Telemarketers are the Scum of the Earth

It is impossible to be too rude to a telemarketer.

*ring*

J.D.: Custom Box Service.
Cathy: [Cathy has a quiet, thin voice further burdened with a deep southern accent. Also, the line quality is poor.] Hi, this is Cathy from QwestDex Media. I’m calling for Mr. J.D. Roth. Is this Mr. Roth?
J.D.: It is.
Cathy: Hi. I’m calling to speak with you about how your business should appear on Google and Yahoo! Do you have a business web site?
J.D.: We do, but I’m perfectly capable of handling this all on my own.
Cathy: But, Mr. Roth…

*click*

I mean, really: what the hell is QwestDex Media going to do to affect how our site appears in search engines? Give me a break. In the past I’ve had conversations with other telemarketers about how I spend more time working with web sites than doing anything else. They don’t give a rat’s ass. They still want to sell me stuff.

Have I mentioned recently that I believe telemarketers should be shot? I don’t think so, but it’s true. I have no patience with them and their games. I loathe them. I generally just hang up on them, but sometimes I’m lulled into staying on the line. I’m never polite, that’s for certain. I once had a woman call back she was so angry at me. Must have been her first day on the job.

Earlier today:

*ring*

J.D.: Custom Box Service.
Brian: This is Brian from the Yellow Pages. I’m calling to update your free local listing. Are you still located at…
J.D.: You know what? I’m sick of this shit. We don’t do business over the phone. Mail me something.

*click*

Seriously. Just like that, with the “shit” and everything.

It is impossible to be too rude to a telemarketer. Don’t think of them as people. All they’re after is your money. All you’re after is for them to go away. (In fairness, I should point out that I believe my problems with Verizon stem from me having been rude to a telemarketer. Bastards.)

(I have a friend who is a telemarketer. I have to consciously will myself not to openly condemn him for this choice.)

The frugal photographer

Expensive hobbies and a frugal lifestyle can be tough to balance. Few hobbies are more expensive than photography. So what’s a frugal photographer to do? The three best cheap things you can do to improve your photography skill are:

  1. Learn your camera. Read your camera manual, and carry it with you. This is the cheapest improvement you can make. Learn what your camera can and cannot do. Make a lot of photographs.
  2. Take a class from your local art school or community college. For a couple hundred bucks, you’ll have access to a professional photographer, to other enthusiastic amateurs, and possibly to expensive darkroom equipment.
  3. Use a tripod. This is a sure-fire way to sharper pictures. You don’t need to spend a fortune; anything is better than hand-held. I’ve been using a cheap $50 tripod for five years and love it for everything except taking photos from the middle of a stream.

If you did just these three things, your photos would improve such that you wouldn’t need to buy any more gear. But if you’re like me, you’re going to want to invest in more equipment anyhow. If that’s the case, then consider some further advice:

Continue reading

The Long Weekend

Kris and I enjoyed a fun weekend with friends, though it wasn’t particularly relaxing.

On Saturday morning we hosted some Willamette friends and their children. We don’t see Chris and Cari or Michael and Laura as much as we used to. It’s great when we do; we enjoy their company. About twice a year, we gather for food and fellowship. This time, we hosted brunch. We’d hoped to be able to eat outside, but the week-long deluge prevented that.

On Saturday evening, we spent time with old high school friends. Dave and Karen came to dinner, and Mitch brought his kids. We ate hot dogs, played games, and talked about comic books.

My sister Shelley was in town Sunday, so the family gathered at Jeff’s house in Molalla. We had hoped to barbecue, but the very last of the rain kept us indoors again. Noah and Kendall were eager to clean up afterward:

By the time we took dinner to Craig and Lisa on Sunday night, the rain had passed. After dinner, I took Albert to the park. Or, rather, he took me to the park. He led me out the back door, down the alley (pausing only to look at a peculiar piece of gravel), down the sidewalk, and across the street to the park. He had me push him in the swing, but I couldn’t get him high enough to satisfy. I taught him how to walk up the slide backward, and how to go down on his stomach. We ran over to watch the pick-up soccer game. Albert gathered sticks. He hugged trees. He pulled moss from cracks in the sidewalk. Back at the house, we enjoyed some awesome chocolate pudding. Before we left, Craig showed us the progress on the basement.

On our way home, we stopped by Paul and Amy Jo’s. Paul gave us some of his posole (which, it turns out, is quite good).

Amy Jo gave me advice on writing, and loaned me a book about publishing non-fiction.

I had planned to do a lot of chores on Monday, but I got sidetracked. I’ve discovered that I love to prune. I’m not so fond of shearing hedges, but I love to lop off limbs and to prune for aesthetics. We have a several huge ungainly rhododendrons which haven’t been pruned in several years, so I spent three hours crawling beneath them, choosing which branches to prune and which to save. The largest rhodie took me ninety minutes to prune on its own. The plants look much better now, though they still need minor “haircuts”.

In the afternoon I joined Andrew and Tiffany for X-Men III. I had watched the first two films again over the weekend in preparation. My evaluations remain unchanged from first viewings: X-Men is pretty lousy and X-Men II isn’t a lot better (though it does have a few great moments). The first twenty or thirty minutes of X-Men III was fantastic, though; I was giddy with fanboy excitement at what I was seeing onscreen. Then the film bogged down — the plot stalled. The climax is a bunch of noise and nonsense (though I did love seeing Kitty Pryde — always my favorite X-Man (er, X-Woman?) — battling Juggernaut. (Aside: Enough Wolverine already! There should be a Federal law banning Wolverine from all media for a period of two years. Ugh.)

As I say: a fun weekend, and great to see so many people, but not particularly restful. I have a feeling that I’m going to spend the next couple of nights doing nothing. And loving it.

Further Tales from Rosings Park

What’s a typical May evening like at Rosings Park? Let’s take a peek…

It’s not raining when I get home from work. In fact, it hasn’t rained since mid-morning. I check the grass: it’s basically dry. I check the sky: it’s grey and ominous, but there’s no rain. I decide to risk it.

I set the mower wheels on high and start it up. I mow at light speed, nearly jogging. Even so, it’s a slow go — the grass is tall from all of the wet, warm weather. After just ten minutes, it begins to sprinkle. I continue mowing. A light rain comes and goes as I sprint through the tall grass. I mow the road lawn, the front lawn, the side lawn. I’m just about ready to start on the back lawn when there is a crash of thunder and the sky falls in. Rain comes down in a torrent. I park the mower under the maple by the back porch and go inside. So close! Another five or ten minutes and I would have mowed it all.

Kris comes home.

Our gutters, which were well-cleaned in January, have become clogged in the recent monsoons. I cleared the gunk from the lower gutter last night, but I wasn’t willing to brave the cold and the wet and the heights to clean the upper gutter. We stand at the kitchen window and watch the rainwater splutter-splutter from the top of the house onto Kris’ precious planter box.

In the spirit of “responsiveness”, I grab a stepladder and make for the roof. Simon helps. When I lean the ladder against the guestroom wall so that I can open the door, Simon climbs onto the bottom rung and wriggles his way to the top. There he surveys the room. He isn’t happy when Kris pulls him down. (You may recall that Simon loves ladders, as demonstrated by the following photo.)

Kris holds the ladder while I climb onto the upper roof. A single fat, waxy leaf is clogging the works. (Not much can reach the upper gutters. They’re very high.)

When I climb down, Kris is gazing longingly at her gardens. She loves her gardens. Sometimes I think she loves her gardens more than she loves me! “You should take a picture of the gardens,” she says. “I’ll go move the yard waste container.”

I grab my camera and snap a few shots, but can’t get anything framed that I really like. (“These pictures aren’t any good,” Kris tells me later as we are reviewing them. “You’ve cut off this plant here. And what about those roses? And we don’t need to see the lawn.” sigh)

While Kris and I are otherwise occupied, Simon has come outside onto the lower roof and scampered along a little outcropping to the balcony outside Kris’ office. We decide to let him have some fun, and so go inside to eat our dinner. When we come back up to get him, he is gone. Kris goes outside into the yard to see what she can see. What she sees is Simon, now on the upper roof, lounging away.

“How’d he get there?” I ask.

She looks at the balcony outside her office. “I have no idea,” she says.

I look at the area around me. It is conceivable that Simon might have climbed up a low, angled bit of roof. But to have reached the upper roof, he would have had to twist himself at an odd angle while jumping, similar to the way he had climbed the ladder earlier. I shudder at the thought. Any mistake and he would have plummeted to the camellia hedge below.

I go to Kris’ office and out onto the balcony. Here the situation is almost worse. The only way Simon could have made it to the roof was to make a six foot leap to a small platform above another camellia hedge. A tough jump for such a big cat. (From there, though, it would have been easy for him to scamper up.)

These are the only two routes he could have used. It’s difficult to conceive that he would have tried either of them, but apparently he did, because now he is lounging on the upper roof. I climb up the rickety ladder and call him over. He trots to me, tail tall and proud: “Look what I did!” He trills and even purrs at me as I pet him. But then I turn into Bastard Dad, hauling him down to the top step of the ladder (which is wobbling beneath me).

He stomps off to sulk in the bedroom.

His little brother, Nemo, is proud of himself for sneaking into the basement during the excitement upstairs. At dinner, I went down to fetch a bottle of salsa. I must not have fully latched the door. All three cats have a special sense that tingles whenever they approach an unlatched door. I don’t know what Nemo finds so exciting in the basement, but he loves it. He can spend hours down there. (No doubt he’s tearing open the spare cat food bag — that’s one of his hobbies.)

At the moment, Toto, my misunderstood daughter is sitting on the arm of my easy chair, purring and staring at my face. She wants attention. Every so often she reaches out a paw and gently claws my ear, pulling it toward her. Why? Because she’s a cat.

Kris is upstairs watching the Lost episode from three weeks ago via BitTorrent. She’s sad that we’ve forgotten to download last week’s episode, because it further goofs up her sequencing. Basically, if tonight’s two-hour finale contains episodes D and E, and the one she just finished is A, she will be watching them in this order: B-A-D-E-C. I hope she can keep that straight in her head. (Update after the fact: she could not keep them straight in her head. Apparently episode C contains critical stuff, because she was completely lost. She gave up and will have me download it for her later.)

And me? I will soon be taking a hot bath while reading The Wealthy Barber, which I hope to review soon at my personal finance site.

And that is a typical evening during springtime at Rosings Park.

The Da Vinci Crud

You gotta love Anthony Lane. The man is a comic genius. Check out his review of the The Da Vinci Code — both the film and the book — a review so deliciously scathing that I had to read it twice. And laughed at the same jokes each time.

How timid — how undefended in their powers of reason — must people be in order to yield to such preening? Are they reading “The Da Vinci Code” because everybody on the subway is doing the same, and, if so, why, when they reach their stop, do they not realize their mistake and leave it on the seat, to be gathered up by the next sucker? Despite repeated attempts, I have never managed to crawl past page 100. As I sat down to watch “The Da Vinci Code,” therefore, I was in the lonely, if enviable, position of not actually knowing what happens.

Oh, goodness.

I’ve tried to start The Da Vinci Code, too, but can’t make it past the first couple pages. They’re awful. Kris read it and pronounced it rubbish. It’s a shame that poorly-written stuff like this makes a gajillion dollars while better-written stuff languishes unread.

Alas.

What else does Lane have to say? Well, let’s see:

Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, except at Columbia Pictures, where the power lunches won’t even be half-started. The Catholic Church has nothing to fear from this film. It is not just tripe. It is self-evident, spirit-lowering tripe that could not conceivably cause a single member of the flock to turn aside from the faith. Meanwhile, art historians can sleep easy once more, while fans of the book, which has finally been exposed for the pompous fraud that it is, will be shaken from their trance. In fact, the sole beneficiaries of the entire fiasco will be members of Opus Dei, some of whom practice mortification of the flesh. From now on, such penance will be simple—no lashings, no spiked cuff around the thigh. Just the price of a movie ticket, and two and a half hours of pain.

The Da Vinci Code: 23% at Rotten Tomatoes (11% from big-name critics) — that’s worse than RV or The Shaggy Dog.

Anyone surprised?

Think It’ll Rain?

Good grief.

Portland is the land of gentle mists, not these torrential downpours.

Driving home today, the rain was falling so hard that I had to slow to ten miles per. On the highway. Onncoming traffic seemed to float on a grey and foamy sea — the cars swam through the bouncing rain and through the thick pools that did not have time to drain from the roads.

At home, Simon asked to be let out. I offered, and he took a quick step down, but then paused. He looked up at me and dashed back in side. He can hunt birds some other time, he says. He does not like the rain.

