Thursday, June 30, 2011

Accident during defensive shooting training

It happened to a person I know and occasionally shoot with. We were actually going to sign up to the same “Shooting from and around Vehicles” class, but the class was full by the time I called.

He was simply reholstering, somehow forgot the finger in the trigger or caught it accidentally with the trigger guard and “bam”, he shot himself. The FMJ 9mm round went 12″ trough the side of the leg, then through his foot, almost lost a toe.
He’s ok but needs two operations to get his toe fixed. All in all a lucky shot, could have been much worse. It didn’t hurt at all at first, according to him. Then it hurt like hell as he was rushed to the hospital.

Buy your BA folks and wear it during training! You sometimes don’t know the level of proficiency of the guy next to you and even if you do accidents just happen.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reply: How to deal with Flash Mobs

Anonymous said…
Suarez is a heavy hitter in pistolcraft:

I wouldn’t so quickly dismiss the very real problem of getting sued if your actions are uncalled for. Whiel I get what Suarez means, not all gun owners are level-headed people with professional firearm’s training on their back and they need to be reminded that if you pull a gun or shoot a bunch of low lives that aren’t clearly threatening your life you will go to jail for a long time. As these flash mobs continue, sooner or later a gun owner will get scared and start shooting when the situation didn’t call for it. Guys, there’s cameras EVERYWHERE today.  Make no doubt. Act as if your actions are being filmed. You probably are.

If you pull a gun, be sure that the situation calls for it. Don’t just do it because you don’t like the way a bunch of people look or how they dress or the color of their skin. Agitated group? Already vandalizing stores and harassing people and they are now going for you? Yes, you probably should draw… IF there’s no way out for you to escape. Still hurrying towards you shouting threats in spite of your weapon being drawn and you clearly commanding the nice gentlemen to back off? Don’t wait until you’re on the floor being kicked to death. In spite of being outnumbered if you shoot your attacker the others will more than likely hurry away with haste, remembering that turkey they forgot in the oven. There’s going to be some explanation to be done, but at least you’re alive.

As you learn when you train, you don’t threaten with a gun, you draw as the natural previous step before shooting. By this I mean your actions should go along with dead serious resolve. If the attackers keep moving towards you, you will use your firearm to stop the one that is closest, the one that is more of a threat.

I’ve come across this sort of revolts and mobs hundreds of times. You can’t avoid that in Buenos Aires since its been happening every week, (sometimes on daily basis) because of one excuse or another since the economic collapsed. For those that are half aware, you just don’t get caught by a mob. They are loud, they are numerous and you just see them before they are too close unless you’re totally unaware of your surroundings. Keep your eyes and ears opened and you will not get caught by a mob. If you happen to see a bunch of teenagers rushing into a store you’re in, don’t stay there dumb faced, RUN OUT OF THE PLACE! .As always and especially in this case, awareness will make the big difference. Start shooting into such a crowd is the most desperate last resort.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How to deal with Flash Mobs

I thought you might be interested in this.  The poor youth are now starting to form mobs intent on looting and hurting others in the US.  Of particular worry are the racial undertones, especially for those of us living in more racially diverse locations.  I am afraid this sort of thing will continue to spread as the economy worsens.  Three such stories are reported below.
One in Peoria, IL
and two in Philadelphia, PA

Thanks for all you do to get the word out about rational, realistic personal preparation.
No need to reply personally.


Good articles Jonathan, thanks for your email.

You’re starting to see something similar to what we’ve seen a lot of here and still live with. While not as dangerous as other criminal activities, it can be dangerous and does degrade considerably your life quality.
Mobs, rioting and roadblocks is something I’ve been through before more times than I can remember and can give some advice on how to deal with them.

The two most common rules, the ones that people that get hurt or killed by them fail to remember are 1) Don’t get involved with them! 2) Get away from them as fast as possible.

Make your voice heard in another context. When things are getting out of control and surrounded by a mob that is not the time for political or ethical debate. One word is enough to get physically attacked by another person, and one punch is all it takes for the dozen sheep around the pack leader to strike as well from anonymity. Keep your mouth shut, look around you for evacuation points and walk quickly in that direction. Of course knowing your surroundings well means you’re less likely to get boxed in in a dead end street or corridor.

Sometimes the most direct way out of the mess isn’t the best way. Lets say there’s protesting in Casa Rosada in The capital district of Buenos Aires. While Av. De Mayo may be the fastest, direct way, other groups may be using that street to get to the main concentration so I might be better off going through one of the lateral streets. Then again if police are already in such main avenue that may be my safest way out because rioters or mobsters may be hanging around in the lateral streets looking for easy victims, while the police concentrates its efforts keeping things calm in the main avenue. No easy answer and it´s up to you to tell what situation you’re dealing with on a per case basis.

Another piece of advice, 3) Don’t go down to the floor. This is where street fights go separate ways with sporting fights. It doesn’t matter if you’re the current MMA heavyweight champ, if you go down and get surrounded by a mob, the risk of getting stomped and kicked to death goes up exponentially. Just don’t go to the floor willingly and do everything you can to stay on your feet. If grabbed and such, throw a punch or two while retreating but don’t engage and always move away from them.

