Black Coffee: You No-Good Lousy Dirty Filthy Stinking Rat

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…

For the past month I’ve been in a battle of wits with a pesky rat that found its way into my house and made itself at home.

The rodent has managed to ruin my emergency water supply. He also completely destroyed multiple strings of our fancy pancy lighted Christmas garland and other things in storage. I can only imagine the damage he is inflicting on my home whenever I hear him gnawing on stuff between the walls.

Since then I’ve set multiple snap traps, but the little bugger has completely ignored them so far.

Adding insult to injury, Mr. Rat continues to leave little “gift pellets” all over the place — I’m sure just to let me know that he is still around. So now it’s personal. I’ve had it up to here with that little …

Anyway, today I went to the hardware store so I could implement Plan B: glue traps. I set up narrow runways that will, God willing, guide my little bucktoothed friend straight into one of the gooey trays.


Yes, yes … That rat is going down, folks. Hopefully, tonight.

I’ll keep ya all posted on my progress next week.

Oh, and if you have a particular method for successfully catching no-good lousy dirty filthy stinking rats, let me know. Just in case that darned critter figures out a way to outsmart me yet again.

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

From October 2009:

The 7 Deadly Sins of Personal Finance – It’s time to step into the confession booth and reflect upon whether you have committed any of the seven deadly sins of personal finance. Now get in there.

Credits and Debits

Debit: On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 158 points. That marks five straight days in the red — and the longest losing streak since July.

Credit: The good news is that, despite the recent string of losses, the Dow is still up 5.9% in 2012. And the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are doing even better; for the year they’re up 11.5% and 13.6%, respectively. Hooray!

Debit: Even so, US taxpayers will be losing big in the market this year. That’s because the Treasury recently announced it would buy back 200 million shares of GM stock at a price of $27.50 — a 50% loss on its breakeven price of $54 per share. I know.

Debit: The end result is taxpayers are now out over $40 billion — never mind the bond holders who received just ten cents on the dollar for their stake in GM. On the other hand, that “deal” allowed the Auto Workers Union to make out like bandits. Literally.

Credit: If that kind of financial chicanery was committed by any organization other than the US government, all of the perpetrators would be rightly locked up to rot in prison.

Debit: In the end, this is just another salvo in an unabashed unjust envy-fueled class war that continues to methodically redistribute wealth from one segment of society to another.

Debit: Of course, the great majority of our blissfully unaware populace won’t feel any significant pain until the US dollar is ultimately destroyed by hyperinflation brought about by our government’s unwillingness to curtail spending and eliminate its massive deficits.

Debit: Back when fiscal sanity still prevailed, folks received 26 weeks of government unemployment checks; today it’s 99. This week, the US Labor department announced it’s now adding health insurance to the list of unemployment benefits. Yep. At least for some folks.

Credit: Maybe all these taxpayer-provided benefits are why so many people seem to tolerate unemployment these days. Hey, I’m not sayin’. I’m just sayin’. And don’t worry — the Fed will just “print” more money to cover the added expense.

Debit: In fact, the Washington Post recently went so far to suggest that the government could solve the current deficit crisis by simply minting a couple of platinum coins with a face value of $1 trillion apiece. No, really.

Debit: Hey … Do you think the Treasury could mint an extra platinum coin to cover the  $1 trillion taxpayers will soon be owing after the next round of Obamacare tax hikes take effect on New Year’s Day? Me neither.

Debit: In other news, the US housing market remains in dire straits as new home sales have dropped back to a level not seen since 1975. Is it just me, or have home prices also dropped to similar levels?

Credit: Finally … A pet chicken saved a Wisconsin family from being barbecued after the log house they lived in became engulfed in fire.

Credit: Arson investigators said that the chicken’s heroic action led them to immediately rule out fowl play. Ahem.

By the Numbers

Speaking of chicken, here are some facts about the most popular fried chicken restaurant in America, Kentucky Fried Chicken:

1930 Year Harlan Sanders opened up his first restaurant, The Sanders Court & Cafe.

1940 Year that KFC’s original recipe was invented.

11 Number of secret herbs and spices in the KFC recipe. While KFC will neither confirm nor deny it, one claim says they are: oregano, chili powder, sage, basil, marjoram, pepper, salt, paprika, onion salt, garlic powder and Accent.

0 Amount of trans fat in KFC chicken. Their chicken has been free of the nasty stuff since 2007.

80 Countries where you can find a KFC restaurant.

1936 Year that Sanders was made a “Kentucky Colonel,” an honorary title that is given by the Commonwealth of Kentucky to its most prominent citizens.

Contributing Source: Yahoo!

