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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 3:36 pm | Fair 62º


Ron Fink: Dreaming of the Perfect Easy Chair

So there I was tipped back in my easy chair watching my favorite rerun of Gilligan’s Island after a big turkey dinner when I thought: “I could design the perfect easy chair.”

I figure that if the Captain could figure out how to exist on a remote island and Donald Trump could get elected president, then it shouldn’t be too hard to perfect an essential item in an old man’s inventory.

The design and construction of reclining easy chairs hasn’t changed in several decades; they are usually fairly comfortable, recline with a little effort and are adaptable as the user grows bigger/older. But, they could use improvement.  

I don’t know about you but when I am watching the tube, I want to do it in comfort. Here are my ideas for the perfect easy chair.

First, and perhaps most important, is a beverage holder. Not just a hole to stick a can/bottle/glass/cup in but a refrigerated/heated spot with an adjustable stabilizer that will hold your drink in the toughest of conditions — say when your favorite ping-pong player misses a slam into the other players’ court, or a politician is talking.

Motorized controls for the foot rest and tilt back/forward features of the chair are another desirable feature. Using that lever on the side of the chair can be awkward, and as people grow older, controls like these are essential to a rewarding easy chair experience.

Adding lumbar adjustments and adjustable cushions could improve your sitting experience. They have these controls in car seats, why can’t they put them in an easy chair?

A rheostat-controlled heating/cooling element for those days when the climate doesn’t agree with your concept of comfortable. Once again, designers have figured out how to put these features in car seats, so why not in your favorite chair?

Now we need to control the indoor temperature of the house. New heating/cooling systems today have thermostats that can be accessed remotely from your cell phone, so why not establish a control in the easy chair?

Do you have back trouble or are you stressed at the end of the day? How about a soothing, adjustable vibrator built in to the back of the chair to help relieve that stress or pain — a nice feature that has been overlooked for decades.

It might be nice to have headphone jacks that allow you to hear what’s going on while C-SPAN is covering congressional hearings on how to protect some critter or plant you never even knew existed in a place you never heard of. They have these features in some theater seats, so why not at home?

I don’t know about your house, but at mine sometimes the kids screaming next door and loud motorcycles racing down the street distract me from what’s important in life — and headphones would help.

Then you need a remote pouch for your audio and visual entertainment system; you could get a universal remote, but old guys like me who aren’t tech-savvy may need room for more than one device. This needs to be handy so you can do a quick-draw move when the commercial comes on or some politician is blasting hot air and promising something.

Better yet, add the remote feature to a control console.

A communication hub that connects you to your cell phone or, if you still have one, old school landline. Consolidating this feature into the chair could be helpful if you get a lot of calls.

Now for the chair's control center. Much like mission control at Kennedy Space Center, we need an ergonomically correct control center for our new chair's features.

Folks like to feel they are in control of their environment and this a keypad with switches, dials and digital readouts could make you feel like an astronaut commanding a space mission if it’s planned correctly.
There are probably lots of other features some of you could add; those would be optional, but the basic chair would look a lot like the one I described above.

Did I hear you say that this would be a tough build?

Well, I figure if we can engineer cars to operate by computer-controlled systems, build spacecraft that can land lunar rovers and build race cars that will go over 200 miles an hour, then we probably have enough engineering talent to build this thing. If not, we can outsource the task to the Europeans.

Perhaps this new engineering wonder would qualify as an energy-conservation program; then we could get government subsidies when we trade in our old models.

Oh, wow, I just woke up from the Gilligan’s Island rerun, I must have dozed off. Maybe next time I’ll watch I Dream of Jeanie and she’ll pop out of her bottle, wave her hand and I’ll have the chair I was dreaming about.

— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry and has been active with Lompoc municipal government commissions and committee since 1992, including 12 years on the Lompoc Planning Commission. He is also a voting member of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association. Contact him at [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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