Pensées

Thoughts on the Meaning of Life…..by Todd Helmkamp

Archive for February, 2008

The Economic “Stimulus” Package

Posted by Vogeler on February 25, 2008

Well, the so-called “Economic Stimulus Package” has passed, which means that Americans will receive a tax rebate check this summer.  Here is a link to a really good article by Clark Howard that explains it well.

Although it’s nice to get “free” money, it’s not really free.  To pay for this, the Federal government apparently is going to issue treasuries, which are basically loans to the government (kind of like a very large CD).  So, the next generation essentially gets stuck with the bill.

I agree with Clark that this is not a good idea, for two reasons:  one, as previously mentioned, it’s not a good long-term solution like a revamped tax system would be.  Two, it encourages more consumer spending on luxury and semi-luxury goods.  I, for one, will be using mine for debt paydown or savings.

Some of you know that I am currently (along with my lovely wife, Bethany) on a crusade to be debt-free by the time I’m 40 years old (I’m 29 now).  Far-fetched?  Sure.  But I know of people who have done it, who had a ton more debt than we do.

Here are some of the personal finance blogs I read daily:

Saving Freak

Joe Sangl

GetRichSlowly

All are fantastic resources with information on how to take control of your finances.

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Posted in Ramblings, Things I'm Doing | Leave a Comment »

What A Weekend

Posted by Vogeler on February 25, 2008

Aren’t weekends supposed to be restful?

Yesterday was not.

My father-in-law Roger and I built a nice doghouse for Max (he actually did most of the work; I just kind of stood there and watched and felt kind of useless).  My good friend Brett and his family had offered to take him for a few months until we found him a home or trained him to leave the baby alone, but (as I warned them) Max proved to be a handful, and with three kids (one of whom is not yet three, and Max doesn’t do well with small children) it just wasn’t working.  So outside he goes.  We have insulated his house with plenty of straw inside and out, and once he is in there it will be warmer than inside our house.  🙂  So we were outside in the cold until 8pm or so getting that ready.  Max’s first night outside will be tonight.  I hope he does ok.

We’ve also had a terrible skunk smell in the baby’s room, and a little lesser in our room, late at night for the last two nights.  I really hope the skunk is not in our crawl space.  I’m thinking its under our back porch, so we need to get it out before Max comes home.  That could be bad.

Oh well, it could be worse.  The skunk could be under my bed.  🙂

Posted in Ramblings | 5 Comments »

Warnings About Social Networking Sites

Posted by Vogeler on February 20, 2008

Hey gang,

Many of you use social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, etc.  Well, I have long maintained (as one who works in the Information Technology field) that, although useful, these sites can be very dangerous.

The danger lies not only in “predators” who seek to lure children and teenagers to their homes for kidnapping or other nefarious schemes, but there are also dangers from hackers.

“Hackers?  How can hackers do anything on these sites?”, I can almost hear some of you saying.

Well, read this article from WebSense Security Labs.  Seems that hackers are posing as third-party application developers for these sites and hiding malicious payloads in these apps.  You click on the link for the app, and voilà: your computer is infected!  This particular baddy is a “keylogger” which records your keystrokes and sends the information back to the “home” computer (the pc the hacker is using).  So, if you enter your bank account info, guess what?  The hacker now has your bank account info.

So, social networking sites are NOT innocent, and great caution needs to be exercised while using them.  Of course, the sites do have their own security team and tools, but you can’t depend on someone else to keep you safe on the web.  Don’t open messages from  people you don’t know (including “friend requests”), try to avoid installing third-party applications, and basically use common sense!  That goes for the rest of the Web, too!

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Sadness

Posted by Vogeler on February 18, 2008

Well.

Its been a sad couple of days.  When Brennan arrived, we gave Max (our dog) one chance to stay.  He blew it.  Not that he was trying to hurt Brennan, but he wanted to play and we just can’t take the chance that something will happen.  So he has to go.

A friend of ours took Max  for a few days to try it out.  Unfortunately its not working out, so we are still looking for a home for Max.  I am just heartbroken to give up my dog, but of course my son comes first.

If anyone knows someone who might want a great dog, please let me know!

Posted in Announcements, Ramblings | 3 Comments »

What You Can Do To Help

Posted by Vogeler on February 18, 2008

Dear Readers,

I have found a website for an organization called Modest Needs. It’s a non-profit organization that matches people that need small, short-term help with donors. It’s a pretty cool site, and I suggest you check it out. This charity meets all of the standards set forth by the Better Business Bureau for a charity. Also, if any of you out there in blog-land have other ideas, please let me know!!

