Happy birthday Ruby

Tired & Happy

I’m not sure how this has happened so quickly, but it turns out that our little girl is already two years old. Did someone speed up time over the last couple of years?

It’s impossible for me to explain in words how much we love her, or to show the many ways that she has enriched our lives since she arrived back in 2009, so for now I will just say this:

Happy birthday Ruby. You are amazing.


T214: TMA06 and the EMA

I had a very welcome email from the Open University last night informing me that my mark for TMA06 had arrived. I’d been worried about this, because I needed a mark over 80% in order to achieve the magical 70% average over the six assignments, enough to give me a chance of a grade 2 pass for this course (the equivalent of a 2.1).

As it turns out I’d managed to get 86%. I am very, very pleased with this! This means that the course materials are finally starting to sink in, and that my chances of an eventual 2.1 degree are not dashed at this early stage. I still have a lot of course concepts to work on – I still struggle with emergent properties of systems, and I find it difficult to break out of my cognitive biases – but I’m starting to use the diagramming techniques better and managed to gain my best mark of the course just when I needed it.

I’ve put a lot of effort into this, although I could be much more organised in my approach. My poor wife has had to put up with me ignoring her for a couple of hours in the evenings while I tap away at my computer, or read through the course materials. I couldn’t do this without her support. I’ve also benefited greatly from some excellent comments by my tutor, who’s provided me with some much-needed guidance when I’ve been heading in the wrong direction, or missing the point of the course concepts. Cheers!

I’m now feeling more confident for the End of Module Assessment (EMA), due in by the 12th October. I still have 5,000 words to write but I think I can get something sensible down on paper in time. I need to exceed 70% on that in order to get the grade 2 pass, so I’ll be aiming high with my analysis.

I’m still looking at potential problems to analyse for this and I’m now considering the recently reported killing of a British man and the kidnapping of his wife in Kenya. This event is a tragedy for their family – and I feel a bit ghoulish for even considering this as a study opportunity – but there are all sorts of environmental, conflict and control issues involved with that story (and the whole Somali pirate thing) that would allow me to generate some interesting ideas and conclusions.

We shall see. In the meantime, I have a systems thinking framework to create. Should be fun!

T214: EMA – choosing a problem

My T214 study is approaching the end. I’ll be submitting the formative TMA07 on Friday, finishing off Block 4 in a few weeks, then engaging with the End of Module Assessment (EMA) in time to submit by the 12th October.

I need to write 5,000 words in the EMA. This seems like a LOT of words to me, but the EMA is split into manageable chunks and I’m fairly sure that I can create enough sensible content to get a decent mark. One part of the EMA requires me to find a problem to analyse, something that’s been in the news this year that I can apply my new, shiny systems practice techniques to.

I have a number of possible candidates for consideration; firstly, and most obviously, there is the biggest news of the year – the recent riots. There are a number of benefits to choosing this as my mess; there’s no end of potential material to use as evidence – from all sorts of perspectives – and it’s already been analysed to death in the media. It should be fairly easy to find relevant data on societal problems that may have contributed to the problem and potential intervention points. It’s also the most obvious subject matter to take forward into the EMA and I suspect many people will choose it.

Alternatively, I could pick something on the UK economy. The chancellor is keen to chop the 50% tax rate in order generate some impetus into the economy, while Warren Buffet has stated that the rich should pay more taxes. Economics is a true mess and the current economic problems in the UK would allow me to discuss all sorts of systems concepts. I also did A-level economics back at High School, so at least I have some background knowledge to draw on, even though I didn’t get a great grade. I’m tempted to go with this one, even though we didn’t cover economics directly in the course materials. I would find it interesting to do and it would give me a chance to look at both the Tory and socialist economic agendas.

I could pick something smaller scale and perhaps look at the “cloudgate” issues that caused a bit of a storm this year (pun intended). This was a mess that links into Climate Change and science reporting, and I could use the story to look at how science, and climate science in particular, is reported in the news. I have firm views on climate change (I’m staunchly in the science camp) and it would be interesting to look at alternative perspectives from a systems thinking point of view. There was a lot of discussion about the whole thing around various science blogs so I shouldn’t have a problem finding reference-able material.

I shall have a ponder. My current favourite is the economics one, but we shall see. It might be better to take on a smaller mess, or perhaps look at other stories in the news to find something different. I am more than willing to consider ideas if anyone has something in mind…