Due to the proliferation of comment spam, I’ve had to close comments on this entry. If you would like to leave comment, please use one of my recent entries. Thank you and sorry for any inconvience caused.

February 12, 2006

Lessons from Sarajevo


View larger image

I'm just finishing NPR's Scott Simon's novel "Pretty Birds", based on his own experiences as a war correspondent in Sarajevo during the Bosnian Serb conflict in 1992, as well as interviews he conducted with young girls who served as snipers during the conflagration.

The novel tells the story of seventeen year old, half Muslim, Irena, who is caught in the Serbian part of the city when trouble begins. She flees with her parents to her grandmother's apartment in the Bosnian sector, where her family resettles, uneasily, to sit out the war. Irena, a basketball star at her school, is recruited to become a Bosnian sniper. Irena and her family are fans of Michael Jordan, Princess Di and the Beatles-- they dress like us, they talk like us, they could be us.

Simon's novel is a lesson in how quickly civilization, as we know it, can fall apart, and how easy it is to behave like an enemy under stressful circumstances. It elucidates the terror, the hardships, the boredom, the strange bedfellows and the numbing of war. Let's not have any more. However, descriptions of life in the Bosnian quarter have much to offer the neosurvivalist avian flu afficionado, in the form of helpful hints.

Flu Wiki has actually published "Tips From Sarajevo: 100 Items to Disappear First "

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy…target of thieves, invites marauders; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
14. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
15. Survival Guide Book.
16. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, ect. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
17. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
18. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
19. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
20. Vitamins
21. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
22. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
23. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
24. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
25. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
26. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
27. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many)
28. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
29. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
30. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
31. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
32. Coleman’s Pump Repair Kit
33. Tuna Fish (in oil)
34. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
35. First aid kits
36. Batteries (all sizes…buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
37. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
38. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
39. Flour, yeast & salt
40. Matches. (“Strike Anywhere” preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
41. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
42. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
43. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
44. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, “No. 76 Dietz” Lanterns
45. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
46. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
47. Men’s Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
48. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)
49. Fishing supplies/tools
50. Mosquito coils/repellent, sprays/creams
51. Duct Tape
52. Tarps/stakes/twine/nails/rope/spikes
53. Candles
54. Laundry Detergent (liquid)
55. Backpacks, Duffle Bags
56. Garden tools & supplies
57. Scissors, fabrics & sewing supplies
58. Canned Fruits, Veggies, Soups, stews, etc.
59. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6% sodium hypochlorite)
60. Canning supplies, (Jars/lids/wax)
61. Knives & Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel
62. Bicycles…Tires/tubes/pumps/chains, etc
63. Sleeping Bags & blankets/pillows/mats
64. Carbon Monoxide Alarm (battery powered)
65. Board Games, Cards, Dice
66. d-con Rat poison, MOUSE PRUFE II, Roach Killer
67. Mousetraps, Ant traps & cockroach magnets
68. Paper plates/cups/utensils (stock up, folks)
69. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & Antibacterial soap (saves a lot of water)
70. Rain gear, rubberized boots, etc
71. Shaving supplies (razors & creams, talc, after shave)
72. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
73. Soysauce, vinegar, boullions/gravy/soupbase
74. Reading glasses
75. Chocolate/Cocoa/Tang/Punch (water enhancers)
76. “Survival-in-a-Can”
77. Woolen clothing, scarves/ear-muffs/mittens
78. Boy Scout Handbook, / also Leaders Catalog
79. Roll-on Window Insulation Kit (MANCO)
80. Graham crackers, saltines, pretzels, Trail mix/Jerky
81. Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts
82. Socks, Underwear, T-shirts, etc. (extras)
83. Lumber (all types)
84. Wagons & carts (for transport to and from)
85. Cots & Inflatable mattresses
86. Gloves: Work/warming/gardening, etc.
87. Lantern Hangers
88. Screen Patches, glue, nails, screws,, nuts & bolts
89. Teas
90. Coffee
91. Cigarettes
92. Wine/Liquors (for bribes, medicinal etc)
93. Paraffin wax
94. Glue, nails, nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
95. Chewing gum/candies
96. Atomizers (for cooling/bathing)
97. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
98. Goats/chickens

From a Sarajevo War Survivor:

1. Stockpiling helps, but you never no how long trouble will last, so locate near renewable food sources.
2. Living near a well with a manual pump is like being in Eden.
3. After awhile, even gold can lose its luster. But there is no luxury in war quite like toilet paper. Its surplus value is greater than gold’s.
4. If you had to go without one utility, lose electricity - it’s the easiest to do without (unless you’re in a very nice climate with no need for heat.)
5. Canned foods are awesome, especially if their contents are tasty without heating. One of the best things to stockpile is canned gravy - it makes a lot of the dry unappetizing things you find to eat in war somewhat edible. Only needs enough heat to “warm”, not to cook. It’s cheap too, especially if you buy it in bulk.
6. Bring some books - escapist ones like romance or mysteries become more valuable as the war continues. Sure, it’s great to have a lot of survival guides, but you’ll figure most of that out on your own anyway - trust me, you’ll have a lot of time on your hands.
7. The feeling that you’re human can fade pretty fast. I can’t tell you how many people I knew who would have traded a much needed meal for just a little bit of toothpaste, rouge, soap or cologne. Not much point in fighting if you have to lose your humanity. These things are morale-builders like nothing else.
8. Slow burning candles and matches, matches, matches.
9. More matches

Just keeping you on your toes, so you won't get lolled into complacency.

Photo note: A bleak, but beautiful photo of the blizzard yesterday. In Sarajevo, there are no trees left in the parks, they were all burned for firewood.

Posted by Dakota at February 12, 2006 01:32 PM