Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Case of Jameson

"i have a case of jameson with 11 bottles left in it. i am quitting drinking and no longer have a need for them."

First, let me acknowledge that unlike everything else we post here, this is desirable. Highly desirable. The only thing I can see being more desirable is a free stack of hundred dollar bills, put out on the corner by the person who lives next door (not just free money, but easy access to it!).

Jameson poster, it looks like you picked the wrong week to quit drinking. 11 delicious bottles left and today is the day? Come on! Man up! Drink up! You paid good money for those bottles. Enjoy!

And, really, you don't need them? Everybody needs Jameson. That's why they call it Jameson.

Look, I’ll come over, we’ll sing “11 Bottles of Jameson on the Wall,” drink through them, and you can check into rehab next week.

Razor Scooter

"Please let me know if your son or daughter would like a free Razor Scooter in good condition. I want to help a needy family. Blessing"

Yet another Free Stuff poster who wants to feel very good about him/herself as the garage is cleaned out. Perhaps the poster is trying to straighten out karma, "My Name is Earl"-style, after winning this scooter while running a three-card-monty scam on neighborhood children.

In any event, I'm pretty sure any "needy family" that can afford the internet access required to view your post can swing the $15 a used Razor Scooter* costs. I'm also pretty sure that most people have a tiny smidgen of pride and won't appreciate being called "needy" nor be particularly anxious to represent themselves as such.

"Hi, this is Stephen, I'm calling about the scooter. Yes, yes, I am indeed needy. Your scooter will make all the difference in the life of my needy child, Jesse. Yes, it will be a blessing. In fact, I think it's fair to say that little Jesse finally being able to scoot is a miracle of unparalleled proportions! You know what? I'd say thank you, but that's really not enough. What's your name again? We have another baby on the way and I think it would be appropriate to name it after you. I have to run it by my wife, but if I know Marge, she'll want to give the kid your last name, too! I'm driving in from Vacaville, I'll be there in about an hour."

*Have you noticed the strange persistence of the Razor Scooter? You couldn't go outside without tripping over one ten years ago, but it turns out not to have been only a passing fad. I still see kids on them regularly around here.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


What could possibly go wrong?

Electrolux vacuum

"In good condition except for one big problem: it needs a new motor."

Big ups to this poster for not pretending that a vacuum that is broken at its most fundamental level is a desirable thing with only a minor flaw. A vacuum without a motor has, indeed, a big problem. Actually, I think the post would be even more honest if it had used caps - BIG PROBLEM. The pursuit of honesty might have been even better served with the following text: "Free. One-time vacuum that is no longer a vacuum. Call it what you will."

Best use? Well, assuming that dirt is skittish, almost squirrel-like in its fearful vigilance, and runs silently screaming at the sight of vacuums, you could place this in the center of a room to shoo away cobwebs and dust bunnies, scarecrow-style. Not sure if the assumption holds, though.

Second best? Frustrate OCD-suffering Gitmo prisoners, telling them they can have cells as spotless as they like, but this is all they can use for cleaning.

Beyond that, I suspect we're in art project territory.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Camping Chair

Anthropomorphized Chair IV - Meth is a hell of a drug.

Photo taken minutes before chair was rushed to the emergency room. It went through medical detox, then immediately entered a residential treatment facility. Four days after it left rehab, it hit the crystal again, and was gone for three weeks.

It came home the other day, joking about being "back in prehab," and asking to borrow $3, "not for the drugs, man, not for the drugs, I just need a hot dog at the AM/PM."

It's on a corner in the Inner Sunset now, and somebody else's problem. The poster just can't take it anymore.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

[more on Burning Man]

Let me begin by noting that I have never been to Burning Man. I have never wanted to go to Burning Man. Every picture I have seen and every description I have heard lead me to believe that attending Burning Man would be indistinguishable from attending a frat party with a "Beyond Thunderdome" theme. It looks dirty. It sounds difficult. I can only stand being drunk and/or high for a few hours a day. And I find art cars and the like infuriating. So no Black Rock City for me.

Nonetheless, despite my distaste, I don't think of Burning Man as a once-a-year trash heap, turning the Nevada desert into a landfill on par with Fresh Kills.

Some people, however, disagree. They believe that the things they least desire will find favor with the Burners. They figure, apparently, that people at Burning Man are so perfectly wasted that they will bring anything with them. How else to explain the post of "Free Metal Poles." Thirteen of them, ranging from 5 to 7 feet. Sound like scrap metal to you? WRONG! They are "Burning Man Structure Poles."

Or the "About 12-15 pieces of 4-6ft PVC" (is it really that hard to come up with a precise count here? The metal pole guy was able to). Why, it's "Burning Man Stuff"! And don't forget your "Burning Man Carpet Remnants."

Given the rush to unload this trash into the desert, I wonder how long it will be before Nevada ends up like that Texas-sized floating garbage pile in the middle of the Pacific. Maybe it's already there.

Natural Limestone

"15 tons at least, in front yard. Haul all or none. We agree what will be left. You put small pieces on your trailer first. There are a bunch of big pieces that two people will struggle with to get on trailer."

This is not the clearest of posts, but it seems to require that the taker engage in something akin to the twelve labors of Hercules, with a bit of the myth of Sisyphus thrown in for good measure. 15 tons. At least.

Even if someone takes this limestone, as a result of some dire need, it will not be a joyful Free Stuff "eureka!" moment. It will be a long, miserable week of suffering under the severe, demanding gaze of the limestone poster, who seems to be missing a sense of prospective gratitude towards the hero who may one day come to restore his view of the sky, long blocked by his limestone burden. 15 tons. At least.

It will be cold and rainy. Everything will appear as though in black and white. I imagine the poster offering motivational epithets while the limestone is being taken away, shouted in some sort of Axis accent - "All or none! All or none!" "Embrace the struggle!" "Faster!" "Small pieces first!" "All or none!"

15 tons. At least.

Free "s" newt and j ay bird

"Call for more info"

Sorry, it's not that easy. There's a certain amount of info you need to provide before I spend time requesting info from you. I'll call you eventually, maybe, but first, what categories are we dealing with?

Are "'s' newt and j ay bird" terrible rapper appellations? Or do you have a micro zoo you're trying to unload?

Oh, forget it, I actually don't care enough.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

[the underdescribed]

The following items have recently come to my attention. Available free are

"a broken chair"



No picture. No description. Three separate givers, three separate items. Joined by a common theme - they hold secrets. Secrets about what they look like, what they even are. Only possibilities. Let your imagination wander.

Is the broken chair missing a button on its tufted back, or missing two legs, torn off hastily in an attempt to defend the owner from vampires? Can it still be called a chair, or is it only "useful as an art project"*?

There are many salty dogs out there giving away free boats. Usually they need major work. Usually they are a particular kind of boat. If I'm looking for a dinghy, I'm pretty sure the remains of the retired "Princessa Elena" (ret. 1996) won't really satisfy my needs. "Boat"? Come on, typing isn't that hard.

And "Couch." I find this one particularly poignant. As readers of this space know, couches come in every terrifying color of the rainbow. They have flaws of every variety, from stains to smells to tears, to resembling thunderstorms. I love love love the idea that someone will contact this poster about this couch, without any clue as to its appearance or condition. "Well, it says 'couch,' so who knows, we need one, right?"

I am going to take a minute and go post something myself.

OK, I'm back. I just posted "Thing." Let's see what happens.

*I've recently uncovered a similar expression. If something is beyond repair and utterly useless for anything but swinging at your enemies, call it "Burning Man." Burning Man chair. Burning Man telephone. Burning Man toilet. This may only work in the Bay Area, but give it a try.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Coffee Table

As I've mentioned here before, I don't frequent the Free Stuff section just to find mockables, I actually arrive with optimism, a belief that I may find something good, something desirable, something unwanted by others that I might happily rehome. The Free Stuff section tells me anything is possible, and good things happen to so-so people.

Then along comes something like this. Something that gets me as near to abandoning hope as a cheerful fellow like myself can reach. A malevolent cross between a patent leather shoe, a bottlecap, and a small boat, passing itself off as a coffee table. I will not sleep well tonight.

I try to put myself in the shoes of the person who bought this new, for probably hundreds of dollars, and I know the gulf between one man and another can be so wide and so deep that nothing can cross it. I know that there will always be war, there will always be hatred, there will always be violence, and that love is an exception, not the rule. I know that the person walking towards me on the other side of the street may have bodies buried in his backyard, and may have enjoyed putting them there. I know that evil exists, if not the Devil himself.

This table demonstrates that humans are capable of every loathsome depravity they have ever been accused of. This table proves that the Administration knew that Iraq had no WMDs. It strongly suggests that Marilyn Monroe did not commit suicide, but was murdered. Sadly, it makes possible the Libyan accusations that Bulgarian nurses intentionally spread HIV to children in their care.

I was a hopeful man. I was a loving man. Then this godforsaken coffee table came around.

Did I mention the matching end table?


"Does not work but if you can fix it it's yours. Or you can use it for parts."

There's been a rash of microwave postings in the Free Stuff section lately. I know I covered one just the other day, but it's all about volume here at Vintage Microwave. We're paid by the word*, so if something inspires a comment, I'm damn well commenting.

This is not just an old microwave - potentially dangerous, inherently ugly, formerly used to reheat someone else's leftovers - it's one that does not work. I refuse to believe that there is a legion of microwave oven tinkerers** who have spent years learning to cure all a microwave's micro and macro ills, but have never quite been able to afford one themselves. Training, waiting for the day someone posts the broken free microwave: "Boom! Finally! I'm scoring that baby and cooking some popcorn!" Nor do I believe there are professional microwave oven repairmen scouring the interweb for brokedown ovens, sprucing them up, and selling them for a tidy profit on eBay. In fact, what I do believe is that, in terms of desirability, a non-working microwave is really on par with the hypothetical bag of fingernail clippings mentioned in an earlier post. Unwantable, even as an "art project."

Now, don't get me wrong, I like the idea of neighborhood guys gathering around a microwave, beers in hands, showing off how they supercharged the magnatron, bragging about defrost speeds, and testing whether they can stop the pacemaker of the old guy down the street with a well-aimed ray. But that just doesn't ring true.

*No, not really. We're paid by how far we move the applause meter. What was that? There's no applause meter? Dammit!

**Cue Tim, Vintage Microwave's resident debunker: "I'm actually part of a microwave oven repair club. We meet every second Wednesday in the basement of the Unitarian Church. I know seven guys who have already e-mailed about this microwave."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Outdated Emergency Food Rations

"Several packages by Datrex each with 12 to 18 bars of compressed concentrated food. Expired June 2002. Thirteen packages all together. Should feed two people for a week."

When the earthquake comes, and it will come, the Whole Foods may be closed for awhile. The Safeway, too. Maybe even Grocery Outlet. Seven-Eleven won't be immune. The corner store? Closed. Food will be hard to come by.

So you'll eat your Dinty Moore stew. You'll finish the ramen. You'll drink the old molasses. You'll snort the cumin and smoke the peppercorns. You'll find out which of the flowers in the neighbor's front yard are edible.

You are clever. You are resourceful. You do not need to eat food that expired 6+ years ago. Say it with me - "I'm better than that."

"Feed two people for a week"? No. Make your family proud. Leave a legacy of dignity. Just die that extra week early. Don't let them find your body surrounded by the wrappers of expired bars of concentrated ick.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Outdoor Fountain

"It looks like a big rustic rock."

No, it looks like the fossilized head of a long-dead baby monster, caught mid-roar.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Broken Volvo window

"The window is for a Volvo S60 and is broken. Useful for an art project?"

Congratulations, broken window poster! You've just created a Universal Posting Justification. Append to any post, and it suddenly becomes legitimate. "Useful for an art project" cannot be argued with. Someone, somewhere, someday, might be able to make such a use. To say otherwise would be to circumscribe art's limitless possibilities. If you disagree, you are a Philistine, an Alabama fundamentalist, a Kinkade-lover, a . . . Roger Kimball. And of course, the question mark puts it over the top - no particular claim is being made, it's simply a possibility.

