My Blog List

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


There are always scammers out there.  People looking to make a dishonest buck.

How long has the Nigerian email scam been going on ("You'll get 12 gazillion dollars if you just give me your bank account number where I can send the money from your long-lost cousin.")?  The sad thing is, if it wasn't working, it would have stopped a long time ago.

The scams seem to fall into the general categories of (1) Get rich quick (playing on your greed) or (2) Taking advantage of your lack of knowledge.

Here are a couple of examples that were very personal.  They involved my mom and my aunt.

My aunt is 72 years old.  She is incredibly fit and a very bright (educationally) person.  Common sense, well...

A few years back, she got talked into putting a new roof on her home.  Top of the line, great materials, 50 year warranty, blah, blah, blah.

AFTER she did this, my brother's and I asked her a few questions. 

How did this company contact you?  They rang my doorbell.

Did her old roof need replacing?  I didn't think so, but the guy at the door said it did.

Even if you needed a new roof, why would a 70 year old woman get a 50 year warranty?  Uhm...

So, we got her to agree to not do any major home improvements without running the deal by one of us first.

Yesterday, she sent one of my brothers an email about getting a new hot water heater for her home (my brother owns a home inspection business).  She wanted his advice on which of the hot water heaters she should get installed.

The guy was selling tankless hot water heaters.  Package One was a super-deluxe model that allowed her to run all of her hot water appliances at once.  It had a 12 year warranty.  It included 3 annual "check ups" that included an annual draining.

Package Two was not quite so super duper.  It still had the 12 year warranty, but only included 2 check ups.

Both packages would require extensive upgrades to her plumbing system, and installation (or moving) of her gas line.

Package One was priced at $4999.  Package Two was only $4400.

Now, a quick check of the Home Depot website (she's very web savvy) would have shown her that their top of the line model was under $1500.  This beast will allow you to run up to 3 major hot water systems simultaneously.

Since my aunt lives alone, that means she could could be taking a shower, have her other shower running with no one in it, AND run the dishwasher all at the same time.  Ah, modern conveniences!

My brother is contacting her to ask the following questions -

How did these maggots contact you?

Is your current hot water heater not working?

Why the need for all the plumbing?  They just need to remove the current one, and hook up the new one.  A couple of new connections and you're back in business.

Why would your tankless water heater need to be drained?  Uhm, what would they be draining?  (BTW, they do need to be periodically flushed to wash out scale and lime in the system).

Hopefully, my brother will get to her before she signed any paperwork.

A couple of years back, my mom had some plumbing problems.  A dripping faucet on one of the hose bibs, and a small leak under her kitchen sink.

She called a national franchise plumbing company and a guy came out.  He looked at the leaks, harumphed and rubbed his chin, and said it looked bad.  Hmmm, some telltale signs.  He'd need to go under the house to see how bad the damage was.

He went under my mom's home for about 10 minutes.  Grim faced, he told her that it was all flooded under the house.  Her galvanized pipe was rotted and would need to be replaced.  She sure was lucky she called when she did, because the whole system was ready to fall apart and then it would get REAL ugly.

She signed a contract to do the work for $2500.  She had to give him a 10% deposit to lock in a time.  He'd be out in 2 days, and have the work done the same day.

The next day, I just happened to call her to see how she was doing.  She told me the story, and I asked her if she'd given the guy the money.  Yep, $250.


I called the company and asked them to give me a breakdown of their estimate.  Not surprisingly, I couldn't get a straight answer, so I canceled the appointment.

I had my mom call the father-in-law of my other brother.  His FIL was a retired plumber, and gave my mom a reference name to call.

Long story short:  There was no flooding under the house.  The house was built with black ABS pipes, not galvanized.  The new guy did the work, and the total, including time and materials was $190.  Yeah, $60 less than the deposit from the other company (which they would not refund).

As with my aunt, my mom will now call one of us before she makes any purchase that has a comma in the amount.

In our precious metals store, we see TONS of jewelry AND coins come in that are fakes or forgeries.  Necklaces stamped, "Italy 14k" that end up being made from brass.  "Solid sterling" jewelry that fairly jumps at the rare earth magnets we pass over all potential jewelry purchases.

We had a young guy come in to see if the price he had just paid for some Morgan silver dollars was a decent price.  The coins were made of steel and had absolutely no value.

Some of the folks that come in have been scammed, some are trying to scam us.

Accept The Challenge

For goodness sake, ask questions.  For instance, my aunt should have asked, "Why would I need to have the device drained each year when it is 'tankless'?" or "How much does the heater cost and how much is the installation cost?"  She could have then done some research and seen she was being taken.

Set up a checks and balance system.  As I noted, my mom and aunt now call one of us before they spend any kind of big money.  These cretins are praying on the vulnerability and lack of knowledge of people that were raised during a time when you could trust a company.

Nowadays, it seems like you need to assume you're getting scammed.  If the company turns out to be legit, it's a pleasant surprise.

Whenever possible, try to plan your purchases so you have time to compare and contrast your options.  This is especially true when making a purchase of something where you have little intimate knowledge.  Generally speaking, you're going to pay more when you take the first offer that is made.

Take your time.  Investigate.  Educate.

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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, March 27, 2011

Mandarin Lesson

A TV commercial I saw this morning. I wonder when this will be shown on ABC, CBS, NBC and NPR...

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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.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Damage Control

I'm having difficulty getting bent out of shape over what's going on in Libya.

No, it's not that I think it's a good idea.  It's unconstitutional, it's un-American, it's illegal.

And entirely expected.

I'm ambivalent because I know there is absolutely, positively nothing that can be done to change what has happened.  With disturbingly few exceptions, Congress is up on The Hill with their thumbs up their butts, quiet as church mice.

Our president totally side-stepped the American Congress, went straight to the UN to get their blessings and started lobbing missiles.

Is anyone surprised at this?  Obama is a globalist and he's behaving like one.

Those New World Order wacko's don't seem quite so wacky once you've actually witnessed the process in action, huh?

The only solace I get from all of this is that the soft-heads who voted for Obama must feel VERY betrayed right now.   Chalk up another lie -
  • Transparent government
  • No lobbyists
  • Out of Iraq
  • Out of Afghanistan
  • Out of Gitmo
  • No "Wars of Choice"
  • Lower Unemployment
  • Green shoots
Yeah, I missed a bunch more, but I can only handle so much glee in one day.  ---

Do any of you out there that vote Republican think a John McCain or Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich would have done anything differently if they were residing at Pennsylvania Avenue?


Accept The Challenge

It all comes back to, "What can I do to minimize the damage to my life?"

How might this impact our lives?

>>Gas prices will likely continue to increase.  Instability in the region and uncertainty about future supplies will cause prices to soar.

So, where possible, reduce your usage of gasoline.  Also, if you can do so safely, store some gasoline at home.  It is prudent to expect supplies to eventually be impacted, and it would suck if you couldn't get somewhere (like Out Of Dodge) if you had to.

Be sure to add a gasoline stabilizer.

>>This war is another expense we can't afford.  Here's an off-the-wall, "crazy-talk" prediction:  Uncle Ben Bernanke will use this war as justification for an "emergency" issuance of more monetized debt:  QEIII.

The dollar will be further de-valued as a result.  Pick up some precious metals.  Seriously.  Even if you're only buying a silver round a week, it will help to maintain your purchasing power over time.

>>I don't see how this would impact the availability of food supplies, but it will certainly affect the price - mostly because of increased fuel costs to get the food to market.  If it continues for an extended period of time, it COULD affect availability, as farmers/ranchers reduce the amount of food produced to meet the lower purchase levels caused by high prices.  Ye Old Vicious Circle.

Continue putting food away.  It's as simple as that.   Buy as much extra shelf-stable food as you can afford.

And whether you grow it yourself or buy it at farmer's markets, take advantage of the coming summer bounty.  Practice canning, dehydrating, pickling and curing - methods of preservation that allow you to store food without needing refrigeration.  Assume you'll lose power, or will need to travel with your stores and not lose your food due to spoilage.

>>We've got a whole lot of the world pissed off at us now - lots of it residing in the Middle East and North Africa - and radical Muslims here in the states could start demonstrating their displeasure.

It could be peaceful, vocal protests.  It could be violent like we've seen around the rest of the world.

Tea Party folks may be joining the fray, as might soon-to-be-cut-off state workers, welfare recipients, college students and the like.

Stay close to home.  Stay armed.  Stay alert.

>>The economy as a whole could take another dumper.  Conserve cash where possible.

Make minimum payments on non-secured debt (such as credit cards).  Spend money on tangible, needed items, not on fluff.  Buy used goods from garage sales, Craigslist and want ads.

The main idea is to PLAN your purchases - don't buy impulsively.

>>Get healthy.  Walk, run, lift weights, do push ups, squats, ride a bike - whatever.  Just get healthy.

Get your teeth fixed.  Get that elective surgery.  Do what you can while services are still readily available.

Quit puttin' it off, ya big wimp!

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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, March 22, 2011

Sprouts and Wishful Thinking

I'm taking another stab at sprouts.  I did some more reading, and found that for beans, the primary sprout is obtained from the mung bean.

Now, I'd heard of these, but I've never seen nor eaten any, until today.

I also read that lentils are good for sprouts so I'm trying them as well.  I have TONS of lentils in my prep storage.  I really like the taste of lentils, and they cook much more quickly than other legumes (thus requiring less fuel to prepare).

This picture is of the two one-quart jars I'm using for the sprouts.  Mung on the left, lentil on the right.  They're in the soaking stage right now -

I was able to find the mung beans in the bulk section of my store.  As I noted, I'd never seen them before.  Here's what they look like - mung on the bottom, lentils on the top -

To me, they kind of look like #7 1/2 bird shot.... only they're green (DUDE, does EVERYTHING have to revolve around guns and gold?)!

I was given a tip in the comments section of the last sprout post to try the sprouts as they're growing.  In this way, I can determine at which stage I like them the best.  Sounds like good advice.

I'll try and post some pix of the progress as each of them starts sprouting.

When I was at the checkout stand at the store, the checker (an Asian lady) commented that mung beans are a large part of their diet.  They supposedly cook up very quickly and can be combined with a lot of different foods. 

She specifically mentioned pork and fish as her favorites.  She also noted that they can be cooked with condensed milk.  This was a bit difficult for me to envision.  Beans for breakfast?!  She said they're great.

I dunno.

They're a bit on the pricey side, costing a little over $2 a pound.  I think I'll look for some preparation recipes and try some with some corned beef I have in the fridge.  I don't see me having them instead of Coco Puffs, but you never know...

A glimmer of economic hope?

I was reading an article somewhere (sorry, I have no idea where I saw this) that was talking about the Japanese economy over the past 20 years.

It noted that their national debt is 2 times their GDP.  The debt is also 20 times their annual tax intake.

When compared to the US, we're in much better shape.  Our Debt to GDP ratio is now 1:1 and our Debt to Tax receipts (around $2.2 trillion) is a bit over 6:1.

Now, I don't think we'll ever be able to pay off this debt, but it gives me a glimmer of hope that we'll have a bit more time to squirrel away PMs and acquire additional tangible assets before everything goes belly up.

Japan has managed to limp along in a sort of economic haze for the past 20 years.  Maybe we can eek out a few more before everything goes sideways on us.

Hey, a guy's got to have dreams, right?

Accept The Challenge

I've started doing the sprout thing because of the news we had that the Mexican and South American veggie crops were negatively impacted by weather.  I haven't seen any horrible prices or shortages, but being a prepper for life, I figured I needed to gain the skills to get fresh veggies in case the winter crops from around the world stopped showing up at the store.

Plus, I've gotta tell ya, I like doing as much as I can from scratch.  It just tastes better and I know exactly what's in it.  No, it's not as easy as buying a bag-o-sprouts from the store, but then again, I'm certain no one took a leak on my veggies of their freshness. ;-)

Hey, are you still putting food up?  I still make it a habit of buying a bit of extra dry or canned food each and every time I go to the store.  A bag of sugar, a few pounds of pasta, some instant pudding and a couple cans of spam were added yesterday.

It only sets you back a couple of extra bucks, but you're moving closer and closer to independence should things go sideways.

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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, March 20, 2011

Private Mints and Politics

Folks that purchase silver rounds - one ounce coins generally minted in .999 silver - are usually familiar with the Sunshine Mint in Idaho.  They are one of the more recognizable brands out there.

Sunshine will produce coins for anyone, in any design you'd like.  One fellow, a guy from North Carolina named Bernard von NotHaus, had a bunch of coins produced.  Bernard is now in a bit of hot water.  With the federal government.

Bernard had the audacity to produce a coin that was somewhat similar in design to some US silver dollars.  I'd say the closest example would be the Peace Dollar which was last produced in 1935.

Here's an image of their $5 silver piece -

Here's an image of the US Peace Dollar - 

To me, this is clearly not US government currency, but I guess some folks might be confused by the front of the coin.  What REALLY gets me is the reverse of the coin.

Since when did the US government start engraving their coins with a toll-free number (800-NewDollar) and website address (


Oh, don't bother calling the number or going to the website.  Both have been shut down by order of you-know-who.  If you go to the Wayback Machine you can get some of their cached pages.

Bernard's real audacity was in suggesting that people use his pure silver coins in lieu of "real" money.  Fiat currency and the like.  He had an organization that wanted to do away with the Federal Reserve and to go back to a real currency.

Heresy, I say!

This didn't sit too well with TPTB, and they shut him down.  His trial just ended this past Friday.  Any guess how that turned out?
He was found guilty of making counterfeit coins and an intent to defraud.
One of his arguments was that he was just following that dusty old document.  You know, the US Constitution.

Silly boy.

The Constitution grants the federal government the power to produce coin.  From Article One, Section Eight -
To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
It also prohibits the states from making coin.  From Article One, Section Ten -
No state shall ... coin money;
I'm sure I'm splitting legal hairs here, but I don't see anything about private parties being prohibited from making coins.

And obviously, the federal government has agreed with that perspective, as we have hundreds of private companies that spit out tons of coins a year. The Golden State Mint has coins which are spot-on replicas of US coins. Like Bernard, their coins are also stamped with the name of the mint so that they are distinguishable from real currency.

Are they next on the "hit list"?

In a similar vein, a number of states have passed, or will be passing legislation that will allow individuals to pay debts with US gold and silver coins.  The value of the coins would be determined by their gold or silver content, NOT the face amount of the coin (for instance, a one-ounce American Gold Eagle has a face amount of $50, but is worth over $1,400).
"People sense that in the era of quantitative easing and zero interest rates, something has gone haywire with our monetary policy," said Jeffrey Bell, policy director for the Washington-based American Principles in Action, which helped shape the bill.


Critics of the gold standard say it limits countries' control over its monetary policy and leaves them vulnerable to financial shocks, such as the Great Depression. But supporters argue that the current financial system's dependence on the Federal Reserve exposes the value of U.S. money to the risk of runaway inflation.
All together now:  Duh!

Well, at least when Bernard is released from prison, he'll have all of his gold and silver to fall back on -
The United States is seeking the forfeiture of about 16,000 pounds of Liberty Dollar coins and precious metals, valued at nearly $7 million. The forfeiture trial, which began Friday before U.S. District Court Judge Richard Voorhees, will resume April 4 in the federal court in Statesville, N.C.
No.  Don't make him melt it down, or deface the stuff.  Just take it.

Truth.  Justice.  The American Way.

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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.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sproutin', Spendin' and Suin'

Has anyone else out there done wheat berry sprouts?  I finished mine up today, and I think I may have messed up somehow.

I put the berries in a quart jar and rinsed them twice a day for the last 4 days as per the instructions I linked in the previous post.  Here's what they looked like -

It seems like more roots than sprouts.  I swear I had one green sprout early on in the process, but not a one to be found in the jar this afternoon.

I took them out, rinsed them off in cold water and gave 'em a taste.

VERY sweet.  I was quite surprised.  I was expecting something more neutral like bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts.

And the texture was more chewy than bean or alfalfa sprouts.

Is this how these things are supposed to taste?  Or something different?

The roots were thin and about an inch long - two or three per berry, with one sprout.  Was this enough time, or too much time?

They were edible, I guess, but not something I'd jump at putting on a salad or sandwich.

Kind of related, if nothing else, I've learned how to start the malting process. 

If you want to brew an alcoholic beverage, you grind the grain and "mash" it.  This involves adding hot water to a base grain (corn, barley, wheat, etc.) and having about 20% of it being a malted grain..  A malted grain is one that has been allowed to start sprouting which is then stopped by roasting it.  The malt contains enzymes that will allow the starches in the base grain to be converted into sugars.  Yeast is added to this sweet liquid and alcohol is produced.

Kinda cool...

Did you hear about the little spat between Sean Hannity and Congress-critter Anthony Weiner (could this guy be more appropriately named?  The only thing better would be if his first name was Richard.  Think about it.)?  In the exchange, The Weiner boasts of putting forth a proposal for $400 million in spending cuts.

Woo hoo.

Apparently, part of our federal spending doesn't include the purchase of calculators.  As a public service, I'll do the math for Weiner-dude -

Our national budget is roughly $3.7 trillion dollars.

Divided by 365, that means we spend around $10 billion dollars a day.

Divided by 24 hours, that means we spend over $400 million an hour.

Yeah, Weiner's back-breaking, balls-to-the-wall, taking food out of the mouths of babies, spending cut proposal is less than one hour of federal spending.

Thanks for effort, big guy...

Speaking of scum bags, want to see something regarding media objectivity - or lack thereof?

The last bank I worked for was one of 5 banks in the country that was primarily owned by labor unions (at some other time, I need to write some about what this was like... interesting, to say the least).  We were one of the smaller ones.  The big dog was a New York bank named Amalgamated Bank.  I think they were bigger than the other 4 union owed banks combined.

I was scanning news articles online, and saw their name in one of the headlines.  It seems as though they are suing Rupert Murdock and Fox News.  They don't like a purchase he's making (he wants to buy a production company that's owned by his daughter).

Now, Amalgamated isn't seeking an injunction to stop Murdock from completing the purchase, they're suing for damages because they say Murdock has done stuff like this in the past, and well, they don't like it.


Take a look at the article in the LA Times.  It's lengthy and quite detailed.

Well, it seems to be missing one detail.  That Amalgamated - which bills itself as "America's Labor Bank" - is owned by labor unions.  Not one teeny-tiny mention.  Odd, considering how the Times LOVES to pump up unions...

I'm sure there is no connection between Fox News' bashing of the unions in Wisconsin - hell, all around the country - and Amalgamated's decision to sue Murdock.  Naw, nuthin' to see here.... move along....

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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, March 14, 2011


Sure wish I owned stock in companies making Potassium Iodide pills.  Glad I don't own any stock in companies that insure Japan.
I'm not all that worried about the nuclear fall-out from the Japanese nukes, but have decided to jump on the bandwagon and get some Potassium Iodide tablets.  The CDC recommends an adult take 130 mgs for each day of actual or suspected exposure.

What changed my mind?  Prevailing winds.  I made an assumption that I'm glad I researched.

I assumed that since the world rotates in a counter-clockwise fashion (looking down from the North Pole), that the prevailing winds would be coming from east to west.  That means the fallout cloud would have to travel over most of Asia, Africa and Europe, THEN pass over the Atlantic, get scraped and diluted while traveling over the North American continent before it reached me here in the SF Bay Area.

As it turns out, the earth's winds go in two different directions depending where you're located on earth.  If you live between the 30 degree North and 30 degree South latitude lines (the center section of the earth), I was correct.  The winds generally blow east to west.  However, if you're above 30 North or below 30 South, the winds blow from west to east.

Guess where the bulk of the US falls?  Yeah, above 30 North.

That means that fall-out from Japan is only a bit over 5,000 miles from where I live.  And it can get here virtually unimpeded over open ocean.

The prices online are all over the board.  I decided to go with  Why?  I've bought stuff from them in the past, and I was satisfied with the results.

Seriously, what's up with all of these massive earthquakes?  Chile, Haiti, New Zealand, Japan.  I checked out Wikipedia, and we've had tons of earthquakes north of 7.0 on the Richter Scale in recent years.  I know we have earthquakes all the time where no one is injured, but it seems like we're having a bunch of bad ones where lots of people are killed or injured.

 I've been busy with other preps as well.

I'm trying to grow some wheat sprouts.  If things get jiggy on us and veggies aren't available, the enzymes we need to efficiently digest food aren't available.  We can get these enzymes from fresh sprouts.

I'm following these directions.  It will take between two and four days to get two cups of sprouts from a quarter-cup of wheat berries.  I started this last night, and virtually all of the berries have little white sprout-lets and one green one has already emerged.

I'll post some pix and let you know how they taste after they're done.

Speaking of farming (?), I helped a buddy today plant 6 rows and one mound of potatoes.  I dug up this section of his backyard, made the rows (the mound is off to the right of the frame) and planted the seed potatoes -

We got 7 seeds per row, and three in the mound, for a total of 45.

About those seed potatoes:  They were saved from his crop from last year.  I know, I know, you're supposed to only use certified, disease-free seed crop, but, it's what he had!  I just hope I didn't do all that digging for nothing..

Earlier in the week he hired some folks to do the same thing in his main beds -

You can see the tomato cages in the foreground.  He's got spinach, onions, rutabagas, cauliflower, carrots and radishes.  Around the corner, he's got zucchini interspersed with his flower beds.

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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.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Reducing Costs, Supplimenting Income

It seems like everyone other than the federal government is tightening their belts.  Figuring out ways to make our dollars go a bit further - or to add a few more dollars to the till - is becoming more and more important.

The latest issue of Backwoods Home Magazine had a featured article on propagating plants.  I checked out their website, and they've included it in the free online content.  As I snooped around the site, I found a number of other links -

Propagating Plants - veggies, trees, even flowers.  Great info.

Home Canned Bacon - This was from the previous issue.  I have purchased a number of cases of canned bacon, and it's absolutely fantastic.  I haven't done this myself, but will definitely give it a try.  From the description, it sounds just like the purchased stuff.

Traditional Trail Foods - this was a timely find for me.  I'm looking to reorganize my Get Home Bag, as well as build some buckets that have full meals in them (as opposed to a single item, like rice or wheat).  Kind of in the spirit of the "One Bucket Per Month Challenge" (read the comments section for the great ideas) we did last August.  I want to try the Hard Tack and Pemmican recipes in particular.

Hardcore Foraging - along the lines of the post on Mustard Greens, locating, identifying and preparing wild foods takes time and skills most of us don't have.

Wilderness Wines - some good information on making your own wines.  I've made a bunch of wines from fruits and honey (meads and melomels) and intend on making more this spring and summer.  My particular city is chock full of fruit orchards - apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and the like.  I've only used them in the past for jams, but this year, fruit wines are on the agenda!

Go to their site and snoop around.  I saw one article on how to make money by buying storage lockers.  This past week, a couple came into our PM store with dental gold.  A lot of it.  I asked them how they came upon this, and they said that they had bought a locker for $150.

They left our store with just under $1,100!  Unreal.

In the same vein, I had a guy come in who works for a local city water department.  His job is to clean out traps that catch the stuff we accidentally flush down the toilets or drop down the drain.

He told me that he and his partner find between 50 and 60 grams of gold each and every week.  Do some math:  There are 31.1 grams in a troy ounce.  Pure gold is north of $1400 an ounce.  The lowest quality gold - 10 karat - is almost 41% pure...

He's been taking it to one of our competitors, and wanted to see what we'd pay him.  I made him an offer that is based on a minimum of 50 grams a week.  He like it, and will (supposedly) start bringing his stuff to our store this week.

We've also got a handful of folks that go to garage sales each weekend.  They buy gold jewelry and sterling silver pieces (jewelry, flatware and serving pieces).  We buy the stuff based upon the purity and weight.

One word of warning, though:  Be careful!  The word from these folks is, if a homeowner sees you using a magnet or jeweler's loup to authenticate the jewelry, the price goes up.  Way up.  So, much of what they purchase ends up being some metal other than gold or silver.

These pieces don't end up being a total loss, though.  We have a number of consignment shops in town, and if the piece has some beauty, they can usually at least get their money back.

Also, be very wary of paying for precious stones.  Even if you can verify that the stone is a diamond, don't get your hopes up.  We don't pay for any stone smaller than a quarter of a carat.  For the smaller stuff, we only get paid $35 per carat!

Rubies, sapphires, emeralds - they all have virtually no value.  Commercial jewelry is a massive scam.  A large stone (3/4 carats or larger) with exquisite qualities will have value, but nowhere near what you paid for it in the mall store or specialty jewelry store.

Buy your jewelry because you think it's beautiful, not as an investment.  I know that I will never again buy any jewelry from a mall store or specialty shop.  I'll find something that is close to what I want at a store such as ours, a pawn shop or some sort of second-hand dealer.  I'll then take the piece to a jeweler and have it appropriately sized.

I'll end up with a piece that is customized and less than half the price of retail.  Probably closer to 1/3 the price.

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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, March 9, 2011

The Socialist Mindset and Implications

As I've said before, the socialists are much better at propaganda than libertarians and conservatives.  Wisconsin is the perfect example.  The governor was elected by running on the platform that he was going to get their financial house in order.  Slash and burn the state budget.

He's now doing what he said he'd do, but the socialists have had time to re-group.  They commandeered the state house and have (once again) co-opted the media.  Loving depictions of hardworking state workers, just trying to make ends meet.

Opinion polls in Wisconsin now show that the same people that elected him, think he's a bad, bad man.

Unreal.  Did they think this gut-wrenching fiscal make-over was going to be pleasant?

Ya see, they don't care.  Socialists are socialists, whether they're employed by the state or by private companies.  Their goal is to suck the life-blood from the system (for state workers, that would be the life-blood of you and me).  They have no concern for the financial health of the body which feeds them - they only want to "get theirs" - everyone else be damned.

Take from The Man and share the wealth.

I saw this segment on Glenn Beck last week.  This angers me beyond the words I can type.

Workers remove dictators by taking control of the place where they work.

Sounds like what's going on in Wisconsin, no?

I saw news coverage of some idiot doing a chant of, "Who does the work?"  and the soft-headed crowd would reply, "WE DO!"  On and on and on.

How about this, cupcake:  If you don't like your job, quit.  If you don't like your boss, quit.  If you don't like any businesses, start your own.  Hell, your unions dump tens of millions of dollars into political campaigns to get politicians in their pockets to tell businesses how they have to operate. 

Why not have them use your union dues to start "investing" in small business to be run by the workers?  It would be the best of all world, wouldn't it?  Union money invested in union businesses run by union workers.  You must be getting light-headed just thinking about it!

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the reason they don't do it, you frigging pinheads, is because they know it will fail.  They have seen what happened in the former (key word there) Soviet Union.  If you don't give a business owner AND the workers a profit motive, they won't work hard.  Efficiency is not a consideration.

Why work hard and strive for excellence when, regardless of how many hours you work and what skills you you bring to the job, you'll still be paid the same wage as the loafer standing next to you on the People's Assembly Line?

It's a very simple concept that seems to be beyond your mental capacity.

What are the implications here?

The states and the federal government are broke.  There is simply no more money left.  The federal government brings in about $2.2 trillion, and spends $3.8 trillion.  The Republicans are proposing "serious" cuts of at least $100 billion.

Don't make me laugh.  That's just over 2.5% of the budget.  That's not serious, it's a joke.  And the Dems are fighting THAT tooth-and-nail.

The feds can keep printing up Monopoly money, but I don't know how much longer that can last.  They promise there will not be a QE III, but no one else is buying our debt.  I'm not buying their promises.

At the very least, it will exacerbate our rising inflation.  If that happens, the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.  Doing so will absolutely crush businesses who need credit to survive.

You've heard about the $2 trillion in cash that American business has squirreled away?  Those that have done so will at least have a chance in hell of self-funding their ongoing operations.  The majority of others will wilt and die off.  Along with the jobs they provided.

If the states don't get emergency loans or some sort of assistance from the federal government, those peaceful protesters in Madison will morph into angry mobs, slashing and burning and taking what they feel is rightfully theirs.

Accept The Challenge

It's nearly Game Time, folks.  Weeks, months or years?  I don't know, but it seems like it will be sooner than later.

One of the key things I'll be doing over the next few weeks and months is de-centralizing my storage of PMs, ammo, food, equipment and guns.  I preach to not keep, "all of your eggs in one basket" and I've been letting my own practices slip.

I've got some geographic dispersion, but not enough.  I'll be fixing that.

Assess your situation.  Where are the holes in your plan?  What do you need to get done?  Skills, medical and dental treatments, "rainy day funds", food, equipment.

With gasoline and food prices climbing, use this as an opportunity to make some changes in how you operate.  What foods can you substitute in your diet that will give you the same nutritional values, but cost you fewer dollars?  Protein for protein, carb for carb, fat for fat.

Look for sales!  I just bought 10 pounds of boneless pork "carnitas" meat for only a little over the cost of a bone-in pork butt.  It's now home canned as ground Italian sausage that we use in pasta sauce and this killer potato soup my wife created.

With things like powdered milk, use spices and flavorings to mask the odd flavors (go HERE for some more ideas).  I'm trying to re-create my wife's sausage/potato soup with home storage foods - dehydrated spuds (hash brown style), onions, garlic and milk, plus the canned sausage.  If it's any good, I'll post the recipe.

Get creative and knowledgeable while you can.

And please folks, get to the range and practice your shooting skills, ESPECIALLY your weak-side shooting.  You are just as likely to have to shoot around a right-hand corner as you are a left-hand corner.  If you're not proficient at shooting from both sides, half of the time you'll be needlessly exposing too much of your body to the bad guys.

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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, March 6, 2011

Mustard Greens, Greenbacks and Green Shoots

I was planning to do a piece on gathering and canning wild mustard greens, but it's too rainy outside to do any gathering.  Hopefully they'll still be around when I can get some time to do some harvesting.

If you've never had mustard greens, you're really missing out.  They are packed with vitamins and are similar to spinach in taste after they've been boiled.  Their texture has more "tooth" than spinach.  When eaten raw, they can be quite spicy.

I had my wife eat a wad of the stuff raw, and she thought I'd tricked her and given her something that was dipped in wasabi (Japanese horseradish)!  Very good in salads.

The Silver rush continues in our PM store.  On Thursday, we bought 300 ounces of silver from our primary PM refiner (30, 10 oz bars).  Twenty-seven were sold on Friday within two hours of opening our doors.  The other three bars were sold Saturday morning.

Also on Thursday, we had a walk-in with 3, 100-oz silver bars.  One was sold within an hour, and the other two were sold on Friday morning, also within two hours of opening our doors.

Gold has been moving briskly as well.  My guess is that this is more a function of us not having much silver in-house (at least not for very long) and the customers having to "settle" for gold.

Wow.  Seems like confidence in greenbacks is waning.  Who'd a-thunk it?

My gun classes continue to sell out.  Three classes in a row now, and each having a waiting list.  My next class in two weeks is already half full.

In combination, this gives me hope that more and more folks are waking up to what's going on around us.  Pining away, expecting the federal and state governments to care for us is not going to happen.

If you're not securing tangible assets - PMs, real property, equipment, food, tools - and practical skills - self-defense, repair, food storage - you are well and truly screwed.

What is it about people feeling the need to bare their souls on Facebook?

I got a call on Friday after we had closed up.  It was some guy saying he had read a Facebook entry from his sister about how she had sold some coins to our shop a few months ago.  He wanted to know if it was true and if I recognized his sister's name.

I told him that, unlike jewelry purchases, if someone brings in coins, we have no legal duty to ask for ID because it serves no purpose.  It would be like you requiring the grocery store to prove ownership of the loaf of bread you purchased with cash.  Prove to me this is YOUR bread.

Coins, bullion and the like are not traceable, per se.  Paper currency and certified coins have serials numbers, but a gold coin I buy from you is indistinguishable from a gold coin I buy from the next guy.

With precious metals, possession is 10/10th of the law...

So, the guy tells me that he is the executor of his deceased father's estate, and sis ripped him off.  Coins, guitars, camera equipment.  He emailed me a copy of the police report, but it said nothing about coins.  I found that a bit odd since he told me she supposedly ripped off tens of thousands of dollars in coins.

Our policy is, until and unless a cop or subpoena legally compels us to disclose ANY purchase or sale, it ain't happening.   We won't even acknowledge his sister came to our shop (because we have no way of knowing if she did).

Anyways, my point is, let's assume sis did in fact steal this stuff.  Why in the hell would you publicly tell the world you did this AND where the police could serve a subpoena and possibly get records about selling the goods?

For goodness sake, shut your piehole, people.

Very interesting:  I was sent links to this article from 3 different folks.

It's on Social Security and Medicare.  It's a great, easy to understand explanation about this Ponzi Scheme.  Read it, and you'll see why you will have little or no likelihood of getting your "promised share" of money out of Social Security and Medicare.  No damned chance.

The regular updates you get from Social Security on how much money you'll receive are simply more Nanny Fantasy reports.  File them right next to the government inflation reports, unemployment reports and economic growth reports. 

Hmm.  I wonder if Green Shoots can be home canned like the mustard greens....

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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, March 1, 2011

Improvised Weapons

You're strolling through downtown Madison, WI - with your Ron Paul t-shirt, no less - when suddenly you're confronted by a group of thugs who have a decidedly different outlook on politics and government than you do.  Their clear aim is to physically demonstrate their displeasure in your political position.

Whatcha gonna do?

Now remember, Wisconsin is a "Shall Not Issue" state.  You can't carry a concealed firearm even if you are a model citizen.  Not as widely known, a knife falls under the same restrictions.

They DO allow Open Carry, though (how did THAT slip through the cracks?).

Want to carry pepper spray?  OK, but it can't contain any Mace (only pepper spray), it cannot contain UV dyes (which make identification of the bad guy much easier - WTF?) and cannot be in a disguised container (i.e., an ink pen or lipstick container, which many women prefer).

Stun guns?  No sale!  Considered a Dangerous Weapon, and falls under the handgun/knife restrictions.

Holy crap, I thought California sucked... (it does, just not as loudly, I guess).

Alright, so you know what you can and cannot legally have on your person before you stroll out of your home in search of some sharp cheddar.

So, whatcha gonna do, huh?  You're going to improvise.

When I think of weapons, I think of something that is going to give me an "upgrade" to just punching someone.  If I can get or create distance between me and the attackers, so much the better.  Here are some ideas:

>  A ball point pen, jammed into an arm, leg, face, throat or eye.
>  An electrical cord used to whip or choke.
>  Scalding or caustic liquids.
>  Any kind of aerosol spray.  Paint, bug spray, adhesive - anything.  Go for the face and eyes.  Kids here in California have started carrying Wasp Spray.  Since it's illegal for them to possess pepper spray if they're under 16, they go get a can of Raid.  Shoots a very long distance.  When the can is empty, use the bottom edge as a cleaver of sorts to open up a wound.
>  A belt and buckle.
>  Rocks.  The demonstrators in Egypt used them quite effectively.
>  Flashlights - the bigger, the better.
>  Wood/sticks, sand, bottles - whatever you can get your hands on.  An old episode of one of my favorite TV shows, The Closer, had one of the guys being attacked in a parking lot.  He tore off a windshield wiper, and whooped on the attacker.

The key, of course, it to fight "dirty".  The assumption is that you're being attacked.  Well, all rules go out the window.  Your only job is to disable the attacker(s) and get the hell out of the area.  Fast.

If you're forced to fight up close, go for the soft spots - eyes, gonads, tops of feet, nose, throat, ribs, solar plexus.  Fight to win.

No concern for their well-being if they go down hard.  Make them understand that there are consequences for their actions.  But, as soon as the threat is eliminated, move on.  No gratuitous kicks to the ribs.

As soon as you're safe, call the police, explain what happened and prosecute the hell out of them.

What are the laws in your state or jurisdiction?  Be sure you know them, then arm yourself as much as you are able to afford. - every single time you leave your home.  No exceptions.

Accept The Challenge

When it comes to self-defense, I strongly believe in the saying, "I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six."

Take some time to prepare.  Remember, that's what we do.  We anticipate the worst, and hope for the best.

There are a gazillion videos on Youtube on the subject. Spend an hour or so, see what would work for your physical abilities, and work out some scenarios.  Think through what you would do.

Look around you right now, and think about what you could use to defend yourself.  Hmm, that mug of coffee splashed in the face of an attacker, followed up with a crack of the mug over the head would at least give you some time to look for more weapons.

The most important concept, though, is to stay aware of your surroundings.  Trust your gut and your eyes.  Keeping away from areas or circumstances that have the possibility of civil unrest or plain old mugging is your best defense.

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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.