July, 2011


The short answer is - No. In March, a disgruntled tenant in San Francisco tried to pay his rent with 500 pounds of loose pennies. It didn't work. The building manager refused to accept them. Paying a bill or tax with pennies as a form of protest has a long history, going back centuries. Many people think that because pennies are legal tender, businesses must accept them. That isn't true. Yes, pennies are legal tender, but that just means that the government recognizes them as money. It doesn't mean that a business has to accept them. A business has a right to restrict its method of payment. For example, many landlords will not accept cash because of security concerns. Most fast food restaurants won't accept anything larger than a $20 bill. While a $100 bill is legal tender, McDonald's won't take them. And, there are barter contracts. If a lease says that a tenant has to pay his rent by giving the landlord a live pig every month, then the landlord has a right to get a live pig. While a pig-for-rent lease may not be kosher, it is legal. Barter leases were common in the U.S. in the 19th century, especially on the frontier, where there were few banks and little money.

On May 27, 2011; a man walked into a clinic in Utah and tried to pay a $25 medical bill with pennies. He dumped 14 pounds of loose pennies on the counter. He demanded that the receptionist count out the pennies and give him a receipt. She refused to accept the pennies and asked him to leave. He became belligerent. He insisted that he had a legal right to pay his bill with pennies and refused to go. The receptionist called the police. The man was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

The Penny Debate. Should the U.S. stop making pennies? It now costs the government 1.8 cents to make a penny. There have been several bills introduced in Congress to stop making pennies, but none of them have gone very far. If the U.S. Mint stopped making pennies, it would not be without precedent. The U.S. government used to make half cent coins, but they stopped making them in 1857 when they began losing money on them. Some businesses have already phased out pennies. Vending machines and parking meters no longer take pennies. Army and Air Force exchange stores at U.S. military bases overseas don't use pennies. They round up or down to the nearest nickel. I think it's just a matter of time before the government stops making pennies - and nickels too. It now costs 9 cents to make a nickel.

Notice To My Tenants. Just in case this article is giving you ideas, remember, I do not accept pigs or pennies as payment for rent. Remember - No pigs! No pennies!


A lot of people obsess over the question of whether you should use a charcoal or a propane grill, but it really isn't that important. If you want a good grilled steak, you should focus on how you are cooking the steak, not what kind of grill you are cooking it on.

1. Get a pair of long steel tongs. It's the only tool you need. Never use a barbecue fork. Every time you turn a steak over with a fork, you pierce the meat and let out the juices. I can only think of one possible use for a barbecue fork - it makes a great gift for somebody you don't like.
2. Get a good steak. USDA Prime steaks cost more, but they are the best. Look for well marbled meat. Marbling refers to the white streaks of fat running through a steak. Marbling makes a steak juicy, and it adds flavor.
3. Warm up your steak. Take the steak out of the refrigerator half an hour before you cook it. Let it warm up to room temperature. If you put an ice-cold steak on the grill, by the time the center is cooked, the outside will be overcooked. I think this is the single most common mistake people make when grilling a steak.
4. Sear the steak. Once you put your steak on the grill, don't turn it over or move it until the bottom is seared. If you move a steak before it's ready, it will stick to the grate and tear the meat.
5. Don't overcook your steak. It is better to undercook a steak than overcook it. If you undercook a steak, you can always put it back on the grill and cook it some more. If you overcook a steak, there is nothing you can do about it. It like a haircut. A barber can always take off more hair, but he can't put it back on.
6. Let it rest. Once your steak is off the grill, let it rest for 5 minutes before eating it. This gives the juices time to rest and redistribute in the meat.


A prospective employer does not need your permission to check out your Facebook page, and lots of employers do just that. It is not an invasion of your privacy rights. You cannot sue an employer for viewing a web page that you created and that can be seen by the general public. Lots of people have lost jobs because the employer went to the applicant's Facebook page and didn't like what he saw. Before applying for a job, take a look at your social networking web pages and ask yourself how a prospective employer would view what you are seeing there. It is surprising to me how many very smart people never think about cleaning up their web pages before applying for jobs.

Landlords also check out applicants on the internet. This is now a common practice in the rental business. I sometimes find things on the internet that result in my rejecting an applicant. I once got an application for an apartment from a guy who put photos of himself on his MySpace page showing him painting graffiti all over the walls and doors of his apartment. He even painted graffiti on the venetian blinds and on the windows. I rejected his application. I had a tenant like that 2 years ago. Whenever he heard a witty saying, he would write it on a wall in his bedroom using a black magic marker. When he moved out, I deducted the cost of repainting his bedroom from his security deposit.


Because of high oil prices, a lot of products that used to be packaged in plastic containers made out of petrochemicals are now being packaged in cardboard boxes instead. This trend is very noticeable in stores if you look for it. I buy a lot of CFLs (Compact Florescent Bulbs) for my business. Up until a few years ago, most multi-packs of CFLs were packaged in heat-sealed clamshells. Today, most CFLs are packaged in cardboard boxes. This is a trend I like!

Wrap Rage. I hate clamshell packaging! Opening heat-sealed clamshells can be very frustrating, and if you aren't careful, you can easily cut yourself trying to open them. Have you ever heard of 'wrap rage'? Last year, over 6,000 Americans wound up in hospital emergency rooms due to 'wrap rage'. Most of these people injured themselves trying to open clamshells. Some people have lost fingers due to 'wrap rage.'

Apple Crumble. Last month, I offered to show someone how to make apple crumble. She came to my house with some Granny Smith apples, as I requested. Unfortunately, the apples were in a plastic clamshell, something that I had not anticipated. I tried opening the package with a knife, but the plastic was too thick for the knife to penetrate. Then I tried a pair of scissors, but without success. I finally managed to get the apples out of the clamshell using a pair of tin snips. Unfortunately, I cut my thumb on the edge of the clamshell, and about half of the apples were bruised by my efforts to get them out of their petrochemical prison. As I was struggling to remove these apples, I thought: "Why would they package apples in something like this? Why not a bag or a box?" This is a positively sadistic way to package anything!


When I buy power tools, I am often amazed by the warning labels on them, most of which seem completely unnecessary. I just saw a 1/4" electric drill at Home Depot with a warning label on it that said: "Not intended for use as a dental drill." Do they really have to say that? Take a look at the photo below of a Phillips beer bottle cap. It says: "REMOVE CAP BEFORE DRINKING." Is this warning really necessary?


Berkeley Nut Co. Baseball Caps. These caps are embroidered with the Berkeley Nut Co. logo. The caps come in 2 sizes: Samll/Medium and Large/ExtraLarge. I have them in 3 colors, white, gray, and yellow.

Mark Tarses

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