Edición dominical

Felipe buys his first Bitcoin

coinI HAVE ENTERED the new world of cryptocurrency, and I feel quite stylish for having done so. I bought a Bitcoin.

Well, actually, I have purchased 0.01398091 of a Bitcoin. That’s what 3,500 pesos will get you, or would get you yesterday. The value changes. That’s about 185 American dollars. Bitcoins are pricey.

It’s not your daddy’s Bitcoin anymore. While it was mainly known as the cash of crooks and other sleazy sorts not too many years back, it’s cleaned up its act. WordPress accepts it, as well as plenty of other legit businesses, and there are even Bitcoin ATMs in Mexico, four at least, Querétaro, Mérida, Mexico City and Monterrey.

What you’d do with a Bitcoin ATM I have no idea since Bitcoins have no physical existence.

There are numerous routes to becoming a Bitcoin owner. I opened an account with Bitso, which was Mexico’s first Bitcoin exchange. There are quite a few others.

To open an account with Bitso and buy Bitcoin, you must be a Mexican citizen. But if you’re unfortunate enough to not be a Mexican, there are other routes for you.

One of many new online marketplaces that accept Bitcoin, sometimes only Bitcoin, is Open Bazaar. I’ve become a cutting-edge sort of fellow. Though normally I don’t use the word “cool” except when talking about the weather, I think it now applies to me.

Long-term plan: become a Bitcoin tycoon.

Edición dominical

Christmas, the lizard and me

THE FIRST CHRISTMAS away from loved ones, which is to say family, something I once had but no longer have, well, if you don’t count my Mexican relatives, most of whom are like aliens to me and vice versa, was spent, if you also don’t count my time in the Air Force, and I don’t remember even one of those Christmases, was spent in a dive bar on Calle Cristo in Old San Juan in the company of an iguana.

It was roundabouts 1974, and I’d just arrived in San Juan, not knowing a single soul.

So there I was in this dive bar on a corner — I don’t recall the cross street — and I’d already downed a few, feeling the spirits, looking at the Christmas lights around the mirror in front of me, when I glanced down at the floor, and there sat the iguana sizing me up. Aside from the barkeep, the iguana and I were the only people present.

Yes, I’m counting the big lizard as people. It was Christmas.

New ImageNow you might think this is a sad Yuletide story, reeking of solitude and loneliness and all that, but actually I was quite content, having a good time. Maybe it was the rum and Coke, but whatever works in a pinch.

I’ve thought about that night almost every Christmas since, later ones that I spent with loved ones, and more recent ones that I’ve spent alone because almost all of my loved ones have died or disappeared.

I’ll be spending this Christmas Eve alone, something I’ve done in recent years, and I’m okay with it. It’s not like I’m a Christian or anything, celebrating the birth of Jesus. There’s also the fact that I love peace and quiet.

The first two, maybe three, Christmases after marrying my child bride, I made attempts to be a part of things, but Mexican things on Christmas Eve wander late into the night, far past my bedtime. I quit doing that, and the both of us are happier for it.

She either goes to the family hullabaloo downtown here or, sometimes, in the nearby state capital, depending on where the mob of them decides. She does not come home, getting little sleep and looking stunned all though Christmas Day. I, on the other hand, get a nice night of sleep and feel just fine on Christmas Day.

Then, one week later, they — and I — do it all over again for New Year’s Eve.

So I’m be sailing solo this evening. Next Sunday too.

For those of you who embrace Christmas either for the birth of the Baby Jesus or for those gifts you’ll be getting, or both, I wish you well.

Like me, get a good night’s sleep. Maybe I’ll dream of that iguana, the rum and Coke and the dive bar on Calle Cristo, the warm Yule night air of the Caribbean.

A Christmas long past.

Edición dominical

Doing the propane shuffle

gas
“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.