This blog is more or less about logic, or a lack of it. The subject relates to all types of men yet there are some references to engineers involved. The main subject of the blog is heating with firewood. Although it’s not directly related to analog engineering, I’ll think you’ll be able to identify with at least one engineer who fits the stereotype described within.
For some reason, certain men have an obsession with cutting and burning wood. Firewood makes men lose logic faster than testosterone does to a young male during puberty. Men spend hours cutting, drying, splitting, stacking, and burning wood just to save a few dollars. The fact the trees are often free standing with free access drives men nuts. Why pay for heat if you can get it free? The key point they miss is that nothing is free. Regardless of the equipment it takes to cut, transport, split, and burn the wood, there is the time that is invested.
Normally if you want to heat your home you simply go over to the thermostat and adjust it. At that point, some form of energy is converted to heat. It can be gas, electricity, or generated by a heat pump. The time invested is mere seconds and maybe a minute or two to pay the bill. Cutting, splitting, stacking, transporting, and burning wood takes hours. Guy logic for the most part is incapable of seeing this. After all, we’re burning wood that’s free and the time is free, so what’s the point? Average it out over your heating bill and you’ll realize that it would be more profitable pushing fries across the counter at a heated McDonald’s. You can turn the thermostat down while you are away to save even more. Huh? The nature of that response makes you think I’d asked him to stand upright.
Even if you have your wood delivered and can get a teenager to use their opposing thumbs for something other than activating a cell phone by carrying it into your home, there is still time wasted in burning wood. Here is where guys get back at the world as they finally have the ability to control SOMETHING. And yes, the wood has to be properly stacked the right way in the stove or heaven forbid, you could invoke a lecture.
More anal retentiveness is with the size of the logs and how they are arranged in relation to each other so they burn longer. Then you’ve gotta wake up after a certain amount of hours to feed the stove. Can’t just crank the thermostat and stay in a warm, cozy bed. Hell no. Also forget the fact that the rest of the house is freezing because you’re forcing air out of the chimney. The air has to come from somewhere. You don’t have this huge vacuum when you open the door do ya? Exactly.
Unless you have a closed looped system that feeds air into the stove at the same rate it’s going out the chimney, the process equalizes itself by drawing air from every crack in the house….cold air from the outside. This is the same air that’s causing the house to be cold in the first place. Therefore most of the exterior rooms realize a drop in temperature when the fire is burning. Guys are mostly immune to this logic especially when the room with the fire source is toasty warm.
Stove pipe logic also escapes our frugal friends. One guy I know has a triple insulated pipe running through his office on the second floor from his wood stove on the first floor. The opening for the air to come upstairs is way at the other end of the house while the centrally located office could potentially heat the upstairs nicely if the pipe were to radiate heat. As a result, the upstairs is freezing as all of the warm air travels up the pipe without any way to heat the second floor. And yes, this individual takes the air for the stove from the room it’s in rather than outside where the air exits from the chimney. I pointed this out to him and got a “deer in the headlights” look. Go figure.
After all of this logic and effort, you think men might factor in the days they can’t use their stoves. Many cities have “no burn” days making all of this effort for not. Due to the pollution created, these days are usually the coldest when you need the stove the most.
A wood stove also makes a mess with wood chips, bark, and ashes everywhere. This causes additional problems in terms of time to clean up. Typically the chimney requires additional cleaning and even more time and expense.
Costs are incurred to install the system too. The stove, piping, and installation all cost money. Beyond that, a chain saw, splitter, truck, gas, oil, sharpening, and a fireplace set are expenses. Guys fail to see this. In fact one neighbor spent the entire summer cutting wood so he could be warm all winter. Forget that fact that he was in the humid upstate New York woods with some of the world’s nastiest biting insects. He wanted to save up and get a tractor to pull more wood out of the forest with. And of course there’s the trailer and extra gas to haul all of this. Then there’s the extra work installing heavier springs to carry more wood.
So let’s get to the engineer. During engineering graduate school, I organized a campout along the Blue Ridge Parkway. One of the students wanted to show up just so he could cut wood. So I got a picture of him swinging and axe in all his glory as he assaulted a tree that was immobile and couldn’t defend itself if it tried. No, I’m not a tree hugger however this is yet another male trait in wood cutting. Poor sap was from Florida however his Viking roots must have instilled some kind of desire in him.
Myself I’m a man who likes a nice campfire as much as the next guy. I bring enough wood to enjoy if for an hour or two and go to bed when it burns down below comfort (extinguishing it properly). I enjoy the experience of the fire and avoid wasting time by stacking a pile and roaming through the woods dragging every poor branch back. I do invoke one form of logic for campfires. The darker it gets, the closer the bathroom gets to the fire.