Shards of Survival

Shards of Survival, the site for everyone who gets off the beaten path. Shards of Survival contains information on survival techniques, trail work, scouting and hiking, orienting and camping. You'll also find information on "primitive" techniques and sustainable alternatives to modern technologies. Survival for everyone starts here!

Monday, January 16, 2006

RFID zapper

Modern life is a life where your personal safety, security and privacy mean less and less. Politicians, governments and companies all want to know everything about you. For the one it's because of "national security", for the other it's because they want to know their customer. Either way it means that you loose. Not only are we more and more forced to use biometric pasports and ID cards but more and more items are labeled with RFID tags. The opportunities for unrestricted information gathering are becoming boundless. 1984 is becoming more and more real.

But sometimes there are people who actively oppose these curbs on your privacy. German hackers have found a way to build a small RFID zapper. It's not yet even a proof of concept but they're working on that. I, for one, hope that this RFID zapper turns out to be effective. And the sooner there are instructions available on the internet on how to build a RFID zapper, the better. It's like with everything in survival: information and tools will set you free.

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In the dumps

Shards of Survival, sadly, has been in the dumps for the past month or so. Life sometimes just catches up with and overtakes you. You get lived from moment to moment and for a while you seem unable to regain hold of your own life. Well, the holiday season is over. Life has turned to normal again. So, from now on again there will be regular updates to this blog.

All the best wishes for 2006!

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Sunday, December 18, 2005

Energy, now and in the future.

While the US government is, slowly, admitting that energy preservation is necessary and setting up a program for youths, called Energy Hog, to make them aware about the use and waste of energy, in Holland they are now suggesting that nuclear energy is the way of the future. Mr Lubbers, who is chairman of the board of control of the Petten Energy Research Centre, claims that nuclear reactors have become safer and that nuclear waste is more and more recycled. "From a technological viewpoint we are ready for it", he states.

Greenpeace doesn't concur, and rightly so in my opinion. There's still no fail safe way to operate a nuclear plant, the risks of a meltdown or (near-)disaster are still very real, the consequenses of a meltdown or (near-)disaster are immense, nuclear waste remains highly radioactive for a 1000 year or more, safely disposing of nuclear waste is extremely expensive, and the risk that highly radioactive nuclear waste ends up in terrorist hands is slim but still there.

A real solution to the demand for energy would be the use of renewable and clean energy sources. None of these sources, like wind energy, solar energy, energy from biomass, etc., will provide the answer but combined they can, must and will. Combine these sources with preservation of energy use in cars, factories and buildings and we could soon be much less dependent on fossil fuels.

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Monday, December 05, 2005


Only a few days ago, the dutch Princess Máxima visited Brazil and Argentina. She paid a visit to the slum district Estural in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. There Máxima visited the sewing workshop of the local women's association. This workshop is supported by the Providencia program, which aims to improve family incomes in the poorest parts of Brazil by offering micro credit and commercialisation of products. A noble and necessary cause, which deservedly got media attention.

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999 done. Next!

Did we set this horrible record yet? If so, I missed it... and gladly so. 1000 executions of the death penalty in the USA since 1976. It's discusting. It makes me sick in the stomach to know that so-called civilised countries actually endorse and promote murder by the state. There's an outcry when such a thing happens in a far away country (anyone remember Rwanda?!). Wh it happens in our own backyard, however, we say nothing. And those who do are labeled un-American, socialists, or worse.

If you agree with me that the death penalty should be abolished then check out the Amnesty International website. See for yourself that you're not the only one and help to stop this horrible state crime.

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News tidbits

The news has once again been full of interesting tidbits. I read that Sweden wants to reduce its dependency on oil. They want to be independent of oil in 15 years! But so far they haven't started working on it, they don't even have a plan. They did, however, initiated a commission to look into the matter. Pretty ambitious but let's give them the benefit of the doubt.

On a related note: research, published in Montreal, indicates that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is on the highest level of the past 650.000 years! Wow! We've been able to destroy hundreds of species, wiped away vast tracks of (rain) forest, polluted nearly every place on Earth (including the air and water) and now we're working on heating up the globe. Where does it stop?

