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Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
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…
Steadfast Finances – For those of you who think mac & cheese with cut-up hot dogs is haute cuisine, check out this article by Matt who leads off this edition of Black Coffee with a collection of low-cost restaurant meals you can make at home, including chicken Parmesan, roasted pork tenderloin, jambalaya, and turkey bolognese. What’s funny is that until I saw Matt’s article I always thought turkey bolognese was turkey wrapped in Oscar Mayer bologna. Who knew?
Fabulously Broke In the City - Since I’m talking about food, I have to confess that I love Denny’s. Actually, I love any restaurant that has pictures of their food on the menu. IHOP is another one. For the record, although they don’t have a menu per se, I love Wienerschnitzel too. Needless to say while I was window shopping over at FBIC, I saw Me had a recipe for one of my favorite foods of all time - chicken noodle soup. Best of all, Me’s recipe came with pictures – lots and lots of mouth watering pictures. Keep in mind this recipe is designed for people who can’t read measuring cups or spoons – all of the ingredients are defined as “just a pinch,” or “a good handful,” etc. That’s how I cook too, Me. The Honeybee always measures things out to the nearest Angstrom and it just drives me up the wall!
My Life ROI – Meanwhile, MLR discusses the financial pressures that the holidays bring and ways to relieve the stress. In the post, MLR notes that, “Financial stress can cause someone to lash out against their family and friends.” Of course! Now I know the reason why my family holiday gatherings have always been so, um, festive. Note to self: buy $10 debt-counseling gift certificates for the whole family this season. (That’s just a cheap joke, Mom.)
Debt Free Adventure – But seriously, Matt’s mom put together a great post that really brought home some memories for me. Checkout this article on how to make homemade Christmas decorations including three all-time classics: homemade salt dough ornaments, red and green construction paper chains, and popcorn & cranberry strings.
The Dough Roller – Michael had a cool post the other day showing us how we can all determine if our credit cards are fake with a little math trick known as the Luhn algorithm. Lucky for me I only had two fake cards in my wallet. I actually think if somebody had told Tom Hanks at the beginning of the Da Vinci Code about the Luhn algorithm, he would have had a much easier time unlocking the secrets of the Knights Templar. Or not.
Brain Dead Simple! Financial Organizing - Attention soap opera fans… This is getting fun. Susan posted Episode 3 of her financial organizing soap opera. It looks like Heather has made another unwise real estate investment. Meanwhile, Jack has a photo shoot in Paris, but he’s got troubles of his own – he loaned $25,000 to Heather and Holly ain’t too happy about it.
Credits and Debits
Debit: Your Taxpayer Stimulus Dollars at Work (Episode 754): The Washington Examiner has uncovered yet more questionable programs approved by Congress and signed by President Obama as part of the $787 billion “stimulus” bill. Instead of real infrastructure activities that create jobs and provide benefits to citizens for decades and decades – you know, things like building highways and bridges, improving the electric grid, and constructing dams, this bill chose to spend your hard-earned money on things like: $300,000 for a helicopter to hunt for radioactive rabbit droppings; $219,000 for a study on the sex lives of freshmen women; $356,000 for a study on childhood comprehension of foreign accents compared with native speech; and, $1.3 million on government arts jobs in Maine, including $30,000 for basket makers, $20,000 for storytelling and $12,500 for a music festival. Groovy.
Debit: The stimulus bill also included $173,834 to weatherize eight pickup trucks, and $20,000 for a fish sperm freezer. If you do the math that’s over $20,000 per truck just for weatherizing; is that really the best deal the government could find? Remember folks, these are the same guys who are promising to save us money with Obamacare. Please. (As for the fish sperm freezer, I’ll give the boys inside the Beltway the benefit of the doubt and assume that’s something they’re very familiar with.)
Debit: The health care bill headed for a vote in the House this week costs $1.2 trillion or more over a decade, according to numerous Democratic officials and figures contained in an analysis by congressional budget experts, far higher than the $900 billion cited by President Barack Obama as a price tag for his reform plan. That number is still grossly underestimated in my opinion. Tell me again how the government is supposed to give us better health care with improved benefits that serves more people, while still saving us all money in the long run? These guys can’t even get a good deal on pickup truck accessories. Why, oh why, can’t they just stick to the few things they’re actually experts on - like fish sperm?
Credit: Is there a parrot in the room? Speaking of Obamacare, Michael Ramirez’s latest cartoon just took the words right out of my mouth.
Debit: The Telegraph reports that, after investing heavily in green energy companies, internet inventor Al Gore could become the world’s first carbon billionaire. Gore stands to profit big-time from government policies he urged Congress to adopt that would direct billions of dollars to the business ventures he has invested in. The inconvenient truth is, of course, Gore’s windfall will ultimately come from consumers like you and me who will be forced to pay higher prices resulting from those energy and climate policies he helped get adopted. Yet more proof that our government servants today are less concerned with serving the people because they’re too busy serving themselves.
Credit: To avoid having to go to work, a 27-year-old Denver man stabbed himself in the leg and showed up at his place of employment claiming to have just been attacked by three thugs. As investigators began hunting for the assailants, they reviewed surveillance video from outside a local store where the man claimed the attack occurred. The footage, however, showed no such assault. Confronted by cops, the man admitted that he had stabbed himself. He was charged by police with filing a false report and obstructing police. What ever happened to just calling in sick?
Letters, I Get Letters…
Well, after asking you guys to write in to Black Coffee with questions and/or comments, my mailbag was overflowing this week. Uh huh. Two of you actually took the time to write. By the way, thanks dad for the reminder: I know sis’s birthday is coming up next week.
The other letter comes from Rachel who writes:
“I loved your post on rechargeable batteries. Why is it that when we KNOW the batteries in a remote are dead, we just push the buttons harder?”
Beats me, Rachel. I do know they make a special storage case for holding those dead batteries though – it’s called a flashlight. ;- )
Just for writing in, Rachel will receive a bicentennial Lincoln penny minted in 1976 and an autographed copy of my Drive-By Movie Review for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
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: Len@LenPenzo.com
I’ll feature the most interesting question or comment I get each week here on Black Coffee – and if you’re lucky enough to be the only question in the mail bag, I’ll highlight your letter whether it’s interesting or not.
Other Useless News
After a very slow start out of the gates, Len Penzo dot Com is starting to build some real momentum. October capped off a third straight month of very strong growth. In fact, I ended the month listed for the first time in Wisebread’s list of Top 100 Financial Blogs. That’s a nice milestone to mark. Thank you to everyone for your continued support!
Meanwhile, my post entitled It’s Time Unemployed People Start Working for Free has struck more than a few nerves. I’ve really been ticking a few people off – just check out the most recent comments. Readers are calling me a self-righteous jerk, a complete idiot, and a bully, among other things. (One and a half out of three ain’t bad, I guess.) It doesn’t get any better over at My Bank Tracker, where I put in my two cents against the extension of unemployment benefits to 99 weeks there. Apparently, most people are only reading the title of the post or are unable to comprehend the article. For those too emotional to read my article with a clear head: I am not against unemployment benefits – but I am against extending them for almost two whole years.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts You May Have Missed
From March 2009:
Stop the Bailouts and Let the Bankruptcy Process Do Its Job – No one was more surprised than I was when I discovered this piece featured in The Huffington Post.
This week I had articles featured at the following carnivals:
- The Carnival of Personal Finance #229 at The Centsible Life (Editor’s Pick! – Hooray!)
- The Bobo Carnival of Politics at The Bobo Files
- Stupid Is As Stupid Does at Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?
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