Sunday, February 07, 2016

Prepping isn't just about emergencies and disasters

Have you ever considered that?  As someone who has seen more sunrises than I have left to see, one thing that I have considered more and more of late is the concept of how I have to change my prepping as I age.  Things that were once easy are now more difficult if not outright impossible.  A good example is my Get Home bag.  Where once it weighed 40 pounds and had plenty of options and backups, I've now slimmed it down to 30 pounds and given up options and some backups, and I'm looking for ways to slim it down even further.  Why?  A pinched sciatic nerve really affects your load carrying capacity.  My choice is either to carry what I can carry comfortably for the entire trip, or carry what I can carry for a day or two and then face then next 2-4 days in pain, unable to move quickly, carrying what I can carry in my pockets.  Not a difficult choice, really.

However, I have carried that prepping mindset further into the aging thing and have had for years.  If you knew my real name, you could go back to the old misc.survivalism Usenet group (now that's dating myself) and find threads where the topic of discussion was "How long before our obviously rotting civilization comes crashing down?"  We all had our opinions and our reasoning, with mine being the mid-20teens for demographic reasons.  Time remains to see if I was correct.

Because of that belief, one thing I have never counted on for my old age was good old FDR's Socialist Insecurity System.  While my parents collect Social Security checks until they day they died, I don't know if I will ever see a dime of the money that has been lifted from my paychecks from the time I was 14 1/2 years old and got my first job where they had to withhold taxes.  If I should get checks from it at the current benefit rate, it will be a really nice addition to the pot, but I refuse to count on it.

I do have a government pension which I am currently drawing (and for those of you who would call me names for having worked for the government and drawing that pension, trust me, no one who works in the bowels of government gets those fat paychecks, fancy offices or great taxpayer-financed trips we all love to hate--we earn our keep just like everyone else with a job, even if we are often directed to do stupid shit that we know is stupid) that amounts to roughly 1/3 of my old paycheck.  I am drawing it because I hit a magic combination of years of "service" and age, and through fortunate circumstances was finally able to bail out and head back into the private sector.  How long will that government pension hold up?  That depends on the legislature--they giveth and trust me, they can damn well taketh away.  They've done it before with the pension system.

The new employer does not have a pension plan, but does have a non-matching 401(k).  Given the progressives' continual noises about "helping us" with our 401(k) plans, not only have I not taken advantage of this, but I have emptied my old ones into various accounts where they will have a more difficult time getting their grasping hands on my money.

I have, for many years, also never failed to "pay myself", just as I have paid my bills.  Every month, some amount has went into some sort of savings or investment vehicle, even if it was just a stash of cash.  This is a hard and fast rule that I haven't broken in nearly 30 years.

All of this can be boiled down to the old saying:  "Failing to plan is planning to fail."  While I do not pretend to be a financial wizard, so far I've done OK.  If things hold together for a few more years, I should be in a decent place where I can consider retiring with a reasonable assurance that I will not have to eat dog food at some future point.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who just don't plan ahead for retirement and aging.  Many of them are serial poor financial decision makers, and eventually age, failing health and a lack of funds puts them in a bad situation.  I'm human enough to feel some sympathy for them, but realistic enough to know that they got themselves into their predicament through their own lack of foresight.  One of those people is 79 year old Dolores Westfall.  Dolores seems to be a very nice little old lady who is doing all she can to get by on the meager resources she has available to her.  But as you read that article, you will see a pattern emerge.  Dolores is one of those serial poor decision makers, and now she is paying the price for it.  Unfortunately for Dolores, she still hasn't learned her lesson.  Faced with a choice of spending $100 on needed dental work or on an architectural tour, Dolores goes with the tour, because it's "food for her soul".  Sweetheart, I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have to gum the food for my body--my soul will just have to hang for a while.

I will give Delores credit, as she is not whining that it is someone else's fault, nor is she crying to be bailed out.  She is working, moving from job to job, and trying to keep things together on her own.  With no family to help her, she is pretty well alone in her struggle.  That's a bad place to be.  Sounds like the warnings we in the prepping community hear about "lone wolf survivalists", doesn't it?

Some kind soul reading her story is probably going to set up a GoFundMe account to help out Dolores, and that's grand.  I might even chip in a few bucks if I hear about it.  But there are too many Doloreses out there.  As with emergency preparedness, it's your personal responsibility to prepare yourself for your old age and retirement, whatever form you want it to take.  Start early and it isn't too hard.  Start late, and you may well find yourself in Dolores' shoes.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

But hey, I'm big in Russia

Perusing the stats, I come across this:

Seriously?  Russian visitors, if you would be so kind--what in the world has directed your attention to my humble blog of late?

Question of the day: Are "gun free zones" popular with wannabe mass murderers?

(Via the FoxNews)

Well, it's such a difficult question to answer...wait, I know!  Let's ask a wannabe mass murderer!
The man had wanted to shoot up the church because it would’ve been an easy target, the complaint said. 
“It’s easy and a lot of people go there. Plus people are not allowed to carry guns in church. Plus, it would make the news. I regret not doing it. If I can’t do jihad in the Middle East, I would do my jihad over here.”
Not that the gun grabbers are actually going to believe the guy.  But it confirms what we have of the Gun Culture have known at a gut level and what the evidence shows--mass murderers, spree killers, jihadis all want to attack easy targets.  You notice they never attack police stations, gun shops or ranges?  Do you think there might be a reason for that?

Yeah, I do to. If the other side would unclench their eyes, take their fingers out of their ears and stop singing Kumbaya for a few minutes and actually pay some attention to the real world rather than Fantasy Land, they might pick up on the trend.

But that's probably way too much to ask.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Why do politicians make such poor decisions?

In answering that question, Glenn Reynolds hits it out of the park.  Then he tracks it down and beats it to death with a clue bat.

Politicians are corrupt.  Not that this should be a big surprise to anyone, but his case for this open secret is brilliant.

Now that that's settled once and for all, can we get back to discussing 9mm vs. .45 ACP?

Monday, February 01, 2016

You don't really need to sleep tonight, do you?

Money.  If you really think about it, money is the ultimate tool.  If you have money, you can obtain pretty much anything else you need.  You can buy land, a vehicle, food, a necessary service--all it takes is money.  Money may not be able to buy you happiness, but it can buy just about anything else.

Banks.  John Dillinger once said he robbed banks because "That's where the money is."  While not a completely correct statement, for certain segments of society, it is mostly correct.  I would hazard to guess that, despite the urgings of many in the preparedness culture, most of you who read this blog have more money in bank accounts than you do in cash or precious metals.  I do, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.  I prep as insurance.  My long term bet is that our society will somehow figure out some way to muddle through our current difficulties, so most of my money is in the safest place I currently know of--a credit union, which is sort of a bank.

Long term difficulties.  While I believe we will indeed figure out things over the long term, humans usually think and operate over the short term.  Most people have a difficult time thinking in the long term, traditionally defined in business as "5 years or more out".  One year, perhaps two is about all most people consider when making decisions.

That is why The Lurking Crisis of Bank Deposits by George Friedman is something that you really need to read, re-read and re-re-read if necessary until you fully comprehend it.  Because it is about money, banks and long term difficulties.  Do you remember the banking crisis in Cyprus?  Come on, it wasn't 3 years ago--surely you haven't forgotten?  Where all those wicked Russian crime bosses had most of their bank accounts nabbed in a "bail in"?  Along with the bank accounts of an unknown but large number of businesses and retirees, none of whom have recovered.  Neither has Cyprus for that matter, and in my opinion they don't deserve to do so.

Now it appears Italy is the next on the block for bank account holders to get a "Cyprus Haircut".  It's all the latest thing--if your bank is failing, why, take the depositors' money to keep it afloat.  Of course, now that the depositors are wise to the game, they are going to be withdrawing their money sooner, creating the bank runs the government is trying to keep from happening in the first place.

Here in the US, the FDIC covers $250,000 in individual deposits.  You can do some structuring to leverage that into a larger amount.  And that's all fine and good until the FDIC goes broke because too many banks have went belly up at the same time.  Or the government decides that "too big to fail" is a fail on its own.

