Thursday, September 28, 2006

Great Comments

Verloren, thanks for bringing up The Zombie Infection Simulation. I've mentioned this program before but it always worth revisiting. Not only is it good for explaining the value of small, well-organized groups, but it also quite clearly demonstrates that the speed of the zombies themselves is inconsequential when compared with the speed of the transfer of the infection. So if you haven't already checked it out, give it a look...

Wozgog, you raise a number of good questions, several of which I've given a good amount of thought. I will address them when my brain is more effective and coherent... Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I had quite the workout today. I learned a new offensive maneuver called the "Ridge Hand" It took me a few times to get it right, but when I finally got it, man, what a great move, so much power...

However, the number of inaccurate attempts at the beginning left my hands in a less-than-perfect state. I'll sign off with a picture that will hopefully explain the number of typos in this post:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Large Groups

"Safety in numbers" is a commonly tossed about saying.
It will probably be the first public reaction to a zombie uprising. Not realizing what the zombie menace actually is, government or some sort of over-reaching leadership will probably corral the general public into a collective area for protection and treatment. This will cause the less-than-vigilant eye of the public's benefactors to neglect to quarantine infected individuals.

As time passes, mostly likely coinciding with the first night of the uprising when security is slightly lax, the corpses will reanimate. A panicked, locked-in public will either become infected or trample itself to death. Either way, this is not a favorable situation.

In an undead uprising, it is best to adhere to your own previously organized plan. Again, it is imperative to keep in small groups with the maximum of seven (preferably around five) individuals. Larger groups are more noticeable (and thus more susceptible to the zombie menace) and more likely to contain inherent power conflicts that may cause deadly schisms. If you are part of a larger zombie resistance, break up into smaller, independent cells. Organize these groups (pre-apocalyptically) so that they are balanced, thus guaranteeing the survival of the maximum amount of people. You may be divided from loved ones, but keep in mind the greater good. Even if you never reunite, there is a slightly higher chance of the survival of the human race.

Always remember the bigger picture. The extinguishment of the zombie uprising and the ensuring of human survival is imperative.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Weapon Purchases

I made some survival related purchases today.
I felt it was necessary to have a back-up machete. One that I can keep downstairs, incase I get cut off from my regular machete. I purchased the club because I don't have nearly enough bludgeons. And of course, you need to properly maintain your machetes... so I got a portable sharpener.

Monday, September 25, 2006

28 Days Later continued

I need to amend my final statement in yesterday's post. 28 Days Later is useless regarding gathering information on zombies (like many other zombie and pseudo-zombie movies). I was trying to be critical of the way that this commonly perceived "zombie" movie has influenced public thought. Whenever I am giving an educational lecture on the zombie menace, 28 Days Later inevitably comes up.

There was a thoughtful comment posted today regarding 28 Days Later and how it is not completely useless because of the character's reactions to the "rage" menace. Overall, I would say that their reactions are probably fairly accurate representations of how the general public would react to the zombie threat. The characters learn from their mistakes (Never, Ever, Ever drive through a tunnel which you cannot see out of) and become better fit for survival (by finding a remote area and maintaining surveillance).

In regards to the comments about the fast-moving zombies... Just because a zombie is usually slow-moving, it is never a reason to drop your guard. If you are not killing off or escaping from zombies in a timely fashion more of the undead menace will collect reducing your chances of survival.

Advice of the Day: Zombies are slow-moving. You should not be.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Fallacies perpetuated by 28 Days Later

28 Days Later is a good movie. It is not, however, a zombie movie. The mindless killing and eating action is all performed by live individuals. Unfortunately, the similarities between the "rage" virus and the zombie virus are enough to confuse the casual viewer. I'm going to break down the differences today:

1. Zombies do not move quickly.
This is something I have to continually redress because it is such a persistent fallacy. Due to factors such as rigormortis, decay, and lack of brain interconnectivity, it is impossible for a zombie to move quickly. The zombie threat lies in its quantity, not its speed.

2. The zombie conversion process is not instant.
In fact, it usually takes place between two and three hours after death. Reanimation takes time. Though the horrible image of the subway station described in 28 Days Later is quite dramatic, it would never happen in an actual zombie takeover.

3. Zombies cannot die from malnutrition.
The only reason the freaks in 28 Days Later die from malnutrition is because they are still, in fact, alive. Zombies do not eat for nourishment, they eat as a residual compulsion. Zombies that are only heads will still try to eat, the undigested "food" will merely pass down their throat (or what is left of it).

4. Zombies must be killed by destroying the brain.
There simply is no other way. It is common misconception that decapitation will get the job done; it won't. It will substantially reduce the threat, but the head will still be animated, and still be capable of spreading the virus.

5. The zombie virus cannot be passed to animals..
Animals will die if they come into contact with the zombie virus, but they will not become zombies themselves. It is specifically a human ailment.

So remember, 28 Days Later may be entertaining, but it is not based on fact and thereful useless when information gathering.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Know Your Strengths

One person cannot be the best at everything. While zombie defense training encompasses a wide range of skills, each of which some degree of proficiency, it is important to know which skills you excel at versus which skills you are weaker in.

While I am still very early on in my training, I don't know if there is any one skill that I am an expert in. At this point, I think my knowledge of the zombie menace and what it is capable of is probably my strong point. I am also somewhat confident in my ability to take on a single zombie ( or possibly a small group, that is well spaced out) in hand-to-hand combat, assuming I am properly armed with at least some sort of close range weapon.

My weakest point is probably my driving ability. I don't just say this because of my accident earlier this summer, but rather because I was never a particularly confident driver. I imagine I would crack under the pressure of driving, off-road, in an attempt to escape a zombie horde. Now, if I'm the only driver (for whatever reason) I won't hesitate to employ what driving skills I have, But given an available, more competent driver, I will gladly turn over the honor... I've always liked shotgun better anyway (which takes on a new- or perhaps old- meaning in the event of the zombie apocalypse).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Balance again

Today we worked on blocks and punches in Karate. The idea was to have the block transition smoothly into the punch. The purpose of the block was to unbalance the subject and also open them up to a punch. In many ways, the block was the primary offense.

These ideas can easily be applied to zombie fighting. Zombies lack the cranial capacity and higher thinking skills to anticipate blocks and punches. Throwing a zombie off-balance with a "surprise" block should be relatively simple. Of course, you should keep on pummelling a zombie until it goes down, but theoretically this should happen much sooner than a human opponent.

The other thing I'd like to add, and should go without saying is practice, practice, practice. Even if you are practicing blocks and punches against an invisible zombie opponent, the familiarity will lend speed and confidence in an actual situation. After nearly four months of Karate, I block instinctively and it is a valuable trait.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Zombie Lurches

The Zombie Lurch is a fairly popular event that is cropping up all over the USA. There are probably going to be a lot more occurring in the next month with Halloween coming up. For those who have not experienced a Lurch, it usually a sub-culture event where people dress up as zombies and lurch about town in fairly ambling way, generally under the label of performance art or a public nuisance.

I worry that this action will desensitize the general public to the appearance of zombies. Granted, the lurchers are usually pretty obviously alive, with badly over done make-up. Even so, the aimless slouched walk, and vaguely decomposing appearance will cease to draw attention, thus making the general public ambivalent to an actual zombie strike.

Of course, I would not question anyone's right to free speech, so I think the only proper solution is to present an opposing viewpoint at these Lurches. I am not suggesting actual violence against people, even if they are dressed as ghouls. Rather, this is an excellent opportunity to spread public awareness of the actual zombie menace. It is the zombie hunter's duty to supply leaflets, informing people of how a zombie would actually behave, so they could be recognized, even in the midst of a Lurch. Give speeches, lectures and focused rant and generally be as equally disruptive as the Zombie Lurch.

Go forth and educate.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


This is something that "Grand 'Poon" posted last week, which I think merits additional attention:
"eating cake now may mean you eat BRAINS later"

Very worthy words of advice. I no longer am struggling with my cake addiction, but my eating habits are certainly in need of some scrutiny. While during this pre-apocalyptic state, food is in abundance, I think I should start eating more efficiently in order to prepare for the hard times ahead. Therefore, I am going to attempt to reduce my intake to highly nutritious food, that is both hearty and compact (therefore easy to carry).

