Edición dominical

Doing the propane shuffle

“The guy” and his son install the new propane tank, left, on Friday.

I’M A GAS MAN, and I’ve been a gas man since long before I flew over the Rio Bravo to settle down. I don’t like electric stoves, for instance, and can’t imagine why anyone would use one when there is a gas option.

Gas is cheaper, and you can fine-tune the gas flame far better than you can adjust the heat on an electric burner. Quicker too.

When I lived in Texas, our house received gas from God knows where via buried pipes. Water came the same way. Both were metered, and you paid for what you used.

In Texas, and New Orleans before that, my stoves were gas as were space heaters and water heaters. Gas is the way to go. Cheap, clean, explosive. Nothing’s perfect.

When we constructed the Hacienda 15 years ago, I bought about the biggest residential propane tank you ever see. It holds 500 liters. I filled it when it needed filling, but otherwise I gave the thing little thought.

About a year ago, the gizmo that measures how much gas is in the tank decided to quit working. This is problematical. I began winging it, guessing. Recently, I had a plumber over, told him about the issue, and he asked how old the tank was.

He said that it’s a good idea to replace them every 10 to 15 years, something about the interior welding that can go bad. So instead of replacing the meter, which would have been a special order, time-consuming, and the tank was nearly empty, I bought a new tank.

They’re not that expensive.

It’s smaller, holding 300 liters instead of the 500 the bigger tank holds.

I’ll be using the smaller tank exclusively, so I can either let the big one sit there forever, or I can have it removed. I’ll likely do the latter although that’s going to be a bear. The only way out is through the kitchen, dining room and living room.

The tanks are in an interior patio.

I’d prefer to have the big tank empty before hauling it through the house. Since the meter is broken, the only way to judge the quantity is by knocking on the side with your knuckles. It’s sounded empty for weeks, but we’re still using its gas.

But it will run out one day soon, and I’ll just switch to the other tank, which I had filled yesterday from a tanker truck.

The plumber rigged the copper pipes and connections so that I can fill either tank separately from an outside connection on the street, and I can send the gas into the house from either tank too, separately.

Excellent Mexican design.

The Odd Pot

On being a (temporary) cripple

OUR BACKBONES are ticklish things. Sometimes they go out, as mine did last Monday morning while I was sitting right here at my desktop computer near the crack of dawn. Here’s what happened:

I coughed. It was a bush-league cough, a cough so trivial that it would have registered minus-5 on the Richter Scale. But that little cough combined in some weird way with how my torso was situated in the chair.


I knew exactly and instantly what it was because I’m no stranger to my spine going south. Oh, nooooo, I moaned to myself.

I tried to stand up. Jesus, Joseph and Mary! I did not get far. I slowly returned to the chair. And I’ve been mostly home-bound ever since.

I’m no stranger to this, but it’s been fairly rare in recent years. In my 40s, the last decade of my previous marriage, I had this problem often. It coincided with the gradual collapse of said matrimony, indicating there’s occasionally a psychological element to the issue. The same is thought by some to be true with rheumatoid arthritis.

I do not have rheumatoid arthritis. Knock on wood.

On getting divorced from my last wife, the back attacks ended abruptly, and I went years without a recurrence. I still occasionally have the problem. Maybe once every two or so years. I don’t think there’s a psychological element now because I’m a happy boy.

941cdfc49a1d5bab536a76e38eb102c5It invariably starts with a funny twist that I do out of inattention. A cough or sneeze can also nail me.

Doctors say that if it lasts less than three months, it’s acute. If more than three months, it’s chronic. Mine have always lasted 4-5 days with one exception when it lasted two weeks. That was decades ago in New Orleans.

As I write this, last evening, I’m winding up my fifth day, and I’m feeling better but not home free by any means.

One aid I’ve enjoyed this time that I never had before is one of those girdle-type things that weight-lifters and warehouse guys wear. It’s is very helpful. My child bride bought it last year for gym use.

The internet says that 90 percent of the time, these things cure themselves with no medical assistance. That’s always been my experience, and I hope it continues, but my advancing age could complicate things.

It hasn’t so far. I’d like to say this is a pain in the ass, but it’s actually a pain in the back. If you’ve never had this problem, you’re one lucky person. It hurts!

Libertarian view

America’s nonstop Loony Tunes

THIS BRIEF VIDEO is dedicated to my left-wing internet pal and victim of TDS, Alfredo S. Lanier, who, in spite of his politics, writes a fun blog.

Actually, it’s dedicated to most Americans and not a few Canadians who live in Mexico because they suffer from advanced stages of TDS.

If you’re unacquainted with the lovely Candace Owens, know that she’s a relatively new phenomenon on YouTube. Her videos are always short (for today’s attention spans) and invariably intelligent.