Survivorman Les Stroud returning to televison

Survivorman Les Stroud is back for more!One of the Discovery Channel’s most popular programs, Survivorman, is returning to television after being on hiatus for more than three years. The show, which features host Les Stroud demonstrating survival techniques in extreme settings, such as the Kalahari Desert or Alaskan wilderness, will relaunch with a series of special episodes sometime in 2012.

While Stroud’s list of destinations is not yet known, we do know that the format for the show will remain mostly the same. The episodes are filmed by Les himself, who goes out into the wild alone, carrying all of his camera and survival gear. In the past, he would usually spend seven days living in the wilderness, but according to the announcement on his website, he’ll actually be staying out for ten days on these new episodes. Apparently he’ll also begin filming the first new show in just three weeks time.

Fans of Stroud will be happy to hear of his return, as he had garnered quite a loyal following when the first three seasons of Survivorman were being aired. At the time, there were numerous comparisons to Man vs. Wild, the show hosted by Bear Grylls, which often sparked debates as to which of the men best knew his stuff. While Bear is a bit more theatrical and over the top, Les tends to remain more grounded and practical in his approach. Both shows are fun to watch however and I always enjoy seeing the destinations as much as what kind of trouble the two men can get into there.

The new Survivorman specials are set to air on OLN in Canada, Discovery Science in the U.S., and Discovery Channel International elsewhere. No word yet on when we can expect the shows to hit the airwaves however.

[Photo credit: Les Stroud]

Survival guide app

No one likes to think of the bad things that could happen on a trip. But what would you do if you survived a plane crash, were caught in a terrorist attack, or encountered a tsunami while on vacation? Well wonder no more iphone users. The SAS Survival Guide has been around in book form for over twenty years but now there’s an app.

John “Lofty” Wiseman spent years as a soldier and instructor for the SAS, an elite British fighting unit. In the app, Lofty guides the reader through a myriad of nightmare scenarios. Stranded atop an icy mountain? Covered. Need to know what local plants are edible? Check. Stuck in a forest fire with no obvious escape? No worries. The guide provides detailed information on all these would-be disasters. The app will cost $6.99 at itunes and is compatible with the ipad and ipod touch as well.

Although the guide is a great read, and the bulit-in survival quiz is fun for parties and around the campfire, the practicality of using it on-demand in some of these situations is questionable. For instance, if your plane were to crash land in the ocean your cell phone would be wet and useless. Then what? You are stranded on a mountaintop in the Himalaya and your phone runs out of battery. Tough luck. To get the most out of the guide read it before the disaster strikes.

The app holds interest by utilizing several interactive features including the survival quiz, an instructional video, and even a morse code feature that will turn your iphone into a beeping/flashing communicator. These make it fun for the user to learn a bit more about surviving if and when disaster strikes. That can’t be a bad thing when the shit hits the fan.

8 tips for surviving a visit with the in-laws

Sometimes your travels take you around the world, to dangerous locales where you don’t know the customs and need to always be on your guard to ensure your safety. And sometimes, they just take you to a visit with the in-laws, which can be equally awkward, confusing, and downright dangerous. Here are eight tips to help you survive a visit with you in-laws with your dignity, and your relationship, intact.

Bring a gift.

Whether this is your first time visiting your significant other’s family or your tenth, it’s always nice to bring a small token of your gratitude as thanks for the family’s hospitality. Flowers or a nice bottle of wine is a good, safe first time gift (unless the family doesn’t drink, then nix the wine idea), but you’ll earn bonus points if you bring something a little more personal.

Ask your significant other for details about his or her parents and buy them something that you think they will enjoy – perhaps a favorite bottle of scotch for Dad or the latest cookbook for a Mom who fancies herself as the next Martha Stewart. If the two of you have recently been on a trip, be sure to bring back a few little souvenirs for the family. Keep the gift to a reasonable amount though, generally under $20. Showing up for a first meeting bearing elaborate or expensive gifts screams “desperate to be liked.”Stick to “safe” conversation topics.
Politics, religion, money, unions….we all know these are sensitive subjects, but sometimes we get sucked into discussing them with near strangers anyway. Don’t fall into this trap, even if you think you know (and agree with) the position of your partner’s family. Until you’ve known them for a while, and know whether or not they can calmly have a debate or disagreement without taking things personally, just change the subject. Unless the family says something completely unacceptable (and even then, let your spouse take the heat for voicing a dissenting opinion for the both of you) just bite your tongue and never take sides. And remember, if you find your SO’s fam completely vile in their political or religious views, that doesn’t mean that your partner feels the same way they do.

Remember some conversation starters.
Have your spouse help you out with some safe topics you can pull out if the conversation starts to wane. A quick rundown of current family events (who is about to have a baby, who just got married), the latest news in each person’s life and the hobbies and jobs of each person should suffice. Come armed with a few anecdotes of your own, like a quick synopsis of the duties at your new job or a few highlights of the latest trip you took with your partner. This way, even if you get nervous, you have a few topics you can fall back on to avoid any awkward silences until you get to know everyone better.

