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Marje:

You all are so sweet, and I am touched by your concern.

I am sorry I have not been able to interact more in these past few weeks with the message board. I have been in Europe and will continue to be in Europe for several more weeks – but fortunately will be back home temporarily for a couple of weeks for thanksgiving. I am here in Europe, mostly in Paris on a special refining/chemical assignment.

I woke up this morning at 5 AM and was able to read some of your postings, quickly. I wished I would have had time to comment on some.

A company car picked me up with a couple of other guys at 6:30 AM at my Hotel to take me to the “Gare Du Nord” (One of Paris' train stations) to catch a train to Belgiam. I am going to be there for a week as part of our study. We have a refinery in Antwerp, and I am writing this note on “word” while riding on the train, and will hopefully have time to cut and paste this note this evening onto the board, God willing, when I get to the hotel. If I don't get in too late, I may be able to catch up with some more of your postings.

I have lost touch lately with what is going on in the industry in the U.S, and had been a bit puzzled at the decline of the oil company stock prices recently, including our own. However, upon learning about the public abuse the oil companies have been taking for “gouging” and “profiteering” while the “american public suffers”, and the subsequent threat by some politicians to re-impose the crazy idea of a “windfall profit tax” I can see why some have bailed out of the industry, for a while at least, and have caused oil stock prices to go down.

All politicians are alike. They often have no clue as to how the real world works. So it should be no surprise to see how one of their responses to the energy crisis is to tax the oil companies more, and accuse them of price gouging. That is the enlightened view of the political class. But don't believe for a minute this is exclusive behavior of American politicians.

In Paris the politicans are clueless also. We have had 14 days of anarchy that has spread to other parts of France and most politicians and the political elite here does not have a clue as to how to handle the crisis and what to do about it in the long term – they are still arguing among themselves. They don't know how to address the uprising, effectively. In my view a combination of frustration arising from a 40% unemployment among the young, coupled with stoking and agitation of the emotions by Islamic militants, particularly in some of the poorest areas of the city, have been the main contributing factors to the recent social explosion.

I have to confess that one side of me feels sorry about the destruction of property and loss of life in Paris. However, there is another side that to some extent feels this perverted sense of satisfaction seeing what is happening to the French – although I know I should feel ashamed for feelings as such. Feelings that I should not have, but I still cannot control my initial reaction that it could not have happened to better people (the arrogant French).

The French have historically been dumping on us “stupid” Americans … and they, the “superior” French culture – with their attitude “we know how to deal with Islam better than you idiots (Americans)” …riles me … as a consequence I cannot help but to look at some of the recent social unrest with a perverted sense of glee, and I say to myself … "it serves them right for being arrogant…". It is time for them to eat humble pie. I will go to confession soon for feeling this way … but I plan to wait until I get to America in about 10 days … to get my absolution... although the priest may deny it if he asks me "are you sorry for feeling that way about the French" ... what am I to tell him?

I hope I can interact with most of you more often soon, but this project is not going to be done until February or March 2006.

Madame Butterfly
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