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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Peter Shiff Video

Hi FerFAL,

I've been reading your blog with great interest and admiration for the last months. I heard about your blog on the biggest (and almost only) french libertarian forum : www.liberaux.org, whose members, included myself, are very much interested in the state of our sick global economy.
Thank you for dealing with survivalism along with other relevant matters on your blog.

Here is the reason for my e-mail : I just watched this video today, a conference from Peter Schiff who explains in 76 minutes pretty much everything a beginner in economics - which i am - needs to know about the crisis (why does it happen, how to get out of it). I thought this could be worth sharing, especially with your readers, whom I'm sure most would like to know how today's economy works.

If you have already dealt with this video on your blog, I apologize.


Many thanks from France.
Arnaud



Hi! Thanks for the video. If you can't watch the complete thing, at least watch the last 15 minutes, it basically explains why he thinks the dollar will collapse and why there's going to be inflation, maybe even hyperinflation.
Basically he thinks that what happened in Argentina will happen in USA sooner or later, which a lot of people think so as well.
I really dont like predicting, but I see that he makes a few truthful points. Will it be as bad as it was here? Maybe, I dont know. But I know USA HAS preppers and survivalist, and there's not even a WORD for either one in Spanish. That's why I'd still rather be in USA than anywhere else.
Enjoy your weekened my friends, and if you think what this man is tlaking about will happen as well, then do some reading here in the blog, becuase what I constantly write about is exactly that, dealing with the realities of a country which economy collapsed along with its currency and the aftermath of that.
Take care.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Real world security advice or just wishful thinking?: Learn to tell the difference.



Delete

AnonymousAnonymous said...
I'm no expert, but as a bigger guy who sometimes leaves his boots outside and yet still had the house broken into, I don't think the muddy boots idea is a good one.

My friend who is about the same size and was also robbed would agree, and his dog-less dog chain wasn't fake. Word on the street is, people who can afford dogs & can leave their boots outside have money. Dogs and boots are like billboard advertisements for many people: "Here is the end of the rainbow."

A rat criminal thief is not going to care about boots or notes, like an animal they're going to be testing using other criteria like, is it quiet inside, is there any movement inside, can it be done, etc... they might even be watching beforehand. Happened to me in a parking lot full of pickup trucks and burly guys.

The criminals watched me go in so they knew who to watch out for as I came out while one looted my car. My car was the junkiest one in the lot - But - it was an easy target with the windows down. It seems to me they had to have been desperate to do this, and desperate equals unpredictable.

The one thief took off on foot walking away calmly even though he was shaking because he knew I was on to him, how-freaking-ever; I gave up the chase. Partly because I wasn't certain if he had successfully stolen anything or not, yet, and mostly because all I kept thinking was Ferfal/GTA & Co. saying, "it's not worth it, let it go, never corner a rat without a gun (or even then) just give them the money, or stuff or whatever and go the other way, and never talk to the police,... and how could I explain beating him if by chance somehow he didn't have the goods on him" or some such, so I stopped, which was difficult, mentally... so very difficult. The thief disappeared, the accomplice had stopped in a car and gave him a ride.


And it’s a good thing you remembered that. STUFF IN GRAL. ISNT WORTH THE RISK. He took your phone, your wallet, you lost what? 300 bucks? 500? Lets say you shoot the bad guy, even just beat him up (which in some cases is even worse) chances are YOU will be the one that will have to PAY him while he rests happily in the hospital. I saw an Argentine movie recently called “Carancho” where its basically lawyers hiring people to have accidents so as to sue.  I’m mentioning a movie here because it is reality based, this happens a lot around here, people getting into accidents on purpose just to get some money out of you. My brother actually had someone throw himself under his car in the province of Cordoba, just to see if he could get the insurance company to pay him. 

Dont chase criminals, always avoid the confrontation if you can. You will want to kick yourself in the butt a thousand time when you realize the tens of thousands this bastard ends up getting out of you one way or another, or the lawyer cost of defending yourself legally after a shooting. Guy is leaving? Its always the wisest thing to just let him go.


Anyway, the point is I think those types of guys would not be deterred by a lit bathroom light and a Be Back Soon note is a green light to pillage and dash. I could be wrong of course, you just never know what will work.

GLOCK rocks.
July 25, 2010 9:50 PM


You are right. While I think a big dog is more of a deterrent that anything else, and a pretty good self defense measure because criminals try to avoid dealing with big dogs, I agree with the rest of what you said and think you bring some very good points, most importantly, being realistic about your “measures” working or not.
As I read that comment about the boots, I thought the same thing. “It wont work that way”. Boots gets stolen, they don’t scare anyone. A chain with no dog means you don’t have it anymore.

Its important to understand these things because as the crime situation gets worse, the grain WILL get separated from the stalk, and many of the end of the world armchair commando survivalists that honeslt yhave absolutely no idea what it means to deal with high crime and never actually used their own advice, they will be providing you with advice and tips that just don’t work.
Its ok to bluff sometimes, but when ti comes t security bluffing is a very thin and weak later of security.

Don’t have a dog chain pretending to have a dog, HAVE THE ACTUAL DOG! Don’t pretend there’s a strong man in the house, BE a strong man or women and learn to defend yourself, have the tools to do so and learn how to use it. 

Delete

AnonymousAnonymous said...

If that other post went through,... I should have added, where I used the word, robbed, both my friend and I have been burglarized while away from home, as well as had intruders come inside While we were home.

And this is in a low crime area overall, with low unemployment, and my friend had a big dog. I never got to hear the rest of his intruder story - that he didn't readily tell it says quite a lot - and the fact he kept the dog.


My wife suffered a home invasion when she was little, the house had several German Sheppards, they just put a gun to her head and told the mother to lock the dogs outside. Then they locked them in the bathroom and proceeded to steal what they could before leaving. The dog helps, and a good one that will react will help a lot, but it is not a guarantee, just another layer.


In one of my experiences, a thief had picked the lock and was surprised I was home sleeping. As he fled quickly down the stairs he actually said he didn't think anyone was home and he was out the door before I'd taken three steps.

