Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 152
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Tuesday & Wednesday, April 6 & 7 2010
I have used this Easter weekend to write down some of my memories from Asturias. Amazing what comes back to the
surface of the mind when one starts writing. I will in due course also write down some
of my experiences from Cabdella in the Pyrenees in
1956. I also photographed and uploaded new maps of several regions in Spain I refer to
in my Blog and reference maps of both Spain and Germany.
We have had several thunder and rain storms over Easter, which are refreshing
immediately after the event, but then evolve into rather humid conditions once the sun gets through. So we
have not quite reached the dry season yet, but must be getting close.
While numerous people throughout the Western world still celebrate Easter in Churches,
here is what
to say about God 2,300 years ago :
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is
Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able, and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God.
The developed world has generally viewed positively (if not accepted) the
thoughts and views of (what most agree to be) the wisest human beings (from Socrates to
Nietzsche and beyond) throughout the past 2,500 years.
I find it therefore
baffling, to say the least, that where it concerns these philosophers' (and
scientists') almost unanimous and overwhelming denial of the existence of a
God, most of the world remains in a state of total denial.
What is the reason for this persistent mental blind spot spanning more than 2,000
years and ignoring so much beauty and truth we have learnt about the history of life,
the earth and the universe? Is it the fear of death, or is it an (most unrealistic)
desire to be immortal, if not reincarnated in body then at least in spirit? Perhaps it
is a bit of both.
Many high ranking clergy embrace the truth of Evolution and fully subscribe to Richard Dawkins' book The
Greatest Show on Earth.
"But", writes Dawkins, "what we must
not do is complacently assume that, because bishops and educated clergy accept
evolution, so do their congregations."
"It would be nice" he continues "if these bishops and
clergy put a bit more effort into combatting the anti-scientist nonsense that
they (too) deplore."
"All too many preachers, while agreeing that evolution is true
and Adam and Eve never existed, will then blithely go into the pulpit and make
some moral or theological point about Adam and Eve in their sermons without once
mentioning that, of course, Adam and Eve never actually existed!"
What is holding these clergy back I wonder. Is it a total lack of courage, or a mind-boggling hypocrisy, a patronising attitude that their flog would simply not be able to
understand the reality and is better served by feeding them the old naive illusionary
fairy tales which belong to an era long long past?
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Thursday, April 8 2010
Loud thunderstorms last night and intermitted heavy rain today. I quite enjoy the rain
in the tropics though, when sitting nice and cosy in my cabin.
I had my eyes tested yesterday, only just a slight change from 3-4 years ago, but the
coating on my lenses has deteriorated badly. So I have ordered two pairs of new glasses,
one pair for driving the other for the computer and reading music.
The Euro keeps dropping against the Australian dollar (now worth 69.5 Euro
cents), as the financial situation in Greece is not improving despite the rescue
package. The Greek government when borrowing money now have to pay a staggering 7%
insurance to cover their potential sovereign default. Still, exporters in other EU
countries are probably smiling in view of the extra edge the low Euro is giving them
in the International market.
I have decided to give Friday evening bridge at the Darwin Bridge Club a miss. Advertised
as "social bridge" it is nothing like it, all too serious, with an atmosphere of a
grave diggers convention, and frankly I have had a belly full of that. Besides, not
surprisingly, they have very low attendances, so no competition to speak of anyway.
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Friday & Saturday, April 9 & 10 2010
(diary, my nose, Cabdella Pyrenees)
Watching, of all things, a cooking competition on SBS TV (The
Iron Chef) last night (Saturday) hijacked my mind quite unexpectedly right into the
middle of a story I had planned to tell in its proper order (Memories from the Pyrenees). But never
mind, that story will have to wait.
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As you may have noticed from some of the photos : I have a crooked nose. Halfway down
its length it suddenly turns sharply both right and down. The nose bone itself makes a
sharp 45° angle, but the surrounding flesh does not quite reflect that.
never actually aware of this, except when I am reminded of it when I see someone else
with the same peculiarity. That happened last night, as the challenger on last night's
program, a 26 year old Italian chef from a well know restaurant in Tokyo, clearly
exhibited the same quirky smelling organ.
This type of deflection is not necessarily caused by an accident, but, as for example
in my case, the expression of a quirky variation in my genes. My son Jeroen (to the great surprise
and interest of some medical specialists) too was born with a similar shaped nose.
Unlike me however, he suffered frequent headaches and sinus troubles as a young child
and his nose was therefore straightened during an operation at age 6 or 7.
During my teens I was advised several times by my family (probably especially by my
Godfather Uncle Ansco Dokkum who
was a nose, ear & throat specialist), to have my nose straightened in order to
avoid breathing or headache problems. But I did not suffer any noticeably problems at
that time, so I kept my nose as it was.
In the summer of 1956 came the big test in this regard. At the end of our first year as
geology students, my best friend Hauk Fischer and I joined senior student Richard Boersma as
"meelopers" (junior assistants) in the field at Cabdella, a tiny village high up in the Spanish Pyrenees,
about 40 km West (as the crow flies) from Andorra.
Cabdella was at the very end of a narrow mountain
road and as far as one could travel by vehicle in the valley, with mountains rising high
all around us.
This meant that we had to climb every morning about 800 meters in altitude before starting our
field work. This early morning climb was always an athletics style exercise.
Walking in tandem (like in a bike race) we set a blistering pace, small steps but at
high frequency. We took turns in taking the lead in order to maintain the high pace for a few
hundred meters, always following narrow sheep tracks, before dropping to the back of the
We always timed these ascends and managed to cover 800 meters in altitude
within 55 (sometimes even 50) minutes, an excellent effort when we compared our times
with other geology students in the region.
For me these were always special tests. Would I be hindered in breathing by my crooked
nose? I always tried to breath through my nose for as long as possible during these high
tempo climbs, which was not easy. But throughout the month or so we did these climbs, I
always managed to keep up with the other two guys and do my full share of pace setting,
which pleased me enormously.
So after my return to Holland I was clear in my mind :
my nose would keep its shape it had been given at birth. And in retrospect quite
correctly so. Throughout my life I have always felt markedly different to anybody else,
and a distinguishing feature on my face was therefore (I felt) quite appropriate.
Other stories from Spain
Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner