Ya gotta love Fedex [not]

I was informed yesterday that I needed to sign and deliver a power of attorney letter pronto! regarding a Swiss-based investment in Panama that turned out to be a scam. Issue #1: it absolutely had to be delivered on legal-size stationery (8-1/2 x 14″). I do have legal-size documents from Uruguay. Alas, they date from the 1980s. “Legal size” hasn’t been here for a long time.

So how on earth to create a document that size? Visit a papelería and ask them to cut down an A3 sheet to size? Actually, turns out the solution is much simpler – shoot an email to our Canadian neighbors Janet and Wayne, and minutes later retrieve a ream of legal-size stationary from atop the wall that separates our properties.

Issue #2: OK, I am used to this; it has existed for the couple decades I’ve sent shipments internationally with “Federal” Express – but this is just total insanity:

Fedex - ridiculous pricing

If you have any insight into this, please let me know. Is it just a scam for people who don’t pursue details?

More laser discovery

As I stood in my little workshop, waiting for glue to set on the fake Crocs from which the puppy removed significant portions, I noticed the laser portion of my printer dissection. I assumed it would need to be broken open, but now picked it up and saw it had four little plastic tabs – piece of cake!

And very cool! The laser is at the arrow on the right. The hexagonal disk has mirrored edges, and is attached to a motor. The bizarrely-shaped plastic lens is obviously very carefully designed to very precisely deliver incredibly tiny dots at incredibly high speed. The arrow on the left points to a tiny mirror whose purpose remains a mystery to me. Amazing technology.

The plastic bits on the right represent a slightly less amazing technology. I was unable to plug in a Schuko plug to an adaptor (maybe the very one labelled C in this post from 2012). I thought I’d take it apart, which it turns out involved breaking it, but the stuck safety gate shown here dropped out. So I glued the broken parts back together, and voilà – another silly little project done.


Catching up

It’s been over a week since I last posted, about dissecting a dead laser printer and discovering that it yielded several pounds of recyclable plastic. Today I was cleaning out files and found a photo taken a month ago.

Some low-functioning individual decided a more appropriate way to dispose of a broken printer would be to take it 180 meters from the nearest dwellings, and dump it in a field.

Meanwhile, doing a bit of spring cleaning – it’s amazing how much grows around the edges of those concrete plumbing junction box lids – I found that ants had been using this unused one as a dumping ground for sand as they made their nest under the patio. All the sand in the wheelbarrow came from that box, which means it probably came from below the wheelbarrow. Great!

After removing all the sand I could, I flushed the rest with the 3/4″ hose attached to our well. (Unfortunately not potable water.) “Someone” who saw the hose “come to life” decided it needed to be taught who’s in charge here. He managed to wrap it around this little orange tree three times, tightly.

Meanwhile “there’s something happening here” in the little park near the intendencia in Atlántida. And, as is to be expected, what it is ain’t exactly clear. Huge eucalyptus and pine trees cut down, all the tile torn up, and – nothing. The eucalyptus stump will send up new shoots; the pine in the foreground won’t.

The real question: will whatever they’re doing be complete in three months, when the summer season starts?

Stay tuned….

Laser printer dissection

You may have read my account about dissecting the dead kitchen scale, and maybe thought well, that’s a silly thing to do. And maybe you’re right.

I had pulled my wife’s desk back so I could work on a window, and a certain dog who is not allowed upstairs apparently got upstairs while we were out, went to look out the window, got tangled in wires, and pulled a computer and laser printer from the desk. I immediately ran diagnostics on the computer (a Mac Mini) and it seemed to be fine. The 9 year old printer, on the other hand, wasn’t working right at all.

The local computer place techie looked at it, identified one part was cracked and basically not replaceable. So I had two challenges: 1) find another printer, and 2) take this one completely apart without breaking anything.

dissected laser printer

68 screws, 17 springs, and 12 gears later, it was done! The heating element (black and red rollers to the left) was the single most difficult challenge. Amazing the ingenuity that goes into putting pieces together – little tabs, rotate this, pry back that….

dissected laser printer

The number of springs surprised me. I did break a couple of small pieces of plastic, but on purpose to save time, not because I couldn’t figure out their assembly.

dissected laser printer
The carcass

In addition to admiring the design and engineering wizardry, I can hardly imagine how they created the incredibly intricate molded plastic parts.

As with the kitchen scale, there’s nothing particularly useful for other projects, though I’ll save some of the bits of wire and springs, and chuck the rest.

dissected laser printer

But wait! I see at the large plastic pieces are identified as ABS for recycling (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, but you knew that). So in addition to having a fun hour or so, disassembling the printer allows for recycling at least some of it (bits of aluminum as well) that otherwise would have gone to a landfill.

And oh by the way, I found no evidence of a crack or break in the part the techie indicated. But it doesn’t matter: the printer no longer worked, and wasn’t about to get fixed.



The kitchen scale

I left my kitchen scale out after making bread recently, unwashed, and some else decided to wash it – not just the detachable measuring cup, but the whole thing. Electronics and warm, soapy water don’t go together well. After a few days, it began to work again, but then simply died for good.

So my challenge was to take it apart without breaking any parts, because that’s what I do rather than simply chuck things. I’m curious about how things work, and how they’re put together. Also whether there might be any parts worth saving.

dissected kitchen scale

Despite its apparent simplicity. it was a little tricky –– some well-concealed screws beneath labels and the plastic readout cover. Nothing really useful to save.

I’ve made bagels and pizza dough a couple times since, but I really prefer doing recipes by weight, so have thought about getting another.

I bought this one with points at the Disco supermarket a few years ago, not thinking about the actual cost. Now I see they sell it at Tienda Inglesa for 40 bucks – yikes!  They also show one for USD 12 at Tienda Inglesa so maybe, just maybe, I can get them to bring one to our local store. I suppose I could try ordering one online but *shudder* that has not gone entirely well for me in Uruguay (think mattress and oven).

Except for socializing at the weekly feria, I find little fun in trying to find and buy things here. But maybe that’s OK, especially when I reflect on the inordinate amount of stuff we accumulated before moving to Mexico — and that was less than three years after moving ourselves across the country, from North Carolina to Nelson, BC Spokane, Washington.

UPDATE: Yes, this does seem like a rather pointless blog entry, but it reminded me to look at Tienda Inglesa, and guess what?

kitchen scale
We’re good to go again!