Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Solar Panels Need Full Exposure To The Sun - Guest post by Steven Gregersen


We get a lot of questions about solar installation and one of the most vexing problems people have to deal with is finding an area with full exposure to the sun. We had one person agonize for days about two trees that would shade the panels for part of the day. She, like a lot of people, thought that if half of the panels were still in the sun she’d only lose half of her generating power during that time. It just isn’t so!

We’re currently taking life easy in the desert of Southern Nevada (in a “no-snow” zone), living in our U-Haul truck that we’ve converted to a motorhome. We’ve installed a 100 watt solar panel to supply our electrical needs (to power a couple of lights, our notebook computers and watch DVD’s on our portable DVD player).
We have an ancient analog charge controller that we use to show the importance of full sun on a solar panel so I took a few photos to illustrate what happens when solar panels are shaded from direct sunlight.

This is the 100 watt solar panel. It’s divided into 72 sections or “grids.”
This is the charge controller showing the panel's performance at its maximum output of 6 amps or 79.5 watts (take 13.25 volts times 6 amps to get 79.5 watts). Very few solar panels actually put out their rated watts in a real-world setting. The reasons why will be covered in a future post.
I used my hand to cover two of the “squares.”
Note that covering two sections out of seventy-two reduced charging amps by thirty-percent. The panel is now putting out 53 watts.
I covered 15 squares (approximately 20 percent) with a hand towel.
That reduced the amps to 3 and the charging voltage to 12.75 (38.25 watts). Twenty percent shade resulted in a fifty-percent drop in power.
I covered half of the panel with a blanket.
…and reduced the power to approximately ½ amp and 12.5 volts (which was battery voltage).

We should note that this is not a scientific experiment. The battery we’re using is old and marginal which affects some of our numbers but the percentage the charge rate is reduced in relation to the amount of shading is accurate.

So if you’re considering a solar array the most important aspect of siting it is to insure that it will be in full sunlight for the most hours possible during the day.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Travel and Navigation - DK Richardson guest post

Travel and navigation

If you can't tell the players without a program, you'll find travel far more difficult without a map. I discuss common map products, then provide a listing of where and how to obtain free or low cost map products for your use. I'll cover compasses, and point you to free, on-line training sources for the use of your compass. While a GPS receiver is nice, it does have some real-world drawbacks - I'll discuss those drawbacks.

Just like at the ball field, if you can't tell the players without a program, you may soon get lost if you lack a map to keep you on track. So, let's start this discussion with - why have a map in your DIY disaster kit? Simple, you need one.

Why Maps?

If you're like most folks I know, you have a favorite route to get places. If asked to give directions, I suspect you'll use phrases like, "Turn at the gas station" or "Go two blocks past the school, then turn right." You drive or travel places everyday - to work, the grocery store, to see friends and even over the river and though the woods to visit grandmother. And for your everyday needs, it works great.

What happens, though, when the river overflows its banks and wipes out the bridge you always use? Where is the next bridge up or downstream? Is a ferry available? How do you even get to the next bridge? Where are the low spots most likely to get flooded when the river escapes its banks? Is there even a long way around to get home? Well, if you had the right set of maps, and understand how to read the maps, you would have a lot less to worry about.

What kind of maps?

There as many styles and types of maps - almost too many to list. So, for this we will examine just a few. Back in the day, gas stations would give away or sell at low cost a variety of travel maps. These provide a basic layout of a defined road system and give a general idea of distances between fuel stops or towns. These fill a legitimate need and for what they are, do a good enough job - if everything is going along 'normally'. Many do not show secondary roads and may have outdated information - nothing ruins your day like finding a bridge that been washed out for two years or a highway under construction stopping your journey cold. The older the map, the more likely you are to be surprised - in a bad way.

Several vendors offer trip planning services with current information and a map printed just for your trip. Many people find this service useful enough to support a minor industry. Other vendors offer travel guides that are updated yearly - one of the more famous travel guides is the "Milepost" magazine - it details, mile by mile, the ALCAN highway and several side trips. The magazine says it is updated yearly, but as with any published guide, it's best to check in advance for price and availability for lodging, repair services and so on. Businesses come and go all the time, so any published guide is just that - a guide, and the older it is, the more suspect the information within. "Lonely Planet' offers a series of guides that enjoy wide popularity. Are these guides any good for a disaster kit? I would suggest there are better products.

The better choice would be a Gazetteer for your State/Providence or a select series of topographical (topo) maps. The DeLorme series of maps are nicely bundled for each state and contain both topographical type maps and well the road system for major cities. Each book, or atlas as they are called, runs about 20 US dollars and for the information they contain, are a wonderful bargain. At 11 by 15.5 inches they are handy without being too large to handle. (http://shop.delorme,com) Each of the atlases has a key to explain the sometimes cryptic marks on the map.

A dedicated topo map of a specific area, usually sold by the US Geological survey (USGS) gives the most data at scales varying from 350,000 to 1 all the down to 24,000 to 1. Or put another way, at the 1 to 24,000 scale - One inch equals 2000 feet. The maps are sold by Quadrangle and section - they may also be referred to by how many minutes they cover - that is 7.5 minutes, 15 minute and so on. USGS map products do show cityscapes, but as with most any printed document, can suffer from lag time to print - and therefore may be less than accurate in a fast growing area.

(http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/index.html to order maps from the USGS)

The more development in an area, the more all maps suffer from this lag.

To obtain free (and current) USGS topo maps go to - http://nationalmap.gov/ustopo/index.html and select the map for your area of interest. You can print these at home, but I must warn the scale will not be exactly as listed owing to how your printer works.

Are you kidding me? Free maps?

Yes, indeed. Your tax dollars at work. They are free because you print them out. If you want a maps that the scale matches the printed product, then order the paper product from the USGS, the instructions are on the same page. About 10 dollars per 7.5 minute map.

Will this work for everyone?

The free maps download to your computer as a .pdf product. It will work as well as any other (large) .pdf. Be warned, most files start about 18 Megs in size, not for the faint of heart or those with dial up modems.

What if I don't have a printer or want a full scale map?'

Stores that sell and service drafting plotters often offer a print service for customers take your .pdf file down and see if they will print for you - expect to pay for this. You may also have you map printed on opaque mylar or Tyvek, both offer a durable and water resistant product. Finally, outfits like REI offer custom printing of maps for a reasonable fee.

I use (brand name) maps on my (iphone/android phone/gadget) - why should I use USGS maps.

The USGS is the standard for map accuracy.

What's will all those lines? Are they of any use?

That data, those lines, are what make topo maps so valuable. The USGS page has an explanation of what each line represents. This is both on-line and too long to cover here. Go, read, learn.

What is a compass and why do I need one?

For a quality topo map to be of the most use, it should be oriented - that is to say, lined up north to south the way it is drawn. This alignment makes it easier to relate terrain features you see to the map in front of you. To navigate - travel - using a map as a guide, a compass is a necessary tool.

What kind of compass?

There are so many different kinds and styles of compasses, from cheap button compasses to pocket transits costing several hundred dollars - the new user can get confused. Let me list a few simple things to remember -

-Real Quality costs real money. There is a reason that 'Chinese marching compass' or 'military style' compass will not work as good as a US made, milsurp prismatic compass - Quality. That is why one is 5 dollars and the other is 60 dollars. Just as there is no free lunch, there is no 'cheap and accurate' compass. The world doesn't work that way.

-The 'best' compass is one you know how to use to get the most from your map. Each compass has a purpose - so a hand bearing compass works differently than a Pocket Transit - both can be used to navigate. I'll narrow this down in a bit

-If you will use the compass in North America, buy one made to work in North America.

-In my opinion, a compass that will allow you to set declination (offset between the real GeographicNorth pole and the Magnetic North pole) is a worthwhile extra cost feature. You will make fewer mistakes.

-A compass that has some kind of sighting system will allow you to navigate more precisely.

- get a compass marked in degrees unless you plan on running a field artillery unit. (360 degrees vs 6400 mils)

So, now what? So - lets look at a very expensive compass - and some better suited to your kit.

This is a Brunton Pocket Transit. Arguably the most accurate hand-held compass you can buy - and at several hundred dollars, it is certainly expensive. While in college, I worked for a GeoEx company and we used these Pocket Transits to lay out mining claims. I would love to have one for the cool factor, but it is serious overkill. What's next?

This is the face of a Cammenga brand military prismatic compass. Cost - about 60 dollars or so. The dial is marked in degrees with reciprocal bearing in red, the needle is glow in the dark and as you can see, East and West are highlighted. The outer dial is marked in one degree notches, so you can use it in the dark - but why would you want to?

An excellent bit of kit and well worth the money. Okay for your kit, but still a bit of overkill. What's next?

The Silva brand "Ranger' compass. Listed at 51 dollars on the Silva website.

Rugged, has a sighting system, can be used to quickly orient you maps and has map scales on the base plate. Huummm, almost prefect. This model allows you to dial in the declination. And then?

The Silva Guide model 426 - ahhh, just right. About 15 dollars on-line. Comes a variety of colors, and it floats. The sighting mirror has a Vee notch at the top of the mirror’s sight line. The compass needle itself is made out of tungsten steel with a friction free sapphire bearing -so it moves freely. The compass is filled with clear antistatic liquid, so no annoying bubbles inside the dial or needle flutter. You can fold the cover back behind the compass if you want it be out of the way, say, while using a map. 2.5 inches square, it takes up little space. Did I mention, it will float? The dial is divided in 2 degree increments.

There are other compasses out there. Well made and a quality product. I've been using Silva and Suunto products for over 5 decades and they have never failed me. I'm writing this, so it is my recommendation. You can make your own choice, of course, but please take the time to compare features and quality, and then worry about the cost. Because if your cheapo compass fails or is inaccurate, how big a bargain is it in the end, really?

Okay, now you have a compass - how the heck do you use it? Books have been written on this, so I'll point to several on-line resources and let you pick the one you find easiest to understand.

Field Manual 3-25.26 Map Reading and Land navigation. The Army way of using a compass. A good read covering all the basics, and them some. Features a prismatic compass as seen above


A series of lessons on orienteering, a kind of race requiring navigation to precise locations. An oldie but goodie


Easy to read illustrated guide for the beginner or advanced field person.

Short version for folks wishing to brush up on old skills.

The only way to be comfortable using a compass - is to use one. Buy a map of your local area and then use the compass that will go in your kit to navigate from point to point! It can be a fun family activity. Try it.

Is a (brand name) compass better then...

Some compasses are priced higher than others. More money doesn't always better quality, but Quality does cost. Sapphire bearings cost more than those without, and so on. There are a number of Indian knock-offs of the Brunton Pocket Transit made of brass that are great paperweights. I'd never count on one to find True North.

Do I really need to orient my map?

When you are doing so-called paper exercises, planning, measuring distances, identifying hazards like low lying areas - no. In the field using the map to get from Point B to Point B, I would argue that you do need to orient the map for best results. Terrain features may look the same as another if you aren't sure of you exact location.

I don't need a compass, I have a GPS!

I'm happy for you. Most GPS units offer a heading feature - acting like a compass. I know the compass I use is accurate to + / - 1/2 of one degree. What about your GPS unit? Good luck on finding that information for your unit. I have a nice GPS unit and have used it when going photography overseas for industrial operations, marking the place I captured the image in a database and log. This is different that land navigation.

Are you saying a GPS is no good?

I am saying - be careful.

Printed maps and GPS coordinates may not agree - some map products - mostly outside of North America anymore, may be 'off' by upwards of several miles - the older the map data, the more likely this is to happen. This is because some products are using data obtained before the GPS system was in place - I have maps based on 1950s data - the data on the map is good - mountains haven't moved, but the geophysical coordinates don't match up to my GPS - owing to systematic errors from back in the day.

You've heard to the stories of people blindly following their in-car 'navigation system' and driving into lakes, rivers or even the ocean. A map requires a bit of care and should always be considered an aid to your travels. The older the map, the more care should be exercised, items build by man may be removed by nature, so any map you use to navigate from your home to a place of refuge should be vetted.

Pick and drive your alternate routes at least yearly. City road maps should be replaced on a regular basis, especially if you live in or near a fast growing area. Use your maps in advance to find choke points - bridges or overpasses/railroad bridges that could collapse and block the roadway. Mark and know the low lying areas that may be prone to flooding.

Thank you, Mr. Richardson, for this excellent information.  We are fortunate to have you share your knowledge with us.
Please leave comments or questions below, or email them to
Susan and the Poverty Prepping team

Preparing for... what?

        What are you preparing for?  That's what people ask me most.  There are as many reasons for preparing, or 'prepping' as it's called, as there are people.  Unfortunately, people use that as ammunition against other preppers.  One person who is preparing for, say, a national collapse, will scorn another person who is prepping for a shorter-term thing such as an ice storm.  Another who only feels they need a few days back-up supplies makes fun of someone who is stashing away as much as they can in anticipation of hyper-inflation.  And so on.

