Month: May 2015

Kentucky Vs. King: A lesson in Security

Today I want to give you a little something to think about.  In the case Kentucky v. King some narcotics officers were chasing a suspect when he ran around a corner and out of their sight.  When the officers arrived at the spot where the suspect was last seen and rounded a corner they found 2 doors leading to 2 different residences.  The suspect was behind one of those 2 doors, no doubt because there was nowhere else to go, but the officers had no idea which residence it could be.  They only had a 50/50 chance at picking the right door.
police run
As the officers were trying to decide what to do they smelled marijuana smoke coming from one of the residences.  They knocked on that door and identified themselves as the police.  When the door was not answered but suspicious noises were heard inside the officers decided to kick the door in to force entry.  Upon entering it became clear that this was not the location where the original suspect was located but while they were there the officers located some weed, some cocaine and some Crack!
The resident, Hollis King, was arrested for these drugs and upon conviction was sentenced to 11 years in prison.  The US Supreme Court heard this case in 2011 and upheld the conviction stating that the officers didn’t have to abide by the 4th amendment when exigent circumstances were present.
If you are looking for a legal discussion you are at the wrong place.  If you are looking for a moral discussion you are at the wrong place.  However, if you want to talk about a man who is in jail for 11 years because he didn’t secure his door read on.
Just to get this out of the way, I think the officers in this case are great!  Screw this crack dealing idiot!  The fact is I don’t want that crap in my neighborhood driving down the value of my home and bringing in extra attention from law enforcement that could cause problems for my privacy goals.  Now let’s try to learn from his mistake.  The easy thing would be to not smoke weed unless it is legal where you live.  It has a potent smell and it will negate any privacy you ever thought you wanted.  With that out of the way, I want to talk about the most important thing.  You have got to secure your home!!  I can’t stress that enough!
This crack dealer should thank his lucky stars that it was police who kicked in his door instead of a rival drug dealer who would have shot him in the head and took all his stuff.  In fact, even those of us who are not drug dealers need to take a lesson here.  Anybody could be coming for you at any time.  Are you up for that?  Just think about right now.  Right this instant if your door was flung open by somebody with ill will what would you be exposed to?
deadbolt door
Here’s my advice.  Get you a couple of good deadbolts; one for the top and bottom of the door.  I also like the “Door Sentinel” at www.mysafedoor.com.  They are not paying me to advertise for them either.  I just like the product.  Here’s my other point:  when you finish securing your door ask yourself if you think you could find a way to break it down.  Then secure against that.  If you have a hardwood or smooth tile floor it’s not a bad idea to slide a large piece of furniture in front of the door when you are in for the night.
After you have secured all your outside doors you should repeat the process for your bedroom or panic room.  Just make sure it is a room you could reasonably retreat to (preferably in the center of the house in case of dynamic entry through a wall).  I recommend reviewing my blog on stopping burglars as well.
The days of passively exclaiming “I don’t have anything to worry about because I don’t do anything” are over.  There are desperate people out there and sometimes good and bad guys can hit the wrong door.  Chance will always favor the prepared.
criminal door
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5 Reasons the Bathroom is the Most Convertible Panic Room

With the recent riots in Baltimore and the assassination attempts on the artists in Garland TX it has dawned on many people that angry people are in the streets and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to prepare in case they decide to make a dynamic entry to private homes.  So where do you start?  Which room is best for a conversion from its current condition to a safe place you and your family can go in the event that things go terribly wrong?
bathroom
There are many scenarios and conditions that need to be considered for a perfect panic room but today I want to describe the reasons that the bathroom is the easiest and most convenient panic room.  Before I go into all that I want to remind you of something that is common sense for me but you may not have considered it yet.  A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.  I bring this up because it applies to your panic room and its construction.  Today we are discussing conversions from a regular home and you need to know the panic room can only be as strong as your house is unless you make some major changes.  If you live in a trailer house I am sorry to say your panic room will be a little flimsy and the same goes for a cheap stick built house or even a brick house with drywall separating the rooms.
Taking the drywall down and stocking the walls with sand or phonebooks can work wonders.  Now for what you came for:
1.       Water:   Water is a huge deal when it comes to holing up for longer than 2 days or 2 hours on a hot summer day.  You can go weeks without food (depending on personal health) but water is essential and the bathroom has already got it.  If you want to get extreme, you could get one of those bathtub blivets and fill it up in case they cut your power and water.  Then you can live like a king for a few weeks while they wait outside and get eaten by mosquitoes!  Water will also give you a fighting chance if they try to burn you out.
2.       It’s usually away from the front door:  (If your bathroom is near the front door maybe it’s a good idea to reconsider or move)  If somebody kicks in your front door or blows up the front door your natural instincts will kick in and you will automatically be running away from the excitement.  This will give you a running start towards getting in the place you need to be and getting it locked.  It is not easy to run toward a room that is near where the explosion was just at.
3.       Toilet:  Should I have to say anything about this really?  You may be scared but you read this blog and you are probably expecting some jerk to breach the doorway at some point.  Your spouse and children will probably need to use the potty and a clean pair of underwear.  Things can get messy depending on the number of people you have in your panic room.  The toilet is nice to have around.
4.       Size:  The bathroom is usually smaller, so if you are on a budget or you are so poor you can’t afford a budget you will appreciate the smaller space which equals a cheaper upgrade.  The cool thing about a small enough bathroom is you can barricade the door easily.
5.       Medicine cabinet:  Most people keep the meds in the bathroom so if you use this room they will always be there.  This could save your life or the life of a member of your family.  Even if you are not on medication you may find some first aid items that could help.  Secondly,  I always find comfort in the fact that under the cabinet is usually some caustic cleaning chemicals that I could use for weapons in a rough situation!
burglar
Be sure you think the whole situation through when you are preparing your panic room and keep in mind that original construction with an actual predesigned panic room is best.  So save your money and improve your situation by building something new as soon as you can.

A Warning to Retirees

There have been some serious security and privacy issues in the news lately. In fact, there are so many, it’s difficult to keep up. But the one issue that haunts me more than any other at the moment is the growing number of retirees and pensioners in the U.S. The “Golden Age” for America was a great time, where almost any American could find a job, work hard and eventually quit work for good – something that is atypical, historically speaking. The American Economy after WWII began expanding at a rapid pace, with new companies and industry springing up everywhere. New homes were built, cars were made and the American dream was achieved by many. In fact, many people worked at jobs like automobile manufacturers, police & fire, many fortune 500 companies, Federal jobs and the like and eventually were able to retire with the promise of receiving a comfortable income for the rest of they’re life.

The stock market has provided a great avenue for many people to retire through 401k’s, investments and other vehicles, of which I know little. The website Moneychimp.com allows you to calculate stock market growth over time with their convenient calculator, which uses the annualized growth rate of the S&P 500. I did a calculation for the growth rate from 1950 to 2014. The average return for that period is almost 13%! According to the calculator, $1 in 1950 (invested in the stock market) grew to $1129 on average in 2014. I would take those numbers any day of the week for my retirement!

golden age

Many of the folks who took advantage of this financial growth during the “Golden Age” are now making more money in retirement than they ever did during their careers. And some of them went on to take on new jobs and careers. I think many of us know people like this; people who perhaps were afraid to buy a new car during their 30s but who now buy a new car every four years as a result of the windfall pension check they now collect.

Unfortunately things have changed and we are no longer in the Golden Age. And I’m fearful that those who are reaping the benefits of the Golden Age don’t realize how good they have it – or inversely, how younger generations are struggling right now to get the same opportunities. According to Forbes, 161 million Americans currently getting government subsidies (government assistance) – a new record, which is more than half of the entire U.S. population. And despite the official unemployment numbers touted at 5-6%, statistics are now pointing to the idea that most new jobs created recently are low-paying jobs in places like fast-food and strip malls. And retirements….forget about it. Fewer companies each year offer retirements and pensions. They are quite rare these days and will probably go the way of the DoDo (extinction).

In fact, many working people these days feel lucky to work for a company that offers benefits. In general, the corporate model of running a business has taken over and put profits to share holders before all else, eliminating or slashing things like employee benefits, healthcare, retirements and stock options. In fact, many corporations now use temporary employees or contractors to skirt state and federal regulations that would require them to provide a certain level of benefits to these “employees”. So these employees get used and then thrown away. After all, no need to fire them…their contract just ends…brings back memories of the movie, “Office Space”!

rioters

Recently, the U.S. has seen civil unrest in many cities such as Ferguson, Baltimore, New York City and Brooklyn. It’s easy for mainstream news to paint rioting in the street as a racial issue, police brutality, inequality, or whatever the ‘cause celebre’ for the day is – which I’m sure sells lots of newspapers; however, as a student of human nature, I believe the core issue at hand behind the unrest is something different. And I won’t make excuses for lawlessness or violence. I hope that every one of the trouble makers behind the rioting get their day in court.

food stamp right

What I think our core problem here is one of circumstance. When people are born in a place where there is no money, very few jobs and rampant crime, they have to make a decision on how to remove themselves from the situation or how to make things better. Both of these are tough decisions, and as humans, it’s sometimes easier to just blame others, especially when we’re taught now at a young age that nothing is our fault and that personal responsibility is not important. The point of this blog is not a social commentary or even a solution though – It’s simply a warning. Be aware that there are many people around you, even if you don’t live in NY, Baltimore, etc., who are lacking in hope and desperate. They may see you driving your new car or RV, or may see you spending money at the store or walk past your nice home and wonder what you did to deserve that, especially since they don’t have what you have and they may see YOU as a part of the problem.

If you doubt me, then go to YouTube and view some riot videos for yourself. The mob is always searching for new fodder…

Sources:

Growth Rate Calculator: http://www.moneychimp.com/features/market_cagr.htm

Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2014/07/02/weve-crossed-the-tipping-point-most-americans-now-receive-government-benefits/

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/28/business/economy/recovery-has-created-far-more-low-wage-jobs-than-better-paid-ones.html?_r=0