Roland Dürre
Monday July 30th, 2012

Certifications – Mania or Reasonable? – I

More and more technological disciplines now force people to spend more and more time certifying things, even in areas where social competence and responsible behaviour are extremely important. Mind you, we are not just talking well-organized supervision by experienced coaches, either. What we are talking here is systemic formalisms based on a mixture of “multiple choice tests” and “credit points”. This is all about putting your cross somewhere and playing “Payback” for the career.

The ingenious business started with technology concerns that created dominant knowledge with super-complicated products, wishing to profit twice by selling them. Associations and clubs followed this egomaniac example.

Having initially been founded as a professional institution or as a platform for shared interests and for exchanging knowledge and experience, they now – on their way to power – become institutions that define “reality“. Using approaches of “best practice”, standards that are supposed to simplify complexity are developed. Since this does not work, the standards are then further developed theoretically and based on speculation, until they are totally detached from reality.

The entire affair grows more and more out of hand. Complex tools are created and often extended by absurd functions. To be sure, nobody likes them, but at least they constitute the basis for yet more certificates.

As soon as an institution has acquired a certain amount of power, its certificates will be compulsory and have to be bought at a high price. Since everything is moving fast these days, the time of validity is limited. You get an extension through “credit points”. More often than not, the association supports its own interests when issuing certificates. You have to attend the right kinds of events, pay a mostly quite significant fee and then you get a new licence.

Many are glad to participate in this game. A certificate is the easiest way to prove your knowledge and competence without actually having said knowledge and competence.

However, certification primarily helps those who issue the certificates. These enterprises and institutions will become rich and powerful. They determine what is right and wrong. Even for very abstract activities that actually require a lot of experience, courage and responsibility. They, too, are simplified, standardized and certified. Of course, it is mostly not a success.

Consequently, the “certified party” usually has nothing but one advantage on his side: he gets a licence. That has a soothing effect on potential customers. So the service provider has a certificate. Consequently, we can assume that he has the required qualities. It makes for sleeping soundly at night – before you are totally surprised at how many projects fail.

Basically, all the certificate tells you is that the owner of said certificate attended some course or other and accumulated enough points. And that he is capable of filling in a multiple choice test and sometimes a little more than that successfully.

It used to be different.

Machines (like cars) were certified. Initially, only the TÜV was permitted to issue the certificates.

Humans were not certified. For them, we had education and professional training. At school and university, in dual educational systems.

Humans had to learn and practice. They gained experience. After the apprenticeship, they were made craftsmen. They learned with a master craftsman and later became master craftsmen themselves. By writing a final thesis or manufacturing a master-piece, they proved their competence and skill.

Then they had the responsibility to constantly keep their craftsmanship up to the latest standard by experience, additional learning and openness. For those craftsmen, the pride in their own work and the desire to remain competitive were motivation enough to never stop learning.

But what happens today?

Schools and universities fail more and more often. Our traditional and by no means worse educational systems suffer greatly. The doctorial title is nothing but a humorous title. As soon as you are passing the Australian “immigration desk”, you will see an “immigration officer” smile benignly. The black belt worn by the project manager is worth twice as much as your doctorial title.

Certification is a way of privatizing education and training – with the logical consequences. Standards will see to it that we have uniformity and commercialization. Education will become “convenient” and “fast food”.

The consequence is that people will be satisfied with just functioning in a closed system. If you “obey”, you will be rewarded. Generative and creative aspects will be pushed aside.

This suggests that you can simplify existing complexity. Like you can make up for knowledge and experience with a simple “cooking recipy” and replace it with a little “best practice”. Problems are no longer found and looked into – they are just solved. Except I have no idea how that is supposed to work.

All you have to do is get a licence. In the same way as you acquire a driver’s licence, a hunter’s licence or a fisherman’s licence. And then you are what it says on the licence. Except – even with simple things like driving a car, it does not really work, does it?

So how is it supposed to work with complex leadership responsibilities?

Maybe it is more mania than reasonable?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday July 29th, 2012

brand eins in August

As early as in the middle of last week, it already sat in my letter box. In fact, it accompanied me to Nuremberg last Thursday, remained by my side all the time – and yet only really arrived today.

It is blue, a beautiful blue. Somehow or other, it is already quite an achievement to select a nice colour each month. A colour that is actually suitable for the theme and content. I am quite serious!

The magazine is titled

Doing Nothing.

I rather like this. After all, I dream of the “Lazy Manager“ and “Relaxed Entrepreneur”. Well, I certainly know that many problems will solve themselves. For instance the very important email I never got around to answering late last night. On the next morning, after I woke up, it turned out said email was no longer necessary.

Mind you, you must not confuse doing nothing with “sitting something out“.

Politicians like to do this – and I would prefer them “doing nothing” instead of “sitting things out”. There certainly is a significant difference.

Then you find the sub-title:
And how it can be put to good use.

I do not (yet) understand. Who said I wanted to put doing nothing to good use? So now I open the magazine and start reading the editorial by Frau Fischer. Her heading is “heaven and hell”. And I immediately understand what she means. For some people “doing nothing” is heaven, for others it is “hell”.

Mind you, I am sure you should not see it in terms of black-and-white. Personally, I would think my preference is “doing nothing is heaven”. And I believe “doing nothing is hell” tends a little towards “psychic disorder”. There they go again, my prejudices…

Regardless of the invitation to do nothing, I already read some of the articles. It strikes me that this brand eins edition is mostly about humans and their fate. I find that nice. If you see it under this light, the April brand eins is quite suitable for reading and relaxing during your vacation.

À propos: at the end of Frau Fischer’s editorial, you can also read the words “vacation” and “stress” in a single sentence. Well, if that is how things work, I think I might do without vacation and instead prefer “doing nothing”.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Up until now, I defined an enterprise as a social system. This is still true. But now I learned more. Or rather:
🙂 I am bold enough to believe I learned more.

Firstly, an enterprise consists of many people. Once, when I gave a presentation in a grammar school, one of the young students said it is a heap of humans. So we are talking an assembly of people. They develop a social life. You get common concepts and a feeling of belonging together.

The “heap of humans” is represented by a juristic person or corporate body, the enterprise and its “structural parts“– the managers and directors. It owns various kinds of things, such as office equipment, machines or buildings. But also patents and special knowledge. It develops a culture and “basic beliefs”, a value system, routines and rituals. Symbols are created and a “brand” is developed.

As opposed to other social systems, such as churches, associations or countries, an enterprise has an economic goal.
It might be – as it says in the Bavarian Constitution – to produce goods and provide services needed by humans at home (and abroad), thereby making a fair profit. But it might also happen that the only interest of an enterprise lies in making profit and it is totally irrelevant if what it produces is sensible or if it produces anything at all. Over the last few years, the latter case increased drastically, not only in the financial sector.

So this was how I used to define enterprises. During the last few years, however, I got more and more aware that something is missing in this definition.

It is the organization of an enterprise. Now that is indeed something hard to describe. Yet in many ways it plays a central role and has profound significance. Organization can work in all varieties of ways.

For instance, it might be democratic or non-democratic. Hierarchical or cooperative. Intensely regulated or chaotic. With a system of punishment or rewards. Creating fear or helping to develop life in various dimensions. There can be internal rivalry or the promotion of collaboration. The system might let people meet at eye-level, or else let them feel who is boss. The organization can influence the enterprise. It certainly has a huge impact on and relevance for the enterprise.

So now here are a few questions:

What exactly is an organization? Even if an enterprise has “no” organization at all, would that again be a form of organization?
Can you change an organization, and if: how??

Will an organization automatically evolve from the routines and rituals lived in an enterprise? Is an organization the sum of all the processes trained and realized in an enterprise?

What is the influence of the symbols an enterprise gave itself? What is the relationship between the culture and organization of an enterprise?

And the more I think and read about it, the more I realize what a complex thing even a small enterprise is. And how it is perhaps impossible to control the change that is always necessary “from the top”.

And how antiquated the understanding of management and leadership you get at universities still is. We are talking an understanding on which (mostly unsuccessful) enterprises are founded and which many enterprises still live on a huge scale.