        I've refrained from being too specific about my own preps and what I think could happen because I don't want to create a mold that anyone feels they have to fit into.  If I wrote that I believe a certain thing is a probability or possibility, some people would adopt that as their belief and plan accordingly, and I don't know anything for certain regarding what could happen.  Some things are a likelihood, such as hurricanes and big snow/ice storms in certain parts of the country, but I don't live in an area that experiences those things.  I also don't live where there are tornadoes or floods.  Those of you who do should have a plan and supplies for those situations.

        On the other side of that coin, I also get a lot of emails from people who warn me that I should be preparing for one thing or another that I haven't specifically addressed.  The people who see a revolution coming or some other kind of national disturbance want me to tell people they should prepare for that.  I have people writing every day from a wide variety of prepping stances: political, religious, social, domestic fears, world-wide fears, natural disaster awareness, etc.  If one of them would write in such a way that I could publish their stance as a post here on the blog, I would. 

        But so far they have been written in a way to criticize others who aren't prepping the way the writers thinks everyone should, or for the things (events or situations) the writer thinks they should.  There hasn't been even one email that was written to educate or share a view.  We've become a society of trying to convince others by tearing apart the other person or belief, instead of politely and intelligently explaining a view or trying to teach others.

        That's one reason I kept my book generic about the 'why' and 'how much' of prepping.  I gave examples but my concern wasn't why a person felt they should store food or other supplies.  It was that they knew how to get started.  They have to begin somewhere.  Some people have been doubful that there are people who have no food in their homes, but a surprising number of American households have less than one day of food in their homes.  If all they do is put away enough food to munch on for a few days in an emergency, then I think they've made a great first step.  And if all they put away is pop tarts and crackers, GOOD!!!  At least they did something. 

        And if they put away three weeks' worth of food, GOOD!!!  Some people, once they get started, will have the courage and desire to keep working at it.  Some people will stop at three days or three weeks' worth of food.  I'm not here to tell them they have to put away a year's worth or a lifetime's worth.  If that's what they believe they need to do, then they should work toward that goal. 

        Whatever reason any of you have for prepping, and whatever scenarios you anticipate down the road, are all equally valid for the purpose of this blog and the book.  I'm not here to preach any one of them.  There's an old saying that you can't please everyone.  It wouldn't matter what I wrote here, or what I wrote in the book.  Nearly everyone would have a different opinion or a different prepping plan or reason for it.  This site is all-inclusive.  We can learn as much or as little as we believe we need to. 

        I do appreciate the emails you send.  I've learned a lot from you and I wish more of you would write things I could share here on the blog.  I respect the privacy of those who asked me not to share their letters on here, and those who don't mind the information being shared but want their identity withheld.  I've enjoyed helping track down answers to your questions and hearing your concerns.

        Let's be supportive and encouraging regardless of what stage of prepping people are at, or what they're prepping for.  Don't say "You're only prepping for three days?  That's stupid.  Don't you know *this or that* is going to happen, blah blah blah".  Say something like "You have three days' preps?  That's great!  Have you thought about adding to it now, just in case?"   Don't say "You have three years' long-term food storage?  How dumb.  What a waste.  You must be a paranoid nut case".  Say "Wow, that's great.  I hope you never need it."

        Please keep writing.  Be true to yourself and don't apologize for your beliefs or preps.  Tell me why you're right, not why everyone else isn't.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Dave's Kitchen - Blue Cornbread

Blue Cornbread

Since my daughter and her husband, Rebecca and Craig, came in and were willing
to grind the corn, I decided to make Blue Cornbread tonight.
Unground blue corn
They were surprised that
I we had so much corn stored and thought that a taste of the end product would help
convince them that, if anything, we may need more.
The grinding set-up and items used

They started grinding and when we had about 8 cups of coarse meal, I told
them it was enough to make 2 batches. One made with just cornmeal and
one made with the cornmeal, wheat flour and a little sugar added, some would
call the second batch Corn Muffins.
Finished, sifted cornmeal

My grandparents used to say, "The better you like your company, the finer
you grind the meal" so I sifted out the larger pieces and they reground them
into a finer meal, I like my family quite a bit.lol Anyway the end result was
a meal that was a little finer than what you would buy in the grocery store.
Leftover grits
The leftover larger pieces of corn were saved to make Grits with in the morning for

The Recipes I use are my own:

Old Fashioned Cornbread
3 cups cornmeal
3 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Vinegar water

Corn Muffins
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup wheat flour
3 eggs
2/3 cup oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar(depending on your preference)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons baking powder
Vinegar water

Bake at 400 degrees until done, time will depend on the type of pan you use.

