prime temperatures for activities
Monday, March 23 2009
It was a cold and windy day, but with plenty of sun for the making of hot water suitable for baths. During the oil-heating season, I was down to bathing or showering every five days or so, doing my part to conserve the oil used to heat the water. But at this time of year, when the sun is heating our water, I can take as many baths as I like and not feel like I'm driving a virtual Hummer.
Also at this time of year, with our boiler off but with occasional days like this one (during which the temperature never rose out of the 30s), the far-flung corners of the house can get cold. One of the farthest-flung corners is my computer desk in the laboratory, whose only generalized heat source is the waste heat from my computer and monitors (which is enough to warm the room by several degrees). Additionally, I rely on a 300 watt parabolic heater to warm my neck and shoulders. Today I added a fire-heated rock to the mix, placing it beneath my feet. Computer work is the most difficult activity in a cold house, since it is relatively sedentary, so there's little warming from the activity itself. But, unlike sleeping and television watching, it demands a certain amount of environmental exposure, since your hands must contact the keyboard and mouse (I've yet to try typing in gloves, but perhaps I should).
I feel cold if I'm using a computer in an environment colder than about sixty degrees, but I can comfortably do other activities in much colder situations. Here are some examples: painting or taping drywall: 55 degrees. Cold-chiseling bedrock: 45 degrees. Splitting wood: 20 degrees. Fulfilling the essential terms of my marriage: 50 degrees.
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