Black Coffee: I Don’t Mean to Be Rude, But This Survey Bites

It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joe

Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of what’s been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Here’s what caught my attention over the past week…

Boy am I excited!     That world famous guru of all things plastic, the one-and-only Mr. Credit Card from the Ask Mr. Credit Card blog, is here on the Left Coast this week and so I’m having him over my house for dinner tonight.   I hope he likes my cooking!

I was going to make a little pasta al ragu but that was overcome by events when I found out my father-in-law was making sauce on Sunday.   Since I didn’t want to eat sauce two days in a row I decided to go with plan B.

Now that I’ve admitted my reluctance to eating sauce twice in a row, let me just say I hope Vince from isn’t reading this, or he’ll probably ask me to turn in my membership to the Italian-American Club.

And for those of you wondering what plan B is, well, I’d like to tell you but I’m still trying to figure that out myself.     If you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know.   Just make it quick because Mr. Credit Card will be here around 5 p.m.!

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Bucksome BoomerMy Top 10 Freezer Essentials.   According to Kay Lynn, brown rice takes twice as long to cook as white rice.   I guess that explains why my brown rice is always crunchy.   Note to self: you can now put brown rice back on the menu short list for tonight’s dinner with Mr. Credit Card.

Couple MoneyThe Art of Saying No.   For some folks it’s tough.     Then there’s this kid.

Money Help for ChristiansIs Budgeting About Freedom or Confinement? Speaking of saying “no”… According to Craig, “Budgeting is not about saying ‘no,’ but about choosing when to say ‘yes’.” He also reminds us — just in case you forgot — that, “Budgeting is like a man with a pie.” He’s right, you know.     I think.

And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…

Joe Taxpayer – Joe’s List of Money Lists

Debt Free Adventure – The 10 Most Commonly Missed Tax Deductions

Punch Debt in the FaceF-R-E-E That Spells “Not Free.”

Watson Inc.The Politics of Envy

Darwin’s MoneyPresent Value of Money Explained

The Digerati Life7 Simple Tax Organization Tips to Use All Year

Wealth Pilgrim Preferred Shares — In Plain English

Care on Credit You’re Debt Free, Now What?

The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed

From January 2010:

Your Money Horoscope Last year I thought I would try my hand at astrology in order to help my readers divine their near-term futures with respect to money and personal finance.     How’d I do?   Well, you be the judge.

Credits and Debits

Credit: I see Travel and Leisure conducted a survey and Los Angeles got the dubious honor of being crowned America’s rudest city.   As a Southern California native who has lived here all my life, I’m completely perplexed as to why those $#%^#*@! idiot voters would ever think that way.

Debit: Keep in mind these are the same voters who, incredibly, said Denver has better weather than Los Angeles too.   Heh.   Riiiiiiiight.   I’m sorry; that was rude.

Credit: Seriously though, I can only assume the folks who found LA to be the rudest city also thought New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia were in Canada.   How else can you explain it?   For their part, Travel and Leisure surmises that LA traffic is to blame for our rude behavior here in Southern California.

Credit: Then again, somebody better tell that to the folks at Texas A&M whose latest traffic study proclaims Washington D.C. as having the nation’s worst traffic.   I only have one word regarding the study’s conclusion: “Duh!”   I think that is pretty obvious; every time I travel to our nation’s capital, I shake my head at the horrendous traffic snarls there.

Credit: Yes, Los Angeles has some tough traffic at times, but my experience is that it is no where near as bad as the traffic in the Washington, New York City, and Boston metropolitan areas; that explains the rude behavior I see in those towns.   I’m still not sure what Philadelphia’s excuse is though.

Credit: In other news, although potential implementation is still a long way off, Congressional policy makers are now discussing behind the scenes ways to let states declare bankruptcy.

Credit: For states with unsustainable public pensions obligations, bankruptcy would allow state governments to tear up those dubious agreements in exchange for something much more reasonable.

Debit: For example, it’s tough to defend government retirees receiving bonus payments this year totaling $170 million when their city pension fund, backed by taxpayers, is underfunded by a billion dollars, but that’s exactly what’s happening in San Francisco.

Debit: Speaking of unsustainable pensions, according to this recent op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times: “During the last decade, California state government payments for retirement benefits have grown at an alarming and unsustainable rate, exceeding $5 billion a year, more than state support for the entire University of California system. These huge and growing slices of the budget pie are needed to pay for average state retirement packages now valued at more than $1.2 million. The taxpayers who pay for those retirement benefits have an average of $60,000 saved for their own retirement.”

