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Friday, April 30, 2010

Shooting While Moving

I'm heading out of state for a conference, and won't be back until Sunday.  Here's a re-print from our Newsletter until then.

BTW, I hope to be doing some information gathering on selecting cache locations while off on this conference (it's being held in the Sierras).  There is obviously plenty of available space, but a number of other problems present themselves, such as being able to get to the cache in a major emergency.  Still, it should be a worthwhile exercise.

Shooting While Moving
This is one of the 13 skills taught in our new Practical Defensive Pistol course.
First, some important definitions:  Cover is a solid object which provides you protection from your attacker, while also hiding your exact location.  A concrete wall would fit this definition. 
Concealment merely masks your location, but does not provide you with protection.  Hiding behind drapes or a sheetrocked wall in a typical home should be considered Concealment, NOT Cover.
Shooting while moving should be a last-resort option.  It should only be used if the Cover you are using is not providing you with protection, OR if you are surprised by an assailant, and need to get to Cover. 
Remember, this is for defensive purposes.  You're not a SWAT team member clearing a room.  You're protecting your life or the lives of others.  
I don't care how much you practice, the accuracy of your shots will be significantly lower than your accuracy while you are stationary.  The speed of your movement to new cover is the key to keeping you unharmed.  Getting there is more important than putting shots into the "X-ring".  
You never want to move forward.  By moving forward, you are making yourself a bigger, more easily hit, target.  Don't help the Bad Guy improve his accuracy!
You very rarely want to move backwards while shooting.  You don't have eyes in the back of your head, so you can't see where you're going or what you might trip over.  That's not exactly a good thing when you've got a gun in your hand! 
It's better to turn and sprint to your destination.
If at all possible, you want to only move side to side.
In this video, I am moving 15 feet, from left to right, from Cover to Cover.  I "slice the pie" (another technique we teach) and fire one shot at the right-center target.  I then step out from Cover, fire two shots at the left-center target, and one more shot at the right-center target.  
After stepping out from behind Cover, it takes me approximately 4 seconds to move 15 feet.  In a real-life situation, it would be a better decision to take the "slice the pie" shot, then sprint to the second Cover.  That would likely take between 1 and 1 1/2 seconds - much less time to be left exposed to incoming shots.
When moving from side-to-side, you want to lower your center of gravity by bending your knees.  This will help to stabilize your gun.  Try not to cross your feet while moving.  Take a large step with the foot closest to your new cover, and follow with the other foot.
One of the best ways to practice this technique is with Air Soft guns.  You can practice with the harmless pellets (always wear eye protection, though!) in your garage or backyard by setting up a variety of scenarios.
Next Issue:  Handgun Maintenance

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Electronics OpSec

Electronic devices make our lives much easier.  Almost without exception, they also leave a trail of data that can easily be mined to paint a picture of your actions - legitimately or not.

Email.  For instance, I'm no fan of Goldman Sachs, for a huge number of reasons.  We all just saw the public flogging they received over a handful of emails where they crudely discussed how much money they were going to make from a declining real estate market.  Goldman provided over 20 million pages of email messages, and a dozen or so were plucked from that pile, supposedly to paint a picture of how the company operates.

Emails have brought down the forward momentum of the Global Warming zealots when a hacker published some sensitive messages.  Governor Mark Sanford's mistress came to light because of emails.

If it's not something you don't want the world to see, don't send it via email.  You may have sent an email to a Goldman address from a personal account.  It went to their business account, so it's now fair game.  Hell, if you send an email to a friend's personal account, and THEY forward it to someone's business account, tag, you're it.

Photocopies.  In the past, if you made a copy of something and then decided it wasn't a good idea to have it in print, you simply found the closest shredder or fireplace, and destroyed the evidence.

No more.

Virtually every photocopier contains a hard drive.  Every single copy that is made is also copied to the hard drive.  If you have a business plan, strategic marketing piece or anything that is sensitive, and you run down to Kinko's to burn a quick copy, it's now there for all the world to see.

If you're at work and print off something from the internet, it will likely be on a print server somewhere AND on the hard drive of the printer.
One of the machines had been used by the Buffalo, N.Y., Police Sex Crimes Division. The hard drive from it yielded “detailed domestic violence complaints and a list of wanted sex offenders.” A second machine from the Buffalo Police Narcotics Unit, contained “targets in a major drug raid. ” On the third machine, once used by a New York construction company, CBS News and Juntunen found “design plans for a building near Ground Zero in Manhattan; 95 pages of pay stubs with names, addresses and social security numbers; and $40,000 in copied checks.”
Cell phones.  If you make a phone call, assume it is being recorded, because it is.  That doesn't mean your conversation will be acted upon, but it's still there.  If you think that's being paranoid, just read up on the FISA/Warrantless Wiretapping that went on during the Bush administration.  It continues with the Obama administration.

Virtually every new phone also has a GPS, and they work even if it is turned off.  You must remove the battery to disable the tracking feature.  It's for your own good, though.
The Federal Communications Commission has mandated that the majority of wireless providers be able to provide location information for 911 calls for the originating cellular phone so that emergency services can find the callers.
Carriers can either provide the location information that resides in the cellular network (triangulation of location based on the distance of the cell phone's signal to nearby cellular towers), or they can rely on satellite data from global positioning system (GPS) chips embedded in the handsets of their customers. Wireless carriers using CDMA technology, such as Verizon and Sprint Nextel, use GPS technology to fulfill E911 requirements. AT&T and T-Mobile use network-based technology that computes a phone's location using signal analysis and triangulation between towers.

Location-tracking features have privacy implications both from a law enforcement and behavioral marketing standpoint. Under certain circumstances, law enforcement personnel may obtain either retrospective (past) or prospective (future) locational data.
If you're doing something that you don't want anyone to know about - legal or not - don't take or use a cell phone.

GPS - OnStar.  Speaking of GPS, if you own a vehicle with OnStar, you are fairly begging to have your privacy invaded.  You may be saying, "My car has OnStar, but I don't have the service turned on," and feel you're "safe".

Think again. OnStar can be remotely turned on.

If you've signed up for the service, and you're having a conversation, you can have that conversation listened to.  Now, it has been found to be illegal for the government to do this without a warrant, so I'm sure it never happens.  Yeah.
The police are investigating a crime. They ask OnStar where your car was on a certain date and time, to corroborate an alibi. Or what if you're in a crash and the other guy's attorney would like to know how fast you were driving when you ran the red light? Would OnStar surrender the information? "OnStar is required to locate the car to comply with legal requirements, including valid court orders showing probable cause in criminal investigations." And OnStar may use gathered information to "protect the rights, property, or safety of you or others."

Imagine the following scenario. The FBI shows up at OnStar master command and tells them your car's been stolen by a terrorist, who may be using it to commit a crime at this very moment. Contacting the owner is out of the question; the owner may also be a terrorist. What does OnStar do? They cooperate with the FBI and give them everything they've got on your car. No warrant needed and no notification to you. Hell, you may not even have the service enabled.

In other words, you not only have to trust OnStar to protect your privacy, you have to trust the police not to ask the questions in the first place.
Credit and debit cards.  Cash is king, especially where privacy is concerned.  Debit and credit cards build a profile of your buying patterns.

Online ammo purchases.  Range time buys with your debit card.  A credit card purchase of that newest "black rifle".  More ammo purchases and maybe some training.

Pretty easy to paint the picture of a gun-nut to a jury of citizens inundated with stories of "domestic terrorists".

