Fight the Bite: Interview with The Forge Western Martial Arts

At Calgary Horror Con, I met Tim, one of the instructors at The Forge Western Martial Arts. They were promoting Fight the Bite, a zombie apocalypse survival/self-defense workshop. Of course, I was interested. I mean, zombies! Martial arts! Swords! What more do you need?
Note that this is a sponsored post; I was able to take this course at a heavily discounted rate because of my posts here at ICoS.
Hi Tim! Welcome to In Case of Survival! And thank you for letting me take your course and pick your brain (though not at the same time, heh).
We at In Case of Survival would like to learn more about you, your martial arts school, and your course. We’ve got some questions for you (because of course we do, lol). Here they are!
1. What is western martial arts, exactly? How long have you studied it?
Western martial arts (also known as Historical European Martial Arts or HEMA) is the study of combat principles and techniques from ancient European sources. A lot of people think that the Europeans didn’t really have a martial art and simply bashed away at each other with heavy metal swords. This is not the case, there were a number of very complex combat systems that were taught and practiced “back in the day”. These combat arts died out with the advent of gun powder and firearms, but not all was lost as instructors from that time wrote down their teachings with detailed illustrations in what are commonly referred to as “Fechtbuchs” or Fight Books. These manuals detailed their techniques and principles of combat. So, when some guy who has survived over 30 duels to the death with a sword has something to say – I’m going to listen! Over the past 20 or so years there has been a renaissance of sorts wherein these ancient manuscripts have been translated, studied, and their knowledge is now being taught as a living, breathing martial art. We focus on striking, grappling / wrestling, knives, and swordsmanship.
I have been a martial artist for 32 years and have been practicing Western Martial Arts for the better part of 8 years.
2. Tell us about The Forge Western Martial Arts. When did it open? Who are the instructors? What are classes like (ie. are there different levels, like in Karate or Tae Kwon Do)? Are there a lot of western martial arts schools?
The Forge is the Calgary chapter of a larger organization called The Academy of European Swordsmanship that has it’s head chapter in Edmonton and an affiliated group in Madison, WI. The Calgary group was started by a group of us approximately 5 years ago. We used to be quite small, only 6 or so students, but over the past year and a half we’ve grown to a school of 30+ practitioners. It’s worth noting that we are not-for-profit organization. We do this because we love it!
There are three main instructors; myself – Tim Holter; As mentioned previously I have 32 years worth of martial arts experience and hold high ranking belts in Tae Kwon Do, Shaolin Kempo, and a combat form called Combatto Libero (Mixed Martial Art style that combines Muay Thai kickboxing with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). I’m also a certified KAPAP (Israeli martial art) instructor. My main partner in crime is Mark Winkelman who, along with WMA, practices Japanese sword arts – Kageryu battojutsu and Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu kenjutsu. We also have John who is a 13 year vet of the police service who volunteers his time to assist with unarmed instruction, self defence, and urban survival.
The classes generally run 2.5 hours long. We focus on combat conditioning, armed combat and unarmed combat in each class. A typical class would involve a warm up stretch, followed by cardio conditioning, then working on our combat techniques. Generally we would start with armed combat (either longsword, short sword, or knife) followed by unarmed (striking or wrestling) and then we finish the class off with sparring. Recently we have also started teaching urban survival as an interest class every other Tuesday.
We do have different ranking levels, but not to the extent of most Eastern-style martial arts. We have two paths for people to follow; the martial path wherein you can achieve rankings of Initiate, Savant, and Provost in the various armed and unarmed skill sets we practice. And we have an academic path where people can contribute to our overall body of knowledge by researching related topics, writing papers, etc. We have rankings in the academic path of Scholar and Sr. Scholar.
There currently are not a lot of WMA schools out there. There are four to my knowledge in Alberta – two in Edmonton and two here in Calgary. Of those only one is not affiliated to us. In Europe the art has progressed a lot further than it has here. And there are some rather large organizations in the US as well.
3. Let’s move on to the Fight the Bite course (because that’s why we’re all here, right?). Tell us about the class. Why did you decide to offer this workshop? Why use zombies? Do you find that zombies and the zombie apocalypse increases interest in the course?
