Saturday, November 18, 2006


Recently, busy archeologists digging around under the Zócalo in central México City made big headlines when they discovered a large, intricately-carved monolith. If you don't know, modern México City is located right on top of the ancient Aztec capital Tenochtitlán, and several of the old city's pyramids, one inside the other like Russian dolls, poke up between the National Cathedral and the Federal Palacio. Those recent headlines were all in a tizzy that this new monolith was the largest ever discovered in the Americas. Though archeologist were wary about the definition for "largest," they admitted that it really is very big. It's longer than the previous record, a circular perpetual Mayan calendar also found in México City, but in volume it is slightly lighter; and in area, well, it's difficult to compare a rectangle to a circle, see? And really, what, if anything, does "largest" really matter when excavating anyway? Hernias, I suspect. At any rate, the real importance of this new find might just be coming into the light this week. Archeologists suspect that this monolith may be the cover to the tomb of Ahuizotl, the king who was the father of Moctezuma.* This would make the largest headlines because we have yet to locate any of the kings of the final Aztec empire, which ended, of course, when the Spanish, under Hernán Cortés, with the help of the Tarascan and Tlaxcalan peoples, destroyed that civilization while conquering México. Moctezuma himself, due to a perceived permissiveness, was probably killed by rocks thrown by his own people, so the whereabouts of his body has never been very exotic. If this new find is the grave they think it is, we about to learn more than ever about the last days of the Aztec empire just before western intervention. [Cavin]

Friday, November 17, 2006


Do you know about the woman the Department of Homeland Security is attempting to deport in Chicago? In August, instead of reporting for deportation, she holed-up in a church seeking asylum. One reason for this is her seven year old son, who is a US citizen. Outside of Hollywood, there are no provisions for asylum in her case, and asylum doesn't work like that, anyway. DHS is within its legal rights to seize her at any time, church or no. Still, in Chicago she remains, possibly because of the media circus surrounding her. She's trying to ensure her son is allowed to grow up in his native land. Her son, on the other hand, has traveled to México and spoken with an assembly of lawmakers who've passed a resolution vowing to do everything possible to dissuade the US from deporting the illegal single mothers of its citizens.* What can Mexican lawmakers possibly do? Nothing but ask nicely for the US to change its immigration laws. In other news: I mentioned recently that nationwide narco-related death tolls have exceeded two thousand for this year.* These numbers include an editor in Zihuatanejo and police chiefs in Monterrey and Tijuana. Okay, we can guess who's ultimately responsible for these drug war casualties. But here's a stone whodunit: last week, Jose Manuel Nava published a book criticizing businesses, newspapers, and the government; today the newspaper editor was found stabbed to death in his México City apartment.* I suspect we can't accuse the cartels in the ballroom with a rope. Lastly, former president Bill Clinton was in Monterrey today. He whisked in, spoke about México's amazing economic growth potential,* lunched, and then whisked back out again--entirely during business hours. No one I have spoken to was able to go see him talk. [Cavin]

Thursday, November 16, 2006


There comes a time in everybody's life where he must fire his first maid. Actually, Sunshine was required to fire the maid. She is the one who knows how to say "as I am sure you can tell by looking all around you, we will be moving out soon. Not only are the floors you mop located under piles of things you would normally put away," and etc., in Spanish. Rosy did not seem at all surprised. When it comes to the domestic help, at least here in México where there are laws that govern this type of thing, the real outlay of cash comes at the end of tenure. It's all very well and good to brag about having a housekeeper for the paltry sum of twenty-eight bucks a day, but eventually there’s the three months' worth of severance pay required at termination, one month of pay for the traditional Christmas gift, and another customary cash bonus (multiplied times the number of complete years of service). So, any feelings of sadness at the completion of Rosy's day today were handsomely mitigated by the enormous wad of cash we immediately handed her upon receipt of our keys. The news yesterday reported that somewhere between three (official tally) and fourteen (human rights activism estimates) people were killed in an armed conflict between marginalized Indian peoples in Chiapas the day before. Apparently, the Lacandon Indians don't take too kindly to outsider settlers on their land. For their own part, the squatters had been encouraged to relocate into Lacandon land by the Zapatista-backed peasant farmer group Maderas del Pueblo, who, looking only at the big picture, had positioned these subsistence farmers into local rainforests as a conservation technique.* I suspect this might have worked, but for those old bitter rivalries. [Cavin]

