‘Selco’

 

End of  the year and start of the new year is usually time for some new decisions, changes in your life and similar.

Usually in this time of the year I write about some expectations in „prepper terms“ about what for and why we should be prepared.

Nothing really changed in what we should expect, the world is going faster in some wrong directions and so there is no need for me to repeat that now.

 

For New Preppers

 

I would like to take this chance to just surmise what we at the SHTFSchool are doing and why, because in last months we have quite number of newbies here, new on my blog but also new in prepping.

Many times I read that Selco is „guy who survived year under siege during war“ and that I talk and write from that perspective.

I should mention however It was a long process. This ‘one year in hell’ is the literal tip of the iceberg.

From the moment when I was an ordinary guy prior to the war who did not have a clue about survival, up to this moment now at the end of 2017, a whole bunch of things happened.

Of course from the survival point of view most important thing was that I was part of the 4 year Balkan war, that includes that 1 year under siege, but also other things like being soldier and being a refugee in that time…

It is a process that lasted many years, before the war, during and after. An important part of it is meeting and talking with other preppers through my courses in ‘real life’ live or online, because I have learned, the hard way, that it is impossible to know everything and that you are actually learning all the time.

 

„The Truth Will Set You Free“?

 

One of the let’s say „sad advantages“ why I know few things about SHTF in such well rounded terms, lies simply in the fact that I’m still living in the middle of it right now, for years, because post war society is exactly that.

War for me was one experience, it was fighting, hunger, air raids, being dirty and sick… complete absence of system.

Post war society is another experience: life now is life in a corrupted system, political homicides, car bombs between different fractions, teenagers being drug addicts and prostitutes because there is no other way to find food…

It is life where ex war lords (or their children) are political party leaders with their own private armies of mercenaries „disguised“ in security companies, it is life where every (decent) home have AK 47 hidden somewhere, and bedtime stories for kids how „they“ just waiting for next chance to start new war, so we need to hate them… (who ever „we“ or „they“ are, really we are all the same)

It is life where I have to have different amounts of money in different pockets all the time, either to bribe the policeman (if I calculate it’s worth it) or to give it to drug addict with knife (if I calculate not to shoot him)… To repeat, this is EVERY DAY life here…

It is life where I need to have a registered and not registered pistol, based on what I am trying to achieve…

In very short, I am living in the middle of collapse, compared to war this is comfortable, but it is STILL SHTF.

So for all newbies here, and for guys who following me for years, you need to understand one thing: Selco is talking and teaching about real things, and to live here and talk openly about truth means that you may end up in deep s..t really fast, so that is the reason why you won’t ever see my face in an interview, or read my real name, I am not gonna show up in a youtube channel.

People from the events that I am writing on my blog are here, alive, and mostly in power, actually they rule here, they give you job and salary just not to be hungry, they and their people will find school for your kid, or simply find medicines for your mother cancer…

Otherwise a drug addict may ‘find’ your kid from the way back to school, you may be labeled as a „traitor“ maybe, or simply you may one morning when you start your car engine end up in Heavens…

You may watch at your dying mother who was told that „she need to wait for the specialist oncologist appointment for 16 months…”

This is EVERY DAY life here

You must be invisible and not interesting, you need to be small all the time.

You need to be gray. Not in the tacticool interpretation of the word, genuinely, completely blended. This ability to go unnoticed goes WAY BEYOND just the clothes that you wear…

Many times I read that I am ‘not real’ or ‘fraud’ or ‘Russian troll’ because I am staying „hidden“, but it’s like this, I share my advice under this assumed name, take it or leave it, but don’t think these comments are going to change it.

For all my new and old readers, Happy New Year!

Selco

 

 

 

SHTF Christmas… What was It Like…?

Just this last week I completed an interview with Daisy from the Organic Prepper Blog. It was on a timely subject with Christmas being here, so thought I’d share it here as well.

 

 

Have you ever thought about what an SHTF Christmas would be like after an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it event? I’m not talking about a minor issue that just affects a few people, but a full-on disaster that changes everything.

Today, we have a first-hand look at what a post-collapse holiday is really like. I interviewed my friend Selco, of SHTF School, and his answers are really food for thought.  I have learned more about long-term survival from Selco than probably anybody else and have based a lot of my own plans on things I’ve learned from him. For most of us who write about preparedness, it’s research and theory. For Selco, it’s real life.

This interview is in his own words.

I read over the answers to his questions at least a dozen times and thought about how fortunate we are. Even our most difficult times here, in our society, would have been the height of luxury during the war in Bosnia.

But will we always be this lucky?

First, give us a little bit of background. What was going on? Please describe the circumstances in Bosnia during this time.

War in the Balkan region (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia…) started during the 1991 and went on until 2000 (if you include war at Kosovo and NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999), but historians mainly narrow it to a period of 1991-1995 if you do not count Kosovo war and NATO bombing. In some literature, you’ll find the name “Yugoslav Wars“ which is same (all above-mentioned Balkan countries used to be states in Federation of Yugoslavia (Jugoslavija or roughly translated to English it is “country of south Slavs“).

…Yugoslavia (as a socialistic-communist country) founded after WW2 in 1945, and stop to exist in 1991 with the start of the wars. Shortly prior the war socialistic system (communistic) fell apart as a part of bigger events (fall of Soviet Union, fall of Berlin wall…) and democracy came, together with democracy, rivalry between states that wanted to stay in the Yugoslavian union and states who wanted independence raised sharply, that resulted in riots and small and isolated fights, leading to full use of Yugoslavian army (JNA) which was 4th largest military force in Europe in that time.

Wars had all features: Independence fights, aggression between states, civil war, genocide, re-alignments, or switching of allegiances as the operational situational changed, backing up from foreign forces (Such as US and NATO)… through periods of it  you could say that it was an ethnic war or even religious in parts, but in the essence it was war for territory and resources between factions who were in power, based on personal gain of wealth and influence only.

I went as a civilian and later as a soldier through the whole period of wars, I was in different regions during that period. Harder period of those wars (because of numerous reasons) happened in Bosnia, and one of the main “feature“ of that period were “sieges“ of a couple of cities that lasted from few months to a couple of years.

I found myself in one of those sieged cities. I lived like that for a year and I survived.

Every day, for almost a year, for me was a constant fight for survival, I was constantly either trying to defend myself or to look for resources, for usable water, food or simply firewood. We scavenged through the destroyed city for usable items because everything was falling apart and we have to “reinvent“ things in order to survive, like the best way to stay warm, to stay clean and safe or simply to make home medicine for diarrhea or high blood pressure.

When Christmas rolled around, it was obviously very different than any other holiday people had ever experienced. Can you tell us the usual Christmas traditions in Bosnia BEFORE this all happened?

As said, I grew up in Yugoslavia, which was socialistic and communistic country. One of the thing in that country and system was that religion was not forbidden, but it was strongly, let’s say “advised“ that religion is way down in the list of life priorities.

On the other side, it was strongly “advised“ that we put aside our differences (we had many different ethnic groups in Yugoslavia, and a couple of main religions) in order to build one “ethnicity“ – Yugoslavian. As the result of that all different religions kinda know each other very well, and people from different religions celebrated more or less or know all religions.

Christmas for most of the folks was very much connected to the New year holiday (again something that is connected to the official socialistic system) and it was just like everywhere in the world I guess, holiday of presents and gathering of family. For example, going on midnight mass was matter of being together with family and friends, and meeting each other-not so much matter of religion not too many “real“ religious people).

I was a teenager more or less, but my memories of that holiday prior the war are: peace, good food, family gathering and presents, and of course Santa.  It was huge and “mandatory“ thing that kids gonna get big presents then.

I’m sure that then, everything was very different. What were some of the changes? How did you celebrate?

Everything was different when SHTF, yes. Living was hard, comfort was gone and everything was stripped“\ down to the bare survival. Lot of small commodities that we usually do not think about (we take it for granted) was simply gone because of obvious reasons (the whole system was out) but also because simply life becomes full of hard duties, to finish simple tasks and obtain resources becomes hard, dangerous and time-consuming.

Celebrations become rare and not so happy and big (not even near) but in the same time they become more precious and needed too.

Get-togethers (family) become even more important because people lean much more on each other between group or family, simply because they needed much more support – psychological. too – than in normal times.

A lot of religious people lost their faith when they saw family members dying. On the other side lot of people found God in that desperate times – as an only hope.

Being together with family members for small “time off“ become almost like small rituals, like a ritual of finding inner strength and support in order to push more through hard times.

Yes, religion was a big part of it, but it was not only about religion, it was about finding strength in you and people close to you – family, and sharing it between each other.

Without access to storebought presents, what kinds of gifts did people give?

It could be divided in two groups:

Things that help you in the new reality:

All kind of things that helped you to solve all kind of problems that SHTF brought. For example, people who were skilled in handcrafting used to made cigar holders out of wood and bullets casing, it was very popular for smokers and the reason for that was because cigarettes were rare, and people usually smoked bad tobacco rolled in bad paper and good cigar holder (as a combination of cigar holder and pipe) was essential for smoking that stuff.

It was small thing but really important if you were a smoker in that time.

Another example was small handmade stove. It was made from thin metal, and in some cases it was portable. Point was that kind of stove needed really small amount of wood ( fuel for fire was important and hard and dangerous to get in urban settings) to make it really red hot and cook something quickly or boil water.

So cool and usable kind of inventions.

Things that connect you to normal

In this other group were all kind of things that connect you to the normal (prior SHTF) life. It was not only cool and nice to have those presents, but also it was important psychologically to taste something that actually makes you feel normal again.

For example after living for months through collapse, one simple bottle of beer could make you feel human again, and it would somehow gave you strength.

Sweets (Candy), beer, spice, or even few songs that someone play on guitar for you were precious.

What did you do for the children at Christmas to make it special?

Kids were somewhat “forgotten“ in the SHTF times. Quite simply not many people paid attention to them other then keeping them safe from dangers.

People did not have enough time to take care about their needs.

During the holidays people usually wanted to give some kind of joy for them, or to “keep the spirit“ of holiday alive for them.

In majority of cases it was very poor imitation of holidays in normal times, for example I remember that making pancakes (jam was made out of tomato juice and very expensive sugar) was considered alone like a holiday. Special food, or attempts to make some special food, for kids, were usual holiday presents for kids in that time. Today that kind of food would look ridiculous and not even edible probably, but in that time it was precious.

What did families serve for Christmas dinner in Bosnia during this time?

Traditionally for Christmas and New Year holidays in this region here, we ate huge amounts of meat, and drink wine, so people during the collapse tried to keep that tradition.

Again it was mostly unsuccessful in terms of normal, but in that time having hot stew kind of meal from MRE was considered holiday dinner, and actually it was very very tasty and a “holiday spirit“ dinner considering what we usually ate.

Wine was out of the option most of the time but hard alcohol was there.

In general, were people happy and joyous to find a chance to celebrate, or was it grim and depressing because it was so different?

General picture looked like this: we were cold, more or less hungry, dirty, tired and unsure in future, but yes we appreciate feeling of getting together for holiday and we were trying to keep “spirit alive“.

Truth is that sometimes it worked, sometimes not.

But generally yes, psychologically it was important, it had its place, it had a sense to get together, take some time to try to feel normal again, to remember that we are still humans.

Definitely those moments were not bright and happy, like in normal times but on the other hand those moments were appreciated and were much more real than in peacetime.

Do you have any holiday stories you can share from this time? (Doesn’t matter if they are happy stories or sad – I’d really like to show the reality of post-collapse holidays.)

