Posted by: David | October 31, 2010

My Murder House

Please forgive me dear readers. But it seems that as the autumn leaves fly and the snowflakes appear, I often launch myself into a series of nostalgic swoons. This has worsened as I’ve grown older. Carrying my little box of photographic negatives with me for all these years may or may not have been helpful in the management of these fugue states

Back in the autumn of 1974 I headed off to Reed College, from my short-lived home in Southbury, Connecticut. ‘Twas a dramatic departure. My dad and recent stepmother took me to JFK airport in her yellow VW bug through some torrential thunderstorms. The lightning and thunder were so intense that we wondered if we would make it to NYC. But of course we did, and they left me at the airport, where other new Reedies from the East Coast were corralled for a long night of waiting for our flight. Not sure what the big holdup was. Probably something to do with those thunderstorms. I met two New York girls bound for Reed. Debbie from NYC and April from Long Island. April was a sincere vegetarian with long red hair. Debbie was a laconic New Yorker with long brown hair. We had hours to kill at JFK before our flight to Portland finally departed. We bonded as best we could.

I really liked my chemistry class in my junior year of high school. Photo by classmate Steve.

Like so many 18-year old boys, I had hardly a thought in my head. And having been an above average student in high school, I’d chosen the school 3,000 miles away from the school I should have attended, UCONN. Neither Yale nor Wesleyan wanted me, not even for interviews, whereas this interesting-sounding little college in Portland, Oregon, with its italic calligraphy-themed advertising was welcoming me as one of their kind; vaguely creative and gently rugged individualists.  Just as they had welcomed Steven Jobs only a year or so before. Yes Steve and I have something in common, we both dropped out of Reed College. He did pretty well. Don’t get me wrong, I never met Steve at Reed. He was gone long before I’d arrived. If I’d gone to UCONN I’d probably have a degree now.

My college career was brief but intense. There were plenty of other Ivy-League rejects  there to keep me company. Reed was a small,  20th century institution, and was just bouncing back from the tumult of the 1960s. The place was intense and competitive. I remember the student newspaper publishing an article entitled “Leave Reed”, about the student attrition problem. I “attritted” in my second semester, soon after my high school sweetheart/first-true-love dumped me from the aforementioned 3000 mile distance. She was at a fancy east coast women’s college. I experienced a phase of agitated depression and decided to sell all my stuff and drop out. My textbooks went fast, as did my copy of the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, SOLD, for $2. Sold my Smith-Corona typewriter. After a week or two of moping, and counseling, they somehow allowed me to reinstate myself, and I even returned in January to finish my freshman year.  I got a B in Chem 110 but I flunked Bio.  Blanked the final- except for writing my name correctly. Then I went home for the summer. What did I do that summer? I wish I remembered. Maybe I worked for Pier One Imports? I had done that while I was in high school in Hamden. Yes, let’s say that I was a temporary assistant manager at a Pier One store in Milford. But I don’t really remember that due to the PTSD of dumpage.

She was smart to dump me. I was pathetic.

I came back to start my sophomore year in the autumn of 1975. Chemistry had me interested, and Chem 210 (“the dreaded Organic”) was the next step. It was hideous. The professor used to ask the class stuff like, “OK how many of you think that carbon ions have an electro-negativity of four”, some hands went up, “and how many of you think that carbon ions have an electro negativity of three”, other hands went up. “Well you’re all wrong”! Tricky bastard he was.

Then we had the cute chick in the front row, who sorta-looked-like/reminded-me-of my ex-sweetheart/first love/first heartbreak, and who was a frickin organic chemistry genius. She threw all our test and quiz curves into the toilet. Physics was a little better. It made some sense, and I got to use a computer running FORTRAN, programming it with punch cards so it could print a graph of lab results. Did pretty well in my independent study photography class. I was good at that. Photography probably saved my life during that drastic period ending my teens and beginning my 20s.  And a college girlfriend too. But college wasn’t working for me. I dropped out for good in my first sophomore semester. I crashed at an off-campus house where the girlfriend lived.

My girlfriend helped me to grow up some. She stayed at Reed and got a degree in psychology.