"Vintage microwave. Useful for an art project?"
"Used Band-Aid. Useful for an art project?"
"Bag o'fingernail clippings. Useful for an art project?"

Try it at home! It's fun!

Koi Pond

“Can also have decorative rocks shown in picture if you want them.”

So the decorative rocks are not part of the pond? What then is this Koi pond comprised of, exactly? A hole in the ground? Perhaps some algae-clouded water?

Other things this person will probably allow you to take off their hands if you ask nicely: windows (not the frame or the glass—just the empty square of space), the task of pushing a boulder up a hill repeatedly for all eternity, the sound of one hand clapping.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Sanyo Microwave

Thar she blows! The blubber-rich, slow-moving, surface-tickling whale we've dedicated this blog to. Our guiding principle. Our raison d'etre. The one thing so totally undesirable, so frightening to even consider letting into your house, that no one, ever, could possibly want it.

Note that this microwave has no buttons, it has a dial. When it was manufactured, buttons had not yet been invented. Many safety features had also not yet been invented.

From the looks of this picture, the owner of this vintage microwave wisely keeps it in a dark underground storage facility. Perhaps deep inside an old salt mine in the Rockies. If it were exposed to light, it could explode. If it is near heat, the slightest breeze, or human conversation, it could begin a "China Sydrome"-style chain reaction. To minimize (but not eliminate) the potential for Earth-crippling disaster, the picture you are looking at was taken remotely, using a NASA-designed robot with a camera and advanced LED flash system installed.

Of course, this wood shelf is in danger of going up in flames, but it's a better choice than metal (risk of sparks flying and reaching molten temperatures) or plastic (sure to melt). Some inert ceramic would be best, but the owner may have limited resources.

VM odds this will be picked up by someone for food cookery purposes - 1 in 10 billion.

VM odds this will be picked up by some modern-day Dr. No seeking a weapon with which to blackmail the United Nations? Slightly better. The Security Council has already convened.

1950's Grundig dictaphone

Now we know where Tim Burton got the general idea for the faces of his animated characters. While dictating a letter to Helena Bonham Carter, it suddenly hits him . . .

Box of 1.44 drives

"I have a box of tested and working floppy drives"

Now, I'm no technician, but to test a floppy drive to see if it's working, I think you need one of these:

There aren't many around these days, so I have to say, I'm impressed.

". . . that I had planned to use when rebuilding machines."

Back in 1989, before the accident? You've awakened in a miraculous future, my friend. We have telephones without cords!

"I don't need them anymore."

That makes one of us - I sure as hell do! I look forward to supercharging my Commodore 64 and getting it up to 34.56 megs by setting all 24 of those puppies in series. No more going to the library to post this stuff, I can do it from home (though I suppose it will take a few hours to load the Blogger page). I'm also excited to read that paper I wrote in high school about Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence," and to see the birthday card I made for my brother in Paint Shop, with that graffito-style text and a sketch of a pig. "You stink! Just kidding! Happy Birthday!"

"These are great for donation to help someone who is interested in repairing or building computers."

Folks, there's nothing more important in technology than to get a solid grounding in the basics. You've got to walk before you can run, and I'm not interested in what you have to say about the new 45 nanometer chips operating at 3.20 gigahertz unless I know you can make this thing subtract 2 from 4:

When you're done, get started with that Sinclair kit, and then, just maybe, we'll let you spark up the floppies.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Concrete chunks

Anyone who spends even a few minutes perusing the Free Stuff section will quickly notice the many "Free Dirt" and "Free Broken Concrete" posts. In the early, heady days of Vintage Microwave, I shied away from commenting on them. First, I wasn't really inspired to say anything about them (even when the headline was "Free Rubble"). Second, I harbored fears that I might not adequately understand the free dirt/concrete/rubble economy, and any mocking ("ha, Mister Man, no one wants your rubble!") might be misguided. Perhaps for every pile of dirt, there is a hole waiting to be filled.

Then I saw this picture, and my confidence was restored. This is not some sort of useful "fill" or ballast or the basic building blocks for the pylons of the new Bay Bridge. This is 600 pounds of garbage in the back yard that the wasps have started nesting in. After 28 years of looking at the pile, and watching successive generations of dogs use it as a urinal, the owner has finally decided "my life doesn't have to be like this. I can wash the floors. I can recycle the pile of twine-tied newspapers filling the downstairs bathroom. And I can get rid of the pile of piss-rubble in the backyard."

But when the cost of hauling is discovered, alternate plans are considered. And like so many resourceful Free Stuff reverse-entrepreneurs, the owner decides to "give away" his burden of a quarter-century. We are the "beneficiaries."

Vintage Microwave odds of unloading? 1 in however many people live in the Bay Area. Maybe there's a charitable organization devoted to helping reclusive hoarders better their lives.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

[Vintage Microwave Game]

Something in this picture is being given away, free! What do you think it is? Come on, guess! The ceiling fan? The clock? The plate below it? One of the plants? The wood thing on the ceiling? Maybe something inchoate and harder to see, like hope, love, or optimism?

Maybe that thing bottom center, what is it, a table or something? The fence outside? Something you'd never suspect, like the sod in the back yard or the cabinetry? That's close.

The title of this post is - "Vertical Blinds for Patio Door." See them there, at left? That light blue space in the picture? That is the purported subject of this photograph. Is this what they call "guerilla marketing," or just poor judgment?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Egyptian Walking Onions

"I've got a few I'm happy to share. They reproduce like crazy."

They're already here! You're next! This is worse than the invasions of the jogging shallots and the motorcading chives.

I, for one, welcome our new Allium overlords.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rusty Wolf range

"WOLF RANGE . . . FREE FOR SCRAP, PARTS, YARD ART, ??? Must remove ENTIRE stove no parts salvage on site!"

Heh. Heheh. Hahaha . . . HA HA HA HA! This is the WTFYHTBKM* type of post that is the bread and butter of Vintage Microwave.

I did a little research, and a new Wolf double range is about NINE HUNDRED POUNDS. Even though this one has been stripped of many parts (leaving what "parts" to chop it for, by the way?), and has lost some density to it's almost perfectly rusted state, it's still got some heft.

Who, on god's green earth, is going to make the effort to move this behemoth, and for what purpose? As mentioned, parts my ass. Further, "yard art"? Anyone who thinks this would make good "yard art" already has the neighbors filing complaints with City Hall about the Dart and the Bug that have been out front for the past 18 years. They can't afford to piss them off even more.

That leaves "scrap." Does rust count as scrap? Presuming it does, scrap iron goes for about 7 cents a pound. So this - again, if rust counts as iron - would be worth about $63. Given the number of people you would have to pay to help move it,and the gas cost of transporting it, you would lose at least $50 on the transaction. And that's not counting the price of tetanus boosters for all the hired hands.

Vintage microwave odds of this finding a new home? Zero. And yes, that takes into account that Wolf Ranges (when new, before unspeakable abuse) go for many thousands of dollars.

*Give it a minute, you'll figure it out.

Vending machine

"soft drink working vending machine could use some cleening up . . . make a lot of money you just need to replace the drum lock"

Anthropomorphized Vending Machine I

"Jesus, where am I? What the . . .? I'm covered in . . . oh shit, I'm still drunk, this isn't even a hangover. I need something to wash this taste out of my mouth."
Recommended uses for this extremely used vending machine: (1) depress local property values in retaliation for neighbors' protest at Design Review Board meeting of your plans for an in-ground swimming pool; (2) barricade doors of ex-girlfriend's house as you try to "work things out" - keeps her in and cops out; (3) target practice - when you hit a can, soda spurts out just like real blood. Or place your faith in the poster's optimistic business plan and "make a lot of money."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Paint and misc

"There is paint cans and misc. solvents and the like up for grabs...would prefer you take it all."

There are only three things that you’re less likely to get rid of on the Free Stuff section than "paint cans and misc. solvents." They are, in addition to being useless, heavy, and difficult to lawfully dispose of, a crime to be found in possession of:

1. a broken Jacuzzi, filled with used motor oil and a human corpse,

2. an Ikea sleeper sofa, poorly reupholstered with the hide of an illegally poached Bengal tiger, and

3. a rusted 1970s-era RV with brown appliances and a leaky roof, inhabited by fugitive ex–Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller (MUST TAKE ALL OR NONE, U HAUL!!).

Lonely Planet West Africa

"I tore apart my book before the trip because I was planning to visit only Togo and Ghana. I have the complete portions of all the West Africa countries except Togo. They include Ghana, Mali, Libya, Chad, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, Liberia, etc. Great book if you are visiting any of the west Africa countries."

If you decide to pick up this guide, please be sure to print our Vintage Microwave West African Travel Supplement, created with the help of the U.S. Department of State. It's not only full of important information, it can also be used to create fun games for the kids while waiting for your flight at Mali's Bamako Airport. Games like: (1) count the number of times the word "avoid'"appears; (2) which sounds more dangerous - Chad or Algeria?; (3) which is a greater threat - the drunk drivers of Cameroon, or the kidnappers of Nigeria?; (4) a Benin madlib - "the beaches are so _[adverb]__ dangerous because of all the __[adjective]__ __[plural noun]__."

But mostly, use it to remind yourself why you are not going to take that trip you planned.


Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.


The U.S. Embassy in Bamako strongly advises American citizens to avoid traveling to the northern regions of Mali, including the areas north of Timbuktu.


Any American citizen who decides to travel to Libya should maintain a strong security posture by being aware of surroundings, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, keeping a low profile, and varying times and routes for all required travel.


March travel warning: American citizens should defer all travel to Chad due to the unstable security situation throughout the country. Americans in Chad are advised to avoid all travel after dark and exercise caution at all other times; bearing in mind the political situation remains fluid and potentially dangerous.


U.S. citizens should avoid overland travel in Algeria without security escort, including tourist excursions in the Sahara. The Department of State urges U.S. citizens who travel to Algeria to evaluate carefully the risks posed to their personal safety. Small-scale terrorist attacks including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, ambushes, and assassinations occur regularly.


American citizens should defer all but essential travel to Delta, Bayelsa, and Rivers states because of the very high risk of kidnapping, robbery, and other armed attacks in these areas.


Embassy employees have been instructed to refrain from travel outside of city limits after dusk, and to monitor their movements in centrally located areas within cities and towns. Private American citizens are urged to follow the same guidelines and are strongly advised against nighttime travel. Armed highway bandits (most notably in border areas); poorly lit roads; hazardous, poorly maintained vehicles; and unskilled, aggressive and/or intoxicated drivers pose a threat to motorists.


U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. U.S. citizens should not walk on the beach, at any time of day, alone.


U.S. citizens in Liberia should be aware of their surroundings at all times and use caution when moving around, especially at night.


That all sounds fun, doesn't it? Travel!!

Keywords: avoid, dangerous, night, kidnapping, bandits, unstable, terrorist, assassinations, security, defer, beach.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Free medical equipment

"Have some very sophisticated surgical equipment and some more routine medical supplies, enteral feeding bags to donate. Would like to see this go to third world countries. If you identify your organization I will send you a list. I would prefer a registered nonprofit. If you are not either your email will be deleted!"

Excuse me, doctor, but if I am not either what? If you're going to be haughty with your free stuff, at least be coherent. Wait, do you mean either a "third world country" or a "registered nonprofit"? Do you really expect Liberia to log in to its yahoo account and shoot you an e-mail? Just so's you know, it hates being called third-world. Ixnay on the eveloping-day ountry-cay, too.

And really, "registered nonprofits"? I think most organizations whose primary mission includes improving the health of the underserved/underprivileged steer clear of anonymous donations of vital medical equipment. But I could be wrong:

Cure the Sick International Chief Surgeon: We're losing people to sepsis in Surinam, we need a hospital grade autoclave down there, yesterday.

Cure the Sick International Executive Director: Well, that's well and good, but donations have been down with the economy, we just don't have the funds.

Chief Surgeon: Dammit, bean counter, money or no money, we have to make this happen. I'm sorry about that bean counter remark, I know you're every bit as important here as I am.

Executive Director: Bygones. We've got work to do. I'll call our top donors and see what I can come up with.

Chief Surgeon: Wait, I've just thought of something. I hear there's a new clearinghouse for sophisticated medical equipment on the internet. Fred over at Equatorial Charities picked up an almost-new MRI there the other day.

Exec. Direc.: Don't keep me in suspense, where is this non-profit dream-come-true?

Surge-on: The Free Stuff section of craigslist. Maybe someone left an autoclave out on the corner, next to a telephone pole, on top of an old, cat-scratched sofa.

ED: But . . . I thought we were having trouble with contamination? That sounds icky.

CS: Bean counter . . . sorry.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Brown recliner

"Very comfy"

"Very comfy"? I'll say. You and that chair were one, on more than one occasion.

Light the candles.

Spark up the oversize novelty bong.


There is high, and there is high. And you've always erred on the side of high, haven't you? I mean, at least when you're here, in your favorite chair, with your bong and candles close at hand. I’m a little baffled that you’d let go of such an important part of your life. It can’t be a step in a recovery plan, though, right? I mean, the bong would have to go first, wouldn’t it?

Three dog houses

"We are giving away 3 older wooden handmade dog houses. They are a bit beat up but still very usable and would easily fix up to look nice again. Will give priority to whoever will come take all 3."

The catch, no doubt, is that the third dog house pictured is actually just the entryway to an underground dog fallout shelter, complete with 10 cm concrete walls and a copy of the 1987 expanded edition of Cresson H. Kearny's Nuclear War Survival Skills, translated into dog language. If you think folding down the back seat will get that to fit into your Honda hatchback, you've got another thing coming.

Play House

"Almost 10 years old. In fair shape. Needs a little paint. Must pick up - you will need more than one person to haul. Excellent for back yard or for a preschool."

I'm no photographer, but I do have one small suggestion. If you really want the preschool angle of your sales pitch to work, try taking the picture of your dilapidated playhouse during daylight hours. It will go a long way toward making it look less like it's inhabited by a play Blair Witch waiting to cut out the play tongues of small children and leave them for dead in the play wilderness.

Owl Collection

"Owls are an order of birds of prey. Most are solitary, and nocturnal, with some exceptions. Owls have large forward-facing eyes and ears, a hawk-like beak, and usually a conspicuous circle of feathers around each eye called a facial disc."

Yep. That's the text of the ad. The poster has apparently had trouble unloading this free collection of owls, and has decided he knows the reason: none of you ignorant freaks know what owls are.

Now that you do, perhaps you'll finally get in your car and pick them up.

Bee hives

"I am looking for a beekeeper that would be interested in re-locating 2 bee hives in a tree."

Like the "free leaves" post, this is yet another following the format of "I need a service performed, but rather than pay someone for that service, I will frame my wish as an act of generosity." I can see this taking off, with the medically-uninsured crowding the free section: "Free Melanoma. You Remove."

I have in my lap right now the yellow pages. Not even the good, comprehensive yellow pages, just one of the would-be competitors (a sad business in the internet era, I'd bet). I have flipped to the page with the category "Bee Removal." That's right, there's an entire category. Here in west Alameda County, there are EIGHT entries for bee removers. They not only exist, they are competing for your business. I don't believe business is so cutthroat, however, that A & Bee Swarm Removal is giving away its services just to undercut those bastards at California Exterminating Service.

So please, just pay the $50 or whatever it is to protect your children from the swarm. Don't wait hopefully for some greenhorn who wants to try his hand at bee wrangling.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Old Hoover Upright Vacuum

"Rubber bumper trim unattached on one side. Works, but not well"

Vintage Microwave odds of anyone showing up for this - 1 in 800.

Qualifications: (1) must have low self-esteem, and (2) must wish you were the seventh Brady child, or cousin Oliver.

Hexagonal Side Table

"has a faux granite finish"

Perhaps you've read the Chronicles of Narnia, in which a gaggle of sweet children enter an old wardrobe and find themselves transported to a magical new world.

This side table is pretty much the same as that wardrobe, only getting to the other side lands you in the ad hoc dungeon (spare bedroom, really) of a 62-year-old dominatrix in Stockton.

