How we celebrated things

It is the end of the year and people are celebrating so I write a bit about how we celebrated.

Actually we did not celebrate anything particular, like birthdays or christmas or anything similar. Maybe we celebrated fact that we are alive. If we manage to have something like safe house to fix something as a party we just bring whatever we had and party there.

shoot

Usually it were two things, heavy home made drink and marijuana (everyone was growing that at that time), and music sometimes. Sometimes in a form of some kind of musical instruments, or sometimes in very rare ocassions in a form of some battery powered stereo or boom box.

To understand how that looks, you first need to understand what all that ment to us. Every occasion for any kind of party was something like way to get away from rude and hard reality. So whenever i attended to some kind of party it was a special. With very few things it was great.

Sometimes few cigarettes, bottle of drink and good company of 3 friends was a best party that i ever attended, even before and after all of that. And when somebody brought boombox and we listen music, it was not like we listen music today. It was like we listen music for real, like we never listen music before or after. Magical. We feel that music, we feel those few cigarettes and alcohol. It is actually precious and special feeling. Simple things just meant a lot. Music alone was enough to get you “high”. When you are so depraved of special things, things like that become very intense.

It is much easier to bond with people in ocassion like that. I could say it is spiritual and weird. Important thing to mention also is that feelings and customs about get together with girls and sex are “moved” on scale. If i wanted to speak in today terms, if you attended on some party and you had will, few joints or bottle of hard thing, you had a great time, because boys and girls in those parties lived for that moment only, nobody was sure is tommorow gonna come for them.

So in reality if you attend on some kind of party where we had 10-15 people including women, it was not like in parties before and after that. I guess it comes from fact that life was not worthed to much so “thanks” to that connections between man and woman could be maded more easily then in normal times, much more easily.

If girl want to connect with you, or you wanted to connect with girl, you just ask. Some things just become more easily to do, with lot of shortcuts. People just do things without regreting because times were hard and so unpredictable. So nobody wanted to have too much missed chances.

Every part of town, every street had something as a” safe hose” for party. Sometimes houses changed, mostly not. Young people still tried to get together, to do what most of the young people do. Party.

Friendship are maded fast, relationship are maded fast, broke fast, fun was fast and unpredictable.

If i can say that one good thing is come from all of that it was a fact that we did not have enough time to pretend in our ways of expressing emotions, for example expressing our love. It was fast and very powerful. I guess true nature of people is visible in hard times, emotions can be expressed easily if you aware that maybe you are gonna die tommorow.

One place I remember was basement of partially burned house, on small windows are bags of dirt, with very small openings for ventilation. Basement is divided into two big “rooms” with some old furniture, and all kinds of junk, like engine cover from ruined car, that we put on cinder blocks for building houses and use it as a table, in other room there is a part which is separated with a old curtains, and made like more “private” for “love” purposes.

Air is congested with smoke, so actually you do not need to ask for joint, you just need to breath inside and you gonna be fine.

We are all best friends for that night, because tommorow may not come, we all ready to speak stories that are normaly not going to speak because same reason. Music is giving you feeling that there is a reason and sense for life. I am looking for a girl so i can spend that night with her there, talk nonsense or story of my life, she is looking for that too. The parties were out little escapes and helped us to keep a bit normalcy in these hard times. Music was very powerful so you might want to add a small music player to your preps if you do not have already.

15 or 20 years later sometimes, in rare ocassions when i meet some of the girls from those parties, we just share small smile, we do not talk.

Suburban Survival – Space to Secure vs Privacy

I get this question often so I answer it here.

“I would like to be part of a community or family larger than 2 or 3, but my extended family is worthless. My husband’s family is 1000 miles away, and don’t get the advantages of family either. My hope is to stick to our suburban home with a few good neighbors on our block. Is that a fantasy?”

suburban survival

Hello and welcome, fantasy is way too strong word, lot of the things can be turned from fantasy to the real things very easy. I think it is the worst scenario, to be in the suburban when sh!t hit the fan. Worse than even city, and for sure worse than rural.

Because of defense. In most cases people are further away between houses, so there is not too much sense of organizing something as a small group of neighbors. Too hard to keep it secure if you do not have the numbers.

It always depends on the space where you live. Few neighbors in close houses like in city make sense because you have less area to secure, more choke points. Few neighbours is way too little in suburban but of course always depends on your area.

But still if i found myself in the suburban areas, i do not think i can survive without some bigger numbers, and bigger organisation, on street level. The alternative would be to take neighbors in or secure smaller area like 2 houses instead of 6. So families of 6 houses move into 2 houses and secure those. I saw some families survive like this on outskirts of city.

We also moved all people (15) to one house, but we were in city so our defense setup was different anyway.

Problem is people, neighbors will want to keep their space, privacy and all that so most will not come. But as soon as neighbors family lies robbed and dead in the garden people will reconsider and trade privacy for security. Many people had to get hurt first or loved ones get killed before they learned. Learn now, that you and loved ones don’t get hurt.

Survival Situation – Action Wins

Usually we take for granted what we see on TV, or other media. You can say “No i am always suspicious and do not believe all this” but most of us are forming our opinions unconsciously. So at the end, over the time we just have some opinions, and we are just sure about some situations and solutions, we believe some things just work like that because we saw it so often. Even if we are not experience that in real life, or even if we are not spending much time thinking about these things.

You see action movie and people just shoot each other no big deal.

As i say before, act of shooting is not so hard, actually it is pretty much easy, but decision to shoot someone is much harder, and great majority of people have problem with that decision in real life.

shoot

On one of the local meeting during our hard time people tried to organize some stuff like how to protect homes, set up some kind of neighborhood watch or something like that, most of the guys were armed with guns or any other kind of weapon, on the other side mostly all without previous experience with guns or weapon.

Guy who had a rifle was a taxi driver in normal times, he bought rifle few days before everything started, probably just gets know about basics with gun handling, but he was trying to look dangerous and relaxed in same time. In the middle of some kind of meeting and yelling he somehow gets in argue with another guy, who had a hunting knife on his belt.

Very soon argue was out of control and man took his knife out of the belt and start to approach guy with rifle. It was not something like jump or sudden attack, it was more like slow threatening walk with knife toward the man. Ex taxi driver had enough time to raise his rifle and simply shoot the guy with knife, but he did not, he got finished off, stabbed multiple times.

People just left the area and move on. Guy was left there, I guess relatives picked him up some time later. Body was gone the next day.

It was not about his speed or something like that, i guess he was just stuck with whole situation, he hesitated too much, he was not prepared for that threat, he was not ready, call it as you like. Now when you look in whole situation looks strange that guy did not just raise rifle and fired, but to do that you need first to cross over some things in your mind. That change takes time.

I have seen more situations like this one, sometimes just seconds counts, and your will to do things.

My ex coworker bleed to death because his wife freezed when heavy caliber bullets cut off his arm, even she had some kind of tourniquet and some bandages close to her, she did not use anything, she just screamed while blood was pouring all around him.

It is hard to get your mind in state when you not think too much, instead of just act accordingly, it is hard to do that especially in not normal times. Hard times can learn people to act like that, but it is hard school and lot of people just failed. Great majority of us is same like that taxi driver, only few of us like guy with knife.

This is not about becoming killer, or toughest man. It is about acting. Hopefully your SHTF situation will not be as violent as mine. But remember human act or freeze and freezing can happen to all of us. Prepare people around you to not freeze but act by practicing drills.

Yes there is reason why you do “boring” airplane and ship rescue drills. It teaches you to act and this might make difference between life and death.

Getting to know Selco

*Disclaimer: This is a guest post by Jay, the guy who does the site with Selco.*

Like many of you I know Selco from his posts at a big survival forum. I thought his story is a story that must be told and if possible in great detail because who can we learn better from than someone who has been through the end of the world as he knew it.

If you would like to climb Mount Everest would you listen to someone who has been up there or someone who just imagines how it is up there?

I live in Thailand for most of the year and just a few days after Selco agreed to do the interviews and online course about his experience and preparations, I was already on a plane to Europe. A long bus ride later, I was in Selco’s country. It was quite depressing to still see the scars of war on almost every corner… literally because usually people looked for cover behind corners so they were especially riddled with bullets.

I met Selco in my hotel and he surprised me with a nice Browning folding knife as a gift. I had a shoulder holster for his Glock 21 as a surprise for him… so it seemed we kind of understood each other and hit it off well. We went out to get some coffee. Coffee is really big there and you see people drinking coffee like people in other countries drink water.

In the mall I was surprised to see so many security guys. Selco explained that’s normal, and it makes sense because so many people carry weapons and the tension and people with post war mental problems don’t make the situation any better.

We went back to the hotel and started the interviews. I had 17 pages of questions prepared but while we spoke, many more questions came up. Before I met Selco I also had friends from the US Army and even a SERE instructor who added a few questions. While I did my best to ask “everything” those of you who join the course early on have the chance to ask even more questions. We have planned to do another four interviews in the weeks after the course launches with your questions.

I stayed a whole week with Selco, and this week was a bit like time traveling. He showed me some of the real places. We recorded a lot, and the more I heard from him, the more I understood his survival mindset that enabled him to overcome something so bad and terrifying that it’s hard to imagine.

I was amazed by how he was able to speak about so many devastating experiences and personal tragedies and still remain alright. He is really someone who has processed all that happened to him and the people around him and can live with this experience in peace now.

It is a bit weird but if you hear his story in detail, it just changes your perspective. If you compare this with food then most of the survival books and advice I read so far tasted like frozen pizza with lots of artifical ingredients to somehow enhance the taste, while what I learned from Selco was like a good juicy grass fed beef steak from the grill. More natural, more real and in the end simply better.

What Selco has to share is honest, it is real, it is brutal, dirty, smelly and unpleasant. Welcome to one of the toughest real survival experiences… that lasted a whole year…

I’m not sure about you but I had so many “aha moments” when reading what Selco wrote. I had many more of these defining moments where you gain real wisdom and understand something during this week with him. Many things I understood and learned are things that are better learned from someone else, because if you have to find that out for yourself through trial and error, you might simply die in the process.

Maybe you know some people who had a really hard life and who overcame a lot of massive problems or went through extremely tough times to just come out of it stronger, wiser and more balanced? That describes Selco. There is no hate and no anger, but determination. A strong, pure will to do what it takes. He is a go-getter and this is also what helped him to survive this year in hell. He is really not a person who would start a fight but also not a person anyone would want to fight. He just does what has to be done.

We expect the course to start in the first week of January.

On Buying Gold & Silver for Survival Preparedness

I am very sorry because i have to destroy some popular opinions on some things, but i just have to do that. When i said and keep saying “no rules” i mean that. You can not have something like ideal preparations, you can only try to have it (and then hungry man down the road still might shoot you with his antique hunting rifle for a bit of flour). survival fear

So again on bartering and gold and silver:

No, gold and silver was not like second money, or second value during SHTF, it was not even worth like in normal times, and in most of the cases it was dangerous to have it a lot (actually it was too dangerous to have anything in great amounts and let other people to know that) If you had for example 1000 gold coins, and let s say that one coin worth 150 USD in normal times, you could think that you are rich in shtf.

But in reality it was hard to find someone who give you some food or battery or whatever useful for one coin. Gold coin was not useful for 90 percent of people, what they could use it for? Eat it? Start fire with that?

Only people which could use that gold were people who had connection to outside world, so they could use it for buying things trough their connections. In most cases they just used situation to acquire great amounts of gold for the future and in exchange for some simple things, like food, or fuel or…

They did that because they had everything else.

But thing is it was hard to make trade with people like that, because bad kind of people had connections or were gathering gold, so they can just gonna take that gold from you and give you nothing, or bullet in your head.

So yes gold was useful and not useful, it dependeds what kind of people or group you belonged to.

If we have worldwide crisis and you can not get food anywhere the first currency of choice will be food or useful things, not gold or silver. If you want gold to keep some kind of value for one day after all is over make sure you are prepped for long, long time crisis before that.

It is better to have some useful stuff in your prepping, then to waste money on gold or silver. And of course if you still want to have a lot of gold as a part of your preparations, i suggest you buy lot odd simple gold rings, or simple cheaper gold necklace, it makes more sense than to have gold coins.

In hurry it is gonna make more sense to offer “your wifes gold ring” someone for cans or something else then to offer someone some “strange” gold coin for food or one of the typical gold coins you can buy from gold sellers these days, it can raise some questions, and you do not need raising questions in situation like that. Stay low key. Be the guy with the last family jewels not the guy with gold coins from typical gold sellers.

I would say that in SHTF it is gonna be easier and cheaper to get gold then in normal times. Bartering was not a thing of some regular prices or regular places, even “expensive”things changed. Meet the guy with terrible toothache and you are only person who can do an ok tooth surgery. He will give you some gold for that if he can or a lot of other valuable things to simply get out of this situation.

As i remember coffee and cigarettes was hard to find and expensive through all of the time, everything else changed, sometimes was expensive and hard to find, sometimes not.

But important to remember is to make it easier to you, so obliviously, it is much easier to carry and trade candles and batteries than 20 liters of fuel. There is no sense of letting everybody know that you are “man for trade” and that you have a lot fuel for example, because then you might end finished robbed and probably dead.

If you can be, be a traveling trader and do not trade too often with same people if you can avoid that. People also got shot after trading with one person a few times before. Other person might just run out of things to trade and call on you to come to trade and all he has is bullet for you in exchange for what he needs (and he knows you come with what he needs).

In some hardest period cigarettes was sold at one piece, i mean you could buy one cigarette for something, it was so expensive. Same was with coffee, even some substitutes for coffee were expensive. Now you need to know that traditionally here people drink coffee a lot, so maybe some other thing is so “important” in your area, like tea, beer or something else.

But do not expect that people will loose their addictions because times are hard.

One of my older relatives smoked cigarettes while he had it, after that he smoked tobacco (pipe), after that he bought from some folks pieces of dry tobacco roots or tree, used knife to cut small pieces of that and smoked that, and after that he used some dry leafs from tree and smoke that. He never quit smoking.

So in short instead of getting gold and silver to preserve your wealth you might consider getting useful stuff and if you like gold there is always option to get it from unprepared people in exchange for useful stuff if you think you need this for times after. If you already have everything you really think you could need then gold and silver might be good, better than just money for sure.

I do not believe in any quick recovery. Even with help from other states (thank you all for that) it took long time before things became more normal again.

If things don’t get better you do not want to be stuck with gold and having to do risky trades. Do not think that other people do not see when someone is desperate and take advantage of it.

The Power of Fear

Most of the questions from people who do not know too much about war is about fighting and shooting of course, man to man fighting.

Some of the worst expiriences are from street fighting with stable (more or less) lines of separation between enemy groups. Fighting where there is no real chain of command, real information on positions of enemy, or even real information on positions of your comrades. Not to talk about some kind of support, like logistic, or artillery or air back up.

survival fear

So if man holds position with rifle in basement of abandoned apartment building of some 6 – 8 stores, and enemy is at distance of some 20 meters, same like you, hidden in basement of abandoned and burned building, or even watching trough some small hole in wall from third floor in some destroyed apartment, and every sound is maybe sound of your death, that can change a man.

Some people literally lose their mind in situation like that, watching, scouting, every second alert.

Most of the folks in some period even did not had real sleep, it was more like some kind of half awake state, delirium, like in trance, after some time folks just shoot on any kind of suspicious thing, without too much checking. Being scared for long time does that to humans.

Funny thing that i realize, folks today basing their ammo stock on fact that they calculate possible chances for shooting at enemy, in real life folks shooted all the time, to shoot someone, to relive stress, to make someone aware that they still alive, to scare someone…

Yes you need a lot of ammo because you won’t be only shooting at someone, shooting becomes a sort of communication as well.

In some places and in some locations, people shooted regulary following their own schedule, of course with pattern changing, it was a way to keep people away.

Usually during the night and bad weather all things would become even more confused, so people would just go into the enemy territory because taking stuff from other group, using holes in walls between apartments or even sometimes ropes to climb on some other building and attack some positions, not in order to conquer it, but in order to aquire things like food, ammo, weapon, cigarettes etc.

Like in nature when the night comes predators become active. Hungry man can be evil beast.

At the beginning when most of the folks did not know too much about any weapon it was pretty usual to use some kind of “false” weapon. It is for example when 3-4 men held position in some destroyed house with one rifle and one pistol, they would use some pipe, or even piece of exhaust thing of wood stove, disguise it in window, cover it with something, so when someone look from 100 meters distance it looked like big weapon, sometimes like RPG, sometimes like sniper position, it depends on imagination of looker and ability of folks to decorate and of course also depends on peoples knowledge about weapon.

I know, sounds stupid, but it works (so i guess it is not stupid any more).

When you approach some building and you spot on third floor something that looks like rifle barrel pointed in your direction, you are not going to think about philosophy or agriculture, you are going to switch your survival mode and play safe. You do not want to find out if this thing can blast you to pieces or not the hard way.

It is easy to laugh about man who sought dirty water pipe from 100 meters distance, pointed in his direction, smartly placed on some sand bags and think it is m48 rifle.

In reality it is scary.

So again even “stupid” things work. In a dangerous situation even harmless things can look threatening, use that to your advantage.

You get what you give – but different

Some things about mentality and about morality changed drastically, every men changed in some way, some of us more, other less. Some people welcomed that change in their thoughts and see whole new situation as some chance to do things that could not do in normal times, not without punishment from system.

punishment

Most of the people accept some things over the time almost without noticing it, so for example you wake up one day with thoughts that to steal things has become almost normal, useful, it becomes a „must do“ thing.

Even with some newly „accepted“ behavior, people still had some judgment about what is bad and what is OK. It was distorted, but it still was there.

Easiest way to explain it would be to say that almost everyone did things that normal people in normal times could not accept as a normal behavior, but comparing to some other people actions it was nothing. It was like the scale of what is good or bad was moved all together for everyone. Facing all the killing and misery smoking marijuana became accepted by everyone. Human look for an escape and alcohol was too precious.

But one thing is for sure, whenever i hear these days somebody says: “I will not do that if SHTF“ or „I ll do only that if SHTF“ whenever i hear that i feel sick. Wait and see…

Truth is: You never know how far you are going to go with some things in order to survive, there is no chance to know that before SHTF, everything else is only talking and discussing in front of PC, in nice and warm room, safe, not hungry or thirsty and not under fire or chance of losing life or that loved ones get murdered anytime.

And to make things clear, I am not approving some things that i wrote about, i am not advocating some actions, everyone has to find the line and choose his own „good or bad“ actions. I just share what happened and how I experienced it.

One thing is to suggest what kind of medicines you must have in storage, but on some other things there is no advice, it is all on you. It is a mindset thing and no equipment can help.

Most of the people, great majority of people is ready to say instantly: „I am good man, and i ll do only good things when SHTF“.

Truth is, when SHTF, lot of that good and nice people forget on that „strong decisions“, mostly after first few close gunshots or explosions, or after finding out that local food store is gone, just like any other store.

I like most of you (I guess) want to believe in fact that some kind of punishment gonna „catch“ all people who did or who gonna do bad things. So here is what might have caught up with one guy.

Before SHTF that man was a small thief, pickpocket guy who steals wallets, and do some small cons to naive people at market, smuggling some things, he was not even big criminal, actually he was nobody. When SHTF he „ recognized“ his chance and in short time he is managed from nobody to become powerful man with group of some 200 armed man. He was something like strong charismatic leader, kind of man who would know how to organise small groups of people from lowest aspects of life, he was like god to them.

In some time he was in control of some vital functions, like organising of food coming in that area, trough some convoys. In that time you could be rich with few bags of flour, so imagine amount of power and control if you get all from convoys of trucks with flour.

When everything ended he was a rich and powerful man, man with his own enterprise, and his own people everywhere. He did not leave area when everything ended, he was even more powerful. He become active in public life, some people would have given everything to be close to him. Media even call him philanthropist, helping poor, giving contributions to orphanages, or giving donations to rebuilding schools.

People whispered in cafés about his famous parties which lasted for days and nights, womens, drugs. Powerful and untouchable man.

And then one morning maid found him hanging from some window knob, naked, with his swollen blue toungue out, and his own dirt beneath him. Rumor was that he had nightmares for years, nobody knows for sure.

But i remember story from some other time when baby food for new born babies was very hard to find, and even when you find it to trade then trader could ask lot of things for that, well in that time he just kept baby food from aid and sell it for astronomical amounts, and even he mix that food with some things when it becomes very rare, things not good for babies to make it more, and then sell it to people.

I like to think there is a reason why he died like that, alone naked and dirty. So keep in mind even if scale or level of what is ok and what not shifts it still makes sense to only do what you have to do. Accept the new reality quickly, adapt to it and do what you have to do to survive.

People easily get seduced by the dark side and many will fall for it.

Survival with a guitar

He lived alone, had a job as salesman, did not have any knowledge about shooting, military or anything connected to survival or similar things. His knowledge was more about singing and playing guitar, he was nothing like famous, but pretty known with his group, playing at local weddings, or local festivals.

He missed few chances to go out at the beginning of everything, some his relatives from America called him few days prior everything started and offer him money and help to get out, but he just thought this mess is temporary thing.

Even when people started to get killed on daily basis he still thought It is going to stop very soon, it didnt. They came for him in the middle of the night, like many others, at that time they just doing the sweep, so that means a gang searches a street or several houses in an area, in order to mobilize you for fight for them or in other case to kill you or imprisoned you (robbing is included of course).

prison

He was not material for fighter, he looked more as shy girl then as a grown up man, passing out even on mention of blood. So they just imprisoned him together with bunch of other people. Many years later he told me that hardest thing for him was not to suffer some occasional beatings and lack of food or water. Worst thing was feeling of desperation and sometimes feeling that all is only dream. A bad dream, like a nightmare. His psychological suffering was bigger than his physical suffering.

In one occasion he mention to them that he is good with guitar playing. From that day he become something like their member, he played for them while they drink and beat and tortured other folks.

It was hard for him to focus, while other people suffered but he played encouraging songs that made some men beat others in frenzy. Men adapt and get used to their surroundings.

He told me that he was not in that time neither prisoner neither their member, he was something like their clown, man who amused them, playing and singing songs on demand, not sure is somebody of them going to shoot him in head because bad song, or give him gold chain for a good song. But point is that he was under some kind of protection. He was valuable because there were few sources of entertainment.

Other imprisoned folks hated him, and were scared of him in same time, because he was more popular than they were. After few months he took chance with some foreign news reporters crew and run away, carrying big camera, blue helmet and blue body armor on numerous check points.

I lost contact with him for years, then I found him on some discussion about war and music on web. He is working as a room cleaner, in country far away. I started some discussion with him about prepping and survival and found out that he is still do not know anything about fighting, shooting or survival.

But he told me that he is playing guitar every day, alone in his room, so I guess he is now much better with that.

I think about him sometimes trying to figure out is he a good or bad man. Just a man making the best out of his situation probably. We were all grey and did what we had to do. Sometimes ugly things. But keep in mind simple extra skills give you extra value that might save your life.

There will be more about survival entertainment soon. What extra skills outside of survival do you have or learn?

Old cans and minefields… how to control enemy movement

People used everything they could for their protection, from most primitive things like throwing rocks to more sophisticated kind of traps made with explosives, usually those kind of traps required knowledge so they were rare. People invented some traps or something like false traps, everything was allowed in order to keep yourself and your group safer.

Home Security Mines

Armies used mines of course, there were whole areas covered with mine fields, some urban areas also were covered with all different kind explosive things, booby traps.

In some areas where soldiers had open terrain in front of them, or terrain with bush, and if they planted mines there, they usually throw all kind of empty cans, like food cans or anything similar. As we understanded at that time they used that in order to confuse enemy if they coming during the night trough the mine field with mine detectors.

So basically if man going with those mine detectors trough bushes during the night and trying to discover mines digged in ground he is going to be confused with lots of false readings from all of the cans and metal garbage, so he is not going to pay good attention after some time.

Pretty soon lots of folks started to throw cans in areas that supposed to be dangerous, or hard to watch all the night.

Sounds stupid and primitive, but in most of the situation it is worked.

Whenewer during the night i was stuck in some area that suspiciously was covered with lot of empty cans, or other small metal garbage usually i tried to find another way, even i was sure in 90 % of situations it was only empty cans.

I would just turn back beliving that somebody set up a trap. When it comes to life or death even very small percentages count.

It was just so basic opinion in that time that in every mine field you gonna find lot of old cans to confuse mine detectors that we all belived in that.

In a SHTF scenario some signs of danger will become common, use them to your advantage.

What are your plans for home defense?