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Monday, May 31, 2010

A New Memorial Day Perspective

You're in our hearts and minds.  Thank you for your past service.

Over the next couple of days, I'll be writing about my Appleseed experience from this past weekend.  It truly gave me a new perspective on why we need to memorialize the past acts of people who gave their lives for our freedoms.

And not just Revolutionary War soldiers and citizens, but all people that have given their lives over the course of our country's history in defense of liberty.

We must tell their story.  It must be accurate.  We must not allow them to be forgotten or marginalized

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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.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


There are always people that will try to cheat, rob and steal.  When times get tough, the number of people willing to break the law to make a couple of bucks naturally increases.

Counterfeiting is one of those niche markets.  And it's a very profitable "business" to be in.

Gold Jewelry  - Selling your extra or broken jewelry for cash has become all the rage.  Companies are popping up all over the place that do this.  It is so profitable that Walmart, Sears and Kmart are all getting into the business.

Lots of people attend "parties" at the homes of friends where they can get their jewelry tested, and walk away with cash-in-hand.  Many "Cash For Gold" party attendees get a rude awakening when they find out their 18 or 22 karat gold chain is actually 10k (or is fake).  "But the clasp says 18k!"  Yeah, about that.  Surprise!

Personal story:  I recently broke out my acid testing kit and my jewelers loup (a fancy term for a magnifying glass) to check out some of the jewelry we've got.  10 years or so ago, my wife bought me a very nice gold chain for a medallion I own.  It was sold to her at a mall kiosk as a "solid gold" chain. 

Using the loup, I checked the clasp and saw a marking of "USA 925".  Hmm.  Gold is generally identified in karats - 10k, 18k, 24k, etc.  24k is pure gold, 18k gold is 75% gold, etc.  Since 22k gold is 91.7% pure, this marking confused me.

It then dawned on me that Sterling SILVER is 92.5% pure.  Upon further inspection of the clasp, I saw the word, "Danecraft".  I Googled it and found the company.  They specialize in...... 24k gold over Sterling silver jewelry!

Now, unless you knew this company, and had a loup with you to read the clasp, you would think you were buying a solid gold chain.  It would even pass a scratch test!  You'd need to file the chain past the gold plating, which to do so, would ruin the chain.

Caveat emptor, baby...

Cashiers Checks - With all of the recent security upgrades to our paper money, it is becoming more and more difficult to forge US currency.  So.... forgers are turning to the next best thing:  Cashiers Checks.  Unlike paper money, there are no universal standards for verification.

One bank may use a watermark.  The next may actually use some sort of security thread similar to US currency.  Another bank may simply use a high-grade paper.  The bottom line is, you don't know what security features each bank uses.

The FDIC regularly publishes press releases about which banks are having their cashiers checks forged.  In the past few years, the numbers have skyrocketed - I see at least 2- or 3-times the reports as was common just a few years ago.

Caveat venditor (seller beware)

Precious Metals and Coins -  Prepare to pucker.  Before you proceed, read this article, "Inside a Chinese Coin Counterfeiting Ring".  Be sure you go through the picture gallery and read the detailed information under each caption.

Scary stuff.

These guys are smart.  They're (generally) not counterfeiting ulta-high end coins.  Most of these seem to be coins selling up to a few hundred dollars.  Coins where it would not make financial sense to have them professionally authenticated prior to purchase.

With older forgeries, you used to be able to run a magnet over them to pick out the fakes made from iron.  You could put them on a scale and see if they were heavy or light.  You could take calipers to them and check the coin's dimensions. 

Not so much any more.  The fakes are so good that many times, they will pass these tests. 

Even more disturbing, if you looked at the picture gallery (and the picture at the top of this page), you'd have seen that they are counterfeiting "slabbed" coins.  These are coins which have been professionally graded and certified.  Yep, they're forging the certifications as well.

The Internet is full of stories about counterfeit gold and silver bullion.  I recently saw a video from a gold foundry in Germany where they found at least one gold bar was made from titanium dipped in gold.  THAT was an expensive lesson.

Accept The Challenge

CYA.  Sadly, you need to assume someone is out to rip you off.  At best, your seller may have been duped and is simply passing along tainted goods.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

Jewelry - test it yourself.  A acid testing kit will run you about $30 on eBay, and comes with the acid and scratch stones.  It really is very easy to do, and can generally be done in an area where the scratch cannot be seen (the underside of a heavy chain or the bottom of a ring, etc.).  In most instances, it can easily be buffed out.

Of course, the problem would be in returning the jewelry after you tested it.  The store would say that you swapped out their good stuff for the fakes.  You could always have them tape shut and initial the box (across the tape), then open it at home while filming the process so you had a sort of "chain of custody" thing going on.  Seems a bit much, though.

Personally, if the chain was a hundred bucks or so, I'd take the risk.  If it were more, I think I'd only do business with a long-time, reputable jeweler.  It would likely cost more, but the chances are, you'd be getting the real deal.

Cashiers checks -  Call the bank to verify it is a valid cashiers check.  Virtually all cashiers checks are linked to a central database in each bank.  If at all possible, call the specific branch that produced the check (if it is displayed on the check), as sometimes the centralized Customer Service reps in the service center have no idea how to verify the information.  As a last resort, actually visit a branch of the bank it's drawn on, and ask for cash BEFORE handing over your goods.

My advice:  If you can't verify the check is valid, don't accept it as payment, and walk away from the transaction.  A savvy crooked seller will want to transact business in the evening after the banks are closed or on the weekend.  If you insist on verifying, they might offer to pay a premium, in cash, right NOW!

Of course, you'll end up having sold the item for the amount of the cash premium alone, once the check is deemed to be a fraud.  Trust your gut...

Coins and bullion - It's getting more and more difficult to catch.  With silver bullion, at a minimum check that it is at least stamped .999 and one troy ounce (or whatever weight you're buying).

For both coins and bullion, buy from a reputable seller - be it a brick-and-mortar store, or online.  If using eBay, be sure the seller has TONS of positive feedback and some sort of money-back guarantee.  ANY reputable shop will accept the return of fakes.

With any coins I buy, I always do a weight and size test.  I've now taken to doing a weight and scratch tests on bullion bars and rounds, as the test area is virtually invisible.  I would NOT recommend doing scratch tests on numismatic coins, as you will definitely reduce their value.  Either get them professionally evaluated or accept the risk of a fake.

If you're into Morgan silver dollars, I'd be especially wary.  There are tons of the fakes on the market right now.  Here in the SF Bay Area, there is one shop in San Francisco that is selling these coins on Craigslist.  Anyone who follows coins knows to stay away from this shop, but tourists and the uninitiated are getting slammed.

Personally, this is one of the reasons I primarily buy gold and silver bullion or 90% silver, and not numismatic coins.  The risk involved with these coins is simply not worth it to me.

Photo courtesy of Jinghua Shei.
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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, May 28, 2010

Doin' The Jerky Thang

I love jerky.  Beef, venison, turkey - even pork (FYI, use tenderloin trimmed of all fat).  For tomorrow's Appleseed gig, I decided to make up a batch of jerky.  Supposedly, the meal breaks are rather sketchy - eat when you can - so I'm bringing a bunch of quick, light foods.  Jerky fits the bill.

I've been making my own jerky for many years.  When I first started, I got all fancy-schmancy and whipped up my own recipes.  Some were good, some were just OK, and most sucked.

I already owned a meat slicer, so I can buy the least fatty, cheapest piece of meat and slice it up myself.  One of the keys to good jerky is having a consistent thickness, and it is very difficult to do by hand with a knife.

Lately, I've gotten lazy.  Instead of using my own marinade, I just buy Yoshida's Original Gourmet Sauce.  This stuff is absolutely fantastic.

The slicing issue is also sometimes side-stepped.  My store has recently begun selling bottom round beef that is already sliced.  It's marketed as "carnitas" meat.  When it is no more than 20 cents a pound more expensive than a whole chunk of bottom round, I'll buy it pre-sliced.

I also use a dehydrator.  You can get away with making it in the oven at a very low temperature, but the dehydrators are very easy to use.  (Note to self:  Make some in the oven just to see how it compares to dehydrated jerky).

The process is very easy.  Slice your meat, add enough marinade to SOAK the meat, and let it sit over night (or at least 6 hours).  Make sure your marinade has a decent amount of salt to aid in the dehydrating process and the preservation of the meat. 

In our household, the meat never lasts more than a day or two.  If I'm taking it with me on a trip and expect any to be left by the time I leave, threats must be made!

If you're making up jerky for long-term storage (many weeks or even months), you'll need to get more technical and be sure you have proper amounts of salt and cure.

Choose meat that has as little fat marbling in it as possible.  Cut out the big chunks before it hits the dehydrator, but don't go too crazy.  I'll show you why in a minute.

My meat is generally sliced about 1/8 inch thick, and takes 5-6 hours (at 155F) to get to the dryness I like (still a bit chewy).  About half way through, I take out the trays and pat each piece of meat with a paper towel to soak up some of the natural fats and oils in the meat.  I'll flip over each piece, and put the trays back into the dehydrator in the opposite order (the top tray becomes the bottom tray, etc) to ensure even drying.

Once the meat is done, I'll do the final fat trimming.  By this time, everything is nice and tight, and cutting out the fat is quite easy.  Here's a piece of finished jerky straight out of the dehydrator -

Here's what it looks like after trimming -

Yes, I keep the scraps and "somehow" they disappear... ;-)

If I'm going away for a while, I'll take a portion or two and vacuum seal them up.  For this weekend, I just put it in the "Threat Bag" and into the day pack it goes.

Accept The Challenge

Jerky is incredibly expensive to buy.  It is equally as cheap to make.

I started out with 2 1/2 pounds of meat and one bottle of the Yoshida's marinade.  My total cost was just over $8.  After all was said and done, I ended up with just shy of 1 pound of jerky (15.6 oz).

Online "gourmet" jerky costs upwards of $32 a pound!  The run-of-the-mill jerky found in grocery and convenience stores runs about $20 a pound.

My buddy that's joining me at the Appleseed shoot made up a homemade batch that he put in a smoker for two hours before putting it in the oven.  I'll have to practice my bartering skills on the firing line...

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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, May 27, 2010

Ready For Appleseed

I'm ready to rock.

I've finished up tweaking my Ruger 10/22 in preparation of this weekend's Appleseed rifle training.  I added the Tech-Sights upgraded front and rear site package (TSR200), a couple of Uncle Mike's swivel studs and swivels and a USGI web sling.

If you notice, there is what appears to be an extended magazine in the rifle.  Here in California, we are limited to 10-round magazines, and the standard 10/22 magazine sits flush with the stock when it's inserted.

I'm using a device made by Andean, Inc., that allows you to join two standard magazines together.

We'll see how well it works.  The magazines are joined together by clicking this device into the bottoms of the two magazines.  The instructions recommend that you use Super Glue to help ensure they stay secure.  I'm not going to do this, as I want to see if there will be any problems with its use.

I must say that it makes unloading the rifle much easier, as it give you something to grab, plus the extra weight helps the joined magazines drop out more easily.

Ryan over at TSLRF (active duty military) commented that the military has extensively tested double mags, and the news isn't good.  They tend to get filled up with dirt, and the cartridge retention "wings" tend to get bent out of shape.  I'm bringing 6 magazines with me, so if I have problems with the "joiner", I'll revert back to just using the standard mags.

I zeroed in the rifle on Monday.  Using a special tool from Tech-Sights (that SHOULD be included with the sights... hint, hint....), making the adjustments was brain-dead easy.  Very impressed.

What I had most difficulty with was in the proper use of the sling.  Remember, I'm a rifle-newbee.  My only past experience had been in using a sling as a "hasty sling" where you basically just wrap your support arm through the sling to add a bit of stability.

The Appleseed program wants you to use the sling correctly!  They had a couple of articles with instructions on how to properly use the sling, and they were useless, at least for me.  I correctly understood which loop through which to pass my arm, but it just wasn't working correctly.

Finally, I jumped on YouTube and found this video -

I watched it, and the clouds parted, the birds chirped and the angels sang. I finally understood what they were talking about!

Using the sling in this manner adds an incredible amount of stability to your shot. Really. It was amazing.

Riflemen, I need some insight: I have the vertical movement of my front sight under control. The breathing suggestions from Appleseed work like a charm.

I noticed, though, what seems to be a lot of horizontal movement - keeping the front sight steady from side-to-side.

Any ideas what might be causing this, or what I can do to control it?

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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.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reading Between The Lines

In a post titled, "Awareness" that I did last week, I talked about staying in touch with the world around you.  To be successful, and stay ahead of what's happening, you need to read about EVERYTHING that's going on - financial, political, international, etc.

I should have also mentioned that the information you read might not be worth the electrons on which it's printed.  It's important to dig deeper some times.  As Paul Harvey used to say, "And now... the REST of the story!"

Take home sales, for instance.  We hear talk about how sales are up.  The Government Scribes (reporters) might make mention about how inventories are also up (uh oh), but it's really no big deal.

Well, how's this for a big deal?  If the government wasn't guaranteeing the loans being made, they wouldn't be made at all!

Yep, it seems as though a really, really big percentage of home mortgages are guaranteed by one governement entity or another.  How much?  20%?  50%?  Certainly not 75%!

No, how does 90% grab ya?
The FHA and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which regulators seized in 2008, have been financing more than 90 percent of U.S. home lending after a retreat by banks and the collapse of the market for mortgage bonds without government-backed guarantees.
Banks won't make home loans unless they are guaranteed by the federal government.  Why?  Because no one believes we're anywhere near the bottom of the market.  Not even close.

I'm guessing that the Small Business Administration is doing some "volume business" right now as well.  If you were a bank, you'd have to be out of your mind to make a commercial loan right now.

Unless Nanny guaranteed it for you, of course.

So really, how bad is this market?

Not so good.  That is, if you believe the head of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) -
FHA lending last quarter may have topped the combined volume of government-supported Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in a home-lending market that’s still a “government-financed market,” David Stevens, the agency’s head, said today at a conference in New York, citing research by consultant Potomac Partners.

“This is a market purely on life support, sustained by the federal government,” he said at the Mortgage Bankers Association conference. “Having FHA do this much volume is a sign of a very sick system.”
Ya think?  (Question to self:  How long is this guy going to stay employed with this administration?)

So, the next time you hear how great the real estate market is doing, consider the underlying strength of the real market.  Take the numbers the Fed pours down the gullets of the Government Scribes, and take one tenth of that.  THAT is the real market.

Accept The Challenge

Don't be duped.  It is becoming more and more difficult to be able to make financial plans when you can't trust the information that is published.

I strongly recommend Shadow Stats if you really want to dig deep into how our economic indicators are manipulated, and what the real number are.  For instance, you know that if you are unemployed and no longer get unemployment payments, that in the government's eyes, you are NOT counted as unemployed, right?

If you dig into how the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is twisted and abused, your brain will explode.

Use third-party sources such as Shadow Stats, Calculated Risk (absolutely phenomenal stuff), and a host of other sites that dig into the numbers and turn it into information you can use.  Get the real story, not the one being handed out.

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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.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Unpredictable Violence

I'm going to post a re-print of one of our Newsletters ("Unpredictable Violence"), as I think it is quite applicable to some recent events, and might be helpful to many folks in the coming months.

We're watching the riots in Greece over their version of austerity that has come as a result of government over-spending.  It's not going over too well with the people.

Thailand is ablaze.  I read that 300 buildings have been torched.

Recently, the home of a banking executive was swarmed by a group of SEIU members.  14 bus loads of people just showed up on his doorstep (literally).   When the police arrived, they decided to do nothing, out of fear of inciting a riot.
A trio of officers who belatedly answered our calls confessed a fear that arrests might "incite" these trespassers.
Feel safe if this were happening on YOUR doorstep?

What would you do?

The time to think about suddenly being caught up in the middle of a group of angry people is NOW.

Low Probability/High Impact Events

In our Emergency Preparedness course, we talk about disaster events that are very unlikely to happen, but if they do occur, the consequences can be devastating.

An extreme example would be a meteor screaming out of the heavens and landing on your house.  There is little you can to to prevent it, It's very unlikely to happen, but would be horrible should it occur.

There are a number of events that are much more likely to occur - although still unlikely - yet most people give them almost no thought. Like the meteor example above, there may be little we can do to stop the disaster from happening, but there ARE things we can do to minimize the negative impact.

Do you remember the rioting in LA after the first Rodney King verdict?  It was essentially spontaneous.  As soon as the verdict was known, the lid came off, and the violence escallated.  If you were in the wrong place when it started, you were in immediate, life-threatening danger.

Staying out of LA on the day a verdict was to be presented would have been a prudent decision.  You have no idea how it will turn out, and some people might not like it. 

The same goes with Super Bowl winners, NBA Championships and World Series final games.  People get crazy when big events happen, and that craziness often leads to violence.

Don't tempt fate.  Stay away.

But what if you're caught totally off-guard and find yourself in the middle of a threatening situation?  Here are some ideas:

Assume the police are overwhelmed.  At the very minimum, it will take several minutes for them to arrive.  A lot of bad things can happen in 5 minutes.  You are now 100% responsible for your own well-being until they arrive, or until you can get to a safer location.

If you're in a car, stay in it and lock all doors and windows.  Drive out of the area as quickly as possible.  If your tires are slashed, don't stop.  Drive on the rims if need be.  Escape and evasion are your priorities.  Exit the car, and you're likely to become a victim.

If you're on the street, get inside as quickly as possible.  If you're able, pick an office building before you pick a retail store, as stores are more likely to be targeted by looters.  Move to the back of the building if possible.  Try not to go to upper floors - if a fire is started, you may be trapped.

Arm yourself.  If you have a firearm, defensive spray or stunning device, have it ready and prepare yourself mentally to use it in self-defense.  If these aren't accessible, grab whatever is available.

ALWAYS look for a chance to get to safety.

Never let your guard down.

For Consideration:  What types of events might trigger a spontaneous event in your area?  What events or issues are people in your area especially sensitive, angry or concerned about?
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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, May 20, 2010

Buncha Stuff

Did you see this?  Some guy out here in California is selling space in a massive, upscale bomb shelter (how's that for a difficult-to-imagine concept!) -
A company with a doomsday plan is taking money for what it promises will be a comfortable, nuke-proof bunker under the Mojave Desert, with an atrium, gym and jail, and sloppy joes and pearl potatoes on the menu.

Robert Vicino, who runs the Del Mar-based company called Vivos, has collected deposits on half the 132 spaces planned in the 13,000-square-foot bunker in Barstow.
Fifty grand per space, deposits of $5000 for adults and $2500 for kids.  No charge for Fluffy The Cat.

On the face of it, it seems a bit odd, but it might not be so far-fetched.  As long as you could get there before, "the balloon goes up," you'd be a part of a community of like-minded individuals.

Still, it is Barstow.  If you've never been to this part of California, it is hot.  Really hot.  Major league desert.  It's right in the neighborhood of Death Valley, which is the hottest spot in the US.

It looks kind of cool (pun intended) though.  They've got a number of photos and videos on their site.  An idea whose time has come?

I've mentioned that I'm going to be doing an Appleseed rifle shooting course at the end of this month.  I'm getting my 10/22 up-to-snuff with new sights from Tech-Sights (that was a bit of a pain in the butt - changing the front sight in particular) and adding a stud and swivel for the sling.

A buddy of mine purchased a multiple magazine holder for his rifle.  The one he bought holds two magazines.  I have since found them for 2, 3 and 4 magazines (remember here in the People's Republic of California, we're not allowed any magazines that hold more than 10 cartridges).

Here's a link to the two-mag holder.
Here's a link to the three-mag holder.  I'm leaning towards this one.  It seems as though it wouldn't hang down as low as the back-to-back two-mag holder, thus being less of an issue when shooting from the prone position.

Do any of you have any experience with either of these?  Any insights would be appreciated.

How sweet is this?  Arizona is telling LA they had better "play nice" or the lights might go out -
An Arizona utility commissioner said he's willing to pull the plug on Los Angeles if the city goes through with a boycott of his state.

In a letter to the city of LA, a member of Arizona's power commission said he would ask Arizona utility companies to cut off the power supply to Los Angeles. LA gets about 25 percent of its power from Arizona.
Wow.  Consequences for your actions.  What a concept...

Here's a shocker:  We've been lied to.  Again.  It seems that emergency rooms are NOT mostly used by the uninsured -
The results may surprise some who believe that ERs mainly serve uninsured people, says second author Amy Bernstein, chief of the Analytic Studies Branch in the Office of Analysis and Epidemiology for the CDC and the National Center for Health Statistics.

"We were trying to show characteristics of people who use the ER. There are some perceptions. ... A lot of people think it's predominantly used by uninsured people because they don't have a normal source of primary care, but this particular brief shows this is not the case," Bernstein says.
The study doesn't say, but my guess is that they go where the free services are offered - mostly to their county hospitals.

So, it seems that we have ANOTHER reason to scrap the administration's Universal Health Care Plan.  Yeah, like that's gonna happen...

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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, May 19, 2010

Mental Preparedness

In our last post, we discussed Awareness - how keeping in touch with the world around you can both keep you safe and informed.  Being aware of your surroundings and the world in general is great.  But, if you don't have the commitment to act, that awareness goes for naught.

I don't know if this reluctance to act is a result of their individual upbringing or if it's the result of a general, "Let someone else take care of you," attitude that seems to permeate our society.

I just don't know.  Personal Responsibility in general seems to be waning.

In two of our workshops (Refuse To Be A Victim and Defensive Sprays and Stunning Devices) we pose a couple of questions to our students -
Am I prepared to harm, permanently injure or kill another human being to save my life or the life of a family member?
I am constantly amazed at the number of people that hesitate when presented with this question. In both of these classes, we've usually discussed using a handgun for self-defense. Many will say that if they had a gun, they would try to "wing" the assailant.

I tell them, flat-out, that if that is their plan and attitude, they'll most likely end up dead or badly injured.

In a high-stress environment where you perceive the need to defend yourself with a handgun, you will almost certainly not have the fine motor skills - nor the time - to make a precision shot.  Most likely, you're going to be scared sh**less.

I tell them that the only way to ensure their survival is to fire at center of mass, and to keep firing until the threat has stopped. The answer is that brutal and that simple.

Your attitude must be the same whether your self-defense tool is a gun, a Taser, a baseball bat or a frying pan.  You must fight like your life depends on it, because it probably does.

The same attitude applies to Emergency Preparedness.  If the weather station says you're about to be visited by a hurricane, follow and act on your plan.  Get the hell out of Dodge!  The sooner you act on your information (awareness) the less likely you are to be harmed.

The second question is about personal confidence -
Am I prepared to tolerate the judgment of my family, friends and neighbors if I harm, permanently injure or kill another human being in self-defense?
Again, I am stunned at people who give a damn what other people may think of them for saving their own life.  But they're out there.

It is usually around this time when I remember why I'm teaching these classes.

Many people have gone through the Awareness classes, self-defense training classes, and emergency preparedness classes. They have a plan for dealing with every possible contingency. It looks great!

But they don't have the will to act. There are SO MANY people out there that simply don't have the Mental Preparedness to "pull the trigger," so to speak.

Accept The Challenge

We don't take skills-enhancing classes or emergency preparedness workshops as academic exercises.  We do this to prepare ourselves for bad situations.  The Awareness training teaches us how to identify these situations, and the Skills training teaches us what to do.

But the individual has got to have the intestinal fortitude and commitment to use those skills when the situation dictates.  It might not be pleasant to do so, but the alternative - inaction - is infinitely worse.

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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.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Quite the interesting weekend.  Stories to follow.... maybe!

The out-of-touch-with-reality or "it will never happen to me" perspective many people have is always surprising to me.  I see it all the time with regards to both emergency preparedness and with personal safety.  People seem to believe they are somehow surrounded by a force field that will protect them from bad things.

What they're really doing is clicking together the heels of their ruby red slippers and hoping someone else will cover their butts.

Regardless of the topic (preps or safety), two techniques or daily practices can bring you success in your goals - Awareness and Mental Preparedness.

Awareness is really as simple as being in tune with what's going on around you.  A widely followed Awareness Level "rating" was one developed by Col. Jeff Cooper.  It has 4 levels of awareness:  White, Yellow, Orange and Red.
  • Code White:  You feel secure, whether you are actually safe or not.  You are unaware of your environment.
  • Code Yellow:  You are cautious.  You should spend most of your waking hours in this state.  Relaxed alertness.
  • Code Orange:  You are aware of a potential danger or harm.  Something has happened which causes you identify a potential attacker or other type of threat.  You begin the process of removing yourself from the situation and assessing your defensive options should the situation escalate.
  • Code Red:  The threat is real.  You are in trouble.  The Flee or Fight decision must be made and acted upon.
This series of codes was developed with personal defense in mind.  They need not only be used in this way.  These codes or something similar should be a part of your safety AND emergency preparedness plans.  In both instances, they should be viewed as the indicators or "tripwires" to move from stage to stage in your plan.

