We still have a land line at the house. Quaint, you think? But the number is linked to all manner of accounts, and it would be laborious to change. The consequence, of course, is that we expose ourselves to nuisances.

Kathleen once succumbed to a caller soliciting contributions for some fund for law enforcement personnel. Now all of them call us, because they pass the lists around. I have no idea whether these appeals come from legitimate organizations of from the type that spends all the income on paying phone solicitors, donating little or none to the charity.

The year I was out of work, I told them I was unemployed, but that didn't stop them, or even slow them down. You can tell them to take your number off their list, but sometimes they appear not to, and anyhow, they'll pick it up the next time they buy a list. One of the few advantages of my peculiar working hours is that I miss most of those calls.

If the phone rings and there's no immediate response when I pick up, I hang up immediately. The automatic dialing machinery the solicitors use has a lag between my pickup and connection with the solicitor. If they ever improve on the machinery, that strategy is toast.

Don't tell me about the do-not-call registry. It's a joke with many exceptions and many violators.

Recently, for amusement, I responded to a telephone survey. I forget the subject about which my views were sought, probably gay marriage, but the questions were so obviously slanted that a small child could tell what answers were invited. This is why you should simply ignore most published articles about surveys.

I follow the advice that Fred Vultee has repeatedly offered at HeadsUp: If you don't know what organization conducts the survey, who pays for it, what the sample is, and what the margin of error and confidence level are, you have absolutely no way to evaluate its reliability.

All in all, I wonder why the National Security Agency bothers to listen in.