Write interesting copy about yourself, the web, the class, etc. to explain what the page/site is all about to a new visitor.

That's the prompt . . . as they say in my kids' Language Arts classes. Only I'm not sure I've got a lot interesting to say.

The class — or who is in it — is still a bit of an enigma to me. I had expected a group of mostly young people, maybe a year or two out of high school, looking for jobs doing web design. But instead, the range appears to be much wider: a few young, a few old like me, and a few in between. I'm not real clear about why everyone is here, but I'd venture a guess that my first guess was wildly off the mark. Instead, I'm drawn back to what somebody told me before I got my first Mac 20 years ago: "Think of a computer as a household appliance, kind of like the toaster or washing machine. Everybody will have to know how to use it, just to do the routine tasks of daily life." So too the web: it's now more or less an appliance, and learning to use HTML/CSS is like learning not to wash your colors in hot water. You want to use the appliance — learn to use it right.

The web — in truth, it's not my favorite place to spend time. Like most people, I'm stuck in front of a computer for an awful lot of my life. Tasks are all on the web. But even little pleasures are on the web: I read the newspaper online, talk to friends online. So what I appreciate in any website is that it gets right down to business, without a lot of garbage.

And yet . . . and yet I also don't care for those bare bones basic sites that you get if you don't dress up the HTML. And in particular I detest anything that has lines running out to the horizon. So we're left with trying to make our sites functional and not ugly.

And last, me: I'm 62 years old, father of three, these days make most of my limited income selling books on, yup, the web. And trying to find ways to stretch that just a bit.

In a former life, I was a printer, started an offset shop called Orange Blossom Press in 1976. The shop was a coop, tried to support groups working for social change — broadly, the left and feminist and environmental movements. I left that in 1992 when the identity politics of the left got too weird. Since then, I've learned Quark, Photoshop, Freehand (remember Freehand?), and then InDesign, laid out books and nwsletters, and stumbled into the book distribution business. Meanwhile my life became very much dominated by the issues around my son Noam, now 15, who has autism. (My wife Mia now co-directs a nonprofit called Milestones that helps others who find themselves in our situation.)

Which in a way brings me back to this class. See, I used to do the design work for Milestones, in its first few years. But then the organization's board decided they needed a new logo, a new look, and they needed to hire a designer; I wasn't even in the running. So I had to face reality, and see if I could develop some new skills. So here I am.