It is big thing (I guess just like everywhere) to leave presents under the tree for Christmas and New Year here.

It is custom here to buy big bags (kids motifs of cartoons, fairy tales and similar) and fill it with favourite snacks, sweets and toys of each kid and leave that bags under the tree (we did not had custom of socks and similar, we had those bags, to literally translate the name would be “kid package“).

Of course, it was out of the question to have the bags and sweets and toys in the middle of SHTF.

My uncle in that time came into an opportunity to make a deal with local small “warlord“ or gang leader if you like.

The deal was about giving some weapon for food (the guy had a connection with outside world) and my uncle “made a condition“ on the whole deal with the term that he will give a weapon for food but the additional deal was that he also need 3 “kids packages.”

In that time and particular moment, taking into consideration with what kind of people he was making a deal it was like he was asking a serial killer, to his face, to sing a gentle lullaby, and my uncle said that those guys simply could not believe what he asked.

Everybody was looking for or offering weapon, drugs, violent contract deals or even prostitutes from those people but he was looking for “kids packages“.

But they indulge him, and my uncle said that he thought they indulged him simply out of the fun, and out of the fact that it is gonna be a very interesting urban legend that someone could obtain kids packages in that time.

The guy even wrote down the list of sweets and toys that my uncle asked from him.

I think those sweets and toys when they came were one of the most unreal items in that time and place, but they were worth the effort.

It really gives you something to think about.

What a reality check. And how fortunate we are. Our version of “things were really tight this Christmas” is laughable in comparison to what is described above. I can’t thank Selco enough for sharing his stories with us.

I’ve often recommended prepping with things like cake mix, birthday candles, extra Christmas cards, and items that support your family traditions, and after reading what Selco had to say, I believe it’s even more important. You can’t overstate the psychological aspect of being able to provide that sense of normalcy.

More information about Selco

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution.

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations like Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

Read more of Selco’s articles here: https://shtfschool.com/blog/

And take advantage of a deep and profound insight into his knowledge and advice by signing up for the outstanding and unrivaled online course. More details here: https://shtfschool.com/survival-boot-camp/

————————————————————–

Daisy is a coffee-swigging, gun-toting, homeschooling blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com

She is the best-selling author of 4 books and lives in the mountains of Virginia with her two daughters and an ever-growing menarie.
You can find Daisy on 
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Sleep Deprivation and SHTF

 

Image from Häggström, Mikael (2014). “Medical gallery of Mikael Häggström 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.008. ISSN 2002-4436. Public Domain.

 

 

It is one of those things that lot of people do not see, that when SHTF they will have big problems with and due to sleep deprivation.

Reasons are many, maybe it is going to be too dangerous so you’ll be forced to stay awake for prolonged time, or simply your sleep cycle will be messed up because you’ll be depressed when SHTF, or you will not have enough time for quality sleep…

It is important to understand what you can expect when sleep deprivation gets you…

 

 Your Performance

I use to call that feeling –„being in a bubble“.

It is like being on drugs that makes you feel like you do not care about things around you.

For example you find yourself in situation when you do not care are you going to be shot, you clearly see that you have high chances to be shot from sniper on very dangerous intersection, you see that odds are high for that, but you taking that small chance (of not being shot) and go over that intersection, partly because you do not care and partly because you are feeling invincible.

You are in the „bubble“, in a strange state of feelings and processing information around you and that „bubble“ came, largely, from sleep deprivation.

Your perception of danger situation gets twisted in weird ways, and you react different, sometimes you want to be hero without reasons, or sometimes you become coward – again without reason.

Let’s at least say it moves you out of your „normal“.

 

Once, I was hiding for 3 days in ruined house with my friend, while unit of soldiers were out on the street.

Maybe 50 people with one tank, they were drinking and occasionally entering houses around our house to check for stuff, their tank was broken, something with engine and they kept the engine roaring almost all the time, fixing something with fuel or oil.

We did not sleep for those 3 days, we were ready to jump in a split second if they entered our house. On the third day my friend announced to me that he is writing poem about this situation, and I myself was very close to going out to the guys and tell them that I do not believe in war or something like that, in the belief they’d respond with ‘Okay, well then go from here(!?!)’.

Luckily that day they moved away after they fixed the engine.

 

Weird Things

It is subjective, but based on my personal experience you can expect after 3-4 days of no sleeping during SHTF  to see things that are not there, or on the other hand not to see things that there. (Toby comment: Be aware this can happen MUCH sooner in some people, even in less than 24hrs depending on the stressors around, age of the individual and overall fatigue level, among other influences)

This fact was reason for many deaths, and also it was reason for many scary legends in that time.

Personally I saw couple of times people that are not falling down after clearly being shot several times, dead people walking,  strange lights, sounds, or simply let’s say ‘ghosts’.

I learned over the time to notice and observe things like that, but not to react, otherwise I would probably have gone crazy.

When you hear baby crying 10 meters from you in abandoned and ruined house in the middle of night and you follow the sound and go there, and there is nothing there, but now same sound coming from other room that can give you some weird feelings in your guts.

You observe, but not react-otherwise you go crazy.

Fear and lack of sleep will play with your mind.

 

What Can You Do?

 

Just like with lot of other things connected with SHTF very often you can not do s..t with sleep deprivation because it simply will be there, but there are things that you can consider because they help:

-Stay Healthy

Sleep deprivation when SHTF is always accompanied with other things, so it is good to at least take away that other things. If you are having diarrhea, or you are malnourished, or simply you are out of shape AND you are in the middle of sleep deprivation that makes things a lot worse.

If you are in good shape and having lack of sleep, it is something that you can work with, you can survive.

– Do Not Be Alone

It is good old SHTF advice- do not be alone. Being with someone means that you can have support, someone who can recheck your decisions (or vice versa), someone who can take lead when you are „down“ or simply someone who can be awake while you are taking short sleep.

Be Careful With Stimulants (drugs, alcohol. etc…)

It is maybe not „politically correct“ to say, but again based on personal experience drugs and alcohol are helping in sleep deprivation BUT only in short terms, on longer terms actually they will f..k you up even more, so be VERY careful with that, nothing can beat a short normal nap.

Have Short Naps!

I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times I had a full night sleep during my SHTF period. But I did have short naps. 20-30 minutes. And they help.

Even in the middle of shelling or fight, somewhere hidden (more or less) I would put sunglasses on and cotton in ears and had short nap. It was very „shallow“ sleep.

At night sunglasses can minimize the effects of flashes around you, and cotton can take away a bit of detonations sound. (yes, good thing to store today is „eye covers” for sleeping and ear plugs)

 

Sleep Deprivation and You

 

I have to point out that my SHTF experience was bit „drastic“, so you may not be found in middle of shelling, but still I can assure you that you will have problems with sleep deprivation when SHTF because of the amount of new situations that SHTF brings, so be prepared for that.

Survival lesson Re-visited: Staying Out Of Trouble

 

This new article is actually a re-post of one of the my old articles that I wrote almost 3 years ago.

The guy that I wrote about in that article died few days ago, and that is the reason why I am re posting this.

I use to knew him very well, the man that he became at the end was almost a stranger to me.

He did not die shooting an AK47 at the politicians who once “pushed” him to war with their “infinite honor” and “our cause” stories, he did not wrote book about his experiences, he did not become hero.

At his funeral there were 9 people, including guys who are paid to finish the job with shovels.

This man was “eaten” by cancer, and I am sure that cancer started in his soul first.

I drunk few gins for his soul and decide to re-post this.

Message of this is same. Stay out of the trouble and simply do not believe everything, especially if the message is coming “packaged” and in “big words” (Students in USA should take special note of this now…)

 

Looking for goods and usable items during the war often meant I got myself in some weird situations and scenarios. I knew lots of guys who risked their lives just to go to some destroyed places because they knew they could find some items that meant a lot for them personally, but actually those items were useless in given situation around us at that time.

But people often act like fools and if you find yourself in a survival situation it is the perfect time to lose your life if you act like fool.

Like a friend who lost his eye, just because he went to his house and searched through a closet full of audio tapes in order to collect some of his favourite punk band titles. Not to mention that electricity in that time was something like faint memory, and he could not do anything with those tapes even if he did find them.

Anyway booby trap exploded, luckily he survived, but he lost one of his eyes.

When you have young people or in general, inexperienced people and fighting around you, it is the perfect combination for some people to act like fools.

There is something in dangerous (and new) situations that makes you want to act like fool, and to do stupid things, young folks do that mostly, but it can happen to anyone, it happened to me too.

Good old „stay out of the trouble“ advice is one of the best survival lessons one can learn.

Whenever I read on survival forums, threads about gangs and how during SHTF people should get organized and simply defeat them, I remember how young and enthusiastic I was about that too, but luckily enthusiasm went away quickly and I survived.

The problem here is holding onto old concepts and not accepting change. One day you have law and order and you can call someone when you see trouble because it is not right, next day suddenly there is no one to call and you might feel you have to jump in to make things right.

You may find it cowardly that man wants to stay put when bad things happen around him but in reality in most of the situations you can not do anything without huge organisation that helps you and a big personal risk.

My relative was outside the country when the war started, he was working for an electrical company in the middle east. Contract was good, and he had a monthly salary there equal to 6 months salaries here at that time.

On first news about fighting and war, he returned to the country to join the army and fight. Blockades and battles already started and his trip back to his town took lot of time and troubles.

He was 26 year old back then and he told me that when he entered the country at a small city where he and few other guys wanted to join the fighting forces, he saw that war is not like in books and movies…

Military unit that welcomed them asked who they are and what they wanted, they said that they wanted to join the fighting forces. He said he expected some kind of questions about their military experience or similar, but instead of that the small unit commander asked them : „Do you want some women?“

They starred at him like idiots so he explained „We have some enemy women in prison close here, so go there first if you want“.

My relative was raised by his grandmother, he was nice kid, no cursing, not too much drinking, he said to me that shock was so big that he could not open his mouth to even say „No man!“

He told me that later he find out that fighting includes doing lots of things in order to win fight and stay alive. He went through lots of fighting, earned the reputation of a tough guy, and one day they got caught up in ambush and he was one of the few who survived.

Machine gun from close distance destroyed his legs and belly. He was removed from the country for rehabilitation, his legs are still there, but only for „pictures“.

He is „glued“ to wheelchair forever, and no kids, no wife either.

He lives today in small apartment that looks at big chimney of a disused factory, elevator is usually not working, and nobody cares to lift him up and down.

Nobody visits him too much, he is no hero, he fought for something that is now considered „ wrong and not needed war“ as they say.

Now and then I visit him in his city and that apartment, and every time I conclude two things:

First how lucky I am. Even with all my issues and traumas from the war compared to him, and second is that every time when I left him in his misery and bitterness I am expecting to see in few days in news something like „old war veteran in wheelchair went crazy and start to shoot from AK47 at people in street from his apartment at 6th floor.“

I asked him once why he returned to the country at the beggining of the war while at the same time thousands fled? I expected to hear something patriotic or similar, but he said „Man, at that time it was something so exciting and new!“

So just listen to first survival and most important survival lesson: Stay out of the trouble. Life is very real and it is easy to forget how brutal “real life” can be. With real life I mean life without our civilized society or just life without all support and help we take for granted.

I hope I will never have to use everything I trained for or any lesson I share with you here ever again.

Do you have examples when staying out of trouble was hard and about consequences of this? Share in the comments below.