The college had some nice people who seemed to really understand what I was going through. A lady in their career counseling department set me up with this sort of volunteer position with the Public Defenders office in downtown Portland. They needed some help getting a small darkroom set up in their 6th Avenue offices so that they could quickly prepare photographic exhibits for courtroom use. It was a great opportunity and they paid me a small stipend while entrusting me to direct the setup of a small black and white darkroom. They even gave me keys to the building so I could use the darkroom whenever I wanted. I don’t remember what it cost, but it all fit into a small ventilated room. A nice long stainless sink on one side, with temperature-controlled plumbing, and the enlarger, paper safe, and dry-mount press on the other side. I did some of my best photography work in that darkroom.

I got a job at a commercial photo studio. I developed b&w sheet film, lugged crap around, helped set up catalog shoots, etc.

My girlfriend and I moved into our own little place, a half-address, two-room bungalow tucked in between and behind some southeast Portland houses walking distance from Reed. The address was 6604-1/2 SE something avenue. Too many hours flying around with Google Earth have yet to bring me the actual street. I must have turned 20 at some point in there. Our little place had a garden plot that we dug and planted. She was a smart, funky hippie lady from Chicago way. She majored in psychology and was doing some experiments with rats and caffeine for her senior thesis. She cut me a lot of slack let me tell you. She thought I was a cute little man-boy. I was, and she showed me everything. It was pretty wonderful for a while. She had some really interesting friends. We hiked around some of the beautiful places near Portland. Multnomah Falls, Mount Hood, and camped at Alder Dune Campground on the coast. It was beautiful out there. Fond memories.

At Portland’s airport. My girlfriend’s friend (left of the column) had a Leica M3. I wonder if she still has the pictures she took this day.

The job at the photo studio was tedious, but if I’d had the patience, it could have become something good in a few years, and given me a good start on a serious photography career. But serious was not something I was good at. I was an idiot, and the old fuddy duddies at work looked like tired old clock-punching zombies to me. Photographing furniture, clothing, and equipment for catalogs and advertising brochures. How droll things look when your head is so far up your butt; how brown. My girlfriend was starting to get a little tired of my immaturity.

I kept the position with the Public Defenders and quit the photography studio. Got a job as a collections attendant at a Goodwill donation station. The donation station was a 40-foot trailer parked in a shopping center lot. People would drop stuff off, and I would stack it into the trailer until it was full. When full the trailer was taken to Goodwill headquarters, where it was emptied and sorted by other Goodwill employees. I had a little “office” cubby in the trailer. There was electricity. I had a little TV on which I’d watch Sesame Street. There wasn’t much on during the day. What the hell was wrong with me? My girlfriend let me know that I ought to try to find my own place to live.

I don’t know how I found the place, but it was another funky, with a capital F, half-address in southeast Portland, which I now know/remember. I could not have lived there for very long, and it was the only time in my life that I lived alone. Well not quite alone. I had a cat. Her name was Gray Kitty. I’d acquired her from the first place where my girlfriend had let me crash. The cat did not really like this funky little stucco bungalow. Whenever the gas heater came on, Gray Kitty would yowl sadly to go outside.

Walk between the two houses to get to my place.

My front door.

l took this picture from the roof of the house in front of my house. I’d removed the front door to paint it.

So the place had a living/bed room, kitchen, bathroom, and little shop or utility room with its own exit. There was bamboo growing in back of the place. The kitchen had two windows. The rear window looked out at the trash dumpster at the rear of the apartment building on the other side of the block. Late one night I’d gotten up to go pee or something and I heard voices from this rear kitchen window. I lurked up to the window in my dark kitchen to spy on what turned out to be a sad drama unfolding for some couple. There were tears and sorrowful murmurings of regret. It wasn’t just weird because it was happening outside my kitchen window late one night, but it had an overblown sappiness to it that made me decide this pair was probably inebriated.

Also while I lived at this odd little place, I experienced being robbed. Somebody broke in and stole a radio and a nice camping knife while I’d been at work. It was the first time I’d ever had anything stolen from me, and the violation I felt made me fully regret all the thievery I’d ever perpetrated in  my seriously selfish youth. At some point I decided to sell my Nikon F2 in order to purchase a piano. The piano had been a player piano and had a nice oval window in the front. You could see the hammers and strings. Did I mention that I played the piano? Well I don’t. But I had deep childhood memories of playing around on the Steinway baby grand in my grandparents flat in New Haven, and of a recording my mom had made when she was a teenager. Probably on that same piano. Always loved solo piano music. I actually took lessons at Reed ever so briefly. I didn’t get very far. But I learned about the circle of fifths, and still had these crazy ideas. So I sold my camera and bought a piano. What was wrong with me?

