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.”

[PAX East 2017] Survival Tip: Leave and Talk to Strangers

Main Event implies you can leave and find other events… maybe better events.

PAX East is sometimes described as a giant party. I’d think of it like a party in the way that Prom is a party. Sure, it’s “a party” but the real fun is around Prom. Pregaming, after parties, anti-prom parties. Sometime the most fun you can have at an event is by leaving the event.
Every year since we met Kae and I meet up at PAX East with water bottles filled with wine or rum and Coke. Werevel in the awesomeness that is nerding out among your peers over shared interests. Every year except this year.
Foolishly, we though we’d have a joyous time with just the environment and good company alone. PAX, over time, has become less and less the place you go for the environment and company alone. Especially now that they no longer serve alcohol at the bar. Yes, the Sam Adams bar in the convention center was not serving alcohol…
Large companies and innovative vendors have been fewer and further between as the years  passed. Drinking became even more vital to the social aspect of PAX East. Apparently last year an underage youth was served at the bar and now no one can have drinks…

Not super clear on the logic behind punishing adults because children can’t be trusted we decided to leave.

Hungry, bored, and searching for libations lead us to the Marriott hotel next door to the convention center. Specifically, we found the Asylum Gaming Esports at Laugh Boston party situation. We walked in hoping for some overpriced drinks and undersized bar food only to be greeted with an adult nerd’s paradise. It was the PAX we’d always wanted.
Lining the walls were consoles of vintage games like Duck Hunt and Metroid. In the space behind the bar there were two beer pong tables set up. The menu was even gamer themed with drinks like the “Power Up.”  I had the pleasure of seeing a guy order one of these specialty drinks then watch the bartender respond by looking at this temporary menu and saying, “Sure, let me just figure out what that is.”
Kae and I  sat at the bar drinking cheap (but not inexpensive) beer from plastic cups and some basic but delicious buffalo chick tenders and fries.

If you’re going to go to a bar, you might as well talk to strangers while you’re there.

After returning a few stray ping pong balls and meeting the Beer Pong players we were heckled into joining in. I’ve never pretended to be good at any game physical or digital but for some strange reason I was killing it at Beer Pong. Our opponents, Nate (who really didn’t like when I trolled him and called him Nick) and Dude with the beard and yellow hat (who we later found out had a name and it was Colin) were fellow PAX attendees who also wandered away from the main attraction.
This was the scene we’d been craving. We were trash talking IRL and meeting strangers with common interests. There were assists, sweet plays, drinking rules, rules we didn’t understand (Thanks for playing the role of Options and Settings, Ray aka TheHandsomeGinger). It was XBox Live… LIVE
We learned through experience that you might have the  best time by leaving the party and going to a different one.

Everyday Survival: Going to Work

Going to work is, on the surface, a straightforward and simple task. Unfortunately people are often caught off guard by the simple perils of going to and being at work that they fail to prepare properly for.
So, lucky you, you’ve got a job. But now you’ve got to keep it and if possible improve it by way of financial compensation or upward mobility in the organization that give you said job. This is not as simple as simply showing up and doing your job. No, people have to see you and formulate opinions about you and that’s where everyday survival tips come in.

Everyday Survival: Going to Work

1. If you’re on time, you’re late; if you’re early, you’re on time.
No one care that you have a life outside of work or that traffic exists or that anything aside from you got to work in time to be set up and working before it’s time to punch in. It shows forethought and self-management and give you the time to put yourself and your thoughts in order so as not to just jump in a react. That’s how dogs get skunked and bouncers get punched. Take you time to show up, assess the situation and your place in it, an then join in.
Leave early – Earlier than you think you need to. Give yourself at least a half-hour of early time because you’re better off tweeting in the parking lot for 20 minutes than running in out of breath just 5 minutes late.
2. You stink.
As a human, you likely sweat and it probably smells. If you’re a lady, you’ve got lady parts and those sweat and smell sometimes too – sorry dudes, it’s just a part of life, like this “ball sweat” I’ve heard about. No one wants to smell your stink. I mean, we’ve all had some epic long weekends in our twenties where we woke up on the couch and wondered what that smell was only to find out it was us. Maybe your face, under arms, or private parts.
It’s biology and it’s nothing to worry about. However it it something to be aware of and in control of. People notice smells and they’re distracting. so distracting they make you seems less intelligent – Why would I trust your opinion on sales strategies if you can’t even wash yourself properly?
Keep a stash of toiletries in your car or bag. Deodorant, mouth wash, floss, tiny disposable toothbrushes, wet wipes, feminine hygiene products – including scented liners and summer’s eve wipes.
Notice the lack of “perfume” and “cologne”? That’s because those things stink and make people gag or get migraines and make you smell like you have human stink that hiding under chemical-flower stink. Don’t try to mask your funk, fix it.
3. Murphy’s Law is Law
Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. When you’re going to work, hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Don’t put off car maintenance. Don’t try to squeeze in a coffee before the train instead of getting it in the city once you arrive. Don’t assume they’ll clear the snow enough for their to be a reasonable number of parking spaces. Don’t trust that capable of wearing white and eating food and drinking coffee before a big meeting without an incident.
Don’t go to work everyday under the assumption that because you have a job today you still will tomorrow. They may like you but business isn’t about feelings and if you don’t prepare for the worst and preempt issues like missing handouts, double booked conference rooms, skipping lunch, having a headache, then you’re not being realistic and you should be saving up for unemployment.
4. You’re not that pretty without makeup.
Sorry, ladies but in the real world, we don’t live in a Dove campaign. On the other hand it’s not YouTube beauty guru land either. If you have a meeting, complete with a meeting maker and someone who outranks you, put on a little  makeup. It sucks but it’s true.
Women are expected to wear enough makeup to look naturally fresh-faced and healthy. Mascara, BB Cream, blush and lip gloss are all it takes to look like you give a shit. Just like men should know when buttons all the way down a shirt and a tie are appropriate, women should know when people want to look at a filtered version of their faces.
Keep those four basics on hand at all times so you can always run to the bathroom and quickly put on a face people want to see. Guys, maybe keep a shirt and tie handy (but for God’s sake, don’t let it get wrinkled).
5. Assume you’ll be stuck here.
This is where my crazy, paranoid, apocalypse fever dreams come in. Look at your car and think about what you’d need if you were on a major highway and traffic just stopped for hours. Do you have what you need?
More than half a tank of gas at all times?
A bottle of water that’s not frozen solid?
A spare phone charger?
Your toiletries so you can show up without looking like you’ve been in traffic for hours?
An emergency car kit?
Your insurance information?
Self-defense skills?
Something to kill a zombie with?
A good playlist and or data plan?
A hair tie in case you get hot?
Your boss’ phone number?
Sneakers in case you need to walk/run?
A healthy imagination?
What do you consider a necessity for every day survival when you’re going to work? Nothing? Other things? Something I over looked?

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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Quick Survival Tip: Stay Active

Staying active is the only way to practice the need to fight or flee at any moment. Down time sounds fantastic on paper but too much can be the death of you and your ability to survive any situation.

  • Could you easily climb to the 20th floor of a building in a hurry?
  • Could you walk 20 miles in a day? Run five miles with a pack on your back?
  • Could you wake up in the middle of the night and sprint through the woods or ruins of s city?

Personally, I can barely make it up 12 steps in my own home without a whinge and a rest. Not a good sign.
Sitting one the couch reading books will not prepare you for the post-apocalyptic survival. Knowing piles of things with out doing them will not prepare you.
It’s hard to stay active when it’s a choice but making it a challenge might make it easier.

Some challenges to help you stay active:

1. Zombies, Run! – This is an interactive story where you’re the main character, Runner 5. You’re coached and guided by the communications expert at a survival camp to run all over the English countryside. You’re the hero and more items you collect the more you can build up your camp.
Missions can be a half hour or an hour, between checkpoints you listen to a playlist you load into the app, your progress is tracked as a runner and the more you run, the swankier you base will get.
2. About.com’s 30-day Fitness Challenge – This one’s for people who need constant prodding. You’re signing up for a 30-day newsletter, each day brings a new challenge– all you have to do is read your email.
3. 100 push-up & 200 sit-ups – This is a great challenge for those who want to prove their dedication to themselves. Over a six-week period you build up the strength until you can do 100 push-ups or 200 sit-up non-stop.
If you do the initial test, you might be shocked to find how flimsy you actually are.

Staying active is a choice.

Choose not only to get that heart healthy 30 minutes of activity a day but also build yourself up and make staying active a part of who you are so when everything else is torn away you can be confident that you’ll still be standing strong, running fast, and generally not dying a heinous death at the hands of robot-alien-zombies.
 

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Quick Survival Tip: Stand up for Yourself

Survival, in a pre- or post-apocalyptic world, requires compromise and self-reliance. We often see apocalyptic fiction where there is one leader and it’s his way or no way and everyone just gets dragged along with wide eyes and gaping jaws.
That didn’t work out for Rick Grimes or any of Alice‘s (Resident Evil) friends. Why? Because everyone else had thoughts and ideas and didn’t stand up for them or the value of their lives.
Sometimes people try to speak loudly and use tactics to assert dominance and get you to go with their flow.
Often, we think, this isn’t right. But rarely do we vocalize that thought and even less often do we stand up and fight for it.
Standing up for yourself can be seen as more hassle than it’s worth. However, at the end of the world, with a leader making decisions you’re not 100% for, standing up for yourself could be the only thing between survival and death.
When Rick Grimes is telling you you’re storming Woodbury or Alice is shoving a gun in your hand and leaving you with a child to protect, you’ll wish you had more practice standing up for yourself.
I’m terrible at speaking up for myself, but recently I had the opportunity, and I took it!
I had an insurance claim for my phone recently and they tried to replace my phone with what they were calling an equivalent phone. It wasn’t and everyone knew it.
I called the service line and was asked at least four times in a three minute call if I wanted to complete the claim (read: shut the fuck up and take the offer).
I tried to explain to the woman on the phone that I’ve done my research and I— She just started spewing facts about this lesser phone (it has a calculator too!) at me like an eight-year-old with their fingers in their ears saying, “la la la, I can’t hear you.”
That was neither helpful nor respectful. I still refused to close the claim.
It was clear that they weren’t being fair and my expected role in this scenario was to be quiet, stupid, and compliant.
Instead I took to tweeting (not rudely, mind you) as it’s the loudest place on the internet, citing my research, and refusing to drop or close the claim. I pointed out that what they were doing was quite clear and very offensive.
So, after I stood up for myself, the called me and offered a much more reasonable solution with little to no pain or suffering involved.
Because I stood up for myself, I had a new, actually equivalent phone three days after the incident.
I won’t get into the mechanics of customer service but shit that was frustrating. I wish it had been that easy from Jump Street.
Unfortunately, making things fair and easy isn’t in everyone’s best interest. Most people will feel that frustration and give in to the stat-spewing call rep or finger-pointing ex-sheriff.
If you realize you’re getting a raw deal, don’t stand for it. Channel my mom (who I use to call to deal with things like this), or your demanding aunt, or your picky friend and speak up.
When it comes to the division of food for survival and someone tries to tell you that you don’t deserve an equal share, you’ll be better prepared from practice and you’ll develop the confidence to know you deserve better.

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Pack your bags and go NOW.

You know how I told you about this?
 
Yeah, well, now there’s been a similar attack in Maryland. Two within a week.
If I were you, I’d get OUT. And if I were the British Government, I’d close the borders and patrol them with our army and navy shooting anyone coming from abroad. It’s fairly easy to defend an island when you have gunboats and a few nukes.
Seriously, you don’t have to run yet, but I would keep a very close eye on the news and be ready to go at short notice. Maybe take some holiday time and go to an isolated cabin in the mountains.Even if this isn’t the start of a Zombie Apocalypse, something VERY ODD is going on and it needs watching.
You can always trust us to bring you the information.
So, with it being this imminent, this is what to ficus on.You need food, water, a first aid kit and weapons you can use. I suggest buying them now. You need to find shelter. An old bomb shelter will do if you can’t find anything else at short notice.
Good luck.
 
 

Ask all the questions, avoid all the chaos

Chaotic situations are rooted in no one knowing the answers they need to to stay calm, stand still, and think about basic shit like being quite while decisions are made. To survive after the apocalypse you’ll need to limit your social chaos. How? By asking the right questions —and then having the answers and making people listen.
I’m not typically one for too much pre-planning or excessive deliberation–I’ll take as long as you give me to think about something but then end up making a spur of the moment decision anyway. However, even I realize that the simple exercise of developing a problem solving mindset that includes quickly asking the right questions and processing their answers can drastically affect the survivability of a situation.
The most basic question is usually, “What are we doing?!” or “What’s happening?!” These are valid questions that having answers to would help clam the situation down.
People might shout out other things like, “We NEED to hide!” That’s a suggestion, and a damn good one, recognize it.
Someone else might say, “We’re all gonna Diiiiie!” That’s not helpful. Shut them down quickly and with authority. They don’t deserve to talk.

With almost all situations there’s an easy way to bring order to chaos: QUESTIONS.

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Quick Survival Tip: Avoid Stress

English: Effects of stress on the body.
English: Effects of stress on the body. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stress can have extremely damaging effects on the body if not properly managed or avoided. Survival situations are hard enough without adding the chaos caused by stress.
According to the American Institute of Stress (AIS) some of the more dangerous symptoms include: Difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, Difficulty in making decisions, Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed, Feelings of loneliness or worthlessness, Overreaction to petty annoyances, Excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness, Increased anger, frustration, hostility.
If you know what causes you stress, plan for or avoid it. Some people need to feel that they are supported, in control, have something to look forward to, or just that they know what to do next.
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Quick Survival Tip: Clean Out The Trash to Make Room For Treasure

As often as I can, I wash dishes and vacuum and rub things down with disinfectant until they’re clean. But I recently realized how important it is to clean my spaces of clutter that can hinder me both mentally and physically.
I carry way too many things with me no matter the time, day, or occasion. I’ll pack 12 days’ worth of clothing and supplies for a 7-day trip. Then I win inevitable realize I’m missing some actually vital thing that didn’t even cross my mind.
My luggage will have socks suitable for the three pairs of shoes but no toothbrush. Luckily, I can usually buy whatever the thing is I left behind. However, when it comes to survival and prepping the last thing you want is to realize you have a package of markers and no food.
I’m the type of person who wrestles with sentimental and speculative value. “I could use that for something,” I tell my husband as he dangles random items with no place or purpose in our house over the trash. He shakes his head and places it back on the dining room table.
Honestly? I almost never do anything with those things that I could use for something. They take up space and confuse me when I have to organize mentally. Mentally, I need to establish where things are and why, what to do if I can’t see where I’m going, and how to make efficient use of space and time in an emergency.
When my batteries are mixed in with bottle caps and my shovel is buried behind decorating supplies, I’m in a dangerous spot when it comes time to reach blindly into that box or closet in a hurry. Great, I’ve cut my hand, dropped a box on my head, and am now in need of medical attention. This is a sign it’s time for me to clean out my trash and make room for some treasure (read: breathing room and safe passage in my home).

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