2/24/2010

What Mad Max Can Teach Us (Part 2 The Road Warrior

The Road Warrior for me is the best of the three Mad Max movies, it also can teach us some valuable lessons for what the world will be like in the immediate aftermath of the apocalypse. The story of The Road Warrior takes place approximately five years after the events of Mad Max where Max, broken and having lost everything leaves the dying embers of civilization behind him as he ventures into the wasteland and the unknown.

The first thing the movie can teach us is that no matter how things come to an end, the cities that most of us live in won’t be suitable to live in anymore. Once the oil, electricity, and water stop pumping into your home you won’t be able to live there, unless you have access to fresh water and land to farm. The decay will almost start immediately. People will be wandering looking for a new home and place to start over again. This will also be the most difficult time after the apocalypse, as survivors fight for the scraps of what’s left or new land to call their own. There is no set time line for this transition period, depending on how things go down and the level of destruction it could be a matter of a few weeks, to years.

This brings me to my second point, the oil refinery that Max discovers has been surrounded by a biker gang led by The Humungous, a hockey mask wearing psycho bent on destruction. As the new lines are being drawn those with the ability to group together large bands of survivors will use them to get what they want, most likely through violence. If this sounds far fetched go back to your school days when you had to fend of bullies trying to steal your lunch money. This will be the new law of the land. Those with the means will exert their control on whoever they want, and their won’t be any repercussions to them.

Isolation will be a brand new experience for the survivors, something those trying to make it in that refinery would have known all to well. We exist in a world of constant interaction via the internet, TV, and other forms of media. Every year with new tech for phones and Ipod’s as well as faster smarter computers the space between us shrinks. Now imagine suddenly that everything is turned off, no phone no internet, no TV, you go from fully wired to flat line in a short period of time. Back in the 80’s when The Road Warrior was made this wouldn’t have been much of a problem, today however expect a dramatic increase in suicide, depression and nervous breakdowns from those that survive. For the first time in many of our lives we will feel truly alone.

Also Max shows us that eating dog food is part of a balanced breakfast.

Mad Max Tribute - Motorhead - Ace of Spades
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What Can Mad Max Teach Us (Part 1 Mad Max)

Of all the post apocalypse movies made or to be made the Mad Max movies are the most well known. These movies have put the Australian film industry on the map, and made Mel Gibson a household name. They have been copied imitated and referenced in dozens of movies video games and pop culture. But what can these movies teach us about survival in a post apocacalyptic world?

The Beginning Of The End

In Mad Max things haven’t been destroyed, just yet but they are on the razors edge of it. The cause of the apocalypse in the movies is from the lack of resources primarily oil that leads to nuclear war and devastation. This is something that all of us should take a good hard look at considering how quickly we are consuming the resources of this planet. Governments around the globe are already carving up the map for the next major war, a war not of ideas but to secure water, farm land and that ever so important oil.

Lack Of Authority

As things are crumbling those that have been entrusted to protect us will have an increasingly harder job. Mobs and gangs will emerge, at first to loot stores and steal supplies, and later to carve up their own territory. In Mad Max the gangs are taking control of the roads choking off and terrorizing those on it. This isn’t too far off from armed gangs taking to the streets either in cities or towns and taking control. The police and military will have so many fires to put out and not nearly enough man power to be truly effective. Eventually their numbers will dwindle, most will die, others will desert. The next time you watch Mad Max take a closer look at the police station, you probably never paid much attention to the number of empty desks, and all the paper that’s thrown about, it’s a clear sign of a lack of morale and man power.

Ignorance Is Bliss

Even though things are falling apart many people will go about their day to day business right up until their face to face with a mushroom cloud. This is going to be a major shock to their system, and many simply won’t be able to cope, after all how many of us are prepared to live without Xbox, mac and cheese, internet porn, or even soap for the rest of our lives. This is shown throughout most of the movie, people are at diners, going to clubs and doing normal day to day things despite the fact that things are going down the toilet at mach speed.

2/21/2010

Will There Be Cars

I’ve read dozens of blogs and websites and all talk about their ideal post apocalypse vehicle. Some have their top favourites, or a list of fantasy vehicles they dream of having to scour the wasteland in search of fuel. But will there still be vehicles you can drive after the apocalypse and for how long?

Depending on how things go down will determine how many functioning cars will be left at the start of things. In the event of a nuclear war there will be very few cars left. Anything near a big city will either have had its electrical systems permanently fried, or destroyed in the blast. This will only leave whatever cars were on the highway or in towns that were far enough from cities not to have been a target. If it was a pandemic, you pretty much have you’re pick of whatever you want.

How much fuel will be left is the next question. Even in the event of a nuclear attack there will be plenty to go round as long as you know where to get it. Refineries are not targets for nukes, unless a terrorist decides to use a dirty bomb to blow one up. Many will be untouched and if the survivors are able to keep it powered and have a general idea of how everything works, there’s no reason they couldn’t keep it running for years after. These refineries may even be the foundation for whatever new civilization emerges from the ruins. Think of the Road Warrior for example. If the survivors in the refinery hadn’t been terrorized by The Humongous and his gang that refinery would have eventually become a town and a major trading center.

Even if all the refineries, off shore oil platforms, oil derricks, and thousands of miles of pipeline are all wiped out, there will be those who find other ways to power cars. Methane and alcohol powered cars are a reality. With the right knowledge a car can be converted to use these alternative fuels. Plus there will be all those abandoned cars along the side of the road, especially on the highways near the ruined cities where you can “borrow” gas. Just remember to bring lots of mints because gas tastes terrible.

Now there’s the question of spare parts, everything from tires to those much coveted fuzzy dice will eventually need to be repaired and replaced. The immediate though temporary solution to this is to cannibalize other cars for their parts. This is what the military does when they buy a new vehicle. They essentially have two fleets of vehicles, one that is operational, and a second that is used as parts. This saves the military money on their annual budget from having to spend money on contracts with defence companies.

Of course this is just a short term solution, eventually after a few years you’re going to need to start making replacement parts from scratch or entire vehicles. Sounds impossible right? Wrong how do you think the Ford Model T was built, by hand? Acquiring the people who have the knowledge to build machined parts from scratch will be the real challenge, but there are people out there who have that knowledge

2/20/2010

5 Improvised Weapons You Can Use Until You Can Get A Gun

During the initial chaos of the collapse of society most of the population will be caught off guard and unarmed. In the panic people will turn on each other to get the supplies they need to stay alive. If you don’t have access beforehand to a firearm, getting one may be tough. Being unarmed may prove fatal, so what do you do? You need to find something you can use in a punch as a temporary weapon until you can get you’re hands on a firearm or other suitable weapon such as an axe or crossbow.

1. Bic Pen

Anyone who has seen the Bourne identity will know about the fight seen near the end where Matt Damon’s character stabs his enemy repeatedly with a ballpoint pen. Sure in the movie the bad guy didn’t go down, remember its Hollywood after all. Using a pen as a temporary knife will work in the short term. You may not be able to kill you’re opponent but you will certainly make them think twice. Every house should have dozens of these lying around in desk drawers.

2. Frying Pan

A cast iron frying pan not only helps you cook bacon it makes a decent blunt object to strike down a would be attacker. It also offers some protection with its wide surface against attacks (Except guns of course). Cast iron pans may be a little hard to find but in a hurry even the lighter versions will work, though only for one or two uses before needing to be replaced.

3. Hockey Stick

He shoots, he scores, on your face. A hockey stick offers you a ranged attack as well as being lightweight and sturdy enough to withstand several blows (Depending on condition of course) The disadvantage to this choice of weapon is that apart from Canada and Europe hockey sticks will be hard to come by.

