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1/25/10 Butagas Blunders

I've gotten pretty good, over the last two years, at manipulating butane gas. I can open a buta tank in less than a minute; I cook, bake, and heat my house with butagaz (as it's universally called here - or just buta for short); I've even gotten pretty graceful at lugging the empty and full tanks back and forth to the hanoot (market/shop/store).

This has lulled me into a sense of ... complacency? ... at least confidence, with regard to buta. So my recent bumblings have restored a useful sense of humility. :)

Last night, I found myself dozing off in my warm, buta-heated living room, so I got up, turned off the buta tank (which, by cutting the supply, automatically turns off the heater), and staggered into bed. Just as I've done a hundred (or so) times before.

But this was a new buta tank as of yesterday, and what I hadn't realized is that its nozzle isn't as tight as it should be. So simply tightening it till it feels secure...still leaves a trickle of butane slipping out.

Lhumdullah, it was enough of a trickle to keep the pilot light going, so I didn't just release gallons of poisonous gas into my house - I just kept the heat on all night. So I wasted some energy, but didn't kill myself. Alhumdulillah. Now I know: this tank, I have to not only shut it, I have to crank it until it's so tightly closed that it hurts to crank it back open. Useful knowledge.

Another recent (less life-threatening) buta bumble: I ran out. Both my big tank and little tank ran empty. I used to have a spare little tank, so that I'd never be without heat in my house. (Where the unheated rooms are generally around 35 degrees - sometimes colder, sometimes warmer - and even sitting in front of the heater, I can see my breath. I'm warm, but I can see my breath. Go figure.) But last winter, I tried to open my spare little tank...and failed.

It should be simple. Crack the wax seal, unscrew the wax stopper-plug-thing, and screw in the heater attachment. Badda-bing-badda-boom, heat.

But this time, the wax seal had melted into the screw threads...which I didn't realize until I'd mangled the living daylights out of the seal. Then I tried to just cut out all the wax and strip the threads manually...and got most of it out, but not enough to be able to screw the heater attachmednt in. So I have a small tank of butane gas with waxy screw-threads...and I've been too embarrassed to take it to my hanut guy and show him the still-full-but-unusable tank of butane. So I just keep swapping out the other small tank, which is generally fine...but means I no longer have a spare. So nights like two nights ago, when both big and small tanks run house gets cold. (The hanut is open till late, so I could theoretically have swapped out either my big or small tank...but it takes a lot more than shivering in a 35-degree room to get me to want to go out after dark.) So I wrapped up in blankets and crawled into bed pretty quickly thereafter.

So, yeah, not yet a master of the buta. (And since buta and Buddha are homonyms, that's actually kinda funny.)

On the other hand, I do have *some* buta skillz. I made cookies today, for the first time in a month or two, and they all came out *perfectly*. Despite my crazy oven, which tends to burn the bottoms of things and leave the tops raw. So...I'm not a total buta dunderhead. Even when I occasionally feel like one. :)

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