Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dear Berkley: Know How to Build a Fire

A man has to have some skills. And by skills, I mean outdoor, self reliant skills. Because even if you live in WASP suburbia like I do, every once in a while you have to do something outdoorsy, and look like a 'tard if you can't pull it off. Or, you spend a lot of money having someone else pull it off for you, which makes you look like a big pansy.

We bought a house with a fire pit. This means I have to make a fire from time to time so I can get the tasty goodness that is roasted marshmallows and on an even better night: s'mores. Of course, this isn't exactly the same as building a fire because your plane has crashed and you're stranded in the Alps awaiting rescue. But you have to know how to build a fire: here's how:

1) Rummage around the yard and get some sticks. These sticks should be dry, and all sorts of different sizes, from super skinny and easy to burn, all the way up to as big around as your wrist. Try and find some sticks that have exposed wood. In other words, if you have to, bust out your machete and chop a piece of wood into some skinny kindling where there is no bark. Bark doesn't burn well. This is called EVOLUTION. Trees do not want to burn, so they have bark.

2) If you're going to be having a fire go a pretty long time, you probably want some even bigger logs. I said log.

3) Get a piece of newsprint, of some paper that burns easily. Wad it up in a loose ball.
4) Build a teepee, or log cabin/pyramid of sticks over top of the wad of newspaper. use the small sticks on the bottom, then put bigger and bigger sticks on top the farther you get from the paper.
5) Light the paper, stand back, and enjoy. Once things catch, add more sticks or logs. Log again!

There is the odd chance you don't have anything to light the fire. In this instance, you are probably far out in the woods, and not near your house. Because chances are in your house, you have a lighter, or matches for candles, or could just go to the store and get one or the other. In this event you are probably screwed. BUT, if you're pretty handy, here's a couple of ideas:

1) If it's sunny outside, get a coke can and a chocolate bar (I know you have chocolate, for the s'mores). Use the chocolate to polish the bottom of the coke can until it's super shiny. You could also use toothpaste. Then, use the bottom of the can to focus sunlight onto the paper, and start a fire.
2) If you have any steel wool and a battery, you can rub them together and the steel wool will make sparks. This is pretty tough and you have to be quick. For this on you also have to have tinder, not newspaper. Tinder is very dry, light, fibrous, burnable wood.
3) Lastly, use a knife and certain rocks to create sparks on tinder. Again hard, so Good luck with this one.

Some people can use a hand drill or bow to make fire. There people have magic power. Stay away from them.

So, all said, go make a fire, and be a man. Oh and don't burn your house down. Try and have a water hose or a bucket or water nearby. Next week we'll learn how to mount your HDTV over the mantle.