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Making your own Christmas presents

Picalilli? Haven't had that for years...might have to try and find some in the shops on the way home!

Am thinking of trying to make florentines, because they look impressive and I'm guessing you don't need to make that many, because they're pretty rich. And of course if the first batch goes wrong there'll be all that "cleaning up" of the chocolate to do :-)

I fancy my supervisor

I don't think it's ridiculous at all. But try to imagine what it would be like if he actually made a pass at you - in reality you'd probably feel hideously embarrassed and awkward and you would never be able to have a normal professional relationship with him ever again. So the best thing is avoid being in that position at all.

Making your own Christmas presents

Cleverclogs, I already have one of those! As well as a teabag with something about "those special cuppas we have shared" attached.

Confessions of a PhD student...

Now that Cakeman has scraped the bottom of the barrel with his country music-loving, I guess I could admit to playing Farmville on facebook pretty much constantly. In fact my boss came in this morning while i was "harvesting" some artichokes...

Making your own Christmas presents

Sneaks, I know, I find the whole attitude bizarre. She was up a height when we got married because we made our own invites. My own mum goes to the other extreme - she wanted us to reuse the leftover invitations from my sisters wedding (which was 12 years ago), claiming that we could just rip the inserts out and write our own names in!

Really living up to her Yorkshirewoman stereotype, I think...

Making your own Christmas presents

Thanks for all the replies, that's very reassuring. There is some context here in that my mother in law is very sniffy about home made cards, she actually prefers the shop bought ones with the cheesy poems in! so it's made me a bit wary of making presents for people.

I know what you mean about cost of ingredients too, and then buying jars/tins to put them in...

We had secret santa at a place I worked at in Australia where the limit was $5 (about £2 I think) and someone bought be a bottle of fanta (down)

Making your own Christmas presents

Owing to a general lack of funds and husband's impending redundancy we were thinking about making Christmas presents for some of our friends to try and lighten the load a bit...something like nice biscuits. Is that an acceptable thing to do, or does it scream "you mean as much to me as...cheap biscuits"?

Confessions of a PhD student...

I tried to cheat in my A level politics exam by...wait for it...you know how you get those yellow and black striped pencils? Using a black pen to write key dates and names on the yellow stripes in tiiiiiiiny letters. It all rubbed off on my hand in the exam, and then onto my face. Proving me to be an idiot on so many levels. Still got an A, though.

Wal, I believe your Kevin Spacey-related disgust was aimed at me. Well, have I got some more inappropriate crushes for you: Ian Hislop, The lad who plays Draco Malfoy in the harry potter films (including when he was, like, 12 years old), Richard Armitage (especially in North and South...I just love those stove-pipe hats :p ), Alan Rickman (there's a Harry Potter theme here) and, probably worst of all, Nick Hancock (remember him?)

My worst sin is probably googling other people in an obsessive, stalkerish manner. Really whiles away the hours.

The Motivation Thread

My favourites come mainly from David Brent (the Office):

Accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.

A problem shared is a problem halved, so is your problem really yours or just half of someone else’s?

I thought I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it was just some b*****d with a torch, bringing me more work.

There may be no 'I' in team, but there's a 'ME' if you look hard enough.

Never do today that which will become someone else’s responsibility tomorrow.

they're not exactly motivational but they make me smile. also they remind me of my shiftless supervisor :-)

Viva loveliness!

Just a quick update - I had to email the internal examiner yesterday about a reference and during the email exchange I admitted I thought he hated my work (because of the tone he took in the viva). He replied that he only asked such difficult questions because he thought that I could take it, and that it in no way reflected the way he felt about the thesis. So the moral is, difficult questions can be a good sign...I think :-)

thank you all again for the congratulations, it means such a lot to me and I think it's amazing how all these people who have never met can make up such a great community.

Sexist supervisor says "too girly"

I agree with sneaks, its a matter of being professional, not girly or otherwise - my supervisor twiddles his beard: not feminine at all, but very distracting! My personal nervous tic is putting my hand over my mouth. The other day I saw a guy hold on to his chin throughout his entire talk. Looked really weird.

I do think doing an impression of you is a bit out of order, but if you know his personality and knew it was a joke, I wouldn't read too much into it.

The my favourite movie thread

American Beauty all the way...partly because I have an enormous and inappropriate crush on Kevin Spacey but mainly because it is the perfect combination of funny and meaningful. This is one of my favourite scenes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjNY4o_i5RY ..."something tells me you're going to remember me this time". I'd love to use that line on someone!

Viva loveliness!

deliberately misrepresented or caricatured my argument - ensure you stick up for yourself!
remember that although you need to be intellectually rigorous, you also need to submit a document (the thesis) within a reasonable amount of time - saying "that wasn't possible in the time I had" is a perfectly legitimate answer!
remember YOU gathered the data, not them - quite a few times I had to just keep repeating "you may believe that to be the case, but that wasn't what I observed" until they left me alone
It's true that they want to test how much you know and to do that they ask questions you don't, or couldn't, know the answer to. At one point I started to answer a question and half way through realised I actually meant the exact opposite of what I was saying - I admitted this and the external simply said "yes, it's a difficult issue, I don't know how to answer it either".

I really hope I'm not making this sound scary - it certainly wasn't easy, but they were so encouraging, generous and understanding. And I think if I had had an easy ride I would have felt a bit ripped off, after all, it is meant to be an examination. Also, the time flies by - it felt like I'd only been in there half an hour.

Hope this helps,

Viva loveliness!

Hi everyone, thank you all so much for your lovely replies. For those of you who are awaiting vivas I will try and get down in print what happened before I blot it out of my mind forever!

It lasted 1.5 hours, they didn't tell me at the start that I had passed, but they didn't deliberate at the end either, just told me they were ticking "the top box" on the results form (be admitted immediately to the degree, or whatever it is). I didn't do very much by way of preparation, other than re-read the thesis, but I only submitted in September so I guess it was relatively fresh in my mind. I'm going to court controversy here and say I HATE the Murray book, "how to survive your viva" because its full of abstract questions like "what is your conceptual framework" that put the wind up me and I didn't get asked that sort of stuff at all.

The first question they asked was "Can you explain what you mean by interpretivism?" (my thesis was an interpretive policy analysis). At that point I wanted to crawl under the table because that was probably the worst question they could have asked...I'm terrible at defining "big ideas" and I gave a really ropey answer. They then asked "What is important in your thesis?" which again, I felt I answered really badly. At that point, though, I swear the internal examiner winked at me - it made me laugh and from then on I felt super confident and ready for an argument!

One of the things that surprised me was how aggressive and confrontational they were - I honestly thought they must hate my work from the way they talked, and I was so shocked at the end when they said it had passed. For example, one examiner said "You've said it is pointless to focus on policy outcomes, but I think it is absolutely essential to focus on outcomes, otherwise how do we know that democracy is being fulfilled and the interests of society represented? How can you justify making such a claim?!" Also, they did pick out individual sentences from my thesis and lay into them, which was pretty bad because if I had written it more clearly the first time round, it wouldn't have happened!

So, from what I can remember, the main questions were:

Summarise what is important in your thesis
Explain what interpretivism is
Why haven't you used any diagrams?
What are you planning to publish from it?
What would you like us to ask you about? (and at the end, what did you expect us to ask about that we didn't?)

Did people change their behaviour because of your presence? (I did ethnography)
Do you think it was easier for you because you are a young female? Would they have reacted differently if it was us? (two middle aged men!)
Do you think you "went native"? You are not very critical of the subjects' behaviour.
Why didn't you send your conclusions to them for validation?

What is the link between meaning and action?
How does [the main concept] work at different scales?
What does it mean to be critical? Is it possible to be critical without criticising?
you talk about materiality but I think it is under-theorised. Why did you decide to include a discussion of materials?
you talk about rationality, were the participants ever irrational?
How does your work fit into current debates about science and policy (i.e. that Nutt guy who got sacked)
I think you have deliberately exaggerated the importance of this model, why have you done that?
what recommendations could you make to [the government department I studied]

Although the questions were quite hostile, the examiners themselves smiled a lot and also argued between themselves. It was an interdisciplinary thesis so one examiner is a political scientist and the other a sociologist - it felt at times like I was having 2 separate vivas!

I think my advice from it all would be:
don't be put off by hostile questions - they are probably just playing devil's advocate
sometimes they deli

Viva loveliness!

Hi all, I've read so many viva threads on here over the years that helped me along the road, so I wanted to add my own humble contribution (and also distract from the aggro on the belle du jour thread :) )

I had my viva today, and I passed with no corrections. I can honestly say, with the exception of my wedding day, this is the happiest day of my life. I haven't had a particularly easy ride - a complete relationship breakdown with one of my supervisors, suffering from depression, and a few ****s at conferences along the way - but I climbed the mountain and succeeded. There were times when I never thought it was possible.

I just want to encourage everyone else on here and say, you *can* do this, even if you think you are just average, not clever enough, not into academic schmoozing enough, not doing as much work as everybody else. I thought all of these things, and I guess I'll go on thinking these things, but it hasn't stopped me from getting a PhD.

Sorry this has turned into a bit of a ramble...I'm so tired! I just want to spread the love a little :-)