Also, I would like to increase my foraging skills. Since I plan on surviving the zombie menace in an area isolated from the highly populated urban zombie-nests, this is a basic skill that I need to acquire. I can only recognize a small amount edible food growing in the wild (mulberries and apples-not substantive enough). Since vegetation is immune to the zombie virus, it would be useful to be able to recognize and cultivate fruits and vegetables.

So in the spirit of zombie survival here is a recipe for on the run:

1 can of beans
1 sprig of mint (readily available in the wild) (optional)
pinch of salt (optional)

Heat the can of beans over a small, discreet fire. The can will double as a pot. If the territory is too intense to draw attention with the fire, the beans can be eaten cold. Add chopped mint (chopped with your cooking knife, not your stabbing knife) and/or salt. Enjoy.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The South Will Rise Again

Zombies, Karate, and explosions. It doesn't get much better than this.

Check out The South Will Rise Again

Donate some money to help these guys realize their vision.

Saturday, September 16, 2006


After spending several months learning Karate, the issue of balance has become readily apparent to me. First of all it is extremely easy to be knocked off balance. When facing an human opponent, this gives you valuable nanoseconds to re-focus your attack. Against a zombie, this time becomes greater and more crucial.

Zombies are not the most balanced creatures to begin with. They are slow-moving, decaying corpses; if you knock one down, it's going to take longer than a few seconds to get back up. This time can be used to brain said zombie.

Moreover, the act of unbalancing an individual (especially a zombie) is relatively easy. You set up a tripwire if you are in a secure location. If you are mobile, you a stick cocked between the legs will quickly knock someone down. If you are carrying a walking stick, or cultivator, it can serve this purpose. Finally, I'm not sure if this will work on a zombie, but it's worth a shot... There is a nerve above the Achilles' heel that when struck will immediately cause the knees to buckle. Theoretically, if the zombie's brain is functioning, these nerves should also function, but further tests would be needed.

So take advantage of the zombies' complete lack of coordination.

Friday, September 15, 2006


Verloren made some excellent comments regarding my last two posts that I would like to address. First the inclusion of Evil Dead II in my canon despite the fact that it is not a zombie movie. I stand my comments regarding Bruce Campbell's awesomeness. Moreso, I think that all of the Evil Dead series (including Army of Darkness) made a significant contribution to the zombie genre, even though they are not true zombie films. Without the Evil Dead series, Shaun of the Dead probably would not have been made. However, I will concede that Shaun of the Dead would make an excellent addition to the Canon, and I probably would have added it, had I been thinking a little bit more coherently last night. The opening sequence alone is absolutely brilliant.

Secondly, the issue of shoes. In my opinion, shoes are largely a matter of personal choice. They should have some protection against the virus, so leather is a good material, as it is with the rest of the equipment. However, I do think that comfort is the most important aspect of shoes. If you are comfortable in soccer cleats then go for it. Sure, they'll tear the flesh of your opponent, but with a well-aimed kick they will crack the skull and injure the brain. I agree that some skill is necessary to kick someone in the head, but with the proper training... this skill comes quickly. I am proud to say that I am able to kick high enough, and accurately enough, and with enough force to do damage to the skull. Of course, at the moment this skill is limited to practice pads, and imaginary zombies, so I cannot speak to my skill in the field.

If you chose not to gain this skill before the necropalypse, go with the shoes most well-suited to your terrain, durable, as well as comfortable (as they may be your last pair of shoes).

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Canon

Today, I was asked which zombie movies would form the canon of the zombie genre. Here's my top five:

1. Dawn of the Dead
This would be the original. It presents the zombie threat in a fairly accurate fashion (no fast moving zombies in this one), and has the social commentary on top of it all.

2. Night of the Living Dead
Not the first zombie movie, but probably the first notable zombie movie. The way in which the people react to the growing zombie menace is probably pretty accurate too.

3. Evil Dead II
Ok, these technically aren't zombies, and this movie is profoundly disgusting, but Bruce Campbell is awesome. He cuts off his hand to prevent the evil (virus) from poisoning his entire body. And then he replaces his hand with a chainsaw. Even though it wouldn't work it real life, it shows real dedication.

4. Day of the Dead
This post apocalyptic vision of a world overrun with zombies is realistic in its isolation. I don't care for the "scientific research" aspect- which seems to just be a reason to showcase the special effects abilities.

5. Resident Evil
I'm sure this will be a controversial choice. It's not a particularly good movie, but it reinvented the genre. It's not a traditional splatter-fest, instead relying on moody lighting, suspenseful action, and a maniacal corporation at the root of it all.

So three Romero's... I think he's onto something...

I'd like to hear everyone else's suggestions/thoughts/criticisms.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More Equipment

In response to Justin's suggestion of cleats... if they're comfortable, go for it. Cleats have the added bonus of being helpful for hiking. The spikes (and it would be better to go with metal spikes here) will easily break the skull if they make proper contact with enough force. Broken skull=broken brain=dead zombie.

Similarly, brass knuckles are also good. However, they fall under the "not legal" category, so I'll have to wait until after the zombie apocalypse to obtain them.

There are also lots of legal weapons that can be safely stashed in the car. For example, the crowbar (Captain Pryey), the tire iron, a rope with a weighted end (good for taking down zombies), my new cultivator, or even a simple broom stick. I always keep some supplies in my car, so I can leave at a moments notice.

Advice of the Day: Be aware of your surroundings, and what can function as a weapon, should the situation arise.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Post #100

This is my hundredth post. At this point, I think it is a good time to review my progress.

Going back to my one of my earliest posts regarding my fitness tests and weight-loss/muscle gain goals. I am sad to say that I have not made as much progress here as I would have liked. I have not endured the embarrassment of the fat-pinch test again, but I am fairly confident that my percentage of fat has not changed more than a percentage point (if that). My muscle mass has increased, as my weight has increased (only about five pounds), but my width has not. There is more definition and tone, and I am able to lift more weight.

On the other hand, because of Karate, my ability to defend myself has increased tenfold. I block without thinking, and my counterstrikes are becoming more effective. I don't think I could kill with my bare hands (nor would I want to-zombies are squishy and gross).

Finally, my knowledge of zombies is beginning to match my hatred of them. I have extensively studied The Zombie Survival Guide and made every effort to understand Max Brooks' expertise. I have consulted outside sources, evaluated their reliability, and absorbed what authentic data was available. Moreover, I have studied the human body to learn what it was capable of, and where it falters. While my zombie knowledge is far from complete, it is much more comprehensive than at the beginning of my training.

So, I have come a long way and I have a lot farther to go.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Legal "Weapons"

I think I need to start carrying something that could be used as a weapon with me. Nothing illegal (which is why I don't carry my machete around), but a few things work in a pinch. I don't think my keys and driver's license are going to cut it against a sudden zombie threat. Here is a short list of possilbe legal weapons:

1. A Swiss Army knife (I know, I know, I should have been carrying one of these all along)
2. A flashlight (A magnum brand flashlight, complete with batteries, becomes a very effective bludgeon, and oh yeah, good as a light source too)
3. A roll of quarters and a sock (actually, I do carry this around. good for a impromptu bludgeon, and the local arcade)
4. A dog choke chain, wallet chain, or heavy necklace (all can double as brass knuckles-though they may not speak to your fashion sense)
5. Strong language (always good in a pinch)

Any Suggestions?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Armor, Part II

Just because armor is an impracticality during the zombie apocalypse does not mean that protective gear should be neglected. The question is which type of clothes would be of most protection is important. If at all possible, it would be best to wear flexible, bite-resistant clothing. Clothing should be, first and foremost, protection from the zombie virus. Broken bones and bruises will heal, an infection will not.

I was watching Underworld and I was thinking about whether or not Kate Beckinsdale's clothing would be of any use. Other than being subversive, could it serve as zombie protection? It fits Max Brook's description of "tight clothes", but being latex it is still very flexible. And latex would be very splatter resistant; it would be like wearing a giant zombie-proof rubber glove. However, it is hardly tear-resistant, not to mention incredibly hot and a major sweat collector. So all in all, not a good idea.

However, leather would be a much more practical solution. Lightweight, liquid-resistant, and most importantly, bite-resistant, a leather jacket is a valuable piece of gear. It should fit well, and be non-constrictive. Limb protection is of crucial importance. Leather sleeves are good protection, but they would be nicely complimented by leather gloves, preferably with some type of knuckle protection. If it ever comes to punching a zombie, their teeth are still dangerous and likely to cut your hands.

