All in the Family featured the curmudgeonly Archie Bunker. Archie was television’s most famous grouch, blunt, blustering, straightforward and untouched by the PC crowd. He was the archetype of the conservative male. Michael desprately tried to reeducate him, but he persisted in his breviloquence.

Looking back at the last 40 years, we realize: ARCHIE WAS RIGHT!


Wind Chill

When I came home from work last night the temperature outside was -11F.  The wind was hardly blowing at all, maybe 4 to 5 mph.  I think the low over night was about -18F.  That made last nights wind chill factor -31 degrees. 

What I'm trying to say is, its cold outside.

We use a pellet stove to supplement our heating.  One down side of the model of stove we have is every 24 to 36 hours you have to shut the stove off in order to clean out the ash, or the stove will quit working correctly.  It's past time to do that, and I've turned the stove off.  I can hear the blower as the stove goes through its cool down process, somehow the house seems colder.  The temperature clock that we have, says its not, but I'm still feeling at little chilled.

When I was a boy I read Jack London's short story, "To Build a Fire".  That story is fresh in my mind whenever its cold and I need to build a fire.   Which brings me to another point.  There is something comforting about having a fire.  I like camp fires.  I like fireplaces.  The light cast by a fire makes it seem warmer.

If you investigate it, an all enclosed stove that burns coal or wood, is a more efficient heating device.  Even better than those options are heat pumps, gas furnaces or even electric heat.  Some how I still enjoy the sight of a fire burning.  It seems warmer, more cheerful and inviting than a happily efficient metal box in the basement blowing hot air throughout the house.

If it was up to me, and if my budget and she who also lives in my house, would allow it, I would opt for a soapstone wood stove with a large glass viewing area.  I like the radiant heat provided by the soap stone and I would still get to watch my cheery fire. 

The pellet stove does have its advantages.  It was in the house when we bought it.  It is easy to feed, a couple of trips a year to buy pellets and you're done.  No endless weekends of cutting wood are required.  Cleaning it is easy too, a vac and some glass cleaner and the stove is ready to go again.  Since it has a glass window you can watch the fire, at least until it gets caked over with soot.  It's not a bad compromise.

In the time it's taken me to type this my stove has finished cooling off.  I can clean out the ash now.  Outside the temp has come up, and the wind is hardly blowing at all.  In the back of my mind I hear Jack saying, "a man must not fail in his first attempt to start a fire". 

Is that a wolf's cry on the wind?


  1. Giraffe1:17 PM

    I have a wood stove. Mrs. G was against it. Now she likes it. I think she likes the cheery fire.

    With all the equipment I buy and time I spend I don't know if I save much in heat.

  2. I don't know about the money, but if power goes out you won't freeze to death.

  3. Anonymous5:32 PM

    "Is that a wolf's cry on the wind?"

    Please like you would know. If the power went out you'd last 2 maybe 3 days before you'd starve.

  4. WaterBoy7:22 PM

    Beautifully put. I loved that story as a boy, too, though it is but a faint and distant memory.

    We have a fireplace, so the heating effect is minimal...but the flickering glow is substantial. I haven't the time to go cut my own firewood, so I buy it by the cord. I still get to enjoy the smell and the workout from stacking it, though.

    IIRC, newer houses here are only allowed to put in gas-burning fireplaces, while older wood-burners are grandfathered in (pollution control). I won't be moving any time soon.

  5. WaterBoy7:32 PM

    Trollin', trollin', trollin'
    Though the Web is swollen
    Keep them losers trollin'

  6. "Please like you would know."

    It's called literary license.

    BTW, I would know. I've encountered every form of native wildlife in the lower 48 in the wild. In my town this summer we had mountain lions and bears wander in. My yard typically has mulies and antelope visit. In the mid 90's I pack handled for some of the outfits doing the yellow stone wolf studies. I lived in the park at the time and it was a quick way to make some extra cash on my day off.

    Besides I know for a fact I can make it 4 days before I have to go to town. Longer now that I have the makings for hot butter rum on hand.

  7. WB,

    Check out the soap stone fire place insert makers. I think you could find something that would help increase the heat output with your fire place.

    I started requesting old fashioned books for Christmas the last couple of years, most of them are classics. My goal is to build up a library of "manly" books for my son as he grows up.

  8. black8:42 AM

    A Harman P68 has been our main heat for a couple years. With good pellets, the ash only needs to be cleaned once every two to three weeks. There's a hopper extension for it as well, but the main hopper already holds almost two bags of pellets.

    It's been much cheaper than propane for our high-efficiency forced air furnace.

  9. Black,

    Sounds like a great stove. How many days burn does 2 bags give you?

  10. WaterBoy12:25 PM

    Res: "Check out the soap stone fire place insert makers. I think you could find something that would help increase the heat output with your fire place."


    Jeez, those things are expensive! And while they might improve the heat output in the vicinity of the fireplace (in the living room), it likely won't be enough to heat the entire house, anyway.

    Troll: "If the power went out you'd last 2 maybe 3 days before you'd starve."

    Electricity is required to open a can of beans or a package of ramen? Who knew?

    Not to mention that most people can live a couple of weeks without food before starving. It's water that's the real bitch.

  11. "Jeez, those things are expensive"

    They work great. If you were going to stay in a house it would be worth it to work one into the design. For the way your place is laid out it would help hold the heat in the living room. In a power out situation that would let you have one area of the house that would stay warm. Or possibly you could put one in downstairs and hook into the exhaust of the fireplace and heat the whole house.

  12. WaterBoy12:45 PM

    Res: "My goal is to build up a library of "manly" books for my son as he grows up"

    Recommendations (appropriate at different ages, of course): Jack London, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Daniel Dafoe (Robinson Crusoe, not Moll Flanders), Bertrand R. Brinley (wrote The Mad Scientists' Club series of books, as well as articles for Boys Life magazine).

    For that matter, see if you can find older editions of Boys Life, too. I loved the adventure stories they used to publish in them, but I don't know about the"PC"...editions.

  13. WaterBoy12:48 PM

    Res: "Or possibly you could put one in downstairs and hook into the exhaust of the fireplace and heat the whole house."

    Yes, that would be the better way to go rather than the insert, methinks. It might cost more initially, but from an efficiency standpoint, it would be more economical than retrofitting the fireplace would.

  14. Good recommendations on the books. I had forgot about getting boys life when I was a kid. I loved those stories.

  15. WaterBoy2:47 PM

    There was also a series of historical biographies in the middle school library I read, but I can't remember the name of the series or who published them. They were interesting and well-written for that age level, and covered a wide gamut of men from Benjamin Franklin to George Armstrong Custer to Booker T. Washington, and beyond. I probably read a couple dozen of them, in all.

    It would probably be better to check books like that out from your local library than to actually have them in your own library, though. A lot less expensive that way.

  16. Anonymous4:59 PM

    "I would know."


  17. How long two bags of pellets will last depends greatly upon the weather. I've only bought premium pellets with high BTU content, low ash.

    At 10 degrees when the wind is blowing and and the sun isn't shining, perhaps a day, maybe less. Of course, it's a 4200 sq ft house and much warmer in the basement.

    When the sun is shining with no wind and an average high of 30 degrees, about a bag a day.

  18. My stove uses about 1 bag per 20 hrs on the lowest setting and 1 bag in 10 hrs on high. So I have to reload the stove at least once a day, more when its real cold.