Bring everything you need to feel comfortable.
This includes bringing your own toiletries, hair dryer, and any other items you need and which might not be provided by your hosts. Since you are sleeping in another person’s house, you may need to rethink your PJs as well. I sleep in a tank and pajama pants; at my in-law’s house, everyone gathers for coffee in the kitchen first thing each morning. After being the only person fully dressed on my first trip, I learned to bring a hoodie to throw on over my tank so I could join the PJ party and not feel uncomfortable. Just don’t overdue it; there’s no need to bring your own pillows or roll in with two suitcases for a weekend trip.

Verify sleeping arrangements before arriving.
This is a job for the spouse or partner. If it’s the first visit (especially if you aren’t married) and the house has multiple sleeping arrangements, be sure to verify which bedrooms you’ll using when you are in town. It’s embarrassing to arrive only to find that the girls will be bunking (even worse if that means literally in bunk beds) in one room and the boys in the other. Make sure your significant other checks out the sleeping arrangements in advance, and if the two of you aren’t comfortable with them, opt to stay in a hotel.

Bring snacks if you are a picky eater.
When you are staying at your in-law’s house, you are at the mercy of their taste buds. While you can sometimes run out for a bite, other times it’s just not possible. You may find yourself stuck in a house with nothing you care to eat, especially if your idea of a “healthy snack” and theirs differs significantly. Play it safe by stashing a few power bars or some almonds or crackers in your bags so that you have an emergency snack if needed.

Plan some alone/out-of-the-house time.
Like being stranded in a broken down car on the side of the road, spending time at the in-law’s can make you feel a bit trapped, maybe a little claustrophobic. Be sure to schedule some time alone with your partner out of the house. Even if it’s just a trip to the grocery store for some milk or a quick walk around the block with the dog, a few moments away from the pressure of impressing your family will allow you both to relax and reconnect.

For the hosting spouse – remember to have your partner’s back.
If it is your family that you and your significant other are visiting, try to remember that this can be a stressful time for your partner. Try to make it as easy as possible on him or her. Help him remember the names of all your aunts and uncles. Remind him which cousins to avoid after they’ve been drinking. Help her get into a conversation with your grandparents. Think about how you would feel in the situation and do what you can to make it a more comfortable one for the person you love.

Stick to these tips in the beginning, tready lightly with your new in-laws, and soon you may be one big happy family. If the in-laws are coming to visit at your house…..these rules still apply, plus one more.

Go out of your way to be the best host you can be.
Think about all the little things that would make you even more comfortable as a guest. Lay out fresh towels for the visiting family members. Stock the kitchen with their favorite foods. Leave some quality toiletries in the bathroom and a bottle of water by the bed, and put a few books from their favorite genre out on the bedroom. Put together a city guide for them, complete with pre-paid transit card so they can get around easily. Do your best to make them feel as welcome in your home as you would like to feel in theirs.

New Zealand surfer escapes tsunami

Surfers are constantly on the hunt for the “big one” – that epic wave they’ll be able to tell their grand kids about. But for New Zealand surfer Chris Nel, that epic wave turned into a nightmare. Nel was out surfing with five friends in the Samoan Islands last week when a catastrophic 8.3 magnitude earthquake struck, sending a towering tsunami of water rumbling his way.

Before they even realized it, the ocean around them was rushing back out to sea, sucking Chris and his friends along with it. Chris describes the scary feeling of doom as he was pulled towards the giant mass of water, powerless to do anything but ride out the waves. For the next 45 minutes, Nel and his friends struggled to stay afloat in the pounding tsunami surge, worried they would be smashed into the beach or jungle. Finally, the friends caught a lucky break, scrambling to safety back on land in between surges. However, the surf camp where he was staying was completely destroyed. Chris returned to New Zealand wearing nothing but a pair of jeans found in the jungle.

For all the tragedy that came from last week’s earthquakes and tsunamis, it’s heartening to hear of some good news. Despite the increasing availability of tsunami warning systems in the Pacific Ocean, it’s not likely Nel or his friends would have even had time to get out of the water, even if they learned of the wave in advance. Like any outdoor sport, surfing is not without its occasional risk – sometimes you just happen to get lucky.

Survival at sea a hoax?

Ten days later, the two men from Myanmar who Scott reported were rescued from a floating refrigerator and supposedly survived 25 days at sea with little nourishment are back in the news, but this time because authorities are calling their survival story a hoax.

The men were on a Thai fishing boat off the northern coast of Australia, and it was deemed pointless to search for other survivors, as the waters and conditions in the area are sharky and stormy at best.


The latest doubts that the men’s story is true mainly derives from the implausibility that two men could survive that long floating in such terrible conditions with little nourishment. The two men claim they are the only survivors of a Thai fishing boat accident around Christmastime that killed 18 people. They said they survived on rainwater and bird vomit. If you’re already raising your eyebrows, you should, but the real skepticism should be that one of the young men seemed to be unaffected by this long journey at sea. He showed little evidence of sun exposure. In addition, the icebox showed no signs of saltwater damage even after enduring 25 days in the rough ocean.

The men have been transferred to mainland Australia, where they continue to be questioned about the validity of their story. Authorities now believe the men used the story to escape their native home of Myanmar and seek asylum. This has the makings of a Cuban Elian Gonzalez story, doesn’t it?

Either the men are lying or the skeptics are wrong, but either way, it’s still a pretty cool survival story not to be attempted again.

[via AFP and Australia’s MSN 9 News]