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The past few days have been gorgeous: sunny and warm, but not too hot, with a pleasant breeze. I know it is not going to last, so I’m trying to soak in as much vitamin D as I can before the humidity becomes overbearing. After interviewing author Aling (阿羚) last month, I became curious about how long I can last before I start using the air conditioner. Aling is the author of several books about environmentally friendly residential architecture. Most of the people she interviews don’t use air conditioning, even those who live in the Taipei Basin. Their trick keeping their windows open and creating a constant cross breeze through their house or apartment.

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A north-south wind works especially well and — lucky us — that happens to be how our apartment is is oriented. We can’t open our windows all the way because our resident evil cat likes to climb the screens, but I do enjoy sitting in front of a fan and feeling as if I am doing my bit to help the planet (of course, the constantly increasing electricity rates are also a huge motivator). My trick is to take cold showers and guzzle lots of iced beverages (I love icy drinks… I’ll never forget the time I walked out of Grand Central clutching an iced frappuccino in the middle of December. A woman did a double take and screamed “ARE YOU CRAZY?”).  I did turn on the air conditioner last week when I had a toothache and I probably will tomorrow if I’m feeling groggy from my root canal (nooooooooooo…), but I’m trying not to spoil myself by getting used to unnaturally cool temperatures.

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Between my junior and senior years of college, I lived in a women’s residence without air conditioning (yes, I sometimes make poor housing decisions) during an especially hot New York City summer. Fortunately, my building was in the path of the breeze from Hudson River. Though it took some getting used to, the heat eventually became bearable… until I got the stomach flu. I spent three miserable days sweating, vomiting and drinking lukewarm Gatorade. Now whenever the mugginess starts to get to me in the summertime, I just tell myself “at least you aren’t sleeping on a rubber mattress and puking your guts out, LIKE THAT ONE TIME.”
Anyway, it is only the beginning of May. We’ll see how far I last.
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During the interview, Aling and I started talking about organic food in the US and I mentioned that a lot of Americans, even those living in large cities, raise chickens. Aling, who lives in Hsinchu, told me that she keeps a tiny hen on her balcony. I wonder what would happen if Ron and I got a chicken. George would either try to attack it or, even worse, form a chicken-feline alliance to destroy us. I thought about that when I saw this chicken couple strutting around on a tiny triangle of grass near Taipei City Hall. They surveyed me with their beady little black eyes, no doubt contemplating the sweet taste of my blood on their beaks. I’m kidding, pet chicken owners! I’m sure they are very nice birds.

Here is a random Instagram photo of bouquets from the recent re-reopening of Jiancheng Circle (建成圓環). I did a story about a Pattaya troupe that performed at Jiancheng Circle a couple years ago when it was a dinner theater. I went through a phase last summer during which I was obsessed with arranging fresh flower bouquets for my desk. I even bought two coordinating vases of different sizes to create little floral vignettes. Unfortunately, my lovely arrangements became lovely salads for my cat. I only bought feline safe flowers, but keeping them away from George was too troublesome. Sigh. For someone who spends one-third of the day asleep, George sure causes a lot of damage.

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