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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Police, Preps and More Preps

Apparently, I'm not alone in the deep concerns I shared in "More Nannyism Comin' Your Way".   One of the big dogs - Karl Denninger over at Market Ticker had some similar feelings in his post from yesterday -
Finally, you [police departments] need to start respecting the unalienable rights of the citizens in this state and nation. This means cutting the crap with the so-called "permits" to exercise unalienable rights.

All of them.

We'll stand with you - we want to - but respect is a two-way street and it has to be earned. We, the peaceful citizens of this state and nation, are willing to work with you. But you have to both work with us and respect our rights.

That's the deal, and if you don't like it that's fine - we don't have to help you.
He noted the "us vs. them" mentality that seems to be infecting many police departments.  I hope that changes, as when TSHTF, the LEOs will want us law abiding citizens on their side.  You'd think.

I love Mondays.  I work out of my home office getting caught up on paperwork, and calling people that have signed up for gun my classes (I require a personal interview with all students prior to the class).

Anyways, I also will typically put away some long-term food storage, usually via canning.   Mostly meat, but occasionally something else.

This week I just did some simple beans.  Two pounds of dry pintos (soaked over night), a cup of diced onions, cup of diced celery, maybe a teaspoon of salt and half that of black pepper.  A couple of bay leaves for good measure.

Cover with water and bring to a boil for 20-30 minutes.

I then added about a cup of chopped, uncooked ham into the bottom of each quart jar, and covered it with beans and boiling liquid to a half inch of the top.  90 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, and viola! 5 quarts of the best damned beans you've ever eaten.  Seriously.

One of the jars didn't seal, so they were part of dinner last night.  Along with two loaves of homemade bread that were made with NO recipe.  I noted here or somewhere else that making different kinds of bread by memory is one of the items on my Skills Development checklist.

I'm getting there!

I recently downloaded, The Art of War, onto my Nook reader (I really love this thing).  Absolutely great book on developing strategic plans.

My intent is to absorb as much of this as possible, and apply it to my precious metals business.

We've got two competitors in our town, and a half-dozen or so in the general area.  Our business is growing, so far, beyond every benchmark we had established, but we all want to crush the guys in town (for a number of very good reasons I'm not going to go into).

One of the "pearls of wisdom" from early on in the book -
Hence the saying:  If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.  If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.  If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
I'm in the information gathering phase right now.

I'd guess that the strategic lessons could be applied elsewhere as well...

Speaking of precious metals:  Is anyone who owns gold or silver freaking out over the latest drops in spot prices?

Not me.

The only way I'd be worried would be if I thought the dollar wasn't going to be demolished by the Federal Reserve and the US government policies.

They're not going to change, so I'm not worried.  Long-term trends, baby.  Long-term trends...

Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon are coming apart at the seams.

Russia takes a serious terrorist attack, killing 30+ at their largest airport in Moscow.

A bus was blown up in the Philippines (ya didn't hear about that one, did ya?).

Not surprisingly, the Government Scribes (the Main Stream Press) have wasted no time starting the propaganda campaign to give the TSA, et al, reason to further infringe on our rights.

I absolutely guarantee more invasive screening and other draconian laws are coming your way.
It will be very difficult to prevent all such attacks, Kean says. "We have a lot of places in this country where crowds gather," he says.
Well, we'll just have to put a stop to that, now, won't we?!  No more large gatherings, all in the name of security.

Sounds reasonable, no?

Tip:  Do what you can to stay away from large crowds if you can possibly avoid them.  For a while, at least.  Lots of tension in the air.

People are so sensitized to the fear of a bombing that if a large firecracker were to go off at, say, a sporting event or the mall, I'd be more worried about being trampled to death than anything else.

And when was the last time you went to the gun range?  Yeah, that's what I thought.

Get thee to the range, and practice your non-traditional stances and grips.  Weak-side and one-handed shooting.

Don't expect the bad guys to stand still while you carefully line up your sights.  Practice draw-and-shoot drills so that as soon as the gun is fully extended, you can pull the trigger, and you'll at least hit center-of-mass to slow the bastard down.

Shotgunners, when was the last time you shot your preferred home defense load?  From your weak side?  Get on it.

With all firearms, be sure you're leaning into the shot so your body is absorbing as much of the recoil as possible.  This will let you get subsequent shots on target much more quickly.  Important, especially if there are more than one bad guys "visiting".

For you non-lethal weapon folks, when was the last time you swapped out your pepper spray and changed the batteries in your stun gun?

OF COURSE you know to not throw away the old pepper spray, but to use it as a training tool to reinforce in your mind just how far the spray goes, and what kind of finger-hold you need to fire the thing, right?


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Copyright 2011 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.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Wisdom and Decisions

I've been doing some reading on Original Intent - information on how our nation was supposed to be run per the Constitution.  Not surprisingly, I kept running into quotes from James Madison.

In the last post ("More Nannyism Comin' Your Way"), part of what I discussed was how the federal government is giving local police departments these $300,000 BearCat armored urban assault vehicles.  This "gift" is synonymous with the federal government paying for housing, food, and education for individuals - it's just at the government-to-government level.

It's all about welfare.  Pick the term you want to use, but that's what it boils down to.  There are always strings attached and intended/unintended consequences.  Nothing is free.

