Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Long Underwear Weather Has Arrived

by Kara

Well, I had the idea of making a post about the cold weather, then Mark stole my idea. But I'm going to make my own (and better, dare I say) post anyway. Yes, it's true, winter is here. That's right, it's long underwear weather. I feel both terrified and brave all at once. Terrified because we are far from the coldest months of the year, which are January and February. Brave, because I have survived thus far and I actually think I'm adapting to this weather.

In case you think I'm exaggerating, here's the forecast for the week, according to www.wunderground.com:

Tuesday: High -6C (21F), Low -14C (7F)
Wednesday: High -6C (21F), Low -20C (-4F)
Thursday: High -8C (17F), Low -24C (-11F)
Friday: High -11C (12F), Low -29C (-20F) - with the windchill the Friday night low is predicted to be -33C (-27F)
Saturday: High -11C (12F), Low -27C (-16F) - with the windchill we're down to -39C (-38F)!!!

I'm currently cursing at the volunteers living in places like Fiji and Thailand. (We call that the Posh Corps. We are in the Hard Corps. Being a PC Volunteer in Mongolia earns you street cred in the Peace Corps world.)

But fortunately, our apartment has maintained a steady temperature of 60-68 degrees F. Actually, this might be due to some precautions we took. Last weekend we winterized our apartment. Winterizing an apartment is like a rite of passage here. On Thursday of last week my coworker Tsermaa came over and we spent the afternoon washing all the windows and she taught me the art of winterizing. After an entire afternoon, we finished one set of our three sets of windows. The next day I insisted that Mark and I are capable of winterizing the rest of the windows. My coworkers appeared to doubt me, but I decided to stand my ground this time and they gave in. Thus, Mark and I spend much of Saturday winterizing. 

The art of winterizing:

We have old windows that do not seal shut. However, there are two complete layers of windows to help keep out the cold. The steps are as follows:
1. Cut a hole in the box. Oh wait, that's a different process. (I hope somebody out there got that joke.) Okay, step 1 consists of taping over the cracks in the glass. We use clear tape, much like packing tape. Unfortunately, about half of our windows have cracks in them. 
2. Use putty to seal the windows to the wood frame. There are often gaps where the window meets the frame, that cold air can enter through.
3. Where the inner wooden frame meets the outer wooden frame, stuff wet newspaper or cloth in the crack.
4. Cover this crack with really thick tape or duct tape.
5. Cover that tape with the afore mentioned packing tape. Mongolians call this tape "scotch" and most of them think of if like we think of duct tape - it must be involved in almost all projects and can fix anything.
6. Repeat steps 1-5 on the inner window.

Final result, tightly sealed shut windows, and no fresh air for about 5 months.

Anyway, that was a long-winded way of saying that we have taken the proper precautions to keep our apartment warm. This is just one of many steps of adjusting to life here in Mongolia. I only wish there were as simple of a process to prevent me from committing cultural faux pas.


Valerie Chisum said...

Kara, I got the joke. I laughed. Good job!

Scott and Ashlee said...

Is that, by chance, a reference to the excellent "**** in a Box" song? Awesome.