Z is for Zombie-Proof Fence #zombies #AtoZChallenge

ZRemember all the trouble Rick Grimes and friends had with keeping up the fence around the prison on The Walking Dead? The ability to erect zombie-proof barriers is a key to surviving the zombie apocalypse. But city folks don’t know thing one about fences.

You know who does know about fences? Premier One Supply. They are the nation’s leading supplier of unique livestock fencing options, such as electrified netting fences to contain sheep, goats, poultry and other critters. They also have an electronet designed to keep raccoons out of your garden. And their annual fencing catalog is a virtual textbook on the fine art of fencing to keep livestock in their place, and not in the neighbor’s rose garden (goats love roses, but not in a good way.)

The Premier One catalog features their unique solution to a common rural problem— fencing gardens and orchards to keep deer out. In my area the usual solution is an eight foot fence. These fences are expensive, hard to install since the posts have to be deeper, and more vulnerable to wind and other stresses (like zombies) because of their height.

The Premier One solution is what they call a three-dimensional fence— one electric fence of normal height, and a second outside it of one (or two?) electrified strands. It works for deer. And I believe a similar solution would work to fence out zombies.

Not with electric fence, of course. Zombies are insensitive. An electrical fence jolt, which is like an extra-strong static electricity shock, might not be noticed by a zombie. (How do I know what an electric fence shock is like? Well, when I first put up my electronet, I did the stupid thing and touched it to see if it was really on. It was. I’ve also touched a cat which swished its tail into the fence, and proved that cats conduct electricity.)

Electric fences, according to Premier One, are a fear barrier and not a physical barrier. And zombies don’t feel fear. So even if you HAVE electricity, don’t bother with electric fences for zombie control. You need a physical barrier. The interior fence should be a good solid fence— chain link, woven wire (NOT welded wire), or stock panels, four or five feet high (since zombies don’t climb fences.) The external fence should be barb wire— one strand would work, two or three are better. While zombies may not fear getting cut to shreds with barb wire, the more damaged a zombie gets, the better. Until we get around to double-tapping them, we want them to become as nonfunctional as possible.

As for Rick Grimes’ fence problem at the prison, the solution was super-simple. The chain-link fence was topped with razor wire. They should have taken the razor wire OFF— no zombies are capable of climbing a fence that high— put up some fence posts, and attached the razor wire at about waist height to an adult zombie. That would shred the zombies pretty good, and keep them from getting to the more vulnerable chain-link fence (which they eventually pushed down on the TV show.)

And so that is the end of my A to Z challenge zombie epic. I hope somebody out there enjoyed it. I will start May by alternating between three themes. There will also be a mystery element at the end of each post. Stay tuned. Especially for my upcoming post ‘John Wayne, Radioactive American.’

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Why don’t folks just LISTEN to Donald Trump?

donald-trumpThink about the things you know about Presidential candidate Donald Trump. How many of them do you actually KNOW are true?

Time after time I’ve heard the mainstream media blaring about Trump: Trump said THIS! Trump is THAT!  Only when you come to check the story out, there is a problem.

The news guys have a technique to spread disinformation. They will have a story— so-and-so said this shocking thing. But they don’t run the tape of so-and-so saying the unforgivable thing. They show a picture of so-and-so while the reporter tells you what so-and-so said and what that means. Often, there is no clear-cut divide between the alleged quote and the reporter’s opinion of what it really means.

This technique is used often with Donald Trump. Often, if the video of the event ever is shown, you can see the quote wasn’t quite accurate or meant something different in the original context. Sometimes the quote isn’t even from Trump, but was a statement/question from a hostile reporter, which is attributed to Trump because the man failed to reject what the reporter said loudly enough.

That’s why I listen to Trump speeches and rallies in their long form whenever I can. You just can’t trust the media— not even Fox News— to give you the accurate story in their sound bites.  I invite every reader of this blog to do the same. Listen to the candidates’ WHOLE speeches, townhalls, interviews and rallies. Don’t let the media do your thinking for you. If you are a grownup and/or old enough to vote, this is what you must do.

Disclaimer: I came into this campaign season supporting Fiorina and/or Carson. I warmed up to Cruz later. I’m not thrilled with Trump because of his weakness on life issues and his failure to reject Big Government. But, better him than Mrs. Bill Clinton or Comrade Sanders.

Y is for (time of) Year

YThis is a post in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

How many people could survive a zombie apocalypse depends a lot on the time of year, and how the seasons affect different places on Earth. Why? Because humans will very quickly have to get over relying on grocery stores for their food supply, as they will be looted clean in the first two weeks. They will have to learn gardening and crop farming, livestock care, hunting and gathering, and these may take a while— I’ve lived in the country for about 26 years and I only learned how to garden recently, after I read the Square Foot Gardening book. http://www.amazon.com/Square-Foot-Gardening-Second-Revolutionary/dp/1591865484  [Zombie prepper hint: stockpile a bunch of copies of Square Foot Gardening, as well as Belanger’s small livestock book and books on edible wild plants by Euell Gibbons. These will become valuable trade goods once the apocalypse hits.]

Where I currently live, in the southern part of Upper Michigan, is a better place as regards water supply. In my own rural home, I have a well If that fails, I have a cedar swamp. I can dig down there and get water from seep holes.

Survival here would be tough if the apocalypse hit in fall. There would be some hunting opportunities— official deer hunting season is in November. But folks around here store their venison in chest or upright freezers. If we lost our electricity, those freezers would be useless. Hardcore preppers who have the cash might get solar or wind gennies that could handle a freezer and a few other items, but the rest of us would have to master alternative ways of preserving our deer harvest. Fall is also a good time to gather mushrooms and some other wild edible plants, and I suppose one might grow a few garden crops like radishes that have really short growing seasons.

A Winter apocalypse would be hell on survivors. Snow would limit movement and there would be little to forage. But the snow would inhibit zombie movement even more. If your home had a wood stove or furnace, you could survive. You could also sprout alfalfa and bean sprouts if you had sprouters and a supply of mung bean and alfalfa sprouting seeds. The snow and ice would help you preserve your meat supply.

Spring is probably the best time for a zombie apocalypse to hit around here. The stores would be full of gardening supplies and seeds. There would be time to establish a garden. You might be able to score some chickens from panicking neighbors— in these days, even well-to-do folks in cities are keeping small flocks of chickens. And out in the country, chicken keepers may hatch out eggs for their less fortunate neighbors. [Prepper hint: a woman can hatch out two or three fertile chicken eggs in her bra, using body heat. A guy could probably do the same if he had a bra in his size available. It would be annoying, wearing a bra full of eggs 24-7 for the 21 days until hatch, but it can be done.]

Summer is also a decent time for survival. You can still have a garden, you can possibly get a goat or a dairy cow from an abandoned farm, and you’d have time to hand-harvest enough grass for hay in order to keep the critter alive.

W = Weaponized (Zombies), X = (SE)X

WBiological warfare began when some wise guy got the idea to use a catapult to throw dead men into a besieged enemy city— dead men who died of the plague preferred. It got more sophisticated in recent centuries. And the causative organism that makes zombies would make a dandy weapon.

You become a zombie by being bitten by a zombie. So there is some infectious agent in a zombie’s mouth that transmits the disease, whether virus, bacteria, prion or something else.

Scientists could identify this agent and grow it in a lab, aerosolize it, and create bombs or other weapons that spread the agent in the air where people could get it in their eyes, noses and mouths and become infected. This could be lobbed into enemy lines, and in a few days or hours you would have many dead soldiers reanimating and infecting their comrades.

If the side using weaponized zombies has spies in the enemy capital, those spies could have zombie bombs smuggled to them. The bombs could be activated in subways or other crowded places for maximum effect.

Of course, these possibilities depend on the enemy being wholly unsophisticated about zombies. Otherwise, the enemy would retaliate with zombie bombs of its own. Most military forces are smart enough to know that bioweapons— zombie or other— are no fun at all when both sides use them, and would not use them unless the enemy had used them first.

XThe zombie organism is in the bloodstream of zombies, and of those bitten by zombies. What happens when a zombie bite victim, in the time period before death, gets lucky in a sexual way?

The scientific answer would seem to be that the sexual partner runs the risk of a fatal zombie infection. In most zombie movies, EVERY bite results in a fatality, no matter what treatments are tried. So one might expect that a large percentage of zombie victims’ sex partners get infected, even when safer sex practices are used.

If one grants the possibility of slow moving zombie infections— perhaps mainly in people who got the infection through sexual transmission— you could have lots of people who are infected and don’t know it spreading the infection on. So— life in the zombie apocalypse is going to be a lot less sexy than you’d think.

This is a post in the A to Z Challenge: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Note: I’m planning next month’s blogging. I am thinking of picking 5 topics or so and rotating between them. If you have any suggestions for topics, drop me a comment.

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V is for (Zombie) Vulnerabilities

VWill zombies take over the world? Has the human race no hope? Actually, there is hope, and that is because zombies have vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities limit what zombies can do, and can be exploited by humans. Here are a few of the vulnerabilities.

Low Intelligence – Zombies cannot think. Even mentally retarded humans can outsmart a zombie. Heck, a good border collie can out-think a zombie.

Clumsiness – Zombies have poor motor skills. They don’t walk, they shamble. They can’t climb fences. They can’t open car doors. They have trouble climbing stairs. If they break a window to get at humans, it is an accident caused by a zombie crowd pressing against the glass.

Non-healing – Zombies either don’t heal at all, or they heal very, very slowly and perhaps incompletely. Wounded zombies are less effective at harming humans, especially if said zombies have lost limbs.

Soft skulls – On The Walking Dead at least, it seems like zombies have softer skulls. That’s why even women are able to kill a zombie by punching a short-bladed knife through the skull. With humans, you can shoot them in the head with a .22 and it might not crack the skull.

Attracted to fire and gunshots – This is a rather silly addition to zombie lore made by The Walking Dead. If zombies will walk into fire and toward gunshots, it’s fairly easy to dispose of them in large numbers with a little pre-planning.

Eat their ‘children’ – How do zombies reproduce? They bite humans, who die and turn. What do zombies eat? Humans. On The Walking Dead we’ve seen zombies swarm a person, eating away, pulling out intestines— what kind of zombie will that person become when reanimated? Zombies just can’t think about the future.

Decomposition – If zombies are really decomposing, they are a self-limiting phenomenon. They can’t digest food if their digestive system is rotting. And in time, a rotting zombie will fall apart and ‘die.’ All humans would have to do is lock themselves in bunkers for a few months and the zombie problem solves itself. (I would opine that the apparent decomposition of zombies is either limited to some external parts or that it is some other phenomenon altogether.)

Zombies are vulnerable. Even The Walking Dead acknowledges it— the only time zombies are a real threat is when they come in large groups so even the experienced zombie-killers can’t keep up with killing them.

This is a post in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ I’m not doing so well keeping up. I’d like to thank the folks that have commented on my posts. It makes me feel like my blog matters, and maybe I even matter.

“Knitting patterns” for creating fiction #writing #AtoZChallenge

KWhen I was a child, a kind neighbor, Mrs. Young, taught me to knit. Later, when I was a bit older, I bought some how-to-knit booklets from Kmart’s yard department (they had one back then.)

That’s how I learned to follow knitting patterns— sets of instructions on how to knit a certain garment in a certain size. If you followed the instructions to the letter, even an inexperienced knitter could do good work. And the more experienced could adapt the pattern and be creative.

Fiction writing has its own ‘knitting patterns.’ One from the past is the Lester Dent Master Formula, which pulp author Lester Dent used to write short stories which sold. Another is the more modern Snowflake method, which is usually used to plot novels.

A fiction pattern is ‘borrowed structure’ for a novel or short story. All fiction needs structure. ‘Plotter’ authors do it by writing an outline, ‘pantsers’ do it all in their head. The formula simplifies the process for creating a story with structure for either type of writers.

“But won’t using a formula make my story formulaic?” No. “Formulaic” stories are dull, tired, predictable stories made by would-be authors who just grab at trite, done-to-death plot elements when they don’t know what to do. Such fiction can come into being with or without the use of a formula, an outline, or the three-act structure.

Using a pattern thoughtfully can help you to create a more original story. The secret is to not take any part of the pattern as Gospel.

For example, working on my ‘space western’ novel, the Snowflake method, Step 3, would have me write in the three-act structure. But I’m not sure I know the ending for sure yet. Or even the middle. I’m more of a ‘pantser’ than an outliner. So I just put SOMETHING sketchy down, and worry about the middle and ending when I get to it.

As a writer with Asperger Syndrome, I suffer from something similar to ADHD, and thus I find it difficult to write anything longer than a poem without the aid of a ‘knitting pattern’ for writing. It’s a way of working smarter, not harder.

I am experimenting with using the Lester Dent formula to write a 6000 word short story. I will be sharing more about that project here as I go through the steps.

Lester Dent Fiction Formula: http://www.paper-dragon.com/1939/dent.html
Snowflake Method: http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/snowflake-method/

This is a post in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Yes, I’m behind and I’m doing the wrong letter today. But I’m still doing it. Go figure.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

The right way to start a low-carb/keto diet

atkins-diet-revolution-1972I read once about a hapless couple who decided to try the low-carb Atkins diet but weren’t the kind to read a book about it first. They had heard that the Atkins diet forbids bread. And so they ate crackers instead.

Sadly, especially for writers, there are people out there who just don’t want to READ. They know how, but reading isn’t something they do. Or perhaps they read only one kind of thing— romance novels, hunting magazines, graphic novels— and they don’t think they can plow through a whole book about how to go on a low-carb diet.

For those people: think of it this way. A person in Alcoholics Anonymous may not be a big reader, but he often makes a point of reading from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book every single morning.

If you need to change your diet, you are in recovery, too. If you are not the type to read a whole book on low-carb dieting in an evening, try this: get a good basic book about low carb dieting, such as:

Atkins Diet Revolution, Robert Atkins, 1972

New Atkins for a New You

Keto Clarity

Now, every morning read a chapter or part of a chapter from the book. Or do it in the evening if your mornings are hectic. If the book has a ‘diet sheet’ as the Atkins Diet Revolution does— a short list of allowed foods and forbidden foods— look that part over daily as well.

It’s not just that the books tell you precisely how to do the diet. They explain why it works, give some of the scientific research that backs up this way of eating, and also in many books you will find recipes. The more facts you learn, the more you will be able to follow a healthy low-carb diet accurately. It will keep you motivated.

You might also make a point of reading a low-carb blog or two, or follow some of the low-carb Facebook pages.

The problem with eating a healthy low-carb diet is that we are surrounded by misinformation about diet. We have to almost un-brainwash ourselves to keep us from going astray with the daily temptations— such as those sugar-filled, carb-filled breakfast cereals with the words ‘heart-healthy’ on the packages. KetoClarity