4. Rolling Pin

Weather it’s wood or stone a rolling pin is an excellent choice for a temporary weapon. They are generally heavy enough for a killer blow. And in between bashing heads you can make some cookies.

5. The Home-Made Spear

Got a broom handle? Perhaps a sharp kitchen knife and some duct tape? If yes you can combine the three to make a crude yet effective spear. When selecting a knife use the strongest sharpest one available. If you have two or three good knives, use them as well. The broomstick handle should be made of wood or metal not plastic; it’ll just be too weak to handle the strain.

These are just a few simple ideas of things you can do in a pinch. You’re only limited by your imagination. Don’t be afraid to use things like cleaning supplies, or even take apart some of the plumbing to make a weapon. After the apocalypse you’re going to need every advantage you can get, and thinking on your feet and being creative will help keep you and your loved ones safe and alive at the end of the day.

2/17/2010

Fallout New Vegas

Normally I talk about post apocalypse survival on this blog but this is something that I feel I need to share. If you've played Fallout 3 or it's earlier versions of the series you understand just how amazing these games are. Now finally after much rumour Fallout New Vegas will be released in the fall of 2010.

As for details at this stage there are few Bethesda Softworks is keeping a tight lip to the story line or what to expect in this new game. From the rumours that I've seen it looks as if the game will resemble Fallout 3 in style and game play but more polished. Once new details come out I'll have them posted for you on this blog. In the meantime check out the trailer.

2/11/2010

Okay So Now What

Here’s the good news you’re alive, here’s the bad this is just the beginning. You managed to get out of the city without too much trouble (Trouble being a relative term) and hopefully without any extra speed holes (No they don’t make you run faster either) But what do you do know? Where do you go and how do you go about doing it?

Plan Your Route

The last thing you want to do is just wander aimless without any sliver of a plan. Before you decided to leave you’re home you need to think of a destination that will be you’re focus in the documentary After Armageddon (Follow this link below if you want to watch it)

http://www.therazors-edge.com/after_amageddon_survival_video.html

Remember to also plan not just what you’re destination will be but how you’re going to get their. In the video the family decides to travel inland through a desert region and almost die from it. Sticking closer to the coast would run a higher chance of running into other people, but the payoff would be a cooler climate that saves you both on water and possibly your vehicle from overheating. Another thing the video doesn’t cover is hyperthermia. This is the exact opposite of hypothermia where the body can’t cool itself off, and like hypothermia you can die from it.

Day Or Night

One option to deal with the potential threat of running into hostiles is to travel at night. Travelling at night also has the bonus of allowing you to hear sounds from farther away by simply opening your mouth a little and it helps keep your body from over heating. The downside is that the human eye can’t see nearly as well at night then during the day increasing the chance of injury. If you smoke you might want to take up chewing tobacco or going smoke free at night. Someone with a thermal sight can spot the cherry of cigarette miles away (It’s something a sniper can zoom in on very well) From previous experience a decent thermal sight can spot body heat from about 2 to 3 miles away, a lit cigarette I was able to spot about 10 miles away.

Stay Off The Beaten Path

Try to plan your route to use as many back roads or side roads as possible, remember the goal is to avoid people, but also these roads will most likely be clear of abandoned cars or road blocks. These obstructions are also excellent places to set up an ambush. Try to keep to the high ground as much as possible, but also use what’s called “dead ground” or the sections of ground that are lower like the base of hills to get from one point to the next. This will allow you to remain unseen and sneak past any hostiles. Or you can use this ground to get the upper hand to sneak up on them.

Time For A Fill Up

Chances are good that the majority of the gas stations or truck stops you run into are going to be looted, unless of course you’re out in the middle of nowhere. So where do you get the fuel and supplies you need, the obvious first choice would be abandoned cars. Another often overlooked source of potential supplies is campgrounds or road side rest stops. There’s usually a building that houses tools and possibly fuel for lawnmowers, chainsaws, or weed whackers. Tourist stops may have a basic gift shop that has water or some type of food. Depending on the time of year campgrounds will also be full of RV’s which are packed with all the marshmallows and hotdogs you could ever want. They also provide a relatively safe place to rest as well.

Have A Plan B C And D
If you find that your destination of choice is an irradiated cease pool full of mutants always have an alternative place to travel to, and a few others to choose from after that if choice number two turns out to be no better then the first. If all your choice destinations turn out to be duds, well theirs always Mexico.

What Would MacGyver Do

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box, either in terms of getting transportation or finding food and supplies. Find books on local edible plants and berries catch rodents or even stray dogs. Even road kill as gross as it sounds can still be edible if it hasn’t been dead for long. If your car runs out of gas use alcohol, it may not run as smooth after but it will run and that’s what’s important. And remember to search the dead for any useful items such as ammo.

And the most important thing as always is trust your instincts, and never let you’re guard down.

2/06/2010

Riding Out The Storm Part 3 (The Great Escape)

Now has come the time to get out of the city, either food is getting low or the situation is becoming more dangerous, you need to escape. Staying in the city is a death trap; fires, gangs, and the decay of the dead are more then enough reasons to head to the countryside. But it won’t be as simple as jumping in your car and driving down the highway, you need to plan and you need to be prepared, here’s how.

Know The City

First off look at a map of the city you live in, all those major freeways, highways, and other major roads in and out of town will be blocked. If it was a pandemic expect to see military checkpoints in an attempt to quarantine the city. If it was a nuclear strike cars that have been rendered useless from a HEMP strike (High Altitude Electro-Magnetic Pulse or EMP for short)

When planning your escape look for “range roads” or small country roads that are on the outskirts of many cities (An example of this would be Edmonton Alberta Canada which has dozens of these roads, either dirt or paved that can lead in and out of the city and are rarely used. Now not all cities will have this but there should be roads of some sort that will lead out of the city.

Pack Supplies

Don’t wait until you are completely out of food and water before you decide it’s time to go. You don’t know what lies outside of your immediate area. Don’t depend on pre apocalypse knowledge that a 7-11 is here and a Starbucks is down the road that sells those muffins you like. They may still be there but looted and gutted. Keep enough supplies for the trip for at least a week. Any spare parts gas, oil and anything else you think you might need should also be packed and ready to go. If you’re worried that your car will be broken into keep the supplies packed in one location that is easy to grab if in a hurry. Think of it as a bug out bag for your car.

Be Invisible

The last thing you want to at this point is to attract unwanted attention to yourself. At this stage your probably armed with nothing more then a kitchen knife, trust me this won’t do any good in a gunfight.
You want any potential hostiles to “look over” you as if you’re just another part of the landscape. Don’t make eye contact or make any sudden gestures or movements that could be misinterpreted by others.

Go With Your Gut

If you ignore every thing I’ve written as B.S don’t ignore this. Your gut or instinct is the most powerful sense you have, the majority of the time if you get an odd feeling or a little voice in your head that says “This isn’t right” go with it. If you see something whatever it is, if it doesn’t feel 100 percent right no matter how innocent or right it may look its wrong, THIS WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE.

If you follow those simple steps and keep your head and wits about you, you should be able to escape the city with little trouble, of course there is never a guarantee that you won’t run into problems but your odds are at least good enough to give you a fighting chance if you listen to what I’ve written.

2/04/2010

Riding Out The Storm Part 2 (Homes)

Like in the previous post homes have their own unique advantages, disadvantages and challenges to deal with when you’re forced to wait out the collapse. Unlike an apartment or condo that is very similar to one another for their layout, no two houses are exactly the same. Even newer homes built in massive suburbs where only a few styles are built obtain their own characteristics after a couple years from renovations or landscaping. They can range in size from multi million dollar mansions on a hill to a tiny one room shack beside a swamp. Because of this no two homes will have the same exact same strategy for those who are staying in them to ride out the apocalypse.

Advantages And Disadvantages

Most houses have two major advantages. The first is that their either located outside of a cities downtown core, or not in a city at all such as homes located on farms for example. In the event of a nuclear attack, the distance from a city that’s a target will allow you to take cover from the blast and initial radiation. The other major advantage is that many homes have basements, this allows for extra food and supply storage as well as a shelter. While many apartment buildings have underground parking, you have to climb down many flights of stairs to get to them, most also require a key just to get in the stairwell which is something you may forget in a panic.

As for the disadvantages houses have a few big ones. For starters houses located in suburbs are going to be surrounded by other people, in the event of a pandemic you’re going to be right in the middle of it. Unlike an apartment that can be isolated from people by it’s height a house is stuck on the ground making it an easier target for looters, this is especially true of homes in rich neighbourhoods which will be a magnet for thieves. Your going to be up close and personnel to all the horrors that will happen during the initial collapse, even if your in the basement or attic your still going to hear what’s going on outside. You’re going to have easier access to your car to escape, but you’re still going to have to deal with all the major roads being clogged with abandoned cars and barricades.

Homes are also going to be harder to defend from hostiles, in an apartment building there is really only one way they can get in and that’s through the door of your suite. In a house there’s not only the front door, but the back door, windows, sliding glass door, basement windows, or even through a wall. Rather then trying to defend the entire house, have a fall back point in the strongest part of the house that you can defend from.

Supplies

For food, water, and all other necessities a house will provide you with a huge amount of storage space, allowing you to stay for a few months easily. You’ll need that extra space considering most homes in suburbs are located some distance from major stores. This is especially true for homes in rural environments where the nearest store can be an hour or longer drive to get to. So with the usual supplies such as canned food and a first aid kit you should add gas as an item you’ll need to store. Unless you own an electric lawn mower you probably already have a few litres of gas in the garage or tool shed, of course if your vehicle uses diesel this won’t be much good for you unless your steal a car that runs on gas.

2/03/2010

Riding Out The Storm Part 1 (Apartment Building)

I’ve seen a lot of survival tips for how to prepare against a natural disaster or the apocalypse that involves homes, but I’ve never seen one that talks about what you can do or the advantages and disadvantages of holding up in an apartment building during the apocalypse. Obviously this is not a location that you want to be in during a nuclear strike, but what if the apocalypse is a pandemic or an economic collapse, what would staying in an apartment building be like.

There are several advantages of holding up in an apartment building or condo, for starters is the view of the surrounding city terrain. If you have access to an entire floor you get a 360 degree of your surroundings. The height of these buildings will also offer a range boost to any radio equipment, especially in cities where the steel and buildings can play havoc with signals, especially ones such as GPS or satellite phones. You also have access (If you’re alone) of all the cars stored underground and supplies left behind in the building.

As for disadvantages you’re limited in your options for an escape route if hostiles have decided to enter the building. You either have the stairwell since the elevator will be down, or you can attempt to climb down from the balcony if you have one. Any cars stored underground will be behind locked gates, and without power will remain locked unless you can pry or pull them off their hinges. The other major disadvantage is fire. After the collapse cities will be especially vulnerable to fires that will easily engulf whole sections of the city. If your building catches fire you might not have a way to escape.

Sound may also work against you. If hostiles do enter the apartment. Most apartment and condo buildings tend to easily bounce sound around from one suite to the next (I can hear an old woman play her piano three floors down in the one I live in) If hostiles enter the building you need to stay extra quiet to ensure they don’t find you.

If you decide to hold up in an apartment until you can escape you have to ensure you have stored enough food and water. In most major cities apartments will be very small (800 square feet or less depending on bedrooms) which won’t leave you much space to store additional supplies, especially water. You need to be creative in how to find the room for a few weeks supply of food water. Here are some ideas you can use.