In your Car

In similar ways you should handle the situation from within a vehicle. Keep moving slowly, don’t lose your nerve, even if they start hitting your car and insulting. This actually happened to me and keeping a straight face looking straight ahead, not saying a word while I kept driving slowly is by far your best bet to get out of there unharmed.
“Hey FerFAL, that BS, just floor the accelerator and get out of there ASAP!”
We’ve actually had this happen as well with people that suffered nervous breakdowns during roadblocks, piquetes and other protests. First of all you’d be seriously injuring or killing the people instead of just pushing them away, this will later be hard to explain in front of a jury. Maybe you’re getting attacked by the mob, but in the middle of such a mess the kid you end up killing was a straight A student that happened to be following the pack. Running over a mob will more than likely land you in jail, while driving slowly through it still gets you out.

Of course I’m talking of cases where you’re already surrounded by the mob and they are being hostile towards you! If that not the case just hit reverse and get the hell out of there! Don’t drive through it! Another important point to consider is that sedans are not intended to run over people. Without getting into gruesome details there’s been cases where someone lost it and ran over the mob, only to end up with the car stuck on people, chairs, other elements or crashing against structures. If you just ran over a bunch of protesters and your car gets stuck you will most likely get beaten by the mob. Unless you’re getting shot at, the glasses being broken or otherwise seriously attacked and you can prove a fear of death in front of a jury, do NOT accelerate through a crowd. Move slowly though it instead.

These are a few tip to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in such a situation.
Is my advice relevant to these flash mobs you’re seeing over in USA?
This is a quote from the US “flash mob” links above:
“We were walking down the street then, out of nowhere, there’s a hundred kids,” said Rajiv Sainath. He and a group of friends were on Green Street near Broad when they were engulfed by the mob.
“By bad luck the head of our group and the head of the mob reached the corner of Broad and Green at the same exact time,” said Sainath.
He said some girls in the mob yelled at them to run away and some of Sainath’s group did just that. He was among those who didn’t.
Now, Sainath has a sneaker imprint on his forehead and numerous cuts and bruises.
“We tried to get away but kids would grab our shirts and starting hitting us in the back of the head, in the side of the head,” Sainath said.”
Take care folks,

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Armored Vehicles

Fernando, I’m reading your book now…
I thought you would appreciate this article.


Hi! Thanks for your email, nice article.
In a high crime location armored vehicles are more than just a luxury, they are mandatory in some cases.  They are becoming more and more popular here in Argentina and I’ve heard of several cases where having an armored vehicle saved the potential victim´s life.

On a guerilla or warfare scenario civilians would find good use for an armored vehicle as well. They became so essential for safe transportation during the infamous Bosnian War, the UN white APC became known as the “Sarajevo Taxi”. If you expected any form of protection against random gunfire, especially sniper fire, you had to ride in one of those.

Armored vehicles are common in South America for those that can afford one. We’re talking mostly diplomats, rich people such as football players (who also get attacked occasionally by fans) or politicians.

While armored vehicles are generally expensive, you can sometimes find one on auction. The US government rotates its fleet with regularity. There’s also  CIT armored trucks that with a bit of metalworking skills and imagination could make one impressive vehicle for driving around during serious social unrest. I love the idea of an armored camper
As the article mentions, its also a growing business, one people can keep in mind for earning a living as a SHTF job as the crime problem increases.


In Caracas, Armored Cars Are All the Rage

Venezuela, now the murder capital of South America, is a rich market

http://images.businessweek.com/mz/11/27/600/econ_venezuela27__01__600x300.jpg  Bulletproofing an SUV in Caracas: An increasingly big business Meridith Kohut/Bloomberg
By Corina Rodriguez Pons and José Orozco
Luis Fuenmayor, a Caracas-based airline pilot, says he never considered armoring his Chevrolet Tahoe because of the $28,000 price tag. He changed his mind when two armed motorcyclists robbed him of his watch in traffic. “It seemed expensive at first, but then I realized that, more than an investment, it’s a necessary cost,” he says.
Since President Hugo Chávez took power in 1999, Venezuela has overtaken Colombia as South America’s murder capital. That spells brisk business for security firms, which are adding the middle class to the traditional corporate client base, says Ingrid Suarez, manager at armored-car company Blindcorp. The number of businesses in Caracas that prepare vehicles against attack has risen to 47 from 12 five years ago, she says. It takes about a month to outfit a car with armor, since the automobile needs to be stripped down and reassembled.
The rise in violent crime reflects a broader breakdown in the rule of law, as criminals, many involved in the drug trade, operate with “complete impunity,” says Roberto Briceño, who heads the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, a Caracas-based group that tracks crime. Last year, 17,600 people were murdered, a rate of 57 victims for every 100,000. In 1999, 5,968 were murdered, according to the Observatory. In the U.S., the murder rate was 5 per 100,000 in 2009.
The Chavez government says the murder rate in 2010 was lower, at 48 per 100,000. Elias Jaua, Venezuela’s vice-president, said in a May 30 broadcast that the number of kidnappings fell 39 percent, to 174, in the first quarter of this year: “We are on the right path to reduce crime.” That’s hard to verify, since the government has not published crime statistics since 2005.
Among the companies profiting from the crime spree is Liège (Belgium)-based Carat Security Group, the world’s largest commercial armored vehicle provider, according to its website. Carat’s Centigon Venezuela unit bulletproofs about 20 privately owned vehicles each month, says Eduardo Ibarra, the unit’s managing director. That’s more sales than Carat does in Brazil, where the population is more than six times Venezuela’s 29 million. Venezuela has now surpassed guerrilla-plagued Colombia as the company’s most profitable market in Latin America.
The fear of becoming a victim of violence runs deep. The Country Club, a golf club in Caracas, held a Father’s Day raffle on June 19 whose prize was an armoring service. Tickets cost 250 bolivars, or $58 at the official exchange rate.
Companies such as Alquiblind also hire armored vehicles out. The Caracas-based company does a brisk business driving teenagers to parties, says owner Luis Esclusa. “We transport the father to drop off and pick up his child,” Esclusa, 39, says. “And we keep a security guard at the site to protect against kidnappings.” The price of the service is about 2,700 bolivars.
German Garcia-Velutini, head of the Caracas-based Vencred brokerage, didn’t invest in personal security until after he was kidnapped in January 2009 and held for ransom for 11 months. Now, he’s armored all of his family’s vehicles and hired bodyguards. “Before, I was worried about my children crashing their cars,” Velutini says. “Now the risk is that they’ll be robbed or kidnapped.”
The bottom line: Venezuela’s middle class is opting for extra protection—such as armored cars—as crime spreads throughout society.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Trangia Burner Alternative Fuels

These are some common questions I got after the post about the Trangia Stove.
 Trangia Spirit Alcohol Stove 

Would one of these stoves work with a hard liquor like vodka, scotch or even gin? I ask this because my family has a pretty big cabinet of the stuff received as gifts, but nobody in my house drinks anything other than beer or wine.

It does burn any flammable spirit, the closer it is to pure alcohol the better it will work. The more additives it has, the more smell and black residual soot you’ll have on pots. A trick that seems to work well is adding 5% to 10% of water to reduce the soot problem.

Vodka is expensive and wont burn as efficiently as denatured alcohol, and it’s a pretty expensive fuel to use, but it can be done during an emergency.  This sort of flexibility makes the tough little Trangia appealing from the survivalist point of view. 70% Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl, HEET red bottle) can be used as well but its not recommended. It can be found in most households and first aid kits or bought in most gas stations or general stores.

Do you need a tripod or something to put over the top of it to set you cooking pot on?

Yes. Some of the Trangia kits include a stand of some sort, but you don’t get one when you just buy the burner. You can’t just place a pot over the burner. What I do is just get two or three stones and improvise a stand so as to separate the pot from the burner. A couple bricks would work two. Its generally not that hard to find something to improvise a stand, I’d rather use that space/weight for items that cant be improvised so easily. One stove you might want to consider is the Vargo Titanium Triad XE stove
Titanium Triad XE stove 
It has three legs on either side that fold down. Once unfold they work as a base to separate the stove from the ground and as a stand to place the pot on top.

Dear Ferfal,

I watched your Trangia Stove video and God laid it on my heart to buy
a Trangia 27-7 cook kit for $104. It really is a must to cook small
meals like oatmeal and tea when the power goes off. And I think the
power is going to be off for a long time here in the U.S.

I bought some denatured alcohol for the stove at the hardware store.
Is this the best type of alcohol to have, you think? Also, I was
wondering how long of a burn one liter of denatured alcohol will
last...Do you have any idea how much alcohol one should have before
the collapse happens? Clearly more is better but money becomes an

I pray for you and appreciate your website...Coulby

Hi!, thanks for your email.
Denatured alcohol is one of your best options, works well and it’s pretty inexpensive.
HEET (yellow bottle-methanol) burns well and can be found in several places including gas stations as gas line anti-freeze.
 HEET 28201 Gas-Line Antifreeze and Water Remover - 12 Fl oz. 
Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol is more expensive but burns well. When distilled for drinking, its known as  “Moonshine” or “Everclear” or other brand names.  These are neutral grain spirits which are almost pure alcohol (95%). This would be expensive but again, more alternatives. 

My Trangia burned for 30 minutes when full with grain alcohol. Its takes about 10 minutes to have a large cup of boiling water.  Since fuels and stoves have different levels of efficiency, I recommend estimating how much fuel you need per meal cooked for your entire family and stocking up a month’s worth of it. Estimate three boiling cups of water per day per person. Some of the alcohol may have other uses such as HEET,  grain alcohol for disinfecting wounds even some neutral grain spirits if you drink. If you have the space though, its cheaper to just stock up on denatured alcohol. It has near indefinite shelf life so its one of those things you buy once, store well and keep for when you need it.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

EDC Saves the Day!

