My Blog List

Monday, August 30, 2010

Makin' A List, Checkin' It Twice

Food Preps - A few days back, I told you about my feast on some trout that was 3 years old ("Of Fish and Fungus").  Well, I've got a replacement for the fish.

A buddy of mine went fishing up at Eagle Lake.  This lake is only open 6 months out of the year, and the fish are a unique species or genus or something.  They're a big deal in the fishing community.

He landed a couple of nice ones, and dropped one off for me.

In the picture, it sure looks kind of skinny and scrawny.  Hey!  I ain't a photographer, OK?

It's a nice 18 inches or so, and quite plump.  It has pink flesh like a salmon.  I'm going to try and eat it sooner than 3 years this time around!

Survival Preps - Have you watched the new survivalist show, Man, Woman, Wild?  It's about some former Special Forces guy and his former TV anchor wife being dropped into survival situations and them having to rough it until they get rescued.

The first couple of shows almost lost me.  It was all, "Sweetie" this and "Honey" that.  In the first episode, the wife refused to eat a turtle they caught because she had bonded with it - turtles were her favorite animal ever.

I must say, the show has somewhat grown on me.  For lack of a better term, the wife has started to "Cowboy Up" - getting a bit of a thicker skin about what it would take to survive if you found yourself in such a situation.

I don't know if the producers said something to her, of if she's starting to realize what it would take in such a situation, but I'm liking it more.  When you see her truly savoring the alligator tail she's eating - whose head she just cut off - the show seemed to be more realistic.

I won't be buying the DVD package for Christmas, but it has an occasional decent idea.  I'd give it a 6 on a scale of 10.

Income Redistribution Preps - 50 million Americans - one in six - are on Medicaid.  40 million are on food stamps.  10 million are getting unemployment insurance payments.  4.4 million are on welfare.

Where does it stop?  I am truly not against government "assistance" programs, if those programs are at the state or local level.  I think private charities do a much better job, but if the people of the state decide to elect people to spend their money, so be it.  Unlike the federal government, states technically have to budget their money.  When they get out-of-balance, they have to do something other than print up money.

Their plan may be to beg for alms from Washington, but at least their incompetence is brought to light, and the fed could say 'No'.

When you get to the federal level, you totally lose control, and you end up with the mess we're in.

Is this "the plan"?  To keep paying the bills of people?  How long do they think they can do this?

The Medicaid numbers are up 17% since 2007.  The welfare numbers are up 18%  The food stamp numbers are up 50%.  The unemployment check numbers have quadrupled and have been extended by the fed to 99 weeks!

This simply cannot end well.  You can't keep giving people an incentive to NOT provide for themselves.  You MUST set limits.  If people are kept fat, dumb and happy - literally and figuratively - they won't change their behavior.

Accept The Challenge

This federal government behavior won't be changing soon.  Even if the country can get a stalemate by the Repubs controlling the House and Senate in November, nothing will change.  If the Repubs take control of Congress and the White House in 2012, we'll be screwed again - we'll just be serving different special interest groups.

Honestly, I wish it would all collapse, so we could actually start the re-building process.  Have something to look forward to.  This protracted, "Death By A Thousand Cuts" is getting old.

But, chances are that this drip, drip, drip will continue.  Plan for it.

The dollar will weaken - get gold and silver if you can afford it.  Silver in particular, is very well priced.  Buy durable equipment and as much long-term food as you can store.

Become as self-sufficient as you can.  What things do you have to pay people to do?  Oil changes?  Home repair?  Knife sharpening?  Small engine repair?  In addition to saving you money, you may be able to make a couple of bucks as well, or have a skill that can be used in a barter.

The friend of mine who gave me the trout told me how the lady he stayed with (an old friend) has a nice little side gig going.  It seems that a large percentage of the men in the area (Lassen county) hunt deer, boar and elk.  When they get the animals home, their wives go nuts.  Get that mangy beast out of here!

She has some out-buildings that she has turned into butcher shops.  The guys drop of their kills, she cuts up the meat into steaks, roasts and sausage.  She then keeps half the meat.

She hasn't bought meat in 10 years!

I did something similar with my next door neighbor a couple of years ago.  I canned up all of their excess peaches, and got half in return for my trouble.

And for goodness sake, learn how to prepare your own food from scratch.  Understand proportions by feel - how dough feels when making bread.  How it feels when you're making pasta.  What a brine should taste like.  How much fat, flour and liquid you need to make a gravy.  Understand the science behind cooking so you can get the biggest bang for your buck.

Learn how to "recycle" cooking mistakes or inefficiencies.  Old bread becomes stuffing or croutons or thickens a soup.  Bones and veggie scraps are turned into soup stock.  Extra veggies go into the soup pot.  Scraps of meat and fat are turned into sausage.

Learn how to store food for future use - canning, pickling, dehydrating.  Take advantage of the bounty when it's available!

Learn to defend yourself.  This is going to be huge in the not too distant future.  Last week, I talked about learning to shoot one-handed and from your weak side with a pistol.  You need to do this with any firearm you may be using.

I'm in the process of increasing my proficiency in using a shotgun from my weak side.  Accuracy isn't much of a problem (I'm left-eye dominant), but re-loading quickly is problematic.  I'm working to correct this.

Make a list, and start marking off your weaknesses while time and finances allow.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mr. Orwell? Paging Mr. Orwell...

Prediction:  Our borders are going to be kicked open even further than they already are because of the recently reported mass slaughters that have been happening in Mexico.  They've been stacking the bodies like cord wood.  "We need to be humane and let these people flee into our waiting arms."

Obviously, it would be inhumane and downright mean to send back the 11-20 million illegal aliens that are already here, so let's just grant them citizenship, too.

Asylum For All!  Woo hoo!

In other totally unrelated and not even worth mentioning news, teenage unemployment is officially 26 percent.  That means in the real world, it's at least half-again higher - probably in the low 40% range.

Illegal immigration has nothing whatsoever to do with that.  Nothing.  At all.  Really.

I saw this on Thursday, and was shocked (almost) beyond words.  The Ninth Circuit Court has said it is OK for the government to plant a tracking device on your car.  The police do not need a warrant.  They can come on to your property to set the bug.

Did these fascists all miss class on "Fourth Amendment Day" while in law school?

They did put their foot down, though.  Rich people need not worry.  If your car is behind private gates or in a garage, THEN the police need a warrant.  Whew!  Had me scared there for a minute. 

If you're a poor slob who lives in an apartment building or are such low-life that you have to park your car on the street, well, you'd better watch your butt -
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who dissented from this month's decision refusing to reconsider the case, pointed out whose homes are not open to strangers: rich people's. The court's ruling, he said, means that people who protect their homes with electric gates, fences and security booths have a large protected zone of privacy around their homes. People who cannot afford such barriers have to put up with the government sneaking around at night.
Shut up, you pinko, liberal piece of flotsam.

Oh wait.  HE is the conservative member of the court.  The bleeding-heart liberals said it was A-OK to totally disregard any semblance of privacy in our country.  It's for the greater good.  Must protect the hive, after all.

I hope some organization like the EFF starts putting tracking devices on police cars they run across in public, then reporting their locations for a day or two of driving.  Might be interesting to have a record of where these cars - and our employees - spend the majority of their time.

I'm sure a law will be passed making THAT illegal, especially considering it's becoming increasingly illegal to film cops doing their job... in public.  The state has rights, dontcha know?

Right now, this only affects the western states covered by the Ninth Circuit.  Earlier this month, the DC Circuit court ruled exactly to the opposite of this.  Seems like it will be headed to the SCOTUS for final rulings, I'd guess.

Until then, we westerners had better get used to Big Bro having his way with us.

If it is OK for the state to do this, does that mean it is OK for private parties to do it as well?  As long as they follow the "don't cross the rich guy's gate" rule?

Does that mean I can plant a GPS tracking device on anyone I want?  Hmmm.  Should I go with the more expensive unit that reports its position every 15 seconds and plots it on Google Maps, or should I go with the cheaper version that I have to retrieve, then download the information.

I wonder which one has the Ninth Circuit Court Seal Of Approval?

Decisions, decisions...

Alex, I'll take "1984" for a thousand, please...

Have ya seen what's going on with gold and silver lately?

I get a publication called The Grey Sheet.  It provides the wholesale prices for most US coins.  Dealers use it as a gauge to determine the prices when buying and selling from each other (BTW, anyone can buy a subscription, or even just a single copy by going here).

At the top of each issue, they have a quick re-cap of what's been going on in the coin world.  In the last issue, they had something that caught my eye:  Gold has been increasing in price over the past week or so.  Raw (ungraded) coins have been following these prices lock-step.

But, numismatic coins have been slipping in value.  It seems that people are shunning the opinion-based value of the numismatics in favor of the market-based value of raw coins.

Also, the price multiple between gold and silver has been narrowing.  Just a week ago, the multiple was 68:1 (68 ounces of silver cost the same as 1 ounce of gold).  As of today, that ratio has dropped to under 65:1..

Wut dat mean?  Since 1970, that ratio has been as high as 89:1 and as low as 20:1.  The ratio during the 20th century was 47:1In the "olden days" it used to be fixed at around 15:1

So, big-picture-wise, we're on the upper side of the ratio.  If historic ratios return - and the market is indicating it's going that way - the value of silver should increase at a faster pace than that of gold.

I think this is mostly being driven by the fact that gold has gone up in price so much that demand is being transferred to silver.  More people can afford to buy an ounce of silver than can afford an ounce of gold.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Free Meals From Storage

On a regular basis - usually once a week - we try to cook with our emergency foods.  I try not to dip into the whole grains or the stuff in long-term storage buckets, but more with the stuff that's been home canned.

I know it's not correct, but in my head I'm thinking, "That was a free meal!"  Most of the time, the stuff that I home can is extra stuff.  For instance, when I make a pot of beans, I'll make a double batch, can the first half, and put it up.

Yesterday, we had chicken burritos.  They consisted of 1 pint of home canned chicken breast and one quart of home canned beans.  I dumped everything in a pan, shredded the chicken, added some cumin and chile powder and heated it up.  Four tortillas, some home canned tomatillo/green chile salsa and some cheese, and we were good to go.

Ten minutes of total prep time, and four people stuffed to the gills for about 6 bucks.

I must admit, I've been using our home canned foods much less lately.  I'm in an "acquire while you can" mode.  Still, once in a while, I break down and tap into the "hoard"!

In the most recent issue of Backwoods Home Magazine, Jackie Clay (my inspiration to start home canning) had an article on starting your own home pantry.  The magazine has made the article available online.

It's a great article, not only for how to set up your storage, but on why you need to do this.  She relates a story where suddenly, her parents had to move into her household.  This was on top of her garden "freezing out" and everyone in the household being broke!

The two years of food she had stored up kept them all fed until the next planting season.

Get storing.

Is anyone else getting tired of all of the economic headlines that seem to all start with, "The (pick an economic indicator) UNEXPECTEDLY worsened"? 

Unexpected by whom?
New home sales fell 12.4 percent in July to the lowest level on records dating back to 1963 despite low prices and mortgage rates.

The unexpected drop in purchases rounds out three of the worst months on record as sales dropped to an annual pace of 276,600, down from a revised 315,000 units in June, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
How could these economists expect sales to increase, when even the highly-suspect government produced economic data says people keep losing their jobs?  No job, no spend.  It's not that difficult of a concept.

It was too funny this morning listening to the radio.  The "top of the hour" news network talking-head was talking about this string of bad economic data we've been hit with this week.  Bad, bad stuff.

The guy - from CNN Radio - made a comment along the lines of, "Despite all of the recent economic data, the stock market is on the rise.  Go figure."

When CNN starts questioning the logic of what's happening during a Democrat administration, you can be pretty sure the wheels are coming off the cart.

As I write this, the Dow is up nearly 100 points.  Hilarious!

Accept The Challenge

Use this period of deflationary price drops to fill your bins.  This period won't last long.  It looks like some areas (Chicky-Bit Run - "Put Up Or Shut Up") may already be seeing price increases.

Even if you can't afford the money to get the 6 gallon buckets and mylar bags, do like Jackie Clay does.  Buy new, clean garbage cans - with tight lids - and fill them up with whatever you can afford (leaving the food in their original containers).

With recent reports of Russia losing a huge percentage (20%) of their wheat crop and their decision to stop all exports, expect to see all grain prices increasing as people choose alternatives to wheat products.  These price increases will trickle down to meat products, because most farm animals eat grains as well.  Vicious circle, huh?

Sugar should be spiking shortly as well.  Half of the American sugar source - sugar beets - is screwed.  It seems that genetically modified beets were planted near non-modified beets, and the non-modified beets were pollinated by the modified beets.

One little problem:  Now, the non-modified beets won't produce seeds for the next crop, AND Monsanto, who makes the modified seeds, is saying they don't have enough of their demon seeds for everyone that needs them.

Funny how that worked out, huh?  Yeah, real funny.

On that note, for goodness sake, get your hands on some heirloom (non-modified) seeds.  Even if you don't plant veggies right now.  These can be true life savers.

What's your risk?  If those 'green shoots' start sprouting around the country, you'll have a ton of food that you can either eat or donate.  Either way, it won't go to waste.

What are you waiting for?

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Security - Physical and Financial

We're in the process of getting our PM shop ready to rock.  Tons of stuff going on to keep us and our merchandise safe and secure.  Some things I've run across - 

Do you have an Android smart phone that is on the ATT phone system?  If you do, your personal voicemail system may be at risk.
It is shockingly easy to gain access to an AT&T customer's voicemail using caller ID spoofing techniques. What's worse is that AT&T knows about it. On your Android phone, download one of the two caller ID spoofing programs. Input the number of your target as the destination number and then enter the same number as the spoofed caller ID. Then connect your call. If the target has not added a voicemail password (the default is no password), you will be dropped into a random menu of their voicemail and eventually can drill up or down to get what you want.
Wow.  Sure would suck having your VM system taken over by someone with bad intentions.  If it was your business line, think about your competitor having first crack at your business messages...

Security camera analytics - this system is "semi-intelligent" in that you set up rules for various areas of the camera view.  If these areas are crossed, alarms are tripped -

I like the idea of the system recognizing people being in sensitive areas, but it seems like you'd get a boatload of false positives.  If the police were called every time someone tripped one of these camera sensors, I think you'd get a reputation as "the boy who cried wolf" and the police would stop showing up - including when you really need them.

Where this might be very beneficial is if it could be set up during off-hours only.  If I have someone creeping around my back door at 2am, send the cavalry!

This could easily work in a home environment as well...

Chief Instructor is a partner in a precious metals business.  Take that into consideration when reading what follows.

What do you do about retirement plans right now?

