Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 4

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Sunday January 6, 2008 (diary, writing)

Another dry day with a bit of sun, so we do a spot of washing.
On my way to the coast I see an endless stream of cars leaving Mooloolaba. The School holidays are still on for another two weeks or so, but most mums and dads have to get back to work tomorrow. Babette too resumes command of her two Colleges tomorrow. I look forward to Mooloolaba getting almost back to normal again.

I watch some cricket at the Surf Club. The last day of the second Australia - India test match. Australia needs to get four more wickets in a dozen overs to win as I leave and it appears they are heading for a draw. But back home I hear on the News that they managed to squeeze out a miraculous win, with 3 Indian wickets falling in the very last over ! There is no doubt about this Aussie team, they never ever give up, that makes them the World Champions. And now with a world record breaking streak of 16 consecutive test match wins.

Babette has cooked some cannelloni tonight, I must say she is an excellent cook. She also went to the bookshop today to get the latest Edition of Elisabeth Castro's HTML programming manual. In this Edition the author has left out the Chapter on Frames, as everybody has had problems with this element of html. Most browsers simply don't display this properly and reliably. That is certainly also my experience. Search Engines too ignore it with their reference links.

Before turning into bed I notice that in just one week I have almost gone right through my 5 bottles of Cinzano Rosso. A good advertisement for the drink, but I think I have to try to slow down on it a bit.

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Monday January 7, 2008 (concept, space time, awareness)

Awareness 1 (Overview)
Today something completely different for a change.
I try to be informed about the current discoveries in modern physics and cosmology. I find it important to have a greater awareness of the Universe in which we live and my own personal place within it. "Try" I say, but that is not so easy. I have struggled through a number of books in the past and although they have given me some ideas, it has never provided me with the clear insight I am searching for.
Last year however I got hold of a great book by Brian Greene called "The Fabric of the Cosmos". I am only halfway through it and also need to go through it once more to firm up my understanding, but it is easy to read and it is giving me great insights.

Let me try to explain to you for example Einstein's basic concepts of time and space time. Here we go.
Say you have a good friend with the police (always good to have) who is willing to lend you his radar speed gun. With this hot little instrument you step into your car, drive to the nearest highway and get out.
Now aim your speed gun at that vintage car on your right, and measure its speed. That is right, it is coming towards you at 100 kilometers per hour (kph).

That was a piece of cake, wasn't it ?
Now get into your car and drive towards it at 50 kph and measure that vintage's car speed again.
As it still drives towards you at 100 kph and you drive towards it at 50kph, you are getting closer to each other at a speed of 100 + 50 = 150 kph. Agree ? The radar gun definitely says so !

You get out of your car again and this time point your speed gun at an un coming particle of light ("photon"), from the sun, the moon, a street light, does not matter.
Wow ! That is coming at you fast, at somewhere around 300,000 km per second. In physics this speed (speed of light) is represented by the letter c.

You are very well connected and also happen to have a friend in the Air force who is willing to take you on a joy ride on the latest jet fighter they are just testing. Crammed in your seat you aim your speed gun through the windscreen again at an incoming photon as you fly towards the sun. What happens ? Is this gun not working properly ?, You shake it, bang it against the windscreen, try again. The same reading again. It has not changed from when you were standing still on the ground.

You would think that 4,000 kph in this jet should make a difference. But it does not. No matter how fast you fly, or in what direction, the speed gun will always show the same speed, c.

This was the great puzzle facing scientists around 1900. No one could figure it out. So Albert Einstein, an unknown clerk in a Government office, set his mind to it. The answer he came up with has changed the way we look at the world forever !
And it is so simple. A speed is a distance (in kms) divided by a time unit (1 hour or 1 second). Einstein did not (like everybody else) look at the distance part of the equation, but instead at the time unit and came to the startling conclusion that when you traveled at increasing speed through space the time unit (second) would stretch, become longer !!
In other words the faster you move the more time slows down. You can keep increasing your speed, but not infinitely, because when you reach the speed of light time actually stands still altogether.
This startling fact has been confirmed as correct by numerous subsequent experiments.
Time is not absolute, fixed and independent, but instead flexible and an extra dimension added to the three dimensions of space. It is part of what is now called space time.

But wait (as the TV adman says), there is more !!
You, me, we all travel at the speed of light. Not through space, but through space time. Here is how it works.
Say you want to travel to a place which is 500 km exactly due North of where you start of from. So you get into your car, get up to speed and set your cruise control on 100 kph. As long as the road you travel on is heading due North you will approach your destination at 100 kph.
But as soon as the road turns say to the North East things change. You still travel on it at 100 kph, but only part of the speed is getting you North, the other part is moving you to the East. As the Diagram below on the left shows you now approach your North target at the speed of around 70 kph.

The same thing happens in space time.
Uncle Jo above, quietly sitting in his dinghy waiting for the fish to bite, is blissfully unaware that he is traveling through time at close to the speed of light (remember : the earth is moving through the universe, therefore so is Jo). The hungry fish darting backwards and forwards underneath his boat is on a slightly slower time setting. Just as well because if it does go for Jo's lure there may be little time left for it no matter how long time is stretched.
The passengers in the plane going overhead are on a slower time scale yet. And for the light particles coming from the sun bouncing on Jo's bald head the time is standing still altogether.

Isn't this an amazing scenario ? Have you ever thought about life around you in this way ?
Awareness continues on Feb. 27

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Tuesday January 8, 2008 (diary, sport, attitude, song, generosity)

After some cool headed thinking and pragmatic action by the ICC things have quietened down at the end of today. But is it only a temporary peace ?
After their spectacular loss in the second cricket test match this Sunday, the Indian team raised a hell of a stink, requesting amongst other things that the umpires be sacked for incompetence and threatening to return home and not play on.

The Indians' belligerent reaction would have been unimaginable only ten years ago. Now it is a matter of déjà vu, because the same thing happened about a year or so ago when the Pakistanis visited England. Then like now the poor umpire has been the scape goat. Experienced men, respected by all for many years, but now suddenly they have become racist and incompetent.
This wonderful and unique game of cricket used to provide a bond between the peoples who played and watched it. It created a type of kinship a soul mate feeling. But now cricket has become a battle ground, a sharp wedge of mistrust and animosity, driving us apart.

The public's reactions on the subcontinent were also hysterical these past few days, with people burning puppets and photos depicting the umpires, even Ricky Ponting in fires on the streets.
These reactions in India and earlier in Pakistan are like faint echoes of the hysteria by the Muslims not so long ago over those harmless cartoons in a Danish Newspaper a few years back. And this I believe is where the cause of all this animosity is to be found : The deprived nations, kept quiet for so long, but now awakened by the hard line religious terrorists and the invasion of Iraq are raising their voice.

I vividly remember my first day of this new Millennium, January 1, 2000.
I woke up early, went straight to my Mac computer and switched it on to see if it was affected by the y2k bug. It was not of course (what a hysteria that was, back then!).
I felt happy, elated and rushed down to my studio and sat behind the piano. Within 5 minutes I had expressed my positive feelings in a new song. I called it Hope. After all we had finally left the century of horrible hot and cold wars behind us. The iron curtain had come down, Europe was becoming united.

How wrong and misguided I was back then, or was I ?
We are finally confronted full on with the biggest problem this world has had for so long, the huge gap between the haves an the havenots. The lack of health, education, opportunity, prosperity so many are confronted with every day of their lives. We can not avoid this problem any longer, but must address and solve this before we can move on as a united human species into this new Millennium stretching before us. Ignoring it will surely destroy us.

What small steps as an individual can we make to contribute to this move forward ?
Why not sponsor a 3rd World child ? It only costs $39 a month, is fully tax deductible, so in fact will probably be a mere 90 cents a day. For this you provide a child with health care and proper education, you make its family happy and even a whole community feel cared for and grateful for your generosity.
Lauzi from Zambia, one of my sponsor children For your 90 cents will also contribute to building a school, or clean water pump or start up capital for a family business. In Australia I recommend World Vision (13 32 40). They are experienced, professional and financially very responsible.

Since October 1996 I have been running my music education web site Jazclass, with many free online lessons. This, as numerous emails I receive reveal, is spreading a sense of generosity amongst many who visit my site. Recently one of them for example read : "Thank you for your web site, it has restored my faith in humanity and the world." This is such a simple thing I can do. Yet it has (thanks to our modern technology) a substantial impact around the world.

Generosity starts at home, with you ! You can be like a nucleus from which generosity can grow around you like ripples in a pond, spreading wider and wider. Think, become conscious of this, and do !

A few weeks ago I stopped rotating online lessons around, a policy I have had for 11 years. I have now a number of full blown music courses permanently online, around a hundred individual lessons I think (I lost count). People who just manage to get online but can not afford the small expense of buying one of my courses, can now have free quality music education from basic levels right through to University material. I feel really good about that.

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Wednesday January 9, 2008 (diary, bio, sport, sailing)

Tasar World Championships, Darwin 2005 What a surprise ! I do my usual lunchtime trip to the Surf Club in Mooloolaba, order my toasted sandwiches, get a mug of coffee and sit down on the deck overlooking the surf. On a table in front of me sit two ladies over a bottle of wine in animated discussion. I vaguely think I know one of them. Eventually they get up (the wine being finished) and indeed it is Maz from Darwin. I am introduced to her friend (also from Darwin) and we have a friendly chat, before they leave.
Maz is a well known and exuberant personality at the Darwin Sailing Club (DSC). Her husband George owns the catamaran "Taipan", one of the fastest cats in Australia. They have been members of the DSC for many years and have contributed considerably to it. They both just quit their respective jobs (in real estate and the police force) and are now settling down in retirement in Maroochydore.

