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Monday, May 30, 2011

Discouraging Excellence

 My wife and I went out to dinner this weekend.  Through a very winding conversation that started with Memorial Day and the purpose of our military, it wound up at the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I noted that aside from being unconstitutional (there is no article or amendment which allows the feds to grant super-rights to any specific classification of citizen - federal parking passes?  Please!), the law eliminates the incentive for a business to target disabled people and offer them extraordinary products and services.

As a result of the ADA, most businesses look at the disabled as a lawsuit-in-waiting.  Screw up one tiny piece of one paragraph of the ADA, and you're potentially on the hook for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, court fees and construction costs.

Why would a business bend over backwards to attract that kind of grief?

My wife said she understood what I was saying, but she worried that businesses would discriminate against the disabled.  They wouldn't be able to go into a store and buy what they wanted, when they wanted.

I said, "Hallelujah!"

As a businessman, I can think of no better, "plum to pick" than an under-served market.  Give me the chance to target that market, and I'll make a ton of money.

Now, this isn't some theoretical, textbook view.  I'm in the process of doing this right now.

Thankfully, there is no law that says that Precious Metals shops must make special accommodations for women.  If there were such a law, my competitive advantage over my two primary competitors would evaporate.

Most coin/bullion shops cater to men.  At best, the owners are condescending when women ask what kind of bullion is available, what kind of coins are a good place for their kids to start collecting or how to properly evaluate a coin for collector value.  Most under-pay or over-charge women because they see them as easy "marks".

These shops are gym-like boys clubs.

Cool.  While our competitors are "zigging", we're "zagging".

I can't tell you the number of women that have come in to sell us old/unwanted jewelry and liked our shop so much they go home and get their bags of 90% silver coins they were given when a relative passed away.

I can't tell you how many coin guys have come to our shop and called their wives to grab their old, unwanted jewelry and bring it down because our shop is a place they would feel comfortable with their wives being treated fairly.

I can't tell you how many women have walked into our store, got a whiff of one of those Glade Plug-in thingies, commented on how comfortable they felt in the store, and returned later with their girlfriends - and their gold jewelry.

If there were a law that said all shops had to make special accommodations for women, we wouldn't be nearly as busy and successful as we've become in just 8 months.  Our biggest problem right now is handling ALL of the customers that walk in the door.

With an American Women Act, I wouldn't have that problem.  I wouldn't be scrambling to hire more employees.  I wouldn't have the problem of having to hire companies to clean our windows, shampoo our carpets or provide us with bookkeeping services.  We three partners would still be doing all of those duties ourselves and that extra money would not now be circulating throughout our community.

We wouldn't have been able to increase our payout percentages for the jewelry we buy.  We wouldn't have been able to afford the coffee beans for the fresh brewed cup of coffee or ice-cold bottled water customers are offered when they come into the store.

We'd just be another bland, middle-of-the-road business looking to get by, instead of one looking for new sites to expand our business.

Accept The Challenge

I think my wife's perspective is pretty widely held.  People assume that if you don't protect some "disadvantaged" group, they will be ground into the mud and abused.

Just the opposite actually happens.  With few (any?) exceptions, when government attempts to help a specific group, that group ultimately is harmed.  Blacks, American Indians, the disabled all come to mind.

Look at American Indians.  The tribes that get direct government hand-outs are destitute.  The ones where government got out of the way and "allowed" the supposedly sovereign nations to build casinos or golf courses or whatever else they want, are thriving.

Regardless of your race, gender or other government-sanctioned special status, when Nanny gets out of the way, you will do better.  Government is there to guarantee equal opportunity, not equal results.  When they try and rig the game to better the odds of success for one group, the law of Unintended Consequences raises its ugly head, and bad things generally result.

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, May 27, 2011

Flaxen-haired Ho's and Other Random Thoughts

TV host Ed Shultz calls a woman a "slut".

Don Imus calls a group of women "ho's".

Both offer profuse and seemingly heart-felt apologies to the women, as well as to the viewers of their shows.

Shultz gets a slap on the wrist and is suspended for a week.  Imus loses his job.

A ho is a slut, and a slut is a ho, right?  Close enough.  Would they not be equally demeaning terms towards a woman? 

I know that if someone used either word about my wife, a niece, a sister-in-law or any woman in my family, there would be blows thrown.    Immediately.  If I heard them used in my presence about ANY woman, the speaker would be told to STFU, and it might come to blows.  Call me old fashioned.

