A good floor

I never thought of being thankful for having a floor before this past month. In the two weeks of walking on concrete, a lot of appreciation for flooring developed. And a grand floor it is, too!

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Removing the floor to allow the concrete underneath to dry

This morning the workers took up the flooring in the hall and the front room and as expected found significant moisture on the concrete underneath. I am VERY GLAD that they did this as mold is a very big problem in this building. This will assure that mold won’t be growing.

There are two fans blowing on the concrete now. The moisture will dry up. The bigger question is how long it will take before I get a floor down. It could be a month. This will be inconvenient, at best.

moisture under the floor boards left from yesterday’s sewage water
hands wet from pulling up floor boards
wet concrete underneath
wet concrete underneath
wet concrete

wet concrete

Sewage water in apartment

It started 3 days ago with an unexpected pool of smelly water on the bathroom floor. Then yesterday a more substantial pool covering most of the bathroom floor with noticeable pieces of sewage. A worker skeptically tried to recreate the flooding coming through the bathroom floor drain in the afternoon, and eventually told us to report it if it ever happens again.

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This morning at 8:30 am I went to the front desk to ask them to come up to look at the small flood. They called in a plumbing “expert”, who arrived about 45 minutes later in time to see the sewage water on the floor coming out of the bathroom. He decided to “test” the system by flushing our toilet, which (combined with flushing activity on the floor above us) caused the water to start gushing. So the workers removed the toilet from the floor and started rodding out the pipes. At that point, the black water was standing 2 inches deep in the hallway and was running through the front room to the door, already under the piano. We moved the piano into the outside hallway and started to remove all the furniture as quickly as possible, including the large bookcase which also had water underneath.

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Three male workers and three cleaning ladies helped us contain the water using towels, rags, buckets, a squeegie mop, and our bare hands. The water ran through the cracks in the floor and started buckling the floor even before the water was mopped up. After everyone left, we tried to sterilize with paper towels and toilet cleaner the counters and floors and bottoms of everything the water touched. The apartment smells of an unusual combination of sewage and strong cleaning liquid.

Even though tonight the floors are dry, the concrete underneath remains wet, so tomorrow morning another expert will come over to figure out which portion of the floor must be ripped up and replaced, once the open concrete is allowed to be cleaned and to dry. We have two separate single apartments to live in while this process of replacing the floors takes place. Flooding is not uncommon in our foreign faculty building, but apparently flooding with sewage water is a first in the school’s 15 year history. It was our first experience of it as well.

No one died. We aren’t walking in sewage water any more. The stench is starting to die down. It will be better tomorrow, the first day of school.

Spending time on winter break in southern China

Perhaps on a long winter night we could share with you how we ended up in an ancient village in the south of China on January 12, 2015, hoping to get back to our university in central China. For now, I’ll share how we spent the next 5 weeks in a village about 40 minutes by bus outside Taishan City which is a four-hour bus ride from Hong Kong.

Near the long-time residence of her family

Near the long-time residence of her family

Typical view of the outside of a residential compound

Typical view of the outside of a residential compound

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Winter Break – what we hoped to accomplish

Today is Chinese New Year. In two days we will return home to our university.

dragon heads ready for "dancing" to welcome the new year of the goat

dragon heads ready for “dancing” to welcome the new year of the goat

I began again writing my academic research and, as expected, realized how much work I have ahead of me. This will make for a very strict Spring semester in order to deliver at least a first draft by the end of June.

We are almost done with Chapter 27 (of 30) in our Mandarin textbook Continue reading

Winter Break – Food

I feel like I’m going crazy with not having enough hours in the day. I am on winter break but am in a desperate race against time.

Bob on his first visit to the market; after this he went every day except Chinese New Year's Day

Bob on his first visit to the market; after this he went every day except Chinese New Year’s Day

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