Friday, September 2, 2011

The Coat of Arms

I have a confession. I love coats. Everybody has their thing. Mine is coats. So when it comes time to write an article about the use of coats and jackets in the post Zplague world, I find it hard. You see, there are only certain coats that will really be useful, for in this situation coats need to do more than just keep us warm. They must keep us safe and clean.

To cover the immediate use of coats, any coat that will keep you warm is good for, well, keeping you warm. Staying warm can mean the difference between survival and an insatiable hunger for human flesh. Staying warm is vital.

Gore-Tex will keep you dry, but watch out for rips.
That said, if your coat offers you no protection other than warmth then it is sorely lacking in defensive ability. Past staying warm, you will want a coat that will keep you dry. Yes, that's partly about snow and rain and hypothermia and whatnot, but it's mainly about blood. Cotton will soak it right up. Once that happens your coat is nothing but a vessel for transmitting the disease. You will have to ditch it as soon as it gets bloody. Wool has the same issue. Those two materials are hydrophilic, which means they suck up moisture. Now, that will keep you warm in the rain, but it will keep the infected blood sitting inside the threads of your jacket. Ditch the cotton and wool.

Synthetic fibers are one way to go. Materials such as Gore-Tex, while not warm, make excellent shells to go over other warm clothing. They have the benefit of being waterproof, which also means bloodproof. You want to come into contact with as little blood as possible. Nobody wants to kill a zombie, just to get sprayed in a cut with its blood. Suddenly we have another zombie. The main concerns with synthetic fibers are the lack of warmth and the fragility of the material. It will tear. Be careful.

Warm, dry and safe.
Then there is leather. Say what you will about it, but leather is durable, warm, waterproof and bloodproof. It will stop teeth. It will stop fingernails. Some types of leather will even stop knives. (Nothing you will be able to buy at Old Navy will stop knives. I don't care if they do have Navy in their name.) Leather will hold your bones and body in place in case of a motorcycle accident and it will prevent road burn. (Remember, open sores are an invitation to be infected.)

My advice is to find a nice, warm leather jacket. It will protect you in the cold. It will keep the teeth, blood and saliva out of your torso. It will keep you dry. It will keep you alive.

Slick and stylish, but offers no protection against blood.
Luckily, that's not a concern for Captain Jack Harkness.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Of Survival and Self Sufficiency

They train, but their
superiors don't believe.
Faithful survivors, I know I've been away. This has been a time of change in my life. Previously I was working for a defense contractor. I worked with military fire team training. It was good work. I helped people survive, which is my real goal in life. About a month and a half ago I decided to set out on my own and go into business for myself. The military didn't see the urgency of the zombie threat. They still treat it like a joke or something from a science fiction movie.

We know the truth.

Over the past month I have been traveling to certain locations, in and out of the United States, recruiting and identifying locations for safe houses and rally points in the case of a zombie incursion. My travels will continue for the next year and a half or so. Now that I have settled into my new life, our lessons can continue.

Possible safe house/rally point.
During the past month I have not lost contact with all of you. I've spoken with a good number of potential survivors. They have had questions. Some I have answered. Some I took my time and considered. In either situation I took away a lot of potential material for lessons.

I am also now able to impart to you certain information you need to know that I was prohibited from providing before now. My contract prevented my from informing anyone of the scenarios we were working with. I am no longer under contract. Those scenarios and training tools will be yours to learn and use.

We WILL survive this.

I will show you how.

Safe Houses don't have to be miserable. If my travels happen to take me to
Bermuda while searching for potential recruits and Safe Houses, shouldn't I enjoy it?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Moral of Morale

It has been brought to my attention that my previous post may have upset a few people. I understand. Coffee is a wonderful thing. Telling you to quit is mean. Deal with it. It's tough love. I want you all to survive. That's why I recommended keeping some coffee in your pack for emergencies. It's wonderful. You just don't want to rely on it.

Go on. Play with them.
That said, keeping up morale is very important. Surviving is easier if you have some sort of enjoyment in your life. Low morale causes sluggishness, apathy and, eventually, the desire to eat brains. Don't eat brains. Play cards. A deck of playing cards is perfect for warding off boredom. They are small, light and easily packed. Just chuck a deck in your bag. Checkers or chess also work well, and they are easy to improvise.

