with my mother's help, we pulled out 4 large zucchinis the length of a forearm each. we should still be able to get a few more good ones within the next few weeks. small sections of our zucchini plants have died (not sure why, disease or pest) but the rest of the plants continue to grow at such a fast rate that they still continue to bear fruits.
the way my parents' living room is configured leaves little option when it comes to AC window placement during the summers. there's a large southern-facing double hung window but my parents like to leave it available so they can open it to allow in fresh air and sunlight. on the north side is a picture window with two double hung side windows. the problem is the side windows are too small to fit a standard size air conditioner unit. instead, they've resorted to a floor unit AC (aka portable AC), with the exhaust hose piped out the window.
the current floor unit AC they have is a sharp CV-P10MC. a big hulking machine, it takes two people to move it (although it does have some small wheels) and has a rating of 10,000 BTU. i don't remember when they purchased it, at least 7 years ago or later. it's never been very good at cooling, and there's been at least one summer when it got so hot we abandoned the floor unit and went with a window AC in the southern window instead. every summer we think about getting a new air conditioner.
my father has always been interested in opening the floor AC to look inside, thinking that maybe dust had collected on the condenser coils (those thin metal fins) and needed some cleaning. however, the way the sharp is designed, it's not very easy to open, and the most you can do in terms of maintenance is just taking out the two filters and clean them. so not sure why i never did it earlier, but i went online to look for instructions on how to open the unit.
the trick is knowing that the front coverplate is attached to the main unit with 6 clips, 3 on each side. the clips in the middle are the easiest to get to, but the ones on the top and bottom require some brute strength and a leap of faith to pop them free. once we struggled to free the clips, the coverplate was just an easy matter of lifting up and out (2 more top clips secure the coverplate but those don't need to be popped, just carefully slide the plate out).
what we saw inside was horrifying: two sets of condenser coils, the one on the bottom didn't look too bad, but the one on top was covered in a thick layer of dust and pet hair. but at least we knew what was making the AC so inefficient. why the top one would be so much dirtier than the bottom one we're not sure. and from this design, it looks like two AC's running every time we power it up, so technically it should be super cool. regardless, cleaning should be easy, or so we thought.
we dragged the AC to the living room and used the dyson vacuum to suck up the dust. none of it was coming off, because apparently there was also grease on the coils and the dust seemed to be glued on. so instead my used a combination of steel brush and plastic brush and gently scrubbed the dust, while i held the vacuum head down below to immediately suck up the debris. that worked well, but my father wanted to clean it even more, so we lifted the AC outside into the backyard so my father could gently scrubbed the coils with a toothbrush and some soapy water.
that wasn't enough, and he wanted to rinse down the coils with the pressure washer. i didn't think that was a good idea, since who knows what else was behind the condensers. i tried opening up the unit some more so we could at least see behind it but that would've been too much work, since it took us a while just to remove the coverplate. i also wasn't sure if there was dust on the other side of the condensers. finally i agreed to the pressure washer treatment.
while my father was getting the washer ready, i was covering the top part of the AC (where all the electronics sit) with saran wrap. that's when it happened: while tearing off a sheet of wrap, i ran my knuckle across the saw edge cutting blade of the saran wrap box. i cut myself so deep i swear i hit the bone. it took a second before blood began pooling out of my finger. i quickly ran inside to rinse my finger and put pressure on the wound. my mother asked if i needed to go to the hospital. then i got a chance to see the cut and it didn't seem that bad, like a deep papercut, not mangles like you would if sliced by a toothed saw. my mother put a waterproof bandaid on the wound and then i went back outside to continue covering the AC with saran wrap, like nothing happened. it didn't hurt all that much because its on a part of the body (between the nail and the first knuckle) that doesn't do any flexing.
my father sprayed the condenser coils carefully with the power washer. the water dripped down into the collection trays then out the back from the water release valve. we couldn't use the AC right away, allowing it to dry overnight, but i'm sure it's going to be better at cooling compared to what it was before. can't wait for some super cool AC!
we had rice porridge again for dinner. earlier i showed my father something i came across while researching radio scanners for listening to air traffic controller: the baofeng UV-5R dual band two way radio. i've never heard of it before, but apparently it's quite popular, garnering nearly 3000 reviews on amazon with a rating of 4.5 stars. the best part? it was only $24.37. it's apparently a ham radio but designed in a shape of a small walkie talkie. he'd been toying with the idea of bringing a pair of GMRS 2-way radios when my parents leave for their bermuda cruise on friday. but their range isn't very good, particularly through the metal hulls of a cruise ship. but a ham radio? operating on ham radio frequency out on the high seas? that's a different story. so after dinner i showed him again and he wanted to order a pair, especially since they're so cheap. after some discussion and research, we finally ordered two off of amazon, along with a pair of shorter inconspicuous antennas. ham radios are not allowed on cruise ships, as they may interfere with ship communication. but my father's hoping to sneak it onboard, and some people have gotten away with it, as these baofeng units look nothing like a traditional ham radio.
back in the days before cell phones, my father was into CB radios as a cheap way to communicate between family members. there'd be a unit at home, and another one in the car, as he went out to make deliveries. but as the price of cell phones became affordable enough that normal consumers can buy one (not just fancy millionaires with their 1980's car phones), CB radios were forgotten. and when GMRS radios came out, we were already entrenched in wireless phone technology, so it was something we never really played with. my interest in the baofeng is purely for its scanner capability, listening in on police and fire station chatter. the only downside with the baofeng is it doesn't pick up VHF airbands (108 to 137 MHz). the cheapest radio i found that could receive ATC traffic was the uniden BC75XLT for $80. but for $20 i could get an RTL-SDR dongle that can be used to receive all sorts of over-the-air bandwidth using software.
after returning home and taking a shower, i unwrapped the bandaid to put on a new dressing. some blood was seeping out but that was only because i'd gotten some water underneath the old bandaid. the wound didn't seem that serious and i thought about covering it up with that glue skin solution, but decided not to and just let the cut heal on its own.