Shelly has a post back from December 8th about how there are 10 modern technology items that he’d like to replace with older tools.  One of the tools on his list is a thermostat.

This on is on my list too, curiously enough. Because back in early November, my house was without power for four days, and it was not only dark, but cold.  Turns out, my heat is gas, and the gas would have worked fine in my house — except that the thermostat was electric.  Neither the furnace nor the hot water heater shut down during the power outage, so they weren’t electric.  The hot water heater just worked right through the blackout.  Since the power was out, the thermostat didn’t work, and the gas heating system registered the thermostat as being off, i.e., heat wasn’t needed.  It got fairly cold in my house as a result each night for four nights.

We live in a world of tremendous complexity, and it’s important to remember that complexity is a response to extra energy in a system.  If you discover that you have corvée labor and a massive number of overseers, you wind up building pyramids or ziggurats.  If you discover you have the largest coal reserves in Europe, you build railway systems.  If you discover you have oil reserves, you build the largest industrial system in the world.  If you have both gas heat and electric, you use both to manage the heating and cooling in your house.

It turned out to be a mistake.  When one failed, the whole system failed.

Shelly asked us to consider what modern-day tools we’d like to replace with older versions.  I think there’s something to be said for learning how old tools and machines work.  I’m talking about ‘tools’ here in a very broad sense. It’s really more along the lines of ‘tools and techniques’ really, but I’m trying to find some online links that will help me achieve some goals.

So I’m deciding on a few projects I want to complete in 2012.

  1. Replace the thermostat in my house with a mechanical model.
  2. Learn to use a slide rule instead of a calculator. (buy me a slide rule!)
  3. build and learn to use an astrolabe.
  4. Work out with yoga and tai chi instead of at a gym.
  5. Write with pens and paper more using Italic handwriting instead of on a computer.
  6. Learn to make more ruler-and-compass constructions part of my regular art practice.
  7. Do a better job with my five year diary project. (I don’t have nearly enough entries from this past year; losing it for all spring and summer didn’t help).
  8. Read more (though I don’t need an app for it); watch less TV.
  9. Play more music on my own.
  10. Cook more for myself and for others.