Fitness Tips for the Apocalypse: Chapter 1—You’re Doing It Wrong

Fitness Tips for the Apocalypse

If you live long enough, something bad will happen. The question is how bad, and whether you’re ready for it.

Here are seven easy ones:

  1. Rising seas from climate change, possibly leading to WATERWORLD (Kevin Costner is optional)
  2. An big, nasty asteroid decides to plow into our planet when Bruce Willis is otherwise engaged
  3. MAD MAX doesn’t seem much like fiction after a reality TV star starts a nuclear war with (a) North Korea, (b) Russia, (c) China or, for variety, (d) all of the above
  4. Aliens invade to enslave the human race, making us all mine unobtanium 20 hours a day after their home planet totally runs out
  5. Zombies—slow, traditional and terrifying
  6. Fast zombies—which tell you this film is full of CGI and no good at all
  7. Say hello to our robot overlords

Even if nothing truly terrible happens, it’s a good idea to be prepared for emergencies, be they tiny or huge. Public health folks have brilliantly latched onto this idea, using zombies to get people to prepare for earthquakes and hurricanes.

Plus it’s just fun to think, “What if?”

However: The traditional—and heavily advertised—ways of being fit and prepared for any sort of apocalypse aren’t all that smart. At all.

Rethinking fitness

The ideal of fitness today means (a) looking great in a speedo or bikini, (b) winning athletic contests or (c) looking great in a speedo or bikini while winning athletic contests.

It also means being highly specialized.

Yet all the tools people use to be fit today—gym memberships, Olympic weight sets, $400 running shoes and protein shakes—won’t exist in any sort of long-term emergency or apocalypse.

And being extremely fit and specialized, by today’s standards, would actually be a problem.

  • Giant muscles require a massive and steady amount of calories to maintain, along with all kinds of free time and gym equipment, none of which you’ll have in whatever flavor of apocalypse you favor.
  • Extremely low bodyfat makes you look great on a beach, yet nobody will see you on a beach during the apocalypse, and zero body fat gives you zero margin of error when it’s freezing at night or you can’t find food for three weeks.
  • Being highly specialized in one game or sport isn’t helpful for survival purposes, where you’ll need to be pretty good at a ton of different and random things.

So that’s what this series of posts will be about—researching and experimenting to find the smartest, cheapest ways to actually prepare for some sort of disaster or apocalypse. And the emphasis will be on cheap.

Each post will look at four different options for whatever we’re talking about, rating them on weight, price and practicality:

  1. Grizzly Adams: absolutely free and crafted from whatever you can find in the woods
  2. Scavenger Special: free or truly cheap, taken from recycled material, stuff you find in a junkyard or can buy today for almost nothing
  3. Best of Both Worlds: great quality for a great price
  4. Crazy Billionaire: the absolute most expensive option and top of the line, just for the sake of comparison

Next week: Lone Wolf in a Bunker vs Nimble Nomad with Friends

JADE HELM: Texas rebels train kamikaze armadillos for coming federal invasion

HOUSTON—In an empty parking lot behind a suburban Cabela’s, they’re preparing for war.

There’s a retired Marine who did two tours in Afghanistan in the far corner, teaching five local men it’s better to pull the trigger on your AR-15 once and hit the enemy than empty the magazine in a “spray-and-pray” that only wastes a clip.

But the real secret weapon sits in a crate on the back of J.T. Derringer’s rusting Ford 150.

“There’s no way we can win a conventional war, not even with the Texas Guard, Chuck Norris and Ted Nugent on our side,” said Derringer, who called himself the five-star brigadier general of the Volunteer Army of the Republic of Texas. “And it’s damn near impossible to fight a successful guerilla campaign without jungles like ‘Nam or mountains like ‘Stan—so we aim to get creative.”

U.S. Army troops spent years learning how to spot and destroy IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, Derringer said, so that powerful tactic isn’t really an option for his rag-tag rebels.

But what about a mobile IED, one that’s low to the ground and remote-controlled? One that tends to jump up to four feet in the air when startled?

“If you drive these parts, you see plenty of armadillos as roadkill,” Derringer said. “That got me thinking, why not use their natural habits to our advantage, militaristically speaking?”

A nine-banded armadillo in the wild. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia commons.
A nine-banded armadillo in the wild. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia commons.

