Showing posts with label europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label europe. Show all posts

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Greece Votes No

Greece voted no in a referendum on the most recent bailout offer. It was pretty surreal because the offer expired a few days ago but that does not matter. It was a pretty solid 61 and change no 38 and change yes.

For background Greece is a giant mess. Greek debt is 178% of GDP. To make matters more complicated GDP is the whole economy and not government spending. Government spending is running about 50 some odd percent of GDP which seems like a lot (the US number last year was about 35% and Germany averages in the mid 40's). They are solidly in the IMF/ austerity death spiral. People are seriously unhappy after 5 years of a terrible economy. They recently elected a leftist government with the stated goal of easing up the austerity and getting the economy going.

What does this mean? Well it depends on who blinks first.

A likely outcome is a deal being cobbled together by some group of stake holders to kick the can down the road a few more months. The deal would not be the free and easy pay when you can that Greece wants but more likely something barely palatable to either side. I do not necessarily think that is the most likely scenario but it is certainly a distinct possibility.

On the other hand the current Greek government is extreme and or incompetent enough they might make a deal impossible. Also Europe and in particular Germany seems pretty tired of footing the bill for their lazy overspending cousins. To make matters worse the lazy overspending cousins are not even grateful.

Granted a counter argument could exist. Lets say you loan a lazy overspending cousin twice as much as he makes in a year a little at a time subsidizing his overspending and habitual layoffs, expecting to be paid back with interest. Over time you get him to promise, around the time he needs more money, to start a budget, quit drinking and gambling, put forth effort at work, show up to work on time, etc. You are really suprised that, despite his promises the basket case is still a basket case that you are at least as much to blame for the situation as the shiftless cousin. In any case however much we could argue the lender was foolish that actually does not help the argument that they should open up their wallet to pay the 3 month overdue electric bill and buy some groceries to eat till payday.

Not that it matters too much for Greeks (though for the other PIGS it matters now and arguably for the US it is something to keep your eye on) but I did a post on how I would have prepared for this and so did Alexander Wolfe of T Blog.

So what is going to happen? Peter of Formerly Bayou now Cumberland Renaissance Man did an excellent post on the ridiculousness of both sides and what may come next.

What would Ryan the Greek be doing now?

-Getting the little bit of money I had in the bank out at 60E a day.

-If we lived in Athens (or other major Greek cities, do they have other big cities?) we would be going to stay with relatives in more out of the way areas for awhile. 

-Getting as much of whatever medicines my family needed.

-Stashing as much food as we could, probably looking more to help family members and good friends with pantries on near empty. That being said we would try to close any gaps in our food storage.

-Talking with my neighbors. Setting conditions for potential security plans if needed and seeing how they were doing. Maybe try to help (Oh you are out of matches, I think we have two partial boxes. Bring a half box by the next day.) or at least help guide them to a potential solution (We are a bit worried so we are putting our 60E a day into shelf stable food like rice and pasta. We also filled up our car and the 5 gallon can we use for the lawnmower, you might want to do the same.)

So those are my thoughts on that. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

RE: Survival February by American Mercenary

Normally we would be a week into living off of stored food, testing our preps. This year got derailed by German shopping and the situation with Russia, so our preps are for the first time going to be focused on the real world task of evacuating my wife and children.

My thoughts. While the Ruskies were pretty quiet during my time in Europe I have been in this general situation and given the contingency some thought....

The break down of a 3 day 'traveling by bus' pack based tier and a heavier vehicle based setup combined with some food to shelter in place makes sense.

3 day packs-

Cash- I'd stick mostly with Euro's as they are widely recognized.  A wad of cash plus a credit card with a high limit are going to be the kings of this problem set. If you can afford it I would have enough cash on hand for a week living in a hotel, eating in restaurants and 3 expensive plane tickets back home with a bit left over for extra. That is probably about the price of an OK used car but given that banks pay jack in interest these days why not.

Passports- Obviously I'm sure this is covered but make sure they are nowhere near expiration dates and packed in the 3 day kit.

Contact book- Names, numbers and physical addresses of people you might want to get in contact with. A cell phone might get lost or stolen in a chaotic situation.

Vehicle Kit-

Store extra fuel and keep the tank in the car topped off.

Maps- Have physical hard copy maps. You/ she might end up on backroads and the GPS system might not be working.

Shelter in place-

- As to food don't you have a commissary? That should give some better options for more Americanized food.

-Worst case go home and google the ingredients in stuff at the German markets then come back to buy later.

As a final thought I would look at setting up a trigger for the Mrs and kiddo's to go home to the US preemptively.  Call it a short notice trip to visit a sick relative or whatever, the point being they pack some bags and go home for a bit. Maybe that trigger would be 'Russian forces moving 50k west from their current Ukraine positions' and or a widening of the conflict to another nearby nation? The point being to get the family home BEFORE they are fleeing west to get away from the oncoming columns of Russian tanks. Getting it wrong would cost you a few grand in airfare but given the risk the other way (especially if you are in the eastern part of Germany) it's better to be safe than sorry.

So those are my immediate thoughts on that matter. Am curious about what you think our friend should do to help prepare his family for this unlikely but dangerous possibility. Thoughts?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

From Around The Web

Euro at 9 year low vs the dollar.  I wish it would have been 1.19 to a dollar when I was in Germany.
Deflation in Europe
The Greeks elected a leftist government that is anti austerity which could lead to them breaking the current agreement. The problem is once a country enters the IMF death spiral there really isn't a way out. Some smart people have argued that is intentional.

From Weapons Man
Some predictions for 2015
The Big Lie about Wanat (AKA why M4's aren't jamming and getting soldiers killed)
Wars to Study, to Study UW

From American Mercenary
Fake cell towers, IMSI grabbers, and how to secure communications through an unsecure medium

From Max Velocity
Max Velocity Riflemen training plan
1978 Nuclear Holocaust: March or Die 40 miles with 40 pounds in 24 hours is a darn good goal yet, for a healthy adult who is willing to do an extensive and deliberate train up, a reasonable goal.

From Sheriff Jim Winson
If You Can Shoot AKA why the gun famed border patrolman, shooter and writer would bury for bad times is an S&W Model 19 with a box of shells.

Monday, September 1, 2014

75 Years Ago Germany Invaded Poland

On September 1, 1939, the German army under Adolf Hitler launched an invasion of Poland that triggered the start of World War II (though by 1939 Japan and China were already at war). The battle for Poland only lasted about a month before a Nazi victory. But the invasion plunged the world into a war that would continue for almost six years and claim the lives of tens of millions of people.

As of the last time I checked the news Russia had openly invaded the Eastern Ukraine, not the Crimea but generally just marching west from the border. I'm talking columns of tanks and such. Putin vaguely mentioned that he could take Kiev pretty soon in the news. Honestly Russia is looking to reassert influence in their 'near abroad' specifically the western buffer states that give them time when some Euro's get frisky again. One could argue the western powers caused this by pushing NATO and the EU further east.

Pretty much the entire middle east is in a complete state of chaos. The old strong man states are barely hanging on, Iraq is over all but in name and Turkey is quietly hanging on, for now. Those ISIS/ ISIL folks are doing their best to set up the new Caliphate. Seriously I cannot think of a time the Middle East was a bigger mess.

I am not trying to belabor the point but things are looking bad.  Honestly to me it feels like the beginning of the 20th century when old tired powers were trying to hold on while the world order was being questioned by new up and comers. We all know how well that war went for everyone and that after it's brief interlude it was continued in the form of WWII. Arguably WWII (and the British) caused every war from Korea to the Gulf War.

Like the Chinese saying "May you live in interesting times."

Friday, April 26, 2013

For our EU Readers. Voice Your Opinions on Further Gun Control

Anonymous said...Off-topic, but important: could you bring this to attention of your EU readers? European Commission wants even more gun control in Europe, this is an opportunity to tell them what we think of it:


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

EDC Contest Entry #17 Mike in Sweden

Hey Folks, I am pleased to bring another entry for our EDC Contest. First we will quickly recap what is going on. The broad strokes are this. I want to share and discuss the stuff we carry around every day AKA EDC. Taking pictures of our stuff and talking about it is my goal.

The prizes will be as follows:
1st Place: 3 Sport Berkey Water Bottles donated by LPC Survival ($69 value)
2nd Place: 1 Blackhawk Holster donated by ($50 value)
3rd Place:  1 Snare-Vival-Trap cough garote cough donated by Camping Survival ($17 value)

Wildcard: This one goes to whoever I want to give it to for whatever reason I feel like. It will be a grab bag donated by yours truly. The exact makeup is TBD depending on what I have lying around  and may include books, gear, medical stuff or even a couple silver dimes. ($30+  value)

Check out the details and my example post here. 

 Onto Entry #17 Mike in Sweden

Hey Ryan!

