Saturday, September 29, 2012

What will happen in USA after the Elections?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Preparedness: Vitamin tablets for your food Stash!

Canned food loses vitamins as time goes by and dry staples such as rice, wheat and beans lack the nutritional properties of fresh food. Especially due to the lack of fresh goods, including meat, fruits and vegetables, it’s a good idea to add vitamin pills to your supply. FerFAL

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Housing after the Collapse: Country vs. Urban

Thanks so much for your wonderful blog.  I've seen a lot written about the pros / cons of debt going into an economic collapse.  You're recent blog post about contracting brought up this topic.
We're in the opposite position however,  I'd like your thoughts on the dangers of being debt free during/after a collapse because I see risks with this decision as well.  We own two houses with no debt or mortgage.  One is a large nice home near downtown Houston in a walled gated community, not in the suburbs; we use this house part-time.  The other is a small place with 15 acres just outside the city which is our full time home.
We think the US is headed for a dollar collapse.  We are considering selling the house in the city because much of our savings is in this home.  If we sold now, we could invest this money in precious metals.  However, we'd take a significant loss on the home.  So do we hold or sell?
Reasons to sell:
 If we hold the home, we're concerned about being able to pay property tax and insurance during a collapse
 We're concerned about rioting and crime in the city during/after a collapse, further driving down the value of this property
 Finding buyers may become very difficult after the collapse
Reasons to keep the property
 We could use it as a rental property for income.  (However, I'm concerned about the downward pressure on rents during a collapse b/c people will be so focused on having enough money to pay for food.)
 If people migrate from the suburbs to the city b/c transportation costs skyrocket, it might be a good investment
 We really like this house and enjoy the property
 Your thoughts on this would be much appreciated.  If you post on your blog, please keep me anonymous.

Hi K, I think that right now isn’t the best time to sell given the overall low prices. I also believe you can profit nicely when renting it because of the reasons I’ll explain.

Regarding your two properties, they represent opposing views in terms of what works or not in a post-collapse society. Fiction survival literature would have you believe that a house in a rural setting is the best option. Stay as far from rioting cities as you can, avoid criminals by living far away. This is repeated over and over until people take it for a fact, but ironically the truth is that living in such conditions is possible only in very safe, functioning societies. The further away and more isolated you are, the more vulnerable you are. With higher gas prices commuting back and forth or driving into town puts a dent into your finances. As the system and infrastructure starts failing, roads, reliable power and proper medical care becomes unreliable the further away you are. 

After a decade of studying different crisis and disaster scenarios in different countries all over the world I believe that the idea of retreating to rural areas as a way of rationally preparing for hard times has no foundation on empirical facts but is instead rooted on American survival fantasy concepts. In what seems to be a vicious circle, people keep regurgitating what others have said and take it for a fact rather than checking how things actually turn out when serious social crisis have occurred. You only have to study South Africa’s recent history, most third world countries or the post communism western union nations to understand that what is taken as a fact in the American survival culture isn’t quite so. Keeping it short, if you live well today in an isolated homestead without 24hs security, its precisely because society has not collapsed. You wont be able to do so afterwards. 

Because of this, a house in a walled gated community is highly desirable and it will be even more so after a serious crisis or collapse. In most Latin American countries, gated communities such as those are the only way in which you can live with a degree of peace of mind while you sleep. Your two properties are basically giving you those two options.
As crime gets worse in USA, demand for such properties will go up. With a gated community you have options such as all neighbors paying more so as to have added security. 

I wouldn’t sell it. If you like the other place more then I´d just rent it so as to make some money, always good to have another source of income, and at the same time you keep it as a plan B in case things go South Africa or Latinamerica way and you have to move into the gated community yourself. 


Monday, September 24, 2012

Pre Crisis Contracts in Argentina After 2001‏

Hi Ferfal,
I've enjoyed reading your blog over the last year and I've purchased your book, but have not read it yet.  I enjoy your insight and stories from your experience in Argentina and look forward to reading your book.
My questions are about financial contracts.  I've seen on your blog and have read that a lot of post-crash purchases of large items, like a house or car, are primarily in US dollars cash.  Before the crash in 2001 did people use mortgage loans or cars loans?  If a loan was written in 1999 in Argentine dollars were the loan payments still accepted in the debased currency because of the contract?  Did the banks or lenders just write off the loans or did they try to force payment in US dollars or Euros?  Did the government force loans to be forgiven?
I would like your perspective on what happens to a contract.  I think the US will be seeing similar problems in the near future and I'd like an idea of what it may look like to carry any debt.  The US situation may not play out like Argentina, but I wouldn't put it passed US officials to look at other countries handling of these issues.
Any insight would be appreciated.  Please feel free to share the letter and your reply if you have one, but please do not publish my e-mail address.
Thank you for sharing you knowledge and experience!
God bless you and your family in Ireland!

