How much does a PhD weigh?

By February 22, 2018 Journal

Post doc, fat, I’m back to doing a spot of running. I’ve spent the majority of my days for the last few years in front of a screen. You are doing likewise, reading this instead of stealing rocks from an old quarry, or bumbling around a farmers disused dairy sorting through second hand iron. As our Malcolm said recently, sitting is the new smoking, and screens are the reason we sit so much. Sitting or standing, we all seem to be packing on the pounds. Specsavers, bless em, are doing a roaring trade from dull-eyed 10 year olds, and even footballers are signing up to a weekly delivery of calorie controlled food. I blame the internet; nudity and Netflix and the endless wisdom of Google. More so, I blame email.

Running trails at Mt. Buller a few weeks ago rescued me, hammering home the fact that screen life was outweighing real life.  Granted, the running day in question was a particularly email intensive day. I’d spent the work day responding to fan mail, Nigerian business partners, and raising the issue of magpie’s swooping on campus. I pumped out 43 long-winded emails. Naturally, most messages were vitally important, particularly the magpie problem. The trouble is that student’s exit buildings by looking to the sky panicked, and in doing so crowd out the doorway. They fear for their lives, loitering, which in turn sets off the smokers who rightfully claim all exit points of buildings. Meanwhile, the magpies are delighted, frolicking on the library lawns. It’s a big problem. I’d spent all day coming up with a committee and subcommittee to workshop the issue, scheduling meetings to be overseen by the local shire.

Figuring all this out via email, my wobbling gut reminded me to get the hell out of the office and up the hill. Sniffing the gummy air whilst trotting along single-track I forgot instantly about the magpie issue, needy fans and Nigerian business partners. And besides, when I think too much I fall on my face. It’s my borne-again credo; think simple, screen less, run more (and in doing so lose the gut, stave off blindness, and restore order in doorways).

Answer: 4 x 2litres of milk = 8kg. That is how much a PhD weighs when you sit on your arse behind a computer.

NB: The fans, Nigerian business partners and Monash smokers are make believe. Magpies swooping is however very real. New signs all over campus warn us of being bombed, although I had nothing to do with fixing the life-threatening problem.

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