The Impact of Covid-19

At the start of 2020 there were inclings that this was to be a year of changes and new beginnings. The health of humans was encountering something unusual and then, things started happening swiftly all over the world, the pace of which sped up and simultaneously slowed down our daily lives dramatically as the months wore on. Toilet paper-a basic need, was one of the first public indicators that things were going to change in rather a dramatic and unusual way this year. A theme of gratitude globally began to emerge in a direct response to the work of frontline workers and healthcare workers. Clapping was something we could all do from a distance. A collective thanks began.

Covid -19 or the Coronavirus as it was first know was travelling at a fast pace around our globe and often faster than humanity was able to keep up with in many parts of the world. Airline travel screeched to a halt and economies began to temporarily shut down and life as we all knew it stopped moving quite so much. A new normal began with handwashing so frequently that our hands felt sore, with few outdoor outings, many layoffs and closures and an eerie magical quietness that descended in our towns and cities. This new time of new lockdowns and new closures welcomed a new era of bread baking. It sometimes seemed like all this time could be used for reflection and sometimes it looked like alot of online stress as alot of people who were not working on the frontlines had all this time on their hands and simply no place to go but home. Those with children out of school worked hard to maintain a sense of family normalcy and the people on the frontlines often became quite exhausted with the challenges that Covid-19 has brought to humanity.

Where will Covid-19 take us by the end of the year and what permanent, no-going back type of changes will emerge? The answers are unfolding before our daily lives. How will this new normal be created in a seamless way into our daily lives? Well, this new normal is a fluid thing and parameters are still being tried and established. Some things like distancing in schools, more empty spaces on airplanes and distancing on public transit and in office spaces may change in the long term or at least until a vaccine or cure are both found.

The impact of Covid in 2020 will have long lasting repercussions in many fields of life. This year, this 2020, is one of immense change, let’s hope that the rest of the year can provide some light and hope for humanity and do keep on looking out for and supporting all the health care workers and the frontline helpers this year, it is our helpers after all who are the true modern day heroes in 2020.

Cybersecurity and the New Year

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This year I am determined to shed light on VPNs or Virtual Private Networks for my family and friends. Because not everyone knows what they are and what they do exactly or if they are even necessary as a security tool.

According to Nord VPN a trusted provider of VPNs they explain what it is in clear terms:

“Typically, when you try to access a website on the internet, you start by connecting to your internet service provider (ISP). They redirect you to any websites (or other online resources) that you wish to visit. All your internet traffic passes through your ISP’s servers, which means they can see and log everything you do online. They may even hand your browsing history over to advertisers, government agencies, and other third parties.

Here’s where a VPN comes into play. It redirects your internet traffic through a specially configured remote server. This way, the VPN hides your IP address and encrypts all the data you send or receive. The encrypted data looks like gibberish to anyone who intercepts it — it is impossible to read.” (source NordVPN.com)

So what does a VPN look like? Well imagine a tunnel and that all the data you send and receive is being sent through a tunnel however when its encrypted as in when you use a VPN your data is actually more secure and less available for hackers to access.

Should I use public WIFI? Sure, go ahead but make sure your VPN is turned on as this can protect you, should you be doing any online banking while out and about. This way your data and your IP address is effectively hidden from prying eyes.

If I travel alot do I need a VPN? Probably as it can help you in accessing content abroad.

If i want to shop online should I use a VPN? Your VPN can protect your data from hackers so its always a good idea when entering credit card information to have a VPN turned on.

In short, a VPN lends you a global IP address and hides your true IP address from every website or email you connect with. Your real IP address is a behind-the-scenes number your Internet provider assigns your computer that allows you to go anywhere on the Internet. It’s something similar to the house number on your home.

We just love this easy and short clear video that explains what a VPN is by the BBC https://www.bbc.com/news/av/technology-35328636/technology-explained-what-is-a-vpn-service

So now you know what a VPN is its time to start your New Year off right and help your family and friends to become more cybersecurity savvy this year.

The First Snowman

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As the snowflakes were gently falling from a pearly grey sky on a Sunday afternoon here in Ontario, I wondered when did the First Snowman actually appear and have people always built them?

Well, it turns out that snowmen are a popular Christmas and winter sculpture made of two or three balls of snow. The actual first snowman photo was taken in the 1800’s which seems like a very long time ago. Well known famous artists got in on the snowman popularity and created snowmen sculptures and according to Readers Digest, ” 19-year-old artist Michelangelo, in 1494 was commissioned by the ruler of Florence, Italy, to sculpt a snowman in his mansion’s courtyard. 

Famous snowmen include: the Bonhomme Carnaval, a well known snowman mascot at the Carnaval de Quebec, Frosty the snowman animation, and the lovely animated book The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.

Here are my top five tips for building your own snowman:

Find a fresh snowfall, try rolling a snowball first to see if its the right kind of snow for making a giant snowball. If it rolls well make your first snowball base for the snowman.

Make a second or third ball and stack it onto the first one add handfuls of snow to pack the balls flatter on top of one another.

Choose your very own decorations for the eyes, nose and mouth of the snowman and add a hat or scarf and a pair or branches or mittens for the hands.

Have fun creating your very own snowman sculpture. You could even make him a snowdog for company.

How early is too early for Christmas Decorating?

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This is a question I ask myself every year, as the decorating visions of sugar plums and baubles begins in earnest earlier and earlier. For example take this year, as soon as the Halloween decorations were safely tucked away and November the 11th was solemnly remembered, the decorations seemed to pop up in earnest in the neighbourhood and in the city streets. It seems that the Santa parades dashed by and the official tree lighting ceremonies are now all lit up for another festive season.

As November draws to an end the Christmas decorating is in fact everywhere to see from the local retail stores to the homes and offices I can see fully decorated Christmas trees everywhere. While it is I have to admit, pretty to see with the early arrival of the snow this year and so heart warming and joyful to take part in, it does all seem to be at least one month in advance of the said -main event of Christmas. But, who am I to be a little grinch about it and spoil the fun of twinkling fairy lights and sparkling tinsel. I’m going to join in the merriment and get my tree and wreath decorated tomorrow and it’s not even December yet!

So how early is too early for decorating at your place? Let me know in the comments.

Going where the People Are

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“Motivation is the art of getting people to do what you want them to do, then to do it because they want to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Today, It has been said that if you want to go where your customers are then you need to be online these days. More and more customers are buying online according to statistics and so it makes sense that your business requires an online presence in order to compete for your customers time and hard earned spending money. It is a motivating factor to go where the people are if you have a product or service to sell.

But is being online enough? Well, according to the digital marketing institute you also need to be active online in order to reap any benefits. Social Media is important for your business if nothing else for building an online community of people who can trust and promote your brand. Video is also a trend that is big and since we humans like visual images alot it makes sense to use the platforms available to promote your products in video format if you are able.

Going where the customers are is as important today as it has always been for businesses. Knowing your keywords and stages your customer is going to go through before a purchase is also important. As the move to online progresses, we also need to keep up with the online landscape that is constantly changing in order to speak to and reach the people who need your products or services the most. Your company also needs to ensure that security is a factor in your online presence which can increase your customers trust in your brand. People will want to visit your online presence if you have prepared and curated your content for them and built in a secure trust factor.

Online Security

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It’s Time for us to be more secure when it comes to our phone security these days. But what can we actually do to protect ourselves as we do our daily banking and check our emails?

There are a few things that you can install on your phone before you attempt to do any banking online on a public Wifi and one of them is called a VPN. But what is a VPN I hear you ask? Well, its a Virtual Private Network and it gives you an added layer of secure protection especially if you were thinking of using a public Wifi network. There are many VPNs to choose from and most have a free option and paid options to choose from. We took a look at Tunnel Bear and Nord VPN, two top VPN providers with good ratings and both were easy to install as an app and had a small free version to start with paid options to choose from.

So next time you use a public wifi and want to to protect yourself from hackers and spying eyes you might want to turn on your VPN. That means hackers will have a harder time stealing your login credentials or redirecting your PC to a phony banking site. 

Celebrities that Talk About Menopause

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You know that Menopause has gone mainstream when celebrities are talking about it and they are. From Oprah to Doctor Oz to Jane Fonda to Meg Matthews and Mariella Frostrup, to Gwyneth Paltrow it seems that a subject that was once taboo for the media is now being broached with increasing superstar power.

Every star mentioned above has addressed a variety of concerns and issues that arise during menopause and perimenopause. It is a wonderful starting point and hopefully more women will bring more media attention to the many topics that need to be discussed more openly.

We need to have more mainstream conversations like menopause weekly columns in the media to allow the many topics associated with these years to be commonplace and available on a daily basis.

Its Exam Time-here are some great parenting Tips

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Its that time of year again when exam time occurs at High School level in Canada. It’s a time of high stress, tensions and strong feelings. Here are some tips for helping your teen and yourself through these times.

Make sure plenty of good food is available for them to make good choices from. Try to get them to have a better sleep schedule if at all possible. Make sure they are doing some form of exercise or fun activity to help alleviate stress. Try to talk to them about a plan for studying if possible. Have a white board at home to indicate which exam is on what day so they can try to plan for it. Perhaps give them the opportunity to schedule a small study group to make it less intense for them. Have alot of patience and make sure you can listen to their concerns at this time of year as exams are a struggle to get through for both the teens and parents.

Jamie Oliver gives some great Brain Fuel food tips for exam time here

The Bright Network offers some Real Top Tips for just before the exam

Springtime in Canada

Springtime

Well this year, Spring has sprung at its usual late April -May time and the blossoms on the trees are not disappointing with their beautiful pink and white shades of perfumed petals.

I love this time of year as the tulips reveal their bold colours and the gardens come alive in emerald green hues. The first trees to blossom are the magnificent petaled magnolia trees whose ancient lineage is legendary. Soon after the cherry trees and apple blossoms follow and these are for such a short week or two but so long awaited by us Spring time lovers and the bees and butterflies of course.

Spring time in Canada is such a colourful scent filled short space of time and I am enjoying it even when the rain comes down its still a step closer to warmer days and light filled evenings that we can enjoy.

Here is a list of just a few places in and around Toronto that have splendid trees to see;

1.Niagara on the Lake and the Niagara wine region

2.Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington.

3. Botanical Showcase https://www.niagaraparks.com/visit/nature-garden/floral-showhouse/

4.High Park and the Nature Centre