The Question of the Week

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Last Week’s Contest Winner

Congratulations to Liz B., who won a $20 Starbucks gift card! She was one of eight people who correctly guessed that “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 was one of the four Top 10 iTunes downloads of 2011 that I currently have on my iPod. (The other three were “Forget You” by Cee Lo, and “E.T” and “Firework” by my future mistress, Katy Perry.)

Liz’s name was pulled in a random draw among all the correct guessers.

Thanks to everyone who participated. I’ll have another contest next month.

Other Useless News

Here are the top 5 articles viewed by my 3394 RSS feed and weekly email subscribers over the past 30 days (excluding Black Coffee posts):

  1. When Is the Right Time to Stop Giving Gifts to Nieces and Nephews?
  2. How to Pick the Perfect Christmas Tree (In 3 Easy Steps)
  3. Essential Tips for Lowering Your Grocery Bill
  4. Why I Refuse to Get Upset by Subtly Deceptive Advertising
  5. 15 Reasons Why Waterbeds Are for Suckers

Each month I post some of the more curious search terms visitors entered into Google’s search engine (according to Google Analytics) that led them, somehow, some way, to Len Penzo dot Com:

  • who picks up body parts after car accidents?
  • why would a dog poop in the corner of a room?
  • why are real estate agents so stupid?
  • why do southern people like their master bedroom in the basement?
  • sex change for men to win contest for $1/4 million

Hey, no matter how you got here, please be sure to:

1. Click that “Like” button in the sidebar to your right and become a fan of Len Penzo dot Com on Facebook!

2. Make sure you follow me on Twitter!

And last, but not least…

3. Don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed too! Thank you. :-)

Letters, I Get Letters

Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment — assuming I get one, that is. And folks who are lucky enough to have the only question in the mailbag get their letter highlighted here whether it’s interesting or not!

Hoping for a cheap back link on my blog for a “breast enhancement” product, Breasty Momma left me this rather, er, uplifting comment — even though it did lose a little something during the translation process:

Whoa! This blog is excellent! I really like reading your articles. Stay up [sic] the great work!

Aww, thank you. But there’s no need to go overboard — you had me at “Breasty Momma.”

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.


  1. 1


    It’s weeks on the markets like this that make you thankful for dollar cost averaging. Thanks also for the reminder that overall, markets were in fact up in 2012. Let’s hope the good people at Money magazine are right and 2013 is going to bring more significant growth.

    Now if we can just head over the cliff already and put an end to the uncertainty.

  2. 3

    Mich says

    I live near the woods in an old house. I had two episodes of rats coming in (I still don’t know where) and crawling throuh my ceiling and walls. I tried everything and ended up pulling down the ceiling fixture and out the wall plug assemblies. I put in cubes of rat poison behind the outlets. I did end up getting the rats however had to deal with the smell for 2 weeks but problem gone. (Note) PLEASE BE CAREFUL if you have pets. The new rodenticide is especially lethal. I’ve since sealed every possible access point into the house I could climb or crawl too. Good luck.

  3. 4

    Nancy says

    I subscribed for the advice and perspective about living frugally and making smart choices about personal finance. I did not subscribe for the political rants about “class warfare”. It’s your forum, so go for it, but there are many other personal finance websites, so I’m unsubscribing to this one.

    • 5

      Len Penzo says

      Fair enough, Nancy. If I were me I wouldn’t subscribe to my blog either. 😉

      You said it: There are plenty of other PF bloggers out there who always “play nice” and avoid ruffling feathers in order to avoid to losing a few readers. I’m not one of them. And , truth be told, I wouldn’t bother blogging at all if I had to constantly worry about offending somebody.

      That being said, I always keep my political rants strictly limited to my Black Coffee posts. That way, those who enjoy reading my personal finance articles, but may be offended by my politics, can simply ignore the Black Coffee pieces if they choose to do so.

      • 6


        I didn’t subscribe for your rants either, and I certainly don’t agree with your right wing political philosophy, but if I cut off everyone I know with different opinions then I wouldn’t have any friends left.
        I take the view that your heart’s in the right place, just your head isn’t 😉 and it’s still very entertaining to read.

        Anyway, borrow a cat. I guarantee it will put an end to your rodent problem although honeybee might not like finding the dead bodies…

        • 7

          Len Penzo says

          That’s how I work too, Matt. I regularly read sites like the New York Times, HuffPo and Daily Kos to try and understand where the other side is coming from — although I rarely do. (ha ha!) And I often link to them in the Credits and Debits. (On second thought, I should probably amend that to “I often link to them in the Debits.”) 😉

          As for the cat, I’m a dog person, but if things get bad enough I just may have to consider it …

    • 8

      Edward says

      Hahaha… I think this one isn’t even as right as one of your normal rants, is it Len? By the very definition of being Canadian, I’m left-wing commie as far as your political rants go–but it would be an *insanely* boring world if I only ever talked to or read from people who had the same point of view as I do. How is one supposed to learn anything if surrounded by a bunch of “yes men”?!

