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Friday, February 28, 2014

Communications Preps: Shut Up!

Many of you have heard the story of the Northern California couple that found 6 rusty cans on their property.  Those cans contained coins with a face amount of $27,000.  Nice haul, huh?  Woo hoo!  Par-tay!

Oh.  Those coins were pre-1933 $5, $10 and $20 gold pieces.  The gold alone in them is worth in the neighborhood of $2 million.  Did I mention that many of them were in Mint State?  Yeah, lots of 'em.

The entire "Saddle Ridge Hoard" is estimated to have a market value of $10 million.

When I first heard of this story, my first thought was, "Why do I know about this?  Why does anybody know about this?"

Apparently, this husband and wife decided to do, "the right thing" and publicize their find.  While their names have not - so far - been disclosed, the fact that their find is now public, is going to cost them dearly.

I've seen estimates that these folks might be looking at a liability in the neighborhood of $5 million between state and federal taxes.

For what?  What did any government bureaucrat do to earn a single dime from this find?  Not a damned thing.

What this really does is drive home the point about who really owns property in this country.  In case you're unclear on the concept, it ain't you.  If the state wants what you've got, they'll just take it - one way or another.

But wait, there's more!  It now seems that over a hundred years ago, this gold may have been stolen from the San Francisco mint.  I can guaran-damn-tee you, the feds, state and heirs of the guy who stole the coins are going to work their damnedest to sell that point.
According to U.S. Treasure Trove Laws, the whole collection could be taken away and given to descendants of the person who originally put it in the ground or even given to the state.

It would be impossible to prove a chain of ownership with these coins, unless there were some sort of note in the cans saying that the guy stole them.  Otherwise, the very nature of all minted coins - every one looks exactly like the one made before it and after it - would make it impossible to conclusively prove these coins were the ones stolen.

Still, put together a jury of soft-headed "peers" and you can kiss your hoard good-bye.  For God's sake, we're in the proverbial belly of the liberal beast.  This area spawned Pelosi, Feinstein, and Boxer.  People in these parts love giving their lives away to the state.

Accept The Challenge

So, what have we learned from this little lesson?

Like we often say, "You don't own it unless you can hold it".  BUT, if you own it, and they know about it, they can take it.  The fewer people that know what you own, the less likely someone with a badge and a gun are going to come take it away.

Love thy neighbor, but keep him at arm's length.  If things get desperate enough, he'll come looking with a gun as well.

What do you have that some agency or neighbor might want someday?
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Cash
  • Guns
  • Ammo
  • Food
  • Water
  • Real estate
  • A bank account
  • A retirement account
In all 50 states, the last 3 items must be held in a legal name, and must be tied to a government ID number (a social security number or tax ID number).  There are still ways in which ownership of those assets can be obscured.  A competent tax attorney can guide you there.

All of the other items are tangible assets that can be possessed without anyone else knowing about it.  No one but you.  You're responsible for their safe keeping, but that's one of the prices you pay for freedom. 

It is becoming increasingly difficult to "spend" the first 3 items, so pre-planning their use is paramount.  Act quickly or rashly, and your hard work can all be unraveled.

Never keep all of your assets in a single geographic location.  That's just begging to have them taken.

Be prudent.
Be resourceful.
Be prepared.

As we say up top, Audentes fortuna juvat - Fortune favors the bold...

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Copyright 2014 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, February 27, 2014

Thursday Thrashing: Wipe My Ass For Me Edition

You're too stupid to buy a soda by yourself...

My state of California, in its never-ending quest to control every aspect of every citizen's life, has found a new cause:  The "Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Safety Warning Act".  This is incredible, even for Californian politicians.

Senator Bill Monning wants every sugar-sweetened bottle of soda to have a health warning.  In short, "Drink too much, and you'll get fat."  Who woulda known, if the good Senator hadn't brought it to our attention, huh?

You'd think that soda machine vendors were selling live munitions to kids -
Vending machines would also have to display the safety warning, and require businesses to keep invoice records of all sugar-sweetened beverages “distributed, purchased, or sold,” for two years.
Seriously?  You want to know how many Mr. Pibb's they sell each year?

Keeping Us Safe From Our Dumb-ass selves since 2008
This is important legislation for non-whites only, though.  It seems that Senator Monning and any legislators that vote for this piece of crap believe that only non-whites are too stupid to know how to buy soda.
Monning’s office said the bill is necessary for California’s “communities of color.”
“The health implications are felt most acutely by California’s communities of color, which are the largest consumers of these sugary drinks,” a press release said. “Unless the obesity epidemic is reversed, one in three children born after 2000—and nearly half of Latino and African American children—will develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.”
Hmm.  Not for, "All Californians," just those special, "communities of color."

Sounds racist to me.

I've got extra copies of the tenth amendment if you need one...

Still, it's being done in a state - those supposed, "incubators of democracy" we promote.  Thank God no one at the federal level is suggesting something similar - in direct conflict with the tenth amendment.

Oh, wait.
Even the scoreboards in high school gyms will have to advertise only healthy foods under new rules announced Tuesday by the Obama administration.
Promotion of sugary drinks and junk foods around campuses during the school day will be phased out under the rules, intended to ensure that such marketing is brought in line with health standards that already apply to school foods.
Hold on, hold on!  I am almost sure - I'll double check - that the Constitution didn't include a clause for determining what kind of food and drink kids put in their bodies.  And if it isn't there, they can't do it, right?

I'm so confused.

At least Her Highness is keeping busy making sure that we're all thinking the same, teaching the same, acting the same and parenting the same.  She certainly knows best what message I want my kids to hear -
“The idea here is simple — our classrooms should be healthy places where kids aren’t bombarded with ads for junk food,” the first lady said. “Because when parents are working hard to teach their kids healthy habits at home, their work shouldn’t be undone by unhealthy messages at school.”
Maybe I'm trying to teach them that the world is full of choices and temptations, and that learning how to make the right decision on your own is part of becoming a responsible adult.  Maybe I'm trying to teach them that having a soda once in a while isn't such a bad thing.  Instead, I get to teach them that their government schools and their government employees think they don't have two gray cells to rub together.  I get to teach them how fun it is to prove the bastards wrong.

Now, I'm sure that all this is constitutional, 'cause Congress wouldn't allow the president to just run amok.  No siree...

Where have I seen this before?????

Oh yeah, there it is.  Number 10 -
10.  Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children's factory labour in its present form and combination of education with industrial production.
Well, they can check that one off the list, now can't they?

'V' is for Victory, comrade!
Seems like they've done a pretty damned good job with the first 9 items as well...

Help me!  I'm too stupid to be responsible for my own property...

Heh, this guy hits the nail on the head -
California’s nanny state proclivities are no surprise to residents of the state or to outside observers looking in, but the overreach of the state’s Democratic legislature in this bill comes is surprising nonetheless.
What are the folks in Sacramento up to now?  More gun control?  Maybe something to steal more money from us for the Climate Change hoax?  Mandatory force fields for all children under the age of 12?  Come on, what is it?
Members of the California Assembly have introduced Senate bill 962, which would mandate that “advanced mobile communications devices” — smartphones, tablets and similar personal devices — must “include a technological solution, which may consist of software, hardware, or both software and hardware, that can render (it) inoperable” in the event that it is stolen. 
To implement these regulatory requirements, the bill would “prohibit the sale of an advanced mobile communications device in California without the technological solution being enabled.” The move, if successful, would require all mobile devices sold in California to have embedded in them a government-sponsored kill-switch.
Uhm, what?  You want to force me to have technology on my phone so I can kill it if it's stolen.  LOL, way to be ahead of the curve, California Legislature.  Jump in your Wayback Machine, and you can watch me installing this type of software.... 5 years ago!

Maybe Sacramento politicians aren't aware of it, but the center of the technology universe..... is in our state!  Seriously, no shit!  Yeah, it's called, "Silicon Valley" 'cause the chips in compu.... oh never mind.

Hey, at least they're trying to pass a law requiring technology that actually exists.  You non-Californians may not be aware, but back in 2007, our state genius' passed a law for guns that required they be fitted with technology that didn't even exist (it's still debated whether the technology exists even now).

Of course, these mouth-breathers are trying to pass this based on safety, and crime reduction and hell, it'll probably cure The Clap and global warming as well.  Such a deal.

Saving Livers, One Mimosa At A Time...

Not to be outdone by the Golden State in its depth of nannyism, NYC knows exactly how you should buy your cocktails -
Apparently, bottomless brunches have been illegal all along. A lesser known (and ass backward) New York State Law apparently prohibits “selling, serving, delivering or offering to patrons an unlimited number of drinks during any set period of time for a fixed price”, which is basically the definition of most NYC brunches.
Seriously, why?  If I'm going to get shit-faced hammered drunk, then go drive while drunk, some prohibition on, 'bottomless cocktails' isn't going to stop me.

Just like gun control, if someone is going to perform a lawless act, a law prohibiting it isn't going to stop them.  They're law breakers, you soft-headed morons...

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Copyright 2014 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, February 24, 2014

From Fowl To Flame

Or, How to make a field expedient candle from chicken scraps-n-stuff...

I eat a lot of chicken.  Lots.

Lately, I've been buying packs of thighs from the store to marinade, then roast or smoke.  To keep a check on my girlish figure, I take off all of the skin, and cut off the obvious chunks of fat.

Each time I do this, I've got a hell of a pile of stuff that hits the trash bin.  Seemed like a waste.  So, I decided to do some research on how to render fat.  I figure you can always use another skill, and with the price of oils in the store, I could save a couple of bucks in the bargain.

I had an ulterior motive, too.  I wanted to see if I could make a candle from the fat.  I've made emergency candles from blocks of paraffin and Altoids cans, so I figured using rendered fat would work as well.

After cleaning up my thighs, I was left with this mound of skin, meat and fat -

From just under 5 pounds of chicken, I had a hair under 1 pound of stuff to work with.  Yeah, 20% of what I was paying for was hitting the garbage.

Following a mish-mash of instructions I found online, I chopped the skin into smaller pieces - say around 2 inches square.  I put them into a pan, and added a half cup of water.  The heat was turned to medium, and away we go!

That's what it looked like after about 5 minutes or so.  The water supposedly keeps the skin and meat from burning.  It worked, and I never got any pops from the oil.

I let it go another 15 minutes or so, stirring it often.  You want to have no white skin when you're done.  This picture is a couple of minutes before they came off.  Notice how the skins have browned up, but there are still a couple of pale pieces in the mix.

A couple of minutes later, I broke out the fine mesh strainer, and ended up with this -

Yep, 225 ml of oil (that's 7.6 fluid ounces, or just under a cup, for you non-metrics out there).

Oh, and there was a bonus, as well -

Yeah, baby!  Cracklin's!  While still hot, I sprinkled them with some garlic salt.  Tasted just like garlic pork rinds.  Seriously good.  And surprisingly low-cal.

