Showing posts with label living in Germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label living in Germany. Show all posts

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?

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.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recharging The Batteries

There is only so much doom and gloom a guy can take. Sometimes you've just got to relax. Today we went to this festival thing. Every little town in Germany has at least one to celebrate something or another, if just Pilsner beer and standing around in a closed off street. It was pretty fun. Had some pretzels and checked out all the stuff that was for sale. Wifey got a wicker basket which she has been wanting. We sat around for awhile just enjoying the nice day.

Tonight we went out to dinner which was cool too. Had a nice walk to a quiet place with really good food and very reasonable prices. Haven't been there for awhile though for no particular reason. Maybe we are creatures of habit but we always order the same thing. It was a really nice day.

Also Wifey said something new this evening. She said "enough crazy for today". I took her hint and changed topics.  I am sure that Wifey, while a great sport about this can use one. Even I can use a change of topic now and then.Suppose we all have times where we've just got to think about something else. I think we all need to think about other stuff and just live for awhile now and then. Recharging the batteries and all that stuff. Tomorrow I've got some stuff to do but just relaxing today was really nice.

Remember folks, this is a marathon not a sprint. Take some time to relax and enjoy life. It will help your efforts in the long run.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Random Thoughts On Living in Europe

Things I miss:
being able to listen to decent talk/ news radio or decent radio stations in general (my car doesn't have a cd player)

decent television
Generally being able to get anything at good prices
decent cell phone deals
lots of food: real McDonald's, Arby's, Teriyaki, Chinese, Taco Truck beef burritos, maple bars, Krystal, the list goes on.
being able to do most anything on the weekend or in the evening

Things I am enjoying:
all the beautiful scenery and history
great beer
Turkish food
almost nonexistent violent crime

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Rural Living for SHTF Security

Yesterday I ended up driving some distance through rural Germany. To quote a co worker everything is so beautiful I just want to take pictures of it all. Anyway more importantly I want to talk about how they live. Rural Germans live in little villages.

Village is a term I will use in the future because it is to me more descriptive than the ubiquitous phrase "town". There is a church, a couple little bars, a Gasthaus or two, a small market, maybe a couple random shops and then a few dozen houses. Between a village and the next it might be as little as 5k or more like 10+ in any given direction. In the middle are fields of all types and woodlots.

People pretty much everywhere have traditionally clustered together for collective security. In wild and crazy days that are generally past an isolated family farm was easy pickings for some brigands or bandits. However 5-30 families clustered together could put up a defense and make the juice not worth the squeeze. In Germany the local villages control who can and can't build outside of the village area. Not saying it is right or wrong but well, German. Seeing a farmer driving a tractor with a trailer from his house in town to his fields a couple kilometers away is common place. Basically they live in town and go out to work their fields.

Rural Americans have for a variety of reasons (lower population densities, high gun ownership, sense of community, etc) gotten a pass from the violence that strikes elsewhere. Rural farmers in  Rhodesia/ Zimbabwe and South Africa have had a horrible time. Most of them lived in large family compounds, were quite well armed and often had combat veterans in the family. These folks were driven from the land their ancestors farmed because they were killed or legitimately feared being killed. A steady nerve and an FN-FAL did nothing to protect them. There was a rather unique situation in both South Africa and Zimbabwe where what essentially amounted to gangs of armed thugs got a get out of jail free card for anything they did to rich white people who somewhat justifiably (though short sight idly since they fed everybody) fell out of political favor. This is a stark reminder that how much law enforcement helps or hinders you is at least loosely related to the political favor of whatever group (s) you are identified with. It isn't nice to say and I hope it never gets that bad in America but it is something to consider.

One could say this situation is somewhat like that in the American Southwest near the Mexican border. I really wouldn't want to be a rancher within 2 gas tanks drive of the Mexican border. In Argentina living rurally is a bad idea, a very bad idea. Will America every get like this? I certainly hope not. If our economy gets much worse and folks who believe violent criminals are innocent disadvantaged youths get/ stay in power things could get worse.

