Archive | April 2012

What would you do if you only had 8 minutes?

magic 8 ball


Sometimes I like to check in on my life by asking myself “If I had just 8 minutes to get gone right now what would I do?” The thing is, as hard as we try, we can’t be prepared for TEOTWAWKI at every second of every day. The thing is, as hard as we try, we can only ‘prep’ for so much. We believe that challenging yourself to think through the worst case scenario not only keeps your mind active but is also essential to having a complete apocalypse-survival plan.

To help myself out when thinking through my 8-minute plans I take the a few precautions. I keep a single quart-size bag of supplies on my person at all times (I carry a big purse). Said bag contains: a 4ft length of twine, a fold of duct tape, a multi-use pocket tool, iodine tablets, several sizes of bandaids, matches, an emergency blanket, and pictures of my mother, my dog, and me and Kennedy. And yes, it all fits. I’m an excellent packer.

With that plastic bag in mind I do what I can to create an escape plan for every point in my weekly routine: When I’m on the bus, wandering the aisles at the grocery store, or sitting in the airport.

Another precaution that I like to take is, of course, skill gathering. And I’m not just talking survival skills – those are great but if you’re trying to be prepared to bug out at any second it also helps if you’re comfortable driving any kind of motorized vehicle you can get your hands on. It helps if you at least know the theory of a hot-wire. It helps to have a map of your area, for about a 50 mile radius, in your mind so you don’t get lost. Hell, it helps, to know how to negotiate.

So this week, this is what I challenge you to think about: Wherever you are, if you had just 8 minutes to act, 8 minutes to augment your supplies, 8 minutes to make your last phone call, 8  minutes to pick a direction, what would you do? Let us know.



Survivalist Technology Corner: Your Guide to Modern Survival Tools

While many people believe that technology has no place in a post-apocalyptic world Kennedy and I believe that, so long as it is useful, compact, and allows you to achieve a result you would not otherwise obtain, modern high-tech devices are transient. In this first edition of Survivalist Technology Corner I’ll introduce you to some affordable technologies that can be easily repurposed for survival. Whether you’re a tech-buff or an average-joe these devices have some truly compelling post-apocalyptic uses.

solar power chargerOne of the most common reasons people think that technology will not survive the apocalypse is because there’s no way to charge it. No electricity, no charging, no tech. Well, say “hello” to the ReVIVE Portable Solar Pack ($27.99). This light-weight and highly portable device allows the user to harness the sun’s natural energy via solar panel technology. The pack can then be used to power virtually any USB-conectable device that you have the cable for. While you’re unlikely to have tons of free time post-apocalypse you might find the idea of being able to keep a typed log of your experiences comforting or perhaps you’ll enjoy being able to escape into some of the books or movies handily stored on your tablet. Satellite connectivity aside (as you won’t have it), being able to cling, just a little, to the past may be more useful than you’d think.

Now let’s say that the world ends in a fiery explosion with particles blocking the sun or alternatively, that you live in a region where it’s occasionally unclear that you’d even be able to harness enough sunlight to charge your solar pack. In such situations the HQRP UV Meter ($4.99) can be used to determine the level of solar radiation you’re encountering at any given moment. Just hold it out and wait for it to light up! Not only is this nifty little device helpful for avoiding wasting any time waiting for your solar pack to charge in too little sun it may also help you to avoid exposure on sunny days. Use it to determine if you should take shelter to avoid sun burn or heat stroke.

Another risk facing everyone in the post-apocalyptic world is water sanitation. Contaminated water is one of the primary causes of premature death even today. In the Western world we may not have to deal with this reality too frequently but access to clean water is quite literally the difference between life and death. While there are many ways to purify water it’s difficult to say that you’d always have access to a fire for boiling or iodine drops for chemical purification. The SteriPEN Water Purifier ($59.33), a battery operated water purification system comes to the rescue. But wait? It’s battery operated, right? So you can’t use the solar pack to charge it! Well you’re right. But you can use the solar pack to charge these Sanyo Rechargeable Batteries with USB Charger ($16.21) which in turn can power the SteriPEN.

The final device I’d like to mention in this edition of Survivalist Technology Corner is the Franklin 16 Language Speaking Translator ($29.95) this easy to use pocket translator allows you to translate more than 800 emergency and conversational phases into any of 16 common languages. And IT will say them out loud for you. If you encounter roving survival parties and don’t know their language this device can help to avoid a serious misunderstanding. This device also comes equipped with an alarm clock if you need to arrange sleeping shifts and runs on a rechargeable battery.

