It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy a little joeâ€¦
Welcome to another rousing edition of Black Coffee, your off-beat weekly round-up of whatâ€™s been going on in the world of money and personal finance. Hereâ€™s what caught my attention over the past weekâ€¦
I have to apologize to some of you who took the time to leave a few remarks on my blog or ask me a question via email this week. I swear I wasn’t purposely ignoring your comments, questions and counterpoints; I was out of town on a lengthy business trip and I had almost zero time to respond.
Oh, I did manage to fire off one or two quick comments, but not much else. I just had way too much on my plate this week.
You know, for a moment I got really upset that this 5-day business trip was hopelessly disrupting my blogging schedule, but then I remembered the sojourn was on behalf of the folks who actually provide me with a steady paycheck each week.
Nobody can tell me I don’t have my priorities in order. I’m addicted to food — and that paycheck from my employer is the only way to assure I get an uninterrupted food-fix three times a day.
Whatever. The bottom line is I am now hopelessly behind the 8-Ball. Of course, this week’s abbreviated edition of Black Coffee is yet another casualty of my long absence. Sorry, folks. I should be almost back to normal in a few more days.
I said almost.
Anyway, I’ll quit whining now.
Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week
Well, um, I didn’t follow any blogs this week. Hey, I didn’t even have time to follow mine.
The Way-Back Machine: Past Posts Of Mine You May Have Missed
From May 2009:
Does Buying Your Gas in the Morning Really Save Money? – Yes, Virginia — and the other states of the Union too — buying fuel when the temperature is warmer gets less gasoline for the buck. This article explains why that is so, and just how badly you’re getting ripped off when you choose to fill ‘er up in the afternoon.
Credits and Debits
Debit: Because it sees no sign of economic recovery any time soon, the Fed signaled this week that it will keep interest rates near zero through 2014. Whaaaa?
Debit: While that may be good news for folks looking for a loan, these low rates continue to prop up the stock and housing markets despite the lack of positive economic data to support them.
Credit: True, there are some stocks out there that need no propping up — Apple, anyone?
Credit:Â And while Facebook isn’t currently publicly traded, it is scheduled to file papers for its initial public offering later this week, with the actual IPO coming in late spring.
Debit: Still, instead of forcing the economy to take the bad-tasting medicine that would surely ignite the creative destruction required to keep a capitalistic society healthy — and finally force the markets to unwind from years of excess — these ridiculously low rates only serve to indefinitely extend the malaise.
Credit: Higher interest rates would also encourage more fiscal responsibility by rewarding savers, including folks on fixed incomes. Best of all, they would finally force our politicians to cut back the size of our federal government — which now annually consumes over 25 percent of the nation’s GDP.
Credit: Finally, did you see this? The Associated Press is reporting that a London museum is displaying a 2000-year-old Roman brothel token recently discovered in the Thames River. No, they didn’t have Chicken McNuggets back then — this one is a real coin. (If you’re confused, check out last week’s Credits and Debits to get that lame joke.)
Other Useless News – The Magic 8 Ball Does It Again! (No, really.)
My amazing Magic 8 Ball correctly predicted the Green Bay Packers’ elimination from the NFL playoffs earlier this month. Hooray! Over the past two-plus years, my Magic 8 Ball has somehow managed to make the correct prediction 21 of 31 times, for an astounding accuracy rate of 68 percent. Unbelievable.
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By the Numbers
Most of the Lower-48 may be enjoying an unusually warm winter — save for the coastal West — but as of January 25th in Fairbanks, Alaska, it’s been one of the coldest Januaries on record:
-24.6 Average January temperature (Â°F) in Fairbanks.Â Â
-48 The coldest January day (Â°F) in Fairbanks so far this year.
3 Number of January days that the temperature climbed above 0Â°F in Fairbanks. (January 10-12.)
-15.5 Average high temperature (Â°F) through January.
0 Number of January days when the low temperature was higher than 0Â°F.
-66 The lowest temperature (Â°F) ever recorded in Fairbanks.
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
The Question of the Week
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Letters, I Get Letters
Every week I feature the most interesting question or comment â€“ 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!
Raul dropped me this note in my inbox the other day:
Hi Len: I’m just following up on this as I’m not sure you received my previous e-mail.
Well, I’ve got 248 unread emails in my inbox right now, so I’m pretty sure I got it. I just haven’t read it.
I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message.