I have zero confidence that any private retirement accounts will remain that way - private.  I can't see any way for the federal government, regardless of party-in-charge, from NOT nationalizing these private accounts.

We're broke as a country.  There is no one that disputes that.  We spend nearly twice as much as we take in.

The feds must increase the nation's cash flow.  You can only tax so far the slightly over 50% of all Americans that actually pay taxes.  More is coming, but a limit will be reached at some point in the future.

Our international bankers, primarily the Chinese, are at best, slowing down their purchases of our debt.  China has been selling, not buying for the past few months.  They've reduced their holdings in our Treasuries by 6% in the last two months alone.

The world is losing confidence in our ability to repay our debt.

The Federal Reserve Bank (FRB) will have to increase the amount of our own debt that they're buying (monetizing).
The declining mortgage portfolio was the focal point of debate. The Fed could allow it to continue going down or it could try to keep it stable by putting the money from maturing mortgage bonds into new securities, either Treasurys or other mortgage bonds.
So the FRB will create more money out of thin air (or roll-over bonds that were purchased with "created" money), and use that money to buy our own country's debt.  From one pocket to another.

They need "fresh" money.

They can't easily take it from businesses because they know that would plunge the economy even further down the toilet.  Even socialists understand the need for commerce.

Our retirement funds are the last un-plucked fruit.  If our government does not do the same thing that Argentina did with their nationalization of retirement funds, I'll be shocked beyond belief.

My only question will be how the feds will handle the union retirement funds.

If you believe this will happen, what do you do? 

What if you're 25, have most of your life ahead of you, and you want to plan for your future?  If you believe the money will be taken, do you still fund your 401k or IRA?

What if you're 50, and approaching the end of your career?  Do you take advantage of the government's relaxation of tax rules allowing you to accelerate the amount of money you can put into "tax free" accounts?

You may not get to vote.  The "Auto IRA" is being pimped by a couple of Democrats, and is supported by the conservative Heritage Foundation.  Their view is that since we all know Social Security in bankrupt and will not be able to pay what's been promised, we need another way to save our money.

Pay twice, withdraw (at best) once.  No thanks.

As I've noted many times before, if you've taken care of your basic living needs, precious metals seem to be the only alternative for financial security.

The feds have recognized this, and have instituted a number of reporting requirements, such as the upcoming $600 IRS form 1099 requirements.  If you sell anything to a business for $600 or more, the government gets notified.

Expect an outstretched hand from good old Uncle Sugar wanting his piece of the proceeds.  I also wouldn't be surprised to see another PM confiscation like we saw in the last Depression.  Can't allow wealth in private hands, can we?

So what will happen?  The black market will flourish.  Gold and silver will be traded privately, outside of the reach of the government.

I think owning real estate will be another way to safeguard your assets, at least for a while.  While it won't necessarily make you money, it will save your cash flow if you have enough cash into the property.

Personally, we're waiting at least 1 year - probably 2 years - before we buy some land.  I don't think we're anywhere near the bottom of the market.  No reason to sink your cash into a piece of property only to see those dollars evaporate away. 

The only way that time line would change for us is if we were able to work out some seriously great purchase terms.  In times like this, the possibility of this happening have increased.  Keep your eyes open for deals.

My biggest worry is property taxes going through the roof, and paid-for properties getting seized in tax auctions.   That will not end well for all parties involved.

Accept The Challenge

Safety.  Quite the topic.

If you think about it, we've been programmed to relinquish responsibility for every facet of our safety.  Give up your guns, the police have got your back.  Give up your retirement responsibility, Social Security to the rescue!  Your food comes from government approved processors, so there's no need to look behind the curtain yourself.

Keep enough cash in the bank to pay your bills.  Keep the rest in greenbacks while they still have some "value" so you can take advantage of deals as they present themselves.  Put the rest into PMs that you can put into a secure place outside of a bank.

Honestly, if someone has another path, I want to hear it.  Sell me on any idea that doesn't end as I've outlined.  I have no desire to have this happen, but I see it as inevitable.

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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, August 23, 2010

Training and Disgust

Long, busy weekend.

It started with a small event for our PM company.  Then on both Saturday and Sunday, I had sold out firearms classes.  Sweet!

Saturday was a Pistol Orientation class.  I set my new record for student age - 11 years old.  The young man was absolutely fantastic.  I really wish more parents would put their kids through these classes if for no other reason than the kids learning about gun safety.  What to do, and what not to do.

Sunday was an advanced Practical Defensive Pistol class.  We put in our website that the folks will be taken out of their comfort zone.  Indeed.

Now, this class is not some uber-tactical, rappelling from black helicopters, hut-hut-hut class.  It is standard techniques you'd need to defend yourself in your home.  Shooting around barriers, shooting weak side, shooting one handed and some shooting while moving drills.

It's nothing earth shattering, but we teach skills and set up scenarios where multiple skills are needed for different scenarios.  Just like real life.

Here's a tip:  Learn and practice shooting with your weak hand.  This is an incredibly easy skill to practice every single time you go to the range. 

But when people go to the range, they practice what they're already good at doing:  Two hand, strong-side grip at a target 7 yards away.

Think about someone coming into your home:  How often do you think they're going to present you with such a target?  Answer:  About never.

If you can't shoot accurately from your weak side with one hand, you are giving the bad guy a bigger target (you) at least half of the time.  You will have to expose more of your body depending on which side of the corner you are approaching from.

Practice, folks.  Practice the skills you don't have.

Did you see reason number 1,394,937,223 why California is broke?  Los Angeles, which is also broke, just paid for the most expensive public school in America.  Ever.
With an eye-popping price tag of $578 million, it will mark the inauguration of the nation's most expensive public school ever.

The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of "Taj Mahal" schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities.
As the article note, this isn't the first big-bucks public school in the LA area.  
The RFK complex follows on the heels of two other LA schools among the nation's costliest — the $377 million Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, which opened in 2008, and the $232 million Visual and Performing Arts High School that debuted in 2009.
Notice the dates?  These were all built since the depression recession was well underway.  They've spent over a billion dollars for 3 schools in the past 2 years.

Yeah, let's dump more money into the education system.  It seems to be doing wonders.

Rahm Emanuel's famous saying about never letting a good emergency go to waste must be the official slogan of this administration.

People get sick eating bad eggs, and the government tells us the answer to fix this problem is to grow itself larger -
"We need better abilities and authorities to put in place these preventive controls and hold companies accountable," Hamburg said as she discussed the approximately 1,300 cases of salmonella poisoning and the recall of roughly a half-billion eggs from two Iowa egg distributors.
Well, that's a shock.

How about this - we let the market determine our food quality.  In a market-driven economy, these 1300 people would all sue the egg companies for whatever costs they had incurred as a result of consuming their products.

These egg companies would be put out of business, and the other egg producers would learn a lesson:  Don't sell crap or it will cost you your business.

It would also get people to buy more of their food from local sources.  Personally, I only buy eggs from egg farms that are an hour away in the town of Petaluma.  I figure at the very least, they've got to be fresher!

Instead, all of the good egg producers will now be saddled with more and more regulation and fees because one producer messed up.  Of course, those fees will be passed along to us, so the price of eggs will increase.

The ONLY thing the FDA should be doing with regards to this stuff is setting standards for imported food.  If the food is bad, it is next to impossible for an American to sue a Chinese cheese factory, for instance.

If it's American food, back the hell off.

We saw this very type of thing happen with the BP oil well disaster.  A government agency gave BP permission to drill and run the well.  BP got the feds permission for every action they took with regards to drilling, operating and well safety.  The feds received and approved their spill recovery plans.

