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!

 

 

 

 

 

Barbershop decor

Last time I had a haircut — many months ago — it was by the Uruguayan husband of a German woman Katerina, who has a successful shop in Atlántida (calle 1 y Ciudad de Montevideo). He did a very nice job, and I was glad to make my (overdue) return.

But this time, the girly space had expanded to an additional room on the side, and he was waiting in what was clearly the man cave barbershop.

barber shop, Atlántida, Uruguay

This is the view from the chair. You’ve got to admit it’s awesome!

 

 

What you pay for

I have posted a few times about cheap Chinese products. One of my recent free-international-shipping purchases was a replacement for a 4-port USB hub that was compact, highly-rated on Amazon, and, for whatever reason, disappeared.

After a week, its status.

discarde cheap Chinese 4-port USB hub, Uruguay

Obviously a quality-control reject, it dropped connections. Fortunately, during its brief tenure, I did not rely on it for external drives, just keyboard and mouse.

So it’s a complete write-off, my investment of USD 0.99, delivered from China for free.

 

Half a lemon times two

Some people consult the Farmer’s Almanac and moon phases for best times to prune trees. I don’t.

For me, there are two “best times“ to prune a tree: 2) when I feel like it, and 1) when the wife tells me to do it, as she did today.

So, log-handled loppers in hand, directed by her, squinting into the sun, I lopped off the biggest branch first. As it fell, so did a lemon. But when I picked it up, I found half a lemon — seriously, almost exactly half a lemon, neatly sliced lengthwise.

Where was the other half? You guessed it: still attached to a branch overhead.

lemon cut in half by loppers

What are the chances of perfectly cutting in half a lemon you didn’t even see?

Well — maybe greater than one would expect with a tree that seems to be trying to communicate with us.

 

 

Goodbye slotted screws

Twelve or thirteen years ago, when we lived in Spokane, I reached my breaking point. I don’t recall specifics, but it resulted in me going through all the hardware in my workshop, new and used, and throwing in the trash every slotted screw I could find.

slotted screw

Come to find that in Uruguay slotted screws are ubiquitous. The other day, in order to clean the outsides of our wooden windows with homemade screens, I had to remove a couple of them. The frames and windows have slots in them, and a removable wooden spline is screwed to the top frame. Hmm, let me try that another way:

spline

Squinting up against the outside light, it’s hard enough to find the old and dark screws’ locations, much less the orientation of the slot. For a couple of them I had to use a flashlight.

After everything was cleaned, I put all but one of them back, which I took to the ferretería, to buy the same with a Phillips head. And so, into the trash with the slotted screws!

Perhaps one day I’ll feel the same about Phillips head screws, and insist on Pozidriv or Supadriv or Robertson (square), or double square, or triple square, or hex socket, or double hex, or Torx. But I doubt it. The 81-year old Phillips is just fine for now.

 

 

 

More on the ladders

Just in case you were wondering if the ladders were really that bad, look at what was left on the chopping block after splitting seven steps from one into kindling.

bug-eaten wood from ladder, Urruguay

As you can see, much of the inside of each step has been turned to dust.

It reminds me of buying new rustic furniture in Mexico. Within days, you’d find coin-sized perfectly round mounds of incredibly fine wood dust on the floor beneath it, and have to apply some horridly toxic liquid to every square inch of its surface to kill all the tiny critters.

 

 

Graphic nondesign

Waiting for the car’s oil to be changed, I started looking through the freebie local business advertising mag. This not only occupies time, but challenges my Spanish vocabulary, and having some experience in graphic design, allows me to amuse myself by mentally redesigning ads.

But oh, an article about baking soda — always interesting.

Horrible typography, Uruguay

Unless it’s basically illegible because of garbaged-up type. And not because of  low resolution or image compression—

horrible typography, Uruguay
Umm, no, bicarbonado de “sodio”

— it really is that bad. So, OK, not I’m not going to read that article.


Below it on the page, a “spot the differences” image. Not my favorite, but worth a minute or two.

Uruguay newspaper

But immediately I am stopped by a quandary: is the fact that the two images are cropped differently meant to be one of the differences, or does it simply represent more design incompetence?

 

 

 

Astillas

Wooden laders destined to become kindling, Uruguay

For over a month now, I’ve been supervising repairs on a house whose American owners haven’t been here in six years. The caretaker died of cancer a couple years ago. Leaving a house unmaintained is bad anywhere, but with the humidity, really bad in Uruguay.

Today I brought home two ladders (one on the ground cut in two pieces to fit in the car). The vertical one is completely ruined by bugs — notice the bottom rung, broken from just a little weight.

The one on the ground is equally scary. All that wire desperately wound to hold the thing together. That could be ten years old. More likely 15 or 20. Or more: the house was built in the 1960s.

Astillas? Kindling. My next fun-with-dangerous-power-tools project!