Right! Let’s move on to Zombies!! Well the class is at it’s core is a self defence class. We will be covering key survival concepts like mind-set and situational awareness, as well as, the hard skills you need to defend yourself. We will be providing really basic hand-to-hand techniques that simply work if you need to defend yourself from the living or undead alike! Along with those unarmed skills we will be touching on some basic knife defences and an introduction to swords. See… if I can teach you how to effectively use a sword… well that translates nicely into how to use a baseball bat, broomstick, piece of rebar… you get the idea. And the best weapon is the one you have… not necessarily the one that’s hanging on your office wall! We will also provide an introduction to urban survival concepts – where to find water, how to get home in the case of a disaster… or Zombie Apocalypse!
Why a Zombie Survival course? Well I was originally putting together a self defence course for women, but had thought that the idea had been done to death (pun intended). I wanted to cover more topics (e.g. swords and urban survival) and reach a wider audience. Being a fan of the zombie genre – the idea just popped into my head! So, I designed the course around basic skills one could use to survive the zombie apocalypse and of course, your daily commute downtown! And to differentiate ourselves even further I have developed fun personas for our instructors and a background story. The course is being taught by The D.U.D.E.S. from The Forge: Western Martial Arts. D.U.D.E.S. standing for Dead / Undead Deanimation and Eradication Specialists. A group of bad ass mercenaries that quell zombie uprisings around the globe and now want to teach YOU how to survive!
I’m hoping that the use of Zombies will provide people with a unique and entertaining class wherein they’ll learn some real world skills. People always want new experiences… and this will be one of them!
4. What do students learn in the Fight the Bite course? For those who haven’t taken any survival or self-defense courses, can you tell us why those topics are important for people to know?
As stated previously we’ll be touching on a number of topics; survival mind-set, urban survival basics, striking basics, self defence (e.g. how to get away when that Zack grabs you by the arm!), a couple of knife defences (for that time when another survivor is trying to steal your stale cheezies), and wrapping up with armed combat focusing on sword techniques and improvised weapons. All of these skills will be applicable to your overall chances of surviving any kind of confrontation. Ideally knowing what to look for and being aware of your surroundings will first of all, allow you to avoid those bad situations. And if the situation can’t be avoided (hey… I thought the old lady was asking for help across the street… I didn’t realize she was a ZOMBIE!) you’ll have something to draw on to help you survive.
At the very end of the course you will be practicing what you’ve learn at a Zombie Smack Down! We’ll be setting up zombie-esque targets for students to wail away on with their go-to Zombie Apocalypse weapons… there will be blood!
5. Do you plan to offer the Fight the Bite course on a regular basis? Will it be offered on a weekend for those who live out of town?
I would love to make this course a regular offering, but it really depends on the public interest. Right now we don’t have plans to offer this past October. We would be willing to host a weekend course if there was enough interest.
6. Are you a prepper/survivalist? Or do you think it’s just a good idea to be prepared in general?
Can I say yes to both questions? 🙂 I think having some level of preparation just makes good sense whether you’re a “prepper” or not. Too many people are reliant on others to ensure their own safety and the safety of their loved ones. And we don’t have to look too far to see the results of little to no self reliance. The ’98 Quebec ice storm was a perfect example of people not being prepared and self reliant. Over 30 people lost their lives due to a STORM! We are statistically the most heavily insured population on the planet. We have hail insurance for our houses and cars, we have life insurance, we have collision insurance, the list goes on… but do you have enough food to feed your family for a few weeks if the trucks can’t get into the city and stock the shelves?
As to the self defence aspect of that question… I think everyone has the right to defend themselves and those they care about. Essential services do a great job of cleaning up and finding the bad guy AFTER the crime occurs. And of course there are great preventative programs out there trying to reduce crime, but lets be real. Things happen. And when seconds count… help is minutes away.
7. What do you think will be the most likely apocalypse? A slow and eventual decline of society? A sudden apocalyptic event? The zombie apocalypse? Evil space monkey pirates?
Have you ever seen “Idiocracy”? Watch that… I see that being the most likely scenario! 🙂
8. Zombies or vampires?
I want to be a Zombie-killing Vampire… that doesn’t sparkle in the sunshine! I’m allergic to sunlight and proud of it!
Thanks for the opportunity to talk about what we do here at The Forge!
Thank you, Tim, for taking the time to talk with me!
 

Zombie apocalypse parenting class: Part three

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about the zombie apocalypse parenting class I took at Babes in Arms, a local baby store. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. This is the third and final installment to the post series.
Note: Babes in Arms gave me the complimentary seat in the class because I’m writing about it for ICoS.
 

COLD WEATHER PREP: FOR THOSE AWESOME MID-WINTER BLIZZARDS

 
So, okay. This class was held in Calgary. You know, in Alberta. Where it gets cold and snowy for six months of the year. (Yuck, I know, but such is life.) But since we live in a place where winter takes over for what seems like forever, we always have to be prepared for blizzards. Which are kinda like the hurricanes of the north, if you think about it. I mean, it gets windy, with ridiculous amounts of precipitation—though instead of being flooded out, you get snowed in. And instead of drowning or dying from heat stroke, you could freeze to death when the power goes out.
Either way, it’s pretty bad. And blizzards do happen. So, as always, it’s best to be prepared.
Continue reading “Zombie apocalypse parenting class: Part three”

Zombie apocalypse parenting class: Part Two

General Prep: Just Trying to Stay Alive

Note: This post is part two of the post series about the zombie apocalypse parenting class I attended at Babes in Arms Shop. Babes in Arms gave me a complimentary seat in the class.
All right, so, last time we covered the general overview. Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty. Face it—this is what we all need to know if we want to have a hope of surviving the apocalypse. Or a really bad blizzard. You know.
Now. Even though we may be parents trying to survive the post-apocalypse (or whatever disaster you may be facing), we would, first and foremost, still be people trying to survive. You know, we’d still need food, water, supplies—everything that non-parents would need to survive a world that has just gone to hell.
So, before you even think about what to put in that diaper bag for little Junior, think about what you’re going to put in your survival kit. Because if you don’t survive, neither will Junior.
Your 72 Hour Kit
The 72 hour kit is the bug-out bag of sorts. It’s got your food and supplies for the first three days—or more if you think you’ll be barricaded in your house for longer.
When you put your kit together, think about what you’ll need for those first three days. Lindsay at Babes in Arms has a long and detailed list of what you need in your kit. It’s a great list. You should find something like it.
However, for those of you who can’t get in touch with Lindsay or another prepper/teacher like her, here’s a basic list from the Government of Canada:
• Water (at least 2L per person per day)
• Non-perishable food, such as canned food, energy bars, and dried food (replace food and water once a year)
• Manual can-opener
• Crank or battery-powered flashlight (and batteries). Replace batteries once a year to make sure they work
• Crank or battery-powered radio (and batteries), or Weatheradio
• First aid kit
• Extra keys to your car and house
• Cash in smaller bills and change for payphones (Char’s note: I don’t know how easy it is to find payphones now, though, so while you may have change, you may not be able to use it)
• Copy of your emergency plan and contact info
• Prescription medication, infant formula, equipment for people with disabilities, food/water/medication for pets
• Additional water for cooking and cleaning (2L per person per day)
• Candles and matches or lighter
• Change of clothes and shoes for each family member
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each family member
• Toiletries
• Hand sanitizer
• Utensils
• Garbage bags
• Toilet paper
• Household chlorine bleach or water purifying tablets
• Basic tools (ie. hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, pocket knife)
• Whistle
• Duct tape
List from “Your Emergency Preparedness Guide” by the Government of Canada, pp 16-17
Lindsay made a good point: consider putting together a separate kit for your car or office. This one won’t be intended to get you through the first three days—that’s for your at-home 72 hour kit. Instead, this kit will be used to get you home.
After all, we can’t always assume the apocalypse will start when we’re at home. And it would seriously suck if you got stuck in your car (or worse, your office) with no supplies, but a fully-stocked emergency kit…at home. You know.
Food Storage
So. You’ve got all your food and water and all that good stuff for the apocalypse. Yay, you can eat! But if you don’t store it properly, it might go bad. Or rats or cockroaches or other fun stuff might decide to eat it for you.
Either way, it’ll be unpleasant for you. Moral of the story: store your food properly. To do this, make sure you keep canned, dried, or dehydrated food. And then store that non-perishable goodness in sturdy, tightly sealed, plastic buckets. Or Rubbermaid containers, whichever you prefer.
But! Don’t forget to put away spices and comfort food, for those days when you no longer want to eat canned beans. I’m just saying. (During the class, Lindsay also pointed out something called “appetite fatigue,” where you get so tired of eating the same thing, you just stop eating. Which will kill you. And that would totally defeat the point of all this survival preparedness you’re doing, now wouldn’t it? Exactly.)
Also, make sure you put a can opener in one of those buckets, because it would seriously suck if you cracked your food boxes open on one rainy apocalyptic day and realized you had no way to get into your food. Because they’re all canned. And you don’t have a can opener.
Make sure you put a water sterilization system in one of your food buckets. Because post-apocalyptic water just might kill you.
One more thing: make sure you have copies of all important documents in your survival kit, and have another set of copies at another location (ie. a friend or relative’s house). Have your documents, along with any survival plans and other notes, in a “survival binder.” Which is exactly what it sounds like: a 3-ring binder full of your survival stuff.
First Aid Kits
A very important part of your 72 hour kit/bug out bag/what have you will be your first aid kit. Well, okay, so all parts of your emergency kit will be important, but my point is, don’t neglect your first aid kit. After all, you don’t want to have enough food and water for three weeks, only to die from an infection you got from a paper cut, right? Because, wow. Holy irony, Batman.
Anyway. You can get wonderful—and wonderfully stocked—first aid kits from places like AMA (the Alberta Motor Association, not the American Medical Association, though they might sell first aid kits, too), Costco, and St. John’s Ambulance. Obviously these aren’t the only places you can get first aid kits, so buy yours wherever you feel most comfortable. Of course, you can always make your own. If you do, make sure you’ve got at least one (preferably more) of everything you can find in the most deluxe store-bought kit. The more the better, right? Especially when it comes to your health.
However, most first aid kits will always be missing something. Like, you know, medication. Sure, they might have an aspirin or two, but if you’re in serious pain, an aspirin isn’t going to do much. So make sure you put any medication you’ll need in your first aid kit. This means prescription medications, T3s, anti-inflammatories like prescription Voltaren, Percocet, etc. etc. Make sure they’re in your first aid now, because in an emergency situation, you’re not going to be able to run down to the pharmacy to get more.
If you use herbal or naturopathic remedies, make sure you’ve got a supply in your first aid kit as well. You’re not going to be able to go to your friendly neighborhood health and wellness to stock up on your herbal medication after the shit hits the fan. Well, you might, but it’ll definitely be more hazardous than it is now.
Also make sure you’ve got a defibrillator and a first aid book tucked away in your first aid kit. You never know when either of those could come in handy.
Oh, and, take a first aid course. Preferably a wilderness/backpacking one. This will get you the most prepared for emergency/survival first aid, and will probably be the next best thing to being a nurse or a doctor. (Also, it’ll be cheaper than going to med school. Hey, we’re all watching our wallets.)
And remember, in a post-apocalyptic situation, first aid will be a skill that can save your life. Those marauding bandits? Yeah, they get hurt too, and it’s a good bet they don’t want to die either. I mean, it’s why they go around stealing supplies and eating people. So when they stumble upon you and want to rape/kill/maim/eat you, make sure you scream “I KNOW FIRST AID!!!” as soon as possible, as loud as possible. Whatever saves your life, right?
Next week: the final post in the series! I’ll be talking about cold weather prep and survival parenting.