The false sense of safety was in place because everything had a Nanny Seal Of Approval on it.  How well did that work out?

Government does not make you safer.  They give you a false impression of safety.  YOU are responsible for yourself.

Accept The Challenge

Please, those of you that have chosen to defend yourself with handguns, get some training.  Even if that means getting on the internet and watching a video or reading a website.  Take that information and put it to practice in a range.

If you have the ability to take a class that gives you the ability to put those new skills to use, all the better.  Just don't take the "milk run" approach - the path of least resistance.  Don't be caught under-trained if you're ever placed in a situation where you need to defend yourself or loved ones.

With regards to government spending and expansion, it would be interesting to see how many federal dollars went into building these LA schools.  I'm sure it was a substantial amount.

Non-Californians:  LA thanks you for your donation.

This is what happens when you have career politicians responsible for spending our money.  They have no concept of value or proportion.  I heard on a radio station this morning that LA flew someone over to Europe to look at 4 different basketball court designs being considered for the new school.

WTF?  My blood boils when I hear stuff like this, yet it happens every single day, thousands of times a day.

Hide your money, folks.  They will be coming for it.  Some bureaucrat is eying an all-expenses-paid trip to Tahiti to gather shells.  Their government agency heard something about the public being "shell-shocked" and they're conducting a much needed study, dontcha know?

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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, August 20, 2010

Field Expedient Rocket Stove

Long, long ago, in a place far, far away, I had another blog.  It trended towards politics, but I had the occasional prepping post. 

An anonymous poster just made a comment about a great way of cooking a rice meal out in the field using very little fuel (check the comments section for the "One Bucket Per Month Challenge" post).  It reminded me of a post I did on my old site about building a Rocket Stove.


I've been researching different way of cooking in an emergency situation. I carry a homemade Penny Stove in my GHB. They are excellent for this purpose - small, heat up quickly, are pretty powerful, and don't use a lot of fuel.

They have their downsides, though. You need to carry fuel with you. While I carry mine in the fuel carriers designed for backpackers, it can sometimes be disconcerting knowing this fuel is kept in my car.

Even though they are thrifty with the fuel, when it runs out, the stove is useless. I needed to fix that. I needed a field-expedient stove that used wood as the primary fuel.

Of course, there's the campfire. Very easy to make, but not very efficient for cooking. By their very design, they throw off lots of heat.

I've made Dakota firepits. They work wonderfully, and are very efficient. But, like campfires, they're not portable. You use it where you build it.

It seems like I kept being brought back to coffee can-based stoves. It looked like the most efficient design was the Rocket Stove.

So I built one to test it out.

A Rocket Stove has a number of features. There is the large outer shell, an inner "L" shaped chimney and fuel feed ramp, and a shelf on the feed ramp to provide lots of air in the combustion chamber/chimney to provide a high level of efficiency.

Here are the basics (click to enlarge):

The cool thing about rocket stoves is they can be made out of all kinds of materials, from bricks and clay for use inside of a home, to coffee can-sized for use while camping. It's the design that's important.

The first time I heard of a Rocket Stove was a year and a half ago over at the Dragon's place. He made a very nice one that is super efficient.

I wanted to make one that could be thrown together out in the field with discarded cans, items I keep in my GHB and things scrounged in the wild. My backyard would be considered "the wild" for this little test (and NO, I wouldn't allow myself to "find" my power tools in the backyard!).

That's two dog food cans, a larger coffee can and a multi-tool. The two dog food cans would make up the "L" and the coffee can would be the body.

Using the can opener on the multi-tool, I removed the bottom of one of the cans. This would act as the fuel feed hole. I lined it up at a 90 degree angle with the other dog food can to determine where I'd need to cut a hole in its side to complete the "L".

I marked it out (yes, with a Sharpie I keep in my GHB!) and made pie cuts with the point of the knife in the multi-tool (it cut through the can like butter).

Note: When making these cuts, make one center-to-edge of circle cut first. THEN make your other cuts from the outside of the circle towards the center. Your cuts are much more accurate. On the smaller can, while opening up the hole a bit, I was making one of the cuts on the upper part of the circle, and the knife ran on me, cutting the can to the very top of the lip. The reinforced banding on the lip was the only thing that kept me from slicing open the whole can.

After A LOT of tweaking, I got the cans together. I then lined up one of the dog food cans on the coffee can, marked it out and made similar cuts and slapped everything together.

Front view:

Top view:

You'll notice all of the "mess" in the top view from the folded edges of the can holes. I just pushed these flat with the pliers of the multi-tool to clean things up.

I had nothing for the ramp that is used to create the air channel in the feed tube. DING! I keep tins of sardines and kippered snacks in my GHB. The kippered snacks come in a long slender tin. The lid would work PERFECTLY!

I opened the tin of kippered snacks (I love these things!) and fashioned the fuel ramp. I basically measured it to length, and folded it so it was the same length as the can. I then folded down the sides of the lid to provide the stand-off to allow airflow. It sat in the can perfectly.

You need to add some sort of insulation between the outer walls of the chimney and the inner walls of the coffee can. It helps to make the stove more efficient. I poured some sand and dirt from my backyard into this void. Some of it started escaping from the bottom of the hole in the coffee can. I grabbed some aluminum foil from the fishing kit in my GHB and stuffed it into the voids. It kept out SOME of the sand/soil, but not all of it. I only filled the void up perhaps half way.

The last thing I did was punch 8, 1/2 inch air holes about a half inch below the rim of the coffee can. Since I intended on using the top of the can as my pot stand, I needed to provide a way to keep the air draft alive.

Now to see if this puppy works!

I scrounged up a piece of a stake made from oak to use as my fuel. I used my Kabar survival knife to split the pieces into usable sizes. I also grabbed an ashtray to start my fire, as it was windy and I didn't want to have my kindling blowing all over my backyard and catching stuff on fire. Here's what I started with:

Starting at top center of the picture moving clockwise: The rocket stove, 1qt camp pot, ash tray with 1 Vaseline-soaked cotton ball and two pieces of kindling with feathered edges, a fire sparker, the multi-tool, a nesting fork-spoon-knife kit, the lid to the pot and three bundles of differently sized oak stake pieces. Please note that this is ALL the fuel I was allowing myself.

You'll also note - right above the pot lid, a bag of light brown stuff. That is one of my Just Add Water (JAW) meals.

My test would be to bring 2 cups of water to a boil and to make myself some soup. Might as well be practical here!

I got the cotton ball flaming with a single strike of the sparker (these cotton balls RULE!) and threw in the two feathered pieces of kindling. They were then put into the feed ramp of the stove.

It was cranking out flame virtually immediately!

I threw the pot on top, and started my clock to see how long it would take to bring the water to a boil and cook my meal.

The flame promptly went out. I removed the pot, and it started right up again. Apparently, the air holes I punched into the coffee can were inadequate for the job. I found that I needed a very aggressive fire to keep it alive with the pot on the stove.

It took approximately 10 minutes to get bubbles to form at the bottom of the pan. I was never able to get a full boil going. I dumped the JAW soup mix in the pan, gave it a stir and covered it up.

I alternated between pushing more sticks into the fire chamber, removing the pot to get the fire going again, and stirring the soup. All told, it took another 10 minutes (for a total of 20 minutes) to cook the soup.

Very impressively, those little bundles of wood shown in the picture above were all I used. In a camp fire or even a Dakota fire pit, that would have been gone in a minute. I had perhaps a 1/4 cup of ash after the fire.

