Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More snow and window leaks

As promised the posting to the blog will be more frequent. It is the end of January and we got the heaviest snow of the season. It really doesn't snow much here in Harbin it's a rather dry winter here, but it is always quite cold. This winter has been quite warm by Harbin standards. I have live in three different places at this latitude, Minneapolis, Seattle and Harbin. They say that Harbin is the coldest place on earth at this latitude. That seems right, but this year it has not been as cold. I really have not been out in the weather that much this winter as I have been building my business. It has been quite a bit warmer though. It fits right in with the lessons on global warming, sad to say.

This is the interior of my courtyard. In the background you can see the piles of coal and a parent who is letting her child climb up to the top of the pile. I guess that is an activity. For a while, the city will look a little nicer as the snow will cover the blackened streets and ice. The winter can cause lots of this dust to be dragged into your home, into the window cracks. Even though most newer homes and remodeled buildings have double glass the workmanship is pretty poor. Gaps, no caulk, bad fittings cause major waste of energy. For those of you who are my age, or don't remember, it's like the days when made in Japan meant, crap. I hate to say it but even in this apartment which is designated as a "model" apartment, the workmanship is quite appalling.

Here are some examples. My kitchen and bath have nice tile, but it is applied over about an inch of concrete to even out the walls. They don't use a trawl with teeth so it does not adhere as it should because it is not done properly. The result? I had ten tiles fall off at the same time when the room was unoccupied. It is not hung either, it is done backwards, meaning they start at the bottom and not the top. Rooms are not square, so floor tiles angle off to complete the floor tiles. So the symmetry of the room is all askew. There goes the whole concept of tiles and aesthetics. The concept of using spacers and grout is also not used here. Everything is just butted up to the next one. When it was done some tiles with chipped corners or damaged tiles were installed too. Just a whole bunch of things that scream, lack of pride in workmanship. A stark contrast to the artistic carvings and many other things which are wonderful examples of skill and pride. Well the work is done by transient workers who are paid a pittance.

It probably bothers me more than most as this is one area of my personality that likes order. I discovered this though my experiences in the construction trade and remodeling and working on my own places in the States. By doing things right you actually save yourself lots of headaches in the future.

Well two more weeks with my nose to the grindstone and then some time off. Most teachers are already off enjoying travel if they are at a university, those of us in the private sector get much shorter breaks as parents have their children's time blocked out with extra classes. It's a bit sad when you realize most of the classes are just lessons in rote learning and will soon be forgotten with little attention paid to the higher aspects of learning, such as deduction, extrapolation, and logic. Is there anyone else who feels the pangs of logic ignored here in China? It's one of those things that I have not yet been able to get used too, very frustrating.

Worldtour aka Larry Rhoe


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