Maria Holland

China Day 7 – Wind Turbine, Continued (or, Tragedy Strikes)

In Public, Uncategorized on May 30, 2007 at 12:05 pm

By the time breakfast rolled around in the morning, we were already pretty loopy. For instance, there was the misunderstanding about cutting cheese with toenail clippers . . . which the University of Tulsa does not condone, by the way. In case you were wondering.


We resumed work on the wind turbine right away. Tanner, Ian, and I started shaping and sanding the blades, making them more uniform and aerodynamic.  I left halfway though, though, to collect some more water samples to test. Jesse and I went to the cafeteria and got water from that faucet, and then drove out to the spring. On the way, Jesse let me drive the ‘Jeepucha’.


This was no easy feat, considering it has no suspension, no power steering, and has a standard transmission. And so I learned to drive a stick shift! It was pretty awesome. When we went to lunch, Jesse let Tanner drive, who had also never driven a stick before. I did a much better job than him, and if you doubt me, I have video of his first drive.

Lunch contained a few surprises – a surprisingly good beef, eggplant, and mushroom dish, and tons of tiny, ridiculously salty fish. They tasted like popcorn. Fishy popcorn.

At 1 o’clock, we had a meeting with some acquaintances of Timothy’s. They were starting a wind power project on their farm in NK, and we were under the impression that we were going to help them. Apparently they were under the impression that they were helping us, however. The man was horribly offensive and condescending – he reminded me of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Or TJ. There was disdain dripping from his words when hesaid “student” and “small” wind power. He pretty much insulted everything we were and everything we were working on.

They are planning to build several huge wind turbines on their property and then hand them over to the North Korean government. But he refused to even consider the possibility that Jesse brought up – that the government would move them to Pyongyang! I couldn’t believe that from someone who had experience with those people, and especially when Jesse told me that he had first met this man after the government had confiscated his goat farm. What does he expect?! I mean, these are the people who turned over the best rice fields to the production of opium! These are the people who took rabbits who had been bred as large as dogs, and instead of using them to feed the people as they were intended, served them to their Dear Leader for his birthday meal!

After he had wasted enough of our time, we returned to the work that was going on in the shop. Welding, drilling, shaping, bolting, cutting, etc.

Finally, it was all coming together. Upon seeing it all assembled, Rose Mary was pretty impressed. She thought it was neat that we could “build a wind turbine out of things.” Jesse, Tanner, John Alan, Ian, and I took the pole and gin pole out to the shepherd’s house, where we staked out the guy wires and practiced raising the pole. A storm was definitely brewing, but there we were, in the middle of a field holding a metal pole that was, by design, the tallest thing around. But Ian wasn’t worried: “It’s only rain. I don’t hear any thunder!” That was a call for smiting if I ever heard one, but God was merciful.

Back at the garage, we painted the motor and tail yellow.  The girls and I cut out stencils for each of the groups that were involved – the MCD farm, Engineers Without Borders, and Cousins for Christ.

Then we all drove out to the site again and put up the entire wind turbine. It was a beautiful moment – the sun was setting amidst the tumultuous clouds of the approaching storm – or at least, it was a beautiful moment, until one of the blades broke. They were made of poor-quality Chinese PVC pipe, which we had planned to fiberglass, but we couldn’t find the materials in Hunchun. Our plan was just to raise the turbine and take some good pictures of us and our finished product. Then we were going to take it down, go back to the States and make some nice carbon-fiber blades to ship over. Unfortunately, we didn’t even get the 5 minutes of a working wind turbine that we needed.  Well, at least it did point into the wind . . .



We had dinner at another Korean restaurant. We were in the ‘girl’s room’, where Naomi cooked the meat for us. It was pretty much amazing, especially with the sweet potatoes and excellent fried rice. I had forgotten to take off my safety glasses, which gave us all a good laugh when Amanda realized it near the end of the meal. Earlier, I had called her outon a similar thing:

Me: “Amanda, you can take your earplugs out now.”
Amanda: “It’s only one. It’s cool. I’m like Nelly.”


It was pretty ridiculous. For dessert, we went to a nearby store and bought ice cream. I also got 31 pairs of chopsticks, ginseng tea, Chinese Oreos, and Dove bars for less than $20. I love the yuan.  It probably would have been more if I had bought the fish-cicles or Chinese spam, though.  Delicacies like that don’t come cheap.


After enjoying our ice cream, Tanner, Amanda, and I decided to make the third blade. Our exercise in futility took us much of the night. I didn’t get into the shower until midnight, and then Amanda and I stayed up a little while, journaling and reading. While reading quietly in our room, we were treated to quite a symphony – snoring from the guy cousin’s room and the bawling of the stupid cat outside. The two sounds were at the extremes of the audible range, and it was pretty funny. And so ended what was easily our latest night.

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