Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Grill of Victory

Cooking is traditionally considered women's work in the United States. But in the summertime, men take over, hauling large slabs of meat outdoors to cook it on primitive equipment. I suspect this is all a conspiracy concocted by women who don't want to work in a hot kitchen during the summer months. So they used their feminine guile to convince men that it's "masculine" to build a fire and grill their meals, just like our hairy ancestors used to do, while they sit inside drinking frozen daquiris, just like their hairy ancestors use to do.

I'm no different than any other man, sipping beer and burning off my eyebrows while I fuss with burgers, brats, chicken and steaks. On Father's day, the day I should have been relaxing in front of the TV, my wife handed me a plate of meat and sent me out to the grill to earn my keep.

Men, here's a tip. Turn on the grill before you buy the meat, just to make sure there won't be any technical problems. I turned on the propane tank, opened the valves, and hit the igniter. Nothing. No hiss, no smell, no poof, no fire. My brother stood helpfully next to me holding a beer and said, "The burners must be clogged." Then he went inside where it was air-conditioned. I dug out a screwdriver and removed the greasy, slimy burners, then cleaned them with a wire brush. By the time I got them back on, I was filthy (but the grill worked just fine).


Recently, I've been having a weird intermittent problem with my grill. The regulator valve on the propane tank makes this loud, irritating squeal when I turn on the gas, which persists throughout the cooking process. This doesn't happen every time, just occasionally, and it's really annoying. It sounds like the brakes on a logging truck hurtling down the side of a steep mountain.

So I looked it up on the Internet, where it's referred to as a "hum," rather than a maddening squeal. Apparently, this problem is caused by a combination of temperature, humidity and barometric pressure, which causes the diaphram in the valve to vibrate. It's described as "harmless," because it only causes mental illness.

After about 15 minutes listening to the howl coming from my grill, I was struck with an idea: I can't change the humidity or barometric pressure, but I can change the temperature. I ran into the house and grabbed an ice cube, then balanced it on the throat of the valve.


In less than 30 seconds, the squeal vanished. It was a defining macho moment. My hairy ancestors would be so proud.


Ellen said...

This is one of those things that I would have scoffed at someone for trying, just to have been proven wrong. But, this is 'Classic Tim' genious. This is how I define you....along with your propensity to be the world's most accident-prone person.... I thought for sure this story would end with a real trauma requiring yet another trip to the emergency room. :-)

burton said...

cool solution!

Chris said...

I'm waiting for Timmer to devise some sort of automatic cooling system for the valve...using liquid oxygen.