Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 47

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Saturday October 11, 2008 (diary)

Ocean oil platform moored at Stokes Hill Wharf I noticed there was a large ocean oil drilling platform moored right alongside Stokes Hill Wharf the other day. So today I find this a great excuse to have lunch there and take a couple of photos. The rig is indeed huge from close up range. They are probably repairing it.
I get my lunch from the Portside Char Grill stall and the meal is mouthwatering, grilled scallops, prawns and calamari with chips and salad. All seafood is grilled to perfection and the chips have been freshly fried and are excellent. For just AUD $ 13.90 (€ 7) you could not get a similar meal anywhere in Western Europe.

Grilled platter from the Northside Char Grill I have taken Richard Dawkins' book "A Devil's Chaplain" with me to read. I get through several of his essays after my lunch, it is a cracker of a book! I also notice to my delight that Dawkins too refers to the fairy tale of the Emperor's Clothes I brought up about a week ago.

The world is succumbing to ever increasing amounts of either ill informed or totally unfounded nonsense and hearsay and it is good to be reminded now and then that I am not the only one who feels this so strongly. Thankfully Richard Dawkins has the intelligence, eloquence, skills and public platform to do something about it.

As Robert Macfarlane writes in The Spectator (book's back cover) :
"To be Dawkinsed .... is not just to be dressed down or duffed up: it is to be squelched, pulverised, annihilated, rendered into suitably primordial paste. Those who incur this treatment have one thing in common: all are enemies of the truth!"

A great book to read if you wish to inform yourself about the truth on a wide range of controversial subjects.

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Sunday October 12, 2008 (diary)

My pet lizard There he is again this morning sitting on the shade cloth in front of me as I sip my coffee. He comes here every morning and likes to climb all over this 2 ft (60 cm) high shade cloth fence I have erected to stop the garden sprinklers from wetting me as I sit here. I get my camera and take a few photographs of this tiny lizard friend of mine. Not without him (or her ?) running all over the place, but one of the shots turns out not too bad.

After watching my regular Sunday morning politics, business and sport dose on ABC I decide to indulge myself once more with a grilled fish lunch at the Stokes Hill Wharf. The tourist season is well and truly over and it is lovely quiet at the wharf. Plenty of parking spaces and just enough people around to create a good atmosphere.

As I place my order again at the Portside Char Grill (the same as yesterday) I notice one of the ladies in the kitchen peeling potatoes. There you have the secret! No frozen plastic bags of pre-cut, Lord knows how old, chips from any supermarket freezer here. No Sir, only fresh potatoes used in this kitchen! No wonder they taste so good.   I greatly enjoy my lunch again, Bar Zushi is getting some real competition here. I will switch regularly between the two for the rest of my stay here in Darwin.

Sitting here also reminds me of my friend the "Buddha Girl". This was her favourite eating out place when she came to visit me here in Darwin three years ago. She is still in Jakarta at present, but we hope to meet soon again here in Australia during her Christmas break.

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Monday October 13, 2008 (diary)

Daly River-Port Keats Aboriginal Lands Trust Steve has just returned from a week's work at Wadeye (formerly called Port Keats), and I listen with interest to his experiences there.
A large natural gas storage facility is being built at present at Wadeye, a Timor Sea port about 250 km SW of Darwin. It will provide the fuel for all Darwin's power stations in the future. A construction crew of about 100 is flown in there on a 3 weeks work, 1 week off roster. Steve and six others have been subcontracted to build a few storage sheds on the site.

Wadeye lies in the Daly River/Port Keats Aboriginal Lands Trust. One can only get access to this (and similar Trust lands elsewhere in Australia) with a special entry permit. Without it no non Aboriginal Australian is allowed within this area. Work permits are issued only after stringent personal investigation and only to those who have legitimate work in the area (such as Steve). Tourists and others (especially journalists) have little hope of obtaining a permit for the area.
After arrival by plane one is greeted politely and inducted by an Aboriginal (pleasant female, according to Steve) instruction officer about what is permitted during one's stay and what is not.

With Steve at Bar Zushi The entire area is an alcohol free zone, but there is a bar facility in the construction workers camp canteen, which is open between 5 and 6 pm and again between 7 and 8. Each individual is permitted 6 mid strength stubbies of beer per day which must be consumed in the canteen itself. Each morning every man is breath tested by the police before he is allowed to go to work.
The accommodation dongas are very good with aircon, TV and private en suite bathroom and the food (according to Steve) is excellent. But there is absolutely nothing to do after work (a 10 hour shift). To go to the beach requires a recreation permit which are no longer being issued.

Workers are allowed to go into Wadeye but must carry their permit (which includes a passport photo) at all times. Any, I repeat any Aboriginal has the right to stop a non Aboriginal visitor and request to see his permit!
This was a practice we suffered during WW2 under Hitler's German occupation, or perhaps in Communist Russia, but here in free democratic Australia ??

After completion of its construction the gas storage facility will be operated by special personel from a large International company (E & I) based in Perth. The Aboriginals themselves are apparently not capable or interested (?) to do the work themselves.
The whole present set up appears to me as a (very comfortable) concentration camp for non Aboriginal workers, located within a zoo occupied by Aborigines. Only the fences are missing. Is this the way foreward to a long term sustainable and meaningful future for the Aboriginal race and culture within a modern, free and democratic society like Australia ? I leave you to make up your own mind about that.

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Tuesday October 14, 2008 (bio)

Tropical flower Awareness 22 continues from October 6
When I look back on my life so far I am happy and content about the course it has followed. In some very essential ways I am still the young boy of say 65 years ago (and that is good), forever very much a loner in a foreign world. But over the years I have got to know the world a bit better and developed more ways to connect to it.
First through my life partner, which was the main conduit and mooring buoy that kept me in touch with the world. Later, without her, I connected to it (and still do) through numerous small bonding routines, mostly to places, sometimes to friends or casual short time acquaintances. All these connections are like thin strings keeping me attached to the world, preventing me from floating away into the wider Universe, comfortable, content and secure within the bubble of my own mind.   (This is not a condition peculiar to me, I am sure all introverts feel something very similar to what I have described here.)

Now, don't think for a moment that this detached condition of mine resulted in a gentle and aimless wondering through the course of my life. On the contrary, my strong introvert nature, unhindered by opinions or attitudes of others, made it (I believe) much easier for me to make life changing decisions, than it would perhaps be for others more connected to the world.

As a consequence I look now both back and forward (!) to a much varied life, motivated and sustained by a strong forward moving force. Although I never consciously have thought in these terms, I believe my life is being driven forward by two very simple basic principles :

  1. Make decisions
    We enter this world into an environment and culture we have no control over. But from this fixed (and accidental) point onwards each individual will become the sum total of his (or her) decisions.
    Making decisions therefore means growing as a person. Avoiding decisions means standing still, remaining as one is.   Also always remember that (as I learned in the Army) decision making is a percentage game, you just can't be right all the time, but by following Rule II below I believe you will stay on course in the long run.

  2. Always follow your heart
    Meaning : do what you want to do, not what you ought to do according to others, customs or just materialistic gains. When you follow your heart you will always be motivated strongly to overcome hurdles on your way to reach your goal or destination. But following a path with you heart not in it, will sooner or later bog down into disappointment or fail.

Claus in Kalgoorlie, 1973 When thinking about what I have been writing here, my mind suddenly cast back to a conversation I had with my brother Claus a few years ago.
He stated that at certain stages in one's life one would arrive at a T-intersection where one had to decide whether to go left or to go right.
Thinking about what he had said it came as a total surprise to me that I never ever, even for a single moment, had felt that way myself. Throughout my life I have always felt that I was going straight ahead, "Immer Grade aus" as the Germans say. Placing this notion in the context of what I wrote above, it becomes now clear to me that this "straight ahead" feeling has been a direct consequence of following my heart. When you consistently do that there simply are no T-intersections. There may be side roads along the way, but you only give it a cursory glance while passing, without much reduction in speed.

A few months before I had completed my National service in Holland (in 1965) I received, out of the blue, and letter from Shell Head office with an invitation to come for a job interview. I was much flattered of course and spend I believe 2 or 3 days with them in The Hague being shown around their various Departments. I found it all mildly interesting but had no intention whatsoever to join them. I felt strongly I wanted to go to Australia (and so did my wife Antien) and at the time Shell had no projects there or any intention to start one up in the foreseeable future. (Their attitude changed of course dramatically when 2 years later the Bass Straight oil fields were discovered.) So I said "No thank you" to their offer because my heart was simple not in it, and we went to Australia instead. It was just a side road, never a serious consideration at all.

In fairness to my brother, I believe he too has always followed his heart. But perhaps he did not realise at the time that this was the common thread running through the course of his life.

The Rhine at Boppard So I really do consider my life a decisive, strong, straight line forward. When in Europe this summer I even suddenly felt and realised (as I have stated earlier in this blog) that I can postulate this straight life line back 400 years through the lives of my ancestors.
I feel deep inside strongly their sustained drive towards more freedom. First leaving Austria and Bavaria, then generation after generation moving North along the Rhine, arriving eventually in Holland, and now through me in Australia.
You may find this perhaps far fetched, but I know it is true, and it gives me a joy and satisfaction which is just immeasurable.

Awareness 23 continues on January 18, 2009

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Wednesday October 15, 2008 (diary)

Rainbow over the Mango farm Late yesterday afternoon we had a brief thunderstorm, some gushy winds and an absolute downpour of rain, about 60mm within less than 15 minutes, wonderful.   Later in the evening (as there is little of interest on TV) I make an MP3 recording of George Gershwin's 'Summertime'.

I am slowly getting better at this. There are a lot of buttons to push during a recording : changing the backing style, adding a choir or violins, changing the solo instrument. It really is a matter of getting these things decided on before I start, then I can relax more and focus better on the playing itself. I also need to work on my timing a bit, especially the offbeats. I tend to get too exited about a musical idea in my head and impatiently rush through it too quickly. That's me all over : discipline yourself Michael, discipline !!

Through the night we get even more rain and branches of the adjacent mango trees swaying in the strong winds drum on the roof of my veranda.   I have set the alarm on my mobile phone as I need to be in Darwin before 8 AM, getting my car serviced at Paul's Service Centre. Paul is always nice to talk to while I wait in his office during the service. For lunch I take the opportunity to go to the Stokes Hill Wharf again. Good as always.
It is overcast for most of the afternoon, but quite pleasant.

Andrew has emptied the raingage this morning, but when I get into the pool around 4 pm I notice that the water level is at least an inch (25mm) higher than yesterday. That must have been the amount of rain overnight. It suddenly starts raining again, it looks like we are well and truly into the wet season now. A beautiful rainbow suddenly appears in the sky, so I rush out off the pool and take a photo.
In the evening Kim and Andrew invite me over for a BBQ on their veranda. A pleasant evening, still raining for part of it, so it becomes quite cool in the end.

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