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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Emergency Shelters

Most folks that are preppers know about the "Rule of 3's" -

>>You can live three minutes without air 
>>You can live three hours without shelter 
>>You can live three days without water 
>>You can live three weeks without food

How many people put a lot of thought into the second item - the one about shelter?  People may think about it, but few acquire the skills and equipment necessary to git 'er done.

What elements should a shelter possess?  The only "must have" requirement is that it protects you from the weather.  Many shelters also provide you with security from predators, but unless your camp is in the middle of a pack of wolves, your focus should generally be on protection from the weather.

Also, when thinking about types of shelters, don't think it only means a structure.  A poncho or garbage bag are shelters as well.  My BOB/GHB contains a number of large, heavy duty garbage bags, Mylar "emergency" blankets and light-duty tarps.  And LOTS of paracord.  These are all small, light and don't take up much space, but will at least give me some short-term shelter in an emergency situation.

There are a couple of scenarios for which we're making shelters.  The first are shelters that are designed to protect you from cold and wet.  Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops below 95F.  If you become wet and the weather is cold, your chances of survival drop significantly.

In these types of environments, we want shelters that keep us dry and provide for the retention of our body heat or external heat sources to keep us warm.

Trash bag poncho

10 things to know about building a natural shelter

Wilderness shelters

Emergency tarp shelter (video)

The second type of shelter are those designed to protect you from the heat.  Hyperthermia is the over-heating of your body, generally to temperatures between 100F to 104F.  You get so hot, your body's natural ability to cool itself fails.

So, we want to shield ourselves from the heat.  Since we all know that heat rises, this logically means that we want to stay low, as well as out of direct sunlight.

Shelter in the desert

One of the key things to note is that whenever possible, the part of the structure facing the sun will be more effective if it's insulated.  And remember, air is a good insulator.

So, if you've got a single tarp that is acting as a sun break, you'll see a 15F to 20F drop in temperature.  Set up two tarps - one over the other with an air space between them, and you can easily double the temperature drop.

Click To Enlarge
Also, don't forget natural structures, trees, caves, gullies, etc.

Lastly, know how to tie knots.  Check out this post ("All Tied Up In Knots") which also contains a link to an earlier post ("Knotty Problems").


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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. www.BisonRMA.com

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Let's Do the Swirl, Kids!

In my morning readings, I ran across a couple of articles that don't give me the warm-and-fuzzies.

First, one of the Too Big To Fail banks has once again, not passed a regulator-mandated 'Stress Test' -
The Federal Reserve dealt an embarrassing blow to Citigroup on Wednesday, attacking the bank’s financial projections for its sprawling operations and denying the bank’s plan to increase dividends and repurchase stock.
They've failed the test 2 out of the last 3 times the test has been done.

Long story short, banks must do periodic testing of their loan portfolios that show what either rising or dropping interest rates would do to their earnings.  Back in my banking days, we had to do the test assuming a 1-, 2- or 3-percent rise or drop in interest rates.

If you don't pass muster, they regulators can impose capital controls (tell you how you can spend your money) and require the bank make changes to how it does business.

While this is an important tool for regulators to use to judge the risk at a bank, it really is moot with  regards to the true stability of a bank.  As I've mentioned before, the key metric is the strength (valuation) of the assets securing your loans.  As we all know, those assets are grotesquely over-valued - as banks are now allowed to carry those loans on their books based upon their outstanding loan balance, and not the value of the underlying property securing the loans.

This is pure insanity, but the regulators know that if they didn't allow this, huge numbers of banks would be technically insolvent, and there would be runs on the banks.
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The second story was yet another story about how our historic model of the federal government bailing out failed banks is coming to an end
Due to their sheer size, the economy can ill-afford for these institutions to be washed away in times of financial crisis, with critics fearing that the system has become dependent on taxpayer bailouts to keep the economy afloat.
The new research shows "it is improper to ask the taxpayer to underwrite the non-commercial banking operations of a complex bank holding company," Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher told Reuters in an interview.
As the article correctly notes, this impending mess is due to the Federal Reserve and Congress allowing for the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 to be ignored.  This depression-era law required that commercial banks (protected by FDIC insurance) not be allowed to own investment banking operations (buying and selling stocks).  

One is old-time banking and savings, and the other is flat-out gambling.  In the early 1990's, Glass-Steagall was effectively eliminated, and the FDIC insurance covered banks that also gambled in the stock market.

After the 2008 crash, the law was changed, and the onus is now on YOU.  What the Fed is saying is, it's now against the law for the FDIC to bail-out the big banks, and you, the depositor (creditor, in the eyes of the government) are now left holding the bag if a bank goes teats-up, and it has insufficient assets to cover the liquidation.

Are you listening?  The powers that be are trying to tell you things are rocky.  Few are listening.
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As I noted in a post a couple weeks ago, ("Got Savings?  Maybe not for long.") this freedom of banks to invest in stocks and bonds from around the world has made them vulnerable to economic shocks from anywhere in the world -
The world is one big, interconnected marketplace.  Our banks lend to their banks.  Their banks buy bonds in our banks.  All of them buy government bonds.  All of them are infected with the same malady.
It's like having sex with someone you just met.  "You don't look like you have herpes, but did your previous partners have herpes?"  Who's your bank's been sleeping with...?
It's not just our economy that can bring them down - it's economies from around the world.

