Do You Overshare?

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Beach Trip

I’ll admit, sometimes I feel like a crusty old curmudgeon, even though I’m only in my 40’s. People today seem like they need to share every…single…detail of their lives with the entire planet. See, the problem with oversharing isn’t just that it is extremely annoying to many of us, it is also putting you and your family at risk for some pretty serious situations.

When you post how you’re getting ready for your trip to the Bahamas, we all know you’re just wanting to make everyone else jealous. We get that, really. But, you’re also telling people you won’t be home for a week or so. That’s an open invite for ne’er do wells to pay your home a visit. Same thing goes when you post pics from your trip in real time.

Beach Trip

Posting pics from the art class you’re taking? Do it often enough and it becomes rather easy to predict exactly where you will be on Wednesday nights from 6:30PM-8:00PM. Could be the bad guy isn’t interested in what you have in your home but would much prefer getting to know you up close and personal.

One of the more popular online activities is buying and selling on various rummage sale oriented sites and groups. Be careful with those, particularly if you’re posting pics of items you have for sale. Pay attention to what is visible in the background of the picture. Avoid showing things like big TVs and other electronics as those can be very tempting to criminals. They could make arrangements to buy the diaper pail you’re selling just to find out your address, then come back later for the TV.

Here’s a really scary one. The pictures you take with your snazzy smartphone are often embedded with GPS coordinates. With the right software, a picture downloaded from your Facebook profile page could lead someone right to your door, even if you’ve never posted your address anywhere online.

Something else worth considering – anything you post online is conceivably there forever. Even if you later delete it from your Instagram or whatever, it is possibly still on a server somewhere and could be there for all time. Think twice before posting that pic.

Oversharing isn’t limited to the cyber world, either. Those cute signs parents put in their yards, the ones that tell one and all how proud they are of their son, #57 on the football team? Yeah, that just tells people that during football season, no one is probably home on Friday nights.

Bumper stickers can be the worst offenders. The stick figure families? Many of them note the names of the kids, something child predators love to see. Couple that with the sticker that says, “I’m a proud parent of an honor student at XYZ Middle School” and they know who the kid is and where to find him or her. Lovely.

Take a good look at your social media accounts, your yard, and your vehicles. Are you oversharing?

The Perfect Spring Break Gift – Date Rape Drug Detector

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Praying to the Porcelain God

If you have a daughter heading off on a Spring Break vacation, you are naturally going to feel a little nervous about it. Every year, there are stories about young women being assaulted, often through the use of a “date rape” drug such as GHB.

Do your daughter a favor and pick up a packet of Drink Guard cards. They come in a pack small enough to fit into the tiniest of purses. The test itself is as simple as can be. Just put a drop of your drink onto the card and if the card turns dark blue, don’t drink your drink!

Date Rape Drug Detector

It is frighteningly easy to introduce a drug into someone’s drink. Passing your had over the glass or cup as you pass by is all it takes. The drugs used today dissolve quickly and usually have little to no taste. Given how strong the mixed drinks can be at parties, the victim is none the wiser, until the drug begins to take effect.

Date Rape Drug Detector

There are a few simple rules that, if followed, will go a long way toward keeping you safe when alcohol is involved.

1) Never leave your drink unattended. If you do, assume it is tainted and get a new one, using a new cup or glass.

2) Never go to a party alone. Always have a friend with you and watch out for one another.

3) Having a few drinks is fine. Getting so drunk you can’t stand up on your own is not. The idea is to have fun, not end the night praying to the porcelain god. Keep in mind, many of the symptoms of date rape drug ingestion mirror or mimic the effects of being drunk – dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, and slurred speech. The more sober you are, the easier it will be to detect whether you may have been slipped a drug.

Praying to the Porcelain God

4) When in doubt, use date rape drug detector cards to test your drink. If you find your drink has been drugged, let your friends as well as the bartender and party hosts know immediately.

If you suspect you have been given a drug, let someone know immediately so they can keep an eye on you. Heading to the local emergency room wouldn’t be the worst idea, either, so they can monitor the situation and take action should it become necessary.

Dealing With Bullying

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Dealing With Bullying

The following is an excerpt from Prepper’s Home Defense by Jim Cobb. It comes from Chapter 13 – Children and Security.

For as long as there have been children, there have been bullies. I doubt there is anyone reading this who has never once been on the receiving end of bullying. An argument can be made that being bullied is a natural part of growing up. However, it seems as though bullying has changed quite a bit since I was a wee lad on the playground. Today, bullies are as apt to do serious, permanent physical damage as they are to taunt with colorful language.

