Musings of a jetlagged mind

Sunrise in Gaborone, Botswana. Waking up with instant coffee. It may be instant, but it’s not coffee. To be fair, even Nestle doesn’t make that claim. They call it Ricoffy, a blend of chicory and instant coffee. A chemical slurry. But at 5am it’s something hot and liquid. Africa is the home of the coffee bean. So why is it so hard to find decent coffee here? Shopping list: buy Rooibos tea. And something besides Ricoffy. It seems the entire world has embraced the electric water kettle. Everywhere except America. Every hotel I’ve stayed in outside of America has an electric kettle and an assortment of teas and instant coffee (or Ricoffy, sadly). But every American hotel will only give you the crappy little single-cup coffee maker. At least it uses real coffee though. I suspect it’s the litigious nature of our society. Providing a device that produces a liter of scalding hot water in only seconds is a lawsuit waiting to happen. They could put the ubiquitous disclaimer on it for dumb people, though: “Caution, contents may be hot.”

Living in temporary accommodations is weird. Nothing is “mine.” It’s like staying in a stranger’s house. I can leave my crap lying around and the bed unmade and towels on the bathroom floor, and when I come home in the evening everything is neat and tidy. Even the dregs of Ricoffy in my coffee cup have been cleaned and the cup put away in the cupboard. The mysterious cleanliness elves have shown up again. Housekeeping is one of the perks of a catered apartment.

At 6am it’s already 75 degrees. It’s going to be another hot day. The forecast says 95. Mostly they just guess at somewhere in the upper 90’s. Every day is the same forecast. Hot with a chance of thunderstorms. Even though I’m a scientist and I’m comfortable with the metric system, I still prefer Fahrenheit. It makes no logical sense, but at least I know what it means. Besides, complaining about the heat sounds more dramatic with higher numbers. Saying it’s going to be 36 degrees today doesn’t have the same impact as saying 97 degrees. To throw everyone off we should just switch to Kelvin for maximum impact. Because a forecast high of 309 Kelvin is as dramatic as it gets. For the non-science geeks, Kelvin uses absolute zero (minus 273 degrees C) as its zero. So the freezing point of water, 0 degrees C, is 273 K; and the boiling point, 100 degrees C, is 373 K. You just add 273 to whatever degrees C to get K. Also you don’t say “degrees” when using Kelvin. Just 273 Kelvin. That’s my educational spiel for the day.

Ricoffy is gone, my Friday beckons. It’s Friday the 13th for the superstitious-minded among you. Valentine’s Day eve, for the lovelorn. The dead of winter for folks back home, in F or C or K or any other system, the dog days of summer here in the southern hemisphere underbelly of the planet. Have a great weekend!

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