Monday, October 31, 2011

About to devaluate: Argentina restricts the purchase of Dollars

The last measure by the recently re-elected Crisitna Kirchner can only be described as pathetic and desperate. While the “official” dollar price is 4.26, on the street they are selling it for as much as 4.86 if you can find it.

Last Friday the vice president announced that to buy US dollars people will have to show their IDs, their wage bill to determine income, and then go through a background check with the Argentine tax collection office, the AFIP. What was embarrassing was to see that today as people panicked to buy US dollars, the media that is in the government’s pocket explained why people should not worry. One lame reporter tried to explain that which lacks any logical explanation: “ Its like when using a credit card, people. Instead of checking automatically with the credit card company to see if you have credit, here they check you up with the AFIP (Argentine IRS). The AFIP can either authorize or not the purchase. According to what? Wellll… according to anything they want. They check your bank account, your salary, loans, if they even “feel” you shouldn’t be buying US dollars for whatever reason, and that nearly always the case, they just deny it. Lets suppose you’re traveling on business or pleasure and you need dollars or Euros (this goes for all foreign currency) . Now you need to show plane tickets, hotel reservations, and also the AFIP approving you based on whatever they desire as before. As you can imagine, most people get denied. And then there’s the little detail of 50% of the population working on the side for cash and not existing according to the AFIP, those folks they can forget about buying a single dime, ever. I’ve heard that since Friday there has been problems at the usual “caves” and “arbolitos”, black market USD dealers, and the police has shut down the ones that are most known.

Here’s an easy question guys: What do you think will happen with the USD and peso now that the exchange is heavily restricted? Of course, its going to go up like crazy. 1 to 5 exchange rate next month? 1 to 10 next year? Who knows? During the last hyperinflation a certain eminent government minion suggested that people with USD should be shot. Isnt that a wonderful form of democracy? These last desperate measures where expected. Anyone with half a brain cell could see this coming after the election. That’s why I wrote the post titled. “And so it ends for Argentina” just a few days ago.
This is supposed to be a measure to stop the flee of capital. Over 16 billion USD have left Argentina in the past 6 months. Makes sense right? Take this measures after the elections and the big fish, the politicians in the know included, (and those of us that saw this coming) could send their money out. The only one that gets busted with this measure is the working middle class and poor which are trying to protect some of their savings.
I expect heavy restrictions coming for the purchase on gold and silver any time soon.
Ah! That’s what they meant folks! When they said on CNN and NBC that that Argentina’s economy was booming? Its booming, you know, like going boom… like a bomb… like something that explodes and causes mass amounts of destruction.
Read more about it:

Argentina Ups FX Controls to Slow Capital Flight; Risks Seen

Buying dollars in Argentina just got a lot tougher

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Interesting Idea: Wood stove made with tire rims

While walking around today I came across this artifact. I took a picture right away:

It’s a wood burner, basically three rims soldered together with another three legs soldered below, two handles for moving it and a door cut below to collect the ambers and cook “asado” in the metal barrel grill pictured. This was all done in the sidewalk in the middle of the city. Before anyone asks, no, there’s no power outages, no natural gas interruption, just the way we are here. Argentines just like doing asado BBQ, and using a gas burner is considered sacrilege.

I liked several things about this rig. Car rims are pretty plentiful and cheap, just soldering a few together and working them up a bit with a grinder or saw allows many designs. In fact at first I thought it was an iron cast potbelly stove, only when walking back did I notice that it was made of rims.
I think that with a little imagination its not that hard to make a wood stove using rims. I went online to see if others have used these in a similar way and only found this picture of a tire-rim stove.

Take care folks, if you have some rims and a solder and come up with something, send me some pics: id’ love to hear about it and post them in the blog!

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Reply: Water in your Preparations

Hi Fernando,
Read your recent article on water.  Excellent.  I do have a question though in regards to filtration.  I have a Culligan, 3 filter, reverse osmosis filtration system in my house.   Do you think it is necessary to store water since I have this filtration system already in place?  By the way, I live in the Midwest U.S., and the only natural disaster we would come across here would be a tornado.  What really concerns me is the pending economic collapse and how that would effect the water supply and water pressure.  Your thoughts?    And as always, thank you for all your blog, your insights and great book.  Worth every penny.

Hi Paul, thanks.
As I said in the previous post, yes, I’d store water none the less in case whatever source you have is compromised. Think of it as cash in the bank compared to cash in your home safe, better yet, precious metals in your safe. Whatever happens you still have some wealth at home. Same thing with water, whatever happens having some water stored home is so much better than not having any, even if the amount you can store is limited.
Your concerns aren’t that far off. The water infrastructure does suffer when the budget cuts start, it gets worse with inflation and the price of the supplies and parts needed going way up.
As the economic crisis continues it shouldn’t be a surprise to see a) the quality of water going down ( and the laws being modified so as to make lower quality standards legal) b) decrease in water pressure as the quality of the service decreases in general b) Outages for moderate periods of time as the general infrastructure fails, and there’s little manpower and resources to get it back up fast enough. This may be anything from a couple days to a couple weeks before the water is up again.
Take care,

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Water in your Preparations

Hey Ferfal,
Just wanted a second opinion on water.
I obviously know it is of utmost importance, but since I have a couple of good springs on my farm I have not done any water storage out side of my standard system and my one back up spring that originally fed the house.
My question is if I am missing something here or are my two springs/systems “good enough”?
The one that feeds the house is gravity fed from a 1000 gallon cistern on the hill behind the house. (We have more water pressure than the local town) Even the drought a few years ago did not stop this spring even though it did slow down. As long as I keep the pre-filter clean the tank stays full of water. This spring use to feed 3 houses, but I have purchased the property the other two houses where on so now it is just feeding my one house.
The second spring is about 20 yards from the back door and is the one that fed the house when it was originally built. Its tank is a combination of natural stone and concrete block and it holds roughly 750 gallons and stays full all the time with the overflow going into the creek that runs close by. This spring seems to run a lot faster than my other spring, but I have never measured either and am just going by how much water comes out the overflow.
The creek comes through 2 stone quarries up the valley so I only water the garden with that water and don’t count on it for drinking. (It is probably ok but I don’t trust it after going through two industrial sites.)
I have as a back up roof runoff that I can catch from my gutters as I run all of my drinking water through a Berkey anyway (Probably not necessary for the spring water, but and easy safety step to perform) catching water off of the roof would not change anything as far as how I treat my drinking water anyway.
I feel pretty safe with these options, but wanted to know what someone who has been there done that thought of not having cases of bottled water or a couple of hundred gallons water stored up when I have the above options available to me.
Hi SD, good to hear from you again!
Water is still one of the most overlooked aspects of preparedness in my opinion. Even when considered and understood how vital it is, I often find that some people don’t fully understand the way they would be utilizing it.

Lets take a quick look at some of the essential aspects regarding water:

1)Its vital for life, part of the rule of three which says, (give or take) you cant live 3 days without water. That we all know, at least those that have been into survival and preparedness for any length of time.

2)Its bulky and heavy. We get that too, and that’s why most people just don’t store enough water and even those that know how important it is often make the mistake of not having enough in their personal kits and car kits, nor do people take with them a small bottle of it in their everyday carry bags. I’d say 99% of the posts seen online about bugout bags and survival kits, some have a rifle, handgun, and 200 rounds of ammo, but just a small amount of water if that. Its not rare to find EMPTY camel backs and water filters in these bags, the essential part which is water itself often missing.

Those are the ones people into S&P know, but then there’s other facts about water that are either ignored or easily forgotten.

1)Drinking Water is RARE. We live in a world where you can’t throw a dead teen pop star without hitting some sort of store that sells bottled water, the urbanizations in first world countries all have a somewhat reliable tap water grid. It seems so plentiful that people often fail to drink enough of it and spend half their lives slightly dehydrated. Has anyone gone backpacking? Not just throwing a pack on the back of a truck, driving to some nice park  and go hiking for a few days but actually walk forests, roads, cities, deserts, with no help except for maybe a hitchhike or two. That’s when you really get how a) important b) heavy c) hard to find drinking water really is. The truth is that without these artificial networks, we’d all die rather quick of lack of water.

2)Water is easily contaminated. Potable water isn’t really that common. In the third world even tap water must be filtered. Most of the water people get from wells is polluted too. We know that even out in the country its very common for factory deposits, mines, cement factories, pesticides, the list is really endless and all these contaminate water. Out in the pampas of Argentina people are born with malformations because of the pesticides used. These underground rivers appear to be clean, but the truth is that all the junk poured or buried in the ground eventually leaches. Don’t take anyone’s word for it (especially previous land owners form whom you bought) have the water tested yourself so as to know the pollution levels and see if its somewhat safe for human consumption or not.

