Starting at the peak – week 62

It is the first week of 2019 as I am writing this; staying at my parent’s house for the conclusion of 2018 had me gain two kilograms in weight. I am training for a half-marathon at the moment and consider it extra fuel for training. I will soon be back to baseline.

I have started the year on a peak, as far as my weight is concerned.

As this will be posted long after the Christmas/New year break, it doesn’t make sense to ask if you had a good time. Personally, it was great for me, it was my only break of the year, and it was well timed. I was starting to get bored by the end of the break, and for me, that suggests it was around the correct length of time to have off.

However, it seems my colleagues have taken advantage of the fact that New Year’s day fell on a Tuesday and have taken the rest of the week off as well. The usually busy lab building was deserted except for a few people that had things to be getting on with. I was one of those few people.

I spent all of Wednesday extracting nitrites and nitrates from lettuce samples, then spent the following two days analysing the samples. The reason I was doing this is: partially because I can, but also because these compounds are quite contentious as far as health is concerned. They have been implicated with some adverse effects, mostly in infants when there are a particularly large dose and some health benefits regarding the cardiovascular system.

What remains to be seen is how these dietary components change as they degrade. The positive or negative health aspect may exist when the crop is harvested, but are they still in similar quantities when the consumer actually eats them? This is what I am looking at.

I have got all the data from this particular experiment, and all is left to do is the data analysis, which happens to be my favourite part. I shall make some time to do that next week. I have a lot of monotonous lab-based stuff to do next week so it will be nice to do something where I actually have to engage my brain. Unfortunately, doing a PhD isn’t only mentally stimulating work, there is still a lot of the mindless grinding in there.

I have mostly fallen back into the routing I had before the Christmas break; however, I have been watching slightly more television than I did before and this has taken up some of the time I used to use for self-improvement. The time in the evenings from about 8pm onwards needs to come back under my control. I need to get back to using this time to practice coding.

I haven’t set any new goals for this year, resolutions are not something I usually do; I am one of those people who will set new goals on the spur of the moment rather than waiting for a certain date. I feel as if I am in the middle of a four-year grind and I am living a kind of hermetically sealed life. After I have completed my PhD, I suspect there will be a large void that I will have to fill with lots of smaller goals.

But until then, the grind continues.

Your site deserves a boost?

Since I have been posting on this platform, I have been reminded each time I log in that ‘Your site deserves a boost!’ As the goal of my posts are to improve my writing the measure of success from this is my writing improving there is no monetary incentive. I am not convinced that my site ‘deserves a boost’, seeing as 100% of the traffic to this site comes from WordPress’s ‘reader’ I am not sure that a boost would achieve anything. If you’re a fellow blogger and have given your site a boost, please let me know what your experience of this has been! Has your traffic and interaction with readers significantly improved?

Why and at what point did you decide to upgrade?

Besides ‘’ just so happens to be my preferred URL, so the joke is on you WordPress!

My view on life – week 5 as PhD student

This week I learnt about the expensive underbelly of science. You have to pay to exhibit at a conference? I am unsure as to why I did not expect to have to pay to present research at conferences, but I recently submitted an abstract to the tune of £90. That was to submit the abstract (300 words), and if am to be accepted, it is in the £1000’s to go and present. This will give you an indication of how naive I am; I don’t understand why people do it! Other than to stay in a potentially exotic location doing a lot less work than usual, I don’t understand it. Secretly, I will not be annoyed if I don’t get accepted. Along with this I only had a weekend to produce the abstract, and as I have only just started, I have no data to write about. This made me very stressed for the first time since the start of the PhD, which goes against my current life philosophy.

The life philosophy. Going back 6 years I was working in a gym and just getting started in self-development. I fell into all the pitfalls, the bullshit motivational speakers (Tony Robbins et al.) who are selling you the dream one bestseller at a time. My mantra was essentially once I get x I will be happy, time after time I achieved my goals and was happy for approximately 1 day, no matter how big the achievement. It took me a long time to figure out that achievement hunting wasn’t the key to happiness. So now, my guiding principle is just to enjoy where I am at the moment and not just grind for future happiness.


P.S. I must have not done much this week as this is by far my shortest post. However, I can already start to see improvements in my writing.