Lose weight, quit smoking, learn karate

It might surprise you that even as prepared as I am, I too have room for self-improvement. Maybe it wouldn't surprise you, but in any case, this is the week we all pretend to commit ourselves to one thing or another, and if we're even on track come 1/2/2011 it's considered a success. Anyone who's sticking to their resolutions a month from now will seem like a loser - not because they are a loser, just because their success makes the rest of us look bad, so we all act like it's not cool, thus becoming cooler ourselves by comparison. It's a great system, isn't it?


The Night before Christmas

'Twas the Night before Christmas, and in our compound
All the humans were sleeping, not making a sound
The guns were all loaded, lying next to our beds,
Just in case we wake up and need to shoot zombie heads


All I want for Christmas is some napalm

I know that at about this time, about a week from Christmas, there's probably someone left on your list to buy a gift for. This is probably your most hard-to-shop-for person. They probably buy things themselves, or just don't want many things, so anything they want they already have - so where does that leave you? In a department store looking at the gift card rack, I bet.
A $20 dinner at Outback Steakhouse? Bleh. I've had a good meal there, but as a rule any place that sells gift cards at a different location probably isn't worth eating at. So maybe then the store's own gift card? Well, that's at least something you might assume they would use, right? I wouldn't count on it though. And it's such a thoughtless item! It says, "I don't really know you that well... but I consider this amount of money appropriate for a gift for you." If you're going to say that, you might as well give cash - at least you can use cash wherever you want.
Seriously, cash is a great option. In general, cash is my preferred form of gift to receive. It's not as thoughtful, though. If you want to send a message, but you don't really know the person well enough to say something eloquent, I suggest (for the purposes of this venue) to at least say "I hope you manage to survive the coming apocalypse."


The Carrot and the Pointed Stick

When I was a kid, I had a different understanding of the phrase "carrot and stick". I was influenced by cartoons, of course, as all kids were and still are today, and in cartoons a dumb animal (or person) can be induced to move forward by a combination of a carrot and stick. You tie the carrot (or occasionally a sausage) to a piece of string and have it dangle from the end of the stick; you then hold the stick in front of the animal (or stupid person, usually a stupid fat person if you're using a sausage) and it walks forward, thinking it's going to get the carrot. Of course, you're sitting on its back, or on the cart it's pulling, and it never gets closer to the carrot - the stick always keeps the carrot out of reach. I suppose that eventually the animal needs to eat, and you'll give it a feed bag of grain or corn or something, but it'll never get that carrot, will it?

Today I understand that most people mean the carrot as a reward and the stick as a punishment; "if you clean your room you can have a carrot, but if you don't, I'll beat your ass with this stick."

I can see how that might be effective, but sooner or later you'll get used to the carrots and sick of the stick - or the other way around, which might be worse. And two hands can wield the same stick, if you get my meaning; I don't see it as a long term solution. My way, the carrot is the only carrot around; you might be able to rationally see that you won't be getting it any time soon, but lacking another option, what else can you do but follow it? I'm not saying that I'm right and you're wrong, but look how hard all these people today are working toward "retirement" and paying off their "mortgage". Watch people on treadmills facing a mural of an open road.

What, if anything, does this have to do with the Zombie Apocalypse?


Headcracker Suite

Walking on ice is hard, but to me it's always going to be easier than skating. Once you get the hang of walking you can control where you go very easily, and stop whenever and wherever you want to. You can even learn to keep yourself from falling. You seem to develop a keener sense of balance from prolonged experience. I spent most of my youth in an area that had ice all through the winter, and before I moved to a warmer climate I was a very proficient ice-walker. I can't count how many times I've almost slipped but managed to put my foot in the right place in time to stay upright. It's almost as many as the number of times I fell right to the ground without warning, but most of the former were in later years and the latter in earlier ones.
Zombies will not have that much skill, and certainly not the adaptability. Maybe if a zombie knew how to do it before death, some of that skill will survive. I don't think it will be much, if any at all. No, ice is not a friend to zombies.
But remember, it's not exactly an ally of yours, either.


The Un-life Aquatic

It's Thanksgiving today; for some, it's a day of eating with abandon and otherwise moving very little, if at all. In a way, that makes it a great day to be a zombie. Of course, for those who celebrate the holiday the meals will be special things you don't get every day - that's just one thing that makes being alive wonderful, because once you're a zombie it's leftover brains and innards all day every day until you rot away.