OK, back to task.  You need to make sure there aren't any bits of meat or skin that made it through the screen.  I added water to the oil to get the oil to float, and all of the heavier pieces to drop to the bottom.

I put this in the fridge to chill down for a few hours.  Once is set up, I poked a hole in the top of the solidified fat right near the spout of the measuring cup.  Poured off the water, and scooped the fat into a bowl -

At this point, this is called, schmaltz.  It's used in Jewish cooking as everything from cooking oil, to a spread on toast.  It only had a faint smell of chicken.  It is VERY soft, even when fully chilled.  Kind of like soft butter.  If you touch it, it starts to melt.

On to our candle.  I assembled my tools -

Those would be:  The fat, an empty soda can, a length of cooking twine, a bamboo skewer and poultry shears.

I placed the fat in a pan to re-liquefy, and set it on the stove on the very lowest heat.  While that was working, I needed to make a candle holder.  That would be done with the empty soda can.

In the videos I watched on lard candles, the fat liquefies quickly.  It doesn't have the structural integrity that a candle made of wax possesses.  I was going to use a half-pint mason jar, but decided I didn't want to have to clean it up if I had a failure.

Using the poultry shears, I cut the top off the can higher than the final height -

Not wanting to slice an artery on the rim, I cut down from the top - making a series of tabs -

No, I didn't measure them for exact separation distance, or depth of cut.  Each cut was about an inch deep.  I then folded over the tabs to give me a child-safe lip -

I then tied one end of the twine to the skewer, hung it in the can, then cut the other end so it just touched the bottom.  Filled it up with the now-liquefied fat, and put it into the fridge to set up.

Here's our bad-boy in action -

No in-your-face chicken smell while it burns.  I'm likin' it.

I'll be interested in seeing how the wick works out as it gets closer to the bottom.  As I noted before, this stuff is VERY soft, and I wonder if the wick will tip over.  I'll try and post an addendum at a later date.



OK, for those of you that are thinking, "That fat would be much better used in cooking," - well, you might be right.  Or not.  It might be dark sometime, and you'd be thinking, "Wow, I'm sure glad Chief Instructor showed me how to light up this room with chicken fat..."

Hey, it could happen.

I did some checking, and schmaltz has cooking properties very similar to extra virgin olive oil.

Smoke points (in degrees Fahrenheit)-

  • Schmaltz - 375
  • Butter - 300-325
  • Tallow (beef fat) - 400
  • Lard (pork fat) - 370
  • Veggie shortening (Crisco) - 360
  • Extra virgin olive oil - 375
  • Virgin olive oil - 420
  • Corn oil - 450

Go forth, and render!

UPDATE 2/26/14:  As a candle, this is a BIG fail.  After about two hours burning, the entire "candle" was liquefied and the wick slumped into the fat.  No bueno.

On the positive side, the fat is awesome for cooking.  I pan fried some pork chops, and did an Asian stir-fry that turned out great.  I just keep the bowl of schmaltz in the fridge, and take it out when cooking.  Very good stuff that is easy to make.

Also, I like the re-use of the cans.  I'd originally mentioned the paraffin candles I've made in the past.  This weekend, I bartered for about 20 pounds of paraffin, and I'm going to make some emergency candles in the soda can holders.

Bottom line:  Render the fat from stuff that was going to hit the garbage to save a couple of bucks, but eat the fat, don't try and make candles!

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Copyright 2014 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, February 21, 2014

Treasure Assets: Tread Lightly

I saw an interesting article on how many wealthy folks are looking to diversify their portfolios by investing in, "treasure assets".  These are works of art, antiques, rare cars and other collectibles.  More and more, they're buying numismatic (collectible) coins.
"In the environment that exists right now, where the Dow is very high … most of the people buying rare coins … are people who are taking profits as a result of a semibull market … and want to reinvest some of that money into nondollar-based-type investments," said Terry Hanlon, president of the Professional Numismatists Guild.
For my precious metals business, this is great news.  We've recently come into some exceedingly rare coins which we've had certified and graded.  These will bring, "a pretty penny" - pun intended - to our store.

It is a pretty cool thing to hold a coin in your hand that was minted during the Civil War, or before the Constitution was ratified.  The "freaks" of coin collecting are pretty cool as well.  A man just found a 1974 aluminum cent his father had left him.  It's been authenticated, and will go up for auction.  I've seen estimates ranging from $250,000 to $2 million!

But this trade is a mine field.  Counterfeits - of both the coins AND the certified plastic containers - is running rampant.  There is a guy that was recently arrested for selling over $100,000 worth of counterfeit coins - mostly to coin dealers.  One dealer, in particular, got taken for over $30,000 in fakes!

So, how do you protect yourself?  Here are some ideas:

>>Get educated, and know the unique traits of the coins you're buying.  Understand what a coin which is cast looks like versus a traditionally stamped coin.  As I've noted here before, many of the counterfeits that come into our store are clearly fakes.  The certification will say it's mint state, but the coins has clearly been in circulation.  You need to understand the differences.  A great book for this is Grading Coins By Photograph.  Another is The Official ANA Grading Standards.  If you're going to get into collectible US coins, you've got to have these two books.

>>Only buy coins certified by NGC or PCGS.  There are a lot of other certification services, but these are the only two that the resale market fully trusts.  When we buy coins certified by other services, we ALWAYS discount the grade given to the coin.  Always.  If it's a valuable coin, we'll have the coin re-certified by NGC or PCGS before we sell it.  And Yes, the person selling us the coin is ultimately paying for that re-certification by receiving a lower price for their coin.

