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.

Schools Need to Vaccinate Everyone

You can do all of this and create the safest “system and physical plan,” but you cannot instill the self discipline in younger children that will make those plans and protocols work.

For years, the people writing the regulations for schools have been so disconnected from the reality of education that they have created the dismal failure that exists in our schools. This only really hurts the students…and what do they know? They have to do what they are told…right? Right? Right!!!! Every teacher knows the answer to this question and now so do some parents who have been observant. The answer to that question is NO.

The pandemic and distance learning have shown clearly that we have a large number of students being left out because of lack of technology but also the lack of supervision. Sending your child to school means that you can put the teacher in charge of “keeping your child in line” in addition to teaching the child the academics mandated by the State. If you have observed a ZOOM class online you can see that many students are misbehaving during their classes in front of their computers or checking out completely. There is no intervention by the adult physically in the room.

You can quote the CDC all you want. You can have the President say it is so. You can have the doctors agree on protocols. You can do all of this and create the safest “system and physical plan,” but you cannot instill the self discipline in younger children that will make those plans and protocols work. Every teacher knows this and now many parents do as well. Those parents are demanding to remain online until there is a vaccine . Which parents do you think will demand to have their children in school? Yes, the ones with very little self discipline or any discipline at home.

Teachers are in the high risk group. The age of a teacher could be 22 or 62 or somewhere in between and comorbidities increase with age. How do you know? The truth is…you don’t. There are immunization requirements before a person starts school for diseases that have all but been eradicated. We have a killer disease in our midst and vaccines that are becoming available more and more. Why the rush? Yes, it has been tough. Yes, you are tired but the idea that one year of this type of education will “do irreparable damage” to kids is ludicrous.

If you wanted to go to school to teach or to learn you would have to get a TB test. In 2019, 1.4 million people died of TB. In 2020, over 2.4 million people died of COVID 19. Both diseases are respiratory in that they are transmitted through the air on water droplets. TB is bacterial, has an ineffective vaccine, and is monitored by employment testing all over. COVID is a virus that has many promising vaccines but is behind the intervention curve in both diagnosis and immunizations. Why the rush? Putting people back into school even part time will not do anything to improve academics and will slow the real progress of getting a normal opening for the next academic year.

The rhetoric coming from Washington even in this new administration is very Trumpesque. It is not unusual for any administration to legislate schools into institutional obsolescence whether Republican or Democrat. It is unconscionable to politicize the profession to risk the very people we need to overcome the administrative stupidity that emanates from government at all levels for the sake of votes or feeling good. Lawmakers…it’s time for you to put on your Big Boy Pants and defend common sense.

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.  

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Freedom is Painful

This nation could not start without a unanimous vote of the colonies. Through days of debate, it became clear that the southern colonies would prevent independence unless the mention of the slave trade was removed from the document.

The Cast of 1776 from The Ritz Theatre in Oaklyn, NJ in August 2003.

There is an awful lot of debate now, particularly in the recent weeks that deal with the ongoing hate and prejudice surrounding men and women of color. There is a desire to expose our painful past and remove any public link to any degree of pride with some of the characters that have been involved with past events. Some, I dare say most, are justified. While protesting today’s injustices we must try to keep some kind of perspective. This nation had a painful birth. It was in the name of freedom from England’s tyranny that we sought to have a separation from them as a governing body. At the same time, we had a massive contradiction when talking about oppression but having a practice of enslaving human beings.

When Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, he examined his own practices and conscience and intended to have this document indict the King of England for creating this practice and seeking to have it ended with the Independence of the United States. This nation could not start without a unanimous vote of the colonies. Through days of debate, it became clear that the southern colonies would prevent independence unless the mention of the slave trade was removed from the document. In the interest of the unanimous vote, the passage was removed.

Independence Hall with the “mythical” scoreboard that kept the audience aware of the score.

“The right to be free comes from nature.” This quote was from Thomas Jefferson. Ben Franklin encouraged Jefferson to leave out the entire passage relating to slavery for the sake of the vote to pass. Samuel Adams said to Ben Franklin, “If we give in on this issue, there will be trouble a hundred years hence; posterity will never forgive us.”

In 2003, I was in a play called 1776. This play and movie chronicle the proposal, debate and finally approval of American Independence. It was a painful process. No country had ever broken off from the mother country before. The quotes listed above were in the play but since Sam Adams was not the main character of the play, the line was given to John Adams character and shortened leaving out the “hundred years hence” line because the authors believed that it would be too unbelievable because it actually happened.

Now here we are…over 200 years hence. We are now “posterity”. We are trying to decide whether to “forgive” the founding fathers. George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson have been vilified over recent days because they are now being identified as being in favor of slavery. They were living in a time when it was already part of a “way of life”. If they never debated it in the process of becoming a “free” nation, then I would agree that they needed to be judged a little harsher. They also became traitors to England, a crime punishable by death, in order to become a new nation. They were brave, honorable and yes, they risked the judgement of “posterity” by compromising their ideals for the sake of starting a new nation.

Statues of confederate soldiers and leaders that fought to continue the practice of slavery should be removed. Hate and prejudice will remain but as a nation we need to condemn the painful time. We have to acknowledge that as a nation worthy of the name United States, we have to come together. Our history is our history.

Turner Classic Movies will be running the movie version of 1776 starring William Daniels on Saturday. Maybe we should encourage everyone to watch it. Aside from the songs, which probably didn’t happen, this depicts what actually happened. It may give a new perspective to those who would want to demonize all of our founding fathers without putting this into context.

It’s Going Viral

If we all locked down and really did what we were told by medical professionals, we’d be looking at this in the thing rear view mirror.

This is an all too common phrase. When we see a YouTube video that we like or some other video or post and we share it, it is said to go viral. The term comes from the medical world where a virus spreads from person to person because it is transmitted or “shared” with that person. That is why households get sick, places of work get sick and it goes from place to place. We seem to be comfortable with the term when describing the Internet experience but it gets clouded when you bring it back to medicine and that is where the viral experience becomes deadly.

Medical professionals have told us that it is a virus. They have categorized it as such and understand it as such, but the disease that it causes is new and it is attacking old and young alike in many different ways. In order for it to be treated we have to deal with it for a much longer time and experiment and we are going to lose a lot of people that way. In order to prevent it, we have to find a way to trigger an immune response to the virus. This also takes time and is unique to this new virus. Medicine has only one absolute. Remove the host and the virus will die.

If we all locked down and really did what we were told by medical professionals, we’d be looking at this in the thing rear view mirror. It would have taken about a month of serious lock down and we’d be back to “near normal”. Instead, we are on the path to real devastation. This is because we have another viral load to deal with…deniers…led by the denier in chief.

He said in January it would go away and has been saying it ever since. Now, what could have been a one month shutdown if it where handled as a national emergency has no end in sight and his narrative hasn’t changed. “It will go away”, he says. In spite of all that he has said that hasn’t come true, people are believing him…and they go about like there is no threat at all. They also do something far worse. They “share” their opinion and others follow suit. The idea goes viral and so does the virus.

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.

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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.

Story Time The Hundred and One Dalmatians

On april 9 and 10 of this year, the students at my wife’s elementary school were scheduled to perform an elementary junior version of the Disney musical 101 Dalmatians. During the rehearsals, I had always told the students of the subtle differences in the book version of the story. Sadly, due to the international pandemic, the students were unable to perform this show. In an effort to keep them from totally missing out on their experience, I have taken it upon myself to read the book to them through consecutive YouTube videos.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be reading one chapter a night and then having them stay on YouTube. This will hopefully encourage the kids (grades 3 to 5) to want to read more and give them some degree of continuity. I have also decided to read to them from a variety of different locations to encourage them to “bring a book” with them when they are out.