Goggles or some form of protective glasses are also a good idea in a close-quarters confrontation. The membranes of the eyes are very permeable, and susceptible to the zombie virus in a way the skin is not (though it is a good idea to keep the skin protected as much as possible). Even if you manage to kill every zombie, there is bound to be some splatterage.

Shoes are somewhat debatable and dependent on the individual and situation. Steel-toe boots would make your feet into a spectacular blunt weapon, but I find they are somewhat difficult to run in. Because of their stiffness, they are likely to cause noise during travel. While I am still a fan of the tabi (split-toe nines shoes) because of the increased agility and stealthing ability, they are not for everyone. It is important to maintain comfort as well as protection. Blisters can be quite disabling; any shoes, should be broken in before a fight or flight situation.

Of course this is only a quick review of practical gear. No doubt, real situations will arise where practical decisions will have to be made. Common sense and dry runs are probably the best way to evaluation and potential situations. Whenever I go shopping, I am always looking for potential anti-zombie products, and I will be purchasing my leather jacket (stylish, yet zombie-resistant) soon.

Quote of the Day: Dennis Hopper, Land of the Dead, "Zombies, man... They creep me out"

Friday, September 08, 2006

Armor, Part I

The issue of armor while fighting zombies needs to be addressed.

Max Brooks effectively discusses the drawbacks of armor on pages 58-63. Plate Armor is just ridiculous. Ignoring the fact that it is relatively difficult to obtain (unless you raid a museum) and that it is riddled with weak spots, it was next to impossible to wear due to its weight and immobility even in the Middle Ages, when such an outfit was common. While this is the extreme example of armor, most of its detriments are share common weaknesses with contemporary armor, namely, ineffective coverage, added weight, and constriction of movement (all of which Max Brooks discusses more in depth).

Furthermore, armor only becomes an issue when fighting in close quarters. If you are sniping zombies atop a high, impenetrable field, there is no reason to be using armor. However, in close-quarters or hand-to-hand combat, armor may deflect the zombie's primary weapon: its teeth. Unfortunately, it is in this very situation where armor becomes a fatal encumbrance.

Zombies, by their very nature, are slow moving creatures (despite the persistence of the fast-moving zombie myth). A human's greatest asset over their zombie foe is speed and agility. Anything, such as armor, that hinders those advantages is likely to do more harm than good. Even an untrained human will likely be able to circumvent a single zombie or small group of zombies through the ability to run. Of course, this is dependent on terrain, and whether or not the person panics. The same individual with armor will encounter one of two problems: A)He/She will try to run but will tire quickly, allowing the zombies to catch up and eat him/her, or B)He/She will rely on the "protection" of the armor, running headstrong into a fight, utterly unprepared.

In conclusion, Max Brooks' summary "tight clothes and short hair" is apt for the close combat situation.

Tomorrow, I will discuss precautionary measures that can be taken, equipment-wise, to help prevent infection in close-quarters combat.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Hard Truth About Love

Since yesterday's post was uncharacteristically mushy, today I want to address the flip-side of love during the zombie apocalypse.

While the camaraderie that exists in a group, can make for a well-functioning group because of the innate communication, it also makes it much harder when a member succumbs to the zombie virus. The signal of true love and compassion is your willigness to kill a loved one before they become a reanimated, cannabalistic monster using the corpse of your family/friend as its vehicle.

I know that I've mentioned this topic before, but I cannot stress this enough, you will have to kill or re-kill those you care about. Remember, any hesitation is a betrayal to their memory.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Training and the ones you love

Love is should not be neglected during zombie training and the consequent zombie uprising.
While becoming a zombie killing machine is beneficial, it is important not to lose your humanity. What's the saying? "It is better to have loved, and have those you loved be eaten by zombies, than to have never loved at all". The obvious solution is have those that you love train as well. This way you are not struggling to protect anyone, and you will have a cohesive team.

