Pay off investment property

Paying off debt involves some nasty math, and when you go to pay off investment property, it’s no exception. That’s why it’s so controversial. When I was in college, my university used this kind of math to weed students out, so it should come as no surprise that the lending industry booms, and so many hucksters make a fortune hawking questionable ways to get out of debt.

I have a better way, and you won’t pay me anything for the advice. Read on.

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This one hurts.

I tried to write the day it happened. I couldn’t write anything that made any sense. Mostly I sat and stared. I told myself when the Royals made the Wild Card, I’d be happy with whatever happened, because it was postseason baseball for the first time in 29 years.

But as they kept hanging on and steamrolling opponents, I got greedy. And it’s hard to feel guilty for getting greedy. Because I don’t know when this will happen again. Read more

Predicting the future, circa 2003

In the heat of the moment, I searched my blog this weekend for quotes that could potentially be taken out of context and found something rather prophetic that I wrote in the heat of the moment 11 1/2 years ago:

Keeping up on Microsoft security patches is becoming a full-time job. I don’t know if we can afford a full-time employee who does nothing but read Microsoft security bulletins and regression-test patches to make sure they can be safely deployed. I also don’t know who would want that job.

Who ended up with that job? Me, about a year after I left that gig. It actually turned out I was pretty good at it, once I landed in a shop that realized it needed someone to do that job, and utilized that position as part of an overall IT governance model.

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What am I giving up for Lent?

A longtime reader noted that many years ago, I wrote about giving up something for Lent. He expressed interest in the practice, and asked what I’m giving up this time around.

To be honest, I haven’t given up anything specific for Lent for a very long time. I’m cognizant of  the season, and I’m still a practicing Christian, but I have two minds about giving up something for Lent. It serves as a reminder of Christ’s sacrifice, yes. But the tradition of using up everything you’re giving up on the Tuesday before has become rather corrupted, especially in St. Louis. Basically it’s turned into an excuse for people who have no interest in observing Lent to throw a really wild, sometimes destructive, four-day party. That, to me, is unfortunate.

I guess the other reason I don’t give up anything specific for Lent is because I gave up something for all time. Read more

Don’t be too impressed with Snowden’s “ethical hacking training”

I saw this new headline regarding Edward Snowden, discussing his NSA hacking training. Don’t be impressed.

For several years, I lived in that same world Snowden lived in. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid mentioning this, but from 2005-2012, I was a consultant. I worked for several different companies, due to contracts changing hands and companies merging, but my client was the United States Air Force. And from 2011-2012, I even had direct dealings with the NSA. I attended NSA meetings in the Washington, D.C. area. I received NSA training–in person–in a security discipline called threat modeling. My job was to represent NSA to the Air Force three weeks out of the month, and represent the Air Force to the NSA on the fourth week.

Just don’t ask me anything about UFOs. Unlike some people, I didn’t snoop around on classified networks. Whenever possible, didn’t look at the data at all. If I had to look at data, I preferred to look at dummy data. If I actually did look at real, honest-to-goodness classified data, it was because I needed to know that information to do my job. I was a pretty good contractor, I think.

I also know about this training that Snowden put on his resume. Read more

Two simple ways to increase your credit score

Two simple ways to increase your credit score

I have a friend who makes more money than me, has no debt except for a small mortgage, and his credit score is 150 points lower than mine. By becoming more like me, you can increase your credit score.

The key difference between us is that he puts a couple thousand into a checking account at the first of every month and pays for everything with a debit card. I do the same thing, but use a credit card, and pay the credit card off at the end of the month.

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It\’s 2004, and that means a new presidency

I am Lutheran. Lutheran in both senses. Dad was Lutheran because his mother was Lutheran and she was Lutheran because her grandparents were Lutheran when they got off the boat in Philadelphia. But that’s not the end of my Lutheran background–my ancestry hits Baron Jost Hans Hite (Heydt) at least twice.

But I’m not a Lutheran just because my forefathers were Lutheran. I left the church, and at 22 found myself at another church that I sensed was teaching things that were wrong, but I wasn’t sure why. So I read the Bible cover to cover trying to find out why. And in the end, I realized the Lutheran explanation of all this stuff made more sense than anyone else’s.

So here’s my take on the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s much publicized convention.The semi-underground Christian News reported the following: “MAJORITY IN THE LCMS VOTES THAT LUTHERANISM IS NOT WHAT THEY WANT IN A CHURCH – KIESCHNICK IS RE-ELECTED; OKLAHOMA D.P. DIEKELMAN ELECTED AS 1ST V.P.”

I define “Lutheranism” as a discipline that teaches people to read and interpret the Bible and not necessarily take the clergy’s word for it because the clergy can be wrong and needs those checks and balances. That’s my Lutheranism.

In my Lutheranism, God chooses us, not the other way around.

In my Lutheranism, we believe that faith without works is dead, but we teach that it’s God who does those works through us. It’s by grace that we’re saved, not those works. Works are a symptom of that disease called faith. We don’t do it ourselves! That’s what Jesus came here for, because we spent 4,000 years proving that all we could do was mess it up! In my Lutheranism, we don’t compare works and beat each other up trying to prove who’s the better Christian.

In my Lutheranism, “grace” is a simple concept: God’s riches at Christ’s expense. And that’s Lutheranism’s greatest treasure.

I may have ruffled a few feathers by not saying anything about tradition. Funny thing about tradition. It explains things that were never officially written down, and that can be a good thing. But tradition can get in the way too. The Pharisees had tradition. In spades. Jesus had some problems with them.

And I wonder sometimes too if we Lutherans might be a bit too smug. The Lutheran stereotype is someone with a whole lot of education and a whole lot of money. We’re successful, and that makes us not too eager to try out something we never thought of before, because, well, look where my way has gotten us!

There’s room for tradition and excellence in my Lutheranism. But when tradition and excellence get in the way of that last thing Jesus said before the ascension (“Go to all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”), then they become a problem.

When publications like the New York Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch call you “The Taliban of American Christianity,” I think we have a problem.

Now, I know I don’t have as much education as some people, but when I look at the election results, I don’t see it as a majority of delegates rejecting Lutheranism. I see it as a majority of delegates rejecting the power plays and the infighting that happened after an LCMS pastor offered up a prayer in mixed company at Yankee Stadium after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

Some believed that wasn’t a very Lutheran thing to do. And some believed it wasn’t a very Lutheran thing for our president to do, approving this despicable act of praying in mixed company. Now I’m not saying that this was the motivation, but what happened next appeared to be an attempt by the president’s political opponents to bring him up on charges so they could take the presidency, since the next person in line for the presidency was one of the president’s political opponents.

It left a bitter taste in some people’s mouths.

And I think that’s why Dr. Gerald Kieschnick won re-election by a reasonably comfortable margin on the first ballot this year, and why another person much like him won the #2 slot, and other like-minded people took three of the remaining four slots.

I have one question for those of you who are Lutheran like me.

If–without changing any of your fundamental beliefs, but simply losing a label–if giving up that “Lutheran” label would cause one–just one–person to be in heaven who otherwise wouldn’t, would you do it?

No one’s asking you to do that. I’m just trying to get you to decide where your priorities sit.

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