As space producer for Discovery News, and space blogger of seven years, I happily work from home. Therefore, not wearing pants - let alone walking boots - to the office isn't a problem (or a lawsuit in waiting).
But when not typing about black holes, playing "Call of Duty" on the PlayStation 3 or being entertained by my pet hamster, the Bear Grylls inside me gets itchy feet and wants to ramble, climb and experience some of the more extreme environments our planet has to offer.
Yes, I used to live in the Arctic. (Take that Grylls! Pack up your parachute and Leatherman, it was never a fair fight.)
So, as "that" time of year approaches once again, apart from hoping Mrs. O'Neill remembers to pick me up a copy of "Modern Warfare 3," I like to keep a casual eye on outdoors equipment, just in case there's a stocking filler or two for family and friends to support my growing Geocaching habit.
As luck would have it, my colleagues over at Discovery.com have done the hard work and collected some rather cool items for this year's festivities in "Holiday Gift Guide 2011: For the Outdoors Survivalist."
Here are a few things that I'll be adding to my list to Santa.
Bear Grylls' Survival App - $2.99
Is there anything this guy can't do? (Have you ever wrestled a polar bear, Grylls? Did I mention I lived in the Arctic? Polar bears live in the Arctic, too. I am therefore tougher than Bear Grylls! My logic is flawless.)
Apart from the slight jealousy toward my fellow British survivalist, I must admit some admiration that he has the stomach to chomp the head off a live frog and clamber inside a camel carcass for shelter - neither of which I'd like to try ... unless I had to!
And that it is the premise of the Bear Grylls Survival App - in case you're stuck in the wilderness, with just an iPhone for company, the Discovery Channel's Man vs. Wild tough man will give you hints and tips on how to stay alive, and even entertain you with videos from the show.
I hope he also shows you how to fashion a solar-powered iPhone charger out of twigs, mud and slug slime; otherwise the app might be limited to just the first two hours of your survival strategy.
Make Your Own Knife Kit - $27.95
When man first sharpened a small triangular stone, attached it to the end of a stick, stabbed it through the heart of an unsuspecting deer and enjoyed a dinner of roast venison with Ms. Neanderthal from two caves down the valley, how do you think he felt? AWESOME, that's how he felt. Mr. Neanderthal had stepped onto the next rung of human evolution!* So imagine how you'd feel if you could make your own knife. Maybe not as awesome as Mr. Neanderthal, but at least you'd feel as manly as Bear Grylls for a moment or two. (Be sure to hang your homemade knife above the fireplace to show off to your buddies when they come over for PlayStation night. That's how real men roll.)
First Aid Kit - $15
After filleting your hand open during the "make your own knife" phase, you'll need a fairly comprehensive first aid kit to stem the flow of blood all over that brand-new gaming chair. It turns out that the Survival Medic Kit has just about everything you'll need for those outdoors pursuits you've been attempting in your living room. Interestingly, duct tape is included, possibly for reattaching severed limbs.**
*Not an actual historical account.
**Not actual medical advice.