Having just marathoned through six seasons of Lost in nine days, I’ve begun noticing odd behavior quirks. Though I’m not typically a fan of self-diagnosing psychological neuroses, I have what can best be described as “Lost Paranoia.” When you spend days at a time with nothing much besides that volcano of a show spewing conspiracy theories and plot twists, you start to get a little schizophrenic. I completely lost track of time in the “real world,” forgetting what day of the week it was and forgetting whether events happened yesterday or the day before. Considering most of Lost is told in flashbacks and out-0f-time sequences, my own sense of the linear world was disintegrating.

It got even worse during the few times I left my apartment in the last week. I started to see things and people. Recurrent themes from a TV show were actually recurring in my own life…or so I thought. I started seeing characters from the show wandering around the streets. A bald man sitting across the table from me became Locke and warranted a double-take before my rational mind took over. I started seeing the familiar numbers everywhere (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42). Every mundane object or action in my life seemed to be imbued with hidden meaning. Though I wouldn’t say I was really in danger of losing my touch with reality, my mind was constantly racing, searching for answers and clues to common threads.

Now that I’ve finished the show and had a few hours to recuperate, I believe I’ll make a full recovery. I’ve made my peace with the show’s constant plot twists, jerking the audience around like the passengers on Flight 815. I am almost absolutely certain that I would not have been able to stand the anticipation waiting weeks or months between episodes. I still think watching all of Lost all at once is the best way to experience it. Just note the danger in coming too close to total immersion.

What do you do when you encounter a bathroom sign like this? At the very least, I could make out that WC meant restroom, but for which gender was this designated?

Now you may ask whether I could determine gender by comparing the image of the androgynous  child to the image on the other door, but there is no other door. The two restrooms at this restaurant were in separate sides of the building. With no reference point, I could only try to translate “Vomini.” I was at an Italian restaurant, so I figured maybe “men” would be something like the Spanish hombre, but my meager experience in Romance languages proved unhelpful. A Google search for “vomini” only turned up oddly gender-neutral results.

Well, when in doubt, just do the visual spot check. I peaked inside looking for the familiar urinal for confirmation. Instead, I find another unique feature. There was one enclosed stall with a toilet, and next to it was another toilet with no stall or door at all. What do you make of that? Well this didn’t look like a single-occupancy, after all, there are two toilets. But who would sit on the toilet with no door with a clear view to the sink?

I acknowledge that classier places don’t like to have the clear and ambiguous stick figure with the caption “MEN.” But there are plenty of ways to indicate which gender belongs in this bathroom without the familiar blue sign. If it’s a unisex bathroom, then might as well invite everyone. Either label it plainly “RESTROOM” or put up one of these amusing signs to invite the whole family.

And as far as the poor quality photo, the restaurant was also exceedingly dark, which made the gender confusion all the more prominent.

 

Edit: My co-editor has brought to my attention that I had an Indiana Jones moment. ”Dammit, in Latin, Jehovah starts with an ‘Y’.”
Uomini means men, but they spelled it with a ‘v’ because, well, it’s Latin.

I’ll be the first to admit that advertising often isn’t logical. It appeals to the consumer’s emotions, hopefully in a positive way. Having walked past the above pictured trash bins for the last two years and seeing these signs have only elicited my confusion and frustration.

We’ve already examined the fallacy of correlation = causation before. What have I proven by looking at the sign?

  1. The sign is placed in a conspicuous location at the eye level of many pedestrians.

That’s it. All Creative Outdoor Advertising has proven is that the sign is placed somewhere that is trafficked. Advertising is not just about eyeballs. There’s a concept in marketing called conversion. Advertising is only as effective as its ability to induce behavior. For Creative to prove anything, it has to show that the use of its own advertising has actually convinced people to buy advertising space from them. A successful conversion for Creative would be a purchase of space; a failed conversion would be a blog entry negatively criticizing its tactics.

But wait, perhaps the concept of conversion is more important in the online realm and isn’t that vital a measurement in real world advertising. That is just ludicrous. What is the point of advertising that does not induce action or awareness? It’s not like Creative is benefiting from brand awareness.

I especially like this other fallacy of causation in their FAQ:

Why should I advertise on a bench/recycling unit?
Street furniture advertising has seen high success rates in reaching potential customers. Many of our clients have been with us for over 7 years and with a 75% contract renewal rate it just further reaffirms that street furniture advertising is a proven, cost effective means for communicating to your current and future clients.

They measure their success rate by the evidence that their clients haven’t decided to pull their ads. The longevity of the contracts is questionable. I imagine that those companies that choose to advertise on trash cans aren’t too devoted to cutting edge advertising techniques. They probably have never heard of social networking. The products or services that these clients advertise are also probably local to the community. Also, a high contract renewal rate only reveals that the marginal cost of continuing the ad is less than the marginal benefit of associating your product/brand with trash. It doesn’t mean that the initial cost would be worth it for new clients. A more convincing statistic would be some statistic about the success of clients’ ad campaigns after the introduction of garbage advertising. Of course, Creative doesn’t have these numbers so it must rely on the imprecise measure of contract renewals. That would entail actually proving that the ad works.

Perhaps Creative Outdoor wins after all; they got me to write about the stupidity of their campaign.

Every That’s What She Said – watch more funny videos

Everyone should know by now the joke “that’s what she said,” used in retort to any type of sexual double entendre. Importantly, “that’s what she said” is used when the phrase immediately prior could be construed as something a woman would say in a sexual context. The following are some examples of statements that can properly be followed with “that’s what she said.”

  • You really think you could go all day long?
  • Why is this so hard?
  • You already did me.
  • I can’t stay on top of you twenty-four seven.

What these have in common is that each phrase can conceivably be said by a woman in a typical heterosexual context. They are double entendres, phrases that could be construed in more than one meaning, often with a risque, inappropriate or ironic secondary meaning.

Given its spread to popular culture, everyone think they are Steve Carrell and overuse the joke. “That’s what she said” certainly lends itself to many situations considering numerous euphemisms for sex and sexual situations. However, this doesn’t mean “that’s what she said” can be used in every instance of something sexual. Keep in mind what it actually means. It has to be a spoken phrase that a female partner could conceivably say in a sexual encounter. Therefore, not every semi-sexual phrase can be followed by “that’s what she said.” Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. Examples of improper use of “that’s what she said” are as follows:

  • This sucks.
  • They did it on the roof.
  • You’re all a bunch of dicks.

You get the picture. They just aren’t things that “she” would say. So don’t use an already-played out joke improperly.

Anytime a product is named by its intended function, it should be able to satisfactorily perform said function. That’s a simple concept, one I feel few people would reject. Case in point: the toothpick. Granted, I did not do any research into the history of toothpicks besides a cursory glance at Wikipedia, but I think it’s fairly safe to say that toothpicks were invented with one specific function. At the very least, the toothpicks marketed now are sold with some expectation that they will be used to pick teeth. Hence, my frustration at having to grab a handful of these toothpicks every time I want to remove one bit of detritus from my teeth.

I grew up believing all toothpicks came in those shakers they have at each table at Chinese restaurants. Up until I moved to New York, I have never bought a box of toothpicks that weren’t Chinese made. Strangely enough, Chinese made toothpicks seem to be higher quality than the American Penley brand I bought this time. Maybe it’s because these toothpicks are flat instead of round, but the quality of the manufacturing is truly sub-par. The above pictured are just a random sample I pulled from the box. Splinters, broken tips and uneven shaping were common. Worst yet, not one of the toothpicks have the structural integrity to remove anything from my teeth.

I acknowledge that there are alternative uses to toothpicks. But at the very least, it should be able to do the one thing it was meant to do.

 

I’m a comic book fan and a musical fan. When the Spider-Man musical was announced, I couldn’t help but get excited. As all the bad press accumulated, I knew that there was no way the show could surpass my expectations. Yet, there was no way I could miss the show either. In writing this review, I was torn between evaluating the musical as a fanboy and as a typical musical audience member. Although the fanboy may begin immediately cynical, I thought it was a much-needed perspective, perhaps to balance out the mainstream media’s theatrical bias.

First, let me address how stupid I think the title is. I guess it speaks to the blackout that New York City faces through the second act, but it is counterintuitive and not in a “makes you think” kind of way. In fact, there wasn’t much to think about in the musical. It’s another origin story, slightly modified. For non-comic book fans, I suppose that Spider-man’s origin story is the only one worth telling.

There were several glaring character omissions. Since this is a retcon of sorts, I don’t mind director Julie Taymor leaving out Harry Osborn altogether, though his friendship with Peter Parker is rife with dramatic conflict. In fact, I would have actually preferred for more villains to be left out of the musical altogether. But I suppose that having Green Goblin, a newly created Arachne, and an entire Sinister Six does allow for suffficiently pagentry that Lion King alumna Taymore needed. Yet the inclusion of her version of the “Sinister Six” was problematic for me. Sure, the Sinister Six’s line up is fluid, characters drop in and out all the time. However, there was no reason that Taymor had to create an awful new villain Swiss Miss, a garish silver transvestite reminiscent of Silver Samurai, especially when Mysterio and Doctor Octopus are the very definitions of theatricality. Mysterio is a special effects artists obsessed with illusion! The chorus even acknowledges that Swiss Miss was made up on the spot.

How can you leave this guy out of a Spider-Man musical?

Speaking of the chorus, yes, there is a Greek chorus, renamed the Geek chorus. They serve the dual function of narrating and interacting with the characters from time to time, existing partly within the production and outside of it at once. I thought this was a nice touch. The major draw of the musical is the high-flying trapeze that occurs over the orchestra seating. Hence, I probably had one of the best seats in the house, front row on the balcony. There were enough times that Spider-Man swung up to the platform next to me before running into the exit in the back. Though impressive the first time, it quickly gets old and I stopped appreciating the complexity of the wire flying. In any other dramatic production, it would be the climax, done to great effect. In Turn Off the Dark, it simply got boring. In terms of special effects, I would’ve loved to see more web effects or even some exploding pumpkin bombs. Otherwise put, the Spider-Man musical has nothing much else to offer except the web-swinging and once you’ve seen it, you’ve got little incentive to see anything else.

Now as a musical, songs are typically critical to the performance. I judge my initial impressions on whether I leave the show with a tune on my brain. Maybe I’m just not a fan of rock musicals, but Bono and The Edge should stay out of theater. Many of the songs fizzled, and there were more than a few cringe-worthy lyrics. Perhaps I prefer showtunes for my musical shows; I’m just old-fashioned like that. But rock operas can be done to great effect, as in Rent. Since the songs were nothing special, the performances were also nothing spectacular. There was little opportunity to showcase the talent, with the exception of Arachne, played by T.V. Carpio who has some scene-stealing numbers. Patrick Page, performing as The Green Goblin also added some dramatic flair.

I think my biggest complaint was the lack of comedy or wit. There weren’t enough one-line zingers delivered by Spidey. A song consisting of Spider-Man teasing his opponents would’ve been a perfect. It makes me question whether Taymor or Bono have sufficient exposure to Spider-Man. They sadly missed the essence of Peter Parker’s character and their portrayal is superficial at best. I wonder if writing a review would actually affect the show. People would see it no matter how bad it actually is. Even I went in expecting the worst. Given that we can get all the special effects Spider-Man from movies and other media, what should the musical vehicle offer? Aerial trapeze, check and overdone. But the music is such a big component of a musical that it needed to be the high note of the performance, and that was certainly lacking.

Ah, the almighty dodge roll. How many times have you saved my avatar’s sorry ass from annihilation? The dodge roll is such a vital action adventure game convention that playing a game without that function is oddly restricting. In fact, when I start a game without the ability to dodge roll, I instinctively think that it must be unlockable somehow. This weekend, I played indie 3-d action fighter Lugaru, a deceptively simple interface that is frustratingly hard. Sure enough, one of the first tasks in the tutorial was to learn how to dodge roll (and its equally valuable cousin, the handspring).

It makes sense that some sort of emergency evasive maneuver lends itself well to the genre, where fast reflexes often mean life or death for the player. In certain games, intelligence may not amount to much if you have the finger dexterity and timing down (I’m calling you out God of War). From Zelda to Castlevania, Metal Gear Solid to Kingdom Hearts, a fast roll to one side or the other exists in all these games. It is however, notably absent from games where the character is purposefully encumbered. I’m thinking Resident Evil, where many times I could’ve survived a zombie rush if only I could roll out of the way. Gamers pride ourselves on many things, amongst them is our reflexes. Among the things we’re not so proud of is our physical fitness level. Being able to translate our fast moving fingers to our slow moving bodies is cathartic to say the least.

From a gamer’s perspective, I’m starting to worry how the prevalence of dodge rolls is affecting my real life. An FPS will never convince me to shoot innocent people. Grand Theft Auto doesn’t breed a disrespect for the law for me. My concern is how these nimble gymnasts in the form of video game characters are boosting my confidence in my own abilities. I can say that I walk across the street with heightened confidence that if a runaway car comes my way, I’ll be able to roll to safety. I wouldn’t be shocked if at the precise moment some on-screen prompt at the bottom of my field of vision would tell me precisely which button combination to press.

Acknowledging the importance of the dodge roll, I will also add some caveats for the incorporation of dodge rolls in games.

  1. A dodge roll should move the character at a faster rate than the regular movement. This is so essential as to be almost definitional of a dodge roll.
  2. A dodge roll should have an appropriate recovery period. In other words, characters should not be able to substitute rolling for running. That would be absurd.
  3. Aforementioned recovery should occur after completion of the maneuver. Dodge rolls should be instantaneousness at the press of a button.
  4. Dodge rolls should be unlimited. As mentioned before, it is so necessary that it should not be restricted in use.
  5. If the character does not start out with the dodge roll, it should earn the ability soon. Given it’s usefulness, I don’t want the reward of something so foundational so late in the game.
  6. Of course, all action adventure games must have a dodge roll (or evasive equivalent like handsprings, short-range teleportation, etc.).

Photo Credit: Fellowship of the Rich

I recently had the pleasure of spending some time with an acquaintance named Eric. He has a cheerful disposition and somewhat erratic personality. It wasn’t until someone pointed out the resemblance that I finally realized why I was so amused when hanging out with him. Eric was Charlie Kelly from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, minus the selfish disregard for other people. He had some odd convictions and was ready to argue very loudly to defend them. The comparison was made apparent when he argued that it should be perfectly acceptable to eat food from the trash bin provided it was on top of the garbage rather than in it. Following his premise and argument, I have named this The Trash Boundary and will lay it out here.

Eric was adamant that there really was no magical line created by the rim of a trash can. Trash on a table top doesn’t change in character once it enters the trash can, yet we treat it so differently. You would eat leftover pizza that was on the table right? Well why wouldn’t you eat the same pizza that is in the trash, especially if the pizza was hermetically sealed in its box? For the sake of this argument, put aside possible contamination and assume that the trash can is clean, which is very likely to be the case with a new trash bag. Yet once the pizza passes this Trash Boundary, people hesitate to retrieve anything and are even chastised for going through garbage.

There was one concession Eric was willing to make–food that is “in” the trash, as opposed to “on“ the trash shouldn’t be eaten. That’s the line he’s unwilling to cross. Somewhat arbitrarily, as soon as there is additional trash on top of the target food item, it then becomes trash and inedible. I’ll admit this line is just as frivolous as the line that any food, once it goes into the trash, is off-limits, but it makes a little more sense. There is much more of chance of dangerous contamination once refuse has been piled on top of food, rather than when food is simply the last thing thrown out and sitting comfortable on top of the mountain of garbage.

Unlike Eric, I hesitate to make any brightline rule at all. His Trash Boundary is not much more logical than the one which most people respect. I would say that eating food out of the garbage should be determined on a factual, case-by-case basis. A sealed Hostess Twinkie under crumbled papers? That’s fair game. A half-eaten hot dog on top of a pile of diapers, surely not. Yet I suppose to some people, dumpster diving for food is a principled matter and should be forbidden under any circumstances. As one guy put it upon hearing Eric’s rant, “That’s a line you just don’t cross.” In some ways I can respect that conviction, as if your humanity is threatened by your baser instincts of hunt and gather. But I won’t judge anyone if their Trash Boundary is just a little further than someone else’s.

Were you all as confused as I was when your Facebook news feed started to pop up with messages like the one above last week? A quick search on Know Your Meme brought up this little snippet:

In support of anti-child violence, change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. Until Monday Dec. 6, there should be no human faces on Facebook, but an invasion of memories. Join the fight against CHILD ABUSE. Invite your friends to do the same.

Now I never use my profile picture as advertising space. So as much as I wanted to display a sweet image of Goliath for all my friends to gander, I ignored this meme as just another fad. This wasn’t the first time that Facebook users had attached en masse to a meme in a thinly veiled attempt at activism. Remember the bra color status updates?

In fact, soon enough, I saw friends speaking out against this new childhood revisitation indulgence as a form of slacktivism. Urban Dictionary, though seldom having any coherent definition, had this delightful definition:

The act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem.

Though that was also my first reaction to this week’s Cause of the Month, I thought more closely about the intended purpose. I doubt that most of the people who participated really cared about child abuse. It’s just a fun way to identify yourself and continue oversharing. But even those who genuinely thought they were supporting some cause weren’t being entirely disingenuous. True, there are “real” ways to aid society. Sure, as a Wall Street Journal blog points out, you could donate time at an orphanage, participating in mentoring programs, or raise money for prenatal care. The pointed criticism is that changing your Facebook profile really does nothing for the cause.

However, if you take a step back and think about what is the effect of meme, you’ll see that it did easily accomplish one of the biggest hurdles facing any societal issues– it raised awareness. It got us talking about the issue. Just like the bra color status updates got the dialog going about breast cancer or changing your Twitter picture green to support Iranian democracy. Regardless of whether the actions have a tangible effect, raising awareness is the first step and shouldn’t be so easily overlooked. People can do more; they can always do more, but that doesn’t mean they should be belittled for the little they do.  Just point them in the direction to do more.

The problem happens when people become too enamored with the awareness step and never move forward. But I doubt there’s much risk that people who truly care about child abuse issues would stop at a profile picture change. Even for those who don’t care at all, they became a part of a greater cause. I think that’s worth at least a digital thumbs up, because a real pat on the back would be too much effort.

*I’m aware that this meme may have nothing to do with raising awareness for child abuse and could’ve been added as an afterthought. That doesn’t change the analysis.


zombies

Photo credit: Herrick

As a zombie apocalypse enthusiast, I am often asked about survival plans. Admittedly, I have not read The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks. I draw my zombie plan from a variety of media sources. Among the movies I reference: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, I Am Legend, The Road, Omega Man, 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, Resident Evil, Zombieland. In books: I Am Legend,” The Walking Dead, The Passage. In TV: “The Walking Dead” has been on lately, not to mention all the spoofs of zombie on Halloween specials. The recent “Community” Halloween episode comes to mind. Also, a variety of video game influences, Resident Evil, Dead Rising 2, and Left 4 Dead in particular.

I’m not sure what it is about zombies that is so compelling. Maybe it’s because I frequently have nightmares in which I’m the last man on Earth. It wasn’t until I played my first round of Left 4 Dead did I realize shooting these creatures in the head was awakening some deep-seeded desire to kill zombies. But the fascination is more than just inconsequential and indiscriminate violence. Zombies are fascinating from a philosophical perspective. They speak to the great existential fears of complete human extinction. Unlike vampires, werewolves, or benevolent aliens, zombies signal annihilation of society and death. And of course, as George Romero can show you, they are a frequent allegorical device for slavish adherence to just about anything.

The remainder of this post is basically my general survival strategy in case of zombie apocalypse. It is very rough and surely open to critique and refinement with some contributions from my friends. It is also in the context of a lengthy email thread.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Keith

First, you need to know what kind of zombies you’re facing. Rage zombies might have some modicum of intelligence and reasoning so you might not be able to keep them out be sheer force. Most of the defenses we’re envisioning are based on certain assumptions about zombies, mostly that they are a) slow-moving, b) dim-witted, c) killable, d) not airborne contagious, e) can’t swim. My idea of gathering supplies and going out to open water is under the assumption they can’t swim, fly, or operate watercraft. But with any type of epidemic response plan, you have to keep in mind that maybe the virus will get you before the zombies do. Going out into open water is partially as a self-quarantine to avoid infection. It won’t do you any good to lock yourself up with weapons and supplies if you just breathe in a virus and become a zombie anyway. But let’s just assume that you only become a zombie upon direct exposure or dying and reanimation. If these are the only methods, physical isolation may be sufficient.

Second, you should probably have several response plans. Most importantly, you need to have an emergency evacuation plan and a long-term plan. It might be prudent to escape from a heavily populated area. Given that we’re all in major cities right now, it’s probably best to get out of here as soon as there are signs of an outbreak. The sheer mass of people would make survival unlikely once the majority of the population turns. If you want to escape though, you need to do it before the military installs some sort of quarantine zone. Otherwise, you’re stuck…with zombies. So for an immediate plan, I’d suggest getting away from a densely populated area. For the long-term though, depends on your confidence in the government restoring order and containing the infection. In the modern world, you can see how difficult it is to contain an epidemic, but movies like Night of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead have shown some ability of the government to beat the zombies. Either way, I’d escape into the wilderness and try to wait it out indefinitely. First with supplies, but eventually developing some sort of self-sufficiency. Think fortified cabin in the woods.

The problem with my open water idea is that eventually I’d have to come back for supplies, but perhaps I could go across the ocean and find a deserted island somewhere. In The Passage, all communication has broken down in the country so no one knows if there is anyone else left. Think Kevin Costner in the Postman. Perhaps a few years in the wilderness and this drive to find other survivors will pull you back into a journey for civilization. We should also consider the possible responses by the government in case of outbreak. If the infection becomes severe enough, staying in an infected zone might put you within blast radius if the military tries to burn out the infection one city at a time. Wherever I hole up, I’d just make sure I had a radio or some other type of information source. The worst part may be not knowing.

Photo Credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Third, is a zombie world the kind of world you even want to live in? Most of these escape plans are awfully lonely be design. You don’t want to pull an I Am Legend, being the last man alive. So any escape/long-term plan I have will involve a companion. As of now, it’ll be my girlfriend because she is someone whom I can rely on. Emotional support is going to be tantamount in any kind of end-of-the-world scenario. Sometimes, it’s not worth the fight anymore. I have recurring zombie apocalypse dreams, and sometimes I just give up. You fight the good fight, but maybe it’s not worth it anymore. You don’t want to make the value judgment that being a human is somehow better than being a zombie.

The issue I see with a barricade idea is that two to three weeks may not be enough. An apartment building or house is hardly self-sustaining. Even if you could forage for supplies among the other units and potentially keep all zombies out of the building, it can’t last indefinitely. See Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. In a city like New York, I doubt three weeks will be enough time to contain a zombie outbreak. There are simply too many people here. An evacuation is probably safer for now. Though of course storing food and water for three weeks isn’t a bad idea for other disasters, namely real ones.

A rooftop standoff is certainly noble and quite thematic. But we have to think more survival and less action-movie climax. Let’s be realistic here. If there’s a zombie outbreak you want to trap yourself on a rooftop with no where to go but up? Sure there is one entrance, but what if there are hordes of zombies? What if there’s no helicopter to take you away? I think in an outbreak scenario, you can’t rely on someone to save you. A hospital isn’t a bad place to stop for supplies, but you might want to avoid hospitals in general when there’s an epidemic. You can’t tell how quickly the virus will spread. It could lay dormant. If it hit a city like NY, considering the density, it would spread fast (assuming the virility of fictional zombie viruses). Self-containment is probably the most realistic thing you’d do. If suddenly you heard on the news that there was a mysterious disease spreading throughout the city, you wouldn’t just abandon everything and escape the city. However, this is precisely the kind of early response you probably need to survive and escape, before the virus reaches critical mass. So forever be on the lookout for health advisories.

Photo Credit: Sam Javanrouh

I mentioned before the issue of companionship. Ideally you’d want someone with a compatible skill set, perhaps a doctor or an engineer. Even someone handy with a shotgun would be an asset. However consider the possibility of power control in a small-group dynamic. In Night of the Living Dead, you have two alpha males disagreeing on the best barricade. This leads to people turning on themselves. As many post-apocalyptic movies show you, humankind, at the brink of annihilation, does some despicable things. Again, see The Road with looting, rape, cannibalism. So in any kind of survival companion, primarily you’d want trust. Someone you can work together with will be infinitely more useful than someone who has a great skill set. Of course, in most zombie situations, you’re stuck with whatever survivor group you’re in. Just beware of the internal threats as much as the external. I think survival is best with a small group, perhaps two or three people. Sure, you may be paranoid about your companions, but loneliness is a killer too. Besides, if you’re going to die, you don’t want to die alone. Also, in a group dynamic, if you’re not the boss, someone has to be the boss. Only a dictatorship will work. Don’t think dictatorship like Stalinist Russia. Think dictatorship like martial law and suspension of habeas corpus. Abraham Lincoln didn’t take shit from no body, and you don’t see any slaves today in the Union, do you? But yes, there can only be one dictator. As I said, the other members have to agree to cede their own authority for the sake of survival, trust in the leader’s decisions for the group.

For things you can do now to prepare for the end, I’d suggest increasing your survival skill set. Worst-case scenario handbooks are useful for picking up a skill or two. Having some sort of basic medical care, like EMT training would be a valuable asset. The other set of skills really is about wilderness survival. Make sure you know how to live on your own for a long time. In the long-term it might be good to pick up something about farming and construction. As far as skills in fighting the zombies, go out to the gun range and get some proficiency with firearms. But also think about unarmed self defense and physical conditioning. Be handy with a knife, axe, cricket bat, anything really. On the issue of transportation, depending on the amount of chaos caused by zombies, it wouldn’t be much of an issue to simply steal a car. Your morals might go out the window if it is a zombie apocalypse. I don’t think it’s necessary to “boost” a car involving any type of hotwiring know-how. Just find a set of keys and drive away. It’s actually not that hard to steal things when you’re not concerned about the consequences.