Summer in Melbourne

Our first full day on holiday and Melbourne recorded it’s coldest minimum between Christmas and New Year since 1968. It got down to 9 degrees. It was snowing in Alpine Victoria! We had the wood heater going over night.
Tuesday wasn’t quite as cold but it certainly wasn’t anywhere near warm enough to even think about going to the beach.
Wednesday started off fairly cool with a fresh southerly coming right off the ocean. But then mid afternoon the wind dropped to nothing and the sky cleared. Suddenly it was summer and everyone headed for the beach

What do you do on holidays

Well. If you’re reading this, you, like me, got past Christmas.
For me this year it was a really wonderful family time. A really good Christmas. Sad, but good. Christmas has always been an important time in my family. First as a child and then starting our own family we have continued the tradition. I’ll be posting a short clip of our Christmas in the next couple of days.

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Christmas without Mum

Today I celebrated my 52nd Christmas. It was the first Christmas I have celebrated without either of my parents. So it’s now up to Mum and Dad’s three surviving children to keep up the tradition by ourselves.
It’s happy sad. On the one hand it is really sad that our parents aren’t there for the annual event they enjoyed more than any other. It’s sad that we can’t ask them questions about Christmases past. It’s sad we can’t squeeze their hand and give them a kiss and say “Merry Christmas” any more. It’s sad we can’t see their smiling faces as they give out presents. These last three years Mum has been less and less able to participate. But she knew she was there and she knew that she had provided something towards a gift for each of us. We could still say “Thanks Mum” and know that it warmed her heart. Giving to her children and grandchildren was more important to her than anything else she did.
In a way though it is also happy. It’s nice to know that we are still here to carry on the tradition and it is now our responsibility alone. It is like we are now being trusted to fly solo with Mum and Dad watching from somewhere else in the Universe. It’s like being a child growing up again – doing something for the first time. Being trusted to do something new. It’s a long time since I felt that feeling.
In that way, it’s nice to be a child again at Christmas – a grown up child.

Christmas Eve

After a hot Christmas Eve eve in Melbourne, it’s been a relatively cool day today. I can’t believe it. I have time to reflect. All of a sudden, time to reflect seems like a very precious commodity.

Marjorie Veronica Curnow

Just before 3pm on Wednesday 15th December, on a beautiful sunny afternoon opposite the Fitzroy Gardens just to the east of Melbourne’s CBD, Marjorie Veronica (Billie) Curnow’s spirit left her stroke ridden body behind, flew out the window and entered the next life.
Born, in Ultima in North Western Victoria on the 28th March 1916, the youngest of seven children, she was the child of an Irish community. She remained proud of her Irish heritage throughout her life. Although she loved her father, his English/Scottish lineage didn’t seem to enter the equation. His death when she was only seven, must have been a major part in the formation of her self image. Regardless, being ‘Irish’ was always figured strongly in our upbringing.
In true Irish tradition, Mum knew both great happiness and great sadness during her life. The great tragedies of her life were the death of her father, her handsome young husband returning disfigured from the war, a series of miscarriages and the death of our brother, Roger, from a long illness in 1975.

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I’m so tired

Hey, for all those people wondering what’s happened to chriscurnow.com – thanks for the thousands of emails.
Well, I’m still here.
Right now I’m very, very, very tired.
I’ve done it again. I’ve found myself managing an IT project.
A few years ago (1999/2000) I managed an IT project. It went well and I met every deadline. Everything that had to happen happened when it was supposed to. I realised again that I was good a managing projects. I also realised again that I don’t like managing projects – well at least IT projects. IT projects are messy.
We try to write user requirements specifications and write or modify the software to meet the specs. But users, bless their souls, never quite know what they want until they haven’t got it. I mean by that they will tell you what they want, but as soon as you put the prototype in front of them, they find other things they want. As project manager/analyst you also find that there were things they assumed you knew about so just didn’t tell you. (If I was being really honest, I would admit that there were lots of assumptions I made about the users wanted. But I’m not being really honest so I won’t admit that.)

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US Election Analysis

There’s so much analysis of the US election result it’s hard to know where to start.

As a member of Robert Manne’s
pro-Labor, left-liberal intelligentsia
,
I’ve been mainly reading the handwringing by Democratic commentators and followers.

Kottke’s analysis
this morning is refreshing. Those of us on the left in Australia still shell
shocked by the victories of both Howard and Bush would do well to read it.

I take issue with Kottke on one point. Evangelical Christians, amongst
whom I count myself, are not a homogeneous group. Sure there’s a vocal group,
maybe the majority, who regard George Bush as God’s president. But there’s
lots of us who regard social equity, sovereign rights of states and use of
war only as a last resort as extremely important.

Please remember this when thinking about Evangelical Christians. Remember it
was also an evangelical Christian, Wilber William Wilberforce, who led
the fight in England to abolish slavery.

Mangers not MBAs

Henry Mintzberg

Here’s a book I haven’t read but it is on my wish list. Mintzberg is
one of my favourite authors.

I’m not sure if I have ever held MBAs in high regard. From the reviews
I’ve read Mintzberg is offering his insight into what is wrong with
this form of "management training".

From getAbstract:

He marshals a powerful array of facts to support his thesis that
graduate schools of business have perpetrated one of the most successful
con jobs in history.

On his own site, Mintzberg offers the observation that Convetional
MBA programs are offered for the wrong people – "young people with
little or no experience"; traing them in the wrong ways – "to
emphasize analysis and technique" and result in the wrong consequences
– "a corrupting effect on the practice of management as well as
on our organizations and societies".

Instead, he argues, that these programs should only be offered to experienced
practicing managers: "No one can create a manager in a classroom.
But existing managers can significantly improve their practice in a
thoughtful classroom that makes use of that experience."