AI Insipiration

But personal initiative is not just about individual success. It is also about contributing to the greater good. It is about recognizing that we are all part of a larger community, and that our actions can have a ripple effect that extends far beyond ourselves.

I was born in 1962. I was far too young to be personally affected by John F. Kennedy. I have heard many of his speeches on video. Sometimes you just need to be exposed to them on a personal level. I have been playing with ChatGPT and here is my response I got when I asked for a speech on personal initiative in the style of John F. Kennedy. Enjoy!

My fellow citizens,

Let me begin by saying that our success as a nation depends not only on the actions of our government, but also on the actions of each and every one of us as individuals. It is through personal initiative that we can create a better future for ourselves, our communities, and our nation.

As I look out upon this great country, I see a nation of individuals who are capable of great things. I see people who are willing to work hard, to take risks, and to pursue their dreams with passion and determination. But I also see individuals who are afraid to take the first step, who doubt their own abilities, and who feel trapped by circumstances beyond their control.

To those individuals, I say this: do not let fear hold you back. Do not wait for someone else to take the lead. You have the power to make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others. You have the power to create change.

Personal initiative is not just about taking action, it is about taking responsibility. It is about recognizing that you have the power to shape your own destiny, and that your actions can have a positive impact on the world around you. It is about setting goals, making plans, and taking steps towards achieving those goals.

But personal initiative is not just about individual success. It is also about contributing to the greater good. It is about recognizing that we are all part of a larger community, and that our actions can have a ripple effect that extends far beyond ourselves.

So I urge you, my fellow citizens, to embrace your personal initiative. Take the first step towards your dreams, no matter how small that step may be. Believe in yourself and your abilities. And most importantly, remember that you are not alone. We are all in this together, and by working together, we can create a brighter future for ourselves and for generations to come.

Thank you, and God bless America.

The Need for Security

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Have you found that there are a few more barriers to your normal Internet experiences these days.  It seems like everyone thinks that you may be a criminal and you have to prove who you are…all the time.  Well, there is a reason for that and we are going to talk about it right here.

As more and more of our life moves online we have become inundated with little quizzes and text messages and exercises that we feel are useless just to do what we have been doing for years.  Well, things have really changed.  There are a lot more conveniences that come with our connected world, but there are also threats that we never seem to have been concerned with before.  I am going to relate just a little story here to you and hopefully convey the seriousness of the situation. 

On this website where you are reading this post or viewing this slideshow, there is a little store.  It contains a few things that I created and a lot of things that my wife has created.  I worked on it after I retired from public education so I could see if I could do it.  It turns out that I could and before you know it, I had a store where people could find my stuff and buy it.

Well, one day in January…early on the morning my phone began to buzz…a lot.  It turns out that I had a sale…and another…and another…and another.  As I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes I could see that a lot of the sales didn’t go though.  As a matter of fact…most didn’t.  I panicked.  I was being hacked.  Setting up the store was hard enough…stopping it was something I didn’t know that I was supposed to know how to do quickly.

I was able to suspend the store activity and then I researched what happened.  Here are some slides of the day.  These pages represent a fraction of the stolen credit cards that were run through my store for the express purpose of finding those that hadn’t been canceled yet.  Every failed transaction had several credit card attempts on the individual sale as evidenced by my credit card processing company.

On this first page you can see the orders that had failed but there are also several that went through.  One of them had a calendar date from the day before, but all of these purchases were made during the day…in India. 

By the time it was done, over $78,000 of fraudulent charges were run through my account.  Only three went through and I refunded those transactions.  Additionally, I worked with the credit card processor and my experts at Word Fence to lock down my site and store and this has never happened again.

At this point, I attributed this to the fact that I was naive and I just needed to have my own ducks in a row.  Well, again…I had a lot to learn.

Bank of America taught me a lesson.  Full disclosure…I am a current Bank of America Customer and account holder.  Coincidentally, they are also a contracted agency for the distribution of unemployment benefits for those persons affected by the pandemic.  My daughter, who is no longer a BOA customer, was one of those affected.  It was temporary and so the account was set up and then used and then she went back full time.  She left the money there on the card that they gave her as her own little emergency fund.  She didn’t have to worry…after all it was Bank of America.  The spend millions on security for their bank.

