Tag Archives: heat

Replacing things in the new year – part 2 (the scary story)

6 Feb

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about needing to replace things.  I also made a comment saying I wondered what else was going to need to be replaced.  Unfortunately, my premonition was correct.

The next thing to break – our main air conditioner/heater.

The air conditioner - estimated to be around 10 years old - which may have been the root of the problem

The air conditioner – estimated to be around 10 years old – which may have been the root of the problem

One Saturday morning I woke up and realized that we had forgotten to turn off the heater in the main room before going to bed.  It sounded a little funny and there was a bit of a strange smell.  I thought that it had quite literally “overheated” and so turned it off and didn’t think much more of it.

Later that day when I turned it on again, I still smelled the funny smell and so told my husband we needed to have the repairman come to check it out.  As loyal readers know – this past summer the air conditioner in our bedroom broke and it required the addition of more coolant so that was my self-diagnosis of what needed to happen again.

Li called the air conditioner hotline to ask a repairman to come – but their advice was that we first needed to clean the inside of the air conditioner to make sure that nothing was stuck inside and that would fix the smell.  After an hour of cleaning out the air conditioner – it was filthy and really needed it, we both thought the smell had disappeared for the most part and agreed to wait to see if it would improve.

The following Monday night we were watching TV together with the heater on and the fumes became overwhelming.  We both agreed that the next day the repairman needed to come.

I was working from home and when the repairman came I explained what I thought was the problem.  He added coolant, tweaked the internal computer and told me that I needed to run the air conditioner full blast with the doors/windows open for the rest of the day to clear the smell and make everything work.  In hindsight, that was not very good advice.

Because the weather was chilly, I bundled up in our small office and shut the door, warm inside the small room.  Simultaneously, I did as prescribed, opening the doors and windows to the main room – getting a good cross breeze – and putting the heat on at full blast.  A couple of hours later after I came out – I realized the air conditioner was no longer on, the smell was even more overwhelming and the circuit breaker had flipped.  I then, for the first time, looked carefully at the plug.

The plug

The plug

The plastic between the plug and the socket had completely melted through.  What I had been smelling the last several days was melting plastic – and we were only saved from fire by the fact that our circuit breaker was set appropriately!

I was scared to pull the plug out and so then had to call the electrician from my complex to come take a look.  He was finally able to get it out and luckily, that was about the time Li came home.  I abdicated responsibility to him as I had a previously scheduled dinner engagement and he had to go out and purchase a new plug, new socket and then get the electrician to replace both.

Would you use this plug?

Would you use this plug?

The source of the smell

The source of the smell

Getting home that evening I saw that all had been replaced, but it took me over a week to get comfortable turning the heater on again.  I still am a little skiddish, but right around Chinese New  Year there was a spate of warm weather – in the 50s – so we didn’t need to use it as much as during a normal January.

Hopefully I am now through replacing things for a while.  I also now know that I need to trust my instincts when there is something wrong and I should have insisted further when the repairman was there.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

What has been the strangest repair you’ve needed to do in your house/apartment?  This one is right up there for me.


Road trip!

20 Aug

A few weeks ago I went to Yangzhou for work.

After clarifying with my colleague that we were really going to Yangzhou (not Changzhou – which I have been to before), I asked how we would get there.  Typically these type of day trips are by train.  Instead, my colleague informed me that he was going to rent a car and we would drive the 3.5 hours there and 3.5 hours back in one day.  I was in for my first road trip in China.

Yangzhou it turns out is very difficult to get to.  You can take a train to Nanjing and then transfer to the slow train that comes once a day.  Or you can take a bus.  Or you can drive.  My colleague decided driving made the most sense.

As a city, it is known for it’s tourist beauty and a ubiquitously named fried rice dish – Yangzhou Fried Rice.  When I asked around about what to eat – everyone said that dish wasn’t eaten in Yangzhou, but I should try their steamed dumplings.  Since I was going to a client meeting I saw none of the beauty of the city – and I didn’t even get to eat the dumplings because we were in the outer technology park.  That’s ok – eventually I’m sure that I’ll get back there.

Being an American, I know how to settle in to a long car ride.  Early that morning three of us met at the designated pick up point.  I came prepared with a large bottle of water, a small bottle of Coke and two packages of mints.  I also nabbed the passenger seat given my long legs and settled in.

Thinking back over the last six years – I have never been in a car in China for that many hours in one day.  I’ve been in buses, on trains and obviously on airplanes, but car rides are typically limited to taxi rides in the city or occasionally grabbing a ride with a colleague or friend who has a car.  As we battled the ever-present traffic in Shanghai trying to get out of the city, I realized how nice it was to not have to deal with tolls and gas stations – the trains really take care of you from that perspective.

As we steadily drove west the traffic thinned out.  My colleagues and I talked about our upcoming meeting, about their hometowns and about all kinds of other things that only make sense in the confessional of a car.  We crossed bridges and rivers, we drove by huge transformer stations and also passed prosperous looking fields.  Given the heat, everything was deserted except the expressway.

The rightly named - "Big bridge" (大桥)

The rightly named – “Big bridge” (大桥)

After pulling off for a quick stop to stretch our legs at a rest area we headed back to the road.  A flashing sign above our heads warned us that the pavement was 53 degrees Celsius (127 degrees Fahrenheit) and we should give our tires the chance to rest often.  Coming back from the meeting the same sign said the temperature of the pavement was over 57 degrees C (137F).  Talk about hot.

Our meeting went well, we had just enough time for a quick lunch near the client’s factory even though we got lost in the last 20 kilometers because the GPS drove us off the road.  Coming back, the same thing happened.  My colleague finally pulled over and asked a local how to get back to the expressway.  He said that until recently, you went one way, but since they just opened another route, lots of people were getting lost lately.

Finally back on the right track, we settled in again and missed the traffic back into Shanghai.  It was a 10 hour day for a 2 hour meeting in total, but did give me a sense for the road trip here in China.

The best part of the road trip - going home with the sun setting behind you

The best part of the road trip – going home with the sun setting behind you

Where has been your favorite road trip?  What treats do you bring along?  Are you a map reader or a GPS junkie?  Share your stories.

Update on Shanghai Summer

2 Aug

I posted earlier this week about the summer in Shanghai and the heat wave that continues.  Many of you shared stories about living through the heat.

Thank you for your comments and stories and mental wishes to help me keep cool.

Unfortunately – it was not enough.

Wednesday evening the air conditioner in our bedroom broke.  I woke up a couple of hours after falling asleep to temperatures inside my apartment soaring.  The heat was stifling.  We stumbled into the guest bedroom, turned on the air and fell into a restless sleep.

We contacted the landlord early Thursday morning, but because of the heat wave, the earliest that we may be able to get it fixed is end of day Friday, or maybe Saturday.

I am lucky that each room in the apartment has its own air conditioner, so it is far from the worst case scenario, but it has contributed to even more of a “heat daze.”  I have lived through heat before, but this is ridiculous.  My work papers are all up for renewal meaning I don’t have my passport at the moment or I would seriously consider fleeing the country!

The weather report continues uninterrupted – hot days and hot nights.  When the heat does finally break I feel that everyone here deserves a medal – survival of the fittest!

Signing off – and trying to keep cool from steamy Shanghai.

Shanghai summer

30 Jul

This time of year the heat is overpowering – I’ve written about it before, but every year it comes back.

Since I have come back from Taiwan the heat has been almost unbearable – close to 40 degrees C or 105 degrees F.  I have gotten to the point where I have noticed that my earlobes are sweating.  That’s pretty hot!  Even the occasional thunderstorm doesn’t cool things down.

We have the air conditioning on the entire time we are in the apartment, even for sleeping, but the heat puts me into a daze.  Ick.

Looking at the weather report for the next two weeks there is no respite, just continuous high temperatures with the heat index pushing even higher.  It could continue this way until September.  I’m not sure if I can handle another month.

One positive is that because of the wind from the typhoons the pollution is blown out of Shanghai.  That means that the sunsets are truly remarkable – a beautiful close to the day as I make my way home through the heat.

The heat is almost worth it - what a beautiful sunset!

The heat is almost worth it – what a beautiful sunset!

Another good thing that I especially like about this time of year though is the summer peaches.  This year my husband had a colleague whose family has their own peach trees.  The colleague brought in over a dozen peaches for every person.  The night Li brought them home we feasted on the sweet summer fruit, juice dripping down our elbows and our chins as we enjoyed this symbol of summer.

Perfect summer peaches - soon after they were devoured!

Perfect summer peaches – soon after they were devoured!

My Shanghainese colleagues swear that the summers were cooler when they were children.  I don’t know if that is true or not – it’s difficult to tell, but I certainly hope so!

I am of the firm belief that many places in this world would not become what they are today without the invention of air conditioning.  I can’t imagine living in Dubai or even Singapore without its cooling breeze.  Our world would be different.  Even the Founding Fathers in Washington, D.C. had the good sense to exit the area in the summer because it was too hot.

Our ability to handle heat changes over time as well – I have a coworker who is Malaysian but he says he can no longer take the heat of his hometown.  Another friend who is Indonesian says the same thing.  Maybe air conditioning has made us soft?

What has been the hottest weather where you have lived?  I don’t mind heat during the day, but when it doesn’t cool off at night it is tough to handle.   Soon though I’m sure we’ll be saying it’s too cold!

Hope you’re enjoying your summer!  May August be full of friends, sunsets,  barbeques and beaches for you.

Enjoying now

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