The idea of a reinforced family compound out in the hinder boonies is nice. However realistically in any place isolated enough to be a good family compound candidate jobs are a real issue. If Pa can figure out how to earn a living that is great. However the odds that sons John and Tim and sister Jills husband can find jobs at livable wages which they can commute to are not good. The idea that everybody will just show up if S hits TF is great for a couple of very limited and unlikely scenarios. The odds that 6 armed like minded individuals will be hanging around your house on a random Wednesday when 6 meth heads decide to pull a home invasion on the couple with the nice house and all the guns/ stuff who live alone way outside of town are slim. You are going to be alone watching TV with the Mrs and there will be 6 guys coming to your house.

We have talked about living rurally vs in a small town before 1, 2. There are potential advantages to both. However just maybe a modest house in a small town on a big lot and a field with a shed/ barn a little bit out of town is an option to consider. I just think it is worthwhile to consider history and how peoples who actually lived through centuries of very rough times live. Furthermore it is naive to think that all villages/ small towns will turn into tyrannical little fiefdoms but rural people will be entirely unaffected by said fiefdoms AND not see a major increase in crime of things go truly crazy. The real answer is that rural people could well have most of the same problems as those in town AND face a real security problem.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

quote of the day

"We're never gonna survive, unless... We get a little crazy"

One of the 'joys' of living overseas is a lack of decent radio stations to listen to. German music seems to be split between dance/ techno and bad random old American pop music so there isn't much to be had there. I listen to the AFN station because I am too cheap to have a CD player in the car. The music is pretty random, otherwise I would not listen to Seal. However this quote is pretty good none the less.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Put The Gun Away Even Though Nobody Is Coming To Help You?

Glad I don't live in England. Germany doesn't have the greatest gun laws but it seems pretty darn safe. Of course if you flash a big wad of cash in a bar and then leave drunk through a dark alley there is a risk of being robbed. However if you apply a bit of universal common sense it seems like one of the safest places I have lived.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winter Weather

Lots of folks have been writing about the cold weather. It is freezing in the South and Europe, in particular Central Europe have been a mess for awhile now. Rio calls it the Al Gore winter which I find amusing. Suppose this is my obligatory cold weather post.

Folks have already talked about putting extra clothes, food, water and sleeping gear in the car. Other folks have talked about winter driving. I see no need to rehash that stuff. I do however have a few other observations.

Cold weather is hard on skin and lips in particular. Keeping a decent stash of whatever your preferred lip chap stuff is prudent. Yeah chapped lips won't kill you but if a tiny bit of planning and a few bucks will let you be comfortable it is foolish not to go that route.

My other thought is that in the winter you need to be more flexible about travel, running errands and the like. More than once we have had a plan to go here or there and adjusted it based on looking outside at the roads or the weather report. Even when we are talking about relatively short 30-45 minute trips it is just smart to use common sense. For example, earlier this week we had planned to go do a bit of window shopping and have dinner at a restaurant we have been wanting to check out. The weather turned nasty yesterday (and my wife is a bit sick) so we are pushing that plan to the right. We will either cook something here, order in or go someplace down town. This might seem overly cautious but I would rather err on that side than get in an avoidable wreck or get stuck somewhere.

On that note I think it is prudent to be willing to change your plans if the conditions merit, even if you are out. This might mean sleeping on the couch or floor at somebodies house or even staying in a hotel/ motel for the night. Having a sleeping bag per person in your vehicle is good but if a clean, safe room at the Holiday Inn is available to me it is an easy decision. For a hundred bucks or so to get a room for the night and some dinner you could avoid a serious wreck or even worse. My deductible is $500 so doing that 4 times to potentially avoid a wreck makes economic sense even if you do not factor in the huge hassle of an accident or getting stuck.

I recall once when winter weather socked a whole bunch of travelers in the sleepy NW town I was living in. Some of those folks got stuck for 3-4 days. This is where that savings account portion of the emergency fund comes into play. Last Christmas we got stuck in Philadelphia for a few days. Traveling long distances on a shoestring budget is never particularly advisable but in winter it is a downright bad idea. It is fine to plan to travel cheaply but having the resources to sustain yourself if something happens is the smart thing to do.  

In short be prepared to be inconvenienced in terms of time, travel plans and a bit of money.

Aside from that I find the winter weather best experienced by looking out the window from my warm living room with a glass of something warm to drink.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Just Saying

The Hefeweizen in America sucks. I tried all the readily available ones and they pretty much sucked. Basically wrote off that category of beers. Tried the hefeweizen here just because and it is amazing. First of all they call it Weissbier and second of all it tastes like the most amazing thing ever. Seriously it is like heaven and will get you drunk. If you are here and you buy a beer that ends in weizen you are almost sure to be a happy camper. I am going to have to learn to brew the stuff because as far as I know a decent equivalent isn't available CONUS.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Living in Germany 3: It's Becoming Normal

No real reason this is coming out today but it is as good a day as any. As always it will be the good the bad and the ugly.

The Good: I got my USAEUR drivers license today. Hopefully if all goes well I/ we should have high speed mobility and some cargo carrying capacity by the middle of this week. Also we are looking at going to Praugue next month which will be cool. Our basic plan is to use COLA to fund travelling which should fund a nice long weekend every other month or so depending on how much we can bring costs down.

The Bad: The use of debit/ credit cards seems to have not caught on widely in Europe. Also a lot of businesses are small family operations where the cost to benefit of getting a reader is prohibitive and not lots of people seem to use them anyway. Not a big deal but it is sort of an irritation.

The need to keep two different types of paper currency has forced me to get a more traditional wallet than the minimalist front pocket one I liked more better. Since that transition is over there is just the mild irritation of needing to go to the ATM to get Euro's.

The Ugly: First of all the Euro to Dollar exchange rate is lame. Hearing old timers talk fondly of the Deuchmark makes me wish I came here long ago. Then again some Communist assholes put up a big wall and generally made it so a lot of Europe would not be open for me to travel in at that point in time so I guess it is all trade offs. Yeah we get COLA but in the big financial picture we would do a lot better with the rate changing (though I don't see it getting "better" for at least a few years). The good news is that we have positioned ourselves so the only think the Dollar really tanking in relation to the Euro would do is hurt our ability to travel.

Also anyone who says that Europeans are all thin and well dressed is a liar. Maybe at statistical levels looking at tens of thousands of people Americans are fatter than Europeans but walking around a store or a downtown area there are plenty of German fatties. Far more absolutely lots of them dress in a horrible fashion.

I have seen far more mullets here than I did in the deep South. I have seen way more Canadian Tuxedos here than in Canada. Also somehow the fanny pack is still in style here. If this is where fashion is going I need a cabin way out in the woods. Come to think of it I need a cabin way out in the woods anyway.

And the last ugly thing is the one that baffles me the most. A normal god fearing decent American door lock needs to be rotated either 90 or 180 degrees to go from locked to unlocked. German door locks need to rotate 1080 darn degrees to lock or unlock. So every time I go to open the door to get out of the house I must rotate the thing three full times. Every time I lock said door to leave I must rotate the key three full times. Every time I go to unlock the door I must rotate the key three full times. Guess this isn't a huge thing but it is really pretty irritating.

So that is the update on our time in Germany. By the next time I write we should have done some more traveling. Having a car will really open up our local region a lot and give us access to better shopping and services which will be nice. Also simply not needing to worry about how heavy the groceries are will be great.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


I went there. It is late and I am tired. That is all for now.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Living in Germany 2: Getting Settled

We have been here for a little while and are starting to get settled. I have some more thoughts and stuff. Using the same format as always.

The good: Everything is very clean and pretty. The national dish is meat which is pounded/ breaded and almost universally served with a nice house salad and french fries, what not to love. Met more people and they seem to be quite nice almost without exception. Also I have learned a bit of German and now have a decent idea how to navigate the public transport which is essential to travel. Got to see a really old church and a castle which was sweet, picked up a gift for Wifey on the trip which she liked.

Also we started getting our stuff and are at least sort of getting settled here and it is feeling more like home.

The bad: It looks like traveling plans are going to start a bit later than I ideally would like. We need to get a better idea of exactly what I will make here and have that settled so we can know what the traveling budget will be and make decisions from there. It doesn't look like we will get to Oktoberfest this year. That makes me a bit bummed but it is the smart move.