Throw in online purchases of buckets and lids for food storage, books from Amazon on emergency preparedness, gas masks that provide NBC protection and water filters to purify 20,000 gallons of water, and you can be painted as one of those, "survivalist extremists" instead of a person that is preparing for uncertain times.

Accept The Challenge

What's the saying?  "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you".

I hear so many people say things along the lines of, "If you're not doing anything wrong, you should have nothing to hide."  That drives me crazy.

The statement presumes the government has the right to monitor your activities.  It attempts to nullify your right to privacy.  When someone says the Constitution doesn't grant us the right to privacy, I point them to the Ninth Amendment -
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Basically, just because a right isn't specifically listed doesn't mean we don't have it.  The Tenth Amendment then says that the government is precluded from invading our privacy, because the power to do so was not specifically granted to them -
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Yet here we are.

We must act pragmatically.  What you do, buy, say and practice are tracked if they're done using some electronic medium.  The magazines to which you subscribe, the clubs you join, the candidates which you support and the opinions you espouse are all logged and available for inspection.

What would your "profile" look like?

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Reaping What You Sow

It seems they have a bit of a problem in Chicago.  People are dying at an alarming rate.

Is it cancer?  AIDS?  Bird flu?  Some exotic flesh-eating illness?

Nope.  They're shooting each other. [Hey!  I thought guns were banned in Chicago...]

What's their solution?  Bring in the National Guard -
Two state representatives called on Gov. Pat Quinn Sunday to deploy the Illinois National Guard to safeguard Chicago's streets.

Chicago Democrats John Fritchey and LaShawn Ford said they want Quinn, Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis to allow guardsmen to patrol streets and help quell violence. Weis said he did not support the idea because the military and police operate under different rules.

"Is this a drastic call to action? Of course it is," Fritchey said. "Is it warranted when we are losing residents to gun violence at such an alarming rate? Without question. We are not talking about rolling tanks down the street or having armed guards on each corner."
Why not?  Clearly, if there were tanks rolling down the street, and a machine gun nest at every intersection, you'd be safe as can be.  Why do half measures, when a full-on military occupation would be so much more effective?


This is simply more of the uber-controlling Illinois government getting its comeuppance.  They've incented their citizenry to become dependent on the good graces of the government.  Free housing.  Free food.  Free medical.

Times being tough, the free stuff just isn't cutting it any more, or not as much is being given out.  Crime skyrockets as a result.

The government of Illinois has further deemed that there is no need for the compliant citizenry to protect themselves.  Guns are all but banned, except for the police, so no one has the means to protect themselves.

And look what that has gotten them.

Accept The Challenge

We preppers live by the credo of Personal Responsibility and Self-Sufficiency.  That is a foreign concept to so many people.  They've become wholly dependent upon their keepers.

Sadly, I fear that calls for National Guard troops will become much more commonplace.  I've done a number of posts on how to prepare for Civil Unrest.  I think "the cork is going to pop" this summer and next, and it won't be pretty.

Maybe Chicago is going to be a Petri dish for governments around the country to observe how to handle large-scale disruptions.  You're going to have the Tea Partiers out protesting about taxes being too high (among other things) and the State Dependents out protesting that they're not getting enough free stuff.

Oil, meet water.

Throw in Immigration Reform, Cap-and-Trade, VAT programs and whatever else rolls along, and you've got the makings for an interesting summer.

Get prepared.

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Just Thinking Out Loud, Again

A recent poll indicates that a national VAT is opposed by 77% of the people.  That virtually guarantees it will be enacted.

Thousands of Tea Party protests over the past year were attended by millions of people.  Not one incidence of violence started by attendees.  Patriot Day protests are held around the country by gun toting Americans.  The Appleseed Project held over 100 shooting clinics on the same day, and somehow no one ended up being shot.  Yet Tea Partiers are called "domestic terrorists" and "subversive elements," blah, blah, blah.

The Arizona illegal alien law gets passed, and there is violence on the very first day.  Why are the violent protesters given a pass - ["they're just standing up for their rights"] (really!?) - and the people who have actually participated peaceful protests are demonized?

I know the answer.  I just wanted to ask it out loud.  Clearly, I'm a racist for even asking.

Speaking of this AZ law, could someone please tell me what the good citizens of that state SHOULD have done?  The federal government is specifically charged in the Constitution with enforcing our immigration laws.  Like the laws or not, the feds are NOT enforcing them.

The states are saying, Enough! and taking matters into their own hands.  California pays over $4 billion a year to house illegal aliens in our prisons.  Why in the hell isn't my state rounding up a bunch of buses and depositing these criminals to every federal prison in the state?  If they won't take them, those buses should gas up, and head right for the airport.  Load up a bunch of airplanes and fly these federal criminals to the foreign airport of each nationality furthest from our borders, and drop them off.

I know, it will never happen, but I can dream, can't I?

[Post Posting Post Script - I didn't mention in the post that I think the portion of the new law that requires citizens and illegals alike to prove their nationality with only a "reasonable suspicion" of the local police is simply horrible.  It reeks of, "Show me zee papers" of Nazi Germany.  If someone is arrested for a crime, I'm all for a nationality check being conducted as part of a standard background check done to all criminals.

For ICE agents, it's a different story.  If they are conducting a raid, it's based upon a reasonable suspicion that the workers of a business are largely illegal aliens.  Check away.]


I did a post over at California Preppers Network about Ignoring Laws.  In it, I was talking about seeing moonshine being made many years ago -
When I was in college, I met people that made their own distilled spirits. That's also illegal in these United States. The distillers paid taxes on the sugar, water and propane. They paid taxes on the brew pots and the copper used to build their stills.

How can a government tell a person that they can't take raw materials to make a product they can buy in the supermarket?

Well, these distillers weren't listening.
There are thousands of similar laws under which we live. It's all about the same thing:  Government T & C - Taxation and Control.

I've quit playing this game.  How about you?

Preppers item:  Freeze dried coffee (Taster's Choice, etc.).  While it's clearly not as good as fresh brewed coffee, it would sure be nice to have in the event of a situation where you didn't have access to beans, a coffee pot or the other things needed for a nice Cup 'O Joe.

In my recently conducted non-scientific evaluation, it got a 7.5 rating (with fresh brewed getting a 10).  It's going into my long-term preps, for sure.

No, I didn't really do an evaluation, per se.  I made a cup and it didn't get spit into the sink.  Sounds like a 7.5 to me!

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Practical Defensive Pistol

Based upon student feedback, we've added a new class to our curriculum, Practical Defensive Pistol.  As we note,
This intensive, 5-hour Advanced class is limited to 4 students per session.  In it, participants will learn 13 practical shooting skills and tactics for self-defense with a pistol.  The class culminates with two scenarios where these skills are combined and utilized in mock defensive situations.
The classes start in May, and require the students to meet various experience and equipment requirements.  If you're in Northern California and interested in developing self-defense pistol skills, click this link for additional information.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quick Breads: Bagels

I love bagels.

I don't eat them that much, but in my eyes, there are few things that are a better way to start the day than a freshly baked bagel with cream cheese and lox.  The nice thing about bagels is that they take very little time to prepare.  Inside of an hour and a half, you go from flour to noshing.

I got this recipe from somewhere on the internet a million years ago.  It's easy, and the bagels are to die for.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tbls sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsps salt
  • 1 Tbls vegetable oil
  • 2 tsps yeast
  • 1-1/2 cups of warm water
Take a half cup of the warm water, sprinkle a pinch of sugar, and mix in the yeast.  Let it "bloom" for about 5 minutes.

After the yeast has bloomed, add all of the rest of the ingredients to a bowl, and combine well.  Place the dough on a hard, sturdy, flat surface and start kneeding it.  You need to kneed to dough for 10 minutes.  This is very important to ensure you get that good, chewy bagel.  You should end up with a smooth, almost tough dough.

Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll each up into a ball.  They should look like this -

Cover them with a towel, and let them rest for 20 minutes.

You then want to turn them into their bagel shape.  I picked this tip up watching some cooking show on TV:  You take a ball and press your thumb and index finger together in its center - punching through the ball (almost like you're making an 'OK' sign with your hand).  Then put the index fingers from each hand into the hole from opposite sides of the ball.  You now twirl your hands in a circular motion while slightly pulling outwards.  This elongates the hole, giving you an exaggerated bagel shape.  They should now look like this -

Cover them up with a towel again, and let them rest another 20 minutes.

While they're resting, start up a pot of boiling water.  The wider the pot, the better.  The bigger the opening, the more bagels you'll be able to boil at one time.  You only need to add 3 or 4 inches of water, though.

After your 20 minute wait, turn your oven on to 425F.  Take your bagels, and drop them in the water.  As you can see, I can comfortably fit 3 bagels at a time.  Don't crowd them, as they tend to puff up once they hit the water.  You boil them for 1 minute, then flip them over and boil for another minute.

If you want to add a topping, now is when you do it.  For this batch, one half was sesame seeds (kind of tough to see - click the image for a better look-see) and the other half was poppy seeds.  I take the bagels out of the water, put them on a towel to let them cool for just a second, then put them top-down into a bowl with the topping.

Put them on a cookie sheet that you've sprayed with cooking spray.

Throw them in the oven for 10 minutes.  You then flip them.... yes, even the ones with the toppings, and bake for another 10 minutes.

Viola!, fresh bagels.  Let them sit for 5 or 10 minutes to cool off, then chow down.

If you like your bagels with a smaller hole, just don't stretch it out as much when you're doing the elongation.  Also, if you want a bit more "tang" to your bagels, after you've made the hole in them, let them rest for an hour or more (instead of just 20 minutes).  They'll puff up a bit more, and the yeast will begin "souring" the dough some.

Accept The Challenge

As you can see from the ingredients list, these are dirt-cheap to make.  They will only take an hour and a half of your time - and most of that is waiting while the dough rests.  I was working from my home office today, and made them while I was working on paperwork.

I have no idea how long they will last.  I've never had a batch that makes it through the day!  I'd guess that if you put them in a zip lock after they've cooled, they be good for a couple of days, at least.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Forging Our Own Future

It really is difficult to wrap our brains around the depth and breadth of our government spending and debt.  We become desensitized to the numbers that get bandied around.  I remember as a kid someone explaining that a million was a thousand thousand.  "If you had a million dollars, you could give a thousand people a thousand dollars EACH!"

It was an incomprehensible number to me.

Now, a million dollars is chump change - at least to our various levels of government.  When the latest 2010 Pig Book was released by the Citizens Against Government Waste, it identified over 9,000 overt acts of waste totaling more than $16 billion.

The Government Scribes (the press) made note that, "Pig Book: Earmarks Are Down in 2010," - the amount of our money that was used to pay off loyal supporters, and grease the skids for future jobs after they've left the employ of the government, dropped by 15%. 

And that's supposed to make us feel good.  That's like saying we should be thankful because the serial bank robber stole 15% less this time around.
Our national debt is currently $12.5 trillion dollars.  A simply unfathomable number to me.  Backwoods Home Magazine (my absolute favorite) had an editorial in this issue that helped to put it into perspective -
There are several ways to try and get a mental grip on just how much money a trillion is.  Reader Harvey Smith of Visalia, California, suggest we think of it in seconds:  One million seconds would take you back 11.5 days, one billion seconds would take you back 31.7 years, and one trillion seconds would take you back 31,546 years.  So 12.5 trillion seconds would take you back just under 400,000 years,
What is scary is that these numbers don't include our unfunded liabilities  - promises to pay without the means to make payment - for Social Security and Medicare.  Somewhere between $40 trillion and $85 trillion, depending upon where you get your numbers.

We can never, EVER pay this amount of money.  It is simply not possible.  Even at the astronomical tax rates, fees, excise taxes and other money-grabs we've got right now, the federal government only brings in around $2 trillion a year.  But they're spending $3.5 trillion.

Somewhere along the line, we will default on our promises as a nation.  The government will either stop paying on the Treasuries bills/notes that make up our national debt, or they'll cut back on the Social Security/Medicare services (which you and I have already paid for).  Or, most likely, they'll do both.

When will this happen?  We'll, that's the proverbial $64,000 Question, isn't it?

Government has an incredibly strong Will To Live.  We've seen it by the incredible growth in the size and scope it now has.  And there is no indication it will slow this growth - quite the opposite, in fact.

It puts on a good face, but we've seen it frantically patching the leaks of our sinking ship - the bailouts, the extensions of tax credits and other payments, the nationalizations of more and more industries - but it can't sustain this forever.  The till WILL run dry.  Government produces nothing - it only consumes.

I figure I've got another 30 or so years left on this earth.  It worries me deeply how this all will affect me when/if I am no longer able to provide for myself.  Even though my retirement planning specifically assumes SSI will be gone by the time I am deemed worthy to get my money back, I worry that through taxation or outright nationalization of retirement accounts, I'll be left at the mercy of the government.

The thought of what the future holds for my offspring - who have another 60+ years to live - frightens the hell out of me.

What a pile of crap we've left them.

Accept The Challenge

I truly believe individuals still have time to prepare their lives to soften the blow of what is coming down the road.  If we look to what made life easier in the former Soviet Union - perhaps even bearable - it was entrepreneurship. 

It took the form of the Black Market being filled with goods and services that were not widely available in the government-owned establishments.  Fresh meat, vegetables, alcohol, butter, etc.

Even during the lowest points of their history, individuals living in a repressive society were able to find a niche, and fill it. 

While I think it makes tons of sense to store as much food, water, precious metals and equipment as possible, all of these supplies will eventually run out. Truly successful individuals will have the skills necessary to produce these things on their own.  They'll be able to turn seed into crops.  Milk into butter.  Sugar into alcohol.  Raw steel into knives.

Even in a communist society such as the Soviet Union, the capitalistic laws of Supply and Demand made these basic necessities sell for a pretty premium.

And because fewer durable goods are produced, and they're of lower quality, having the skills necessary to repair or enhance these durable goods will be a valuable skill indeed.

Look around your home, and see what you could not do without or would pay a premium to possess.  A stick of butter.  An electric coffee pot.  A bottle of beer or a fifth of whiskey.  Eggs for your omelet.  A bar of soap.  A smooth running car.  Sweetener for your coffee.  Veggies for your table.  Protein for your stew.

Figure out how to do it "from scratch".  Hobbies aren't for idle time any more...

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Just Thinking Out Loud

Prediction:  This volcano in Iceland is taking a huge financial toll on the airlines.  In the coming weeks, we're going to hear how many of them are going to be forced out of business unless...... wait........ they get a bailout from the government.

We'll be fed the justification for saving the industry - again - and the Administration will add another notch to their belt, indicating another nationalized industry.

I heard a radio report of medicine becoming scarce in some areas of Europe as a result of the eruption, but I can't find anything on the Internet.  I found this, though -
“We don’t understand how interconnected we are until you can’t do it any more,” he said.

A breakdown in air cargo shipments into the largest cities in Europe, including London, Paris and Berlin, left supermarkets warning of looming shortages of fresh produce. The groundings meant fruit from Africa and South America was rotting in crates in their countries of origin.
"Interconnected" is code for, "dependent upon".  This is a great example why individuals need to become more independent or regionalized, instead of globalized.  Buy from and support local farms, dairies and supply chains, so if the earth decides to "misbehave" again, you're not left high-and-dry.

Let's see:  After taking a couple of weeks off to bask in the glow of their Universal Health Care win, the administration re-energized their Grow The Government plans to increase control over the banking sector.  They THEN file a big lawsuit against Goldman Sachs.  Coincidence?  Sure.

It's not emphasized in most of the articles, but no one will end up in jail over thisIt's a civil suit, not a criminal one.
Goldman Sachs has vowed to fight allegations filed in a civil suit Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission that it created fraudulent securities tied to a hedge fund's bet on a housing collapse.

Pay the fine and (maybe) get a stern look from the judge.  I'm sure it will scare the snot out of these guys.

I haven't seen any lawsuits against the government for gutting the Glass-Steagall act, THEN "strengthening" the Community Reinvestment Act to encourage banks to make loans to people who couldn't afford to pay them back, THEN telling Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae to guarantee these crappy loans, thus making them eligible to be bundled into investment-grade securities.

I'm not holding my breath.

Why isn't today a National Holiday?  The first battles were fought on this date in 1775 at Lexington and Concord against an oppressive, gun-grabbing government.  Well, the government was trying to grab the guns.  Didn't work out too well for them.

Maybe that's why it isn't a holiday.  They wouldn't want to remind the common-folk about the power they possess.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Defensive Tactics

I'm a bit under the weather and just finished a pistol orientation class, so I'm going to cheat a post one of my Newsletter articles.  Enjoy.

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In almost any endeavor in life, whether we think about it or not, we use strategies and tactics.  Once we have a goal, we use strategies to develop a plan.  We then employ tactics to carry out the plan and achieve those goals.  Strategies and tactics go hand-in-hand.

Our Personal Safety goal might be, "Come out of any physical assault alive and unharmed".  Our strategy might be to take a Safety Awareness class, start a martial arts program, learn how to safely operate a handgun, Taser or Pepper Spray.  We then take that knowledge and use it if we find ourselves in a threatening situation.

Here are some strategies/tactics that should be part of every Personal Safety plan:

Avoidance - The Number One tactic to employ is avoidance.  We've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating:  The best way to survive an emergency is to not be there!

Be aware of your surroundings.  Trust your "gut" if something doesn't seem quite right.  Don't go into places that don't offer you multiple avenues of escape.  Use your head and think!  Your brain is your most effective weapon.

Use of Concealment/Cover -   Concealment provides a way of masking your presence.  Hiding behind a drape would conceal your location.  But, it does not offer you any physical protection.

Cover masks your presence AND provides you with a physical barrier between you and your assailant.  You need to consider the effectiveness of cover based upon the weapon of your attacker.

An automobile provides effective cover against an assailant with a baseball bat or a knife.  It is less useful against an attacker with a firearm.  If you are using an automobile for cover, try to crouch next to the engine compartment. 

The metal of the body and the mass of the engine will give you your best protection.  See what a medium caliber (9mm) handgun round is able to do to a truck door.  Consider what a high-powered rifle round would do.

Moving - Whether you are spraying a pepper spray or firing a handgun, don't give your attacker a stationary target to which they can respond.  If at all possible, move during or immediately after you have responded to an attack.

Something to consider:  If you are facing someone with a handgun in their right hand, MOST will miss their shot to their left (your right).  If you move to your right, you may be helping their accuracy!  If it is safe, try to move to your left. 

ALWAYS try to move towards cover.

Fighting "dirty" - Don't "play by the rules".  Your attacker surely won't.  Find their soft spots.  Eyes, throat, nose, groin, shins, feet.  You must fight to win.  Don't stop until the threat has stopped.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Preps: Restricted Travel

As we've stated before, in our view, Emergency Preparedness needs to focus more on limiting negative impacts to disasters than on preparing for specific events (earthquake, hurricane, etc.).  We discussed that philosophy and those Twelve Impacts in an earlier post.  You can see all of the items in the series to this point by clicking the 12 Impacts label category.

We're going to drill down into one of the twelve impacts:  Restricted Travel.

The ability to travel when, where or how you want is restricted.

This can come in many forms. It can be the result of a natural disaster destroying a bridge or roadway, and making that route impassable.  Here in Northern California, we saw the Bay Bridge shut down after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. This bridge carries 280,000 vehicles every single day between San Francisco and the East Bay (for perspective, the Brooklyn Bridge carries 137k vehicles each day).

Look what's happening right now in Europe.  A volcano in Iceland has thrown so much soot and grit into the air, it is not safe for air travelers.  It has significantly shut down Heathrow Airport, the busiest airport in the world.  All of the airports in Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland were shut down completely. The airports in Brussels, Amsterdam and Geneva were all shut down as well.

It can be the result of a government mandate, such as travel restrictions being imposed as the result of a pandemic or Shelter-In-Place orders. During times of civil unrest, governments regularly impose martial law or curfews, making it illegal to be outside of your home - even when traveling by foot.

Roadways and public travel sources can also become overburdened in the event of mass evacuations in anticipation of certain events, such as hurricanes.  We've all seen the images of bumper-to-bumper highways as people flee an upcoming emergency event.

Gasoline for your automobile may not be available. There may be disruptions in the delivery mechanisms throughout the country, or if there is a widespread power outage, the pumps might not be able to pump the gas. And there is always the possibility of shortages caused by political unrest in the oil producing regions of the world.

Possible Impacts:
  • Work may become inaccessible - Depending upon the depth and breadth of the emergency, your livelihood may be in jeopardy.
  • Medical treatment - For serious injuries or other medical emergencies (births, dialysis treatments, renewals of prescription medicines, etc.), may be inaccessible.
  • Safe retreat locations - Particularly those along heavily-traveled roadways may be inaccessible.
  • Family and friends – Others that are in danger or in need of assistance may be inaccessible.
Accept The Challenge

The keys to ensuring you are not negatively impacted by travel restrictions are to act quickly, and have multiple alternatives.  I strongly suggest reading the series of posts we did on Evacuation Plans (here, here and here).

Understanding events that surround you is a key being able to act quickly. 

Do we have the likelihood of severe gas shortages as were felt in 1973?  Gasoline supplies seem very stable right now, but skirmishes erupt in the Middle East very easily, and a new one could dramatically affect supplies.

Is there the likelihood of curfews being put in place as they are currently in Philadelphia?  If you were under 18 and living in Philly, getting to a night job would now be illegal.

If a natural disaster such as an earthquake, tornado or hurricane devastated the roadway infrastructure in your area, would you be able to replenish your life-sustaining medications and procedures (dialysis, etc.)?

Remember PACE - Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency.  Identify the items for which you MUST travel, and plan for multiple solutions to any of the impacts which may come your way.

Image courtesy of Shinoda28107

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Prepping For Tea Parties

My recent post over at the California Preppers Network is on how to cover your bases if you will be attending a Tea Party Protest today.

Check it out here.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

TAG, You're It

 In a little reported press release from the FDIC - the only reason I heard about it is because I subscribe to their press release service - the TAG Program (Transaction Account Guarantee) has been extended.

