Sunday, December 31, 2006


On this New Year's Eve, I'm going to continue the tradition of making resolutions for the upcoming year:

1. Up the intensity of my training.
Lately (and partially because of the oppressive holiday season) my training has gotten kind of soft. I want to include more endurance training, such as jogging, in addition to my combat training. Fighting won't be much good if I don't have the stamina to outlast the menace.

2. Participate in more practical applications.
Now this doesn't mean going out and starting bar fights. However, there are lots of ways to test focus and power under stress. I'm thinking about some paintball practice. This is a situation that automatically ups the andreniline and demands concentration under pressure (while also unlikely to cause any serious harm).

3. Learn more about strategy.
Recently, I've started playing Go (download your own version at GNU Go). It's an ancient military strategy game, and at this point, I think it's safe to say that I would be a terrible general. It's really a good game as far as seeing the big picture, which I hope to get better at.

4. Develop a larger arsenal of weapons.
C'mon, who doesn't like weapons?

Friday, December 29, 2006

Hammers Continued

Nice hammer, hairdo-pancakes!
I have very little experience with framing hammers, but it looks like it would work splendidly. The added nail is a nice touch, however, probably unnecessary. After penetrating the skull, the damage done by the hammer should be sufficient enough to fell a zombie. Think of it like smashing a really big egg.
I think the only consistent point of weakness on any tool like a hammer or a hatchet is the point where the handle joins with the business end. I'm not sure that there is any easy solution to this problem. A solid construction hammer would probably be too heavy to wield, and duct tape can only fix so much. So perhaps the best idea is to invest in a well-constructed, reinforced hammer, such as the one hairdo-pancakes suggested.
I still like the idea of carrying bladed weapons, but the additional usefulness, as well as the practical side, would make carrying a hammer well worth the additional weight. Plus, a hammer can be one of those weapons you can carry with you in a pre-apocalyptic state without violating any laws (unless you're boarding an airplane). After all, that's what those hammer-loops in your pants are for.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


One of the more effective weapons in Dead Rising (at least, early on in the game) is the sledge hammer. Since I've never handled a sledge hammer before I thought I should give it a try. Here is my official conclusion on their effectiveness:

1. Too Heavy. Even the lightest of the bunch (eight pounds) would quickly wear down even the most strongest of zombie hunters. The extreme weight negates aim. As we all know, aim is essential; if you can't hit your target, no amount of force is going to make a difference. In addition, it would make travel difficult.

2. Too Big (but not big enough). The extra foot or so that differentiates a hammer handle from a sledge handle, makes no difference in the sledge as a ranged weapon. Unlike a Bo or a staff, which could effectively dispatch a zombie from a relatively safe distance of about five feet, the leverage required to wield a sledge essentially destroys any distance advantage you may have had.

3. Too Slow. Speed is one of the biggest advantages that we (as humans) have over the zombies. The rate at which it takes to swing seriously cuts down on this advantage. As you are picking off zombies with your overweight bludgeon, more could swarm. And, as we know, the zombies' advantage lies in its numbers.

If you want a bludgeon, a hammer would be a better weapon. It really doesn't take that much force to crack a skull (thus destroying the brain), and the hammer serves a functional purpose (moreso than the sledge).
I encourage real-life handling of any potential weapons. It gives a real feel for how the weapon will handle. Incidentally, I am no longer allowed in Farm N' Fleet.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Soft tissue absorption

Romero was definitely onto something with zombie bites. Clearly, bites are the most efficient way to deliver the virus. For example, the rabies virus (which is related to the zombie virus) causes changes in behavior leading the subject to be more aggressive, which leads to biting, which enables the virus to propagate. And we all know that biting is a death sentence in terms of the zombie virus.
However, certain areas of the human body are more porous. This doesn't mean that the virus will automatically absorb into the human system, but there is the opportunity for this to happen. So the suggestion of facial protection is certainly apt. Although, like Psyko_soldier pointed out... nothing that can obscure vision.
As far as shoe protection goes. The chain link is a good suggestion provided that it is used in a limited capacity, as it can be heavy, and noisy. As Max Brooks points out, you don't want clinking armor to draw the zombies to you (pages 60-61). But if the chain link is glued to the shoe (and I think it would be more comfortable on the outside of the shoe), the noise-making problem is solved. Personally, I'm a huge fan of leather as a protective material. A zombie is not going to be able to easily bite through it, giving you time to react and brain your attacker. Moreover, it's light-weight, comfortable (breathable), quiet, and far more available than most other forms of armor.
I'm going to work on drawing up some ideas for facial armor, that incorporates all the ideas suggested this week.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Zombie virus inhalation

It's nice to see so many people coming up with solutions to the various problems of the zombie menace.

