Wednesday, March 28, 2018

After Action Report from Australia: 17 Lessons from Cyclone Marcus

Hi Ferfal,
On Saturday March 17th the city of Darwin in Australia has been hit by a Category 2 Tropical Cyclone, on the Australian tropical cyclone intensity scale, named Marcus.
The whole population was aware of it's coming but we were all expecting a Category 1. Only on the Friday afternoon/evening were we aware that it might develop into a Category 2 which it did.
Their were extensive infrastructure damages that are still being evaluated but fortunately no casualties. This was the strongest cyclone in Darwin in over 30 years.

Here are, in no specific order, the facts/lessons that I have learned from this event:

 - Most neighborhoods lost power and water. My neighborhood was spared solely because all the power lines are underground.

- Some areas will see their power restored 4-5 days after the events. The main city and closest neighborhoods had their power restored within 48 hours.

- The areas that still had running water were told to boil it for drinking purposes. Water boiled in a saucepan will have a strong metallic. I chose to keep drinking boiled tap water instead of using bottled water that I had stocked keeping it in case we were to stop having running water

- Cash is king. Plastic is a betting game. Most businesses closed down the day of the cyclone. Some convenience stores reopened if they had electricity some could take credit card some wouldn't. A bit of cash ($100-$200) will help

- Avoid driving at night. Street lights were mostly gone making for poor visibility especially of older less well-maintained vehicles (no position lights). Also, traffic lights were all out of order making intersections quite dangerous. Fortunately, local drivers were understanding of the situation stopping to let other cars cross intersections.

- Walking at night is even more dangerous than driving. If you must walk at night wear reflective clothing or stick some reflective tape on the back of your clothes or backpack to be visible to drivers

- If you drive around, a lot of streets and roads will be blocked by fallen trees heavily restricting 
traffic and leading you to go through a maze of unknown areas. the GPS on you phone will be your best friend.

- Power banks were a great commodity to have in those situations as we relied on smartphones especially Facebook Messenger to communicate and data usage (Wi-Fi and especially 3G/4G) can deplete your batteries very quickly

- No casualties fortunately as most people stayed indoors during the duration of the event. Knowing 1st aid will nevertheless be useful in case a loved one or a neighbor were to be injured. Enroll in a 1st aid course or better yet volunteer as an EMT if you can. I did it for 3 years and I believe practicing skills for this amount of time allows for you to retain them far longer than if you were to learn them in a two-day course and never use them. On top of that you would help your local community

- Fill in your car's gas tank before the event. After the event when power is down you won't be able to fill it up for a while

- A lot of people had drinking water stored up at home but absolutely no one I met have made any provision for flushing water in their toilet. You can shower at some neighbor or at a friend’s place or, worst comes to worst, go to the swimming pool (not as effective but better than nothing) but it is impractical to have to use somebody else's toilet. Most people were shocked in realizing this oversight.

- Stores were still fully stocked

- No looting events, whether houses or businesses

- As soon as possible neighborhoods have organised themselves to clean-up the streets wherever it was possible with simple equipment (lots of chainsaw usage) as long as it wasn't putting anyone in danger (think downed power lines) nor preventing insurance payments (the clean would make the proof of damages disappear)

- Going to the gym and being as fit and strong as possible helps a lot during cleaning efforts (I am lucky enough to be able to train up to 12 hours a week, 6 in Krav-Maga and 6 in CrossFit)

- Checking on your neighbor's well-being is a good idea, as long as you are not intruding

- Being patient, polite and smiling helps a lot to deal with people's frustration and bad mood

I hope this might help people finding themselves in the same predicament in the future



Sunday, March 25, 2018

My budget auto shotgun project is almost done

So the idea was to put together a handy little shotgun. I already have a Mossberg  500 but I wanted something semi auto. As powerful, reliable and versatile as pump shotguns are, I’ve always seen the lack of immediate follow up shots with a trigger pull as a big handicap. Yes, pumps can be fast, very fast. But you still need to work both arms to operate and its one thing doing it in the range and another when someone is grabbing your with one hand and trying to bash your skull in with a hammer with the other.

So for starters I wanted a reliable semi auto shotgun. The obvious answer is to get a Benelli M4, but then again that’s two thousand bucks I wasn’t looking to spend. How about a good value, reliable autoloader? The first thing I thought of was the Turkish Hatsan Escort, which I had used in the past. Not all Turkish guns are junk and they certainly can put together a good shotgun. These are fairly popular across Europe and have a well-earned reputation of “cheap but goodie”, common in the field as a work shotgun.

For this project I just used some Krylon camo (sand) a cheap reflex sight, light and sling. I’ll just have to run a few more rounds to see how that sight holds. Tends to be a miss/hit deal with them.
All things considered I’m very happy with the results. The only thing I’m still considering is a pistol gripped stock.

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Friday, March 23, 2018

Cool EDC Tip: 14500/AA Battery with built in Micro-USB Port

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Value of precious metals in SHTF Venezuela?

I was reading a thread today in a discussion board about the value of precious metals when SHTF.
There was the typical discussion, people quoting actual events in which precious metals were of great value, others pointing out how precious metals have been considered either a currency or form of wealth for thousands of years. There were also people claiming that it’s better to stock up food or ammo (why not store all? Food, ammo AND precious metals?)
At one point someone asked about Venezuela. What’s happening there, is gold and silver of use?
Well, that’s actually a good question. In my opinion the best lessons are the ones you get from actual events, empiric evidence.

So, what’s happening in Venezuela and what role does gold and silver play?

Well, there’s people in Venezuela called Garimpeiros. These are prospectors, people that scavenge the sewers looking for anything of value. What are they looking for? Metal, mostly aluminium or copper. If lucky a bit of silver jewellery that washed away in the shower, maybe even some gold.  These people claim that scavenging this way they make around the monthly minimum wage (about 33USd) in a week. Given the terrible conditions people in Venezuela have to live with, this isnt much, but it is enough to get some food to survive.

1oz of silver goes for about 700.000 VEF (Venezuelan currency) , and a pack of 1kg of rice costs 50.000VEF, which is about 1USD.  Its safe to assume that these people won’t get spot price for the scrap silver or gold they find, but even at half spot price a bit of silver let alone gold will be enough to buy some food.

So yes, in Venezuela today, gold and silver are both very valuable, can be exchanged for the local currency (and you spend it fast because it devaluates by the minute!) and then you can buy food or whatever else you need. Would it have been nice to have a bit of savings in precious metals? You bet! Would it have been nice to have 6-12 months stored worth of food? Of course. Then again, the problems in Venezuela have been going on for decades now and the food would have been gone already, maybe even the savings you had for a rainy day. Maybe the best thing would have been to use that gold or silver you had for a rainy day to get the hell out of there and not end up trapped in that place.
But yes, as expected, gold and silver are very much valuable in Venezuela and no one is changing entire ounces of gold (or silver) for a loaf of bread.
My advice? Cover all your bases. Have guns, have plenty of ammo, have a lot of food (you need to eat anyway) and have precious metal. And stay informed so as to make the right decisions.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Hatsan Escort AutoDefend 14" : Great value shotgun!

A good shotgun is a formidable firearm. From birds to hogs, devastating stopping power for defensive use and tons of fun just blasting stuff up with cheap shells no other gun compares to a shotgun’s versatility.
Pump shotguns add to that toughness and reliability, which are highly desirable traits in a gun. They do have an important drawback in my opinion, which is not being semi auto and missing those fast follow up shots with the pull of the trigger.
So what would be an ideal shotgun? A short, handy, reliable auto shotgun that runs well with everything you feed it.
Well, that’s what I was hoping for with my Hatsan Escort AutoDefend.  So far, I haven’t been disappointed. Gas operated “smart valve” . 14” barrel, 4+1 rounds of 12ga, front rail ready to a tactical light. And it cost me 390 bucks NIB.

Hatsan are made in Turkey and some folks incorrectly assume it’s a poorly made cheap gun.
Affordable? Sure, but its well-made and mine has been very reliable so far only having one failure to fully eject with a 28gr shell. The gun was bought brand new so it still needs a few hundred rounds more in to be broken in properly. +30gr shells have been very reliable and work the action with authority.
Not only is this type of gun about ideal for home defense, it’s a ton of fun to shoot. The first Hatsan I used was an 20” model that I used for a shotgun practical shooting class. That gun was also very reliable and made me take a closer look at the brand.
If you have a Hatsan floating around in your local gun store and the guys there cant get them sold, give it a try. For the price, it’s a very competitive auto shotgun.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

NYC Helicopter crash: Seat belt cutter/window smasher?

Do you have any recommendations for a tool to cut a seat belt or smash through a window in case of a rollover accident?

Hello Marvin,
I’m not sure if you had this in mind but your email reminded me a lot of the recent helicopter accident in New York. The 5 passengers that died, they were all upside down, still with the harness on. All five died from accidental drowning. The helicopter was completely submerged and upside down (probably because of the location and weight of the rotor and engine).

This is just a huge reminder of the importance to have our basic EDC with us at all times (knife, light, multitool, gun if at all possible).

Mine includes two blades, a folder on my right pocket and a multittool on the left pocket. I’ve been doing this for nearly two decades and encourage everyone to at the very least keep a folding knife and flashlight with them at all times. They are useful and come handy daily but you may go a long time before you need it for a true emergency. Then all of a sudden in just a matter of months I ended up using my knife to help people in rather serious incidents. One was a baby girl that had her earing stuck to the clothes of her mother. They had twisted around trying to break her free only making it worse and hurting the baby worse. I had to cut the woman’s clothes to release the baby’s ear. The other was a kid in the mall who’s untied shoelace got stuck in the escalator.  You simply don’t know when these things can happen to yourself or the people around you.

As for the tool you have in mind, sounds like the Resqeme Tool. This is a small keychain tool that includes a hook for cutting through seatbelts. The tool also includes a spring loaded glass breaker. Just press it against the glass and it will strike the glass with enough force to break it.
This toll is small and cheap. It’s a good idea to keep one in your keychain or at least in your vehicle someplace handy to access in case of an emergency.

Another great tool is the Swiss Rescue tool. This is also a nice beefy Swiss Army knife but it includes a glass breaker and laminated glass cutter as well as a seatbelt cutter. I keep this tool in my car in the compartment between the two front seats.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Monday, March 12, 2018

So what’s a good folding knife?

So for my 19th birthday that is coming up real soon, I'm very likely to be getting a new pocket knife to replace my old worn out one, I would prefer it to be a folding knife. Knife length isn't a problem due to the laws of my state. So what do you recommend for a folder?
Hello Joe,
You’ve got a ton of options and it comes down to how much money you want to spend. These are all solid knives you can trust. A bit more money gets you nicer steel, materials and finish but any of these will last you a lifetime if you take care of them.
Under $50 range
Ontario Rat-1 $28.48
ON8848-BRK Rat-1
Kershaw-Emerson, CQC-10K $36.15

$50-$100 range
Cold Steel Voyager Vaquero Plain Edge Knife $61.26

Spyderco Endura4 $67.06

Benchmade - Griptilian 551 $102.00

+$100 range
Zero Tolerance Hinderer 0566 Carbon Fiber Folder $168.00

Lion Steel Knives SR2ARS $151.99

Oh, and Happy Birthday!
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Lidl Store looting in Dublin, Ireland

Image result for looting in dublin ireland
Hi Fernando,
I actively follow  your blog, read your first book, and I appreciate  your common sense, your opinion very much!
Keep up the good work!
I assume that NI and Belfast where you lived  is pretty much different than Ireland, though, you may visited there and had some first hand experience, so I would like to have your thoughts about the recent events.


Thanks Gábor.
They call that looting?  Amateurs… (just kidding)
I guess it goes to show that these things can happen anywhere, which is what I’ve been saying for years.
Ireland and Northern Ireland isn’t all that different actually. I mean you could easily drive across the border and not notice it until you saw the signs in Irish language, and the speed limit in km rather than miles. In fact violence, protests and civil unrest are far more common in Northern Ireland than in Ireland.
It seems they took advantage of the storm, got hold of a digger to smash the store’s wall and roof and got to do a bit of looting.  Shocking pictures show aftermath after 'snow looters raid Lidl' in Jobstown, Tallaght, Dublin

The difference between this incident and Argentina though is that this isn’t by any means common occurrence in Ireland and the perpetrators have been already identified and arrested.
That’s the thing about Argentina. Seems that no one goes to jail, ever. For looting, stealing? Heck no. Even for murder you get released with barely a slap on the wrist, if that.
Ireland is beautiful and safe in spite of this incident. The north is a bit more sad and it has the Troubles history which weighs heavily there. You don’t get that in the rest of Ireland, feels more cheerful. The weather though, that sucks no matter where you go.
It was a great experience though, very fond memories.

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Monday, March 5, 2018

South Africa votes to seize land from white farmers without compensation

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFP
                                  South African president Cyril Ramaphosa

You don’t see this all over the news but you should.  It is happening and it’s very dangerous that in this day and age something like this is not only widespread practice in an entire country, spearheaded by South Africa’s president, but also not strongly condemned by every other nation in the world.

‘The time for reconciliation is over’: South Africa votes to confiscate white-owned land without compensation

The motion was brought by Julius Malema, leader of the radical Marxist opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters, and passed overwhelmingly by 241 votes to 83 against. The only parties who did not support the motion were the Democratic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, Cope and the African Christian Democratic Party.
Malema said “The time for reconciliation is over. Now is the time for justice,”, “We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land.” http://www.news.com.au/

South Africa votes to seize land from white farmers without compensation

'We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land'
South Africa‘s parliament has passed a motion to seize land from white farmers without paying them compensation.
Passed by an overwhelming majority of 241 votes to 83 votes against, the proposal to amend Section 25 of the constitution would allow expropriation of land without any financial recompense.
It was put forward by the radical left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, whose leader Julius Malema told the country's parliament: “We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land.”

As for the news source, this is The Independent, if anything a rather liberal, left wing yet reputable news outlet.

We have been posting here about the various problems South Africa has been going through over the years. This seems like a breaking point of not only racial segregation but an openly apartheid State against non-black people.

It seems that every day we see world event some of us believed ended in the middle ages.
There are interesting times to say the least.

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”

Thursday, March 1, 2018

101 Uses: Borax to deal with ants and other pests

Fire ants 01.jpg

Borax is cheap and has a ton of uses (as a general cleaner,  unclog drains, weed killer among many others) which means it’s one of those survival products you want to stock up on and put in a sealed bag to keep it dry.

One of the many uses of Borax is as an insecticide.
Here’s a simple recipe you want to write down and keep handy. It works on roaches too among other pests.

So what you do is mix 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of Borax, and 1.5 cups of warm water. Mix it until you fully dissolve both Borax and sugar.
Once that’s done let it cool and either place it directly along the path of the ants, or better yet, soak some cotton balls and leave that along the path of the ants or close to their nest.
Ants will be attracted by the sugar, they will take it back to the nest and this will eventually kill the entire ant colony.

Careful not to add too much Borax because ants will not be fooled into eating it if you do.
Good luck!

Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”