Sunday, September 28, 2008

Post SHTF Car of choice and ammo

I got a couple inquiries regarding what people choose to drive around here.

So, I'm curious, what sort of automobile would be a good choice for one living in Argentina? I don't know, but I'm a bit of a car nut, and the movies and TV stuff I've seen out of your country make it look as if the city folk in Argentina prefer VW Golf-sized European hatchbacks from Renault, Citroen, Fiat, etc. but it would appear that the early-1960s bodystyle Ford Falcons and Ford F-Series pickup trucks dominate the countryside, except for places where folks from the U.S. go to shoot large numbers of doves and ducks, where it seems like the transport consists exclusively of crew-cab 4x4 Japanese pickup trucks. Just curious.

Also, you can still buy ammunition, correct? I assume it's somewhat hard to get and more expensive than here in the 'States. Indeed, ammo prices have risen a great deal in the past few years here-cheap promotional packs of .22 LR ammo used to run around $10 per 550-cartridge package, and I think I paid over $14 with tax for one of those boxes of 550 the other day at Wal-Mart.

I love your blog, by the way, you have lots of interesting and thought-provoking information.


And another one:

In regard to TSHF vehicle, I have been thinking of getting an old Toyota 4x4 pickup truck with camper shelves...is it a good idea ?


R is correct about the choice of vehicles. Mostly people in the cit choose rather small Golf-sized European hatchbacks from Renault (206) , Citroen, Fiat, etc and people in the country go for older F-100 , or Falcons.
More modern 4x4 would include, probably the most popular and successful 4x4, the Toyota Hilux. There’s also Ford Rangers around, but Hilux easily dominates the market.
All of these vehicles are very often converted to NGC ( natural compressed gas) which is extremely cheap to use and still allows you to use diesel or gasoline.

What’s the perfect car for city/suburban use?
Lets see what you look for in a car after SHTF.

Of course it has to re reasonably priced, and spare parts and repair should also be easy to obtained and reasonably priced as well.

In our case, a cheaper fuel source became the natural course of action, so out car should be easily convertible to alternative fuels like NCG.
Here's the link to the post on NCG conversions: NCG car conversion

3) Given the amount of roadblocks, unemployed protesters, general debris that liter most streets, the usual traffic jams and the need to be able to squeeze trough narrow places to avoid roadblocks or escape during carjack attempts. It’s important to have a car that is not too big.

Big cars are sexy and size isn’t a problem in more rural settings, but if you’ll be navigating cities often size is important, your car should be preferable small or medium sized, nothing too large.

The car should be solid and powerful enough to A) Push against debris, blocking elements, cars, even pushing against people if protests become violent and your safety is at risk. You want tubes up front protecting the engine B) A good suspension because even though you are in the city, expect street conditions to decrease drastically in the next few years after the depression. You’d be surprised how BAD streets get without maintenance, true crates form, so you want enough ground clearance and good suspension.

For these same reasons you also want 4X4 if possible. Sometimes you have to go over boulevards, across muddy fields or even up the sidewalk to avoid protests roadblocks or to escape carjacks and mass robbery on highways.

For all these reasons a smaller SUV would be something that fits the bill.
Of course keep in mind that there’s a lot of differences between what’s available in my country and what can be found in USA.

A vehicle nearly perfect here in Argentina would be the Lada Niva, which is fairly popular here and converts to NCG very well.

Something popular here and also popular in USA would be the Jeep Cherokee.

Keep in mind these points, do your research and choose the best vehicle for you.

About the ammo question.

We still have ammo yes, but prices…
You complain about the 550 22LR packs. Here those same packs by Remington or Federal cost 50 to 60 USD , yes 60 dollars, so don’t complain much ;), buy more of it while it’s still cheap instead.

Take care everyone.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Funny robbery/kinapping attempt in my neighborhood.

There was an incident last week involving a local celebrity, a comedian called Carlos Sanchez, that happens to live a few blocks away from my house.
Here’s the link (sorry, just Spanish)

According to what he said, he was in his house when suddenly his wife ran inside screaming “They took Micaela! They took Micaela!”
Carlos runs outside, sees two men in a motorcycle, and rushed to them, knocking one of the down with a punch.
The bad guy points a revolver at him and pulls the trigger of his revolver but the gun does not fire.
He punches the other guy too, and kicks the bike where he’s still on so as to drop him and prevent him from escaping. This guy also brings a gun (9mm Hi Power) out from a bag a pulls the trigger but again, it does not fire.
Now, the first bad guy runs away and the comedian daughter’s shows up, she had escaped and called the neighbors.
When the comedian see’s the daughter is safe he calms down a bit and the bad guy he had pinned down manages to escape in the opposite direction from the first one.
Now listen to this, this last bad guy stops, turns around, removes the magazine from his Hi Power, checks to see if it’s loaded and inserts it again, racks the slide and decides to get some revenge and shoot the comedian. He takes aim, and pulls the trigger on the luckiest comedian on Earth.
Pulls the trigger again and the magazine drops to the floor: He didn’t push the magazine back in hard enough so when he racked the slide, a round was not chambered.
Yes, some people just have all the luck.
By then the neighbors start throwing stones at this last guy, a neighbor that is just returning from work starts making noise with the car.
The last bad guy just runs away, leaving behind a Hi Power 9mm magazine with 9 rounds inside.
The revolver? Since the auto was loaded I dare guess the revolver was too, but the bad guys probably bought the revolver in the black market but never cared to see if it actually worked.

The funny part, well I suppose you had to see the TV interview..:D

The guy IS a good comedian and in spite of the terrible circumstances he added a few bits here and there that made things sound rather funny.
According to what he said on TV (he’s a shooter) , one gun was the Hi Power ( later verified by the mag left behind) and the revolver was a small caliber gun, probably a 22LR cheapo revolver. He also said these guys didn’t not look proficient in the handling of their weapons.

What we can learn from this:
*Be extra careful when going in and out of your home.
*Revolvers fail/brake too.
*You need to be proficient with your gun, specially autos
*Unless you are the luckiest comedian in the galaxy, going unarmed against two armed guys is a terribly bad idea.
If he had a gun, he could have popped these two scumbags right there, and avoid getting “dry fired” 3 times.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some Q&A

Thanks Ferfal. My boyfriend and I really look forward to your posts. We live in Baltimore, Maryland. The city has one of the highest crime rates in the USA. There is a prison about 5 minutes from our house. We were wondering what is happening with your prisons in Argentina?

They are terribly overpopulated. sometiems 5X over their maximum capacity. Problems and revolts in prisons are common.

What happens when the power goes out or when the government can't afford to pay the officers to go to work?

Well, they don’t just let them go, that would be wrong, right? :)
What they do, is pretend they are looking over them but granting them more liberal minded rights.
They don’t say “We can’t afford more prisoners so we let them go”
What they do is send them home with a bracelet that’s supposed to monitor the prisoner in his home.
Problem is these things don’t work, nor do cops care to control the system or the prisoner.
So we end up having “prisoners” that are supposed to be under control, but they are just free to do whatever they want.
Just a couple months ago we had a “prisoner” kill the entire family of a man that testified against him.
The security bracelet didn’t stop this animal from killing husband and wife, and the two children of the couple.

Do the prisoners get 3 meals a day?

Sort of. Over here, the family has to take food and money to the prisoner. Most of the time they cook the food themselves.
Some prisons are a bit better organized but that’s what happens in most prisons.

I have read your blog with great interest and have always wanted to ask this question. If you had seen events unfolding in your country as they are here (U.S.A.) and realized what the outcome would be, what items would you have tried to purchase that you now realize would be good to have or necessary that are now unavailable?

Man, that’s tough. So many things I would have done differently.
Buy gold for example.

I can think about two important things right now.

1) Get a car that is more common here than my Daewoo. I would have sold the Daewoo and bought a more popular car, with cheaper service and spare parts. Imported parts cost a fortune here, and mechanical service is also very expensive.
Even worse, with a car like mine you can’t travel to far, because in the smaller inner provinces auto mechanics simply don’t know how to fix foreign cars, let alone get spare parts for them.

2) I would have bought a generator, one of those small gas container trailers like the ones used in construction sites, and a deep freeze chest fridge.

3) I would have standardized my weapons before. I finally did somewhat square it out, but I would have bought two Glcoks 9mm, two FALs , two Mosberg 500 shotguns and a couple Mausers in 308. I would have bought those Garands that sold for 200 USD and now sell for 1200 USD. I should have bought more ammo two, specially more 22LR.


More on the Economy Crisis in USA

About what people “whish” will happen when the economy goes down, and what’s more likely to happen when there’s an economy crisis.

There’s people out there that hate their jobs, probably hate their lives, and think “Yes, SHTF , then quickly comes TEOTWAWKI and everything will be ok, I wont have to work anymore, just grow food in my small piece of land, and people will drop by paying with gold coins for a few tomatoes”

Maybe you think I’m exaggerating but you should see what some people out there think.
We joke about it with some internet buddies at Minion Report (linked in the upper left corner).
Ended up in a terrific warlord parody thread, lots of keyboards died that day because of coffee or sodas :) , but there are places were people SERIOUSLY think they’ll become warlords, shooting zombies all day, and have several nubile girls at their disposal…

A poster asked;
Is it wise to assume that food will always be available if you can afford it?

In most cases yes. Other than war and planned genocide, people die of hunger around the world because they can’t afford to buy food.
When food is cheap, everything is ok, when food becomes expensive, only those that can afford it will stay fed.

I’m hearing right now as I write this a radio program that’s talking about starvation and food problems in the country. Yes people STILL starve to death in this country, a country with 44.000.000 in habitants, that produces food for more than 300.000.000.
Problem is, most of that food gets sold to foreign nations. I repeat, the problem you face with an economic crisis, is not that food just disappears, but that due to inflation it’s only something fewer people can afford.

Now, rice, pasta and flour is still relatively cheap. The problem most people are having regarding nutrition is affording protein rich food ( meats) and fresh vegetables. Both of these are just easy to grow in an orchard that people can set up in their backyards. No need to run to the hills and start growing wheat.

It was and still is pretty common here for people (specially in the suburbs) to have a chicken coop, and some veggies in the back yard. My grandparents did this, my wife’s parents did this too.
And they did it without moving to the sticks or quitting they day jobs. My grandfather worked all day in his carpenter shop and my grandmother had a rather successful bakery. (closed because of robberies)

If farming is your trade and that’s what you’ve been doing your entire live and you are doing well, by all mean, continue doing what you are good at.
All I can advice you is to google up “Farmer’s crisis Argentina” and read about the many problems they had. It’s best to know these things because with an economical crisis it’s very likely to expect this to happen in USA too.
Farmers with small lots suffered the most. Basically anyone with less than 400 hectares or so was sooner or later out of business. You need a critical production mass to stay on business.
Maybe this will happen in USA, maybe not, but it DID happen here already and it’s definitely something you should think of.

You have some land, a job that pays well, and as someone mentioned here, you enjoy working on your orchard and it produces food for free, but of course, do so and enjoy it!

What I mean is don’t sell your home and move to 12 acres and think that living out of what you’ll be able to grow is a good idea because it’s definitely not. Again, some people already know, this but many others that are very serious about survival think this way, and many actually did it and found out on their own that after a few years they where broke.

Guys, now the important part, as a general rule.

“If It’s not viable, if you can’t make it work during the good times, for crying out loud, it wont work when the country’s economy is falling apart”

Another big mistakes is thinking that for some reason cities will just go up in flames. Why do people think this? Because Katrina?

Do people living in the sticks stay when there’s floods, hurricanes , forest fires or volcano activity? You never know when you’ll be forced to bug out, nothing guarantees you wont no matter where you live.

Rioters destroying the city.. when was the last time that happened?

Riots start, there’s looting and life just goes on. I’ve watched riots and even some looting while eating a burger in my lunch brake maybe 20 meters away from the rioters.
Sooner or later peace is restored and life goes on.
Problems living in the city? Of course.
Air sucks, a city without power is a grave within a couple of weeks, and if there’s diseases they spread much quicker.

What you average doom worshiper doesn’t know and I do: When resources are limited, any mayor, any governor will concentrate those where the population is greater ( larger towns and cities) . Meaning if crime goes nuts, they’ll post 3 cops per block in the nice parts of town, and let the rest be damned, like in Roman times were the roads are full or throat cutters and the cities are kept safe.

If the power goes down, there’s already a grid, it’s not as if power plants will suddenly disappear.
We have a nuclear power plant here that’s been operational since the 60’s in spite of all the troubles, in spite of minimum maintenance. When there’s a need, people find a way to keep things going.

When dengue disease turned into a serious problem and resources where limited, guess where they fumigated first?

When yellow fever became pandemic at the northern border with Brazil in Misiones, the first ones to be affected where the ones living in some of the most isolated places you can think of.

There’s pro and con to both living in the city and the country. The best thing in my opinion is to live in between but closer to a city large enough to ensure health care and job opportunities.

Guys, there's some questions in the replies on the previous post, I'll answer those tonight.
Take care.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Economy crisis in USA

So guys, things don’t look good.

It pains me to see America going through this and the consequences it will bring.
These are critical days, now is when we’ll get a better picture of how bad things will actually get, how long until we see the economy back on it’s feet.
Instead of trying to guess what will happen, lets go through some things you should to right now, if you haven’t taken care of them already.

First, how about what NOT to do?

*Don’t open you big mouth!

It’s ok that you feel all nice and warm about the 1/5/whatever year food supply you already have, but there’s no need to talk about it with the guys at work, the neighbors, friends or even family that is not directly related.
Other than my wife and kids, these are things that we simply do not talk about with people that know us, know our faces, names and know where we life.

Next thing you know someone’s knocking on your door, asking for favors you simply can’t afford.

Not long ago a friend asked if I could lend him a gun for self defense… yes, right.

Here, the owner of the gun is responsible for it and is not allowed to lend it to other non licensed persons. Other than my brother, I’m not giving a gun away to just anyone.

*Don’t waste you money!

How many times have we read about paper money only being good for TP after a crisis?
Though it may have happened in some extremely primitive nations, or countries destroyed by war, do not expect that to happen in USA. It wont.
Rather the other way around, you’ll consider it a precious commodity even more. As prices go up, you’ll save every penny.

If you already have savings you want to protect, buy precious metals, or if you have enough money, buy real estate. It’s a buyer’s market right now.

A small apartment would be a good investment.

Give it a few months, you’ll see rent prices go up in no time.
People can’t get loans to buy or they don’t have the money, so people start renting more. More demand, prices go up.

*Don’t run for the hills

This isn’t a hurricane or flood, you can’t run from this.
Running to your bug out location and “living off the land” is a terrible idea, almost as stupid as thinking about quitting your day job to start growing corn.

If you are a farmer and that’s what you do for a living, that’s just perfect.
But if you are doing it as part of preparedness for the end of the world, you need to think things a bit better.
For a farm to be a profitable, you need a margin of production large enough to make it economically sustainable.

Farming as a way of producing your own food is a terrible mistake.
Spending an entire day to produce the food equivalent of what you can buy with 15 minutes of your current salary isn’t smart.

Yes, inflation, I know about it, as a matter of fact I know about it very well, but the solution isn’t growing your own food, building your own car, building your own house, digging your own petrol site or fixing your teeth yourself. :)
The solution is making more money and reducing expenses as much as possible.
Money ( in one form or another) makes the world go around and it’s been this way for more than 10.000 years, wont change any time soon.
No more toys guys, at least for a while.

Ok, now for things to do

*Reduce your expenses.

And since I managed to drift form the previous subject in just 6 lines, lets talk about reducing expenses a bit.

This requires 0 money, 0 skills other than a cool head and some rational planning , and you can start right now.

There are few things you absolutely NEED. You don’t need the latest cell phone or Ipod, you don’t need to buy every gadget that hits the market.

Most people could easily reduce their monthly expenses by ¼. That may vary a bit depending on how frugal you are already, but the truth is all of us can reduce the amount of money we spend if we make a few sacrifices.

Eating out instead of taking you own food to work? walking (or using a bike) instead of driving?
Do you need cable? Do you need that tactical SOG knife that would just look down right bad ass in your mole vest?
The clothes you buy, are you just throwing away money in brand names?
Your car, how about selling one of the big gas eating machines and buying a smaller one for getting you from point A to B? You wont mow down mutant zombies with it but the money you’ll be saving can be put to better use, AND you are contributing by using less gas.

Don’t even get me started on that gym or health club you pay for every month and never visit…:)

In our family, credit cards are for emergency use only, otherwise we use debit card or cash. And trust me, with the current economic situation, you’d be well advised to keep most of your money home instead of leaving it in the bank.

There’s a million things you can do to save money. Start now.

* Solidify you income source.

I wrote about this a few times, but it can’t hurt to do it again, considering the circumstances.
Wont take long until unemployment starts growing and people around you start getting fired.

Make sure you are not one of the casualties!

Do your job well, so that if 3 out of 4 guys get fired, your boss wont let you go. Make sure you are a valuable asset to the company, one of the last guys they’d think about when firing people.

If you work on your own, keep your clients happy. During times like these it’s better to think about setting solid storm-proof foundations than thinking about taking risks.

*Worry about personal protection.

It’s only a matter of time until you guys see crime getting worse than it already is.

Get an alarm, get a dog, secure your home.
Buy a handgun and if you don’t have one, and START CARRYING IT EVER SINGLE DAY. And for the love of God, when I say carry it, of course I’m not even bothering to mention the obvious: Know how to use it. That means self defense shooting lessons ( not just target practice) and somewhat regular practice sessions.

Even more important than all the guns in the world, you need to develop safety habits.

I don’t understand how some people can worry enough to carry a gun, but don’t see the basic common sense behind locking your car’s door.

Recognize the people around you, look for suspicious behavior, be extra alert when going in and out of your home, keep your house locked and do not open your door to strangers.
This is obvious for most, but again, you’d be surprised how na├»ve people can be.
These are simple things to do, and they are essential in keeping your family safe during high crime.

*Keep yourself (and your family) emotionally stable.

One of the things we noticed here in Argentina some time after the crisis was the emotional toll it had on people.

Shrink visits had gone up significantly, along with the sale of tranquilizers, anti depressives and sleeping pills.
The suicide rate went up, so did alcohol and drug abuse.
The financial insecurity makes people nervous, it stresses you and affects your health. Add the fear of becoming a crime victim and you’ll soon find yourself walking up the walls.

So, it’s important to have a solid family environment, one that provides security for kids and adults alike.

Talk about what’s going on. Explain it to your kids, they’ll hear about it anyway and it’s better if they hear your version too.
Also, talking about it with your significant other will help you cope with it better as well.

Have some kind of recreational activity , a hobby you enjoy. Work out. You’ll feel better physically and emotionally speaking.

Make sure you sleep well, a nap on weekends wont hurt.

The idea is to deal with what’s going on but in a way it doesn’t affect you.

*Have an emergency kit and food supplies.

This has been discussed for ages. Bug in kits, survival kits or whatever you want to call them.
You’ll need a minimum amount of gear to get by during riots, blackouts or after natural disasters, specially since the government will already be somewhat crippled because of the economic crisis so these situations may become more common and will probably take longer to get solved.

Things like blackouts became very common here because the power grid was collapsed, there’s no money for maintenance, you get the picture.
Of course you can’t blame natural disasters on an economic crisis, but do not expect the same kind of help, both in quality and in response time, to the one you were used to before the economy crashed.

In terms of food and water.
6 to 12 months would be what you should set as an objective.
More than that wont hurt, but in all honesty if you need more than that, you should leave the area because things wont be getting any better.

For water my minimum at hand is a month worth, 1 gallon per person per day. Ensuring a safe supply should be one of your priorities (well, near by river).

*Act like a damn adult

Yes. I know most of you guys get it but you’d be surprised by the kind of losers that are within our beloved survivalist & preparedness community. Some people don’t get it even if you write it on their foreheads.

For an economical crisis like the one the US seems to be getting into, isolating yourself and living like a hermit is the last thing you should look forward too.
The idea of being completely self sufficient, and thinking that achieving that is some kind of nirvana survival state, that’s ok for a 16 year old living in mom’s basement, but that’s not what an adult with a family to take care of should look forward to.

People like that remind me of a native American woman that made it to the local news some time ago.
Over 80 years old, she’s the last one of her tribe, and lives completely by herself in the Andes, in La Rioja.
She made herself a small stone shelter (small dome, the size of a 2 person tent) , just big enough for her to sleep in.
She has a pot, a few blankets, matches and a knife. She has a dozen llamas or so, and she sell one every now and then, in exchange for flour, oil, matches, etc.
She eats Llama meat once in a while, to complement her diet.
She never married, never slept with a man ( that’s what she said :))
Her entire existence consists in just staying alive, talking with the Llamas ( again, her words) and building a fire at night to keep the mountain lions away.

If your ambitions in life can be reduced to the ones of a dog, just eating and staying warm, that’s not much of a life.

It’s simply impossible to produce on your own everything you need if you want a life standard that sets you apart from an animal.

If you want more than that, don’t try to avoid the system, don’t turn your back on society like a weirdo, but try to take advantage of it and make it work in your favor.

This post turned out a bit messy but these are a few random ideas that I wanted to share given the context, and also given the similarities between what we went through and what seems to be going on in USA these days.

Take care everyone.