Hieroadglyphics

Waiting for the muffler on the car to be replaced, I walked back into town, which included crossing the highway on foot, something I almost never do.

Lo and behold, I see this below me. What’s it trying to say?

road repair pattern

 

Retrograde Uruguay

Mercury goes retrograde today, through 5 September, so beware travel plans, contracts, don’t buy electronics or vehicles, and expect communications to be fouled up. If you’re new to this, please do pay attention: read more here.

What does that have to do with my day in Uruguay? Well, Mercury, nothing, but the other — retrograde. Uruguay does sometimes does appear to be traveling backward through the universe. Take this latest marketing “innovation” at Tienda Inglesa:

Uruguay checkout stamps - onward into the '80s

At checkout, you get little strips of stickers that you can put in little booklets — aha! If you grew up in the United States in the 1960s or 1970s, you probably remember S&H Green Stamps. You would lick them and stick them into little booklets to redeem for merchandise from their store or catalog. Still can, in fact, even though they ended in the 1980s.

Well, at Tienda Inglesa, this little trip down memory lane is  only good for a discount on one brand of cutlery.

But it gets “better:” the little strip of stickers has to be counted out by the cashier. But every fifth sticker is gray, so this can be quick. You know, 5, 10, 15, 20…? No, in fact on our most recent visit, the cashier counted them out by twos. I kid you not.

Of course, this un-streamlines checkout considerably. In addition to the grueling process of counting, occasionally a customer in front of you will require an explanation of how the whole new-fangled thing works.


So, while we’re waiting for our stickers to be counted out by twos: you know what a checkout divider is — the little rectangular or triangular thing that makes checkout more efficient by separating customers’ items? You did know that? Congratulations! Perhaps not 1 in 100 Uruguayans does. In addition to having  always only one, and even when printed with Proximo Cliente (next customer), the cashier uses it simply to block the “electric eye” that starts and stops the checkout conveyor belt, and might get quite huffy if you try to use it as a checkout divider.

So it was with some pleasure that on that most recent visit, before watching the by-two sticker counting, we were able to get our hands on the checkout divider, and use it as a checkout divider. What a concept!.

So what did the Uruguayan behind us do? He waited until every single item of ours was off the conveyor and the checkout divider had stopped the conveyor, before he would put a single item on the now-empty belt.


I suppose you could make this stuff up. But you’d have to be in a retrograde state of mind, no?

 

Graphic Nondesign Redux

Horrible graphic design, Uruguay

I’ve shown this type of thing before. Having a bit of graphic design background, I’m (once again) appalled. There’s essentially nothing good about this design, from busy background to type and color choices. Which I guess is kind of an accomplishment in itself.

 

 

Found!

This is so not a big deal. But it is. Last time we saw this fork, I had been using it on the barbecue grill outside.

Meat fork for grilling

And then it was gone. I looked around the grill, around the yard in case the dog had decided it was a chew toy, and of course we both looked through every kitchen drawer several times. And naturally the dishwasher, which we mainly use as a drying rack, where it should have been.

But wasn’t.

But was.

Turns out it had fallen through the rack, which we’re used to having happen. What we weren’t prepared for was that it might end up parallel to the dishwasher door, snugged up in the front against the ledge. How? Who knows.

Amazing how much we missed it. We use it all the time. Also amazing how many loads of dishes went through the dishwasher before my wife spotted it.

Lesson from the I Ching: perseverance furthers.

 

¡Exito!

Several years ago, I bought a countertop water filter (and was amazed I hadn’t earlier). Offered at a discount at an “eco” or something expo I went to with Syd and Gundy, it seemed like a good idea. And it was.

Thanks again Syd, for your loan of a couple thousand pesitos cash to buy the Dvigi filter!

Anyway, got the thing home, and none of its half-dozen adaptors fit our faucet. Recall that Uruguay is a small country and not a powerhouse for standardization. Drove into the Dvigi “office” in Montevideo with the faucet spout (or whatever it’s called) and confirmed they had nothing that fit. Gave them back all their adaptors, left with a clunky rubber-hose-clamp device we’ve used for three years. Which shoots minuscule streams of water at the wall, which encourages mold growth, which — no it’s just a porcaria getting worse over time.

Meanwhile: the kitchen faucet in the casita (little house), despite local retooling — an interesting concept — just ain’t up to snuff. So I had this idea: move our kitchen faucet to the casita (sans filtro) and buy a new faucet with a diverter valve that actually matched its threads.

Looked in all the local shops for a solution. Nothing. Mentioned it to Syd. He said, well the place in the Costa del Oro  with the big faucet sign has been good at solving problems for us.

I went there today. All female employees; not quite what one expects in a plumbing supply company. Explained situation and — BAM! — solution.Un milagro  (a miracle), I said. The girl helping me laughed at that (yes, I can say girl safely; today is my 63rd birthday).

This may seem trivial if you live elsewhere, but in a place like Uruguay it seems totally awesome.

Now to find a plumber who will actually show up to install it (OK, unfair: I know a couple).

 

 

The caterpillar cloud

strange cloud at sunset, Atlántida, Uruguay

This actually appeared two nights ago; bumped because of wanting to record the first frost of the year. If ever a cloud looked like a creature with a purpose, this would be it.

 

 

Budweiser beer in Uruguay

I am neither a connoisseur nor regular consumer of beer, though I like it. In my callow (whatever that means) youth , I consumed various American too-cold soda-water-fizzy beers. I remember Pabst and Schlitz being shit, and maybe I favored Budweiser because my father did, and maybe settled on Michelob as the “good stuff” (cool bottles).

Michelob beer bottle

Fast forward, and here in 2017 the shit Budweiser from the U.S. (not the supreme Budweiser Budvar) is on display in Tienda Inglesa.

Shit Budweiser beer on sale, Uruguay

A standard six-pack of 12 ounce (.33 l) bottles rings up at just about USD 10.

Beer, Uruguay

A few meters away you can buy a 3-pack of Zillertal (.97 l each).

Almost 50% more of a superior beer for a peso more.

So who would want Budweiser? Maybe someone who thinks it’s a bargain because they advertise it in shopping points?

 

Firewood!

High on my priorities today: order firewood. We‘ve been burning leftovers, curupay scraps, and some of this load from a house I‘m looking after. Most of it is green, but there was some very dry pine as well.

Checy Meriva laden with firewood

The going price for red eucalyptus (considerably denser than white eucalyptus) appears to be 5,000 pesos per kilo.  That’s up just a bit from 3,000 pesos three years ago!

First place I went, I could feel the humidity with my hand (I hadn’t brought the meter). They told me it was six months old — which of course means pretty useless right now. The second place said theirs was seven months old, no better.  I took my meter to the third place, and immediately ordered. The weather has been dry for a while, probably won’t be after a few more days, so perfect time to order. I told them to deliver after 4:00, and returned at 3:58 to find the truck already there, the message obviously not having been forwarded. No biggie; grabbed my gloves and helped the two muchachos stack it.

Eucalyptus colorado, Uruguay

The round stuff on the right was already there, but wow! Compare this to the “ton” delivered in July 2013: look at the height above the little stool in the center.

Scanty "ton" of firewood, Atántida, Uruguay

Moisture content of firewood, Uruguay

I’ll be buying from the Esso station in Las Toscas in the future!