First fire this year

wood stove, dog

Temperature is in the mid-50s F (12-13° C) and it just felt right to crank up the wood stove. I had the door properly resealed a couple months ago. When I last got the door redone a couple years ago, the job was sloppy, and the stove hasn’t been really tight for a long time. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of heat coming from it – and of course forgot to dust the top before lighting. Eh, what’s a little temporary burning odor?

We don’t currently have enough doggie blankets for everywhere, but I did put some cardboard down after taking this photo, so Benji is now enjoying the warmth without vaguely thinking “something is wrong with this picture” as he lay on the cool tile floor.

The boxes above him contain a backlog of fire-starting material. I haven’t ordered firewood this year. We have a small amount of odds and ends, plus quite a bit of curupay from the deck of Tim and Loren, who left here over three years ago. I probably should think about that, since the weather’s been OK, and in the east of Uruguay, firewood is stupidly sold by weight. So, after a rain, if the wood is stored outside, you can end up spending 35% more – yep, that’s how much the wood can absorb temporarily.

So welcome winter, and we’re not quite prepared. I guess hoping it will be mild like last, resulting in an incredible harvest of avocados, starting March this year versus June the year before.

Ya veremos – we will see!


One size fits all? (UTE office)

This starts with a story. We have a little chacra (mini-farm) 10 km inland with a little house that we’ve never even stayed in (others have, for a couple months). So there’s no energy consumption, and we usually end up paying the bare minimum of ~ USD 15 to be connected to the grid.

Except for last January, when I did a regular check and decided to vacuum up spiders and spider webs. The vacuum cleaner wouldn’t start. So I walked out to the road, because our attentive neighbor has been known to turn off the mains when I so much as leave a 5-watt LED light on in the bathroom. No, the main switch was on. So maybe a power a power outage. Returning to Atlántida, I discovered that indeed there was a widespread power outage. OK, no worries…

…oh but wait: the vacuum cleaner,  a cheap horrendous screeching thing we bought from a departing German-Romanian couple (seriously: you should probably wear the ear protectors you see on airport runways).

A week later, pulling in for another routine check, I heard a strange, high-pitched noise. From inside the house.

You got it: I didn’t unplug the vacuum cleaner, and the power came back on, , and the damn thing had been running 24 hours/day for a week. I could feel the heat as I walked into the house.

And of course we had a frightful electric bill. But then the next month was estimated, and high, and the next also estimated, and high, and in April it was back to the minimum again. But by now we’ve overpaid!

I checked the meter, pretty much inscrutable behind a stained plastic shroud, and decided that UTE – the electric company – needed to do a real reading, account for what we’ve paid, and issue a credit.

Which – ojalá – which may actually happen next week.

But what tickled me is what I observed in our little local UTE office. UTE is the government electrical company, and apparently the “latest and greatest” for every little branch is their idea of the best use of their resources.

Overkill at the local electric utilty office, Atlántida, Uruguay

Here is what you see while waiting at the UTE office in Atlántida. A, B, and C are the actual service desks. Two out of three in service today.

D is an automated-teller size device with touch screen, on which there is exactly one option – push the orange button and it will spit out a printed number for you. So – curious minds want to know – how is this an improvement over the paper number dispensers in the ferias? You know, the ones that cost maybe USD 30, and look like this?

paper number dispenser if you want to buy one 😉

You’ve got to wonder how many thousand dollars that stupid touch-screen machine cost, whose functionality boils down to a single button. I mean, seriously, don’t you? Oh, but – government.

But it gets better. See E: not only is there a TV screen endlessly replaying UTE television ads without sound in a fraction of full screen, whose subtitles are not exactly effective in this context of size and distance, but there’s a little sound system below. So when they trigger the next number, a female voice says número setenta-seis, punto uno. (Yeah it did say “punto uno” instead of “puesto uno” – at least I think so.)

When it was my turn, I was immensely gratified when the woman at “punto uno” simple called out “setenta-seis” instead of triggering this ridiculous electronic voice.

And then it turned out she loved my story of the vacuum cleaner.

And maybe thought I was a complete idiot, but that’s OK: objective is to get the billing straightened out.

It’s all an adventure 😉

I stand corrected (trash collection)

I usually let loose dogs Benji and Mocha (aka Choco Mocha Latte) to run with Syd and Gundy’s five dogs in the Villar Wilderness,1 but Benji’s still limping a bit from the accident, so I like to give him rest days. Which means walking each individually a few bocks around here on a leash while the other, forced to stay home, howls and cries and whimpers incessantly. Hard for Susan, and hardly a rest for me: after ten minutes, Benji finally ceases to be the equivalent of trying to restrain a runaway garden tractor. Mocha, on the other hand, is like a turbocharged small garden tractor with defective steering: slightly less forceful, but constant veering from left to right, making choking noises, and of course the classic back-right/cross/forward left wrap-the-walk-human-in-the-leash maneuver. Exactly what Benji did, but not something he taught Mocha. I thik that move is more instinctual.

Point is, I took them different directions, carefully selected rocks in pockets for the occasional loose and aggressive (if only playfully) neighborhood dog.

So I saw new stuff. After commenting yesterday on how often the trash containers have been emptied, in contrast to the recycling containers, this:

overflowing waste bin, Atlántida Uruguay

While it is true that most of the “dumpsters” near us have been well serviced, obviously some haven’t . Another day for this one, a few blocks from here, and no doubt there will be bags on the ground, eagerly torn apart by dogs, cats, and comadrejas (possums).

May be there was extensive waste from a party (as in this post), but it doesn’t look like that. Seems like one “they” forgot about. Notice the sliver of white in the lower right – that brush is piled on top of a discarded refrigerator. Maybe that has something to do with it?

1 In case you’re new here, this refers to 100+ hectares of no-man’s land, sandy scrub brush, islands of pine forest, seasonal water holes, cow pasture, burnt eucalyptus trunks, sand roads used by horses and motos/quads, punctuated by inexplicable trash deposits I have documented often, all north of the Ruta Interbalnearia in Villa Argentina.

Funny thing happened at the recycling bin

I don’t recall when “they” introduced the recycling bins, probably 2012 or so. I see no particular pattern in emptying them; frequently, as recently, they become so overfilled that I simply throw recyclables in the trash bins. I’m sure “they” still go through trash as I documented in a post on 24 March 2012, which appears to have disappeared (500: internal error – bleh).

Where Syd and Gundy live, “they” have done away with the corner “dumpsters” and assigned each house two wheeled containers. One day a week “they” pick up trash, another day recyclables. I question the logic and economics , but no one is asking my opinion (especially the guy who sold the town council 1,000 wheeled household containers).

recycling containers, Atlántida Uruguay

After the last recyclables overflow event, these signs appeared in the bin near us: “Please only recyclables. No trash!”

sign on recyclables bin, Atlántida, Uruguay

Which raises a question: when the recycling bins are consistently overflowing and the trash bin nearby is not, what exactly transpired to evoke this response?

A further question to ask is what Ave Fenix, an organization addressing drug addiction, has to do with the recycling program?

I guess the answer is, it’s a different Ave Fenix. (Ave Fénix=Phoenix.)

Unrelated, I also learned today (via an article from 2014) that given RGB images for print projects, best not to convert them to CMYK before placing in InDesign documents. Fascinating, no?

For these two revelations, you are – from the bottom of my heart – most welcome.