Dealing With BullyingTeaching your child how to successfully deflect or stop bullying will lead to an increase in self-esteem and self-confidence. Bullies tend to prey upon those who they feel are weaker than themselves, so the first line of defense, so to speak, is to put out an air of confidence. If a child causes the bully to believe their behavior will lead to injury or at least make them look bad in front of their peers, they’ll likely as not seek a different target.

It certainly isn’t politically correct to suggest this, but I’ve always believed the best solution to being bullied is to sock the bully in the nose. It is usually very unexpected and does the job quite well. When one of my sons was young, he was having trouble with a bully. He went through the official channels by reporting it to his teacher and other staff members but nothing changed. He was reluctant to respond physically as he was afraid he’d be the one who got in trouble, which of course is what the staff members told all students about fighting. I finally called a meeting with his teacher, the principal, the vice-principal, and the guidance counselor. As I recall, the conversation went something like this:

Principal: “Mr. Cobb, we understand your concerns. Do you have any suggestions as to how to deal with the situation?”

Me: “I’ve told my son that the very next time [bully’s name] touches him or even so much as looks at him cross-eyed, he is to punch him. If he gets up, he’s to punch him again. This will continue until he stays down. Maybe [bully’s name] will get it through his head then.”

Principal: “I don’t think we can condone that!”

Me: “You’re misunderstanding me. I’m not asking for your permission here. I’m just telling you ahead of time exactly what is going to happen. If you want a different course of events, then I’d suggest you step up your efforts to keep [bully’s name] away from my son and under control.”

Perhaps not too surprisingly, we didn’t have problems with the bully again.

Credit Card Protection

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Credit Card Protection Shopping

Like many people today, we do a fair amount of shopping online, especially during the holiday season. Back in late 2013, we purchased some music instrument gear for one of our kids for Christmas. It was at a fairly well known online store so we didn’t think too much of it. It just so happened, though, that the credit card we used for that purchase was one we don’t use very often and, in fact, that was the only purchase we made with that card during the holidays.

Credit Card Protection ShoppingFlash forward a couple of months. My wife monitors our credit accounts fairly close, both for budget reasons as well as to watch for possible fraud, given how prevalent identity theft is today. She found a suspicious transaction the day after it was made. Someone had tried using our credit card info to buy a bunch of custom ATV parts online. Turned out, the transaction had already been refused and voided because the person hadn’t provided the proper credentials online. Then, we found another transaction a few days later at another online store. Again, the company had caught the fraud and refused the transaction. So, we ended up not being out any dough, which was great. But, we had to wonder just where the info on that card had come from. The only place we’d used it was at the one store in December. We never did get the whole story but the card was canceled and new ones were issued by the bank.

If you have even just one credit card, you need to be very diligent about keeping accurate records on your end as to purchases you make. You also need to closely monitor the account so you can catch mistakes or fraud as quickly as possible. We were VERY lucky that the fraud was caught by the stores and the charges refused. Yes, credit card banks are generally fairly cooperative about investigating fraud and reversing charges but there’s still a lot of hassle involved. And that’s just if it is a one-off fraud. Those who truly have their identity stolen will tell you it is an absolute nightmare to get everything straightened out.

Many major credit card banks today offer a range of services, at no charge, that will help you monitor your accounts. At the minimum, see about setting up alerts for transactions above a certain threshold. What will happen is that if the credit card is used to make a purchase above the dollar limit you’ve set, you’ll receive an email or perhaps a text message letting you know. This happens within minutes of the transaction taking place. With some cards, you might even be able to set it up such that a representative calls you to make sure the purchase or charge was legitimate.

Another suggestion is to stop using a debit card for online purchases. Many banks, when you open a checking account, will offer you a debit card that pulls from that bank balance. That’s mighty convenient, yes, but the only time you should use that card is if you are making the purchase in person, such as at the grocery store or gas station. Using it online, should the info be stolen, exposes your entire bank balance to potential fraud.

Credit card fraud is alarmingly common in today’s world. It seems all too easy for crooks to obtain your info and buy all sorts of stuff, often shipping it overseas. Unfortunately, a credit card is all but necessary to have. You need it for renting cars and hotel rooms as well as making purchases online. Do whatever you can to protect yourself. Talk to your bank about the options available to you.

