Saturday, July 07, 2007

A Nature Related Rant and A Puzzler

Here's a puzzler for you.

What is this on the leaf above?

While you're pondering that, I'm going to rant a little about the Discovery Channel. Remember when it had factual documentary kind of stuff?
You really have to pick and choose to find REAL stuff on it anymore. I know they're playing the ratings game, but gee whiz!
Actually this rant is specific to two shows they are running : Survivor Man (Les Stroud) and
Man vs. Wild (Bear Grylls).
Survivor Man is actually on the Science Channel, but it's a Discovery product.
My rant:
If I were in a survival situation in the wild, I'd lose these two guys as soon as I could.
Both of them share survival tips that are either just plain stupid or outright bad advice. I realize they have to throw some drama in the show and I should just get over it, but they ARE supposed to be teaching viewers how to survive if lost in the wilderness.
Not all their advice is bad, but every show seems to have at least one ridiculous or needlessly dangerous survival technique.
Some examples:
A while back, Survivor Man was in a Georgia cypress swamp and he covered himself in mud to prevent insect bites. If you do this, you are just going to be dirty and itchy from the bites you are still going to get. Why be a little miserable from mosquito bites when you can be filthy, gritty miserable in your mud coat. There's itchy things in southern swamp mud too and it will not stop mosquitoes.
In another episode, he's on the shore of a tropical region, maybe Costa Rica, and he leaves the breezy shoreline to enter the tropical forest. An ocean shoreline is a veritable grocery of food possibilities, but he leaves it for the forest. Predictably, he spends a long night getting stung and bit by just about every insect in the jungle. Later, he follows a stream back to the beach ... duh!
Stay on the beach you idiot.
Then there's Bear of Man vs. Wild.
He did one show about being stranded on a deserted tropical island. He's doing okay, scrounging things on the pretty lush island, when he decides to build a flimsy raft of logs and set out onto the open ocean in it! Not a quiet estuary or stream, but the open ocean!
He leaves a decent island for the blue desert.
This is survival advice??
On another episode, after some decent advice, he does it again. This time it's a vertical waterfall that he feels would take too long to hike around, so he climbs down it using some wispy vines that happen to grow up the face of the falls.
If you were in a survival situation, would you needlessly risk broken bones to avoid a hike around a vertical waterfall?
You know what a broken bone does to your chances of surviving?
Then, tonight, he's lost in the Rockies. Again, he gives some good advice, but then he comes to a river and instead of hiking along it to civilization, he decides to swim into the 40-ish degree (he said!) water and run the substantial rapids using only his daypack to fend off rocks.
So, to save time, he risks hypothermia and breaking bones, instead of walking the shoreline.
Okay, get ready ...
Arrrrghh, he's actually doing it right now as I type. He's in the mountains of the American west and comes to a 300 foot cliff. Does he hike around it? Noooooo, that would cost him a "couple of hours" so he freeclimbs down the cliff. This is after scrambling down a scree slope of loose talus.
After the cliff, he built a log raft and launched it into the rapids of a river where he again risks broken bones and hypothermia.
Can you say it?
R-i-d-i-c-u-l-o-u-s !
What's more ridiculous is... I watch his show.
This concludes my rant. I'm going to bed.


pablo said...

A few weeks ago I would have said I had never seen either show, but whilst in Oregon, I managed to catch a couple of episodes of Man vs. Wild. I saw the tropical island episode you discussed, and the part that I remember most is his complaint about climbing the palm tree and how it affected his "bloke area."

You're right about these shows being designed for the ratings rather than the reality.

tai haku said...

To be fair to bear I seem to recall at least for the island raft thing he said this was the wrong option but he was gonna give it ago to see how it worked out - I was more interested in whether those Tiger Sharks appeared unbaited on that one, I suspect perhaps not.

The other guy as you say is a moron especially that leaving the beach thing which had me and my dad chorusing our disapproval at the tv.

I guess we're all watching so they're doing the job for discovery though.

Laura said...

I am so glad you wrote about these shows!
We watched several episodes of Man vs Wild last night, and several times, Rick and I just looked at each other and shook our heads.

In one episode, he was floating down the river out of a rainforest, toward open ocean on a raft that he just happened to easily put together himself. However, he decided to abandon the raft in favor of hiking through mangroves.

Finally he gave up on that, went back to the raft and got moving down river again, toward the open ocean. I was waiting for some giant jaws to come up behind him,but that never happened.

In another episode, he easily kills a rabbit, skins it and puts it on the fire. His hands were covered with blood and he warns the viewers that bears could smell the rabbit cooking 25 miles away. Yet, in the next scene, his hands miraculously clean.... where did he get the extra water to clean them with? If bears are present, surely he wouldn't want the scent of rabbit blood on him as he hikes through the unforgiving terrain, would he?

LOl, and yet, we're still watching it!

Anonymous said...

Hey! What about the episode that tells you how to get breakfast when there's no room service?

robin andrea said...

I don't have the patience for these shows. I just can't watch someone pretend that they are being challenged to survive, while a camera crew that probably has hot coffee, donuts, and rescue gear is following them around.

I read a three-part story in the LA Times a few weeks ago about a man and his daughter hiking in Montana. The high-country camping trip was her high school graduation present. They were attacked by a grizzly bear protecting her cubs. They spent hours and hours on a dusty trail waiting for help. It was truly an amazing survival story. No camera crew, just other hikers who came upon them and never left until help arrived.

Sharon said...

Wonder how frisky he would be if there wasn't a camera crew standing by...
You sound just like my husband, he rants about similar things, but usually about car shows. I just tell him it's in the script. :)

Hurricane Teen said...

I watch both of these shows, and I think the same things as you do. These guys are "professional survivors..." Average Joe (me) could not scale a 200-foot rock face like Bear did last what do I do then? Obviously it's for TV drama, but it is scary that people may actually try that. And I laughed when I saw the other guy cover himself in swamp mud...Swamp mud can be MUCH itchier than mosquito bites!!...Personal experience there ha ha.

kevin said...

Les Stroud, the SurvivorMan, does all his own camera work. Carries them, sets them up, takes them down, everything. He is completely alone and everything you see is real. He does carry a satellite phone for emergencies. As far as the mud thing, on his website, he says he consults with local guides about the area and asks for any tips they can give. I think they got him with that one.

I'd also take the easier routes too and probably still be on the Costa Rican beach.

I haven't seen Bear, but I understand he does a lot more stunts and "TV stuff".

threecollie said...

THANK YOU!!! The boy watches these sometimes when I am a captive audience sharing the same room as the TV. Talk about dumb and dangerous!

Scott aka Florida Native Musings said...

FC don't hold back tell us what you really think. I would be amazed to see the ratings on these shows. I am sure some folks up north who live in the city luv it cause they can see the REAL world, but like you said, it is over the top.

I have an idea, how bout we drop these 2 guys off in a prison yard and see if they get out alive. That I would watch.

Yours in the Bond.

Floridacracker said...

I remember that palm tree. I don't know if you've ever climbed one, but they are splinter machines. I kept grimacing the entire time he climbed.

Tai Haku,
Welcome to Pure Florida!
You're right, Bear does often say that what he's about to do is not the best way.
Like a dive instructor saying, "you really shouldn't ignore the decomp tables, but I'm going to ..."

Sounds like we were all spending an exciting Friday night at home watching TV last night :)
Definitely married with children LOL!
Yeah, the rabbit made me wonder the exact thought you expressed, plus... that was no wild rabbit in that meadow.

Stop it! That's too frightening to think about!
I think that may be Survivor Paris Hilton you're thinking of.

You're right, Bear is obviously not alone on his hikes, which made his mushy I miss my little boy moment last night kind'a smarmy.

I know I shouldn't fuss, but it's been building for weeks.

Professional survivors should give us expert advice doncha think?

All of that jives with me. Of the two, Survivor Man is the more rugged and realistic of the two shows.
Ditto on the beach. When Tom Hanks built his raft and left the island in Castaway, I stood up in the theater and yelled, "NO! DON'T GO YOU IDIOT!"
Well, I wanted to yell it ...

If they could resist the urge to stunt, the rest of the show has some useful stuff.
They do make somethings seem a lot easier than they really are ... in my opinion.

Native Scott,
Maybe the Club Fed type pen that rich folks get.
I don't think you have to go North, any urban center anywhere where people experience nature vicariously.

tai haku said...

"Like a dive instructor saying, "you really shouldn't ignore the decomp tables, but I'm going to ...""

Now if I had a nickel for every time I've heard that classic....

I think this is my first or second time commenting by the way but I've had you on my feed reader for a while and meant to say earlier how much I'm enjoying your blog.

Sharon said...

Oh not at all, if you can't rant on your own blog, where can you? ;)
It's admirable that the one guy does all his own camera work,and pretty impressive! Now if they made a show, showing him DOING all of his own camera work, while he's making his show...I'd watch it! LOL

rcwbiologist said...

Somehow my comment from yesterday was sent to lala land. I'm wondering what is on the leaf? I don't have the foggiest, but would guess it's some type of insect thingy.

Sandy said...

Rant all you want about those shows because I think most people feel the same about them as you do.

I think that stuff on the leaf must be some kind of cucoon for some insect or larvae. But I never found anything inside...maybe I looked in it too late. Is that the stuff that sticks allover your fingers when you try to peel it off the leaf?

Sandy said...

I took a much closer look at your leaf and that's not what I was thinking it's too white.
I have no idea what it is. It looks like you might have taken globs of the powdered sugar you used in your cake and globbed it on the leaves. hehehe.
Of course, you know I'm just kidding about the powdered sugar.

jojo said...

You hit on such a good point PF... the beginnings of Discovery Networks was very into being REAL. Keeping it REAL. and always being accurate. I know i was involved with DN for latin america back when i worked in Miami. We were their ad agency and it was PARAMOUNT to keeping it real. From our campaigns to the on air photography, to whatever it is that we did... Since that time they've grown to 7 off shoot channels? each now i wonder how real and accurate they are. It was supposed to be a docu style of show. Now its alot of fluff. I'm sure for ratings. bummer.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks! I went to your site also, but got interrupted before the pics downloaded (dialup here in the outback)
I will return.

Right you are. If we can't rant here, where can we rant?

I didn't think anyone was going to tackle the puzzler.
You are very warm ... it is an insect thingie.

Apparently a lot of people were questioning these shows.
Your insect coccoon guess is good, not quite it, but good.

Fascinating! That must have been neat work.
I still watch Discovery and it's offshoots more than anything else (okay, I like SCIFI alot too), but they have really diluted their original focus.

Doug Taron said...

I'm embarrassed not to know what your photo is of. It looks sort of like some kind of cottony scale, or perhaps wooly aphids, but it's way bigger than any that I've previously seen.

Ericka said...

insect thingie? curses. i was thinking some sort of leaf mold/fungus thingie.

*snort* i avoid reality shows. it's become increasingly difficult.

there was one a while ago, and it may have been a special but this yutz was "reliving" heroic tales of survival - he went through the accident/tragedy then viewers could vote on how they *thought* the person survived, then he'd try to recreate it. the one i saw was a plane crash in the snowy mountains and a woman survived by hiking down a vertical incline in high heeled boots and no coat. she knew she wouldn't survive the night so, down she went. the guy made it less than a mile before the ems team with him called a halt. *headdesk* bit of a difference between "gotta do this or i'm going to die" and "the ratings will suffer if i don't make it."

*sigh* sorry. /rant. stupid reality shows. okay. now /rant.

kathy a said...

challenge and survival stories were HUGE to me as a kid. nevermind that the main television example was gilligan's island, which was obviously silly -- i was pretty sure that if i was lost on an island, i'd make out like the swiss family robinson [as illustrated by the disneyland attraction].

there are a number of reasons we don't have cable TV, and the fact i'd be yelling at the set during reality shows is only a minor one.

edifice rex said...

I watched these shows for about 5 minutes before I lost patience with them. They are just so melodramatic. I stopped watching HGTV after I saw one diy episode where they were forming about a 4' high wall for pouring concrete (unusual for them) and didn't use stiff backs and told the audience that they didn't need to use kickers (braces) either. That's just plain dangerous. Concrete is a very heavy material and that could have really got somebody hurt plus, that wall just ain't going to stay straight. Then on another show, this woman very messily smears drywall mud all over a ceramic vase, sticks 2 wooden knobs on the side and proclaims it to be just beautiful, I said that's it...You people (HGTV) are idiots.

Floridacracker said...

It was a tough one. I see in the extra clue post that you got it after all so GOOD WORK!

That big difference is the missing element in the survival reality shows. We know he/she is going to survive and so do they.

Kathy A,
Gilligan's Island was a favorite of mine as a kid, but that may have been Ginger's fault :)
When it comes to reality shows, good ol' COPS may be my favorite.

Edifice Rex,
I have similar complaints, though I'm not as knowledgeable in construction as you are.
These redo your place shows do the flimsiest stuff that's going to fall apart or look shabby in a couple of months.
And what is this fascination of young trendy "design experts" with black laquer finish ... yuck.
This could be a whole new rant if I'm not careful ... HGTV goofiness.
Okay, just a little more...
Monster House may have been the worst example of rapid fire construction that can ruin the value of a house.

edifice rex said...

I agree, mmhmm. And these 'build a whole house in a week" do they get their inspections at that rate? Yeah, that house isn't going to have any problems. HA!

Anonymous said...

Remember the good old days, when only wrestling was fake?

One thing surprises me: I would have guessed you'd be attracted to Mary Ann, not Ginger. Go figure.

And Paris Hilton - ouch! I may have to start going down to the lobby for my own coffee to restore my self esteem. :):)

Anonymous said...

Bear's little trick of eating maggots out of a rotting deer corpse was my personal favorite.

At least he used a few for bait, too.

But I found myself wondering: "How did he fashion fish-hooks from parts of his parachute using "only a canteen, a knife, and a flint"?

But I still find it to be entertaining TV, when I'm in the mood.

But, yeah, the "survival" advice is a take-it-or-leave-it thing. I'd stay on a beach and pick through rocks and stuff. Little crabs and whatzits are better than nothing!

Remember, though, that Bear's thing is always about making his way back to civilization, so he stays on the move. Still - what's the rush? Why risk injury to save a little time (like you said)?

That's a fresh post, Fc. You should rant more often.

Anonymous said...