      Anyway–as a Canadian I also know a good critter bait if you need to lead it into a trap. Try peanut butter.

      • 9

        Len Penzo says

        You’re right, Edward. I thought this one was rather tame for me. LOL! :-)

        I’ve been using peanut butter. By the way, after night one of the glue traps, I still had no luck.

        More poop though — right next to the traps!

        Chalk up another victory for the $%&#*@ rat.

    • 10

      Volfram says


      Keep it up, Len. I do come here for a refreshing dose of right-wing philosophy. You just can’t find it on the internet these days.

  4. 11

    EnjoysYourBlog says

    Have been enjoying your blog articles–well done! As for your mouse issue, the glue traps are the right solution. Simply place an unwrapped Hershey’s Kiss or chocolate-covered cherry in the center of the trap. The mouse will smell it and voila! Stuck rodent, ready for easy disposal.

  5. 12

    Michael in SoCal says

    Personally, I appreciate the political rants, seeing as how much the danged politicians play a part in my everyday money choices. It’s good to be informed, and it is appreciated.

  6. 13


    Honestly, I enjoy the politics and how they play into my own financial well being — and honestly when you are starting to have such an imbalance of people paying into the system vs. those merely living off the system — and debts far exceeding income — well…. something has to give. Even as a single parent at the pretty darn low end of the middle class, I undertstand this!

  7. 14

    deRuiter says

    Put rat poison (warfarin) pellets in an out of the way location like the attic and don’t let household pets up there. Warfarin makes rats thirsty and MOST will go out of the building searching for water before they expire. If you go the cat route, make sure you DON’T have any rodenticide around. The rats will sicken and the cat then easily catches the rat, and sickens / dies from the poison in the rat’s system.
    As for the American system, too many people want to ride in the cart, and fewer and fewer are left to pull the ever heavier load. I have a number of low income tenants. When they are laid off, they NEVER find a job until a week before unemployment runs out. When questioned, one told me, “I make $20. less per week with unemployment, but I have my time to myself, no commuitng costs, and a better standard of living than when I work.” If the better off (i. e. more productive members of society) didn’t have to pay such high taxes so the government workers could skim off their bloated salaries before dispensing the leftover financial crumbs to “the poor”, then the well off could buy more, do more, and therefore generate more JOBS and “the poor” could earn their own money. Of course the flood of low skilled, ill educated illegals also sucks up a lot of the lower paying jobs so more poorly educated Americans are left without work. I always marvel at the Black voters who vote in Democrats who are pro illeqal immigration. Then Black leaders complain about the astronomically high rate of unemployment in the Black community. If we had fewer illegal aliens there would be more jobs for low skilled Americans of all races. We could use fewer legal too immigrants since 60% of long term legal immigrants to America land on welfare permanently.

  8. 15

    Daryl Bowling says

    aren’t rats fun? lived in a house net door to a rat trap(seriously) that got torn down, the rats migrated, and the fun began. Have a dog who like to kill them, so she did a pretty good job, but still there were a lot of them. the evil little ahemmmms, were so nervy that they would sit on the valances and stare at me,I got quite good at using them as targets for my baseball swing.(great stress reliever too) I finally gave up and moved. you might try putting a food source in the neighbors yard, close to his house, and replenish it often, they might want to find a motel closer….just thinking outside the box

  9. 16


    We live in a house surrounded by woods and these horrible little critters kept finding a way inside. My husband tried the old-fashioned traps with cheese and peanut butter but they did not get them all. Then he purchased the pellets. That worked better but not completely. Though he is not a cat person, I got a cat and miraculously these little pests are finally gone. Sometimes she likes to bring us one as a present to show she is earning her keep. Yuk.

  10. 17


    Growing up in Michigan, our farm had rats THE SIZE OF CATS living in the corn crib. Put that in your mental house of nightmares! Whenever the movies show the heroine (or Indiana Jones’ dad) screaming, “rats — I hate rats,” I’m the one sneering, “You want a rat — I’ll show you one!” (And usually what they present, scurrying around, are mice. Big difference.)
    Try dry mashed potato flakes. They eat them, go find water…and the little buggers’ stomachs explode. Or fill up. Or whatever.

    I’d rather have you speaking honestly, and disagree with you (which I often don’t), than be nicey. Don’t pull your punches, but do acknowledge that there are differing viewpoints out there.

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