On the second day of class, we set out to create fire using only a wooden plank, a long wooden stick, and human ingenuity.  We failed.  In a video shown to us at the beginning of class, a man demonstrated how quickly and easily a fire could be made simply by spinning the stick in a small hole in the plank, and rubbing until enough friction and sawdust is produced to create embers that can then be used to start a fire.  Our group tried our very best to copy his methods, but were unable, after hours of work, to create a fire.  A few times we were able to get smoke, and we could smell a burning-wood sort of scent, but we were never able to get embers, although our spinning stick was almost always very hot when we removed it from the plank.  Frustration and fatigue worked against us, requiring more and more willpower to keep spinning the stick even though we had yet to get any results.  We somewhat combated these effects by using a more rapid switching method, switching the person to spin every time the spinner’s hands reached the bottom of the stick, instead of whenever they got tired.  This method required a bit more cooperation and teamwork, but definitely made it easier to keep spinning the stick for longer stretches of time.  Although we never actually got fire, the lesson was certainly very interesting and it was still somewhat rewarding to get the smoke and heat from what I would have otherwise guessed to be an impossible, outdated method.

-Wolfgang Paulson

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