The Apocalypse of the Mind

Surviving the Apocalypse will probably be the most stressful thing you ever do. Considering that many of us (your fair writer included) already have mental health issues when we live in a developed country with clean water, regular food access, and life-saving medicine, what on earth are we to do when everything is on fire and the zombies are at the gate?
Well, the standard advice for managing mental health issues is even more important when everyone you love has died in front of you.

Talk about it:

Reach out to whatever community you have around you, whether that be your fellow mutants, your pet radioactive cats, or actual people (lucky!). Talk about your feelings, good and bad, and work out ways to manage them – together. A therapist or counsellor would be excellent, but since they’re all dead consider drawing a face on a sack of live rats and talking to that instead.

Eat healthy:

Alright, so you’re probably pretty limited on your diet right now, but do your best. Don’t just eat the canned beans – add some freeze-dried fruit and some mysterious green stuff from the cave walls to your diet, too. Your brain needs a balanced diet!

Try journalling:

There’s nothing like twenty pages of ‘Kill them all’ to express your feelings of furious, broken rage. If you don’t have paper, write it on walls in the blood of your enemies. Bonus: It scares off FUTURE enemies!

Get some exercise: 

Death fights in the cage will increase your adrenaline and help your poor tormented mind pump out serotonin. Plus, the rush that comes with surviving another day might block out all those terrible memories for an hour or two.

Don’t be ashamed to try medication:

Ok, so you might not have access to a psychiatrist or even a GP any more, but that glowing stuff that grows by the wasted river has to have some kind of effect, right? Right?

Meditation works wonders:

Block out the noise of screaming and gunfire and take deep breaths, imagining yourself in a peaceful natural scene that no longer exists anywhere.

Learn to self-soothe:

Lying under a bed with your fingers in your ears chanting ‘everything’s fine, everything’s fine’ might not be the healthiest activity but whatever keeps you going.

Practice self-care:

Self care means taking the time to look after your body, mind, and spirit. Whether it’s organising all your weapons by most kills, going to regular machine-god sacrifices,  or decorating your trophy skulls, be sure to set aside some time and avoid burnout.
 
We hope this helps you with your deteriorating mental state and keeps you alive and with it enough to grimly and stubbornly claw your way through another day.
(please note, this is not actual advice for mental health conditions. Please see your doctor if you feel like you may be depressed, anxious or otherwise mentally unwell. If you are considering suicide, reach out to someone on this list of crisis aids. This article is a work of humor)

Let's Talk about Sex… and Birth Control.

Step one to survival is being prepared for the worst before having to actually survive the worst. Some might say one of the worst consequences of sex is pregnancy. Fortunately, birth control exists to prevent pregnancy– If you’re prepared.

All of the many forms of birth control seek to accomplish the same goal: prevent pregnancy before it happens.

Some methods are for use before sex. Some for use after; and a few for use during sex. Regardless of the method, it’s imperative to have a plan if your plan isn’t to make a baby.
Planned Parenthood does a fantastic job outlining the many birth control options the world currently has to offer. They even offer a handy quiz to help you determine what the best method might be for you.
The Pill or condoms might be a great option while we’re living in the current state of things and shit has yet to hit the fan. However, after an apocalyptic event, while we’re seeking comfort in the private parts of others, The Morning After pill might be the best option. Continue reading “Let's Talk about Sex… and Birth Control.”

Understand Sunscreen…or die.

Sunscreen is inconvenient to a point where it’s hard to be certain if the benefits are completely worth the frustration. Technically, by using measures of vanity and longevity, the benefit of using sunscreen regularly does far outweigh the hassle.
Depending on the type of sun protection used the pros can range from reducing the risk of skin cancer to increasing the time spent as a desirable and attractive person. The sun can destroy not only the quality of you looks but also the quality of your life.
Before or after the end of the world skin cancer will be the most commonly occurring and easily addressed of the cancers. But sunscreen isn’t only about skin cancer: it’s also about staying pretty and looking young for as long as possible.

The sun provides UV rays in a number of forms.

A few of these forms are plotting to kill you.

