Tag: appliances

How did this happen?

Maybe we bought a blender and it burned out.

Maybe we bought one from Tim and Loren when they returned to the land of the Untied Snakes.

Syd and Gundy gave us one when they were cleaning out storage space. Which I burned up trying to grind up eggshells for the compost pile (thanks for that idea, cuzzie ;-).

How did we end up with three blender tops?

So now I’m sort of doing the same. I’m reading The Joy of Less and loving it. Because of our frequent moves in the past — 10 in a 21-year period from 1986 — including two overseas, we’ve done a lot of paring down.* However, even in a non-consumerist culture like Uruguay, the stuff piles up once you settle.

When we made hummus the other day, I dragged out our two blender bases, both of which are pretty heavy duty. One didn’t work at all (ah, another project!). The other did the job. But then a day later a third blender top surfaced. Do we need three? They seem to be sort-of-but-not-quite interchangeable.

And then, when was the last time we used the blender?

Perhaps in 2016. Perhaps not.

There’s something distinctly non-minimalist going on here!

* three of us moving from Mexico: about ten suitcases, three pet carriers (2 trips), plus a single pallet shipped from Houston with 16 cartons, a floor lamp, and a BMX bike.

Appliance repair

In-home appliance repair doesn’t break the bank


I’ve taken apart this beast several times, most recently to replace the belt, but when it ceased producing heat recently I felt a bit out of my league, and called the appliance repair people, for whom I had several phone numbers. But now one: I guess it’s now the appliance repair guy.

Whatever, from his high-speed mumbling on the phone Friday I got the idea he would be here Saturday afternoon. A bit after 5 PM Saturday, I called again. I can’t say for sure why, but this time the high-speed mumbling left a warm fuzzy feeling.

And a few minutes later, a 30 year-old car pulled into the driveway. Repairman, maybe older than the car, maybe not, with MSC (company name) jacket and toolbox comes through the front door (“Con permiso”). Removes top of clothes drier, starts extracting burned plastic bits, explains in high-speed mumbling that iit’s a burned connector. He’ll replace, but it happens again we’ll have to replace the heating element. Which I had assumed was the problem to begin with.

OK, it wasn’t quite that direct. In addition to having to ask him to repeat everything (something which, I’m happy to report, rarely happens to me by now), I was puzzled by “la resistencia.” Perhaps a bit of cognitive dissonance trying to conflate Latin American political history with appliance repair, then the shoulda-been obvious chimed in. “La resistencia” means the resistence heating element (think wire that, instead of conducting electricity, resists it, turning the electrical energy into heat).

Delighted at my own slightly-delayed ascertainment of the relatively obvious, I shared with him that English term is “element.” Of course, it’s not exactly: it would be “heating element,” or better, “resistance heating element,” Fortunately, my attempt to excuse my ignorance proved uninteresting and irrelevant, and with a brief feint of interest from him, that was done.

The clothes drier works again. Maybe not for long. But the appliance guy came to our house, and fixed the clothes drier, and it cost US$10 total.

So, thinking back to when I called Sears repair in the late 1990s, gave them the model number of my mother’s clothes drier, and said the belt was broken, and they showed (with no parts) to determine the model number and diagnose broken belt—for $49—so, just curious, what would this episode cost now in North America, Europe, Australia, South Africa?

Turning the heat to “low”

Gas stoves in Uruguay, generally not matched to the gas sold here
Onions and panceta getting ready for Sunday omelets

Amongst many other curiosities in Uruguay (such as virtually every refrigerator sold with a door that opens to the right, usually not reversible), you’ll probably end up with a gas stove that is not jetted properly for the “Supergas” sold here. Light the burner, turn it back towards “off” slightly, and if it’s the only thing you’re cooking, put some more distance between pan and heat!


A message from Universe via cheap Chinese shit


I saw this morning that my cheap Chinese alarm clock had died. The first battery lasted six months; its replacement more like four.


The package of five replacement batteries cost only $1.80, with free shipping from Hong Kong to Uruguay, so no big deal. I put one in the alarm clock, set about setting the time, and suddenly the thing made a strange noise and the clock face turned to gibberish.

I wanted to take a photo, but couldn’t find my camera, and realized that if I’ve lost it, I might not particularly miss it. I’ve gotten kind of tired of carrying it everywhere. I neither have nor want a smart phone.

I grabbed our older point-and-shoot camera, but it wouldn’t turn on, even though the battery was fine just a couple days ago.


Then I sat down to my desk, and the UbiRock vibration speaker which inexplicably died a few weeks ago. Oh well, I mostly use headphones anyway.


Then I remembered the indestructible Westclox Big Ben / Baby Ben windup clocks I grew up with. I wonder if they still sell wind-up clocks? Indeed they do:


When Westclox alarm clocks were made in America you couldn’t beat ’em–or sleep through their alarm! Now they’re made in China, and the Baby Bens I’ve been buying last routinely from two weeks to four months. Then they just stop ringing, and sometimes stop telling time, whether the winder is wound up all the way or just a few turns. They stop without warning & on the day they do, you sleep in–miss work, miss your appointment, miss your plane. I’ve traded them in for a new one ten or twelve times. They never last longer than four months. I’ve finally given up. Thinking of a Baby Ben? Don’t waste your money!
hen I wondered why I even need a bedside clock.

Then I remembered Chicago, from a time when I did need to wind the clock and set the alarm every day. Does anybody really care?

Refrigerator redux

magnet-covered refrigerator, Uruguay

In addition to the powerful magnet that came out of a broken chargeable flashlight (upper left), our refrigerator is festooned with magnets handed out by local businesses. The little blue half-garafa (propane tank) I actually found in the street but thought pretty cool. Outside of paper ads, held in place by other merchants’ magnets, there is only one non-magnet on here. Can you guess?

The guys who fix refrigerators. They put on a sticker.