Personal recollections by blog owner Curt Monash, plus notes on his family.

October 31, 2010

My family and religion

My mother’s grandparents all died in Nazi concentration camps.* My father escaped from the labor camp at Zerbst the night before the inmates expected to be massacred, when an American air raid destroyed their just-completed project and, along the way, knocked out the electric fence.  Read more

October 29, 2010

A bad week in the Monash family

This is the week of my parents’ deaths. My father, Peter Ernest Monash, born August 16, 1924 in Rudolstadt, Germany, had his ventilator turned off Wednesday, October 27 at 11:02 pm. Time of death was 11:15 pm. My mother, Anita Kaete Monash (nee’ Jonas), born June 23, 1928 in Dresden, Germany, was transitioned to palliative-only care a day later. She is being given neither nutrition, fluids, nor medication (other than for pain or anxiety). Her death is imminent.

Edit: Anita Monash’s time of death wound up being 4:10 am, Saturday, October 30, 53 hours after her husband’s.

Memorial service plans have not yet been firmed up. Please make in-lieu-of-flowers donations to the Clinton Foundation, which is doing terrific work in Haiti relief, microfinance, tropical disease, HIV/AIDS, and much, much more.  Read more

March 30, 2010

No-fooling: A new blog-tagging meme

On April Fool’s Day, it is traditional to spread false stories that you hope will sound true. Last year, however, I decided to do the opposite – I posted some true stories that, at least for a moment, sounded implausible or false. This year I’m going to try to turn the idea into a kind of blog-tagging meme.*

*A blog-tagging meme is, in essence, an internet chain letter without the noxious elements.

Without further ado, the Rules of the No-Fooling Meme are:

Rule 1: Post on your blog 1 or more surprisingly true things about you,* plus their explanations. I’m starting off with 10, but it’s OK to be a lot less wordy than I’m being. 😉 I suggest the following format:

*If you want to relax the “about you” part, that’s fine too.

Rule 2: Link back to this post. That explains what you’re doing. 🙂

Rule 3: Drop a link to your post into the comment thread. That will let people who check here know that you’ve contributed too.

Rule 4: Ping 1 or more other people encouraging them to join in the meme with posts of their own.

Hopefully, the end result of all this will be that we all know each other just a little bit better! And hopefully we’ll preserve some cool stories as well.

To kick it off, here are my entries. (Please pardon any implied boastfulness; a certain combustibility aside, I’ve lived a pretty fortunate life.)

I was physically evicted by hotel security from a DBMS vendor’s product announcement venue. It was the Plaza Hotel in NYC, at Cullinet’s IDMS/R announcement. Phil Cooper, then Cullinet’s marketing VP, blocked my entrance to the ballroom for the main event, and then called hotel security to have me removed from the premises.

A few years later, the same Phil Cooper stood me up for a breakfast meeting in his own house in Wellesley. When one’s around Phil Cooper, weird things just naturally happen. Read more

April 25, 2009

WSJ article on Bill Gates’ family, and other stories

The Wall Street Journal offers an article on Bill Gates’ family, specifically his relationship with his parents.  It rings true to me. I only met Bill’s parents once, at a black tie party at Ann Winblad’s house in 1986.

That’s the party where Bill yelled at me that Microsoft would beat Lotus because Lotus didn’t know how to develop software. It’s also the one where I got up to address the party-goers and started with words to the effect “There are two things you need to recall about Ann. First, she has a lot of confidence in the abilities of her friends.  Second, she’s somewhat perverse.” But I digress …

Anyhow, my take on Bill’s parents at the time was that his mother was sweet, warm, helpful, etc., while his father was a somewhat uptight stereotypical white-shoe WASP. The article doesn’t contradict any of that, but suggests further dynamics that round out the picture, and which are quite consistent with the reporting all along of Bill Sr. as being quite the good guy.

As for the party: There was a major Impressionist art exhibit in San Francisco that year, so Ann decided to have a party in connection with it, cohosted by our mutual friend Rosann Stach. 16 couples, black tie, catered, valet parking, with minibuses to take us to the actual exhibit and back at some point.  I was tasked to come up with “Impressionist music”, which I solved by calling up a college girlfriend who was an orchestra conductor, and which is why Gabriel Faure’ wound up being very high on my list of favorite composers.

My new girlfriend and I also had dinner w/ Ann and Rosann the night before, when the seating chart was being worked out. (With many more friends in the SF area than back where I lived in NYC, I had the habit of taking a new girlfriend along on a business trip to meet my friends. Ann was particularly pleased in this case, as my backup choice of a party date would have been an ex-girlfriend of Bill’s …)

Ann decided that before dessert the men (Or was it the women? I forget now.) would all get up and go sit somewhere else, with their new companion to be indicated on the placecards. I had the bright idea to, instead of naming the companion, put a riddle about the companion’s identity, that one would either know or could surely answer w/ the help of the other guests. (Some spouses aside, the guests were generally people who knew a fair amount about each other — the ones I’ve named, plus Cristina Morgan, John Doerr, Jerry Kaplan, Will Hearst, and so on.) And thus it became my task to explain the challenge to the guests at the appropriate time … hence my opening remarks quoted above.

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