Sunday, August 18, 2013

Protecting Yourself and Minors Online...

Image courtesy of technobuffalo
I recently wrote a post about online privacy. I had no idea how many folks would read that post and post comments.  I think I hit a nerve.  The fact of the matter is that technology has become such a staple in our lives.  I personally feel like I am missing 'a part of me' when I forget my phone or misplace it for a few minutes.  I think I need to work on that personally.

Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they have a shepherding program called "Visiting Teaching".  This program assigns every "Sister" or adult female member of the congregation a pair of other "Sisters" who contact the Sister once a month to visit and share a spiritual message.

This past month, our Ward/Congregation was asked to share a very specific message on pornography to follow-up a class that had been taught on a Sunday.  The information was very detailed and even though I was aware of much of the significant prominence this ugly subject has on the Internet, many of the Sisters that I visit did not.  We all came to the conclusion that we all need to be more private and careful online not only for ourselves and also put protections on our devices for not only our children.....but our grandchildren as well.

During the course of the conversation, the term "Snapchat" came up.  This was a new one for me. I looked into it.  It essentially is similar to Instagram, but the image disappears from both the sender and receivers devices (and the server) in under 10 seconds.  Initially, I thought...'oh....that would save storage space..hmmm'.  However, the Sister sharing the information was talking about "Tweens" with smartphones who are using this.  

Let's think about this again....why would someone want the image to disappear? Nothing appropriate comes to mind personally.  Certainly parents cannot check the history/photo's to see what was sent or received.  Certainly young minds can be exposed to questionable and inappropriate images at a moments notice. If the warning bells and whistles are not going off in your head....they should be. 

Another one that I recently learned about is "Kik" which is for video.  This app reportedly scans your contacts in Instagram.  Here is a quote from "High Tech Dad"  (a great site I might add) about something he recently experienced.

Here is what happened…someone on Instagram contacted one of my daughter’s friends to connect on Kik. And once they were over on Kik messenger and chatting, this “stranger” asked to see this child’s privates. (Disclaimer: I don’t have all of the exact details, but what I have accounted for in this article is my understanding of the situation. I also performed my own rudimentary investigation.)Just pause and think about that for a minute. From innocently posting photos to being solicited by a pedophile.

When I learned about this, the first thing that I did was look through Kik. Most of the connections that my daughter had were her local friends. A couple were friends she had made via Instagram. I made her end her conversations with kids we didn’t know. Then we had her delete pictures of herself on Instagram and clean out who is following her. That night, I spent some more time exploring her Kik app. I saw a message from one of her friends saying something like “don’t search for the user ‘Instagram’ on Kik…it’s gross”. Of course, I had to check it out to understand. When I searched for “Instagram” on Kik, it showed a user called “So Horney” or “Very Horney” or something like that, and the user’s picture was that of a man’s genitals. Having seen that and having reviewed the lack of privacy and having read more about Kik, I talked to my daughter about deleting the app immediately. A few days later, when I checked my daughter’s phone, the Kik app was gone (my daughter later told me that she deleted it herself). You can see this is an odd and potentially dangerous relationship between Kik and Instagram and how someone make it instantly perverted.

That is shocking. I was scared. I was scared for my kids. And I was scared for other families who don’t take an active role in protecting their children from the dangers online.

Do I have your attention yet?

Also, if an image of a butterfly or unicorn is sent to your could be code for a Pedophile.

Now...THIS IS MY OWN OPINION....but I really do not see the need for children and teens to have a Smart Phone.  There is, and always will be, more questionable apps and intrusions to distract and capture the minds of our youth. Certainly there are 'good things', but does your child need all the technology when they are in school for 6+ hours a day, have sports practice, church activities, and should be sleeping for 8 hours a day?

A basic phone allows for calling and texting....just consider it.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Mother Nature......

We were in the Canyon this evening at an event.  The wind was blowing very hard.  On our way to the Canyon, we received a call from my in-laws.  The wind was blowing so strong in their area that their Chimney Cap was blowing off.  We made a quick trip to their house and Rooster Senior climbed up the ladder and fixed it.  We then continued on to the Canyon.

In the Canyon, we attended a dinner and were also entertained by a musical group.....all while holding on to our plates and cups.  Forget the how your hair was all for nought.  But, we enjoyed the company of the our friends and associates.

When we got home, our backyard was strewn with broken and fallen limbs. Thankfully, none of them hit our home.  Our neighbors either lost trees or had then break in half.  

Among all the chaos, I looked at my garden.  I was assuming that I had losses there as well.

Thankfully, all was well. The tomatoes were fine as were the cucumbers, peppers, and grapes.  I am grateful that in the midst of such a tremendous wind, that the bounty from our garden was not harmed.  

The Lord blesses us in many ways.  Today, I am grateful that I have my trees (although pruned in natures way), that my husband has skill sets to make repairs in a moments notice, and that the bounty of my garden was unaffected.  Anyone up for canning some salsa? does your garden grow?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Should you cook frozen items in your Sun oven unattended all day?

I have been on vacation since July 24th.  Yes, I really have and I have both rested and worked during that time.  This past week, I worked along beside  my Sisters who all happened to be in town.  My parents have purchased a new home and my other sisters, who are part decorator, descended upon thier home to help make it worthy of being featured on the Parade of Homes....not that anyone has asked:).

What may my role have been?  I was a mover, organizer, companion, chauffeur, and basic laborer.  This is because I just don't think as creatively as they do, and I am perfectly fine with that.  I tend to be more of an analytical thinker....they are more creative.  This arrangement just works for us.

My sisters also have an interest in preparedness and food storage.  One day, I volunteered to cook my Sun oven.  They had heard of it but had not seen one up close.  I decided to do something very easy....Roast and vegetables.

As you can hopefully see in the picture above, I used a Cooking Magic Bag. I just love these things.  I placed sliced onion on the bottom and then halved little new potatoes and added baby carrots.  I placed a frozen roast on top and sprinkled onion soup mix on the roast.  The bag was closed up, a black napkin was placed inside of the pan before bag of food was placed on top of that.  This dark napkin helps to attract the sun as the pan underneath was a disposable aluminum pan that would reflect the heat away.

I then began to show my family members how to align the Sun Oven with the sun by aligning the circles of light on the two indicators that come with the device. This appeared to be a bit enlightening for my sisters as they couldn't understand what these little 'white things' were for initially.

I intermittently went out to check the oven and had to move it and realign the little circles of light as the sun moved over head.  I used a frozen roast on purpose.  When I attended the class to learn how to use the Sun Oven, several participants state that they put frozen items in the sun oven in the morning before they leave for work and eat the prepared meal when they returned home. did it turn out?

This is the finished product.

I sliced the roast and it was cooked through.

How did it taste?

Well, my father was raised on a cattle ranch and considers himself to be somewhat of a connoisseur when it comes to beef.  He traditionally has a jar of Chili Sauce (that he and my mother can each year) ready to put on....everything. Imagine my surprise when he not only said the beef was good, but also when he did not put any Chili Sauce on it!

What did I learn with this?

Well, I learned a couple of things.

  • I would hesitate to leave the Sun Oven unattended with a meal inside of it for the entire day.  I found I needed to make little adjustments every few hours. Plus, we went shopping for a while. As I was unfamiliar with the 'shade' pattern that my parents new home made as morning faded into the afternoon, my little device was shaded when I came home.  I quickly checked the food and it was very, very hot still.  I was lucky.....
  • I would cut up my vegetables into smaller chunks. They were cooked, but firm.  I didn't add any liquid as I knew this was a closed system.  I was counting on the juices from the frozen roast to be the liquid in the bag. There was liquid, but apparently it did not steam as I thought I should.  
  • This device creates some buzz.  A neighbor came over to see what we were doing.  My Dad tried to give him the 10 cent tour as we were all inside the house except him.  A couple of days later, the neighbor asked if it worked. My sisters answered for me...a resounding yes.  
  • This worked well as it was really hot this past week.  My parents new home heats up when the oven is used.  So, we could have this meal without heating their home.  I would do this again in a heartbeat!

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