertation with (someone anonymous, we shall call C), looking at discolouration of lettuce. This was essentially a continuation of the work I had been doing on my placement. Towards the end of the project, C asked me what I was going to do when I left university, and if I wanted to do a PhD. My reaction was essentially ‘me?, but aren’t PhDs just for geniuses?’. Luckily for me, they are not just for ‘geniuses’, and a plethora of skills are required. Anyway, I’m not rich how could I afford it? I think I need to work.
Later in the year the idea of doing a PhD had been grinding on me and perhaps I could do it, otherwise, why would she ask? To speed up along the story, which I am getting bored of typing when I finished my degree I had two choices, a PhD fully funded and with a £17k a year salary or a job I liked paying £30k. I was quite conflicted myself, so I asked my family and friends, which had a 100% response rate of ‘PhD’. It was the best of times and the worst of times, I had miraculously got a win-win situation and it became a source of misery, in the end, I know you feel very bad for me, but it was a very strange situation.
When the time came that I had to decide, my mind was fully made up, maybe I should not go the mediocre route, and avoid becoming anonymous desk flesh for at least three more years. In the end, it was very easy to choose the PhD.
It was July, I had accepted the PhD, and was due to start in October. A new ultimatum, to job or not to job, the latter won out and I went into retirement. I have never been much of a good-little-consumer eating all the market has to offer, so I had enough saving to bridge the gap. So that is what I did, and to my surprise, didn’t really get bored. I filled my days doing all the things I didn’t feel I could do during my degree, as it would be procrastination, and I learnt loads of useful things, like how to solve a Rubix cube. I would recommend retirement as soon as possible, or at least financial freedom which is now one of my main goals, more on that at another time.
The bit where I actually start my PhD. Week one has mainly consisted of figuring how to structure my calendar and email, Microsoft’s new clutter feature hasn’t helped. Everything is now in sync, and I have a relatively large amount of training and inductions to attend. This is good news as I do not have any lab work planned; it breaks up the reading that has become my life, as does writing this.
What is my PhD in you ask? Food science, understanding freshness and quality etc. The end goal of the project is to have packaging that will better predict when the food is about to go off, and thus reduce waste. In the interest of reducing waste, I am going to end this now, I shall try and write one of these each week. I have left out pages and pages; the trip to Rome for example. I hope there are many mediocre free moments to come over the next 3-4 years.

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