Tag: guest post

Guest Post – Cybersecurity PSA

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA

Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Graham Salwell

Before I begin I would like to remind you to check out the free novels and audiobooks while you’re on the Green Comet website.

In the past year alone, 23% of Americans either fell victim to identity theft, phishing scams, and credit card fraud or personally know someone who has. According to the University of Maryland, every 39 seconds, a hacker attacks an unsuspecting victim. That is an excessive amount of people targeted, and the statistics look equally grim for virtually every area in the world.

Image by ItNeverEnds from Pixabay

What can we do about this? We can protect ourselves against these attacks by exercising smart cybersecurity etiquette. Here are some good tips for you to apply moving forward:

• Use protective software for all of your devices

First thing’s first – invest in some good anti-virus software. That goes for your phone and your tablet, as well, not just your computer. Every device that is connected to the internet can be a target, so you don’t want to mess around with this. Thankfully, if you’re cheap, broke, or simply can’t be bothered, there are lots of free trials for anti-virus software, so you can just use those for now. Some of these trials allow you to set up multiple devices, so you may just be able to cover your phone, as well.

• Don’t connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks

We all love a bit of free Wi-Fi, right? But that sweet, sweet Wi-Fi can be your downfall, if you’re not careful. The great thing about unsecured networks is that anyone can connect without a password. The awful thing about unsecured networks is that anyone can connect without a password. That includes people who are out to steal data from unsuspecting users who don’t know that any sensitive information they send across via this network can be intercepted by third parties. It’s always best to go ahead and ask for a password from a business or institution or travel with your own data, to avoid issues.

• Do not open emails from addresses you don’t recognize

Did you know that a lot of these scams are perpetuated via email? That’s right, the infamous Nigerian prince scam is still kicking. Amazing, isn’t it? To be fair, most of these sketchy emails end up in your Spam folder, where they are easier to avoid. But every once in a while, they make their way through the spam filter and into your inbox. If you see a weird email in there, hover over the sender to see the email address. Does it sound familiar? Do they have a reasonable way they could have gotten your email address? Is the subject something that concerns you directly? If not, you can safely ignore or send it to Spam purgatory.

• Learn how to recognize phishing scams

The reason why these attacks make so many victims is that phishing scams are getting cleverer. They are often disguised as emails from friends, from your bank, or from other institutions that may reasonably contact you. They will usually ask you for sensitive information, such as your bank details, or passwords. They may even require you to click through and sign in again on a fake website that looks exactly like the legitimate one. Remember that legitimate businesses and institutions never ask you for this kind of information over email, especially your bank.

• Look for the signs that a website is legitimate

And speaking of sketchy websites that look legitimate, if you’re ever in doubt, there are ways to verify whether the website you’re on is real or not, and if it’s safe.
First of all, make sure to double-check the URL – is it correct? Is it spelled right? Sometimes, fake sites will have a very similar, but different URL to the legitimate one. Does the site have an active SSL certificate? You can verify that by checking if there’s a lock next to the URL. That indicates that it’s been verified and encrypted. It’s very important that if you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the website, that you don’t use it. Don’t input your details, don’t click on anything. Just click away.

• Set strong passwords

Passwords are still super important for security in 2020. With the sheer amount of cyberattacks taking place every day, there are hackers trying to break into your accounts everywhere. A weak password only makes it easier for them.

Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay

A solid, strong password must be at least 7 characters long, and feature a mix of lowercase and uppercase characters, as well as special symbols. That will make it harder to guess or brute force-hack. We have so many online accounts, each with their own password that it’s often tempting to just use incredibly simple passwords that are easy to remember, like birthdays or names. But that’s like offering your information on a platter for hackers to take. At least make them work for it.

• Keep your sensitive information in cloud storage

Proper data storage is a hot topic right now, as data breaches are happening more and more often; and to big companies, too. It obvious we are not doing a good job of storing our data securely, so what’s the best way to do it, in order to make sure that you’re keeping your sensitive info as safe as possible? The best way to do it is to put it up in cloud storage. Yes, there are still some security concerns – mainly related to entrusting a third party to protect your data – but it’s safer than just keeping this information on your computer. Having the info on your device means it can become corrupted if the device breaks down, if it’s stolen, used by someone else, if someone manages to connect to it without your knowledge, or if it becomes infected by malware, spyware, or ransomware.