All I conclude from this is that my firm intention to do a little better should be even stronger.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
For all articles of my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

Roland Dürre
Thursday July 26th, 2012

Tweets on Twittering and Blogging #127

Here are my tweets of last week on:

blogging and twittering, wisdoms and rules:

120809 A red apple might well taste bitter – also true for blogging and twittering? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120810 Beautiful flowers will not remain un-plucked very long – not to forget, twitterers and bloggers! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120811 There is huge power in a beautiful figure – also true for twittering and blogging? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120812 A beautiful figure will not last long – also true for twittering and blogging! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120813 Nice huts, evil habits – beware, twitterers and bloggers! #Twitter #Blogging#Wisdom

120814 Two beautiful souls will eventually find each other – also true for twitterers and bloggers! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120815 Finding the right words is already half the sale – also true for twittering and blogging! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

There is a new tweet each day. See twitter.com and “follow” RolandDuerre!

Enjoy!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the proverbs from  Alle deutsche Sprichwörter .

Here are my 2 cents, quasi as additional insight gained from the nice discussion in Stefan’s (Dr. Hagen’s) pm blog that is very well worth reading on “Emergence in Project Management “ (Emergenz bei Projekt Management):

You should quickly forget the term “project management“(best delete it without replacement), or at least you should remove the word project from the phrase. “Management” covers quite well what is discussed in the article and what we want to do. But then, it does not.

At first sight, “leadership ” sounds a little better. But even with this phrase, I am skeptical, because as a general rule, people who see themselves as “leaders“ have a singular “self-made concept” and suffer from “detachment from reality”.

Consequently, I would call what moves us and what we like to discuss “influencing social systems and their organizations“. Incidentally, this standard is all but modest. Only the most exquisite and particularly skilled persons can meet it.

Maybe this would be a way of starting anew the “theoretic teaching and science” on management, strategy and entrepreneurship. After all, it already exists in reality.

I wish you all lots of success as a result of shared knowledge, personal courage, received happiness and actively shown respect!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Teach Me and I will forget, involve Me and I will learn!

This message was a tweet written by Dr. Hartmut Feucht (@DrHartmutFeucht) as a comment on the article by Stefan Hagen in his pm-blog.com on Emergence and Project Management (Emergenz und Projektmanagement).

What can I say? The sentence says exactly what I feel. And what I have been feeling all my life.

At school, when I had to listen to teachers trying to teach us, my eyes wandered towards the windows where I saw the great outdoors. A little of what the teachers said remained in my memory – if it was interesting. Much of it got lost. Learning for an exam meant preparing in such a way that there was a chance to pass with a halfway acceptable grade.

It was a little better whenever I was permitted to solve a halfway interesting problem. This was often the case in mathematics. But I really only enjoyed it when I was a part of it. Those were the times when I really learned a lot, understood it and, in the truest sense of the word “got a grip on it”.

Here is what Stefan wrote in his article:

Basically, teaching at school, graduate school and university should leave far more room for students to come up with their own designs. The classical concept of a “reading” is, basically, antiquated.

I could not agree more. Except that I would leave the word “basically” out in both sentences.

The current problem, both at school and university – along with what I see as often rather devastating consequences for education and society – is probably that this is not (I hope: yet) understood.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday July 22nd, 2012

A Highway Code for the Internet?

» Every technological improvement, if it is supposed to improve human happiness, will also be an improvement in wisdom. « (Bertrand Russell)

A short time ago, I heard the following statement at an Informatics&Sustainability (Informatik&Nachhaltigkeit) event:

As more and more automobiles appeared in the public domain early in the last century, a highway code became necessary.

And then someone asked:

Do we want/need something like it for the internet?

At first sight, it sounds quite reasonable, doesn’t it? At least I would spontaneously answer: yes. Communication, too, must be regulated sensibly. On various levels, as, for example, the ISO-7 layer model outlines quite nicely. In former times, the national postal services had introduced and successfully realized communication models in the CCITT. That was in the good old times when we still had letters, postcards, parcels, telephone an telex. And it worked quite well, didn’t it?

🙂 To be sure, even at the time, there were such negative things as spams. But it was rather tedious to send someone a spam – you had to walk up to their letter box. Or else you had to buy a “bulk mail service”. It did cover a hundred per cent of the postal code area, but at least it was rather expensive!

Only when radio and TV technology made it possible to transport spams directly into the households without much of an effort, the dam was broken. And CCITT could not do anything about it. After all, this was about economic interests. And traditionally, economic interests have always justified everything.

Consequently, the call for some sort of “highway code“ on the internet seems to make sense to me.

But then comes the “but”:

The development of individual mobility, including a highway code, should, first and foremost, be a warning for us. Because, as I see it, it is an extremely good example for how, regardless of – or due to (?) – the extreme regulation mania displayed by the legislative body, technological progress (in this case individual mobility) was improved, but at the same time the common good was severely injured. Mind you, it all happened even though we have a compulsory driving licence, a complex system of punishments and penalties, including a system of minus-points and similar things.

And the damage that was done was not really noticed at all, because we “got used to it” in typical human fashion. Although said damage is massive and concerns many dimensions of our lives:

  • Just think of the massive soil sealing cars brought in their wake. How many square metres of ground were filled with concrete for streets and parking places? In modern semi-detached housing areas, we often find more ground covered by garages and car parking than for greenery. All in all, the landscape was destroyed.
  • Individual mobility, especially as we live it today, gave us extreme resource exploitation, gigantically wasteful habits and a massive amount of rubbish. It is the best example for a non-sustainable life-style.
  • Noise disturbance has reached unimaginable dimensions. There is hardly any place left where it is really quiet. Even in the “upscale housing areas”, there is still noise from motorways.
  • This development of public traffic cost us time. Many people spend several hours every day behind the wheels or their cars. Although they have a good job, they spend a lot of their time doing something otherwise only done by people in an extremely low income group. And they say they enjoy it and are prepared to give “their last shirt” for the car and even indebt themselves for the car.
  • But the worst of it is that this development costs us an immense bloodlet. In Germany alone, there were years with more than 20,000 fatal traffic accidents. Today, we still have more than 5,000 fatal traffic accidents – and the numbers increase again.

    World-wide, we have between 1 and 1.2 million estimated deaths caused by individual traffic each year (source). That is more than the victims of illness, wars and hunger. If you add up the last 60 years, you easily get a number higher than 50 million. That is about as many victims as WW-II cost. I will not even think about the really astronomical number you get when you count the people injured in traffic accidents.

Now the question is if a wise legislative body could have done better a hundred years ago and then during all those years?

I do not know. I do not even know if, in retrospect, we can say what should have been done differently all those years ago.

But I have a few ideas:

For example, I am sure it was a mistake to permit and even support the industry when it promoted the introduction and, above all, the sale of automobiles through sports. Motor sports and also the race courses, such as the Nürburgring were goal-oriented cooperative projects initiated by state and industry in order to promote the acceptance of the then still little-loved new technological product “car”. Thus, we were (almost genetically) pointed towards driving cars as an athletic activity where it is important to be faster than others.

Perhaps we should not have let it happen that the users of the competing means of transportation bike were publicly degraded as early as the first years of the economic miracle. I myself witnessed how my father, against his wishes, changed from using his bike to using his car for the less than two kilometers he had to go between our flat at Rosenaustr. 18 in Augsburg to the General Railway Office Building at Prinzregentenstr. near Augsburg Central Station. Simply because both the neighbors and his own wife thought it no longer appropriate to go by bike in his position.

In those days, going by bike was synonymous for “being poor”. To make matters worse, there was an overflow of cheap bikes from the stores. They all sparkled rather nicely, but unfortunately were not very reliable. And who wanted to be poor and additionally have to get annoyed all the time? But could or should we have resisted against the judgment “if you ride a bike, you belong to the poor” and the avalanche of cheap products at the time?

Perhaps we should have promoted the general welfare in individualized traffic by installing reasonable car-sharing regulations? Or maybe we could have made stricter laws and restrictions?

But how to limit the number of fatal traffic accidents? No law was sufficient (and that is still true today) to put a stop to all the ruthlessness and readiness to assume risk. It probably comes automatically as soon as you sit behind the wheel of an automobile.

Perhaps introducing an archaic mechanism, such as an obligatory blood-feud against “traffic killers“ might have diminished the number of deaths? But, of course, this kind of idea is polemics. I do not mean is seriously. And, naturally, “the end can never justify the means“.

Or maybe humans are just not fit to cope with the (imagined) omnipotence they have behind the wheel of their machines. We are talking humans for whom the (imagined) freedom and independence others cunningly made them believe they really want and for which they are actually prepared to jeopardize both their own and – which is worse – other person’s physical health. Neither do these humans care if they have to pay taxes, compulsory insurance and penalties. For their car, these humans made many sacrifices and sometimes even indebted themselves. And now they want to enjoy the intoxication and even accepts the potential death and injury of third parties.