>>Verify the certification number online.  The links above to NGC and PCGS are to their certification pages.  You key in the cert number, and it tells you what the coin is supposed to be.  Yep, we've run certifications, and the information didn't match the coin in the case!

>>Buy from certified dealers.  For instance, our store is certified by NGC.  You only get on the list by meeting experience requirements, and you must obtain letters of recommendation from other certified dealers.  It's obviously not a perfect guarantee, but it's significant.

>>Verify the Better Business Bureau rating of the dealer.  Every business can have complaints, but how those complaints are addressed will tell you a lot about the dealer.

>>Get a receipt for your coin, with the certification number listed.  It's also not a bad idea to take a picture of the coin and receipt together while you're still at the dealer.

>>If buying online, ONLY use trusted sites.  These include eBay (when the seller has a 98%+ rating), Heritage Auctions, and Great Collections.  There are other sites that also have auctions for ancient coins, but we don't deal in them, so I don't have any recommendations.  Make sure you understand their shipping policies AND whether they charge a buyer's premium as well.

>>Trust your gut.  If something doesn't look or seem right, it probably isn't.  If the deal is too good to be true, it probably is.  It is better to walk away from a purchase you feel a bit hinky about, than to later realize you've been taken.

A lot of money can be made with collectible coins.  While I'm not personally a collector, I've seen the value of some customer collections climb quite nicely in value.

A lot can be lost as well.  Becoming educated before jumping into this pool will save you a lot of grief and money.

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Copyright 2014 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, February 19, 2014

Wednesday Weenie Roast: Tyranny Edition

 Are Chinese puzzle boxes next...

Wow.  It's against the law to have a hidden compartment in your car?  WTF?

I came across this when I saw an article about some guy who was driving the car of a friend, got pulled over and the police used the, "we noticed the strong smell of marijuana in the vehicle," excuse to search the car.  During the search, they found a hidden compartment.  Nothing whatsoever was in the compartment, the car just had one.
"Without the hidden compartment law, we would not have had any charges on [Gurley]," a state trooper told the local news station.

He was arrested, and is paying legal fees to keep this from going to trial.

Here in California, the law basically says that if the government THINKS you use it for drugs, guns or any other sort of bad-boy activity, you've broken the law.   They don't need evidence to that fact, just the belief.

Let's think about this a bit:  For all intents and purposes, it's illegal to have a secret compartment becuase it's assumed it will be used to transport illegal drugs, illegal guns or [GASP!] be used for terrorist purposes.

"If you've got nothing to hide...." "If you've done nothing wrong..." "If you're a good citizen..." "If you're a true patriot..."  If, if, if...  

And then, of course, there's the juicy morsel known as 'asset forfeiture' - 
With civil forfeiture, police are under no obligation return a seized vehicle if prosecutors decide not to proceed with a criminal case or if the jury decides to acquit. Once police take a vehicle, property owners generally must file a lawsuit to get it back.

Police and prosecutors naturally like this arrangement; they usually get to keep seized vehicles or the profits from auctioning them off. But the process is a nightmare for property owners, who are considered guilty until proven innocent.

Hmm.  Guilty until proved innocent.

Coming soon to Amerika...

It's called capital controls.  The government wants to control your capital -
[W]e learn that Italy has just ordered banks to withhold a 20% tax on all inbound wire transfers: a decree which on to of everything will apply retroactively to February 1
This happens right now in the US when you sell a house, or cash in a 401(k) before the government says you're allowed to do so.  And of course, they take it out of each and every paycheck you earn.  They get paid up front, and you must justify why you get any of it back.

Hmmm.  I wonder what these type of government actions might lead to?

The government, through their own actions, is making more and more Americans understand the value of privacy with their financial affairs.  The unintended consequences is more and more people being paid in cash, and then hoarding that cash so that they can purchase what they wish, when they wish, without having the purchase being scrutinized.

Look what's going on in Colorado now at the new Pot Clubs.  These businesses can't get bank accounts because the Feds don't recognize them as legal businesses.  So everything is, "cash and carry".  I love it!

The Feds will counter this by gradually eliminating paper currency.  We're already well along that road, with the pervasive use of debit and credit cards, welfare cards, Paypal, and the like.

The eventual elimination of cash will be foisted upon us under the guise of "defending America against terrorists and drug dealers".  They'll also get some traction by saying it will be a cost saver, in that all of that paper currency won't have to be printed up each year, only to be destroyed a few years later.

You see, they're doing it all for you - just keepin' you safe and saving you a couple of bucks in the process.  'Cause you know - if you've got any large amount of cash, you MUST be a terrorist or a criminal.

Hmm.  Guilty until proven innocent

Seriously... no one else has read the book, 1984???

Wait, what?!  Another database to track where you go, when you go, and even with whom you go there?  It's all for 'national security' of course.  Yep, the DHS wants a National license plate tracking system -
There are several other reasons why Americans should be concerned about DHS’s plans. First, the agency wants to be able to create its own “hot lists” of suspect vehicles from the data. As we’ve seen from ALPR records we received from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, officers are not required to define any individualized suspicion before putting a vehicle on a “hot list,” and it’s unclear how a vehicle would ever get off such a list. DHS proposes sharing its “hot lists” with other agencies. It also wants to be able to communicate with other users, “establish Lists submissions, flag license plates, and conduct searches anonymously.” If ICE agents can create hot lists, flag plates, conduct searches and discuss and share data anonymously, meaningful oversight of the program will be impossible.
Wait a minute:  I was under the impression that according to the fourth amendment, no government entity was able to collect information about a citizen without probable cause and a warrant from a judge.

Really.  I know I read that somewhere.  A history book I read way back when, explained how the British had these things called, 'general warrants' which allowed the government to look at everything in your life in an attempt to find some illegal activity.  Privacy be damned.

The fourth amendment was ratified to prohibit that sort of government intrusion into your life.  Wow, they're really going to town on the Constitution, huh?

It kind of moves me to song.  You know the tune.  Come on kids, and sing along!
You better watch out,
You better not cry,
You better not pout,
You better comply,
DHS is going to town!

They're making a list,
And checking it twice,
Gonna find out who's naughty or nice.
DHS is going to town!

They see you when you're sleeping,
They know when you're awake.
They know when you've been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!

OH!...You better watch out,
You better not cry
You better not pout,
You better comply.
DHS is going to town!

Hmm.  Guilty until proved innocent.

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Copyright 2014 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, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Trash Talk - Playground Politics

Seriously, what's happened to this country?  In particular, to our school system?  For God's Sake, how can people so stupid be charged with educating our children?

This school in Chicago is upset about guns.  Well, not guns, but legally required pictures of guns -
Some school officials aren’t happy about the stickers because they contain a very basic image of a gun.

“It is bothersome to have to post a sticker of a gun that says, ‘Hey, folks, leave your guns at home,’” Theresa Nolan, principal of Tinley Park High School, told the SouthtownStar.

Nolan stressed that she is very concerned with “safety and security” and concerned that, somehow, someone could wrongly interpret an image of a gun emblazoned with the universal sign for prohibiting something.

“I think the general public will be alarmed by it and wonder if people have been allowed to bring guns to school in the past,” Nolan also fretted.
 No, you mouth-breathing idiot, the general public will be alarmed to find you in charge of a high school, let alone that you had the mental capacity to graduate from high school yourself..

Perhaps her high school students can write a paper on the magical, invisible force field that protects them once they step into the Gun Free Zone.

Click your ruby slippered heels together, Theresa, keep them clicking...

Perhaps THE BEST article I've seen on helping teachers that are trapped in a Gun Free Zone have a chance of saving their lives and the lives of their students.  I was so impressed, I sent a copy of it to my wife, who is a 5th grade teacher.  She shared it with the teachers at her school.
Everything begins at the door. The door is a chokepoint. That narrow gap which decreases an aggressor's ability to attack, while increasing your odds for a successful defense. Everything depends upon what does or does not happen here. Therefore THE primary concern is to prevent an active shooter from gaining entry to the room. Locking a door is a problem if the door doesn't have locks. Reasoning as to why they don't is not the objective here. Creating a solution is.
This article is full of simple, inexpensive and most importantly, effective ways to keep the bad guys at bay while the good guys are on the way.

I predict a run on gallon jugs of cooking oil and 30 pound bags of kitty litter.  The 15 inch wrench - for classroom repairs, of course - has already been purchased, along with a homemade paracord wrist strap.  Don't want that baby slipping out of your hand while you're crushing uhm, tightening nuts...

To Serve and Protect

I wish I could believe that this was one of those, "Only in California" stories, but I fear it's not. 

It seems that a local all-girls Catholic school was going to help celebrate Black History Month by having a lunch which celebrates blacks in the school.  You know, like when it's Hispanic Month, you might serve tacos or burritos or tamales.  Filipino Month might have pansit and lumpia.  You get it.

Well, for Black History month, they decided to serve fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread and watermelon.

Apparently, this was uber Politically Incorrect -
The principal and dean of the school refused to talk to NBC Bay Area on Wednesday, but school officials held an assembly on campus to discuss the issue and sent an apology letter to parents.

"I'd like to apologize for the announcement and any hurt this caused students, parents or community members," Principal Nancy Libby said in the letter. "Please know that at no time at Carondelet do we wish to perpetrate racial stereotypes."
Seriously?  There are now Politically Incorrect fruits and vegetables?  What the hell is wrong with these principals?

As most of the commentors noted, what the hell SHOULD have been served?   And if the principal was so concerned about offending blacks and "racial stereotypes", why didn't she profusely apologize to the students and parents that were offended by the tacos, burritos and lumpia?


This "boy who cried wolf" (oops, can I say 'boy' when discussing blacks?) crap is doing nothing more than desensitizing the public when a legitimate complaint is aired.

The Reverend Al should be proud of his work here.

When I attended school, if you got out of line, you were put on detention.  Do it again, and you got a suspension.  In both cases, your parents got a call, and there would be hell to pay once you got home.

Nowadays, the process is much more lenient - students can, "push the envelope" much further, but when they do, the detention and suspensions still happen.  On top of that, because of this lenient culture, some students go WAY too far, and the criminal justice system gets involved.

Well, apparently, too many minorities are getting violent in school and ending up in jail.  That's just not acceptable -
Winning praise from civil rights advocates, the U.S. Department of Education released new federal guidelines Wednesday aimed at stopping an explosion in student suspensions, expulsions and referrals to the criminal-justice system.

The ideas are a response to mounting concerns that overly punitive discipline is pushing too many low-income and minority students out of schools and toward failure rather than helping them engage academically. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice teamed up in a two-year effort to develop lists of resources and principles that educators have found effective at keeping campuses orderly without resorting to kicking out kids.
Yeah.  The rules are only applied to the poor and minorities.  And it's the "overly punitive discipline" that's at fault, not the actions of said poor and minorities.

The proponents of these changes say that minorities are treated more harshly than whites for the same offense.  OK, prove it.  And if you do, sue the hell out of the school and the administrator that enforced the punishment.

Instead, they want to cherry-pick some instances of disparate treatment, and point to them as the norm.  That's a steaming pile of crap.

I can tell you that, from my personal experience, it is usually the other way around.  Minorities are given much more leeway.  If they're punished, the school administrators come down on the teachers because so many of the classroom disrupters are black (usually) and, "it doesn't look good."

This was one of the primary reasons we sent our boys to a private school during their elementary and middle school years.  The two schools they would have attended were out of control.  If we wanted them to get an education, we could either move or pay for private school.  We couldn't afford to move, and could barely afford the tuition, but we made due.

For high school, it was a similar situation, and in that instance, we moved to a district with a good reputation.  My wife and I have already agreed that when/if our sons have children, we will help them to be home schooled, or at worse, attend a private school.  Public schools are a joke.

I'm sure the schools will be much better once the classroom disrupters are allowed to stay in the class regardless of their actions.  Yeah, that'll work out just fine...

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Copyright 2014 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, February 10, 2014

Using Social Media In Your Preps

In general, I'm not a big fan of "social media".  Maybe I should say I haven't been a big fan.  These are dominated by Facebook and Twitter.  Second-tier companies are Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and a handful of others.

What I have come to understand - and appreciate - each of these is very different, and some actually have benefits for we preppers.  I'm also trying to learn how to use these tools to expand my business to a larger market.

Facebook - The big dog on the block, and quite honestly, I don't get it.  At its basic function, it is a, "Look at me!" website.  From a prepper perspective, I really find little use.  If you own a business, and that business has a national reach, Facebook may help you reach new customers.  They're making tons of money on their ad revenues, so someone thinks the service has value.  Right now, it's not me, though.

Twitter - I like it.  A lot.  I've been playing with it for a month or so now, and I'm blown away by the information I'm able to glean from all of these folks.  It allows you to select feeds (you receive 'tweets' from other posters) that can be from a specific person, business or organization.  Money, politics, guns, prepping - whatever.  I have yet to type in a subject and not find dozens of potential sources.

And for breaking news, I've found nothing better.  Most include a link to a full-blown article.  I use it as my morning information source.

THAT is the one drawback of Twitter:  Information overload.  I've only got a couple of dozen folks I currently follow, and I regularly drop some and add new ones.  

Google+ - I'm still trying to figure this out.  Apparently, you can have an interest - say off-grid living - and find all kinds of groups and people that share your interest.  Like Twitter, you can 'follow' different people or groups to help filter out all of the noise.

This looks to be very promising, but they're sure making it hard to figure out.

All others - They all seem way too focused.  LinkedIn just seems like a big resume board.  Perhaps it has utility if you're looking for a job.  I dunno.

There are some Rules of Engagement you should follow -

Use an alias.  Unless you're a public figure, there's little upside to having your real name and identity out there for all to see.  If it does make sense to use your real name, also set up a "lurker" account that will allow you to visit sites and make posts anonymously.  Remember:  everything you ever say online will be there forever.

If you're a business, don't be pimping your wares 24/7.  Provide information to selling something at a 20:1 ratio (twenty chunks of info for every 1 business pitch).

Use services to make your posts throughout the day.  If all of your posts come out in a gush during a 1 hour period, no one is going to see what you've got to say.  I use something called, Buffer.  It lets you set up pre-set posting schedules, or very specific custom times.  So far, I'm liking it.

While you're at it, why don't you click the Twitter 'follow' button on the upper left hand side of the page.  I'm just sayin.....

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Copyright 2014 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, February 7, 2014

February Public Service Announcement

Fact:  Each year, approximately 13,000 Americans die as a result of murder.  The primarily tools of death were firearms, knives/ cutting instruments, and "personal weapons" (hands, feet, fists, etc.), in that order.
--Source:  Federal Bureau of Investigation - Expanded Homicide Data Table

Fact:  Each year, approximately 300,000 Americans die as a result of obesity.  The primary tools of death were spoons, forks and bowls, in that order.
--Source:  Surgeon General Of The United States, Overweight and Obesity: Health Consequences

Banning guns from responsible citizens is as effective in stopping murders as banning spoons from responsible citizens is in stopping obesity. 

In both instances, shouldn't our efforts be directed towards the individual with the tool, and not towards the tool itself?

Still, if we're going to ban something, shouldn't we start with spoons?  They certainly kill a lot more people.  Including kids -

If we can save only one child, isn't a ban on spoons worth it?
 Untrained, irresponsible use of spoons can lead to sudden "brain freeze" and death -

Careful!  It's loaded...
 All we are asking for is reasonable spoon control laws.  Stop the insanity! -

Why would you ever need more than one spoon?
Large capacity spoons?  They're just a disaster in the making -

Think of the carnage that would occur in your frozen treats aisle.

We now return you to your Matlock Marathon...

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Copyright 2014 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, February 6, 2014

Embrace The Shadows

I awoke this morning to this story -
Here is one of the most alarming signs that the U.S. economy is still far from healthy:  More than one in six men between 25 and 54 years old – the prime working years – aren’t working. That’s 10.4 million men, more than double the population of the city of Los Angeles.
Holy crap.  Seventeen percent of all men in that "sweet spot" of earning years aren't working.  Been there, done that.

