Make Your Own Zombie

With Halloween coming, you might just want to create your own Zombie.  Check out this article:

How to Make a Zombie (Seriously)

By Marc Lallanilla, Assistant Editor   |   October 24, 2013 04:30pm ET
A guy dressed up as a zombie with bloody hands and on a black background
 Most rational people scoff at the suggestion that zombies are real, but a number of respected medical experts and academic journals have presented evidence that zombies are, in fact, real.
Credit: Vietrov Dmytro | Shutterstock

The slouching, flesh-eating zombie has become one of the most in-vogue creatures in current TV and movie offerings, appearing in films like “World War Z” and in the AMC series “The Walking Dead.”

Most rational people scoff at the suggestion that zombies are real, but a number of respected medical experts and academic journals have presented evidence that zombies are, in fact, real.

To understand the zombie phenomenon and its Haitian roots, an appreciation of the practice of vodou (sometimes spelled voodoo or vodun) is needed. A religion based in West Africa, voodou is still practiced in varying forms throughout the Caribbean, Brazil, the American South and other places with a strong African heritage.

Vodou spirituality has a rich tradition of fetish objects, including the so-called “voodoo doll.” Practitioners of vodou also place a particular importance on herbal remedies and other concoctions that may include animal parts, such as bones and hair, dried plants, shells, minerals or other ingredients.

Toads, worms and human remains

Vodou priests known as bokor create a white, powdery compound called coupe poudre, according to numerous reports. The ingredients in this powder allegedly can turn a person into a zombie. In the 1980s, Harvard ethnobotanist Wade Davis traveled to Haiti to investigate zombies and “zombie powder.”

 A residential neighborhood near downtown Port-au-Prince, the capital and largest city in Haiti.
Credit: arindambanerjee /

Though different bokor used different ingredients in their powders, Davis found that “there are five constant animal ingredients: burned and ground-up human remains [usually bone], a small tree frog, a polychaete [segmented] worm, a large New World toad, and one or more species of pufferfish. The most potent ingredients are the pufferfish, which contain deadly nerve toxins known as tetrodotoxin,” Davis wrote in Harper’s Magazine.

Some in the scientific community have criticized Davis’ research — his investigation was published in 1983 in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology — but his identification of tetrodotoxin as the active ingredient in zombie powder has considerable scientific merit.

Euphoria, then death

Several animals contain tetrodotoxin in their tissues; the liver, eyes and ovaries of the pufferfish (genus Takifugu) have especially high amounts of the lethal nerve toxin. Though regarded as a delicacy in Japan, the fish and some of its organs (especially the liver) are banned as food items in many places because of the dangers.

In small amounts, tetrodotoxin causes numbness, tingling and a not-unpleasant sensation of floating — even euphoria — according to reports from brave gourmands who have sampled carefully prepared pufferfish. High levels of the toxin, however, can cause death within minutes due to respiratory failure.

But at sublethal doses, the toxin can leave a victim in a state of suspended animation: Breathing is subdued and barely perceptible by observers, the heart rate is near zero, but the person remains conscious and aware (though unable to speak).

Zombie slavery

This toxin, then, may form the basis of the zombie phenomenon. According to Davis and other observers, a person who is exposed to a certain amount of zombie powder containing tetrodotoxin can slip into a vegetative state resembling death. Shortly after the person is buried, their body is exhumed by a bokor.

Though the exhumed zombie usually suffers from apoxia (oxygen deprivation) caused by breathing the limited amount of air inside a coffin, the bokor wields control over the person by continually administering a second drug, a psychoactive compound derived from the jimson weed (Datura stramonium). This second drug causes delirium and disorientation, rendering the person incapable of normal functioning.

The British medical journal The Lancet published three accounts of “zombification” in 1997. In one case, a woman who was presumed dead and was buried in a family tomb reappeared three years later — she was positively identified by several family members and townspeople. “After a local court authorized the opening of her tomb, which was full of stones, her parents were undecided whether to take her home, and she was admitted to the psychiatric hospital in Port-au-Prince,” the authors wrote.

Because death certificates and other official niceties are rare in rural Haiti, and because burial generally occurs within a day of death, “it is not implausible for a retrieved person to be alive,” the authors added. “The use of Datura stramonium to revive them, and its possible repeated administration during the period of zombie slavery, could produce a state of extreme psychological passivity.”

The legal status of zombies

A well-known report of a zombie comes from the pages of ChemMatters, the publication of the American Chemical Society. In 1962, a man named Clairvius Narcisse was admitted to Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Port-au-Prince with severe respiratory problems. After slipping into a coma, Narcisse was later declared dead by two hospital doctors and was buried shortly thereafter.

Eighteen years later, in 1980, a man shuffled up to Angelina Narcisse in a village marketplace and identified himself as her brother. He related a story of being buried alive, dug up and enslaved on a distant sugar plantation. Doctors who examined Narcisse — and dozens of villagers and family members — positively identified him as the man who was buried in 1962.

But if you’re tempted to make a zombie slave of your own, be aware that the zombie phenomenon is considered so real in Haiti that it’s specifically outlawed.

Article 249 of the Haitian penal code states, “It shall also be qualified as attempted murder the employment which may be made against any person [using] substances which, without causing actual death, produce a lethargic coma more or less prolonged. If, after the person had been buried, the act shall be considered murder no matter what result follows.”

The Toll Of Hurricane Sandy

Sandy by the numbers: trying to comprehend a stunning disaster

Published: 7:19 PM GMT on November 01, 2012

The immensity of the impact of Superstorm Sandy on the Eastern U.S. is difficult to comprehend, and the scenes of devastation coming from the impact zone are stunning and heart-wrenching. To help understand the extraordinary scale of this historic storm, I’ve put together a list of notable statistics from Sandy:

Death toll: 160 (88 in the U.S., 54 in Haiti, 11 in Cuba)

Damage estimates: $10 – $55 billion

Power outages: 8.5 million U.S. customers, 2nd most for a natural disaster behind the 1993 blizzard (10 million)

Maximum U.S. sustained winds: 69 mph at Westerly, RI

Peak U.S. wind gusts: 90 mph at Islip, NY and Tompkinsville, NJ

Maximum U.S. storm surge: 9.45′, Bergen Point, NJ 9:24 pm EDT October 29, 2012

Maximum U.S. Storm Tide: 14.60′, Bergen Point, NJ, 9:24 pm EDT October 29, 2012

Maximum wave height: 33.1′ at the buoy east of Cape Hatteras, NC (2nd highest: 32.5′ at the Entrance to New York Harbor)

Maximum U.S. rainfall: 12.55″, Easton, MD

Maximum snowfall: 36″, Richwood, WV

Minimum pressure: 945.5 mb, Atlantic City, NJ at 7:24 pm EST, October 29, 2012. This is the lowest pressure measured in the U.S., at any location north of Cape Hatteras, NC (previous record: 946 mb in the 1938 hurricane on Long Island, NY)

Destructive potential of storm surge: 5.8 on a scale of 0 to 6, highest of any hurricane observed since 1969. Previous record: 5.6 on a scale of 0 to 6, set during Hurricane Isabel of 2003.

Diameter of tropical storm-force winds at landfall: 945 miles

Diameter of ocean with 12′ seas at landfall: 1500 miles

Figure 1. The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image of Superstorm Sandy around 3:35 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (7:35 Universal Time) on October 30. This image is from the “day-night band” on VIIRS, which detects light wavelengths from green to near-infrared. The full Moon lit up the tops of the clouds. Image credit: NASA.

Figure 2. Preliminary death and damage statistics for Sandy as compiled by Wikipedia on November 1, 2012.

Figure 3. Precipitation from Superstorm Sandy for the 7-day period ending at 8 am EDT Thursday, November 1, 2012. Image credit: NOAA/NWS/AHPS.

Figure 4. Top five weather-related power outages in the U.S.

Figure 5. Strong winds from Sandy blow snow in West Virginia on October 30, 2012. Image credit: Facebook/Cheryl Clay

Sandy’s snows
Several cities set records for snowiest October day on record during Sandy: Elkin, WV (7″, previous record, 4.6″ in 1917) and Bluefield (4.7″, previous record 3.2″ in 1993.) Heavy snows caused roof collapses in West Virginia, and snows of two feet or more fell in four states–West Virginia, Tennessee, Maryland, and Virginia. However, Sandy fell short of setting the all-time record for snowfall from a hurricane. The Vermont Journal estimated that the Snow Hurricane of 1804 dumped up to 4 feet of snow in Vermont.

36″ Richwood, WV
34″ Mount Leconte, TN
34″ Sevier, TN
33″ Clayton, WV
32″ Snowshoe, WV
29″ Quinwood, WV
28″ Frostburg, WV
28″ Davis, WV
28″ Huttonsville, WV
28″ Flat Top, WV
26″ Redhouse, MD
26″ Garret, MD
26″ Craigsville, WV
24″ Oakland, MD
24″ Alpine Lake, WV
24″ Nettie, WV
24″ Norton, VA
24″ Quinwood, WV
24″ Alexander, WV

Impressive loop of 1-minute visible satellite imagery spanning 6 days of Sandy’s life.

A one-day time lapse video from a New York City webcam showing Sandy’s impact on the city. It’s eerie to see the city suddenly plunged into darkness.

First round of damage assessment aerial imagery collected by NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey on Oct. 31 along the New Jersey coast.

Figure 6. Flooding in Haiti from Hurricane Sandy. Image credit: The Lambi Fund of Haiti.

Charities mobilize for Sandy
The outpouring of charitable donations in the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy has been one of the bright spots in the gloomy aftermath of the storm. The main owners of The Weather Channel have agreed to match donations of up to $1 million to the American Red Cross, if you text SANDY to 90999 ($10). I also recommend my favorite disaster relief charity, They are focusing their response efforts exclusively on the post-Sandy neeeds of people with disabilities.Check out the Portlight blog to see what they’re up to; donations are always needed.

Sandy’s greatest devastation occurred in Haiti, where rains of up to 20 inches in 24 hours unleashed rampaging flood waters that killed at least 54, left 200,000 homeless, wiped out thousand of acres of crops, and killed massive numbers of livestock. For impoverished families in Haiti still struggling to recover from the earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Isaac in August, Sandy was devastating.  These crops are the very essence of rural Haitian’s livelihoods, and there are fears widespread starvation will result. A disaster relief charity in Haiti that I’ve contributed to for many years, The Lambi Fund of Haiti, is seeking donations to help farmers purchase local seeds so that they can replant their crops in the wake of this latest terrible Haitian catastrophe.


Dominican Republic Earthquake

(As you know, the Dominican Republic shares an island with Haiti.  My concern here is the possibility of another quake related to this one which could potentially affect Haiti also, if not the whole island.  This is a land of great poverty and want.  Even small natural disasters are magnified under such conditions, in terms of the effect on people there.)

Shallow earthquake in the southern part of the Dominican Republic

Last update: January 5, 2012 at 11:32 am by By

Earthquake overview : Moderate earthquake with epicenter in the southern part of the island.  The earthquake has been felt all over the island (including in Haiti)

Epicenter landscape – panoramio image courtesy Elnalouise

11:28 UTC : The Dominican Republic Civil Defense has alerted all of his services minutes after the quake occurred but at the time of writing this update, NO damage or injuries have been reported. Authorities in the direct epicenter area are currently inspecting buildings and public works to assess the situation.

11:04 UTC –  Rock slides have been reported along the road from Azua to San Juan. Drivers are warned to be careful in driving this road.

11:02 UTC – The epicenter has been located 17 km South-East of  Ocoa. Following the local media who are referring the the Dominican seismological agency UASD, the depth of the hypocenter was at 33 km and the magnitude was measures as 5.2. Both USGS and EMSC have reported a magnitude of 5.3 at a depth of 10 km.  33 km or 10 km makes a world of difference towards damaging capability.

– As early stated in this report, the earthquake has been felt almost all over the country but will have been felt also in neighboring Haiti !

– A lot of people are downloading our QuakeSOS iPhone application, but so far people are only testing and sending SAFE alerts.

– reports from the Dominican Republic are talking about people leaving their houses in panic (normal with such a magnitude)

– Maximum recorded (reported) MMI seems to be V = moderate shaking. Moderate shaking damage can be cracks in walls at max., but we will have to wait for a few more hours to be certain that no additional damage has been inflicted.

– The area has a lot of hills (see image)

– Closest villages to the epicenter (errors are possible within a radius of 16 km) : La Palma, Calderon, Hatillo, Agua, Galeon and Bani

– EMSC reports the same values than USGS (5.3 @ 10 km)

– The earthquake occurred during the early morning hours 05:35 AM !, when almost everybody was still sleeping

– the shallow hypocenter (focal depth) makes this earthquake moderately dangerous within a radius of 20 km.

Most important Earthquake Data:
Magnitude : 5.3
UTC Time : Thursday, January 05, 2012 at 09:35:29 UTC
Local time at epicenter : Thursday, January 05, 2012 at 05:35:29 AM at epicenter
Depth (Hypocenter) : 10 km
Geo-location(s) :
17 km (10 miles) SSE (149°) from Ocoa, Peravia, Dominican Republic
33 km (20 miles) W (270°) from San Cristóbal, San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic
50 km (31 miles) W (260°) from SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic

for more information and updates, go to:

More on Emily

Martin: What will be Emily is what I warned almost three weeks ago

Published on August 1, 2011 12:20 am PT
– By Dave Tole – Writer
– Article Editor and Approved – Ron Jackson

Click to view long range track

( — A tropical wave is moving westward toward the Puerto Rico areas this week which could be the next named system, Emily.

TWS Senior Meteorologist Kevin Martin warned the Caribbean and interests in Florida of a Cape Verde wave he saw over Africa on July 13th, which would eject out of Africa on the 24th and finally into the Caribbean around this time, the first week of August. (View that story here)

“What will be Emily is what I warned almost three weeks ago,” said Martin. “When I make a forecast that far out I tend to forget I did. Many do because this was three weeks ago. This system should impact Puerto Rico and move through Haiti, finally heading into the Bahamas by Friday and curving away from the USA just east of Florida.”

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