• What use does a post-apocalyptic world have for a television writer who throws amazing cocktail parties? None. The following pages will (hopefully) document my attempt to become a useful member of society in case that whole zombie thing happens. Started 1/2008, abandoned 3/2008, and back 3/2011

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  • © 2008-2011 Nina Bargiel, all rights reserved



knife throwing is always a handy postapocalyptic skill.


Hey, this looks fun! I just took a kettleball class today for the first time, but all that might be useful for might be clobbering people with bowling ball-esque items. Perhaps woodchopping or basic sledgehammering as a workout? Or heck, use a chainsaw? Learning morse code? Making soap?

the slackmistress

I was thinking shovelglove might be a cheap and easy AND useful workout:

Soapmaking and woodchopping, also excellent.

Libi, I like knifethrowing, but I almost killed Older SlackBrother J. joking around with that one day (the knife slipped!) Maybe for the advanced class...


Ah, I understand a healthy aversion to knife throwing, then. Orienteering is always useful...


oh you should totally have crossbow skillz in the workout.

many crossbows can be had for a reasonable price, and not all are the medieval type. A friend of mine got the more pistol-like one with the zombie killing smaller arrows and it's really good for urban use as well as being easier to conceal or keep with you whilst carrying beloved dogs and the like

this is s o cool.

the slackmistress

@libi: added!

@greg: added, and thank you!


Shit, the post-apocalypse is when we'll need cocktail parties the most!

Still, worthy goals! I would do any of these with you.

I would add "bike maintenance." Very useful. I need to learn this, too. I have the little multi-tool, the spare tubes ... and buying those was as far as I've gotten.


I love this idea!I'd add ~horse whispering (or at least breaking and riding)('cause it's difficult to get Zombies to do the work for you), ~ pottery making, ~basic animal husbandry (for the chicken and goat keeping)...

I saw in a pet store a leash with a giant loop at the end instead of a hand sized one... it was to be worn over the shoulder like an oversized purse/rucksack. would that help with the wonderdog attachment?


oh, don't forget the final step: the haircut, i'm pretty sure it's vital to the entire workout. And being able to fashion one outfit into proper clothing and shoes... important.

the slackmistress

@elizabeth: haircuts and fashion maintenance isn't a problem, alas, that's one of the few skills that I *do* posses!

Zoo Keeper

Damn, I wished I lived in LA. I could help train you in a lot of the things listed. Firearms, mending/sewing, cooking over a campfire, growing/canning food, animal first aid, livestock training/keeping, horseback riding...I never realized I had so many skills that could be useful in a post-apocalyptic world. Best of luck in your training.


Don't forget being able to clean and maintain those weapons you'll load and fire.

And you might reconsider hunting and prepping meat because if you're on the run from a horde of zombies, there may not be much time to stop and grow food. Or much time to find the seeds. Or it could be a bad season for it.

Also, close quarters combat with and without a gun or knife. You never know about zombies or looters busting in on you.

Purchasing, using, running with some sort of body armor and a pack of your gear (and dog).


May I suggest aquiring the ability to hot wire a car? In some of the post-apocalyptic TV shows and movies, the guy with the car wins. You never know when you'll have to make the inevitable trek across country to the last human outpost.

And with your newfound welding skills you can fasten a kick-ass zombie smashing grill to the front of the first Prius you find. A Humvee might seem better suited to protecting you from highway pirates, but when you've got places to be, you'll wish you were getting that 60 MPG. The movies never get this right. How likely are you to continually stumble upon the secret human resistance operated gas stations? I guess Mad Max wouldn't be nearly as cool in a Toyota.

I'd also suggest lock picking. When people leave their house to escape the zombie horde or to run around screaming in the streets, they lock the door, and in doing so, lock up their food, their supplies, and their porn stash. All essential to getting by. You could knock the door down or blow it up with your other newfound skills, but you may want to be able to lock it behind you.


knife sharpening

Rock climbing - how many times are people trapped by zombies/desperadoes/fanatics at the edge/base of a cliff? If you can climb you can escape!

Can you swim? Rivers are often a problem.


Sigh, apparently I need to add "reading lists" to mine.

You do have climbing there. Strike my comment.


I learned to weave, spin, sew, crochet and knit for this very reason. I think those are more "living after threat is over" kind of skills but post-apocalyptic none the less.


What a great idea! If you haven't already read Max Brooks's books (The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z), I recommend them both for useful survival tips and skill sets.

Also, "disencourage"? Why not "discourage"? Not picking on your word choice; just curious.

Ink Tea

I'm with Dave. Breaking and entering (lockpicking) skills will be useful to a survivor/scavenger. You may not have the time find it safe to remain in one area long enough to grow your own food, and things that are less easy to produce (medicines, sneakers, guns, ammunition) will need to be procured somehow.


I think you have to also prepare for climate changes - either as the cause of the Apocalypse / Zombie uprising. Or just from changes in the planet due to eventual loss of plant/animal life (assuming A. phenomenon isn't limited to humans and B. you live long enough to see those changes)

So desert or cold weather survival training would be helpful.


Might want to also learn how to swim underwater/hold your breath for extended periods of time. One of those escape routes might take you through an underwater pipeline.

Aww, participants are limited to the Los Angeles area? What about people following along in other cities?


Bike safety? When the time comes and zombies are invading your city, I doubt a bike helmet and properly signaling turns is going to be your primary concern ;)

Chris Kreitsch

Small arms make to much noise and crossbows take a long time to reload. Learn how to swing a bat properly and maybe sword use (that is using it without getting it stuck).

Chris Kreitsch

Ok sorry I'm off on a rant and I'm waiting to go out for the night. Foraging is essential, you may not eat bugs but nature supplies a vast variety of sustaining foods that you can eat on the move. The problem is knowing which you can and can't and where their likely to be based on you region. For instance cacti are a great temporary source of water. Making electricity would become an eventual requirement, not to make a joke but afore mentioned bike and a magnetic winding and you have electricity. Ok I'll stop and behave now.

the slackmistress

@Chris: I played baseball, so swinging a bat isn't a problem.

@Karen: Everyone can play along! I just meant if they wanted to in person. See today's post, I'll have a monthly goal list up by Monday!

@Plisskin: the running with the extra weight (body armor/dog) is a good advanced move, love it.

@Zookeeper: Well, if all else fails, I just head over to your house. ;)

@Gojiro: I knew someone would ask. I just like the way it sounds and the parallel rhythm of the syllables. I know. I'm a dork.

@con_girl: I can swim, but I could always swim better...

John Morton

Learning how to gather and purify water would be high on my list. It probably comes under foraging, I suppose.


rope/knot skills would be good. seriously. did someone already say this?


What about rope/knot skills? Also learning a little something about plants....medicinal uses and such? I'm thinking everyone should have some type of martial arts skills......or maybe I just watch too much TV. :-)


What about rope/knot skills? Also learning a little something about plants....medicinal uses and such? I'm thinking everyone should have some type of martial arts skills......or maybe I just watch too much TV. :-)


two suggestions:
1. sailing. no fuel needed, and you can get away from most (non-swimming) zombies. also, you can look awesome and get a good tan while training.

2. basic mechanic skills -- fixing car, motorcycle, and marine engines.

Captain Legion

Small engine repair
Fire Safety (what if a fire starts in your post-apocalyptic abode? how would you put it out?)
Marathon Running/Walking - There's a lot of country to walk when you run out of gas. At least 25km a day worth.
Electrical wiring - Tons of batteries or generators, nothing that fits. Also can't buy a lamp to replace a broken one. Also: Robotic Menace?
Moat digging
Lock picking
Bludgeon using
Boating - the threat may take you out to see. A small sailboat could be salvation.
Looting - Be honest. I see a zombie, I'm throwing something through a window.
Dry walling - Just a practical skill set.

Johnny Hazard

If you wanted to gather up all the weapon-wielding eggs into a single basket I would suggest either Sayoc Kali (Filipino knife fighting but transferable to anything you could imagine) or Kendo.

IF one were to find a decent place to hole up and decided on gardening you might want to pick up basic hydroponic skills since you might be underground.


I imagine you would have to sleep lightly and be ready to wake and grab your weapon at the drop of a hat. Perhaps you could set up some kind of random alarm that would wake you at night, then you would execute a series of actions within lets say 30-60 seconds. For instance you could load/check shotgun, turn on a light (torch or otherwise), and don a Kevlar vest (or perhaps a facsimile). Mainly the idea is just to work on your reaction time in a crisis.

the slackmistress

@fiefdom: While I understand your point, I would consider that in elite training.

Also, I do have to live in the real world, one where I have a husband and a dog and work three jobs (to pay the bills) and picket (as I'm a WGA member) and I'm adding this huge project to the mix; waking up in middle of the night and loading a shotgun (which is somewhat moot as I can't afford one with my $50 a month budget - firearm training is one that I'm going to have to rely on the kindness of friends to help me out) is a recipe for real disaster. While I plan on testing some of my physical limits, I will not put my family in danger.


This probably says something about me, but this is a serious comment: the ability to brew beer/make wine/create some sort of drinkable alcohol. Once you get yourself settled, and you have the "create fire" thing down, and you've built shelter, and found food, and beat back zombies... well, I don't know about you, but I am pretty sure after all that I could use a damn drink. I have a regular "Office Space" job, and I usually can use a drink by the end of the day. And I just am stitting at a desk. No zombies (lawyers, but no zombies).


Hey, plus you could use the alcohol for medical purposes (cleaning cuts, etc) ... so that would be my other suggestion: knowledge of basic, on-the-fly medical care.


oh wait... just saw you have first aid on your original list. O.K. - well, alcohol could be useful for that.


Hopefully none of this is a repeat:

For Daisy the Wonderdog, would a baby carrier work? Thinking of course of the ones mothers use to transport their wee ones.

A baby sling could work as well; if you're on a budget ( who isn't these days? ) then you might be able to make one yourself:

For basic firearm familiarization, you might consider a class. Something like the NRA Basic Pistol.

These guys out in Torrance look ok:

Knot skills / rope work has been mentioned, but bears repeating. Useful for clearing debris ( look up "timber hitch" ), shelter ( as in tying down a tarp ), food ( snares )... the list goes on.


It's a popular game amongst my friends and I to imagine that, with a click of the fingers, everyone except ourself in a given situation is zombie-fied, and to talk through our short-term survival strategy. Probably a good mental work out. You never know when the zom-pocalypse will come! I'd also say that, should you *not* be the sole survivor, having some serviceable management / teamwork / diplomacy skills will be hugely important. How many times have we seen otherwise strong survival teams torn apart by bickering?
Oh, on that note, learn another language? Learn to sign? Communicating without zombie-attracting noise would probably be useful.
Oh, and knowing enough about biology to pretend you might be able to cure the zombie-disease would probably stop you getting thrown to the proverbials.


Firstly, I would be happy to send you the book I have on basic infant/child first aid if you'd like. It's actually from my friend Brandi, who I hear you know.

Secondly, may I suggest yoga? I am not at all a fan of yoga, but did take classes for three months and about a month and a half in, found myself able to do both pushups and use stomach muscles I hadn't known I had.

Thirdly, this is a very cool idea. I may link to you on my blog, if that's okay with you.


Great list. I just wanted to point out a back-of-the-napkin analysis someone did a while back on the likely status of the power grid in the event of a full-scale zombie infestation:

You'll definitely need to bulk up if you are going to be schlepping generators and jerrycans of gasoline around while carrying a chainsaw and a 12-gauge double-barreled Remington.

Complete Geek

How about some basic marksmanship? I saw being able to load and fire a handgun/shotgun, but from how far and can you hit a moving target?

Also, I think outdoor survival skills would be a must. Identifying edible plants and building a rudimentary shelter when trekking through rural areas could be very handy.

Complete Geek

I love this idea! May I suggest basic marksmanship, ie the ability to hit a moving target.

Also basic outdoor survival skills would be a must when trekking through the wilderness.

I know how to make soap. I can write a free ebook if you want


Welding will be very useful, as long as there is electricity or gas for the generators. Basic metalworking skills (think minor smithing, soldering and the like) will be useful, especially when we're back in the bronze age. So be sure to include small things such as needles and thread in the emergency kit. 500 needles and safety pins will go a long way in trading if you do it right and they are very compact.

Also, I see many things having to do with rope and thread (tying Daisy to you, archery, horseback riding), you'll need basic rope skills for this, both knots and making rope. If you need to look up what a bowline is or have no idea why a sheet bend is better than a square knot, you'll need to find someone who does. How else are you going to secure the evil local sheriff to leave as bait for the zombies, secure your boat for a quick getaway or simply haul your pack up the cliff after you?

Chris Kreitsch

Everyone is so into this, how cool. I would like to point out two things, 1) Realistic requirements ie Basic hand to hand vs. advanced martial arts. 2) Doing this without going overboard and end up holed up in the mountains waiting for the apocalypse and missing really cool drinking parties and movies. Besides, you also have to accept the possibility that you'll wake up just long enough for the horde to break your door down and feast on your entrails. I think practical preparation is brilliant but with a sense of practicality. No I am not harshing the buzz, knowledge is power and it never hurts to plan a little just warning about going overboard.


Not to be a total party pooper, but i was working towards doing full pull-ups last year. I was doing negatives which are what a lot of people recommend to build up the strength to do full pull-ups. One day, I guess I did one too many, and that was the end of most of my upper body training for a good ten months. Rotator cuff tear and an AC joint injury. Ouchers.

Now I'm happy just to be doing girl-push-ups and bicep curls again. I was in pain for the better part of the year. So just be careful. For me, pull-ups are no longer one of my goals. I was feeling pretty super buff before the injury.

I wonder if one of Daisy's goals is to outrun you? ;)

My goals include doing more things I'm bad at or scared of, like singing more in front of people. Hmmm.

Chris Kreitsch

I wish to assist in the intermediate department. Magnifying glass or a magnesium rod (like flint and steel but easier and hotter) for fire without matches.

eli skipp

totally want to help with some of this! i know how to weave fabric, make rope, knit, crochet, makes and sew clothes (with and without a sewing machine), i'm well versed in the most useful of sailor knots (including a hangman's noose... you know, if necessary), i'm excellent at CPR and the Heimlich, i know had to use both an Arc Welder and an Acetylene torch welder...

honestly name it and i'm your girl.

Zombie Caveman

Survival cooking.
i.e. cooking a rack of lamb on the manifold of the pink mini or anything of the like


Why not put your dog to work for you? More extensive training than 'sit, come, lie down, stay'. Dogs can be useful for flushing game, tracking, or keeping watch. Not sure what your breed is or its particular characteristics. You could also jog with your dog so you can share the exercise time.


If it gets me a spot in the bunker, I will make the soap, keep the farm animals, perform basic veterinary care, train the horses AND teach you to ride them.

Wow, I never realized how much of my particular skillset can be found in "Little House On The Prairie" reruns.


I thought everyone might appreciate the following.

The Dreaded Rhubarb

I'm afraid that getting leaner won't discourage educated cannibals. Human fat is part of how the body processes toxins and is too rancid to eat, a bit like bear fat. In general, when eating human, it's best to remove the organs which can be consumed at once and leave the meat to hang for a few days.

I admit Parkour might be a bit ambitious for anyone over 20 or over about 120lbs but basic buildering skills would be useful. Check out this video of urban climbers

Not athletic but they'd all be able to get away from your basic horde.

My list of ten skills would go thus:

Strength enough to do pushups, pullups and deadlift your own weight. If you can carry someone over your shoulder that's good too. Pullups are absolutely necessary for when you're trying to get out the ceiling hatch in an elevator before the horde pries the doors open.

Sprint interval training for your fast moving zombies. Apparently also good for endurance.

Climate training as deserts/tundra have low population density and therefore fewer zombies.

All the gun stuff. Prioritize hand and shotguns. Picking the off from a distance isn't usually as necessary as blowing them away close up.

Hotwiring a car isn't that complicated, any ten year old on my street can manage it. Driving stick and basic motor maintenance are important.

Boating to get to deserted islands.

All wilderness skills (shelter building, foraging, trapping, orienteering by stars and compass, preparing game). Hiking as well I guess.

Hand to hand skills are essential if you meet a deranged group of survivors who want to use you as food, zombie bait or breeding stock. Throw in some lessons on machete and knife fighting as well. If you can chop off a zombies head, it saves increasingly scarce ammo.

In addition to mending and sewing clothes I'd add shoemaking to your elite skills. Without proper footwear, you won't get far.

You'll probably need the relaxation skills, whatever keeps you going through the bleak hopelessness and the endless privation. Best of luck.


You forgot about bartering. Bartering is key, especially for things like gasoline, shiny trinkets (for the ladies), ammo, and weed/booze.

Also, looking around all shifty-eyed. That's important to do right before you approach a booth to begin bartering.


To the First Aid / CPR skills could we tag on Triage, its easy to learn.


totally going to do this workout just in case of a post apocalypse world soon comes.


Basic survival skills: relaxation techniques/yoga


Tell me exactly why relaxation techniques/yoga is anywhere in this list. I'm a combat veteran and nowhere have I ever heard anyone, until now, put this in a list of survival skills, and above the ability to find and purify water, to boot. I mean no offense, but I can't figure out any other way to ask this: is this a California thing? I see no utility in this. If you have time to meditate, then the emergency is over.

Also, the most important survival tool you can ever own is a good, solid knife. Don't buy some piece of crap from one of those dealers at the Renaissance Faire, go into a reputable dealer and purchase the most knife you can afford. Get more than one; different styles have different uses. "The right tool for the job" applies to survival situations, too. And keep the damned things sharp. A kukri is probably the single best chopper out there, so get one. Also, a survival/hunting knife of some sort and a machete. Get at least one good, solid knife with which to field dress game; I have a 3-piece set that includes a bone saw. Always have a good utility knife or two; pocket folders will do. And a tomahawk with a hammer bit. And a good, sharp entrenching tool (short shovel, like the Spetznaz use).

Preferring to carry knives will also help you in another way: fear. A good, healthy fear of getting your ass shot off by the guy you're trying to evade will probably help most people more than owning a gun; most people do not belong in a firefight, as FBI statistics will tell you. Not counting on a gun will teach you a little healthy aversion to doing stupid things, like getting involved in a firefight when you're not prepared to do so. Then, you can sneak around and knife the bastard in his sleep and take his Vienna sausages. Or his gun.


I second reading Max Brooks, he brings up points I would have never thought of, and I thought i was pretty well trained in the art of post-apocalyptic survival


If you are in not good state and have no money to move out from that point, you would require to take the loan. Because that should aid you for sure. I take short term loan every year and feel fine just because of that.


I agree re: stocking up on knives. I like your style.

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