Hi Andrew, sorry for the delay in replying.
You bring up an excellent point. After an economical collapse or significant economic crisis like the world is seeing now the importance of correct contracting becomes even more significant. On one side frauds become more common and you really have to cover your back from any possible legal loophole, on the other the rules by which you do business chance constantly in times of turmoil so you have to keep up to date on everything.
Take for example contracts for renting.  When inflation is spinning out of control you have to keep this in mind. When doing a two year contract we would adjust for inflation, the second year price being 20 or 25% higher than the first one.  Some people did contracts that included an increase if inflation reached say, 10% in 12 months (just an example) but these lost their meaning as soon as the government started cooking the books. Officially the inflation may be 4% a year, but on the street the real inflation is 25% per year. When such a situation presents itself your contracts can hardly go along the lines of official figures because they don’t mean much at all anymore so you have to be careful.
Regarding your questions, loans weren’t that common, not like in USA, but some people that owed money in USD did benefit from the new rules, in many cases paying back just a fraction of what they owed. In others, especially for deals between individuals, either an in between point was agreed or they went to the justice to settle the matter. In general yes, you benefited if you had to pay a loan in USd. When it came to banks you had to repay at an official 1.4 rate, then a little higher, but always less than the street price. Paying back at a 1.4 peso to dollar rate is actually a great deal when the street price is 3 pesos per Usd.  Why did banks allow this? Because on the other hand they were being allowed by the government to steal everyone’s Usd savings, taking away basically 75% of people’s savings, with a similarly low conversion rate during the “pesification” period (turning people’s Usd savings to pesos).  Getting in debt to take advantage of such circumstances is still a high risk deal. If the timing isn’t just right you’re just losing money so I would recommend people staying out of debt as much as possible. I avoid debt that piles up in a snowball effect. Buying a cell phone, smart TV, etc, all in monthly payments is an awful idea under most circumstances. In a free falling economy like Argentina with a 25% inflation it is a pretty safe bet, that’s why people don’t think much of it and jump right in. The TV is going to cost 50% more by the end of the year anyway, but for normal countries getting into debt isn’t recommended.

 Having said this, an especially for people thinking of buying real estate, if you find the right property at a low enough price it might be worth getting into debt. In many places property has reached an all time low.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pocket EDC September 2012 and some other Thoughts


Thursday, September 20, 2012

“Don’t kill my grandpa, I’ll give you mi toys”.

“Don’t kill my grandpa, I’ll give you mi toys”.
The pleads for mercy by his grandchild weren’t enough to save 74 year old Victor Granada, shot through the heart last night during a robbery attempt in his residence located in La Matanza, Buenos Aires. The two robbers also shot Victor’s 36 year old son who is now hospitalized in critical condition. According to the mother’s child, Mr. Granada´s grandson told the robbers ““Don’t kill my grandpa, I’ll give you mi toys” when they threatened to kill his grandfather.

It seems that word got around that Mr. Granada had property for rent and had received payments for it recently. Turns out that the tip was inaccurate and he had no money to surrender which may have angered the criminals.

Both criminals, one armed with a handgun and the other one armed with a knife, managed to escape after shooting both men and stealing a few valuables.

Consider the following:
*They entered through the main door, quickly forcing the security metal door. In 99% of homes, doors can simply be kicked opened. (and 99% of people thing their door is MUCH stronger than it actually is)

*Loose lips sink ships. They went after them because they knew the guy had property up for rent and thought there was rent money there. Don’t tell others about your business, lie if you have to but anything that sounds like money can be the cause of your doom in a violent society where crime is out of control. Most people just talk about everything and have no regard about these sort of things. As the world keeps moving, you better adapt before you end up learning the hard way.

*They just shot the old man, no mercy was shown so learn to expect none, same for the son. Which brings me to the much mentioned moral debate of killing in self-defense. It seems that putting down one of these animals scars you for life, that you live in regret and see their faces every time you close your eyes. Ah, Hollywood can be so sentimental. Brutal honesty moment here?  Maybe that´s the kind of thing people debate about in SoHo NY while sipping green tea. In the “conurbano” of Buenos Aires there’s no such philosophical ponderations, we know perfectly well that you do the world a favor by ending the evil lives of these walking scumbags.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Glock vs Springfield Armory XD‏?


Hey ferfal,

I’m sure you have probably got this email before, but just in case you haven’t:
I have seen posts questioning the SA XD, and I can say with certainty they’re good stuff.
A friend of mine has a Glock 9mm (G 17 I believe, but I cant say I remember well), and I have an SA XD 9 subcompact.
Fired side by side the action is very similar.
The action on the SA is (get this) smoother, but recoils wasn’t noticeably different. The Glock felt a little more mechanical. You can feel the slide run back, and impact the stop during ejection of the round.
I’ve played with them a bit and the only thing I can think of is the polymer frame on the XD absorbs vibration so you feel less vibration in your hand when firing.
This will most likely mean that the steel frame of the Glock might hold up to abuse more, but I have seen good things during my reliability research. The polymer frame will also resist corrosion more when exposed to oils and acids of concealment.
When looking for a common failure on the XD forums the most common issue I can find is “too many dry fires causes a pin to snap”; this pin however prevents the firing pin from smacking the breach wall and a failed pin will prevent a fractured breach wall.
I cleaned it once, and then ran 100 FMJs through it, then 100 HPs through it without a clean or oil, and it didn’t jam. It doesn’t have a manual safety, but it has a grip safety and a trigger safety. The grip safety prevents the slide from cycling, and the trigger safety puts a physical block in the path of the firing pin so allegedly, if the pin of a cocked gun dislodges and engages it will not make it all the way to the round without hitting the block first.
I haven’t been able to confirm this one: I loaded my XD up with snap caps (dummy rounds that don’t fire) cocked it, and threw it around a room for 5 minutes and I wasn’t able to get the firing pin to dislodge and drop-fire.
I was able to stovepipe it. Here’s how; chamber round, remove clip, fire.
There is a button that the round follower in the clip engages to lock the slide back on the final round that wasn’t present.

In a normal situation, the following round will aid in ejection of the previous round (pushing it out) on the last round of each clip, there is no following round so when the slide locks back it allows a few extra milliseconds for the last round to eject.
The subcompact 9 doesn’t have much recoil for a short barrel and it conceals well for its size.
The handle is wide like a Glock’s handle so it fits comfortably in the hand of a decent size guy(I am 6’6” with a size 13-USA shoe). I tried the Rueger lc9 which is very similar to the bodyguard and it actually hurts to fire because the small square handle wiggles in my hand under recoil and causes pressure points. The recoils of the smaller 38cal LC9 is higher than the recoil of my XD 9mm subcompact also. There is an accessory rail on the XD 9 standard, and subcompact. Fitting a light to the rail (very close to the exit of the barrel) will certainly cover the lens in burnt cordite after 100 rounds, but if your firing 100 rounds in a situation  of duress you have bigger problems than a dirty light.
In a pancake holster on the small of the back there is a bit of discomfort sitting down leaning back on something, so I can’t say it will be a perfect conceal carry weapon. It is comfortable to stand with, and doesn’t show under a shirt in the small of the back though. So if you have a standup job, go for it.
Hope this helps answer the XD question.


Thanks for your email Jim. Indeed, I get asked about the XD a lot and here is my opinion.
Before saying anything, I have to say that I just love guns. Heck, I love anything that shoots, cuts, explodes or has any kind of violent chemical reaction. Just the way it is. But when it comes down to giving advice I can only call it as I see it and I see the Glock being the best, most successful all around combat handgun. I’m not saying that the XD is a bad gun, its very good, but a Glock it is not. Not only is the XD a copy (some will say improved version of..) of what was already done correctly the first time (in the Glock), with a few changes here and there so as to at least do something different, the changes made aren’t the ones I would have done myself.
Take the XD grip safety for example. Why? Dear God, why?
Even JMB didn’t like the grip safety in the 1911. He included it because it was demanded by the military. He got rid of it in the Hi-Power. The grip safety also means that the gun will not fire if not gripped properly and that is NOT a good thing. Yes, in ideal conditions you always grip the gun as you´re supposed to, but there’s nothing ideal about a gunfight. Chances of you getting shot in your arms during a gunfight and getting a finger blown off? Chances of that are actually pretty high (within the context of being in a gunfight). It generally tends to work this way: When you shoot at someone and he has a gun, he probably will shoot back. You naturally will shoot center of mass, and both of you will have your hands and arms covering your center of mass because that’s just what happens with nearly all shooting stances, even point aiming, even instinctive shooting. Stand in front of someone aiming at you and you see it clearly. This is why learning to shoot and reload with your other hand is important and is trained often.  Maybe because of the stress you just got a less than perfect grip, it can happen too. The gun should still fire in spite of a poor grip being used.
Why a safety in the first place? Manual safeties where used mostly because of the mechanical unreliability of the first autos, then their use continued because of police or military spec requirements.  Still, if you think about it you can see how unnecessary they are with safer modern guns. Have you ever seen a manual safety in a revolver? You don’t need one either in a modern striker fire auto.
Finally, no other handgun is as prolific in the defensive and tactical community. If there’s parts and accessories available for a gun, anywhere in the world, that sure is Glock.