Today was my day off from work and I had a lot of free time on my hands. I typed up a few things that have been on my mind lately: I've been reading on various sites on the internet for a while now about the possibility of a massive solar storm(s) that could occur in 2012. It is speculated that in a worst case scenario, the storms have the potential to knock out power throughout many parts of the U.S. and it could take months to fix everything. The worst part of it is that it is supposed to happen in December. It gets really cold here in the winter and I used to wonder what my boyfriend and I would do if we were still living in this apartment and had a power outage then. A wood burning box stove would be a great thing to have for a situation like that- except that if our landlord saw one in our apartment, he would have a fit. I already know he wouldn't allow one here, so that leads back to the question of how would we stay warm in during a power outage in the middle of the winter. After giving the matter some thought, it occurred to me that our charcoal grill could be modified to burn small logs of wood. It would provide enough heat to keep most of this place warm and rooms could be closed off to conserve heat. I don't have any pictures to illustrate the steps, but the concept is very simple. All that would need to be done would be to take the grill apart at the hinges. Then make a frame out of metal and place it between the top and bottom so that it would raise the lid at least 12 inches. The frame would have to be sturdy enough to allow the weight of a pot or pan on top for cooking and heating water. Cookie sheets, muffin pans, or any piece of metal big enough to cover the sides would need to be secured around it and any gaps would need to be covered. This can be done with aluminum foil or by soldering the spaces together. Another piece of metal would be needed for the door. The hinges on our cabinets and one of the knobs would work well for a handle, since they are made of metal. Since I would be raising the height of the grill, I would need to cut off about 12 inches off of the legs. This will keep the height at a reasonable level to cook on. I have a large piece of wood left over from a previous craft project (3’x4’), and if I cover it with aluminum foil and place it underneath the grill, it will protect the floor. A hole would have to be cut through the lid of the gill and a pipe secured to it to allow smoke to channel through to the outside. The gaps between the pipe and the lid of the grill would have to be covered as well. Food cans could be soldered together to make the pipe. A few random thoughts: After writing the above segment, I’ve decided not to wait until an emergency situation to piece together the heater. Tomorrow I’m going to the hardware store and buy the pipe, soldering wire, and metal sheeting to go around the sides and to make the door. I can hide the pipe and metal sheets behind the couch here and the landlord won’t have a fit over what he can’t see. I don’t need a soldering iron because in a power outage an electrical one would be useless anyway. I can improvise by holding a piece of metal to the flame of a candle until it gets red hot. Then it would be hot enough to melt the soldering wire. There’s metal shelves here that I can cut apart with my hacksaw to make the frame, so that will be one less thing that would be needed. It has been stated on this forum that the government hates cash money because it doesn’t leave a paper trail and is difficult to trace. After thinking about it, it occurred to me that there could be another reason why the government has contempt for paper currency- it’s easier to seize people’s assets without it. Think about it. With little more than a few clicks of a mouse, the government can freeze bank accounts, seize any money in retirement accounts and stock investments, structured settlement payments, and the list goes on. It’s much more difficult to seize a tangible asset than a virtual asset. Wire strippers and soldering wire are great things to have in a toolkit. In an emergency, those that take a proactive approach to the situation, prepare in advance, and know how to improvise have the best odds of surviving. This means that I should probably add some DIY books to my library or we’re screwed. Years ago I worked as a guard at a juvenile detention facility. On a few occasions I’ve caught some of the kids smoking in their rooms. They used a cigarette lighter made from 2 AA batteries and thin wire. I don’t remember exactly how they did it and tried to make one the other day by putting a safety pin between the two ends of the batteries and pressing them together to make a spark. It didn’t work. I found a few links on the internet on how to make a homemade lighter out of batteries. I’ll post them as soon as I find them again. It’s good to know how to piece one of these things together in case lighters run out of fluid. Some of them can be made from ordinary things that most people already have in their homes. I heard once that terra cotta pots used for planting make great knife sharpeners. Tomorrow I’ll have to pick one up and try it because the knife sharpener that I got from Wal-Mart a while back didn’t work very well. My mother had a black bar that she used to sharpen her knives to an extent that would make a chef envious. I think it was made out of some type of slate rock and have not been able to find anything like it in the stores. Window panels with the glass intact would make a great solar oven. It could easily get hot enough inside to cook or dehydrate foods if pieced together. I would recommend stripping the paint off of it first just to ensure that any lead has been removed before using. At this time of the year they are easier to find because of all of the home remodeling. Our tv stand has four large glass shelves and the glass is thick enough to withstand high temperatures without warping. These would be perfect for piecing together a box to make a solar oven. The added benefit is that during extended power outages, you wouldn’t have the extra heat in your house from cooking in the warmer weather since you’re using it outside. Does anyone know what the shelf life of summer sausages are? I tried to find some info about it but none of the articles I found gave a clear answer. Today I bought 2 16oz beef summer sausage with an expiration date of Oct 2010, 2 24oz beef and pork summer sausages with an expiration date of June 2010, and 2 16oz sticks of pepperoni with an expiration date of Oct 2011. I also bought some canned items but those would still be good after the expiration date as long as they don’t get too hot or cold. I tried to find shelf stable meats with the latest expiration date possible, but those were it.