Funneling is a Key Element in a Security Plan

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Funneling around a Backyard Shed

Funneling is a key element in a security plan. The basic idea is to force intruders to move to specific areas, places where you can have greater control over the situation. For example, if ne’er do wells are moving through your property, you don’t want them hiding behind your outbuildings. Instead, you want to force them into open areas where you can better handle them, using whatever means you feel are necessary.

Here’s how this might work. Let’s say you have a fairly large shed toward the back of your property. It is within sight of the house and you fear someone might use it as cover while scoping out the home. One option might be to place piles of brush or junk back there, heaping it up to the point where someone can’t easily hunker down.

Funneling around a Backyard Shed

Another option could be to scatter broken glass and metal on the ground, then letting the weeds and grass grow long enough to hide it. Someone who decides to hit the dirt so as to not be seen would be in for a rude awakening. In fact, their shouts might serve as a handy alarm, too.

Yet one more possibility, though it isn’t truly funneling, is to set some sort of motion sensor alarm or trip wire back there. Something that will alert you to the presence of a potential threat in that area. If the alarm is discovered, the person(s) might avoid that area, serving the purpose of putting them out in the open.

Keep in mind, though, that anything you set out in the way of traps and such might also be dangerous to you and your family if folks aren’t careful. The absolute last thing you want to do is have one of your children get hurt because they forgot about the broken glass behind the shed, y’know? Make sure every family member is made aware of any areas where you’ve laid traps or alarms.

There may also be legal issues with some forms of traps. For example, I recall at least one case where a guy had set up a shotgun in a hunting cabin in such a way that if the door was opened the gun fired. It ended up killing someone. If memory serves, the family of the intruder successfully sued the owner. I believe he also faced some criminal charges as well, though I don’t recall how that turned out for him. Suffice to say, you may want to hold off on setting out any lethal methods of funneling until and unless the rule of law ceases to exist.

Defense in Layers

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Defensive Wall

When creating your home defense strategies (and you ARE creating them, right?), you need to think in terms of layers, not unlike an onion. It isn’t nearly enough to just decide you’re going to go toe to toe with anyone who dares enter your home uninvited. Ideally, they’d never get that far, if you’ve planned properly.

There are at least three distinct layers to a well crafted security plan. It starts with the perimeter. This area extends from your front door to as far as your property line. Ideally, this is the area where you’ll stop most intruders. You’ll do this by working on the risk versus reward equation. You want the possible intruder to believe the risk of going further won’t be worth the reward for doing so. For example, if the appearance of your home is such that it doesn’t look like there would be much of value inside, they may pass your home completely and seek fortune elsewhere. The other option is to increase the perceived risk, such as having one or more dogs, signs indicating alarm service monitoring, and the like.

Defensive Wall

The next layer is your structure. This is your home itself. You want the strongest doors, windows, and locks you can afford. Again, you’re working on the risk versus reward. The more work involved with breaking into the home, the less desirable it will be to do so. Sufficient exterior lighting, particularly motion activated lights, go a long way toward deterring intrusions after dark. Keeping your head on a swivel as you come home and exercising good situational awareness is also important. Sometimes burglars and other nasty types will watch a home for a day or two in order to see if patterns exist as to the comings and goings. If they notice that you’re constantly on alert to possible threats, they may just decide it isn’t worth it.

The final layer is your personal space. If an intruder has gotten through your perimeter and entered your home, in my opinion at least, all bets are off. You should do anything and everything you can to defend yourself and your family. Now, with that said, state laws vary and in some areas you might not legally be able to take certain actions that might be completely legal elsewhere. It pays to do your homework and to know ahead of time what is “allowed” and what is not. More than one homeowner has found themselves on the wrong side of Johnny Law because they did something that, in the eyes of the law, went too far.

That said, learning self-defense such as a “real world” martial art, can go a long way toward defending your personal space. While it is no substitute for a good handgun and the requisite training, you may find yourself unarmed at the worst possible moment.

Take a look at your security plans. Do they cover all the layers?

Proper Use of Trip Wires for Home Security

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Despite what you may have seen in the movies, trip wires aren’t actually for tripping intruders. Well, let me rephrase that. Trip wires can be used to trip intruders, but that’s often not the primary goal of using them.

Instead, the wires are meant to “trip” an alarm of some kind. For example, the wire may be strung across a hallway and attached to the pin of an alarm. When the wire is tripped, it pulls the pin and activates a siren and flashing LED light.