Gray Kitty didn’t like this house at all.

This was my reading chair. I was reading Heisenberg and Pynchon when not working for Goodwill or the Public Defenders.

I’d advertised my Nikon in the classifieds. A really quirky artist fellow came to buy it.  He was a painter but was getting into photography. He was some 10 years older than me and was quite gay, but the eccentricity eclipsed the homosexuality. And he was a party animal. So it took me a while to get it. He had a boyfriend in southwest Portland and that was where he lived. The boyfriend was one hot mess. A nice guy at heart, but also a recovering alcoholic on Antabuse. I fell in with these people and they tried to turn me. It was kind of fun being an object of affection, but this might have been as much a recovery from the women that had rejected me as it was a period of sexual ambiguity not uncommon to college-aged people in our society. All I need to say about this phase was that I met some really interesting people, and discovered that I was certifiably heterosexual. But the old queer guys liked me. A lot.

My new friend had  ideas far crazier than I could ever come up with. He and the boyfriend were on the outs so he thought we should go to Hawaii. We would bring bicycles with us. All our stuff would fit in our backpacks. We would eat lots of pineapples and coconuts and fish. This sounded great to me. So I liquidated the piano. I couldn’t have owned it for more than a few months. The sale of the piano funded the purchase of a nice Centurion bicycle and round trip tickets to Maui. I got rid of all my stuff except for what I’d need for cycle-touring around Maui with my crazy new buddy. Thank god I bought round trip tickets for myself.

So when I was checking in with the landlord and collecting my security deposit, the old guy and his wife told me something about the house I’d been renting. Poor old guy had been a plasterer all his life and a smoker and he could hardly breathe. But they told me that they’d rented it to a guy back in 1961 who’d murdered a lady there and chopped her body all up into pieces. The guy had been a butcher by trade. Really. I went to the public library to look in the newspaper microfilm and sure enough, in June 1961 this guy had lived in my house.  There was a photo of my front door. Hmm. I guess I’m glad I didn’t know about this for the whole time I’d lived there. No wonder my cat didn’t like the place.

So here’s the thing about all this nostalgia crap. As mentioned, it’s autumn and with the garden pretty much put to bed for winter, the lawnmowers put away and the snowblower brought out, it’s cold and windy and not inviting for a bike ride. So thanks to our wonderful Internet and Google Earth, I’m flying around Portland Oregon trying to find some of the places where I’d lived after Reed. A few weeks ago I met someone at a party who works at Reed now, in their library no less, and that helped to set the nostalgia hook a little deeper. That and my desire to get a decent blog post out of all this swooning. I’d done this before. I’d scanned the front door negative a couple of years ago, but forgot, and could not remember the street.  This box of 35mm negatives that I’ve had since my high school days and the scanner with which I’ve been able to share these images, which are part of my memory store (pardon the digital parlance), they’re a bit of a trap in some ways. Forgetting makes nostalgia possible, no?

So, I’d forgotten the name of the serial killer and the  address of the murder house and I can’t find it with Google Earth cause I’m really remembering the first house I’d lived at with the girlfriend. I’m flying over southeast Portland like some kind of Google ghost. And I’m Googling stuff like “dismemberment murders Portland, OR 1960s”. When I finally get the killer’s name, I figure I can probably get the address with a little more research. So I look in the databases of the library at work, but our archive of The Oregonian, Portland’s main newspaper, only goes back to 1987. I contact the person at Reed, who very nicely sends me a list of article citations. The Oregonian has an online archive, and for a mere $9.95 for a 30-day membership (or 50 downloads whichever comes first) I could access digitized versions of these articles. So I set about searching for June 1961. The archive shows little snippets of the available articles.

Bingo! The address showed up in the preview snippet!

Now I have the address. So what do I do next? Why Google Earth of course. Plug in the address and fly right to the place. It looks like the place has been enlarged, but it’s still there.

See all the little camera icons? Portland is VERY well covered by Google Earth’s Street View.

The nostalgic episode is almost complete! <s h u d d e r >  The serial killer was the first fugitive to expand the FBIs 10 most wanted list to 11 in 1961 after fleeing Portland.  They caught him in California and he was tried and convicted, but was paroled after 12 years. He killed and dismembered another female victim in Salem, Oregon. Oregon has no capital punishment, so he’s probably still in prison. I hope. Anyway, I try out the Google Street view to see if I can resonate any recollections from the old neighborhood. But it’s so different now, and I really didn’t live there that long. Plus I had my head up my butt most of the time. I didn’t think much about the murder house while pedaling around beautiful Maui, with all my earthly possessions in my backpack (not including my bicycle), nor thereafter. But thanks to our Wonderful Internet, I can creep myself out all over again. With Google’s Street View I see that the neighborhood looks somewhat nicer. And there’s a 1996 Camry parked on the street, facing the wrong way. That’s my present day car. What? The? Hell?

OK, well it’s a 2-door and I own a 4-door. Whew!

Happy Halloween to all and thanks for reading.


  1. This is amazing. Reed hasn’t changed much! Ben lasted 3 semesters, but I don’t think he ever lived in a murder house. I’ll ask him at T’giving. The photos are wonderful as is your lay out. Happy All souls Day- AFA mw

    Thanks for your comment Margaret. Actually from the conversation I had with the person who works there now it sounds like it’s grown some. She said that they still have the attrition issue, but it’s almost a source of pride in that it indicates the demands of their academic rigor. I’m glad that Ben didn’t live in a murder house. I sorta wish that I hadn’t but I remember thinking that the place was kinda cool when I first moved in.

  2. Wow. What a post.

    First, I like that picture Steve took.

    Second, do you have a piano now? Do you still play?

    Third, whatever happened to that girlfriend? Did you keep gray kitty?

    Fourth, I can’t believe you lived in a murder house. Did you ever sense something was strange while you were living there? If someone murdered someone in my house, I feel like I’d sense it. It’s just a gift I have.

    Fifth, is that red tree in the opening legit?? I’ve never seen a tree so in-your-face red. It’s kind of showing off.

    Alright, well I have more questions, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Cool post and pictures today.

    Thank you VAGB for all your props. I think I can answer most of your questions. No piano, but I’m really wanting to get one of them newfangled electronic ones. Maybe next tax refund. I’m Davey One Note. I only know how to play one real piece. I don’t remember who took Gray Kitty, but I must’ve given her to somebody. That girlfriend went on to an MBA and a career in sales of educational materials. I never really sensed much of anything at the murder house, except for the way my cat hated the kitchen. I don’t have your extrasensory gift. The autumn tree photo is totally doctored, as are almost all the photos I post here. Color saturation=42. That makes the colors go into your face. The pair of trees at that cemetery are done showing off now. One was red and one was yellow. They’re naked now.

  3. I loved taking this Google Earth tour of Memory Lane with you! You are way too hard on yourself. Most of us are really stupid at 19 and 20, and ahem…sometimes well into our 30’s and 40’s.

    Your photographs are incredible, as always.

    Oh, and I had to Google [the bad guy]. Apparently he’s still well-known in Oregon, and still living the good life in prison. Here’s a story that mentions his name and the address of your little murder house:

    And here’s one of his ugly mug:


    Thanks Moonbeam. Pardon my edits, I didn’t want to mention the perp by name on this post. That was an interesting link in Typepad though. I wondered if he was still in prison. This whole episode would have creeped me out a lot more at the time if I had not been so self involved. Yeah, and I continued with the self-involvement well into my, uh, fifties. But I am so TOTALLY NOT self involved any more, believe you me. I swear. I am much better now. I know so much more than I ever did before. 🙂

  4. This is my favorite blog post of any you’ve ever posted. I love this story. So many glimpses. So many fantastic photos. Thanks for sharing this walk down memory lane. Truly.

    Thank you Allison. They say you should write what you know, right? I know me.

    • I just read the perfect quote to that effect: “I should not talk so much about myself if there were anybody else whom I knew as well.”- Henry David Thoreau

      That IS perfect Allison, thank you. Validation from Thoreau. 🙂

  5. “Color saturation=42. That makes the colors go into your face.”

    I love that.

    Did the murder take place in the kitchen??

    No really, in Microsoft Office Picture Manager, turn the color saturation up to 42. Then hit “Auto Correct”. That makes most photos “pop”. They look way better on the computer screen. Try it!

    I don’t know where the murder happened, but the guy was trained as a butcher and apparently they found some pieces of his supposedly first victim in the house. It’s hard to find the exact details, and the motivation to do so is even harder to find, even with a brain so steeped in lurid fictional crime TV such as CSI, Criminal Minds, etc.

    • Color saturation 42 – it’s like photo lip gloss.

      I like that that murderer was a trained butcher. It’s like actually using skills you learned in college in your real life. So at least there’s that.

      Finally – I spotted that red “W” in your post. Are you sending information to the Russians? You can tell me.

      Yeah, it’s a cheap trick, but it usually works. 42

      What red “W”? I’m sending information to the Mexicans. I’m telling you.


      • The Mexican Cartel? I knew it. I so knew it. I found the red “I” too.

        NO. The Mexican YOU. I don’t know where you’re finding all these red letters. Maybe it’s time for some spectacles young lady.

  6. I do understand the depth of your not self-involvement. I’m the same way, as evidenced by my completely non-self-absorbed blog. We sound like paper towels, really bad ones.

    Check your e-mail, m’kay?

    Thanks Moonbeam. I’m the quickest picker upper when it comes to self absorbitency. I made that word up just for my own amusement. So there.

  7. David,

    Loved the walk down memory lane. Great blog for this time of year, as the leaves fall to the ground, the memories flood your mind.
    You were really a cute manchild, however, I think as you matured you got more handsome and obviously a lot smarter too.


    Thank you for reading and commenting MJ. Yeah I’m wicked smaht now. Nothin like 40 years of trial and error! 🙂

  8. I can’t read it yet because I am going to have a headache. They are by now very suave, not painful, just boring, because for a day or two I cannot read and not even listen to music, but I can clean and wash things, though not with electrical light and only with shaded day light.

    The little house looks similar to the one I once lived in, except that mine had the view of a castle. But the people who built it did not care for the castle at all. You could not see it from inside the house, but had to step outside. — I am going to try and find a photo to send you.

    I’m sorry that you have a headache. Even if it is suave.

    I would rather have had a view of a castle instead of a view of some trash cans. I look forward to receiving that photo.

    Hope your headache goes away soon.

  9. But in my little house there hadn’t been any murder. Instead there was a family of 12, and she divorced him because she wanted to dedicate her life to Jesus as a witness of Jehova´s.

    So the family fell apart, and they sold the little house to us who were willing to pay 2.5 times its original price, and just before signing, he raised the price by another 25%.

    It was still not what I had expected to pay, because there was a beautiful terraced lot of 500 m2 attached to it, and I am no good at hiding my thoughts behind my face.

    However, that price was so high that the Civil Registrar ordered the deal to be investigated.

    Well that certainly makes for an interesting story. Nice that it was a place of birth instead of death, like my murder house. After bearing 12 children it makes sense that she’d want out. Probably she’d found a new man who was a witness of jehova … speculation. But you did live in the place, so I guess the deal ended up going through.

  10. This is the best post of yours I’ve ever read, bar none.

    It had everything!

    I can’t believe the murderer was released and killed another woman…so sad!

    And yes, you were a cute l’il man boy weren’t you? Haha…loved the young David pics 😉

    And wow…I want to hear more about this trip to Maui, sounds so random and interesting!

    Anyway, I wish all your nostalgia could be put into a book…I would read it! 🙂

    PS: that same car thing at the end was a very creepy Halloween moment…

    PPS: thanks for this! 😀

    Thanks for reading it Romi, glad you enjoyed it.
    Yes, it was tragic and awful. He killed 2 more women in the 70s.
    My Maui period was an interesting interlude, during which any wanderlust I may have had was completely satisfied. I had no camera during that time. So my memories would need to be excavated by some sort of self-hypnosis. Thanks for your kind comments!