Here is my contribution to the EDC contest. Because of legal reasons (I live in Sweden) I´m not allowed to
carry any firearm nor any fixed blade or locking folder or a folder over 7.5cm in length;

Starting top left SERE-belt from Oscar Delta, Mobil LG 500 Wallet with contest,
LED lenser flashlight model P2, Rough Rider pocket knife with two blade longest 7.5cm.
Keychain with contest.

SERE-belt that i use everyday to hold up my pants plus storage of small kit; orange
para cord to be used as lanyard form green LED light, jute twin + jute twin in small
plastic bag to be used as cordage and tinder. small liquid filled compass for general direction.
Folding razor blade and saw. Small county comm crowbar on lanyard and a small Bic lighter
secured by rubber band.

Inside wallet ID, driver license, credit card, bus card, cash (try to have at least 200 SEK at all
time and a tool logic survival card (serrated fixed blade, compass, tweezers, toothpick, magnifier and fire steel.

On key chain keys (!) Gerber pocket tool (crowbar screwdriver (two flat and Philips) bottle opener and
razor blade), LED light (red), 2GB USB-stick (personal documents like copy of passport drivers license,
vaccinations etc), small lighter, small pill fob with 200SEK and a small knife.

Mike southwest Sweden.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Get Home Bag, Walking and Life Update

I am not sure if it has been mentioned explicitly yet but our time in Europe is almost done. We are very happy to be headed back to the US. Travel and some experiences here have been great but a lot of everyday stuff is a hassle. Also the level of regulations, rules and such here does not mesh with my nature at all. We saw a lot of places and missed some good ones. Particularly we are bummed about not getting to Ireland but that is how things worked out. There is more travel here than we could have done even if time and money were not concerns. In any case it is about time to move on to the next chapter in our lives. We will be spending about a month catching up with folks in the PNW. After that we are headed to the Southwest. More on that later.

We have been walking a lot lately. The weather is good now and it is a solid way to get out of the house and doing something. I do not recommend walking as a form of exercise unless you are A) elderly, B) recovering from a serious injury/ illness, C) crippled or D) seriously overweight and or out of shape and working towards running a la couch to 5k or a similar program. However that does not mean walking is not without benefits. Most of the benefits are not really physical. Getting outside and spending time with your family in the area you live in is a good thing. If somebody told me they walk as a form of exercise who did not fit the above categories I would try to coach them towards a better path, potentially with some mocking involved. If somebody told me they walk regularly to get outside and for active recovery from more strenuous workouts like running or rucking or for some additional low impact/ intensity cardio I would say that was a great plan.

My get home bag setup needs some work. The primary issue is that I really like my Tactical Tailor bag and use it regularly. I like that bag for the task but it can't be in two places at once. This makes having it in the car with a variety of stuff loaded into it problematic. I have a couple of ideas. First a couple side pouches to hold 1 quart water bottles will help free up space in the main compartment for normal life stuff. (Regardless of what I do the bag needs this MOD anyway.) Second sooner or later I need to swap out that bag or get a replacement for normal everyday carry use. Something I have considered is putting most of the stuff that is in my GHB into something else like a wet weather bag or trash bag and then putting it into my TT pack if needed. Mostly this stuff is a full set of clothes with boots, socks, gloves and a hat. I keep this stuff in there because regularly I go on short trips in less than fully ideal clothing and the option to change into suitable clothes for walking is a good thing. I mulled this a lot but despite being an easy and ideal solution it came up short because while I carry the TT bag around a lot while using it as a normal bag it doesn't ALWAYS MAKE IT INTO THE CAR. Inevitably the day I needed it is the day it would be in the hall closet. So the question is what to do. The short term answer is pretty much covered. I ordered a used medium ALICE pack awhile back for $10. It will be a very inexpensive solution and such will likely fit for awhile. Not as nice or comfortable but for $10 instead of $150 that is to be expected. Still a rugged bomb proof pack. Down the road a nice high end bag like the TT or something from Hill People Gear would be great in this role but I will not be able to justify the expense for awhile. Likely I  would use the TT for a GHB and something a bit smaller for typical every day type use. Since I don't see any traction on this for at least 6 months or more likely 12 there is some time to think about it.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Countries I Have Been In: Brigid is to Blame

visited 17 states (7.55%)

Brigid definitely has me beat though but I am doing OK in the grand scheme of things. Still a lot of traveling to do. We are probably going to take another trip while over here and will go to Mexico when we are down that way soon enough. However broadly speaking once we are back in the states travel will stop for awhile. One toddler is hard to travel with and adding a baby would be a bridge too far. For awhile we will go camping, to the beach and home to visit.

