Monday, July 16, 2012

Protect yourself against Internet scams

After I helped a friend of mine deal with an Internet scam this weekend, I felt compelled to write a brief blog and make others aware.

This friend was doing some work on his computer and all the sudden this message came up on his screen that said he had been blocked from his PC for "at least one of the reasons specified below". It also stated that in order to unblock the PC he needed to pay a $200 fine through MoneyPak within the next 72 hours.

This is a scam!

Now, in defense of my friend he does have virus software installed. However, let’s face it folks, the virus checking software and malware is only as good as its updates. And they will ALWAYS be behind the Internet scam artist and hacker. Plus, if you don’t have the software scanning every second something is bound to get through.

How can you prevent things like this?

I’m not certain you can prevent everything. Heck! I am probably more cautious than a great many people are and I got a malware on my PC about six months ago.

One thing we did on my friend’s PC is to download a second malware software package. That actually found even more issues that we cleaned up. Thank goodness!

We installed the latest security patches for his operating system and applications. We also changed his Internet security settings.

I suggested that they password protect everything with a strong password and explained that a strong password is at least 8 characters long with a combination of letters and numbers and even funny characters, and to NEVER use a word that can be pound in the dictionary or anything to do with their families names or birthdates. Never use the same password for everything.

These are just a few of the things we did to improve his chances of not getting another malware software on the computer.

But, this is not enough. You have to be aware of the sites you are visiting on the Internet. There are some sites that are links to sites that download software to your machine without you even knowing. Even software that doesn’t do damage to your computer, but tracks sites you visit and the information you type in.

NEVER, I can’t say this enough, NEVER click on a link in an email unless it is from someone you know. And even then beware. If a friend of yours send you links to jokes on a regular basis, do they usually send a quick note in the email? If they do and all the sudden you get an email with just a link and now words. DO NOT click it!

Your bank will NEVER send you an email! You will NEVER be the beneficiary of some great fortune via email! The FBI will NEVER contact you via email!

If your computer monitor starts flashing at you and screaming that you need to buy some software right away to get rid of some virus or send money to get yourself all fixed up again, it’s a SCAM! These malware places want your information. They want to steal your money, they want to steal your identity.

Hint: If you get an email from a company you do not know, it’s probably fake. If the email is misspelled, it is probably fake. If the message does not have your name in it, but calls you Sir or Mr. So and So, then this is NOT real. It’s a scam!

If the email says you need to hurry and click the link to clear up some issue with your account, it is NOT real. It’s a scam!

Please, even companies like Yahoo get hacked, like they did last week. A great many people had accounts compromised due to this lack of security at Yahoo.

Change your passwords, make them a strong password, and do not use the same one for every account. Whatever you do, do not save that account information on your computer. Once some malware has the chance, it will take that information and pass it along to the Internet scammer or hacker.

Take care, be smart and cautious! If you have any doubts, DO NOT click it!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Celebrating National Ice Cream Day and Month

In 1984, President Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day.

Seriously! Look it up.

Today, being Sunday, July 15, 2012 and the third Sunday of July, is National Ice Cream Day.

What does that mean?

It means, “Let them eat ice cream!”

Yes, that’s exactly what it means. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, you should do your part in this national day and go eat ice cream.

What kind of ice cream will you eat? Hard-packed or soft-serve?

What’s your favorite flavor? Vanilla, chocolate, Chunky Monkey, or one of my favorites…Moose Tracks?

Will you eat the ice cream in a cup or on a cone? What kind of cone? Sugar or waffle?

Do you get sprinkles, jimmies, or dipped?

Single scoop, double, or do you go for the big dippers and get an ice cream sundae or ice cream split?

Me? I do believe I will have to do my share in celebrating this national day and eat ice cream.

I will go down to one of my local ice cream shoppes and get a kid-size, hard-packed, chocolate in a cup. Yummy!!

What kind of ice cream will you eat to celebrate today being National Ice Cream Day?

Enjoy and watch out for brain freeze!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Training for half-marathon and I stumbled along the way

I've been training for a half-marathon since January and I seemed to have stumbled into a small problem.

Recently I was diagnosed with kidney issues. Particularly what happens is I get dehydrated and my lowers legs and feet swell…even after drinking six to eight bottles of water. Can you believe that?! I couldn’t.


My kidneys are not fully functioning. After several tests, the doctor (a wonderful physician whom I trust) discovered that my kidneys are losing too much protein and not taking enough in. Without the protein my kidneys do not function to full capacity.

Kidneys are supposed to get rid of waste and toxins and share the good stuff, in this case, water to the other cells in the body. Well, my kidneys aren’t able to send the water to my cells so it sends it as far away from the heart as possible, which ends up being my legs and feet. They have swollen to the point that during three races my left foot went numb and I thought pins and needles were sticking up from the bottom of my feet. Talk about pain.

How does this happen?

Various reasons, but in my case it appears to be, according to my wonderful physician, malnutrition. No, I don’t eat junk food or garbage, but basically I don’t take in enough food, enough good foods (in this case protein). Basically, I workout too much and eat too little.

Of course, my trainer has been telling me the same thing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have been trying to eat better, more. I did this, however, by faking it. I drank two protein shakes a day and thought that covered me. Boy was I wrong!!

My doctor asked me, “Do you have an aversion to meat?”

The answer is, “No.” I do not, however, enjoy cooking it. I actually very much hate the smell.

I no longer have a choice. Yours truly has a goal of a half-marathon in Dingle, Ireland on September 1st and I will not get to do this if I do not eat protein and get my hydration back to normal.

How much protein do I need?

A minimum of 60 grams a day…from unprocessed/fake sources.

Where does protein come from?

Meat! One of the best sources of protein is meat; beef, chicken, and fish. Almost across the board for every ounce of meat you eat you intake 7 grams of protein.

Eggs are another fantastic source. An egg has 6 grams of protein.

Dairy is another good source, but watch out for the fat. A slice of American cheese has 6 grams of protein. Greek yogurt is my favorite source of dairy protein. Chobani makes this kids’ yogurt that is mixed berry and it is delicious! It’s a small container so I don’t have to eat a large amount to get 8 grams of protein. I usually save this for dessert after dinner.

Beans and nuts (almonds/walnuts) are other great sources of protein.

In my case, I have been ordered to eat meat and eggs. All the others are a bonus.

In addition to my lack of protein, I have to stay hydrated. In this case, water is not the only or best solution.

How do I deal with the hydration?

This one is way simpler for me. Eat fruits and vegetables! Ah, but they have to be fruits and vegetables high in water content. Believe me, this works!

I have been eating watermelon, cantaloupe, green beans, lettuce, or tomatoes at practically every meal. Broccoli, grapefruit, and plums are other great water fruits and vegetables. There are more, but I don’t like them. I have one cup of fruit or vegetables at every meal or for snacks.

Notice that most of the foods I mentioned are not processed. This is key. Natural foods have less sodium. Sodium is very bad for me because it aids in the bad fluid being retained in my body.

Because I am a nut and I wish to be better sooner than later, I have also endeavored to identify a few other things to help with my kidney issues. I am trying IsoPure water, which is a protein water drink. Just drank two of them this morning. Not bad…but I mixed it with cranberry juice as cranberry juice is good for kidney function.

This afternoon, after I eat my chicken Caesar wrap for lunch (35 grams of protein), I am going to try a protein gelatin. It’s something similar to the water I just mentioned only in jello form.

I am not counting these supplements in the 60 grams of natural protein that I have to intake each day. I’m counting these supplements as bonuses or a hopeful boost.

Wish me luck in getting my kidneys back on track and making my half-marathon!

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