Credit: You think that’s rude?   What did ya expect; the editors are from Los Angeles.

Other Useless News

Last week, Second Act featured yours truly in an article entitled 10 Smart Money Minds Divulge Their Resolutions.   I’d like to thank Karin Price Mueller for including me among some really awesome folks like Brenda Buttner (host of Fox News Channel’s Bulls & Bears), J.D. Roth (Get Rich Slowly), Liz Weston (, CNBC anchor Bill Griffeth, and Robert Kiyosaki (author of Rich Dad Poor Dad).   To be honest, I’m not sure how I got grouped in with all those respected folks.   I can only assume Dave Ramsey canceled at the last minute and I was the only other person available on short notice.

Here’s a friendly reminder for ya: if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading – or not – please make sure you follow me on Twitter. And, if you’ll be so kind, don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! :-)

By the Numbers

Los Angeles, by the numbers:

3,833,995 The population as of June 1, 2009, which makes it the second largest city in the United States.

15,250,000 The population of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.   That’s a lot of rude people.

102,000 The city population in 1900.

35 The friendliness ranking according to city visitors, as surveyed by Travel and Leisure.

34 The friendliness ranking according to the city’s own residents.

8 According to Travel and Leisure, Los Angeles’ rank for US cities with the best weather.   Meanwhile, Denver came in at #7.

72 The forecast temperature — in degrees Fahrenheit — for January 22 in Los Angeles.   (I’m guessing it’s gotta be close to 80 degrees in Denver.)

My $100 Reader Appreciation Giveaway News   – Update!

As of today, entrants to my reader appreciation giveaway still have a roughly 1 in 80 chance of winning the $100 grand prize.     It’s not too late, as the contest runs through February 4th, so don’t be shy and enter for your chance to win!

Letters, I Get Letters

Today’s letter (unfortunately, it was my one and only this week) comes from Miss Miriam:

“Hi Dear, Compliments of the season.   I know that you do not know me, but I got your contact from a business consultant in Dakar-Senegal. I have a business proposal. Please get back to me if you are interested.”

Sorry, Miss Miriam. but I’m currently only accepting cold-call business proposals from mysterious individuals I don’t know who get my contact info from business consultants in Djibouti, Djibouti.

If you have a question you’d like to ask, or a comment you’d like to make regarding some of my irritating opinions, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at:

I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee — assuming I get one, that is.

If you’re lucky enough to be the only question in the mailbag I’ll highlight your letter, whether it’s interesting or not. 😉

Carnival News

This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:

The Carnival of Personal Finance @ My Personal Finance Journey (Editor’s Pick – Hooray!)

The Carnival of Money Stories @ Out of Debt Again

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.


  1. 1

    diana says

    OK, I’m finally going to subscribe to your RSS…..and no, it isn’t about the cash. I’ve been reading your blog for several months now and once again, you’ve got me me laughing in my coffee this morning. Great round-up!

    Yes, I’m a little bit picky about who gets into my inbox…

  2. 4


    @diana: Awesome! What a great way to start my morning, Diana! I’m honored for the opportunity and I appreciate the vote of confidence. :-)
    @Olivia: The Honeybee hates soup — but I like your thinking. I could eat soup seven times a week, all year long. As for Philly, thanks for clearing that up. LOL

  3. 5


    Yeah, I read part of that survey and it does bite. I think they got the names switched up. Boston should get #1 in my opinion (lived there 9 years). Dallas-Fort Worth got #7 which is ridiculous. First of all, that’s like calling a city San Francisco-Oakland. Dallas and Fort Worth are very different from each other. The survey claimed that DFW is the ugliest, so I assume they hate women in high heels and dresses with boob jobs.

  4. 9

    Meri says

    Hi Len,
    Around here you aren’t a died in the wool Italian unless you call ‘sauce’ GRAVY. That’s some old school Italian for you!

  5. 11


    @Jennifer: Oh yes, I am well aware Dallas and Fort Worth are two completely different types of cities. Another good reason why I think the survey is completely flawed to the point of being, well, pointless.
    @Andrew: I used to have it three times a week as a kid. Two is about all I can take nowadays.
    @Meri: My Italian family has always called it sauce. I know many many Italian families call it gravy, though. Gravy has a completely different connotation to me. I guess it’s all how you were brought up! :-)
    @Kay Lynn: Yeah, she’s been slipping. LOL

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