Before and after

Mexico – January 1, 2009 (southern hemisphere summer): I read Syd’s post about a forest fire which started on the beach side, jumped the Ruta Interbalnearia (main coast road), and did extensive damage to wooded areas on the north side (fortunately not homes, which here are generally not combustible). Three months later we visited, met Syd and Gundy; three more months visited again to check it out in the worst weather; three months later moved. (By the way, Uruguay has been my longest stay in one place since I turned 16 and got my driver’s license!)

Informal loggers moved in, using the excuse of dead trees to remove more than a few perfectly healthy ones. I don’t include in-between imagery because it’s not that good, but clearly shows large areas of dead trees.

Over seven years later, when Benji and I joined Syd and dogs for walks, occasional charred stumps were the only indication that something devastating had occurred. Syd was – and still is – frequently pointing out grown-over paths that used to be a “road,” mostly for horse-drawn carts. And he has frequently told me of areas that used to be forest. I didn’t exactly not believe him, but I was amazed to consult Google/CIA Earth historical satellite imagery and see how vastly the area has changed. The wooded image is from 2006; the barren from 2014. The trees have thickened a bit since then. When stuff grows here, it tends to grow like crazy, but unfortunately the “loggers” of firewood here now do their best to prevent any trees from growing to maturity. We have no idea who the land belongs to.

Uruguay: Villa Argentina norte, before and after fire

It’s a lovely area to walk dogs – though not without issues: cows, bees (we were inexplicably attacked near hives we know about yesterday), horses which Mocha hasn’t yet learned to “live and let live,” motorbikes and quads, which happily Mocha ignores, unlike Benji, who went crazy chasing them.

But it’s also for the most part brush. Not particularly interesting. I look at how it was, and can only think it must have been almost magical, compared to now.

Don’t it always seem to go ….


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 numbers

This is what I saw on our refrigerator yesterday morning. 66-44-77-66. Struck me as rather unusual, but then it’s been happening a lot lately: glancing at the clock at 11:11 or 15:15. I even glanced at the electronic odometer in the new car a few weeks ago to find it was the same as the time on the clock.


Anyway, I never imagined I’d live in a place where I would consider 60% relative humidity “dry,” but Uruguay is that place. As you might surmise from my note on the AcuWRONG device in the photo, the accurate humidity reading is actually 12% more.

Today is again completely overcast and windy. I’ve got the wood stove cranked up, even though for economic reasons (lower electrical rates during the day) it makes more sense to use the electric “split” (heat/AC) unit. The more dry heat we can get today, the better!

And I think back to wood stoves up north with cast iron kettles boiling water on top for humidity – nooooooo!

Later that day: get in car after walking dog, glance at clock….

car clock