I will bet $50 that inside of 7 years I will go to Africa for work.  The aftermath of Arab spring has yet to sort itself out and there is a wicked mess brewing in Syria. Odds are there are some more paid travel opportunities to dirty places with terrible weather where people try to kill me coming in the future.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Life is What Happens When You Turn The News Off

I seem to go into a sort of cycle with the news. Right now I am about sick of it. I still check out the drudge daily and if things get boring cruise the BBC. Instead of listening to the news at work I have been using a comedy show as background. I keep up enough to have a clue what is going on but really am having a hard time pretending to care.

The issues of police abuses has been weighing pretty heavily on my mind lately. Over a short time (since my being able to pay attention to these things at a relatively adult level) the changes which have occured are widespread and universally negative. Right now I do not have any additional thoughts on this topic which I am willing to share in a public venue.

Gang/ Mob attacks seem to be on the rise. The perpetrators, victims and area demographics seem to be quite consistent. The only thing that concerns me more than this is the total ambivalence of law enforcement about these crimes. The widespread efforts of government and media to conceal these events does not weigh positively into the mix either. I am not personally concerned about this. I do not frequent the kind of areas where this sort of thing has been happening. Also my life patterns, like being home at 7 to put the kid to bed, drops the odds even further. In any case it is still troubling.

Greece getting out of the Euro may almost be a foregone conclusion at this point. The idea of Euro bonds is laughable. Like cosigning for a loan your deadbeat brother in law/ whatever to get a loan it would require Germany be on the hook for things in the end. Like cosigning in general it is just a terrible idea. Banks or private markets are far better judges of who is a worthwhile risk than friends and family. I get what is in it for everybody but Germany, who actually has their financial house in order.

Also to complicate things there is significant risk to the Euro itself. As Tam put it "So Greece's profligate habits are threatening to drag the Euro under. Germany, the only wino at the bar keeping a squinty eye on the tab, is urging some restraint on Greece's part, which makes the Jerries the no-fun bad guy of the story."

The biggest way this inconveniences me is that it means I am not going to Greece which sucks. It was definitely on our short list before the mess of the last few months. Now the risk of getting stuck somewhere with a toddler in tow makes it a no travel zone for us. I guess it is a significant global risk, blah blah blah but I don't care about that.

So what did I do today?

After getting off work I came home for some quiet family time. For no clear reason I decided to make home made pizza. I had never done this but with some help from Wifey utter disaster was averted. I learned to do something new and we had a pretty good dinner. It was a nice quiet evening and I got something out of it.

It is worth noting that Dave Duffy wrote an article that inspired this one but was much better.

Anyway I hope you all have a nice quiet evening.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Commonalities in Survivalist Finances and Lifestyles

The topic of budgeting for and otherwise managing to find money to prepare came up recently. In the past other folks and I have talked about some little things that we do to make it work but the desired understanding often does not seem to translate. Today I want to try it from another angle. I know some very prepared survivalists pretty well. Some are invisible friends and with others I have more personal connections. I have noticed some commonalities in their finances which are worth noting.
-They tend to have average incomes. There are a few outlyers who are pretty well off but not what I would call rich and a few who have modest, almost poverty level incomes. That pretty much blows the "you have to be rich to be prepared" idea out of the water.
-They have a significantly below average debt load. Typically they may owe on a home/ homestead (that is fairly modest for their situation) plus MAYBE a vehicle or something else small. Certainly not a second mortgage, 2 car loans, a line of credit and 4 credit cards.

- They live pretty modestly. Vehicles are more likely to be a decade old with dings and a bit of rust then brand new and shiny. They don't have 60" flat screens in general, let alone in every room. Clothes and stuff is generally used until it is no longer servicable, well beyond the peak of technology or fashion. Many items are purchased used or at significant discounts.
- They rarely have expensive hobbies except survivalism. You don't see golfers, experimental balloonists, collectors of rare art or whatever. Though I think there are a couple pilots floating around.
- They travel rarely. You don't see many Mediteranean cruises or trips to hang out on the beach in Thailand. I am an exception to this as we travel a decent amount. Travel is important to us and we are also currently in Europe. When we go back to the states our travel budget will plummet.

- They continue preparing for a long period of time. They may have a bad season when laid off or whatever but over the long run they continue making progress.