For instance, just as when seeing two men in hoodies walking towards you on a dark street would move you to (at least) Code Orange and you would begin implementing defensive safety plans, a sudden spike in the price of corn, rice or beans might move you to begin a more aggressive dry-goods purchasing plan.

Accept The Challenge

It is all about being in tune with the world around you. We all want to come home after work and "veg out" - not having to think about anything more stressful than, "butter or not on the popcorn?"

Sorry to break it to you, but you're and adult, and that comes with responsibilities.   Hiding your head in the sand is not allowed!

Stay alert with financial matters by scanning the Wall Street Journal online each day.  Watch trends for inflation, the price of precious metals and oil, grain futures, the direction of the dollar, talk of taxes, etc.  If you don't understand a concept, dig a bit deeper to broaden your knowledge.

Stay in tune with politics.  Like it or not, they affect your life in HUGE ways.  Unless you understand what the various levels of government are planning, you have no way to adapt your own personal plans.

With regards to personal safety, as the old saying goes, "Keep your head on a swivel."  There's no need to approach life with a "scared sh**less" attitude, but notice what's going on around you when you're out.  Know which areas of town are best not visited during the night.  Use your head and trust your gut!

Don't go jogging in the park by yourself at dusk.  When returning to your car in a parking lot, scan around the area for "unsavory characters."  Have (and know how to use) the most potent self-defense tool your state allows, be it a handgun, stun gun or pepper spray.

I'll talk about Mental Preparedness on Wednesday.

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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, May 14, 2010

Melt Up

If you are a bit overwhelmed and confused with all of the economic mumbo-jumbo that is flying around, I strongly encourage you to watch this video. It was just produced by the National Inflation Association.

It is quite the eye-opener. Having been published yesterday (literally) it is full of current information on current events.

Some of the highlights it covers:

  • Inflation/Deflation/Hyper-Inflation
  • EU problems
  • Budget deficit impacts
  • Food inflation
  • Debt rating scams
  • Unemployment impacts
Here's a little taste:  If the entire federal budget were cut - the military, every single department and cabinet position, every single court, Congress... the whole shooting match - except for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, we would STILL run a budget deficit this year.

Good luck with that.

The video is 55 minutes, but is well worth the time.  Hey, it's the weekend - what else are you gonna do?

Accept The Challenge

What is it going to take to get people to realize where we're heading?  I have family members that I talk to about this, and they look at me like I'm from another planet.  "We'll get through this, don't you worry..."

I "talk up" gold and silver - a lot.  This video only strengthens my rationale and what I see with my own eyes with regards to the dollar, the euro and precious metals.  The "fat cats" don't believe in fiat currencies any more.

And for goodness sakes, don't take on any more debt.  Although future inflated incomes will make the debt payments less expensive, it is much better to put those dollars into tangible goods - food, precious metals, firearms, ammunition, durable clothing, medical supplies, seeds, canning equipment - you get the idea.

And do everything in your power to diversify your income streams.  You've seen me talking about what I'm doing in my own life.  DO NOT rely on a single stream of income.  If things get truly ugly, the social services ("the safety net") will not be there - at least not at the levels we've seen in the past.  You'll be on your own without the proverbial "pot to piss in".

Plan and act.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Small Biz Regulatory Nightmares

 I've mentioned that I'm involved in putting together another business venture with some other folks.  I discussed some of the headaches ("Dealing With Government Workers") we ran into with regards to the first property we were considering for our business.

After the last interaction with the city, I've learned to keep my mouth shut.  With this new property, I will only speak in generalities.  There will be no disclosure of the specific site or business-type until the very last minute.

We've also come to the conclusion that it will be better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

Here is one of the city regulations:  We need to have a new sign installed.  The city regs say that the fee to the city is based upon the cost of the sign.  The cost to the city to enforce their sign law is unchanged by the cost of the sign.  It either meets size and "local standards" laws or it doesn't.  The price of the sign is irrelevant, yet that's how they set their fee.

What might be the reaction to this fee structure be from business owners?  As one of my partners pointed out, the first reaction would be to put up the cheapest, skankiest sign available.  That would really help with making a business district look like a business district, wouldn't it?  It would explain why this city has so many business signs that are of the plastic banner type.

Let's say that you want a nice, business-like sign.  What would you do to get around this regulation?  Let's say you wanted a sign that costs $5000.  It's been suggested that you could agree to pay the full $5000 for the sign, but ask the sign maker to give you an invoice (to be shown to the city) for $2500.  To help convince them to do this, you could offer to pay $2500 via a business check to cover the invoice, and you'd pay the other $2500 in cash.

The sign maker would jump at this.  They make a full sale, but only half of the income would need to be reported on taxes.

City, can you say, "unintended consequences?"  They incent you to find ways around the laws.  Instead of being a helpful entity to attempt to influence you to do business in their city, they throw up roadblock after roadblock and fee after fee.

Great plan.

Governments have come to the realization that their laws are encouraging people to break them.  Instead of changing the laws to encourage commerce, they make new laws to tighten their grip on your business.  A new law was recently included in, of all things, the recent ObamaCare bill.
An all-but-overlooked provision of the health reform law is threatening to swamp U.S. businesses with a flood of new tax paperwork.

Section 9006 of the health care bill -- just a few lines buried in the 2,409-page document -- mandates that beginning in 2012 all companies will have to issue 1099 tax forms not just to contract workers but to any individual or corporation from which they buy more than $600 in goods or services in a tax year.
So, now businesses - regardless of their size - will be required to get tax information from every single person or business from whom they buy anything.  Not just contract workers, but anyone or anything that you paid $600 or more.

The government's plan is to match 1099 data with business tax returns.  If they see you received 1099's totaling $100,000 but only showed income of $75,000, you'll be getting a visit from your local IRS agent (followed shortly thereafter by state and local tax collectors).

What if you're a business like a used car lot or a pawn shop, and your suppliers - people selling their cars or other expensive goods (like coins, rare guitars or artwork) don't want to get 1099'd?  My guess is that they'll simply provide an invalid SSN.  How is the buying business going to verify the number is valid? 

When that "loophole" is plugged, another one will be found.  Over-taxed businesses WILL find a way to make a living.  If the government wants a piece of that via taxes, they had better come to the realization that lower taxes encourage higher compliance.

Accept The Challenge

If you are even considering starting a small business, go talk to the city folks in planning and zoning first.  If you can make it a Home Based business, your headaches are much smaller, though you're generally limited to the types of business you can run (most cities here in California don't allow home based businesses to have customers come to your home - day cares being an exception).

If you're going to have a regular, retail business, expect to jump through a ton of hoops.  The cities look at you as an ATM machine.  They will nickel and dime you to death, if you allow them.

If you don't adopt a private, "Us versus Them" perspective, you'll be taken advantage of.  And I said private because you do not want to get some low-level bureaucrat pissed off at you.  They have regulatory power, they know it, and they won't be hesitant to use it.

Welcome to America, comrade...

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Payoff From A Day At The Range

Even though I teach handgun classes, I don't get to shoot as much as I'd like.  It's one of those odd quirks.

I had some meetings yesterday about another business venture I'm helping to start-up.  The meetings were in the same town where I teach my shooting classes, PLUS I had promised one of my students that I'd drop off some NRA Marksmanship targets for her.

I figured, "what the heck", I might as well get some range time in.

When she had first asked me about the pistol marksmanship stuff, I told her how it works, and how I had gone through the steps of the program up to the Expert level a few years ago.  It dawned on me that I still had not completed the full program by getting my Distinguished Expert rating.

I dropped off the targets as promised, and brought a dozen more for me to do some practice for the Distinguished qualification.  As a warm-up, I re-did the Expert program:

In the Expert, the position for which you're qualifying is standing, one handed, with strong side and weak side stages.  In the first stage, you fire 5 shots in 3 minutes AND 5 shots in 10 seconds with your strong side hand at a target 30 feet away.  The second stage (using a new target) is the same thing, only it is done with the weak side hand.

The two targets/stages are then considered a "course" with a maximum possible score of 200 (20 shots times a maximum score of 10 per shot).  You then need to accumulate 5 courses - two must be scored at 130 or better, and three must be scored at 150 or better.

When I did the program a few years ago, all of my scores were in the 160's.  This go-around, they were better:  191, 181, 193, 182, 192 - a decent improvement.

Now that I was warmed up, I did a couple of practice courses for the Distinguished Expert rating (I'm going to do the actual witnessed courses in a couple of weeks).  This qualification is a bit different. 

Each course is made up of 4 stages (all on the same target).  It is pushing you for speed AND accuracy:  1) 6 rounds, strong side, 2 hands in 10 seconds; 2) 6 rounds, strong side, 1 hand in 10 seconds; 3) 6 rounds, weak side, 2 hands in 10 seconds; 4) 6 rounds, weak side, 1 hand in 10 seconds.

So, there are 24 shots and a total of 240 possible points per course.  To earn the rating, you must have 3 courses of 175 or better, and 3 courses of 200 or better.

My two practice rounds were scored at 217 and 220.  I was pleased... ;-)

Accept The Challenge

It's very easy to become complacent in keeping our various skills up-to-date.  Most skills are perishable - they degrade over time if not practiced on a regular basis.  Even though I don't get to shoot as much as I'd like, I still get to the range once or twice every single month.

When I shot the scores in the 160's, I was at the range once every 3 months or so.  No consistency whatsoever.  The easily measurable improvement in my scores was proof-positive to me that the, "use it or lose it" adage is valid.

What skills do you have that you don't need to use on an every day basis?  How do you keep them sharp? 

I rarely have need to make bow lines, trucker hitches and taut line knots in my regular life.  To keep them up-to-date, I have an automatic reminder on my calendar to practice knot tying. I spend 15 minutes or so practicing (and often re-learning!) how to do a half-dozen different knots because I know circumstances might present themselves where tying these knots might save my life.

Stay sharp!

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Still Thinking Out Loud

How are they going to spin this?

If you only read the Main Stream Media (MSM), the Tea Party movement is nothing but a stealth Republican movement.  Those of us that have participated in Tea Party events just scratch our heads when we hear this.  We are equally disgusted with Republican politicians as we are with Democrat politicians.  With the exception of a very few officials, they're all corrupt, regardless of party affiliation.  They're just two sides of the same coin.

Saturday, Republicans in Utah showed an incredible - almost unprecedented - amount of conviction by dumping their long-term Senator, Bob Bennett.

If the Tea Parties are controlled by the Republicans, why would they have allowed a powerful, 3-term Senator to be dumped?

They wouldn't.  How ya gonna spin that?  I can already hear the scampering of the rats...

The major reason for his ouster was his vote of approval for Bush's bank bailout.  His constituents told him not to vote for it.  He knew better, and did it anyway.  He was also the author of a universal health care bill, and was a major seeker of earmarks.

He's now going to be able to apply for unemployment insurance.  Because of the way Utah chooses who gets to be on the primary ballot, he won't even be able throw is hat into the ring, unless he can get elected via a write-in campaign.

This arrogant bastard individual showed his true colors after being kicked to the curb -
"Looking back on them, with one or two very minor exceptions, I wouldn't have cast any of them any differently, even if I had known at the time they were going to cost me my career."
Well, Bob, that's why they tossed you out.  Utah, like much of America, is sick and tired of representatives such as yourself.  We expect you to act as we tell you, not as you choose.  Just like any other employee, if you don't do as you're told, you get fired.

Enjoy the time off, but I wouldn't ask for a Letter Of Recommendation...

Speaking of spin (or maybe just gross incompetence) I was almost speechless watching the MSM try to explain the 1000 point drop in the Dow Jones last Thursday.  Someone floated the "fat finger" hypothesis:  Because the "M" and the "B" are so close to each other on a keyboard, a careless clerk made a sell order for a billion shares instead of a million shares.

When I first heard it proposed, I literally laughed out loud.  When I heard reporter after reporter repeat this idea, I got nauseous. 

Think about the absurdity of the idea.  The fate of our major stock markets are dependent upon typing skills?  Did even one of these Keepers of the Fourth Estate stop and think about how idiotic that sounded?  Question it even for a second before the studio lights lit up and they started their "report"?

Gawd, this country is in trouble...

Regardless of what caused the sudden crash (my guess is it had something to do with electronic trading programs - we'll see), I want to know what got it to recover just as quickly.  It still took a big hit, but a big part of the loss was recovered.  Also, what cause the freefall to stop?

Hey, American Press!  Take a look into Executive Order 12631 and the Plunge Protection Team (PPT) it spawned.

The European Union (EU) is following America's lead.  They announced a 750 billion Euro (about a trillion dollars) bailout package.
European policy makers unveiled an unprecedented loan package worth almost $1 trillion and a program of bond purchases as they spearheaded a global drive to stop a sovereign-debt crisis that threatened to shatter confidence in the euro.
The dollar is garbage.  The euro is garbage.  You don't own precious metals, why?

A belated Happy Mother's Day!  I was with my own mom, wife and sis-in-laws.  I hope yours was as pleasant as ours!

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Appleseed Bound

To say that my rifle skills are lacking, would be an understatement.  I've got a number of rifles, but I'm simply not proficient enough with them.  Push me much past 100 yards, and I might as well be throwing stones.

A couple of years ago, I saw a flier for The Appleseed Project in a gun store in Sacramento.  I read it, and it was promptly forgotten.

I kept seeing Appleseed again and again, so I dug a little deeper and really liked what I saw.
Appleseed is a program that instructs Americans on the traditional rifle marksmanship skills that have been passed down from generation to generation, along with reconnecting today's Americans with the people and events of the Founding era. Participants are taught fundamental rifle marksmanship skills that are required to allow a Rifleman to be accurate out to 500 yards, with iron sights, standard rifle and surplus ammo. This is the traditional 'Rifleman's Quarter mile', which is an uniquely American Rifleman skill, that has been part of this nation from the very first days.

Most of the instruction at an Appleseed is conducted at 25 meters, at reduced size targets to simulate 100 to 500 yards. This well proven technique allows us to concentrate on the shooter's mechanics and less time walking a range. At those locations that allow for actual distance shooting, participants are often able to see first hand that the skills that they learn at 25 meters directly apply to actual distances out to 500 yards. These foundational skills are not being passed on to future generations, and so Appleseeds are great for new or experienced shooters alike.

In addition to teaching you how to properly shoot a rifle, they mix in a heavy dose of history.  American rifleman history.

They now had my full attention.

They're a nationwide, non-profit organization.  A weekend of training costs only $70 for most folks, but is free for anyone under 21, active duty military (plus National Guard and Reserve) and all women.

They teach practical skills and instill a sense of pride in American history - and they do it for honorable reasons.  What's not to like?!

I'm now signed up for the May 29/30 course at the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center.  If anyone else is shooting at the event, drop me a line so we can compare notes and possibly meet.

Any tips from past participants or experienced riflemen would be appreciated.  I've read all of the suggestions from the Appleseed sites, as well as the article in the most recent issue of Backwoods Home Magazine by Massad Ayoob.

What's the "Inside skinny" on how to get the most out of this weekend?

For the training, I'm going to be using a newly purchased Ruger 10/22.  I picked up a wooden stock model, and intend on upgrading it to the Liberty Training Rifle.  I figured that since we'll be shooting 400+ rounds over the weekend, I wanted to keep my ammo cost down. 

They say that the skills learned by shooting at reduced sized targets at 25 yards are transferrable to shooting out to 400-500 yards.  True?

Ayoob had suggested using a scope.  I wear glasses, but my eyesight is pretty decent.  Should I get a scope or not?  I'm going to zero in the rifle today, so maybe that will answer my question for me.

As I noted earlier, I'm a Babe In The Woods here, and any tips would be helpful.

Accept The Challenge

For me, this is all about learning more practical skills.  It having to do with my favorite activity - shooting - is a bonus!

Get out there and push yourself.  I've got a "Bucket List" of sorts.  It's not things I want to do before I die, it's skills I want to learn over the next 3 years.  Put your own list together.

BTW, one of the items on my list is foraging.  I regularly gather wild fruits and berries, but I want to get into mushrooms and more green plants (I only feel comfortable with wild mustard and dandelion right now). 

When I do a Google search for foraging in the SF Bay Area, I get lots and lots of listings for "foraging" at local restaurants.  I guess that's considered "roughing it".  If TSHTF in this area, they'll be stacking bodies like cord wood...

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Successful Retreats

The dream of many preppers is to buy a piece of property way out in the boonies and just be left alone.  Let this messed up state and country self-destruct from their own excesses.  I'll be happy to fiddle while Rome burns!

I'll admit to having those types of dreams!

As I've been looking for property, I've been thinking more and more about safety.  In the latest issue of Backwoodsman Magazine (not to be confused with Backwoods Home Magazine), there was an article on how difficult it can be to do a realistic Backpack Bug Out.  The author gave some recent examples of people with lifetimes of outdoors experience that had, "taken to the hills."  They were mostly criminals of one sort or another that were being pursued by the law, and they all ended up losing.

The article got around to talking about how difficult it can be to adequately protect a rural piece of land all on your own.  He noted a post on that I had to take a look at.  It was titled, "Retreat Survival:  I am your worst nightmare."

Quite the eye-opener.

It needs to be put into perspective, though.  The "nightmare" scenario is along the lines of a total break-down in society, ala The Road, The Book of Eli, or One Second After.  It could absolutely happen, but it is on the bottom of my list of likely scenarios (knock on wood).

Still, it contained some tips and suggestions that I think would be prudent for anyone that is considering a rural, off-the-beaten-path piece of land.  In such a location, you are "the law" - calling 9-1-1 just isn't an option to save your bacon if someone is intent on taking your possessions or life.

The article spawned a bit of research on my part.  The majority of the research had a number of consistent themes -

Perimeter Defense - Use site design maximize your ability to protect your property.  Have plenty of open ground between you and your potential foes.  The further away from you that they are required to expose themselves, the more time you have to mount a defense.  Don't build your home right next to the woods you love so much.

Design the property with "choke points" that require people to follow certain paths to reach you.  Use natural barriers such as blackberry patches or creeks to keep the bad guys confined.

Occupy the highest ground possible that gives you the best "lines of fire".   This is generally the most preferred location on a property anyways, but if things get ugly, it can provide you with improved defensive capabilities.

Use technology to extend your ability to protect your property.  Items such as night vision, rifles with powerful scopes and inexpensive waterproof, battery operated perimeter alarms.

More OpSec - Keep your mouth shut!  Even in the best of times, there are people that just love to take the possessions of other people.  Chatting up how much gold, silver, guns, ammo and expensive liquor you keep at your home is fairly begging for trouble.

Unless you can gain a benefit from disclosing what items you possess, don't feel the need to brag about you've got.  You simply move yourself up on the "to do" list of the bad guys.

Along those line is you should actively gather information.  This can be done at events in town or while buying provisions.  Are there any new folks that have moved into the area?  Any recent break-ins?

