sign them up for a marathon

I was not a huge fan of the book, so maybe it is just as well the movie’s only point of similarity appears to be its title:

Of course, the movie goes with freakishly hyper-fast zombies, whereas the books featured the standard shamblers… I cannot say as though I have ever been a huge proponent of the former position. I mean, unless we are going to the 28 Days Later theory, "zombies" are functionally dead, with the majority of their bodily functions shut off. As such, wounds will heal slower, if at all, infections will win, swelling and necrosis will set in, and things will just start breaking down. If it is winter, you will probably end up with zombsicles, and if it is the summer, especially around the equator, you are going to have steaming puddles of goo and one hell of a smell.

But zombies as a persistent threat? Unless we are talking about certain parts of the world, or we buy into the Newsflesh theory that all humans are already infected and just waiting for exposure to the live virus and/or death for the bug to take over, I am just not seeing it. Oh, sure, a zombie break-out would pretty much be an apocalyptic event, if only because people are stupid, but the movie seems to focus more on that collapse, and less on the aftermath, which is what the book really pursued. Of course, that aftermath did not exactly make for riveting reading, which means the producers probably made the right call.

*shrug* Honestly, I am more looking forward to this one:

(Videos should work now. Apparently when scheduling posts for the future (which I was doing for the Christmas holiday period, since we were and are out of town), WordPress just arbitrarily deletes / breaks the YouTube embed code for videos. Wierd.)

shark? what shark?

While Christmas shopping recently, Better Half discovered that Amazon has a dedicated, actual, honest-to-God storefront named Zombie Apocalypse Supplies.

No, really:

Amazon_helpfulhint

This store has such categories as "Brain Protection" and "Duct Tape".

I might be at a loss for words.

efoods direct, creamy potato soup – a review

IMG_4764-001So almost three months ago, eFoods Direct sent me three packages of their dehydrated survival / preparedness / emergency food, and, honestly, thanks to our chaotic schedules, needing to make leftovers for work lunches, and various other problems, we have only had a chance to eat just one of the packages – their creamy potato soup (and, in honesty, that was about a month ago… never enough time to write what I want these days).

IMG_4768-001To begin with, preparation was stupidly simple; like "caveman" levels of simple: boil 4.5 cups of water in a pot, empty the package of dehydrated stuff into the pot, keep boiling (covered for thin soup, uncovered for thicker) for 12-15 minutes, let sit for five minutes, eat. Granted, all of this is predicated on the ability to boil water and a pot to do so in (which seems to be the primary shortcoming of dehydrated versus freeze-dried food), but if you do not plan that into your disaster preparedness, you are doing something wrong.

IMG_4766-001One thing that stood out to me as I poured in the mix, however, was that there were discernible chunks of matter in there; the entire thing was not ground up into powder and left at that, and the chunks stuck around during the cooking process as well. This is not exactly Campbell’s Chunky or something, but it sure beats the no-texture glop served on ships and in school cafeterias around the world.

IMG_4772-001And taste-wise, honestly, it was not all that bad. Sure, that might sound like damning with faint praise, but I really prefer strong, pungent, reach-up-and-slap you flavors in my food (to the point of employing ghost pepper powder in my cooking), and no dehydrated anything is going to be able to manage that. However, throw some salt and pepper on the finished product and I dare say this stuff would beat your average, Mk1 Mod0 canned soup competitor while weighing less in packaging and taking up less space. But let us be honest with one another – something that comes out of a bag and has to be reconstituted in boiling water is never really going to be measure up against fresh ingredients put together on the spot. But that is not the point; this stuff is ready to go in 15 minutes with almost no materials and few tools, fresh stuff cannot easily claim that, especially with the difficultly of keeping fresh materials on-hand. 

IMG_4790-001Add in some cooked bacon and frozen veggies, though, and you have yourself the fixings for a fairly decent soup indeed (aside from the "bacon makes everything better" obviousness).

IMG_4765-001It is important to remember that these soups, however, do not constitute anywhere near a complete meal, what with their 130 calories per serving, and eFoods Direct is fairly forthright about that, putting them in a separate category from their "entrees". However, as a side dish, they function just fine, and we were able to get four acceptable bowls of soup out of the package, as advertised.

So, in summation, no, this stuff is not equivalent to the more-solid-than-not soups your grandmother used to make when white stuff was on the ground outside, but when the lights go out – whether it is for a hurricane or a zombie apocalypse – this is a lot easier to prepare, and you might actually enjoy eating it. 

(Obligatory Middle Finger to the FTC: Yes, eFoods Direct sent me these packages of dehydrated food with the understanding that I would review them; however, no requirement as to the nature of the review was posited or set. If the food had sucked, I would have said so, simply because I believe in being honest to my readers. See, we do not really need officious government bureaucrats like you, do we?) 

mainstreaming survivalism

Despite still being painted as a “fringe” aspect of our society comprised of nothing more than loony-bin candidates who somehow escaped psychological “assistance”, the whole concept of “survivalism” and “prepping” has understandably caught on amongst the American people, with even the CDC jumping onboard the zombie bandwagon in order to encourage people to keep basic supplies in their homes. Because, really, if you are ready for the zombie apocalypse, a hurricane is just a storm.

However, being that this is a firearm-related weblog, and being that most of my readers are at least obliquely involved in the firearm-shooting sports, you all probably notice what is missing from most survival / prepper / bug-out bag lists and suggestions, with the CDC’s list being no different (though arguably the worst offender, given the motivation for that list); yup, you guessed it – firearms. In a “your life depends on it” scenario, firearms can not only be used for self-defense and hunting purposes, but also signaling, starting fires (if you happen to have a knife/pliers handy), and other potentially very important tasks.