Enter James Madison, stage right:
"With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."
My argument against folks that pull the "general welfare card" is that it is painfully clear what the framers intended and the states required by the inclusion of the tenth amendment.  Basically, it says if a specific power wasn't granted to the federal government, they've got to butt out.

How's that working out for you?

It's like the tenth amendment is viewed as some sort of suggestion.  Consider it if you've got nothing else to do.  

A horribly obscene percentage of our federal government is flat-out unconstitutional.  Not even close.  Yet, the Big Government folks from both parties keep feeding the beast and adding to its bloat.

I don't see anything that's going to stop it.

As I dug around, I found another quote, also from Madison.  This was part of a speech he gave during the very first Congress regarding the consideration by the federal government of a proposal to provide cod fishermen with a subsidy -
"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands;
they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury;
they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union;
they may assume the provision of the poor;
they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads;
in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress....
Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America."
It numbed me.  With the exception of a national religion (unless you count Cronyism), what other horror envisioned by Madison has not been realized?

Goodness, where is Madison's wisdom nowadays?  This guy got it.

How can this corruption ever stop?

I don't think it will.

Look at the "logic" that is employed by these Big Government socialists.  Sheila Jackson Lee is arguing that if the unconstitutionally enacted ObamaCare were repealed, we would be depriving citizens of their life and liberty.

Ow.  That hurts my head.

Let that sink in:  The government exercised powers not granted by the Constitution.  But if the fruit of those unconstitutional powers is revoked, the revocation would result in the unconstitutional denial of rights of the recipients of those ill-gotten fruits.

The real world equivalent would be requiring a thief to return stolen goods to the rightful owner.  "By taking the money from the poor robber and returning it to the rich capitalist pig, you are depriving this person of their Constitutional right to care for themselves.  Government would be taking away his ability to feed his family!  Oh, the horror!"

Absurd, yet little will likely change.

Here's the punch line for this post:  I'm changing my tune with regards to federal bailouts (Huh?  Where the hell did THAT come from?!).

I'm now all for them.

Here's how I got there - we're toast as a Constitutional Republic.  When the vast majority of the federal government isn't legal, and the inclination is to continue growing and adding additional powers (i.e., ObamaCare, Cap and Trade, etc.), I don't think anything will change for the better, at least not in my lifetime (and I'm guessing I have at least 30+ years to go).

I know that our federal deficit will continue to grow.  Even if by the grace of God the growth stopped today, it is so obese, so unwieldy, it will never be paid off.  And I'm not even talking about the hundred trillion or so dollars  in unfunded liabilities like Social Security and Medicare.

I know that my government will continue to devalue our currency.  I know that all of the money I've paid into this system will never benefit me, or at best, will be heavily discounted.

I know this pile of crap is going to be laid at the feet of my children.

So, I want the bailouts to continue for one reason:  To buy me time.  Keep the balls in the air as long as you can, DC.

My hope is that those morons in Washington have the requisite skills to keep this circus intact for a few more years while I build a future for my wife and my kids.  One that has no need for a 401(k) check that can be "managed" by the government, or Social Security check doled out when I'm deemed worthy, or a Medicare card that will allow me to wait for months for routine exams.  A future that has little or no need to avail itself of the handouts from the government.

Oh, I'll have all of those things, and will suck them dry at every opportunity, but I don't want my family dependent upon them.

My kids are going to eventually be saddled with our horrific debt, and I want them to be able to thrive and prosper despite that.

I realize that this is very VERY selfish.  I don't know what to tell you other than, that's absolutely correct.  I've come to this point from a past perspective that if you played by the rules, you were rewarded for your efforts.

Naive, I know.

But the rules changed.  Socialism slowly but surely crept into every facet of our lives.  When I was in my twenties and starting my career, welfare was for the truely needy, and was largely paid for locally.

I could deal with that.  While I wasn't "constitutionally aware" at that age, I figured that if a city or county wanted to house and feed its poor, that was OK by me.  If you didn't like that, you could vote out the bums.

In the big-money political contests, I don't have that option any longer.  At least at the state and federal level, our representatives are elected by the masses.  All you need are the people who are getting the handouts to out-vote the people who are paying for the handouts.

While I have a glimmer of hope that the Tea Party folks recently elected to federal office will slow the bleeding, I've come to know that most of them will fold when pressured.  Deals will be cut, government will continue to bloat, and nothing much will change.

So why keep banging my head against that wall?  We all need to use our time more effectively to plan and prepare our families for what is coming, not what we Hope and Pray will happen.

It's not going to get better, folks.  It can't.  We're too far buried to ever hope to dig out.  It's got to crash under its own weight before we can rebuild.

Accept The Challenge

You need to be your own landlord.   You need to be your own food store.  You need to be your own bank.  You need to be your own police force.  You need to be your own doctor.  You need to be your own utility company.

All of these things won't be possible for all of us.  Money, time, energy - life - gets in the way of our plans.

We've got to look past a few months or years, and look decades ahead.  For instance, storing 2 years of food is a short-term view.  You need to know how to produce your own food for the rest of your life, and the lifespan of your family.

You need to learn how to produce surplus consumables that can be sold/bartered/traded for goods and services you can't produce yourself.

