Field of Science

Out with the old

New Year's has never been much of a big deal; what's the point?  OK so you start a new calendar.  Mostly the New Year is just one of those sign posts or markers to indicate where you are, like one of those mileage signs along a highway.  And here the New Year will start some 7 hours earlier than at home making 2014 seven hours longer for us, if indeed, this is remembered a year from now. Resolutions are sort of lame; if you want to do something different, OK, then change, but why now exactly?  New Year's is a good excuse to have a party, to eat some food, drink some wine, and socialize, in this case with family and friends of our German students.  TPP once found out the official date in Thailand was based on a different calendar that is several hundred years older and offset from the Gregorian standard by a couple of months, but actually this is one of those things, how the calendar we use got to be the way it is remains unknown to this author. Somehow it never came up as a topic.  Shows us just how arbitrary the whole situation is especially as the new year is not pegged to any particular celestial event like the solstice. New year's works for many people as having a time to wipe the slate clean, an excuse to try something different, and maybe something to look forward to is all a survival mechanism, a personal jedi mind trick, something to keep us plodding forward.  So that's how it will be. TPP will keep putting one foot in front of the other and marching into the new year. Tonight's party should be fun, and not the usual party fare either. Staying up to midnight will be easy with a bit of eastward jet lag to help out. It will be fun to see how other people treat the new year celebration. and with fire works, so say the natives. So happy new year all; enjoy yourselves, and we'll see what comes. Tomorrow.

Kris Kringle Mart

Yes, our arrival in Germany was on the 27th and that is past Christmas, but in Hamburg, the Christmas markets were still going strong, which is nice because this is a new experience.  It was very festive and filled with lovely sights and great smells, so you have some glugwein and some bratwurst to join in the fun.  And that keeps you going until it finally hits you that you have had very little sleep over the
past 28 hours, or something like that, then you sleep like a dead person for 12 hrs.  Hamburg has been quite some fun, of course the tour guides were the best. However the internet in our hotel really sucked, rather it was really expensive, which sucks, so thus the blogging hiatus.  You hear so much about other German cities, and so little about Hamburg, and that now seems puzzling.  But mostly it was about spending time with friends and getting caught up and reacquainted.  TPP had forgotten how much fun big train stations are, and airports just totally suck in comparison. To not sound like a complete grouch TPP will avoid ranting any more about air travel, or people with babies or little tots on airplanes. Yes, what can parents do, but damn your kid was disturbing and annoying the hell out of at least 40 people, and quite frankly they were not doing enough to be considerate.  Buy them a seat next time!  Oops, closing in on a rant; change tracks.  So from Hamburg the Phactors have traveled to Ulm, a little visited city, to see more friends and spend the new year's celebration with them.  OK, this is a bit spooky.  The city is socked in with fog (good thing we came by train rather than plane) and you can hear one of the bawh-dee, bawh-dee sirens and suddenly it's like the Third Man!  Please, don't say you don't know about the Third Man.  OK, time for some dinner.  Anyone been to Hamburg?  Impressions welcomed.

Impending travel

In times now long past, the Phactors always traveled for the holidays because all of our relatives, and many old friends, lived in New York State.  This involved running a gauntlet of potentially very bad winter weather from Cleveland to Buffalo NY, and this was a long drive even when the weather was good.  As the family dispersed the frequency of our visits declined.  Sometimes Mrs. Phactor's family would gather in their adopted state, North Carolina, but that was a long drive for us too.  So now quite a few years have passed when the Phactors have been home-bodies for the holidays, but this year, something different happened.  So the Phactors find themselves finishing up Christmas in a hurry, and in somewhat of a surprise to ourselves heading off to visit friends in Germany and Switzerland.  This is the first time TPP has packed to travel bereft of Hawaiian shirts and shorts, so his normal packing strategy is just not going to work. At any rate it has been a long time since the Phactors began the new year in another country. The best news is that this involves no driving, and especially no driving in the vicinity of Lake Erie. But the dread has already begun; TPP likes going places, but hates travel.  Stoic endurance is the practical state of mind.   

Yes, we'll have no bananas

This is a rather depressing report on the spread of a blight that threatens bananas, worldwide!  This may not seem particularly important to some people, but in many tropical areas bananas are a starchy staple and important part of their diets on a par with potatoes for those of us in the northern temperate zone.  The root of the problem is that bananas, at least the widely planted varieties, are based on a limited genetic base.  As the report points out, this will make it easy for this plant disease to spread.  Everyone knows that basing a crop on a limited genetic base is dangerous, but it seems it takes a disaster or near disaster to get a breeding program going.  HT to AoB blog. 