What’s the bottom line? All in all, cybersecurity is an important – and relevant – topic for all of us. Unless we actively take measures to protect ourselves, we’re all sitting ducks for the hackers who infect our computers and steal our data. Whether it’s setting a better password or becoming more aware of spam emails and fake sites, we can all do a better job of protecting our data.

Graham Salwell

Guest Post – On Chickens

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA


Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Before I begin on my story, allow me to mention that this article is published with gratitude to the Green Comet website. The publisher, Jim Bowering, is also an author who has written a most intriguing series under the Green Comet name. I would encourage you to read them.

Laird Smith


There is much being said about chickens these days, raising chickens that is. Not just raising them on a farm but raising them in town in individuals’ back yards. I grew up on a tree fruit farm where my parents also raised chickens for eggs and for meat.

Every spring my father bought 24 Leghorn chicks, all females. We had a pen near our house so we could monitor them easily. The pen was cat proofed because once a stray killed almost every chick in the pen. When the killing started, the cat was overcome with excitement and bloodlust as terrified chicks darted here and there until only the hidden ones were safe. The next day my shocked father removed the live chicks and left the dead ones where they lay. He then set a trap for the chick killer while leaving the forced entry open. The next day yielded a feral cat. My father dealt with the animal and he made double sure the pen was secure from that day on.

We bought more baby chicks for a total of 24. They grew fast into pullets. As soon as they started laying eggs they were moved into the adult chicken pen. This pen had an outdoor chicken run as well as an indoor roosting house with a third of the building having cubicles in which the hens laid their eggs. The eggs were collected twice every day, once in the morning during the first feeding and in the afternoon because sometimes they returned to a cubicle to lay an egg. Sometimes we had to reach under a hen to collect the eggs while she was waiting for the one she was going to lay. The number of daily eggs collected was between two and three dozen. We ate some ourselves and sold what we couldn’t eat.

The adults didn’t lay eggs every day like the pullets did. Some of the adult hens — broody chickens they are known as — got the idea that they wanted to raise a family. They would sit on those unfertilized eggs and cackle. They were so loud they could be heard from the family farm house which was 150 meters away. That was a signal to us that we were going to have chicken dinner soon, for there was no way to dissuade those chickens from sitting on their eggs. They refused to lay any more and would peck anyone coming near their nests. For those wanting to raise chickens in town, you are going to encounter broody chickens. Think of your neighbors 150 meters around you. What are they going to think about your cackling hens?

The Leghorns were the best layers, however, if they saw one speck of blood on another chicken, they would peck that bird to death.

Our chickens were fed a mash pellet — wheat grain and oyster shell which strengthened their egg shells. They always had a pail of water in the fenced chicken run as well as a pail in the roosting house. As a treat, we fed them table scraps which they loved! They always had the run of the land where the fruit trees grew. We released them to forage at 10am, after they had finished laying their eggs. The wheat was served at their 5pm meal. To call the chickens in, we would loudly bang a tin can on the side of the feed storage hut. They would come running from all directions, some even flying briefly in their haste to arrive in the speediest fashion to feast on the grain. It was served in the chicken run so when they were finished they could either go roost or go and forage some more. The older ones went to roost and the younger ones departed to forage.

After dark, one of our family members would go and close up the pen to make it secure for the night. Sometimes the pullets chose to sleep in the fruit trees instead of the roosting house. Using a broom handle, we poked them out of the trees and made them go into the chicken run, and then made sure all the gates were closed. The next day the cycle started all over again.

Laird Smith

Guest Post – A Migraine

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA

Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Laird Smith


Before I begin I would like to remind you to check out the free novels and audiobooks while you’re on the Green Comet website.

A Migraine

Recently a relative of mine was abroad when a heat related migraine headache struck. The migraine was so intense, the relative was hospitalized.
I was around the same age as my relative when I suffered my first migraine symptoms. At the time I didn’t realize what it was because all I saw was a jagged, colored aura in my vision. It wasn’t until years later, while in my mid twenties, that I really felt the effects of a full blown, knock you down, head splitting, beastly migraine! To deal with it, all I could do was sleep and fortunately I was home at the time. I thought later about the occurrence and realized the migraine came on as a result of lack of sleep. I resolved to not allow myself to be sleep deprived.