Her whip-and-chain days are pretty much behind her. Currently, her sadism consists of boring you to near-death with stories about the early 1970's swinger scene in the Central Valley, and smothering you in second-hand smoke.

There's no door back, but you can probably get a cab to SF for about $200.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


No picture, just the good news - free trampoline.

Why is this good news? Because it makes my life easier. The Simpsons have already done an entire episode about the free trampoline. I'll let Matt Groening do the heavy lifting.


Homer picks up the newspaper and sighs, "Ah...the daily
newspaper." He turns to the "FOR FREE" section.

"Ooh! The Springfield Men's Shelter is giving away sixty soiled

Marge asks Homer why he bothers reading that section of the paper -
"They never have anything good." But as she finishes, Homer gasps at an ad he has just spied: "FREE TRAMPOLINE, 534 Center St."

Homer: Oh my God!
Lisa: What is it?
Homer: Tramapoline! Trampopoline! [runs out]
Bart: He said what now?
Marge: Please, don't bring home any more old crutches!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Animal traps

"I have some Cage style animal traps I need to get rid of. I was
trapping stray cats with great success. I no longer need them. There
are three about two and a half feet by two feet long and wide. I'm not at a computer today so call me."

Not at the computer today, huh? Of course you're not. Having,
apparently, wrapped up "with great success" the third step of the triad of sociopathy, you're no doubt out on the town today,
trolling bus depots for young men to rape and murder.

Let me know when you've moved on to painting clowns. My apartment
needs something to brighten it up.


Another J-Ben product

Thursday, April 3, 2008



Let it not be said that I lack compassion. I feel for this poster, with the spears sticking out of his spine. If I were him, I wouldn't want to rake my yard, either.

Nonetheless, this brings to mind a clumsy version of Tom Sawyer, who, in "Huck Finn" convinces other youngsters in the neighborhood not only to do his chores, but to pay him for the privilege. While there was brilliance to Tom's approach, this is too transparent to be much more than sadly optimistic. It's a bit too easy to see that the post's true, if unwritten title is not "Free Leaves," but "Please Come Rake My Yard."

You never know what someone may want, however, so when my four acre lawn next needs a good mow, I will be sure to post "Free Blades of Grass. You Collect." I suspect it will get more page views than a comparable post in the "volunteers" section.


Thanks to amblus for the tip.

Executive Office Chair

"We just upgraded our office furniture and no longer need this leather executive office chair."

Anthropomorphized Chair III - grumpy, indignant

Upgraded have you? Upgraded, my ass! Yeah, that new chair may have one of those new Master’s in Financial Engineering degrees, but what good is stochastic calculus going to do in a market like this? You want more fancy derivatives? Are you not paying attention to the news? Even the Wall Street Journal is calling for more regulation of that bullshit.

Look, what you need is to focus on our traditional strengths. I don’t have the new chair’s book smarts, sure, but I’ve been here 25 years. I came up from the mailroom. I know how to roll up my sleeves and get things done the way we always have. Who was under you through the Emca merger? Who put in late nights getting approvals for the new line we unveiled 10 years ago?

Don’t hand me that severance check. Don’t you dare wish me well. Let me do my job, dammit. Really? Security? Is that what it’s come to? Did you just call me “gramps”? You’ll be hearing from my lawyer.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Aquarium Supplies

"Gravel, Plastic Plants, Tetra Food, Medicine"

Something I presume about this ad is that the word "used" (or some slight variant) modifies all its elements. The used gravel has been in an aquarium before, with all the accompanying hygienic implications. Used plastic plants - same implications. Partially empty container of Tetra food. Partially expended medicine.

Something else I presume? The fish - that swam above the gravel and amongst the plants, that ate the food and needed the medicine
- are dead, after a long illness.

The medicine was inadequate to the task. Despite treatment efforts, nothing could save the fish. So what we have here is all the elements of an infected aquarium, along with a failed cure for the infection. And someone willing to let you have it all, free. Once upon a time, this poster would have nailed a parchment to a tree, somewhere in Indian Territory, with the calligraphy "Free Comfortable Blanket," the smallpox, of course, would be presumed.