So, what did I learn?

Pro: Very sturdy. Very Cheap. Very fuel efficient. Portable.

Con: Dirty. Even though it was very efficient, there was a ton of soot on the bottom of the pot. No more than you'd have with a campfire, but with its touted high efficiency, I expected less.

Other than that, it was pretty damned impressive. My design didn't allow for enough air to reach the fire chamber with the pot on the top. That's not a problem with the Rocket Stove, it was a problem with how I put it together.

Along a similar line, the coffee can diameter should match the diameter of your pot, if at all possible. This will allow more of the flame coming up from the chimney to "lick" the bottom of the pot and give you quicker desired temperatures.

I'd guess it took me about a half hour to make the stove. I went slowly so I wouldn't cut myself on any of the exposed edges.

It was a good exercise. I will probably put one together that is more like the one Dragon made - more precise, sturdy and larger. It could be brought along when car camping or similar situation or used at home during an emergency when you didn't have access to utility-provided fuels, electricity or other stored fuels.

Accept The Challenge

What options do you have to cook your food (or make water safe to drink)?  If you must "bug out" can you prepare a fire only using the tools you have in nature or in a Bug Out Bag/Get Home Bag?

Remember PACE - Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency.  Give yourself options.  For example, to make fire, have a disposable lighter, water-proof matches, a fire steel and a magnifying glass.

Practice making a fire with each - don't assume you know what you're doing!

If you want to go "hard core," teach yourself how to make fire through friction - either a fire bow drill or fire plough.  I have tried both, and have yet to be able to make a fire.  More reading, more practice.

Fire keeps you alive.  Don't leave home without 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.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Of Fish and Fungus

Don't tell my wife.

At least 3 years ago (I think it was longer) I caught these 3 trout.  I vacuum sealed them in FoodSaver bags, and threw them in the freezer.

I was recently digging deep in the freezer and I found them.  Hmmm.  Would they still be good?

I thawed them out, threw them on the pan, gave them a light coating of olive oil, sprinkled them inside and out with lemon pepper and baked them in the oven.

They were absolutely fantastic.

My wife is not a big "fresh fish" fan - she doesn't like anything that is not store wrapped.  Somehow, a product that has been handled by who knows how many people is safer and better than fresh-caught food.  Go figure.

So I cooked this up, cut off the head, tail and fins, popped out the bones, and plated it up.  She got home from a meeting and wolfed a piece down.  She even commented about how great it tasted and there not being any fish smell.

Let's keep this just between us, OK?

Yesterday morning, my wife fairly bounced into my office and proceeded to stick a foot in my face.

She has had an ongoing problem with toe nail fungus for years.  Her big toes, especially.  She has seen a raft of doctors.  Anti-fungal creams, prescriptions, nail removal - you name it.  Nothing worked.

The foot that was in my face had a perfect set of nails.  No gnarliness to be seen!

How did she fix it?  Vicks Vapo-rub!

She got on the Internet and found an article, and decided to give it a try.  She figured it couldn't hurt to try.  Who knew?

Need to add some Vick's to the home medical kit...

Since we're discussing fungus, let's bring San Francisco into the mix.

The Socialist-Haven-By-The-Bay is crumbling as we speak.  They almost advertise to the region's homeless, "Come On Down!"

In good times, they were able to service all of these people.  In bad times, not so much.  So they need new ways to raise money.

These folks are true professionals in finding creative ways to steal your money.  Their latest scam is to place yet another tax on alcohol.  The pretense is that the money will be used to pay for the city's drug and alcohol programs.

We all know it will be dumped into the general fund, never to be seen again.

To see the true colors of this communist enclave, here's what the city's controller reported -
In addition to the supervisors, public-health officials and many community groups support the fee. They point to the city controller's reports, which conclude that the measure would have a negligible impact on San Francisco's economy since private-sector job losses would be offset by municipal revenue gains.
Translation:  Sorry, sport, we're kickin' your job under the bus because the tax increase will make us more money than you will.

Feel the love....

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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, August 18, 2010

Recognize Your Real Oppressor

News about Black graduation rates is getting a bit of play on the news right now.  I'm actually surprised there isn't more reporting on this because this is one of the great ways for the federal government to justify taking more of our money and giving it to others.  Well, BORROWING money on our backs to give to others.

The report (PDF) shows how the graduation rates for black males is significantly below that of white males.  Big time.  Only 47% of black males nationwide start the 9th grade and graduate with their classmates in 4 years.  78% of white males meet that standard.

And of course, this is the fault of whites.  The implication of this study is that whites are standing at the perimeter of the good schools with pitchforks and rifles with bayonets keeping the "disadvantaged" out of their schools.  Apparently, we let the Asians sneak through, because their graduation rates exceed that of whites.

The communist educational group (is that being redundant - communist and educational group?) tells us the reason blacks don't do as well as whites is because they don't have the same opportunities.  They've even gone as far as to quantify this in their Opportunity To Learn Index (OTLI).  Here's how they "do the math" -
OTLI compares the opportunity of students from disadvantaged groups to that of White, non-Latino students for access to those 25 percent of the schools in a state where nearly all students graduate on-time and college ready. For example, if 40 percent of a state’s White, non-Latino students are enrolled in the top quartile of that state’s schools, and 20 percent of students from disadvantaged groups are given the opportunity to study in such schools, the OTLI is 50 percent: disadvantaged students having half the Opportunity to Learn as White, non-Latino students in that state.
Of course, anyone can attend any school in America.  You may need to MAKE THE DECISION to move, you may need to make some sacrifices or make other personal choices, but you can send your kid to any school in America if you have enough desire.


From the Merriam-Webster dictionary -

Main Entry: dis·ad·van·taged
Pronunciation: \-tijd\
Function: adjective
Date: 1879
: lacking in the basic resources or conditions (as standard housing, medical and educational facilities, and civil rights) believed to be necessary for an equal position in society

Wow.  Disadvantaged used to mean things that happened to you through no fault of your own.  Things like being born deaf or blind.  Bad things outside of your control.

In this study, you're considered disadvantaged for no reason other than the color of your skin.  What's THAT teaching blacks?  The thought of this - the incessant drumming of "the racial excuse" - turns my stomach.

Of course, it's all about personal choice.  White and Asian families - in the aggregate - more often make the choice to do whatever is necessary to get their kids into the best possible schools.

As an example, when my boys were grammar school aged, we made the tuition payment for a private school BEFORE we made our mortgage payment.  My wife (who is of Hispanic descent and who will punch you in your jaw if you call her 'disadvantaged') got a job at the school so we could get a tuition break.  Still, for most months during their earliest school years, we didn't have enough money for both the mortgage and tuition.

THAT'S how important education was to our family.

What I would like to see is a study of graduation rates based upon family structure.  How many of the non-graduating students, by race, had a single parent household?

Or maybe a, "non-essential devices-to-income" ratio.  How many household with little or no income somehow find a way to buy an X-Box, but not pay for an education?  Maybe we could also do a book-to-video game cartridge study as well.

But we're not going to see such a studies, at least not widely reported in the press.  It would shoot holes in the whole idea of disadvantaged groups.  Should you be considered "disadvantaged" when you've made the choices that put you into your current economic straits? 

It's not my fault you chose to buy a big-screen TV or expensive "smart phone" instead of putting money away to move to a better neighborhood, or to pay for private school tuition.

