I know you must be wondering what ever happened with the broken insTand tripod. The replacement I ordered arrived quite promptly, and I used it for the rest of the trip, depending particularly heavily on it during the ASLO meetings in Spain, where I just camped out in odd corners—wherever I could find an electrical outlet and a chair—and edited away, mostly on Dr. Tschinkel's forthcoming book on fire ants.
When the time came to leave France, because I couldn't pull the release knob to let the legs fold up, I removed the three screws at the bottom of the shaft, slide the plastic ring to which the legs were attached off the shaft, and folded them down instead. Then, for ease of transport, I shoved the whole thing into the golf bag, with all the other awkwardly long, narrow objects.
We got it home okay, and when I had time, I dug out the original purchase receipt and e-mailed the insTand people for a return-authorization number. The promptly supplied one and even promised to turn the whole thing around in 24 hours. I shoved the thing into a mailing tube and shipped it off to Fort Lauderdale (turns out the insTand people are right here in Florida). True to their word, they shipped it back right away, entirely repaired and good as new. I can tell it's the same one because my little hand-written name-tag is still attached to it with the same tattered Scotch tape, and it bears the little souvenir bore-hole (made by the Ifremer shop techs) that will mark it forever as a veteran of the European campaign.
I am delighted with the outcome. The insTand people were a pleasure to deal with, their product is first-rate (I wrote them a little testimonial for that section of their website), and I now have two complete insTands, a tall one that I can use standing up (e.g., to catalog our books without even taking them off the shelf or when I'm lecturing before a class) and a short one that I can use even sitting on a very low sofa and that fits neatly in my computer's travel case. The two are equally useful at normal chair height.
A happy ending, indeed, and a product I cannot extoll enough. Check them out at http://www.instand.com.
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