Walminski's It Should Happen to a PhD student Bloopers Thread.


======= Date Modified 07 09 2010 14:09:11 =======
============= Edited by a Moderator =============
I think we need a new light hearted thread that we can have a laugh on. All this talk of politics and possible coup de tat by the Legal Eagle on one of the other threads whilst listening (by accident!) to Sigur Ros (and imagining baby penguins falling over - I don't know why that band makes me imagine that) almost made me start to blub. Denis Norden is still alive I think, so I can't hope to replace the wizened master of funnies on BBC 1. Harry Hill seems to have conquered ITV's attempt at the funny bloopers people make with his You've Been Framed (repeated daily). And, that bloody Russel Brand (I don't know who I hate more, him or Darius) seems to have conquered Channel 4. So, I've decided to start a thread on funny PhD-related blunders. I have quite a few, so I'll start with two of my best one's that happened whilst I was doing my field work.

This one a couple of months ago now...

Picture the scene. I've got my room at a hospital waiting for my first participant to be persuaded by a helpful consultant to engage in my research. Well, I don't know what medication she was on, but she walked in and I thanked her for her help and asked her to sit down. "Well, it's mi water doctor". Oh... Not one of my most lucid participants that one.

Then today.

I've started my work with patient participants again today. The consultant was in a bit of a mood and not being particularly helpful to begin with. I thought, how can I butter her up and make her more, umm, what's the NHS buzz word...concordant? I said to her: "I'm orally presenting at a major conference and for all your help with getting patients [I know, it's sick, but I need my data!] I've made you a co-author. Is that okay with you".

"Well thank you very much 'peasucker'! Well done on getting to present at that conference - a major achievement. Do you want a toffee [she really said that and proffered a box of chocolates] I'll look at your abstract on the conference website."

Oh b****r I thought...

"Peasucker, my name's not on the abstract"

"Yeah, but no, but yeah...um...It's on the actual presentation... That, tha, that was done months ago. I'll e-mail you the presentation - you'll see."

"Well, I'll let you off this time. Thanks"

So, there's two of my bloopers as a professional researcher in training.


Haha, unlucky! I put my foot in it rather recently when visiting a particpant. I was visiting a particularly religious couple, and one of the first things they asked was whether I was religious. Wanting to make a good impression, I told them that I was a Christian (actually, technically I am, but I'm not really a practising Christian- I go to church only for weddings, funerals, and so on, but I didn't want to offend them by saying I wasn't religious or whatever). The participant called his wife into the room in delight, to share the good news that I was a Christian. 'Oh', she said, 'I knew I recognised you, I must have seen you in church, which church is it you go to?' Shit, I thought. I replied that I just went to the family church back home (again, not technically a lie), but it went from bad to worse when they started quizzing me about my favourite bible readings and the gentleman actually asked me (whilst I was recording the interview) whether I 'believed'. I managed to mutter something about being open-minded and promised myself I was never going to lie/exaggerate about my religious beliefs ever again just to get on the good side of a participant! I am just so paranoid about offending people! I hope this post hasn't offended anyone- I think people should believe in whatever they want to providing it doesn't harm anyone and genuinely am quite open-minded about religion and beliefs, but the above wasn't one of my finer moments! Best, KB


======= Date Modified 07 Apr 2010 00:04:37 =======
This one's not so much a blooper as a mistake...I had to go and interview a participant in their office. I had the address, got off the train at the stop they said and started walking - and walking - and walking. Finally got to the number of the place where they should've been - and the company wasn't there. So called them, and found out that the street where I'd gotten off the train had weird numbering - it started at no. 1 at the train station for both directions - so to the left of the train station were buildings no. 3, 5 etc, and to the right were buildings numbered 3, 5, 7 etc. And I had gone the wrong way. So, cab back there, was almost an hour late, sweaty after rushing to find this place...not a good look. Still, what a stupid numbering system!!  :$


I once was having such a bad time putting together a powerpoint presentation for a seminar. Mainly because I wasn't at all willing to present anything for that event, let alone not having any spare time to do so. It was such an annoying task I even named the file "F***ing presentation" without the polite-stars I've put here now. Yes, you guessed.... forgot to change the name of the file later on. And I don't know how many people noticed it on the top-left of the screen during the 20 minutes the presentation was up... Ah, ignorance is bliss...

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======= Date Modified 07 Apr 2010 13:09:50 =======
404, I LOVE IT! I wish I had been at that talk, it was probably one of the best presentations ever.

I have a couple of embarassing stories, one quite old that I think I may have mentioned before and one very recent. Both involve teaching.

1. After a lecture, I was ginving a group of second years a serious telling off about poor attendance while perched on the side of my desk, and afterwards I got up to put a DVD of a film in the machine, and as my back was turned to the group my skirt fell off, and slipped down to the floor so I had to bend down in my lacey tight to get it. yes, I stooped so low as to use my bottom as a motivator for student attendance (I won't say if it got better or worse after that). I have never lost my skirt in any other situation, teaching or otherwise, so why it had to happen then? I do not know. However, the group thought it hilarious and the room was raised with raucous laughter, I went bright red and went, 'why didn't you tell me my skirt was falling off?' left the room and secured it again, but couldn't stop laughing.When I walked back in I said 'If that doesn't get you in here I don't now what will'.

