Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Perils of Poor Planning

The highly organised (and esteemed) Quokka arranged breakfast this morning for some Burgers at the Pancake Manor. The food was fine and the company excellent, but due to an inexplicable error by the staff, everyone who ordered coffee was given instead some deeply unpleasant liquid which most of us found undrinkable. (Quokka ordered tea. Just saying.) Photos follow, except for Monster Yuppy who left early to catch up on his housework - something about dusting his credenza?

Janet, Quokka, Morgana
The New-Look Mayhem
The long-suffering Fifi & Greybeard
Empty plates, full coffees - says it all

The planning problem came later when we had a "where are you" call from the Degenerate Dining Club for lunch. We thought a hearty breakfast, a food-free rest and Xmas in July 70's themed dinner would be fine. But no, it was for High Noon and as usual the DDC had catered for 2.5x the number of actual diners. Of course we could have skipped a course or two, but they're all such damned good cooks. Rita had done a fantastic job, with tinsel, stockings, antlers, Santa caps, hideous rotating festive musical devices and an amusing dog. The star-shaped place-card-cum-chokkie-boxes were particularly, um, 70's. Peter clearly needed nourishment after last weeks heart surgery and did more than his share. Much more. Personally I don't believe they gave him a bionic stomach.

Between courses. Fi, Phil & Jenni

Bionic Peter, Jenni, Horrified Greg, Barbara, Phil, Antlered Fi

UNFINISHED (I'm away to bed without any supper, and possibly no breakfast)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How to Deal with your Zombie Problem - in Australia

I’ve been inspired by the redoubtable Mr Barnes[1] to add a small monograph on dealing with Zombies for the average Australian. As he has said, the recent development of artificial life in the form of bacteria with completely synthetic DNA means that the rise of Zed and the Zombie Apocalypse cannot be far away. Much has been written on this topic from the American viewpoint but we are unlikely to have access to pump-action shotguns or indeed the apparently limitless supply of handguns found in the USA. We must therefore manage with what is at hand. This paper describes weapons which are legal in all states except Victoria. If you live there, you must either emigrate or rely on running very, very fast indeed. Or be the kind of Victorian whose family appears in Underbelly[2].

(Each useful implement or "weapon" has been rated on a scale of 0 to 10 because a “1” might imply that they could possibly be of some use, however limited. Because different weapons are better suited to some environments than others, explanatory comments have also been appended. Illustrations include a matchbox for scale. (This should not be taken as an endorsement of Redhead products.))

For simplicity I have assumed that Zed will arise in the night and that the morning of the Apocalypse will find us at home. Or at someone's home anyway. The unprepared will probably dress and set off for the station to catch the 7:40 to Central, unaware that Mrs Griggs at the corner is now an undead monster with a lust for cerebellar gooeyness.  They are doomed. Worse, they will add to the Z problem faced by the rest of us. Some may think to reduce this problem by preemptively beheading neighbours who show Z-like tendencies (I'm looking at you, Q). I do not recommend this, unless of course you have a foolproof method of body disposal. For example, it might be possible to conceal two or even three Irish backpackers in a single mildewed mattress during a kerbside pickup.

But I digress. If you are in the habit of checking news reports and your immediate neighbourhood for signs of Z, you're off to a good start. Now your first impulse will probably be to close windows, lock doors and arm yourself before even considering where to loot. This is good, but what if Z is already in the house or battering mindlessly at your pathetically fragile modern doors? In this case you must arm yourself immediately and destroy the invader!

Household objects, useless     Score = 0/10

Seriously, if this is all you have, take off your clothes, squirt steak sauce on your head and run outside shouting “Here I am, eat me!”[3] 

You really must do better than this. 

Strictly speaking the boot knife may not be one of your household objects but there are all kinds of families, eh? Note, this not the kind of Smith and Wesson which will help you in a Zed attack.

Household objects, marginally useful     Score 1/10 – 2/10

Now these are better but far from adequate. If you have only one old, slow Z to deal with, you might be lucky enough to reach the brain. Otherwise, practice your screaming and shambling.

Household objects, Marginal to Fair

Getting better. You have a real chance with some of these, assuming a reasonable speed and skill on your part. Chain saws frankly aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Unless they have a long bar, plenty of fuel and you have the upper-body strength to swing one around – forget it. Use the fuel for fire, transport or a generator.

Electric Chainsaw         Score 3/10

Little electrics like the one shown will sever gray, livid arms, grasping with blind malevolence through your boarded-up windows. Until the power fails.

Short Axe   Score 5/10

This is short but very sharp and heavy; nasty in confined spaces – a bit like me. Given a longer haft, this would be a 7/10

Household objects,  Fair to Good

Now we’re talking! Note that these weapons give you some reach so you can avoid those rotting teeth and the virus-laden saliva that oozes around them.
Sledge.        Score 6/10

Brush-hook.        Score 6/10

Axe.  Score 7/10

“Real” Weapons

In the words of Max Brooks, “shotguns are fine, but blades don’t run out of bullets”. Nevertheless we must consider several points about the blade (sorry).
  • To “kill” the Zombie, one must destroy the brain, though beheading is acceptable if the head itself is avoided. So the blade must enable us to reach the festering mass of hunger and rage-filled synapses and disrupt it, without getting bitten. Length is important!
  • Disabling a Zombie by the removal of, or severe damage to the limbs is very helpful. Hence a cutting edge is preferred, with one exception shown below.

Ideally then, we need a long, sharp blade which can lop limbs or heads or split a skull with equal ease. As we will see, not all blades are created equal – let the buyer beware!

Sabre (German, 1900-1918).           Score 5/10

Why so low? A nice sword surely but too light and too short. De-limbing and beheading would take more skill and strength than most of us possess.


Sabre (British, early 20th C).  Score 6.5/10

Longer and heavier, excellent bell hilt for bite protection and face-punching. Older readers may remember when “Wilkinson Sword” was a brand of razor blade. How are the mighty fallen. This is a Wilkinson sword, by Henry Wilkinson of Pall Mall, by appt, etc.

Cutlass (modern but “real”). Score 5.5/10

Sharp and strong. Pity it isn’t longer but surprisingly good at maiming and the removal of digits. No home should be without one.

Foil (French, Leon Paul)        Score 1/10 for novices, 7/10 for fencers.

A skilled fencer (hi Sarah) could put down Zeds all day with this little sweetie. Light as a feather and much better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Unless you happen to be one of the undead, in which case it’s far, far worse.


Two-handed sword (Modern but decent steel)  Score 9/10

This will cut a pig in half assist greatly in the early stages of the preparation of meat products. Flexible enough to bend into a semicircle, sharp and pointy. Best of all, it’s stylish and will discourage other survivors from messing with your stuff.


And a Personal Favourite - the Halberd  Score 9/10

This little sweetie has a shorter than usual haft for those confined indoor spaces, while giving a wide swing to keep the Life-Challenged at a respectful distance. The long terminal (love that word) spear can wreck that virus-driven Zed brain while both sides have skull-piercing spikes. Until the Apocalypse, just leave it near the front door in case of unwanted callers, in-laws etc.


Garbage Warning! Imitation, so-called weapons.

I bought this on the Net for $20-odd just to have an example of this trash. Otherwise it’s hard to explain to people the difference between a sword and a vaguely sword-shaped piece of cheap, low quality metal that tossers buy in fantasy shops. If you bend this “Sword of Zorro” just a little – very easy incidentally – it stays bent. Absolute rubbish. Avoid at all costs.

Still to come:
  • Turning your home into a lethal fortress
  • Convincing the examining doctors of your sanity
  • Escaping from a straitjacket
  • Looting - Brand-name or No-name. Should You Care?
  • Your Post-Apocalyptic Garden - Rose thorns can slow Zombies with careful planting
  • Potassium Hydroxide, Methanol and Zombie fat - make "true" Biodiesel which will run almost any unmodified engine.

[1] Watching, waiting, prepared.
[2] If you are reading this and your Victorian family was immortalised in “Underbelly” – well done you! No offense intended. Have a nice day.
[3] If for some perverse reason you should decide to practise this, choose your location carefully. Such behaviour is considered mildly eccentric in, say, West End, but may place you in immediate mortal danger in, say, Ipswich.

This graphic from a better man I stole . . .

Finally, a way to put the love and use of Meat in Scientific terms