Dear Readers: If you have a fireplace, grab a stack of old newspapers and get rolling. Newspapers make excellent fireplace logs, and they are really easy to put together. Here's how you can make your own logs for burning:
1. You'll need a bundle of old newspapers and a few empty vegetable cans.
2. Remove both ends and the labels from the cans, and discard any glossy inserts in the newspaper.
3. Take a 1-inch stack of newspaper and, section by section, alternate the direction of the folds. Tightly roll up the stack, slip a can on one end and slide it to the middle of the rolled newspaper to hold it together.
4. Completely soak the rolled newspaper in water, then (this is very important) let it dry completely to compress the papers and hold them together while they burn.
5. Use the newspaper log, can and all, like a regular fireplace log. After it burns and the ashes have cooled, carefully remove the metal can with a pair of tongs (keep in mind that it might still be hot).
These homemade fireplace logs burn wonderfully and are a great way to recycle your unwanted newspapers. —Heloise
Dear Heloise: I was told that cards used for keys in some hotels and motels should be destroyed and not returned to the hotel or motel because they contain important information, including your address and credit-card numbers, with expiration dates. Anyone with a card reader, or an employee of the hotel, can access this personal information. Because I will be leaving on vacation soon, this is a concern. Do you know if this is true? — Dianne Lucenti, via e-mail
Dianne, after checking with two major hotel chains, the information you have received is not true. The only information on the magnetic strip of a "key card" is to access your room only. The hotel key-card system is different from the billing system! — Heloise
Dear Heloise: On a trip to the Baltic a few years ago, I saw an interesting use for clay pots.
Where smoking was allowed (and it is generally still allowed in Europe) at restaurants with outdoor tables, a clay pot with a hole in the bottom was turned upside down in a clay saucer to put ashes and cigarette butts into. It kept the stench at a minimum and prevented ashes from flying around in the breezes that seem to be common there.
And, it stopped fires caused by people putting not-quite-dead cigarettes, etc., into containers that might have paper or other combustibles inside. — Jo Stermer, Huntsville, Ala.
Dear Heloise:As Boy Scouts, my sons learned to wrap duct tape around a water bottle. You have two sources of emergency equipment in one. — Diane Day Ubias, Bellaire, Texas
Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, TX 78279-5000; fax: 210-435-6473; e-mail: Heloise@Heloise.com. © King Features Syndicate Inc.