The baking soda isn't really necessary, I add it to make my bread taste like
my grandparents, they used only baking soda when they cooked. The vinegar
water is to replace milk, it makes the batter acidic enough to make sure the
leavening works. Mix in just enough of the vinegar to make a very stiff batter for
both recipes. The Old Fashioned cornbread has to have the batter thick enough
to hold the air bubbles from the leavening.

The baking pan I use is a new one, divided into 8 individual mini loaves, It's
easier for us to have the pre-made loaves instead of cutting a pan into squares
and damaging the coating on the baking dish. Theses pans of batter cooks in
in the 400 degree oven in about 25 minutes.

Note: Be careful with the Blue Corn batter, it can stain cloths if you get any on
Thanks, Dave, for sharing this with us.  My mouth is watering!  I don't know whether to tackle this myself or just plan a visit to your part of the country!  Just kidding!  It's always helpful to know a delicious way to prepare stored food such as corn. 
Please leave comments and questions below or by email at:
Susan and the Poverty Prepping team

Tools and Repairs - DK Richardson Guest Post

Tools and repairs

In this Chapter, I briefly discuss the common, lightweight tools you should have on hand for use in a disaster.

The classic saw of "A stitch in time saves nine" is more correct than not. I describe a small but comprehensive sewing kit and a larger tool for use in repairing large tarps, backpacks and the like.

Since this DIY disaster kit is designed to support you for about four days, absent access to a shelter or other infrastructure, you should have some simple equipment in your kit.

Recommended DIY Disaster Kit tools:

Common pocket knife, folding.

Your fingernails and teeth are with you all the time, but can fail when you try to open something. So, a quality knife is called for as a priority. One I have found useful is a Camillus brand US Stainless Steel Knife. This knife features a 2 3/8" blade, can opener, punch, and screwdriver/cap lifter. The blade doesn't lock, so some care in use is required. If you choose to add a locking blade knife, check your local knife laws!

Another good choice is a classic Swiss Army Knife, one with a can opener, but not much more.


If a folding pocket knife doesn't seem like it provides enough flexibility, there are several multi-tools on the market that include everything up to and including a socket set. I have found that a 'real' pliers and a pocket knife provide more functionality than a multi-tool. YMMV as they say.

One of many, many types and brands of multi-tool on the market today.

A minimal sewing kit.

This may be a simple as a single needle pre-threaded and stored in your first kit to a dedicated sewing kit with multiple needles and a variety of threads, buttons and scissors in a small case all by itself.

This kit, by WebTex has needles, thread, scissors and a folding case, you can build your own for less, but sometimes a pre-built kit has the advantage of saving you time to gather and case the items yourself. I'll describe how to build one in a bit.

*Sewing awl.

This is a heavy duty tool for repairs of webbing, backpacks, even your shoes. Optional.

A knife sharpener.

A simple tool used to keep your knife sharp. One I have found to be both effective and easy to use is marketed by Gerber as their "Pocket sharpener". Under four dollars each, they work well.


Hand trowel.

In an earlier chapter, I listed a trowel or small folding shovel. I wouldn't recommend a plastic trowel, but there are many good choices in your local garden section. True surplus folding shovels should provide good service as well. I checked the price of new, USGI issue folding shovels today (1/12/13) - they are priced at $80.61! Just so you know.

Heavy leather gloves.

Yes, I consider these to be a 'tool'. I have listed these here as a pair of good quality, heavy leather gloves should stay in your disaster kit. They will go a long way to protect your hands, because if you injure your hands, you will find life becomes much more difficult.


Means to start a fire.

I suggest that both a disposable lighter and a ferrocerium fire starter be in your kit along with a small container - say, a 35mm film can, with a few cotton balls soaked in Vaseline. While I have strongly suggested that an alcohol stove is your best bet for disaster cooking, many will want the psychological support that a campfire offers.

LED headlamp.

A flashlight is nice; a headlamp allows you to have both hands free to perform a task. One that has multiple light (output) settings and an adjustable headband are best. I would avoid those lamps that use so-called button batteries, an AA or as a second choice, AAA battery powered units generally provide better service.

Duck tape.

Yes. Duck tape is the Universal fix-it. Tear your pants? A strip of duck tape will keep things together until you have the time to break out the sewing kit. Wind several feet on an old gift card.

Hatchet or axe?

For the most part, no. It is unneeded. Most of the wood you would burn will be small enough to break with your foot, and if too large for that, burn it in half and push the ends into the fire. Many jurisdictions consider this as a potential weapon, most shelters will deny admission if you have one in your possession.


Water tote.

Unless you know you will have a nearby source of good water, a means to carry up to a gallon of water is something you should consider. This can be a pair of 2 liter soda bottles or a folding water bag. Remember, one gallon of water weighs eight pounds.

Can opener.

A P-38 or its larger cousin, the P-51 take almost no space, but work a wonder at opening cans. Even if you don't have canned food in your kit, I still recommend having one at hand.

*Earlier I mentioned a small AM/FM/NOAA radio set with headphones and a spare battery. Since it is equipment, I'll list it again hear as a 'must have' - consider yourself nagged.

** I add more equipment in a 'car kit' as an outgrowth of this kit.

I'll some of that mention here in this post to Susan's site about a so-called Pioneer Tool Set. Common to the military, it is something to consider for your truck/Jeep or other off road vehicle.

This set is a full sized axe, a full sized shovel and a mattock or pick-axe. Often added to this is a 20 pound double jack and a 'Hi-Lift' jack. Others have added a come-along or hand winch, rated at two tons or more. If you are not trained in the use of an axe - and it is a skill, a bucksaw or hand chain saw will work well. Always include a file and a stone to keep the tools shar
Any number of websites provide a massive number of lists of 'must have' items in a disaster kit. These authors offer any number of reasons why you need such and such an item - and these may be valid reasons. Since this kit is designed to pretty much sit in a closet until needed, I would think that cost is a major driver in both the quantity and quality of the items you select to put in your kit. I'll make suggestions, you make the choices, as you and only you know the needs you may have and the skills you pisses.

* * * * * *

A simple sewing kit. You can purchase any number of pre-made kits, but you can build your own for a lot less. Start with an old gift card or other flexible plastic card about the same size. Make two small cuts - slits, really - about 1/4 in deep at the end away from the end where you will wrap your tape.

Wrap one end -twice - with duck tape. This will allow you to place a #1 Sharps (a type and size of needle) on the card by pushing it into the tape. Sharps are normally sold as a set for a few dollars - so shop around. A #1 Darner needle may be a good substitute. I suggest adding a second, smaller needle - and thread both before you add them to your sewing kit. Now you can wrap thread - both thick and some thin, around the card using the cuts in the card to hold each end of the thread.

One thing to consider adding to your sewing kit is a thimble and a threading aid. This kit is small, has everything you need to make a simple repair in the field and should fit into your Individual First Aid Kit with room to spare.

Again, these are suggestions for equipment items to have in your disaster kit, items of most use to you will be driven by your location and where you plan to shelter if forced to leave you primary residence.

Thank you, Mr. Richardson.  Your information is, as always, useful and much appreciated.
Please leave comments below or by email at

Thank you!
Susan and the Poverty Prepping team

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

computer trouble

I'm having computer trouble.  I use a netbook laptop and it won't recognize the charger cord. The light on the box inline on the cord is coming on but the computer acts like the cord isn't even there.  It's almost out of battery life, so I've quit using it for now.  I did try a cord from someone else's identical computer, so it must be something about the port where it plugs in to the computer. Right now I'm still at the "wringing my hands" stage while I decide what to do.

Meanwhile my only 'computer' is a tablet, which is tedious to type on.  I may have to use a library computer to make posts for a while.

I just wanted to let you know that I have not lost interest in adding more information to this blog. I apologize for the delay in posting and commenting on your comments, and being so far behind answering your emails.


(February 18, 2013:  I've got the computer problem straightened out for now.  It seems to have been dust/dirt in the port where the cord plugs in.  Once it was blown out the cord worked and the computer battery started charging.  Such a simple thing, and I didn't think of it!  I'm still playing catch-up with comments and emails but I'm almost back on top of things.  Thanks for all the good wishes and suggestions.  I appreciate the emails.  Susan )