Thursday, January 19, 2012


Perhaps I should have kept my mouth shut about the difficulty of changing light-bulbs in China last week.

Just a few days ago, the only light in my kitchen suddenly cut out.

It is a circular neon strip bulb; so, immediately I am almost certain it will be impossible to obtain a replacement... other than - perhaps - from a specialist store in the 'lighting district' (yes, we have one).

But in order to attempt that, I must first remove the bulb from its mounting. And in order to do that, I must work out how to remove the lightshade.

There are no obvious catches anywhere on the shade: it appears to be moulded solidly to the rest of the mounting. And it is near impossible to examine, since it is flush to the ceiling. And it is hazardous even to try to touch the thing, since it is bolted to the ceiling.... and the ceiling consists of a series of flimsy metal 'planks' which are secured by... well, nothing very much, as far as I can see; fridge magnets, possibly. They pop loose and sag down alarmingly when I so much as lay a finger on the rogue light fitting.

I fear I am going to have to embrace the ignominy of asking my landlord how to change the light-bulb in the kitchen. And he's off home in Chengdu for the next fortnight.

If I need to do anything in my kitchen after dusk, I have to leave the fridge door open. Really.


John said...

The irony of course that if I'm a seller of light bulbs here in the UK I can probably order any bulb I need and as many as I want direct from China at very reasonable (read- underpaid workers) prices. Is there no such online / mail-order shopping culture (except for export to the world) in the country itself or is this another case of the language barrier problem?
Also, very surprised you haven't mentioned anything about SOPA and the recent Internet blackout, especially coming from the country that leads the world in Internet censorship. I guess they've blocked all information about it reaching you guys...

Froog said...

Actually, China probably now leads the world in e-commerce. There's been explosive growth in the last 5 years.

I hadn't thought of that, but it's quite a good idea actually. Taobao is the giant in B2C/C2C online malls, and that has pretty much everything these days. But yes, I think I would need the help of a Chinese friend to navigate it. And it does seem rather self-indulgent to order courier delivery of a light-bulb!

And before I get to that point, I have to work out how to dismantle the fitting and discover what kind of bulb it is.

Froog said...

I haven't been getting too worked up about this SOPA/PIPA thing, because it appears obviously doomed - even before Obama came out so strongly against.

It's daft legislation, very badly written, unworkable. Surely just about everyone's against it?

I suppose the most affected parties want to make a strong stand early, in the hope of heading off any possibility of this initiative gathering momentum and coming back in a year or five with some more workable legal formula.

Somewhere down there in the sidebar you'll find a link to an early post of mine about DVD piracy in China. I'm all in favour of it. The Internet is gloriously anarchy: that's the whole goddam point of it. There is no way (NO WAY - even the most Draconian SOPA nonsense would be ignored, circumvented, overwhelmed) to control what happens on the Net; but that's mostly a good thing. And we have to accept the bad in order to get all the good.

But I happen to think that P2P file-sharing is good. My argument in that earlier post - and its comments - is that artistic creation can really only rely on making money through first point of distribution: for musicians, the live concert; for movies, the cinema first run. I said it's like a cigar; there's just no way to stop people enjoying the downwind smoke, and you're a foolish killjoy to even try.

Froog said...

Here's that IP post. Gosh, nearly five years ago now! My views haven't changed.

JES said...

Not REALLY related, but...

Our living room is "sunken," kind of, about 4-5 inches below the level of the first floor. Along that 4- to 5-inch vertical face, the people who built the house installed electrical outlets, which they regularly used for these little amber-LED lights to help alert the unwary to step up. We kept the LEDs after we moved in.

Of course, the things are prone to being kicked, banged into with vacuum cleaners, and so on, and one finally BROKE OFF a couple weeks ago. I figured no problem, I'd just remove the outlet cover and -- after turning off the power to it of course -- use a pair of insulated needlenose pliers to extract the prongs.

No such luck. They're actually broken off flush with the face of the outlet itself; there's no way to grip them with needlenoses or, indeed, anything else.

At the end of my electrical-handyman skillset, I've fastened a Post-It over the thing, labeled "Do Not Use" just in case anyone misses the point.

Froog said...

Very powerful magnets?

Or perhaps some kind of high-pressure gas jet?