My good friend Monte gave me a laptop with a broken hinge. I did my best to fix the hinge but it is still a little bit funky. Then, after vainly trying over and over to get Kory's spare wireless ethernet card working, we discovered that it won't operate in Linux. Kory sold that WiFi card to Monte , and I figured that was that. A laptop just isn't that useful with no internet connection.
So, today, as I walked past the dumpster next to Monte's place, I noticed a shrink-wrapped box sitting on top of the pile of wood scraps and broken windows. I fished it out and discovered that it was a regular ethernet card. That means that within a few hours I was able to get Debian reinstalled and gnome and Mozilla running. As of this moment I am typing on the laptop.