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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Zombie Tracking , part 2 or An Awareness Test

I promised to tell you how I used the awareness and survival skills I learned at Wilderness Awareness School to save my butt when I ran afoul of a Marine at here it is. It's really kind of funny, so enjoy.
On Saturday afternoon, after having talked to a large number of zombies about survival skills and other WAS programs, I found myself speaking to a human. He was probably under 20 and was quite excited about what we offer. His friend, a bit older and devastatingly attractive in that clean cut military way was far less interested in looking at our brochures tried to pull him away. I recognized his voice as that of the Marine who had attended the Max Brooks event earlier. I heard the world-weary exasperation of someone who was in on the joke. I guessed he was only there as a favor to his young friend. I guessed he knew about survival skills.

I figured I had one chance to change his impression of our school before he drug his friend away. What I said was, "Let me give you the name of the best survival book I've ever read." The kid pulls out a pen and gets ready to write it down. The Marine's reaction was interesting. His facial expression never changed from one of neutral disinterest. There was just the slightest shift in the way his weight was distributed.
If his friend was like a Golden Retriever puppy jumping up to get my attention, he was like a Pit Bull trying to decide if he was going to bite me or just pee on my leg. The question I felt coming from him was, "OK, granny, what can you tell me about survival skills?" He'd be able to tell me the flaws in any book I mentioned.
I'm pretty good at reading people. If he'd gotten aggressive or mouthy I wouldn't have felt the same instinctive awareness of danger. It occurred to me that dangerous dogs are quiet...the barkers and growlers may bite, but the quiet ones are the ones that will kill you. Instead of being frightened, I found myself giving the kid the name of the book, which is "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales. He didn't expect that. His expression didn't change, but a very subtle shift in his stance told me that he was listening to what I had to say. I followed up with something I read in "Outdoor Life" some years back - the biggest cause of accidental death in the outdoors is fatal overconfidence. Cool...I pulled it off...another subtle shift and I had his attention.
Speaking mostly to the kid, I had a chance to explain that we teach survival skills based on how the indigenous people of this area survived using the plants, trees, birds and animals that live here. The kid is taking notes. I mentioned that I have started to make some tintures and salves from plants that I locate and harvest. This got a smile from the Marine...he thought that was interesting...Did we teach mycology? Darn it...we don't yet. Mushrooms can kill you. He did seem to be impressed that I knew what mycology was. After a few more tidbits about what we do offer, the pair walked away...and they were looking at the classes mentioned on the back of our special ZomBcon postcard.

And that's the story of how I used awareness and survival skills to avoid getting my butt kicked by a very attractive Marine at ZomBcon.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Zombie Tracking, or They Pay Me for This

So Wilderness Awareness School go invited - yes, invited - to have a booth at the first annual ZomBcon event at Seattle Center over Halloween weekend. They asked for a speaker to talk about where Seattle residents would go and how they would get out of the city in the event of the Zombie Apocalypse. They were serious. Did we go? You bet we did. Although October was a crazy month if the bookkeeper's office, I got permission to go work the booth on Friday (the day after our annual audit!) and on Saturday. It was a hoot...and while I had expected the event to be dark and scary, I was happily surprised to find that zombies are a lot like us...well, us from Wilderness Awareness School, anyway.
The top photo shows Lindsay and Shondell in front of our "shelter" and our table displays. Jan (or Yawn, as I like to call him), who was in my WARP class in 06/07, and now works as our web guy, had created a cool zombie-themed postcard with info about our survival skills. That's him on the far right of the center photo (with Shondell looking on) demonstrating how to make a bow-drill fire.
The third photo shows Evan, another of my classmates and his zombie friend checking out our booth. Jan and I hadn't seen him since graduation, and were surprised to bump into him there.
We were supposed to have 20 minutes to talk after Max Brooks (author of the Zombie Survival Guide) and a couple of other guys spoke. We got cut to 2 minutes, but Mike was still so amazing that I had people stopping at the booth to learn more about us!
Next post, I'll tell you how the survival skills I learned at WAS kept me from getting my butt kicked by a marine who stopped by our booth! I hope they let me out of the office more often. It was fun.

My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books

  • Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
  • Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
  • Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
  • Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
  • Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books

  • "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
  • Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
  • "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
  • Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
  • Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
  • Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
  • Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"