Monthly Archives: January 2017

Smart Kids’ Burden

The world is on their shoulders...

The world is on their shoulders…

(The following is a transcript of the speech that I gave at the National Honor Society induction at our school last spring. Mr. X read it at the time, and felt that I should publish it here. In light of current challenges to environmental policy in the US, I think he might be right.)

Hey kids! Here I am, with my speech!

First, I just want to tell you all that it’s quite an honor for you all to ask me to do this. A few weeks ago Chloe, and Matt, Nihdi,  and a few others all came into my room and stood around my desk and kind of stared at me… it was a little bit freaky. I didn’t quite know what they were up to, but then they asked me to come and do this talk tonight. And like I said, I am honored that you asked. So, the kids told me that speech should be not too long, and maybe inspirational. Hmmm. Then Mr. Berryhill told me that it could also be “aspirational”. Hmmmm.

So I thought about this for a few days. What could I tell you guys that was inspirational?

So as some of you know, I live up north of Middlebury, and I drive an hour each way in my electric car. I like to drive anyway, and I enjoy the time; I sometimes tell people that it’s a break between kids at home and kids at work. Anyway, it’s some good thinking time, I seem to work through a lot of mental problems on my drives. So I was thinking about what I could tell you guys that was “inspirational”.

And then I had this little epiphany, just driving along, because it really struck me that life itself was pretty inspirational.  We’re all pretty lucky, to live where we do, in the times that we do. AND, holy moly, for you guys, just starting out, it should be even more inspirational.
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A More Efficient Woodstove

Efficiency---still the goose that lays the golden egg...

A new woodstove in the Bruhl house. Efficiency—still the goose that lays the golden egg…

Well, our trusty 1972 Vermont Castings Defiant woodstove, a hand-me-down from a close relative, finally had to be retired. It had developed enough air leaks that it was easy to overfire, and each time it got too hot it cracked or warped a little bit more, to the point where it was becoming difficult to keep it in check and was becoming a slight safety hazard. So, we went shopping for a new one, and settled on a large Dutchwest model (Dutchwest is now owned by Vermont Castings), the 2479, a non-catalytic stove that meets the strictest EPA emissions standards.

And, since I feel that efficiency is one large key to our sustainable future,  I’m writing this post because I’m amazed at the improved efficiency of this new stove. I didn’t quite believe that the old Defiant could be topped— I burn well-seasoned hardwood, and we burn hot, clean fires. But, whereas older stoves might have been 40-50% efficient, the new ones with carefully designed secondary burn chambers are 80% or more efficient, and the result is much more heat from the wood that is burned. The difference is noticeable—the new stove brings the house up to temperature far faster than the Defiant ever did, AND does it with less wood.  Continue reading