I was visiting someone in the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton Alberta, and was browsing through a pamphlet information rack. I came upon an item that spoke of a way to deal with migraine headaches. The pamphlet spoke of the pain centre of the migraine being filled with blood. The key was to transfer that inflamed blood centre to another part of your body. The example they used was your wrist. If you are one of the fortunate ones to be pre-warned of the migraine, then you begin to slap your wrist, hard enough to make it turn pink. When the migraine symptoms depart and the migraine is supposed to come on with its vengeance, it does not, because the inflamed blood centre is now in your wrist!

I decided to try the procedure next time a migraine afflicted me. I stopped being careful about getting enough sleep. Sure enough, not too far along, my vision pre-warned me with an aura, and I wanted to begin the slapping but was in a public setting and didn’t want to make a spectacle of myself. I held my wrist and plunged my thumb into the soft tissue repeatedly. When the aura went away, so did the migraine, mostly. There was a bit of tenderness in my head from the ordeal and I took a pain killer to deal with it. I decided that next time I would take the pain killer as soon as the symptoms manifested themselves and that worked much better. For the next thirty years I dealt with every migraine headache the same way. Never again was I debilitated by the beast!

In 2015, I began to take blood thinners and anti-cholesterol drugs to mitigate a possible stroke after being afflicted with TIA’s (Transient Ischemic Attack.) There have been many days since when I have experienced a lack of sleep and expected to combat the beast again, but didn’t get the migraine symptoms nor the migraine. I don’t really know, but suspect it is the drugs I’m on, that have alleviated the migraine problem.

My journey with migraines has been an eventful one to say the least. I am not a medical doctor nor do I aspire to be one, all I have is my experience which I hope some may find beneficial.

Laird Smith

Guest Post – Observations on American Politics

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA

Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Laird Smith

Recently, I received a picture from an American friend on Facebook which truly shocked me! I’m a centrist and it takes a great deal to jar me but this picture and caption did just that. It was a family picture of a husband and wife and three daughters aged eight, ten, and twelve. All were well dressed and smiling ear to ear. That’s not too shocking is it? It was what they were holding that jolted me. All five of them were holding semi automatic rifles slung across their chests. The daughters were each holding an AR-15 while the parents were holding firearms with much bigger stocks. I couldn’t determine exactly what kind of firearms they were but they were not hunting rifles. I thought for a moment that the family was just doing a spoof when one of the comments the pic received was, that the oldest daughter was a marksman and had won many competitions. The caption read,”repost this and watch a liberal’s head explode!” I wrote to my friend and asked him about the pic. His reply was that someday they might have to resort to defending themselves from the Democrats because the Democrats are a bunch of crazy radicals!

This is not the America that I lived and worked in for 6.5 years. The America I knew was peace loving, friendly, and exuded warmth. Americans were a people I grew to love and respect. The gun toting family picture was anything but friendly. It was downright scary! However, the picture reminded me that we Canadians have an undercurrent of hate and fear mongering swirling in our culture too. Not too long ago I was speaking to a Canadian friend on the phone, a man I respect and honour and have known for 35 years. He spoke of the American Democratic Party having members who were cannibals and have committed all kinds of atrocities to aborted fetuses. To say the least I was shocked! I asked him where he got this information and he said that radio and TV Christian preachers were saying these things and including other accusations too. At the time I found that very hard to believe. I went to the online Democratic Party statement and was unable to find anything that my phone friend was accusing them of. Then later I saw the picture of the gun toting family and read the caption, then I understood that the American Democratic Party was under fire with rumour and innuendo!

I look back to 1975, in which began my 22 year stint with what I call the Control Church(CC). The church was part of a North American wide movement of loosely affiliated groups of Christian churches of born again, Bible based, tongue talking, spirit filled, converted members, mostly youth, some who were former hippies and Jesus Freaks. This is where rumour and innuendo festered. For examples, at our church we once heard that Crest toothpaste had the sign of the devil on it, so many of us stopped using Crest. Canada Safeway grocery chain was supposed to be owned by the Mormons so we were obligated to stop patronizing Safeway. Then white bread was bad for us along with watching TV and participating in amateur sports teams. Going to university was also frowned upon, among many other leadership induced no-nos. Most accepted those leadership decisions without question, myself included.