  11. While wallowing in my own self-pity, I missed this. Our past does a lot to explain who we are today. You have a very interesting past and I loved this post from you. I send two weeks in Hawaii, but I was working most of the time.

    Hadn’t realized that you were wallowing. I thought that you were flying hither and yon on business matters. Nice thing about blog posts, they keep well. Usually. Thanks for liking this post. It was fun to write.

  12. I enjoyed reading this. I think “vaguely creative and gently rugged individualist” would be a great thing to put on a tee shirt.

    Thanks Care, I enjoyed writing it. Please feel free to market those t-shirts. On the back could be printed “Part Time Iconoclastic Nihilist”. 🙂

  13. Could you tell me whether a hard disk ages? Remember I bought a new computer at a local shop. I think the kid who sold me the computer, instead of loading things from the old computer over onto the new computer, took the hard drive literally out of the old computer and put it in the new one, in addition to that new computer’s drive.

    It took me some time to comprehend that I had 2 desktops, 2 program folders, 2 of everything as if the computer were schizo which in fact technically speaking he was, wasn’t he.

    However, by now I only wonder how old that hard drive really is, because that old computer was very old, since I took it over from an American who went back home and could not take it along. Could it one day suddenly conk, croak, expire or get a heart attack?

    Oh yes, hard disks age. They are the single most fault-prone component in a computer, due to the fact that they are mechanical and therefore suffer physical wear and tear. Hard disks are also very important, as they are the ‘storage bin’ of all the user’s ‘stuff’ and all the system software to start up and use the machine. And yes, when they fail, they tend to fail dramatically and completely, though not always. A common sign of hard drive wear is noise, either loud whining or loud clicking sounds.

    What the kid in the shop did is a common shortcut, is expedient from the technician’s point of view, thus saves the customer money. If a new computer has the space and cabling to insert a second hard drive, ‘transplanting’ the customer’s old hard drive ensures that all of the customer’s old data will be available in the new computer. When I have done this sort of thing for someone, I generally copy all the user’s important stuff to the new hard drive so that the user doesn’t really have to pay any attention to the old drive, even though it’s been transplanted.

    In all versions of Windows, the hard drive with the actively running operating system is assigned the letter C:. That will be the new hard drive. Your old drive (where you’re seeing other copies of everything) would have been assigned some letter beyond C:, like E:, F:, etc. (The colons are part of drive letter syntax) which letter depending on whether there is a CD ROM drive or other letter-assigned volumes, e.g. camera card reading slot(s). I can’t say what letter your old hard drive has been assigned, only that it is NOT C:.

    The old hard drive would not be able to ‘run’ or ‘start up’ the new computer, as it came from a completely different hardware environment- the old computer. However, if the old computer and the new computer both run close versions of Windows (98, ME, 2000, XP) then your old data should be accessible. And hopefully the kid assessed this compatibility before deciding to transplant the old drive. However, it seems to have caused confusion. Since hard drive capacities have grown so rapidly, your C: drive (the new computer’s native drive) is likely to be much more capacious than your old hard drive. See this tutorial to figure out how big your storage space is. If you are actively using data (documents, favorites, desktop items, etc. Program Files from the old hard drive are unlikely to be usable) from the old hard drive, I would recommend moving all your important old data to the new hard drive.

    I would hope that you’re not actually using anything actively from the old hard drive, even though hard drives can happily click away for decades. It would be less confusing and safer to move all your important stuff to the C: drive, as well as to make a backup copy. Perhaps your new computer has the ability to write things to CDs or DVDs? If so, then buy some blank CD-R or DVD-R disks and make backups of all your important data. Some people prefer to purchase external hard drives for backup purposes, but it really depends on how much stuff you have and how important or irreplaceable it is. Really important irreplaceable stuff should be redundantly backed up. I’ve had students crying in my office when their hard drives died and they lost all their digital photos. Those aren’t replaceable.

    I fear I’ve provided more information than you wanted. Sorry, that’s what I do. 🙂

  14. Thank you very much!
    I have ALL my things on the old drive, because until recently I thought that to move them would be much beyond my computer skills. But then one night I began to think that I could try moving just a few unimportant things and see what happens.