You can construct a very simple alarm with this principle in mind by using a small piece of cardboard and a spring clothespin. Wire up the jaws of the clothespin so that when the jaws come together, they complete the alarm’s electric circuit. Attach the clothespin to the wall adjacent to a hallway or doorway. Place the piece of cardboard between the jaws of the clothespin, preventing the circuit from being completed. Run the trip wire from cardboard and across the hallway or doorway. If the wire is tripped, it will pull the cardboard from the clothespin, completing the circuit and activating the alarm.

You can use a similar setup to alarm actual objects, too. Attach the trip wire to the cardboard and just attach the other end to the object. When the object is pulled from its location, it will pull out the cardboard.

Another variation on this theme is used outside for perimeter security. Let’s say you have an outbuilding and you want to ensure people don’t cut behind it to sneak up on your house. Pile some brush at the ends of the likely path the intruder would take. Attach your trip wires to these piles of brush in such a way that when the brush is moved out of the way, the wires will activate your alarms.

The material used for a trip wire should blend into the surroundings as best as possible. For example, don’t use a black wire over white carpeting. It should also be fairly strong. If the wire is tripped, you don’t want it to just snap and thus not activate your alarm.

If you plan on using trip wires for security, you might want to pick up a package or two of small eyebolts at the hardware store. I’ve found these work great when stringing the wire.

How to Hire a Private Detective

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How to Hire a Private Detective

There are many reasons why you might find yourself in need of a private detective. The first reason that often comes to mind is suspecting a spouse of infidelity but even if you’re happily married, you might have need of a detective at some point. Perhaps you’re trying to track down a childhood friend or a long lost cousin. Or, you’re trying to locate someone who owes you money. Maybe you are considering investing in a new business start up and you want to have a background check done on the people running the show.

How to Hire a Private Detective


How to Hire a Private DetectiveWhatever the reason, you suddenly find yourself seriously considering spending money on a detective. Where do you start? As with most areas of business, referrals from family or friends is often the best way to begin. Failing that, if you have an attorney with whom you regularly do business, such as real estate purchases or estate planning, give him or her a call. While they might not regularly use a detective, they probably have colleagues who do. You could also go online and do some Google searches for private detectives in your area.

Once you have a list of a few potential places to contact, do your homework. In most states, detectives must be licensed. Do an online search for your state name and “detective license” to find the appropriate website. In the states that require licensure, there should be a website where you can look up the license status of individual detectives. Check out your candidates and make sure they don’t have a ton of complaints against them or that they lost their license for some reason.

When you contact the detective, be prepared to outline for him or her what your situation is and what you are trying to accomplish. Don’t just call and ask for their rates as most detectives charge differing amounts based on the case as well as the available information. When the conversation does turn to fees, know going in that detectives aren’t cheap. Expect to pay upwards of $100-125 an hour, plus mileage and other expenses. Again though, it depends on the work being performed. For a simple missing person locate, sometimes called a skip trace, often it is just a flat fee rather than an hourly charge.

Many detectives work out of a home office so if you do need to meet in person for some reason, don’t be surprised if it is at a local coffee shop. Odds are you’ll be asked to sign a contract and pay a retainer fee up front. The way most reputable detectives work is they’ll work until the case is resolved or until the retainer has been spent. If the latter, the detective and you will sit down and figure out how much more work may be needed. If the case is resolved before the entire retainer is used up, you’ll get a check for the difference.

In many types of cases, detectives much prefer working with attorneys rather than private individuals. If your reason for needing an investigation is likely in any way to someday involve the courts, I suggest you contact an attorney first and have them retain the detective if needed. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the attorney is in the best position to determine what information will best benefit your case, thus concentrating the investigative efforts on those angles. Second, information provided to the attorney by the detective can be somewhat protected from the other side of the court case.

Finally, keep in mind that detectives are just as human as everyone else. It may turn out that they are unable to find the information you seek. Sometimes, the information just isn’t there, such as when trying to prove infidelity but the guy or gal isn’t cheating. Detectives typically don’t have access to any information that isn’t available to the average citizen. They just know where to look.

Tips for Surviving Hostage Situations

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Once more the realm of movies and novels, it seems more and more often we’re hearing news reports about people being taken hostage for one reason or another. While thankfully the odds of it happening to you are likely fairly low, if you do find yourself in that situation there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Hostage Situation Survival Tips

First, avoid doing anything that calls attention to yourself. Stay calm, keep quiet, and do what you’re told. You want to blend into the crowd as much as possible. This may not always be possible, of course, particularly if there are only a few of you taken hostage. Avoid making eye contact with the attackers. What you want to avoid is becoming the target of the hostage taker’s anger.

If you are armed, I would caution you against taking offensive action against the attackers. Unless you are absolutely certain you know what you’re doing, such as you’ve trained in SWAT or Delta Force tactics, you will likely end up making a bad situation far worse. Forget about the Hollywood nonsense.

That said, if an opportunity to escape presents itself and you are certain you can pull it off safely, it is an option worth considering. I would caution you, though, to be aware of the possibility of danger coming not just from the attackers but the authorities outside who might not be expecting you to come running outside.

Pay attention to your surroundings and to what’s happening. Make a mental note of how many attackers there are, where they are situated, what they look like, things they say, all that good stuff. It might turn out that you’re able to escape or perhaps you end up released. In either case, the authorities will want and need as much information as you’re able to provide.

Should a team be sent in to rescue you and the other hostages, I doubt you’ll have any warning. If/when it happens, hit the floor, shut your eyes, and cover your ears. Whatever you do, don’t jump up and start hollering. That just makes you a target for the attackers as well as a potential victim of friendly fire. Get down and stay there. Soon, you’ll likely be grabbed by one of the rescuers and dragged away.

If the situation becomes prolonged, you may notice some of the hostages, perhaps even yourself, sympathizing with the attackers. This is called Stockholm Syndrome and is rather common in situations like that. Watch for it and fight against it as best you can.

Being taken hostage isn’t a very common threat, even today. But, these situations are happening more and more often. Keep the above tips in mind should you become a victim.

Dog Pepper Sprays Are An Effective Solution Against Dangerous Stray Dogs

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Ideally, every dog should be loved and cared for by its owner, and that includes vaccinations, spaying and neutering, proper nutrition, walking them regularly on a leash, etc.

However, many dogs are abused, abandoned and become strays due to irresponsible dog ownership. In some locations, the situation has become a growing concern.

Stray dogs are a reality, and some of these dogs can be dangerous, no matter the breed. Furthermore, in some states there are no leash laws. Dogs are free to roam without any repercussions to the owners.

Millions of adults and children are bitten or mauled by dangerous dogs every year. Dog pepper spray is one defense humans have against threat or injury from a dog attack.

Dog Pepper SpraysDog pepper sprays contains a pepper mist. More specifically, an ingredient such as OC (oleoresin capsicum) is typically used. Reputable makers produce products that are considered safe and humane for use as a dog repellent.

The spray can shoot for a number of feet, up to as much as 10 feet with some products, and is shot in quick bursts. This means that a person does not have to be up-close-and-personal with a dog, risking even more danger, in order to use the spray. Often these products come with belt clips or keychain attachments for easy access.

Despite its intended target – a dangerous dog – humans must be careful when using the product. If you are forced to use pepper spray on a windy day, it’s important that you take care.

It is possible for the spray to hit the user if the weather is windy. Just as when the spray hits a dog, you will experience similar effects if you accidentally get pepper spray into your eyes, nose, etc.

There are a variety of reasons to use a dog pepper spray:

1. Professionals, such mail carriers, carry them for protection.

Although postal carriers will not randomly spray dogs for no good reason, they carry pepper spray for their safety. If a dog owner has failed to secure their dog, and a mail carrier is reasonably feeling he or she is about to be attacked, they have a right to use the spray. Other professionals, who risk dog injury or attack, will proceed in the same fashion.

2. Runners and walkers, who travel through areas inhabited by stray dogs, may choose dog pepper spray.

People who use running outside as their form of exercise face a number of dangers. One of them is traffic. But another one is a stray dog, particularly if the person chooses to run at night.

A runner can stop running, or they can shout at the dog to make it go away. They can also climb a tree if they are faced with a very vicious dog.

However, a runner can feel safer by clipping a small can of dog pepper spray to their running clothes in case it’s needed. A person should not have to give up running due to the number of stray dogs in a neighborhood. The use of the spray gives a runner the freedom to continue to enjoy the activity.

Another example of a person who may choose to carry the spray is people who frequently walk rather than drive or ride a bike. For example, if you walk home from work every day, but you are forced to walk through an area that is frequented by a stray dog or dogs, the spray would be a handy tool for you to carry with you.

There have been complaints about the use of these sprays. Although the makers assure that the products are not harmful to dogs, they do have an effect on dogs that some people oppose.

When a canine pepper spray is used on an animal, the mist enters the eyes and mucous membranes. There is pain and swelling as a result of the contact. However, these effects only last for about an hour. Nevertheless, an hour of pain for a dog is too much for those who oppose these products.

Dog pepper spray can be found here.