You need to exercise, eat right, maintain your body and limit risky activities so you don't end up in an ObamaCare approved facility.

If you've got the resources, get some precious metals while you can.

You need to know how to shoot straight.

The focus is self-sufficiency to the greatest degree possible, with the understanding that it's unlikely you can provide for all of your needs.  Someone, sometime, is going to have a product or service you need.  Have desirable skill-sets that will allow you to fill in the holes in your plans.

Use this time we have to buckle down.  Of course, we all hope and pray it won't happen, but it's a childish dream to expect otherwise.

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Copyright 2011 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.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

More Nannyism Comin' Your Way

Senator Charles Schumer (Demon - NY) wants to link the use of illegal drugs to your Constitutionally guaranteed right to own a gun.  Interesting problem.

For instance, here in California it is all but legal to grow and smoke pot.  We even hand out cards so the police don't arrest you and confiscate your pot.

Ahh, but the feds don't look so kindly on the green bud.

When you fill in the paperwork for a gun purchase, the federal government does your background check.  If you got a state-approved pot card, how's that going to work out for your ability to buy a gun?

Not well, I'd guess.

If you have a pot card in this state and Schumer's plan goes into effect, you've all but signed the paperwork to allow the feds to restrict your access to a gun.

And you know what?  I have not yet been able to find the article or amendment to the Constitution that allows the Feds to in any way prohibit the consumption of pot.

Yet, plain as can be, I can find the amendment explicitly guaranteeing the right to own a gun.  It's right there, second from the top.

The large-capacity magazine issue is an interesting quandary as well.  I personally can't see a need for a 30-round magazine.  But that's me.  You may want one, and I think it's your right to own it.

Here's my stance on gun control:  Whatever is allowed for the police must be allowed for their bosses (that would be us).  If large capacity mags are disallowed, they are disallowed for everyone.  No exceptions.

No one in America is (should be) An Elite.  We've allowed ourselves to be seduced into believing that our employees - be they politicians, police, fire fighters or bureaucrats - are somehow eligible for allowances not granted to us common folk.
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Here is a great example of how these Elites think.

We have a number of refineries in the county in which I live.  Chevron is one of the largest.

It seems that the county somehow over-taxed the Chevron facility.  They called foul and won a verdict to get paid back their overpayment.  To the tune of $18 million.

There is a pissing match going on over who should pay for this refund.  The county wants all of the cities to pay their fair share.  Some cities, including mine, are saying, "BS".  We didn't get benefits, we're not paying it back.

The biggest beneficiary of these taxes was the town of Richmond.  It's where the refinery is located.  Here's their city manager -
Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay said he was not versed on the specifics of the dispute, and that it is too early to worry about any effect on Richmond's budget.

"I think if the cities have an objection to this, then I think they should raise the objection to Chevron," he said. "The root cause is not the county and how they allocated the refund; the cause was Chevron's appeal of their property taxes."
Bad, Bad Chevron for having the gall to ask for a refund of the money that was wrongly taken from you!  Don't you know we have a political machine to feed?

I've been reading a disturbing number of stories on the "arming up" of local LEO departments.  Maybe they're getting ready for some serious 'push back'....

Have you heard of the BearCats?  They're this armored personnel carrier that's been tailored for local police and sheriff departments.

I recently read a story about how some department in Santa Clara (south of SF bay) county just got one of these nearly $300,000 vehicles.
The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office now owns a BearCat. And no, it's not a pet. 
It's a tactical armored vehicle, a cross between a military tank and a Hummer, used by SWAT teams, the Army and hostage negotiators, and good for "just about anything," sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Rick Sung said. 
The sheriff's office has a refurbished armored vehicle similar to the BearCat. But this vehicle, made by Lenco, is the first of its kind that was purchased through a federal Department of Homeland Security grant called the Urban Area Security Initiative. 
The purchase of this newest model of the BearCat, the G3, was spearheaded by Assistant Sheriff Lindley Zink, 56, who retires next week after 32 years on the job. It cost $285,000.
In describing the vehicle to his peers, Zink wrote that he was just "speechless" about the BearCat's capabilities including the self-contained breathing apparatus system and the ability to detect explosives and traces of radiation from inside the vehicle. 
The BearCat can also withstand bullets fired from .50 caliber weapons. 
Sung estimated the vehicle would be used about a dozen times a year. 
In Santa Clara County, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Jose and Campbell all have BearCats or similar equivalents, Sung said. 
And while the new BearCat can be used by any law enforcement agency, the vehicle's formal home will be the Gilroy police station so that it can be readily available for use in the southern part of the county.
A three hundred grand gift from the Feds, for the Urban Area Security Initiative.    How nice.  I feel safer already.

And why would a county that expects to have 12 uses of this thing each year, need 5 of them (the sheriff and 4 cities)?

How about you go to Google, key in the name of your county and "Bearcat" to see how well armored your local LEOs might be.

You've probably all heard about how the Miami-Dade police department is buying a (for now) un-armed flying drone like the Predator that is used against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's going to be used to find pot fields and kidnapped children (nice touch).  Yeah, sure.

I'm guessing it will also fart lolly-pops down on the adoring serfs citizens as it glides majestically over the kingdom county.

This is friggin' surreal.

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Copyright 2011 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.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Oh Goody! A Post On Inflation!

