Sunday, November 26, 2006

Well that's one way...

Monday, November 20, 2006

How to survive your PhD Viva

I have my viva (thesis defence for those in the States) coming up far sooner than I would like. (Then again, wasn't it me who begged and pleaded with the examiners to squeeze in a pre-Xmas viva so it wasn't looming over the holidays...)

Anyway, so I have been hunting down advice on the internet for how to manage the damn thing...

This is the best I have come across

Things to Say and Do Guaranteed to
Spice up Your Thesis and Dissertation Defenses

Begin the defense by charging a cover and checking for ID.

Charge a two-drink minimum.

Begin with "Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise for the singing of our National Anthem."

Follow that with a joke that starts with "Which reminds me of a story - A Black guy, a Chinese guy, and a Jew walked into a bar..."

Bring coffee and charge 25 cents a cup.

"Charge the mound" when a professor beans you with a high fast question.

Describe parts of your dissertation using interpretive dance.

Lead your committee members in a Wave.

Break the tension at appropriate moments with a sing-a-long.

Answer tough queries with "You call THAT a question? How'd you ever get to be a professor?"

Have bodyguards outside the room to discourage attendance of certain professors.

Present your defense using puppets.

Before you begin your presentation, sell T-shirts to recoup the cost of copying, binding, etc.

In addition, pass a collection basket.

Answer complex issues in mime.

Use the ocassion to hold a Tupperware party.

Have bikini-clad models in charge of changing your overheads.

At approximately the mid-point of your defense bring out maracas and shout "Everybody rumba!!"

Explain nonsignificant findings with "It would have worked if it weren't for those f*%ing kids."

Refuse to answer tough questions "in protest of our government's systematic and brutal opression of minorities."

Offer door prizes and conduct a raffle.

Ask professors to "Please phrase your question in the form of an answer."

Interrupt every 15 minutes with the announcement "And now, a word from our sponsor."

Present critical parts of your defense in iambic pentameter.

In your announcement, inform your committee that it will be a black tie affair.

Hire the Goodyear Blimp to circle the building.

Announce to your committee that "There will be a short quiz after my presentation."

Bring your pet boa.

Bring snacks and start a food fight.

Slap your committee chair with a glove and challenge him to a duel.

Arrange for a halftime show.

Bring a big foam hand that says "I'm #1."

Pass out souvenier matchbooks.

Hang a pinata over the table and hire a strolling mariachi band.

Make each professor remove an item of clothing for each question asked.

Use a Greek Chorus to highlight important points.

When necessary, say "I'm sorry Professor Smith, I didn't say 'SIMON SAYS any questions?'. You're out."

Dress in top hat and tails.

Hold a pre-defense pep rally, complete with cheerleaders, pep band, and a bonfire.

If you sense that things are not going well, threaten to detonate a small nuclear device in the room.

Show slides of your last vacation.

Put your overheads on a film strip. Designate a professor to be in charge of turning the strip when the tape recording beeps.

If members of the committee begin to argue among themselves announce: "OK, everybody - heads down on the desk until you show me you can behave."

When in trouble, begin speaking in tongues.

Answer every question with a question.

Hand out 3-D glasses.

Announce credits at the end. Include a "key grip" and a "best boy."

Make a practice of replying, "Sure, I could answer that, but then I'd have to kill you."

Ask a friend and conspirator to attend and ask the first question. Draw a blank-loaded gun and "shoot" him. Have him make a great scene of dying. Be sure to include fake blood. Turn to your committee and ask "Other questions?"

Wear clown makeup, a clown wig, clown shoes, a clown nose, and nothing else.

Install "APPLAUSE" and "LAUGHTER" signs.

Use a TelePromTer

Alter the clocks in the room and begin your defense 15 minutes before anyone arrives.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I was pleased to read this report. I'm working with kids with developmental disabilities atm (autism, aspergers, learning disabilities, physical disabilities etc.) Some kids have great experiences at school, and find their school friends supportive and protective. Others find themselves victims of the most shocking bullying. In such situations, we hope that parents and teachers are able to step in quickly and effectively to put a stop to it, but that doesn't always happen.

Not that long ago I had a conversation with a teacher in charge of supporting children with special educational needs which more or less went along with, "Well, kids get bullied, they've just got to learn to deal with it."

IMHO - the teacher was talking rubbish and doing an incredible disservice to her students, both those who are victims of bullying & to those who are doing the bullying. What kind of message does it send to our kids when we overlook bullying? It's ok to beat up on kids who are smaller, not as smart, not as socially-able than you? It's ok for people to make fun of you?

I was bullied at school (not for very long and not very seriously). My dad actually called my headmaster as I once came home extremely upset. The head handled it extremely well, took it seriously, and it stopped immediately. I can't imagine what I would have done if the head had said, "Well, teenage girls fall out and say horrible things about each other, she's just going to have to deal with it."

Bullying might be normal, but its not acceptable. None of us should under-estimate its impact or fail to take it seriously.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

If I were a client what would they say...

A few months ago, I tried to identify with the clients I was working with in a learning disabilities service by writing a day in my life as I think staff in an LD unit might record it...

So, for your amusement....

CA was very slow to get out of bed this morning. Groaned for several minutes and then begged PD to iron shirt for her. Asked CA why she didn't go to bed earlier, she complained that she didn't have time to go to bed earlier as "I still have to make changes to my thesis, they're still asking me for more f***ing changes." However, CA was heard joking around with PD in her bedroom late at night. Staff should check she is using contraception.

CA went to work, was a little late, but nothing unusual for her. When CA returned from work, she had two medium bowel movements in the space of one hour (ASIDE: yes, they really do include notes on everyone's bowel movements, whether relevant or not, perhaps Peterson would like to take a job there...)

CA complained that she didn't fancy noodles (as planned) for tea and demanded mushrooms and garlic bread instead. This necessitated a trip to the supermarket. CA was about to be taken to the supermarket when her dad called, further delaying the process by some 30 minutes. When staff told CA to come, she made "get away" gestures to them and looked cross. CA seemed unaware that other people have better things to do than to take her to the supermarket. Staff should be less accomodating to CA's demands in future.

PD was writing a congratulations card to his brother who recently got engaged. CA became very giggly and tried to convince PD to include innuendo type comments in the card. PD seemed amused by her suggestions. Staff are worried CA may be a bad influence on PD.

CA seemed to enjoy watching Woody Allen film before going to bed. Woody Allen films may be a good way to distract her when she is being excessively demanding.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Rediscovering Life

Time for an update, methinks.

Since finishing my thesis, I've been rediscovering lots of things I had to give up while I was doing it. Amongst them - clothes shopping and make up. I have somehow gone from owning zero dresses to owning two, including the most incredibly sexy black dress I managed to convince my mum would be great for her wedding ;)! (I'm not playing the resentful step-daughter, dressed all in funeral style black for a wedding, honest!)

I found a lovely man at the make up counter (who inspired me by not having powerful and sickly wafts of heavy perfume floating around him, like the women almost invariably do...) to show me how to wear eye make-up...which, if you know me, is such an achievement. Eye make-up has always been a huge problem for me. I have terrible eyesight, even with glasses on - so putting on eye makeup with no glasses when I can barely see a thing out of one of my eyes often yields hilarious results. Just to make matters more fun, I have a slight tremor so often look like I'm going for a bit of a halloween look (which I'm really not...). Anyway, thanks to the nice make-up man, I think I've cracked it. I even got him to show partner-dude how to do it, so he can do my makeup for special occasions. Ha ha ha - what a man (partner dude that is)!

We've made it to the cinema twice - don't bother going to see 'The Queen' (if I'd known what it was about before I went, I wouldn't have bothered, but I was bored, it was on...). However, DO DO DO try to catch 'Little Miss Sunshine' - it is pure hilarity, and equally touching. I loved it - perfect!

We've moved to Suffolk - such an incredibly different part of the country than where we were. Traffic jams are what happens when there are tractors and/or animals in the middle of the road (makes a change, to the constant sitting in traffic we were used to)! What's with that?! I spent a month on a teaching block, missed partner dude horribly and came home a week ago to start my placement working with kids with developmental difficulties & their families.

We've found a lovely Quaker meeting, where we find ourselves feeling very at home and looking forward to getting to know people.

Anyway, better go - I've decided to get more out of my underused gym membership & embark on a new fitness regime, involving pilates and twice weekly spinning classes. I should have a bum of steel by Christmas. I have a pilates class this evening. (Wonder how long this will last for...)

Hope alls well with everyone else in the blogosphere :)