Black Coffee: The Yankee Doodle Dandy Edition

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

My dad still gets a kick out of asking people around this time of year if they have a 4th of July in England. Nine times out of ten they look at him like he’s nuts and say something like, “Of course not!”

Then my dad sheepishly asks them if that means the English go directly from the 3rd to the 5th. Their reactions after that are usually pretty funny.

Oh well … I hope everyone in the US has a great Independence Day weekend! I know I will — which is why it’s an espresso edition of Black Coffee this week.

Okay, off we go …

The Question of the Week

How many US states have you been to?

View Results

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Last Week’s Poll Results

If you could visit only one country in Europe, which one would it be?

  • Italy (30%)
  • United Kingdom (20%)
  • Somewhere else. (11%)
  • Germany (10%)
  • France (9%)
  • Spain (8%)
  • Greece (7%)
  • Portugal (3%)

More than 300 Len Penzo dot Com readers participated in this week’s survey, and half of the respondents said they prefer either Italy or the United Kingdom. I’m somewhat surprised that France ended up in fifth place, behind Germany and “Somewhere else.” I figured France would have been in the top two.

International News

I’ve never been to Europe, but at least I can now say stories on my blog posts have been featured there. For some reason, several European websites took an interest in my work last month. I know. I’m not sure why either. That being said …

Here’s one from a popular site in Norway called Side 3.

Then there’s this one from in Belgium.

Finally, there’s this one from Negocios 1000 in Spain.

Anyway, I’d like to say thank you to my friends on the other side of the pond for taking the time to feature my stories! (And thank goodness for Google Translate!)

Credits and Debits

Credit: Did you see this? A lady who misplaced her diamond wedding ring and considered it hopelessly lost, found it six years later — after her dog barfed the ring up. No, really. I bet that was the first time that lady was ever happy to see her pooch puke in her house.

Credit: Pop the champagne corks: The Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 17,000 for the first time ever this week. Yes, yet another all-time high. If Rip Van Winkle woke up after a long slumber on that news, he’d be right to think that the US economy was booming.

Debit: However, I’m sure Mr. Van Winkle would also be scratching his head and wondering how the Dow could be at an all-time high with 92 million Americans not in the labor force — and a labor participation rate of just 62.8%, which is a 36-year low.

Debit: Of course, if Rip only followed the mainstream media, he’d never hear about that. Instead he’d see misleading reports like this one from CNN celebrating the creation of 288,000 net new jobs in June and claiming that, “The American jobs recovery seems to have finally hit its stride.” Uh huh.

Debit: Here’s the real story behind those 288,000 new jobs: In all, 799,000 new part-time jobs were created — but that number was offset by the loss of approximately 523,000 full-time jobs. Forward!

Debit: If that’s what an American jobs recovery looks like when it’s “hitting its stride,” then I’d hate to see what’s in store for us when this “recovery” ends and the economy takes a turn for the worse.

Debit: If you think gasoline prices are starting to get uncomfortably high, you’re right. The average price of regular unleaded in the US is currently $3.67 — that’s a six-year high.

Debit: By the way, in case you stopped counting, as of July 4th the average price of gasoline in the US has been more than $3.00 per gallon for 1290 consecutive days. There’s no need to pull out a calculator — that’s three and a half years.

Credit: It feels like the average price at the pumps here in California has been more than $4.00 per gallon for at least that long — but it’s only been that way since the end of March.

Debit: Alaska, Hawaii and Washington are also paying more than $4 per gallon right now. And Oregon will join the other Pacific Coast states soon; the average price there is now $3.98.

Debit: Then again, I’m sure $4 gasoline will be a fond memory for us Americans once the petrodollar dies — and that will result in the US dollar finally losing its long-time status as the world’s reserve currency. It’s a day that will be here sooner than most people realize.

Credit: In fact, thanks to the BRICS overt anti-dollar alliance, the US is closer than ever before of losing the exorbitant privilege that provides most Americans with an artificially high standard of living, ridiculously cheap imports — and allows the government to run endless deficits with few repercussions.

Debit: Finally … All this depressing news has put me in the mood for an exotic cocktail known as The Jewel of Pangaea. The drink was first introduced two years ago in a Singapore club.

Credit: Did I mention it costs $26,000? It does. That’s because the drink — Hennessy cognac and champagne — is garnished with edible gold flecks and a one-karat triple-X flawless diamond. It also comes with five bodyguards.