The reason for the radically different outcomes for Imus and Shultz?  The color of the skin of the women.

It's OK to publicly demean a white woman, and it's not OK to do it with a "woman of color".

I'm sure Dr. King would be proud of how the media and society have so fully embraced his vision.

I made some cheese from evaporated milk.  I took two, 12-oz cans plus 3 cans of water.  Brought it up to 180F, took it off the heat and added 1/4 cup of white vinegar.  It curdled and I strained it through cheese cloth in a colander for 10 minutes or so.

I then put the curds in a bowl, added perhaps a 1/4 cup of milk to smooth it a bit.  A couple of tablespoons of dried onion flakes, a teaspoon of salt and some dehydrated parsley for color.

Absolutely fantastic bagel shmear!

As a side note, before adding the onions/spices, you're supposed to rinse the curds under water to get rid of the vinegar taste.  I forgot to do this, but I'm not sorry I did.  It added a bit of a "tang" to the flavor that was quite nice.

If you care about such things, here is a great article [link] in CoinWeek that gives the low-down on when a coin dealer is required to report certain precious metals transactions to Uncle Sugar.

I've been prepping for a long time.  I'm pretty well set with regards to food and equipment to withstand a complete loss of store-bought food for a good long time.

I know, I know, you can never be too prepared, and I still buy a few cans of meat and some dried pasta virtually every time I go to the store.  I've also recently been picking up stuff to make the food I have taste better by buying things like dried chiles, cans of diced green chiles, tomato paste, the aforementioned evaporated milk, etc.  Frosting for the cake, so to speak.

I can't give a hard-fact reason, but last week I bought yet another 25-pound sack of black beans and one of white rice.

My gut said, "buy," so I bought.

There is such a jumble of information flying about right now concerning potential food shortages, Israel getting dumped on, the whole Middle East coming unraveled, President Barry giving away metric tons of wheat and other foodstuffs to God-knows-who, precious metals prices climbing again, etc, etc.

My gut is usually pretty spot-on.  If you haven't read it, I suggest picking up a copy of "Blink" [link]. It's a book whose basic premise is to trust your gut.  It's usually not wrong.

I'm trying to come up with lists of multiple uses for certain staple foods.  I'd really like some input and ideas.

For instance, what about tomato paste.  Off the top of my head, it could be converted to tomato juice, a pasta sauce, a flavor additive, and a marinade.

What other uses can you think of, and what other items could fall under the category of "multi-purpose foods"?

Remember, the Memorial Day holiday isn't about beer and BBQ...

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, May 20, 2011


What the hell is happening here?  Government is just running amok.

The Los Angeles PD is once again being sued because they simply will not follow a court order - dating back to the 1990's - that requires them to have CCW forms and instructions in every one of their stations.  The shocker (not)?  Their practices are duplicated in most counties in California.

The Indiana Supreme Court has decided that a person has NO RIGHT to defend themselves if an illegal intruder that breaks into their house happens to be a police officer (yeah, you're an illegal intruder if you don't have a search warrant).

Then, a federal judge in California tells us that we don't have a Constitutional right to carry a concealed weapon.

What part of, "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,"   Or, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."  do they find ambiguous?

Really, they are very easily understood. Those grotesque, unabashed assaults on specific Constitutional affronts aren't even the worst part.

It's the things the government does that skirt the Tenth Amendment.  Ya know, the one that basically says that, unless the Fed was granted specific powers, they don't get to do it. 

This kind of stuff just fries my rice -

How dare the federal government tell me what I can put into my body, be it heroin or raw milk?

How dare they tell me on whom I can spend my money for services rendered, be it a dentist or a prostitute?

How dare they tell me how many spouses I may have, the type of weapon I may choose to defend myself, and how much of my hard-earned money I can take with me out of the country?

On the federal level, as long as my actions do not infringe on your ability to live as you see fit, I supposedly can do as I please.

What's most maddening in all of this is that the Tenth Amendment actually prohibits the feds from doing all of these things.  Yet they do them at will.

Our country has morphed from being a Constitutional Republic into a Democratic Republic.  The difference?  A Constitutional Republic is a representative form of government where the powers of the representatives are constrained by a Constitution.   A Democratic Republic is a representative form of government where the laws can be changed by a simple majority of the representatives agreeing to the change.

In the Constitutional Republic, the judiciary is supposed to ensure the Legislative and Executive branches adhere to the Constitution.

How's that workin' out?

Anyways, these are some of the things I'm pissed off about.  The key question is, what to do about it?

Like my suggestions for personal finances, is the answer to do what you can to minimize the impact?  Is that even possible, since so much of the federal power grab has been to make previously lawful acts illegal?

Look at our drug laws.  If I want to sit in my house and smoke a pipe full of meth, I'm breaking a whole litany of laws.  Drug possession and drug paraphernalia possession as a start.  If I've got some bureaucrat-determined "weight", I get popped as a distributor as well.

I'm harming no one other than myself, just as I can do with a cigarette or a bottle of Jack Daniels if I use either to excess.

Unless the drug was sold to me by a company in another state or country - triggering the "commerce clause" - the federal government has absolutely no Constitutional power to control this behavior.  Yet this type of action has been illegal since at least 1914 (Harrison Narcotic Tax Act).

A majority of representatives at the time voted the Executive branch powers outside of the Constitution, and the Judiciary gave them the green light.

BAM!  It's the law of the land.

Maybe things have changed.  Certainly, I could get some meth and a pipe, sit in my living room, call the feds and inform them of my actions, be arrested and fight the case on Constitutional grounds.

How ya think that would end?

Accept The Challenge

With so many freedoms and rights having been trampled, what do we do?  What are our options?

The status quo would be to continue to allow the federal government to grow unchallenged.  It would certainly be the easiest to do, and would likely have the most support amongst most Americans.  Most folks can't conceive of standing up to a DMV clerk or police officer, much less a federal bureaucracy.  They believe the government has their best interests at heart, and just go with the flow.

The other end of the scale is an armed insurrection.  Unless regular military units or national guard units were to participate, it is unlikely this would succeed.  Sadly, I think most police officers would side with the government, so that makes the odds even longer.

What falls somewhere in the middle?  Something between capitulation and civil war?

If you were to follow a, "looking out for Number One" strategy as many (including myself) are doing financially, I think it eventually bites you in the butt.  That means that the rest of society is following the status quo, and the government is growing more powerful.  Eventually, that ends up with everything being owned or controlled by The State, and any masterful plans of "riding it out" evaporate.

Is there any realistic way to get things slowed and eventually turned around via the ballot box?  I think the best hope is via the states nullifying federal orders.  There have to be enough states to push back to make it work.  This could then bring the national guard units into play should armed conflict result.

Perhaps something like the Free State project in New Hampshire is the right idea.  Get enough liberty-thinking people in enough states to control the state legislatures and executive offices, and draw a big fat line in the sand.

It's a great idea in theory, but a bit more difficult in practice.  The Free State Project has been trying to get 20,000 people to move to NH, and they've yet to meet their goal.  In 9 years, they've gotten a bit under 11,000 to commit to moving to NH, but only around 1,000 have done it.

Maybe it would work better in a larger state with more gravitas.  Texas, Florida and a few southern states come to mind.

An exodus of sorts has been happening from some states, such as California.  Working, "Native Sons" are leaving, and largely being replaced by immigrants from other countries - legal and otherwise.  The main state of choice for most liberty-loving Californians has been Texas.

Nullification seems like our last, best hope.  Any other ideas?

Eh.  Maybe I'm getting too bent out of shape, considering the world is coming to an end tomorrow.... ;-)

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, May 16, 2011

Funny Money Funnies

As you may have heard, we have hit our borrowing limit as a country.  To keep paying our bills and funding our bloated government, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has pulled an accounting trick to give him some breathing room.

His trick?  He's stopped funding the retirement plans for government workers.

This "debt issuance suspension period" will run from today to August 2nd.  During this period, two government retirement plans won't get their regular payments.

Now, Tim promises no one currently getting benefits will be affected, and that once Congress raises the limits again, all of the money will be paid back.  Promise, cross-my-heart-hope-to-die, stick-a-needle-in-my-eye.

How much money are we talking about?  Judging from the FAQ [link] the good Secretary produced, this should provide the government with an additional $214 billion ($84 billion from the CSRDF program and $130 billion from the so-called 'G-fund').

Uhm, Houston, we have a problem.

Our current borrowing rate is $1.7 trillion a year.  That's roughly $4.6 billion a day.  The "headroom" Geithner is buying covers us for 78 days.  $4.6 billion a day multiplied by 78 days is roughly $360 billion.  That means we'll come up $146 billion SHORT even after this federal retirement fund-grab.

Where will they get the additional money?

I'm sure Timmy will figure this out.  Especially since he won't have any pressure from the Government Scribes (the press) whose motto is, "Trust and DON'T verify" when it comes to the Administration...

Last week, Ferfal - Fernando Aguirre (Surviving in Argentina blog) did a guest post on Chris Martensen's blog titled, "Preparing For Economic Collapse".

If you're not familiar with Ferfal, his blog has chronicled the economic collapse that is still in effect in Argentina.  Argentina did many things the US is now doing.

Devaluing its currency, instituting central economic planning, etc.  We can now add to the list, "stealing retirement funds".

Take the time to read the article.  It gives you 5 things you can do to make the potential US economic collapse a bit more livable.  Try this on for size -
Every single Argentine wishes he could go back in time, close his bank account, and put that money into gold. We would all do that if we had a time machine. Since you can't guess the future, all you can do is estimate what can happen and play the odds in your favor. In the event of a full economic collapse, if you have 20% of your savings in physical gold and silver, that’s a percentage of your savings that is spared. It's not an investment; don’t go crazy over gold and silver going up or down a few dollars, just be content that it's not getting any lighter as it sits in your safe. If the economy collapses or even if there’s simply inflation (as there clearly will be), that percentage of your savings in precious metals is safe and will likely go up in price beyond its standard purchasing power as things get worse.
Singin' to the choir, brother...

Speaking of physical gold and silver, I have a bit of bad news.  Premiums have increased.  While the spot price of gold and silver have had a pretty significant drop, the premiums paid for physical gold have gone up.

For instance, we used to charge approximately $5 over spot for an American Silver Eagle.  We now charge $7 over spot.  American Gold Eagles used to go for about 5 percent over spot, now they're up to 8 percent!

Why?  The manipulations or games being played in the futures market have not had as significant of an impact on the physical market.  Availability has gone down with the drop in spot.

That being said, the out-of-pocket price has still dropped, and you can get gold and silver for less money than you could two weeks ago.

YOU need to determine if precious metals make sense for you and your lifestyle.  If they do, and your personal Crystal Ball says the government will continue spending more than it brings in, will continue to deflate the dollar and will continue to get creative on ways to get its hands on money, now might be the time to add some PMs to your stash.

I found this a bit odd:  I have a couple accounts with Chase bank.  As I've noted in the past, I keep very little cash in the bank - a couple of thousand to pay our monthly bills and give a little bit of cushion.

We used to keep almost all of our cash with them in both check and savings accounts.  The savings account was closed two years ago, and the two checking accounts have the money I mentioned.

I just got an email from them offering a $500 chance at a bonus for re-opening the savings account.  If you put $500 in an account, your name will be eligible to be drawn and you can claim the prize.

No thanks.

What I found interesting is that they were even offering this bonus.  This indicates that I'm not alone in withdrawing my money and holding it in cash and PMs (or the long-term unemployed continue to deplete their reserves).  For some reason, Chase isn't taking advantage of the zero percent loans they can get from the Federal Reserve Bank.

Or perhaps, the Fed has indicated the tap has run dry.  I dunno, but I found it interesting...

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, May 12, 2011

People Of Walmart

I heard about this on my regular morning radio show.  Nice change of pace from all of the seriousness of the day ...

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, May 10, 2011

Hearalding The End

From the Congress of The United States, Joint Committee On Taxation -
In summary, for tax year 2009, approximately 22 percent of all tax units, including filers and non filers, will have zero tax liability, approximately 30 percent will receive a refundable credit, and approximately 49 percent will have a positive income tax liability.
For those of you that don't talk tax-speak, a "positive income tax liability" means you pay income tax.  Doing some quick cipherin' shows that at least 51% of all "tax units" DON'T pay any income tax.

Ain't that special?  For me, that means I'm now a minority.  Somehow, I don't think that's going to win me any special consideration from Uncle Sam.  Quite the contrary.

I foolishly pay income tax.  More than half of my fellow citizens have shown superior intellect and cunning, and have constructed a lifestyle that allows them to not be taxed on their income.

Many - those 30% of my fellow citizens that figured out the, "refundable credit" scam - are actually able to make money off the system.  Yep, they work, but somehow acquire these credits that allow them to get back more money than has been deducted from their pay.

You get paid money for literally doing nothing.  Well, you do have to fill out the paperwork.


When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.
--Benjamin Franklin
We're there.  Have been, for two years.

Let all of that sink in:  Less than half of the "tax units" in this country actually pay any tax.  Each of us that pay taxes also pays the tax burden of the family next door or down the street or around the corner.

Absolutely astounding.

Unless you're making plans now, if you're currently paying taxes, the "bite" is only going to get worse. 
"Who should we tax? The rich! When should we tax them? Now!"
This chant was shouted today at a rally of teachers and students in Sacramento.  YOU are the rich.  You get that, right?

Those 51% of tax units that aren't taxed want your money to maintain their lifestyle.  They are entitled to your money.

Here in California, they are only four legislators away from being able to do pretty much what they want with our money.
CTA hopes to persuade at least two Republicans in each chamber to support the five-year extensions that Gov. Jerry Brown is seeking to income, sales and vehicle taxes. That's the bare minimum of GOP support needed to reach the two-thirds constitutional threshold to approve a tax bill, assuming that all Democrats support it.

"One of our messages (to Republicans) is that we'll be there for them" when their re-election rolls around, Old said Monday before heading into the Capitol to lobby.

The message? Vote our way, and we'll keep you in office.

Clearly, these protests won't end here.  We already saw them in Wisconsin and a couple of other states.  It's going to grow here in California, and the cancer will continue to spread across the country.

They'll trot out all the victims.  We're going to see the poor, deserving minorities.  The poor, deserving disabled.  The poor, deserving illegal aliens.  The poor, deserving children.  The poor, deserving [fill in the blank].

From their perspective, it makes total sense.  Someone (the rich tax payer) is trying to take food out of their mouths and money from their pockets, and they're pushing back.

Accept The Challenge

If you look up the definition of 'wealth' you'll see it has to do with being rich.  Personally, I think of wealth as money or possessions that I've saved, acquired or increased.  Putting some money away for a rainy day.

It seems like now, you're considered wealthy - a negative image - if you have anything more than that which you need to make it through next month.  As we've discussed before, you are rewarded with government largess if you've purposefully NOT saved money for the future.   Poor, poor, poor.  Take, take, take.

It doesn't matter if you spent your money on drugs, whores, boats, vacations or gambling.  If you pissed your money away, it means you have a certifiable illness, and are thus eligible for Nanny Bucks.

If you can't get a job because you have no education or experience, you get Nanny Bucks.  No matter that while the 49% of the tax units were attending college or a trade school gaining experience, you were out partying and impregnating/getting impregnated.

You're now a victim, and need to be compensated.

For goodness sake, hide any semblance of wealth you've got.  Flashy cars, "bling", wads-o-cash, etc.  Don't make yourself a target.

Make that wealth inaccessible to others.  That means keeping as little as possible in banks.  Sorry, but thems are the facts.  

Diversify.  Assume the PTB will find at least some of your wealth and take it, so don't keep all of your wealth in one place.

Get moving on those, "multiple streams of income".  If you can make them 'black market' - off the books like Craigslist, want ads, etc. - good for you.  Just remember that Nanny at the state and federal level is becoming all the more diligent in collecting its pound of flesh. 

Get started, NOW!

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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, May 9, 2011

Oil Price Drop???

I've mentioned that I'm working on a post about the recent drop in gold and silver prices.  Still in process - sorry.  I'm trying to deconstruct what happened last week so that I can fortify my "tool box" of indicators regarding market price fluctuations.

One of the "flags" that could be an indicator of a sudden price drop has been hoisted.... for crude oil.

This flag is when the COMEX (Commodities Exchange) increases the amount of money that speculators must have on account (margin accounts) when they buy commodity futures.

Before silver prices dropped, the COMEX increased margin requirements 4 times in 8 days.... by a total of 84%.  The oil margins look to have been raised around 25%.  There are 33 pages of different kinds of oil futures you can buy, and I didn't take the time to do the math on all of them, but 25% seems to be the average increase.

These new margins go into effect after the close of business on Tuesday, May 10th (tomorrow).

Now, from what I understand, the holders of these margin accounts can either come up with the cash to meet the new margin requirements, or they can sell their contracts.  This latter option results in the market being flooded with contracts, causing the prices to drop.

I'd expect there to be at least some "panic" selling tomorrow.  If, like silver, the COMEX publishes additional margin account requirements in the days to come, we may see some serious drops in crude oil prices (and hopefully at the pump).

We'll see how this shakes out...

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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.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Hard: Times, Cheese and Tack

Wow, what an incredible week!

Hard times a-comin'? 

Food prices have been steadily going up as is.  Now we're having the floods along the Mississippi, and incredibly, the Army Corps of Engineers actually blew up levees/dams to protect the city streets in one state.  The problem is, it required the flooding of farm land in another state.
Missouri officials said the incoming water would crush the region’s economy and environment by possibly covering the land under sand and silt and rendering it useless.

Hey, no biggee.  It certainly makes more sense to purposefully flood food producing land in lieu of streets that could be cleaned up with a Shop Vac.

Sleep well, Pennsylvania.  The FDA is on the job.
A yearlong sting operation, including aliases, a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and surreptitious purchases from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania, culminated in the federal government announcing this week that it has gone to court to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling its contraband to willing customers in the Washington area.
The product in question: unpasteurized milk.
Whew!  Dodged a bullet there!  Imagine the death and destruction that could have ensued if these obviously ignorant people had been allowed to make the decision about the food they choose to consume.

Double-whew!  Those radical Amish now know who's boss, huh?  Damned food terrorists.  Glad we got those lactose-based WMD's off the street...

Gold and silver took quite the shot to the chin this week, no?

Interesting set of circumstances that amazingly [sarcasm alert] came together - all at the same time - which caused this.

More on this in an upcoming post.

Hard cheese

After my first attempt at making cheese from powdered milk, I made another batch with a bit more salt and some liquid smoke.  I also rigged up a cheese press of sorts -

That, my friends, is my handy-dandy Alton Brown measuring tube thingy.  I packed the bottom with cheese curd, balanced a couple of cans on top for weight, and placed it on a plate with a paper towel to sop up the squeezed out whey.

Here's the little puck that emerged after 5 hours or so -

As you can see, it compacted quite nicely -

I followed the "smokey" recipe I posted earlier ("Gettin' Cheesy").  Quite nice.  Very good on crackers with a cold beer.  I might mess with the recipe and produce a Parmesan cheese version.


I ate one of the hardtack bricks I made a couple of weeks ago ("Hardtack").

Holy crap.

I made up a bowl of Japanese-style noodles.  I added extra water and nuked the noodles for 5 minutes.  When it was done, I threw in one of the bricks and let it sit for 5 minutes.  I wanted the hardtack to absorb the boiled water and spices mix, maybe breakdown, and be kind of line a handful of crackers smooshed up in the bowl.


After 5 minutes, the brick had barely absorbed any liquid.  It had loosened up the very exterior, but had virtually no penetration into the brick.

So, I let it sit another 10 minutes. 

The brick actually spoke to me, and taunted me with, "Is that all you got, girlfriend?"

I was eventually able to consume the brick, noodles and broth after about a half hour.  Clearly, these things need to be baked up much more thinly - no more than 1/4 inch thick.

More tests and humiliation to come...

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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, May 1, 2011


In discussions with some of my conservative friends, I quite often say that in my lifetime - since 1959 - George W. Bush is the hands-down winner as the worst president.  Hands-down.

They look at me like I'm on crack.  "No, no, no!  What about Tricky Dick?  Carter?  Clinton?  Hell, even after only 2 1/2 years, Obama is WAY worse.  What are you thinking?" 

Although there are many specifics I bring up, there is one big-dog issue that drives my opinion:  The USA PATRIOT Act.

In one fell swoop, that act has wrought more damage on America, in such a short period of time, than anything that was enacted before or since.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  We had the Federal Reserve act, and the Harrison Narcotic Tax act, and the "New Deal", and the "Great Society", and Affirmative Action, and CRA and all kinds of socialist or fascist laws.

All of those weakened the American spirit and softened the body - setting us up for the big punch.  The USA PATRIOT act is the brass-knuckled sucker punch that puts us down.  Most Americans didn't even see it coming, or, if they were paying attention, they actually embraced it.

Gotta protect us from all of those crazy Muslims, after all.  By any means necessary.

Now, I don't talk about the USA PATRIOT act as some sort of an academic exercise.  I used to enforce portions of it.  If you're interested, click here ("Sunday Grumpy:  It's For Your Protection") to see an article I posted about a year ago.

I just saw an article on the Shenandoah blog (h/t to Gunrights4US for the link) that talks about similar encroachments on our financial and mobility freedoms.... all courtesy of the USA PATRIOT act.  Without giving away the whole article, if your plan is to take off to some foreign country with your bullion and cash, you'd better get moving.

Or change your plans.

BTW, Carter was a bumbling boob.  He was an embarassment to America, but did little real damage.  Clinton was worse, but what he did was accomplished with the blessing and consent of a Republican congress.  Obama is just a socialist using the tools given him by Bush and his other predecessors to advance his agenda. 

I'm a pragmatist.  I evaluate what I see, process that information, make decisions and take actions.  I try and sift through the hyperbole and get to the facts.

The facts I see show me that nothing is going to happen to make real change in our country.  The road we're on will not change.  The only unknown is how long it will take.

I saw Michelle Bachmann on Judge Napalitano's Fox show.  He asked her about the USA PATRIOT Act and how she would vote on its pending extension.  She hemmed and hawed and squirmed.  The bottom line:  Bachmann won't condemn it.

As such, she will never get my vote should she decide to run for president.

I like her on a number of other issues, such as budget and fiscal matters.  But the USA PATRIOT act is a deal-breaker.  Anyone who supports that bastardization of the Constitution does not believe in liberty.  Plain and simple.

I don't care about compromise.  I don't care about cutting deals for the "greater good".  I don't care about "needing extreme measures for extreme times" or whatever the pseudo-patriotic claptrap might be.  You either believe in the Constitution or you don't.   Part of my definition of an American is one who willingly assumes personal risk in exchange for freedom.

Bachmann is the Queen of the Tea Party caucus in the Congress.  These folks are supposedly our last, best hope to rein in this out-of-control spending.


Who thinks the debt limit won't be increased?  Oh, they may say we're getting this-and-that spending cut, but the limit WILL be increased.

According to the CBO, even Paul Ryan's proposal ONLY increases the national debt by some $5 trillion dollars. If you listen to the president and his Imperial Scribes (the press), that's the proposal which will leave babies piled in the street right next to the bones of the disabled that have been cast aside by the heartless Republicans.

Yeah, it has a chance...

Accept The Challenge

I write this stuff up - when I'm all full of disgust and anger - and by the time I'm done, I'm in the same spot, but just a bit more relaxed 'cause I get to blow off some steam!

My admittedly gloomy outlook remains unchanged:  Our personal plans need to revolve around minimizing the impact of what's coming down the road.  "Make hay" while you are still able, and put as much away as possible.

I believe our ability to change things via the vote has passed.  Both major parties are in the bag.  The Republicans have the Tea Partiers to deal with right now, but soon enough, they'll be bought and paid for.

Why so skeptical?  The Republicans stormed Washington on a promise to cut $100 billion this year.  They settled for what amounts to $350 million.

To put THAT into perspective, we're currently borrowing $188 million per hour to keep this rickety ship afloat.  So, less than 2 hours after you read these words, all of the "hard-fought" savings will already be gone.

And I don't have any words of wisdom for the dolts in DC anyways.  If they cut the 40% of our current expenditures that are borrowed, this joint would crash and burn - litterally - in a couple of days.  The rioting in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East would seem like a calm walk on the beach compared to what would happen here.

So no changes will be made.  Voluntarily.  It will crash under its own bloated carcass.

The personal plan remains unchanged:  Food, equipment, precious metals, land, guns, ammo, fuel, medical supplies and water.  Knowledge to convert raw materials into finished goods, and to produce as much of my own raw materials as possible.

I don't make my own beer, bread, cheese, sprouts or other items because I think it's cool.  I do it because I like consuming those things and they may not be available at some time in the future.  Finished goods also have a higher barter value in the event the dollar becomes totally worthless and the black market takes hold.

I fully expect at some time in the not too distant future (a couple of years) that the US Treasury debt will regain its "neutral" rating from S&P.  I don't think we'll deserve it, but it will happen anyways, either via statistical manipulation or outright threats.

I think when it happens, gold and silver will be hurt.

Yet, I will continue to acquire both.  Why?  Because when the facade finally cracks for good, they will be one of the only trusted stores of wealth outside of tangible goods.

Selling it and converting it to cash or goods might be problematic, but that's something that I'll deal with at that time.  I can only haul and protect so much food, equipment and ammo.  PMs have always represented a compact store of wealth, and I believe they will continue to do so in the future.

I hope!

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