From the Preface of my upcoming book -
I wrote this book because I see so many people struggling to make a buck.  Some of this struggle is self-imposed, some of it is because of the layer upon layer of regulation “society” has dumped on us – making it near impossible to earn a decent living for a day’s work.

In 2008, I found myself unemployed.  After 31 years in banking, I was laid off.  Here I was, a late-40’s, Executive Vice President, looking for work.  I soon realized that the salary I had formerly commanded was not going to be found any time soon.

A couple of things dawned on me:  (1) There were too many, “young bucks” out there that could fill my old job for a lot less money, and more importantly (2) I never wanted to be at the mercy of someone else to earn a good living.
 This post isn't about developing Multiple Streams of Income (which you should be doing).  It's about having and keeping the resources you've earned with the goal of making yourself self-sufficient - not dependent upon any other entity for your well-being.

It ain't gonna be easy.

We hear the phrase, "Get them out of the shadows," when people are talking about granting amnesty to illegal aliens.  It's a propaganda tactic used by socialists to engender sympathy for some poor, huddled mass of humanity that just wants make their life better.  According to their Utopian view, no one is harmed by allowing these illegals the opportunity for a better life.

Anyone with two brain cells and a command of fifth grade math can see that's a lie.  All it does is flood our job markets with cheap labor, driving down wages - not surprisingly resulting in calls for a "living wage".  Clearly, it is their actions that caused the drop in wages.  They now want the "evil, greedy business owners" to finance their actions via tax increases.

The result in the real world is that businesses lay off employees, or don't hire as many as they could use.  For example, my businesses pay tens of thousands of dollars in various taxes each and every year.  Income tax, sales tax, business tax, licensing fees, use tax, and so many state, city and county fees, I can't list them all.

Due entirely as a result of the myriad taxes and fees - which are near impossible for a business owner to track - I have to pay two separate CPA firms (one for this business and one for the precious metals business) to let me know who I must pay and when.  That's several thousand MORE dollars I must pay to people who keep abreast of all of this government regulation to ensure I don't miss one, and end up paying fines and penalties as a result.

I pay all of this money to government agencies instead of to employees as wages.  I must follow the rules, and pay for the privilege of doing so.  The government then gives those dollars to others - who DO NOT follow the rules - so that their lives can be better.

Such a deal, huh?

These policies are directly taking one group of people out of the shadows, and forcing another group in.  Instead of either group prospering and contributing to society, they now both become dependent upon The State for their basic needs.

Freedom - real freedom - is dependent upon your ability to own property.  It's obviously not the only measure of freedom, but it is a key component.  Without the knowledge that what you own is yours to do with as you wish, you're not truly free.

Property can be a car, your wages, a home, a boat, some land - anything for which you expend effort or money to legally acquire.

Our various levels of government are working hard to make the point that you don't own squat.  You own what they let you own.  Nothing more.  And should they decide they want what you have, they'll just come and take it.  Legally, of course.

This whole welfare state that they've been building is costly.  More costly than even the socialists had anticipated (as a group, they've got a pretty poor historical record for economic forecasting).  Just look at what has been reported this past week alone -

IRA confiscation: it’s happening

U.S., Canada forge deal in global anti-tax dodger push

The Countdown To The Nationalization Of Retirement Savings Has Begun

Is your money safe at the bank? An economist says ‘no’ and withdraws his

That last article, by the way, was from the uber-conservative, TEA Party lovin', PBS network.  Kind of scary to me when The Opposition prints an article on a subject I've ranted about for years.

They are in overdrive plugging "loopholes" and setting the stage for a massive confiscation of your money.

"OK, OK.  I get it.  They own my ass.  So what?  What can I do about it?"

Embrace the shadows.  If they don't know you own it, they can't tax it.... or take it.

As of right now, here is a partial list of assets you can own anonymously and legally -

Precious metals
Precious gems
Ammunition (in most states)
Guns (in some states)

There are hundreds, if not thousands of tangible "investment" assets you can own.

What's the down-side?  Well, you're not going to be making any interest income on your deposit accounts.  Not really a material point in the current economy.

Perhaps more importantly, you must store and secure them yourself, and do so properly.  Cash can burn, ammo can go bad, guns can rust, PMs can crash.  And all of it can be stolen by non-sanctioned criminals. 

So, be sure you don't, "keep all of your eggs in one basket."  Have your assets properly stored, and stored in different locations.  Read up on caching.  You are responsible for the safekeeping of your property.

Remember:  Acquisition takes some planning.  If you're buying your ammo online, there's an electronic breadcrumb trail leading right back to your home.  Same goes with gold, silver, gems and jewelry.

Use cash or barter, ONLY.

And for God's sake, be sure that you get a receipt for as much of your property as possible.  Have it made out to, "cash" or better yet, your first and middle name - not your last name.  Include serial numbers, and certification numbers (or mint dates and face amounts for coins) whenever possible.

Why?  You then have a leg to stand on if TPTB confiscate your property.  It may not work, but without a receipt, you're guaranteed your property won't be returned.

Also, with precious metals in particular, when they're sold, you must report your gain or loss on your tax returns.  Without a receipt, you've got no basis for your tax calculation.

In the end, if all or some of your property becomes illegal to own - ala the 1934 gold confiscation - by having your assets in the shadows, you can make the choice to comply or not.  You can retain the property which you legally acquired, or you can voluntarily register or gift it to your government.

You have the freedom to determine how your property is used.  You can spend it on your retirement.  You can use it to start or operate a business.  You can trade it to acquire other assets.

But you've got to have it to use it.  And you can do that if you embrace the shadows...

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Copyright 2014 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, February 4, 2014

Tuesday Turbulence

Shocked.  Shocked, I say...

The headline says it all:  Health law could mean fewer full-time workers, CBO says.

Yeah, who woulda thunk it that a business that was required to pay for the health insurance of all employees that work 30 or more hours a week, would cut their hours down to 29 hours?

Seriously, does this administration have ANYONE that works for them who ever had to meet a payroll?

The CBO says that the equivalent of upwards of 2.5 million jobs will be lost.  Unreal.

How's that for 'Hope and Change' you mouth-breathing soft-heads?

Honey do list?......

Very cool post on 36 DIY Weekend Projects for Preparedness and Survival.  A lot of great projects.  The one on making a smoker from pallets for under $100 caught my eye.

They've got one for a storage can rotation rack that's pretty slick as well.

Well isn't THAT special?....

It seems the The Supreme's know something we don't know.
Justice Antonin Scalia predicts that the Supreme Court will eventually authorize another a wartime abuse of civil rights such as the internment camps for Japanese-Americans during World War II. 
"You are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again," Scalia told the University of Hawaii law school while discussing Korematsu v. United States, the ruling in which the court gave its imprimatur to the internment camps.
Uhm, need more reason for not having your pistols, rifles, shotguns and ammo registered?

Oh, and didn't one of the recent NDAA's designate the United States as a battlefield?  I'm sure it's just a coincidence.  Really.  Go back to your Matlock marathon.

Show me your papers...

Good article on What Documents Do You Need In Your Bugout Bag?  Very exhaustive and thorough.  It includes a nice list that's got a number of documents I never thought about.

  • Concealed carry laws for states you may pass through
  • Eyeglass prescription
  • Medication prescriptions
  • Medical history

It also contains some ideas on how to store the data, and in what form to have it (paper, electronic).  A good read.  Pay heed to security, especially with documents that contain information that could be used for identity theft, such as date of birth, social security number, etc.

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Copyright 2014 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, February 3, 2014

Turn Your Head And Cough

Perhaps the weakest link in my preps (probably a tie with my poor preps for communications with friends and family after an event) has to do with defeating illnesses that have already occurred.  For instance, how to identify and fight a staph infection.

I'm good on the prevention side.  I have a sufficient supplies of wet-wipes, hand cleaner, toilet paper, soap, detergent, and other cleansers.  In addition, I have a large quantities of iodine sanitizer and acid-based sanitizers.  I have these because of my brewing hobby.  They are used by any business (or hobbyist) that needs sanitized equipment to keep the "bugs" at a minimum.

Not a bad idea to have a bottle or two in your preps as well....

I'm also pretty good in the wound-dressing department.  Sufficient supplies of gloves, bandages, suture kits, tape, saline for wound irrigation, and antibiotic creams.

My weakness is in identifying illnesses that occur despite my best efforts, and more importantly, knowing how to treat them.   For them, I've basically got over the counter medications.  Cold and flu pills, aspirin, ibuprofen, Benadryl, cortisone cream, Tums, Pepto-Bismol and the like.

I've got a small stash of prescription drugs held-over from past doctor visits, plus some Fish Mox - amoxicillin - for antibiotics.  FWIW, I chose amoxicillin, as I know all of my family members are NOT allergic to it, and have not taken it in amounts in the past to render it ineffective.  Plus, it's got the longest shelf-life of any of them.  Yes, I have the treatment regimen printed and located with the pills.

So, TSHFT, no doctors are available, and someone in my group gets a rash on their torso and has a slight fever, what do I do?  How do I diagnose this?  Obviously, I don't want to treat one thing in a manner that either wastes resources, or makes the condition worse.

If a wound becomes infected, how is it fixed?  How would you practice this ahead of time?

What if you came down with one of these, "10 Diseases That Will Become Farm More Common After The Collapse"?  None sound like fun, and most are deadly.

[Note:  Their suggestion of a bucket of bleach solution outside a door to dip your hands into is a great idea, and is one that we brewers follow - with the previously mentioned iodine sanitizer.  Really keeps the bugs to a minimum.]

What resources are out there to help with the diagnosis and treatment of illness, injury or disease?  I'm thinking primarily text-based.  I know this crosses over into Medical Doctor territory, but there must be resources out there.

WebMD has a kind of cool tool called, "Symptom Checker" that walks you through a series of questions.  It will then give you a list of probabilities, which then how to treat each of the possibilities.  It's a great tool, but I want to have something I can hold in my hands, and that doesn't rely on electronics or Internet access.

The only booklets I'm able to find are for mental illnesses.  I've got alcohol and hand-cuffs for that ;-)

What do you have in your preps stores?

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Copyright 2014 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, February 1, 2014

Tactical Light Input

I've always been on the fence regarding using a flashlight with a firearm.  My gut says it's not a good idea, as it gives a bad guy a point of aim in an otherwise dark situation.

But lots of people swear by them.

I was reading this article about 4 different ways to use a light with your gun.  The "Harries Technique" is the one you always see on TV cop shows - with the light held in the support hand, with the wrists crossed like in the picture.

I know they can be used to blind a bad guy, but I just keep coming back to the thought that it's a big target for the bad guy to aim at.

I'm a big fan of laser grips, and I guess that could have the same drawbacks, but I see them more as assisting with hitting your target when you're unable to line up your sights.

Any input?  I get questioned often in my gun classes, and I don't have any good answers.  Are they a good idea?  Have you used one?  Which technique do you use?

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Copyright 2014 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.