What passes for as Black Friday north of the Rio Bravo started out as just another Viernes here. The end of the month is nigh, and that means a deadline to meet. I would diligently crank out two columns today, but not before a goodly amount of coffee and reading every news source on the Internet.

Estadounidense Black Fridays scare me, having left the Old Country before they came to resemble looting sprees that follow natural disasters. Just watching people attack one another over tablets and giant screen televisions threw me into a rare mode of questioning values.

Several years back, I developed a plan which included removing two items of clothing and other new acquisitions from my closets for each new acquisition. That didn’t work for computers.

CFE came by and politely announced I’d have no electricity for the rest of the afternoon. What was I supposed to do, sit around and read print copies of The New Yorker by sunlight? I decided to honor Black Friday by deaccessioning a few superannuated computers. Four of them, to be exact. Death knells for the Dells.

One already reposed in the living room, the case opened and the hard drive waiting to be pulled. There would be three more upstairs waiting evisceration.

P1010990We went to work, but not before fondly remembering floppy drives, Zip drives, and tape drives. And recalling that the total cost of them exceeded the price of my first new car and a year’s tuition at law school back during the Nixon Administration. One was first put into use just after the unveiling of Windows 95. The latest, XP. The poor, the desperate, and even the deserving and perverted would no more want these computers than they’d want my used underwear.

P1010996While we’re otherwise hygienic when it comes to computing, we never get around to wiping hard drives. Instead the whole unit simply gets shoved into a closet. We’ll find a way to destroy those hard drives later.

We’re not getting rid of everything. We’re holding on to those HP LaserJet printers, because we just love them and know they’ll be valuable collectors’ items in due time. And they even got us some good press one time:

Finally, attorney turned blogger and journalist Jennifer Rose sent us a photo of her HP LaserJet III. She got it in 1991 and they’ve been inseparable since. Rose tells us that the LaserJet III cost “almost as much as [her] first new car” and that she grew especially fond of the special language she needed to learn to operate the control panel. While her LaserJet III doesn’t serve as her primary office printer anymore, Rose reports that it “never jams” and “keeps on ticking like a basic Timex watch.”

11 comments on “A NEO-LUDDITE’S RAMPAGE

  1. Rolly BNrook says:

    I can relate to retiring old computers. I just heaved my old Windows 95 desktop. Once it was my pride and joy, but that was then and this is now…


  2. When the electric company turns off the juice in my neighborhood, they never give me a heads-up. Lucky you.

    As for the electronic gear, I dub you a pack rat. As for hard drives, I recently destroyed the one in my old computer. Here’s how: Buy a hand-sized sledge hammer. A couple of blows do the trick, but you really have to put your heart into it. I was amazed at the sturdiness of a hard drive. The door to Fort Knox comes to mind. They don’t call them hard drives for nothing.


    • Don Cuevas says:

      Even a small fragment of disk can have bits of data on it that can be retrieved by expert technicians.

      Hard drives can be thoroughly and wiped by reformatting them.

      Don Cuevas


    • CFE has been replacing all of the power poles in the neighborhood. They’ve been very polite about it, delivering cards the night before to advise that the electricity would be shut off from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., knocking at the gate to tell us that there would be a shutoff between 12 and 1. Amazing. Not like the CFE of yore.

      I could give the Collyer brothers a run for their money in hoarding. I prefer to refer to it as a blend of poverty and survivalist mentality. Those hard drives are rugged little beasts. You can also string them up on the clothesline for target practice, encase them in concrete, soak them in polyurethane, and perform all form of torture upon them. Or you could put them in a plain brown envelope and mail them to the NSA, with a return address of Mustafa’s Kosher Deli, marked “contains junk, not valuable national secets.”


  3. sparks says:

    Mine don’t wait for me to decide their fate. They are subject to the higher powers of heat, dust and humidity on the Mexican coast. Along with my cameras


  4. Kim G says:

    I had an HP Laserjet III of similar vintage to yours, and I rue the day I parted with it. Those things are far tougher and more durable than the cr*p they make these days.

    I’m with Felipe on smashing the hard drives. Once smashed, no technician is going to be able to get ANYTHING off them.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we have our own in-house computing museum.


  5. Encasing them in concrete is another option.


    • Kim G says:

      That of course would be the Mafia way of ensuring data security. Of course, you’d have to do it on a boat, late at night, and then pitch them overboard immediately with a wicked cackle as you did it.


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