It's not my fault you chose to get pregnant, have a kid, and not be able to support yourself or the kid.

It's not my fault you chose to accept the, "keepin' it real" outlook that is prevalent in the poor black community.

It's not my fault that you chose to rely on the government for your rent, food, clothing and education, effectively destroying your need and desire to provide for yourself.

Your primary oppressor is looking at you in the mirror.

If you want to remain a ward of the state, don't change a damned thing.  The choice is yours.  At least have the personal dignity not to bitch about it.

If you want to get pissed off at someone other than yourself for your predicament, your first stop on The Hate Parade should be the teacher's unions.  They are your biggest outside enemy, and they are the ones with the most to gain by you staying in your current predicament.

Ask them why they are bending over backwards to shut down or limit Charter Schools.  In particular, you might want to ask them about The Harlem Success Academy.

This is a charter school in the poorest NYC borough, and it is almost all black.  Their success rate is absolutely fantastic.  They have 95% of their students at or above grade level proficiency.  That's compared to only 56% of other NYC public schools being at the same level.  Nearly twice the success rate in a virtually all-black school.  It seems like the color of your skin is irrelevant when you make the right choices.

They have so many people trying to get into these schools that they must hold lotteries.  WTF?  These are black families that recognize the value of a good education, and they're literally being stopped at the door.

But the teacher's unions don't like it.  They're not in control.  Teachers are actually held to standards (GASP!) and that's just not acceptable.

They and their other union buddies buy off politicians to block the expansion of these schools -
Charter schools, which are public schools overseen by private boards of directors, have exploded in Harlem over the last few years, with 24 of Manhattan’s 29 charter schools located north of 96th Street.

The area is home to two equally passionate factions: those who believe that charters provide a focused quality of education better than Harlem’s district schools provide, and those who believe the growth of charters starves traditional schools of resources. Perkins has firmly aligned himself with the anti-charter activists, a position that came into focus at hearings he held on April 22 as chairman of the New York State Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions.
Hey, NEWS FLASH!  They DO starve traditional schools of resources.  That's a great thing.  Why would you want to continue dumping money into a system that has proven itself incompetent?  Why would you want to continue depriving children of the ability to go to a school that actually produces smart kids? 

Because the status quo is in the best interest of the teacher's unions.  Your kids education, be damned.

Accept The Challenge

It's in all of our interest to have an educated citizenry.  The more people are able to care and provide for themselves, the less burden is placed on social programs.

Realistically, I don't see the current Income Redistribution climate changing any time soon.  We can look to the future, and there are some things we can do -

If you're in a district with low graduation rates, regardless of skin color, get in front of your school board members and ask why this is happening.  Ask if they've drawn up plans to charter schools.  Ask them why they should be re-elected if their districts are not performing.

Ask what they're doing to address low graduation rates aside from throwing more money at the problem.  Tell them we've tried that for the last 40 years, and it hasn't worked.  You want ideas that have worked elsewhere.

And remember, just because you don't have kids in school doesn't mean this issue doesn't affect you.  If you pay taxes, you're affected!

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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, August 17, 2010

Headlines Are For Suckers

I was browsing a bunch of news sites this morning, and saw this headline to a story -

Housing Starts Increase In July After Falling Sharply In Two Previous Months

My very first reaction was, "That is a bold-faced lie."

I had just finished up another article in a long line of reports that said residential housing was taking a beating. Housing prices are flat and we will soon have an official housing inventory equal to a full 12 months of demand.  A full year's worth of demand!  

These numbers don't include the tens of millions of homes held on the books of the banks - homes that have been foreclosed upon, but the banks are holding so that the prices don't get further depressed by a rush of homes hitting the market.

I also know that home builders aren't stupid.  They are not going to be building homes in increasing volumes at a time when there is an over-supply of the products they manufacture.

So how could that headline be accurate?

It wasn't until the fourth paragraph of the article that the real story was presented -
The monthly increase was due to a jump in new construction of multi-family homes, which surged up by 17.3 percent to an annual rate of 95,000. On the other hand, new construction of single-family homes fell by 4.2 percent, the third consecutive monthly decrease.
Translation:  More people are losing their homes and are being forced to move into apartments.  There is increased market demand for residential housing owned by someone other than the occupant.

If you look at the headline, your impression is that things are all bright and rosy.  The pinheads in the stock market are fairly wetting themselves over the "good" news, and the market is soaring.  Really?!

I'm finished with trying to "justify" why the press feels this need to spin the news one way or the other.  The left-leaning press gives us, "puppies and kittens," and the right-leaning press gives us, "ghouls and goblins."  They were in opposite roles when Bush was president.

I don't want them to spread doom-and-gloom, and I don't want them to blow happy-smoke up my butt.  I just want them to accurately report what's going on so I can get a feel for what is going on in the world.

Accept The Challenge

I think of people like my mom.  She's retired and very active.  She almost couldn't care less what's going on in the "outside world".  She doesn't have the time or inclination to read in-depth news stories.  Her news consists of brief headlines and talking-heads on the local major network TV channels.  I think the majority of Americans get their daily dose of news the exact same way.

No wonder we're in this mess.  As long as the politicians we elect appear to be trustworthy, we elect them.  We barely scratch the surface of what they've done.  Most are professional politicians.  It's all they've ever done.

All sizzle, no steak.
All hat, no horse.
A bunch of empty suits.

Instead of the media informing us, they actively work to influence us.  Seriously, thank God for the Internet!  At least those of us with the inclination to dig into a story have the ability to do so, and WE can use that knowledge to educate and inform others.

Sure, we will apply our "spin" on the events, but that's OK, as we're discussing our personal opinions.  We don't have the pretense of Professional Journalist.

Read, read and read some more.  There is so much going on right now - we have to stay informed, and we need to have confidence in the information we're receiving.

Question everything.  Especially question things that report what you expect them say.  For instance, I think gold and silver are going to continue to rise in value.  When I read reports and stories that support that belief, I verify every point they make.  Being suckered because they're telling us what we want to hear can end up quite badly.

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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.

And The Winner Is...

Our One Bucket Per Month Challenge finished up on Sunday.  In addition to the entries posted online, I got two more entries via email.  I told both entrants that I had to be able to publish their entries to be in the running, and both declined.  This confused me!

Anyways, we got some very good entries.  Lots of great ideas.  I know I will be taking parts of all of the entries, and incorporating ideas from each into my own buckets, which will be used for off-site caching.

I must say I was a bit swayed by Shy Wolf's "All Slim-Jim's-All-The-Time" idea, but had to decline it ;-)

What the choice came down to was: Variety, Longevity, Nutrition, Edibility and Ease of Preparation.

All of the entries met all of these items, albeit in varying degrees.  With all of them, you'd still be alive and healthy after a month of eating from the bucket!

The solution that won is on the expensive side of the entries, but I think it would have best met one of those intangible items:  Comfort.

I felt that all of this was best met by Pete Smith's (blog:  Patriots Against The NWO) suggestion.  

So, Pete, congrats!  Shoot me an email, and I'll get your silver round in the mail.

Thanks again to all of you that sent in entries.  Great creativity, folks!

Accept The Challenge

Go through the entries and exercise your brain.  There really were some great ideas.  Pick those ideas that make the most sense for you, your lifestyle and your pocketbook.

Get some food stored.  It doesn't need to be an expensive solution - calories and nutrition should be your top concerns.  What's important is that you act.

Get crackin'!

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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, August 16, 2010

Predictions From 1958

Wimp out post for today.  I'm slammed the entire day.