The first experiments did not go well. They successfully combined a pipe bomb, duct tape, the working bits of a cattle prod and a remote control taken from toy monster truck with two broken wheels, all items Derringer had in his garage. Those components worked, sort of. Pushing left and right on the controls gave the nine-banded armadillo a shock to the left or right, though their first test case simply jumped straight in the air whichever direction they pushed.

“That old cattle prod was engineered for steers that weigh more than my ex-wife,” Derringer said. “Far too powerful for a little old armadillo, so I don’t question why it ran scattered right under Johnny Lee’s new Tundra, hiding from all that pain and shock. I do apologize to Johnny Lee for how it torched his ride, though we had to tease him about maybe buying an American pickup with the insurance money.”

Derringer is also training the remaining platoon of armadillos for underground warfare.

“We read about the secret tunnels beneath Wal-Marts, the ones they’ll use for re-education camps,” Derringer said. “One tunnel plus one armadillo equals no more tunnels and a lot more freedom.”

When asked about reports that Jade Helm is simply a military training exercise, or that Texas was already part of the United States and not in need of being invaded and conquered, Derringer shook his head and spat on the ground.

“Isn’t that what you’d expect them to say, seeing how they’re lying?” he said. “I’d rather believe the honest patriotic journalists at World Net Daily and that Texas Ranger who witnessed saw trains with shackles. Plus, this morning Johnny Lee says he saw heard straight from his barber who read something online about Sarah Palin flying down from Alaska with a planeload of guns, moose jerky and night-vision goggles.”

Derringer said if his forces run out of ammunition and armadillos before Palin touches down, his backup plan was to base every brigade of his army within half a mile of the nearest Cabela’s, since it’s already “packed to the rafters” with tents, camo, boots, rifles and 5.56 mm ammo.

A separate team of trackers and hunters, he said, were out in the bush right now, gathering up a sufficient supply of armadillos for the coming Armageddon.

Everybody panic: expert says Yellowstone Supervolcano could ‘destroy the United States’

So people are freaking out because (a) the Yellowstone supervolcano blows up every 600,000 years, (b) it would turn North America into a sea of ash and create a mini Ice Age, (c) the magma pit under the supervolcano is causing earthquakes and bulging and  (d) there’s a viral video of bison running along a highway, supposedly fleeing the coming explosion.

Well, grab your bug-out bag and run for the hills.

Except it might not happen for another 100,000 years. So there’s that.

This video lends weight to survivalist types pointing at the stockpile of canned food and ammo in the basement and saying, “See? It was all worth it. Throw the tent in the pickup and let’s head to the Yukon.”

On the other hand, a supervolcano is a complicated thing. It doesn’t sleep for eons and suddenly wake up to go boom, as this man of science explains in a smart, rational look at Yellowstone.

And finally, this park ranger at Yellowstone, who sort of knows more about the bison and the supervolcano, seeing how it’s his job, destroys the whole “the bison are fleeing, so we must run for our lives, too!” thing.

In the end, I disagree with the viral video folks and End of the World theorists saying “This is it.” Will this supervolcano go nuts? Someday. Scientists say there’s a 1 in 10,000 chance Yellowstone will blow in our lifetime.

Those odds make this far, far more likely than (1) a zombie infestation, (2) U.N. black helicopters coming for your shotgun or (3) killer robots that transform into cars making a mess out of Manhattan. If you’re going to be smart about being prepared, yeah, it’s worth thinking about Yellowstone.

But it’s not worth obsessing over, and there’s no need to panic.

It’s far smarter to think about heart disease, traffic accidents, cancer, getting mugged in a dark alley, diabetes, climate change.

Will you likely dodge most of them? Sure. But 10 out of 10 people die, those are known dangers and it only takes one of them to get lucky and add you to the list. It’d be smart to prepare and prevent the most likely dangers, seeing how they’re basically sure bets compared to Yellowstone going boom or a giant asteroid slamming into Florida because Bruce Willis was too busy making THE EXPENDABLES 12: BUSTING OUT OF THE NURSING HOME.

So while I agree with survivalists about being prepared for more than a flat tire, you should be brutally practical and look at the odds, then spend time and energy on the most likely Terrible Things You Would Like to Avoid, and 99 percent of those problems aren’t solved by me stocking up on more cases of MRE’s. Though I do have a killer plan for making any house zombie proof.

Bulletproof skin and other insane inventions

This isn’t science fiction, or something dreamed up by Stan Lee back in 1962.

An artist teamed up with scientists to (1) weave artificial spider silk, (2) grow real cells around that scaffold then (3) look for firearms.

So what happened when Bulletproof Skin 1.0 got shot by a low-powered .22 bullet?

Yeah, it bounced off.

A full-powered .22 pierced the skin, though she thinks doubling the strength of the spider silk weave would buttress the skin and make it tough enough.

Science is magic.

Then there’s this CEO, who sells stab-proof vests and stands behind his product by letting an employee, or a dude who really hates him, hit him with a metal baton, slash him with a box-cutter and stab him with a knife.

But for full-on crazy, you need to see the Canadian man who’s been trying to build an anti-bear suit for years. He lets himself get hit by logs, Ewok-style, and thrown off cliffs, hit by cars, whacked by a gang of men with baseball bats, all to demonstrate the strength of his latest version of the suit.

You can’t make this stuff up. And because I can: 41 other brilliant (or insane) inventions from around the world.

Giant killer hornets prepare to devour the planet

As a fan of monsters, and animals, and monstrous animals, I like learning about obscure or scary beasts.

However, the giant asian hornet is not a curiousity to be admired and talked about in polite company while you eat finger food and sip a nice bottle of Riesling from the Rhine Valley.

No. The giant asian hornet is making the great white shark look like a toothless poodle right now.

Sharks kill a handful of people each year. Dogs and cow (yes, cows) actually kill far, far more humans. So yes, JAWS was a great movie, but we really have more to fear from Spot the Dog and Bessie the Cow than any shark, which is apparently smarter and more concerned with eating, I don’t know, fish. Maybe because fish don’t have boats and spearguns and nuclear weapons.

These hornets, though, are armored flying spaceships. Which hate you.

Check out three headlines that I’m not making up:

That’s right. The last story should get you: they’re already in the United States.

Now, we had a scare years ago with killer bees, which some genius brought from Africa to breed with his honeybees. Killer bees are bad enough, and they’ve been marching up from South America or whatever since forever until they reached Texas and Oklahoma and other states where rodeo is still a thing. But the thing with killer bees is (a) they can’t handle cold weather, (b) they keep interbreeding with honeybees, diluting their killer street cred and (c) bees can only sting you once.

I know all about this. I was allergic to honeybees and nearly died as a pookie. Had to take shots for years.

Hear me know and believe me later in the week: Honeybees, even killer bees, are nothing compared to hornets. Except for honeybee queens, which duel each other like it’s 1779, your average honeybee know stinging somebody is a suicide mission. They have barbed stingers and nailing somebody means killing themselves, since the barb stays in along with half their abdomen in a lot of cases. So honeybees are actually pretty nice. You usually have to step on them, or threaten the hive, for them to sting you.

Hornets are different. They’re the honey badgers of the bee-wasp world. Why? Because they have smooth stingers instead of barbed one. Also, they’re just jerks. They’d shut down the honeybee government if they could, just to show how tough they are.

Stinging you once is just a hornet saying hello. They’ll happily sting you five bazillion times, because there are no consequences. Zero, aside from using up their venom. But hey, they’ll make more.

Can they be stopped? Maybe. Not sure how. A pile of AR-15s isn’t going to do you any good. Fly swatters don’t feel like they’d be real effective. Maybe we all should invest in a thick beekeeper’s suit and practice soaking a pair of oven mitts with Raid.

Either way, you know the people who made SHARNADO are reading these headlines and writing a script.

THE WALKING DEAD walks into Dumb Movie Land

Movies make people dumb.

Not the people watching movies, unless that movie happens to be TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART 5 or whatever, in which case yes, your LSAT scores will never be the same.

No, I’m talking about characters in movies.

Characters in books sometimes do stupid things, but not usually. Put that same character in a movie and they turn into absolute idiots.

This is true for romantic comedies (bumbling fools in love!), action movies (no henchman can shoot, and no heroine or sidekick can avoid getting kidnapped by the villain) and especially horror movies, which deserve a post all their own.

If a person with a functioning brain cell rattling around their skull wouldn’t go into the spooky abandoned house where people keep disappearing, you can bet the movie character will march right in. Does the hot young teenager know that a serial killer is chasing down and killing hot young teenagers? Well, she should definitely wear high heels and fall down six times while the psycho chases her.

There are websites dedicated to listing the stupid things that movie characters do.

However: I want to pick on THE WALKING DEAD, a zombie shebang that’s on the Glowing Tube.

As a fan of zombies, I am aware of this show, and though I haven’t watched every flipping episode, I kinda keep track of things by recaps and reviews and such. It’s a good show and not at all stupid.

So why did a smart show have their characters get so idiotic in the big series finale?

Here’s the setup: the non-zombie hero peoples are holed up at some farm, and the big finale is a battle that happens when the zombies show up, en masse.

What made me want to throw things at the YouTube clip is how the zombies happily marched across the fields and surrounded the farmhouse.

No, no, no.

If you or I are hanging around a farmhouse during the zombie apocalypse, the zombies won’t ever march up on us from every direction. Why? Because we’ll get busy, real quick, using all the tools and equipment that any decent farm has the second we arrive there and take inventory of the place.

First thing we do is fire up the tractor or backhoe and dig a long ditch around the farm.

Second thing we do shove the dirt we dug up into a berm, a rough wall. So they fall in the ditch, and if by some zombie magic one of the undead gets out of the ditch, he’s gotta climb a wall.

Third thing we do is put a barbed wire fence on top of that berm.

Fourth thing we do is find some fuel and make Molotov cocktails.

If there’s a working tractor, this sort of thing takes a day or two.

And it’s worth it, because now a single Farmer Joe type with a flipping .22 rifle can stand on top of that berm and pick off zombies all day while he sips moonshine. Because there’s no way a horde of zombies is magically getting past the ditch, the wall and the barbed wire. It’s not happening.

Zombies can’t climb.

Instead, the heroes of THE WALKING DEAD go on foot (to get nom-nom-nommed) and drive around in cars trying to blow away zombies. Which isn’t smart, either. Shooting from a moving vehicle may look cool, but you have a much better chance of hitting a moving target when you’re not bouncing around, too.

Bottom line: If you really want to survive a horror movie / zombie apocalypse, please use your noggin first and your trigger finger second.

How to survive the coming Robopocalypse

Zombies, nuclear war and the Spanish Flu wiping out civilization are all fun to talk about. Mad Max! Bartertown!

But a robot uprising is a real possibility. Maybe they get smarter than us and don’t like being slaves to inferior beings.

Maybe an evil genius creates an unstoppable army of robots.

Or maybe some programmer screws up the C++ whatever and turns happy little lawn-mowing robots into roving blades of robotic death.

Either way, this Daniel H. Wilson man (do NOT forget the H., peoples) is not only a robot expert with a PhD and such, but an author who’s written about surviving the coming robopocalypse. Also: the animation to the video is awesomesauce.

 

JUAN OF THE DEAD, the epic Cuban zombie movie

Zombie movies are inherently good.

Movies with subtitles are typically depressing and bad, and only watchable when you’re in college and think that French existentialism is amazing, that you should wear a black beret and smoke Gallouise Blondes the rest of your life, which will be spent in a cafe in Paris, sipping coffee and eating pan au chocolat as you discuss politics and philosophy with other intellectuals, never mind the fact that YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH.

There are two exceptions to the Law of Subtitles.

The first is DEAD SNOW, a Norwegian movie that isn’t just about zombies (yes!) but Nazi zombies (double yes!).

The second exception is JUAN OF THE DEAD, a Cuban zombie movie that isn’t afraid to pile on the craziness.

Epic Black Car deserves good owner; are you worthy?

2002 Hyundai Elantra simply refuses to die. Comes in any color you want, as long as it’s black. Invisible at night. Unflinching in the rain. This automobile eats gas and spits out miles.

Automatic transmission and cruise control, with airbags out the wazoo.

Comes with an Obama bumper sticker and Smith & Wesson wheel grips, both removable, by why? It’s already perfect for a liberal who packs heat and needs cheap, reliable transportation. You can roll down the window and drive with one hand as you shoot zombies, if there are zombies to be shot, and you can do it IN THE SNOW, because for some reason, the Epic Black Car flies over snow with total control.

zombie animated gif

History

This auto has travelled 165,000 miles without a major hiccup. That’s like circling the world a bunch of damn times without exploding.

It was lovingly constructed in 2002, right when Hyundai stopped making crap and started producing cars just as reliable as Toyotas, but without the extra feature of uncontrollable acceleration to 8.35 gazillion miles per hour, followed by a rousing smash against a highway underpass. (Note: I’ve owned Toyotas and this problem seems to be fixed. Carry on.)

The Epic Black Car can hit 8.35 gazillion miles an hour in a controlled fashion and bring you to a nice gentle stop, because it has new tires and brake pads, and because it likes you, unlike other cars that try to kill you like a horse bucking off a rider or a bull shark biting your body in half, when all you’re doing is swimming along in a black wetsuit that makes you look exactly like a seal.

Standard features

It’s got a stereo with CD player and speakers that go to 11, air conditioning for the four days a year that it’s hot in the Pacific Northwest and wiper blades and a unique waterproof ROOF for the other 361 days when it rains.

It’s got bucket seats and floor mats, a glove box that nobody puts gloves in and a cigarette lighter thing that does not light cigarettes, because this car doesn’t want you dying of lung cancer. Instead of dealing in death, the cigarette lighter magically gives life to iPhones and Droids and laptops.

Four doors. Four cup-holders, including two secret ones in the back, James-Bond style. A trunk capable of storing thousands of rounds of ammunition or cases of fine Spanish and Italian wine you picked up at Trader Joe’s for six bucks a bottle because you’re not some nancypants dipstick who drives a Porsche 911 and tells everybody he won’t drink wine that costs less than $120 a bottle.

Power windows. Power steering. Power whatever-you-want.

Asking price

The Kelly Blue Book proclaims that the Epic Black Car is worth $2,955.

I don’t know who Kelly is, or why his book is blue, but he insults the honor and integrity of this humble, hard-working car, which took me to Olympia and back, five days a week, often with the Gas Empty light on, for eight years.

It never complained. It never ran out of petro, no matter how hard I tried. It never blew a tire and left me stranded ten miles west of nowhere, also known as Elma.

The Epic Black Car — like the Dude from The Big Lebowski — abides.

Logging trucks tried to kill it by kicking boulder-sized rocks at the windshield. Drivers with hamburger patties for brains tried to sideswipe it on the highway. It’s happily hopped over roadkill from porcupines to a wolf outside Elma, close enough to Forks to make me wonder: Taylor Lautner? I can only hope.

Every deadly attack was foiled, leaving only scratches and dents. Nothing could kill this car. It is fast and nimble and invincible. If it wanted to, it could whip you up breakfast or pour you a martini.

mad max car

I will sell this car to the highest bidder, unless that bidder is Mike “The Situation” from Jersey Shore.

The bidding starts at $2,500. I’ll take cash, checks, rounds of Dutch cheese or purple 500-euro notes, which look like this:

500 euro note

If you need a safe, cheap, reliable car — or have a college kid leaving the nest — this is your car.

If your name is Gordon Freeman, this is definitely your car. It has been waiting for you. I will hand you a crowbar and the keys.

If you have a high school kid who needs wheels, this is not your car. No. You need a Gremlin or a station wagon with fake wood panels that are peeling off, because such a car is the Most Effective Form of Birth Control Known to Man.

What you must do

Interested? Write a comment to this post and tell me why you are worthy of being the next owner of this fine piece of South Korean engineering.

Survival Sunday: Concrete Canvas Shelters of the Apocalypse

The First Rule of the Zombie Apocalypse: You will NOT be staying in your home.

There’ll be no electricity, no water, no cable, no internets and no guarantee that your house is remotely zombie-proof.

The Second Rule of the Zombie Apocalypse: Find a defensible shelter.

Sleeping under the stars is a good way to get nom-nom-nommed. Even if there are not walking dead around to eat your brains, other survivors will happily steal your stuff and leave you for dead.

Here’s a great little shelter from the British, who have glorious accents, making anything they say or invent ten times the awesome.

It’s an inflatable shelter made from canvas impregnated with cement*. Blow it up, spray water on it and bam, instant bomb shelter.

This is military grade stuff. Pile dirt around it and you’ve got an instant bunker that’s safe from small arms fire, mortars and the undead.

*Yes, the video says “concrete.” Cement is actually the right term. Concrete is cement mixed with rocks and whatnot.