Friday, 9 December 2016

09:52 – Eric from Blue Ridge Electric Co-op just called to say he’s on his way to install the propane tank and hook up our gas cooktop. Sadly, they are out of the 220-gallon propane tanks we ordered, so they’re going to install a 330-gallon (~ 1,250 L) tank instead. My heart is broken. Now we’re going to have 50% more propane stored than I thought. Call it 30,000,000 BTUs. Enough to run the large 15,000 BTU burner in our cooktop for 2,000 hours.

It was about 19F (-5C) with snow flurries when I took Colin out at 0700. There’s a strong breeze with gusts of 30+ MPH (~50 KPH), which takes the wind chill down well below 0F (-18C). And the really cold weather isn’t supposed to arrive until this evening and tomorrow. We’ll be staying indoors as much as possible.

I’ve seen a couple of articles lately talking about how the number of preppers is declining hugely because of Trump’s election. Sales of LTS food, guns, ammo, etc. are falling precipitously because a lot of folks supposedly think Trump is going to fix everything. I don’t doubt that the general mood of the country is more optimistic with Trump as President-elect, nor do I doubt that sales of those things are declining, but I don’t believe anything has changed significantly. Other, perhaps, than that Trump is much less likely to get us into a nuclear war than Clinton would have been. But all of the country’s vulnerabilities remain: a very fragile electric power infrastructure that could be severely damaged by any of several events; a transportation infrastructure that is wholly dependent on continuing supplies of fuel, which in turn are dependent on an aging and failing system of pipelines, which are themselves very vulnerable to terrorist attacks. A society divided in half, with each half literally hating the other half, one of those halves totally dependent on government handouts and the other, productive, half sick and tired of being exploited to benefit people they despise. And a financial infrastructure that is teetering on the edge of collapse. Keep prepping, because things are going to continue to get worse, even with Trump in charge.

14:58 – Our propane gas cooktop is installed, kind of, and working. The tank has only 200 gallons in it because the original work order called for installing a 250-gallon tank, which they fill to only 200 gallons (80%, presumably to allow sufficient expansion space), and they could fill the 330-gallon tank we got only with as much as was specified on the work order. The next time one of their propane tankers is out this way, they’ll stop and top up our tank.

I say “kind of” installed because the existing cutout in the granite counter top on our kitchen island was a bit larger than needed for this cooktop. There’s no gap around the cooktop, but it overlaps the hole in the counter by only a couple of millimeters on each edge. It’s in no danger of falling through the hole, but I’m still going to brace it underneath with a couple of 2X4’s under the base of the cooktop. Then we’ll use either black RTV silicone caulk or a thin black rubber pad to seal the edges.

Also, the only electric power in the space under the cooktop was the 240VAC connection for the former cooktop. This new cooktop has an ordinary 120VAC cord and plug, but no receptacle to plug it into. Which is okay for now. I’ve called an electrician to come out and install a standard receptacle, but for now we just ran an extension cord to a receptacle on the outside of the island. The auto-igniter works fine, as do all the burners.

Eric commented that they use a propane cooktop at home, and they very seldom use anything but the smallest burner. He says it heats pans very quickly, and that we probably won’t need to use the largest burner, other than perhaps for canning. He also said that their average customer who uses propane only for a cooktop and oven uses only 25 gallons of propane per year, so even if we do a lot of cooking a full tank should hold us for 10 or 12 years. Of course, once we get the generator set up to use propane, if we ever need to use it it’ll go through 0.5 to 2 gallons of propane per hour, depending on load.

We won’t get to try the new cooktop for dinner tonight. Barbara is volunteering at the historical society from 1330 to 1700, and we’re having leftover chicken Alfredo, reheated in the microwave.