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Halloween D.I.Y Project: Make Your Own Zombie

Halloween D.I.Y Project: Make Your Own Zombie
Make Your Own Zombie

    One of the most overlooked yet incredibly useful personal productivity tools available today is the zombie. Though incapable of many creative tasks, they are ideal for most corporate work, and suitable for all manner of tasks requiring physical strength, repetitive actions, risk to life and limb, or the death of your enemies. What’s more, zombies work for free (though you must remember never to feed them anything with salt in it). What better way is there to Get Things Done?

    Zombies are the ultimate D.I.Y. project, and uses only natural materials (though handle them with care, lest you find you’ve zombified yourself). Follow these simple steps and you’ll have your own zombie ready to work in no time!

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    (Note: The creation of zombies is regulated by law in some principalities. Please check your local statutes on zombie creation and ensure all relevant permissions and licenses are obtained before undertaking such a project. The following information is offered for education purposes only; the author assumes no liability for damages suffered as a result of readers’ use of this information.)
    The secret of zombie-making is in the coupe poudre, a powder that is rubbed onto or otherwise introduced onto the skin of your future zombie servant. While recipes for coupe poudre are a closely guarded secret, a little trial and error should get you there — try experimenting on unwanted pets before taking on a human victim. You’ll need the following materials:

    1. Tetrodotoxin: A neurotoxin found in the liver and ovaries of the pufferfish Fugu rubripes, tetrodotoxin administered in the right dosage causes paralysis and the reduction of the metabolism and heart rate, causing the future zombie to appear dead to all but the most sensitive medical equipment. This is the same fugu found in the sushi specialty, which causes several deaths annually (more than a few of which “dead” have woken up in the morgue when the toxin wore off, causing quite a scare among morgue workers!) An important side effect of tetrodotoxin is that the victim, though appearing dead, remains fully conscious — this will be crucial to the success of your project.
    2. Bufotenin: The cane toad, or Bufo marinus, secretes a white, milky irritant called bufotenin from glands at the rear of its head. This highly toxic irritant can inflame the eyes and skin, and even kill small cats and dogs (so handle carefully). Bufotenin also causes mild hallucinations, and is a controlled substance in many parts of the world.
    3. The skin of the Dominican tree frog: The tree frogs found in Dominican Republic and Haiti produce an irritating secretion similar to, but far less deadly than, that of the cane toad. Rich in this secretion, the skins are dried and ground, producing a skin irritant that causes tiny wounds in the skin’s surface and allows the toxins to enter the bloodstream.
    4. A clay jar: Used to hold the zombie’s ti-bon anj (the part of the soul responsible for free will and human agency). Any earthenware jar should work fine, so long as it’s large enough to hold a ti-bon anj — however, you’ll be keeping this for the length of your zombie’s service, so make sure it’s an easily identified jar you won’t mind showing off to visitors.
    5. Other ingredients: Although the ingredients above are key, other ingredients may be added to suit your own personal taste and style. Ground tarantulas, shaved-off pieces of human skulls, and other additions add that dash of individuality to your recipe, letting your zombies know you really care!

    The ingredients are mixed together and ground into a powder, which is often left to age for a couple days to build up magical potency. You’ll have to figure out how to introduce the coupe poudre into your victim’s system — perhaps sprinkle it on their bedclothes? However you do it, the result should be their apparent death. Try not to appear too eager at this point; zombie-masters are not always well-received in many communities. After suitable ceremonies and mourning and the preparation of the body, your future zombie will be buried.

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    Remember: assuming your preparation worked, your victim is not only still alive but fully conscious. While you are preparing for the second stage of your project, your future zombie is being buried alive while hallucinating badly because of the effects of the bufotenin. This trauma is the raw clay from which you will reform your new zombie’s psyche; revel in it a bit.

    After a suitable time period — not long enough for your victim to die of asphyxiation in their coffin, but long enough so that there aren’t likely to be any mourners standing vigil over the gravesite — you will need to dig up your zombie and revive her or him. For this step, you will use another preparation made from the datura plant, known in Haiti as “zombie cucumber”.

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    Datura is very high in two dangerous alkaloid compounds, scopolamine and atropine. The atropine is a stimulant used in modern medicine to help revive heart attack patients; you will be using it to “jump start” your zombie’s metabolism. It is also a hallucinogen, as is scopolamine, though not quite as potent. Scopolamine is a powerful hallucinogen, but has other important properties, most notably causing amnesia and long-term memory loss, causing your victim to forget most of the details of his or her past. It also makes your subject extremely suggestible (hence its use by many bad people as a “date-rape drug” and experiments by the CIA for use as a truth serum).

    Psychologically damaged by the experience of being paralyzed for days and buried alive, hallucinating badly much of the time, and then administered high doses of further mind-altering substances, your subject will now be completely zombified — a zombie worker completely obedient to your commands. The uses of a zombie are numerous: pick up dry cleaning, write your division’s quarterly earnings report, harvest your sugar cane, attack your co-workers — the possibilities are endless. Periodic administrations of the zombie cucumber may be necessary; use your own judgment. Remember not to feed it any salt or the spell will be broken, and while ex-zombie attacks on their former masters are rare, they are not unheard of. Also, you’d probably do best to keep it away from renowned zombie-fighting troubadour Jonathan Coulton.

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    Good luck, and happy Halloween!

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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