I have finally come one step closer to this goal. For the last couple of years I have been trying to convince my significant other of the impending zombie menace, and encouraging him to take the necessary precautions. While he still does not believe in the zombie threat, I have persuaded him to take Karate with me. In accordance with Max Brooks' rule "Develop the first weapon" (first weapon=the body, page 30-31), his new training should prove to be invaluable when the dead rise.

We just finished with our first class (of this session). It was very invigorating after no Karate for two weeks. I was quite pleased to find that my speed was still there, though my durability has suffered. I've already developed a series of new bruises.

Advice of the Day: The family that trains together, survives together.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Zombie Decomposition and Terrain

The "natural" life span of zombies is dictated by their rate of decay. In the unfortunate event of non-human-instigated-brain death, a zombie will continue to function until it simply decays into nothing. According to Max Brooks this can happen in three to five years, due to mircobiotic aversion (pages 10-11). However, this is largely dependent on environment.
Zombies, while mostly impervious to the bacterial digestion that causes decay, are very susceptible to everyday wear and tear. While we avoid physical damage naturally, so that we also avoid pain, zombies feel no pain (page 9). Therefore, they are oblivious to the continuous small damage they are taking. Since zombies also do not have the ability to heal (pages 9-10), this damage can add up, accelerating the decaying process.

Knowing this, selecting your terrain to increase the accumulation of damage, can be a valuable tool for increasing your chances of survival. If, for example, you relocate to the top of a rocky/craggy hill, which is alternately covered with moss and sharp rocks, by the time the zombies get to you they are going to be in sad shape and much easier to pick off.

Advice of the Day: Use the zombies weaknesses against them.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Continued Training

It occurs to me that I haven't been talking as much about my physical zombie training. In part, this is because my karate is on a temporary hiatus. The class, not my personal karate training. I have been practicing my kihons and katas, all the while imagining destroying my zombie foe. Moreover I have also been jogging again. On real terrain. Even though I haven't been jogging as much over the summer, I was quite pleased to discover my endurance is still there. I think I should start jogging with my supply backpack. The added weight from canned goods, water, and my beloved machete, should certainly provide for more realistic jogging from zombies.

Advice of the Day: While mental preparation is absolutely necessary to maintain your cool during the zombie strike, physical preparation should not be lax.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Continued Problems

My third and final computer has broken. I am currently working from a system cobbled together from a TV, a typewriter, and a series of paperclips. This is very frustrating. I hope to have at least one setup back up and running by the end of today.

I read nearly half of The Serpent and Rainbow yesterday, and I have to say it is a very interesting read. Of course, one has to keep in mind that Wade Davis is not a trained writer, and sometimes adds romantic flourishes, and that his account is far from neutral (and I think it is presented in such a manner). Again, the zombies in question have nothing to do with the flesh-eating menace which will descend upon us shortly, but it does provide some background for the various zombie (or as Wade Davis spells it, zombi) inaccuracies.

Finally, I like to respond, in part, to Death's suggestion to dropping heavy objects on zombies from your fortified compound. I believe dropping heavy objects would be difficult at best. Knowing that my personal strength is limited to lifting about 120 pounds (but not being able to carry it anywhere) creating a setup where weights could be used as weapons would probably be an inefficient use of brute strength. Although crushing zombies would work as a killing method, it would probably not be the best killing method, even from a barricaded sanctuary. Instead, I would suggest using the brute strength for carrying more ammo, so when you are walled up in your compound, you can better snipe off the zombie menace.

I have to admit that I am wary of the fortified base. While it does have it's bonuses in safety, it also has a significant weakness, what may be your protection will most likely become your grave. In a low-level outbreak, a compound would work out until reinforcements arrive, however, if the situation escalates (as we should prepare for, being a worst-case senario), reinforcements are a mere fiction, surplanted by the growing (and I mean the shear growing in numbers) zombie threat, as well as the threat of marauders. The zombie menace, becomes a menace only by the way the virus spreads and the zombies multiply. A single zombie, while terrifying, is relatively easy to take out. A massive swarm of thousands of zombies surrounding your compound will make evacuation impossible. I suggest that as the zombie threat grows and the possibility of a normal life disappears, small party mobility (in a non-urban area) becomes the best solution. Of course, this does not provide for the social commentary on consumerism and complacency that a mall fortress provides.