Thankful? Oh yes. Quite.

Just a minor interjection in our regularly scheduled broadcast. It's a day of thanks, and I do believe in expressing thanks for the things we have every day. To that end, I'd like to say a few words here, from myself and my household to whomever or whatever should happen to be responsible for it all.

Above all, I am thankful, this and every day, to be alive. There is nothing more precious than life; it can be lost so easily, and nothing can ever replace it. I've spent so many years with mine, and I would not trade it for any other, and I'll protect it even if it kills me.
Naturally, I'm thankful that there are not millions of zombies populating the world. Prepared as I may be, that's still not something I ever want to happen.
Also, I'm thankful for my family, both the one I grew up with and the one I joined when I married my dear wife. It is for their sake, as much as mine, that I chose to take tangible steps to prepare for the Apocalypse.

Greatly on my mind today is how thankful I am for food, of all kinds and flavors. Turkeys and other fowl, pigs and goats, the occasional cow; these are animals that make such wonderful livestock and such delicious food. Surely they are proof of God's existence, for I can not imagine what other use these animals could have in the world if not to feed us. Vegetables, too; grains, for breads and for beer; aliums like onions and leeks; roots like carrots and potatoes; beans, greens, fruits, and shoots. Life abundant, all through the world, and we are so fortunate as to care for it and be honored by its nutrition. Being stewards of our food sources, and the land they all depend on, is likely to be the most important lesson we will learn after the destruction of society.

May we, who live in such plenty, give thanks for our blessings and offer our hopes for those who do not. Let us enjoy what we do have, since we may lose it at any time. Let us not lose these things without first enjoying and appreciating each and every one.

I'd also like to thank you, the reader; whether you take me seriously or not, any of my words that you remember may save a life one day, so just by being here, you are helping save the world. Without you, my mission is worse than hopeless. So thank you, and keep up the fight for humanity, today and every day.


"Did you hear about New York?"

When the end begins, it's going to start in one place before it spreads to the rest of us. We won't hear about it right away unless the authorities know what they're doing - so we probably won't hear about it right away, and probably not until it's much much too late.
Wherever it starts, it's going to spread quickly; if it starts somewhere suburban or even rural, it will probably spread faster than the news of it. That is, until it reaches a major urban center. In a major urban area, there are news people all over the place, and the kind of hell that will be caused by zombie outbreak will certainly interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcasting. You might hear about "riots" or even "violent protest" (because if it can sound political it's more newsworthy, right?), though no one will have any real information on what the cause is.

Once the violence reaches a certain level, it'll be interrupting the regularly scheduled broadcasting where you live too, even if you're in LA. "Unexplained riots in the streets of New York City, violence spreading through the streets, death tolls impossible to estimate." Someone will mention terrorism; some terrorist bastard must have released a chemical that made the people crazy. Never mind that there's no evidence; at least it's not a real unholy plague of the undead. This story will probably be the basis for most of the stories people will spread about what "really happened".
But you'll just think, "Holy crap, that's awful! I hope it never happens here!"
But it will.


Making Pickles: more important than you think.

Think about it for a minute. Think about pickles.
Pickles are vegetables (we usually think of cucumbers) that have been preserved for long-term storage. Before we had canning, we had pickling. Pickling not only preserved our vegetables to last us through winters, it could give them new flavors and textures. Pickle some baby carrots with a couple hot peppers, and you've got a jar of some very tasty carrots. And of course, there's dill. Dill and cucumbers go together like peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter and chocolate, or peanut butter and nacho cheese Doritos. It's too bad you can't pickle peanut butter, that would be something to accomplish.

Pickles have another key role in our culture, aside from being a great counterpart to greasy delicious hamburgers. It's said, though not generally true, that pregnant women tend to have a desperate craving at times for a good pickle, especially in combination with something confusing, like almond flavored ice cream or ricotta cheese.
Pickles do not last forever, though they might make a damn good effort at it. The biggest thing holding them back is their glass jars; they break easily, they're heavy, they just don't travel as well as aluminum cans. Pickles won't be a major part of your diet as you travel. Having children won't be a part of that either. But eventually, that will change.


