Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 150

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The Martinshof Story - A Philosophy of Happiness - Life Awareness - Maps & other Text series

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Friday, March 26 2010 (diary)

Del with Grandson Joshua The Euro is still falling against the Aussie dollar, now worth 68.3 Euro cents. Looks like it will be 70 cents by the time I get to Germany.

I have duplicated my Blog entries on Galicia and Music and combined them into separate series, like I did earlier for Awareness and A Philosophy of Happiness. All series are open ended and may be extended as inspiration strikes, like the Entropy story yesterday.

We are still not quite out off the wet season, with brief localised rain downpours most afternoons or nights, not unpleasant in fact.

I received a letter from Del Coleman today. I see Del, now in her early 90s, from time to time in the Mooloolaba Surf Club. She is most passionate about music and still plays daily on her piano. Whenever we meet she continually moves her hands and fingers on our table, as if playing piano. She very much reminds me in this regard of Mr. Harding (the central character in Anthony Trollope's novel "Barchester Towers"), who, whenever exited, starts playing with his hands an imaginary cello.

Del's signature on her letters. I love it! At our last meeting in January I promised Del a copy of my music CD, but never saw her again after that. I finally passed the CD on to the Surf Club staff who posted it to her for me (Privacy regulations forbid staff to give out addresses from their members). So I am glad Del received my CD.

Also a letter today from Irene van Amsterdam's solicitor, with the Dutch tax forms. For the past 20 years I have done Irene's tax return, as she herself did not read or write Dutch. This is the last time I will do this for her, as she passed away a few months ago.

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Saturday & Sunday, March 27 & 28 2010 (diary)

Malveen, 2010 My water colour artist friend Malveen is a member of an art group located in and around Mapleton on the Blackall Range of the Sunshine Coast hinterland (10 km west of Nambour).
The art group now has an attractive website with art samples of all their members. I had been looking to include a recent photograph of Malveen on my Blog (seeing that I have some of her work on display), and here it finally is, taken from her own web page.

The EU has finally agreed on a financial rescue package for Greece and as a result the Euro has risen slightly against the Australian dollar (today 67.4 Euro cents), but I doubt that this will be a permanent change in direction. There are several other EU countries with large Governments depths, which they possibly will not be able to repay by themselves, Portugal in particular.

We had a hectic week of bridge this week and are halfway through two hotly contested competitions. So far we have done well, but anything can change instantly next week, we shall see.

These present two days I am resting up and making good progress with Richard Dawkins' book The Greatest Show on Earth. As a former geologist I am of course well acquainted with Darwin's Theory of Evolution, but Dawkins' extensive coverage of so many angles of this most important feature of the development of life on earth is truly mind boggling and enormously informative and enlightening.

Frankly if you are genuinely interested to view your life within the greater context of life on earth and the universe as a whole (which I strongly believe you should do at one point in your life) you need to read only two truly remarkable books : Richard Dawkins' "The Greatest Show on Earth" and "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene. I have referred to both throughout my Blog pages and I assure you, you just can't do better than that. Both books are easy to read and comprehend and will expand your awareness of life and the universe forever. Trust me!

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Monday, March 29 2010 (diary)

Van der Meij's farm on the Flierderweg, Winter 1974 Strange how you sometimes use a colloquial expression without realising where it is derived from. "Zand erover" means "let's forget about our quarrel, forgive and forget." "Zand erover" in Dutch literally means "lets cover it with sand".
Where does it come from ? You can extinguish a small fire by throwing a bucket of sand over it. Interesting, I have never really thought about that.

This morning I received an email from Ab van der Meij, one of my childhood friends from the farm across the Flierderweg in Gorssel. Their mother Aaltje has just passed away peacefully. She was a strong woman, well into her 90s and still mentally very alert when I met her last in 2008. She is survived by five sons and one daughter. The youngest son, Jan, is not very well at present, we hope for the best.

With Henk, Ab and Gerrit van der Meij, June 2008 I am very much looking forward to my trip back home in August this year. I feel an urgent need to speak my father and mother tongues again (Dutch and German), and to give those two original "souls" of mine some space to breath and come to life again.
It was a great joy earlier this year at ThreePonds to have two opportunities to briefly speak some Dutch again. Once with my ex Antien and once more with Babette's Dutch friend Hermina. Such occasions are like a dam burst, the "water" having been pent up high for all too long.

That is not to say that I don't enjoy English, in writing it is in fact my preferred language these days. But speaking it I will always feel like a "foreigner" (a happy one, mind you), and that of course is exactly what I am here in Australia. But then, as a strong introvert, I remain a foreigner wherever I am in the word, that is our nature and we are quite content with that.

