I’m off today (Sunday) for Costa Rica, where the council of the Society for the Study of Evolution is having its midwinter meeting.  Although that lasts only a couple of days, I can’t go to Central America—especially the country with the best system of biological reserves—without doing some biotourism. I’ll be tagging along with a colleague who’s doing botanical field work, and then travelling to La Selva, another reserve where, back in the Cambrian of my scientific life, I once spent several weeks.

The last time I was in Costa Rica was in 1973, when I took at two-month course in Tropical Ecology under the auspices of the Organization for Tropical Studies. It was a fantastic course, headed by Don Wilson and Dan Janzen. It will be great to revisit the place after all these years.

I’ll be back posting in a bit less than two weeks, and in the meantime stalwart pinch-bloggers Matthew Cobb and Greg Mayer will fill in. They’re both busy, so posting will be light at best.  But I promise to take plenty of pictures to bore you with when I return.

Hasta la proxima!

TSA POSTSCRIPT: I have just gone through the Naked Scanning Machine at O’Hare and then was chosen to be patted down. As the TSA guy said, “I’m going to palpate your left forearm and then your upper left thigh.” (They’re using classier language now.)

My forearm, of course, had my watch on it.  God knows what suspicious thing they saw on my thigh, but I didn’t like the grope. At least they didn’t “palpate” my buttocks as they did in Boston last January!


  1. Posted January 8, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Lawl. What are you smuggling around such that your upper left thigh becomes a source of attention? Wait a minute . . . I’m going to guess Jerry is right handed. No reason.

  2. Filippo
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Did you experience heart palpitations as a result of your thigh palpitations?

  3. epistememe
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    IF you get a chance, fly into Drake bay and stay in one of the great ecotourist bush huts bordering the Corcovado N.P. Then hire a local guide and do a trek into the area. Once you land in San Jose just get on the phone and call around and there should be a vacancy. Haggle with then and you should get a great deal. Flights on a small plane are easily arranged on the same day.

  4. MadScientist
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    TSA are useless (though some screening at airports is not). Compare the number of terrorists apprehended by law enforcement agencies vs the TSA (none). The TSA may have stopped that soldier who was trying to take explosives on a flight, but they didn’t have to grope him or remove shoes to find the munitions.

  5. AgnostoMan
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Was just listening to NPR this break and heard the story about you and your botfly-in-the-head. That 1973 Coasta Rica trip must be the one where you got the botfly. So, watch out when you’re down there! If you get another one, that will really give TSA something to palpitate.

  6. Bernie
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Visited La Selva last March as part of a birding tour. It’s a neat place with lots of nifty birds and mammals. Have fun!

  7. Posted January 8, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

    I had to expose my pregnant belly once. Not pretty. I had my pants held together with a rubber band. Ladies, you know the trick!

  8. Julien Rousseau
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    I hope you enjoy your stay (by the sound of it it would be difficult for you not to).

  9. Krishan Bhattacharya
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Pinch-bloggers? I thought this was a website, not a blog 🙂

  10. Dermot C
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Don’t be fooled by the anachronistic vocabulary, Gerry!

    This is a deathless reference to the ostensibly innocent, but in reality, deadly fencing match between Prince Hamlet and Laertes. King Claudius and Laertes, each for his own reason, have conspired to murder the prince while pretending to sport with him.

    Osric: A hit, a very palpable hit.

    King: Stay, give me drink. Hamlet, this pearl is thine,
    Here’s to thy health! Give him the cup.

    Don’t trust those Revenues and Customs Men. As the punchline goes, ‘The police is clever b***ards’.

  11. George
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    You forgot to remove your watch. I fly a great deal and as near as I can deduce, once they have a good reason for further checking, e.g. a watch, wallet, etc. they also check more routine image anomalies since they are bothering anyway. Also wearing somewhat tighter fitting clothes seems to work best – not a scientific determination – so take it like most woo.

  12. KP
    Posted January 8, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    The last time I was in Costa Rica was in 1973, when I took at two-month course in Tropical Ecology under the auspices of the Organization for Tropical Studies. It was a fantastic course, headed by Don Wilson and Dan Janzen. It will be great to revisit the place after all these years.

    I went in 1992 with a knock-off Tropical Ecology class through Cal Sate Northridge. We had to read “Tropical Nature” before the trip down. I didn’t know the “Jerry’s Maggot” chapter was about you until I read it on this website a while back.

  13. aspidoscelis
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    As an additional random anecdote–I flew out to North Carolina recently, and realized while in the security line that I’d forgotten to remove a double-edged razor from my wallet (I usually have one with me; you never know when you might need to dissect some plants!). Given that they didn’t have a “dump stuff that you forgot you’re not allowed to take on the airplane here” box, and that jumping out of the line to go ditch something probably looks “suspicious”, I just left it there. No problem. I stuck my wallet through the scanner, picked it up on the other side, got on the plane.

    Further, this is not the first time this has happened to me. I think I’ve unintentionally taken a razor through airport security 3 or 4 times. So… yeah.

  14. Diane G.
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    OTS, summer of ’72, led by John Vandermeer, Doug Gill, Ron Carroll, & others, with “guest appearances” by Janzen & Norm Scott. Dang, just missed being in the same course by a year!

    iPura vida!

  15. Posted January 9, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    In other news, yet another scandal rocks the Catholic Church as it is revealed that hundreds of priests have been “palpating” minors under their care…

%d bloggers like this: