Black Coffee: Excuse Me, But I Think Something Got Lost In Translation.

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…

One of my favorite sites on the web is, which focuses on translation errors that are caught on signs, shirts, instructions and other stuff. For example, here is a partial list of instructions for something called a “Car’s Oxygen Bar” that plugs into a 12 volt adapter. So what does an oxygen bar do, you ask? Well, you have to read the directions:

  • The characteristic: This product produces the ozone and anoin can rapidly eliminate the car insides’ soot, peculiar smell, and have force sterilization. The purification air, makes the car as like bathes in the forest!
  • Pay Attation (sic): Please do not unbending teardown this, the interior has the high voltage, do not open this product when the have electric.
  • Please do not let the tiny tinsel enter the inside when you using, lest make the malfunction.

At least this reads better than the instructions on my IRS tax forms. Come to think of it, and my blog too.

Blogs I’ve Been Following This Week

Consumerism Commentary – Why I Still Drive My Old Honda Civic. As a proud owner of a 1997 Honda Civic myself, I was really eager to read about why Flexo still drives his 2004 Civic. One of the items on his list: he has no need to impress his clients. Lucky for Flexo he already has a girlfriend too, because Civics don’t impress the ladies either. That is, unless you have one of those fancy oxygen bars that makes your car as like bathes in the forest.

The Saved Quarter5 Tips for Air Travel with Toddlers. There were some really good tips here, however, I’m still wondering why my old trick — supplying the tots with lots of cough syrup prior to boarding — was not on the list. (Relax, mommies; do not unbending tear down this, lest make another humor malfunction.)

Hope to ProsperThe Secret to Success for Working Stiffs. Once again, Bret shares some terrific insight based on his own real world experience. You really don’t want to miss this one, folks — so pay attation!

Fiscal Fizzle10 Tips for Financially Separate Couples. Says Wojo: “Don’t always stick to 50-50. If your partner clearly demands more of your common funds, make your money arrangement reflect that.” I can relate to that. Whenever I balk at the Honeybee’s demands for more of our common funds, she arranges for me to sleep on the living room couch.

The Financial BloggerTime for a Swift Kick in the Butt. Mike not only gave me a swift kick in my posterior, he also shared a little-known gardening tip regarding the best time to plant a tree. His answer: 30 years ago. Uh huh. Now he tells me.

And Here’s Some Other Posts You Might Enjoy…

Don’t Do It Yourself 6 Must Have (Free) Tools for Stay-at-Home Entrepreneurs

Green Panda Tree HouseIs Entrepreneurship for Everyone? The Answer is … No.

MonevatorCoping with the Guilt of Losing Money

Little House in the Valley 3 Ways to Save on School Clothes this Fall

Everyday Tips and ThoughtsThe World Has Changed And It Isn’t Going Back

Darwin’s Money US  Loses  Triple  A  Credit  Rating  —  It’s  About  Time

Cash Money Life7 Money Tips for Savvy Travelers

The Penny HoarderGet  Paid  $100  to  Name  a  Company

Canadian Finance BlogThis is Flipping Fun!

Wealth PilgrimAngie’s List Review — Can You Trust It?

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? – Some people swear that when they fill up their gasoline tanks in the afternoon they end up getting shortchanged at the pump. Are they crazy? Or crazy like a fox?

Credits and Debits

Credit: I see the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the week on a two-day winning streak. Believe it or not, that’s the first two-day rally since July 6 – 7.

Debit: The Dow still ended the week 1.53% lower, though, after suffering daily drops of 624 points on Monday and 520 points two days later.

Debit: While there are plenty of theories explaining this week’s massive market swings, traders and investment advisers are suggesting that investors better get used to it.

Debit: With the oscillating market, persistently high unemployment and overall uncertainty, it’s no wonder U.S. consumer confidence is now at its lowest point since Jimmy Carter was president over 30 years ago. I know.

Debit: Meanwhile, NPR reports that the national teen unemployment rate is currently 24.5%. If you think that’s bad, in the District of Columbia it’s — get this — 49 percent!

Debit: Hopefully a few of those teenagers will be able to find one of those shovel ready, “green” stimulus jobs — like the ones at a Michigan battery plant that were created at a cost of $2 million in federal subsidies. Per job.

Credit: Two million bucks per job. Heh. Just think how many teens my 11-year-old daughter Nina could hire if I gave her $2 million in seed money to start up a lemonade stand. I guarantee you it would be more than one.

Debit: Finally, a man will be laid to rest this weekend after spending the last 27 years entombed in the chimney of the Abbeville National Bank in Alabama. While police are puzzled by how the victim ended up in the bank’s chimney, there is absolutely no doubt as to how he died: he encountered a very nasty flue. (I know. But what do you expect for free? Moving on …)

By the Numbers

A look at the states with the five highest teen unemployment rates, as of May 2011:

34.6 California

34.6 Georgia

34.3 Nevada

33.2 Washington

32.8 Idaho

Come on people, let’s all do our part to help the economy by hiring a local teen to mow our lawns this summer!

The Question of the Week

How many cars have you owned during your lifetime?

View Results

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Other Useless News

Over the past 30 days, here are the states whose readers, on average, looked at the most — and least — pages every time they visited Len Penzo dot Com (according to Google Analytics):

1. Rhode Island (2.30 pages/visit)
2. Maine (2.23)
3. Montana (2.14)
4. Hawaii (2.13)
5. Arkansas (2.08)

46. Alaska (1.72)
47. Mississippi (1.71)
48. South Dakota (1.70)
49. New Mexico (1.68)
50. Vermont (1.66)

Hey, if you happen to enjoy what you’re reading (like my friends in Rhode Island) — or not (Vermont, ahem) — 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 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!

From Keith Rackett: “I don’t understand why some of (your readers) are so proud to drive sh*tboxes. I own a 2010 Hyundai Sonata flat out at 19 years old.”
Maybe you’d be prouder of your sh*tbox if you bought an oxygen bar for it. The adjustment internal secretion relaxes the strain mood and improves the breath skill!

I’m Len Penzo and I approved this message. (No, I really did.)


  1. 3


    Hey Len, Thanks for including my new blog in your roundup!

    Here’s a mailbag question for next week: What’s your prediction for both the lowest and highest 30 yr. fixed interest rates we’ll see over the next 5 years?

  2. 4


    LOL Thanks for the link, I think.

    The teen unemployment rate is troubling…I’m wondering if we’re raising an entire generation that will never fully appreciate the value of hard work at McDonald’s or the local market.

    • 5


      Personally, I didn’t learn any lessons about hard work at my fast food job, unless you are referring to the lesson that it’s hard to get by on fast food wages! I’d say the main “value of hard work” was time spent with coworkers of the fairer sex.

    • 6


      As always, there’s always another way to look at statistics: namely, you cannot be “unemployed” unless you are actually looking for work. Therefore, states that are hit harder by recession may have many more teens LOOKING for work than they have in the past. So the actual number of teenagers holding jobs could still potentially be up, there are just a lot of teens looking that cannot find.

  3. 7

    Talyssa says

    Good luck finding a teen WILLING to mow your lawn, my mother tried to find someone to pull weeds for 10 dollars an hour and literally could not get any of the neighborhood kids or friends kids or friends of friends kids to do it.

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