The zombie apocalypse parenting class: Part 1

Welcome to the apocalypse. You’re a parent. Are you prepared?
Note: I was able to take this class for free because I’m reviewing the class for ICoS.
I’ve written about post-apocalyptic parenting in the past here on ICoS. Being a post-apocalyptic parent is something I think about, albeit a little less often than I think about post-apocalyptic evil space monkeys. (What can I say, I’m really into evil space monkeys. Especially if they’re pirates. But I’m not into them THAT way, so get your mind out of the gutter.)
Of course, most of what I’ve written about is hypothetical. After all, I really have no idea what the world will be like after an apocalypse, so I have even less of an idea of what parenting will be like after said apocalypse. It’s really anybody’s guess. (And I’d imagine some guesses are more interesting than others.)
That being said, there are some things we can prepare for as parents. And really, there are some things we already prepare for. Don’t believe me? Think about it: if you’ve ever traveled for any length of time with young children, you’ve packed, prepared, and thought about at least half a dozen contingencies (possibly related to a kid losing a security blanket, getting bored, or running out of diapers). That type of prepping is, at its root, the same thing as preparing for a disaster. Because I don’t know about you, but if my youngest lost her security blanket, I’d probably be hoping for the apocalypse to come around.
If, however, you don’t think you’re ready for a disaster – apocalyptic or otherwise – but want to be, there are actually classes you can take. (I know, right?) And here in Calgary, there’s a zombie apocalypse parenting class.
I KNOW. I never thought I’d see “zombie apocalypse,” “parenting,” and “class” together in any sort of phrase, but there you go. Not surprisingly, it’s a class that helps you prepare for the zombie apocalypse. Also disasters and big emergencies, but that’s not nearly as important as the zombie apocalypse, right? Exactly. Now I, as a responsible parent (or something like that), jumped at the chance to take this class, because dude, seriously. It’s a zombie apocalypse parenting class. How could I not take it?
It’s a good thing I did, too, because holy chalupas on a paper plate, I am SO NOT PREPARED.
Let’s take a look, shall we? In the opening questionnaire, the first question was, “name five things that you always keep in your diaper bag or car.” I answered based on what’s always rolling around in my van, because I no longer carry a diaper bag (oh thank the gods). So what do I have in my van at any given time? Bottled water, baby wipes (most likely dried out), a stroller, random jackets, and kids’ toys. (I didn’t mention the cheeseburger wrappers, escapee French fries, and the occasional (used) napkin.)
Granted, old French fries might make a good weapon – they’d be hard and crunchy enough to do some damage if I had a whipped it at someone’s head. Note to self: put slingshot in glove box.
And then there was the question about what skills we’d bring to a zombie survival team. Well, crap. Does Google-fu count? No? What about making fun of people? Also no? Well, that means I’m toast. Make sure someone prevents me from snacking on your brains, ok?
On a more serious note, we also discussed how people get their news. After all, in an emergency situation, it’ll be important that people find out what’s going on as soon as humanly possible. Figuring out Little Johnny’s soccer schedule when, say, a tsunami is bearing down on your location is probably not the safest or smartest thing for you to be doing. But if you don’t know what’s happening out there, you’re probably going to prioritize that schedule. Get what I’m saying here?
For fast-developing events, the best source of information is probably Twitter. Love it or hate it, Twitter has a lot of active users, and they share a lot of information. Yes, some of it’s useless, but some of it…isn’t. Of course, there’s also Facebook. Personally, I found out about last year’s Japanese tsunami via Facebook – my brother was updating his status as the earthquake was happening (he was in Tokyo at the time).
Really, social media can be a good source of up to the minute information, especially when it comes to emergencies or disasters. (It’s also a good source of what people had for lunch, but hey, you win some, you lose some.)
All in all, the class was fun, informative, and lighthearted. Well, as lighthearted as you can get when you’re talking about a scenario when the world has just gone to hell around you. But hey, you gotta laugh, otherwise you’ll cry.
I learned quite a bit from the class, and I highly recommend you take it (or one like it, if you’re not in Calgary). Or maybe at some point in the future, Lindsay will consider offering this via webinar for those who aren’t lucky enough to be in Calgary. (Hint, hint?)
I will talk about the class in greater depth in subsequent posts, but I wanted to get the general overview up for you to read. Lindsay and her co-teacher gave us a lot of information – all of it good information – and I wanted to share the basics of it with you. Of course, this doesn’t take away from the class (and I still think you should take it if you can), because I couldn’t get all the information written down. Also, nothing beats the person-to-person interaction that allows you to ask questions and all that fun stuff.
Basically, this means you have to stay tuned over the next couple weeks while I round off the post series!
Thank you again to Lindsay Ross and Babes in Arms in Calgary for allowing me to sit in on this class!
Website: www.babesinarms.ca
Twitter: @babesinarmsshop

Interview: Lindsay Ross of Babes in Arms and the zombie apocalypse parenting class

So last week, I sat in on the zombie apocalypse parenting class, held at Babes in Arms in Calgary and taught by the store’s owner, Lindsay Ross. She was kind enough to answer my questions about her store, the class, and the apocalypse!

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Hi Lindsay! Welcome to In Case of Survival! We’re excited you were able to visit and answer our questions. As you know, we like the apocalypse. We talk about what will happen after the world goes to hell, and badgers become sentient and zoo animals escape and try to eat everyone. (We don’t take ourselves too seriously, obviously. I mean, sentient badgers?)
Well, without further ado or rambling, here are our questions for you!
Tell us about yourself and your shop. Why did you open Babes in Arms? Is it hard juggling store ownership/entrepreneurship and family life?
Babes in Arms really just wanted to be opened. In 2006, when my daughter Neko was about 9 months old, I started thinking that it would be great if there were a place in town where parents could go to learn about baby carriers in person. I wasn’t looking to open a business but the idea wouldn’t leave me alone, and things just kept falling into place. By Neko’s second birthday in December 2007, Babes in Arms had opened its doors, specializing in babywearing, cloth diapering and natural parenting in general, with an eye on sustainability, local products and community.
Yes, I’m not going to lie, balance is always an issue. The store was first owned by myself and a partner, Melanie. Melanie left at the end of 2008 and my partner, Jaime and I have been a team ever since. In my opinion, doing this with a partner was the right choice – it allows us to split the tasks and decompress/commiserate over issues that come up. It’s also a bit like a baby – the intensity changes over the years. The initial phase of writing a business plan, setting up shop and getting the name out is not the same as riding the word of mouth and maintaining our product line, which is more the speed we are at now – though there is still always more to do than there are hours in the day! We are blessed to have a great name in the city now and with that comes more customers with whom to communicate and more frequent orders to complete.
That said, this truly is a family business, and it has become a part of not just Jaime’s and my identity, but also our husbands’ and kids’ identities.
Why did you decide to start offering classes at your store? And more importantly, why did you decide to start the zombie apocalypse parenting class?
We have offered babywearing and cloth diapering classes since very early in the store’s existence. This stems largely from the fact that we think of Babes in Arms less as a store that also offers information and product support, and more as an educational resource that happens to sell the products we most highly recommend.
I don’t know whether it’s because we are into sustainability, or because we are kind of hippies, or we just read too much (or maybe we’re psychic or just have a really great sense of humour), but we’ve noticed that aside from babies and parenting, one of the favourite topics of conversation among a lot of the staff members tends to be the apocalypse or societal shift. A specific few of us have spent so much time discussing, researching and preparing that we felt qualified to help others begin their journey to preparedness. We have also noticed that a lot of online prepping resources make unrealistic recommendations for parents of babies and young children (especially in ignoring things like babywearing, cloth diapers, elimination communication and breastfeeding in the way of emergency parenting tools). Last, but not least, it has been really fun to open up the prepping conversation with our customers – I’m sure your readers can relate to that little thrill you get when you learn that someone else is also thinking about these things!
Tell us about the zombie apocalypse parenting class. (After all, it’s why we’re here!) When did you start the class? How popular is it? Do you think you would ever offer the class online, so that those outside of Calgary (or Canada) can participate?
We started the class just this month. (See above for reasons.) The response has been great, though there are definitely some people who are completely thrown off by the zombie reference. We have held one class so far and it went really well! I believe participants left with an idea of where to start with their emergency kits and food and water storage, and feeling better about their options for staying warm in their home in the event of a winter power outage.
We have no plans at this point to offer the class online, but I am currently developing a printed companion to the class that goes into more depth on some of the optional topics such as foraging, fitness, canning and preserving, and bugging out, and includes full lists that people can use to create their emergency kits and bug-out bags. This printed booklet will be included in the class for all participants (they also get a copy of the Government of Canada’s Guide to 72-Hour Preparedness), but it will be available for separate purchase as well, including by mail order.
Are you a prepper, or do you just think it’s a good idea for people–especially parents–to be prepared for anything?
Both, to an extent. I wouldn’t say any of is a prepper in the “Git yer gun, they’re comin’ fer yer food!” sort of sense (we see a lot of that in online prepping communities), but nearly all of us at the store have a sense that things are shifting in the world, and that it’s prudent to be prepared for a variety of possible eventualities. Some of us have a fairly decent stockpile of food; others have a planned location to which they’ll retreat if things really get bad. But as far as the class is concerned, we have designed it to help prepare families – especially parents of babies and young children – for the most likely scenarios, such as power outage, blizzards, or everyday complications, as well as longer term, possibly less likely emergencies.
What do you think a post-apocalyptic (new) parent should have in their diaper bag?
Good question! Skills, mostly! And a good carrier (a woven wrap gives the most versatility and can be used as a sling for an injured arm, a hammock for a child to sleep on, part of a water filtration system, a towel, improvised clothing and more). We think that a new parent would be best served in any emergency situation if they are not completely reliant on convenience items (even if that is what they use on a regular day-to-day basis). For instance, knowing a bit about elimination communication, how to make improvised cloth diapers, and also having disposable diapers on hand covers your basis whether you have electricity and water or not; on foot or hunkering down; or civil services such as garbage collection have been interrupted indefinitely. Knowledge of extended breastfeeding (and the ability to do so) will serve not just a baby or older child’s nutritional needs, but also comfort them in times of stress, fill the need for a separate pacifier (because let’s be honest – those are hard enough to keep track of now, let alone while fighting off our future alien overlords), and cure an endless array of ailments via the magic of breastmilk. We recommend having lots of wool clothing, both light and heavy, for layering – for each member of the family.
How do you think parents will improvise in the post-apocalypse? There may not be any disposable diapers, washers or dryers, or baby formula–how will people adjust and survive? (I’m assuming a bleak post-apocalyptic future, here.)
Hmmm, bleak post-apocalyptic future. We have spent some time thinking about this. We’ve mostly thought, though, about how we would adapt, and how we can prepare now. I think that parents who rely completely on disposable diapers and formula and strollers will have a much tougher go of it – not meant to be a knock to those things at all, but when stores are empty, there’s no electricity, and the sidewalks and roads aren’t being cleared in the winter… well, you’d be well-served to be adaptable in your parenting practices. I know that the topic of breastfeeding can be fairly contentious, and to be clear, I am of the view that it’s a choice but that a vast amount more support is needed for moms who wish to breastfeed. That said, for parents who think there might be big changes around the bend, I would be working hard to establish breastfeeding and keep that relationship well-established to two years of age and even beyond. I won’t get into all the intricacies of the benefits of breastfeeding, but I will say that the nutritional and health benefits extend for as long as a child continues to nurse, and many of the benefits are quite surprising. Parents wishing to do more research can start by checking out a La Leche League meeting or visiting the KellyMom website. I even know moms who are prepared to relactate if we find ourselves in an apocalyptic situation, because of the lives it could save (babies who have been separated or orphaned, even nutritional or medicinal applications for any age). For parents with knowledge of how to wash diapers without electricity, homemade flat diapers may be the best option long-term, though knowledge of elimination communication would save a lot of laundry! (Char’s note: relactating moms would be great, because I, for one, could not breastfeed, no matter how hard–and how long–I tried. I just did not make enough milk. I know I’m not the only one affected by this fluke of an issue.)
What do you think the post-apocalyptic family will look like? How will children be raised? Do you think a survival group will come together and raise the children communally; or will it be like it is now, with children being raised by separate families?
I’m not sure about community structure – I have a feeling we’ll see all types. Some may form communes (it sounds like the best option to me!), some may isolate themselves out of paranoia, others may attempt to continue on with a social structure more like what we have now (best of luck to them!). Personally, I think that the post-apocalyptic family will look a lot like a pioneer family. Everybody will have to work hard to pull their weight, issues like co-sleeping and breastfeeding won’t be debated because they’ll be necessary for survival.
Let’s talk about the apocalypse for a moment. What does your apocalypse look like? Do you think a gradual societal or economic decline is more likely, or a sudden apocalyptic event? (Personally, I’m hoping for invading space pirates who may or may not be evil space monkeys. But that’s just me.)
I’m not opposed to the idea of space monkeys. Honestly, we really don’t know. Each of us would give a different answer. My co-teacher, Jen, and I both feel and hope that there will be a positive outcome, kind of a “restart” button, where things will be knocked back to almost nothing so we can rebuild them – rethink what economy means, rethink what community means, rethink how we live on the earth. I think that this probably means economic and social collapse, and personally I think we are well into that right now. We are teetering on the edge, in my opinion (that’s also my argument for naysayers that say “nothing is going to happen” – plenty has been happening for years!). I tend to think that a major event or any number of major events will push the US in particular over that brink – whether that is “The Big One” on the Pacific coast, the eruption of the Yellowstone volcano, civil unrest over the election or economy, the collapse of the US dollar due to continued quantitative easing, an EMP, alien invasion, or a variety of other exciting possibilities (she says, tongue firmly in cheek). So, short answer: the slow societal and economic decline are what we’ve been living for the past decade; bring on the sudden apocalyptic event and let’s get this party started! (Note: Babes in Arms does not mean to make light of large disasters nor any loss of life.)
What scares you the most about the future? (Societal, economic, long-term, or otherwise? Just the future in general, really.)
Being wrong – having a negative outcome instead of a positive rebuilding. Zombies. Gun-crazy preppers who think societal collapse means every person for themselves. Not having a yardlight when the coyotes get too close to the house. Being hungry. No wine. No coffee. No chocolate. No MP3s to have all-night dance parties in the living room. (See – these are the things we are working on provisions for. For instance – memorizing all the lyrics to our favourite dance songs so we can just have song-and-dance parties.)
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you, your store, or the class?
That we don’t normally admit this sort of thing to our customers? No, seriously though, we are just generally an awesome resource for anyone looking for information on babywearing and cloth diapering. We love to chat about these things and pragmatic parenting ideas in general. We welcome parents who need help with their carrier or cloth diapers, even if they didn’t buy them from us. And follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/babesinarms)!
Zombies or vampires?
Ugh. Zombies, for sure. Enough with the vampires! (Char’s note: OH HALLELUJAH!)
Well, those are all the questions I had this time around. Thanks for letting me pick your brain! (But not in a zombie-eating way.)

Be a zombie for pay!

It’s no secret that unemployment is high at the moment. But what would you say if you learned you could be a zombie for money? [1. unlike writing this article, which gained me no money at all. Come on, all I’m asking is for the CHANCE to be a whore for the advertisers.]
Holy fuck yes, am I right?
Well, you can.
Wish.co.uk, the people behind those ‘special experience days’ like driving a tank, are also behind the Zombie Mall and a new Zombie Manor House. Thanks to the amount of interest, they have decided to hold auditions for the role of ‘zombie’ at the Manor House.  In addition to competitive pay, new hires will also recieve movie-quality makeup and porsthetics to help them get into the role.
Richard Kershaw, co-founder of Wish.co.uk, said:
“Hundreds of zombie fans from around the world have contacted us begging for work. Given the huge demand for our Zombie Manor House, we’re inviting these people to audition in front of our expert panel to see if they have the right stuff.”
“Why settle for a dead end job, when you can apply for an undead end job instead?”
TheManor House itself is near Manchester, so it would probably be best if you live in the area (my personal feeling is that many Mancunians won’t need much in the way of makeup to look like a zombie). Auditions, however, are being held in London’s famous Pineapple Studio on the 28th of June, so you don’t have much time.
There are many ways to apply for the role, including posting a youtube video of yourself on their facebook page- but by far the quickest and easiest would be by clicking this link and following the instructions.
If getting a job as zombie isn’t your cup of tea, you can of course, book yourself an experience battling zombies there. All kit is provided. It costs £99 per person.

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.
 
 

POTENTIAL APOCALYPSE ALERT.

I come out of my self-imposed exile (caused by the fact that studying a degree, writing a book and looking for a job all take a shocking amount of time) to tell you about THIS.
A naked man has been shot dead after attempting to chew a homeless mans face off in Miami.
Now, I’m not trying to say this is the start of a Zombie Apocalypse, but… this is the start of a Zombie Apocalypse.
Continue reading “POTENTIAL APOCALYPSE ALERT.”

Canada prepares for the zombie apocalypse

Well, okay, the province of British Columbia is preparing for the zombie apocalypse. They’ve taken a page from the CDC’s book and have set up Zombie Preparedness Week. You know, so the citizens of B.C. can be good and ready for the zombie apocalypse. Also other disasters, like floods, earthquakes, and fires. But mostly zombies.
And just in case you’re wondering if the preparedness plan works, check out the post-zombie attack survivor’s blog here. Obviously this person isn’t from the lower mainland, because according to this map, Vancouver is toast.
I gotta admit, this is pretty cool. Now, if only Alberta would do something like this…
And for your viewing pleasure (because I’m nice like that), check out the video that Emergency Info B.C. put together. Be ye warned: it sounds like someone held Stephen Hawking at gunpoint to record this thing. And made him inhale some helium along the way.

 

Review: The Walking Dead – Episode One: A New Day

Episode One: A New Day definitely has places to be and paths to take you there but to say it’s on rails would be doing it a huge disservice. Maybe a choose your own action adventure on rails would be most accurate as it is most accurately not of any specific genre.

Episode One: A New Day of The Walking Dead[1. A copy of this game was provided for review by Telltale games.] is finally out and it has all kind of expectations to live up to. The comics, the show, and what’s current in action adventure gaming today. Telltale Games set out to please everyone and no one. For the game to be successful it must stand on its own but still make sense within the The Walking Dead universe.
We’re introduced to The Walking Dead universe in Episode One: A New Day at the kickoff of the zombie apocalypse rather than weeks in as we are at the start of the TV series.
Immediately, we’re introduced to our main character, Lee Everett[2. A black man in the back of a police cruiser. Le Sigh.] and we get to decide what kind of person he’s going to be based on how he completes conversations–or doesn’t.  Not saying anything is an option, it’s also the default when you time out.
See, in the story summary video below there are choices being made that bring to along to those places and those conversations–those outbursts aren’t standard. Lee rarely says anything without your consent.

The game definitely has places to be and paths to take you there but to say it’s on rails would be doing it a huge disservice. Maybe a choose your own action adventure on rails would be most accurate as it is most accurately not of any specific genre.
However, to get a bit more specific, Episode One: A New Day offers some first level game things that should be noted.

The gameplay mechanics of Episode One: A New Day:


As is to be expected from a choose your own action adventure on rails, the game quickly introduces the method for choosing. The method is pushing the button that corresponds with your choice.
If you have the hints on, you might be notified after making a choice that you’re now seen as a nice guy, or an asshole, or a sketchball. It depends on what you decide to say.
Conversation choices need to be made quickly (sort of) or you’ll be stuck with the default or your choice will be “silence.” Saying nothing can sometimes say a lot about you.
Action choices, while they need to be made quickly can also be left to inaction like saving This Guy, That Guy, or neither. Though often in action choices you must choose.
Objects also must be found to complete a number or scenarios… So maybe this is a choose your own action adventure puzzler on rails. Anyway, a small number or items are kept in your inventory to be used either on people or thing to either solve them or win them over.

The story of Episode One: A New Day:[3. Of course, I get a little butthurt about the black man being carted off to jail for murder as an introduction, though it’s heavily tempered by my happiness that a mainstream game is actually staring a person of color as a regular person rather than a shaman or witch doctor or gang member or rapper.]

I was immediately engaged in the story presented in Episode One. The officer in the car is transporting Lee to jail but doesn’t believe he’s truly guilty. Out the window you–you’re allowed to look around as much as a real neck would allow– might see shambling people, and car accidents.
Eventually, you hit a person (zombie) and it knocks the police car into a ditch. Sorting yourself out at the bottom of this ditch is where you sort out how to control the character, interact with your environment, kill stuff and really do all the basic tutorial stuff. Lee comes to grips with the fact that something terrible happened and people are all fucked up.
Making your way through a neighborhood, Lee finds a house and is charged with making a friend or three to eventually get himself out of the suburbs.
Lee’s murdering past comes up often as a kind of haunting character motivation piece. Thankfully there aren’t any flashbacks.

Overall Episode One: A New Day:


1. The art style is great. It’s not intended to be Mass Effect-real or straight up cartooney. There’s a great mix of comic art and animated effects. To me, it felt new and worked well with the game.
2. Nobody is perfect. I hated something about every character, which to me is good because it means they’re not trying to make super familiar likable characters. Everyone, felt really regular and realistic. I think they did a better job of humanizing characters than the TV show did[4. Sorry, can’t help but compare.]
3. Maybe because I’m a nerd and I love graphs and stats, but I was geeked to see the comparison at the end of the level about who made the same choices you did. Were you among the majority? Did other people stay silent when they could have spoke up?
It’s a great feature that ads a bit of perspective and community to an otherwise solitary experience.
4. It’s not as heavy as the chow or the comics. People die and impactful decisions need to be made but they don’t unsettle me. I feel like playing through some of the decisions  in the show and the comics would have been really difficult.
5. There can be a lot of hurry up and wait. It’s urgent to get to X or to do Y but you can spend eight years searching a room for the A or you have to talk to every singly person before you can progress. I don’t care about some people and their motives
6. In order button mashing is how you fight. So, a zombie attacks and the screen flashes “x” and you tap it and then it flashes “b” and you tap that and you can win, lose or not die but not really win. Personally, I like being in full control of a hit stuff button.
I’m having fun playing and so excited to find out what happens next in Episode Two.
[Rating:4.5]

Remember, the full five episode season of The Walking Dead for PC and Mac is available for purchase via the Telltale Games Store (http://www.telltalegames.com/store/) and other digital distribution outlets as a season pass for $24.99.  Once launched on Xbox 360, each episode will cost just 400 MS Points, and on PlayStation 3, each episode will cost just $4.99, or $19.99 as a season pass.