A link to this video was sent to me by one of my brothers.  The first part is from 1958, then it goes to 1974.  Pretty amazing stuff.  It could not be more on point.

I don't know much about the John Birch Society.  Anecdotally, I heard they were a bunch of whacked-out, right-wing religious zealots.  I have no idea if it's true or not. 

I got kind of a creepy feeling while I was over at their site, reading some articles and (especially) the comments.  I can't put my finger on it.

Still, I can say that I agree with virtually every word spoken in this video.

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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, August 15, 2010

Storm Brewing?

I'm on the mailing lists of probably two dozen or so emergency preparedness company newsletters.  These folks sell everything from food to equipment to ammunition.  Probably 6 months ago, I mentioned to a friend that it seemed like everyone was having a sale.  Free shipping morphed into free product or serious discounts.  Many were having Going Out Of Business sales.

I figured this was potentially due to a few things:
My guess was that the answer was probably a bit of each.

I got an interesting email letter yesterday from  I have made a number of purchases from them in the past, and have therefore been on their mailing list for quite a while.  I mention this because this guy makes a comment about not being a Chicken Little.  And he's right - I can't ever recall him making a comment about broad economic issues.
Rather than push conspiracy theories or stretch the truth to try and make you believe something is worse than it really is like many in my industry do, once in a blue moon if I think the situation warrants it, I will just pass on the facts to you and let you make your own decisions with regard to what impact (if any) it may have on you and your family instead of trying to insult your intelligence by telling you what I think it may mean to you.


OK, so let me get off my soap box and get to the point/pass on the news. I'll bet I'm not telling you anything that you have not already heard or seen at your local market with your own eyes, but because I am now seeing it with our vendors, suppliers and products personally, I need to let you know that we're going to be facing some large cost increases on many food items in the near future.

You've already seen/heard me tell you about increases in worldwide dairy prices, and you've seen first hand what it is doing to things like our Canned Butter and Canned Cheese, but it looks like our Canned Meats are next, as we are seeing dramatic spikes in costs and demand at the producer level which will mean that in the near future I am going to have to pass on some potentially large price increases to you - probably in the next week.
He doesn't discuss what he thinks is causing these price increases.  I think I know what's going on:  I think this is like a micro-economic view of what will be coming in the broader macro-economy.

As we've discussed before, it is very common for there to be deflation - price decreases - prior to the onset of inflation - price increases.


Quite simply, people have less money to buy stuff, so demand goes down.  The farmers, manufacturers and processors over-produce based on historical demand, and the product sits on the shelves.  The retailers have to sell it at a discount to get rid of the excess stock.

During the next business cycle, the farmers, manufacturers and processors have less demand than before, but they still must make a profit to stay in business.  So, they make less product, but charge higher per-piece prices.  Hello, Inflation!

I think that may be what we're seeing in the small "survival food" market.  There was low demand so they almost gave the stuff away.  Now, the next business cycle is coming on line, but the cost-per-piece is going to skyrocket if the producers want to stay in business.

The writer of the newsletter discussed some prices that have been increasing in the consumer food markets.  Personally, I haven't seen it.  I see the prices for processed and unprocessed food either being stable or decreasing.

Rice, sugar, wheat, corn and any type of bean haven't moved an inch, and pork, chicken and beef have all recently dropped in price.

Is this because we currently have surpluses that exceed demand?  Is this the start of the deflationary price drop that precedes the inflationary period?

If any of us could answer those questions with certainty, we'd be rich enough to not need to worry!

He also made an interesting point worth noting.  The price of shipping is going up, as is the price of packaging. 
It is also important to note that with canned foods there are more than just the costs what's in the can to consider. Steel, which is obviously used for the can itself, has risen in price dramatically over the last year. Corrugated/cardboard costs have also risen just as dramatically in the last 18 months. We obviously rely on cardboard for the case packaging as well as for the outer shipping box and inner packaging materials/void fill. The costs for cardboard and paper products are mainly driven by fuel prices today since the process of harvesting the timber, transporting it to the mill and powering the machinery used in producing the finished product still rely very heavily on fossil fuels.
This could all just be his company's way of trying to justify a price increase that was actually caused by something else.  Who knows?  It rings true to me, but it could just be playing into what I expect to hear more and more in the coming months.

Some things are increasing in price - gasoline most recently.  But most other things seem pretty well priced right now.  My gut says it's just the calm before the storm.

Also, it was recently announced that Russia has halted all wheat shipments.  Their recent wild fires consumed 20% of their crop.  I would expect to see raw wheat and wheat products increase in price because of this. 

These types of shortages also tend to increase the prices of alternatives as demand is shifted to the other products.  For instance, you may give up making or buying wheat bread and switch to corn bread or tortillas, causing an increased demand for corn.

And of course, the 800 pound gorilla that's sitting on your chest is the federal government.  The Federal Reserve just announced that they will increase their "quantitative easing" (printing up money out of thin air) and monetize our debt (they will buy US Treasury bonds with the money they created).

All of that by itself is going to cause inflation.  Couple that with inflation caused by a horrible economy and you're looking at hyper-inflation.

If someone - ANYONE - can explain how this won't happen, I'd love to hear their rationale.  As I've said before, to me, it's just a matter of figuring out when it will happen, not if it will happen.

Accept The Challenge

Has the broader economy hit the tipping point?  It's tough to tell right now.  Things like the survival food industry announcing coming increases might be an indication, or it might not be.  We'll only know the real answer sometime in the future.

In our last post, we had an article in the Wall Street Journal that discussed 10 things to keep our eyes on.  I think this is a prudent thing to do.  Our job is to take in the information and validate it.  If we hear distressing information, check the sources and assumptions.  If we hear up-beat information, do the same.

With either type of information, consider the source.  Does the "reporter" have a reason for spinning the information in a particular direction?  Political reasons, economic reasons, societal reasons.  Consider them all.

And that includes the information you read here.  PLEASE, don't take my opinions as the final word.  That would be insane.  Take them as a starting point or to augment your own research so you can come up with your own opinions.

Those personal opinions will shape your plans, and your plans will result in action.  THAT'S what is important.  Don't be a passive spectator in how your life is affected by events that are beyond your control, be an active participant.

I'm personally on a purchasing campaign of my Four "B's" of emergency prep - Beans, Bullets, Band-aids and Bullion.  Prices are good right now, and I'm stocking up while I'm able to do so.

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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, August 13, 2010

Blackberries And Other Things I Squashed This Week

Foraging - a buddy and I (and two of his children) headed out to the levies yesterday, and we got a bunch of blackberries.  I ended up with just shy of 3 1/2 pounds.  They stayed after I left, and they found the "Mother Lode" of blackberries just up the road from where I left off.

He made his berries into jam.  If I remember correctly, he got 15 half-pint jars and 4 pints!

I'm going to make mine into jam today.  It looks like I'll have enough to get 10 half-pint jars...

Putting My Foot Down - I've just written my first Letter To The Editor in my own name.  It was in response to this letter ("Don’t cultivate images of violence").

These two local church leaders were complaining about how the local Tea Party had a speaker that was complaining about (another) upcoming California law that would outlaw Open Carry.

My response -

This is in response to Reverend Alexis Easton's and Reverend Will McGarvey's letter regarding "Tea Party Open Carry" -

The Reverends ask:

"What does open carry communicate? That the world is an unsafe place; that we are in imminent danger anywhere and anytime and that it is appropriate to be ready with an armed response. Open carry feeds fear, not trust or confidence."