Cooking something up

Today, the Sunday before Christmas, made a perfect day for cooking.  So with plenty of time, and to help ward off the cold, wet weather, this was a day well-suited for Mulligatawny soup.  It took awhile to find the recipe, hand-written years ago, on a file card tucked in one of our oldest recipe files.  One of the problems with liking cook books is that you can't always remember where certain recipes are, especially like this one, from a now unknown source, and a soup that haven't been made in awhile.  It isn't a hard recipe, but working from scratch you have to cook some chicken and make a spicy soup broth.  And then quite a few ingredients get chopped up and all of that takes some time.  Mulligatawny is a chicken soup that takes a lot of its character from the Indian tradition so the primary flavoring is a curry powder as well as ginger rhizome, Indian bay leaves, and cloves.  It also includes a chopped up tart apple to add a fruity highlight.  This will make a nice hearty soup for din-dins.  But that wasn't all.  Unable to pass up a bargain, TPP bought a package of chicken gizzards for $1.35, and turned them into an escabeche, basically cooked gizzards marinated in vinegar and oil with green pepper, onion, a lot of chopped garlic, some pimento stuffed olives, and a few dashes of hot sauce.  Mrs. Phactor who missed lunch today because of charity gift wrapping is giving it a try right now with a very superior glass of rioja, a gift from a client.  Got the last few presents put together, some decorated boxes with cookies and candies for a couple of people who deserve being remembered with a gift.  The hardest part of cooking is the underfoot cats who think your only purpose in life is feeding them no matter what time it is.  Of course all of this left the kitchen a disaster, so just now TPP got time to get a cocktail and some escabeche for himself.  Ho, ho, ho.

Doh! Violated one of my own rules!

It was just a moment's lapse, a second or two of being less than vigilant, and it happened!  It must have been the Christmas cookie that distracted TPP.  Because without any warning, the eyes shifted, and too late, there was Bill O'Really's column, and it was so damned annoying!  Doh!  TPP had violated one of his own rules for enjoying the holidays, and yes, Bill, there's more than one, so some of us just say, "Happy holidays!" Bill thinks people who do this need to "get over it", but the king of arrogance is the one who gets bent out of shape about this every year, and calls his pet peeve the "war on Christmas".  Now if Bill, who likes to drag out facts, knew anything about Christianity at all, he'd know that December is the wrong season for Christmas, so Christians decided to put their celebration right in among all those other celebrations on purpose.  It certainly wasn't the fault of those other religions because they were older, but even though Christmas has become the 800 lb. gorilla of holidays, it doesn't mean the other holidays go away.  Apparently being in the majority and still not being able to dictate seasonal greetings is just so irritating and that's what makes Bill so angry.  Well, happy holidays Bill.  Now, get a life.

Cupressoid conifers - hard to identify

TPP is working on an expanded dichotomous key for ornamental conifers that can be cultivated here in the upper midwest.  It's only to genus right now, but it's for people who see a conifer of any sort and just say, "pine tree".  There are some tricky bits and it's always those darned cupressoid conifers.  The problem is always the same, if you've got cones, it's easy, but if you rely on just vegetative features, then it can be darned hard, and that's what you have to count on.  The biggest problems are distinguishing Thuja (arborvitae) and Chamaecyparis (false cypress), although distinguishing Taxus (yew) and Cephalotaxus (plum yews) is hard too.  Taxus baccata is tough enough, but T. cuspidata with very 2-ranked foliage is even more like Cephalotaxus, so TPP is so happy Torreya doesn't grow here to further complicate things; this genus has been put into both families in the past but is currently with the yews.  This still needs more work because those darned taxonomists have taken Chamaecyparis nootkatensis and transferred this species to Xanthocyparis so TPP's garden diversity just went up a genus, but some of the observations were based on his nootka cypress so no idea how to distinguish this genus from Chamaecyparis.  Also trying my hand at distinguishing Siberian cypress (Microbiota) from spreading junipers (Juniperus); this seems pretty weak right now, and you hate to just say red cedars are prickly.  At any rate here are some couplets extracted from the whole key to see what you think.  So rush right outside and see how these work. TPP thought he had the plum yew figured out until he took a good look at his upright cultivar of a plum yew whose leaves are helically arranged.  Siberian cypress and plum yews are some nice low spreading shrubs that grow well in light shade, and the former is hardy to zone 2! 

3.  Leaves green beneath, apex of keel leaves convexly rounded such that apex points inward toward stem, lateral lvs do not meet to form a seam; cones oblong, scales thin  .................................................... Arbor-vitae (Thuja)
3'.  Leaves whitened beneath, apex of lateral keel leaves straight or concavely curved such that apex points upward along stem axis, lateral keel lvs meet to form a distinct, sometimes white, seam; cones round, scales thick ……….……………… White cedar, false cypress (Chamaecyparis)
4. Rounded branchlets; awn-shaped lvs stiff; shrubs to small trees of various sizes ...…. Red Cedar, Juniper (Juniperus)
4’. Slightly flattened brachlets; awn-shaped lvs flexible; low-growing shrub up to 60 cm (2 feet), usually less than 25 cm (10 inches) tall …………... Siberian Cypress (Microbiota)
14. Dark solitary seed surrounded by green aril turning pink-red with maturity (only on female plants); lvs more or less 2-ranked horizontal branches; common. .............Yew (Taxus)
14’. Ovules oval, green maturing to golden brown (edible); lvs strongly 2-ranked on horizontal branches; rare................................…………Plum Yew (Cephalotaxus)


Who you gonna call?

Ahh, don't you hate it when this happens?  You just go out for awhile, and the next thing you know a cat has gotten themselves tangled in your blinds and can't get out of.  One of TPP's kitty girls frequently locks herself into a room by closing the door aggressively, but she only gets out when someone notices she's missing (not a quick learner).  Now this cat is about 3 times the size of the average housecat, which is about 8 pounds.  So this bobcat is about the size of the F1's Maine coon cat (26.5 pounds!).  Ours once ruined a set of draperies because they were in his way and claws just open drapes differently than fingers.  But, and here's the good news, no one attempted or even suggested shooting the cat!  Hmm, then this story could not be from the USA where that's always the first solution to animal problems.

The gifs that keep on giffing

These are weirdly strange gifs, but fun.  They are a form of animation that has been around for quite some time.  When TPP was a kid, his younger sister got a bunch of kiddie phonograph records of nursery rhymes and songs that included gifs.  You'd put a faceted mirror in the center and as the record turned, the gif was animated. Yes, that's surely tough for many of you to imagine especially if you have no idea at all what 78 rpm means. Ah, a bit of searching and here's the exact items, the Red Raven Movie  record and magic mirror.  It was pretty amusing trying to figure out exactly how this worked, but it was much loved by my sister.  As soon as you see the record you'll see the similarity to the gifs shown at the link above. What a blast from the past!  Funny what triggers old memories.

End of the semester, at last!

Well, that's another fine semester shot to hell.  While too busy because of competing demands upon TPP's time, it was a good semester student-wise, really!  Four-fifths of the students in my botany class got As and Bs at a ratio of 1:2, a ratio that has not changed in this class for over 15 years.  The other fifth got Cs and Ds (poor study skills that survived junior college and poor work ethics).  The more advanced rainforest ecology class was probably the best ever, uniformly hard-working, bright, cooperative, and not in the least annoying.  How great is that?  There's always a feeling of great relief to be done, at least with the course work.  TPP started the task of cleaning up the semester debris that had accumulated in the lab and other work areas (the desk is still piled high), and picked up a project started about 2 months ago to figure out where things stood.  Spent some time trying to figure out how to distinguish, easily, yews from plum-yews.  It's a piece of cake if you have reproductive structures, but how often does that happen?  Having always had trouble thinking about holidays during a semester, it was time to think about some presents and then take some action.  So TPP visited 4 shops this afternoon.  One clerk asked, "Panic shopping?"  What's the date?  "The 17th." Well, until it's the 24th, it isn't a panic.  The 17th is really early shopping.  This is the problem when you starting holiday shopping back in November.  Came home and got a lot of great help from the kitty girls wrapping a few things, well, just one cat really, but she's such a help especially with ribbons.  Still need some cookies and other treats for a few special people, so tomorrow, maybe TPP will bake some cookies.