This site is not for people who are in poverty; it is aimed at those who are struggling for one reason or another.

What are some things we can do to help alleviate poverty in our own communities?

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What is Wrong with Us?

Posted by Vogeler on February 16, 2008

Folks, read this article.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Read it?  Good.

I am in tears after reading this.  We have so much junk and want more, more, more, when there are people in this situation, and worse, right in our own neighborhoods.

Why, why, why have we bought into the lie that is the American Dream?  That’s a lie from the pit of HELL.

I am every bit as guilty as anyone else (and more so than some).  Why are we, as a society, abandoning the ones who need our help the most?

And what are YOU going to do about it?  What am I going to do about it?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

It’s a Boy!!

Posted by Vogeler on February 15, 2008

Dear Readers,

Brennan Rhys Helmkamp joined us at 2:08 pm February 12th! (he shares a birthday with Grandpa BobHelmkamp and Abraham Lincoln!!). He was 5 lbs, 12 oz, and 19.5 inches long.

He is home with us now, and is doing great! He is eating like a horse, and has a screech and a temper like his daddy!! 🙂

If you are in the area and would like to visit, feel free, but let us know in advance so I can clean the house some first!!

brennan-4.jpgbrennan-1.jpgbrennan2.jpg

Posted in Announcements | 7 Comments »

An Opportunity

Posted by Vogeler on February 11, 2008

Good morning, Dear Readers!

No baby, yet, but we have an appointment this afternoon.  He’ll come when he’s ready.  🙂

Anyway, a gentleman who goes by the of AtheistReader has invited me, and anyone else who is interested, to comment and give feedback as he goes through the book by journalist Lee Strobel, “The Case for Christ”.

He is, I believe, sincerely wanting honest discussion, so I have begun following his posts about it on his blog.  I encourage you, if you feel moved by Holy Spirit or are simply interested, to do the same (especially those of you who attended the conference with Dr. Blomberg with me.  You know who you are).  However, please do not be rude, do not call names,   and make sure that your comments are polite, concise, to-the-point, accurate, and above all, delivered in a spirit of love and truth.  Thanks!

You can read AtheistReader’s blog posts here.

Posted in Announcements, Questions for Debate | Leave a Comment »

Green Thumb, Black Thumb

Posted by Vogeler on February 4, 2008

My mother has a Black Thumb.  She can’t even keep a cactus alive (and you really have to try to kill a cactus.  She forgets to water them, even though they sit on the window sill right above where she does dishes every day).

I don’t exactly have a Green Thumb, but I can at least keep a cactus alive.  So this year, I want to try my hand at a little bit of gardening.  Nothing crazy, but maybe some green beans, melons, pumpkins, peas, I don’t know.  Some fruit trees would be nice too (although not technically gardening.  Is it called “orcharding”?).

I know that growing plants is a lot of work.  If you skip it for even a few days, weeds can take over.  I have been informed by The Wife that this is my project, and she will be doing no weeding whatsoever (although she is excited about fresh green beans.  Sigh.).  My dad is probably laughing right now, as he remembers all of my complaints about forced labor and torture as I weeded in the garden at the house where I grew up.

So, knowing little about growing things beside the facts that you have to water them, weed them, and keep rabbits and such from eating them, I will set out into the unknown realms of vegetable gardening.

There are a few reasons I want to do this:

1.  It sounds fun.

2.  Hopefully, we will save some money at the grocery store.

3.  By using only organic, heirloom seeds, I can control what our family eats (no GMOs, thank you very much!!)

4.  I want to spend more time outside, in contact with God’s creation (even my small-town bit of it).

So, Dear Readers, I place before you an offer and a plea:

The offer:  if any of you want to go together to buy seeds, that would be great.  My understanding from my research so far is that one packet of seeds is usually way too much for one person.

The plea:  please give me any advice you have!  And if you want, stop by and help me weed.  Especially if we get one of those nasty, green-and-yellow garden spiders.  *shudder*

Posted in Announcements, Ramblings | 8 Comments »

Busy, Busy

Posted by Vogeler on February 4, 2008

Well.

I have noticed that I begin many of my posts that way.  I kind of like it.

Anyway, sorry for being so quiet these last few weeks.  Work, the computer repair business, the dog, my very pregnant wife, etc. has kept me very busy.   And soon Brennan will be joining us, which will turn my life upside-down (in a good way, of course!!!).  I can’t believe his due date is this Saturday!!

The point of this is to say that I will try to spend some time at least once a week and post something (for all of you who actually read my blog; I think there’s 12 of you.  Its a good number).

And, as soon as we have them, I’ll post pics of the newest member of our family (once he arrives, of course!!).

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