Thursday, December 29, 2011

South Of The Border Way Part 2

Below are links to PDFs of reports put together for Congress. The first details the activities and threats posed by the Mexican Cartels in 2007. One of the more interesting small details mentioned is the fact that aside from the Zetas being used for enforcers, there is also mention that former Kaibiles (Guatemalan Special Forces) are also being used.

Apparently the Cartels are equal opportunity employers.

The second report details the escalation of violence in 2008/9 as the Mexican government attempted to rein in the Cartels. Possibly a case of too little, too late.
It also goes to highlight the possible roots of the current Fast & Furious scandal.

As the old saying goes, never let a good disaster or emergency situation go to waste. Not when you can turn it to your own political and/or monetary advantage.

Assuming anybody reading the blog is interested (hard to tell since I lost my Hit Counter) please leave a comment, and I will try to put up more posts of this nature.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nuevo Laredo cartel Shootout July 2010

Just for anybody reading my blog who doesn't know who the Zetas are, I am posting the below link as an example of their handiwork.

Essentially, they are ex-mexican military and special forces personnel who decided that working for the Cartels was simply more lucrative than working for the government.

WARNING: The link below has graphic images of dead bodies and is not for the squeamish, nor is it safe for most workplaces.

South of the Border Way..

John Robb of the the GlobalGuerillas website (link at right) has a very particular slant on the decline of modern nation-states. One of his terms is 'Hollowing Out'. It involves a situation where the governments sphere of control within the country declines, and the areas of the country have their service s actually provided by trans-national corporations and transnational criminal enterprises.

Mexico is a prime example of 'Hollowing Out'. The link below to a Washington Post article shows how the Cartels are more and more able to create their own infrastructure backed by drug money, and enforced by former military personnel that have turned to crime, such as the Zetas.

All the while our own government, BOTH parties, dither about securing the southwestern border states.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Black Sabbath Time!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Lessons Learned From Irene

Yeah, yeah, I know, the hurricane was 4 months ago. I'm lazy, so sue me.
I'm not going to get into a bunch of heavy stuff here that has been done to death elsewhere. I'm going to cover several mundane items and details that people don't normally cover about preparedness.
The reason they don't being that what I'm going to cover is not the "cool" stuff. No guns, no anti-zombie machetes, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

For today, I'm going to cover 4 points. As I said, mundane, yet still necessary.
So let's get going.

Item 1: In early 2010, while perusing eBay, I came across a battery powered LED lantern from Coleman. It looks just like their old propane model only it's powered by 4 D cell batteries. It was pretty cheap, and shipping was included in the price. I ordered it, I checked it out and I must say I was impressed. Made in China unfortunately, but still, solidly made and easy to operate. You screw off the bottom plate to insert the batteries, and then screw it back on. There's only one switch, and it has a low setting and a high.
I don't really know jack shit about lumens, but this thing throws off a real good amount of light, that is well diffused and did a good job of lighting up my living room (14' x 28' +/-). The lower setting isn't as bright but will allow the batteries to last longer.
A couple of months after I bought the first one, a noreaster came through NYC and knocked down some trees in my area that in turn took down some some power lines. I was impressed enough with this sucker to turn around and order a second one soon after.
Just Google Coleman D cell Lantern. Pick one up, you won't be sorry.

Item 2: This is directly related top Item 1, but carries over to any other gear you may have.
When Irene hit I made the mistake of thinking I had enough D cells for the two lanterns. Suffice to say I didn't. At least not stored away in the house. I had enough for one lantern, and cursed myself for not making sure before Irene hit. Fortunately though, I remembered that I kept a D cell flashlight in one of my cars, and when I checked, I had enough in the flashlight, combined with a couple of extras in the trunk to get the lantern going.
A quick aside: I also have a batch of nifty little items that are essentially hollow cases with metal contact points on the ends that mimic the size of AA, C, and D cell batteries. What they allow you to do is put a AAA battery in the AA case, which then fits inside whatever device you have that takes AA batts. AAs can be put inside C size, and C or AA can be used to fill the D size model. While you don't get the full power that you would get from the actual, corrwect size batteries, they still allow you to operate your flashlights, radios, lanterns, etc.
Believe me, they are very cool, and very inexpensive.
But to get back to the primary point of Item 2, make sure that actually have what you think you have. Don't "assume" anything.

Moving on....