The current shower has subsided so that I can see the vegetable garden: it’s flooded! And here I thought I would be able to mow the lawn today.

On Monday morning — after Sunday’s initial onslaught of rain — the drive to work was gorgeous. Low clouds hung over the Willamette River, clinging to the tree-lined hills. Perpetually in the distance stood a grey veil which divided me from the rest of the world.

Lovely.

But now the rain begins again in earnest. This is like Texas!

Graphic Novels for People Who Hate Comics

Note: I’ve cross-posted this to Four Color Comics, my comics blog.

Kristi asked yesterday about good graphic novels for book groups. In response, here’s a list of comics that I think nearly any adult would find entertaining and interesting. Note the absence of superheroes.

The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman
The most important graphic novel yet published. Maus recounts the experiences of Spiegleman’s father as a Polish Jew during the Holocaust. It won a special Pulitzer Prize in 1992. Outstanding. A+ $22.05 from Amazon.
La Perdida by Jessica Abel
La Perdida tells the story of Carla, an aimless young American woman living in Mexico City. The ending is a little Hollywood, but overall, this is a great read. B+ $12.97 from Amazon.
Blankets or Good-Bye, Chucky Rice by Craig Thompson
Thompson is a Portland-area creator. Blankets is considered his best work to date, and it’s fine in a Tori Amos sort of way, but feels a little sophomoric at times. I prefer the more imaginative Good-Bye, Chunky Rice. Blankets: B $18.87 from Amazon. Good-Bye, Chunky rice: B+ $9.97 from Amazon.
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis is the autobiography of a woman who grew up in Iran during the reign of the Shah, and during the Islamic Revolution. This book has been compared (favorably) to Maus, and while it’s not quite up to that standard, it’s excellent nonetheless. Highly recommended. A- $11.67 from Amazon.
Black Hole by Charles Burns
One of the next books on my “to-read” shelf. This highly-acclaimed graphic novel is another portrait of adolescence. It combines a sexually-transmitted plague with a series of murders. Highly-regarded. Inc. $15.72 from Amazon.
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid in the World by Chris Ware
The story of a sad family full of sad men. I collected this in comic book form during the mid-nineties — I bought the first issue on the day my father died — but haven’t read it since. Ware is the darling of the intelligentsia.B $22.05 from Amazon.
Torso by Brian Michael Bendis
Remember Eliot Ness of Untouchables fame? After he stood up to Al Capone in Chicago, he moved to Cleveland. This true-crime graphic novel tells of his other big case, the one that ruined him: a series of gruesome killings. A- out-of-print, but available used at $12.95 from Amazon.
Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships and Age of Bronze: Sacrifice by Eric Shanower
Over the course of a planned seven volumes, Shanower is writing and drawing the history of the Trojan War using primary sources as reference. He’s dispensed with the gods and goddesses, but not their roles. When drawing the books, he relies on archaeological evidence to get the costumes, structures, and objects correct. This is great stuff. Age of Bronze: A Thousand Ships: A $13.57 from Amazon. Age of Bronze: Sacrifice: Inc. $12.97 from Amazon.
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
Some of you have probably seen the film adaptation of this book. The graphic novel on which it is based is a little different, emphasizing the relationship between the two young women, and spending less time on secondary characters. This is really a series of eight short stories that hang together as a whole. Shortish. A- $9.20 from Amazon.
American Splendor by Harvey Pekar
This book contains dozens of short autobiographical bits from Pekar’s early work. Some are great, others are less impressive, but on the whole American Splendor does a great job capturing adult angst. I actually prefer the recent film, which is wonderfully post-modern and often hilarious. B+ $11.53 from Amazon.
Locas by Jaime Hernandez
Though this is a classic in the field, I haven’t read any of it yet. To quote Publishers Weekly: “These superb stories … define a world of Hispanic gang warfare, ’80s California, punk rock, women wrestlers and the subtle battle to stay true to oneself. Hernandez’s main characters are Maggie and Hopey, two adorable lesbian rockers who start out in a somewhat vague relationship.” Inc. $31.47 from Amazon.
Palomar by Gilbert Hernandez
If you enjoyed Like Water for Chocolate or One Hundred Years of Solitude, then Palomar may be for you. Publishers Weekly again: “The earliest stories in the book owe more to magical realism and Gabriel Garcia Marquez than to anything that had been done in comics before. But in later pieces … Hernandez’s style is entirely his own”. Inc. $25.17 from Amazon.
Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson
Here’s a graphic novel that I do not own and have not read. Box Office Poison gets rave reviews from every corner. From what I understand, it tracks the misadventures of a group of recent college grads. Inc. $18.87 from Amazon.

Did you notice how the good graphic novels plumbed teen angst and autobiography for material? Did you further notice how the great graphic novels covered bigger subjects: the Holocaust, the Islamic Revolution, the Trojan War? Coincidence? I don’t think so.

One other excellent book to consider is Scott McCloud‘s Understanding Comics ($15.61 from Amazon). Understanding Comics is not a graphic novel, but a visual exploration of the comics medium: how it works, why it works, and so on. It’s brilliant in its simplicity. I actually want to choose this sometime for our book group, and then ask each member to read a graphic novel, too.

Some of you may be wondering, “Where are the great superhero graphic novels?” The short answer is that there aren’t any suitable for people who think they don’t like superhero comics. If you can’t buy into the genre, you’re not going to like the superhero stuff, no matter how good it is.

The primary exception are the products of Alan Moore. His work is imaginative and literary; I think that most open-minded adults will find it engaging. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (volume one, volume two) is clever fun. It takes fictional Victorian heroes — such as Captain Nemo, Dr. Jekyll, and Mina Harker — and melds them into a sort of “superteam”. Every character in the book is an established character from a previous work of fiction or an ancestor of a character from modern-day fiction.

Moore’s V for Vendetta has no superheroes, though it trades on superhero comic tropes. It explores themes of freedom, identity, and fascism. I think the beginning is strong, but the ending is something of a chore.

Finally, Watchmen deals explicitly with superheroes (though largely C-list superheroes that nobody has ever heard of). Many, including myself, consider Watchmen the finest superhero comic ever published. To quote the wikipedia:

Watchmen is drama that incorporates moral philosophy, popular culture, history, art, and science. It is set in an alternative history 1980s America where costumed adventurers are real and the U.S. is close to a nuclear war with Russia. Public opinion towards the notion of vigilantism has soured and public demonstrations demand the police be reinstated as the de facto marshals of law. Meanwhile, members of The Minutemen, a defunct organization of costumed adventurers, are being murdered. Watchmen is the only graphic novel to have won a Hugo Award and is also the only graphic novel to appear on Time magazine’s list of “100 best novels from 1923 to present.”

That’s a lot of information, I know, but I hope this guide proves useful to someone. Comics and graphic novels are often marginalized by the well-read, and that’s too bad. I often find them just as exciting, entertaining, and educational as any other literature.

These Little Things Which Make Up Life

from mid-April —

Noon.

Out for walk with Jason. Thermometer reads seventeen celsius. Sun is bright, though obscured by veil of clouds. Birdsong all around. Hum of lawnmowers in distance. Dead skunk by side of road. I carry a book to read: the Journals of John Cheever. “He meant by his writing to escape this loneliness, to shatter the isolation of others,” his son writes in introduction. Fascinating. Much about Cheever appeals to me. I meet Jason halfway and we walk east on Heinz Road. “A sweatshirt and a hat, huh?” Jason observes; it’s too warm for these. We talk about health care, houses, and books. We talk about dreams. Almost back to his place. I inhale deeply and say, “I love these smells: fresh-cut grass, the scent of the pines. It smells like a forest.” We say our farewells and I take out book again. A bee, punchy from sun, lands on my shoulder. I try to brush it away, but it is too groggy to leave. It clings to sweatshirt. I decide that it is not bothering me, and return to my book. My footsteps disturb a bumblebee by side of road. He flies slowly in parallel, matching my pace, buzzing, then lands on fragrant peach-colored rhododendron. No — it is the daphne next to it that is fragrant. Bee on my shoulder flies away. Birdsong all around. A flicker sounds its jungle cry. Robins chirp. Little birds titter and twitter. Pass culvert with running water — from where? Is nearby nursery irrigating? At corner, I startle pheasant. He rises up, beating air with his bronze wings, drifts across the road to new hiding spot, all the while chortling his gravelly call. I startle second pheasant, takes flight in opposite direction, skimming surface of field until he disappears into tall tuft of grass. He, too, squawks in flight. Across from Lams, long-haired black cat emerges from arborvitae hedge to gaze at me with baleful green eyes. “Move along,” he seems to say. Across from the Zimmers, boy is mowing lawn. Lawnmower has died, and boy — who looks about twelve — yanks on cord: pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull, pull. He gives up and squats by machine, unscrews gas cap. I pass skunk again, hold my breath. I look at Carlsons field: fallow now for three years and filled with unofficial Oregon state plant — the Himalayan blackberry. Across lawn and into office.

One.

Further Tales of the Jays

Some of you may have been following the saga of the juvenile jays here at Rosings Park. We just had more major excitement, so I thought I’d provide a brief update.

To recap:

On Monday evening, Nemo caught a fledgling scrub jay. We rescued the bird, which was unharmed, and one its siblings, and put them in the bushes where we believed they lived. During this excitement, a small community of adult jays (not just the parents) scolded and harried us.

We grounded our cats for several days, locking them in the house during the beautiful warm afternoons and evenings. (“Unfair to cats! Unfair to cats!”)

On Tuesday morning, I found the decapitated corpse of one of the baby jays in the middle of the sidewalk. A neighbor cat had murdered it. We let Simon out for a bit on Tuesday evening while we did yardwork. He didn’t get into any mischief, but the adult jays let him have an earful when he ventured too close to the shrubbery.

On Wednesday evening, Kris spied a neighbor cat in the fledgling ground; it was being harried by the adult jays. She ran outside and scared the interloper away. She also moved a baby jay from the middle of the lawn into the shrubs.

On Friday morning, I found a second decapitated baby jay corpse in the middle of the sidewalk. A neighbor cat had murdered it. In the afternoon, I beat the bushes, but neither saw nor heard any jays, young or old. We let our cats outside.

Moments ago, Nemo caught another baby jay and brought it to the porch. This time, the bird was not unharmed. He did not kill it, but I believe he broke one of its legs. “We should bring it in and feed it,” Kris said. I convinced her that we could not possibly save it, and that its only hope is to gain flight (which it is close to doing). We watched it struggle across the lawn in the rain — the adults flew from tree to tree, swooping low over the ground to keep an eye on their charge. I spotted another baby underneath the azaleas, so got up and moved the wounded bird to be with its sibling. The adults raised a ruckus.

How many baby jays are there? Will any survive? I don’t know. But I dearly hope that, in just a few days, we’ll look out the kitchen window at the feeder to see a juvenile jay with a wounded leg.

Coming Up Roses

I often grouse and complain in this forum. It seems fitting that today — on a day that I feel great — I should take some time to be happy and cheerful.

And I do feel great. Why?

  • I’ve lost eleven pounds in the past six weeks; my pants are no longer tight.
  • I’m writing more than I ever have in my life.
  • I’m making and saving money.
  • The weather has been gorgeous (if a little warm).
  • I love my wife and she loves me.
  • Our garden is alive with new growth: flowers, berries, veggies.
  • I have a cat sitting in the crook of my left arm as I type, purring.
  • My personal finance blog is off to an awesome start. (And my comics blog was doing fine til I stopped posting.)
  • I’m reading a great book: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. (Again.)
  • I’ve been listening to great music (80s rock) all day.
  • I’ve been off the St. John’s wort for several weeks and feel fine.

And, most of all, I feel like I have a purpose. It has been years since I’ve had a purpose.

It seems everything’s coming up roses — everything’s going my way.


Update: I forgot to mention a couple of other things that have me happy:

  • Friends.
  • I made $425 at the garage sale last weekend, which I have earmarked for a Nintendo Wii this fall.
  • All of my weblogs have been very rewarding over the past month, and in many ways. (Keep sending me links, guys — I love it. I may even turn the flotch into a presentable stand-alone linkblog.)
  • Mike, a visitor to this site, took the time to look through my CSS file to find two bugs that had eluded me. Outstanding. The only reward he asked was: “Use Firefox. Don’t do drugs (or credit cards). Get out of debt and stay out of debt.” I already push Firefox heavily among PC-using friends and family, but I’m going to give a try on my Mac now.

If I think of more things that make me happy, I’ll post them.