Water

Fill your bathtub to be used as an initial water supply (Make sure it’s clean first) use it as your first water supply because it may slowly leak. Other water can be stored in the apartments sinks or from the back of the toilet as long as there are no anti-bacterial toilet cleaners. Also during the initial collapse period fill as many containers such as buckets or pop bottles with water from the sinks. Fill all you're glasses and cover them with plastic wrap to keep dust and hair from getting in. Any food that is in a plastic container with a lid can be empties and use to hold water. The more water you can store before the power goes off (One to two days or less depending on the type of devestation) the longer and better you're chances for survival.

Food

Cans are probably your best bet as they are easy to store and take little room, many foods found in cans also have water which you can drink as long as the amount of salt is low. For extra space buy plastic bins that can slide under your bed and other furniture, which will keep them out of the way. Make sure you check cans on a regular basis to inspect for rust and expiration dates. You can also store extra food and water (again in a plastic container) in the crawl space between your ceiling and the floor above you for extra space. Many apartments and condos also have basement storage lockers that you can use to store additional food and water. As long as you have access to the basement you should be easily able to store enough food to last you until you can get out of the city.

2/01/2010

Going Solo Or Wolf Pack

If you’ve watched any old westerns such as The Good The Bad And The Ugly, or movies such as Mad Max there is a common theme. A lone hero with no name and a mysterious past rides in and takes care of business. Now both these movies are in my opinion classics, (I could watch them over and over and never get tired of them) but will going it alone out in the wasteland of the ruined world be the smartest thing for you to do? Or is it better to team up and have someone watch your back? Both options offer unique advantageous and disadvantages that you need to seriously consider. Here are some things to consider when choosing which option is best for you.

Introvert vs. Extrovert

The first thing you need to ask yourself if going it alone is for you is “Can I handle being alone?” People fall into two categories extrovert and introvert. Extroverts need social interaction to give them their energy and drive. They thrive in environments where there are lots of people and enjoy being social butterflies. If you’re this type of person, forget going alone you’ll go crazy quickly. If you’re an introvert however you don’t need other people the way an extrovert does, you draw from yourself. (I know I’m an introvert myself) This will make long periods of isolation much easier to bare

The Need For Speed

If on foot (probably you’re primary method of transportation) going alone can be faster, but this depends on those around you. A well coordinated team will out perform every time. A group or two individuals can also cover more ground, which is especially important when scavenging for food and supplies.

Night Watch

Having a partner watch your back so you can get some sleep is always preferred, having a small group to take turns keeping a watch is better and will allow everyone to get a better sleep. This system will only work if all the individuals don’t slack off. If one of your group falls asleep on their watch it could spell doom for everyone. If you’re forced to go it alone you’re going to have to become a very light sleeper fast, and always keep a weapon within reach.

Maximum Firepower

If stealth and sniper style shooting is your preference then going solo is the best option as any potential threats won’t see you coming. Chances are however that they’ll probably know exactly where you are, and while you’re struggling to get a clear shot (Unless you’re properly trained of course) one of their buddies is sneaking up on you from behind. Having a group means more guns, and more guns means more bullets aimed at the jackass trying to kill you and steal what you have. It also allows you to carry more ammunition and more types of weapons. And like women with their shoes, in the wasteland you can’t have too many guns.

A Shoulder To Lean On

Things are going to go south in a big hurry if you get hurt out in the wasteland and can’t get medical help. If you’re lucky you’ll bleed out and expire quickly. If not well let’s just say it’s not going to be fun. Those that travel in small groups have a huge advantage over lone individuals by just being able to help each other out if one gets hurt (Well hopefully there will probably be those that would turn their back on those in their group if one was hurt)

Now that the hard decision is over you can focus on what kind of shoulder pads you want to sew onto your leather jacket, or which hockey mask makes you look the most badass.