It can be observing nature around you and looking for out-of-pattern signals it is giving you.  Do you see birds suddenly taking flight?  Do you see a group of deer suddenly bolting from an area?  These can all be innocent circumstances, or it can indicate someone is creeping around your homestead.

Pay attention.

Establish a Community -Don't isolate yourself to the extreme.  You may not have rotating dinner parties with your widely-disbursed neighbors, but get to know them.

Offer to help fix fences, can food, or help with whatever skills you might possess.  At the worst, you've shown some neighborliness.  It could help you to identify folks you want nothing to do with.  At best, you might find kindred spirits with a similar outlook on life.

If things get truly bad, you have at least started a relationship that could be mutually beneficial.  You will not be able to defend your property by yourself in such a situation.  Groups of people will have to band together for mutual defense.  It's best to establish those relationships well in advance of needing them for survival.

Have a GOOD Plan - Regardless of your intentions or your planning, you may need to GOOD - Get Out Of Dodge.  It could be the result of a natural disaster or your retreat being over-run because of a societal collapse.

Too many people set up their retreat, and that's the end of it.  That can be a deadly mistake.  You have to plan for failure somewhere down the line - the whole, "Don't put all of your eggs in one basket" philosophy.

Being flexible and able to adapt is a habit we need to constantly work on.  Circumstances change, and to be successful, we must be able to adapt to that change.

Accept The Challenge

These four items are just a portion of what needs to be considered for occupying a successful retreat.  I think it's important that they be included in the up-front decision-making process (particularly the physical attributes of the property when considering defensibility).

It would be horrible to buy a rural property from which you couldn't defend yourself.  It's kind of a dark perspective on life, perhaps, but it really isn't any different than buying a property in an urban environment.  You certainly don't ask to buy or rent a property that is located in a high crime area.  You educate yourself on the good and bad areas of town.

Out in a rural property, you're the Sheriff, SWAT team, paramedics, border patrol and National Guard all rolled into one!  Don't make your job any more difficult than need be.

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Money Worries, Or Not?

Something very interesting is happening with the precious metals market.  I don't know if this is a trend or a blip, but it's interesting.

The Euro is tanking because of Greece, Spain and Portugal all being down graded to Junk Bond status.  That SHOULD have caused the dollar to rise, and gold to drop.

Instead, the dollar has risen (not a ton, but it has gone up), but gold has really taken off.  At this moment while I'm writing this, gold is at $1182.40 an ounce.  That's up from a low of $1115 in the last 30 days.

Silver has had a similar increase.

Are the markets finally recognizing that ALL fiat currency is worthless?

I've got to admit, I have no idea why the stock market in general continues to rise.  What are buyers of equities seeing that I just can't see?

The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER - they're the folks that officially call the start and end of recessions) will not say that our current recession - which officially stated in December of 2007 - is over.  I'm guessing much to the chagrin of the White House.  It kind of runs counter to their "happy talk".
In economic-ese, a trough is a low point in a recession.

I read story after story of how many, if not most of the recent jobs that have been lost are lost forever.
After prior recessions, many of the lost jobs came back quickly and people more or less resumed their former lives. But this time, economists think many of the 8.4 million jobs lost during the recession are gone for good, with a tumultuous period of adjustment ahead.
I thought the stock market was a reflection of future economic expectations.  If people don't have jobs, how can the buyers of stock believe the companies will be growing?  I must be looking at this too simplistically, or something else is going on here.

Are food prices getting ready to increase?  Significantly?

Most people heard about the recent increases reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics -
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today released their Producer Price Index (PPI) report for March 2010 and the latest numbers are shocking. Food prices for the month rose by 2.4%, its sixth consecutive monthly increase and the largest jump in over 26 years. NIA believes that a major breakout in food inflation could be imminent, similar to what is currently being experienced in India.
All the while more and more Americans are having difficulty in making ends meet -
Food stamp usage in the U.S. has now increased for 14 consecutive months. There are now 39.4 million Americans on food stamps, up 22.4% from one year ago. The U.S. government is now paying out more to Americans in benefits than it collects in taxes.
I heard a very odd commercial on the radio this morning regarding rice.  California has had great amounts of rainfall this season.  We were on the edge of a very serious drought, but it looks like all of our water storage is mostly back up to good levels.

I guess, it might be too much of a good thing.  The commercial I heard was discussing some sort of special rice seed that could work in wet fields.  According to the California Farm Bureau Federation, the wet weather has had an impact on many types of foods produced in this state. 

There doesn't appear to be reason for real worry, yet, but let's hope we don't get much more rain for the rest of the growing season.  If the problems here in California continue, when coupled with the food price increases already coming down the pike, it could be a very difficult year, food-wise.

Accept The Challenge

Are we out of this economic down-turn, or not?  We clearly have conflicting signals.  Which ones are more accurate indicators of what's going on around us?  With all of OUR cash that the government has pumped into various parts of the economy, it's tough to know if any of the "good news" is real.

One of the explanations for the stock market rise is that it's not considered too risky, at least when compared with putting money into US Treasuries.  That could make some sense.  You're getting essentially zero return for your investment risk.

Although Treasuries are considered the most secure investment type available, they pay very little interest, and the Federal Reserve has just come out and said they will be keeping them low for the foreseeable future. 

Buffer yourself while you are able.  Take care of as much of your food needs as you can right now.  Plant a garden, hunt, fish, preserve.

Buy food while prices are still low.  I've been seeing increases in beans, rice and sugar, so I just picked up more sacks of each.

Lower your expenses where ever possible.  The inflationary price increases coming our way were forecast before the Gulf of Mexico oil problem.  The only thing that can do is push up gas prices even further.

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day

So.  Today is World Communist Day or some such thing.  There are plans for protests today in over 70 cities across the nation, protesting the Arizona Illegal Alien law.


I think that I mentioned somewhere that I refused to fill in the racial questions on my census form.  I simply will not participate in government-sponsored racial profiling.

Here's a question for you:  Why is it considered racial profiling when people that have been detained by the police are asked to prove their citizenship, but it's NOT racial profiling when the government asks for your race when they're determining who gets entitlements or other government hand-outs?

I am always amazed when I travel from California to another state, and see the guns and rifles that other states are allowed to sell.  It kind of fits into the whole communist May Day gig, no?

When/if the aforementioned Illegal Alien protests get violent, what kind of treatment will they receive from the press and the government?  Same as the Tea Partiers?
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