Monday, January 29, 2007


In my pursuit of knowledge of anything that may assist me with my zombie hunting career, I recently read Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach. Though she doesn't throughly explore the undead menace, she does tackle the subject of reanimation (covering some of the topics discussed in the Not Supernatural post).
While this book has a very respectful tone towards the "afterlife" of human remains, it primarily discusses the positive things that corpses do for humans, such as providing teaching tools (both in medical and detective fields) and a means to experiment where using living human beings would be utterly and ethically wrong. It doesn't discuss the damage that corpses do when they rise up and destroy everything you hold dear. I can only assume that Roach did not interview any zombie experts for her book, or more likely, did not include any apocalyptic scenarios for fear of inducing public panic.
Irregardless of its lack of undead content, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, proved to be a thoughtful exploration of human remains, written with a calmness that makes me wonder if Ms. Roach will agree to join my team once the dead rise.
On a side note, Roach discovers that the legal definition of "death" is brain death, so start preparing your zombie-killing legal defense. However, I must add that usually putrification is also grounds for declaring legal death, so be sure to include that in your defense, so that you are not actually accused of killing a zombie, in the event of causing brain death.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Body Odor

We can all agree that excessive body odor is not a good thing, however, given that zombies use the sense of smell as one of their primary means of detecting prey (Brooks, 7-8) perhaps we should reflect on the best smell for a person. According to Brooks, strong perfumes and deodorants don't deter the zombie from finding human prey. This would suggest that they can smell the "human" smell. Anyone who has ever had a physical education class in high school could tell you that though. What I am interested in is whether or not people can lose their body odor.
I know I've read somewhere (and perhaps another survivalist can verify this) that people lose their human odor after spending several days in the wilderness without all of the products that we regularly use, but with some cleaning (with local water sources, to eliminate BO). It would seem that there is some truth to this. The context I seem to remember reading about this in, was in terms of hunting and tracking prey. Eventually your prey would cease to be able to distinguish your scent from the surroundings. But zombies aren't the standard predator; would it disguise the fact that we are living, and therefore edible?
I don't think so, but perhaps it would make you slightly less perceptible. Decreasing your detectability (rather than trying to hide it) seems to be a more effective methods. One tactic could be to use your surroundings to an advantage. Brooks implies that the tests done on zombies were done under controlled conditions with an isolated target smell (that was consequently covered up). If you were surrounded by something very odoriforous, your scent may be difficult to detect in a field of stink. Of course, that's only if you can stand it. Another possibility (especially if you have established a stronghold) would be to create a diversionary scent. However, this would be very unpleasant (I will leave the details to your imagination), and may compound the psychological problems of living in the necropalypse.

Advice of the day: In these pre-apocalyptic times, it is still a good idea to use deodorant.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My triumphant return

I have boldly returned to my fortress in Wisconsin. The snow is about a foot deep, and it's cold enough to freeze zombies after significantly slowing them down. I am currently reconsidering my fence plans after my observations in California. While it would be difficult to erect a fence presently, I think I will start drawing up plans for a fence to install in the fall. In the meantime I will have to maintain my heightened vigilance.

One thing that has become painfully clear since my return is my dependence on constructed time. By "constructed time", I refer to the times designated "sleep" and "awake", as predetermined by time zone. It took me over a week to adjust to the two hour difference upon my arrival in Los Angeles. I still have not adjusted to Central time since my return. This could be a negative or a positive after the necropalypse. On one hand, you need to be flexible, and able to readjust your schedule to fit the environmental demands. On the other hand, theoretically, I could switch to a nocturnal schedule (when zombies are most active), and once re-calibrated, live that way indefinitely. I think the former is probably favorable when the dead rise.

Winter advice of the day: An icicle might make for a really cool de-brainer in a pinch

Thursday, January 18, 2007

La Brea Tar Pits

After visiting the La Brea Tar Pits, I was wondering if this may be an ideal area to set up a zombie resistance stronghold. Obviously, the tar pits have proved to be a death trap for several thousand years... why wouldn't they work against zombies? However, tar pits do fall into that category of, "if it's dangerous to zombies, it's dangerous to humans". Yet, with some care and preparation, the tar pits could be an effective defense.

Cool-headedness is extremely important when dealing with zombies (or any other extreme situation, for that matter). It is this quality which would make the tar pits work for you. Zombies aren't going to be able to assess the danger associated with the tar pits and circumvent the threat; they will attempt to traverse the shortest route to their prey, though. By exploiting this inclination (and not panicking), it is possible to destroy large populations of zombies in one fell swoop. Moreover, if you built your stronghold nearby, you are essentially eliminating a possible inlet for a threat.

As always, there are some potential drawbacks (most obvious being the chances of getting caught in the tar yourself). Other drawbacks include the area in which the tar pits reside. While being slightly hilly, the terrain doesn't provide any other deterrents; it's gentle slopes appealing to the zombies' clumsy nature. In addition, the tar pits are located in a surprisingly urban area. Large populations equal a large potential for zombies, and in-fighting amongst the human resistance.

So proceed with caution... and prepare, prepare, prepare!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The thing about California

I've spent almost two weeks gathering information about California's zombie fighting potential, specifically, in the Los Angeles area. Here is my first report:

The Los Angeles area, is favorable as far as cities go. It has a spaciousness (that New York does not have) which makes getting trapped less likely. The roads are fairly wide, enabling using transportation (even a Hummer, which I've seen a few of) for far longer than an average city. Transportation is widely available, which means that gas should also last longer (providing that you are willing to siphon it from abandoned cars).
The houses here are also well-suited. Most houses are built of adobe (which is never seen in the Midwest because of the weather). They are solid houses; a zombie will be less likely to claw their way through them. Also many abodes have a pre-existing defense system such as a fence and gate. With some minor modifications, these will resist a zombie attack for a fair amount of time. Moreover, I've noticed that lots of people have food-bearing gardens, which will thrive all year (unlike the Midwest), providing a self-sufficient food supply.
Of course, the inevitable escape from the dense urban area is inevitable after the necropalypse. While fairly urban in several directions, there are lots of protected areas, and farming areas which will make for good fortresses when the urban structure collapses. In addition, Los Angeles is fairly close to the Rocky Mountains, and has its share of steep and foreboding terrain, which we all know, is difficult for zombies to traverse.
The weather is debatable. While it hasn't actually frozen up here, it has been very cold at night, which, while it makes for human discomfort (and potential sickness), it won't cause zombies to freeze. A heat source is still advisable/necessary. However, it does get fairly hot during the peak hours of the day. This would nullify any effects of the cold, and make the stench unbearable.

So far, I would say that the Los Angeles area is a decent area to stave off the zombie menace. As always, it would be even more favorable to build a remote fortress on mountainous terrain, with a semi-isolated ecosystem. I will be returning to Wisconsin in about five days to bring back my newfound knowledge. I will try to post any additional findings before then.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


In a belated response to hairdo-pancakes question of appropriate post-apocalyptic transportation, I find that most vehicles are somewhat problematic. The suggestion of a Hummer can be used effectively under ideal circumstances. It is probably one of the best off-roading vehicles, which is probably why it was developed by the military. It does provide serious protection; it is unlikely that a zombie (or small group of zombies) would be able to penetrate a Hummer making it a somewhat effective defense. However, it does have a substantial amount of drawbacks:
1. Availability. It's unlikely that you'll just find a Hummer on the side of the road waiting to be hotwired. Unless you live close to a Hummer dealership. Of course, you could always pre-emptively purchase one, but I personally don't have the resources for that.
2. Manueverability. The Hummer will definitely work well on certain types of terrain, namely, expansive, open terrain, or at least on established roads/trails. It will not work well in a dense forest, or in an area with lots of abandoned vehicles clogging the road (which could be a place where the monster truck would prevail, but that's another post).
3. Gas Consumption. As we all know, in these oil-restricted times, gas is getting more and more expensive. If the world is, in fact, decimated, the pumps will eventually run dry. A gas guzzler like the Hummer, necessitates frequent stops at gas stations, and would most likely be rendered impotent eventually. I see this as one of the more problematic consequences of driving a Hummer.

I can see the Hummer as being effective during the earlier portion of the apocalypse, before gas has run out, and before the majority of the population is dead (or undead, as the case may be). However, if you merely need to escape and speed and manueverability are important factors, the Hummer may not be the best choice. I recommend a motorcycle in this instance (provided, of course, that you have the ability to drive one), they are great for gas mileage, and the agility to circumvent most zombie circumstances. If you're trying to plow through hordes of the undead, however, a motorcycle would be utterly inappropriate.

In conclusion, I think that your vehicle choices will ultimately be determined by the circumstances and availability, therefore, it is always necessary to use your best judgment and common sense.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Escape to LA

I'll be doing some research in Los Angeles for the next three weeks. Given that it has been the site of a post-apocalyptic dystopia in a number of films (and an episode of Futurama), I wonder if there is some secret knowledge to be gained there as to how to handle the apocalypse. Or if there is simply something that makes it ripe for an apocalyptic event?

I'm also planning on bringing my training regimen there. I've stuck to my resolution building endurance via jogging (I know it's only been a few days, and hardly noteworthy), and I plan on continuing to build my endurance there. The change in surroundings should elevate my surveillance and observation levels. Weapons will probably have to take a back seat, but it will force me to look for potential tools in my environment.

So any suggestions or recommendations for training or research in LA?