In the end, guns are tools, and if a tool has the possibility of increasing my family’s life expectancy, you can bet your ass I am going to employ it.

So given the history of survival-related lists from major sources in the past, you can imagine my pleasant surprise at Uncrate’s Bug-Out Bag , complete with a Mossberg 500, birdshot and buckshot, a H&K P2000 handgun, and the appropriate 9mm ammunition. I might disagree with their choice of firearms (personally, I would have either gone with a 9mm carbine and 9mm pistol sharing magazines, a .22 rifle and a 9mm pistol, or a .357/.38 lever-action rifle and revolver chambered for the same), and I completely disagree with their choice of holsters*, but the fact that those tools were included at all does wonders for the normalization of the lawful use of firearms in our society.

Obviously, I do not think everyone should have to have a firearm in their bug-out bag or preparedness gear – if someone is not going to train or practice with the firearm, it is going to be less than useless for them when the time comes that they actually have to use it. Guns are not talismans, they are tools, and like any other tool, you have to know how to use it. However, I agree that any such kit would be incomplete without some nature of firearm, and I applaud Uncrate for getting people to think about that.

(* – I actually wrote them an email about that holster… While firearms are a matter of personal taste and situational requirements, in that what may work in one environment may not work in another environment, “universal” nylon fabric holsters are almost universally bad. The last thing you want is your sidearm flopping around, or, worse, flopping out of its holster, and if you are going to carry around $400+ in silver coins, you can bloody well afford a fitted, functional holster. By the same token, you can afford a sling for the shotgun – or whatever your long gun is – but I forgot to mention that in the email.)

pray for armless zombies

By and large, electric vehicles are an insufficient replacement for most people’s primary forms of conveyance. A lot of people will not like that statement, but it is true. However, I am glad to see that some innovators are willing to take that reality as a starting point, and work around it:

Like the Toyota Supra Mk IV, the EV-1 was a car loved by some but ultimately too expensive for massive market acceptance. With that cautionary tale in mind, we are in the process of designing and building the cheapest street legal car in America: the 100% electric ApocalypsEV.

[…]

Our primary goal is creating a vehicle tough enough for an apocalypse, but cheap enough for people to buy using the budget they normally reserve for power toys like boats, ATVs or motorcycles. By combining solar boost charging with cheap plug in charging and low maintenance costs, we plan to make the ApocalypsEV the most affordable vehicle to buy and operate in America.

Ok, yeah, I will grant that it is basically scant more than an intelligently-designed golf cart, and I will further admit that the zombie-niche advertising caught my attention like those kinds of things are wont to do, but the guys behind this product are right – until such time as electric vehicles can be quantified as a worthwhile toy by the masses, they will be nothing more than a flight of fancy for the rich. But if you can make a light, safe, easy-to-drive, road-legal vehicle that can get some/most people to work, the grocery store, and back home again, have it fully recharge overnight at a standard wall receptacle, and keep its pricepoint in the “motorcycle” range, I can guarantee you it will sell.

But, instead, we are faced with, as Michael and Kenny Ham said,

Historically, electric car companies have tried to sell the public the equivalent of the Mustang GT500, the absolute top of the line model with a price tag to match. The Nissan Leaf is a good example of this problem. Incentives aside, Nissan sells the Leaf for $30k on the same lot as the similarly sized, $11k Versa. That $19k buys a lot of gas, approximately 150,000 miles worth. The value isn’t there.

Yeah, the Leaf is pretty slick – you tell it when you are coming back to it, and it starts up its A/C / heat so the cabin is cool / warm by the time you get there. It sends you text messages to let you know its charging status while it is plugged in. Its interior has all of the bells, whistles, and whatnots people expect out of cars today (Including things they might not, including a heated steering wheel. Have we grown so soft?). But good God the price. Score yourself a VW Jetta TDI, and be able to cruise for 700+ miles on a single tank of gas, and you would still have enough money left over to feed it for somewhere north of a hundred fillups… and visit family more than 100 miles away.

But what if your EV was not your primary car, and did not have a price like your primary car? That is what the brothers are hoping to explore… with some funding assistance from you, of course:

ApocalypsEV-1 is an EV that is both street legal and off-road capable. The question is whether it will prove to be usable, which is why we need to build ApocalypsEV-1 as a test mule. If it proves usable, our ultimate goal is to create a company which offers a $5-8k (base price) EV, that can be plugged in or use built in solar to charge its battery pack. At this price, people can afford an ApocalypsEV-1 as a second car for short commutes, errands, and off-road fun.

Now, I have some pretty significant doubts/reservations about this particular project (Specifically: the hope that they do not make that solar panel mandatory on all builds, given its diminutive size; it continues to be scant more than a glorified golf cart; and, really, an open-framed 40HP scooter for the zombie apocalypse? Uh, no.), but I think they are headed in the right direction. Arcimoto could have been the right direction, but they are still focused too much on replacing the existing cars we have, rather than supplementing them.

The future of electric vehicles is promising, but I worry about how much people are expecting out of them in the present… in any case, I keep waiting for an affordable borderline-toy I can secure that would be cheaper to slum around town in than a V-8 Mustang or a four-door Volvo…

(As any aside, does anyone have any experience with these crowd-source sites like “IndieGOGO”? I assume there are no guarantees offered and so forth?)

(You can read more about the ApocalypsEV-1 in Popular Mechanics.)