What is the TAG Program?
The TAG extension will provide a continued stable funding source for participating banks and will help them maintain their ability to secure low-cost, large deposits, thereby preserving their deposit franchise value and supporting the rebuilding of their earnings and capital, which in turn protects the Deposit Insurance Fund.
In short, it's an FDIC deposit program where funds that are not normally covered by FDIC insurance, get coverage.  So, if you're a rich guy, gal or business with more than $250,000 in deposits in one bank, your money is covered.

Some 6,400 banks with normally uninsured deposits totalling $266 BILLION have this extra coverage.

Re-read the FDIC explanation above, particularly the end of it - "...thereby preserving their deposit franchise value and supporting the rebuilding of their earnings and capital, which in turn protects the Deposit Insurance Fund."

Translated from FDIC-ese, that means that this program is artificially propping up (preserving) banks that would likely fail without this bailout.  The "logic" being that the FDIC fund is protected by propping up these failing banks.

For some reason, I'm reminded of the phrase, "When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."  Apparently, this phrase has never been uttered in any federal government agency or department.

Why might the FDIC be extending this program, which has been in existence since October of 2008?
FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said, "It's necessary to extend the TAG program because the lingering effects of the financial crisis that emerged in 2008 in large systemically important banks have now spread to institutions of all sizes, particularly in regions suffering from ongoing economic weakness."

Hey, wait a minute! I thought we were tripping over Green Shoots and all of our problems were behind us. That's what the Administration and their media scribes are telling us.  Sheila needs to get with the propaganda Informational Program.

Chairman Bair continutes -
"Allowing the TAG program to expire in this environment could cause a number of community banks—already under stress—to experience deposit withdrawals from their large transaction accounts and would risk needless liquidity failures. This reflects the continuing legacy of too big to fail and the different liquidity pressures our community banks experience as a result."
So now ANY size is, "too big to fail?"

Let this sink in:  This program was extended by a vote of 5 non-elected officials.  These 5 people have committed YOU to a potential bill of $266 BILLION.

In the good old days, a person or business had to actually manage their own money.  They knew that by leaving all of their money in any one bank, a portion of it would be above the normal FDIC limits, and be at risk.  If they chose to keep their money in that bank, they had to do due diligence to ensure themselves or their investors that the bank was financially sound.

This requirement for Due Diligence gave banks an incentive to be fiscally sound.  If you were not safe, deposits were withdrawn and the market put you out of business.

With the TAG program, the government has taken that risk away from THEM, and transferred it to US.  Sound familiar?


Speaking of being "shaken to the core", what is going on with all of these massive earthquakes?  Haiti, Chile, Mexico and now China.  All at or near 7.0 on the Richter Scale, all since January.

The Mexican and Chinese earthquakes were located in BFE regions of their countries, and resulted in relatively low death rates, considering the size of the quakes.

I sure hope all of these quakes are taking the pressure off of the faultlines here in California...

Accept The Challenge

By these actions, the government is acknowledging that our financial system is still in deep, deep trouble - they just can't come out and say it directly.  Wouldn't want to panic the masses.

Individuals need to stay abreast of financial matters, even though they may have no interest in the subject ("I hate talking/thinking about money").  If I may make a suggestion, one of my daily reads is Calculated Risk.  I strongly recommend you make it one of yours as well.

They do a fantastic job - multiple times each day - of taking seemingly obscure financial and economic information, and making it digestible and relevant.

On the earthquake front, obviously, everyone should have some sort of an earthquake/emergency plan.  Have a car bag and a work bag, in addition to your home emergency preps.  Be sure to include water in all of them.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Your Future Waiting Room

Before I start, let me just say, COMCAST CABLE INTERNET SUCKS!  Replying to comments with a smart phone is very difficult.  Trying to do a post from a smart phone is nearly impossible.  After much haranguing with those idiots, I THINK I'm back in business.  We'll see...

I got quite the chuckle from hearing how well the Massachusetts health care plan - a carbon copy of what we're all going to be saddled with - is working out.

It seems the NON-PROFIT insurance companies needed to raise their rates.  They have projected that without these rate increases, it will cost them $100 million in losses over the next 8 months.

A judge denied their request.  They are being required by law to become insolvent.

I looked around the Internet for stories on this, and was able to find a few.  The ones in the major news outlets (NPR, NY Times , Boston Globe) all managed to forget to include that the insurance companies in Massachusetts are NON-PROFIT.  There are no money-grubbing companies working to make their 2-7% profits.  No siree, they don't make any profit.

Only the Boston Herald managed to mention their non-profit status -
Six nonprofit insurers - Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan, Fallon Community Health Plan, Health New England, and Neighborhood Health Plan - filed suit.

They said charging last year’s rates for this year’s health care would trigger multimillion-dollar losses.
Non-profits are allowed to maintain an emergency fund of sorts to cover unexpected expenses.  Clearly, this will be sucked dry by the state and the courts.  Then what?

Perhaps the state will take over as the SINGLE PAYER for health insurance.  Hmm, I wonder if that's the plan with ObamaCare as well.  Ya think?

One tongue-in-cheek question:  If Mass. has non-profit insurance companies, how can the costs of insurance be going up?  The Administration told us point-blank that the greedy insurance companies were to blame for the staggering rise in premium.

Wow, I guess they were wrong.  Go figure...

Accept The Challenge

ObamaCare is here to stay in some way, shape or form.  We will pay, period.

With Mass., once the state runs out of money to run the plan, the feds will likely provide a bailout, which we'll all get to pay for.  When the federal plan kicks in, and the money runs out, we'll start seeing the rationing of services as has been the rule with every single other state or country that has forced provided health care for its citizens.

Get healthy, folks, while you still can do so.

As I heard on the radio this morning - from Margaret Thatcher:  "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money."

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Knowing Your Audience

I taught one of my NRA FIRST Steps Pistol Orientation classes yesterday.  In it, I had 3 minors - 13, 14 and 16 year old kids (YES, in California!).  Their mother had taken the dry-run of our upcoming Practical Defensive Pistol class, and wanted her kids to have a good foundation in handguns.

These are the youngest students I've had in one of my gun classes, and it was a great learning experience.  For me.

I'd guess the average age of my students is somewhere in their early 40's - typically running from the early 20's and going into their late 60's.  Being adults, they are in the class with a purpose.  They either want to start a self-defense program, or they may just have a curiosity about guns, and are interested in the safety aspects.  I've had a half-dozen students this year who are getting into some form of law enforcement, but have never shot a gun before and don't want to start their professional training totally unprepared.

But these three kids, I think, were different.  I think they looked at it more as a "necessary evil" to be able to get to the fun stuff of shooting guns!  The reason I say this is because I could see their attention wander, as is to be expected with most kids.

All three of them did absolutely superbly both in the classroom when they were handling the guns, and in the range when they were firing them.  But with kids in particular, I need to think about ways of keeping them mentally occupied even during the more mundane - but very important - parts of the instruction.

During the class, we have a number of exercises that get everyone up and out of their seats.  For most aspects of the class, I follow the pattern of Explanation-Demonstration-Student Exercise.  Picking up a gun for the first time while keeping it pointed in a safe direction, finger off trigger and verifying it's unloaded.  Or practicing grip and stance.  Or loading, decocking and unloading a gun with Snap Caps.  There are 6 different exercises, plus the live-range time during the 4-hour class.

For my 35 year-old and older students, this seems to be a perfect amount of up-and-down, tactile involvement.  I don't think it's enough for the younger students.  They need much more tactile and visual stimulation to keep them engaged.

My wife is a 5th grade teacher, and I'm going to pick her brain for some ideas.  I also want to find some ways to get them to ask more questions.  The class is very "loose" and all adults, regardless of age, ask a lot of questions.  I had to pry it out of these kids!

Accept The Challenge

Time to teach an old dog new tricks!  For me, this was a great lesson about how important it is to know your audience.  I think it is possible to adjust my class to help keep the younger students engaged, while not making it so "whiz bang" that it turns off my "normal" students.

I think everyone likes to be entertained.  I think information can be best digested when the instruction has a good mix of planned interaction, AND when the nuts-and-bolts parts of a course of instruction are "brought to life".

Keep 'em on the edge of their seats, then they're yours for life!

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gasification Power Generator

I've mentioned that I've been looking at a number of large, out-in-the-boonies properties.  Bringing in utility power is incredibly cost-prohibitive (nearly equal to the purchase price of some of the properties we've seen).

Solar will be a huge part of our power generation scheme.  It will likely be the primary power source.  As a back up, we've been looking at diesel generators.  They are a proven product, but require a source of outside fuel.

Most of the properties we've looked at are fairly heavily wooded.  Lots and lots of firewood and scrap wood - a readily available, free source of energy.  Gasification was screaming out at me!

From Victory Gas Works, I've been gleaning a great deal of information.  It's a fairly old technology that has been dragged into the 21st century.  They have a 6 module introductory course on what it's all about.

They also make and sell their "Off Gridder" system.  It's not cheap, and you have to provide the generator, but as a one time investment, it might work.  Gotta do some math....

Here's a very interesting video of a similar unit that is designed to run off of horse waste.  It kicks out a LOT of power.  I contacted the company earlier in the week to get some information on price, but have yet to hear back from them.

Accept The Challenge

Finding alternatives to "grid" power is becoming more and more viable.  Gasification, like solar, has the ability to make you truly untethered to the grid, or civilization for that matter.  As long as you have enough bio-material available, you can produce power.

Their biggest drawback is the high capital investment to buy the system.  But after that, you're producing the power for well below the cost of grid power.  What appeals so much to me is the ability to set these up almost anywhere.  I guess a gasification system wouldn't work too well in the desert, but other than that, there are few limitations on where this would work.

As a bonus, they're "green" too!  Very low emissions, as the gasification process thoroughly processes the bio-mass.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dealing With Government Workers

For the past few years, I've preached about working to have multiple streams of income.  If one or more streams fail, you're not left high-and-dry with no sort of cash flow.  Most often, this is in the form of a husband and wife each working.  A great way to augment that, is to have "side jobs" by doing repair work, or having an eBay store or something similar.

Personally, I've been working to have more steady streams.  My wife is a teacher, and I do the firearms and emergency prep classes.  BUT, my classes give me a great deal of "spare" time, so I've been working with some associates about opening a retail store (I'm going to just leave it at that).

We've identified a property to lease.  It has a great location, awesome traffic patterns, what seems to be a very flexible landlord and a number of very attractive features. It was recently some sort of hair salon, and we'll need to do some minor tenant improvements to change it to our purposes, plus change the signs, window advertising, etc.

Yesterday, I spent a good deal of the day meeting with local government officials.  To say that I came away with a bad taste in my mouth would be the ultimate of understatements.  Apparently, they haven't received the memo that times are tough, and cities should be doing everything in their power to attract - NOT REPEL - businesses from opening in their city.

I started in the Business License department.  Aside from not being able to answer my ownership questions, they were VERY knowledgeable on how much we were going to have to pay each year. 

A business in the city has to pay roughly $160 per year for a license.  Not too onerous of a number.  BUT, the building we want to use for our business is in a "special district" - an excuse to bump up fees.  When all was said and done, our fee went from $160 to nearly $500!

The city will do no more work.  They will have no more paperwork.  Since it is a nice area of town, the crime rate is lower, so there are actually fewer demands upon the police.  They simply have identified the most desirable areas of the city, and use it to their taxing advantage.

The lady I was getting reamed by mentioned in passing that since the intended use of the property was changing - from a hair salon to our business (both retail, non-massage parlors!) - we would have to get a review of our business from the zoning department.  OK.

The zoning lady was very nice, and almost seemed apologetic at the absurdity of having to go through this review.  She was able to remove a few normal additional reviews, and really was quite helpful.  Still, this busy-work review will take 2 to 4 weeks, and cost us another $1400.  FOURTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS!

We were chatting about the business, and she asked if we would need any tenant improvements.  I told her we didn't think so, other than interior painting.  She said that was OK to do without permits.  Woo hoo! 

She asked about counters and display cases for our goods, and I said we would be adding some of those, but they would be free-standing.  Red flag!  I'd need to talk to the building department about those.

I walked over to that department, and was introduced to the wonderful world of the ADA - the Americans with Disabilities Act.  I'm still sore from the screwing I got.

I was given the specifications - heights, widths and positioning of an ADA-only section of our store.  The positioning part was most infuriating.  I drew out a sketch of where we might add this section.  It was near the end of a long line of cases.  I was told that was unacceptable.  When I asked why, I was told (and I quote), "You don't send disabled people to the 'back of the bus.'"

WTF!?  I was stunned into silence.  If this had just been some guy on the street, we would have fought.  To imply our intent was to discriminate against anyone infuriated me to no end.  And to bring up an example so steeped in American history was way out of bounds.  It is the "Race Card" of the ADA.

But this smug bastard knew he held us by the throat.  To get in his face and call him the pious bastard he is, would have meant additional months and months of city bureaucracy, with no guarantee we would ever get approved.  As is, he was unwilling to tell me how much their review would cost, nor how long it would take.  I was told to set up an interview with the top dog and HE might be able to give us some idea as to additional time and expense.

So, this city is going to take many thousands of dollars out of our pockets.  Their reviews and forced-blessings will delay the opening of our shop by months.  Instead of using those funds to hire tax-paying employees, or to hire tax-paying contractors to do work on our shop, or to buy additional tax-generating products to sell, these leaches of society are going to steal our money to keep their fiefdom intact.

The short-sightedness is astounding to me.  I've read of stories like this in the past, but this is the first time I've been directly affected by this process.

This type of onerous interjection into business is what convinces many people to simply go underground.  We have an acquaintance that does this type of business "on the side" and he doesn't have to deal with any of this crap.  Maybe he has the right approach.

I'll keep you updated with our progress...

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Preps: Evacuation Plan, Part 3

This is a part of a series of  "drill downs" for the Disaster Impacts you can encounter if an emergency occurs.  Click here to update yourself on the entire list of twelve, and our philosophy on Emergency Preparedness.  All of these drill-downs will be categorized under the 12 Impacts label listing.

Click here to see Part 1 of this post.

Click here to see Part 2 of this post. 

In yesterday's post, we talked about determining your modes of Evacuation Transportation, your Evacuation Destinations and Mapping Evacuation Routes.  Today we'll wrap up this series of posts with Voluntary Activation of your Evacuation Plan.

You've built your BOB.  You've made and verified your Evacuation Checklist.  Your feet, plane, train or automobile are primed for the journey.  You have multiple Evacuation sites and tons of maps to get you there.

Great.  How do you know when the balloon's gone up, the flag's been raised, or the warning flare has been fired?  How do you know when to "pull the trigger," so to speak?

When do you leave? The short answer is, "As early as possible - when it makes sense."

In late March, we did a post on setting up information flows and filters to alert you to trends which might have an impact on your life ("Tripwires").  From the epilogue of the post -
Being able to anticipate trends and changes is a great skill to develop.  It takes time and knowledge to do it right.

I can't stress enough how important the quality of the data you are using for your analysis can be.  You should have multiple sources for every piece of information.

"Trust your gut" regarding the validity of the data.  Does it make sense?

Try and rely on your own analysis of the raw data.  Professional analysts and forecasters usually will have some sort of an agenda.  "The world is ending, so buy gold...from my company,"  for instance.

Use technology whenever possible to enhance your data gathering.  We've written about Google Alerts in the past - they are free to set up, and can provide you with a wide variety of information.
A commenter noted that they think of it in terms of a thermometer.  As the temperature rises, certain events take place.  I like that analogy a lot.

Using whatever tools you are most comfortable with, you need to establish some sort of warning mechanism.   As I noted in the Tripwires post, I really like Google Alerts.  They go out and search the entire Internet for you - looking for strings of information on whatever topics you choose.

Read and analyze that information regularly.  When a certain threshold has been met, you must act.  This would not be the time to second-guess yourself.  This tripwire or temperature level was determined while you were cool, calm and collected.

So, knowledge of what types of events might lead you to enact your evacuation plan before an emergency actually occurred?

Some things to watch might be:
  • a significant weather event (hurricane, tornado, snow- or ice-storm), 
  • a significant natural event (a tsunami or volcanic eruption), 
  • localized civil unrest (a big politically-charged jury verdict turned riot or a large, potentially violent demonstration about government handouts subsidies being curtailed),
  • distant unrest that could spread to your area (as happened with the Rodney King riots, which spread from LA to 12 other cities nationwide),
  • food, gasoline or other daily necessity shortages which appear to be getting progressively worse
  • the sudden, poorly reasoned or justified posting of armed, government officials in abnormal locations such as malls, public schools... oops, banks, churches, airport waiting areas... oops or city parks,
  • the enactment of laws which restrict your Constitutional rights (in the name of public safety), freedom of travel or access to your own money.
Each of these items are very different, but they all may indicate a reason for you to leave.  Your level of comfort and your ability to evacuate with sufficient supplies will drive your decision to act.

For instance, let's say there was increasing talk amongst our government officials about commandeering your retirement funds, as Argentina did in 2008.  It might be prudent to establish plans for what you would do if this talk started moving towards action.

You might halt contributions if a congressional hearing were held on the subject.  You might transfer your funds (and pay the hefty early-withdrawal penalties if you're too young) to a non-retirement account if a Retirement Nationalization bill were proposed in congress.  If "the heat were turned up" and sanctions were proposed for people that acted as you did, you might cash-out all of your accounts, buy "beans, bullets and band-aids" and head for the hills!

Also, remember to include Executive Orders (on the federal and state levels) into your analysis.  They may require you to "leap frog" interim steps and move forward with your plans more rapidly than originally anticipated.

The point of this is, you sat down, you established triggers and you acted.  It's important that you put a great deal of thought into your triggers and actions so your likelihood of success is maximized.  "Tweak" your assumptions and review your plans on a regular basis as new sources of input become available.  But don't become a victim of "Analysis Paralysis" - reviewing the subject to such depths of detail that you miss the bigger picture, and fail to act when you are able.

Accept The Challenge

The likelihood of needing to voluntarily enact your evacuation plan because of sudden social or economic changes is (IMO) remote. Still, these types of changes can be the classic, "Low Probability, High Impact" events.  They are crushing if they occur.

You risk nothing by establishing these triggers.  If you have taken sufficient time to analyze the impact of your actions at each step in your process (the good AND the bad), you will have lost nothing other than uncertainty.

I think one of the most depressing things I can think of would be to be stuck in a long line of cars streaming from the city, when my triggers had told me to move out 1 day earlier, but I chose not to act.  The only thing more depressing would be if I were stuck, and no longer able to evacuate.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Preps: Evacuation Plan, Part 2

This is a part of a series of  "drill downs" for the Disaster Impacts you can encounter if an emergency occurs.  Click here to update yourself on the entire list of twelve, and our philosophy on Emergency Preparedness.  All of these drill-downs will be categorized under the 12 Impacts label listing.

Click here to see Part 1 of this post. 

In yesterday's post, we talked about determining the contents of your Bug Out Bag (BOB) and the preparation of a personalized Evacuation Checklist.  Today we'll tackle:
  • Evacuation Transportation
  • Evacuation Destinations 
  • Mapping Evacuation Routes
I have decided to add a third post on this subject:  Voluntary Activation Of Your Evacuation Plan.  That will be posted tomorrow.

Evacuation Transportation

You've decided (or had it decided for you) that you need to evacuate for any number of reasons.  How are you going to get "there"?

In general, you have 3 options:  (1) By foot/bicycle, (2) by public transportation (the regular system, or one established by evacuation authorities),  or (3) by personal vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, etc.).

By Foot/Bicycle - In general, this is the least desirable option.  It is the slowest of the options, and requires you to be, "out in the open" during a potentially dangerous situation.  Still, it must be considered and included in your plans.  It is the ultimate "fall-back" position:  When all else fails, hoof it!

Comfortable, broken-in footwear along with first aid supplies (mole skin, salves, etc.) must be part of your gear. Since you will be in the elements, hats, jackets, ponchos or other means of protecting you from the hot/cold/wind/rain must be included as well.  Self-defense weapons need to be enhanced.  If you're using a bicycle, you will need a tire repair kit at the very minimum.

Food and water supplies must also be increased, as they will be providing you with the fuel to power your journey.  Plan on at least 3,000 calories and 2 gallons of water per day, per person - more if the weather is very hot or cold.

And, as The ABC of Hiking points out, your level of physical fitness will play a major role in the success of your journey [BTW, this is a great site on hiking in general].  Get in some sort of reasonable shape NOW.

Public Transportation - Aside from the constraints placed upon you (coordinating the schedules of the various modes of transportation), if the emergency event has already occurred (an earthquake or terrorist attack, for instance), public transportation may not be available.

This option would be most viable if you were aware of a pending emergency (i.e., a hurricane).  Once you have determined your evacuation location(s), be sure you have current schedules for each of the modes of transportation you intend to use.

Clearly, keeping informed about events is ultra-critical if you intend on using public transportation.

Personal Vehicles -  This gives you the most flexibility.  You are able to leave for your evacuation destination at any time.  You are also generally able to bring the most supplies with you, when compared to other options.

To be successful, your vehicle must be in good repair and have sufficient amounts of fuel available.  Attempt to keep your vehicle with twice the amount of gasoline needed to reach your Intermediate Destination (more on this later) at all times in case an emergency occurs which disrupts your ability to obtain additional gasoline.

For instance, both of our Intermediate Destinations are approximately 70 miles away from our home.  We try to keep gasoline to allow us to drive 140 miles in our tanks at all times.  Your miles per gallon and tank size will determine the amounts you need to keep on hand.

You want to keep twice as much gasoline in your tank as you will likely need, in anticipation of having to take an alternate - usually longer - route, and the possibility of being stuck in traffic for long periods of time.

Also seriously consider keeping filled gasoline containers at your home.  Learn about safe storage practices, and about additives to extend the useful life of the store gasoline.

