Part 1 - Intro / Part 2 - A meal / Part 3 - Cars, Beer and Religion / Part 4 - About my worksite and where I might end up / Part 5 - The CastleView hotel / Part 6 - Austria / Part 7 - The Darkeness at the end of the tunnel /

The Darkness at the end of the Tunnel
Remind me again? What am I supposed to doing out here? Oh yeah, working... Instead of worrying about all the mundane aspects of my life out there in Boston.

I've seen the European view of world events. Which is essentially: because America is so big, wealthy, and has a good deal of military might. They understand the need for security, being dependant on Middle Eastern oil, so Bush Jr's call for war against Iraq is not completley unjustified. But there's an amused skepticism as well.

I'm still out here in beautiful Alz, Austria.

Looking at four weeks now.

I'm just across the border from Burghausen. Ah... Bavaria.

Nice to know there's not one, but two chemical plants in this town.

I'm working in the smaller one. But it's still huge, and awe inspiring.

Kind of like saying that Germany is a small country compared to Japan. That analogy probably doesn't work too well, I suppose I have to explaining that they're 2nd and 3rd largest economies in the free world, with 100 and 80 million people in each country respectively. Thus smaller than the US, but still forces to be reckoned with.

Anyhow I suppose it's rather neat seeing the other petrochemical plant. If you've ever seen an oil refinery at night, I describe it as Blade Runner-ish. There's pipes everywhere. I guess it's better than if I was doing work in France, then instead of chemical plants, it'd be a nuclear power plants. But my point being, one can see it as powerful sign of the promises of modern technology, or an eerie portent to a post-modern industrial future.

It all contrasts to the medieval castle in this town. It's a different way of thinking out here. Not to mention the work ethic in Europe, which is so different from the US. Maybe it's the fact that this is such a small town, 20,000 people I've been told.

For example:
Stuff closes at 6PM in this town, except, restaurants, bars and gas stations.
Stuff closes even earlier on Saturdays. Say 12 or 1PM
Don't even think about going shopping on a Sunday.
Dinner, unless we go to Mickey D's, which I've avoided, but did find a place called Weinerwald.
Dinner takes two hours. The service is exceptionally slow.

Quick note though.

They laid off about 40 people at my company this past week. It's not making my job much easier:
First the guy who I was communicating all the problems with is no longer there.
Second, although management assures me that I am not part of the layoff, I'm skeptical enough not to believe it.
Third, aside from that, if that wasn't enough. The tools I'm supposed to get working, which was the reason I was really sent out to do here. They're not working too well...
The best way to describe it would be to say that the tools are acting like children. IE...
sometimes they do what I say,
sometimes they don't play too well with the other equipment,
sometimes they throw fits for no apparent reason,
sometimes they get sick, and start banging into things.

Thus it's quite frustrating at times.

At my co-workers suggestion, he's Catholic, more on the Lutherans, Bavarians and the proximity to Rome later. But he's a quite friendly Bavarian type, with the ability to tell a joke in English, Italian, German, or Greek and still keep a perfectly stoic face, only then do I realize he's making a joke. He jokes that Bavarian is a language all to it's own, just like Scottish or Irish. I guess he's got a point, when our Scottish engineer leaves me a voice message, I have the darndest time understanding what he's saying. I listened to it a few time and could only understand, uhh... I think he's coming into town tomorrow... he's staying at the Post Hotel. And ... the SPC charts indicate that machine needs to be re-calibrated. Nice, a thick accent, and tech jargon, makes for interesting conversation.

Anyhow back to Catholic tradition.
There's a statue of the Madonna, which has been in this church in Altontting since the 1300's. It's carved of black wood, and the locals call it the "Black Madonna." The story is that after they put up this statue, a young boy fell into the river, and was found dead. The locals took him out and laid him in front of the Madonna, and he came back to life. So the locals believe a miracle occurred and consider the spot sacred. So people make a pilgrimage to the church to pray in front of the "Black Madonna", if you're very heavily burdened to make the pilgrimage on foot, about one to two hundred kilometers for some, carrying a cross. Outside you can walk around this church and see the miracles which have happened to people, people will write their stories, and frame them outside the church. The stories go back centuries, farmers, auto accidents, healings, and the like. One can even pick up a cross for yourself and walk around the church if you need a miracle yourself.

Needless to say, with the machines acting up. I've been walking around this church quite a bit. I don't quite know if I'm sincere, or making a mockery of the Catholic traditions.


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