The times, they are a-changin'.  Bob Dylan sang that line back in the 60s.  It's as true now as it was then.  While the hippies thought the change was for the better then, it doesn't appear to be so much so now.  Now, it's time to think about how we, as non-big fat cat investors, as just little guys and gals, can preserve our capital in an increasingly hostile environment.  Fortunately for us, we don't have to hurry just yet.  At least I think not.  I believe there will be warning signs long before bail ins become widely considered here.  However, I would start planning and definately make some first steps toward diversifying the places where my cash was stored.  Sure, you may lose some interest or incurr some costs.  But it's better than losing almost all of it to a bad haircut.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

One of these days

Mrs. Freeholder will learn that I should not be allowed to go to a gun show unsupervised.

Yeah.  I got a little out of hand. In my defence, I got good buys on nearly everything in the picture.  Really.  I only paid full freight for two items, the Magpul MOE grip and the MTR Custom Leather holster.  And the powder and the ammo.  Almost forgot those.  But the .22 was the least expensive I've seen it in years at $13/100.  Seriously!

Of course I wouldn't have needed the holster if I hadn't finally drank the Glock Kool-Aid and picked up this not so little number.

The pistol that finally sucked me in was a Glock 21 (.45 ACP), a Pennsylvania State Police trade-in gun.  Factory re-worked by Glock, it came with 3 magazines and all the usual goodies in the box plus a set of tritium night sights, all for $75-$100 less than a brand new 21.  For that, I can take some holster wear on the finish.  If it shoots as good as the Glock 19 that I shot a while back, it's going to be a good gun.

My favorite bookseller was back.  Tommy's Books has been a fixture at the Greensboro show for as long as I"ve been going, until he missed the last few.  I didn't expect to see him.  I knew he was getting on in years, and I figured that something untoward had happened, or at best he had sold out his business.  Well, he was back.  It turns out that this was going to be his last visit, as he had indeed had some substantial health issues.  Tommy was making his farewell tour, saying goodbye to his regular customers and selling out his inventory.  As you can see, I helped him out a bit.  The Ultimate Thompson Book is one that I have wanted for a long while for reasons, and I plunked down the coin.  Ditto the Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms, because who knows when you may need to look up an odd Python variant?  Massad Ayoob's Combat Handgunnery, the Gun Digest Book of Suppressors (for more reasons) and Glock Deconstructed rounded out the haul.

 I picked up 500 rounds of CCI Mini-Mag mostly because I've shot and shot out of my horde for the last few years without replacing any of it.  I thought I should make some sort of down payment toward rebuilding the stock.  I also picked up a 4# jug of Power Pistol powder for reloading and rounded out the spluge with the Magpul MOE grip from the guys at Quantico Tactical.  They manage to sell me something every time.

On a people watching note, the usual Gun Culture 2.0 broadening of the audience was again noted.  I'm really loving this trend.  The more people we recruit to the shooting way of life, the harder it will be for the Hillarys and Bernies and Jebs of the world to try and take away our rights.  I didn't see the near-frenzied buying I saw at Winston Salem a couple of weeks ago, but this is a much bigger show, so I may simply have not noticed it.  Ammo prices continued to be pretty reasonable, and as I noted even .22 LR is starting to be nearly reasonable.  I noticed that AR prices were much more reasonable, with decent guns from lesser known brands available in the $600 range.  Stripped lowers could be had for as low as $65 for those same lesser known brands.  Parts and parts kits were similarly available.  Plenty of Magpul furniture and magazines were available.

This show also had a large number of collector grade guns available.  While most of them were well beyond my budget, they weren't beyond my appreciation, and it was a treat to see some of those beautiful Smiths, Colts and Winchesters, along with historical guns such as the Civil War collection of a 96 year old gentleman who had been collecting for 65 years and had decided it was time to sell off his collection.  If I had brought a few thousand more dollars....

I suppose it's a good thing the next Greensboro show is next fall.  It's going to take my wallet a while to recover from this one.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

There are a lot of people watching football

Me, I'm watching "Shit that might save my life TV".  You know, stuff from the "Been there, done that, got the bloody t-shirt) type guys who lived to tell about it.  Like this guy...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Why didn't someone tell me about this?

I'm not vain, exactly, but I do like to see if anyone shows up here to read my musings.  I'm also pretty familiar with what my average page views are, so when I see an anomalous number, I like to know where the traffic is coming from.  This time it was The Gun Feed.  It's sort of like The Drudge Report for guns.  Yeah, we're adding that one to the links.