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Zombie Survival Guide: Are you ready for the pandemic?

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Zombie Survival Guide: Are you ready for the pandemic?

Zombie HordeAs you may know, my wife and I don’t own a TV. So we don’t keep up on too many new television series (we are just now watching Heroes on Hulu). While staying at my parent’s house for a few weeks as part of our gypsy summer, my mom introduced me to The Walking Dead. And I love it!

If you haven’t seen it, The Walking Dead depicts a post-apocalyptic zombie world where only a few have survived. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a must-see so that you are prepared for the inevitable zombie pandemic.

While driving through Montana this week, I began to reflect on several lessons I’ve learned from The Walking Dead and realized that Montana would actually be a great place to take refuge from the zombie hordes (the population in Montana is only 998,199).

As I thought more about it, I decided to compile this Zombie Survival Guide so that both you and I don’t find ourselves being gnawed on by the undead.

But first, we need to agree on a few assumptions.

  1. There is no electricity.
  2. The government and military have fallen leaving families (or tribes) to defend themselves.
  3. The majority of the population is either dead or part of the living dead.
  4. Zombies are near mindless and not conniving like those in I am Legend with Will Smith.

With that understanding, here’s what you need to have and do to stay alive.

Surviving the onslaught

I’m always amazed at how everyone on The Walking Dead is a perfect shot. I mean, they can be hanging out a window while tail spinning at 35 mph and nail a zombie square between the eyes with every shot.

I have a theory about this.

All survivors fall into two categories. Category One are the people who already had experience with guns: cops, farmers, hunters, etc. Category Two are the people who are able to quickly learn to be a good shot. People in Category Two survive at first more out of luck than anything else.

You want to be safely in Category One. So get some practice shooting at a local range. Also, you’ll need a small arsenal and a near endless supply of ammo. Don’t mess with stocking lots of types of ammo. If you have multiple handguns, then use the same caliber on all of them. Same with shotguns. That way, you can just stockpile two or three calibers or shells.

Move to Montana

It’s quite simple. In order to survive, you need to be as far removed from large groups of zombies as possible. The low population and mountainous landscape of Western Montana makes a wooded home ideal.

More than likely, you will be able to find a farm or ranch that’s deserted. Or the owners might have become zombies, which you can kill.

Pick a place with a good fence

One of the biggest things that has really dawned on me while watching The Walking Dead is that zombies really are stupid. They don’t have higher reasoning abilities and simply focus on consuming flesh (this is because all that remains of the brian is the lower cortex which is in charge of basic functions such as eating).

Ergo, zombies can’t get past a solid fence. They don’t know how to pick locks, cut or chop it down, etc. The only problem is if a large enough horde comes and pushes the fence down as they claw their way to your home. But again, not too many large hordes in Montana.

Transportation and fuel

I’m guessing that Montana is probably 100s of miles away from you. So you’ll need a vehicle large enough to carry all of your supplies and enough gas to get there.

I’d suggest a Suburban (or something else with four wheel drive and lots of space), which you can easily steal. If this presents an ethical dilemma for you, just remember that the owner is already dead and won’t miss the car. Make sure to nab yourself a car early on.

Gas presents a larger problem as there will most certainly be a run on gas and the supply will quickly cease. You will need to stockpile as much as you can as fast as you can. Large drums or barrels would do the trick. You might need a truck also just to carry containers of gas.

Short term food supply

As society begins to crumble around you, food will become scarce. Have a short term supply of food on-hand (2-3 months) that you can survive on until you get to Montana.

Make sure to include the following:

  • Water
  • Variety of MREs
  • Canned or dried fruit and vegetables
  • Some way to heat or cook food such as a small Coleman stove
  • Age appropriate necessities such as formula

Living on a farm

The closest if you’ve ever been to a farm is probably watching Babe. The biggest adjustment is going to be finding that you are now responsible for making everything. You can’t run to a corner convenience store.

You’ll need sewing supplies to make and/or mend clothing. If you plan to make clothing, then you’ll need both fabric and sewing patterns (so stop by a Joanne’s).

Your new home and fence will need repairing from time to time. Have at least a basic tool set consisting of:

  • Hammer
  • Screw drivers
  • Lots of nails and screws
  • Pliers
  • Big, wood saw
  • Ax
  • Shovel
  • Post hole digger
  • Rake
  • Hoe
  • Scythe (also great for lobbing off zombies’ heads)
  • Garden trowel

As you don’t have an electricity, you’ll need both candles and either matches or a flint. I recommend having the flint no matter what and then just a large stockpile of matches and lighters. A generator would also be great for emergencies.

Once you are on the farm, you obviously don’t want to drive your vehicle much (no wasting gasoline). If you haven’t ever riden a horse, then consider taking a few lessons now since you’ll want to use horses as your main mode of transportation. I suspect that you’ll be able to find a few horses in Montana.

Growing food on a farm

Understand now that you’ll be spending a lot of time growing and cultivating food. I recommend taking seeds with you to plant since they are very small and easy to pack. Here’s what I’d include as a starter and then add what you like:

  • Corn
  • Potatoes
  • Wheat
  • Carrots
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Raspberries

Keep in mind that whatever seeds you take have to grow in the Montana climate.

I also think that rice would be a good idea. Though, I have no idea what it takes to grow rice (something about paddies). So you may want to stockpile a large supply of rice on which to live.

For protein, consider cows and chickens, which again, you can probably find once you’re in Montana. Make sure to keep them far away from the perimeter of your new mountain home so as to not attract zombies.

Personally, I like sweet things. Similar to the rice, just plan on stockpiling sugar to take with you. Also, consider keeping bees. Honey is an awesome, natural source of sweetness that replenishes itself and helps with allergies too.

Other general supplies

A few miscellaneous items to make sure you have with you as well:

  • Binoculars – So you can see the undead coming
  • Morphine or other pain killers – Any time there is a medical emergency on TV, they use morphine
  • First aid kit

I hope this helps and that you survive. Hey, maybe we’ll even me neighbors. Just announce yourself as being alive when you come close to my place, or I might inadvertently shoot you ;)

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Retiring? 5 Ways to make sure that you are ready

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Retiring? 5 Ways to make sure that you are ready

I can’t count the number of articles that I have read outlining how to prepare for retirement. But what about once you reach retirement? I’m certain that we all hope to be living on the beach sipping a cool drink in the shade. But if the financial markets in the last few years have taught us anything then it is that the unexpected happens.

Rocking ChairNot having a steady source of new income exposes you to a new foray of potential problems. To make sure that you continue to be financially prepared, I’ve compiled a few suggestions.

  • Invest in income producing assets with an eye on capital preservation – During the accumulation and growth phase of life, the objective is to save money and make it grow. In retirement however, your objective is capital preservation and income. Therefore, you need to take the time to move the majority of your investments (stocks, mutual funds, bonds, real estate, commodities, currencies, etc) into assets or investments that are low risk (capital preservation) and pay out on a regular basis (income). Speak with a financial advisor to determine what the right mix is for you.
  • Complete your estate planning – Estate planning is the process by which you create the necessary vehicles to transfer the maximum dollar amount from your estate (the stuff you own when you pass away) to whomever or whatever you designate. So for example, proper estate planning helps avoid probate (see Judicial Nightmare) and death taxes. Basically, you are making sure that what you want goes to who you want it to go to without facing costly and timely court procedures and taxes.
  • Update your Last Will and Testament – Although, a Will is part of estate planning, I believe it merits its own bullet point. Different events in life will cause you to update your Will (a new baby for example). However, we tend to wait years in between updates, especially once we stop having kids. But with the addition of grandkids and potentially the consolidation of assets to prepare for retirement, your Will may be out of date or contain provisos that are now meaningless.
  • Make sure your children know what to do in case of an emergency – So assuming you’ve gone to all of the hassle of moving around investments, using a tax attorney to do your estate planning, updated your Will, and then something happens, will your children know what to do? Do they have any idea where the Will is or what your wishes are in the event you need resuscitation? Certified Wellness Counselor Karen O’Neil has actually put together a workbook outlining everything you should do so that nothing goes unforgotten. You can read more about her and A Guide to Getting Affairs in Order at her website.
  • Protect against identity theft and scams – Unfortunately, retirees and senior citizens are often targets of identity theft and scams. Use the same cautionary sensibility that got you where you are to guard against deviants. Also, strongly consider using credit monitoring to protect yourself. Several years ago, a laptop containing the private information of thousands of war veterans was stolen. That information was used to steal many of the identities. So invest the $10 a month to gain peace of mind.

As I mentioned above, retirement is about fulfilling your dreams, spending time with family, and generally just doing what you want. So make sure to take the necessary steps so that your retirement isn’t interrupted by costly mistakes.

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