So I was tinkering with my watch’s bracelet (Father’s day Present, very nice  Seiko Orange Monster) using my Leatherman   Charge when my wife asks me to help her with the kids and the baby stroller.
I leave the Leatherman on the table, hurry to help her through the door with the stroller, she mentions something about liking my watch and blam, she shuts the door right as we go through it in a moment of distraction. I see her keys in her hand… but what about mine?… “Please tell me you have my keys…” . No, she doesn’t.

My keys were on the inside, in the keyhole needed to open the door… at a 45º angle. The main lock of the security door wasn’t locked but the secondary one (right below the doorknob) is enough problem, especially when combined with the armored door that has metal sheaths sandwich-welded to a metal frame structure.

With these pallet brass keys we use here, even a slight angle makes it impossible to just push another key in from the other side.  Suddenly I remember my multitool, useless sitting next to my father’s day present.

All I had was the rest of what I always carry in my pockets. Even my keychain, with the wonderful little Victorinox Minichamp and the small tools that would have help where on the other side of the door, just a couple inches away. With the armored door in between, it might as well be at the bottom of the ocean for all practical purposes. With my flashlight I take a look and see the key is stuck at an angle and if I wanted a chance to push it out from the other side, it had to be realigned with the keyhole. All I had with me in terms of tools was my folding knife. I’ve liked the previously reviewed  Spyderco Resilience so much that I’ve been carrying it sometimes instead of my usual Cold Steel Vaquero.

Using the tip of the blade of the Resilience, I placed it on the side of the brass pallet key and slightly taped so as to sink the tip in a bit, making a small notch on the area of the key that was exposed from the outside. Next came the tricky part where a quality tool makes all the difference: Applying a bit of pressure so as to keep the point of the blade locked with the key, I lift the blade for leverage against the keyhole and rotate the key. I don’t know if a lesser knife would have withstood the leverage to the tip like that, all I know was that I was glad I had a good tool when the key snapped into horizontal position, aligned once again with the keyhole. Again using the tip of the knife to keep the key aligned with the keyhole and holding the LED with my mouth I push with my wife’s key and (oh, such a nice noise!) My keychain drops on the other side.

It may not sound like much but it could have been a problem getting inside. Most of all when you consider the armored security door and what a locksmith would have charged, not to mentioned finding one that was willing to go to your home.
The flashlight came in handy, so did the knife, showing yet again how these two daily carry items make themselves useful on numerous occasions.
Take care everyone,

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Taxes, Banking and Power after the Collapse

I came across your blog and found a lot of great information about how to prepare for the coming crisis.
Really appreciate your effort. If you don’t mind, please share your knowledge about these topics. After the collapse, did the government hike the tax like crazy?
How is the banking industry like in Argentina now? Do they make loans? During the crisis, did power get cut off?
cheers, Sopel

Hi Sopel,
The government did indeed raise taxes considerably.
Ten years later its still an ongoing process that is milking money out of the already crippled middle class. We currently have 21% tax on everything (food, clothes, services), then there’s income tax, home taxes, etc. For business owners its such a nightmare. Off the record, business owners will admit that if they pay everything they are supposed to, they couldn’t stay on business.

Rising taxes is something already happening in USA, another parallelism, expect it to get worse as time goes by.
Prices of services in general went up considerably, sometimes 400% or more. On the other hand you have the people in villas and shantytowns that are illegally connected, so basically what happens is that the middle class is milked by the rich and corrupt through taxes (bailouts, concessions) , and also forced to pay for the expenses of the poor stealing such services that are the ones that vote these people into power. The more poor, the better for these politicians.

The banking system never got back on its feet. They operate as usual, but no one really trusts them. If you have the money, you put it into real estate, if you don’t have the money for that, you buy a car. The crisis showed people that at least you had the car valued in dollars even if the peso collapsed, so it has become a way of keeping your money as well. The peso may default 50% next month, but the vehicle remains and somewhat keeps its value.

Of course people that have ways of doing so keep their money in off-shore accounts. Loans are expensive, interest rates are high, and the requirements are pretty high for any significant amount of money. Yes you can get a house loan for 100.000 pesos, but you don’t buy a place in a ½ ok neighborhood with that amount. It would be hard finding a place anywhere for that little money actually. As the local joke goes, “to get a good loan in Argentina you have to be rich enough that you don’t need it”.

Power problems started a few months after the economic collapse and we suffered them the following summer. The infrastructure was already in poor condition because companies haven’t been making the needed maintenance. Once the peso devaluated supplies and spare parts, most of which were imported, became very expensive and in some cases unaffordable. Especially during summers, we had rolling black outs. There was problems with water supply as well and people went without water for days, even weeks in some of the poorest suburbs. Currently during summer time there’s also blackouts but far less than before.

What we see a lot of is “dirty” power, power that has a V below the one it should have. It should be 220V, but sometimes it goes down to 190V, even 170V. I found a solution to this problem with a voltage elevator. Now my appliances run well during summer when the power problems start.
Take care,

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Collapse-Proof Jobs

Love the blog and I’ve bought the book. It’s great and I’m convinced that what happened to Argentina is happening to the USA. I’m a young man, looking for a collapse proof career. What happened in Argentina? Were the trades still protected, or do people do their own electrical work, for instance. What happened to doctors and dentists?
Anyway, love to hear back from you, but I understand how busy you must be.

Hi Will, sorry for the delay in replying.
In my book, “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse”, on page 191 the title reads “Recession-Proof Jobs”. There I describe some of the common jobs to be found after the economic collapse, things such as telemarketers, promoters and sellers in general, or work on the security field, mostly security guard jobs. These of course are far from ideal jobs but it’s the type of thing that shows up with the new idiosyncrasy of the country.  The natural reaction to a crumbled economy is jobs were employers look to sell more just like the obvious outcome of a growing crime problem is an emphasis on security related and crime prevention jobs.

Then there’s the jobs offered by the government. A country that reaches 25% unemployment soon does everything it can to improve such figures and one way of doing that is by creating jobs themselves. As wise or unwise as it may be to depend on such mechanisms so as to drop the unemployment figures, a job is a job, and if you work for the government you usually fare better than in the private sector during this sort of crisis.

The chapter right after “Recession-Proof Jobs” is one called “Making Money”, and there’s were I spend more time explaining the difference between working and making money, which as obvious as the difference should be in some cases that’s what people are really asking when inquiring about post-collapse jobs.

The most commonly found jobs after the collapse don’t pay well at all. To do well financially after this sort of event you have to understand the changes, the new niches the crisis created and capitalize on them. One of the advantages of the post collapse economy is precisely the amount of cheap labor that is the consequence of such high unemployment, therefore working for someone on a job you found on the paper will probably pay low wages.
The entrepreneur will see which institutions failed after the collapse, which needs aren’t being satisfied. From private security so as to compensate for poor police to understanding the new consumers created by the social pyramid shift, their budgets, needs and desires.

Being a plumber or electrician may not be the most profitable job after the collapse. Its true that people become more resourceful and try doing more things themselves to save money. Then again replacing a broken appliance isn’t nearly as affordable as it used to be, so if you a) offer a good repair service for a reasonable, affordable price b) Market and promote your business well, you may be on to something. You’d be surprised by how important marketing and advertising is after an economic collapse. The man that increases sells, he truly has a valuable skill in tough economic times. Doctors and dentists are historically high paying jobs but I know of both that are not doing well economically, while others make very good money. Knowing how to exploit the right angle is again important. What kind of patients to you go after as a dentist? You just get paid by the insurance companies and private health companies, or do you target for a wealthier type of customer that pays out of his own pocket as well? If you’re a heart transplant genius you don’t need much help in terms of making money, but the average doctor and dentist, again, he needs to sell and market his service just like anyone else during hard economic times.

Plastic surgeons for example, they make nice money, in fact, they make more than ever. In what mind does it make sense that people spend more money on breast implants AFTER an economic collapse than before? In no one’s , but it’s the complex reality of such a social change. As society in general becomes poorer, it also becomes… lets say it becomes more corny  and cheap in general. Advertising is reduced to practically naked women with enlarged breasts more than ever before, 90% of TV becomes reality-TV type, full of botox faced personalities that lost all human expression, with no other talent other than making a scene on TV.  Its not only the TV and media, SOCIETY itself becomes this way, and that’s how you explain what previously just didn’t make sense.

It is a pretty complex topic. My advice would be first of all doing and studying what you love. Maybe you don’t even have to go to college depending on what that is. The myth of needing a degree to make money is already dead. While in average a degree gets you 20% more money than not having it, that % is narrowing down each year. Its you and what passion you manage to exploit that makes the difference, what makes you money. Do what you love doing and find an angle to it that in some way satisfies a niche in the market. That would be my advice.
Take care and good luck!

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A question about Credit Cards‏

Hello Ferfal
I purchased your book and have enjoyed it immensely. It has a wealth of information that I have needed. Thank you.
My question is about the ‘corallido’ (sic). When they limited the amount of withdrawals, was that also limit against credit or debit purchases? For example, could you use your debit card to pay for something i.e. transferring money from my account to the grocery store account?
On another note, I agree with the guy from Sacramento on how your book has changed his thinking. I was going down the same road of buying land away from everyone to build my own safe place. I read your book and decided it wasn’t the best thing to do.
Many thanks

Jeff Williams

Hi Jeff, I’m glad my book helped in your preparedness.

Yesterday I was reading an old book, written by Hugh McManners, called “Backpacker’s Handbook”. It’s a nice book about backpacking and in one chapter it explains the contents of what would be a typical survival tin kit. In that same section the author reminds people that a credit card may as well be the most compact, useful piece of kit you can have. I thought this was interesting coming from a more wilderness oriented book. But it is indeed true, that just as it is useful on daily basis it may be a valuable survival tool as well, from getting cash or buying whatever you need, renting a vehicle for mobility or a room after leaving a disaster area. Cash is important too but today many companies have a policy about demanding credit cards to customers.

Even if you use mostly cash so as to control your expenses, its still smart to have one or two cards. The trick is not having to pay as much for them. AS with everything else, shop around. Some cards have hidden fees or fixed expenses that other cards don’t. Its smart to invest some time to see what other options you have. These fees add up and a few years down the road you’re talking about thousands of dollars.

About your question. At first cards weren’t being accepted at all so you were stuck with cash and the 300 per week ATM limit. That´s why I recommend a month’s worth of expenses of emergency cash, so as to deal with this first stage until things settle some. When banks closed and the “corralito” officially started, most of the big chain supermarkets started accepting “debit cards”, money you had in the bank. This worked well for groceries and such, and later you got a 5% tax return so it was a way saving a few bucks as well. The point of the “corralito” was to keep people from closing their accounts. By using “debit cards” the money was still in the system and they promoted this attitude after the corralito was lifted with the 5% discount which was returned to you at the end of the month. This continued after the corralito was gone for a few more years. What I would do was keep my money out of the bank, but make the deposit a day or two before making the bigger monthly supermarket purchase. This combined with an occasional 15% discount certain days of the week added to a 20% discount, much appreciated during such hard times.

As for “credit cards” it took longer for them to be accepted again. A few months after the corralito you started seeing more of them, but it took over a year before you could expect credit cards to be accepted in most stores you walked into. Even today many shops don’t accept credit cards. Especially gas stations, in many cases they work with cash only or debit cards.

As usual there’s no simple answer, you need to balance your preps. The cash stash, precious metals for hyperinflation and worst case scenario and a credit card which in my case I only use for emergencies or when there’s no other way around.
Hope that answered your question, take care!

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

A look at the Trangia Stove

I’ve mentioned the Swedish made Trangia before. Here’s a video I made showing how it works. The concept is the same as the “can stove” or “penny stove”, but these ones are better made and more durable.

Trangia Spirit Alcohol Stove
Trangia Spirit Alcohol Stove $14.99

I consider it an ideal survival stove because its extremely simple and rugged, and the alcohol it uses can be easily found. From gas stations, supermarkets to drugstores or scrounging some out of a first aid box, somehow, somewhere, you’ll manage to get a bit of alcohol.

Because of its size it would work for SEK (survival/emergency kits) but it can be used for emergency cooking at home as well.

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Survival of the American middle class‏

I have been casually following your blog for a couple years now and genuinely appreciate your real world experiance an logical, practical advice .
Your entry of the 24th of march concerning the survival of the AMERICAN middle class prompted me to contact you to suggest you might be under estimating the AMERICAN people.
We have come to the brink several times through out our brief history and managed, at least so far, to pull ourselves back and still save most of the civilized world in between saving ourselves.
AMERICA is singularly unique to the world in that we have a rock solid Constitution and Bill of Rights that has been so brilliantly designed that all the liberal wienie philosiphers and communist and socialists and nazis and neo-cons can not destroy.
They all make inroads from time to time. Our national mood ebbs and flows, bends and sways.
But ultimately, our Constitution will not break. And this means the American people, ultimatly, will not break.
We are free, there for we are tolerant. But only to a point.
When it comes down to our way of life being threatened, either from without or within, the AMERICAN people will only bend so far.
Just look at our last election.
The true, patriotic AMERICANS rose up and put the brakes on the current threat that we face to our way of life.
It will take another election cycle or 2 to really beat this threat back down and fix the damage that has been done, but the AMERICAN people will, as always, do what needs to be done to protect and safe guard our way of life, for ourselves, and future generations.
The brillance of our founding fathers has given us the freedom, the right, the means, and the will to defend, propagate, and pass on the AMERICAN way of life to future generations.
The AMERICAN constitution and AMERICAN way of life will not bow to tyrants either from out, or from in.
AMERICA, ultimately, through ingenuity,spirit,and the drive to succeed, aka, freedom, will never succum to tyrants and just give up and except the loss of the AMERICAN way of life.
With all due respect, you are, in my opinion, very much underestimating the AMERICAN people, and we are most definatley NOT going to allow our way of life to be destroyed.
We will have ups and downs, close calls, near misses but AMERICAN will always right herself and lead the world in showing what freedom brings to all.

Hi Brian, thanks for your email. With similar respect I’d suggest that its hard to form an opinion about someone if you just “casually” read what he says. If you read more of my blog you’ll notice that I think highly of Americans and USA. My frequent readers know I believe it to be the best country, crisis or not, precisely because of the reasons you underline, the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, especially the 1st and 2nd Amendment. That’s why I recommend people staying there in spite of the crisis, rather than moving away like some fear mongering realtors that buy land in South America recommend. Nowhere else will you enjoy the rights you have in USA, and I believe it’s the best place to be in as the world economic crisis continues.

The post you mentioned explains some of the things people are already going through, I simply commented on how these current events will probably (hopefully!) force some positive changes, mostly future urbanization that isn’t so fuel dependent and more efficient home design.
In most places around the world you can get up and walk to a store or market of some sort to buy groceries, you don’t need fuel for buying some bread or a milk jug. You have that alternative.
For the past decades, US home developments are generally planned for maximum home building (and profit of the developer) but lack a few essential stores within the community. Its always expected that you will jump into your car and drive a few miles, even if its just to buy a candy bad. If you had a small “mom and pop´s” grocery and general store, maybe a Coffeehouse (please make it something better than Starbucks!) and a Drugstore and diner for the kids and adults near by, that tends to make things easier in that regard. You have the option of going to a Walmart and buying everything you need, but you also have the option of walking a few blocks down the street a nice summer day with your wife and kids and buying that popcorn you forgot for watching that movie tonight. You have more options. This is a given in most Latin America were a significant percentage of the population doesn’t have a vehicle. It’s also common in many parts in Europe and it’s the way it used to be in USA as well. The advantage of this is that if gas prices are too high you have the option of buying locally, it also promotes the revival of the small “Mom and Pop” stores destroyed by the giant chains stores.

As for houses, you generally don’t need gigantic bedrooms and three “bonus” rooms in a home. Then there’s the design. Its mind numbingly stupid from the Architectural point of view to have the same house being made in New Mexico than the one made in Vermont. Instead of having cleaver design, according to the regional climate and way of life, developers make the exact same box that kind of looks good and has that McMansion feel to it, and put heating in one and AC in the other. They don’t care, you’re the one that’s getting stuck for life with a larger that needed power bill to keep that place hot or warm. They don’t even take into consideration the house orientation or how much light you get in that latitude. Its got to the point in some cases where rooms are so big you just need to find ways of filling them up with junk (usually bought from China stores).
I like a large house as much as anyone else but as long as it´s well designed. I do know the difference between a comfortable one and one that is just big because the 400 ones next to it are as well. There’s a proportion for rooms, halls and other living spaces, if you go beyond that you just have a huge room that is not only a waste of money, its not fulfilling its purpose as well either. The “bonus” space that even the designer didn’t know what to do with it, it doesn’t even have a name, that’s space you’re still paying for to be built, space that has to be heated or will suck up heat from other rooms and you’re paying taxes on it as well. Of course its cheaper to do the McMansion thing and build a hundred similar homes, even if not two families are alike.

The crisis is affecting the US middle class as we speak, we might like it or not but its happening. I don’t think that the American society will collapse but some changes are inevitable because otherwise we’d still be doing the same things that cause the problem in the first place. A couple changes like the ones mentioned above, I think that they would in fact improve the quality of life of Americans and would only be regretted by the big oil companies, China wanting to sell you more stuff to fill your big house up and then throw away and the Wall Street mercenaries looking for maximum profit through excessive debt of the American middle class.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

C.A.R. Shooting System?

I just wanted to say thanks for all you do.  I started out reading your blog months ago and find it not only informative but grounding.  When researching about modern survivalist topics or watching youtube gear reviews, it is very easy to get caught up in the slippery slope of what ifs scenarios and feel overwhelmed – not only about the amount basic preparations families need and don’t have, but the feeling that oneself is crossing into the line of crazy that you read about in the news. But you flat out say to people – don’t go walking around in full camo with an AR strapped to your back.  Instead you share experiences like looking back in time, the one things you and your wife would buy is more food.  People are out there speculating dollar collapse, EMPs, super-bugs, or zombies; your information is not speculation, it is reality in Argentina.
That being said, its still fun to buy full multi-cam camo, ARs accessories, and be a mall ninja.  At least I admit it to myself when I’m doing it.  I will go do something practical and buy four fire extinguishers because every house should have them (cars, furnace, kitchen).   Then afterwards I will sate the mall ninja in me and go and look at web gear available online just in case WROL happens and I need to wear it.
Here are a few links I found that I thought might interest you.
The first is a practical thread about hurricane Katrina and the real life experiences of an individual.
The second is more fun, a shooting system based on close quarters combat.
You’ve inspired me to be a self-proclaimed “prepper” and I maybe even start blogging my learning experiences.  Thanks again.

Hi! Thanks for your email. Zombiehunters has some good stuff, I’m a member there as well. ;)
Oh, I’ve got way too much gear as well :-) . As long as you keep it real its all good. What I try doing is spending my time and ammo in ways in which it would be most benefical in case I ever need it. As I said in a previous post, train with the clothes you actually wear, the gun you’d carry and the holster you would use.  Using the latest Blackhawk! holster in a  vest carring your thousand dollar 1911 but actually pocket carrying a 380 ACP means there’s little connection between the way you train and what you really end up doing on the street.

About C.A.R., Mr. Castle lost me at “This system (CAR) simply outperforms the other systems because it works in harmony with your body …)
I tend to approach all new things in the gun and training world with caution. A particular stance, move or technique? Its all good as long as I see its use. A new system that claims to be the next step of evolution in the tactical and defensive shooting world? Pass me the salt please, I’ll take a few extra large grains of it.
My most humble recommendation is to approach all new things with caution, the more flamboyant and cocky they are the greater the caution. You should start by asking yourself some questions. Why is this better than what I already know? How much sense does it make? How many schools and teams are practicing this supposedly better systems? Is this the new standard for militart training, or SWAT or some other highly regarded defensive shooting school?