Anything you can do, we can do better

The worst part of having to cooperate with another person is always going to be the other person. Check out the bullet list.

  • Sneak away while they're sleeping
    • No tearful goodbyes, no violence, but terrible for a guilty conscience. You'll probably wonder what happened to them, and they'll certainly wonder about you. 
  • Kill them in their sleep
    • No tearful goodbyes, but it's not very nice. That's OK if you're OK with that, and there's some advantages, like not having to leave any food or supplies behind for the other person. 
  • Have a fight, leave in a huff
    • The trouble with this option is that you'll probably have to leave a lot of stuff behind. The person you're fighting with won't take kindly to you taking a fair share of the food and supplies. Try and make them leave, and you'll end up with the lion's share. 
  • Mexican standoff, last one standing keeps all the nachos.
    • This is a great option if you feel lucky. Be sure to count the shots beforehand; Dirty Harry taught us the importance of knowing whether or not there's one bullet left in someone else's gun.
Not liking your options so far? Consider the following, as Mr. Nye would say. 
  • Suck it up, hold your tongue, and work together.
    • No violence, or at least not between living people. Sure, they're an asshole, but as long as they're alive and not trying to kill you, you can use them to help you survive.


Zombextra! A Halloween special, of sorts.

Because you wanted it. You demanded it via an email chain letter petition; "take a break from survival strategies and do something fun for Halloween" you said. "Say something interesting about fictional zombies" you said.
Too much seriousness, eh? Living is serious business, we all tend to take it much to lightly if you ask me.
Well, you ask, and you shall be rewarded.


Zombie Hell is other people


Here we are, 7 am or so on a nice sunny Saturday morning, and your alarm clock is going off because you didn't turn it off. Blah blah blah, Zombie Apocalypse. Let's skip this part, we went over it once before. The difference here is that you didn't wake up alone, and you're very tempted to stay in bed for a while and get some Zombie Day action; I won't stop you, it might be your last good chance. Get back to me when you're done.

Yeah, you had a great weekend planned, all these things the two of you were going to do, like living, eating food that's been dead more than an hour, staying inside with nothing but each other for company. Well, you might get to do some of those things, so at least your weekend isn't ruined.


You think you know, but you have no idea.

That bit last time about not pretending to be a zombie really isn't about survival (unless you're dumb enough to try it, in which case I saved your life - your welcome, by the way), but it's something you might think of that you really shouldn't. It also brings up a great topic: Things you think you know!
You think you know: Zombies don't run, they shamble.
Well, you may be right, you may be wrong. Luckily, I don't have a zombie here to check it out on, so we'll have to theorize.


How Not to be Seen

We are ready to move around outside now! Pretty exciting, isn't it? So are you walking or driving? Gonna try driving, eh? well here's something to think about first.
You will be seen! Seen and heard, really; the hearing may be more important, as loud as your car probably is. At this point, you're probably happier about that electric car you bought than ever, right? Silent and life-preserving, or nearly so. Wait, you didn't buy an electric car. Well that's probably fine, it'll be hard to recharge it once the battery runs out anyway. Gas, on the other hand, will be easier to find, but like I said you run a greater risk of attracting attention.
Things that seem "close" by car are a hell of a long way away when you're walking. If it takes you ten or fifteen minutes to drive somewhere, it's probably a good idea to plan on taking the whole day to get there on foot. I suppose you're going to try proving me wrong, right? You're gonna try walking to your intended first-base location today, just to prove you know the route and how long it'll take you. Well, remember that you won't want to walk on the roads if you can help it; too open, too easy to be seen. You'll also be avoiding zombies and carrying everything you intend to possess, so don't think you'll move as fast then as you might today.
If you're driving, this rule is the king: Know Your Route! If you're going somewhere you're already familiar with, you need to know multiple ways to get there from where you are. The main intersections and major roads could easily be jammed up, so you'll want to know a back way. Those other roads will be less busy, but they're narrower and easier to jam up.
You will not keep your car very long, so don't get attached! The further you need to go from home, the more likely that you'll eventually encounter some kind of traffic jam or quarantine roadblock (ha!) that you just won't find a way around. There's good news for these situations though: somewhere up ahead there's a car that you can maneuver out of the situation onto relatively clear roads, it probably has the keys in it, and there's not likely to be any corpses to remove from it - unless they stayed in the car long enough to die from hunger, any corpses would have found their way out, one way or another. What you really want is a car that was abandoned in haste, so look for open doors in that situation.
Hot-wiring the car is a useful skill if you have it, but for legal reasons I can't help you figure it out. If you know the general idea, find some diagrams of the wiring for a car's ignition switch to study. I suppose it'll be different between different makes and models, but the more you know...


Life, People, and Things that happen Afterward.

Let's pretend for a minute.

Imagine if you will a world where more than 99% of humans are dead - not necessarily gone, but not breathing, not eating (food), and certainly not going to work doing the jobs that keep the world we know spinning at the speed we like.
What would it be like?


Time Out: you're not really going outside, right?

So, theoretically, you're all set, right? You've got some food supplies, some tools, and (most importantly for the moment) some very passable instruments of death. Killing zombies isn't your goal, mind you - your goal is not to die. There are three real ways not to die during the zombie apocalypse:

1: Don't let the zombies catch you (i.e. run)

2: Don't let the zombies see you (i.e. hide)

3: Don't let the zombies kill you. (i.e. fortify)

In a way, there's two sides to all of the rules; one, you do while you're on the move, and the other you do while you're stopped. But you're never really stopped; under the Run rule, when you're not moving you're getting ready to move again. To hide on the move, you sneak; to hide in place, you just hide; we can talk more later about some ways to deal with those later.
Running and hiding are things we all know pretty well, but let's take a minute to think about how to keep the zombies from killing you.


Some folks call it a sling blade

By now you should be capable of leaving your bedroom alive. I have to be honest with you, if there are any zombies in your house before you wake up I don't expect you to leave that house alive. If you manage that, you've got the makings of a true survivor; zombie killing isn't the goal of survival, but being good at it will certainly help a lot. With the few real tools at your disposal in the living areas of your house, killing a zombie is quite an accomplishment.
A zombie in your dwelling area is what we'll call a "breach" situation; one or more zombies have gotten past your defensive line and is in your space, hunting you. A breach situation is probably the scariest scenario you can expect to face. If you're prepared for it, it's manageable as long as there's not too many of them; be prepared to lose one or more people in your group, though, because their screams are probably going to be the best warning you'll have that a breach has happened.

For you, a breach on Zombie Day will be hard to prepare for, so I don't expect you to live. I'm just hoping that you're far enough away from the real action to survive to leave your house. You're not that far, though, whatever you might think; the zombie contagion will cover ground as fast as cars drive or planes can fly. The farther you are away from a major city the better, especially if there's no major hospitals or airports nearby either. "Sick" people will get taken to hospitals, so as soon as the virus reaches your area it will find its way into a hospital; if it's a big hospital, so much the worse, and worst of all will be any kind of research hospital, because these will take in zombies from far away as soon as people realize that they can't diagnose the problem. Soon enough, a nurse will be bitten or otherwise exposed and the situation will explode.

Right now, you're probably seeing all kinds of craziness on your living room TV, holding tight to your fireplace poker and sticking your kitchen knives in your belt - you probably haven't thought to protect them (and yourself) with duct tape yet, but that's in the garage and you haven't worked up the courage to open any more doors yet. The zombies might be anywhere, right? But if they weren't in your house, they're probably not in your garage. Unless you left the garage door open? You probably shouldn't have.


First days are always the hardest

So again, it's 7 am and you've just found out that it's the Zombie Apocalypse. Feel free to turn on the TV (quietly) and see the news unfolding while it's still being broadcast. Maybe your area isn't in the thick of it yet - but by the time people really realize that it's the big ZA, you're definitely going to have a nice front-line view of the action. Let's hope for your sake that you saw the early signs: so-called "riots" and senseless violence spreading like a plague, probably in multiple cities. You'll know it's the apocalypse because even rioters take time to make slogan signs most of the time.

You need to get ready, and the only things on hand right away are the things in your house. We'll go through and rate most of the things you probably have based on their usefulness to you, either as a tool or a weapon.

Strategies for Survival

It's 7 am on a Saturday morning and your alarm clock is going off. You're not going to work today, but you've forgotten to disable it.
Well hurry up and turn it off, because it's the Zombie Apocalypse.