Regardless of your means of transportation, don't wait until the last minute to initiate your evacuation plan.  The sooner you act, the less likely you'll be impeded from reaching your destinations by traffic jams, or crowds of frightened people.

When the recent tsunami warning was issued for Hawaii, it would have been prudent to move to your evacuation destination immediately after it was issued.  Most others were driving towards the stores to buy emergency supplies!

Evacuation Destinations

So.  Where ya gonna go?  If you don't decide, others might make that decision for you.  Your destinations should be for a number of scenarios. We recommend at least 3 evacuation destinations:  (1) Local, (2) Intermediate and (3) Long-distance.

Regardless of the destination, if it is the home or property of someone else, be sure you have fully discussed the possibility of you (and your family) becoming semi-permanent guests.  Two ways to make that imposition a bit easier is to offer them a reciprocal agreement, and to pre-position supplies at the destination in advance.  The less likely you are to become a burden, the more likely they are to agree to your plan.

The type of emergency you encounter will dictate your evacuation destination.

Local Location - this is usually the residence of a friend or family member, OR a commercial residential property (hotel/motel) that would have the ability to accommodate you and your family.  Obviously, this latter option would require access to money.  These locations are generally located within 10-15 miles of your residence.

Using a local site also implies that the emergency is very focused in its impact, not requiring the relocation of significant numbers of people.  Things such as a house fire, or even a wild fire, mud slide, tornado or flood that takes out hundreds of homes.  An entire region is NOT affected, just a limited number of homes that are in the path of the disaster.

You should have multiple Local evacuation sites - 4 if at all possible - one each in a different compass direction from your home, under the assumption that one or more of them will ALSO be affected by the disaster.

Understand that if it is some sort of emergency that affects others, hotels/motels will quickly fill.  These should be a last-resort option.  If you own an RV or travel trailer, these can be effective short-term solutions as well.

Intermediate Location - This is a location that is still in the general region (i.e., "Northern California") but is sufficiently distant from your residence for it to be highly unlikely to have been affected by the same emergency.  They are generally more than 50 miles and less than 200 miles away.

They are used for significant, wide-ranging disruptions in the general area in which you live.  A major earthquake or an anticipated major hurricane come to mind.

You should have at least two of these Intermediate locations identified, and they should certainly have some level of pre-positioned supplies already in place.

For both the Intermediate and Long-Distance sites, the use of an RV or Travel Trailer should be considered.  Your options for locations significantly increase.  The vast majority of Walmarts allow you to temporarily use their parking lots.  From their web site -
While we do not offer electrical service or accommodations typically necessary for RV customers, Walmart values RV travelers and considers them among our best customers. Consequently, we do permit RV parking on our store lots as we are able. Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV.
There are numerous private websites that keep track of the Walmarts that allow RV parking.  Most of the restrictions are place by local zoning ordinances, and not Walmart themselves.

Also, with an RV, you will have access to many state and federal parks, private park grounds and other similar locations.  Note, though, that many have time limits on how long you can stay, and the more popular sites require advanced reservations.  Investigate this well in advance of arrival.

RVs are also best used where you have advanced warning of an emergency.  It would be ill-advised to rely on an RV to get you to an Intermediate site after a spontaneous emergency (earthquake or tornado) which has destroyed portions of the highway infrastructure.

Be sure you don't "fall in love" with using an RV as your Intermediate Location.  It should be one option, not your only option.

Long-Distance Location - As with Intermediate Locations, these are best utilized well in advance of a major emergency.  These are typically more than 200 miles away from your residence (and may be thousands of miles away) and may be in another state.  They are used either in anticipation of, or in the aftermath of a significant disaster or societal event.  Typically, they will be used for significantly longer periods of time than the Local or Intermediate locations.

Because of their distance, many more logistics come into play.  You need to plan for fuel, lodging and food requirements along the route.  You should have significant amounts of food and other supplies already in place, or have the means to transport them with you.

Pre-positioning them is much more preferable, but you will need to ensure that they are safe.  A remote cabin might be an easy target for theft in the best of times, and will certainly become one in more trying times.

If you are traveling between states, be sure you are familiar with each state's firearms and use-of-force laws.  Unless we have experienced a total loss of civilian control of society - very unlikely - you can expect gun laws to be strictly enforced, or even abused by local authorities.  See Hurricane Katrina for examples.

Again, as with Intermediate Locations, RVs become a very attractive option.  They afford you the ability to transport people and supplies for long distances, while also providing shelter along the way.  They can even be used as temporary housing at the final destination for periods of time.

Mapping Evacuation Routes

For each destination, you want to have at least 3 routes.  One as a "normal" route you would normally use if you were going to the location for a casual visit.

One which avoids as many "choke points" as possible.  This includes bridges (including freeway overpasses), levees, tunnels, ferries or any other natural or man-made structures which might become impassable.

The last one should be for a travel route by foot or bicycle.

Sounds pretty daunting, doesn't it?  If you have access to the Internet and a printer, you have no worries.

Google Maps will allow you to produce all of these maps, and do it for free.

Let's say I wanted to go from Concord, Ca to Galt, Ca (hmmm, Concord and Galt.  And No, I don't live in Concord, and I'm not going to Galt!).  I would key in both of those cities (or specific address if they were available) and let Google do its thing.  I'd get this basic map -

I would print this map AND the directions, and be done with Map 1.

For Map 2, I would go to the Options link in the upper left-hand corner of the page, and check the boxes, "Avoid Highways" and "Avoid Tolls", and here's what I'd get -

It's a big re-routing to the south that adds about 45 minutes to the trip.  The benefits of this route are that it is much less heavily traveled, and would likely be so in an emergency.  It also bypasses a significant portion of the Sacramento Delta and the accompanying bridges.  On the down-side, you're out in the boonies for much of the trip.  Gasoline, repair shops and emergency services are widely dispursed.

For Map 3, Google offers "Walking" and "Bicycle" options.   Both will give you routes which are safe to walk on, BUT, at least for the maps I was producing, the Bicycle maps took me through a number of restricted Bike Paths in the area.  If you were walking with a back pack, you'd likely be OK, but if you were pulling a cart, you might have difficulty getting through the "man traps" they sometimes erect on these paths.

That brings us very nicely to the fact that for each of these routes, you need to test them before you simply add them to your BOB.  For the Walking and Bicycle routes, you can still drive them, but get out and walk those portions restricted from automobiles to see if they are passable with a pack on your back.

For Maps 2 and 3, when you are doing your practice runs, you should also very clearly note every single bridge, tunnel or other possible impediment along your route.  These are your choke points, and you may want to map alternatives around them.

Handily, Google maps also allows you to make on-the-fly adjustments by simply clicking and dragging a portion of the route, and moving it to other locations.  Very cool, indeed!

Lastly, Google maps also has a Public Transit option.  It will not work everywhere (for instance, it would not map a route from my home to my Long-Distance Location) but it has been surprisingly accurate for local and Intermediate routes.

Tomorrow:  Voluntary Activation of your Evacuation Plan.

Accept The Challenge

The work involved with identifying evacuation locations, and then mapping multiple routes is quite time intensive.  You need to first make agreements with the owners of the locations and then work out the logistics of getting there.

All for an event which may never happen.

Think of this process like any other insurance policy:  It hurts to spend the resources up front, but you're sure happy you did so when you need to collect!

Don't be short-sighted.  Time is the greatest investment in this process.  Allocate a few hours to consider your alternatives, and at least begin the process of establishing relationships with others.  You might be surprised to find them thinking along the same lines!

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.