A dozen trips up and down the several flights of stairs to the ground floor kicked my ass while putting stuff in storage and throwing boxes n such away.

The ugly: Our stuff didn't fair so well in the move. The TV has a crack and the screen has a couple of decent scratches. A couple pieces of furniture are just fucked, they weren't expensive but it is still our stuff. I think they destroyed a nice coffee table I built by ripping off the legs. We will go through the claims process and probably get some money for this stuff but it is just crappy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crazy Day

Today I ate lunch in a restaurant that has been in operation since before Columbus sailed the ocean blue to fail to discover China (or even America) but managed to rape and pillage some Indians. To put it into perspective the oldest homestead near my childhood home was built in the 1850's. It was amazing, wondrous and really humbling to think of all the stuff that has happened since some nice folks built a pretty building and started selling food there.

I had planned on writing some other stuff but today sort of got away from me. I got home from work late and we got our household goods this afternoon. I am sitting on MY couch watching the BBC News on MY TV which is pretty nice. I have sort of missed being able to watch the news and particularly enjoy that part of my daily routine. This place is big and we definitely need more furniture. At least a chair and maybe a love seat or another couch.

Good stuff happened though it is all sort of a big jumble right now.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Walking To Everything

Over the past week or so we have not had a car and have been completely on foot. While nowhere near as spread out as most every US city or area built post WWII some of the things we needed are fairly distant from home. I have some observations.

First of all it goes without saying that in a non fossil fuel based society working more than a few miles from home would not be possible, at least not if you want to commute home every day. Maybe the max realistic distance would be 5 miles or maybe more like 10 with flat terrain and a good bike but it is certainly not the 20+ miles many people drive one way to get to work. Men spending the week up at logging camps (or farms or whatever) 20 miles from town where their families live might not be just a thing of the past.

Second of all it takes a lot more time to get to work. I have been leaving 30-35 minutes early and where I am going is probably 2/3rds of a mile away. I don't walk slow but it just takes time. Obviously going home on a half hour long lunch would not be realistic unless it was just around the corner.

Just the time of getting around really adds up, especially if you have to go to multiple places. We were running errands today and what would have taken an hour in a car took all afternoon. We didn't have anything better to do so it wasn't an issue but it is worth keeping in mind that you will be able to accomplish less because you will be hoofing it.

Obviously dressing comfortably and wearing sensible shoes goes without saying.

A good backpack helps a lot, at least for smaller stuff. Easy to just throw a couple little things into there to carry.

Shopping is greatly limited because you can purchase what you can carry (though some places used to or still do deliver). At least to me this isn't a huge issue provided you have a good pantry with plenty of staple foods. Getting a gallon of milk, some eggs, veggies and meat is easy enough. People who need to carry their food tend to go shopping in smaller amounts but a lot less often. Filling up the SUV with $400 in food from Walmart is not an option.

If you walk a lot the need for other exercise is greatly decreased.

Though we have other transportation options the time walking has been nice.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Living in Germany 1: Initial Impressions

This doesn't have a whole lot to do with any of the blogs core topics but since it is also an extension of my life and life experiences it is going to come up here. At the end of the day I write about what I want to. I move a lot for work and this has trickled into the blog starting with the rv living series and then going to my chronicles on living in The South. I will stick with the tried and true good, bad and ugly format TOM suggested so long ago. Well maybe not so long but I have moved 4 times since then so it seems like forever. This post is just going to be initial impressions as I've been here for a few days.

The Good: Lots of trees, very clean, the people are nice, the food is great, the beer is great, the houses and stores are cool looking. It is set up so walking is practical. It is all new but I am really enjoying it a lot so far.

The Bad: We are at least temporarily out of the loop on most everything as we do not speak German. It is a lot better now that we've got an internet connection. On the tv at our hotel there is only one channel in English and it is CNN. Sort of a random international CNN I think. They use the Euro here and at about 1.4 dollars to 1 euro things are more expensive than in the good old USA. I make a good living so it will not be a big issue but we will probably notice it. (much more on this later) The 19% VAT tax is sort of lame also. The time difference will also be a barrier for communicating with folks back home.

The Ugly: Nothing really.
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