What good are "trust and confidence" when you have a gun to your head or a knife to your throat?

I wonder if the Reverends feel fear when they see a police officer with a loaded, openly-carried gun. If not, why not? Are they suggesting that only the police are able to receive handgun training and render aid to others? What if the police aren't there when someone you love is being attacked?

If they do feel uneasy seeing a policeman with a handgun, are they suggesting that the police be disarmed because the sight of their guns gives them images of, "anger and anxiety" as they mentioned in their letter?

What the Reverends ignore is that all of these gun laws and "feel good" restrictions only apply to law-abiding citizens. The criminals - being criminals - disregard them. Where does that leave the law-abiding citizen?


If I were to enter a coffee shop or any other business that allowed handguns to be worn on their premises, I would feel an INCREASE in my sense of safety. A criminal will see that there may be resistance to their criminal behavior. They'll look for an easier, less risky business to rob.

But this issue is bigger than Open Carry. The Reverends seem to have been swept up by the National Media portrayal of Tea Party members and others who believe in personal freedom and responsibility, as outside the norms of society. Their words insinuate that we must fully entrust our personal safety to the government.

I reject that idea. I will not delegate my personal safety to anyone else. I am responsible for myself.

Another question for the Reverends: How would they suggest a smallish, 5 foot, 100 pound woman react when attacked by a 6 foot 3 inch, 250 pound male assailant? The likelihood of her successfully fighting the larger, stronger man are slim.
Should the woman just "give in?" What if she's out with her kids? Should she not be able to defend herself and her children? What kind of fear is she feeling when she realizes she has no way to defend herself?

In our society, there are three types of people: Wolves, Sheep and Sheep Dogs. The wolves prey on the sheep. The Sheep Dogs - regular Good Samaritan citizens and sworn police officers alike - won't stand idly by while crimes are being committed.

In America, you can ascribe to any belief system to which you feel comfortable. You may feel uncomfortable owning, handling or carrying a handgun. That is your right. Our Constitution does not require you to defend yourself, it simply guarantees your God-given right to do so.

But, you don't have the right to impose your beliefs on others. When you support laws of your liking that restrict the Constitutional rights of others, the proverbial "slippery slope" comes into play. Some day, a right you cherish may be eliminated, and you will have no one to blame but yourself.

If you don't exercise your rights, they will be taken away.
We'll see if it gets published.

I will not stand by and watch this gun-grabbing propaganda to unchallenged.  If they don't acknowledge that it will be published, I'll post it in the comments section of the original article, and pass it along to the local Tea Party organizer so she can spread the word.

Enough is enough.

Is Big Media Finally Seeing The Light? - Great article in the Wall Street Journal ("Is a Crash Coming? Ten Reasons to Be Cautious").

Take a look.  It's a quick read.

Don't forget:  Our One Bucket Per Month Challenge runs through Sunday.  Get your entry posted and you may win a bright and shiny ounce of solid silver.

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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, August 11, 2010

Personal Safety and The Abyss

I was reading an article that was comparing murder rates in different countries.  They were trying to imply that because our murder rate by handgun was so much higher than the other country, CLEARLY, handguns were the reason for the murders.  Ban 'em all!

I knew this was garbage.  Societal problems cause murders, not the tools the murderers use.  So I went and found the overall murder rates (here).  If you look at the list, almost all of the 40+ countries with higher murder rates have outlawed the private ownership of handguns.

Kinda punches a hole in the ol' gun grabbers argument, no?

Anyways, I saw something that was interesting.  Just below the US is Argentina.  Here's the data I saw -

From left to right, the blue columns are for 2000, 2001, 2002, etc.  The last column on the right being the latest data that is available.

What interested me is that in Argentina in 2001, they saw a pretty significant spike in the murder rate.  Again in 2002.  Then it began a fairly steady decline.

Hmmmm.  What happened in Argentina in 2001 and 2002?  Oh, I remember:  It's when their economy imploded.

Considering that we are doing the exact same things that caused the Argentinian economy to crater, if you don't think violence will break out when the American "public safety net" gets shredded, you're not in touch with reality.

Get training or practice the skills you've acquired.  Now.

Want to stay up at night?

Take a look at this article ("John Williams:  Approaching The Abyss").  A friend of mine sent it to me.  It's an interview of the owner of  They're the guys that take the government financial statistics that have been doctored beyond recognition, and tell us what the numbers really mean (or should be).

Take the time to read and digest the whole thing.

A snippet -
Nevertheless, on a quarter-to quarter-basis, I think we'll see GDP down again in the third quarter. With the bulk of the reported GDP in the first half due to inventory building, the stage for renewed contraction has been set. By then we'll find the consensus pretty much in the camp that we're in a double-dip recession. The popular press will describe it as a double dip, but we never had a recovery. Actually, this is just a very protracted, very deep downturn that has had a pattern of falling off a cliff, bottoming out, having a little bit of bump due to stimulus and then turning down again. Sort of shaped like the path of a novice skier going down a jump for the first time. Speeding sharply down the hill, he goes up in the air and starts spinning wildly as he tries to figure out which end is up with his skis. Then he takes a pretty bad tumble. We're beginning to spin in the air.
Get your financial house in order.  Be prepared to take advantage of a sharp price decline (deflation) which will be followed by ugly, ugly price spikes (inflation).


Wow, the markets are being turned on their heads right now.  As I write this, the Dow is down over 230 points.  The Federal Reserve came out yesterday and said the economy might not be quite the bed of rose petals the administration is making it out to be.

Well, there's a shock!  Who'd a-thunk it?  Uhm, all of us that have two brain cells to rub together, that's who.

I'm sure the Plunge Protection Team is on stand-by.

I expected to see a huge up-tick in the price of gold.  Nope.  It is slightly down.  Why might that be?  From the front page of -

For some unfathomable reason, the dollar is getting stronger.  Well, not unfathomable, just one based on fairy tales, unicorns and cute little puppies.  I know, I know, this is based on the dollar's relative strength to other world fiat currencies.  But still, really?!

What I found very interesting is that most of that decline is being offset by people buying gold.  They're taking their money out of the stock market and putting it in to gold.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.  Maybe some sanity is returning...

We've had a great start to our One Bucket Per Month Challenge.  Those of you still on the sidelines, get crackin'!  There's silver in them thar ideas!

Accept The Challenge

If you believe the pablum being fed to us about the economy by the administration, just move along.  I think there's a PeeWee's Playhouse marathon being run on PBS that you'd find more to your liking.

For the rest of you, it seems like things might be coming to a head.  I've been hoping that this serious downturn would wait for 2 more years, but it's beginning to look like things might decline more quickly.  Six months to a year?  I don't know.  I need to digest all of this for a bit.

Check and double-check your supplies.  When was the last time you rotated your food supplies?  When was the last time you checked the condition of your equipment?  Practiced your life saving skills lately?

I just did an inventory of my ammunition, and found - to my horror - that my usage has seriously exceeded my replacement, especially with my primary handgun round.  I will be correcting that in short order.

Get as "cash heavy" as you can.  With the upcoming deflationary price drops, this will be an excellent opportunity to stock up on the food, supplies and equipment you may not have had the chance to buy before.

Make your list, and start scanning Craigslist now.  Take a look at a post from back in March ("Efficient Use Of The Online Marketplace") and see how you can set up RSS feeds to track your wishlist.

Please click our advertiser links. They pay us so you don't have to. A click a day is all we ask!

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.