Item 3: Talk about mundane, this next item is something you should all have. Especially if you have a house with a basement.
I was in Kmart one day picking up some wiper blades for my cars. And there at the end of the automotive aisle was a stack of 5 gallon buckets, with handles on them, and a great big KMART logo on the front in big honking letters. At $1.25 each, I scooped up two and brought them home.

Yes, I paid for them you bunch of cynical bastids'. I can be cheap, but I'm not a thief.

When my wife saw them she asked "What the hell did you get those for?" I just smiled. Over the next few weeks I used them for washing the cars, yardwork, and other everyday jobs.
But the clincher came that first morning after Irene hit. I woke up, realized we had no power and was laying in bed when it suddenly hit me. No power, .....


I will not bore you with the tale of having a kidney stone attack while carrying buckets of water from the sump pit at the front of my basement to the slop sink at the back where I was dumping it out with assistance from my son. God Bless him and his healthy back!!

To sum it up, make sure you have a few of these laying around. Their uses are only limited by your imaginations.

Oh yeah, did I mention that they're cheap? ;-)

And finally....

Item 4: Finding ourselves without power, we also made another discovery. I cut Verizon loose well over a year ago, and Time Warner now provides my TV, Internet and phone service. And I'm quite happy about it.
Unlike Verizon, where your landline service continues to function even if the power goes out, with Time Warner, when the power goes, so does your phone service. So, OK, no big deal, you just use your cell phones. Unfortunately, no power, no recharging your cell phone batteries.

But fear not, just make sure that you have a charger that works off of your car cigarette lighter, and all will be well.

Anyhow, as I said up at the top, there was obviously no earth shattering revelations in this blog post. But every single thing I mentioned could make the difference between getting along until things get back to normal, or being miserable.

The choice is yours. Have a nice day!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Urban Survival or "That's Damned Good Eating"

I know I'm guilty of just doing a lot of cut and pasting instead of actually writing anything, but hey, at least I can archive some interesting stuff that other people might not find otherwise on the web.

Anyhow, the following article I've linked to is a bit freaky, and not for the squeamish.

I simply offer it as "Food" for thought! LOL!

Friday, October 14, 2011


I am now recruiting Members (not followers) for the Blog.

Sign Up.....or else!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Is Fuckin' Ridiculous

Look, I am most definitely NOT a Conspiracy Theorist, but this shit is insane. It's so screwed up even I believe it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I'm Not His Biggest Fan, But Pat Buchanan Sums It Up Nicely

Copy & paste the above link into your browser. For some reason I've been unable to insert the link so that you can just click on it. It happened about the same time I lost my Hit Counter. Apparently Blogger is starting to get like YUKU.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ever Wonder How The Federal Reserve Really Does Business?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Holy Shit Batman, I've lost my Hit Counter!!

Damn You Irene!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Irene - The Aftermath

Okey-Dokey! Well, the storm itself didn't do much as far as extraordinary damage goes by way of S.I. New York standards. Some bad flooding in the neighborhoods generally considered "the usual suspects" around these parts. Mayor Mickey Mouse, er ahh, I mean Mike Bloomberg orederd mandatory evacuations of over 300,000 residents in the 5 boroughs.

1400 hundred showed up at the evac. centers he set up. Now a lot of people went to stay with relatives in other parts of the city, and to be quite honest, it would appear that whole boatload wound up staying in local bars.

Hey, NYC may be a liberal bastion, but we're still a party town!

The next time Mayor Mike wants mandatory evacuations, he might consider allowing the cops to actually arrest people who resist. Ahem......

He also had the MTA shutdown the entire mass transit system. To a certain degree, not a bad idea. OTOH, it also smacks of overkill.

Considering how badly he got his ass reamed for being in Bermuda (or was it the Bahamas) when we got socked with over two feet of snow last winter, I guess his overzealous paranoia is understandable. Especially for the vain, petty, power hungry, uber-rich, arrogant horses ass that he essentially is.

Anyhow, My health has been shit for the last 6 months on an on-again/off-again (more on than off) so I've really neglected the Blog. Between back, leg, neck and for the past week, kidney stone problems (have you ever tried manning the bucket brigade to keep your basement from flooding while you feel like you've been beaten across the kidney with a baseball bat?).I'll try to rectify that (if anyone cares) over the next couple/few weeks. Lessons learned from Irene, and some gear reviews will probably make up the bulk of them.