Get educated, then act.

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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. www.BisonRMA.com

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Freedom of Association and Liberty

I read this article, Unlearning Liberty to the Detriment of Us All, and it made me very sad.  Sulky, even.  We've lost so much in such a short period of time.
I’ve also witnessed firsthand the mob mentality from people of all sides and the wrongheaded belief that somehow people have a right not to be offended and be shielded from views that might cause them “distress” or “emotional harm.”
My standard definition of true liberty goes along the lines of, "I can do whatever I wish as long as I don't infringe upon the rights of others while doing so."  I can do what I want, say what I want and associate with whom I choose.  If I 'cross the line', we have laws - supposedly based upon the Constitution - that are put in place to settle disputes, such as when you think what I'm doing is infringing upon a right of yours.

Rights or privileges granted or prohibited in the Constitution may not be modified by the federal, state or local governments unless these rights or privileges are changed via the amendment process.

At the federal level, as long as the constitution does not specifically grant, guarantee or prohibit an action, the bulk of the "rule making" happens at the state and local government levels.  Here are a couple of examples to illustrate this point:

Consuming, growing and selling marijuana:  Since there is no specific mention of the federal government's ability to restrict the consumption or growing/manufacture of any product, they have no jurisdiction in the matter whatsoever.  Their only legal standing would be the ability to decide whether they wanted to restrict or encourage the sale of marijuana between states, with Indian tribes and with foreign countries, per the commerce clause.

Since there is no specific prohibition in the Constitution, then per the tenth amendment, the entirety of any power to regulate marijuana would fall upon the individual states.  It a state chose to not provide any regulation, then the individual citizen (or their elected local government) would have those powers.

Somehow, we have federal marijuana laws that make you a felon for producing, distributing, possessing or consuming this plant you can grow in your backyard.

This is an egregious infringement upon our liberty.
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On the other side of the coin, we have the issue of owning and possessing a gun:  The second amendment specifically states that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.  So, unlike the marijuana example where there is no mention of a specific right, with guns, our Constitution specifically states that no level of government may place restrictions upon free individuals wishing to own and carry firearms.

Again, somehow we have laws - all the way down to the local level - that restrict access, possession and the ability to purchase firearms.

This, too, is an egregious infringement upon our liberty.
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The idea behind the Constitution is that power should be local.  It grants specific, limited powers to the federal government.  And in case anyone is unclear on this concept, the framers included the aforementioned tenth amendment.

So, in theory, if I don't like a law that is passed by politicians, I can vote them out of office, and get someone in there that thinks as I do.  If not enough people agree with me, I have the freedom to go somewhere else.  I can choose with whom I associate.

I can easily move from town to town.  It's a bit more difficult to move from state to state, and is incredibly difficult to move out of the country.  The Constitution was crafted to give us the ability to easily associate with similarly thinking groups and individuals.  We have 50 states, and each is supposed to be its own sovereign entity empowered to establish its own degree of limitation or liberty within its borders.

If I think the marijuana laws are too loose in Alaska, Colorado, California or Washington, I can move to Utah.  And vice versa.

But when the federal government passes a law, I only realistically have the option to comply or not.  Be a law abiding citizen or not.  Even when the law is unconstitutional.

I can't realistically revoke my association with my nation.  So I'm stuck.
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This whole idea of liberty and freedom of association is supposed to have one set of rules for government, and one set for individuals.

Governments, being of, by and for the people must serve all citizens.  Regardless of your gender, race, religious beliefs, physical and mental abilities, and economic standing, you have equal access, accommodation and service from your government.

Private citizens, on the other hand, are supposed to be able to associate with whomever they choose.

As we all know too well, neither of these rules is followed.  It's not even close.

Governments bestow preferential treatment based upon your race, gender, religious beliefs, physical and mental abilities and economic standing.  And they're not shy about publicizing this fact.

Governments - by using public resources which include my tax dollars - reduce my personal liberty when they decide to give those resources to others without my permission.

Governments then compel us to associate with others with whom we may not wish to associate.  If I own a private business, I may not say post a sign saying, "No disabled allowed!" or "No whites allowed!" or "No women allowed!".  Why not?  If I voluntarily choose to limit my customer base, what concern is that of the government?

In fact, if I were to be so stupid as to want to do this, I'd actually be opening up a market opportunity for someone else to fill and make money.  But then that would take effort on their part.  It's just better and easier to infringe on my rights of association.

BUT, if I'm a special-category person - tagged 'disadvantaged' by government - such as being female - I am granted super-citizen powers.  I see 'women only' gyms.  I see 'women only' gun classes, and 'women only' gun clubs, and 'women only' shooting excursions and 'women only' self-defense classes.  Why is this allowed?

Why is this intolerance tolerated?

And don't even get me started on the president's new program, "My Brother's Keeper".  Perhaps the most blatantly racist, special-interest program since the Civil War.  This was rich -
For decades, opportunity has disproportionately lagged behind for boys and young men of color – particularly in our African American and Latino communities.
The last time I looked, the president himself was a person of color.

Because of the color of my children's skin, they are not able to participate in - associate with - this government-sponsored program which is proudly featured on the website of the president of the United States.


By the way, this image - the 'No Whites Allowed' - is tied to a government elementary school in Colorado.  They had a tutoring program for 'children of color' only.  Maybe the president could borrow the image for his little program.

So, if you're special enough, the rules don't apply.  You can bar certain demographics from your business, and government will even create a special race- or gender- or economic-based program just for you.

Ain't America grand?


Accept The Challenge

I wrote earlier, "I can't realistically revoke my association with my nation.  So I'm stuck."

I've got one word for you:  Adapt.

At the federal level, nothing is going to change in the near future.  It's just not.  We have more 'takers' voting and since they figured out they can vote themselves our money, we've been screwed.  Our ONLY long-term hope is that our entire social and economic system collapses.  Cheery, huh?  I'm not sitting around twiddling my thumbs until that happens.

Right now, you can still vote with your feet.  This is the single most effective tactic you can employ.  You hurt the beast where it hurts the most - in the pocketbook.  You can move to states that still respect your personal liberty, and which are increasingly telling the federal government to shove it.

Check this out - Freedom In The 50 States - (move your cursor around on the map below for various rankings) -



I'm fortunate that all of the states I'm considering for relocation are in the top half of the freedom scale.  My current home state of California is only less free than New York.  Shocking, I know.

You can then better affect your state and local governments with liberty ideals.  You can make the state 'uncomfortable' for takers.

Nevada is a great example.  You can get welfare assistance, but only for a limited time.  Next door in California, the sky's the limit on getting free food, clothing, housing, education, cell phones, spending money, legal assistance - you name it, we've got it!  All, for the asking.

Soup's on, but I'll be gone!

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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. www.BisonRMA.com

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Dollar: Understand What They've Done, and You Can Prepare

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and money system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”
-- Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, 1930's

Amen, brother.  What's worse, is that it's gotten worse! 

I had a customer come into my precious metals store the other day, and we got to talking about our monetary system.  The conversation wandered into the US gold reserves.  He made a comment along the lines of, "Well, at least the dollar is still backed by the tons of gold we've got in reserves."

I sighed.  Deeply.

I explained to him that we effectively came off the Gold Standard in 1934, and all semblance of precious metals backing our money was dissolved in August of 1971 when Richard Nixon made it official.  Tricky Dick said that, going forward, the dollar would only be backed by the full faith and credit of the US government.

That faith has not served us well.  A dollar from 1971 is now worth 19 cents.  When compared to the dollar from 1934, it's worth 4 cents.

Woo hoo!
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So, how'd we get into this inflationary mess, and how do we get out of it?

Most people think that the money supply is soley created by the Federal Reserve Bank.  Not so.  The majority of dollars are created by banks.

Huh?

Yep.  Let's say you deposit $10,000 into your bank.  When you make a deposit at a bank, they are able to lend out 90% of that to a borrower.  That borrower then takes that money, deposits it, and the second bank can lend out 90% of THAT money.  This repeats again, and again.

After about 100 "turns" of this "lend 90% of the amount deposited" occurs - presto chango - that $10,000 turns into $100,000!

It's called the Fractional Reserve System - banks only need to have a fraction of the amount they lend be held in reserve.  Nice scam, huh?

You may say, "Not every dollar that is lent is then deposited - companies spend it on goods, services and salaries."  True, for a short period of time.  But eventually, every dollar gets deposited in the bank.

The only exception to this are freaks like me who bury dollars in jars in the backyard!  And even those are eventually re-introduced into the monetary base, and end up in someone's deposit account.  Ready to be lent yet again.
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The problem with this system is that the borrower base must continually grow.  Yeah, it's just like a Ponzi Scheme.  What would happen if people and businesses stopped borrowing?  Worse yet, what if they also started paying off their loans?

Obviously, it would be bad for banks, as they'd have fewer dollars lent out (people spending their savings to pay down debt), and that would be a reduction in their interest income.

Surprise!  That's what's happening.  This is exactly why we're seeing most (if not all) of the Too Big To Fail banks doing massive cuts in their mortgage origination departments.  Many regional and local banks are in the same boat.

It's called 'deleveraging' - America is trying to get out of debt.  The message that Debt is Death is sinking in.

Click To Enlarge
If you look at the individual "sticks" in the graph, you'll notice that the only borrower that is growing is... the one identified by the orange lines is... well, you know.  It's the US government, via the Treasury Department.

This is doubly bad, as the interest paid on federal debt is paid by us with our taxes.  Yep, more of your money being taken to pay someone else.  Such a deal.

What sucks even more - for the Treasury - is that people and governments are starting to shy away from buying our debt.  This is happening at the very same time that the Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed) is instituting The Taper of its Quantitative Easing (QE) program.

With QE, the Fed literally creates money at a keyboard, and buys Treasury bonds. The Taper is the Fed slowing down the amount of Treasury debt they buy.

The Fed had been buying $85 billion a month (about $1 trillion a year) in Treasury debt.  The federal government used this money to fund the trillion dollar annual budget deficit.  In round numbers, the US brings in $2.5 trillion a year in taxes, and spends $3.5 trillion.  They need that trillion dollars a year in debt to pay for all the crap they give away each year.

The Taper dropped that monthly amount down to $65 billion, and new Fed Head Janet Yellin just announced this week that it's being further tapered down to $55 billion a month.  Oh, and only half of that will go to Treasury debt.

How is the federal government going to fill that budget deficit hole?

They must either reduce their spending (yeah, right), increase taxes (a distinct possibility) or borrow more money.  Since raising taxes takes payoffs, negotiations and time  - time Barry O doesn't have - they MUST borrow.

Ok, but who will do the lending?  Interest rates suck butt, so there aren't a lot of takers outside of the US.  The Fed may temporarily allow interest rates to rise to attract more money, but not for long.  That means the Treasury will have to pay higher interest payments to fund Barry's extravagances, and that can't last for long.

It's going to fall to the current Lender Of Last Resort - the Federal Reserve bank.  They will have to dump the Taper, and start QE4 (or will it be QE5?).  There's no other realistic option.
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What will that do?

As we saw this week, when Yellin announced a more aggressive Taper, the precious metals markets took a hit.  Theoretically, by the Fed producing fewer dollars, those that currently exist will not lose any more buying power.  Thus, a strong dollar equals weak precious metals prices.  We saw gold drop over $50 an ounce this week.

So, if they reverse course later this year, logic says precious metals should rise.  Will that happen - for sure?

Hell if I know, but I'm personally betting my own money that's what's going to happen.  I don't see the Treasury being able to hold out much longer than late-summer or early-fall before the Fed's got to crank up the keyboard and start buying low-interest rate Treasury's.
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Here's a scary scenario:  As the Fed dicks with interest rates - upwards - over the next few months, it could spin us into a deflationary cycle.  Yeah, deflationary.

As we've seen, people aren't borrowing now, and with rates going higher, even fewer will be able to afford to do so.  Economic momentum could come screeching to a halt, and we could swirl downwards like a turd in the bowl.  The only way out would be a renewed QE program.  Even more aggressive than the current version.  The intent would be - as it is now - to offset a deflationary economic trend with inflation monetary policy.

The only potential saving grace would be that the entire world is sucking wind, and many countries are kicking up noise for their own brand of QE.  That would make their currencies weaker against the dollar.

That'd make us the cutest dog in the ugly dog contest, and the dollar wouldn't take such a bad beating.
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My bet with precious metals isn't a short-termed one.  I'm in this for the long haul, as eventually, real economics will come to bear, and this whole house of cards WILL come tumbling down.

The only real wealth will be that carried in tangible assets - real property, equipment, supplies and precious metals.  My intent is to convert my fiat currency into these tangible assets during the coming dip (deflationary cycle).
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To you:  Talk to me.  Tell me I'm wrong, and why I'm wrong.  What economic or political event could crash this party?  We've got the Russian crap going on right now, but I don't get the sense it's going to escalate.  It seems more like peacocks strutting, than like rams getting ready to really butt heads.

I think the only way that happens is if Russia and the US see economic value in going to war with each other.  I just don't see that happening, and if it does, the form in which I keep my money will likely be irrelevant.

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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. www.BisonRMA.com

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wednesday WTF?

The First Lady Arrives in China
So I'm driving to a business meeting, and hear on the radio that the First Lady is heading off for a trip to China.  OK, I didn't know Barry was on his way to see the Great Wall, and I'm good with the family members - even the kids - tagging along for the ride.

Seriously.  We're already paying a ton of bucks, and adding family members to the trip is no big deal.

The reporter on the radio then indicated that's not what's happening.  Michelle is going solo.  Actually, she's also taking her mom and kids.  WTF?

Immediately, I have a number of things gush into my consciousness:

  • How much is this going to set us back?  Who is paying for this?  
  • I'm sure it's us, do we always pay for vacations of First Ladies who want to literally travel around the world with their daughters and mother?
  • I'm sure there will be some "cover story" about why this visit is so urgent, but just like when I worked for big corporations, did anyone suggest a Skype or GoToMeeting get together to save a couple of bucks?
  • Where are the Occupy [fill in the blank] soft-heads, protesting about how the elites in our government are pissing away tax dollars when they could instead be given to them for new underwear and a upgraded bong?
I swear, all of that went through my mind.... with the exception of the welfare underwear and bong .  That was just bonus material for you guys.

I get home, warm up the interwebs and grab the first Google News article.  

Seriously, when does the revolution start?

The link was to Yahoo, who carried an AP story titled, "First Lady ready to push education on China visit."

So that answers one of the questions.  The cover story - the horsecrap being used to plaster over the fact that we're sending an unelected person, plus her mom, daughters and entourage on vacation - is the ever-so-important issue of education.  Could you be a bit more vague?  Is the First Socialist there to give or get the education?  

Maybe the Chinese are giving all emerging socialist states free refresher courses.  I dunno.  The article didn't say.

I dig a bit into the story, and laugh.  Out loud.
The first lady is scheduled to address American and Chinese students at Peking University on Saturday about the importance of study abroad...
Let me get this straight:  She's going to tell the American students - that have already seen the benefits of studying abroad all by themselves - that there's a benefit to studying abroad.

She couldn't have sent them an email?  Really?
She'll also hold a virtual session with American students around the world.
"I need a clean-up on Aisle 5.  Looks like another brain exploded."

She's traveling to China at great public expense and no public purpose.  And when she gets there, she's going to have a GoToMeeting session with Americans around the world.

This is surreal.
The trip also will allow the first lady to make up for the fact that she opted to stay in Washington rather than meet with her Chinese counterpart in California last year.
Oh.  Well, then.  Disregard all of the snide remarks.  I didn't realize we owed her one.  My bad.

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BREAKING NEWS!

ABC/CBS/CNN/MSNBC rushed photographers to Zuccotti Park - the site of the famous Occupy Wall Street movement which spread to small towns and big cities across the nation in a wave of unity against the social and economic inequality in our country.

This stunning photo captures the soul... the very essence of the anger these people feel towards this unmitigated waste of taxpayer dollars -


Shhhh... let's not wake them.  More news at 11.  Back to you, Chip and Juanita....
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Quit yer bitchin'...






And then ya die.  I'm sure it's the first of many...


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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. www.BisonRMA.com

Monday, March 17, 2014

Home Canned French Onion Soup

I LOVES me some French onion soup.  One of my all-time favorites.  That deep, rich onion soup topped with a big crouton, all covered with a tangy cheese.  Nothing better!

I recently found myself with a bunch of onions ready to go bad, and some very pricey meat that had gotten freezer burned.  I decided to put them together before they were wasted, and add to my food storage at the same time.

First, I had to make a stock.  I had purchased a whole beef filet, cut it into individual steaks, and threw them in the freezer.  For some reason, one of the bags with a number of fillets was NOT vacuum sealed.  I forgot about the meat, and it got freezer burn.  The meat was still eatable, but not really as a nice filet.

It would become the base of the beef stock.


I had about 2 pounds of meat, cut it into nice-sized chunks, then threw it in a large stock pot to brown.  When browning beef, you want to make sure you leave enough space in the pan for the juices to cook off.  Otherwise, you're braising the beef instead of browning it.  The browned meat adds a better flavor to the stock, IMO.


I would brown up a batch, removed it from the pot, and brown up the next.  Since I wanted to make 10 pints of soup, I added 12 pints of cold water to allow for some evaporation.  I then brought this to a boil, added some salt and pepper, a bay leaf then dropped the temperature to a simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

I now put my attention to the star of the show, the onions.  I had just over 4 lbs.  I sliced them about 1/4 inch wide, and put them into a heavy pan with some oil and medium heat.



The key is to cook them down very slowly.  The natural sugars caramelize and really bring out the unique flavor of the soup.  Also, I took all of the ends and some chunks of the onions, and tossed them into the stock pot to add more flavor to the stock.

After about an hour, I had a nice, deep brown colored pile of onions (they actually looked darker brown in real life - I swear!)-


By this time, the stock was done as well.  I skimmed off the fats and proteins than had bubbled to the surface.  I tasted the stock, and added a bit more salt and pepper -


I then took my cleaned and prepared canning jars, and added about 1/4 cup of the cooked onions to each jar.  About this time, I was really wishing I had doubled the amount of onions I had cooked down!

Next, I put the funnel and a fine mesh strainer (to keep out chunks of meat and onion) over the jars and ladled in the broth.


I filled the jars to within a half inch of the rim, put on my cleaned and prepared lids and rings, and pressure canned them at 10 pounds for 75 minutes (be sure you adjust your time and pounds depending on your elevation) -



Yeah, baby!  The pressure canning "fluffed up" the onions, but I still wish I had added more...

I made some homemade croutons out of some stale bread that I slathered with butter and Parmesan cheese, and threw in the oven for 15 minutes or so - just enough to add some color -


The final assembly is a pint of the soup, then the crouton, then a sharp, tangy cheese - Swiss or (as was my case) Gruy√®re.  Pop it in the oven to melt and voila!


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I must have miscounted the amount of water I added to the stock pot, as I had a good quart or so left over.  No worries.  I took the stock, the beef that was left over from the stock, and added a couple of diced potatoes (pretty finely diced 1/4 inch) and boiled that all together for a half hour and had a hell of a meal with the left overs of the left overs!

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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. www.BisonRMA.com

Friday, March 14, 2014

Discrimination Watch: Gun Laws Applied Per 14th Amendment?

I swear, one of my brothers is trying to kill me.  He sent me an email reminding me about this case.  He knows my blood pressure will go through the roof!

Many of you may have heard stories about a New Yorker who was a strong proponent of the SAFE Act that was passed in their state.  It was one of the knee-jerk laws passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting.

Since he was part of an anti-violence group that mentored in local schools, our hero worked tirelessly to get it enacted, especially the provision with regards to guns on school campuses.  The new law bumps the penalty from a misdemeanor to a felony.

In early February, he then went and got himself caught with a gun - on campus, no less.  Uh oh.
School 97 Harvey Austin Elementary School was put in lockdown shortly after 4 p.m. Feb. 6 when the school office received an anonymous call that there was a man with a gun on or near the school property on Sycamore Street. About 60 students were in the building for after-school programs.
About 15 patrol cars responded to the scene, and the lockdown ended about four hours later when Ferguson was arrested.
Funny how the article conveniently forgot to mention what a zealot Mr. Ferguson was for the enhanced penalties.  Haha, funny.

He's pleaded not-guilt.  Says he forgot he had the gun (DOH!) and it was an honest mistake.  The judge in the case is getting buried in letters of support for the guy.

Let's review one of the relevant Constitutional issues here - the Fourteenth Amendment.  In part - 
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Yeah.  The 'equal protection' clause.  It means that everyone in that state MUST be treated the same when they break the same law.  A very simple concept, that is stringently enforced by courts across the land.

Stop snickering!

He's black.  He's a liberal.  He's a community activist.

He's gonna get a 'pass'.

To be fair, if he were a white, conservative investment banker, he'd probably end up with the same sentence, he'd just use another route to get there.

He's going to get a David Gregory Reprieve.  The elites always do.
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dis·crim·i·na·tion
Treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.
It's us middle-class Americans that would take the kick in the teeth were this to happen to us.  Felony, time in jail, gun rights stripped, voter rights stripped, community service, monetary penalty.

They'd probably come over and kick your dog just for good measure.

We don't have the political or financial clout to make this go away.

So those of us watching this - and we are watching - will stew in the injustice, and will make note.  It will give us yet another reason to withdraw from this discriminatory segment of society.  It will give us more incentive to take our brains, money and talents, and go where we're welcomed.

We'll financially bleed them dry.  That's how we hurt them.  Someone's gotta pay for their crap, and it won't be us.

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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. www.BisonRMA.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Got Savings? Maybe Not For Long

Funny how the US Mainstream Media has been quiet on this.  Yeah, funny.

The media tells us how great things are here in the US and around the world.  Just look at the stock market soar!

Then we hear of RadioShack closing a quarter of its stores.  And Staples closing 10%.  Every major mortgage originator is laying off staff.  We look at local malls and traffic is lighter than normal, and there are many more closed stores.

Sure, there are exceptions, but in general, the economy is still in decline, regardless of the Happy Talk heard in the media.

The same thing is happening around the world.  In Germany, there are renewed calls for Quantitative Easing - just like here ("Top German body calls for QE blitz to avert deflation trap in Europe").  Apparently, everything isn't all strudel and pretty little frauleins.

Here's what's got me concerned, though.  Their banks.  All across Europe.  They are cranking up the volume on that most dreaded of government confiscations:  Bail-ins.

As a reminder, when they do a bail-in (as opposed to a bail-out), when your bank goes teats-up, YOU pay the bill for the failure via confiscated deposits.  In fact, ever since the Dodd-Frank bill was passed, it is illegal for the federal government to ever bail out a bank again.

You, as a depositor, are considered a creditor to the bank, and it makes your deposits a free target for the liquidator of the bank.  Gives ya the warm-and-fuzzies, don't it?!

Anyways, it seems that Standard and Poor's is threatening Euro banks with ratings downgrades because of.... wait for it..... renewed talk of bail-in's - 
The move towards "bail-ins" and away from government "bailouts" continues to evolve and yesterday credit rating agency, Standard and Poor's  (S&P) warned that this could lead to credit ratings for European banks being slashed by one or two notches.
Following similar moves in the U.S., European banks could see ratings downgrades if regulators continue to move towards depositor and bondholder “bail-ins.” S&P signaled that it would review its ratings on banks by the end of April this year.
"BFD!" you may say.  "Let the Eurotrash rot!"  Well, yes it is a big deal.

The world is one big, interconnected marketplace.  Our banks lend to their banks.  Their banks buy bonds in our banks.  All of them buy government bonds.  All of them are infected with the same malady.

It's like having sex with someone you just met.  "You don't look like you have herpes, but did your previous partners have herpes?"  Who's your bank's been sleeping with...?

When it hits, it hits the whole economy.  It starts a trickle-down of financial hell - 
Some have warned that bail-ins could also damage the wider economy as it could mean that banks have to charge higher interest on their lending as a result. In our research, we have highlighted that bail-ins may have a very negative impact on consumer and business confidence as people’s life savings and cash balances of companies are confiscated as seen in Cyprus.
S&P said developments in the U.S. towards "bail-ins" meant that its rating outlook on eight U.S. banks had already been impacted and now they are turning their focus on European banks.

Accept The Challenge

Want to keep your money?  Consider these strategies -

>>Use small, local banks.  They are much less likely to have ties to international banks and their domestic brethren.  I personally prefer credit unions, as the people seem nicer!  Over my 30+ year banking career, I worked at Too Big To Fail banks, and small 2-branch mom-and-pops.  The smaller banks were always better run.  Always.  Shoot for something in the 4- to 20-branch range that has a good Bauer Financial (or similar service) rating of no less than 4 (out of 5) stars

>>Spread your deposits over multiple banks.  Unless the entire US banking sector crashes all at once, you're at least able to get to some of your money.  And, if as happened when Cyprus was limiting access to people's money, you can get multiples of the daily allowed amounts by making withdrawals from each of your banks.

>>Money in safe deposit boxes are no safer from being confiscated than being in a bank account.  In general, they are LESS safe overall, as they're not covered for loss in the event of a robbery of the physical branch with the box.

>>Work on getting at least a portion your savings into tangible assets like gold or silver.  If you're uncomfortable or reluctant, go slowly.  It too me over 4 years to finally convince my own mother to put some of her money in precious metals.  If you do this, remember, you now have the risk of needing to protect that precious metal hoard.

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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. www.BisonRMA.com

Monday, March 10, 2014

Discrediting Gun Control Articles

We've all seen the breathless anti-gun articles.  They start out big, and keep the BS rolling.

They've got a typical formula:  Start with an incendiary headline ("Assault weapons + 'Cop killer' ammo = dead babies.  Devastated mom tells her story"), or a headline that implies underhanded tactics by The Evil Gun Lobby ("NRA-backed law will result in more teen deaths.")

The article will then quote supposed experts and studies showing why banning guns will save us all from a life of fear and "gun-related death".  I find it hilarious, when The Brady Bunch writes an article - supposedly with footnotes that show who was the expert or who did a study - and when you look up the footnote, the source of the substantiation is.... The Brady Bunch.

The ones that are most dangerous are the ones that try to look reasonable.  They attempt portray the story to look, "fair and balanced" by purportedly giving equal time to both sides of an argument, and letting the reader make up their own mind.

I just read one of these "reasonable" articles in - of all places - marketwatch.com, under "personal finance".

The author hints at her bias with her title:  10 things the gun industry won’t tell you.  I'm guessing she sold this piece to her editors under the (false) premise that stocks in gun and ammo companies might not be a good investment because they lie, cheat and steal.

She follows the standard formula for these types of articles:  Passive-Aggressive title and sub-titles, multiple, "guns are bad" paragraphs, then a counter-point finishing paragraph that supposedly presents the opposing view.  In most of these closing paragraphs there's a big "but" in the middle that counters the little boost it gave to the opposing view.

Here's an example:
Guns aren’t sold to kids, it’s true. Under federal law, you have to be at least 18 to buy a rifle or shotgun from a licensed dealer, and you must be 21 to buy any other type of gun. However, it’s easy to get around these restrictions, as it’s legal for an adult to buy shotguns and rifles and let a child use them; and while it is illegal for a child under 18 to possess a handgun, this law can sometimes be skirted with written permission from a parent or guardian.
You soft-headed moron.  We certainly wouldn't want a parent to have any say in what their own child is allowed to do, would we?  Sorry, I forgot that you socialists believe that all children are property of the state.

Well, your state-owned 10 year old can't buy a car, but they can sure steal the keys and go for a joy-ride.  Should we ban cars because of that?  WAY more kids die in automobiles than die by guns, so that's clearly where we should start.  It's for the children!

Many times, they'll just make stuff up.  This is the page heading from the article noted above.  It's for the 9th item on her list, and includes a direct quote -
9. “We sell guns to people you might not want us to.” 
Click it.  It will take you right to the page, and you will be unable to find an attribution for that quote.  To be blunt, she just pulled it out of her ass.  Journalistic license?  Or Yellow Journalism?
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So what do we do?  It's a tough haul.

These writers know that the vast majority of Americans get their news - and believe every word -  from the Mainstream Media.  An uninformed reader sops up this viewpoint, and it now becomes theirs.  "Hey, I'm a reasonable guy, and this lady just laid out a soft-spoken, reasonable, fact-based article.  She must be right."

They don't bother to think for themselves and dig a bit deeper into the article.  If it's in writing, it must be true.

So, it's up to us to educate them.  Speak and write on the subject.  A great source of information that's chalk-full of citations is Gun Facts.  It's sole purpose is to lay out the myth, and counter it with fact.  It's an awesome resource.

I downloaded one of the PDF copies, and it now resides on my Kindle.  I can point to facts and figures in an instant, on virtually any gun control topic.

I think that most importantly, we need to be factual, aggressive and non-compromising in our replies to these types of blatant lies.  As of the time I hit the "go" button on this post, the article in question will have been online for less than a day, and it's garnered over 800 comments so far.

Few things help win a debate faster than when an opponent gets caught spouting crap, and starts stammering with, "Um, well, uhhhhh" or move to ad hominem attacks.

Facts destroy the fiction.  Use their own tactics on them.



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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. www.BisonRMA.com

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Gun Control For Dummies - The THIRD Amendment

So very sorry for the light posting - it's been a hectic week.  Back at it now.

A good friend showed me some pity, and sent me a link to a gun control video.  Check it out...





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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. www.BisonRMA.com

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Safety Preps: Requirement To Retreat

I just read a great article on the legal right to stand your ground, and the legal requirement to retreat if reasonably able.  Huh?  Sound like a contradiction?  Yeah, welcome to the US judicial system -
The majority of states (34) do not impose a legal duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense, making them effectively stand-your-ground states. In these states, retreat is therefore not an essential element of the law of self-defense, and your failure to take advantage of a safe avenue retreat cannot lose you the right to claim self-defense automatically as a matter of law.

