I am a dumpster diver, at least where electronics are concerned. I must admit it. I've picked various and sundry bits of electronic gear out of other people's trash for decades now.
I can recall one of my earliest finds. I always was the kind of kid who wanted to take stuff apart to see how it worked. One day I was walking home from school, and I hit what seemed like the mother load. At the curb half a block from my house was a large record player in a wooden cabinet. It smelled a bit of cigarette smoke, but it cleaned up pretty well. With the help of my cousin Jo., it even worked (a broken connection between the turn table and the tube amp -- a little soldier and voila!). I kept that for several years, until I discovered that the needle was crap and was slowly destroying my meager collection of 45s.
I found my latest bit of treasure from trash last night. I was running down to the building trash room to drop off some recycling when I spotted a computer that someone in the building threw away. It was a pretty unremarkable late 90's case with one unique feature: someone upgraded the CD-ROM drive to a DVD-ROM drive. I've been thinking for a while now that it would be nice to add some DVD capability to my computer, and this was a golden opportunity. After dragging it back up to our apartment, I extracted the DVD-ROM drive and it worked. A few dollars later for some DVD decoding software and I can watch the Fiona Apple Extraordinary Machine Dual Disc as I type this. The rest of computer was crap by today's standards; it looked to be 200-300 MHz Pentium class hardware. I never even turned it on.
Mrs. Geek seemed mildly embarassed by my dumpster diving activity. When I discovered a "Clifford The Big Red Dog" in the DVD-ROM drive, I immediately wrote a note saying "I found this in the computer in the trash room" and stuck it up on a message board in the lobby of our building. Mrs. Geek saw me doing this and asked "So you're actually going to admit that you took apart a computer that you found in the trash room?" I thought, well yes, I don't have anything to be ashamed of... and who knows, this game could be important to some child in the building.
That said, I should point out that I didn't identify myself on the note, either.
So, I'm a lifelong dumpster diver. Mrs. Geek will have to deal with it. It shouldn't be hard though. I only keep useful stuff... electronics mostly. No strange smelling furniture. No "collectibles". Everything else goes right back to the trash, where it should be.
on 2006-01-09 at 10:00 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond