Monday, March 28, 2005

forty ounces of family fun

Did you know that here in Mexico, you can buy beer in 'family size' containers? A friend mentioned this to me a while back and I confirmed it yesterday when the guy in front of me in the supermarket line made a purchase that showed up on the register monitor as cerveza - tamaño familiar (beer - family size).

my textbooks

In one of the lessons from this past week, the textbook for my beginner-level course presented a chart showing the top 10 most touristed countries. At the top of the list were the countries you’d expect: France, the USA, Spain, Italy, China, the UK. Then, at number 6, one step ahead of Mexico, was Hungary. Can that possibly be true? I’ve been to Hungary and it’s a beautiful country and all, but as far as I can tell it’s got one real tourist center: Budapest. I guess they’ve got that big lake, too, but it seemed to me that the lake was more of an attraction for Hungarians than foreign tourists. Mexico, on the other hand, has dozens of attractions luring foreign visitors. It’s got big beach resorts like Cancun, Acapulco, and Puerto Vallarta. It’s got beautiful colonial cities like Oaxaca, Guanajuato, and San Miguel. It’s got tons of historical sites like Teotihuacan, Chichen Itza, and Palenque. And there are tons of tourists pouring across the border at places like Tijuana, Laredo and Juaraez to enjoy the low culture attractions offered there. There’s just no way in the world that more tourists go to Hungary than Mexico. So I told my students that the book was full of crap and they wholeheartedly agreed.

Another interesting suggestion that I came across in print this week was the opening to Alan Riding’s Distant Neighbors, an interesting study of Mexicans and their attitude toward America and Americans. Anyway, Riding starts his book with the claim that nowhere in the world do two countries as different as the USA and Mexico share a border. Actually, he really hedged his argument by adding a bunch of ‘probablys’ and ‘perhpases’ (he would have flunked my Historical Thinking seminar, where were repeatedly instructed to ‘be bold!’). But he got me thinking as to whether or not this is true. I guess North and South Korea are pretty different these days, but that difference is largely political. Culturally and lingusitically they’re still pretty similar. Israel is the other example that immediately jumps to mind. Israel is really two countries within one, and the Palestinian part of the country is still quite similar to it’s neighbors in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. But Jewish Israel certainly doesn’t share a lot in common with its neighbors, and since the USA and Mexico have no immediate plans to destroy eachother, I think we’re runners-up. And using the guaranteed mutual destruction criterea, maybe India and Pakistan should be ahead of us as well. But in any case, Riding’s right that we sure are different and his book presents a lot of interesting ideas as to why. Maybe I’ll post a few later on.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

comet balls

One of the best features of having my nice apartment is a large picture window that looks out over a small plaza from six floors up. I’ve got a couple of comfortable chairs set up in the window and one of my favorite things to do is sit in the window with a newspaper and a cup of coffee and alternate between watching the action down in the plaza and catching up on the latest news. I can easily spend a couple of hours doing that.

Sunday is an especially fun day to check out the plaza because each week I watch as two women show up with two tiny little kids to set up a small table from which to sell comet balls.

The comet balls are rubber super balls with sparkly streamers glued to them. The two women set up a small plank on top of an overturned bucket, lay out the comet balls, and start bouncing them around in hopes of enticing passers-by to make a purchase. Meanwhile, the two little kids – probably about 3 and 4 years old – run all over, playing merrily with the balls, chasing pigeons and exploring every nook and cranny of the plaza.

I looked forward each Sunday to watching the women and children arrive and set up shop. And when someone would approach the comet ball table, I’d watch intently, rooting for them to make a sale. I’d also watch with sympathy as they occasionally dashed for cover from a sudden downpour or from unfriendly police presence.

After watching for a few weeks, I started to speculate a little about them. It became clear to me that one of the two women was the mother of the children, and it also looked like she might be expecting a third in the not-so-distant future. She wore a cleaning woman’s apron every week, so I wondered if maybe she supported her kids by cleaning houses during the week, then used Sunday’s comet ball sales to augment their income a little.

A few weeks ago when my friend Andrew was here visiting, we were passing through the plaza and I pointed the comet ball family out to him and explained who they were. Andrew was intrigued and wanted to support the cause by purchasing a couple of balls. So we went over, picked out a couple of balls, and I briefly introduced myself and told them that I enjoyed watching the children playing from my window.

Last week I was passing through the plaza again on Sunday and saw the family set up. They recognized me and I thought I might chat a bit to try to confirm some of my theories about them.

They were much more interested in trying to sell me a comet ball than telling me about their lives, but I did manage to get a little info out of them (and they managed to get me to buy a couple more comet balls). I was correct that the mother works as a cleaning woman. She commutes via public transportation every day to the center of the city from some neighborhood I hadn’t heard of, but that she said is about a 1 to 1.5 hour trip each way. She cleans houses in some residential neighborhoods a few miles south of where I live, then comes on Sunday to the plaza to sell the comet balls. Her husband went “to the other side,” i.e. the U.S., to look for work. The other woman who tags along on Sundays is her younger sister, who watches the kids for her while their mom’s out cleaning. From close up, mom still looked quite pregnant, but that wasn’t a question I felt comfortable asking. And the two little kids are even cuter close up than from my window.

I have the feeling I’m going to end up with a large collection of comet balls.

information

Somewhere out there in Mexico is a secret information network. Maybe it’s an internet site, or maybe a radio channel way off the end of the dial. It could also be a pay-per-view TV channel, or possibly even a newsletter published clandestinely in someone’s secret back room. But it’s out there somewhere, I know that, because there is vital information circulating among people that I have not been able to get my hands on in the 6 months I have been here.

For example, local bus information is obviously to be found only on the secret network. It sure is convenient when city transit authorities post bus route maps and schedules on the sides of bus shelters. It doesn’t happen in Mexico. Printed maps and schedules are also quite handy. Not in Mexico, though. Yet everybody knows exactly which bus to get on and at what hours the buses run. Everyone except me, that is, since I’m not part of the network.

You know what else is really convenient to know? The hours that local businesses are open. I’ve always been used to seeing signs posted on storefronts advertising the store hours. It’s not a common practice in Mexico, however. If you don’t want to walk all the way to your favorite internet café at an hour that you swear they’ve been open at before just to find the place closed solid, you’ve got to get on the network.


I’m wondering if membership in the secret information network comes for foreigners only after you’ve been here a while and proved your mettle. I’m hoping it comes at the one year mark because, man, I need to know some of this stuff.

Friday, March 25, 2005

thank you Jesus for finding me a place

I'm up in Huajuapan now, where I've been trying to find a place to live. So soon as I arrived here, I asked Jesus if he could help me in my search, and He delivered big time. Of course I'm talking about Jesus Lopez, the amiable septagenerian owner of the the hospedaje where I was staying temporarily. To say that Jesus is well-connected in Huajuapan would be a vast understatement, for as soon as he knew that I was looking for an apartment, there was a long line of locals ready to show me a place. Unfortunately, most of them were offering just a room within their house, which would be fun for a month or so but in the long-term, I really need my own space. So I did finally find a very small studio apartment with a shared bath, shared entry, and a shared kitchenette. It's a bit cheap (65 USD a month), but though small, it's very nice and very well-located.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

church and corruption

I met a guy yesterday – a graduate student at UNAM, the national university here – and we got to talking Mexican politics; a topic that invariably leads to a discussion of corruption. So once on that subject, I asked him to explain the apparent paradox of a country that is at once both intensely religious and completely rife with corruption. He had a pretty interesting answer; what he said was that Mexico is so corrupt precisely because it is so Catholic. He feels that a church that so easily forgives its followers of their sins – just so long as they go to mass, to confession and drop a little bit of cash in the donations basket – engenders a corrupt congregation. People can feel free to lie, cheat and steal, he says, because they know that their church and their God will forgive them in the end.

Furthermore, he said that the Mexican Catholic church itself has been such a model of corruption here that there’s really no way it could serve as any kind of deterrent. And because not many people actually read the Bible themselves, he said, the scripture itself doesn’t have nearly as much influence over people’s moral behavior as do the Church’s sermons, which he claims are heavily tilted towards forgiveness of sin rather than following the teachings of Jesus.

Interesting stuff, I thought, and this from a guy who himself claims to be Catholic.

On a related note, I read an article recently that said that in the 1990 national census, 99% of Mexicans declared their reliogion as Catholic. Today, 82% make that same claim.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

more on mexico transportation

A story in the Oaxaca paper that caught my eye today was one about a Mexico Secretary of Tourism survey of foreign visitors which asked them to rate different ascpects of their Mexican tourism experience. The highest rated area was "hospitality" and the two lowest were limpieza, or basically "cleanliness," and "public transportation." I can certainly agree with any complaints regarding litter in Mexico, but I really don't understand how public transportation could be rated so low, especially since Mexican public transportation is so much better than that in the US (from where the majority of Mexico's tourists come from).

There are buses, vans, and collective taxis everywhere providing service to even the tiniest hamlets, and the long-distance buses, especially if you're a tourist who can afford the luxury lines, are really comfortable and reliable (they're light years ahead of Greyhound). Maybe tourists just don't like sharing a city bus seat with an occasional squawking rooster, but personally I think it adds some nice local color to the whole experience.

dating in mexico

I think it’s revealing that while in English we have different words for the various roles one plays leading up to marriage – boyfriend/girlfriend, fiancee, and then bride/groom – in Spanish, they have one word for all those stages: novio. Here in Mexico then, it seems to be that when you start dating someone, you’re already just one step away from marriage. So for people like myself who are terrified by the concept of marriage, it’s a deal you’re a little hesitant to get involved in. It’s also a system that doesn’t really lend itself to casual dating, which is what you’re generally looking for when you’re in a place where you’re not sure you’ll be staying for too long.

It’s interesting to me how Mexican dating seems to work that way, in that the business of romance needs to be conducted out in public rather than behind closed doors. You walk around the plazas of any Mexican town or city and you’ll see young couples everywhere, extremities intertwined, smooching and groping for all to see. It’s o.k., apparently, to put on a show for the community. But to take it indoors would be a big no-no. And because romantic affairs are carried on out in the open, you don’t just get to see the passion, you see the pain as well. It’s not uncommon to pass by a couple sitting stiffly side-by-side on a bench, eyes red from tears from a recent spat. But then you might walk past 10 minutes later and they’ll be making out like crazy.

I don’t think there’s a big difference in dating habits for older couples, either. For as long as a woman remains unmarried, she’s responsible to the rules of her parents, and rules for daughters are often quite strict. I remember a situation where a group of professors at UTM were planning to go out to a disco. One of the teachers, a 38 year-old single woman, felt obliged to call her parents back in Puebla first to ask them if it was o.k.

I’ve heard that the pick-up scene is alive and well in the clubs here. But I guess I’m not really into that. So I guess what I'm saying is you probably shouldn’t expect to read much more dating news on this page for a while.

mexican driving

Mexicans are famous for their laid-back attitude, and rightfully so. There’s not often a lot of urgency here in getting things done or getting places on time (like English class!), and the “mañana, mañana” approach is both widely practiced and widely tolerated.

Something seems to happen to that laid-back attitude, however, when Mexicans get behind the wheel of a car. Suddenly, they’re transformed into impatient drivers, speeding and passing recklessly on the highways, honking aggressively in town the second a light turns green or making angry gestures at other drivers or pedestrians who slow them down. It’s really a remarkable change, especially when you compare Mexican drivers to Mexican pedestrians, who generally amble along quite slowly, casually taking in the sights around them, waiting patiently to cross a street.

I guess there just must be something about the automobile that makes people, regardless of culture, aggressive and impatient. Of course, that doesn’t go for old folks, who in any culture seem to approach driving with the careful patience of Mexican pedestrians. It’s a strange machine, the car, and it does strange things to us. Someone should do a study or something.

Also, the driving here is quite different, which might explain some of the Mexicans that drive in the states. When you pass someone, the left turn blinker is used to signal that you are passing in the same manner that we use it. But on the frequently traveled backroads that have only two lanes, the left blinker also signals: "Look, I have a slow VW, and you can pass me, there is no one coming." After the person passes, he honks his horn, a slight honk. If you are passing, you can also signal to people behind you that it is okay to pass by leaving your left blinker on and staying in the other lane. This is quite useful on those windy roads here in Oaxaca.

Things in the car that are used more here: the horn and the hazards. The horn is the most important part of the car here; while the hazards are used when going over the million speed bumps that exist on the roads (roads apart from the toll roads). You can be speeding along, and without any notice, a speed bumb appears from nowhere. Now there are instances where there are too many signs. Every 100 meters there will be a sign to remind you that one is coming.

Every city or town has at least a speed bumb (tope in spanish)every 400 meters. Between Mexico City and Huajuapan, a 6 hour drive, there must be at least 60 speed bumbs. But of course, there are several differ types of speed bumbs that I have seen and classified: the vibrator; the ripple-type;, the over-the-easy (which is not really a bumb, more a hump); the typical speed bumb; the table-top speed bumb, which can range and size, but has a slope, then is straight for a meter or two, then drops off; the ball, which is a line of metal balls; my favorit is a pile of dirt that someone has placed in the road, then has written tope next to it,then there is a curb-like bumb that is very dangerous; finally the u shaped, which is actually more like a pothole.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

bichos

I've been having the most horrible, nightmarish experience this past week with bugs. Every evening when I'm in my apartment, basically as soon as the sun sets, I start to feel a tickling sensation on my legs. I'll look quickly at the spot that tickles and there's nothing there. I'll continue what I'm doing, then suddenly the tickling comes back, then a sharp bite. Once again, upon examination, there's nothing there but a small, red mark.

Then, shortly after I get into bed, the same thing starts up, but all over my body. Tickling sensations, a quick shine of the flashlight, but nothing to see. Then a sharp bite. It happens over and over, all night long. I lie in a disturbed half sleep, feeling like I've somehow been transformed into a character in a Poe story. I can't fully sleep until the sun starts to come up at 5 or 6 and the invisible bugs finally leave me in peace, but just until the next sunset.

My friend Sam thinks I've got the DT's. And maybe that's the case. It has, after all, been 4 months since baseball season ended and I've been experiencing some serious withdrawl. But still, the read bites all over my body make me think that there's something more to this than an active imagination.

So I've spent all week spraying Raid all over my apartment and scattering this horrible insecticide powder that my landlady gave me. I'm sure I've taken 5 or 6 years off my life just by breathing all this crap in. Unfortunately, these poisons seem to have had absolutely no effect as far as shortening the lives of my invisible roommates.

After 3 or 4 consecutive nightmarish, sleepless nights, I decided to track down a fumigator. Asking around, I was directed to a guy who is supposedly the best in town at the trade. Happily, he doesn't think I'm going insane. The perpetrator, he thinks, is a microscopic bug called an acaro. It's a bug that lives normally on human skin -- he says we've all got them living on us all the time (yuck!). But there's a strand of acaro that is specific to animals, and when it attaches itself to humans, it causes a lot of irritation. It doesn't actually move into our skin like its cousin, but it lives in our blankets, mattresses, and rugs, and comes out at night to harass us and eat our dead, flaking skin. So I guess that's what I get for sleeping with burros.

Anyway, the fumigator affirmed the fact that these bugs are immune to traditional insecticides, but he's got a special potion that he thinks will take care of them. He's promised to come by today and cover my apartment in it, so stay tuned and we'll see what happens...

mañana, mañana

Mexicans are famous for their laid-back attitude, and rightfully so. There’s not often a lot of urgency here in getting things done or getting places on time (like English class!), and the “mañana, mañana” approach is both widely practiced and widely tolerated.

Something seems to happen to that laid-back attitude, however, when Mexicans get behind the wheel of a car. Suddenly, they’re transformed into impatient New Yorkers or Bostonians, speeding and passing recklessly on the highways, honking aggressively in town the second a light turns green or making angry gestures at other drivers or pedestrians who slow them down. It’s really a remarkable change, especially when you compare Mexican drivers to Mexican pedestrians, who generally amble along quite slowly, casually taking in the sights around them, waiting patiently to cross a street.

I guess there just must be something about the automobile that makes people, regardless of culture, aggressive and impatient. Of course, that doesn’t go for old folks, who in any culture seem to approach driving with the careful patience of Mexican pedestrians. It’s a strange machine, the car, and it does strange things to us. Someone should do a study or something.

Chad + Laundry= Rain

Ok, there's really no way to explain this by coincidence anymore. Without fail, when I do my laundry and hang it out to dry, it rains. I'm not kidding. When I was up in Queretaro, my landlady had a washing machine that she let me use on Tuesdays. So every Tuesday, I'd do my wash in the morning, hang it out to dry under a bright blue sky, then got to school and watch from my classroom as the black clouds rolled in. It got to be a big joke with me and the landlady: "Oh, it's Tuesday, I guess we'll get a shower this afternoon!"