That does not, however, mean that the prosecution cannot nevertheless argue to the jury that your failure take advantage of a safe avenue of retreat was unreasonable under the circumstances, and that the presence of a safe avenue of retreat made your use of deadly force unnecessary under the circumstances. This is true even in most statutory stand-your-ground states.  Retreat may not be an element of self-defense in these states, but reasonableness sure is, and necessity is the foundation of all self-defense law.
If, like me, you're in one of those 16 states that DOES require you to retreat, you've just opened a big can of toxic poo if you shoot someone in self-defense. To stay free, you've got to prove you didn't have a way to retreat without putting yourself in additional danger.  How do you like them apples?

Realistically, I don't give a damn what your state law says regarding self-defense.  If the local DA wants to fry your ass because he or she doesn't like guns, you're going to be prosecuted for murder.  If you don't consider those consequences every single time you pick up a gun, you are a fool.
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We had a bit of a discussion with this post ("10 Other People You Shouldn't Talk To After A Self-Defense Shooting") on keeping your mouth shut, and on what to say to the police after a shooting.  I'm a huge believer in following the SecondCall Defense strategy:  Call 911 to report the shooting, tell them you feared for your life and to send the police and medical.  Provide your address, describe yourself, then hang up and call your lawyer.

When the police arrive, repeat exactly what you said on the phone to 911, then inform them you won't be making any other statements until you've met with your attorney. 

Then expect to be arrested.
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Let's say some maggot entered your home, rushed you with a bat, and you shot him dead.  A totally justified response to a violent invasion of your home.  So you think.

The police arrive and start asking questions:

Police Officer (PO):  Sir, tell me what happened.

You:  Well, I was in my easy chair right there, when I heard someone banging on my door.  It sounded like they were trying to break it down! 

PO:  I see.  What did you do?

You:  I got up, and grabbed my gun.  I walked around the corner and could see this guy trying to kick my door in through the window over there.  The son of a bitch was kicking and kicking.  I got behind this wall right there so he couldn't see me through the window.

PO:  Then what happened?

You:  He finally kicked the door down, and came into the house.  He had a bag and was carrying a baseball bat in his hand.  You know - one of those aluminum ones.  He took a couple steps forward and saw me.  I guess he didn't expect anyone to be home, and he started coming right at me with that bat cocked back to hit me.  I shot him just like I've practiced at the range a hundred times - two to the chest and one to the head.  It stopped him right there.

PO:  Well done!  What happened next?

You:  I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and I called you guys, that's what happened.

PO:  OK, good.  You did the right thing.  Anyone in your situation would have done what you did.  Let me ask you a couple of things.  Was there anyone else here in the house when this happened?

You:  No.  Just me.

PO:  Great.  Now you said you were in that chair over there.

You:  Yessir.

PO:  That sliding glass door right next to the chair - where does that go?

You:  To my backyard, of course.  Why do you ask?

PO:  Just filling in the details, sir.  You know - all that paperwork the LT will want!  I noticed a gate on your back fence.  Where does that go?

You:  Out to an alley that leads to the street.  Hey, what's with all of these questions?

PO:  I'm almost through sir.  One last question:  After you heard the man kicking your door, how long did it take for him to break it down?  It looks pretty strong.

You:  Hell yes it's strong!  I put on those fancy hinges that screw 6 inches into the wall studs.  And I reinforced the plate on the door jam and added a dead-bolt too.  We've had a lot of break-ins around here, and I needed to protect myself!

PO:  Great idea, sir.  You certainly understand the best ways to keep the criminals out of your house.  So how long did it take for the door to finally come down?

You:  Oh, it musta been a good 30 or 45 seconds, I'd guess.  Hell, maybe a minute!  I didn't put any cheap crap into my set-up.  Only the best!

PO:  Thank you for your cooperation, sir.  I'm done now.  Please turn around and put your hands behind your back.  You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say....

You:  What the...??


Accept The Challenge

Shall I summarize as an anti-gun prosecutor might?   
By his own admission, he had up to a full minute to retreat to a safe location after he saw the threat.  He had the means and opportunity to stay safe, to avoid a violent confrontation, and to allow the police to do their job.  Any reasonable person would have done so.  Instead, he chose to pick a fight - to display his skills with a gun.  To violently protect inanimate, replaceable property, and that choice resulted in the death of another human being.

Don't help them put you in prison for a very long time.

Alert the authorities that a shooting has taken place, then shut the hell up.  You are going to be adrenaline-soaked, and more apt to say things you shouldn't.  Like any other emergency situation, preparation and a planned course of action will help you weather any storm.

With our scenario, in reality, our guy may have heard the banging for 30 or more seconds, but only saw the guy as he finally kicked in the door and charged the homeowner.  He may have been embellishing the events to show the police he wasn't going to be anyone's punk.

Speak with your attorney, who will assess the situation and determine what will be said to the police and prosecutors.  The method in which the same information is conveyed can mean the difference between freedom and prison.

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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. www.BisonRMA.com