I don't think the fact that I was bigger than him played any role in what happened. If he had been bolder & more desperate or armed, things might have worked out to my disadvantage as I was both surprised And completely unarmed at the time, meaning I could have wound up at his mercy. [I just realized, at that moment, you're a slave. Eck.]

...And it sometimes seems that's the way the ruling class wants things, for us to be at the mercy of thieves and thugs.

Catching (if that's the correct word to use) the thief by surprise was the biggest advantage I had, but I don't think that's something to rely on and could work against you.

An alarm of some type might have helped, but I just read an "expert" (somewhere) saying they're not much good at stopping the "expert" thieves & intruders. My guess is, alarms are good against stupid people, but not so much against the smarter ones, which kind do you have?

      Plus, there's that whole bit of, "when seconds count, the police are only minutes away"

Hope that was helpful.

GLOCK rocks.



Experts are one in a million. Take my word for it because I’ve seen how this works all my life, and have had to deal with an ever increasing crime problem all my life as well: Have the good security door, have the burglar bars if you can, and indeed, have the alarm because it does help. In most cases, the stupid criminal will bump into it and leave, the smart criminal will notice it and go for the guy that believed what the “expert” said and didn’t bother installing the alarm. Have the dog and have the security habits so as to not do stupid things as leaving doors unlocked or hanging on the front door to much. Criminals notice all of this and take it all into consideration.

FerFAL


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Prison Escape in Argentina .... guards used a dummy instead of a real guard

Hello ferfal!

Love your book and blog! I think I have read every post you have ever made, but I don't remember seeing you mention this story.

It's about two prisoners who escaped from an Argentine prison after the guards put a dummy in a watch tower. The video cameras had all quit working due to lack of maintenance, and they couldn't afford a real guard. This sounds like many of the stories you tell about a lack of money for everything.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/argentina/7902723/Prisoners-escape-after-guards-put-dummy-in-watch-tower.html

Thanks!
Yes, that was pretty funny, I got a couple other emails today mentioning the same story. They made a dummy with a soccer ball, jajaja!!
But yes, its one of those crazy things that happen here because of lack of funds combined with corruption.

Less funny and this same week, 9 cops tortured 4 underage kids in the capital district. A week ago another kid hannged himself in his jail cell, thrown there after walking drunk out of a club ... his face was also beaten beyond recognition.
Today, a police CAPTAIN! robbed a psatry store at gunpoint. The vicitms couldn't believe it later when they identified him at teh police station, the vicitim's belongings were found in his posession.
As you see there are other very serious problems here, and far less funny.

FerFAL

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ferfal type crazy security idea : -)

I was checking a few documents in the safe and as always my brain keeps running different crime related scenarios.
Maybe one of the hardest to deal with is when the bad guys have the drop on you, they have your family or yourself at gunpoint and you basically are running out of options other than surrendering.

Every once in a while, even in that type of situation good buys bold enough manage to win. Before going into further detail, this is EXTREMELY dangerous and you should thing carefully before reacting when your family or yourself have guns trained on you.

The last time something like this occurred the father was being cooperative, he was taken to the master bedroom and the money was demanded, the father played along looked for the money in the closed but came out with a gun, killing one of the bad guys and the other ones escaped.
When or if you should attempt this involves to many variables, the only thing I’d like to explain here is an idea I just got that would help if such a decision was made.

The safe

Other times I heard of similar things happened when asked to open the safe, drunk with greed some criminals are rather surprised when a gun comes out instead of a was of cash. But what if they are looking? What if you determined the criminals are really just after the money and you’ve decided that the fastest, safest choice is to give up that money and give them what they were looking for? If they look over your shoulder and see the gun, you may get shot. If its hidden it may not be handy at that most critical moment, so this is what I just thought of and (why pretend to be humble when I’m not?:-) ) I think it’s a terrific idea.

Most guns are made of metal. Even Glock have a magnetic slide. You could glue some super strong earth magnets to the top of the inside of the safe. Make this safe a small one, located in a place where its tactically sound for you to start shooting, low enough so that a person looking over your shoulder simply can’t see the gun stuck to the roof of the safe. Two or the rare earth magnets glued in line would keep a Glock secured in place.

The advantages I see to this are many:
1)The gun is readily available, yet out of sight unless the criminals knows where to look and will easily get by a quick glance or someone looking inside next to you.
2) You can choose to just do nothing, give up the money and no one realizing you had a gun there.
3) There’s not even a holster to bother with or a book or other object concealing it. Just grad the gun and pull anyway you want, is just a magnet keeping it in place (don’t overdo the rare earth magnets, they are incredibly strong)

If you don’t have rare earth magnets you can find them at dealextreme.com for a few bucks. Of course metal saves don’t require glue, but I’d just rather make sure I don’t have the magnet attacked to the slide or even worse, a revolver cylinder and risk a failure to fire.
I thought it was a pretty good idea and wanted to share it with the rest of you. Take care.
Edited to add: I mentioned a Glock but truthfully a snubby revolver would be preffered since there's a risk of the magnet affecting the internal safeties in many autos.

FerFAL

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shemagh Scarf




I used to use a big old lady scarf back when I used to go backpacking. Not kidding, it actually belonged to my grandmother. Summer time gets really hot in the different trails you have down in Patagonia, in the seven lakes area. I remember that I threw it into my backpack without putting much thought into it as I came across it while looking for something else, and it proved to be much more useful than I ever thought it would.  I used to cover my head with the wet scarf, and that would keep my head fresh. By the time it dried up in the afternoon, I could use it to cover my neck when the temperatures dropped at night. It was a well worn scarf, red and blue with flower designs, not at all tacticool looking, and I was glad that you couldn’t tell much of its design when it was wrapped around your neck or head since it wasn’t anything to brag about. :-)
8537 SHEMAGH TACTICAl SCARF (DESERT SAND) 
The shemagh (also known as keffiyeh) is basically a square piece of cloth worn by Arab men in different styles around the head. Knowing a couple styles, you can basically use it for everything from protecting your head from hot or cold weather, cover your neck from cold or sunburns, protecting your mouth and nose from the wind and sand and shading your eyes from sunlight. Pretty handy piece of cloth and it has several other uses.
I first noticed this particular type of scarf being used in shooting classes. When you’re in a class where other people are shooting at your sides, its just a matter of time until a hot brass hits your face and neck or worse, gets stuck there between your shirt and skin, burning you, sometimes worse than others. You could say that its part of the training to keep focused in spite of that bit of pain, but at least I saw the point of it, just one more of the many uses the shemagh (or just big scarf as I’d prefer to refer to it :-)  ) has.
About a month ago I bought a olive drab/black Shemagh scarf. Its 100% cotton and I’ve been using it since I got it because of the cold weather. The shemagh has become something of a fashion item lately and you can find it in all sorts of colors, some more ridiculous than other . It even has some sort of hype/trendy/political statement to it for some people, and you sometimes see the one with the Palestine design being used around here in protests, often along with a Che Guevara shirt of some sort. I couldn’t care less for all that so I just got one that has dull, indifferent colors that doesn’t attract much attention.
This video shows how to use it,

I found this style to be pretty practical. Granted you DO look like a nutcase with both face and head covered, all you’re missing is the AK47 and Chinese bra full of mags, but if kept half way up, at least around here during winter, you’re just one of the millions of persons covering yourself from the chilly wind.

A few other uses a big scarf has are:
Emergency bandage
Tourniquet
Tinder
To grab hot pots form the camp fire
sling
head wrap, keeping sun or snow, wind, sand and dust out of eyes, face and neck.
face veil, concealing the face
 scarf worn around the neck, retains heat in the cold and absorbs
 small sunshade cover whilst resting
 an arm sling, giving a wounded arm support
 a foot wrap, replacing a lost sock
 a carrying pouch for equipment
 towel
pre filtering water
A pillow, filled with clothes, grass, dried leaves.

It’s therefore no wonder that a lot of people keep one in their survival/emergency kits, and that you often find mention of how useful these are in camping and backpacking manuals.

FerFAL

Reusable hand warmers

Someone asked about these:
HEAT WAVE Instant Reusable Hand Warmers - 1 pair
HEAT WAVE Instant Reusable Hand Warmers - 1 pair

These can be used hundreds of times, I've had ones for years and lost count of how many times I've used them over the years. This is what happens qhen you click the disc, and the pack heat up to 55 ºc or so, stays pretty warm for 30 minutes.


To turn it back to liquid, just boil it. I place a couple of metal spoons in the bottom so as to avoid direct contact with the bottom of the pot and risk burning the plastic. After a few minutes of boiling, when you see that all crystals disolved, just let it cool and its ready for another use by clicking the disc.


FerFAL

Friday, July 23, 2010

Staying warm?

dear ferfal, bought your book last week for a couple ladies at my dentist office. i bought yours cause you "been there, done that".my question in on home heating and cooking. i assume argentina uses natural gas? was there any disruptions in supply? what about propane and wood use? thank you very much,

john

Hi, thanks, hope they like my book. :-) If its not too much to ask, I'd love to hear what they had to say about it, specially if they're not preppers or survival minded. The idea is to open the eyes of as much people as possible.

About your question, we're going through some historic low temps here right now, lowest temperature record in the last 10 years. Yes we mostly use gas, and as I write this there’s problems of supply and protest taking place. The government says there’s no supply problems, but reality doesn’t agree with them.

Specially the poor or those that live outside city limits (and therefore apparently matter less, or at least are out of sight/ out of mind) they are having the greatest problems because gas is getting harder and harder to find, tanks get sold fast and there’s simply not enough to meet the demand. While those that are connected to the city network may have little gas pressure, its of course far worse to not have none at all. Again, this goes along to what I often mention about the cell-like behavior in cities during tough times. Like a living organism, the efforts are placed to keep the core going as well as possible and when sacrifices need to be made, they cut the limb so to speak to save the nucleus.

Everything has its advantages and disadvantages, but its worth mentioning for those that think cities are always the worst place to be in during a crisis or SHTF event, its not always the case.
Some people are using kerosene or wood heaters (some people die because of poor ventilation while doing so) wood is also used for cooking.

I’d like to make a special mention regarding wood burning cooking stoves. I’m not the first one to notice how terrific they are when there’s problems, both for heating and cooking. During the Sarajevo siege these were best sellers my friend. Don’t wait until a freaking war (or God knows what other problem) is all over you. Have one of these, they are also fun to use. Check on Craiglist, check ebay or yard sales, maybe you get lucky and find a cheap one.

Regarding staying warm, many of the camping tricks also apply. Some times when there was no power, we would just sleep all together in the same room, the master bedroom, covered with lots of blankets and hugging, with a crack on the window for ventilation. Also a hot water bottle helps keep staying warm. These go under the groin between the legs so that blood flow spreads heat all over. Cover the head which is a point through which you lose a lot of heat. I also have some of these very cool reusable warmers, they can be used again just by boiling them. VERY, VERY handy, and I used them during my camping days, they are still good over a decade later and many uses. Do yourself a favor and check them out if you have no idea what I’m talking about.

FerFAL

Gold to be TAXED under Health Care Legislation


 Guess this isn’t a novelty if you’re into buying precious metals to protect your savings, you probably heard about this madness already.
Basically the idea is to slip it into the Health Care legislation so as to tax an keep track of your bullion gold purchases.
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/gold-coin-dealers-decry-tax-law/story?id=11211611
Is this madness? Has this ever happened before? Yes and yes. Those of us that checked history know this was done before and as times get worse it was bond to happen sooner or later. Its ironic though that they tired to burry this baby within the Health Care Legislation, you have to give them extra points for being so cunning. :-) Sucks that it’s basically evil, though. Gold is money all things considered and its not right to tax it.

Richest man in the world buys (another) gold mine.

http://jacqui.instablogs.com/entry/carlos-slim-buys-himself-a-mexican-gold-mine/

That translates into “richest man on Earth thinks gold will go up”. Doubt Carlos Slim is silly at doing business so he clearly expects it to keep going up on price… or he’s a survivalist as well and that’s his version of PM rainy day SHTF proof savings.
Either way, he bought another gold mine in Mexico.

FerFAL

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reply: Security for women at home alone‏

Hi Ferfal.

We read your blog all the time and we purchased your book. Some very good advice indeed. 

As you say windows are a problem but what we've done is to make the bedroom super secure - a sort of safe room if you like. We have the switches for the alarm system in there with an emergency button you can quickly hit in times of an emergency.

This meant that cost wise we only had to secure one room and the cost was affordable. We installed the best quality security screens we could and since it was only 2 windows it was much less than the whole house. We also used tinting film to cut down the view inside and this also helps make the glass less 'breakable' or so we were told. The bedroom door was replaced and it is sold and in a good solid frame and since it's off the hallway it would be hard for anyone to get a run up to knock it down. It took my husband pushing with all his weight to test it (how else do you test the 'guarantee'?). We were lucky the bedroom is placed the way it is actually.

It might be possible for someone very determined to punch a hole through the wall from the rooms next door since they are not solid brick. We lined the vulnerable wall with another layer of plasterboard so it will take more than a few kicks to break it. Law abiding people aren't allowed guns here so I have a machete under the bed in case any holes do appear in the wall and unwelcome hands or heads poke through into the room, but I'm hoping that any bad guys will be leaving quickly when faced with an ear splitting siren and a difficult door to break down. There's not much we can do about anything they break or take before they run but next to selling up and moving into something really secure this is our next best choice we think. We also put a good collection of sensor security lights about on the outside. All this has given me peace of mind when I'm in the house alone and especially sleeping at night or even napping in the afternoon. It didn't cost an awful lot to do this since only costs were a good solid door being installed, some plasterboard, the film and 2 screens and a repaint so it might be an option for others to consider for peace of mind.

Julie


Hi Julie, thanks for sharing your experience with the rest of us.
The safe room or panic room is an interesting concept and it is a valid one as well, the idea being to retreat to a safe or more defendable position, and when criminals see its not easy to get to you they will hopefully leave.
This sure is better than no planning at all but remember you’re still vulnerable in the rest of the house, so awareness and general good security habits are important. Ideally, you want to have a good level of protection as soon as you close the front door of your home behind you but unfortunately few homes are designed or built that way any more.
See about adding storm films to the rest of the windows. Far from the security level provided by burglar bars, it does add a few more seconds for you to rush to your safe room.
Also remember to keep your cell phone there at night and a spare set of keys of the house. If you ever lock yourself there during a home invasion, you would just throw your keys to the police through the window and not risk going to the front door to open it yourself.
Take care Julie and good luck.

FerFAL

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

brother got stabbed + new CS Recon 1 knife‏

Hello Ferfal :)..

I'm a long time reader of your blog and learned quite a lot by reading
you (and did act accordingly btw). A couple of weeks ago, my younger
brother got stabbed by a couple of two legged predators.

That being said, he's now out of danger and ended up VERY lucky ! He was
stabbed only once and the blade didn't go that deep. Just enough to do a
very small cut in the guts but it was repaired fairly quickly. He's okay
and back at home with his loving family.

Let's say that i'm taken a bit more seriously than before and somewhat
less of a nutjob inside the family.

I'm planning to buy him some Pepper spray (should have a long time ago
thought) even if ain't allowed to "prepare" to use it in self defense
against humans in this god forsaken country. No problem with dogs
thought and once used as weapon of opportunity, it can be considered
lawful by a judge.

Now, about knives.. After theses sad events, my trusty Buck Vantage pro
feel a bit puny in my pocket and i'm thinking for something a tad bit
bigger. I'd like to ask you if you have an opinion about the Cold Steel
Recon 1 with the new tri-ad lock :).

And if yes, would you take the clip point plain edge blade or the tanto
blade?

Thank you for your invaluable information that you provide so generously .

Hi! Sorry to hear about your brother.
It’s a very good idea to carry OC, both for your brother and yourself. Even some people that carry both firearms and knives, they carry OC spray too because it gives you a tool to deal with some of the “gray scale” situations that don’t call for lethal force.

Its use though must be understood. Don’t expect immediate stop, you need a certain range to use it, and if it was a close quarter incident like the one your brother was apparently involved in, its not likely to save you from getting stabbed. Oc Spray must be combined with precaution and awareness so as to have the space and range to use it properly.

Even with knives, you should combine it with good physical condition, some basic knowledge of how to use it, at least a couple knife fighting classes, and most of all the determination so as to not doubt about using it to do the greatest amount of damage possible if in comes to that. With folding knives, you should lose count of the times you brought it out of your pocket and opened it per day, only when it becomes second nature to do so will you have a chance of doing it properly under stress.


Cold Steel 27LCH Recon 1 Clip Point Knife


 Cold Steel 27LCH Recon 1 Clip Point Knife
The Cold Steel Recon is interesting. The brand is good, the new lock is strong and the blade shape is proper for defense too, it has a good thickness to it and will create an significant wound. I’d go for the clip point blade. Tantos usually do better at punching in holes and I like them a lot, but this one is too wide and I’m afraid that with that 80% angle tip they pushed it too hard and you’ll lose some puncturing power, the clip point will go through much easier.

FerFAL

Criminal's Gun

"God gives you life and I take it away from you"
Browning GP-35 9mm Parabellum from a criminal in Cordoba, Argentina 2010.

This is ther evil scum of the Earth we have to be ready for.

FerFAL

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Power Problems in Buenos Aires due to Cold Weather

Buenos Aires capital district is a fervent, beautiful city. Even with the crime, protests, marches and blocked streets you sort of expect that if you come visit here. You still have the architecture left behind by our past glorious times, some of the nice new skyscrapers in Madero thanks to the drug laundry money and sprinkled all over you have Argentine women that, the more I travel, the more I am convinced that, in average, are some of the most beautiful in the world.
Then there’s other times you just feel as if you’ve fallen through the nine circles of hell. driving around last night, I felt that way. The southern suburbs where I live are bad in general, with only pockets of “nice” places. The western suburbs don’t even have those. The weather was polar cold and it had been raining for three days already. As I occasionally mention, the gird in Buenos Aires is patched all over and any surge in the demand of electric power or natural gas causes problems. With the unusually cold weather, you could expect this to happen. I had to go to the capital last night and went across several poor southern districts, most of them without power, the streets lined with dirt and garbage that no one would ever collect.

The traffic quickly slowed down and came to a halt, and I noticed an orange glow ahead. Fire and slow traffic means roadblocks and trouble. Imagine darkness because of the blackout, and what you can see around you thanks to the other car’s headlights are shacks or low constructions that look more like rubble, with several junkyards to be found all around you. The visibility is limited, storm clouds keep the moonlight at bay, rain makes things even worse, and then you have to add to that the smoke of burning rubber, the orange glow of fire ahead making you reconsider the wisdom of continuing in that direction.

I took a side street and soon missed the light from the other cars, pitch black as the blackout spread like a blanket, I now had to worry about the thick mud (only the main road is paved) and even more shacks all around. Block after block of shanty town shacks, that’s what you find on the sides of “Camino Negro”. I had my iphone and used the map to know where I was, pushing a button on the touch screen quickly pinpoints your location in the map, and a few seeps of the thumb showed what I would find if I continue in that direction. There was another main road a few miles ahead. Good. At times like that you wish for two things: a) Not to experience any car troubles, either mechanical or induced by carjackers putting traps on the road which given the circumstances would be almost impossible to detect, and b) Not to find another bunch of shacks or houses built where the older satellite map previously showed a road. This happens often as people just build anywhere they want, either because no one cared because it’s a very poor place or the spot was promised in return of political support in pro-government marches, you can expect anything.

I was lucky. A few minutes later, some lights, cars, even people hurrying back home escaping from the rain and cold. There were still sectors without power and many traffic lights didn’t work, but you feel a bit more secure because of the light and people. Maybe it’s a false sense of security, you may be carjacked right there and no one would care or move a thumb to help you.

Seems that the roadblock was because some shantytown people that had illegally hooked themselves to the electric grid where now experiencing problems. A few hundred cables hooked and stealing power from the grid isn’t exactly something that will hold well, so what do you do in Argentina when you can’t steal power any more and the illegal connection you made blew up because of the rain and intense use? You protest by committing more crimes, blocking a highway and damaging it by burning tires on it. You take away the right of the people to move freely, you ruin the asphalt that will need to be repaired (with the money from taxes which these people of course don’t pay)

Meanwhile the millions of other people in their homes without power in spite of paying their bills, they don’t protest, but of course the government (now the power company is state owned) will help the ones stealing power first. They are the ones that go support them in the rallies and marches, they are the kind of population they are interest in.

FerFAL

Monday, July 19, 2010

Future classes and training inTexas

Mr. Aguirre,
Again, I truly enjoy reading your blogs and your book! I live in Dallas, Texas, and unfortunately wasn't able to meet with you when you recently visited us. I know that you and your family are planning on moving to the US soon, is there any possibility that you will settle in the Dallas area? It would be really cool to have you here! Don't know if you'd be interested or not, but getting everyone together a couple of times a year or so for different training would be a nice thing.

Hope all is well, and stay safe!

D

Indeed the plan is to move to Texas next year, and yes I'm organizing so as to put together urban survival classes every now and then once I moved over there. Of course other training you may have in mind is welcomed as well, count me in if there's shooting :)

The idea is to have complementary training to what you learn in shooting schools, but running real world role playing force on force situations. Still brainstorming but I can assure you I really want to do it and that means it will get done at some point. :-) Other classes may include other topics discussed here frequently in the blog.

Stay tuned future neighbor, and keep in touch !
I’m posting this here because I’d like to hear your opinion, what type of training or seminar topics would be considered interesting by the blog readers.

FerFAL

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Survival Mindset


The Survival Mindset

Ask anyone that is into survival and disaster preparedness what’s the single most important thing and if he knows just the slightest bit about it the answer you will get is mindset. Some will say it as if revealing a treasured secret, some will blurb it out without even processing it in their minds, probably saying it a couple times a week for the last few years.
Now, it is correct, the right mindset is where it all begins and it is indeed the most important part, yet so little is said about it. I’ll be the first one to raise the hand and accept I’m guilty as well. Most often I will talk in my blog about different gear I found or am currently testing or using.  Its so much easier to talk about gear, tools, guns. Its not only fun, its interesting for the reader and not as much work for the writer. Tangible objects are obvious, determined, of this or that length, weight and use, while a philosophical concept is hard to define, its like trying too catch mist with a net.
Another common situation is that, right after claiming that mindset is the most important part, people will confidently admit that they themselves have such survival mindset. Yet this is like saying you’re Christian: The Catholic, the Protestant and the self claimed prophet nutcase that serves coolaid with rat poison, they all claim to be Christian yet they couldn’t be more different.

What does it mean to have a survival mindset?

Few things are as hard to define as survival mindset. I mean, I’ve been into survival and preparedness for a long time, thinking and writing about it for years and yet I have a hard time doing it and find it impossible to come up with a clean, short answer.
In my opinion , survival mindset includes but isn’t limited to:

Conviction. You are convinced of the wisdom in preparing and assimilate it as another part of your life.

Determination. To carry it through on the long run. The survival mindset is only legit if its something you’ve acquired and stays with you permanently once you’ve got it. Even if your dedication to preparedness is sometimes interrupted because of a tighter budget or particularly demanding times where your attention is mostly focused elsewhere, real survival mindset can never be uninstalled from your mind.

Humor. Without it you are doomed no matter what. In some cases you see people that lack it completely and just makes their lives miserable, in others you can even see its killing them, and anguish and negative thoughts will kill you if you can’t control them. During extraordinary stressful times its of great importance to have good humor, and its no coincidence that I’m placing humor near the top of the list.

Setting rational priorities. This is a common fail in many people who consider themselves to be survivalists and its an often discussed topic in my blog, the lack of common sense, real world approach to survival. Do you really focus on getting more guns instead of losing some of the weight that is killing you? Their failed logic goes, why worry about losing the extra 100 pounds worth of fat in your body when you can still shoot looters even if you’re fat. It never occur to them that they are a thousand times more likely to die of cardiac failure in their current state than anything else, and I’ve seen people actually get offended when a diet is respectfully suggested. The same applies to having tons of guns and no food. Tons of food and no water (but lots of empty containers with a post-it note that reads “fill me up when SHTF”). Ten thousand dollars worth of machinery but not a single dollar saved.

Self Discipline. To actually carry out through your actions what you claim and know to be important. To follow the path you set and not only do the things that are easy, but also have the will power to do the things that may be more unpleasant for you such as going into diet if you have to, working out, learning skills that you may not enjoy studying but you rationally recognize as important. This also includes financial sacrifices in some cases, saving money you would have otherwise spent in things you just don’t need, even ones that at some level you try to convince yourself as “must haves” for survival.

Differentiating fantasy from reality. This will usually end up with people preparing for the infamous “end of the world”, mistakenly thinking that if you’re ready for the worst case scenario, you’re ready for everything in between. Wrong. These people will have tons of supplies but wont have a sensible plan for when they retire, because everyone knows that money will be worth nothing… when the world ends.

Thirst for knowledge. Survival mindset also means you recognize the possibility of sometimes not having people there to help you, so its understandable that you’d like to accumulate as much skills and knowledge as you can. Time is limited and so are resources, you can’t know it all, but someone that has a survival mindset is ever curious and never wastes an opportunity to learn something new.

Awareness. Of your surroundings. Awareness implies conscious recognition of your immediate environment and the capability to detect potential threats within it as well as tactical advantages and disadvantages. This is again, a part of the survival mindset a lot of people claim to have but in reality they don’t. And I’m not using the term “tactical” loosely either, but referring to it as abstract analysis such as acknowledging the emergency exit sign in the restaurant where you’re having dinner, knowing your shoe soles are certified to provide electric shock resistance, or recognizing a pen or letter opened as a potential weapon when walking into an office. These are bits of knowledge you keep stored in your head and may give you an edge on different emergency situations. This is very different from the more “tacticool” concept of militarizing trinkets and other paraphernalia for no other reason than esthetic appeal.

Having a plan. You’ve talked with your family regarding what you’d be doing during an emergency in case you get scattered. You all know where you’d get together and where you would go if that location is not an option. When defending yourself, you have a strategy to follow, when hitting you already have a simple yet effective combinaiton of strikes you’ve practiced as default.

Redundancy and backups. Both in essential gear and planning. This will mean having several backups for things such as self defense, heat and cooking, several months worth of food, enough water to get by if the grid goes down. In planning it will mean having plan A, B and probably C as well. It basically means you’re already assuming the likelihood of failing and getting prepared for an alternative.

All constructive comments and suggestions are more than welcomed.

FerFAL

Saturday, July 17, 2010

American Murder Mystery

Why is crime rising in so many American cities? The answer implicates one of the most celebrated antipoverty programs of recent decades. 
 By Hanna Rosin
http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/american-murder-mystery/6872/
Excelent article, worth reading so as to understand what's going on.


FerFAL

Friday, July 16, 2010

Minichamp vs. Leatherman

Why the obsession with finding the perfect little tool? What’s the logic behind changing your every day carry knife only because the knew one comes with a better steel or changing your flashlight because the new LED puts 100 lumens out the front with a single AA battery cell?

No idea man. Still don’t have the right answer for that. My best attempt would be saying that what you have with you is all you have during an emergency, and that short answer would be enough to at least begin to understand it from a survival and preparedness point of view.

How important is it? Well, sometimes its having the tool to avoid a mere inconvenience, other times its having the tool in a more serious complication.
Getting caught on the highway during heavy rain with a windshield sweeper that got loose, that means you can’t continue until you tighten it again with your multitool.

How about the famous EDC knife and all the ordinary daily chores it does?
A good friend of mine went out the front porch of his house in Texas for a smoke, cornered a coyote without even realizing it, and the animal attacked him. He ended up stabbing the animal with his EDC knife, a Benchmade that opens one handed. A nice Swiss Army knife, as practical and as much as I love them a) Wouldn’t have been clipped to his pocked b) wouldn’t open one handed c) Wouldn’t lock open so as to use it as a weapon d) The blade would have been much smaller and less adequate for fighting.

How likely are you to get attacked by a coyote, by a street dog, by a thug or sociopath? How likely are you to need a blade to cut a rope or tape choking you or tearing a limb, or a cement hose crushing your arm and you using your Buck knife like a construction worker did once, saving his arm?

The amount of hardware we carry is limited. At least in my opinion, its both useful and fun finding the best possible alternative, given our options and circumstances. Did I convince anyone that all this gear review and philosophical discussion has a point?
Well, at least I tried. The circumstances I’ll describe are far less critical but they still illustrate the difference between different pieces of gear.

The mission


The task at hand was fixing the roll up shutter that had suddenly broken. Oh, I could think of a hundred things to do that are more fun, but someone has to do it so armed with my trusty Leatherman Charge Tti, 10 feet of curtain tape and an Energyzer headlamp I went to fulfill my duties as the man of the house, fixing stuff that breaks. :)
Now after removing the lid I saw the rolling curtain was broken where it got attached to one of the boards. Useless to hope for the attachment thingy that broke so I just screwed it directly into the board. Doing this is of course much easier said that done, with limited space and illuminating with the flashlight.

The Leatherman’s limitation

As much as I like this tool the one thing that I dislike about it proved to be an inconvenience. The Charge and Wave models use removable bits that allow you to use different kind of screwdriver bits. This is nice and if you have the holster with the spare bit kit you have a nice variety of flat, cross and allen bits at hand.
I even have the extension adaptor that makes it look more like a real screwdriver. Is the extension adapter worth it? I’d love to say yes, that’s its awesome and makes a world of a difference, but truth be told, while it does give you the extra range, its too loose and for demanding tasks it just feel wiggly. Leatherman should look into that and make one with tighter fitting on the mutitool end.
 Both the Phillips screwdriver and the small flat one have more reach in the small leatherman, only the large flat one has more rech than the cuticle pusher (which I often use as a large screwdriver)

The Swiss Army knife Midnight Minichamp Awesomeness.


So, I’m trying to maneuver inside the curtain roll cover, doing a poor job with the Charge and its cross bit, when I remember the Minichamp and its terrifically well designed Phillips screwdriver tool. Just when I decided to stop experimenting and go get my tool box, I thought about giving the Minichamp a shot and voilá, it worked like magic.
The tool itself is small, ketchain small, but the Phillips screwdriver in it has much more range than the Leatherman. As I saw when using the Charge for changing batteries in toys and a million other gadgets that needed to be opened, where the Leatherman bit simply wont fit, the Minichamp will be just the right size.
Pondering the situation today, I could have cut the tape to the right length with the Minichamp and not use the Leatherman multitool at all. Heck, it even has a flashlight in it, which while poor alternative to a White LED headlamp, it IS a light at the very least.

Conclusion.


I love the Charge Tti. I love having that nice S30 steel blade, the serrated blade. Man, I love having a real saw and a wood file with a diamond file on the other side.
I love having the tough pliers and wouldn’t want to be left without it. For me that’s reason enough to carry it every day, but I’ll still never be caught without my beloved keychain and the Swiss Army Minichamp in it.


FerFAL

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mugged on Michigan Avenue

Julia said...

Not really tied to this issue specifically, but Second City Cop had a post about getting mugged on Michigan Avenue (in Chicago). I can't manage to directly link to it, but it should be easy to find here:

http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/search/label/crime

It's an interesting perspective on the happenings in Chicago from the point of view of some of the police. This isn't a crime blog but does tend to feature a lot of the politics of the police in Chicago.

July 15, 2010 9:12 AM

Hi, that's a pretty good blog. This is the post:

Thursday, July 15, 2010
Mugged on Michigan Avenue
An eye opener - if you haven't been paying attention for the last few years:

* Here's what went down: I walked up to the bus stop at the corner of Michigan and Grand to take the 151 to my home in Lakeview. I sat down on the black metal railing that fences off one of the large flower gardens, put down my bag of groceries and pulled out my new iPhone to check my e-mail and send a text message to my wife letting her know I would be home soon.

The sidewalk was packed with tourists and shoppers, but I felt a strange energy when a kid, probably about 14, sat down close to me on my left while the guy he walked up with stood on my right. It just felt wrong.

Then, literally in a flash, the kid on my left grabbed my iPhone and tried to bolt. I had heard all of the warnings about people snatching iPhones and iPods, but because the street was so crowded I never thought it could happen there and then.

Did anyone who isn't reading here right now not see this one coming two years ago? Anyone? Bueller? We didn't think so. This is almost a daily occurrence nowadays.

Now imagine you're Bob or Suzie Yuppie without a newspaper column to bitch about being strong-armed in broad daylight on what is one of the top three pedestrian avenues in Chicago.

But here's the kicker - the writer, someone named John D. Thomas - even after getting attacked and knocked around and robbed, manages to get in a dig at police officers!

* I went after the two kids, still gripping the T-shirt I had torn off one of them. I saw them go east on Ohio Street and I booked it in hot pursuit. When I got to St. Clair, I didn't see them, but my lifetime of watching TV cop shows told me they had sprinted down a dark alley next to the Dunkin' Donuts.

Even though it is Shortshanks that has allowed the number of police on the streets to dwindle to the point where strong arm robbers feel little-to-no hesitation in mugging people in broad daylight on Michigan Avenue, John D. Thomas has to throw in the tired old saw about "Dunkin Donuts" and cop shows.

At least he didn't go with the "poor downtrodden under-privileged youth who don't know what they're doing and I probably deserved to have my personal property forcibly removed from my person" route. That would have been a bit too much.

Labels: crime

That happens here ALL the time. Cell phone snatching is almost a sport here.
Awareness guys, awareness. Dont just type it on the internet, actually practice it.
Today on the street, you could tell by looking around those that were looking for an easy vicitm, you just start noticing them after a while, if you bother looking.
I should write a post about this.


FerFAL

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The boomerang effect of a disaster

Hello Ferfal,

The boomerang effect of a disaster:

I'm sending you this article to show how sometimes a natural disaster that bears no apparent consequence to a distant population does a boomerang and hits it on the back end.  I'm talking about hurricane Alex and its impact on Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico.  Everyone knows that Alex hit Monterrey, Mexico the hardest, not with strong winds, but by dumping 1 meter of water in 30 hours.  The river Santa Catarina which is a dry valley most of the time came down raging and flooded the city, devastating a lot of infrastructure.  This was all over the news and on the social networks.

Point of reference:  Nuevo Laredo, Tamps. is the Mexican border city with Laredo, TX, 420 miles south of Dallas on I-35.

Now what does this have to do with Nuevo Laredo, a city 120 miles north of Monterrey and relatively unaffected by Alex?  Well, along its dying path, Alex dumped massive amounts of rain into two lakes with dams.  The first lake was Presa Don Martin south west of Nuevo Laredo and  the second lake was Presa La Amistad, north west of Nuevo Laredo.  These two lake control the Rio Salado and the Rio Grande.  The water management authorities fearing the lakes would burst if another weather system dumped more water opened the flood gates on July 7th for both lakes.  They knew there was going to be flooding to the city of Anahuac alongside of the Rio Salado and to the border towns along the Rio Grande, Laredo and Nuevo Laredo included.  They informed the population accordingly and helped it evacuate.

Of the bat, Nuevo Laredo, which this time of year regularly has 100-102F (40-42 C) heat, was left without water for 3 days because the city took out the water pumps that draw from the Rio Grande to high ground.  Water service has been restored by now but pressure is weak and the water is murky.  The first few blocks of both cities got flooded and the water jumped over one of the three bridges (the one used for pedestrian crossings) connecting the twin cities.  Also, the railroad bridge remains close pending safety inspections and holding many rail road cars going in and out of both countries.

Anahuac was also flooded and many people had to be evacuated, some by force, to shelters.

The Rio Salado caused structural damage to a bridge connecting the highway from Anahuac to Nuevo Laredo and washed off the highway connecting Monterrey to Nuevo Laredo.  As you can see on the map, Nuevo Laredo suddenly became isolated to the north by the Rio Grande and to the south by a bridge in disrepair and a washed-off highway.  The supply line routes to the city of Nuevo Laredo remain severed and the stores are running out of food.  Many restaurants have closed their doors because they have no food to cook.  People have begun panic buying but there is no civil disorder, yet.  I know all this from first hand accounts from my family and friends  who lives on both sides of the border.

So here is a good example of people getting caught of guard.  Monterrey knew the hurricane was coming and prepared to the best of its ability.  Despite the massive flooding, there were only about 15 dead reported.  Nuevo Laredo had no clue that 10 days later it would be isolated from the rest of Mexico, flooded without drinking water, and without food on the shelves.  Hopefully, the highway to Monterrey gets fixed in the next two days.

Feel free to share this with you audience if you like.


Best regards,

Jose

Link to Spanish article:
http://www.hoylaredo.net/noticias/notas1/034776%20nuevo%20laredo%20Busca%20Ramon%20evitar%20desabasto%20de%20comida.htm


Link to map showing Nuevo Laredo in relation to Monterrey, Anahuac, and the lakes:

Link: <http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=laredo,+tx+to+monterrey,+mexico&sll=27.519433,-99.498494&sspn=0.054654,0.077162&ie=UTF8&ll=27.547242,-98.953857&spn=6.990738,14.0625&z=7&dirflg=d>










Jose, thanks a lot my friend for the article and pictures.

I’ve been working seriously on survival and preparedness for almost ten years now, and one of the things that I learned is that no matter how avid an imagination you may have, reality often exceeds it.
The month we spend here in Buenos Aires covered by smoke because of political disputes, started by the government so as to blame the farmers for it and turn the people in Buenos Aires against them is a good example, and how crazy was it that at the same time people down south had a volcano erupt and many towns ended up covered in ash, crops and livestock lost. The price of respirators and facemasks suddenly went up times ten as you can imagine.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is, your main priority should be preparing for the most likely problems based on your personal situation and location but you also have to plan for the unexpected. How do you do that? By thinking for a second what you need to stay alive: Air, shelter, food, water and security.
No matter how bizarre a situation may be, if you have those covered there’s a good chance you’ll be able to deal with it. In the smoke case, air was the problem, suddenly everyone wanted respirators, masks, and air filters for their homes. In this case, its shelter that is being compromised, and the best way to prepare regarding losing your current shelter (your home) is not only having a tent or camper, but having a plan B location, far enough so as to not be affected during a regional disaster, close enough to get there with realistic means at hand. (having enough gas stored to get there sort of makes sense... and rotating it every 6 months to keep it fresh)

Notice something else, the kind of vehicles that are still able to work. They don’t save gas like an economy sedan, but a 4x4 with elevated exhaust and air intake suddenly becomes priceless.
Thanks for your email Jose. As you said, a good example of people getting caught off guard.

FerFAL

About window blinds and Crime and Poverty in Argentina.


Hi Ferfal -
I've been reading your blog for about a year and I also picked up a
copy of your book. They're both great and really helpful! I like taking
walks in the evening and have noticed that just about everyone in my
town has their blinds open or only have some flimsy covering over the
windows at night while they're watching the 50" HDTV. Was Argentina like
this before the crash?

Also, why is it that people who live in run-down houses with
broken-down cars and clutter have really nice televisions? Have you seen
the same thing in Argentina, with people spending whatever disposable
income (like a tax rebate) on entertainment instead of something that
would be useful?

Thanks for reading,

Nate
Glad you find them useful and thanks for reading Nate. About your questions;
Argentines have always been pretty aware of crime problems in general even before 2001. What happen is that after the economic collapse it got so bad, you really couldn’t afford to make any more mistakes. If everyone has burglar bars in their windows and you don’t, guess what house is going to get broken into next time? Same thing for alarms, security doors, dogs, and overall security awareness. I’m not saying there aren’t some people that, at this point, go into complete denial and will continue being careless, even after being victims, I’m just saying its really not that often any more. You just cant afford to do that any more.

I was talking with a remis(informal taxi) driver yesterday. He told me that he’s very careful about answering calls with his cell phone, out of fear of having it snatched out of his hand. He told me he would sometimes not look if it’s a text message, and if he does he looks around, tries to find a safe spot and answer while looking around him. And older guy like him, he’s a preferred victim. Same happens with women. I knew a girl that had her phone snatched out of her hands six times… in the last year alone! Granted, she’s not being careful enough, but in other places you can afford not to be. Here, its different.

Same thing with poor discipline when it comes to not using curtains and showing clearly what you have inside the house. These days, I don’t see people doing that mistake often. When I see it done, its so odd that it actually shocks you a bit. “How can someone be so stupid?” you can’t avoid thinking.

But it was a safer place, that much is true. In my neighborhood, kids used to play on the streets, ride bikes, you just don’t see that any more, and when you do, its under the close supervision of an adult. Again, there are exceptions, but Darwin has been kicking in and you see that less and less. Its sad that kids that are old enough to play on the sidewalk by themselves or with their friends, can’t do it because of the crime problem.
About the poor with wide screen TVs, that not common at all here. YOUR poor aren’t really poor. :-) Poor people in Argentina certainly don’t have wide screen TVs, or anything expensive. Sometimes you see a shack with a DirectTV dish, but its often stolen and the TV used is a cheap thing. Sometimes people don’t know how to manage money well, but the Argentine poor class has more serious things to worry about like the ever growing inflation on every product, mostly basic necessity ones like food, services and such. No, you sure don’t see that mad spending and wealth you guys are used to in USA.

FerFAL