In fact, to me it seems that this genetics of omnipotence is so deeply rooted that even cyclists sometimes act it out as soon as they mount their bikes. Nowadays – as I witness every day – even the female biker does it!

I am not sure if we would have been a success if we had tried to give the development of individualized traffic with all its terrible consequences other rules and laws a hundred years ago.

We might have avoided some of the damage if we had collectively developed a different attitude! Regulations, however, will certainly not make a difference.

Our present position is what it is. The damage has been done and the coming generations will either put things right or not. Evolution will put things right or not. It will go its way. What will come will be the right thing. No matter what. Even if it seems more like it works without purpose and in a chaotic way.

So what is my consequence with respect to the internet? Can we learn anything from the history of individualized mobility for internet data and knowledge networks?

As I see it, regulations will not help. Maybe developing an “ethical” awareness would be a better way. But how?

RMD

(Translated by EG)

During weekends, I enjoy reading the blogs my friends write. For example, Dr. Stefan Hagen (Stefan) informs you about the Nürnberg PM Forum 2012 by GPM in his PM-Blog. He also wants to attend it, because he thinks it is time for him to remember what a traditional conference feels like.

I already look forward to hearing what Stefan is going to tell me about the GPM PM Forum, both from reading it in his blog and meeting him in person.    
And I can already predict to some extent what he will probably tell me.

Personally, I no longer like traditional conferences. Still, once in a while, I attend them. Depending on the actual event, I usually end up more or less disappointed (or rather, my prejudices turn out to be correct). Once in a while, you will see some brilliant speakers. You also meet people you would like to see again, but that is usually about it.

What I find remarkable about the PM forum is its title:

“Remaining on Course with Project Management – A Compass for Eventful Times”

Now that already causes the first disagreement in me:

I am actually fed up with hearing catch-words such as “Eventful Times” or “Crisis”. Today, we are all better off than ever before. If this is what you call crisis, then crisis must be a beautiful thing. In fact, it is a pretty nice life-style – if you ask me, I would say let us remain there!

As opposed to common sentiment, I think we live in a time of luxury. Unfortunately, however, this luxury made us collectively (and probably also individually) obese and inactive. We live beyond our means – and on borrowed money to boot.
The only movement I can discover is society trembling with fear of losing prosperity and our desperately clinging to what we own. Is that what you call “eventful times” or “crisis”?
And then here comes the association preaching:    
“Remaining on Course with Project Management – A Compass for Eventful Times”
To me, this sentence sounds strange, both linguistically and with respect to its content. Maybe people should think a little harder before creating and publishing these kinds of slogans.

So what exactly is the meaning of “remaining on course”?

Doesn’t a reasonable and courageous “remaining on course“ necessitate a lot more than project management? First and foremost, you would have to know where you want to go, wouldn’t you? You want to know which business model you aim at. We are talking culture and values, responsibility, knowledge, courage, pleasure, respect, tolerance, civil courage…
I could just as well come up with the motto:    
“Remaining on Course with Requirement“.

Or, even better:    
Let us install an association for course finding that certifies course finding. The motto might be: finding your course through dominance-free and upright discourse. (Adorno, Habermas).

Of course, this is not entirely meant seriously. But give me a break: “Remaining on course with project management“ might sound nice, but all it is is a complex and confusing shell of words. First and foremost, you have to find the path you want to tread on. Or at least you have to find your direction. And this is certainly a very difficult project. You cannot sell project management as the trivial solution for the problem.

Suggesting that “project management is the compass in eventful times“ sounds adventurous to me. Or at least very simple (or a technocratic concept?). Why don’t you go on to say:
“With PM, we will solve all our problems!”?

But so what. As I see it, the slogan is more like advertising a milky bar. And that is probably all it is – simple advertising nonsense as we will find it all over the place. Except I do not know if, maybe, the association is harming itself by this method, rather than promoting its interest. Even if, being the powerful system “association”, you already think (and perhaps that is what you have to think) you own the certified truth cut up into standards.

I would find it truly outrageous if, for example, the PM Camp, for which I feel partly responsible, would advertise itself with such a primitive slogan. Among my own friends, I would fight such a slogan.

If you want something that brings a smile to your face, here is the original introduction from the PM Forum program brochure 2012 Programmheft PM Forum 2012 (pdf):

Internationally spoken, the weather is still inclement and the general outlook will remain stormy.  To be sure, in Germany, the economic outlook is positive enough, but here, too, the entrepreneurs will have to be prepared to fight rough seas. During this stormy up and down of the economy, we now need to remain on course. It is a good thing that the enterprises invested in project management, thereby improving their position among the competitors. Through project management, you can achieve convincing results, both in time and in budget. For German enterprises, professional project management becomes more and more the success guarantee. It turns into being the compass and provides orientation, it levels out minor disruptions and keeps the enterprise flexible and agile, even in volatile times.

Words, words, words! Why don’t you go and get me a philosopher? And, please, do not ever let an owner of a medium-sized enterprise read this. Are there any buzzwords you have not read in this paragraph? Who would ever write this kind of thing? Or, even better, who will ever believe this kind of thing? What nonsense! But at least, now we know how an enterprise can be saved from collapsing. Isn’t that some achievement?

Mind you, the event costs 1,150.00 Euros for non-members at GPM. Members pay 200 Euros less. Some of the things you get in return are that you can, for example, hear our eternal German-French journalist and author Prof. Dr. Peter Scholl-Latour talk about “International problem areas and the challenge they pose for German policy“, or the self-promoting extreme mountaineering expert Hans Kammerlander about “Hanging on the satin thread. From Southern Tyrolia to Jasemba (7,350 m): 40 years on course!”.

I know both speakers and wish you all a good time!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Jörg Rothermel
Friday July 20th, 2012

Report from Melbourne

Two months ago, I ended up in Australia (or, to be precise: Melbourne). After a scientific career in heavy ion physics at the Garching Maier-Leibnitz Laboratory and 30 years of work in various IT functions, I started the time-off phase of my old-age part-time in March 2012. Late in 2011, my wife had received an interesting job offer for Melbourne. After an intense discussion – where the fact that our daughter lives in New Zealand played a considerable role – we decided (so far on a tentative basis) to emigrate to Australia.

Here is some information up front: by now, we managed to do the most important tasks (rent a house, gas, electricity, water, cable TV, telephone, internet…). In a few days, the container will arrive with all our stuff. Then we can start furnishing our house.

Let me start describing some of my(totally subjective) impressions of Australia.

The Weather

Of course, the first thing you notice on a trip to the Southern Hemisphere is the weather: the astronomical winter on the southern hemisphere lasts from June, 21st to September, 23rd. Since Australia is situated between 10 and 44 degrees latitude south-east, this does not say a lot about the entire continent, does it? As far as Melbourne is concerned, we can say: in the daytime, the temperatures are between 17 and 11 degrees Celsius (dependent on how long the sun shines). At night, you might well get 6 degrees Celsius. There is comparatively little rain, but when it rains, it really rains.

Sunrise is currently around 7:30, sun-down at 17:20. Fewer than half of the trees have shed their leaves, some plants already start blossoming – so it does not really look like winter at all.

There is a famous proverb: ‘If you don’t like Melbourne’s weather, wait five minutes and it will change’!

That is totally correct. Here is what it means: as far as clothes are concerned, you have to be prepared for everything at all times. In extreme cases, you can experience all the four seasons on a single day.

In short: winter is roughly what you would see in Germany late in April or early in May, but dryer.

Due to the short period of cold weather, central heating is almost unknown. In our house, the only heating is air conditioning in the living room. It can be switched to heat pump. Since our house, like almost all houses, is made of Rigips, wood and corrugated iron, it gets rather cold in the morning.

Apparently, the Melbournians try to ignore the winter. For me, this seems the only explanation why girls going to school wear mini-skirts and boys shorts. Cool young people like to wear t-shirts – even in inclement weather.

I wonder if such a thing as season-jetlag exists. Some way or other, I miss the summer I was cheated out of (let us wait and see how I will feel about it five months from now)….

Here is a picture of Downtown Melbourne seen from Williamstown Marina

Pelikane in Williamstown

Pelicans near our house

The city of Melbourne

In many sectors of the city, Melbourne seems very European (no surprise, after all, there were many immigrants from Europe – according to a well-known joke, Melbourne is the second biggest Greek city after Athens).    
That is also the reason why they have suburbs like Altona, Brunswick, Coburg and Heidelberg.

Melbourne can boast a huge number of excellent museums and art galleries (for example the National Gallery of Victoria).

It is truly enjoyable to walk through the city centre and look at the thousands of shops – especially in the beautiful historical pedestrians’ arcades. Now is a time when you can buy high-quality clothes at reasonable prices. As a general rule, however, you will always want to be careful with prices (I will tell you more about it in another article).

Comparison with Sydney: Melbourne cannot quite compete with Sydney’s spectacular location. The Sydney skyline with the opera house and the Harbour Bridge is unique in the world. And the beach not far from our house, too, is not quite as wonderful as Bondi Beach. Regardless, Melbourne has some charm of its own, in particular through its lively downtown, which seems European.

Willamstown Beach

We live in Williamstown, a suburb around 13 kilometres from the city centre. Here is where the first harbour for sea ships used to be at the Port Phillip Bay. The place is older than Melbourne. We do not yet have a car of our own. That is why this place is ideal for us: if you take the metro, you will reach the city centre (Central Business District – CBD) in 25 minutes. We have a good infra-structure and all necessary shops (and the beach) are within walking distance. Near the beach, you will find the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary.  With a multitude of oceanic birds – mostly pelican, cormorant, booby and ibis.

Eating out and food

Melbourne (and most of the rest of Australia, as well) is very prosperous – and you will notice it instantly from what things cost: if you want a good dinner for two at CBD, you will have to pay 500 $[1]. Two weeks ago, I went there for a hamburger and a glass of beer and paid 31 $ (incidentally, the beer tastes rather well – they have a number of small, creative breweries).

We often eat Vietnamese or Chinese – where you mostly get excellent quality for reasonable prices.

Locally produced vegetables, meat and fish are often considerably less expensive than in Munich. For me, it came as a surprise to find that there is a huge variety of locally produced, high-quality meat specialties, for instance Salami (you can even get high-quality Bavarian collared pork).

Wine:

In Australia, they grow excellent wine, but, as everywhere, quality has its price. The first time we went into a Vinothek, I asked the salesperson to offer me a bottled wine under 30$; well, that is what he brought – but he looked at me like I had ordered canned wine.

If you go and drink directly at the vintners’, you will also find excellent wines. But even there, you will hardly get a bottle for less than 25$.

The People

Mostly, the people are friendly and helpful. Unfortunately, this is not always true for young persons: the first experiences my wife made with young Australian co-workers were not exclusively positive. Many young employees are egoistical, pampered and basically have not enjoyed a good upbringing. Moreover, the training of Australian IT professionals mostly cannot hold a torch to that in other countries (for instance India). Demanding technological problems are almost always tackled by Indians or Asians.

The people are disarmingly honest if something does not work as it should (and there are quite a few things that don’t). Here is an example: on weekends, metro-trains often change their routes. At those times, friendly metro-link employees will walk all the way through the trains and apologize to the passengers, asking them to listen to the announcements.  Unfortunately, they cannot do anything about it, but the train is doing a different route this time ”no worries mate“…

As far as language goes, I still have a few problems trying to understand some of the people around this place. To be sure, I knew from earlier vacations in Australia and New Zealand that the people here speak English in a way that sounds like they have a hot potato between their teeth. The problems start when I communicate with immigrants from Asia (practically everything physically demanding is done by Asian immigrants). Those are the times when I can only guess what the speaker means (incidentally, this is not true for young Chinese. Their English is excellent).

So this was the first of my highlights – more to follow.

No Worries

JRO

(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday July 19th, 2012

Tweets on Twittering and Blogging #126

Here are my tweets of last week on:

blogging and twittering, wisdoms and rules:

120802 Flatterer, shammer – also true for bloggers and twitterers? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120803 Pain will stick to your heart – not to forget, twitterers and bloggers! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120804 Quick luck, quick misery – also true for twittering and blogging? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120805 Quick jumps will seldom be successful – also true for twittering and blogging! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120806 It is hard to prevent flies from attacking nice meat – warning for twitterers and bloggers! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120807 Pretty is what pretty does – not to forget, twitterers and bloggers! #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

120808 You will seldom find virtue where you find beauty – also true for twittering and blogging? #Twitter #Blogging #Wisdom

There is a new tweet each day. See twitter.com and “follow” RolandDuerre!
Enjoy!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
I took the proverbs from Alle deutsche Sprichwörter.