I first met Maz back in 2002 I think and our first encounter was not what you call a success. It was on a late Sunday afternoon after the yacht race and usual prizes presentations and we were going through a keg or two of beer and some wine provided by one of the Club sponsors. Everybody was talking to everybody else, so sooner or later I found myself talking to Maz. I had been as Rescue Crew on the water all day and had quite a bit to drink by now. Maz suddenly said something which I perceived as a slight on our Sailing Manager (Donnie, a rough bushie, but the kindest and most considerate man I have ever met). I was always fiercely loyal to Donnie and her remark really triggered me off. I have no idea what I replied to her but my words contained several of the 4-letter variety. As a result we did not speak or even look at each other for a couple of years. She probably thought me a bloody rude Dutchman (which of course I had been on that occasion) and I was quite annoyed too for a while.

Then came the year 2005, when the DSC hosted the Tasar World Championships. There were a huge number of entrants, a total of 120. Most of course from Australia, but also a good turn up from other counties such as the USA, Japan, Great Britain, even a well known and rather eccentric team from Holland.
I was heavily involved in the proceedings and so was Maz. We both found ourselves rostered as crew on the Flag Signals Boat, lent to us for the occasion by the Navy. Tasar World Championships, Darwin 2005 So there we were, standing side by side on the rear deck all week, raising and lowering various flag signals for starts, recalls, restarts, postponements, etc. The three other crew members were great and there was a happy atmosphere on board at all times. In this environment the ice between us slowly started to melt. I always hate being on bad terms with anybody and tried to be especially polite and friendly to her. Ever since that week we have got on extremely well with each other. She is a very warm hearted woman and we both appreciate in each other the contributions we have made to the Club over the years.

Darwin is a very special place. Once you have lived there it remains in your heart forever. With Maz and George being here on the Sunshine Coast I know that each time we bump into each other we will be happy. For we will always find a little bit of Darwin in each other.
Nicole Kidman visited Darwin last year while shooting a new film there. She would drive all around on her little scooter, totally unhindered, dropping in at cafes, even a local hairdresser. She absolutely loved the place. And I was most impressed by her very astute description of it : "a place where everyone is equal".   Spot on Nicole !

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Thursday January 10, 2008 (diary, Babette's birthday, food)

Babette and her Mum in Bar Beach 1966 It is Babette's birthday today.
She is also back at work and either commutes from Ilkley to Brisbane every day (a 200km round trip) or flies out to Sydney for a few days to cast her eyes over proceedings in her College down there. Today she is off to Brisbane, purring away early in the morning in her Jazzy white sports car Doug imported from Japan. Later in the day we are informed that she has late appointments and won't be back until 8. We are also firmly instructed to make the best of it in her absence and bring her back a green curry take away from the Thai Parnit. So armed with a few coldies from the Black Forest (Fürstenberg Beer) we are on our way to Nambour at around 6.

Nambour is a sleepy country town, about 20 km from the coast. Its main reason for being used to be a sugar mill, but that was closed a few years ago. All the same the place has remained a busy hub, with a good shopping center, large public hospital, several schools and sufficient stores and amenities to attract people from the country areas around it. It is however not a very fertile ground for exotic restaurants. Some have tried but most have fallen by the wayside within a short period of time. People here prefer the RSL (Returned Soldiers League Club), one of the pubs or the typical Aussie Chinese.

The fact that the Thai Parnit Restaurant (07 5476 1688) has survived and flourished now for 12 years is a clear testament to the outstanding quality of the wonderful food it offers. Its owner Stephen Kirby (I only know the name from his business card, never addressed him with it) is a very courteous and efficient host.
Happy Birthday Babette But he is also rather introverted, most unusual for a restaurant owner and the absolute and total opposite of Lefty's. Whereas Lefty most likely will crush you to death, if not (God forbid) kiss you as soon as you enter his domain, Stephen will not indicate by the slightest gesture or word that he has ever seen you before in his life, although you may be a regular customer coming every week, year after year.
Stephen will quickly guide you to your table, take your order and in due course place the requested dishes in front of you, all almost without a single word. But perhaps this silence is quite appropriate, for the dishes speak for themselves, loud and clear. That is why everybody is coming back! Doug and I start with our usual and favourite entree of fried cuttlefish balls, then, if they are on the menu like today, the Mussels Basil. We thoroughly enjoy our meal tonight, and so does Babette, after we return home with her green chicken curry take away.

Happy Birthday Babette !

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