Amusing Solar Experiences :-
While solar cooking always be prepared for the unexpected which sometimes may be amusing, annoying or frustrating, but be assured you will never die of boredom. You might witness an animal attacking your hot pot, your cooker may attacking you, a visitor standing mesmerised beside one of your cookers mouth agape not believing what he is seeing, going outside and not finding your cooker where you have left it but beside the front gate, and so it goes on.
Here are just a few memorable happenings that might amuse :-
The Attack of the ‘Death Ray’ :-
I have experienced an amusing though potentially disastrous incident with my home made ex ‘satellite dish’ parabolic cooker. This particular afternoon, having completed my days cooking I stored it out of harms way (or so I thought) on the back porch up against a timber storage cabinet and a pair of running shoes, making sure it was safely turned away from the sun. I didn’t use it the next day but the morning following I wheeled it out and what did I discover, a partly melted shoe and deep scorch mark across the base of the cabinet. Unbeknown to me the early morning rays of sunlight somehow managed to find a way of reaching the reflective side of the dish, which I thought was well shielded from the sun, and reflect onto my shoe and the cabinet. Why the timber cabinet didn’t burn to the ground I’ll never know because normally the reflector will bring a piece of timber to flame in just a few seconds. I suspect that it was not at peak focus and did not display its full potential, of maybe it was partly cloudy at the time in question. Since that day this device has been called the ‘DEATH RAY’. This was a sobering moment and displayed the potential for evil of this device.
The Cold Pizza Box :-
Grade 7 students at the ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’ primary school on the Queensland Sunshine coast had built a number of ‘pizza box’ solar cookers as a science experiment. They had done their research well and built the cookers to specification incorporating all the correct features , black interior to absorb light, plastic covered opening creating a heat trap, and an adjustable reflecting lid to direct more sunlight into the box. Then it was time to bake some biscuits. Since the pastry was moist it was placed on large sheets of bright aluminium foil and put into the cookers. On inspection hours later to the student’s dismay, the pastry remained raw and as cold as ice with not a spot of black absorbing surface to be seen inside the cooker. The students forgot the golden rule that you need BLACK to produce HEAT
Return of the Death Ray :-
The ‘Death Ray’ strikes again. While dining with our friends Trish and Barb on our shady porch, certain aromas could be detected. There were the normal smells of cooked food as can be expected and a faint waft of burning plastic. (Bloody neighbours at it again I thought). As the smell grew stronger I became concerned that it may be something in my yard, so Jane did a quick search to discover that Barbs car was smoking. Earlier that day we had been cooking on the driveway and didn’t bother to put away the Death Ray cooker, which the stiff south-easter had blown up against the car and positioned it in such a way that the concentrated reflection beamed down onto the car’s non metal bumper causing it to burn. The car was saved but had we gone for an afternoon stroll as we often do it would have ended up a well done Japanese sushi by the time we returned.
Goanna with Hot Forked Tongue
During a camping trip on the banks of Yabba Creek just north of Gympie (Queensland), a resident goanna took a fancy to the aromatic smells of a meat casserole slowly stewing in our ‘panel cooker’ and decided to climb down from his perch in an adjacent tree to investigate its source. In no time flat he located its origin and proceeded to go the next step and do a taste test with his long forked tongue. Well, the sizzling hot pot showed no mercy. Every time his tongue touched it his head darted backwards in shock but this did not deter him for long. He was notready to admit defeat and after a good 5 minutes of failures and I’m sure a very sore tongue, this persistent creature set his sites on attaching the cooker itself at which point I intervened to save my apparatus, and our lunch. This goanna remained a regular visitor for the duration of the holiday.