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Tuesday, March 30 2010 (diary, sport, politics)

Cover of Tony Abbott's book 'Battlelines' The 51 year old Liberal Opposition leader Tony Abbott has accomplished a quite remarkable feat this weekend. He competed with 1,500 other sports enthusiasts in the gruelling super triatlon of a 3.6 km swim, followed by 160 km bike race, finishing with a full length 42 km marathon run. Tony completed the event in 14 hours, a feat (I am sure) no other politician of similar age in the world has ever accomplished.

Nevertheless present Australian Health minister Nicola Roxon, remarked that he could have spent his time better formulating a Liberal Health policy.
She blatantly and most insincerely, chose to overlook the well known fact that Abbott has spent a considerable portion of his recent book Battlelines outlining just such policy, never mind that he has had far more experience in the Health portfolio as minister than she has.

Politics is a gullible business by all sides, but this week the Socialist Governments in the UK (Brown) and the USA (Obama) have excelled in this regard by taking the purely self serving populist road of "Israel bashing", at a time when this country needs its best friends onside (Australia's leading foreign affairs commentator Greg Sheridan has had plenty to say about this).   Tony Abbott has urged the Australian Government not to go this despicable road, but to do the right thing and stand by Israel in its time of need.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, 2010 Full marks, on the other hand, for Germany's leader Angela Merkel this week, for standing up against the French and insisting that it should be money from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) that should be used to save Greece from bankruptcy, and that EU funds should only be used as a last resort.

Quite frankly (I believe that) the disgraceful financial irresponsibility by the South European countries (Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy) deserves no better than to be treated equal to countries from the underdeveloped world. Although Merkel's thread of expulsion from the EU (of countries that do not meet EUs financial standards) is not a legal option at present, this may very well become a serious consideration in the not too distant future.

But expulsion of one of the financially weaker members of the EU would have a significant effect on the Euro currency :
The value of the Euro is at any time a balance between an upward push by the strongly performing North EU economies (Germany, France, Benelux) and a downward pull by its weak Southern ones.
Therefore if one of the weaker members would be expelled, the Euro would immediately rise strongly in value. This would have a negative effect on the export competitiveness of all remaining EU countries in regard to the rest of the world, especially the economically strongest of them : Germany.

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Wednesday, March 31 2010 (diary, books)

'Watership Down' by Richard Adams The title struck a chord in my memory as soon as I spotted it in the Palmerston Library. I read through Richard Adam's novel Watership Down in record time, tears in my eyes more often than not and at its end crying my eyes out, for having to leave (as reader) such a wonderful heart warming group of living beings. If only humans were like that. If every human being on earth would read it our world would become a better place.

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki (Japan) in 1954, but migrated to the UK as a 6 year old boy where he has remained until this day. One would think that only a native Englishman could write a book like The Remains of the Day about the memories of an ageing old fashioned English butler (Stevens), but Ishiguro does an absolutely superb job which won him the Booker Prize in 1989.
But thinking about it, this is not really so improbable, for although the Japanese and English cultures are quite different, they are underlain by several very similar values like : preservation of history - formality - constraint manners - ceremony (tea !!).

Ishiguro (through the voice of his main character Mr.Stevens, and portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in the film version of the book) provides a beautiful definition of a truly great (British) landscape, to which I whole-heartily subscribe, (but wherever it occurs in the world) :

..... what precisely is the greatness in a landscape ?
I would say that it is the very lack of obvious drama or spectacle that sets the beauty of our land apart. What is pertinent is the calmness of that beauty, its sense of restraint. It is as though the land knows of its beauty, of its own greatness, and feels no need to shout it.
In comparison, the sort of sights offered in such places as Africa and America, though undoubtedly very exciting, would, I am sure, strike the objective viewer as inferior on account of their unseemly demonstrativeness.

I personally feel this very strongly and have done so all my life. Spectacular features in a landscape (the Grand Canyon, Niagara falls, Uluhru in Central Australia, Bungle Bungles in the Kimberleys, etc.) have never ever greatly attracted me or affected me emotionally. I am instead invariably deeply moved by the timeless beauty and stillness of the vast expanses of the Australian outback, or the quiet scenes in the UK, Europe, etc.

'Hunnebed in Rolde, Drenthe, Netherlands I have in fact very similar feelings about man made structures. The pyramids, Greek ruins, Thai Mahal, spectacular cathedrals, etc. leave me completely unmoved. Yes, they are magnificent feats of human skills, knowledge and imagination. But they are too loud and artificial for my taste.
In stark contrast I am deeply moved by (yes here they are again) the simple hunnebedden in Drenthe. They are, like Ishiguro's landscapes, understated in their beauty, ancient footprints of humanity which blend in with the natural landscape, without shouting or "unseemly demonstrativeness".

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