Well, if it depends on the EU than we're a winning team! The European Commission has published a study that tells us the EU will reach its Kyoto targets on time. The target for reduction of CO2 discharges is 8%, compared to 1990. Th EC estimates the 15 "old" EU members will reach an average of 9.3%, while the whole of the EU will see a reduction of 11%. Some countries are doing a lot better already. Germany has already reached a reduction of 20%.

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

World AIDS Day

Today is World Aids Day. For some time to remember. For others time to start thinking. Peace and wisdom for all.

Support World AIDS Day

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Native American Powwow - Gathering of Nations

Recently, I ran into the Gathering of Nations website. I let the website speak for itself:
The Gathering of Nations is a Native American Indian 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1983 to promote Native American, American Indian (indigenous) culture & tradition, and dispel stereotypes created about Native American Indian and indigenous people.

Among many contributions to the Native American community, the Gathering of Nations founded and funds the Academic Scholarship Foundation for Native American Students and hosts the annual Gathering of Nations PowWow, Miss Indian World Traditional Talent Presentations, and Indian Trader's Market the last full weekend of every April at the University of New Mexico Arena in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Being a European myself, I know little about native American culture. I guess this goes for many Americans as well. This event seems a good opportunity to see native American culture and tradition in action. The powwow is a social event where singers, dancers and crafts people from more than 300 native American and Canadian tribes come to socialize and celebrate their cultures through singing and dancing.

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A shelter should at least offer protection from wind and weather and the sun. A shelter provides a feeling of safety and security as well. Thus, a shelter eases, though perhaps only temporary, psychological stress.

Naturally, you won't build your shelter just anywhere. Pits, holes and dips in the terrain can fill up with water after rain or, through poor permeability of the soil or rising ground water levels, could become soggy and marshy. When possible, remain at least 10 meters above any nearby water level. Dry river beds, wadis and innocently-looking brooklets can turn into swirling rivers after a downpour, even if that happened miles away. Reservoirs can also exhibit rising and dropping water levels. Water is let out of the lake during the day to generate electricity, while at night the water is stored inside the reservoir. The differences in water level can be several meters. This once caused my camp to be nearly flooded in the time it took us to cook a meal. In many different areas, snakes live close to the water edge, as do mosquitoes, flies and other insects.

Avoid narrow crevices and gorges, overhanging rocks and erosion gullies. Rocks, stones and toher erosion material can fall down there. Never make camp either in places with a high chance of avalanches, and definitely not in the avalanche path.

Many animals try to avoid open spaces, making them good places for you to build camp if you want to lessen the nuisance small, nightly critters can cause. Collect fire wood from nearby, so you can leave a fire burning to ward off animals. Food, provisions and supplies are best stored in a strong, tightly closed bag, which you hang from a branch in a tree. Make sure the bag hangs at least two meters from the tree trunk, about three meters from the ground and about three meters from the branch it's hanging from as well. You don't want large animals to be able to reach up the bag, or small animals to reach down from a branch. The heat of the day lingers longer under plant and tree cover. During a thunderstorm you better not camp or take shelter under trees, but avoid open and bare hill tops as well.

In an emergency situation, you want to be rescued or at least find help. So, make sure that even when you made camp under tree cover, a rescue team can see you from the air or a mountain slope. During the, mark your camp with eye-catching colours (orange is a good colour for that) and a sign. After sundown, light three fires in a row. This is an international emergency signal!

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Our impact on our environment

Lately, the news papers are once again filled with news of our impact on nature, the environment and (ultimately) ourselves. First there is the disaster occuring right now in Harbin, Jilin Provence, China. Benzene has flowed into Songhua river after an explosion in a petrochemical factory. Harbin is dependent on the river for its water intake. The intake of water has been halted since last tuesday and the city has mstly ran out of drinking water. The pollution is expected to have flowed past the city in a few days but will then flow into Amur River, threatening the Russian region of Chabarovsk, Siberia, where a state of emergency has been declared.

Bird flu keeps claiming lives, the latest being a 35 year old woman in China. I can't help thinking that our modern intensive cattle and poultry farming is finally coming to bite us in our behinds. Chicken stuffed together hundreds in a cage, cows being fed hormones to make them grow faster, we wouldn't do that to ourselves because we instinctively feel it can't be right. Yet, we do it to animals, for profit.

Russia is about to make work harder for NGOs like Amnesty International. The Kremlin wants to make it harder (illegal?) for these NGO's to be funded from outside Russia. I can imagine that that would mean a severe drain on funds for these organisations that would dramatically restrict their possibilities to do their work.

Unicef reports that still each year some 3(!) million girls and women undergo female circumcision, usually termed genital mutilation. As much as I abhore the practise and that these women and girls are mostly forced to undergo this practise, I can't help thinking that we (Westerners) are placing our cultural views and morals on this practise. Ethnocentrism can be a very ugly thing. We should always be on the alert when we condemn or judge other people's cultural practises.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005


With all the information from your research, the trip's route settled and the plans made, it's now time to choose the gear and equipment. As every trip is different, it's wise and prudent to seek professional advice. Talk and discuss things over with experts, especially when planning for a large group or an extended trip. Most outdoors shops, companies and clubs can provide you with expert, practical and up-to-date advice and often the trip to succeed as much as you do. They can advice on almost any aspect, from sleeping bags and backpacks to radios and vehicles. Use their advice! They often gained valuable information from personal experience and are usually more than willing to let others share in their knowledge.

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Monday, November 21, 2005


When you're preparing a trip for a group it's important to have regular meetings with the participants. Divide the jobs at hand and put people in charge for certain aspects: a doctor or first aid specialist, an interpretor, a cook, a quartermaster, a mechanic for the vehicles, drivers, navigators, and on and on. Everyone should become familiar with the workings and use of equipment and supplies, such as radio's, first aid kit, firearms, signaling devices, winches and tackles and GPS systems.

Make plans for emergency procedures in case of transport trouble, illness or accidents. Remember to adjust the trip's route to accomodate for everyone. A trip that is too hard for too many people is a failure and can easily become dangerous for everyone. It's difficult-if-not-impossible to bring all the water, petrol and food supplies for an extended trip, so plan ahead where to position supply dumps or find out where supplies will be available. Create a time table (especially for foot treks) that is amply sufficient. A schedule that is too tight causes ternsion and exhaustion but also leads to hasty decisions, judgement errors and people taking too many and too big risks.

When all participants have agreed on the route to take, the time planning and other aspects, it's time to inform the home front, local police, rescue services and the embassies. Inform all these people on the route, details like departure and arrival times and places, phone numbers, addresses, medical details of the participants and any other information that might be vital in case of an emergency.

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Knowledge is power. So, go out and do research on your destination. Talk to people who have been there before, or perhaps were even born there. Read travel logs or weblogs (check for instance the Dutch site Op Reis Naar...) and books. Ask your travel agent or airline company, too, for more information. The tourist office and the embassy of your destination country are often also very helpful. Study recent maps so you'll have a feeling for the size and shape and lay-out of the country before you visit it. Aquaint yourself with local taboos, norms and values. Ordering a hamburger in India, if they sell it anyway, is usually met with at least a few odd looks.

For true survival purposes also think about the weather and the climate(s) that you can expect, which medicinal plants grow where, which way the rivers flow, where you might encounter areas with sparse vegetation or water sources, and much more. The more detailed your knowledge, the better your chances for survival.

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

And more preparation

Be physically and mentally fit before you take that long awaited trip. Unexpected situations (like the hotel being 5 miles away from the beach instead of the advertised 50 meters) and problems (like your hotel room being over-booked) are easier to bear when you're fit. Walk or cycle to work or school, eat healthier and more balanced food and lower (or abstain from) alcohol and tobacco. Make sure you've had a medical check-up and have been to the dentist. Inocculations and vaccinations are vital for many regions, even mandatory in some cases. Allow for plenty of time. Many vaccinations need generous time to become fully effective: an effective anti-typhoid treatment means 3 injections over a period of 6 months!

Think of Murphy: "what can go wrong, will go wrong". So, make alternative plans beforehand. Having at hand the addresses of your embassy and consulates, the phone numbers of your insurance company and airline company, extra cash money, being able to at least speak a smattering of the local language, etc. can stifle many incipient problems or can help solve occuring problems quicker. It once took me 3 hours just to find the phone number (on the airport!) of my airline company. It was not good fun.

Prepare as well for other circumstances. Terrain can be harder than expected, you can loose your supplies, the group gets separated unexpectedly, the weather can turn bad or transportation fails at a critical moment. It's still very well possible to end up with no petrol in the tank in many places on this globe. At one time I ended up nearly stranded in Gobi desert simply because none of the villages we had past in the previous two days had any petrol left for sale. We managed only just by pooling the petrol of all vans into one van, which then went to the nearest village where (after some calling around) we knew petrol to be available. At 35 degrees in the shade (with no shade for miles) things could have turned ugly.

Illness and physical injury as well as trouble with local militia or the police can seriously ruin your day. Prepare for them in advance. You'll feel more comfortable handling all these setbacks and be on your way again sooner.

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The old scouting slogan "Be prepared" still holds for everyone who ventures out of his or her familiar surroundings. For many people that would be when going on holiday. It's a mark of sound judgement to acquaint yourself as much as possible with your destination before you leave home. Where is it exactly? How is the climate? What types of landscape will I encounter? Who are the people? All very important questions. A beach holiday in sunny Florida demands different choices and a different approach than a winter ski holiday in Aspen or an adventure trek in tropical Kalimantan.

Equipment and gear are also essential parts of the preparation. Nothing is more annoying than having to drag around luggage. If you then also find out that much of your gear is useless but that you left important items at home... you can imagine the frustration. Try to bring as little as possible, weighted against how much you can carry and the level of comfort you prefer. If you really have to make choices than first cut on comfort. Comfort can be created on site, physical strength and fitness not. Consider some of the following: is your gear in tip-top shape? Are your shoes properly broken in? Are your clothes fitting properly and don't chafe? Are tents and backpacks complete and intact? Is your first aid kit complete? Did you chance the batteries and light bulbs of your flash light? Did you pack your personal medication? Survival is in the details.

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Prevention is better than cure

It's hard to believe but human beings have visited, worked on and lived in nearly every nook and cranny of the globe. Even the most inhospitable areas there are people able to subsist, though perhaps only temporarily in the harshest of environments. In nearly every environment there are resources with which human beings can survive, though there are differences in the amount of resources.

In our own familiar surroundings, we know exactly how to survive, what we can and cannot do. We don't necessarily appreciate that as survival but it is. Not too long ago, many villagers didn't feel much at ease when they happened to be in a larger town, and city dwellers drew much attention in villages simply by their differing manners. And even nowadays, it's often not too difficult to distinguish between villagers in a town and city dwellers in a village. So, lLearning to survive in an unfamiliar environment is nothing more than learning how to live like the locals. When, however, our environment changes radically because of a natural disaster or war, we might have to learn how to live as our ancestors did 50, 100 or more years ago: less technically advanced and less hurried. Then survival becomes a matter of living consciously.

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High risk people

While providing necessary skills, certain professions can also cause an increase in risk. Military, police and other government personel can mean a dramatic increase in risk for the group. In hostage situations, these people are on the top of the list to be used as negotiation material or a means of coercion (threatening with executions, for instance). If the hostage takers know or believe this kind of people are present in the hostage group, they'll go through great lengths to find and seperate them from the rest.

Airplane crashes or strandings can plunge the group in an area of civil war or rebellion. Certain nationalities are simply not much liked in many parts of the world. Consider the hatred local people often harbour against Americans (nowadays especially in the Islamic world, Iraq and Afghanistan) and Isreali people (in the Middle East). Military personel, security forces and politicians, in particular, are at risk. Even just being near these people or if the hostage takers consider you associated with these people, could mean an increased risk of "punishment". Your, and the group's, chaqnces of survival chances could become zero.

Keep in mind that one's religion can be a source of hatred and aggression, too. Well-known examples are the relationships between Jews and Palestines, fundamentalist Muslims and Christians, and the East-Timorese and the Indonesian government. The conflicts are at heart not religion-based but religion is being used to defend the atrocities committed, of which also outsiders regularly become victims.

Women are, because of their gender, at risk; assault and rape being among those risks. If a man (husband, male friend, son, brother) protests the crime, it often results in a beating or worse. Still, never let that be a reason not to protest! The more noise is made and by as many people as possible, the bigger the chance the perpetrator will abandon his attempts. Especially in a hostage where people are held for political reasons, a leader could find it worthwhile to call his underling to order.

Never give up on anyone without putting up resistance just because punishment, pain or harm could come to you. A group that shows itself weak or cowardly will never gain the respect of their hostage takers. Such a group has lost any human aspect in the eyes of the hostage takers, making it easy for them to let loose their violence through arbitrariness, rape, torture and other crimes against humanity. Keep talking and protesting when that is appropriate. It'll keep you and the group seem human and worthy of life. That way, at least you'll have a chance of survival.

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Know the others

An important factor in the survival of a group can be the individual professions of the people in the group. A profession means knowledge, though often only in a niche. Especially knowledge of crafts and "hand" professions are very useful in setting up camp, preparation of food and other practical affairs. Artists, through music or singing or other artistic expressions, provide much-needed entertainment and diversion. Anyone with a medical background offers tremendously important skills that can dramatically improve the group's survival rate. Military personel are commonly used to act on order and stop only when a job is done. Police personel are trained in conflict management and often have a "natural" authority.

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Be yourself

Age can play a roll. Young children (at least til about 12 years old) usually still have great faith in adults and can easily be pulled out of a negative mental spiral by a father or mother figure. Teenagers are often more difficult to motivate and need a leader who understands them, motivates them and gives them responsibilities. Once a teenager is won over he or she will often want to go on longer and further than anyone else. Older adults (from about 50 years old) often have the disadvantage that they are no longer physically as able as they used to be. Their advantage lies (hopefully) in having more life experience, better judgement of character and being more patient. They also can act as substitute parents or take up the roll of caring grandparent.

Differences in gender also have different effects. Women are generally known to be mentally stronger than men but tend to suffer from depressions more often. Keep their spirits high and they'll pull everyone through. Men are generally physically stronger and thus able to accomplish certain tasks faster or better but that doesn't mean that women couldn't do the same task! Women often also have an eye for the other people in a group and often sense earlier that something is at hand. We can dismiss the stereotypical view of the screaming, panicking woman. Women might show their fear earlier and might be more willing to give in to it than men but they also learn faster how to live with that fear, even to the point of overcoming it. Many (if not most) men have great difficulty admitting they are afraid. Those who can and do admit it are often looked down upon by the other men. Men also have a tendency to join the action when pushed a little by the other men; peer pressure can be an ugly thing. When whipped up into action, men tend to heed danger very poorly, have virtually no ear for better ideas or judgements and can easily fall victim to a dangerous situation.

Women who step up as a leader often find resistance from men, while hardly from other women. It thus often happens that the group is lead by a man but that a woman speaks up for the women and children and the less "powerful" men in the group. If a group is to survive the situation, the leading man better be sensible and balanced and not afraid to listen to critique and suggestions coming from the group and particularly from women.

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Physical and psychological

Sports reduce stressPhysical fitness is a very important factor. If you're not fit, you limit your chances for survival dramatically. Most people knowingly and willingly avoid survival situations and are not physically prepared for them. Yet, even in daily life a reasonable level of physical fitness is useful. Physical exercise, a sober diet, plenty of rest, moderate consumption of alcohol and tobacco are good places to start from.

Sports increase stress resistancePsychological fitness and self-confidence are probably the first requisites in a survival situation. If you're not on your psychological best, you'll have trouble in making the right necessary (ad hoc) decisions. You'll also find it more difficult to keep thinking in a positive way when the going gets tough. And with a worsening psychological state you also increase the chances for the group to get into trouble or (and this is really bad) drag the group's mental state down as well. Some people like to complain, are critical and thus fire up the fighting spirit of others. This criticaster will turn into the focal point that the rest can aim their frustrations, fears and complaints at. Odd thing is that this criticaster often also turns out to be one who takes the lead when setbacks occur.

Often, however, the opposite happens. The complainer is a pessimist with a very negative attitude. They often can't handle the (psychological) pressures and are a threat to himself and the rest of the group. Often the group is then faced with a moral dillema: abandon the complainer or not.

Advice: NEVER leave anyone behind! You could be next!

How you increase your psychological fitness differs from person to person. An innate positive state of mind is a major bonus, an innate pessimistic tendency can be a severe limitation. Another influence is your outlook on life and the future. Spiritual or religious people often find great strength in their believes. Beware of fanatics, though, either religious or otherwise! They often blind themselves with their delusions and their black-and-white view of the world, which cause them to take irrational and ill-thought out decisions and lead the group into disaster.

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Know yourself

Survival circumstances and emergency situations are moments when your learn things about yourself and others. Trouble, stress, trauma and fear are your worst enemies. And then you still have the emergency to deal with.

Even the best trained commandos often suffer severely during survival exercises during their training. Of course, the purpose of those exercises is to select the best of the best, but still every year, elite soldiers die during exercises because they can't handle the psychological stress, loose the will to live and die because of cold or fatique. If even such professionals have a hard time coping then how are you and I, mere mortals, going to fare?

Survival is something that you can learn, up to a point. Knowledge of edible plants, protection from cold and weather, orienting and signaling can all be taught and learned. A good and experienced instructor is immensely valuable. The learned knowledge must also be practised in real life situations. By doing you often remember better what you've heard or read. The more and oftener you practise your knowledge in real life, the easier you complete the job at hand. You'll also find out where you still experience problems or lack skills and information, and you'll learn that you'll regularly have to adjust your plans to suit the situation.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005


It depends on how well the group members know each other whether a leader needs to be appointed. If everyone knows each other than the members usually know pretty well who is an authority on which subject.

consultation and deliberation are crucial for survivalWhen, however, a group consists of virtual strangers then things are quite different. Often the extrovert show-off will try to claim leadership. As a group people should oppose such forced on leadership. A real leader will make himself known by his (or her!) actions, ideas and initiatives. A leader will think of the needs of all the members of the group, respects other people's input, will ask advice from more knowledgeable people and will take well-considered decisions in the interest of the whole group.

It's important that a leader is actively chosen or appointed or publicly accepted by the whole group. That way there can be no doubt over the legitimacy of the leader. Consequently, the group members must accept that the leader is not infallible and should restrain from abandoning the leader at the first sign of adversity. They should remember that the burden of leadership is a great load to bear and that his decisions can have far-reaching consequences. A leader under stress from his group is more likely to try to keep the peace and give in to dissentient voices instead of implementing tough but necessary measures.

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Danger from two sides

An emergency evolves as a result of objective and subjective threats. Objective threats come from nature, like a bolt of lightning, floods, huricanes, avalanches or falling rocks. Subjective threats are caused by humans, their limitations or their "stupidity".

Tornadoes are a form of objective threatsYou can learn to see objective threats by expanding your knowledge of natural phenomenon like the weather, erosion and the habits of animals. Here on Shards of Survival we'll provide you with much information covering many fields. We do stress, though, that you should also do your own research and deepen your knowledge further. The internet is a good source, of course, but so is your local library. Going (back) to school, taking college courses or doing field work are also useful, fun and practical ways of gathering information.

<br />Martial arts and sports build self-confidence, strength and staminaSubjective threats are, for instance, insufficient stamina, training and self-control, a lack of skills, an inflated ego, wrong assesment of objective threats, poor observation and interpretation of signs and clues, lack of knowledge and the inability to others who know the environment better or who are better experts (the arrogance of the city slicker!).

Survival is mainly a matter of knowing where threats can occur, how to recognise them and how to take advantage of the resources available to you in your environment. People often say that nature is merciless. That's not true. Nature is, however, indifferent! In nature, different rules apply than in our western societies. Know the rules, or at least know how to recognise them, and a walk in the mountains is as safe as a walk in the park. In nature, a man is nothing but a little mouse. As long as the mouse remembers that, all will be well.

Here on Shards of Survival we keep nagging about this aspect of respect and mentality because over and over again it turns out to be so incredibily important. Flout it and you're a threat to yourself and your companions. The ones to worry about are the ones who play with fire, carelessly handle axes and knives, have no care for the consequences of their antics and behave rudely and irresponsibly. Odd thing is that these people often hardly face any problems. It's other people who suffer the consequences. A strong authority figure in the group should keep these people on a very short leash. Let the reins go free for once and you better prepare for a new disaster.

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Be prepared!

The old Boy Scout slogan "Be prepared!" is still very much alive. For many it means to be ready for action, for us here on Shards of Survival we'll interpret it more as to be informed and knowledgeable as possible so you'll be able to stand the tests of Fate. No quite as catchy but it is more accurate.

In survival terms, being prepared means that through knowledge and training you feel more confident to handle a situation. Self-confidence is extremely important, just as the will to live. If one of these factors is missing than survival is more like a poker game. You can bluff your way out but your luck might run out sooner.

All beginnings are difficult. After reading these pages here on Shards of Survival you might think survival is not so difficult but during the practical classes that we provide you'll reconsider that thought. Tougher men than you broke down and cried. :) The answers are perseverance and teamwork. And you'll also have to learn to finish a job, even it takes foever and everything goes wrong. Only by doing you'll find out whether you'll have to alter your plans and ideas. After some time you'll notice that certain jobs and tasks have become easier to fulfil and that you're done quicker. That is the routine and self-confidence (the auto pilot) that take over. And that is the level we're looking for. Survival must become second nature. It shouldn't be something we have to think about or dwell over at length.

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Introduction to survival

In your daily life there are several different meanings for the word survival. Often it means you're living through a difficult period, either physically or mentally. Another meaning is found in "survival of the fittest". Here it means that the best or the ablest ultimately wins or comes out of the fight alive. The meaning that we will use here on Shards of Survival is a little different. Survival is the art (and often craft) to cope with adverse, often emergency, situations on you own strength and wits.

So, survival is an art. The trouble with art is that everyone has his own opinions on it. An advantage is that everyone, in his own way, can create art. This interpretation of survival seems misty and vague but it will soon be clear that it has its advantages.

There are two major survival or emergency situations: the physical and the mental emergency. The former is used for situations where you must stay alive in the wild outdoors, for instance, or where you must solve a difficult task that poses major risks. The latter is, for example, when you try to cope with a depression or try to force yourself into a positive attitude. Mental emergencies are much harder to tackle than physical emergencies. They often require professional help from a psychiatrist, psycologist or sociologist. These professionals are trained to help you climb out of the darkness of your mind.

Here on Shards of Survival we'll mainly focus on the physical side of survival. This has the advantages that everyone in his own way can learn something and that we lay a foundation from where mental problems have less chance of developing. Mensa sana in corpore sano, or "a healthy mind in a healthy body". Shards of Survival will not just focus on real emergencies but mostly and more specifically with accidental setbacks during holidays, day trips, while out camping, hiking or cycling. That is, those little accidents that can ruin your perfect day.

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Shards of Survival

Hi, and welcome to Shards of Survival, the site for everyone who gets off the beaten paths.

This site contains information on survival techniques, trail work, scouting and hiking, orienting and camping. You'll also find information on "primitive" techniques and sustainable alternatives to modern technologies.

Survival for everyone starts here!

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