Monday, December 10, 2012

HARVESTING SUNLIGHT IN CHICAGO


Always thinking about coconut

Sunshine, not corn, is the most valuable commodity in Illinois. From September through May, or 9 months of the year, Chicago is usually shrouded in a thick layer of clouds blocking the sun. This is why I always have semi-tropical latitudes,  palm trees and coconuts on my brain.

WHY I (AND YOU) NEED FULL SUNSHINE

Of course, we get light through the cloud layer but for weeks on end, we never get full sunshine.  Sometimes, when the sun occasionally breaks through the clouds, the sunshine momentarily hurts my eyes.
It’s becoming torturous to live in Chicago in more than a few ways. If I don’t take Vitamin D capsules or cod liver oil, my vitamin D level laboratory test results are low.
Full sunshine for several hours a day is the best way to acquire adequate levels of Vitamin D for optimal health.

FIND-OUT ULTRAVIOLET LEVELS

I actually bought an app from itunes that measures the amount of ultraviolet light that is available on a daily basis.  When the morning level is high, I know to get outside right away before the cloud cover comes over the city.
 I had to buy the app because weather reports and weather maps inaccurately portray the actual annual amount of sunshine.  An hour or so of sunny weather at noon does not constitute a sunny day in my opinion.
What's really scary is that I don't remember Chicago always being like this, it seems that the lack of winter sunshine is a recent problem.

SUNSHINE ON WEATHER MAPS

Luckily there is an aeronautical expert in our family, whose degree courses included meteorology classes. So, I asked the expert “how come the Weather Channel’s maps never show all the clouds over the city”.  His answer was that Weather Channel’s maps measure precipitation, from either rain or snow producing clouds.  If the clouds aren’t producing precipitation, the area over the city will look clear of clouds on the maps.
Of course the entire state has been in varying degrees of drought conditions for a few years now. There’s no full sunshine and no snow.
Cloudy winter days with no snow on the ground are particularly dreary.
And, because it’s icy cold outside from September to May, I spend a lot of time inside (more than I’d like to admit).  The concepts “icy” cold vs. “regular” cold will be discussed in a separate blog post.

ONE WAY TO HARVEST SUNLIGHT

Until I move, I have now decided to tackle this problem frontally. I’m going to get started on using a Scandinavian d├ęcor tactic of adding some bright white surfaces to reflect more light throughout the house.  I won’t add too much white though, because I love color.
Otherwise I will have to move to a tropical latitude soon and hang-out under a palm tree.

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