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The Argentinian art of flirting is an interesting article by an American journalist describing the Argentinian version of the chat up line.. commonly referred to as the “piropo” which as she describes manages to evoke a combination of poetry and nostalgia:

I met Oscar, a vaguely creepy street artist and tango dancer. Handsome and aging, he absolutely dripped with Argentinity beneath a pale fedora and worn blazer. My question about what time the art stalls opened prompted the first piropo of my trip: For a woman as beautiful as I, he said, the stalls would open at any hour. With a hint of a smile, I asked if it was true that they say less piropos these days. “Sadly, it is,” he replied.  Asking my permission, Oscar led me to a nearby park bench, arranged his silk aviator’s cravat, lit up a cigarette and told me the history of piropos. “In the old days,” he said, looking straight into my eyes with familiarity, “men came alone to try their luck in the New World. They left their wives and families behind. Soon there were far more men than women in Argentina. How do you get the attention of the only woman around?” His eyes followed a passing teenage girl, whose deep tan traced its way from her painted toes right up to the hem of her 4-inch skirt. “By saying the most beautiful words. It’s the same as dancing the tango– maybe you’re ugly, but if you are a beautiful dancer, you have a chance.”

The most complicated coffee order ever.. we have a winner!

The most complicated coffee you could order according to someone on the straight dope message board… love it!

You’ve groaned when you’re stuck behind them in line … yuppies at Starbucks that order something like a “grande iced half caf triple mocha latte macchiato”, while all you want is a large cup of joe to go.

What’s the most complicated, longest-named order you can make at Starbucks that would result in a single drink?

What the heck, I’ll take a stab at an analysis. Where would the world be without pedantry?

Disclaimers:

1. IANASBE. I welcome corrections and addenda from the professionals.
2. I will make the totally arbitrary assumption that we’re looking to maximize the number of syllables it takes to order the drink.
3. We’re using the standard lingo that the baristas use. (E.g., no fair saying “decaffeinated” to get three extra syllables.)
4. I’ll limit myself to variations which result in a drink that might be remotely drinkable. One could order seventy-seven pumps of every flavor of syrup they have, but that seems a little excessive.

OK. We’ll start with the cup size — short, tall, grande, or venti. We’ll take “venti” for two syllables, bigger because there’s going to be a lot of stuff in this drink.

There are six boxes on the side of the cup: Decaf, Shots, Syrup, Milk, Custom, and Drink.

1 – Decaf. Sorry guys, to maximize your syllables, you’ll have to drink some decaf. You can increase the syllable count by ordering partial decaf, though. This fits with the next item, which is:
2 – Shots. Seven shots is a lot, but not unreasonable for a venti drink. Eleven shots, for one more syllable, would probably be excessive. I think “seven shots, three shots decaf” would be legal protocol. Nine syllables so far.
3 – Syrup. Lots of different flavors to choose from. Amaretto is probably about the best choice for four syllables. Syrups are measured one pump at a time, and I believe they accept half pumps, so “One and a half pump amaretto” is good for a total of nine more syllables.
4 – Milk. Two percent is the way to go here. You can also specify the temperature, which is good for lots of syllables. Initially I thought this would make all the iced drinks not worth considering, since “hundred and seventy degree” is worth eight syllables. But “Java Chip Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee” is worth twelve. You can’t order “extra foam” on a blended drink, but that still doesn’t quite close the distance. Also, the blended drinks take longer to make, which annoys the people behind you further.
5 – Custom. I confess that I don’t know the full spectrum of choices here. I know you can specify whipped cream or not, extra foam or not (for hot drinks), chocolate, caramel, sprinkles. Let’s get “no whip, extra chocolate, extra sprinkles” for eleven. Almost forgot sweeteners — “seven Nutrasweet” for five more.
6 – Drink. As I said above, “Java Chip Frappuccino Light Blended Coffee” is pretty hard to beat.

So, for a grand total of 49 syllables (and probably about seven bucks), you can get

a venti seven-shot three-shot-decaf one-and-a-half-pump amaretto two percent seven Nutrasweet no whip extra chocolate extra sprinkles java chip frappuccino light blended coffee.

Anything to eat with that? No? Thanks for waiting, and bon appetit.

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How to Give Away Your Indie Book On Kindle provides useful advice on how to get Amazon to provide your published book for free – in the first instance they will actually prevent you from setting the price as free – the way around it is to get it published elsewhere for people to download, and then inform Amazon that the product is wrongly priced.

This will come handy for authors who prefer a donation model instead – which I will be using for a self-published guidebook to Edinburgh to be made available some time next year.

Gocar trip around Madrid

As I previously mentioned, I was going to review the gocar tour in Madrid so here it is. By writing this review I also qualified for a discount, although this is by no means a biased account as they allow for both positive and negative opinions in any case!

Overall my experience of the gocar tour was very positive – definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Madrid! It was fun, unusual and a very practical way of getting around and seeing the main sights.

The vehicles themselves looked like toy cars, and were quite easy to ride with no gears and just acceleration. There was no reverse, but as they were so small and light it was easy to get out and push them back whilst steering at the same time. The engine was slightly noisy at times, which could make the GPS voice hard to hear but there was always the option of turning the volume up. One of the funniest things were the bemused looks of passers by. It honestly looked as though just about everyone had never seen any of these things before.
We went out with the intention of doing the historic tour which was only supposed to take an hour, however we seemed to end up doing a lot more than that! I have to admit to getting quite lost at times, which I would put down to a combination of driving with a girl who couldn’t read maps to save her life, having a Spanish speaking GPS which was not my native language and some of the GPS directions not being completely clear. However, it didn’t really matter too much – it added to the adventure and the staff kindly made us pay an hour less than we were meant to as well.
A lot of the sites we saw were probably not manageable on foot – so I was glad that we used the buggy – we were able to park the buggy off as well and walk around the Prado which was quite pleasant. The GPS also did point out some interesting sights and facts along the way. It was also a source of amusement as it came programmed with some quite crass jokes.
So all in all, a lot of fun, quite an adventure and highly recommended! I would advise going with someone who knows how to read a map though..