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Today's energy was primarily directed toward the act of moving. Much the way the theme of "moving in" was worked to death in this blog's first year (acquiring bookshelves, cooking and cleaning and decorating), it will now become tiresomely full of "moving out" talk. Sunshine came home at lunchtime to meet some surveyors today. We walked though the house, pointing out things that were going to go into storage or be shipped on to Vietnam. We thought we would be making these decisions the day they were actually packing and moving us, but it seems we made them all in a half an hour today. I suspect that a year from now, this blog will be rife with complaints about ramifications of things that happened between two thirty and three thirty today. In the news: six police officers have been ambushed and killed in a rural area of southwestern Michoacan.* While the drug war between battling cartels has been, for over three years now, violently boiling in border states, the little state of Michoacan has been making recent headlines for its flamboyant gift beheadings. This brings the number of narco-related homicides there to almost four hundred and fifty for the year. Why Michoacan? Well, it is a rural Pacific Coast state with deep inland access, for one thing; it tends to be the beginning of the narcotics smuggling route that leads to the cartel drug war at the border. Also, I believe that the Sinaloa Cartel lives near there (in Mazatlán), meaning that the Gulf Cartel's fearsome henchmen, los Zetas, along with their enemy-of-my-enemy amigos in the Tijuana Cartel, are taking the war to the enemy gates. Like the seventeen heads found in Michoacan this year, the riddled bodies of the six police were accompanied by a note. [Cavin]

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Today was another day of moving-related stuff. We have chosen one room for the stuff that we do not want to be stored for us during the time between living here and living in Vietnam. I am trying to get all of these particulars located in that room. Mostly I have been trying to organize back-ups today. So I've been uploading photographs like crazy, loading our entire CD collection into digital storage, etc. I've been running back and forth between two offices since yesterday, loading photos to Flickr on my computer and songs to iTunes on hers. Speaking of Sunshine, tonight is girl's night out, and she is off at a posh Asian fusion place called Señor Tanaka's probably eating very great food. I am here, updating my blog with moving details. You may stress either word at the end of that sentence. The news: in Oaxaca, university students returned to classes yesterday through a cadre of masked demonstrators. Did I mention that the APPO protestors who have been driven from downtown by federal police are holed-up in the nearby university?* Apparently, there is a law restricting federal police from setting foot certain campuses. This weekend, masked youths fire-bombed a McDonald's, but there was very little damage to more than the Play Place outside. Last month they attacked Burger King.* In México City, the city government is beginning to come under fire for allowing the months-long PRD protest that blocked major streets and made life difficult after the federal election in July.* Also for not responding the claims of police brutality when that protest was challenged. For their part, the PRD are reportedly threatening a kindred-spirit protest against Oaxacan Governor Ulises Ruiz in that state's capital.* Lord knows that's what Oaxaca really needs right now: more yelling people. [Cavin]

Monday, November 13, 2006


Today is the official beginning of our last days in México. With thirty-five days before we return to the US, we began our first physical steps toward moving out today. This involved making four piles of stuff. Moving out will be a confusing, if not arduous, process: four distinct steps to negotiate getting our property out of this country, with pitfalls of red tape tripping us up at every turn. Step one: movers arrive, box up our stuff, transport it over the border, and store it in Maryland until whenever. Two, some of that load will then be moved on to Vietnam next fall. Three, movers will return to pack just things we'll have access to while in DC. This load will eventually be stored in Maryland or shipped to Vietnam next fall when we move again. Four, we will have to pack whatever remains in the tiny little Toyota car and drive it over the border ourselves. This step includes a terrified The Cat in its little cage. Now, steps one and two are tricky because the places (where we may end up living) in Vietnam come more completely furnished than what we're used to. We'll have to keep an inventory so we can decide what to take with us and what to leave in US storage when we move again. We have to do this without further access to the stuff in question. Keeping "storage" things in boxes together, then, and separate from "Vietnam" things, will be very important. The fact is that we do not have a solid handle on what to take and what to leave. Furthermore, step three has a pretty limiting weight restriction, but we do not yet know exactly what that restriction is. And step four? Well, the car's just little. [Cavin]

Sunday, November 12, 2006


What with all the movie-watching and vacation-taking, I almost forgot to update the story of Scotty's ashes. As you know, when James Doohan died he'd stipulated in his will that his powdery cremains should be propelled into space. The company to do the propelling, Space Services, Inc. of New Mexico, suffered a demoralizing wobble that resulted in their first high school science experiment-laden rocket flight auguring into the desert some six miles from the nearest lonely southwestern byway. Doohan was not onboard. His flight, scheduled for October 21st, has been indefinitely postponed as the company tries to rectify whatever went wrong the first time.* In Old México: Federal legislators have approved a law that recognizes same-sex civil unions.* While the language very carefully attempts to placate certain opponents (like the Roman Catholic Church, responsible for the spiritual welfare of some ninety percent of the citizenry; or the future president of the country, Felipe Calderón), the bill most definitely extends spousal rights to gay couples. I know this was a strange election for similar laws in the US**: many propositions were not as thoroughly crushed in '06 as they were in '04. Still, it seems very much like México is making a show of social progression in an area where even liberal US states are still struggling.* Before Mr. Schwarzenegger came here yesterday (before Sr. Calderón hopped his flight to the US*), they spent some time in México City together, marveling over Arnold's victory over Latino voters.* Finally, the irony: Ross Perot, who once accurately described NAFTA as a "giant sucking sound," is relocating the services desk of Perot Systems Corp. from Plano, Texas to a new office building in Guadalajara, Jalisco.* That's another two hundred some US jobs lost to whatever Mexicans still remain in their own country. [Cavin]