As with a lot of things if you are having issues it is usually worthwhile to look at folks who have done what you want to do. My goal here was to try to focus on positive characteristics of people who are at least fairly successful in preparednes. I did this intentionally instead of being negative or accusatory of those who are less successful. It may be better to focus on positives and maybe it is a message folks can be more receptive of.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Selco's One Year in Hell

So there is this guy Selco. He wrote a bunch of stuff in forums over the last few years (if I recall) and recently started a blog called SHTF School that is a big hit. He lived through the war in the former Yugoslavia in the 90's (or claims to, I have no reason to doubt him and it certainly comes across as legit) and as you can expect learned some hard lessons. In addition to the blog he has a course called "One Year in Hell." Today I will be talking about this course.

It is predominantly a series of audio recordings of a fellow named Jay asking open ended questions and Selco answering them and taking small tangents as they come up naturally. The first few talk about how things were before the war and the time leading up to it. Then he talks about how his group, a large extended family kind of thing, came together and the things developed. He talks about trading and moving around, what worked well and about mistakes people paid dearly for. The whole thing flows like a conversation you could have with someone to sort of 'pick their brain' on a topic. I think there are 30 some odd recordings and I am about half way through them. We will briefly hit the usual format.

Good: Been there and done that. This isn't some random, albeit well intentioned, guy saying what he thinks. This is a fellow who lived through a very rough time telling us what he learned and what his current preps look like. Very valuable stuff.

I also appreciate that it is audio instead of text. I will sit down, crack open a beer or grab a cup of coffee and listen to a segment while doing the usual online surfing or just relaxing. It is broken into sections based on loose topics that vary between a bit under 10 minutes and about a half hour which is nice. Easy to squeeze into a busy schedule.

The Bad: The audio quality is not particularly great. You can clearly hear everything and it reminds me of an AM station in the middle of nowhere in terms of quality. I would not say that it detracts from the message.

The Ugly: None yet.

Overall Impression as of now: I am really enjoying it. Definitely very interesting and I have taken some notes and added some things to my lists. The cost of this course is $29.95.The real question as always "is it worth the money?"

Yes I think so. I put a certain amount of money into preparedness research/ personal development. Typically that means a few books a year. For comparison that would typically buy you 1 or 2 preparedness type books. I have gotten more out of the first half of this course than several books (books that I was happy with). Certainly I would look at a fresh perspective by someone who has actually lived through some crazy stuff than another random guys take on basic preparedness.

I will do a more in depth post once I have finished the course.

Disclaimer: I received a subscription free of charge to review.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

It was a good week for preparedness here. We got some flips snap diapers and inserts at a great deal in preparation for having a second kid (at some point in the future). Also I picked up a pair of backpacks at a great price and a 3 piece ECWS sleep system. I tried to purchase one of these sleep systems awhile back but there was some issue with the order and it was never processed. Also we got a 5 piece 18 volt Ryobi power tool set gently used for $80. It has a drill, a circular saw, and a sawzall as well as a flashlight and a little vacuum. Also I stumbled through our house finding half empty packs of batteries organized the batteries. An inventory found a couple deficiencies which got filled.

Wifey mentioned that it would be good if I didn't buy anything for awhile. As we don't want our balance sheets to look like Southern Europe I agreed.

Along other fronts I kicked the running program into gear going three times and also hit the gym. Wifey started making bread again which kiddo and I have appreciated. Anyway that is what we have been up to.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

That’s the trouble with you Americans, you expect nothing bad to ever happen when the rest of the world expects everything bad to happen, and they are not disappointed.
Svetlana on the Soprano’s

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Live A Little

When you read this I will be off traveling. I will be enjoying time with family and checking out a cool new city in Europe. I plan to sleep a lot (at least 9 hours a night), see all kinds of cool stuff, eat some crazy great food and enjoy the local beverages.

Things are still sort of uncertain in terms of the American economy. For a long time it was stuff every dollar under the mattress time. I am not sure that is over entirely but even if things are still the same in a long enough situation you have to get out and live every once in awhile. I don't think this is a time to do anything crazy. I wouldn't be inclined to mess with a secure job/ income stream even if it doesn't give you that great emotional satisfaction. It is probably not time to do the huge home remodel you have been planning or go out and get a new shiny car. Unless your finances are really in order I wouldn't go for the epic 6 week European trip you have been planning forever. We are traveling but we are boring people and we save a certain amount of money every month in order to fund said travel.

If you want a nice TV or to go on a trip or something then by all means save up for it. However before you spend that cash I do encourage you to make sure your overall house is in order first. If that $500 or $1500 or whatever would be aweful useful for an emergency fund or some basic preps then maybe you should rethink the purchase.

Anyway I am off traveling Europe. Have a great day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

quote of the day

"Without a rifle you are nothing, worthless, you are waiting for death, any minute, any second." -- Aron Bielski
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