As I look back at those formative years, I see the hands of the trusted CC leadership fully controlling our lives by allowing rumour and innuendo to infiltrate our social circles.
It looks like the same thing is happening in the CC today. Trusted Christian leadership is villainizing the American Democratic Party which in turn is creating mistrust and fear among the faithful. Similar beliefs were fostered by Hitler during his rise to power and we all know where that went. Is that where our beloved United States of America is going? Will each party villainize the other to the point where they will come to blows leading to civil war? I don’t know of anyone who wants that, but with the current river of fear and mistrust, that seems to be the direction that the nation is headed. I hope I’m wrong because I have friends and family in both camps and don’t want to see anyone hurt.

Laird Smith

Am I Meant to be a Boy or a Girl?

Credit Ben FrantzDale – CC-BY-SA

Guest Post

From time to time I will be publishing posts from guest authors whose writings I think will interest people. Of course, all opinions and assertions in these posts belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily agree with mine. Please direct your praise and criticism to the author. — rjb

Today’s guest author is Laird Smith

Laird Smith

In my last article, I spoke of my hormonal disability which I was born with and was undiagnosed until I was in my early thirties.

When I look at my life as a preschooler, I was comfortable with adults but not so comfortable with children, although my parents were unable to discern that fact in my life at the time. I started school at the age of five because my birthday fell in early December which was the cut off to make me ineligible for grade one. The failure of beginning school that early didn’t really come to fruition until I started grade seven and entered puberty. But that is getting ahead of myself.

As an primary school student, I wouldn’t punch anyone in the face, which is what boys did to one another when they fought. Nor would I fight, I just cried a lot. The boys in my neighborhood chased me and I ran away as much as I could. If the boys caught me, all it took was a mean look and I would break down into tears. Sometimes I took a punch then broke into tears. Generally I got along with most children. At no time did I think that I was anything other than a boy. Girls cried, boys didn’t cry. I cried, but it never made me question whether I was meant to be a boy or a girl.

Grade seven was a troubled year for me. My lack of surging male hormones caused me much trouble because my emotions were out of whack and I was deeply confused. The adults in my life were of no help either. One teacher that I had for five subjects, tormented me continually and I wept a great deal. The adults misunderstood me as much as I misunderstood myself. The stress caused by a hormonally unbalanced body leaked into my whole life and colored my every decision, but at no time did I question whether I was a boy or a girl. I failed grade seven and was glad because the tormenting teacher wouldn’t be part of my life anymore, I reasoned.

During the summer holidays I did many things, climbed trees, fished, climbed in the hills near our house, and picked tree fruits for money. The question of whether I was a boy or a girl was not a question in my mind. I was called a girl because I cried when intimidated or punched by the bullies, but sexual identity was never a serious consideration. The lack of hormones gave me a great deal of indecision which culminated in running away from all difficulties. I quit high school and went to seek my fame and fortune.

The driven male sexuality was never part of my life especially as I grew into adulthood, and again I still didn’t question whether I was a boy or a girl. I continued to cry when frustrated right on into marriage. One time my wife told me that men don’t cry. I took that to heart and forced myself to stop the tears and never again cried out of frustration.

The discovery of my hormone issue arose when we were attempting to get pregnant. I went to a urologist and he told me the news, that the issue could be treated with medication, but I would never father children. I began the treatment and my emotional life began to stabilize from that point on as my body reacted to the stress relief given it by the male hormones.

This whole previous dialogue is to illustrate how we change as we grow from children into adults. Today children are supposed to be how they feel. If they feel like a girl while in a male body, then they want to change their sex to a girl and vice versa. Surgery is a radical transformation. When that child goes into puberty and the hormones begin to kick in, then they will have to take medication to counter the sex they were born as anyways, unless the prostate is removed with the testicles in the case of boys changing to girls. So, why cannot those children be counseled to hold off on surgery and be treated with medication during puberty instead? These children will likely change their minds again and again as time passes by. Children being surgically altered to make them happy is very short sighted. Counseling is by far the better choice.

I feel very fortunate to have grown up when I did. As a child I had enough on my plate without trying to figure out whether or not I was meant to be a boy or a girl.

Laird Smith

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