Good way to keep your mind occupied.
Hand cranked radios are also perfect for morale. They give you a connection to other people and larger society. That is, of course, assuming that people are still broadcasting radio signals after the apocalypse. Battery powered gadgets probably aren't the best idea. Batteries run out of juice, then you have lost the item you were depending on to keep your morale up.

If you have a portal solar cell, this is the perfect use for it. Bring an iPod and speakers [small.] The solar cell should be able to produce enough juice to power an iPod. Music does wonders for the soul.

Music and women: Good for morale
If you have any suggestions for a good, portable, non-powered way to keep up morale, please share with the rest of the class, either in the comments, on our Facebook page or in an email to us.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Joe, not G.I.

These are a few of my favorite things.
Coffee. Most adults have at least one cup a day. Some have much more. It helps you wake up in the morning. It helps you stay awake at night. Some people seem like zombies before they've had some. Some people seem infected after having too much. It tastes wonderful. It tastes awful. No matter what camp you fall into on coffee, the one thing it is is addictive.

I could write for days on why I love coffee. In my college years I was going through about twelve cups a day. I'd drink it first thing when I woke up. I'd have a cup right before bed. My study time was spent in coffee shops. In high school I worked at a small local coffee shop. We roasted the beans right there in the front room. Good coffee is, to me, one of the great pleasures of the world.

Now that I have fully disclosed my love for coffee, it is addictive as anything. When running for your lives from hordes of zombies the last thing you want is to be going through withdraw. Stop drinking coffee right now. Wean yourself off of it if you must. I went from drinking twelve cups a day to not drinking it at all, overnight. What followed were two of the worst weeks of my life. My head felt like it was going to explode. I had very little energy. My whole body ached. This is not the state you want to be in when you are fighting for your life.

Post apocalyptic America is not the best place for finding your own coffee beans. If you're in Columbia, hey, you may be good with a coffee addiction. In America you will suffer for it. When your body is reliant on the caffeine you don't get the boost that normally comes with the substance. It just takes you to the normal level. In a survival situation you want to be at your peak as often as possible. That is not possible if you need coffee to reach that level. So I do recommend that everyone keeps a few packets of instant coffee in their pack. It's good for when you really need the energy boost. It also is wonderful for boosting morale in hard times. Just don't get too reliant on it. The coffee will run out.
Then you can get up and kill other people.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Spark of Life

Not the good kind of fire. You should
probably stay away from this one.
Hello class. I hope you enjoyed your vacation last week, but it's time to get back to the grind. Survival is not a part time job. If you quit surviving for even a moment it's impossible to start again. Once you're out, you're out. A person cannot survive after failing to survive. With that in mind it's time to begin our training again. Today we will discuss that obsession of so many young males. (Not that! Get your mind out of the gutter.) Fire.
Fire is one of the most essential elements of survival. It provides warmth, light, a place to cook food, a way to sanitize water and gives you a sense of security. A sense, mind you. Not actual security. There is no guarantee that zombies will burn. They are mostly water, just like all humans. 

Carry these at all times.
Exposure is one of the single biggest risk factors in a survival situation. (Zombies are, of course, a bigger risk factor.) Hypothermia will kill you just as surely as a being bitten by the infected or falling off a building. Remember that survival is our goal here, not killing zombies. If you die from exposure you are still dead. Fire can help prevent this. In a post apocalyptic situation there is a good chance there will be no working heat, so being able to light a fire is essential. [We will cover fire-making methods in a future lesson.] With that in mind there are a few things you should always have with you. Matches, a lighter (preferably Zippo for the ease of use) and flint and steel. A person should have one of these on them at all times, except in airports (unless you enjoy being fondled by strangers.)

Your family has died of dysentery.
Food will also be an issue in an extended survival situation. Powerbars will only last you so long. Eventually you will need to cook food and boil water. Having that fire will allow you to do that. Stoves aren't the most common things in the wilderness, and cooking ranges in buildings may not be working. Any water you take from a lake or stream MUST be boiled. An infected zombie may have fallen in and we don't understand the limits of the transmission of the Zplague yet. Boiling the water will kill any germs in it. Nobody wants to go the way your family did every time you played Oregon Trail.

Remember, fire saves lives.