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Finances & Money

Q&A with Clever Dude #1

In the last 31 days, people have found my site using 9,424 different search terms. 7,000 of them are variations of “how do I get rid of this rash?“, but the other 2,424 are some very poignant and/or odd questions that I would like to take the time to answer here. I’ll also throw in a couple personal questions to let you, my readers, learn a little more about me:

Why is there no J Street in DC?

Recently, an episode of NCIS asked the same question, and you had to wait through the whole episode for the answer. Well, if you were paying attention to my site wayyyy back in May, 2007, I told you why there’s no J Street in Washington D.C.for

As a refresher, D.C. streets are arranged as such:

– Lettered streets run East-West

– Numbered streets run North-South,

– State-named streets run diagonally

There’s more to it like “the Capitol is at the center and the city has 4 quadrants”, but that’s extraneous to the question. So, the reason there’s no J Street in D.C. is pretty simple:

Back when they were naming streets, an “I” looked like a “J” when written, so they skipped J so they didn’t confuse anyone. Otherwise, it would look like two “I” streets (recall that I is just before J in the alphabet, so they would be adjacent streets).


How Do I Get a Free Laptop?

My article “How I get laptops and plasma TVs for free” got this site on the map thanks to hitting the Digg front page back in Feb/March 2007, and I’ve had a plethora of Nigerians emailing me asking for their free laptop, seriously. I don’t know if Nigeria is the only country in Africa with internet access, but why do all the scammers and beggars come from there?

Anyway, I’ll admit that my first laptop came 4 years ago, and the second laptop and the $1000 Visa gift card 3 years ago. It’s been a while, and the game has changed. It’s not so easy to get free laptops and TVs anymore (see my review of Free Laptop Nation) because the offers now require minimum times before you can cancel, which means you’ll be paying more out of pocket. Also, more advertisers now require you to get referrals to complete all their offers before you can claim your free gift.

If you really want to try your luck at these “free gift” offers, follow my tips closely to make sure you don’t get swindled and you’re not spending more than the “free gift” is worth. Otherwise, just save up your money to buy that laptop, iPod or plasma TV, if you really need one.

Oh, and Stacie and I still use our free laptops every night. My little Sony Vaio is where I write most of my articles! (see our laptops here)

“Free Dryers”

Five people have come here looking for a free dryer in the last month, and I assume it’s thanks to my article “In with the old and out with the new [Free Dryers]“.

We’ve been fortunate enough to run across people willing to give us free major appliances. We’re on our second free dryer (not counting the one that came with the house). I never did update that article to say that no one took the dryer from the Freecycle posting. Seriously, it worked perfectly fine, but no takers. Since I wanted to reclaim that space in our mudroom, I took it to the recycling center as scrap. I could have paid to fix it, but knowing how I almost killed myself with the last dryer I tried to fix, I decided to toss it. At least the county gets a couple bucks for the scrap and it doesn’t end up in the dump.

Does the Dude have a Day Job?

Of course I do! I don’t make nearly enough off this site to pay the bills! Plus, is still a hobby to me, which is why it’s still fun to write for. If this site was a business (ok, it technically is one), I’d feel like I have to tone down my voice and be all proper all the time.

Nahhh, that’s what my day job is for.

By day, I’m a federal IT consultant. My official title is “Senior Business Analyst”, but that just means I’m not a programmer. I won’t name my employer or client because I intend to keep work and play separate. It’s not out of anonymity (entirely), but rather the need to have a hobby outside of work, where work doesn’t have an influence. It’s bad enough my family reads my site, because now I can’t talk openly about my childhood and family affairs or risk a good ole’ fashioned shunning. Heck, that’s already happened once with my Christmas budget post. Some people take things too personally.

Is their a difference between there and they’re? How about then and than?

OH DEAR GOD YES! And yes, I purposely misused “their” in the question above. I’ve been guilty of poor grammar before. Heck, I’ve ended numerous sentences in this article with a preposition. But one thing I always try to do correctly is use the right word when writing! It’s basic English.

You can buy “English Grammar for Dummies” if you think you need it, but please just try to edit what you write before sending/posting it. Just because you’re writing to a close friend doesn’t mean you can forgo proper spelling and basic grammar. And when you’re sending out a mass email to your coworkers and customers, then it’s IMPERATIVE that you check and recheck your writing. Even Firefox and IM clients have built-in spell check modules for you! They won’t correct grammar mistakes, but at least they’ll point out incorrect spellings.

Now with that in mind, don’t think I’m going to delete your comment if you’re a poor writer. I just want to make all of you aware that at least in a professional sense, people are watching. How you write says a huge amount about both your education AND your character. Since I’m a business analyst, I do a lot of documentation at work. When I look at a resume for a new analyst position at our company, I’ll toss it if it’s apparent the person either doesn’t have a proper understanding of the English language or is too lazy to recheck their writing. If they’re lazy on such an important first impression, then they’ll be lazy when writing our system manuals.

So just please check your work, at least when you know it really matters.

Check back for more Q&A with Clever Dude!

I’ll be posting more of these Q&A articles from time to time. And if you have a specific question you would like me to answer, personal or professional, finance or not, then send it on over!

About the author

Clever Dude


  • LOL, I’m so glad you brought up the their/there/they’re! Until very recently, I was an English major (decided that I didn’t need the degree to write, so switched to Forensic Psychology to pursue the other part of what I want to do in life). Anyway, it really is one of my biggest pet peeves when people misuse those words. I also hate it when people mix up were and where, or your and you’re.

    Anyway, interesting post. I had no idea about the D.C. streets, and I don’t watch NCIS, so I learned something new tonight!

  • Hi Clever Dude. I think you also need to point out to readers that THEN refers to events happening in time. I went to bed, THEN I fell asleep.

    THAN refers to comparing items…the banana is longer THAN the vitamin. The dog is heavier THAN the cat.

  • Thanks for the Their, There, They’re comment. There aren’t nearly enough people that know how to use their theres 🙂

    Also for lulugal11’s Then/Than explanation.

    Shall we add that alot is supposed to be A LOT?

    Thanks 🙂

  • Great post, as always. Concerning bad writing, the one that makes me most crazy is “you” when it should be “your.” There’s no excuse for that – the author obviously didn’t proofread their work! I have found many internet marketing sales letters make that mistake.

    For those who are passionate about proofreading, there’s a video on YouTube called “The The Impotence of Proofreading.” It is quite funny! Here’s the link –

  • This was a pretty “clever” post idea sir….and do you think “i”s need to be capitalized? because i must admit i’ve been writing like that all year long 😉 just glad i catch myself at work!

  • Nice to learn a little about the guy behind the blog. Thanks for explaining the “J” thing. I moved to DC a few months back and it’s been bothering me a lot.

  • Thanks for brunging up the article about mispelings and grammer. Some poster’s and bloger’s – There postings will made you loose you’re mind!

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