Lately I've been travelling around and haven't had much opportunity to do wash. I'm in Oaxaca now where I've taken a temporary room in a shared house, so today I finally had a chance to wash those stinky jeans and t-shirts I've been wearing all around. Here in Oaxaca, they're in the height of their dry season - it hasn't rained in months and there are severe water shortages everywhere. In fact, the house that I'm living in now only gets water every other day (which is another story that I'll get to later). We had water today, so I seized the opportunity to do the wash, then hung my stuff up on the line to dry. No lie, within 30 minutes, the black clouds rolled in and opened up a real downpour. Unbelievable.

I think that the UN or CARE or some relief agency needs to start sending me and my dirty clothes around the world to draught-stricken lands. Really, I think it would work.

Monday, March 14, 2005

history of mexico

One of the really cool things about where I live now – in the historic center of Mexico City – is that live in and walk around the same piece of land that was once the great Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. I’m literally just down the street from where the wandering Aztec tribe saw an eagle standing on a cactus eating a snake – a sign from the feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl that this was the center of the universe and where they should build their city. So it’s really fun to think of what my neighborhood looked like 650 years ago as they built the highly organized city of some 200,000 people.

It’s also fun to think of all the wild stuff that used to go on around here back in the Aztec days. For example, I was reading recently about the dedication of the Templo Mayor, a shrine built for the god Huizilopochitli back in the late 15th century. See, Huizilopochitli was a pretty demanding sort who required a steady stream of sacrificial victims if he was expected to keep the sun rising every day. So for the Templo Mayor dedication, the Aztecs lined up 20,000 prisoners of war – the queue stretched for 3 miles – and sacrificed them all one after another over a period of four days. Now that’s what I call a grand opening!

Here’s another amusing anecdote from Aztec history: Back when they were working as mercenaries for Coxcox, ruler of Culhuacan, the Aztecs conquered the nearby civilization of Xochimilco and sent Coxcox 8,000 human ears as proof of their victory. Coxcox was so happy, he agreed to their request to make his daughter an Aztec goddess. Imagine his surprise when he showed up at a banquet in his honor and the entertainment included an Aztec dancer dressed in his daughter’s skin!

So as you can see, those Aztecs were pretty hard-core. Which helps, in part, to explain why Hernan Cortes and his small band of Spaniards were able to overthrow Tenochtitlan relatively easily. The Aztecs had pissed off so many of their neighbors in their endless quest for sacrificial victims that Cortes had little trouble finding allies to take them on.

Stories like these make me chuckle when I think of the Neal Young song “Cortez the Killer,” in which he sings of the Aztecs: “Hate was only a legend, war was never known...”

Neal Young writes some good songs, but his Mesoamerican scholarship leaves a little to be desired.

A quick tip

Here's a tip for you if you're a foreign guy in Mexico and you want to impress the local ladies:

When you're walking down the street with a woman here, be sure to position yourself on the outside, between her and the traffic. The idea, I guess, is that your body is somehow protecting her from the impact of any vehicle that might suddenly come careening onto the sidewalk.

When I was first told about this practice I didn't give it much thought, since I figured it was just something left over from the golden days of Mexican machismo. But then later I was talking to a woman friend here who is very much a hater of all that is macho and even she admitted that when she's walking in the company of a guy, she likes to have him an walk between her and the traffic.

"If he doesn't make that effort," she said, "it kind of shows him to be thoughtless."

My response to that: Ooops.

Since then, I've been making a real effort to walk on the traffic side.

Friday, March 11, 2005

secretary rice

Yesterday, there was a press conference on the occasion of Condoleezza Rice's 7-hour diplomatic visit to Mexico City - her first trip to Latin America as secretary of state. Neither Rice nor her Mexican counterpart Luis Derbez had much of great interest to say at the conference, since really this was just a prep trip for an upcoming U.S.-Canada-Mexico summit, so for me, the tightly controlled Q&A session turned out to be the most revealing aspect of the event.

The way it worked was that pre-selected members of the Mexican and traveling English-speaking press (local correspondants seemed to have been excluded) took turns asking questions of Secretary Rice, and on one occasion, Foreign Minister Derbez. And what happened was this: A member of the Mexican press would ask Rice about, say, migration issues and the question of civilian vigilante groups opearting on the Arizona border. Then, a reporter from Reuters would follow with a question about a Pakistani official's statement on al Quaeda activity. Back to the Mexican side and a question about Mexicans facing the death penalty in the U.S. And then it would be Fox News' turn to ask a question about Lebanon.

Seriously, for much of the English-speaking press, this event may as well have been in Washington, or Munich, or Tokyo, or anywhere else in world, really. Sad as it is, it didn't make any difference what country they were in at that moment because the only part of the globe that has any importance in terms of U.S. foreign policy right now is the Middle East.

The questioning certainly generated some grumbling among the Mexican press corps, I'll tell you that. Mexico has been complaining about how badly Washington has pushed it aside in favor of events related to terrorism and the Middle East, and the fact that the U.S. press expressed no interest in talking about U.S.-Mexico relations even at a press conference in Mexico City seemed to be rubbing everyone's noses in it.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ethical Problem

So here's my latest ethical dilemma.

Somehow or other, I have come into the possession of a counterfeit 100 peso bill (100 pesos is about US$9). I discovered this late the other night when I went to a nearby Oxxo (convenience store chain) and was denied a purchase of a box of Raisin Bran when the clerk, after subjecting my bill to a piece of hi-tech detection equipment, revealed the thing to be a phony.

The guy was quite nice about about it, and patiently showed me how his machine reacted differently to my bill and authenic currency. But as it was the only money I had on me at the time, and so I left without the Raisin Bran.

But even more problematic is that now I've got this phony 100 peso bill to deal with.

It's really quite a nice copy, and in fact, everyone I've showed it to has said that they can't believe it's not real. So if it can't be detected by the naked eye, couldn't I just pass it off on someone who doesn't have a hi-tech counterfeit-bill-detecting machine?

Of course, the people who don't have the technology to detect the bill are likely to be the independent, small-scale entrepreneurs. Conversely, the people to whom I'd love to tender my funny money -- the big chain stores -- are exactly those who can afford the detection equipment.

So what do I do: hang the thing up on my bulleting board as a souvenir, or try to pass it off on mom and pop? After all, they'll most likely be able to pass it along to someone else without problem, right? Right?

Monday, March 07, 2005

bathroom

I was out with some friends at a restaurant the other night, and after my third or fourth water, I needed to use the bathroom pretty badly. So I got up and found the restrooms at the back of the place easily enough, but instead of the traditional "damas" and "caballeros" labels on the two doors (ladies and gentlemen, respectively), or even the very helpful man and woman silhouettes, they were labelled simply with the letters 'M' and 'H.'

Seemed easy enough at first: 'M' for "mujeres" (women) and 'H' for "hombres" (men), right? But then, just as I was about to turn the knob and enter the 'H' room, it suddenly occurred to me: In Spanish, 'hembra' means female and 'macho' means male.

That was enough to give me pause, though I was fairly ceratin that hembra and macho are really only used for plants and slugs and the like. Still, I didn't want to take any chances, so I decided I'd just wait for someone to come out of one of the doors and that would give me a clue as to their designations.

But nobody came out.

Then finally, a waiter rushed by and sensing my distress, said "Use either one, it doesn't matter." So I did, and while my immediate physical needs were certainly satisfied, my intellectual curiosity wasn't, for it was a single-person facility with no real distinguishing features to let me know whether or not I was in the right place.

Either way, I left the seat down.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Starbucks in Mexico

As I've mentioned before, I have very mixed feelings about Starbucks Coffee. On one hand, I have a very positive feeling about the close proximity of a Starbucks in Mexico City. On the other hand, even though I know they play themselves up as a supporter of Fair Trade products and a promoter of sound envirnomental policy, they are still a giant mega-corporation which makes me suspicious that in the end, it's really just about making a ton of cash.

I was thinking about that a few days ago when I bought a cup of joe to go and was noticing the cardboard band they put around the cup that says, in English: "caution: the contents of this cup may be extremely hot." Now, if they were really concerned about people burning their tongues, you'd think that they could make up bands with the warning printed in Spanish, right? The way it is now, it certainly looks like their motivation is nothing more than covering their asses against lawsuits in the U.S.

So now I'm considering a temporary boycott until Starbucks can prove that it truly cares about all of the tongues of the world (no pun intended). Problem is, I imagine I'd only be able to carry out the boycott until the next time I start dozing off at work and recall the beverage abomination served up by the automatic Nescafe machine down in the employee lounge.

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