Claiming that your system is the next step of tactical evolution is a pretty big statement. Did such instructor kill a coupel dozen bad guys in gun fights with it? Ok, then I’m listening. How about proving your system is better by beating shooters using traditional isosceles, Weaver or modified Weaver in stages, proving your system´s greater speed and accuracy during.
Could Mr. Castle honestly approach this guy and tell him CAR is better and faster than isosceles?

Call me crazy but moving like that is a thousand times more natural than moving like this:

In the case of C.A.R a few things are obvious:

1) Unless you are a crab, you walk forwards not sideways, so from the beginning how natural the system is becomes a matter of debate. At times when it makes the most sense its just a modified weaver which already exists. By not looking facing your potential threat and being at a 90% angle, you are literally just blinding yourself to 50% of the potential threats in front of you! How this can be called natural is beyond me. Even the IPSC sport shooting video I included above would be much more natural in a real fight that turning your back to half the threats ahead of you.

2) The distances at which this system is being used are extremly close, just a couple feet, so in terms of accuracy advantage over traditional systems, there’s no advantage. Two feet away as in one of those videos, gun already drawn? Heck I can pull the trigger fast as well. Calmly shooting at a paper target 2 feet away? Of course you’ll hit it, you might as well shoot with your eyes closed and you’ll still hit it ( call it the Telepathy Shooting System and cash in on it)

3) In terms of speed I find this rather complicated and slow.  Lets say you need to draw and shoot as fast as possible, at extreme close range. The fastest way to go about it would be a traditional extreme close range drill, drawing, rotating as soon as you clear the holster and shooting, gun pressed against your side and you pump rounds as you “close the zipper” on the bad guy. If there’s an angle you just rotate your hip to shoot whatever needs shooting. At least that makes more sense and clearly has less steps for fast, short range shooting.

4) The body armor problem. In their website they explain that the system is compatible with body armor because you shouldn’t count on your armor stopping bullets… … ok … …
There’s a saying about excuses: Your friends don’t need them and your enemies won´t believe them. Being canted in such a way is the worst stance when wearing body armor because you lose a lot of the tactical advantage provided by the armor. You offer the side of your arm, and the armpit gap of your armor. In the case of armor plates, they don’t cover your sides at all so you might as well not wear any armor when going against rifle rounds and using this stance.  If you are hit in the shoulder when on isosceles stance it may not be a fatal wound, now when canted at a 90º angle that round is much more likely to get to your lungs, heart and spine. Not good, and especially not good if armor is involved. Those of you that have read my blog for a while know how I feel about body armor. You should have it along with your gun and flashlight in case of home invasions and put it on if there’s time. It’s a huge tactical advantage when lead is flying both ways. Losing that advantage, and doing so in exchange for nothing makes no sense to me.

5)At times in these videos you see the instructor with the gun in what seems to be a modified SUL position, pointing to the left with the gun rather than pointing down (!?) Whats the logic of that, I don’t know. When going into rooms with a team, all bunched together, SUL makes sense. If there’s an accidental discharge it’s the direction for keeping the gun barrel in which you are less likely to kill your team mate. When using SUL,  a slight rotation of the gun directs it towards the thread, that’s what I´d work with for extreme close distance with no-shoots all around, not keeping the gun diagonally pointed to my left.

I think John Farnam said it best:
“21 June 02
On current shooting fads, from an LEO trainer in the Midwest:
“It amazes me the number of guys who unhesitatingly leap onto every bandwagon that comes along, not because it’s superior, but because they so desperately want to be relevant.
Two years ago, a group of our guys became all fired up with the ˜Israeli shooting technique.’ This is the one where your first move is to draw and then chamber a round, because your pistol is carried unloaded. I don’t know about you, but I customarily carry my pistol loaded, so I was never able to see the point. However, if you put ˜Israeli’ or ˜Tactical’ in the title, kiddies will predictably flock to your door.
Last year I went to a regional seminar. One-handed, unaimed shooting was all the rage then. This shooting technique rears its ugly head every few years, until its most ardent promoters demonstrate authoritatively that even they can’t hit anything.
This year, several of our guys went to a seminar on the ˜Central Axis Relock’ pistol technique. It is basically a Weaver, contorted and turned sideways. In addition to being strained, one actually blocks his vision to one side, because his arm gets in the way. It is just another dreary reinvention of the wheel. However, these guys were ALL fired up. Mostly I think, because it is their chance to be trendy, ˜cutting edge,’ and all that. When they get old (like us), they will, like us, have lived long enough to have seen this twaddle periodically recycled, under a new and trendy term, every few years.
I had to ask them, ˜Does any of this stuff work significantly better than what we do now?’”
/John “

Stick to traditional systems folks, and careful about those trying to reinvent the wheel.
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