How to avoid being a holiday Grinch

Believe it or else, TPP is not a holiday curmudgeon or a Christmas Grinch. However the holiday season always starts before TPP is ready for it, and that does make him grouchy.  For some reason it's hard to enjoy the season when you still have all that academic stuff to deal with, and yes, today will be spent grading, and be assured there won't be any gifts given, if you know what that means.  At any rate, TPP has some suggestions for increasing your enjoyment of the holiday season, and so a sharing.
1. Stay out of malls.  TPP never ventures into malls. Period. 
2. Shop at small stores where the goods reflect the idiosyncratic tastes of the owner.  Fortunately our little city has a number of such stores and TPP always finds the best things, and both of the women TPP shops for are, while not exactly easy, appreciative of somewhat funky gifts. Wait until they see those socks (trading is OK).
3. Entertain guests with some festive cocktails.  This years feature cocktail is the New York cocktail: 2 oz of bourbon, 1 oz of lemon juice, 1/2 oz (or to taste) simple syrup shaken with ice and strained onto the rocks.  Then float 1 oz of dry red wine onto the top. It's quite easy, quite pretty, and an interesting drink.  For later in the evening, by the fire, a white Russian cocktail.
4. Cook something spicy.  Spicy food is just so nice and warm, and so welcoming infusing your house with good smells. A good choice is curried meatballs (our recipe uses a lot of ground coriander). 
5. Have an open house.  It's great to have a neighborhood, a real neighborhood, and you need to meet new neighbors to have a hood.  How great that we have several young couples with little tykes, or little tykes on the way, newly moved into the hood.  Our neighborhood has always had a wonderful mix, and wow, even the twins stopped by (they live next door to each other, really!). 
6. Feed the birds.  Right now TPP is participating in the Christmas bird count while drinking coffee.  One, two, 15, almost beating the momentary record of 17 birds at once in the platform feeder (mix of cardinals, house finches, gold finches, Carolina wren, chickadees, and juncos). 
7. Don't pay any attention to people like Bill O'Really and his light-weight complaints about "Happy Holidays".  Hey, Bill, maybe early Christians shouldn't have coopted all those pagan holidays and their trappings. 
8. Write people a letter.  Look, you don't communicate very well, so at least once a year make an effort, and don't worry about the curmudgeons that complain about such letters. 
(Bluejay just showed up, and now a downy woodpecker, oh, and a red-bellied woodpecker). 
9. Make cookies and give some to people who don't expect any.  Nothing cheers people up like some homemade cookies, and this year TPP is running late on baking, and typical baking plans will be curtailed somewhat by travel plans.  But still, make someone happy with some cookies. 
10. Put a nice red or green festive collar on your black cat.  Although it may not make them happy, everyone else will think it charming.  OK, this may not be the best idea.  Maybe take  your big cat outside and throw snowballs at him (Well, that was my F1's idea of fun!  The video was funny.)  OK, let the cats play with an ornament or two. 
11. Sing some carols.  Uh, no. OK everyone gets to be a curmudgeon about something.  But at least play Elvis' It'll be a blue, blue Christmas without you".  Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's Christmas album will also make you smile ("Is dat you Santa Claus?"). 
So try to enjoy the season.  You have to get through these holidays before the plant and seed catalogs show up and spread some real cheer.
(8 fox squirrels - no where near the record).

Snow party

What fun!  The season's first significant snowfall threatened to interfere with our Costa Rican dinner and picture party for the rain forest ecology class.  OK, it was actually no contest; winter weather versus free food and drink.  Only one student was unable to attend; some lame excuse about having to pack up and get ready to clear out today after
graduation. TPP's advice was to get her priorities straight, but students don't always listen to you. The troops took a lot of very good pictures, and some pretty funny ones too.  All in all great fun, and out side it snowed, a heavy wet snow that stuck to vegetation and blanketed our garden.  Very pretty.  Very often TPP is asked how to tell a Chamaecyparis from a Thuja.  Well, it's pretty simple really.  Your Chamaecyparis has round ornaments as opposed to oblong ones.  Or something like that because after all it's an ornamental conifer.   