Inflation.  It's a big topic of conversation recently.  The president from China will be meeting with US officials this week to chat up, amongst other things, money.
Speaking of the international currency system, which is dominated by the U.S. dollar, Hu called it a "product of the past" but said it would be a "fairly long process" to make China's own currency an international one.

He also said "the liquidity of the U.S. dollar should be kept at a reasonable and stable level."
Hmm.  That almost sounds like a threat regarding the dollar as the reserve currency of the world, and a demand about the dollar's stability.

Who does he think he is talking to us like that?  Our banker?!

It has always caused me to scratch my head when the federal government, in their infinite wisdom, chooses to exclude "volatile" food and energy costs from the core inflation rate.  I mean, it's a great idea if you're looking to provide numbers which mean nothing to anyone other than statisticians, but it's pretty damned stupid for those of us living in the real world.

What do you think is going to happen in the next few months and years?  Is real inflation - the effect on the cost of products you buy and use - going to increase or decrease?

One player in the equation is the Federal Reserve bank.  They're in the process of producing $600 billion in "funny money" - that would be US dollars that are literally being created out of thin air.  This is an inflationary act.

Another influence is the huge unemployment rate.  It's officially at around 9.4%, but that is considered a joke, even by those that report the numbers in the oh-so-compliant press.  We're at least at 17%, more likely 25%.

With roughly 70% of the US economy being driven by consumer spending, when those consumers have fewer dollars, spending goes down.  When spending goes down, it eventually causes prices to go down, which is deflationary.

And then there's the whole rest of the world.  Yeah, what they do affects us.  We're no longer the only Big Dog in the world markets.  Those pesky Chinese and Indians, well, they're out there buying up stuff left-and-right.  The gall!

Which do you think will have a greater impact?  The fed printing up Monopoly money (inflationary), the unemployment rate crushing commerce (deflationary) or the rest of the world buying up commodities like they're going out of style (inflationary)?

How about, "All Of The Above"?
The rest of the world obtains dollars to purchase those commodities primarily through trade with the U.S. Over several decades, the U.S. has run lopsided trade deficits that have flooded the rest of the world with dollars.
So what?
China, India and other fast-growing countries use their reserves and the dollars they earn through trade with the U.S. to bid up the price of wheat, corn and oil to fuel their rapidly growing economies. Thus, for example, the price of premium crude oil spiked to two-year highs of more than $90 a barrel recently despite lackluster demand in the U.S., the biggest consuming country.
Huh? You mean that all of that 'happy talk' we've heard over the years that our trade deficit with the world was a good thing for America was all a lie? Shocking, I say!

Pray tell, what might be the impact?
The result is what Mr. Drury calls a "commodities trap." The Fed remains lax on monetary policy because U.S. unemployment remains high and core consumer inflation remains low, while China and other countries translate this lax policy into high commodities inflation. But ironically, the higher prices force American consumers to spend more on food and energy and less on nonessential services, further driving down the core inflation rate and depressing U.S. growth. That leads the Fed to further loosen the money spigot and sets off the chain reaction all over again.
It almost seems like this is saying that a centrally planned and manipulated economy is a bad thing. Say it ain't so! Clinton, Bush and Obama couldn't have ALL been wrong, could they?

Those "nonessential services" are really going to take a (further) beating.  Restaurants, movie theaters, ice cream parlors, nail salons, dry cleaners.

In my area, I think every single specialty food place has closed except for the burger joints.  Chicken wings, bagels, yogurt and other specialty stores are toast.  Diners and buffet restaurants seem to be doing OK.  In fact, one of the local buffets looks to be absolutely thriving.  But the mid-priced restaurants are dropping like flies.

People in construction are just getting decimated.  It seems like every other person coming into our precious metals store to sell coins or jewelry has some tie to the construction industry.  It's bad.

Tiffany's will thrive (the rich aren't affected by this) as will Walmart (stores for the rest of us that provide value).

Accept The Challenge

This is not a one-size-fits-all problem.

If you think deflation is the likely outcome of our current economic situation, you should be hoarding dollars.  Today's dollars will buy more stuff tomorrow.  Get out of tangible assets.  You want to position yourself to being able to buy those assets in the future when their price is lower.

If you think inflation is the likely outcome of our current economic situation, you should be shedding dollars, and putting them into tangible assets right now.  Your current cash will be less valuable tomorrow.  Get what you need NOW.

My view:  I think we're going to have a little bit of each, depending upon the asset class you're looking to purchase.

Deflation-affected assets -

I, for one, believe that all real estate prices will continue to decline.  Commercial and residential.  As little as 5% to as much as 25% this year (and I'm leaning towards the high end).

I'm looking for some real estate, but I'll wait, probably for 2 more years.  I'm not going to buy an asset that I believe will be worth less than I paid for it.

Why do I believe this?  There are currently 5 million homeowners that are at least 60 days behind in their payments, and they're not even into the foreclosure process.  The current belief is that this will result in more than the 1 million foreclosures that occurred in 2010.

That means that there is a lot more real property coming into an already over-saturated market, and it will necessarily push down prices.  Supply and demand.

With our high real unemployment numbers, I think there will be more business closures.  This will mean more commercial real estate foreclosures as well.  The businesses can't pay their rent, the commercial property owners then can't pay their mortgage, and the banks eventually foreclose.

I think I'd say the same thing about automobiles and trucks.  I haven't done any research on this, as I'm not in the market for a new vehicle, but my gut says people aren't buying, and prices will decline, or at least stay flat.

I'd expect more Barry Bucks to be thrown at both of these industries in the future.  Bailouts work, right?

Inflation-affected assets -

For most folks, the two biggest items are food and fuel, but it really affects all commodities.

Anyone with a prepper mentality has been putting food and essential equipment away for years.  Many have turned to precious metals as a way to protect their dollars.

Be sure you understand the assets you're buying.  Food can spoil.  Medicine can expire.  Gold/silver prices can drop.

Pick your "event horizon" and look a bit past it.  Maybe you're comfortable with a 6 month view into the future.  Are the consumable commodities you need going to rise or decline in price?  Act accordingly.

The further out you feel comfortable viewing, the more current assets would be applied to your plans.  I strongly recommend that you proceed slowly at first, gather more information, then move forward.  This goes double for assets you can't consume like precious metals and equipment.

Along these lines are those services which will likely cost more in the future (if they're even still available at the same quality).  Get your teeth fixed.  Get your eyes checked.  Get that mole removed.  Have that operation.

Quit procrastinating, and get moving!

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Copyright 2011 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.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Of Rants and Preps

On the last day of 2010, I wrote about how the federal government is purposely making it more difficult to use cash ("Outlawing Cash").   A reporter from tried to go alll-cash for a couple of weeks.  'Tain't easy.

An observation I found interesting -

Scottrade stops customers cold with a plaque on the front counter: no cash accepted. Government regs, a rep told me. Turns out, money laundering rules make it tough for brokers to accept cash. We're living in a strange time, when the government bars you from funding your brokerage account with government-issued currency. I used a money order.
Yeah.  Money laundering.  Sure.  Strange times, indeed...

Andrew Sullivan has a blog (I guess) in The Atlantic online where he asked, "How Did Loughner Get A Legal Gun?"

Really?  That's like asking how the guy that shot up Virginia Tech got a legal gun.  Or how we have a regular stream of salmonilla deaths each year.  Or how we ended up with the bank bailouts.  Or how BP had an oil rig blow-out.  Or how Bernie Madoff stole billions of dollars. 

The answer to each is the same:  The government has grown too bloated and thus ineffective.  In each of the instances listed above, the government had approved or directed all of the circumstances which lead to the deaths or errors.

They screwed up on background checks.  They rubber-stamped the pig/cow/chicken farms.  They guaranteed bad loans, encouraging banks to make more of the same.  They told BP their disaster and operational plans for the well were A-OK.  They looked the other way (at their Internet porn?) all together with Madoff. 

Instead of focusing on core regulatory issues, they try to operate and control the businesses.  Instead of the business being given a set of guidelines with which to follow, they tell them how to run their businesses.

NOT a core-competency of any government ever to exist on this earth.

Give business rules to play by, and get the hell out of the way.  Let them fail if they screw up.  The market will regulate itself.  If I know that Bob's Chicken Farm sold eggs that killed some people, I'd never buy from Bob again.  He's going to make sure his product is healthy.  He's not going to rely on the cop-out of, "Well, the government gave me a seal of approval.  It's not my fault!"

But not to worry.  More help is on the way.  Let's pile on some more laws that make it more difficult for non-crazy law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.

It makes perfect sense.  I'm sure it will turn out just fine. 


I tried a new kind of meat to home can yesterday.  Chicken thigh.

In a recent post on canning meat ("Home Canned Burger"), reader/commenter liteluvr made a comment about cooking and canning chicken leg quarters.  He made the comment that he cooks the meat until it falls off the bone, then home cans it.

Since I'm a dark chicken meat kinda guy, I wanted to give this a try.

I bought 14 pounds of chicken thighs that were at a great price.  I figured that I should be able to get at least 7 pounds of meat after the skin and bones had been removed.

I took the raw thighs and boiled them for about 20 minutes.  I'd call it medium-well.  Not all the way cooked through.  I wanted the meat to come off easily, but I also wanted some of the texture of the meat to remain after the high-temp pressure canning.

I boned the meat and was quite surprised.  I ended up with just under 6 pounds of meat.  Hmm.

I chunked it and got it ready for the jars.  Into half of the jars, I put a 1/4 tsp of store-bought BBQ rub.  It's very salty stuff.  When I've done canned meat and added salt, I go with 1/8 tsp, but I figured that this stuff was "cut" with other spices.

Into the other 5 jars, I put 1/4 tsp of Chinese 5-spice, and about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce (regular strength, not light salt).

I then started filling the jars with the meat, and to my absolute amazement, the 6 pounds of meat fit perfectly into the 10 pint jars.  I was careful to not over-stuff the jars, but I wasn't really measuring for each one.  I just filled and pushed down a little bit.  I ended up with perhaps a quarter-cup of leftover meat.  You'd think I'd done this before... ;-)

I topped off each jar to within 1/2 inch of the lip with the stock I reserved from boiling up the thighs.  75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure, and I have 10 pints of chicken thighs!

Chinese spiced, left, BBQ (looks pretty weak) on the right.

While we're on the subject of preps, I just opened one of my vacuum-sealed bags of white flour.  Interesting.

When I had first put this bag away - in November of 2008 (!) - I had it in a plastic tub with a bunch of spices.  After 6 months or so, I opened up the tub, and could REALLY smell the spices (cumin especially).  I figured that the scent wouldn't infiltrate the vacuum bag, but separated them anyways.

Well.... the scent DID infiltrate the vacuum bags.  There was a distinct cumin smell to the flour.

I used it to make a couple loaves of bread.  The bread came out wonderfully (2-year old flour!) AND I could not detect any of the cumin smell in the bread.  Go figure.

If I was using the flour for a sweet dish, it might have been different.  Perhaps the yeast/souring of the dough over-powered the cumin.  I dunno.  I just know it tasted good!

For every box of ammo you shoot in practice - which you should be doing at least once each and every month - buy two more.  At least.

Californians:  Buy at least three.

Accept The Challenge

Man Oh Man, times, they are strange.

Reader/commenter suek posted this link that is certainly an eye-opener:

It's a lengthy article, but well worth your time.  The whole, "New World Order" marches on, and our leaders here in the states seem to keep looking for excuses to extend the concept here.

Controlling money and controlling business go hand-in-hand.  Control the money, and you control just about everything.

Somewhere, something is going to burst.  Not develop a slow leak, but burst.  And when it does, I fear it's going to have a domino effect on lots of other things.  It's the timing that's the only question.

PLEASE do what you can to ensure all of your stored wealth - food, money, equipment, etc. - are not in one place allowing for easy, "re-patriation".

Practice the skills you know, and learn some new ones.  I'm trying to memorize-thru-practice on how to make simple breads.  Loafs, flat breads, etc.  I want it to come as second nature.

Pick a new skill and master it.
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Copyright 2011 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.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Arizona Shooting

I'm looking for the real heroes from this horrible shooting in Arizona.

There has been little information on them - the two people that tackled the shooter.  They're calling the Congresswoman's aide who administered some medical assistance, a 'hero'.  To me, a hero is someone who puts his or her life at jeopardy for the benefit of another person.

The two tacklers met this qualification, not the guy giving medical support.

They must be gun-loving, liberty-loving, non-Democrats.

The gun grabbers will be going nuts over this.  We supporters of the Second Amendment need to be loud and consistent in our response.

This was done by a crazy person.  You can rarely stop crazy persons in their acts.  If every law abiding person in that crowd had been armed, does anyone think that the crazy guy would have shot and killed or injured as many persons as were shot?

No Damned Way.

Remember:  Controlling access to self-defense weapons by law-abiding citizens makes all of us less safe.  The criminals will have their guns.  We law-abiding citizens are kept defenseless by our government.

See how that turned out?  Again.

Look how has reported on this.  When I first quickly read this "development", my first impression was that the gun was in a ready-to-fire condition.  This was due to one simple word:  "Cocked".
The gun, which another bystander had wrestled from the gunman, was empty and cocked open. Federal and state law enforcement sources described it as a 9mm Glock outfitted with an extended magazine.
My brain didn't even see the word "empty" and jumped right to "cocked".  A cocked gun is a potentially dangerous gun.  From
the position into which the cock, or hammer, is brought by being drawn partly or completely back, preparatory to firing.
I then saw the word, "Glock" and my brain said, "whoa!"  For those of you who know about Glocks, they are not able to be cocked in the normal sense of the word.  They don't have an external hammer which you cock.

I went back an re-read the CNN passage, and realized they should have said that the gun was, "empty with the slide locked open indicating it was in a non-shooting condition".

I know, dream on.  That would put into print that this inanimate tool could somehow be in a safe state.  Not allowed... not allowed.

When the press gets some background information on the shooter, I hope they are consistent when they start with their hatch-jobs.  For instance, if he was a "Tea Party" member, and they use the broad brush approach to denigrate all Tea Party members, I hope they do it for all of the items in his background -

He's white.  So all whites need to be rounded up an imprisoned.

He's a male.  All males need to be rounded up and imprisoned.

He's in his 20's.  All twenty-somethings must be rounded up and imprisoned.

He's read Hitler's Mein Kampf.  All fascists must be rounded up and imprisoned.

He's read the Communist Manifesto.  All Communists must be rounded up and imprisoned.

He's from Arizona.  All Arizonans must be rounded up and imprisoned.

Anyone left?

Kiss the large orbs on my backside.

Everyone in the press is wringing their hands saying we must turn down the volume of the rhetoric.  We need some calm, reasoned discourse.

What they mean is that Tea Party/libertarians/Conservatives need to pipe down.  We're scaring the sheeple and inciting the nuts.

Bite me.

There is one way we can be silenced in a very short period of time:  Go through and repeal any unconstitutional laws, regulations and federal departments.  In short, follow the law of our land.

Until then, do not expect us to silence our disagreement and disgust with how our government is run.  Petitioning for Redress Of Grievances is still a part of the Constitution, and we intend to continue exercising that right as long as we can.


That SOB Sheriff of Pima County should be removed from office.  I just watched him on a live news conference and he was asked about AZ concealed carry laws.

He's against them.

He said to the effect he's not in favor of regular ol' citizens being able to carry a self-defense weapon anywhere they wish in the state.  He specifically mentioned schools and colleges.

A couple of follow-up questions might have been asked:

How many law abiding citizens have shot up schools and colleges?

Would your prohibition include police and sheriff deputies in the state as well?  Or are they somehow exempted from his law? 

If so, why?  If it's because of your belief that only LEOs have the ability to protect us, can you absolutely guarantee they will be present at every public event at which a crazy person might attend?

No Duty To Protect

Yeah.... that's what I thought....

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Copyright 2011 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, January 5, 2011

Tech With Utility

I'm a gadget guy.  I like stuff that buzzes and whoops and flashes bright lights.

Most of the time, the latest-and-greatest has limited utility.  It does one thing, and that's about it.

Occasionally, some of these gadgets can be adapted or re-tasked to broaden their usefulness.  I've got a couple gadgets for you think about for your preps:

Disclosure:  I'm not getting paid one penny for any of this, unless Google Ads picks up on the key words, gives you an ad, and you click it (go on.... click it.... you KNOW you want to.....!)

For Christmas, I got a Barnes and Noble Color Nook.  It's like the more widely known Kindle produced for Amazon. The Kindle may do all of these same things, but I don't own one, so I don't know.

It's primary purpose is to allow you to download books to read.  The Color Nook has a built-in capacity to hold 6,000 books!  What is very cool is that you can also download your own files onto the Nook.

Anyone want to guess where a copy of my Survival Bible now resides?  I simply attached a USB cable and copied my PDF files over to the Nook.  It can take Excel, Word and text files as well.

The files are in the same library structure as was on my PC - meaning they're still in the separate folders (food, water, medical, defense, etc) so I can get to what I need very quickly.

Of course, being an electronic gadget has its downside.  It can be ruined if it gets wet.  The screen can get crushed.  It might run out of battery power.  It could get stolen.

To address these issues, I keep the nook in a gallon zip lock bag in my briefcase (which is almost always with me).  I bought a hard case to protect it from crushing and drops.  I'm buying one of those solar chargers for cell phones to keep it juiced up when I'm not near an electrical outlet or in grid-down scenario (I already have a power inverter for my car as an additional source of power).  I added a password to protect the contents.

My paper survival bible has drawbacks as well.  Fire and water can destroy it.  It's very bulky and not easily portable (I've got mine in a big white binder).  It too, can be stolen.

The Nook is simply part of the PACE planning (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency).

It can also access the Internet via a wi-fi connection.  I can now go to any Barnes and Noble store in the country, and have free Internet access.  As long as we're not in a grid-down situation, I can get online in 87 places in California, 5 in Nevada and 8 in Oregon.  It gives me some options I didn't have before.

I've got a couple of apps on my smart phone (an Android-powered Motorola Cliq) that have shown themselves to be very useful.

The latest one came after reading an article in Reason Magazine ("How To Record The Cops").  It suggested a couple of apps that are out there that allow you to record video on your smart phone, and have the content automatically and immediately uploaded (live streaming) to the Internet.

The one I chose to use was called  I chose it over the other suggestion simply because it seemed much easier to use.  You load the app, register on the site, and you're up and running.  If you video record with the app, it's streaming in a couple of seconds.

I can see a number of situations where using this would be helpful.  The situation described in the article is one.  If you see police misconduct, and they see you recording it, you might end up on the wrong end of a Wood Shampoo.  By having the information streamed to the Qik website, you have a copy of the evidence, even if your phone goes missing or is mysteriously wiped clean.

If you have time, you can have the recording emailed to whomever you'd like.  You can have it go to your favorite social website like Facebook or Twitter, or go directly to YouTube.

I could see using this if I were in a minor car accident, if I witnessed a crime being committed, or anything where there might be some hot tempers that could result in the smart phone being destroyed.  CYA.

Oh, if you're not in a 3G area, it will cache the recording and send it out when the phone gets into range.  I guess that means that you don't want to be in a "dead zone" when you're recording bad stuff!

Other favorite apps:

Flashlight:  Turns your smart phone into a flashlight of sorts.  It's not going to light up an entire city block, but it's great when you're looking through your briefcase/purse when it's dark.

Compass:  With the GPS enabled, it turns your smart phone into a compass.  Again, think PACE.

ConvertPad:  It has zillions (yes, I counted them all) different measurements it can convert.  I use it mostly with the PM business.  When we weight gold and silver to be melted, we measure in grams or troy ounces.  The refiner uses pennyweights.  I can key in our numbers and see what that translates into pennyweights.  It has converters for weight/mass, area, volume, distance, currency exchange rates, angle, temperature, data storage, fuel consumption, time, velocity, acceleration, density, force, pressure, power, energy, torque, flow, radiation exposure... and many more.  Seriously, stuff I've never heard of!

Keyring:  How many "special customer" cards to you keep in your wallet?  One from the grocery store, one for the office supply place, etc.  With Keyring, your smart phone scans the bar code, and loads them all into the app.  When you go to the store, you just open up the app, and they scan your smart phone!  If you're at Staples, for instance, when you open the app, it will tell you any special promotions that are being held at that store.  Pretty cool.

Some low-tech that makes me feel warm and fuzzy:

In my pockets at all times are a folding knife and a pepper spray (remember, I'm in California).  If I'm in a suit or in shorts, they're with me.  I have to consciously remember to remove them from my pockets when I go to certain locations, like football stadiums, police stations, fire stations and city council meetings.  Verboten locations.

I keep an AR-7 in my car at all times.  My version is the Henry US Survival Rifle.  I've had mine for 5 or 6 years, and I absolutely love it.  The epitome of low tech for rifles.  It's a great "plinker" and is pretty accurate out to around 50 yards with no wind.  Use it inside 25 yards, and it's nearly a tack-driver.  Well, it's really accurate!

When broken down, it is 16 inches long and weighs 2 1/2 pounds.  I leave it - unloaded - in my car at all times, along with a brick of .22LR ammo.  If I need to put it into my Get Home Bag, I can do so without drawing attention to myself.  No rifle slung over my shoulder, just a guy with a backpack.

All things being considered - weight, cost, ammo, accuracy, utility - if I can have only one rifle in my car, and not knowing exactly why I may need it, it's going to be one chambered in .22LR.  My Ruger 10/22 is more accurate out to longer distances, but is much more bulky.  The Survival Rifle's portability makes it the perfect choice for a car trunk.

Accept The Challenge

The nice thing with the high tech stuff is how it can condense what you're carrying.  The Nook, for instance, can help with the Entertainment portion of my preps by allowing me to load literally thousands of books onto a single device.

They've got a number of free books, and they also link in to the Google book archive (  Take a look at this article on how to more easily find the free, public domain books on the Google system.  They also have a number of magazines and newspapers you can get on the Nook. 

I'm not crazy about Nook's current selection of magazines - they seem to be mostly gossip and glamor mags, but there are a couple of practical examples, such as Popular Mechanics and some outdoors mags.  I sent them an email to get things like Backwoods Home Magazine added to their list.

As I noted, these should all be part of your PACE planning.  For my Survival Bible, my PC is Primary, the Nook is now Alternate and the paper version is now the Contingency.  My memory is the Emergency copy ;-)

FYI, I use PrimoPDF to print all of my PDF documents.  It resides as a printer on my PC, so using it is very easy.  If I want to print out a specific web page that has great information, I use Web2PDF to produce the files.  Both are free.

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Copyright 2011 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.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Normalcy Bias

This is a new term for me.  I knew "it" existed, but didn't know it had a name.  From Wikipedia - please read the whole definition -
The normalcy bias refers to an extreme mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of the government to include the populace in its disaster preparations. The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred that it never will occur. It also results in the inability of people to cope with a disaster once it occurs. People with a normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before. People also tend to interpret warnings in the most optimistic way possible, seizing on any ambiguities to infer a less serious situation.
 It's the Pollyanna Syndrome.  When I first read that definition, I thought of my mom, bless her heart.  She's up in her years, and has no desire to even approach the idea that things might not be all Green Shoots and fluffy kittens.  She's comfortable now, and that's how things will stay.  Period.

She can't even comprehend of the idea of going down to Safeway and not being able to pick up some coffee and a bit of candy.  Something special for one of her Old Ladies Bridge groups.  Maybe a little splurge and pick up some prawns and a filet.

The idea of her IRA, Social Security, pension and annuity becoming worth-less is simply inconceivable, in the truest sense of the word.

I guess it's the opposite of the Chicken Little syndrome.  Perhaps that's what I've got.  No one wants to be a doom-and-gloomer, but to consciously ignore what we see happening around us is, well, disingenuous.

I remember during Y2K, I was called a Pollyanna by some because I fairly shouted at the top of my lungs that I knew nothing significant was going to happen when the clock struck midnight.

But that belief was grounded in fact and experience.  I was the CIO of a small bank at the time, and I had run hundreds of tests - myself.  I had participated in dozens of simulations with other banks and processing centers.  We did everything in our power to get the computers to seize up.  Couldn't do it.

If something major had occured, I would have been shocked beyond belief.

What we're going through now, and what I think is coming is, I think, as equally grounded in fact and experience, if not history.

I guess there's always the possibility that by purposely devaluing our dollar it could help to drag us out of our economic tailspin.  I guess by burying ourselves in an unrepayable national debt and unfunded liabilities, we could end up more prosperous.  It's never worked before - in the entire history of the world - but we could be the first.

It could be true that ObamaCare will save us money by increasing the cost, but I just don't see how.  I'm sure that when the government stops or curtails payments being made to the Dependent Class for food, housing, clothing, spending money and college, there may not be civil unrest and riots.  Like those we've been seeing throughout Europe over the past few years since austerity became their new buzz word.

It could all turn out just peachy-keen, hunky-dory.  I just don't think so.

So I prepare.  I practice.  I store food.  I store water.  I save money.  I reduce debt.  I buy precious metals.  I learn new skills.  I make plans.  I make back-up plans.

I evaluate.  I estimate.  I read.  I write.  I store data.  I listen.  I absorb.

And I pray to God I'm wrong.

I would like nothing more than to have a party in 10 years with the rest of my "prepper-freak" friends where we dig out our caches and laugh our asses off about how wrong we were.  "You bought HOW MANY rolls of toilet paper?!"  How we missed this one by a country mile.

"It is natural for man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts...For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it." 
--Patrick Henry
I think I'll take the same road traveled by Mr. Henry.

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Copyright 2011 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.