Tuesday, November 01, 2005


In Ukraine, in the typical Soviet era apartment building, heat is a
collective commodity. Everybody gets their heat from radiators and
nobody has control over the levels. So you just hope that whoever is
operating the steam valve wherever they make the steam, is sober,
paying attention and giving you enough of the stuff to keep the
temperature in your apartment somewhere above freezing.

To make it more interesting, the moment heat is started for the season
is based on certain criteria. We must have 3 days in a row of
temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius. Last year nature toyed with us
for quite a while. We'd have 2 days of horrible weather and then the
sun would pop out and deny us that crucial third day. I don't remember
the date that the heat was turned on but it seemed about a month after
it was needed.

Luckily this year we were blessed with 4 days of crummy weather pretty
early in the season and so I can hear my trusty radiator creaking and
hissing as it starts firing up.

Understand, I'm not suggesting that a working radiator will actually
warm an apartment, but it will keep Mr. Frost at bay. I have my trusty
Peace Corps electric radiator to wrap myself around (literally) for the
next 6 months or so. It keeps everything within 3 inches toasty.

And so the winter begins.

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