    Yes, the old drive has become loud, especially when it starts up, almost like a very distant motorcycle, a noise that “curves” upwards. And I knew that the hard drive is physically active, but since one never hears of a hard drive failing, as one never hears of a car tire blowing out, though both are exposed to incredible + invisible wear, the normal reaction is: if it has held up for so many years, it won’t happen just now.

    Now I feel excited about trying to move all my stuff.
    Thanks a lot.

    Postscript: read some wikileak. I read that the King of Spain is in 170 times.

    You’re welcome. I was worried that I spewed too much information. (We have a 3-letter acronym for that habit: TMI, but it’s almost always applied to someone who gives too much personal or health information, not technical.)

    File copying or moving is a fundamental and important skill, and not beyond any computer user. It is recommended to copy things to like places on the new hard drive. They sell migration and synching software with which to do this, saving users from having to understand Windows’ native folder structure and what to copy where. Since you already know where your stuff is on the old hard drive, you can simply create a new folder wherever you like (in “My Documents” or right on the main desktop screen) calling it “From Old Computer” and drag and drop things into it from the old hard drive. It’s not that easy to mess this process up, and so what if you end up with extra copies of some files.

    Good luck with your file copying. When you no longer need anything on that old hard drive, you may want to take the computer back to the shop and ask the kid to disconnect (or remove, erase, and discard) the old hard drive. The reason is that if it does fail completely, the current Windows system may keep trying to mount it anyway. The symptom would be very long startup times or complete failure to start. Then again, once you’ve moved everything to the new hard drive and stop using the old one, it may just sit there contently in an idle mode, like an old great grandpa in his rocking chair.

    I heard some snippets from the wikileaks on the radio yesterday. Not sure what it does but make our diplomats look a little sillier than we may have thought them to be.

  15. The deed is done, and everything is working. There are a few things that cannot be transferred because of “access denied”. These would be things that are being used while copying files, as for instance the fonts and some others that would be part of the system’s inners.

    Do I want to “take the computer back to the shop and ask the kid”? — This is Spain, and there is La Crisis, and the shop and the kid, both are gone. There were three or four computer shops in town before and now there is none. In the building where I live, downstairs there used to be a lingerie shop where “you” (it’s the passive) could buy really pretty panties and things. This became a real estate agency which turned into a mortgage agent which became a place that buys and sells gold (buying up desperate women’s jewelry).

    As to Wikileaks: you realize that it makes the Pentagon and also your country look ridiculous. Remember how all over the world you bombed and invaded supposedly looking for Bill Laden, and now you are sending the Interpol after that hacker on a rape charge because he got hold of the thousands of “secret” telegrams that your people send all over the world.

    Mindless. No direction. No sense of purpose. No priorities. No business to lead, of course.

    Do you know how many military bases the US maintains abroad? I think there are more than 1000 each with soldiers and generals and secret correspondence and spies and a sense of importance and conceivably also with missiles God knows of what kind.

    1000 does look absurd, and I’ll check that number luego.

    Good job moving your files. Not one computer shop?! That’s too bad. Now that you’ve moved all your important things away, maybe the old hard drive will sit idly by and not cause any problems.

    I’m not too happy about much of what “my country” has done around the world in my lifetime, but it stings me a little the way you say it. But I think you know that. The portion of our GDP that we spend on weapons and war is a cause of deep shame for me. However, I also believe in the guiding principles of freedom and human dignity under which our founders chartered this nation, and fervently hope that all nations will soon lose their foolish hatred and stop their wasteful violence. Not likely in my lifetime until after whatever great upheaval arrives to knock us all on our silly asses, for which we’ve all been waiting a long time, and some wishing harder than others.

    That said, I don’t relish discussing politics here much. If I could apologize on behalf of my nation for all the trouble we’ve caused, I would. I would also hope that the good we’ve done outweighs that trouble.

  16. “According to the Pentagon’s own list PDF, the answer is around 865, but if you include the new bases in Iraq and Afghanistan it is over a thousand. These thousand bases constitute 95 percent of all the military bases any country in the world maintains on any other country’s territory. In other words, the United States is to military bases as Heinz is to ketchup.”

    “In part, it is the natural result of bureaucracy left unchecked.


    The United States’ present global military deployment seems not to have been the product of conscious design, nor was it assembled absent-mindedly. In part, it is the natural result of bureaucracy left unchecked.”

