re OP and problematic character: the top half of that 'pipe' character looks more like a dot, which is why i thought it was a 'j'. (it's supposed to be an a-accent, not a-grave)
setting the pdf_encoding='utf8' also blows up with the same "can't find encoding" error.
I'm reading up on Encode, though I'm not sure if I need and encode/decode sequence or a simpler transform.
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