Credit: You know what? On second thought, I think I’ll just grab a beer.

(The Best of) By the Numbers

Here’s a few more cocktail facts for you to sip on:

1912 Year absinthe was banned in the United States. The ban remained in effect until 2007, when it was officially lifted.

41 Percentage of cocktail bar patrons under age 36. Because they’re more expensive than beer, most cocktails are typically purchased by older, financially-endowed customers.

62 Percentage of Americans who have used the services of a designated driver.

1970 Year the British Navy stopped providing every sailor with a daily ration of rum.

10 Countries where alcohol is illegal. (Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Pakistan)

Sources: Bundle, Denizen Rum,

Other Useless News

Programming note: Unlike most blogs, I’m always open for the weekend here at Len Penzo dot Com. There’s a fresh new article waiting for you every Saturday afternoon. At least there should be. If not, somebody call 9-1-1.

Hey! If you happen to enjoy what you’re reading — or not — please don’t forget to:

1. Click on 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 via email too! Thank you.

Top 25 Referrers for June

It’s the first weekend of the month, which means it’s time once again to thank the top 25 referring websites to Len Penzo dot Com.

1. Creative Home Ideas
2. DIY Craft Projects
3. Business Insider
4. MSN
5. Kiplinger
6. Wisebread
7. Art of Manliness
8. Side 3
9. Negocios 1000
10. Budgets Are Sexy
11. Rockstar Finance
12. Lifehacker
13. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
15. The Money Principle
16. Save Outside the Box
17. Smart Asset
18. Financial Uproar
19. Money Talks News
20. Money Crashers
21. Afford Anything
22. DIY Beautiful Home
23. Modest Money
24. Wealthy Turtle
25. Canadian Personal Finance Blog

Thank you to everyone who refers their readers to this little ol’ blog! It’s much appreciated.

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! You can reach out to me at:

I found this chilling warning from Flora in the Len Penzo dot Com mailbox:

Your colon is secretly killing you!

Is it that obvious, Flora? I promise — I’ll never eat Mexican food and then top it off with a quick trip to Dairy Queen again.

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.

Photo Credit: brendan-c


  1. 1

    Edward Lapinski says

    Hey Len, I voted this morning that I and my wife have been in all 50 states and it didn’t seem to register. Every state has beautiful areas but making a living is hard in those areas as its the tourist dollar that helps support the local economy. In my estimation that’s the reason they are neat places.

    • 2

      Len Penzo says

      I agree, Ed. And I think that’s great you’ve been to all 50 states. Not many folks can say that!

      I’ve been to 45 of them; I only have Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Alaska to go!

  2. 3

    Matt says

    Hey, Len, nice article, as always. It’d be awesome if the blog were your full-time job. You’re so good at it!
    I have to say I guess I should feel relieved that gas here in my part of PA is about average and not as high as yours in CA. I am curious to know if you think this is a deal (I have a feeling it’s not but figured I’d ask the pro): gas at a local station was $3.59 or $3.56 with the chain’s loyalty card. Those who buy a ten-dollar car wash received an extra 30 cents off. I went for it b/c I needed the wash (you have 30 days to redeem the code for the wash; the discount is given at refueling), but was that really a good deal? Thanks for your input. Keep up the good work!

    • 4

      Len Penzo says

      Thank you, Matt.

      Well, the goodness of any deal is in the eye of the beholder. If you wanted a car wash, didn’t want to wash the car yourself, and bought 12 gallons of gas (which you needed anyway), you essentially got 36% off the price of your car wash.

      I’d consider that a good deal.

  3. 5


    I voted 31-40. Not counting airports, which I don’t, I think it’s 32.

    I’m missing the upper midwest – Michigan to Montana, and down to OK.
    I’m missing the deep south – TX to AL (I’ve hit the eastern seaboard on a drive to FL).
    I’m missing WA and AK.

    I totally want to see MT and WY for sure, but just have to find the vacation time.

    • 6

      Len Penzo says

      My standard is like yours, Marcia: airports do not count.

      I may be able to knock out the remaining five states for me in a single road trip, but it will have to be a long one. We’ll see. It’ll probably have to be two trips.

  4. 7


    Thanks for the mention. Your work on this blog is brilliant. You’re very passionate and good at what you do.

    And Thanks a Google for Google Translate :-)

    A hug from Negocios1000 (Spain)

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