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by Dan Brawner Times Columnist · February 23rd, 2017


Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse? No? Well, there is probably still time to get ready. But you will need some money and a generous dose of paranoia.

Okay, there are no zombies, although the fear of zombies is a very real psychological condition called "kinemortophobia," which literally means fear of moving dead, uh, stuff. But even though there is little chance of being attacked by the walking dead, you have to wonder what you would do if "the grid" goes down. We all know that feeling when there is a sudden power outage - like being punched in the gut. We stare at our darkened TV or computer screen and wonder how in the world we are going to make it for the next hour or so without the latest episode of "Shark Tank" or being able to check our Facebook page.

Let's be realistic: If there were something like an atomic blast that knocked out electricity across the country, things would get crazy. After five million people poured out of New York City in search of a Starbucks, eventually they would get hungry. And within three days, there wouldn't be a deer or a squirrel or a fish or a dog or cat left alive within 100 miles. After that, your ability to start a fire by rubbing two dry sticks together would be the least of your worries.

Nevertheless, there is a thriving industry dedicated to supplying would-be survivalists with special gear and guidebooks designed to transform accountants and web designers into Grizzly Adams. One of my favorite YouTube sites is "Survival Russia," run by a big hairy Danish guy named Lars who lives in the woods in Siberia with a remarkably tolerant dog and an invisible wife. One thing for sure is that where Lars lives is isolated and cold. Sometimes, he has to apologize that his camera isn't working so well because it's 40 below zero, although Lars seems to love the Siberian winter. "It's awesome!" he enthuses in a strong Nordic accent.

However, Lars did point out once that there were bears in the area that recently killed two of his neighbor's dogs. And partially ate the neighbor. Lars mentions the latter as a segue into the importance of having good, reliable equipment. Even if it does cost an arm and a ... well, you get the picture.

Lars demonstrates a four-foot long, $300 Silky hand saw that can take down a pine tree with a few brisk strokes. He builds an enormous bonfire, which he ignites with no small difficulty using flint and steel, tenderly nurturing a tiny spark in a bed of birch bark. (Maybe they don't have Bic lighters and gasoline in Russia.)

He shows off a survival flashlight so bright it could signal ships, and a cozy winter coat made in Sweden. Lars does a taste test of Russian military rations of dried fish, vegetable ragout, goulash, and potatoes, which he declares to be tasty. But, side by side, there is no comparison to the Danish MRE with its apple porridge, liver pate, rye bread, and gourmet straw-berry jam. Awesome. (Does this guy even have a job?)

What red blooded non-zombie wouldn't want their own "bug-out" bag, complete with windproof matches, a water purification filter, signal mirror, camouflage face paint and a Bowie knife that could stab through a steel door? And $600 insulated boots and a $400 gas stove that will fit in your pocket? Because, when the zombies see all your cool stuff, they'll probably just surrender.
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