Brrrrr! Temperature and wind chil

It's bloody cold outside, and a recent trip to the tropics makes it seem even colder.  The temperature this morning was 1 F (-17 C) and a moderately brisk breeze contributed a -15 F wind chill factor so the apparent temperature is -14 F (-26 C).  It makes TPP's sinuses hurt just thinking about this.  Weather persons in the USA quite often screw up the wind chill reporting the factor as the apparent temperature, which today are fairly close numbers.  The apparent temperature is the temperature it feels like when the wind chill factor is subtracted from the air temperature.  They say something like "the temperature is XX and the wind chill is YY", and you have no idea what they are talking about, was that the wind chill factor or the apparent temperature once the WCF was subtracted?  In all likelihood they have no idea themselves, but it's annoying when it comes from someone whose job it is to report the weather that they don't make that clear especially when they portray themselves as a meteorologist.  However, this is quite cold no matter what.  Once in Chi-town the temperature was near zero (F) and the wind was strong enough to generate something like a -50 degree wind chill.  Walking just two blocks was torture. Temperatures like this make it a great pleasure to walk into the local coffee shoppe this AM with its steamy roasted coffee humidity and aroma. Roasted coffee just has an appealing smell, and you also get to wrap both your hands around the cup.  Nice.  A colleague was sitting there with a pile of evolution exams to grade and he has no intention of going anywhere else for quite awhile.  Such a good idea.

End of the semester ups and downs

TPP's email inbox is bulging. That can only mean one thing, it's the end of the semester and this is the last ditch chance to submit all those assignments that were due all semester.  Students who have paid little attention to what was going on are now want to know what is going on as if it will make a difference.  For many such students semesters end in a whimper, sadly fading away, with nothing like a triumphant finale or celebration.  But not our rainforest ecology class: bright, hard-working, positive attitudes, well-behaved, good company, cooperative, eager, observant, so they'll have a final get together, and TPP will host a dinner of Costa Rican food and a picture party.  Everyone submits their best photos (up to 30) for a visual sharing.  There will be awards for the best organism picture, the best landscape picture, and the best in-the-field selfie (a new category).  Awards will also be given for best projects and presentations. Other awards will make light of tropical field work like the teflon award for the person who just never seems to get dirty, or the peccary award of personal hygiene (only if applicable), and monsoon mud-monkey award for the person who just seems to be a mud magnet, and so on.  This will take place after final exams so people can unwind.  It's their reward for not whining, whinging, or wailing.  Now, find the student in the rainforest.

Child rearing - cartoons and oldies rock

Without question our only beloved child turned out as she did because of heavy doses of Calvin and Hobbs cartoons and oldies rock music, which wasn't so old then.  Ah, well.  At any rate, in a recent fit of nostalgia, perhaps instigated by rummaging through our attic for her "lost" photo treasures and other stuff, she forwarded this link to remind her Father of just how creative this cartoon was especially with snow.  And just so you know how warped her upbringing was, here's a link to the song (Fleetwood Mac's Tusk) TPP used to wake up a late-sleeping F1.  Sorry, but your little speakers and puny computer amp just won't do this window-rattling song justice. 

Wintery weather

A light dusting of snow and the gathering dusk has produced a rather cold-looking landscape study in black and white. After the lushness of the tropical rain forest this stark coldness is particularly hard to deal with.  TPP has spent much of the day cooking, preparations for some Tico food for his students' "picture party" to cap off the semester in a few days and some curried meatballs for din-dins today.  Corms and rhizomes drying and curing in the basement were packed into some cocoa shells and stored in a cool spot. For some reason, TPP has had a very difficult time reconnecting to the calendar and upcoming events.  Mrs. Phactor has taken to giving me a daily briefing, to-do lists, and then a quiz. When given direct orders, he's doing OK.  Will you make me a New York cocktail, please?  Yes, my dear.  What a good choice.  First, take 2 oz of bourbon, 1 oz lemon juice, and 1/2 oz simple syrup and shake with ice.  Then pour on the rocks.  Then float an oz of dry red wine on the top.  It's super nice looking and pretty simple to make. As you drink the mixing changes the taste. Will you please feed the kitty-girls?  Yes, my dear. Kibble equals happiness.  If TPP stays helpful, he may not get put out in such nasty weather. 

End of the semester student blues

To compensate for a missed class, TPP's students were given an out-of-class assignment before Thanksgiving break that is 16 days ago and it was due today.  However on Weds when normally they would have received another out-of-class research part of their final exam (1 week ahead), TPP told them the pre-Thanksgiving take-home assignment was actually to be part of that part of their final exam and it was still due today, there was such consternation!  Even outrage!  You see rather than using all that time to good advantage, many of them had not done a thing and now it's due and it's part of their final.  How terribly unfair is that?  This is just one of the easier ways to separate the sheep from the goats.  Two students who had handed in their work early wanted it back to do a better job!  You mean you didn't do your best job?  What is TPP to think?  And those who had not done anything yet feel they got cut short on time because they expected an assignment due next Wednesday, but after having more than two weeks to work on this assignment they hadn't done anything. And you point out that the problem is actually their own work/study/learning ethic and had they treated the assignment as an excellent opportunity to learn something interesting they would now be in good shape as quite a few students were.  More outrage came from the fact that their textbook doesn't provide an answer or even all of the information they need.  And this is the internet generation?  This isn't how they did things in my high school/junior college.  That's right, and you're not there any more. 

New discovery of something old in Costa Rica

TPP has been going to Costa Rica for research and teaching for 20 years, so discovering completely new things outside of the rainforest happens a lot less frequently.  So it was with a bit of surprise to find La Sorbeterade Lolo Mora, a rather small ice cream shop buried in the middle of San Jose's Mercado Central warren of aisles and shops.  Far from being something new, this shop has been serving their "traditional ice cream" in all its many flavors (1) for well over 100 years.  The ice cream was unlike any other and best described as "a heady mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla with a granita–like texture".  Yep, spice ice cream that's sort of icy, but make no mistake, it's wonderful. And getting it in a cone would be a mistake; it melts pretty fast. Generally my students only get to spend an afternoon and evening as tourists in San Jose, and in the past, it was a Sunday, and most of the Mercado shops were closed.  However, Sunday shopping, including grocery stores like Super Mas, early Christmas, and even black Friday sales have all come to Costa Rica.  My dear Ticos, let TPP apologize for our cultural exports and the invasion of our fast food too.  Please do not let a DQ open anywhere within two kilometers of the Mercado.  Protect your national food heritage. 

80 years of wetness

80 years ago this week the 21st amendment was ratified which repealed the 18th amendment and the 13 year social experiment in the USA called prohibition ended.  Of course prohibition did not mean people quit drinking, it was just that the drinking was all illegal and the quality of booze was poor if not down right bad, and with limited supply to meet the demand, why there was a lot of money to be made if you didn't mind doing something illegal.  Where TPP grew up very fast boats were used to smuggle booze in from Canada by crossing Lake Ontario. The lesson of prohibition has not been learned.  The war on drugs in the USA has simply made a lot of criminals out of mostly marijuana smokers and some narcotic users.  In fact here is the one single thing where the hyper-patriots who always shout "USA is number one!" are actually correct.  Our country has more people locked up, incarcerated, per capita than any other country on Earth!  It's pathetic on so many levels.  Look how far down the list you find any other comparable countries like Britain or Canada, or Germany.  Yes, here in the USA people are still focused on punishment, the harsher and the longer the better, in spite of virtually all the data that says that doesn't work at all. So rather than treat addicts as being ill, the USA just locks them up as criminals.  Talk about cruel and unusual.  And then somewhere today, TPP read that Sweden is just closing its prisons because it has so few people to lock up.  TPP needs a cocktail, something made with Swedish vodka perhaps. 

Return, re-entry, and readjustment

Returning from the tropics to the northern temperate late fall is not a good idea, just a necessity.  At the coffee shoppe this AM the friendly clerk asked if it were still warm outside?  It was 40 F.  How a particular temperature feels depends a great deal upon what recent ambient temperatures you have been experiencing.  So, no, it's bloody damp and cold.  As much as TPP would like to gently and gradually adjust to regular academic life, the re-entry plunges you directly into the deep water since there are only 3 days left in the semester.  At one of the last class meetings, a student asked if there was a lab scheduled for today.  No, no lab, but there will be a regular 50 min lecture.  Apparently about half the class tuned out as soon as TPP said, no lab.  This will certainly help the teaching evaluations as the situation guarantees half the class will be pissed no matter what you do.  Since there is no jet lag, you wouldn't think the change would be so bad.  However without the constant white noise of the rainforest at night, or in the rain, TPP finds it hard to sleep.  Guess that sound track needs to be packaged up and sold, and with the additional gimick that you can set a wakeup time, and then a recording of howler monkeys greeting the day will be inserted.  And no really ripe, succulent pineapple for breakfast.  Such a downer.  Good thing TPP got a couple of kilos of dark roasted Costa Rican coffee to bring home, which set such a good example that the class cumulatively brought home well over 20 kilos of coffee, so much that a 5% discount was given.  "Do you have anything to declare?"  Just some coffee.  "How much coffee?"  Just two kilos.  "Where is it?"  In that big blue duffle bag.  "What's in the bag with the coffee?"  Just more coffee.  And yet it's good to be home.