So you see, given the proper precautions and planing ahead, technology certainly does have a place in the post-apocalyptic world. While we caution you not to go overboard (after all you still need to be able to carry everything) some of these devices are real life savers and should be considered when you’re building out your stock of survival gear.


Belize 2012: A Modern Mayan Experience

Photo source: Anoldent

Although Wren and I are not convinced the end of the Mayan calendar is the greatest apocalyptic threat facing mankind, we think it still makes for a good story. Apparently the Belize Tourism Broad agrees with us as it has chosen “Maya 2012” as the theme of its new tourism campaign.

Belize, which I was surprised to learn still has a small Mayan population, offers pristine beaches, untouched jungles, and the best diving this side of Australia. The Maya have been present in Belize since approximately 1500 BC and the country has several ancient temples for visitors to explore.  Some hotels and tour guides will also arrange a visit to one of the remaining Mayan communities, for those who are interested in getting a true understanding of the culture.

Or if you’re wondering how to make your wedding truly unique, you can participate in a group wedding celebrating Mayan culture on December 12 (12/12/12). While the packages for the bridal couple and wedding guests aren’t cheap, they are comparable to the price of an average wedding in the United States. What better way to spend the last nine days before the apocalypse than on your honeymoon? (Though the aftermath could be ugly, particularly if you forget your survival kit at home).

Those of us who won’t be making it to Belize in 2012 can only hope that the Mayans were wrong and the apocalypse holds off long enough for us to get a chance to visit. The Belize Tourism Board seems to think there will be a 2013 and is offering Maya 2012 passports valid for historic sites until December 21, 2013. Considering the entire campaign revolves around the Mayan calendar, that seems just a little cheeky to me.


Physical preparedness: your pre-apocalypse workout

Source: The Urban Athletica

A well-prepared survival kit is only going to get you so far in the post-apocalyptic world. Your fitness level will contribute just as much to your short-term survival chances, and will become even more important in the long run.

Surviving a catastrophic event and its aftermath is a full-time endeavor and the physical demands it will require should not be underestimated. While things like speed, strength, and flexibility are all important to your overall level of fitness, endurance is the key element to incorporate into your pre-apocalypse workout routine.

Why should you focus on endurance? Because if you’re anything like Wren and I, you work a 9-to-5 (or 8-to-6 in reality) desk job that doesn’t require any physical exertion. The post-apocalyptic world is most likely going to require you to be physically active for most of the day, every day, and our current lives don’t prepare us for this. Try this as a quick test: take some very basic gear (i.e., light backpack, water, a few snacks) and go walk around your city/town/etc for an entire day. Tiring? Now try that with your survival pack and see how far you get. And repeat it again the next day, when your muscles are screaming for mercy.

It’s easy to improve your level of endurance, but it requires time and dedication. Now is the perfect time to start, particularly for those of you who are in the Mayan camp. Here are a couple of quick tips to improve your endurance and overall fitness level, while keeping it interesting at the same time.

1) Don’t rush it. Rushing into any physical activity increases the risk of injury (and we do not recommend going into an apocalyptic situation while injured, if at all possible). If you’re beginning from a fairly sedentary lifestyle, start off slow with walks or bike rides around your neighborhood. Figure out how you can make your daily life more active – get off the bus a few stops early and walk, take the stairs, etc.

2) Get outside. While gyms are a lovely place to start (and sometimes a necessity during hot and humid summers), the apocalypse isn’t going to come with air conditioning. Regardless of whether you end up bugging in or out, I’m willing to bet there’s a 100% chance you’ll be spending a lot more time outside. Take advantage of the pre-disaster period to learn more about your local area by taking walks, hikes, bike rides, etc. In addition to increasing your fitness level, this will provide you with information critical in a disaster situation.

Once you’re comfortable walking or hiking for a few hours with the basics, test out your endurance with your bug out kit. Can you carry your survival gear for more than an hour or two without becoming completely exhausted? If not, you need to seriously consider how to lighten the load, increase your strength and endurance, or both.

3) Have something to work towards. The apocalypse is a rather amorphous concept and it can be difficult to find the motivation to prepare for something that lacks a deadline. Find other ways of motivating yourself by signing up for a 5K or other physical challenge. Wren and I recommend checking out the Warrior Dash, which we are both currently training for. It’s the perfect training course for the apocalypse, complete with crawling through mud, climbing over walls, working your way through abandoned cars, and jumping over fire. What more could you want from an obstacle course?



Now you too can experience the zombie apocalypse: How long would YOU survive?

Today I discovered something amazing. Typically I don’t put much stock in the whole zombie-eat-brains thing. I find the popularity of the zombie apocalypse amusing and I like to speculate on why people are so fascinated by zombies (I’m torn between it being an inadvertent comment on our pursuit to stand out from the crowd  or it being a more direct comment on the human quest for immortality and the attempts many of us make to evade death) but zombies aren’t really my thing. But what I discovered today was a zombie mall experience. Yes. A zombie mall experience. Read on for details.

*The below represents a more-or-less verbatim conversation between myself and Kennedy*

Wren: Dude. Oh my goddy-god there’s a zombie mall in the UK. We have to go!

Kennedy: Uhhhh…What?

Wren: A zombie mall. These guys bought an abandoned mall and then hired a bunch of actors and they run 3 hour zombie attack simulations. You get put on a team and there are a finite amount of resources and the actors are the zombies and you have to survive in the mall for 3 hrs with what’s been provided and you get to shoot zombies with like paintball guns or whatever. They create all different scenarios and IT’S SO COOOOOL!

Kennedy: *laughs* You really want to do this don’t you?

Wren: Yes! Of course I do! WE WILL ROCK THOSE ZOMBIES!

Kennedy: Well maybe we’ll go together sometime.

Wren: NO! We have to go NOW! Cause the mall is condemned and they don’t know how long they’ll be there. So let’s go immediately!

Kennedy: Right…you enjoy that, I’m going to Uganda. 

So you see, other than the fact that Kennedy won’t go to the zombie mall with me this has been an awesome discovery! And even though it’s unlikely that I’ll ever hit up the mall as I don’t fancy going to London during the olympics I am so sold on this and am officially looking for investors in my new Apocalypse Survival Scenario Training Center. Just FYI. Call me.

If anyone does get a chance to check out the zombie mall PLEASE call or email and tell me about it. Or better yet, take some video and post it then comment with the link. Informational video below! Oh, and I’m pretty sure I would survive this bi-atch. All 3 hours.


10 Flavors of the Apocalypse: The Mayan Calendar (Threat Level Turquoise)

Today I would like to introduce you all to our threat scale. The threat scale ranks threats to life-as-we-know-it on the below color scale according to the following factors: 45% Scientific/Academic Corroboration, 20%Consistency of Belief,  10% Understanding of Causation, 5% Proliferation of Belief, 5% Longevity of Belief, 5% Ability to Predict possible effects, 5% Likelihood of Occurring in Our Lifetimes, 5% Personal Opinion When Considering Other Possibilities. The event’s position on the scale indicates our overall belief in that event’s likelihood of occurrence.

This is where we rank the Mayan Apocalypse on the threat scale:

mayan apocalypse threat scale

Mayan Apocalypse: Not Likely

Not very high, right? Read on to find out why.

The primary reason why we do not see the Mayan Apocalypse as a significant threat to life-as-we-know-it is that the end-of-calendar = end-of-world theory has been continuously debunked, altered, and adjusted by academia. The inconsistencies, disagreements, and general naysaying indicates to us that it’s relatively unlikely that the “ending” of the mayan calendar has been correctly interpreted. Gerardo Aldana of the UC Santa Barbra recently published an article claiming that the GMT Constant (the never officially corroborated constant that has been used to scale the Mayan calendar to our Georgian calendar) may be off by as much as 50 to 100 years. Aldana’s process turned a critical eye, not on the archeologists, but on the astrologists and mathematicians that worked to produce the constant and called into question the variety of astrological maps that were used, again inconsistently, to develop the constant. Robert K. Sitler, another academic also claims that interpretations of the Mayan Calendar are incorrect and criticizes theorists on the grounds of grievous misinterpretation of Mayan culture. Even the likes of NASA have also challenged the validity of the Mayan calendar predicting the apocalypse on the basis that not only is the count wrong, but that the potential catalysts of  the Mayan are just unreasonable.

