Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Some songs you just gotta play LOUD.  You know, like at eleven (‘cause it’s one louder, y’see).  Sometimes it’s the distinctive opening riff, others simply remind you you’re alive.

But for me, the all-time PLAY LOUD some comes out of left field.  Check it out, and CRANK IT UP!!!

Crosby, Still, Nash and Young crafted a masterpiece in 1970 with Déjà Vu. Crosby’s ode to his locks – and his roots – grabs you by the shirt and says “be who you are, let your freak flag fly and remember, you owe it to someone.”

Speaking of freak flags – here’s mine:

While European hydronics technology is impressive, I’m not ready to concede that the boys across the sea own the technology market.  Nor do I think if it’s from Europe, it’s automatically better.

Oh my goodness, John!  Crazy talk!!!

It comes up in training classes all the time.  “Well, that’s how they do it in Europe, and it’s coming here.”  Good thing, because we poor, simple Americans couldn’t possibly figure this stuff out on our own.

I remember long conversations with self-proclaimed “industry leaders” about how backwards, even Neanderthal American heating manufacturers are, and how the Europeans simply have it all over us.  You name it – boilers, controls, circulator motors – the Europeans do it better. Just go to ISH and see…

Sure, some of the stuff you see from European manufacturers is very impressive and the technology has certainly raised the bar in the U.S, particularly when it comes to energy efficiency.  But there’s just one thing people tend forget.

In Europe, people wear sweaters.

Are European systems designed for energy efficiency? Achtung, baby!

Are they designed for comfort?  Nein, my friend.  Nein….

My wife is a huge fan of British crime-drama TV shows. She hates watching them with me because the conversation always goes something like this:

Her: I think the housekeeper is lying.

Me: Check out that panel radiator?  Wonder what kind of PEX they hooked it up with?

Her: Ohfergoodenesssakes…

Me: Look, no thermostat. I didn’t see a thermostat.  Did you see a thermostat? Must be a TRV. What’s up with that?

I usually wind up watching Two and a Half Men reruns in the kitchen.

By myself.

One British cop show features a running gag about how the homes and offices in the show weren’t just cold, but stupid cold, all winter long.  Even with all those fancy panel-rads, hi-tech pumps and super-efficient boilers.


Then there’s this piece of advice from a British homeowner in an online forum on how he keeps his house warm and comfy in the winter:

“Thermals from Uniqlo, chunky ethnic fleece-lined woolly hoodies from the market, and a session on the turbo (indoor bicycle trainer) for when it’s really icy outside and in. My heating doesn’t go on before 6 PM.”

Even the Germans aren’t above the fray.  Yes, I said the Germans, who according to those in the know here in the US already have heating systems so smart they actually jump out of the box and install themselves. An online homeowner’s forum for English-speaking Germans is filled with complaints of houses that smell of fuel oil and systems that won’t get above 19 degrees Celsius (or 66 Fahrenheit) all winter.

Ach der leiber!

Could the emperor be, in fact, naked?

Now, I’m not saying you should blindly buy American.  You should carefully select the products you install based on quality, availability, service, relationships and how well the supply chain – manufacturer-to-rep-to-wholesaler-to-contractor – works for you.  But I am suggesting a product’s continent of origin is merely an address, not necessarily an endorsement of technological superiority.  “Made in Europe,” as well as “Made in America,” is a feature, not a benefit.

And you can design and install for both comfort and efficiency.  On this continent the two are not mutually exclusive.

We’ll be hitting on this topic over the next several weeks.  Next up is one of the most fundamental differences between North American and European systems – our friend, the thermostat.

Oh, oh – looks like the villagers are breaking out the torches and pitchforks.  Too bad for them. I’m letting my freak flag fly.

I feel like I owe it to someone.

Graham Nash – not bad for a Brit!

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