    The first quote is from anywhere on the net, the second quote is from William Pfaff’s article on these bases as the tragic error that cannot be undone anymore.

    By the way: Re: Little Prince: I think it is AWFUL, horrendous, sickening, nauseating in its sweet nihilism, for instance depicting à la Riefenstahl suicide as a fast and painless solution (at the end), a view made necessary by the basic flaw announced as a virtue in Chapter 1 of simply being a child and not knowing, not acknowleding, the force of evil or stupidity.

    Alright already! And I’m not going to defend the Little Prince either. I agree the book is total Disney, but I still really like the quote about seeing with the heart. So there! 🙂

  17. I moved the files, and everything works fine. However, then a little problem popped up, and I have already solved it.

    It was a card that came up whenever I clicked on the desktop icons that should have opened my own files. The file stayed closed, and I could not get rid of the card which, to my dismay (?), also changed its name calling itself Windows installer, TrayApp, and two other names that are mere sequences of letters and numbers and can’t be remembered.

    The card was often accompanied by a second card asking me to put in the disk of whatever name the card came up with.
    In the beginning there was no way to get rid of the card except by pushing it out of the way. Later I saw that by clicking on ctrl-alt-supr I could access “Applications” and close TrayApp or whatever its most recent name.

    Could you guess what that was? I realize that if you saw the thing itself, you would immediately know, but I wanted to try this which I was recently told was the phenomenological approach, i.e. seeing not only without one’s heart, but also without one’s mind!

    The “card” (geeks call those cards ‘dialog boxes’ because the system is requiring a response from the user) that came up sounds like some piece of software on your system that is either being run for the first time, or has decided that it is either incomplete or needs updating or repair. The second card asking for the install disk should name the piece of troubled software. That could be useful information. Pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL to bring up the task manager is a good solution, but doesn’t really solve the problem if the card(s) persistently reappear.

    Among other possibilities, my first guess is that you might be trying to open a file from your old computer hard drive, but the new computer doesn’t have the application that originally created that file. Again, the second card that requested insertion of an install disk should name the problem software. Please take note of that.

    Next guess is that it could be connected to your printer software. Do you have a printer connected? What kind?

    Lets see how this phenomenological approach works out. 🙂

  18. It was the printer! The printer! I wrote “and two other names that are mere sequences of letters and numbers and can’t be remembered”. I knew that the names contained HP, but this had begun to look significant only after many other scenarios I had envisioned, and so I thought you shouldn’t be told in advance.

    How nice that you knew that at once. It means there is (what’s the Hamlet quote?) method in this madness.

    Our HP printer, bought at “a little local shop” is worthless and also keeps sending in updates. So I tried to eliminate some of its files and nothing happened until some time after I had moved the whole kit and caboodle from E to C.

    The icons of all my folders and internet accesses are in a line in the middle of the desktop. At first the problem was that the cards covered up most of these icons so that they all became unaccessible at the same time. A big problem! A severe problem! No way to access “Explorer”. No way to access “documents”. Phenomenologically speaking, the cards seemed to be meant to cover up my accesses.

    After a day or two this occurred to me: maybe the cardsd are NOT trying to hide the icons, but simply always sit in the middle of the desktop? So what about moving your icons away from the middle?

    Of course, that worked. From there on it was more hunkey dory.

    Well what a kerfuffle! Good on you for figuring it out. There’s method in the madness alright, which is why it’s often so messed up. HP does a lot of great technology, but HP printer software is well known among geeks like me for such shenanigans. We nerds usually try to install it with the minimally necessary components (‘drivers’) and not the “extra features”.

    Regarding desktop icons, they may be dragged and placed wherever you like, or they may be “auto arranged” which usually throws them over as far left as possible. But it sounds like you figured that out too. On the bottom of the Windows desktop screen is the taskbar, which usually floats on top of everything. Icons may be copied there too, so they’re always visible. These are part of the Quick Launch toolbar, but not really of much use unless one does a lot of moving between different software windows. I think what you’re calling “cards” might actually be called windows. Before I thought you used the term to refer to little message boxes that the system brought up on its own. Hard to tell. People use the computer’s desktop workspace in so many varying ways and levels of comprehension.

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