Monthly Archives: March 2015

Securing Your Online Persona

I had coffee recently with a super fun group of ladies. The topic came up about personal information available on the internet when one mentioned she’d received an email from Facebook asking for her phone number. She ID’d it as a scam and deleted it. I believe it was probably a legit email, but it never hurts to be careful.

That discussion, and a request from a dear friend, warranted a blog about securing your online persona (a.k.a. choosing what people can see about you on the internet).

There are a loComputer Identity2t of articles dedicated to getting off the grid or becoming invisible on the internet. We’re not interested in going that far. People can know we’re on the internet, but if you’re like me, you want to control how much personal information leaks out. Me? I like to keep my public personal information to a minimum. My friends and family know how to contact me and that’s what’s important.

In case you were wondering, here’s why websites ask for our phone numbers.

Reason One: New website security these days includes what they call “two-step” verification. Step 1: you log in with your normal user ID and password, Step 2: a security program sends a code to your phone via text, voice, or mobile app. You enter the newly sent code to log on.

Do you have to do this every time? No. There is a box to check or a question telling the security program to stop flagging the computer where you just logged on and to allow logging on from that computer without the code in the future.

Reason Two: Websites, such as Twitter, are allowing log ins with only a telephone number. There’s no user ID or password. You get a security code texted to that phone number and use it to enter the website.

cell phoneReason Three: The website is using marketing apps. Advertising texts, including coupons, and voice mail marketing are part of this.

Reason Four: Websites where you transact business will ask for your phone number as well as your address. These websites usually have your info on a secure page (denoted by https:// at the beginning of the URL address).

Bank, broker, auction, and other financial or sales websites are different than social media websites like Facebook or Twitter. I don’t put my phone number on social websites; I don’t want to be that social. Facebook would like to be the next Amazon, and does offer advertising packages. But for the majority of Facebook users it’s still just another social media site. No hate mail please, Facebook lovers.

Whether you give out your phone number or not is up to you. I do on financial and sales sites because I want them knowing they can call me if there’s a problem. On social media sites, I do not. They have my email address; they can email me.

There is also the fact that typing my landline number into any search engine (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc)  will pull up my address. If you know my cell phone number, my name and address can be requested for a fee.

 Securing Your Online Information

Let’s talk about securing what personal information is floating out in cyberspace. The one we’ll tackle today is social media.

social mediaWe all love social media. There are so many wonderful things about it. It keeps us in touch with distant friends and relatives, and lets us know in real time what’s happening in people’s lives. We can view photos of loved ones we don’t see regularly, and follow businesses and events.

In my opinion, the best of all worlds is to be able to utilize social media while keeping my personal information safe.

I’ve included a few the largest social media sites in the U.S. below. Believe it or not, there are dozens of others in almost every country around the planet. If your favorite isn’t listed, I bet you’ll see a trend in the below examples and be able to find your way through your site.

Facebook Privacy

Not long ago, Facebook redesigned its site to make it very easy to tighten up your personal information and security.

Find the padlock in the top right corner of your Facebook page. 1) Left-click on padlock, and select 2) Privacy Checkup.
Facebook privacy checkup









The screens to update your information look like example screens, but they’re actually interactive so you can click and adjust your information.

First Step is “Your Posts”. Remember, Facebook Terms of Service allow that your intellectual property rights (pictures, videos, etc.) are “subject to your privacy and application settings”. So if you set your privacy to “public”, Facebook assumes you mean anyone and everyone.
fb checkup options

Second Step is setting “Your Apps”. These are sites you’ve logged onto with Facebook. Remember being asked by a website if you want to use Facebook to log on? This is where the sites you said yes to are listed.
Connect with FB

FYI: Being a paranoid individual, I rarely sign on with Facebook. Exceptions would be benign website like National Geographic, Washington Post, Fox News, etc. I’m okay with these sites knowing as much about me as Facebook.

Third Step is “Your Profile”. You can make this as secure or as public as you wish. I bet you didn’t know you had an individual Facebook email address, did you? Now you do.

Twitter Privacy

Adjusting Twitter privacy settings are pretty much like any standard website. You can tell people as much or as little as you’d like by what’s in your profile.

1) Go to the Me tab, 2) left-click the Account gear, then 3) Settings. Under Settings you will see how your information is presented on Twitter. 4) Edit profile will allow you to edit your information.
Twitter Settings


Pinterest Privacy

PInterest’s privacy settings are accessed in the upper right corner under your name. 1) Left-click the gear, then 2) left-click Account Settings. You don’t need to click “Edit Profile” because you can adjust that under Account Settings.

PInterest account settings

Youtube Privacy

Settings are in the top right corner by your picture. See a pattern here? Many, if not all, setting options are in the upper right corner of your browser window very close to where your picture is or would be if you uploaded one.

1) Left-click your picture, 2) left-click the Settings gear icon,





3) The left margin contains areas you might wish to adjust.
Yourtube privacy


Google+ Privacy

If you don’t know what Google+ is you might not have an accounGoogle+t. But, if you have Gmail for your email provider, you might have an account and don’t know it. To find it, in the top right of your email main page you’ll see your name with a + behind it. Left-click on that to get into Google+.

Google+ Privacy settings are…you guessed it, upper right corner by your picture.
1) Left-click the menu arrow beside the picture area, 2) click Privacy.
Google plus


If you hover over the Home area to the left, you’ll get more options. You can edit your profile here and access Settings at the bottom of the list.
Google plus Home

Don’t forget to update the Audence tab (1). This lets you determine who can see your Google+ stuff.  It’s under Settings.
Google plus privacy


I hope you now know a bit more about how much of yourpersonal information is accessable through websites.

There is  great government website that addresses these issues also: Guide to Keeping Your Social Media Accounts Secure 2015 .

Rest easy with your new social media piece of mind, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀

Other security articles you might find interesting:

Facebook: LIttle Known Tips and Tricks Tip Six three-fourths of the way down the page also talks about public posts on Facebook.

Giving Out Credit Card Numbers

Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!

Creating the Safest Passwords

Spotting Hoax Emails

DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.


Battling Influenza

I’ve been out fighting a form of Influenza. Don’t know which numbers and letters—N3H2, N1H1…A, B—but it was a hard-fought battle and I remained victorious.

Thankfuknight battle buglly it wasn’t a life or death struggle. I was blessed to not develop any bacterial infections. I’d like to think it’s because I’m a preventative kind of person, but it might just be dumb luck.

I know you’re asking why I didn’t get an annual flu shot. I did, but since I got mine in November it wore off before this beast attacked. FYI: flu shots are effective for ninety days only.

Here’s more than you ever wanted to know about influenza and flu shots. If you don’t care, skip down to the important stuff.

pink cat nurseAnnual Flu Vaccines: My take on these is they are a very good thing. I request the single-dose shots as they aren’t preserved with thimerasol, which is a form of mercury, like the multi-dose vials.

There’s a plethora of material saying thimerasol mercury is a different form of mercury, and won’t hurt people. I am not a chemist, but I do have common sense so when manufacturers have taken thimerasol out of contact solutions and children’s vaccines I have to ask, “Why if it’s safe?”

The CDC says thimerasol is removed under their better-safe-than-sorry policy. I think that’s wonderful. Especially since at times I feel there’s a certain amount of collateral damage acceptable in the U.S. regarding drugs marketed for human use. Right now I’d like to send a huge heartfelt thanks out to the CDC for their interest in pharmaceutical safety. Thanks, CDC!

For more information on thimerasol, check out FAQ’s About Thimerasol from the CDC website.

Other flu shot ingredients.

Aluminum salts. I never condone putting excess harmful chemicals in the body. While I won’t buy foods with aluminum in them as preservatives, I feel use in vaccines—which are a few doses given over a lifetime—is acceptable as vaccine benefits greatly outweigh the risks.

Formaldehyde. This is a non-issue to me. Why? I’ve read when the serum is processed the formaldehyde is “cooked” out leaving hardly a trace. Even if this isn’t 100% accurate at least 21 of our most popular fruits and vegetables have naturally occurring formaldehyde. Actually, the coffee I’m drinking right now probably has more formaldehyde than the flu shot I had last fall.

Here’s a link for more information on vaccine ingredients: Vaccine Safety.

sick mouseThere are two prevalent types of influenzas affecting humans: A and B. Of the Influenza A, humans get N1H1 and N3H2. FYI: There are 18 different N’s and 11 different H’s—Influenza B is coded differently—but currently the other letter combinations affect only animals.

Annual flu shots include serum for three to four strains each year: N1H1, N3H2 of Influenza A, and one or two viruses from Influenza B. You can check out more about influenza viruses here.

My insurance company picks up all the cost of a flu shot. If it didn’t, I’d still pay the $30 cost out of my pocket. Only next year—after talking with a friend who happens to be a nurse—I’ll be getting mine in early to mid-December.

homeworkHomework: Research which months have the heaviest flu outbreaks in your area of the world and coordinate your flu shot for the 90 days covering it. No one can predict 100% perfectly, but you’ll have a good chance of being protected.

I also know you’re asking, “Did you go to the doctor?” No. Here’s why.

  • I didn’t really know it was the flu until almost forty-eight hours had passed. When you’re really sick you lose track of time.
  • I was dizzy the first forty-eight hours so probably shouldn’t be operating a motor vehicle anyway.
  • It’s a viral infection which usually has to run its course.
  • flu germSitting around the doctor’s office can expose me to more viruses while I’m trying to fight off one already. Yes, my doctor’s office has masks to wear if you are sick, but I’m skeptical of their effectiveness. One study on masks shows that use of masks alone did not stop catching the flu, but masks use with hand washing did. Facemasks, Hand Hygiene, and Influenza.
  • The only thing the doctor can do for Influenza with no bacterial infections is to prescribe Tamiflu. Tamiflu has to be administered in the first two days of symptoms. Doctors can’t agree on whether Tamiflu works or not.

Now you’re asking, “So Patti, what do you do to recover from the flu?” You’re not? Sorry, I’m telling you anyway. It’s for your own good.

Let’s talk in the order of symptom severity.


I never run a high temp when I’m sick, even with influenza. No, I’m not lying; that’s just how my body responds.

I know people who run temps high enough I’d freak out, but they say it’s normal for them. And they live to tell about it repeatedly so it must be true.

Even with a low-grade temp if I’m sick enough I have chills. Last week I tried to let my body use the fever to fight off the virus, but after a few nights of no sleep because I felt so rotten, I broke down and cracked open the ibuprofen bottle. I slept better.


coughProbably the best cough remedy I’ve ever used was suggested by  a dear friend in India. Ginger root. Yep, it’s better than cough drops by a long shot. In India they chew straight ginger root. Being an American girl, and too much of a wuss to go for the hard stuff, I suck on crystallized/candied ginger.

honeyRemember your grandma saying to drink tea with honey when you’re sick? She was right. According to a government study, honey in tea before bed is more effective than over-the-counter cough suppressants. Click here to view the study.

A miscellaneous note on cough meds.

Suppressants stop the cough, but also don’t let you cough up mucus so it sits in your lungs where it can fester.

Expectorants loosen mucus and encourage coughing it up.

If I have a productive cough—coughing up mucus—I don’t take either. If I do use something, it’s usually only expectorants unless I’m in desperate need of sleep then I use a suppressant, but only at night and only for a short while.


Try chicken noodle soup. Yep, Grandma was right again.

Remember gargling chicken noodle soupwith salt water to heal throat abrasions from coughing? I agree; it’s nasty. I couldn’t do it this time around. It made me gag, and I had sore abdominal muscles from coughing so gagging was not a fun place to go. Here enters chicken noodle soup. Part of its magic is the salt in the broth. See where I’m going with this? I knew you would, you’re smart that way.

Plus hot chicken noodle soup breaks up mucus and has valuable nutrition you need when sick. I’ve included an easy recipe at the bottom. Yep, easy enough you can make it when you’re sick.

Menthol chest rub, like Vicks, works great for breaking up mucus caught in lungs. I swear by the stuff. I truly believe using this goes a long way to keeping pneumonia at bay. I also slather it on my throat if it’s sore and wrap a three- to four-inch-wide section of old t-shirt around it.lemon-lime soda

Try lemon-lime soda with ice. I hardly ever drink soda; I’m a water girl myself. But when you’re sick sometimes straight water just doesn’t do it. Not only does it not sit well on a stomach already filled with mucus drainage, it tastes blah. I drank at least six liters of diet lemon-lime soda when I was sick last week. It felt great on my sore throat and kept me hydrated.

Popsicle are good also because they have sugar for energy, cold for throat relief, and will help you stay hydrated.


When I have a serious cough, coconut oilnot only does my throat get scratchy, but so do the insides of my ears. Sometimes so badly I can’t sleep. A drop of coconut oil in each ear gives immediate relief. Coconut oil is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-fungal so it’s safe. I run hot water over the outside of the container to thin my coconut oil in the winter.


Sometimes my nose gets so dry it hurts. There is a sinus saline gel. It comes in a tube. I put a tiny squeeze on a cotton swab and circle the inside of each nostril. Two cotton swab ends, two nostrils. Funny how that worked out.

If your flu is over and you still have cold symptoms or just a cold, my pharmacist recommended this and it really helps to keep sinus infections away.

Sinus Infection Prevention.

Suck on Altoids (or other mints made with real oil of peppermint,  but not imitation peppermint). Use saline nose spray as recommended on bottle for as many days as you need. The mints and spray will keep your sinuses clear. I write my name on my saline with a marker and keep it handy, even just for a dry winter nose without a virus.

Now that we’ve talked about things you can do to stay out of the hospital if you get influenza, here’s a handy shopping list you can highlight and print off.

TIP: Find a shopping bag/cardboard box/something to store your “sick” supplies in after you buy them in October. Store the frozen items in the freezer; just sayin’. When you feel crappy with the flu, you’ll thank me for this tip. And if you’re blessed enough to not get sick, you can use the items that won’t keep until next time over the spring and summer.


  • Ibuprofen
  • crystalized/candied ginger
  • honey
  • tea (chamomile or passion flower encourage sleep)
  • menthol chest rub (our $1 store carries it)
  • lemon-lime soda
  • popsicles
  • coconut oil and ear dropper
  • saline sinus gel
  • saline sinus spray
  • Oil of Peppermint mints
  • Chicken Noodle Soup Ingredients
    • powdered chicken base
    • 1-2 cans of chicken
    • 12 oz. bag of peas and carrots
    •  Amish/kluski noodles

Easy chicken noodle

I hope this helps you and your loved ones the next time they are attacked by the influenza bug.

Have a great week-end, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀

DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. On any health related blogs, I am merely giving advice that seems logical to me after research and investigation. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any medical degrees or certificates related to nutrition, psychological, pharmaceutical, or medical health.


Tax Time 2015

scrabble taxI’m recycling a past blog as the timing is right for it.

Remember there are a lot of telephone scams that sound legit. Be safe everyone.

Click this link to read all about it.

Scammers Posing as the IRS

Have a fantastic rest of the week, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways.