Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My Worst Best Friends

These strange-looking contraptions are what we heat our house with in the winter. There is no central heating or air conditioning in Japanese homes. Nor is there insulation. So, not only is it cold outside, but inside as well. As a result, the Japanese have many options to heat their homes in the winter months. A general rule of thumb is that the more convienent and healthier heating methods are the most expensive and the nastiest most inconvenient ways are the cheapest. Let me introduce you to our heaters, my worst best friends.

The three heaters on the right are electric, but each generates heat differently. The itty-bitty one is a ceramic heater and it does a wonderful job of heating up the space about the size of a shoe box. (Of course that depends on if the shoe box was for a pair of Laura's dainty size 7's or for a pair of my size 13 bunian barges.) We use it in the toilet room. Yes, the toilet has its own little room which about the size of a coat closet. We rarely ever use this heater, however, because the toilet seat actually has a heater built into it. This is a very common feature amongst toilets of the Mongaloid descent.

The middle-sized heater has three older heat lamps and the use of one, two, or three lamps will determine how much heat it puts out. However, the knob that adjusts the heat and turns it on and off is missing. Probably, this is why it was given to us for free. So, I have to locate a pair of pliers to adjust the heat but I do have it plugged into a seperate cord that has its own on and off switch. We use this heater in the laundry/bathroom, but since we can't adjust the heat, it's set on the highest setting. This means that nearly every other day, we flip the breaker in the bathroom because it sucks up the wattage. In order to keep warm when you are drying yourself off after you get out of the shower, then, you have two options: 1) do the "IT"S FREEZING IN HERE" two-step or 2) dry off in the dark.

The third electric heater is called a "Heater Fan" because it's shaped like and rotates like a fan but is actually a heater. (This is the one that keeps my posterior warm in the butt-cold hours of the night -- no bun, I mean pun, intended.) It uses a new type of heating lamp that is shaped like a cow's face. The only constructive criticism that I would offer to the very pleasant people in the constructive criticism department at the maker's home office (which is not at all located or connected to the head office, nor the warehouse that packages the product, nor the plant where the parts are assembled) IS THAT the timer is only 3 hours long and I don't have to go to the bathroom that many times in the night, so it doesn't always keep my Campbell (actually, Starnes)-sized bottom warm in the butt-cold hours of the night. (WOW!!! There's alot of wind in that sentence.) This is the only heater that we purchased ourselves and that we can actually say that we own. We are very proud fans of this heater, which I have to turn back on everytime I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Of course, the chivalrous man would allow his pregnant wife to use it on her side of the bed. This would make good sense, since she has to get up every 5 minutes to go potty because her bladder can't hold much more than a thimble, and she could maintain that the Heater Fan was always on. That of course would defeat its purpose of keeping my Campbell (actually, Starnes)-sized body pillows warm. Of course, I have no idea what running this heater all night is going to do for our electric bill. We do have another electric heater, which is also an air conditioner, but running this heater all night will assuredly double our electric bill.

The two heaters in the middle belong to the landlord, which he, in all of his responsible (there's a story there) generosity is so generously allowing us to use. They both use natural gas, but unfortunately, there are only three natural gas outlets throughout the entire house. These are great little heaters that really crank out the heat and we are very thankful for them. We use the small one in the bedroom (on my pregnant wife's side of the bed) while we are changing clothes or either preparing for joyful slumber or despondent awakening. We don't run it all night because while it is fairly safe, it still distributes some wonderful fumes into the room. So, every time we turn it on or off we have to open a window to allow all the cold air to eagerly rush back into the room while aromatic fumes linger for much longer than five minutes and my pregnant wife returns to a cold bedroom after her 1st trip to the heated toilet seat of Mongaloid descent.

The big heater is what we use in the LDK (living, dining, kitchen room). It totally cranks out the best heat of all our heaters, but for some reason it makes the LDK always smell like maple syrup, which is what Grade Double 13A Amber Super Sweet Sap Maple Syrup actually is, natural gas. Of course, everyone who's ever heated their home with Maple Syrup natural blue- flamed gas would know that natural gas, which is also what we cook with, is not as expensive as electricy when it comes to heating your 6-S-LDK home. Knowing this, you can imagine the tremendous relief we felt when last month's gas bill arrived the other day and it was only about $200.

And finally, the two heaters on the left are the cheapest to opperate. They burn the one thing that I absolutetly hate in Japan, kerosene. What can be said about kerosene, other than its fumes kill brain cells, which in turn makes you forget about so many things that I can't remember them all. It is the worst-smelling fuel in the world, except for perhaps the kind of natural gas which is a common feature of those of us that are of Starnes descent, that my wife doesn't appreciate whether she's pregnant or not. The blue heater is the only one of the two that I like because it's broken and doesn't work at all. It is currently serving a useful purpose as a decoration in the closet. The white one works great except for all the lights that don't stop blinking on the front of it, warning you of many dangers. This would be quite useful, if I could read the various and sundry Chinese characters on the front that say various and sundry things such as: Warning - Losing Brain Cells; In case of earthquake or Campbell-sized bunyan barges doing the Macarana, will shut off; Timed for pregnant women that fall asleep on the heated toilet seat in the shoe-boxed sized toilet closet; Time to immerse your hands in kerosone (which doesn't smell anything like maple syrup) as you once again fill up the kerosene canister which is the size of a pregnant woman's bladder; Warning - Evacuate the room, fill canister, or shut off - either way you're going to lose brain cells moron. AAHH!!! KEROSENE!!! We use this heater in the parts of the house we rarely use, such as the office, library, or the mother-in-law wing. When you heat with kerosene you have to leave a window open, which seems to be an oxymoron kind of thing to do. You can either do the IT'S FREEZING dance to stay warm, kill millions of brain cells (I can't remember how many I'm supposed to have but I know that I'd like to keep the ones I still have for as long as I can, I think), or leave a window cracked and heat the Northeasterly as it traverses to other regions of the Land of the Rising Freezing Cold Weather.

But of all the heaters in the house, my favorite one is this one. She doesn't cost much, except a few kisses and some flowers now and then. She doesn't kill brain cells, unless there are unproven side effects of drinking too much chai and eating too many brownies. Since she usually goes to bed before me she keeps the bed warm. She's easier to understand than the Japanese writing system. While she's not always easy to turn on, she definitely cranks out the heat. But the greatest thing about this heater is that she doesn't belong to anybody but me. I am her biggest fan and am so very proud that she is my BEST best friend.


  1. Anonymous11:43 AM

    I didn't know you had such a way with words!
    Your documentary on the heaters makes us very anxious about coming to Japan in the winter.
    Of course, at this time of my life, Larry says that sleeping with me is like sleeping with his own personal heater.
    Thanks for the account.
    Your loving mother-in-law

  2. I enjoyed your blog Rusty. I hope it is starting to warm up by the time we arrive. God bless.

  3. Rusty,

    I would have to agree with you - people heaters are the best kind! I loved your entry. It really made me laugh!