UVA will get under you skin and age you prematurely. UVB will give you sunburns and skin cancer. UVC will wait patiently for the silly mortals to destroy the ozone so it can pop in and turn the earth into a scorching wasteland where everyone lives underground and fights for water.

Name

Abbreviation

Notes / alternative names

How it will kill you

Ultraviolet A

UVA

Long-wave, black light, not absorbed by the ozone layer

Ew; your face…

You’ll lose your looks and thus weaken your negotiation ability and lower your social status, you ugly old hag.

Ultraviolet B

UVB

Medium-wave, mostly absorbed by the ozone layer

Slowly rotting like a statue in a slow motion fire!

Cancer causing agent and Sunburns slowing you down and crippling you making others more inclined to leave you for dead.

Ultraviolet C

UVC

Short-wave, germicidal, completely absorbed by the ozone layer and atmosphere

Goodbye, cruel world!

These rays get absorbed by the ozone and atmosphere so as this barrier rots away UVC rays make their way to earth and start destroying any living cells they glance at without even getting close enough to throw things.

Modified from chart found here.

The two types of Sunscreen can protect you from the two antagonists against mortals: UVA and UVB

UVC is just another fun way to die slowly but surely (or cure your seasonal depression and disinfect objects).

The choice between Chemical and Physical is personal and the market even offers hybrid products that combine the two. Chemical Sunscreen absorbs UV radiation and Physical Sunscreen reflects UV radiation.

Think Screen = Chemical and Block=Physical

Chemical sunscreens are more likely to be irritating to the skin and contain ingredients that may be absorbed into the skin. Some of these ingredients, retinol for example, can actually increase potential sun damage over time. Benzophenones have been linked to internal, systemic damage.
While Chemical sunscreen has its drawbacks, it is also the best option for anyone who plans to sweat or get wet as it’s more water resistant than a Physical sunscreen.
As the name implies, Physical sunscreen creates an actual protective block that rejects the UV rays away from the skin.
Physical sunscreen is usually made of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide and will often leave a ghastly white/grey cast on skin with any hint of melanin. This pallor is a pro if the wearer is trying to blend in with the dead on a hot day, but a con if they wish to look like a healthy human.
Application, irritation, look, reapplication, and more will factor into which type someone prefers.

Physical Sunscreen

Chemical Sunscreen

Application

Before exposure

15+ minutes before exposure

Reapplication

Every 2 Hours

Every 2 Hours – more often if sweating or getting wet

Irritation

Less likely to cause irritation

More likely to cause irritation

Concerns

If it looks terrible you’re less likely to wear it or reapply it throughout the day.

· Chemicals that can be absorbed into the body

· May contain ingredients that increase sun damage overtime.

Try not to use spray-on sunscreens because they’re bad for the environment and no type of sunscreen should be inhaled.

But What about Vitamin D?!

Who better to ask than The Vitamin D Council?

Other factors
There are other factors which can affect the amount of vitamin D your body makes from exposure to the sun. These are:
· The amount of skin you expose. The more skin you expose, the more vitamin D you can produce.
· How old you are. As you get older, your skin has a harder time producing vitamin D.
· Whether you’re wearing sunscreen. Sunscreen blocks a lot of vitamin D production.
· The altitude you’re at. The sun is more intense on top of a mountain than at the beach. This means you make more vitamin D the higher up you are (at higher altitudes).
· Whether it is cloudy. Less UVB reaches your skin on a cloudy day and your skin makes less vitamin D.
· Air pollution. Polluted air soaks up UVB or reflects it back into space. This means that if you live somewhere where there is lots of pollution, your skin makes less vitamin D.
· Being behind glass. Glass blocks all UVB, so you can’t make vitamin D if you’re in sunlight, but behind glass.

Your skin type

Melanin is a substance that affects how light or dark your skin color is. The more melanin you have, the darker your skin color. The amount of melanin you have in your skin affects the amount of vitamin D you can produce.
Melanin protects against skin damage from too much UVB exposure, so darker skins with more melanin allow less UVB to enter the skin. With less UVB getting through the skin, less vitamin D is produced each minute. This is why if you’re dark skinned, you need more sun exposure to make vitamin D than if you’re fair skinned.

The table below shows the different skin types:
Skin Type Skin color Skin characteristics
I
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Very fair; red or blond hair; blue eyes; freckles Always burns, never tans
II
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Fair; sandy or red hair; blue, hazel or green eyes Usually burns, tans with difficulty
III
clip_image006
Fair; with any eye or hair color; very common Sometimes mild burn, gradually tans
IV
clip_image008
Dark brown hair, green, hazel or brown eyes. Rarely burns, tans with ease
V
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Dark brown and black hair; brown and dark brown eyes. Very rarely burns, tans very easily
VI
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Black hair, dark brown eyes. May never burn, tans very easily

The paler your skin type the more easily your skin can produce vitamin D. So, if you have skin type I to III, you produce vitamin D more quickly than if you have skin type IV to VI. For example, if you have skin type I, it might take around 15 minutes of sun exposure to get the vitamin D you need, while if you have skin type V or VI, it might take up to six times longer (up to 2 hours).
Because of all these factors – your skin type, where you live and the time of day or season – it can be difficult to work out how much time you need to spend exposing your skin to the sun in order to get the vitamin D you need. A good rule of thumb is to get half the sun exposure it takes for your skin to begin to burn to get your vitamin D and expose as much skin as possible.

Let's make a Survival Skills Checklist!

Why should we bother making Survival Skills Checklist?!

Being a survivor is about luck and preparation in varying measures. While it’s not possible to ensure luck when it comes to not being the victim or an apocalypse, it is possible to prepare in case of suck luck. Or, best case scenario, it’s possible to prepare to a point where the proportion of luck required for survival is significantly reduced.
Movies, TV, Books, Comic Books, and Video Games show a number of characters who display what seems to be an unreasonable skill set in the most necessary of situations. How can an actual, non-designed human who lives, in reality, reduce the amount of luck required and increase their added value in almost any situation? Make a plan and prepare.
Based on (very little) experience, reviewing copious materials (watching Netflix and playing Video Games), and surveying experts (Google search for “list of skills”) here is a Survival Skills Checklist that shouldn’t take a lifetime to learn and the logic to motivate exploring them.

This Survival Skills Checklist will be updated as posts specific to each skill are posted to expand on each topic with resources, insights, and more.

Continue reading “Let's make a Survival Skills Checklist!”

So I did end up knitting

Some time ago, back when we updated regularly, I promised I would learn to knit. Knitting, I proclaimed, was an excellent post-apocalyptic skill, and one that would also make me some post-apocalyptic money.
(not real world money. No-one is willing to pay what it’s worth).
Well, I learned. I’m at a reasonable level of skill now. I’ve made a jumper and a vest, and I can do lace and cables.  And I still maintain that knitting is an excellent post-apocalyptic skill to gain.
But tell you what. So are all the other fibrecrafts.
Spinning, with a drop spindle or a wheel. You can make your own yarn, out of pretty much any animal fibre. Even plant fibres

Drop spindle with wool
Drop spindle with wool (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

including nettles. Meaning as long as you have some sheep, maybe a goat or two, and some nettle patches around your compound, you won’t have to rely on your scavengers finding the last good wool. I can spin using a drop spindle and am slowly making less awful looking yarn.
Weaving. Faster than knitting, and creates different kinds of fabrics. Great, wonderful. Can’t do this yet, but I am looking into learning.
Crochet. Like knitting but done with a hook instead. Better for larger projects like blankets and stuff. I’m not any good at this, so I plan to befriend at least one crocheter so I can force them into post-apocalyptic blanket-based slavery.
See, currently my plan is to basically have a super-defended fabric and clothing store. Oh, it sounds silly, but remember how flimsy and useless modern clothing is made to be. It’ll tear, wear out, rot. And then I’ll be there. With lovely, season-appropriate, knitted or woven goods.
And I’ll take all your valuables in exchange, thanks.
So, if you want to survive, maybe learn to knit, or crochet, or weave, or spin, or any number of old-fashioned life skills that are now hobbies. I can’t promise anything, but if you’re quick by the time the apocalypse comes you could have a place with me.
 

The dangers of exhaustion

One of the biggest dangers to you come the post-apocalypse will be your own body and its needs. You are not a computer game character, or a movie character, able to go days, maybe weeks with only a morsel of food and an hour of sleep on a filthy mattress. You need more than that. And exhaustion may be your killer.
Continue reading “The dangers of exhaustion”

How to Trick People Into Liking You…

People are fairly simple creatures who are easily tricked because of their addiction to patterns and basic context cues. People want to trust you, like you, not need to kill you. Heck, you could be an asset to their team if you turn out to be someone they can trust, let their guard down around, and learn to lean on.
We see characters like Daryl on The Walking Dead become fan favorites both in and outside of the show while still being kind of dickish. That’s because in fiction people aren’t real. In fiction, people can’t have all the minutia that actual human relationships are based on.
In reality we dislike people because of their minutia and, surprise, it’s that same bit of detail that makes us either likable or leave-able.

So what are the little things we can do to trick people into liking us?

1. Ask them questions about themselves and their feelings the LISTEN to their responses.

Most people listen to respond rather than listening to understand. Think about it the next time you observe a conversation. The person who isn’t speaking hears something they think they know about and have a response poised and ready on the tip of their tongue. They’ve officially stopped listening to understand the other persons point and are just waiting for a break so they can respond.
This is rude and selfish. If you’re telling someone about your dearly departed grandmother and you see their eyebrows raise up and their mouth do that “O” shape where  they clearly have something to say about hospice facilities while you’re still talking about… Well it doesn’t matter now because clearly your audience doesn’t care.
Don’t show people you don’t care about what they’re saying by listening to respond rather than to understand. Sit, Listen, and take time to process what you’ve heard. Then respond. Keep in mind, sometimes the best response is just agreement or acknowledgement. “I hear you.” “That’s the worst.” “I can’t believe that.” “I’m so sorry you had to experience that.”

2. Be helpful when you can and give a brief reason when you can’t.

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit and do nothing or let someone take care of you. Sometimes it’s super rude even if you technically have nothing to do.
The worst thing you can say when you’re on a team or doing anything with other people is, “That’s not my job.” This one phrase is a sure way to make people side-eye you with utter, unabridged contempt. It’s worse than, “no” or “I don’t know how” or  even making an excuse that makes it clear that you don’t want it.
“That’s not my job” is somehow both dismissive, condescending, and mean. You’re rubbing it in that they still have work to do AND you’re not going to help; not because you can’t but because you just don’t want to.
It doesn’t hurt to help. If anything you gain skills and build a rapport with people through a shared struggle. And if you can’t help someone, don’t waste their time whining about all the things you have to do or how your arm hurts or whatever your real or fake reason is. They asked for help not a time suck. Again, this is selfish. This person is so busy or overwhelmed that they’ve humbled themself and asked for help.
Apologize with a sentence (not a run-on) explaining why you can’t. “Sorry, I’m in the middle of cooking these beans (they understand that the beans will burn if you leave them, you don’t need to explain).” “Sorry, I don’t know how to swim; maybe Joe does? (it’s great if you can offer an alternative; but don’t commit someone else to helping)”

3. Do what you say you’ll do.

The worst people are the people who can’t be relied on. People who can’t bother remembering to do things for others and are regularly letting people down.
It’s not just about being the kind of person that people can’t depend on, it’s about being the kind of person that makes life harder for other people. Your slack needs to be picked up or projects can’t be completed or children go hungry and die (in extreme cases).
The solution isn’t to shy away from responsibility, it’s to recognize that what you do or don’t do effects other people and get it done.

4. Try not to complain. If you must, follow up with your solution and plan.

Everyone hates their job. Everyone’s life is hard. Everyone’s body starts to fail after 25. Everyone could stand to lose a few pounds or tone up or eat better. Shut up and do something about it or just shut up.
Complaining gives people this great feeling of release because it’s good to get things off your chest– unless you’re the person listening to the complaints. Complaints are not communication. People who complain want sympathy not solutions which means there’s no real role for people who listen to complaints.
If you want advice, ask for advice. If you want to complain, get a diary or come ready with your own advice.
Like listening to understand, have conversations WITH people, not at people.

