The Fire Effect

I’ve always liked fire, I mean that in the most non-pyromaniac like way of course. There’s no urge to start fires in random places or cause destruction it’s just nice to look at and feel for me.

Recently we got a log burning stove installed in our house and now I also enjoy the process of building a fire. When I first started with it I figured it’d be a pretty easy thing to do but I’ve now learned that there’s so much more involved in doing it that it almost becomes an art form. Needless to say, the act of burning wood (properly) can be a seriously rewarding little activity.

It got me thinking about why we as humans have such a fascination with fire. That feeling of sitting around a campfire or hearing wood crackle as it burns generally has the effect of making most people feel relaxed and content or in the case of me and my girlfriend, it has the effect of warming up our freezing cold house! There’s even videos on youtube that imitate real fires, some of them are in 4K which is pretty cool if you have a nice tv, they won’t warm up your environment but they will induce those feelings associated with a real one.

A piece of research undertaken at the University of Alabama showed decreases in blood pressure when volunteers watched a fire, complete with crackling sounds. The longer they spent nonchalantly watching the lower their blood pressure became with an average of five percent in most. The idea behind this is that we as humans may have evolved to enjoy the feeling of being around a good fire. Spending time around a fire for early humans meant greater social cohesion among groups whilst spending time at a place they felt safe and warm. So even more excuses for me to sit idly stoking my precious fire. If you’re a science geek like me the paper linked above is well worth a read.

The stove has kind of taken over my afternoons since we got it. I’ve got a little routine of starting the fire and then adding to it, before I know it I’ve been sat in front of the thing for hours. However, it never feels like a chore to me and this is coming from someone who hates doing normal household chores. I want to say the whole learning process behind it is one day going to save my life, if I ever get trapped somewhere cold I’ll be able to build a pretty awesome fire, though I won’t be able to check the moisture content of the wood or watch my stove thermometer slowly build up to the optimum burning temperature!

I’m actually thinking of buying a proper wood cutting axe to complete the whole set of tools we’ve been steadily collecting.

Bottom line is, fires are cool and if that makes me sound like I have pyromania then so be it. At least I have my stove and you’re probably just jealous anyway!

Confidence Experiment

Back in 2008 (around 9 years ago now) I decided for whatever reason to start Video Blogging. This only ended up totalling 5 complete videos and I realise looking back on it now that I probably only really started doing it as a confidence boosting exercise for myself.

Back then I was 21, I’d been living on my own for a couple of years and then recently moved a friend in to houseshare with me to split the bills. Thinking about that time period as a newly crowned 30 year old I realise I probably had a lot of shit going on in my head. I’d come out of a 3 year relationship that I thought was going to last forever (as you do at that age) and had officially entered the what I like to call “Bachelor Hat” phase of my life. I’m not going to go into why I called it that exact phrase but lets just say I was dating…quite a fair bit. I was also going through that time in ones life where you tend to question everything about who you are as a person. I’d later find out that you also end up doing that exact same thing almost every year (or at least I did).

I wasn’t very confident, except with dating, which apparently was the only thing I was good at doing back then. I hated speaking to people at work, had trouble making new friends, the friends I did have were ones I now realise were either bad for me or ones I was using just to get out the house. Point is I reckon at some point I’d decided I needed to become more confident or change my personality a bit to be more outgoing or something.

What followed was a series of cringey video blogs which tended to err of the side of utter shit and in comparison to that were sometimes a little funny and interesting to watch. When I rewatch them now and see 21 year old me, with no beard, really tall hair and about 30 pounds skinnier (I was a skeleton) I can see part of the person who I ended up being today trying to break out of his shell. Lots of stuff I did back then was stuff I still do today but more refined. I obviously had some kind of wit, but I’d not mastered how to put that across confidently without looking like a dork. In some ways I take it the video blogging helped me become more confident but I was also working a job where I had to speak to people quite a lot (something which at the time I usually tried to avoid) so I can’t say one way or another whether my little experiment was a success.

I guess the point of this post, apart from desperately trying to actually maintain a source of writing for myself is to highlight how much we change over such a short period of time. You look at yourself at 21 and 30 seems so far away but on the other hand its only 9 years. On the other hand that 9 years saw me personally go through about a dozen different changes. Not necessarily personality ones either, just stuff like the way I looked at people from different cultures, the way I accepted people more for being different and then less important stuff such as music tastes and new stuff I liked to eat (I was one of those picky eaters as a kid). I also pretty drastically changed my lifestyle from one of working a pretty consistent job which I felt did nothing for me and I felt wasted at, to going back to education getting a university degree and now working on my masters.

This was basically just a ramble, I see that now but whatever its out there now. I often think about taking down those old videos or leaving them up and adding one now as a fully fledged adult (he says with complete confidence) but then I realise that everytime I try and do some kind of project on the internet, this, video blogging or otherwise I eventually get too wrapped up in life to care about it anymore. I don’t know maybe if I keep writing this will be different. Anyway, I’ll leave a link to that old youtube page for you to laugh at. I hope it makes you cringe as much as it did me!

Cringe Abound