While the Mayan Apocalypse is very popular in terms of proliferation of belief, the inconsistencies in the theory and lack of understanding surrounding the calendar itself leads us to doubt its validity. Additionally, while lots of people have expressed concern that the apocalypse will occur on Dec 21st of this year very few people have believed this for long, or in fact, would even admit to more than a minor twinge of nerves when they think about it. One major factor in this lack of true belief is that, other than the assumption that the end of the calendar round signals an apocalyptical event, there are no firm beliefs regarding this event. No one really has a reasonable prediction of what kind of event will occur or what the effects will be. Makes it kind of hard to buy into in my opinion. Of course, if it does occur it will definitely happen in our lifetimes so full points there.

Which brings me to the final element of my evaluation: I just don’t buy it. It seems more likely to me, even as a doomsayer, that the Mayan Calendar, long as it is, simply represents one round (think of it like a century) of the Mayan perception of time. Maybe there’s another stone somewhere with the next set and we haven’t found it? Or maybe the Mayans said to themselves “now that’s far enough in the future, we’ll work on the next one in a bit” and never had a chance to finish. I just feel like it’s awfully presumptuous of the Western world to assume they know what was going through the minds of people they never even had the opportunity to meet. Hell, there’s a chance that the Mayans that the conquistadors met aren’t even representative of the ancestors that gave us the Mayan Calendar in the first place. Do you think that the people who existed at the founding of the United States are representative of us today? I don’t. They even conceptualized the whole country differently than we do today (think federation vs republic). So no, I don’t believe in THIS flavor of apocalypse.

So that’s how we arrived at the above ranking. Mayan Apocalypse on Dec 21st 2012? Not likely. Possible none-the-less? Eh, the believer in me will give it a pass – it’s not impossible. Please comment with your opinion on the Mayan Apocalypse! Happy to hear more perspectives!


Why the 1% will survive the apocalypse

Source: Daily Mail

Unlike worrying about being late for their private jets, surviving the apocalypse is not a concern for the super-wealthy. If you happen to have a spare $1 million lying around, you too can survive the end of the world in style in a half-floor, luxury underground condo in Kansas.

The retrofitted Cold War missile silo extends 174 feet underground and contains 14 separate floors of living space and amenities. A state-of-the-art security system and 9-feet thick concrete walls put any worries about intruders at ease. Not to mention that the silo was build to withstand an atomic blast.

According to the AFP, “complex life support systems” will allow the silo’s residents to continue their daily routines from their subterranean haven. A school and medical center will be in operation whenever the silo is in “lockdown mode”, and multiple energy sources, including windmills and generators, will provide power to the complex. An indoor farm coupled with stockpiled goods is expected to feed 70 people for approximately five years and clean water will be stored in giant underground tanks.

For those skeptical about placing a million dollar bet on the end of the world (or $2 million, if you’d like an entire floor to yourself), silo owner Larry Hall provides a prime example of the condos’ utility. Hall owns a unit himself, which he is currently using as a summer home. With space for a pool, library and movie theatre – not to mention electronic “windows” that can show any number of scenes from Paris to the wilderness of Siberia – the condos also provide a great conversation topic for those billionaires tired of discussing the Hamptons.

Perhaps it’s just the claustrophobic in me (not to mention the obvious lack of cash), but the idea of spending several years, if not the rest of my life, underground is not an ideal solution. While the notion of sipping fine wines safe in a concrete bunker as the rest of humanity deals with the fallout from a nuclear war may sound attractive to some, I don’t think I would be able to cope with the eventual mental stress of living in a confined underground environment (yes, I am really claustrophobic) with a very limited number of individuals for company.

Although they appear to be an ideal solution for those who can afford them, owning an apocalypse luxury condo is not sufficient preparation for surviving a doomsday event. The mental toughness required to get through such a scenario is an oft-underrated element of the survival kit. It’s not something that can be dealt with or outsourced to a condo developer, but a skill that must be carefully cultivated over time (Wren and I will return to this topic in a later post).

Finally, I’d say there’s a good chance most of the condo owners won’t be in Kansas when the apocalypse strikes. Multiple transportation plans that have been coordinated with the condo developer would be required to address this issue, in addition to an extensive survival plan in case it is not possible to “bug out”. So don’t fret, the rest of you 99 percenters. We have as good a shot as any at surviving with the billionaires of silo-ville.