5. Mind your manners.

The weird thing about killing people with kindness it that they never seem to see it coming.  I had a roommate in college (who is alive and well to this day) who hated me– specifically she hated having a roommate. I went out of my way to pretend I didn’t notice.
I was nice to her and respectful of our space. I didn’t try to be her friend or invite her to parties. But I was kind to her friends and let her use my refrigerator and offered help when it was convenient or relevant. Eventually she and I genuinely got along swimmingly. I forgot she made me feel unwelcome and she forgot to make me feel unwelcome. The kindness ended up killing the animosity.
Being nice doesn’t cost you anything, doesn’t make you look bad, and doesn’t make life harder. Making the effort to mind your manners is not only basic decency but also the finishing touch you need to make your personality the kind that people are fond of.

So can you trick people into liking you?

Making a habit of all five of these things will guarantee more people will like you. Unfortunately these are not tricks. These are just things that people should do and other people will respond to.
You can fake them for a time, but eventually you’ll either grow to be a more likable person or your true colors will shine through and you’ll get a lot of side-eye and hear a lot of whispered conversations.
P.S.: Sorry if this headline tricked you into clicking. TLDR: some things don’t come naturally but you if you try them you might like the results.

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Just Cover You Calves and Ankles

Way too often I see games, movies, tv shows and whatever else where people are trudging through the zombie apocalypse and, surprise, they get bit on the calf or ankle. Duh! Cover your calves and ankles and this problem disappears.
See, when people die they fall down. On the ground. Around that area where your feet are… That area you’re not usually looking in when you’re walking forward. I see some of the best shooters and fighters kicking through knee-high weeds and then ARRGGGH somethings got their leg like a shark attack.
Seriously though, I can’t feel bad for you if you see a bun of zombies crawling and laying around and you don’t think to protect your most vulnerable parts. You don’t even need combat boots or women’s boots (though women have no excuse for not covering their calves and ankles with boots). Rain boots, though your feet will stink in like six minutes, are perfect. Can you bite through rubber? I can’t.
And you know what the first suggestion will be? Cut the leg off! This may or may not work. Sometime it does, sometime it doesn’t (even in the same fictional universe in some cases). But even if it does, you’ll be hobbled and they’ll be whispering about not wanting to take care of you or how you’ll slow everyone down. This is all the best case scenario where you actually survive the bite and amputation. Because there’s the slow descent into infection and death from either the bite or the amateur doctoring.
Your calves and ankles don’t need to be covered with some indestructible, adamantium-type shit. What’s important is, can’t it be easily torn or bitten through? If no, you’re good. Also important, can you comfortably flee from not only shambling corpses but also fully ambulatory, aggressive humans.

TLDR: Cover Your Calves and Ankles

1. Dead people fall down; living people look up. You can’t change this, just deal with it.
2. Getting bit on the leg is a dumb way to die. Even if they try to save you, you’re dead-ish. They’ll laugh when they tell your story as a cautionary tale to children.
3. Most any boot will do because most people can’t bite through boots. (Also, animals are less likely to hurt you if they have an extra layer or leather or  soccer shin guards to get through.)
4. Don’t cover your calves and ankles to the detriment of your mobility. There’s no point in just being safe from the crawlers if you can’t dodge the walkers or out run the humans.

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Post-apocalypse new parenthood, revisited

A really, really long time ago, I wrote about having a baby and being a new parent in the post-apocalypse (and by extension, the apocalypse). In those posts, I had all sorts of fun tips about how to survive with a baby and all that during the fun post-apocalyptic period before things settle down into quaint dystopia.
I had a baby not too long ago, so everything is once again fresh in my mind. Therefore, I’m here to add one more tip about having a baby in the post-apocalypse:
Don’t do it.
Why? you might ask. After all, won’t we need to repopulate the planet after a good majority of the population are decimated by Asgardians/zombies/evil space monkeys?
Well, yeah, obviously we’ll have to rebuild. But seriously, don’t do it when the post-apocalypse is so fresh you can still see the fires burning over New York City. Wait until after things have settled and humans have all been enslaved/made to fight each other to the death on TV/turned into zombies.
Because otherwise, you will probably die. Your baby, too. And you wouldn’t want to be responsible for the death of a helpless tiny human who looks really cute, now do you? I thought not.
Continue reading “Post-apocalypse new parenthood, revisited”