Just as a couple examples I can give you right away, both in recent years and here in South America. The first was in Chile after the earthquake. Within the same day people were getting aggressive not because they didn’t have food (that happened too the following day) but the same day of the earthquake trouble already started because of lack of water. The second example is right across the Andes in the Argentine south, Patagonia, when the active volcano covered the land for thousands of miles with tons of volcano ash. We’re talking about one of the richest parts of the planet in terms of natural resources, including crystal clear lakes and rivers which you can drink right out of them. I’ve actually done that for weeks without filtering or treating the water. But the volcano ash ruined that for everyone, the rivers became contaminated and even the lakes where covered with a dense layer of ash muck, one yard thick. Not only could you not drink from it, you couldn’t even row a boat in that stuff! And these are just natural disasters. Then you have thousands of industrial disaster possibilities, forest fires producing ash as well or causing chemical spilling. A natural/industrial disaster combo like the one we saw in Japan and the nuclear plant simply ruins all water sources in the area for you. In Argentina the economic collapse affected the water grid as well, lack of maintenance and budget cutting ended up in tap water that shouldn’t be used without filtering.

What you need to have:
1)Stored water: Small bottles are more practical, but you can also use barrels for storing more quantity. I can tell you from experience those 2 and 1.5  liter soda bottles are very handy for washing your hands, preparing food, etc. Try washing the plates or brushing your teeth with a gallon bottle or jerry can and you’ll see what I mean.  This is the essential water supply you have in spite of nearby water sources or even a water well already in place. The well may break, dry out, get polluted. You may be too weak to walk down to the stream, maybe injured, it might be too cold, too dangerous. Again, water stored in place. What you have is what you can count on during a disaster, the rest is a bonus.
2)Means of purifying water: Berkey filters are great, and my sponsor Jeff “The Berkey Guy” is someone I’ve met face to face and is an outstanding person to deal with. Sometimes you have water, but its not water you can use directly and needs to be treated. The Berkey filters are the most tested and proven filters, that’s why they are so popular. They’ve been used in NO, Haiti and a number of other disasters where they did what they are supposed to. Besides a good water filter I keep pool shock (make sure its pure, with no additional stuff) and potassium permanganate for water treatment as well.
3)Having a source of actual water: This is one of the most important advantages you can have. Keep this in mind when buying property, spend the money in having a well if it is at all possible. I cant emphasize enough how important this can be during an emergency. You should have a spare mechanical hand pump you can install and not depend 100% on having electric power since this would be the Achilles knee of your plan.
You don’t get email notices or letters warning about disasters, they just occur. One day you turn the faucet and nothing comes out. Empty bottles with a “fill me during an emergency “ post-it are just…
Take care folks.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

And so it ends for Argentina

Cristina Kirchner and "Young Ks" of La Campora

In spite of having a healthy sized ego I’ve always known my limitations. Even though I’ve been writing about survival and preparedness for many years on daily basis I’ve never considered myself a writer, not even a mediocre one. I know what a writer is and I know I’m not one. I’ve read the work of excellent ones, and I know I just lack that art. I am though a somewhat acceptable story teller, and that’s how I managed to write a book that people can relate to, can learn the lessons I want to transmit and read it without deciding to use it for tinder after ten pages. The most recurrent topic in my blog has been preparedness stories and anecdotes, specifically oriented towards real world survival events and how the people of my country managed to get up, shake off the dust and continue in spite of what this country throws at us.

Some of the events I’ve written about have been hard to digest. Even though I’m firmly against the doom and gloom fascination so common in the survival and preparedness world, there’s times when you just have to tell it as it is. You can’t disguise the death of a person you know, or relate incidents of crime and violence looking through pink-shaded glasses because one extreme is just as bad as the other. The nature of the topics discussed here are serious, sometimes matters of life and death, so that’s why to a certain nouvel readership it might seem dark to read. Even with a pragmatic eye and objective point of view none of this reads like a walk in the park.

As I write this, I can’t avoid feeling two very clear sensations. The first one I can only explain by saying that it’s like stepping out of a boat just as it finishes its slow, decadent sinking and finally goes under the surface. The second one is genuine sadness. Of all the posts I’ve written, this is without a doubt the saddest one I’ve written. I’m not talking about the loss of culture, standards of living or the death of a friend. Its not about the starvation of children of violence towards people close to me. It’s about all that and more. It’s about the death of a country itself.

As the press all over the world talks about the political success of the current administration, and mentions the “flourishing”, prosperous Argentina, a clear minority which I’m part of sees things differently. It makes you wonder and ask yourself a few other things as well. Who writes all these praises? What kind of data do they use to make such positive statements? How can a country be booming economically, yet keeps having shantytowns grow at an accelerating rate, poverty, misery and decadence never backing down one inch, and the 3rd greatest inflation in the planet as the icing on the cake? After reading some of the emails people sent me on the “success” of Argentina, I wonder if its just innocent stupidity, lack of professionalism or if there’s more to it than meets the eye and there are other intentions behind it.

Argentina was fatally wounded almost ten years ago and Argentina as I knew it died yesterday, October 23, 2011, when Ms. Kirchner was re-elected  with over 50% of the votes, gaining complete control of the country. She now controls the executive of course, but also the congress, unions and even the media through the Kirchner Media Law.  The headlines of the world consider this something of a surprise, a small number of Argentines such as myself consider this the culmination of a decade long process that started with the destruction of opposing parties by any means, legal or not, the indoctrination of the generations to come through several channels including the mandatory “Citizen Formation Studies” in schools and even an officially approved version of history. It seems insane, but the “History” I was taught twenty years ago is different from the one my son is taught, much worse, its different from the recent history I SAW with my own eyes.
One can only wonder how can such an authoritarian leader earn so much public support? Wasn’t it bad enough when they controlled the media through an unconstitutional law, or what about our retirement funds begin stolen (nationalized) right in our faces?

How Did This happen?

The process was long and patient at some times, brutal at others. People from other parties or simply with different views suddenly found themselves facing various charges or harassment. People that didn’t play along simply didn’t end up well, and by that it includes every possible end you can think of. Soon enough politicians that used to be the opposition ended up siding with the ruling K party. Journalists and political analysts that didn’t play ball would be threatened to remind them of their position, or eventually found themselves unemployed and no one willing to hire them. The young adult sector was dealt with by the son of the Kirchner’s, Maximo. He formed “the young Ks”, with their leaders grouped in an organization called “La Campora”.La Campora was formed by friends of the son’s president, at times such a useless and lazy gang, not even Nestor Kirchner himself could place them in the positions they wanted on occasions. During a meeting with the Young K leaders he’s quoted to have said” guys, guys, you come here asking for positions of power and management, but you don’t even have a high school diploma for me”.  Almost like a Homer Simpson parody, even the slightest degree of competence would place you in charge of an area of the government or in charge of a recently “nationalized” company, like when they took back “Aerolineas Argentinas” airlines from the Spaniards.

As for the rest of the population, nothing has ever worked as well for the peronist party as keeping those families poor and numerous, and the Ks repeat that same recipe. The handouts for one reason or another make sure those votes keep coming. Handouts per child, for political support, its all there if you show up to the rallies or protest against the companies that aren’t “team players” with the government.  If you are a company owner, in the legal or illegal pharmaceutical business, a good amount of donations will go a long way in ensuring the health of your business. We’re does the money come from? Stealing the retirement funds helped, so does sucking the blood out of what’s left of the middle class through taxes, but the key is Argentina’s Green Gold: Soy. In a world in crisis commodities such as soy are expensive. What did the K’s do? Take so much from the farmers through taxes with no regard to the future, so that today the land almost grows soy exclusively. In agricultural terms this is madness but they are doing it anyway. Get rid of everything, cattle, other agro, just plant soy. Soy kills the land and ten years from now we’re looking at a food crisis, but who cares? The amount of pesticides used already has consequences with child mortality and significant amount of malformations. No one seems to care.

But the most brilliant part of this evil plan was the children, the generations to come. Political brainwashing thanks to the mandatory citizen formation classes, combined with the iron grip on the media that ensured the famous in the showbiz which the uneducated masses follow play along supporting the Ks, all this “work” had its results eventually. This was complimented with an extreme liberal agenda, from gay marriage and adoption to the official nod to drug abuse. Keep in mind that this has been going on for a decade now. It was first four years of Nestor K, then four more of Cristina K during which Nestor died. Now its four more of Cristina K, and the first generation of indoctrinated kids finally had a chance to vote in these elections.

Don’t repeat Our Mistakes

Ms. K won with over half the country voting for her. This may appear to be a triumph of Democracy. You have to wonder though, if it really is a democracy after everything that has happened, including the sharing of power between husband and wife to extend their period in power. Hugo Chavez was voted at some time into office. So was Hitler.

Many people consider what happened to Argentina after its economic collapse to be a window into the possible future of USA. In many ways and in spite of the differences I do think it is. I do see so many of the similarities that I feel encouraged to make certain warnings which followers of my blog read time and again. One of them is being watchful of the calamity of crime and the suffering it causes. Argentina is already becoming like Venezuela in that area as well.

The one I want to make sure people listen to in this case is to please be careful of authoritarian governments. They sprout and grow within the political system and government structure during hard times like we’ve seen it happen so many times in the past, in different countries at different times. Never forget Hitler got voted into office thanks to the desperation of the Germans just wanting to believe the promises after so much economic struggling.  Argentines would hand over a freaking crown to this woman if she asked for one, but they already gave her so much more than that. Please learn from our experience in this as well. Never give more power to a president than the one he should have. Remember that he’s always an employee of the people, and not the other way around. Punish authoritarianism by taking action, talking with your representatives and remembering it when its time to vote once again.

USA has real hope in its Tea Party movement and politicians like Ron Paul. Support them. Support movements like the Appleseed Project, those are great folks that teach a key part of the TRUE history of the United States and not a sanitized politically correct version.
Take care everyone,

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

What happens when you get shot? Part 2 of 2 video

The second part of “What happens when you get shot” is up. Folks, if you haven’t seen part 1 and 2 already please do so and keep it in mind as part of your armed preparedness, both on what to expect when you get shot (hope that never happens) or when using your weapon for self-defense.
Please watch the video, I humbly think they went well and it puts some light into a topic that is often full of mistaken concepts and information.
Take care!

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Friday, October 21, 2011

What happens when you get shot? Part 1 of 2 video

OK, the video is finally up, I’ll upload part 2 tomorrow.

What happens when you get shot?

I made a two part video on what happens to people when they get shot. It will take a while to upload so check for it tonnight. I think it went pretty well and puts some light into a topic that isnt often covered and when it is there’s usually a lot of mistaken concepts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

And so it begins… this time in Greece

Greece approves austerity bill on first reading

The situation in Greece has reached a breaking point. It reminds me of December 2001 in Argentina. The indicators are several and experience shows us that all combined are a recipe for disaster: The nationwide strikes, the protests, riots, most of all, people being genuinely fed up and certainly no longer being afraid of taking the streets and making themselves heard. It’s clear that they’ve gone beyond the point of no return in their crisis.  If the austerity plans continue and the irritation grows its very likely that you’ll see people taking the streets one last time and bringing down the current administration.
This happening in Greece alone would be a complication for the Eurozone, but it could be much worse if it brings other PIGS down along with it in a domino effect.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Location Consideration

Thank you so much for your book.  I ordered it from Amazon last week and read it over the weekend.  I really appreciate you sharing your experiences and your perspective on what may happen here.
I have a question about the ‘in town’ vs ‘retreat property’ argument as it relates to my specific situation.
We live in an area that for the most part I would consider ideal in hard economic times.  Small, close-knit community about 90 miles from a major metropolitan area.  Our community has several dairies and ranches.  Close to our community (20-40 minute drives) you can find truck farmers who raise a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, with many having roadside stands.  Many people are already living a pretty self-sufficient lifestyle . . gardening, canning, hunting, etc.  Almost everyone has guns, many carry or keep them in their cars.  And we are well connected to a doctor, lawyer, judge, several police officers/state troopers, etc.
There are two main concerns however.  The biggest one, is that we are a very small community RIGHT on a major interstate that is 90 miles from Xcity, TX.  If people do leave the cities in search for better lives or more resources, most will be headed our way .
This is a huge concern for us, because we live right in town, conveniently located very close to the schools that are right off the interstate.  If there is any trouble it will easily find us.  On top of that, most of the ‘in town’ area is older homes . . some historic and restored, but most run down.  There are alot of people on welfare in the area, alot of Obama supporters, a few suspected drug houses, and in general just not very ‘safe’ feeling if things go bad.
 The plan was to buy the property soon so that we could travel (RV), camp, and someday build a cabin on the property.  Since the economy started going bad . . . . we started seeing this option as a ‘retreat’ property and have been looking for something appropriate.  I already was concerned with safety because we are not ‘survivalists’ as you would find on a survivalist forum.  We bought our first gun only about 6 months ago, have NO desire to ‘go it alone’, and really value community.  But after reading your blog (especially the video about farm attacks) and your book (especially the ‘being connected’), I am concerned about moving.
My question is about the level of concern we should have living right ON a major interstate so close to a major city . . . . vs the concern of relocating.
We do have one piece of property in mind that if kind of a ‘middle ground’.  It is 25 acres in a community even smaller than ours, but not anywhere near a major city.  It’s in Y city about an hour and a half from our home (without having to get on any interstates at all).    And even though it FEELS like it is out in the country (which is what we want for recreational property), it is only 1/4  of a mile from the main road through town.  It is near the mountains and has live year-round creek frontage and is beautiful.
Do you have any thoughts that might be helpful?
Thank you so much . . . .
Hi Lynn. Your location already sounds pretty good. 90 miles from a mayor metropolitan area is not bad by any means and I wouldn’t be concerned on being on the interstate from a horde of refugee perspective. Putting even more distance would bring more disadvantages than advantages.
The survival fiction says that, “…when SHTF”, hordes of zombies leave the city, endless waves of people taking bites at you, stealing, destroying, like a wave of locusts.  The reality of what is happening in the world though is very different. Is it as cool sounding as the fictional stuff? No, but then again, this is a reality based blog and I offer people real solutions, not make belief.
What happens during times like these is actually the other way around, people move TO the cities because that’s where the chances of finding a job are better. People will sacrifice comfort (live in a smaller place, maybe a condo) and life quality just so as to make enough money to make it to the end of the month. Instead of waves of bankers, lawyers and marketing experts abandoning the burning city remains, you have small town folks moving to where there’s jobs. Like a living organism, the extremities die and the core survives, so you see all these small towns (supposedly ideal for survival, right?) die and become ghost towns because people simply move to the city. This also affects you in other ways. As the government has less resources, they are more likely to sacrifice the small town 100 miles away with population 10.000, so as to ensure the services such as water, gas, power, sewers and policing in the larger metropolitan areas where it directly benefits hundreds of thousands of people instead.
Take a good look at your current location. If you see this being a trend, with more vacant homes, or getting rented by suspicious looking people, then relocating is something you could be considering. Remember what I said about things simply being worse after an economic collapse, and not going down the way you want it? This would be a good example. If you see more run down properties, know its very likely to get worse rather than better.
I wouldn’t worry about the interstate. I’d look for other factors when considering relocating or not. If you see your area degrading, then relocating may be a good idea. Don’t forget the things I always mention: availability of proper medical care within reasonable distance, jobs and other financial opportunities, low crime.
There’s nothing wrong with having some land and going there with the camper until you start building. I see it as a good way of checking for pro and cons and living there without spending too much money until you’re certain of the choice you’re making. Having said that and all things considered, you seem to be in a very good location already with like-minded people. Given that the network of people and relationships you have are so important, and that the interstate isn’t really a significant threat, for the time being your current location is pretty good for the coming years that will be a bit more complicated.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Gun, passports, credit cards and a wad of cash

Remember the “Nomad Theory”, that says you can deal with almost anything if you have a bottle of water, handgun and 1000 bucks? That’s pretty good.
Working with that minimum concept I have another one of my own for your consideration. The “FerFAL Principle” goes:  With a gun, a couple passports, credit cards and 5000 bucks you can buy what you may need, relocate to several countries and eventually start over.
The Nomad Theory is correct in a strict term with the inclusion of water, but in 99.9% of the cases you can either find water or just buy it. True, it is essential for life right after oxygen, but how many people die of thirst? As clearly essential as it is it would take a very specific scenario and location for you to die of lack of water. Strictly speaking, the items I list are what you need to relocate, move to the next state or catch a flight and start over somewhere else.

You could even do without the firearm too, but lets suppose a worst case scenario where violence becomes rampant and you may need protection, either while getting to the airport in a last minute flight or buying your way across the border. It wouldn’t hurt to have a few gold coins for a collapsed dollar scenario. Up until now though, a bunch of $100 buys most of what you need. The credit cards become important for getting a hotel room across the globe, renting or buying a car, but in the affected area they may not be accepted so that’s why you have cash too.
Again, it’s a bare bone proposition. If I had to go through the door now never to come back only with what I have in my pockets those would be items I don’t want to be without, items I cant just buy off the shelf, and would need some time to get. Of course I’d like to add a bag, food, water, spare clothes, etc, the typical BOB, but with those I could travel, eventually buy what I need and start over. The passport and credit cards, those you need with some time in advance, you can’t buy them off the shel, neither can you improvise them.

A cell phone (wi fi capable, combined with Skype) along with a healthy contact list would be invaluable as well. Even better if those are contacts in the countries I could go to.
Mobility and the possibility to acquire resources is the key here. More food for thought.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

What I need, what I want and what I was led to believe I can’t live without.

Traveling to US has always been a pleasant experience to me. The best memories I have as a kid are in fact of the time I spent in Boston. Having toy stores that actually had toys you wanted and not cheapo junk that broke as soon as you opened it, good pizza, chocolate chip cookies and having snow during Christmas instead of opening your presents when the thermometer marks 105ºF. I mean, what’s not to like? The gun culture which is unique in the planet, the amount of choices you have across the country of different climates and geography, the plentitude of parks and wild life options? This time though, some of the things people had been telling me started to hit home. During the expo I joked with one of the guys telling him “The problem with Argentina is Argentines”. “Same thing here” he said, “the problem with US is Americans”. I was left there hanging you know, I wanted to tell him no, but could I?
The “mass” in general is stupid and slow no matter what country you pick. Like a pasturing cow, its world is reduced to the square foot in front of its face where it grazes. Is it that different from a two-legged “cow” who’s world is reduced to malls, TV, its latest truck or SUV (which will always look impeccable and never touch anything other than pavement), maybe its work environment and a little gossip to keep things interesting, the peak moment of the month being who slept with who from work. For most people life is a combination of corny MTV reality TV and Mexican soap opera drama. The people that actually think for themselves, especially folks like the ones found in the survival and preparedness community and a few others that don’t blindly follow the heard, those are clearly a minority world wide.
It makes you wonder how things will end up in the not so distant future when that type of lifestyle comes to an end. Many have already had nasty wakeup calls. People getting fired and not finding a job or having their salaries reduced, or people that woke up to the evil in this world through a robbery or home invasion. Yet, there’s millions that do not see it. While in Salt Lake City, I had dinner with some like-minded people, as he drove into the parking lot he had to hit the brakes to avoid hitting a child that ran in front of the vehicle, the mother who walked a few yards ahead didn’t even notice it. “OMG I’m telling you this sort of people will be the first to go when SHTF”. Indeed they are. People that can’t cope, even worse, people that don’t have a clue of what’s going on and don’t get the bare bone simple facts of life such as teaching your kid not to run in front of moving vehicles or at the very least keep an eye on them, yes, the gene pool will be cruel with those.

The Culture of Excess

I just wanted a cup of Coke. Not a liter, not a gallon, not a container big enough that some people back home would turn it over, cut a door and window and live in it, just the equivalent of a can of coke in a paper cup. “That’s the smallest one we have” said the girl pointing at a cup that would be “Large” in Argentina, maybe containing half a litter of soda. “You know, just give me the smallest one and just fill it half way through. No ice, please”. At least she got the ice part right. “Here you go! Have a nice day!” she said as she handed over the cup, so full I had to be careful not to press is too hard that it would spill. I had been at the airport all day and already had to throw over half of a cup of what Starbucks calls coffee. That’s not coffee people. Let me tell you what coffee really is. Coffee comes in porcelain or glass cups or mugs that somewhat fit a human hand, they cost under a buck fifty and actually tastes good. You know, like coffee. If those bathtub sized cups sold at Starbucks actually had coffee, you wouldn’t sleep in a week because of the caffeine overdose. Dark, Late or Faggyfrapuccino, its all the same stuff and has three things in common.1) It’s big 2) It’s expensive 3) Contains this foul tasting diluted liquid that has twice the amount of water real coffee would have. On my way back home I had a similar experience with DunkinDonuts coffee. The donuts were good, but the coffee I had to throw it away after a few sips.
The food issue is a good example because it’s so obvious and the choices you have are either throwing half of it away which is wasteful or even worse, eat it up against our will and ruin your health. There are other examples though and you see it clearly: Houses that are too big, poorly designed, just big, making poor use of space, wasting energy and needlessly increasing your AC/heating budget. Huge cars that people have no need for, with 4.0 engines when 3.0 would be more than enough for 90% of the people driving it.
Now, I’m no socialist and I know what some of you are thinking right now. Its not about NEED but WANT. America is great because of that, people following their dreams beyond what’s strictly needed. Bigger and better. Fine, but isn’t there a problem when you always want ten times more than you actually need on everything? When people are actually diagnosed with mental problems because they cannot stop themselves from buying junk? When piling junk you don’t need is becoming such a common mental illness its almost epidemic, with an estimated 1.2 million hoarders in US alone? So we’re looking at three sides of the coin here actually, what you need (which accord to commies is all you should ever want), what you really want yourself, may that be becoming rich and living in a mansion, owning a hundred gun collection, a boat or whatever, and then there’s the third side which I believe is the key to this excess problem: What you are lead to believe by others, that you either want or even need things you don’t.
People end up eating (and paying for) food they don’t need and is actually bad for them, buying crap that only makes some smart guy even richer, banksters making sure you can afford all of this even if you don’t, and in the process getting even richer themselves.
In many ways this was the cause of the economic crisis in the first place. The way people live and handle themselves will have to change. During the next decade or so people will be getting a crash course and like it or not, they will learn the difference between those three.

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Mobs, how to handle them and traveling light

Hello Ferfal,

I just returned from a visit to Argentina (and Chile) and wrapped up the whole trip in Buenos Aires.  I felt rather safe in Buenos Aires and found the people rather friendly, despite the "gringo tax" I paid a few times.  I especially enjoyed wine country with my girlfriend AND finding the Buller Brewery near the cemetery.  She's the wine snob and i'm the beer snob.

In regards to your blog I wanted to reflect my experiences leaving Buenos Aires via the EZE airport.

Miles and miles away from the airport I was caught in a traffic jam like I had never seen before.  Luckily the owner of the Bed and Breakfast where I stayed suugested we leave 3 hours before the flight.  Good thing she told us.  Apparently the students or a union was upset about something and had blocked the toll booth entrance to the airport.  When i saw the throng of people I was pretty furious over the mayhem they were creating.

As an American these things just don't happen here.  It brought up a lot of thoughts of how to respond and react in this situation using information I found on your blog.  I hope you can work these in to one of your posts to help other people that may be in a similar position.

---Talk with and make friends with your taxi driver.  Be as friendly as possible regardless if you speak the language.  Tip generously.  These guys KNOW the area and how to stay out of trouble.  Tip generously and make sure they know you are generous.  Consider it a small insurance policy.
---DO NOT travel with suitcases.  Travel light with a backpack. If it weren't for that backpack I would have been stuck in an unpassable hoard of protestors or I would have been trying to lug around an easily stolen suitcase.  With my backpack, I looked like a poor tourist and was able to walk to the airport after ditching the taxi in the traffic jam.
---LIE LIE and LIE about how much you support whatever the hoard is protesting.  Talk to the first person you see in the crowd and greet them with a big smile.  Engage that person in sincere interest in their cause.  Grab a sign and jump and cheer with the crowd as you make your way through it.  You are in an unfriendly powder keg of anger and you better make sure you are one of them or you will find yourself in trouble.  You're on their turf.  It was definately stupid to leave the taxi but I had a plane to catch for an international flight.  The crowd did not look violent and there was a strong police presence.  They just wanted to make sure NO ONE made it to the airport.  Being a "useful idiot" to their cause allowed me to walk to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

This situation did get me thinking about what would happen if this crowd turned violent.  As much as I hate to say it the safest thing for me to do would be to jump out of the cab and join the hoard.  As much as i would love to say I would take the high road and say I would stand my ground I would be facing a HUGE crowd of violence.  The first order of business would be survival, second would be getting as far away as possible as soon as I could.  Sitting as a helpless tourist in a taxi would not be the way to do that.  Another thing I would do is learn a few phrases in a language OTHER than English.  I know Czech and German.  Call me paranoid but I would rather greet an angry protestor with a few words in Czech than USA English.

These are just some random thoughts about a situation in which I have never been.  Luckily, I was only inconvenienced.  After the fat it was easy to see how a situation like this could turn very very dangerous.

Thanks for everything.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recommendation on EDC for rainy environment?‏

Hi Fernando,

I really enjoy your blog and have learned a lot from your book.  I am wondering if you have any special gear you would recommend for EDC in Seattle?  To give you some background, it rains in Seattle about 300 days per year and the sun is pretty much never out.  Everything is always soaked.  I have already added a compact raincoat and a wide-brimmed hat to my EDC bag, and in my truck I keep a waterproof tarp (but it is too large and heavy for my EDC bag).  In an environment where everything is constantly soaking wet, what recommendations do you have on EDC?

Hi Mike, glad you like the blog and book.
Your environment clearly dictates a few special considerations.
Base Camp Messenger Bag Backpacks - unisex TNF Red Black Large by The North Face

For an EDC bag, I’d go for something that is waterproof. Sometimes, materials that are supposed to be waterproof aren’t so. Cordura for example, it may not absorb water like cotton but its not waterproof either. The best “real” waterproof EDC bag I found so far is the North Face Bomber bag. This bag is made of a rubbery material that is 100% waterproof. Of course it zips down and isn’t watertight, but as long as the flap is down and rain just pours over it contents are kept dry.
Sometimes you can find rubberized cloth, occasionally in surplus store. Just keep this in mind, the material should be completely waterproof and that excludes any woven fiber, natural or synthetic.
Some of the contents I’d keep in this bag of yours:

Olive Drab - GI Style Poncho (Nylon Rip-Stop)

Poncho: Get one that is compact but still better than those disposable ones found for a couple bucks. This is something you’ll use often.
Umbrella: I knew it would be raining in Salt Lake City and still didn’t take my little umbrella. I wish I had! A small umbrella can be safely tucked under the flap of the North Face shoulder bag.
Space Blankets: Include a couple of these. They double as emergency blankets, can do as emergency ponchos or tarps if you need them. One can be used to put a “roof” over your head (include 10 yards of 550 paracord in your bag) and the other one as a blanket.
Signaling: Given the overall cloudy location, you may want to make yourself noticed with some reflective tape on your poncho or using a FuelBelt Reflective Snap Band.
  You don’t want to get run over while walking, so this is important. A red LED strobe would be ideal. 

SE 6 Way Flasher with Accessory Red with Bike Attachment

Ziplock bag with spare clothes: At least underwear and socks, you might want to include one of those thing running shorts and dryfit top. Takes almost no space once sealed in a ziplock bag with the air removed.
The general theme of your EDC should be keeping things try, watertight match case, storm lighter, the ziplock bags will help keep things dry and organized too.  As for firearm, go Glock and pick a quality stainless steel blade instead of just carbon steel which would rust easily. Ammo (premium defensive ammo) will be ok even if wet, but you want to replace it twice a year if its really damp, just in case.
Take care!