Regarding the question proposed of inhaling splatter and consequent infection of membranous tissue. Hairdo-pancakes' solution of a respirator is certainly apt. Personally, my interest in all things ninja, would lead me to choose a ninja mask (maybe with a respirator underneath, for additional safety). Not to mention that it would look cool.
However, I'll make a stop at the army surplus store and see if they have anything that would work better.

And I'll look for some additional foot armor. Of course, I'm partial to my tabi, but they could easily be punctured, thus leading to my imminent demise. I'm hoping to reinforce my tabi with some sort of steel plating before the apocalypse, but I have a pair of steel toes, in case I don't get to it.

Also, excellent game, Hairdo-Pancake. Though I don't think that it necessarily has a practical application, it was certainly fun.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Wii zombie fighting?

Slash, it's really good to hear from you. I figured that you had upped your survival training to the next level, and created a fortress on a previously deserted island, and were possibly developing some sort of self-sustaining energy source, while also seeking a vaccine for the zombie virus... or maybe that's just my dream. Still, I'm glad to hear that you're still fighting the good fight.

In other news, I finally got a chance to play around with the new Nintendo Wii tonight. After my complaints about Dead Rising, I think that the Wii might be a much better training simulation for fighting the undead menace. Of course, nothing takes the place of actual weapons training, and hand-to-hand combat training, but this might be the closest system yet. Although maybe it's just the adrenaline talking from totally beating a series of friends at Wii Boxing.
Still, if they come out with a Wii zombie game, I'll be very interested.

As far as real-life training goes... I just learned a series of new choke holds. Of course, since zombies don't breathe, I'm not sure how much use my new knowledge will be. I'm trying to figure out how to turn a choke hold into a neck snap (which after the spinal cord is severed will lead to the inevitable head stomp).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

What if?

As Justin and Mr. Bemis proposed, what if the zombie virus has come and gone with no apocalypse or any notice at all?

First, I don't think it is possible for the zombie virus to ever be totally squashed. That's the problem with the zombie menace, it's ever-present. Even if there was only one zombie that has come into existence only to be killed, the very presence of the zombie virus ensures that there will be more...

But, for the sake of argument, let's say that there is no uprising. I have to admit I will be a little disappointed, but my preparation can be applied to many non-zombie situations. For example, if genetically engineered dinosaurs managed to escape from their faraway island and run amok in the Midwest, I'd be more likely to survive, and possibly outwit even the smartest of Velociraptors. Or if radioactive mole-men burrowed their way to the surface in order to claim the earth for themselves, I'd be ready. In more practical circumstances, I am far more likely (statistically speaking) to thwart an assault, unscathed. So I will put all of my anti-zombie skills to use, whenever the situation calls for them.

But don't lose faith, Justin... the dead shall rise and we shall crush them!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

To be lean or not to be

Thank you, anonymous commenter, for you thoughtful remarks. I think you have a point. I've seen some studies (though I'd be had pressed to remember who did them or where they were done) that the level of fitness and complete lack of body fat possessed by some Olympic athletes (for example) is unhealthy when maintained in everyday existence. Rather, this low level of body fat, serves to make these people better competitors, under very controlled circumstances... which are far from the circumstances surrounding a survivalist situation.

However, I am in little danger of attaining such a low level of body fat. So I am glad to hear that my insulation may be of some use (though I had a feeling that might be the case when I was shoveling my way out of my house a few weeks ago). Now, I could certainly stand to eat healthier (something to consider, as various winter festivities are around the corner) which would probably reduce my insulation, but also make for a healthier me. But I don't want to reduce my body fat percentage too much. So, right now, I'm about 145 lbs, which is a little heavier than I should be for my height (5' 7"), but still within the realm of "normal". Now, if I were to lose a substantial amount of weight, reducing me to "model thin" I might look more like the archetype of female beauty, but really, who cares? I'm no good if I get eaten because I don't have the small amount of body fat necessary to carry me through the extra hard times.

Note to self: When searching out a group to help survive the zombie horde (my preferred label for a group of zombies), try to find a group that isn't composed completely of super models.
Also, invest in some sour patch kids.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Military psychology and normal existence

I've been reading up on the field of military psychology. This practice has many applications, including (but not limited to) counseling people after they return from war, helping families cope with their loved ones being away, but also with figuring out how to overcome the aversion to taking life (and the subsequent counseling needed when these individuals return to "normal" society).

Having not yet seen a zombie, I cannot speak with any accuracy, but rather with feeble hope. I hope that zombies differ enough from living, breathing humans, that the mind is able to make a mental division. Therefore the aversion to killing humans will not need to be overcome.

Granted, we have spent a lot of time discussing the need to overcome the mortal ties with loved ones in order to kill their reanimated corpses; yet I feel this is a special circumstance. The vast majority of zombies will likely be strangers, perhaps (again, speaking hopefully) zombies will behave so differently as to not register as the same species? If these circumstances prove to be true, and the humans do succeed against the zombie uprising, there may be a chance that humanity will return to a semi-normal, albeit more informed existence? One can only hope.

Friday, December 08, 2006


While I don't really get sick (as I pointed out in my "Flu Shots" post), I do get exhausted. Usually, it's from doing too much and not getting enough rest, and is easy enough to remedy in these pre-apocalyptic times. However, exhaustion will probably be my biggest problem when it comes time for the apocalypse.

When the menace rises, especially in the early stages of the apocalypse, there will be much to do and little time for rest. Plus, I imagine, rest will be difficult to attain, even if there is time to sleep, because sleep will likely be plagued by waking anxieties.

The best preparation I can think of to remedy this problem before it makes me into zombie bait is to build my tolerance. I see this as a two part plan:
1. Build up my physical abilities (moreso) so that I am able to push myself further physically before reaching the point of exhaustion.
2. Build up my mental control through meditation, so that my rest becomes more effective, and I can maintain better focus when actually fighting.
(3. Taking my vitamins, to help keep up my immunities)

I am open to other suggestions, but I will implement this plan in the meantime.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Not Supernatural

The biggest hurtle a zombie hunter has to leap when explaining the zombie menace to the uninformed, is making the uninitiated understand that the zombie threat is an actual, plausible threat. I believe this has to do with the misconception that zombies are a supernatural entity.

This belief probably coincides with the association of zombies with Voodoo. As Wade Davis pointed out in The Serpent and the Rainbow, this "supernatural" phenomenon has a pharmacological explanation. Similarly, real zombies are caused by the zombie virus, not some manifestation of evil spirit (despite what Evil Dead would have you believe). This virus merely has the ability to reanimate human flesh. Since reanimation which has been replicated under controlled conditions many times (see references below); this virus is anything but farfetched. Of course, the conditions under which the virus operates make no effort to preserve the brain, so the resurrected human is nothing like its former self. However, the rudimentary need to feed is still very much present, in part because of the virus' poor ability to sustain its host, it will need to continue to infect in order not to be extinguished.
Having never come face-to-face with a zombie, I have to admit, that they are difficult to believe in. However, believing in the possibility of the threat, is no problem. Like I've said many times, it's not a question of "if", it's a question of "when".

Reanimation references:
"Zombie Dog"- though everyone should clearly recognize that this is not actually a zombie.
Soviet Research into Reanimation- this video is profoundly disturbing. I couldn't watch all of it because I was too disgusted. You've been warned.
Wired Article- about the future (and past) of head transplants.
...and there's lots more out there

Monday, December 04, 2006

Blizzard Conditions

Here in the Midwest, we've recently experienced a blizzard, and it got me thinking...
If you have a stronghold, winter conditions might actually be preferable for weathering the zombie uprising. Of course this is contingent on several additional survival needs (besides the usual food and water). A heat source is crucial (as well as all the necessities of a heat source, such as ventilation), a means to travel in the snow (i.e. snowshoes, a sled, etc), and some other things which I can't immediately think of.

The reason that snow might be beneficial is its effect of dead tissue. Since zombies don't have the power to generate heat, either through the body temperature or through the ability to create and manage fire. So on days like today, the zombies would freeze within a matter of hours. A frozen zombie is fairly benign, while I'm sure it is still very possible to get infected by a frozen zombie; it is far less likely. With the aid of a strong projectile (such as a gun), or an axe and some elbow grease, a frozen zombie can be dispatched relatively quickly, with no fear of zombies surrounding you. Not to mention, the mess factor. A frozen zombie won't splatter everywhere.

In conclusion, there are definitely some drawbacks to running a anti-zombie operation in freezing temperatures. However, the positives are very much worth consideration.