Even so…in one hour…a $1 charge was placed on the card number and paid…700 times.  Sometimes a business would charge an account $1 to verify that it was a real account before you purchase something…but not 700 times from a foreign country. 

Bank of America had they typical automated help line that had no information and by the time you got a real human…the suspicion was on you, the customer…not the fact that you were robbed.  Still Bank of America did finally respond and their caring response took several weeks.  They claimed that they were doing a thorough investigation and to prove it well, they refunded the total amount stolen…Transaction by Transaction.

So what can we do if our most protected banks are vulnerable? 

  • Play Defense!!  No football team ever won a championship unless they anticipated what an adversary was going to do and was ready for them.  First
  • Have Multiple Accounts
  • Check them everyday for charges that you didn’t authorize
  • Think before you click on links in emails, text messages, and especially Facebook Messenger
  • Think before you share any links or respond to what appears to be the most benign question.
  • Use a Credit Card and not a Debit Card.  See the Speech made by Frank Abignale to Google.  I will place the link on the Webpage here.
  • Check these credit card accounts as well.
  • Lock up your identifying information on Social Media
  • Check your data on Social Media.  See who you’re sharing stuff with.
  • Most importantly…check your emotions.  Social engineering is the most effective way scammers have to get you to give away information.
  • Security blocks are annoying but necessary in this world
  • Fraudulent Emails about purchased you never made were meant to get you angry so you respond to them
  • 2 factor authentication is necessary.
  • Change your passwords often…make them tough…lock them up.

The reason that you need to do these things is that your identity and security are not a “set it and forget it” proposition. As time went on, the “Captcha” program that I installed on my website got updated and the settings went back to “deactivated”. Once again my store was used to filter stolen credit cards.

You can also play offense.  Getting Identity protection is important.

For years, I was a public school educator.  Now, I am a teacher and a coach.  It’s time to learn about tools that help. 

Register on this website for the schedule of FREE Webinars using ZOOM.  You don’t need a paid account.  I’ve taken care of that.  The interactive nature allows you to ask and get questions answered. 

The schedule is listed under live events and please view as much of the free content on this YouTube Chanel as well.

Thanks.  See you again soon in a safer cyberspace.

Viral Cocoon

After more than a year of the virus, it looks like the safest place is still in the cocoon.  My house is my cocoon.  Let’s talk about how we can truly thrive in this environment.  

Cocoon MeetingsEastCentralMountainWest
Passcode: 025734
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Password: 021178
Late Prime (Weeknights)
Password: 004178
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Let’s Be Essential

If you’re struggling with being “essential” and you love teamwork and you’ve suddenly got a lot of time on your hands…join me for some lively discussion on how we can help each other through this difficult time of quarantine.

Meetings will not be held on Sundays.

Essential MeetingsEast CentralWest
Meeting ID: 752 5695 7335
Password: 025734
Meeting ID: 799 9014 0669
Password: 021178
Meeting ID: 776 2527 2370
Password: 004178
Meetings using ZOOM. Latest software client upgrade is being used. Security measures in place.

Together, we can talk about our situations. Separation is hard but we can still connect…thank God…and we can still make a difference. One good thing about this “quarantine” is that no matter how far away you are…you’re as close to me as my next door neighbor.

A Seismic Change

Yesterday I was watching a special extended news program regarding the local response to the COVID-19 outbreak. During the news broadcast there was a sudden boom and shaking of my chair, violent shaking that lasted for about 5 seconds. The government put the seismic measurement at 4.9. The news had already gone to commercial but was cut back immediately to the local anchor who was knocked off his game. He was clearly shaken up and for the rest of the broadcast there was a trembling in his voice as the tremors continued.

Just two days ago I had been hiking in the mountains very close to the center of the quake. I remember thinking to myself that just one misstep could kill me or seriously injure me. I also thought about and earthquake. The ground was rock solid. There was nothing but rock. This was unthinkable. Imagine the power to move all of this rock.

There are protocols for what happens in a quake. Emergency vehicles have to exit their structures so that they are not trapped in the event of a collapse. Local law enforcement is put on high alert and now, our cell phones send out the emergency message. Everyone knows what to do but it doesn’t make it any easier. The very ground we live on, the literal foundation of our lives has become unreliable.

This is what we, as a society are facing right now. All of the things that we held dear are now unreliable. Our jobs, our schools, and certainly our government officials have become as unstable as the ground was last night. We want to have back what we have lost. At this point, we have been so shocked at the speed that it has vanished that we miss our opportunities.

We now have the opportunity to rethink a lot of things. We can re-imagine our lives. In the war against a killer virus, we have all become foot soldiers in the battle against the pandemic. We are driving our cars less and the air is beginning to clear around our urban centers. Gas prices have come down and this could contribute to lower costs of moving goods and services around. Our ability to work from our homes has made the highways less crowded. We have all had to embrace technology just to continue to survive.

On a Hike with Mike

I have seen far too many people focus on the negative aspects of this “crisis”. I choose to look at the situation with a different perspective. I choose to consider things that I never would have considered before. I refuse to take a bias against anything as we are in a new world. The ground has moved. It may knock me down but I will get up. If the path is gone, I will make a new one. I will be a better person in the end.

New Year, New Scam

Nothing like a scam to start the new year. It’s becoming way more common than you might think. Scams have a way of affecting the masses everywhere. Let’s take my day here and think of all of the scams that I encountered.

This morning, like I have been doing since November, I got up at about 5AM to prepare for my day in the stock simulator. I have been doing this for the last 3 months and I have been very excited to learn the procedures. I was getting better and better at this over the past week, but today, no. When the President attacked Iran, he put fear into more than just the Iranians. He put fear into the Middle East, the allies, and everyone connected with international commerce. The result was something that I had never encountered before. Craziness put me close to $2,000 in the hole. Of course it was play money but I am trying to develop skills and discipline.

Somewhere along this losing streak, I became aware of new activity in my online store. That is the one on this site. You can visit it if you want, but i has been disabled temporarily. You see, people started buying my stuff. They were buying my downloads. This was my original content. I was so pleased. Then…I realized, most of the transactions were being denied. I quickly realized it was all the same person using many credit cards. After briefly researching this and removing the downloadable products for now, I found that this was a way for people who had acquired stolen credit card data to find out which cards were still live and which were cancelled.

There were 7785 attempts to purchase materials using this stolen credit card data. All but 3 were denied because of credit card rejection. The total attempted crime was $80,536.35 . Yes, that’s a big number, but I was not the intended target. I was the conduit. These people were seeking the cards that “fell through the cracks” to rob individuals of far more. They are operating outside of the United States. Up until this week, all of my website traffic came from the US and China. This week, India and Australia spiked. I am angry but thankful that there were security measures in place to protect me and most of the credit card users. What about getting the perpetrators? They’re in India. Should we bomb India?

Truly the new battlefront is the Internet. If it is not misinformation regarding our politics, then it is the very real threat to national and international commerce. Foreign powers continue to abuse the naivete of American citizens aided by selfish partisan politicians who continue to ignore the fact that the failure of the government to act to lock down our electronic communication and truly defend this front instead of their own personal agendas.

It took me 3 hours to figure out and lock down my site. This is a major crime and if you are reading this, there is a chance that your credit card was used on my site. At some point during my work, the President made a public statement about his “war footing” and the stock market found some more confidence and went on a run. Surprise, surprise. I opened my trading software and I found that I left an open position on 17 shares of Tesla. It went from -$17 to +$325. At some point, I am sure that I will have to deal with the refund of $27 that actually went through on my site. My prayer is that the criminals who found these credit cards were working will immediately charge way more on these accounts. That would be tragic.

If you own a website store, lock it down. If you are alive a breathing, your information is already out there and no amount of free credit monitoring will fix that. Be vigilant. Oh…and Happy New Year.

The Year of the Pig

I think that a pig is a perfect metaphor for my life. No, it’s not what you think. Over the Christmas holiday, I actually played a game with my brother-in-law and my son. It was called “Pass the Pigs”. It may just have been a stupid little game, but it also happened to speak to a part of my life and my being that I may just have been ignoring. My strategy, no matter how much of a good hot streak I was on, I never deviated from my goal of not losing and having a winning turn.

I have been reading up on Day Trading. This is a post retirement career that has been intriguing me for some time now. The thing that I have always been frightened of is the prospect of losing a lot of money gambling on the market. The more I read, the more that I find that it is farthest from the truth. In reality, it is the mentality and staying true to your plan. You also have to keep emotion out of it.

It would appear that education is the biggest problem when it comes to something like this. I am talking about self education. Traditional schooling will instill far too much fear. Learning, real learning is for yourself.

The NAMM Show

The NAMM Show is the annual conference for the National Association of Music Merchants. It is, by far, the largest music event that I have ever attended. It brings together performing artists, buyers, sellers, manufacturers, music agents, and music education advocacy groups all under one conference.

Mike and Karen McCausland at the NAMM Show.

It was held at the Anaheim Convention Center and attracted thousands of people. It was just a stones throw from Disneyland. I stayed for 3 days and I still haven’t been to all of the vendors. I have also been to many workshops, most involving education where I still have a passion.

One of the great things that I was able to do was to meet new and aspiring artists in the field of music. I spoke at length with a couple at a round table discussion for the industry. We met an AR guy who gave many insights to those there. I was pleased to meet a delightful young lady from Oklahoma named Ciara Brooke. She was typical of the countless number of people following their dreams.

I will certainly go again to this amazing event. It was well worth the trip.

AI in the eyes of a Venture Capitalist

Forty percent of the world’s jobs in the future will be displaced by technology that stems from the development of AI.

Yesterday, I caught a glimpse of a commercial that hit a nerve regarding AI (Artificial Intelligence), and a venture capitalist. I didn’t pay enough attention to record the episode of 60 minutes because I was engrossed in an activity that plagues millions of potential geniuses…professional football. Now that my team has lost…and essentially, that means nothing to me…I can concentrate on teams that matter. In particular, teams that matter to my life and my future.

Forty percent of the world’s jobs in the future will be displaced by technology that stems from the development of AI. Since this is being reported by a prominent venture capitalist and they are responsible for future economic trends, attention must be paid. This was not the lead story on the news and it is tragic. Time marches forward and this prediction is over the next 15 years. Far too many people have been sounding the alarm over this and yet, the news either ignores it or buries it.

Today’s students entering high school will begin making career choices as Freshman. These choices will be for college education, because that’s what educators know and by the time they graduate college in 8 years, we will be half way to the replacement of 40% of the jobs that are labeled routine. These students will rack up debt for a degree that is useless in the face of this kind of change and no one is warning them of the coming catastrophe.

As I write this, I have found this article blocked to me and I couldn’t reach it without logging on to their system and emailing this link. The kids are still sitting in rows and trying to become as standard as possible. When will this crap end? If you still don’t think that it is crap, go watch the piece yourselves and follow the links listed.

60 Minutes Piece Most Likely to Succeed

Belief and Opportunity

So, it is a return to blogging. I know that it has been a while. I also know that I am better when I put things into words.

I have been working with a Network Marketing Company for year. I have done very little. Most of the time I follow what is going on, but I do very little. Oh, from time to time I get somewhat involved. The truth of the the matter is that I don’t believe. The question is “what don’t I believe?” I know the company is great. I know the product is good…everybody already uses it. Then, what don’t I believe in. It has to be me.

I have noticed that most people who do really well in this company are teachers. I have made my living as a teacher. Why then would I doubt my ability now? The truth is that I shouldn’t. It has been proven over and over again that my passion is what moves people. Today, I took a big step. Tomorrow, I will take another.