Anyway, until then, good night to you Irene survivors, and to anybody else who actually follows this blog (and the hit counter says that there are more than a few of you).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Irene Comes a Callin'

It's shaping up to be a fun weekend in NYC....

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Ultimate Survival Tip

You can talk about guns, knives, GPS's, first aid kits, water purification, bug-out bags, EDC, et al, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

Your primary Survival tool is yourself, and probably the one thing that so many don't even think about is your own damned health.

Point: This morning I got up for work and felt a slight twinge in my back. Considering the damage I've done over the years, it was nothing particularly noticeable. I took my shower, got dressed and walked up to the bus stop. I got on the express bus and within 5 minutes the twinge in my back turned into a full blown pain like nothing I had ever experienced in my life.
With the traffic this morning I was stuck on that frigging bus for 1-1/4 hrs. By the time I got to work, I thought i was going to die. I tried taking it easy but it wasn't getting better, so for the first time in my life, I asked my supervisor to call 911.
A short while later the ambulance came, and luckily there is good hospital; just 3 blocks from where I work. By the time I got there, the pain had actually started to subside.
To make a long story short, a quick examination, combined with my description of what I was later told were textbook symptoms, and the results of a urine test showed that I have a kidney stone.
They discharged me after about an hour (and for the record, I managed to avoid having to put on one of those em-bare-assing hospital gowns) they discharged me after giving me painkiller and an anti-inflammatory.
Tomorrow I have to see my regular doctor, and I'm told that for the next 7-10 days I am going to be drinking a shitload of water and waiting to piss this thing out.

I'm thrilled i tell you, just thrilled.

The point of this rambling post you ask?

Simple, take care of your health, or IT will take care of YOU!

This has been a public service announcement.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some Suggestions For When The SHTF

Taken from a Post at the Forum.

I'm sure some people will be able to disagree with a a couple of things in here, but overall, I think this guy makes some pretty valuable points.

Stuff To Consider When Planning For SHTF Scenarios

From the somewhat guilt filled comforts of Greece, I have been thinking about what I learned from the recent Cairo SHTF experience. I am not putting myself forth as an expert of any sort and, frankly, many or even most items on the list below might be flat out wrong….who the hell knows. We were in Cairo from Jan 25th until late Feb 3rd when the neighborhood gunfire became full-auto and regularly occurring. At that point, we decided that Friday prayers (the next day) might not yield a pleasant experience. We had no way of knowing that we had already seen the worst.

Lesson #1….the best weapon for SHTF is truly whatever F*&$ING firearm you can lay your hands on and it does not matter the slightest bit what it is! I had a borrowed three shot semi-auto Beretta 26" bbl trap grade shotgun. I LOVED IT. It was my baby and I truly miss it now!. That said, I would have given my left nut for my Yugo underfolder or SGL-21. Frankly, I am now of the opinion that if, in the moment, you are being AT ALL picky about firearms then by definition the shit has NOT truly hit the fan. One guy on our street only had a nice little S&W J-frame .22 and he seemed a lot more relaxed than the guys with baseball bats I can tell you that!

Lesson #2…..Good will with one’s friends and neighbors has the power to greatly enhance or even make unnecessary ABSOLUTELY ANY prep you can make (including having money). Bad will with ones neighbors similarly has the ability to completely nullify any prep (again, including having money). I am and was the lucky beneficiary and supplier of the former. As an example, one night on the street a local young cop who lived in the neighborhood asked me "where did you get that shotgun". I winked and said, "I found it". He just smirked and said, "Oh…OK". End of conversation. That’s what is achieved by six years of being the "Cool American" who takes the time to chat with everyone from street vendors, doormen, and neighborhood kids to villa owners and businessmen.

Lesson #3….Bugging out is really only an option if you are lucky enough to be psychic and see the shit BEFORE it truly hits the fan. The bug out plans you have will almost certainly physically be blocked when SHTF. Good luck getting to Alexandria after SHTF in Tahrir square or to Aswan when the government shuts down the rail network! Frankly, we almost realized we had those options before they were blocked off but by they might have been more dangerous than bugging in with our friends and neighbors and banding together to protect the neighborhood. Further, I did not want to be a "refugee" so bugging in was perfectly fine since we prepped wisely. That said, and in spite of the above, when you see an escape route, RUN (see Lesson #4 and #11)!

Lesson #4….Do NOT be too proud to become a "refugee" if you can manage it comfortably. There is a world of difference between being a penniless "refugee" and taking a "strategic vacation" (new term I just invented!) on a commercial flight with a fat wad of cash (see Lesson #13).

Lesson #5…People are stupid. There MAY (repeat…MAY) still be time to prep the very day and even the second or third day the shit is "kinda" hitting the fan (SKHTF! another new term!). Grocery stores MAY still be open and things MAY be as normal for a short time. Now is the time to stock up on little things you may need more of or on comfort items. I saw this happen in Cairo even the first days of the worst rioting. Stores were open even a couple blocks from Tahrir strangely enough….for a while. Day three of the revolution, when Tahrir looked like a legitimate war-zone, the Souq two blocks from the square was selling us vegetables and canned goods and, amazingly, was not all that busy! We cleaned them out and distributed surplus to those in our building who could not or would not go out (See Lesson #2)

Lesson #6….Murphy’s law applies. Preps will fail or break or prove impractical when you least expect. For example, the sat phone I just replaced worked just fine for all of the last five years. I wanted to upgrade and bought the new model that arrived in Cairo a week before the riots when my wife returned from the US. The brand new com equipment that would have totally bailed us out when the govt cut cell and internet….you guessed it….had a bad battery shipped with it!! Moral of the story: Invest in MULTIPLE redundancies! I am now also buying a handheld HAM system.

Lesson #7….Marry well! Perhaps this should be Lesson #1. My wife was calm and collected for the 10 days we were in Cairo during SHTF. She was organizing things around the house and with neighbors and even making improvised weaponry (clubs) even better with the addition of protruding nails etc. She rocks! She also cooked for the "neighborhood watch" and is now absolutely LOVED by the people around us! She helped with Lesson #2 immensely because NO other wives in the neighborhood were bringing tea and food to the guys on the street.

Lesson #8….You don’t have to "bug out" to MOVE and make things a great deal easier for yourself! Just because the shit is hitting the fan where you are does NOT mean it is hitting the fan even 10 miles away. This is not bugging out…just moving. When we were driving to the airport on day ten or eleven, I was amazed that a short 10 minute drive away there were no tanks or APCs and people were calm. The whole vibe was so different that it kinda made me suspect that something was wrong. SHTF had become "normal" for me to the point that "normal" now looked scary and suspicious. We even passed a wedding that was taking place where everyone looked totally calm. We didn’t realize for 10 days that all we really had to do was find a new apartment or take a nice hotel room 20 miles away from our current location. Lesson learned! Don’t become married to your "role" in SHTF.

Lesson #9…When the players in a conflict become ill-defined, it’s time to step aside. If you know who the bad guys are, you can play this game but when it becomes a war of all against all, it becomes imperative to stay out of the game where EVERYONE loses. The Feb 2 riots that took place the night before we left were a perfect example of this. It was no longer just looters we were worried about, it was EVERYONE. Buildings were being occupied in Tahrir presumably by both sides of the conflict and I didn’t want to wait for this phenomenon to come 5 blocks south to us. If SHTF starts to look too much like civil war, it’s "game over" and time to make a change.

Lesson #10…Stockpiling is 100% rational. Even if you wind up bugging out or SHTF is short enough to not use everything you have stashed, your foresight will help others and will contribute greatly to your ability to adhere to Lesson #2. Just because you are able to bug out does not mean others will have the same luxury and these people WILL need your help.

Lesson #11…People WILL sell you out. Be prepared for it and know that it might come from anywhere…."Friends", Relatives, or employers. Someone will almost assuredly ditch you or put you in a tight spot while covering their own ass. The toughest part of this lesson is coming to terms with the fact that at some point, it’s totally justifiable and yes even forgivable. Understand that at some point your OWN family will be the priority and that you will be the one who is selling out people you know and likely care for. I know that this is not at all a comfortable thought, but it is realistic.

Lesson #12…Some people will surprise you. People from whom you might expect animosity, will sometimes provide you with the help you need and incur substantial risk or personal cost to do it. Just like you will at some point very likely be embodying Lesson #11, you will (or definitely F($**ING should) be embodying Lesson #12 as well.

Lesson #13….Diverisfy your financial position. Gold will not buy groceries (but see Lesson #14) and cash won’t buy an emergency flight over the internet. Similarly, your big neighborhood Christian grocer will get freaked out over the religious implications of SHTF and close. Guess what, he is the only guy in a 10 mile radius who takes credit cards…so have cash! Further, diversify your currencies in international terms by holding foreign currency for the place you intend to bug out too (and maybe even one or two others since you never know where you might be going). From now on I will hold Egyptian Pounds, Dollars, Euros, and Jordanian Dinar….at a minimum.

Lesson #14…Gold….OWN IT! It may not work with the grocer you barely know as a medium of exchange but it damn sure makes great collateral eg. "OK…you keep this gold sovereign and I will buy it back from you for the 200 Egyptian pounds I owe you as soon as the ATMs start working". It’s great bribe material too, though I didn’t have to resort to it, when you want to get your beloved dog on a "no-pets" flight.

Lesson #15….Silver….Keep some but only buy it in major quantity with your gold when things have calmed down and you know you wont be bugging out! Silver had taken a good dip about a week before SHTF and I was this close to buying a few kg bars the day or two before the protests started. I didn’t and am VERY glad. Silver is of course bulky and heavy and I would not have needed those extra kgs when we were finally on the move ten or eleven days later. Silver is a great medium of exchange when things have settled down after SHTF but it is not a great prep UNLESS you keep it confined to maybe a single kg of junk silver or small rounds.

Lesson #16….Be flexible and creative. SHTF will be unique to the surroundings and people and cause thus necessitating quick thinking that is outside the box and the formulation of solutions to problems that may work today but not tomorrow. Do NOT become married to a situation, your role in it, or the solution to a problem that may not work for you tomorrow.

Lesson #17….Be intimidating when you think it will work. Develop a war face! Be loud and fearless and look like someone capable of anything…it minimizes negotiation and whining in other parties. Simultaneously, know when to fly under the radar and when to say "Katy bar the door!" The nature of SHTF changes over time and necessitates that YOU change who you are to a very substantial degree.

Lesson #18….Stock your liquor cabinet. Do so partially for barter and good will purposes, but also understand that when a curfew is imposed during SHTF, the impromptu "revolution party" will become common. I was teargassed on day 3 or 4 and scooped up six random study abroad journalism students who were literally trapped by police in my neighborhood. The police had blocked off all entrances and exits so these red-eyed kids could literally not get home. We all went back to my apartment where, over the next 6 hours or so, my wife, these kids, and I did some serious damage to a bottle of red label. On top of that, the realistic reason for stocking up is that after a few days of staying up all night enjoying what SHTF has to offer, you will have trouble sleeping and a wee dram never hurts.

Lesson #19…When SHTF is over, be prepared for a LOT of odd behavior on the part of people you know. There will be lots of unnecessary crap about "who did what" during SHTF and arguments about how we can avoid SHTF in the future or how we can rebuild or "unify" in the wake of SHTF. Everyone will think their ideas are the best and the very real conflict between people you know will push you and those around you back toward a SHTF situation to some degree. The moral of this story is, if you are a foreigner, keep your damned mouth shut. Even if you are a local, the arguments are just not worth it.

Lesson #20…You learned who your friends are during SHTF…now treat them that way! For example, I no longer visit my big neighborhood grocer who closed and locked sh!t up tighter than a drum for the FULL DURATION of SHTF. I do, however, now regularly frequent the tiny-a$$ little grocery store with the mediocre selection around the corner. Why? Because it is owned and operated by a 50 year old guy who was open every single day of SHTF and I saw him regularly at 2:00am guarding the front of his store (and others) armed with nothing more than a hippo-hide whip (sjambok). He was doing this when the very reliable rumor was that looters had stolen police vehicles, uniforms, and guns. I don’t care that this guy doesn’t have the shampoo my wife likes, I am buying my groceries from him! Lessons From Cairo – Forums

Monday, April 18, 2011

Getting More For Your Money At The Pumps

Ah yes, Spring is upon us, Summer is right around the corner, and the Oil Companies are at it again. Hopefully, the following may help a little:


Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold.Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening....your gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role.

A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.

When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. You should be pumping on low mode, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some of the liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.

One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL. The reason for this is the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation. Unlike service stations, here where I work, every truck that we load is temperature compensated so that every gallon is actually the exact amount.

Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up; most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.