I was reading an article at Yahoo! Sports about the death of a lineman that played for the San Francisco 49ers, and inbetween wondering just how he died and feeling an immense sense of loss for this young man's poor family, I was presented with an interesting offer -- I was prompted to "roll over" an ad to save $3.00 off General Mills cereals.

Of COURSE my mind went immediately from feeling remourse for the family of the man who was simply living out his dream of being a professional football player when suddenly he met his end in an unfortunate and sadly-timed demise and it LEAPT to the immediate impulse that I might save some money on my favorite cereals. So OF COURSE I rolled over that ad.

"Save a dollar off LUCKY CHARMS???? I am SO THERE." I grinned and I clicked.

While I waited for the offer to load, I leapt from my chair and immediately began hunting down socks and shoes. Such was my newfound craving for marshmallow hearts, stars, clovers and horsehoes that I knew I'd have to run out the door the second the coupons were printed to go buy them. I netted a pair of cycling socks (featuring kokopeli and some sort of chili-pepper / guitar hybrid thing... Don't ask me, they were on sale) and my brand new Nike Free shoes (they really do feel like you're barefoot, by the way) and slid them on as fast as I could. I returned to my computer monitor just in time to be prompted by Coupons, Inc. to install the SECURE COUPON PRINTER FOR WINDOWS.

Secure Coupon Printer for Windows? HUH??? Why do I need that?? Whatever happened to just plopping a .jpg of the coupon with a barcode onto the user's screen? Why couldn't they send me a .pdf with the coupons attached??? HUH? HUH? WHY NOT????

Anyway, I saw the insane number of "SECURE!!! WE GUARANTEE IT!!!" logos all over the place - Verisign, microsoft, thawte, etc. - and thought "Hmm... maybe it IS a SECURE COUPON PRINTER FOR WINDOWS. Maybe I should install it... After all, I DO want to save a dollar on the most delicious and delectable of cereals..."

And that's when it happened. That's when I saw the ghost of the San Francisco 49ers player who's death had prompted my lust for marshmallow goodness in the first place. He floated before me and said "No, Joe! Don't make this mistake! It's a cleverly disguised attempt for another company to sodomize your computer and infect it with digital STD's! Stayyyyyy Awayyyyyy..." And then he floated away.

I was baffled. I'd just had an otherworldly experience! I'd communicated with the dead! I'm psychic!!! But then I realized I'd just left the cap off of my Jumbo Sharpie which was both responsible for my haluciantions and my momentary lapse of reason with installing something called a SECURE COUPON PRINTER FOR WINDOWS.

The lesson here, boys and girls, is "Don't let the death of a football player trick you into installing spyware just so you can save a dollar on cereal."

Or maybe it's "Put the cap back on your markers when you're done."

Or even maybe "Don't read people's online journals because they're full of nonsense about markers and cereal and the NFL."

Pick your own.