Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Grill Propane Tank Infotisement and My Equipment Maintenance Philosophy

The Cody Enterprise1 article starts like dozens of others across America:
"Independence Day is the most popular outdoor cooking holiday of the year with more than two-thirds of Americans firing up the grill, smoker or fryer, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. A few simple steps can help you prepare your grill to make sure you have a safe backyard celebration.

"Make sure your tank is ready..." (Cody Enterprise)
So far, so good. Whoever wrote it packed a lot of information into those two sentences, without making the reader work at prying facts out of the verbiage.

Here's what's next:
"...Make a trip ahead of time to a Blue Rhino propane exchange outlet to help make sure you have enough propane so your party...." (Cody Enterprise)
My attention swerved, skidded, and came to a rocking stop.

It's not often that a news piece directs readers to a particular business. Possibilities popped to the front of my mind.
  • There's only one propane service within a day's drive of Cody?
  • "Blue Rhino" is a generic term for LP gas retailers in that part of Wyoming?
    • But it's capitalized
  • It's an advertisement?
    • But there's no "advertisement" label
You've seen things like this in magazines, sometimes in newspapers: It looks like an article, but extols the virtues of some product, brand, or service provider. Infotisements2 I've seen in print have the word "advertisement" somewhere along or near their border: in small print, but visible.

Nothing like that in the "Fourth of July" infotisement. Or around it, or anywhere on the page: apart from "Courtesy of ARAcontent" at the bottom of the piece.

I suppose I could be outraged at this 'violation of the public's trust,' but I like to think that most people are sharp enough to recognize the infotisement for what it is.

Plus, it's got some pretty good safety tips.

I'll Keep My Own LP Tank, Thanks

I'm not criticizing Blue Rhino, or any of the other companies that provide tank-swapping services.

I think I understand why people like to bring an empty tank in, turn it in, and walk away with a full tank. You don't have to wait for someone to fill your old tank, and there's the comfort - for some folks - of knowing that a 'qualified professional' has inspected and passed the tank they're using.

As for me, I'll do my own inspections. I've seen tanks on swap racks with the sort of corrosion and wear that I'd never tolerate on pressure vessels. Particularly ones that contained a potentially explosive substance. Since those had passed inspection, I've wondered what the sort of attention had been paid to the valves and overflow protection devices on the newer-looking tanks.

Fussy? Maybe.

As I said in another post, I'm not a particularly jittery advocate of safety. (June 16, 2009) But I do pay attention to the basics, like making sure that liquid propane will stay in the tank until I want it to come out.

I'd rather fill my own tank, but I don't see self-service LP filling stations so much now. Which may be just as well. But my trust extends to whoever fills the tank for me. Besides, if the tank got damaged, I'd see it, and know that it was time to turn it in for a new one.

My old tank would probably be repaired and re-sold - as a repaired tank, which makes good sense. Then it would be the new owner's concern, not mine.

That's the way I do things.

From the success of Blue Rhino and other companies, it's obvious that not everybody has my approach to equipment maintenance. Which is okay.

The main thing, as I see it, is to have fun grilling, enjoy the food, family, and friends, and not burn down your home in the process.

Related posts:

In the - news?
1The Cody Enterprise newspaper is published twice a week in Cody, Wyoming; and was founded by founded by W.F. Buffalo Bill Cody and Colonel John Peake in August 1899. Its online version has reader-submitted news, as well as the more conventional news, sports, obituaries, classified ads and op-ed content.

2"Infotisement?!" That's something that looks like an article, and may give some useful information, but is mainly intended to promote a product or service. An unsourced Wikipedia article says that a copywriter named Matthew McDermott first used it in 2000.

No comments: