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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The Maw is the Most Adorable Apocalypse Ever

Maw and Frank being totes adorbs.
Maw and Frank being totes adorbs.

Most apocalyptic video games are bleak and depressing. They’re set during a time where things are going or went horribly wrong. Twisted Pixel managed to take those aspects, cover them is pink frosting and sunshine, tie it up in a bow and deliver The Maw. A similar yet very different kind of game about the apocalypse and friendship.
The main, playable character in The Maw is Frank. Frank is an alien on an alien planet. He’s abducted and crashed on a strange world with a strange, purple fellow captive. This giant, one-eyed, purple creature has the affect of a puppy. Like any good dog, he’s hungry and loving.
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Due to his giant mouth, the purple fellow is called Maw. Maw is tethered to Frank via a collar-bracelet situation. I guess that’s just so he doesn’t fall off a cliff because when Frank wants him to come closer her just hollers, “Maw!”
Frank takes Maw under his wing and goes about trying to escape this planet. On their way Frank discovers that Maw loves to eat the Yums native to this planet. Oh well, whatever keeps the slobbering beast happy.
Frank and Maw make their way across the planet with Maw eating everything he can and Frank kindly keeping him alive. With each Yum Maw eats, he grows. Some things he eats cause him to take on their characteristics—a very useful skill when traversing rough, unknown terrain.
Spicy food can sometimes have adverse reactions.
Spicy food can sometimes have adverse reactions.

Maw and Frank face enemies and obstacles of all kinds while trekking across the planet. As Maw’s size increases it starts to become clear that this might become a problem. How big will he get before he tops off? Will he top off? Will he start eating asteroids and planets? What if he eats a sun…
Oh, snap. Now I get why these intergalactic mercenaries wanted him destroyed.
Aside from the cutest best friends ever, The Maw also offers a relaxing game with solid mechanics and challenges worth taking on.
He seems to be getting bigger...
He seems to be getting bigger…

Neither Frank nor Maw speak aside from Frank calling Maw (which is good because bad voice work can really ruin a game) but the story is fairly clear and engaging. The game is quick, but not too easy.
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Personally, I think being eaten by Maw is a perfectly acceptable way to go. I’m a huge fan of the game and the characters and the feeling I get when playing it. I even have a Maw plush toy, and my best friend has a Frank plush (he shouts “Maw” when you press the telepathic orb on Frank’s head.
Buy The Maw; play it; love it; buy it for your friends.

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Math Apocalypse is every student's worst nightmare

If the only way to save the world is for me to do basic math, we’re all going to die. Math Apocalypse is an Android app game that tasks you with the tremendous pressure of solving math problems to defeat aliens invading earth.
Seems pretty straight forward and totally plausible to me.
Aliens walk in with a math problem over their head. You tap in the (correct) answer and your character zaps them to death with a bolt of electricity. Seems easy enough. That is, until you realize math is hard.
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Math is especially hard when you’re being pressured because the problems are coming at you, threatening your life. Then the problems get bigger and harder and some aliens have multiple math problems.
This is truly a sick and twisted kind of apocalypse. … But I really enjoyed it.
Math Apocalypse was written by someone who, while strong in the math department, is  probably not a native English speaker. The introduction story has a number of grammatical issues, so if you’re thinking of handing it to a child for training you might want to keep that in mind. Other than that it’s a fun mix of academic challenge and apocalyptic fun.
It reminded me of playing Number Munchers when I was in grade school. It’s not bloody or violent but it gives purpose to brain training in a distracting way that’s enjoyable and makes you want to strive to do better.
You can set the game to just addition and subtraction or include multiplication and division in the mix too. If you want to trick your kid into being smart or you’re looking to exercise your brain muscles instead of just your color-candy coordination, Math Apocalypse might be just the thing you’re looking for.
Best of all, just like the intuition that let me make it into adulthood without the ability to do basic math without my fingers, it’s free!
(It’s also available to play on the web Here.)

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Pacific Rim Review

Pacific Rim is not a hollow, soulless film about big stompy robots. Pacific Rim doesn’t treat the audience like idiots. Yet, none of you are going to see it. This is a crying shame.
Pacific Rim is an impeccable summer action film. It is beautifully shot and well-told. There is nothing groundbreaking about it but if you wanted groundbreaking you wouldn’t be watching films about big mechs battling battling monstrous aliens.

I Like Big Mechs and I Cannot Lie.

Idris Elba at a 2007 American Music Awards aft...
Idris Elba at a 2007 American Music Awards after-party (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t know what else you want from a film. I don’t know what more you could want from a summer blockbuster. You have perfectly choreographed fight scenes, excellent CG and tons of explosions. You have a genuinely well-written plot with some rather good acting. You have monsters that are beautiful in their terrifying ugliness. You have Idris Elba, managing to make a Dad Moustache look sexy. Idris Elba should be in everything. You have back story that isn’t narmy. And you even have a couple of interchangable white men with sandy hair, for those of you who can’t bear to see a film without one of them present.
Your basic plot is that these huge, ugly monsters are coming through a crack between universes, lodged deep in the pacific. After they kill millions of people, all the worlds governments come together, share their resources, and build the Jaegers to combat them. However, stronger ones come through, and after a while the Yaegers can no longer do the job. The last few Yaegers and the director come up with a plan to stop the Kaiju once and for all.
I’m missing out a lot of context. As always, I can’t remember anyone’s names, which doesn’t help. Suffice it to say there’s a nice subplot playing with mind-melding – the Yaegers require mind-melded pilots working in sync – and some stuff about recovery, love of all kinds, bravery and self-sacrifice.
You have gigantic robots run by two people, beating up Kaiju. You have fight scenes between giant robots and terrifying monsters, through the glittering streets of Hong Kong. You have a fully-realised, beautifully shot world waiting on the brink of Apocalypse. Pacific Rim has everything you want, everything you wanted from all the films that disappointed you. If Transformers broke your heart, if World War Z makes you want to cringe, then you should see Pacific Rim.
If there’s a flaw it’s that I wish there’d been more time spent on some of the teams piloting the Jaegers. We didn’t really get to know them, and that was a shame.
Quite simply, if you claim to love big robots, and you don’t see Pacific Rim, you are a liar. If this fails, and Uwe Boll’s next butchery of a film succeeds, it’ll be your fault.
It’s directed by Del Toro, for gods sake. DelToro, borrowing heavily from Anime influences.  Pacific Rim is Evangelion without the incomprehensible philosophy and teen angst. Pacific Rim is Transformers, crossed with Godzilla, directed by someone competent.
Pacific Rim is what would happen if someone looked directly into your nerdy heart, plucked out all the things that bring you joy, and slapped them on the screen. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun watching a film. I really can’t. I can’t remember the last action film I watched that didn’t leave me feeling hollow, or manipulated, or like the director thought I was a moron.
Until I saw Pacific Rim.
I can’t think of a better way to spend two hours in a dark room this summer. Well, I can, but that also involves Idris Elba.
4.5/5
 

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How To: Murder

We’ve said before that you aren’t going to be able to spend the whole apocalypse hiding away in a basement. You’re going to need to get out there, seize the wastes with both grimy hands. Scavenge strange new foods, barricade a whole new part of town. But there are going to be people out there who want to stop you from doing that. They want to hurt you. So you are going to have to murder them.
Now, now. Stop shaking. Definitely don’t call the police. I’m not saying you should kill someone before society collapses into an anarchic hellhole where joy and hope are far from your grasp. Wait till after. No murder now, got it? No murder. And I’m not saying it’s a good thing to do, either.  Just that if it’s you or them, you should choose you.
First, try to seperate out your guilt. You are a good person, which is why the resistance to the whole murder thing. But this person will kill you, and probably hurt you very badly before they’re done. It’s survival, pure and simple. Forget the emotions in the midst of the act.
Second, go for their vulnerabilities. No matter how big or scary they are, all people have weaknesses, and all people can be killed. Most of the time they’ll be relying on fear to keep you in check, because they know as well as you what you can do.

Murder in the Serail
Murder in the Serail (Photo credit: Wikipedia) This racist picture shows murder

You have nothing to lose. Really, nothing. You are in horrible trouble right now. If you don’t try to kill them, they will murder you – or worse. If you do and fail, they’ll still kill you, but at least it’ll be quick. And if you try and succeed, you’re out of the situation.
Don’t forget – despite what Hollywood tells you it is pretty easy to murder someone. You can do it by accident, even. The human body is pretty fragile. Push someone, they hit their head and their brains are on the floor. It’s going to be much easier to do if you have a weapon. It’s unlikely to be the physically difficult thing that TV shows you.
Emotionally? Not gonna lie. If you have even a trace of decency left in you, you are going to hate yourself after the murder. That’s good. That’s a good thing. It means you aren’t like that monster you just killed, who would have raped, tortured and murdered you with no guilt. You are still a good person. Feel those feelings. Just don’t let them make you self-destructive.
If they have friends around, they are going to go looking. If they find the body, they may be able to track you down. Hide or bury the body, then get out of there, sharpish.
Depending on how you do it, you are going to need to clean yourself off. Don’t worry about the waste of water, it’s more important that you feel safe and comfortable right now. You’ve just breached a major rule and done a dreadful thing. You had to do it, and it the modern world they’d give you a short sentence, because it was self-defense. Do whatever you need to do to get yourself back in line with the person you are, to reconnect with your basic good-person-ness.
If you can’t do any of these things and you know it, I’d suggest not scavenging alone. Instead hire a loyal sociopath (or marry one) who will attach to you utterly and murder people for you. They’re really useful. Just stay on their good side!
 
And of course, this is all hypothetical. I must reiterate that I have never murdered anyone, nor do I have plans to, though if you break into my house and try and hurt me all bets are off.
 

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Cannibal Ettiquette

Cannibalism which took place in Russia and Lit...
Cannibalism which took place in Russia and Lithuania during the famine of 1571 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) This is you. This is your future.

Being A Polite Person When Eating A Person.

Does being a cannibal have to mean rudeness?
At some point in your post-apocalyptic future, you may be required to resort to cannabalism. Please be aware, there is no shame in this choice. You did what you had to do to ensure the survival of yourself and your community. You are still a good person, even if you’re a cannibal. Let go of the guilt.
It’ll probably help with the guilt if you at least display some basic ettiquette about the situation. Just because you’re chowing down on your friends leg is no reason to be rude about it.
But isn’t eating a person inherently rude? No! Not necessarily. I will be your guide to the complex and distrubing world of Cannibal Ettiquette.
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Review: A Departure by Tom Ward

A Departure by Tom Ward is a post-apocalyptic coming of age story.

In a heartbeat
Michael’s life is good.
He’s in love and about to leave home for university. Things couldn’t be better.
Then a natural disaster hits Britain.
With his family and friends dead, and no help forthcoming from the government, Michael sets off, alone, aiming to reach the potential safety of the continent. Along the way, he forges a new family amongst the ruins of England when he is joined by former teacher, David, parish council head, Judith, and Zanna, a student.
As the group travels south, what remains of society deteriorates around them, revealing the darkest aspects of human desire. Amongst so much darkness, Michael must fight to uphold his own ideals.
A tale of coming of age on a road where rules no longer apply

A good, but flawed book.
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Be Prepared! With Coursera

A graphic representation of the four phases in...
A graphic representation of the four phases in emergency management. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fancy joining me on a FREE Disaster Preparedness Course?
Of course you do. Fortunately, with Coursera, you can do just that.
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I want HEAP (a post-apocalyptic battle card game)

One of my favorite things about apocalyptic shows and movies and the no-holds-barred “design” on everything from the outfits to the vehicles. Well,
Card games are an acquired taste for a past time. But maybe this one should be given a chance. This one has crazy vehicles and goblins! It’s like Halo meets Mad Max.
Check it out.

Each player plays a gang of crazed goblins that have traveled across the post-apocalyptic wasteland in broken-down vehicles to converge on a gigantic heap of long-discarded scrap – perfect ingredients for demented automotive modification. In arena-style bouts, each gang selects its champion driver to storm the heap and duke it out for the best parts to upgrade their vehicles. Be first to trick out your vehicles and dominate the final pileup to rule the heap!

 

Tower Defense, The Apocalypse, and YOU!

Tower defense games are games in which you have a limited amount or resources available to build towers to defend your safe space from waves of enemies. Each wave defeated gives way to a stronger wave and loot you can use to build more or upgrade existing towers. [Like real life, except with do-overs!]
I like to say things like, “I’m not obsessed with [thing I spend time that should be allotted to other things doing].”
Sometimes I’ll be playing my tower defense game and not realize that an entire flight from Phoenix to Boston has passed me by. Hm… But it’s not because I want to, it’s because I must—I’m the God of Front Doors! I must protect my nouns.
This week (month?) that statement is directed at a tower defense game on my phone called Castle Defense (or Castle TD once it’s downloaded…) Creative moniker’s are not a staple of the genre.
The thing about tower defense games though, is it’s not really about “fun,”“survival,” or even “winning”. It’s about PERFECT!
I don’t know what’s on the other side of that opening but it’s by duty to protect it. Protect it from super fast pigs and hearty Pterosaurs. Maybe there’s a genetic mutation factory and a  pre-school on the other side of the wall and every creature that gets through is morphed into an even more terrible monster with a hunger for innocence incarnate?
I like to think about tower defense games in terms of survival preparation. I might not have everything I need to do the job that needs doing—Surviving—but I’ll need to sort out HOW? I can’t just spam the landscape with trip wires if an air attack is possible.

How can tower defense games help you prepare for the apocalypse?

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