Friday, January 01, 2010

2000/2009 - a Decade of Change

Ten years ago we were on the brink of a new Millennium. Now as I'm about to enter my seventh decade (I was born in the 1950s - this makes me feel old) I thought I'd look back over the 2000/2009 decade and try to remember things that happened without looking them up on the Web.

New Year's Day 2000 started out with a Bourke family "do" in Islandeady near Castlebar, Co. Mayo. We had a lot of champagne is what I remember most about the night, and also checking the News on TV/radio for any Y2K bugs - which as I recall did not cause any major problems. Entering a new millennium was not really an exciting event (as I'm certain not to live through it!) - but a new decade was. At that time, I had a great job and was making good money in SmartForce - Oh, and I bought my first Harley-Davidson! My world seemed to on an upward spiral - in the year 2000 alone I traveled to the USA 10 times (mostly business class). The boom was in full swing and I thought that this prosperity would never end. 2001 changed all of that - the attack on the Twin Towers in New York shook the world and I recall watching the footage on the Internet at work with disbelief.

One good thing Roma and I did in 2001 was to buy #5 Skuna Bay in the late summer. The 24th July 2001 was a notable date for me as it was the last day ever that I sold SmartForce stock options - this covered a good portion of the cost of the house. The stock was at about $40 in mid July and fell to $16 by late August (it still has not recovered) - a fortuitous sale if ever there was one. This was really the beginning of the end for SmartForce - by 2002 it had gone through a failed merger with Centra, two rounds of redundancies, and a takeover by SkillSoft. For me I took the most difficult decision I ever had to make by applying (successfully) for voluntary redundancy - I got the final word while sitting on a rock outside a hotel near Heathrow Airport while suffering from a "mother and father" of a hangover. In November 2002 I was officially unemployed, though I had a very good redundancy package to keep me happy. Also in November 2002 my former colleague at both SmartForce and NCI, and good friend Dr David Keane, contacted me to see if I was interested in some part-time lecturing at NCI. My first class was on Change Management as a guest lecturer, and I got some teaching hours on NCI's new Diploma in e-Learning.

In January 2003 I got more teaching hours in NCI, and by June I had secured a full time position as an Assistant Lecturer. I was thrilled to get this (even though the money was very poor, especially compared to what I had earned in SmartForce). It was 15 years since I had graduated from Trinity with a PhD in the hope that I would go on to secure a position as a Lecturer/Researcher in a College/University - I had finally done it, albeit by a most circuitous route. In 2003 I also purchased my second (and current) Harley-Davidson, a Heritage Softail Classic, which as you'll see from previous posts I love to bits.

2004, 2005, and 2006 are a bit of a blur really. In 2004 I moved from Assistant Lecturer to Lecture in NCI and was by then really settled into the job. It is a great place to work  - the people are smashing and the job itself is very satisfying (except when some of my classes are poorly attended). The IFSC is a nice location and I commute the 7 miles mostly by motorcycle, and less frequently by bicycle. In 2005 I started to teach a new module on Business Systems Analysis, which has become my favourite subject to teach. I have done a lot of night classes, which I have recently got fed up of doing. I have also got into teaching Project Management which is a subject I am also very fond of - having been a Project Manager for much of my time in SmartForce. 2005 also saw my longest ever trip (to Algarve and back) on my motorcycle - this was quite an adventure. 2006 (Sept 8th) also saw the death of my Mother-in-Law, Mary Rose Bourke, may she rest in peace. In 2006 I started this blog with my first post on November 13th. 2006 and 2007 I posted only a few items, only really getting into it during 2008. This post is the 268th post since I started.

2007 was also the height of the property boom and we decided to get in on the act by buying an apartment in Spain from Polaris World - we paid the deposit in March 2007. Almost three years later the apartment is still not built, and Polaris are in trouble having recently filed for protection from creditors. This could end up being our worst financial decision ever. However, a really good financial decision was to not by an apartment in Ireland! Sadly, my uncle Charlie O'Loughlin also died in 2007 (Sept 10th) - may he also rest in peace.

2008 and 2009 was all about recession in Ireland. We have seen the value of our property fall dramatically (our house by over 50% in two years), and income reduced. Thankfully, I am still employed by NCI - however, management/union negotiations on cost-cutting are still on-going and I pray that whatever happens that I still have a job at the end. 2009 also saw me reach 50 years of age and publish my first book.

I have thought about what I might be writing about in ten years time. Hopefully I will continue to blog, though I have promised myself to write less about myself and write more comment on the issues of the day - especially in relation to education and technology. I'll be 60 in 2019 - certainly thinking about retirement, and I may even be a Grandfather (hopefully towards the end of the decade).

Goodbye to the Noughties!

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