Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I was sitting at my computer today looking through the headlines and not surprisingly I was inundated with stories about the tragedy in Colorado. I have been following the news stories about the shooting since it happened, feeling helpless and wishing there was something I could do. Then I came across a story about two of the families who lost a loved one. A story about their desire that the media stop using the gunman’s name and turn the focus to the victims.

After learning of these requests, I knew then that I can do something. I can tell you about the victims and I will do it without naming the cowardly gunman. I won’t give him that power. I won’t even give him power by writing about the loss of life. I will empower the victims and their families by writing about how they lived.

Jonathan Blunk was a 26 year old husband and father. He served in the Navy and did three tours in both the North Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Jonathan was a certified firefighter and EMT. He had goals for th the future of re-inlisting and becoming a Navy SEAL.

AJ, Alexander J. Boik, was 18. He was someone who loved to make others laugh. He recently graduated from Gateway High School where he was in orchestra and played baseball. He had a lovely girlfriend whom people expected him to marry some day.

Jesse Childress worked as a cyber-systems operator for the Air Force. He was 29 years old. His friends say was a fun guy to be with. Someone who liked to laugh and had a positive outlook. He was a good friend, and good to have on the bowling team.

At 51, Gordon Cowden was a dedicated family man. Though he lived in Colorado, his family describes him as a “true Texas gentleman’’. He had a wonderful sense of humor, loved travel and the outdoors, and was a business owner.

Jessica Ghawi, who also went by the last name Redfield, was a hardworking, ambitious 24 year old young woman who was pursuing her dream to be in sports journalism. She lived life to the fullest with her vivacious personality.

27 year old John Larimer was the youngest of five siblings who grew up in a suburb of Chicago, Ill. He joined the Navy just over a year ago and was a cryptologic technician where his.  resourcefulness, good character and curiosity made him a good fit in his job.

Matt McQuinn was 27. He was an Ohio native who worked at Target with his girlfriend. They both recently transferred to Aurora. He was a great, outgoing person who put others before himself.

Green Bay Packers fan, Micayla Medek was an independent 23 year old who loved going out with her friends. She worked at Subway and was taking juggling classes at a local community college.

Little Veronica Moser-Sullivan was just 6 years old. She had sweet, lovable personality and brought joy to all who knew her. She had just learned to swim, and was the center of her parent’s world.

Alex Sullivan was celebrating his 27th birthday as well as his first wedding anniversary. He was an avid movie fan and comic book geek, who loved the Mets. He was known as a gentle giant who always had a smile on his face and gave great hugs.

Alexander Teves was 24. He had a passion for life. He competed in Tough Mudder competitions, had a master’s degree  in counseling psychology and interned at a school with special needs children. He was a loyal friend and fun loving guy.

32 year old Rebecca Wingo was a vibrant mother of two. She was a “loving, giving, brilliant soul”. After working in the Air Force for 11 years, she was going back to school to work with foster children who were getting older and ready to age out of the system.

Though it may not be much, I feel I have done a small part in taking power away from a person that deserves none. Too often we sensationalize the perpetrator while the victims get lost in the media hype. I for one, will not give him that privilege. I’m just sayin’.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Zombie Preparedness103: The Long Haul

So we’ve made it, uninfected, through the initial outbreak of the zombie virus. We have survived the fall of civilization as we know it. In the days, weeks, or maybe even months that followed we lost. We lost our friends and families, our jobs, we lost our whole lives. So what now, you ask? It’s time now to hang on, hunker down and strap yourself in. This is the long haul, and I’m sure it will be one heck of a ride.

In order to continue to carry on in a post apocalyptic wasteland filled with the walking dead, you’re going to need these three main things: a group, a game plan and a habitat. I know it’s going to take a lot more than just this to persevere, but these elements are your survival foundation. Without these blocks in place and strong, well, let’s just say the odds may not be in your favor.

It’s hard to say which is needed first, a group or a game plan. It’s like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. Both are equally important and both need the other to really work well. So, for the sake of argument, let’s say we are gathering our group first. Hopefully at this point you will still have some friends and family left. Your group should be able to get along, and have the same set of goals and values. It is never good when you have to fight one another as well as the zoms. The size of your group is also important. You don’t want to be so large that it is hard to travel and keep up with supplies, but you don’t want to be so small you are dwindled down to nothing after flesh eating walkers have picked off a few here and there.

On to the game plan. The game plan is your structure. The skeleton of your survival foundation. The plan your posse puts into place is what will help guide you through the dark days ahead as well as provide some security. In your game plan is where you will map out a blueprint for survival, assign tasks and other day to day doings, and hopefully establish a code of conduct. The main reason your group and game plan go hand in hand, is that all must agree to insure that things run smoothly.  

Finally you and your entourage will need a place to call home. Your habitat, compound, home base, whatever you want to call it, is important. Without a semi-secure abode to live in, your days will be pretty much numbered. Location and defendability are your two main concerns. Staying out of the main cities is pretty much common sense. Though a city offers a seemingly endless amount of supplies, you must keep in mind, what was once populated in people is now occupied with zombies. A less urban setting such as a farm near a small town with a few stores and a hospital or pharmacy is ideal.

So there you have it folks, my Zompocalypse Survival Study Guide. With any luck, we will never need it, but just in case we do, I hope to see you on the other side.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Zombie Preparedness 102: Know Your Ememy

Last week I wrote about preparing a survival kit to keep handy in the event of a zombie apocalypse. Though a zompocalypse  prep kit is a good start, it will only get you so far. Sure, supplies are necessary, but knowledge is one of your most important tools. After all, as Chinese general Sun Tzu said, “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”

So what, exactly is a Zombie? In its broadest sense a zombie is typically a reanimated body who, presumably through death, has lost their sense of identity and self awareness. The zombie’s soul driving desire is the destruction and consumption of any human around regardless of the circumstance or threat to their self. Now that we know what a zombie is, we need to know what type of zombie we have on our hands. Again, knowledge is our tool. We can’t successfully fight off a gang of undead if we are not adequately informed. Zombies tend to fall into three general categories: Supernatural Zombies, Generic Zombies and Zombies of Scientific Origin.

Supernatural or Voodoo zombies have been around the longest and are actually based on religious beliefs. In Haiti and parts of Africa, it is believed the a powerful spell can be placed on a person so that their deceased body is brought back and controlled by the spell caster. These zombies were then used as slave labor or occasionally for acts or revenge. These are not your typical flesh eating zombies. Think more along the lines of Weekend at Bernie’s. The main way to annihilate one of these is to get rid of the person controlling the vessel. But really, these are not what we will be dealing with in a zompocalypse.

Next is the Generic Zombie. The old school Hollywood variety. These zombies are the awkward and slow moving moaners and groaners you see in movies like Night of the Living Dead. They guys will go after anything that moves or makes noise and they tend to travel in mobs. Generic Zombies are typically the result of a virus that brings them back from the dead and is spread to the living via a bite. Though there is really no functioning  brain activity, severing the brain from the rest of the body is the way to dispatch these fellows.

Finally we have the Zombies of Scientific Origin. I find these to be the most frightening of the three, and in my opinion, the ones we will see if there is ever a zompocalypse. These zoms start from a virus caused  by a contaminant or biochemical warfare. They are quicker, stronger and have more brain function than their Generic and Supernatural cousins. Though they are taken out the same as the Generic, this virus is thought to be spread through bodily fluids as well as a bite. They also move in groups and, being higher up on the zombie evolutionary charts, are much more of a threat.

So now that you know your enemy, this should help you if we find ourselves facing a zombie attack. You will need to know more than just these basics to make it through for the long haul and come out alive, but we’ll save that for next time. I’m just saying’.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Zombie Preparedness 101: The Essentials

I’ve seen the movies and T.V. shows. I have been watching the news. I know signs when I see them, and let’s face it people, the writing is on the walls. The zombie apocalypse is coming and it’s nipping at our heels... so to speak. Though the government and the CDC both deny the existence of any impending doom in the form of reanimated flesh eating corpses, I for one am not willing to take any chances. I’m not going to go all Y2K crazy about this, but a small survival kit can be useful to have around for many reasons, not just for enduring an zombie mob.

I’m sure I could go on for hours on what you would need to successfully survive an undead armageddon, but I won’t. The purpose here is to help you gather what you and your loved ones would need to make it through the first couple of days. After that, well you are on your own. So that being said, here’s some items you might want to have stashed away in a safe, easy to get to place. It never hurts to be ready, and these things are important to have ready for any kind of disaster or emergency.

  • Water: You will need at least one gallon of water per person per day for no less than three days. That should be enough to cover both drinking and sanitation.
  • Non perishable food. Again, enough for three or more days.
  • A can opener for the food.
  • A first aid kit.
  • A flashlight with extra batteries.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties. This is for personal sanitation uses.
  • Some way to make a fire, like matches in a waterproof container.
  • A whistle to signal for help.
  • Local maps.
  • A weapon of some kind. You will need it for fighting off the zoms after all, right?

So take the time this year and get a survival kit put together if you don’t already have one. After all, whether it’s a natural disaster or a real zombie apocalypse you can never be too prepared to take on the end of the world. I’m just sayin’.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Independence Day

My family and I love Independance Day. What’s not to love about it? We start the day with parades, move on to a cookout with the fam, and cap it off with an evening of fireworks. A good wholesome day of fun. It is the celebration of the birth of our country. The day the Declaration of Independence, one of our nation’s most cherished symbols of liberty, was adopted. My husband and I, as well as both of our families, are very patriotic. We take great pride in our nation, and July 4th is my day to go overboard!

As I said, in this house we start off with a parade. Usually we like to find the biggest around. If we fail to find a larger one elsewhere, we always have the old standby, a pretty sizable and popular parade a few towns over that my husband’s family has been going to for years. We like it not just because of the size but also the enthusiasm of the crowd. Let’s not forget the cannons they fire and the beautiful steam calliope that marks the end as well.

After the parade is the family cookout at my mother’s house. There we enjoy good friends, good food and great conversation. There is always too much food, and we always eat way more than we should... always. But it’s a holiday, we are surrounded by our loved ones, and the sun is usually shining, so what else are we supposed to do. We eat, we celebrate, we honor our country.

When the noise from the parade is quieted and the cookout has been cleared away, there is only one part of the day’s festivities that remain, the fireworks. The pièce de résistance if you will. The parade is fun, the cookout with my family is entertaining as well, but for me, it’s the town fireworks that are my favorite. I love the music, the vendors, all of it. I love seeing all the flags and the red, white and blue everyone is wearing. I always get choked up when a hush falls over the crowd and the Pledge of Allegiance is said by all. I love my country. And a day of fun, food and family to celebrate it with, well it doesn’t get much better than that. I’m just sayin’.

Summer Safety

Summer is officially upon us. Families are vacationing, teens are sunbathing and moms everywhere are kicking their kids out of the house, telling them to enjoy the fresh air. Everywhere you go, people are out and about, mowing their lawns and tending their gardens. Yes, it is summertime, but what we need to remember is that along with all the sunshine and fresh air comes rising temperatures. While a day at the beach or pool is great, it can turn dangerous for people who are not prepared.

According to the CDC’s website heat exposure has killed 8,015 in the U.S. from 1979 to 2003. That averages to about 334 people a year. Summer comes every year, and every year we are overwhelmed with a plethora of information on heat safety. More and more places offer free water and cooling stations. Parks and cities are adding water fountain play areas. So why are so many people still getting sick and dying from the heat? Natural selection maybe? Whatever the cause, here’s a few tips from me on keeping a cool head during the hot days to come.

The most effective defense against heat is air conditioning. If you have air and are able to, stay inside. At least until it is not so sweltering outside. I know not everyone has the option of being in a nicely air conditioned home, so if you find yourself out and about on a scorching hot afternoon, try to stay smart.

  • Always keep hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids. Energy drinks are good too as they help replenish salt and other important minerals.
  • Wear the right clothing. Wear lightweight loose fitting clothing. All natural fibers, especially cotton are the best. They allow the heat to dissipate and the moisture passes through.
  • Pace yourself. Keep your activity level down, especially during peak hours. If you are working, try to take breaks.

So watch yourself this summer. And watch out for those around you too. Use your common sense and try not to fall prey to Mother Nature’s skimming of the gene pool. I’m just sayin’.