2. Recently, I was discussing the use of controversial subjects in fashion photography with some students and, as we've had full, all singin all dancing, AV equipment installed recently, I decided to google the work of a photograper well known for using controversey, I looked for what is, perhaps, his most contraoversial work to date, so I could project it on the big screen. So, in my enthusiam for discussing this topic, I types in 'Steven Meisse'l and 'dogging' (the title of the shoot) into google images. And, yes! You guessed it, I got lots of images of people actually dogging on the big screen instead, ah the wealth and diversty of the internet! Such an aid to the educational process... This also became a top quality comedy moment with my students.

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i cringe for you Eska! I would have died with embarrassment with the skirt thing!

My recent bloopers:
- giving away the ending of twilight to an entire group of female students - woops!
- Drawing my family tree on the board, yet representing myself as essentially inbred because I put my mum and dad from the same family - I HATE writing on the board it confuses me!
- today I've been walking around with my joggers on back to front which was quite embarrassing when I realised.


Eska can't believe the skirt incident! I'd have been so embarrassed/ hope it improved attendance though!

Not so embarrading more stupid - spent about 2 hours today trying to figure out why the data in two files of the same data (one excel one SPSS) didn't match. Turns out that I'm rubbish at data entry! you can automate as much as you can using computers but can't get rid of human error!

Recently - i arranged for two participants to come in for MRI scans, but then booked the scan slots of half an hour later. The second person arrived before the first had even gone into the scanner and so i had to do lots of apologising about the delay.

I wasn't paying attention walking round town and nearly knocked a lady over in a wheel chair. I'm pretty sure she was someone who had participated in my study the week before so I ran away before she could recognise me!

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I got undertook by a man on a mobility scooter. I was happily walking along and he basically tried to cut me up. I turned left to walk across the road and he tried to speed past me, we collided and he ended up on the floor :$ and it wasn't just an obese person on the scooter (as they so often are) it was a proper disabled person with no legs. it was SO embarrassing, although technically his fault and it blimmin well hurt me, having a grown man crash into me in a scooter, but bystanders looked at me like I was evil personified.

Do you do MRI scans for anyone? Can I come along and make sure i haven't got any illnesses for free???


It's awful isn't it! I tripped over a blind woman's white stick when I was about 15. I was like I'm so sorry I didn't see you, which made me feel even worse!

I don't scan just anyone, you have to match my patient group in terms of age, gender and years in education. I already have trouble with my groups not being matched on education so have had to stop using controls with PhDs! Now if you were a middle aged woman who left school at 16 I'd be scanning you next week!


My best blunders

1. Part of my PhD project involved taking structural brain scans using MRI. We used to do this talk at the beginning about "Please remove your coins, or any metalic objects" before people went into the scanning room, as the scanner is basically one huge super magnet.

Except after one hurried day where there was way too much happening and a participant went in without being checked. I realised just a bit too late as their bracelet, pen and various other items of junk went flying across the room as if being pulled by some jedi knight using the force. Cue one very frightned lady, one very angry radiographer and one sheepish PhD student.

2. I remember one afternoon we (PhD underlings) had to present our preliminary findings before a group of esteemed professors. I remember one particulaly vile professor who asked awkward pointless questions to all of us (not even constructive ones, but demeaning questions like "Do you think your inadequate project is any real contribution to the field" or "Why did subject 23 drop out, are you not good enough to retain your subjects?").

After the last presentation, the assorted academics left while we had to clear up and pack up the projector. I remember comforting a nearly tearful fellow student by saying "What a pompous tool. Don't listen to that demented old fool, he could not find his arse in the dark without a map, a torch and a homing beacon. Hopefully, he will be dead soon anyway". The student gave a look of horror as the old fool in question had returned to pick up his folder, heard everything and was looking at us with fury.

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ooh I always wondered what would happen if you left metal on in an MRI. I've had 4 MRIs and 3 of them after having metal implants in my spine. They always say they are MRI safe, but when you are lying there hearing the banging and clanking of the machine, you imagine the worse - i.e. your spine suddenly being ripped apart and bits of fleshy metal flying out of your body and attaching themselves to the side of the machine! :$

loving the 'I didn't see you' comment. they probably get it all the time!


I can't think of any real bloopers, but I remember having a supervisory meeting, and I when I opened my mouth to answer a question, my throat made a weird croaking squeak which sounded like it came from outside the room. My supervisor kind of looked at me in a very bemused way, at which point I realised the sound had come from me. I couldn't help but laugh, but the kind of hysterical laugh you really can't stop. I think I was in stitches for about 10 minutes, and repeatedly apologised for not being able to talk. It really tickled me, and I just got uncontrollable giggles. I was actually crying with laughter (and am really tickled just thinking about it)!

It happened before as well, when I had to correct a spelling error of my supervisors and got the giggles bad style to the point of tears.

He must think I'm bonkers!


A mini blooper today. I was sat listening to a paper at a conference and started absent mindindly doodling, as I often do. It wasn't until I noticed the man beside me looking at my pad that I realised what I was drawing looked exactly, like, well... a penis :-(

And before anybody points it out I don't need to know the subconscious reasoning, thank you very much :$