I am reading from an old Signet copy of The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. As I read, if I come upon any illustrations that can help with the story, I flash them up along side of my face. This way I don’t break the continuity. While I have targeted the students at my wife’s school, there is no reason why this can’t be made available to all kids…of any age.

My brother was a very good reader when he was in elementary school. I was not. He used to take great pleasure in reading to my brothers and sister some of the stories that he enjoyed in class. When I have been in the elementary schools, they also enjoy hearing stories. If this helps you get through this uniquely challenging family time I would be glad if you could share it.

Here is the link to the premiere.

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.

If you build it…

I smelled a faint burning electrical smell in my house. It was actually coming from my bedroom…specifically my computer. I know that I should have investigated this further. I didn’t. Eventually, my computer started to act funny. It started coming on and off when it was supposed to be sleeping. About a week later, it was dead. I found the power cord to the power supply was melted. The resulting damage to the motherboard forced a hard decision.

The new upgraded pc and cabinet.

This computer cabinet had seen about four different motherboards. Each one required a bump up in the processor. Also a jump in the RAM. Many of the upgrades remained with Windows XP. I was a very late mover out of XP. When I made the move to Windows 10, I left the ASUS and Intel Motherboards and moved to MSI. This is the brand of the computer game enthusiasts.

My recent interest in Day Trading has required me to add more monitors. While I have exhausted what I could put into the old cabinet without an extra video card, I could still get 3 to work. When this gets up and running, I will still have 3 working. I need to wait on the video card as this is already too expensive. I needed to replace the processor, the motherboard and the RAM already. It is over $1000.

I probably could have saved the old computer if I had reacted sooner. The old video card was pulled because the fan on it was so loud. Day traders need multiple monitor setups and I know I will have to add a video card which means more fan noise. Well, the new case that I had to buy to accommodate the new requirements of the video cards also contains 5 case fans for cooling. When I add more video cards there will be two more fans. If you include the power supply and the processor fan, this is going to be one loud pc setup. I hope that I will still be married next week.

A Whole New Me

So what about creativity??? There is no better message to convey to the world than the one where you are reminded that you create your reality everyday. It’s up to you. I learned that with my health. It goes like this. I wanted ice cream. My wife wanted a cookbook. We went to the bookstore. She went for a diet. I went for ice cream. On the aisle on the way to the ice cream shop in the mall, I ran across a display with books written by a particular doctor. I had seen a couple videos on the Internet. I was intrigued. I bought the book, read it and gave it a chance…really gave it a chance and now…I am a whole new me.

Creation takes time. I know it. So…having never given anything a chance that it should have…I finally decided to run the program. It helps that it was written by a doctor. It helps that he has a practice right here in the Coachella Valley where I live. I still haven’t seen him. I have run the program. Here is where I started.

I began in chronic pain from the knee. I had both blood clots in my leg and torn cartilage in my knees. I know that is what I have. I didn’t even need to get a diagnosis. I did go to the doctor in June of 2018 so that I could get a real doctor in my California home. He ran a bunch of baseline tests. He didn’t show extreme concern since the hospital already had me on blood thinners from the most recent DVT.

I ignored my condition for about a year and then in May of 2019, I began the program based on The Plant Paradox. It is a book by Dr. Steven Gundry. It has been 149 days. I went for a followup series of blood tests. And my eyes are opened.

Test6/5/1810/8/19
HDL4752
Chol/HDL Ratio4.993.9
VLDL CHol4112
Cholesterol234205
Triglycerides20762
Non HDL187153
LDL Calc146141
LDL/HDL Ratio32.7

So these numbers are my “so far” numbers. The other aspects include a weight loss of 30 pounds, the reduction in joint pain in my knees and shoulder. All this with no medication, in fact even a reduction in medication for my blood thinner. The cost was about $14 for a Kindle book and the ability to read and follow a plan.

In my next post, I will discuss my recent visit to a medical practice that is promoting Stem Cell therapy. It will be an eye opener.

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