Sunday, September 18, 2016
Working From My Smartphone Part 4 (Infrastructure without Power)
This is a continuation of Working From my Smartphone Part 3.
3:36 pm Monday 9/19/2016
One additional note, there should probably be a second cooler/ice chest so that the food can be better organized. Also, one should have a half dozen or so plastic/whatever containers with watertight lid for such things as potato salad, soups, etc that need to be cooled and should not be allowed to tip over and spill over everything. There are in general not many shelves in most ice chests.
10:00 PM Sunday 9/18/2016
This post reviews some issues in the general area of "strategies for sustainability". Obviously no one wants to "fall of the edge" and be a burden to one's friends. So there are various approaches to avoid this, but it is difficult to discuss for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that each subtopic is itself complicated. All I can do is to bring up a few issues that are simple enough to post here and discuss some progress and potential partial solutions.
An example of a "small problem" is preparing for and managing being off the power grid. Two examples of larger problems that are not so tractable are (a) making enough income to be self supporting and (b) understanding exactly where the power is going and what it costs given that the price fluctuates wildly day to day and possibly hour to hour.
On the topic of managing being without power, this recent situation demonstrated that we had actually prepared to some extent. I want to review here what worked and what could be better.
The following worked fairly well. Battery powered lighting was adequate. Smartphone provided excellent communications and at a reasonable price ($40/month) given that I get email, voice telephony, texting, Facebook and mobile web browsing. I was able to recharge the phone locally by using the car battery accessory port. The local library provides excellent access to the internet with real keyboards and screens a few minute drive from here for zero cost and in a pleasant environment. It is available basically during business hours 7 days a week. For two dollars worth of ice (two 10 lb ice bricks), I have been able to keep cool that subset of food that requires a cool temperature, and one can easily eat without cooking if one wants to (at least for a while).
We also got lucky in that when the power is turned off, the gas is not, although I doubt this happens because the energy company is being generous. But the end result is that as long as your water is on, one can have hot water for showers.
Things that can be improved for modest cost include (a) more portable lighting, possibly with solar recharge, (b) longer smartphone life with an external battery which itself may be charged with a portable solar device, (c) an emergency radio of some sort for additional communications and entertainment, (d) possibly a camp stove to heat food and boil water, and (e) possibly a bicycle to be able to get to the local library without having a car.
I have reviewed the camp stoves, and the low cost option is the Coleman 2 burner Triton for $40.00 and the much better Camp Chef 2 burner Everest for approximately $100.00.
In compliance with our government's efforts to destroy employment in this country and impoverish Americans, both stoves are made in China, and may even, according to one source, actually be made in one factory over there. Apparently this is one of the reasons that the Camp Chef stove is available for $30 less from a Chinese company, they just stole the design and made additional copies at that same Chinese factory. Now that is the kind of ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that our Government can support!
But the unexpected benefit of not having power was the increased necessity to get out of the house and out into the community. I miss that already.