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Reading takes so much blood for my brain that my feet get cold, and if I read and write at my computer in a perfectly comfortable room for more than a couple of hours, my body starts feeling cold too. Putting on a sweater doesn’t work well after I’m cold because it just insulates me and keeps the cold in, and then if I turn up the thermostat to a higher temperature I get too warm, and quite consistently, at the very moment I take off my sweater, the thermostat decides the room is too warm and shuts down. Then after a short while I get too cold, put my sweater back on, which once again keeps the cold in, and then the heater goes back on and after a bit I am once again too cold on my inside, and start feeling too hot on my outside. This may all sound absurd to you, but if ever you achieve the hoped for but dreaded geriatric state it will all become familiar. In this state of ancient age it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain what feels like a just right temperature while reading. So what to do? Besides buck-up or die?

Being rather prone to solve problems rather than just whine about them endlessly, which others may think I do do far too much, I set about to solve my problems, which most of the time my friends will typically consider a bit weird. They think it not worth wasting their time on hearing about, even for a minute, some of the things I have spent considerable time pondering over. For the very reason that they are unwilling to think about problems they suffer needlessly, and because stresses of living sometimes make them unhappy, which precipitates unhealthiness, they just pucker up their faces, refuse to face their simple reality and so they die sooner. Why not just think about problems confronting you a little while and make everything as near perfect as possible and then enjoy the benefits of a near perfect living situation?

Before a problem can be solved it must be noted in the mind and that usually, almost always, means saying the annoyance out loud. When others hear this statement they will think of it as complaining, but that is not quite what I mean; rather I mean forming the problem more clearly by stating it out loud, and hopefully getting some feedback from your compatriots, possibly a solution to the problem. If they had an answer it wouldn’t be necessary for me to ponder over it. Most people think that thinking is easy, but thinking about a brand new problem is apparently a very difficult thing to do. A simple proof of that obviously absurd statement is the the US Patent Office only has some 7 million patents for the 7 billion people living, so only one in a thousand has had a successful patentable idea. And there have been lots more people living before the present batch got going, approximately ten times as many. So only one person in ten thousand lives their entire life having had a patentable idea. That of course is a very sloppy calculation but it illustrates the magnitude of the problem and the rarity of people actually solving new problems.

I have observed that the temperature of the walls surrounding me greatly influences my perception of warmth and that it is independent of the temperature of the air. Perhaps you have noticed when standing beside a west-facing brick wall after sunset, when the air is getting chilly, that the side of you facing the wall feels quite warm and comfortable. The side facing away from the wall can feel quite cool, even cold, and yet the temperature of the air is the same on both sides. This of course is because the warm wall is radiating infrared light onto the skin on that side of your body, but if you touch your hand to the skin on either side you will discover there isn’t much difference in temperature. The warmth is mostly an instantaneous feeling on the surface. The opposite temperature experiment can be done by standing with one of your sides exposed to a very cold surface. A large single layer window, inside a normally heated room, exposed to subfreezing night temperatures outdoors will give a very chilling effect to your skin, but once again if you touch that cold feeling skin with your hand it will not feel particularly cold. In the case of the hot brick wall or the wintry cold window, it takes a minute to actually change the temperature of your skin very much. Perhaps, the following experiment might be easier. On a cold cloudless night beside a campfire step back a ways from the fire, say ten steps, and hold your palm toward the fire with the back of it toward the cloudless sky. Now rotate you hand 180° wait a few seconds and rotate it back. Do that several times. You will notice the side facing the fire feels warm and the side facing the cold sky feels cold; however, the actual temperature of you skin hasn’t changed even a tiny bit in a few seconds, only your perception of the temperature.

Having made that observation I am planning to construct a study carrel with temperature-controllable walls. To make these walls cool-able as well as warm-able would require having a layer of flowing air within the wall. This could be accomplished by taking the very large corrugated cardboard, with one inch tubes, and blowing air from a heat pump through the tubes. The heat pump has a setting for a particular temperature and so once the necessary piping was in place from a temperature-controllable source of air, a room could be created in which the temperature of the walls could be adjusted.

There would be a standard thermostat setting for the air temperature in the room and a second thermostat setting for the temperature of the walls. I suspect that the ideal temperature for a reading room would be about 75° F for the air and about 80° F for the walls. Those adjustments would have to be ascertained by physical experiment for the general public and then adjusted for each person. The ideal would vary from season to season depending upon the person’s acclimatization to the local weather and upon humidity. Only experience can determine the best adjustment of these variables, but if this worked it would prove a great comfort to temperature-challenged people.