Thursday, 12 January 2012

Thursday Tidbits: Back 2 School, Gmail Hacker and more!

After a long and eventful Christmas break it's back to the same old hum-drum of normal day-to-day life. 
 Coder returned to school yesterday after two weeks off and I think that he is glad to be back in school. While he enjoyed staying up a bit later and not getting up so early, he seemed to be getting a bit antsy and was asking when he got to go back to school. I think all kids are like that. They don't want to go to school, yet when they are on a long break they start to realise how boring it can be and long to return. They start to miss their friends and having something to do each day.
He was begging to go back to school!

When I was a kid I LOVED school. I was a total goody-goody, teacher's pet in every sense of the word. I got the Principal's Choice Award each year from Kindergarten through to Grade 8. I take my children's education very seriously and I try my hardest to be involved with Coder's schooling. I never got to graduate from high school because I got pregnant with my son and dropped out in grade 11, one year away from graduating. Then between raising a child and having my daughter, my education took the back burner. However,  I am only missing a few credits so I have been really looking into getting my adult-diploma, which is the equivalent of a high school diploma except it is for people over 21 and only requires nine credits, one in each subject. My hubby graduated in 2006 and one of my biggest regrets ever is not finishing high school.

So yeah, I try to stay involved in any way I can. I attend all parent teacher meetings, I try to volunteer to help in any way possible. For example, before Christmas I donated a big bag of Christmas craft supplies that I had purchased at the dollar store (Plus, a few I already had kicking around). It only cost me ten dollars but it was hugely appreciated. The entire kindergarten population (Two classes) all got to make a Christmas craft from the supplies I donated. It makes me feel good when I can help out like that. I also make sure to send treats for his class for each class party and holiday. Speaking of which, I have decided what I am going to make for his class for Valentine's so you can expect a tutorial on that in the next few weeks. In my opinion, handmade is so much more special and memorable than some expensive character-themed, store bought Valentine. I try to include something edible with each little holiday treat for his class. However, because allergies (especially peanut) are so rampant in schools these days, I try to stick to pre-packaged treats such as lollipops, candy canes, etc. As much as I would love to hand out hand baked goodies I have this horrible fear of some kid dying from a peanut allergy because of my cookie. I will have to save the baked goods for the next bake sale, though to tell you the truth I am not much of a baker anyways. My cookies always seem to come out burnt or too soft.

Donate your craft odds and ends to your child's class.
I haven't been able to crank out a very inspirational post in last day or two because I have had a lot going on here at home. Nelly woke up in the middle of the night last night burning right up with a fever, but I gave her some children's Advil and she fell back asleep. She was better the next day, but still a bit warm.  Coder is off to school right now. I had to get Hubby's sister to come pick him up and bring him to school because it is FREEZING outside and Hubby just went back to work. That is good because it is extra money but bad because now he cannot drive Coder to school or pick him up and it has been like minus thirty degrees every single day. Coder is gone to Nanny's right now, where is having a sleepover with his cousins. There probably won't be any school tomorrow because we are supposed to get a big snowstorm. If there does end up being school then Pappy will most likely drive him there in the morning. Hub's couldn't go pick him up because he is in the process of changing our tires on the car right now. I really need to get my drivers licence so I don't have to rely on other people to drive me places. Don't get me wrong, I love walking, just not in the cold, and especially not when I have to drag Nelly out into it as well.

Speaking of Coder, I have to bring him back to the dentist this month to get some cavities filled. He has three cavities but one of them is pretty big and he has been complaining about it lately. Even though I have dental coverage, we still have to pay 70$ for the initial consultation (we will get it reimbursed later though). They are going to decide if they should put him to sleep for the procedure or not. I am voting yes on that one because he freaked at his last dentist appointment and I had to basically pin him down and hold his mouth open. I think part of it was that the dentist wasn't used to seeing kids and she showed him the sharp tool they were going to use which freaked him right out. I couldn't believe it when she showed it too him and then pressed it against his fingernail to show him what she was going to do on his tooth with it. I understand that she meant well and was trying to show him it doesn't hurt, but you do NOT show a five year old (four at the time) a sharp tool and tell them you are going to stick it in their mouth and poke their teeth with it!! Bad idea...So, I am guessing he will have to be put asleep. The largest cavity is on his front tooth and truthfully, I wish it would just fall out already. But it is important to treat cavities even if they are baby teeth because they can affect the adult teeth and prevent them from coming in right. I am trying to be hyper vigilant about Nelly's dental care also as to prevent cavities with her. We tried to brush Coder's teeth at least twice daily but he still got cavities. I honestly think dental health is somewhat genetic because I know people who are anal about teeth brushing and stuff who get cavities, then I know people who never brush and have none.
Start brushing young. You'll be the one paying if you don't...

Another issue I have been having has to do with my electricity and heating of my home. I got my bill yesterday and almost had a friggin stroke. It was 350$ for ONE MONTH! I don't know how much power costs in the US of A, but in Canada, well New Brunswick at least, that is crazy for a basement apartment. I am running my own washer and dryer so I know that is contributing a chunk of it, but still. I rarely have my heat on during the day, I only turn it up a bit at night. Plus, I am able to control the heat in each individual room and only about three of the six rooms ever have heat actually on in them. But I am having trouble with the heater in my hallways, as in it won't turn off. Although, I can control the heat in every room in my house, but the hall one is broken and is running constantly. However, it is not a large heater and nt enough to account for the insane bill. I already know that this place isn't properly insulated and there is cold air coming in from every window and door. I have heard that you can request to have an air test done to determine if there is outside air coming in. I am going to go to the Dollar store in the meantime and buy some weather stripping to fill the cracks in the doors and windows. I hope to resolve this issue soon, though, because it is costing me money. When I first hooked up my services, NB Power required a 400$ security deposit, the equivalent of an average two months payments. My bill just from last month cost almost the same as what they consider an average amount for two months! Something is up when your bill suddenly increases by almost 150$. When i find out what the issue is I will let you know. Any tips or advice on how to lower your power consumption would be greatly appreciated.
NB Power, why do you hate me?

Oh, another thing I wanted to mention! So, I was checking my Gmail the other night and when I signed in a pop-up appeared saying that someone had accessed my account from somewhere in Bosnia. WTF? Sure enough there was a sign-in by some unknown IP address that originated in Bosnia. The first thing I thought was what did they read?? I checked through all my emails to see if there was any personal info that they could have gotten their hands on but (luckily) although I do my banking online, I do NOT receive my statements or any banking info by email. It is scary to think that if I had that some random person with less-than-honest intentions could have access to my funds. It was a very good eye opener to me that the Internet and even password protected accounts are not as secure as we think. I read a really neat article I wanted to share on the subject, titled "5 Things We All Do That Make Hackers' Lives Incredibly Easy." While it is written as somewhat in a humorous manner, it really does offer some great info on how to better protect ourselves online. So obviously, after my Gmail hack, I had to change my password to something new. Now my old password, I had thought was pretty secure, but the truth is that any password that consists of everyday words can be hacked fairly easily. There are programs that will scan every possible word until it finds a match and when it detects a match,  BAM!! The hackers are in! It is really that simple. As quoted from the article "The average new computer can guess 10 million passwords a second. For reference, the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary lists about 600,000 words, and the average adult knows a fraction of that". And as far as adding numbers to the word, well all the does is increase the time it takes to detect the password by about a half second.


So, I wanted to change my password to something that wasn't a word, but I knew it had to be something I could still remember. Enter the article I just mentioned. They had a great trick to make a secure yet easy to remember password. All you do is take a sentence (or part of a song, a favourite quote, or whatever...Anything that you know you will be able to remember with relative ease). For example, lets take the phrase: "I Kissed A Girl And I liked It"(I really didn't, I swear). All you do is take the first letter from each word, throw in a few uppercase and some lowercase and voila! You have a new secure password of: IkAgAiLi. Then, for even more security add a few numbers, preferably something easy to recall yet not obvious like your birth date. Lets say, the last three digits of your social security. So your new password would be: IkAgAiLi586. Much more difficult to hack then, say, Katyperryrocks87. There are also many more great tips throughout the article, such as why the answers to secret password recovery questions make it easier for hackers to access our accounts. But if you want to know why that is then you will have to go read it yourself!!

So, I was trying to think of some ideas for new weekly post topics and I remembered the pile of poems that I have stashed away that I had written over the years. I have always been a writer and have always loved the English language and the written word. As a teen I filled pages upon pages of angsty, who-am-I-really, depressed poetry. However, within all that depressed, teeny-bopper poetry, I did crank out a few real gems. Some of them I really love and i am very proud of. So, I decided that instead of those pages collecting dust in my drawer, I would dust them off and share them with you guys. So, once or twice a week, I am going to share one of my poems with you. Please let me know what you think, okay? If you like them, then I will make them a regular feature:) The first poem will debut tomorrow so be sure to come check it out. But be prepared, I have always been into the darker side of poetry I just can't do unicorns and rainbows. So don't expect some cheery poem about flowers and bunnies, expect something darker. Much darker (MUHAHAHA).
This adequately describes my poetic stylings...

I frequently (even to this day) write poetry for other people. I write poems for people for various occasions such as: for a lost loved one, for a significant other, etc. So if anyone wants a poem written please feel free to email me and i will see what I can do! I simply get the person to provide me with some facts and a bit of background on the topic they wish to have a poem about, whether it be a person or whatever, and then I take it from there and write a great poem:) I have had my poetry read at funerals, in rehab centres for addiction, etc. I would love to write a poem for you so shoot me an email!! Alright, I will shut up now. Class dismissed!


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