Headline, March28, 2014

''' HOO-HA.... ....O' O' OH :: 

"' ! MY DEAR -DEAR- NERDY ! "'

NOT SO LONG AGO, the world read a horrifying story in the New York Post about dot-come burnouts who had been forced to moved into $45-a-week flophouses.

According to the Post,  dozens of   "Silicon Valley sizzlers"  recently seen  "parking their Saabs and Bimmers in the driveways of their multimillion-dollar mansions"  were now reduced to:

"Sleeping beside crack addicts and dangerous criminals in a no-frills homeless shelter on skid row."

Many thought the report must be a media hoax. Sure,  dot-com outfits had been dropping  like flies since the techstock  meltdown that began in 1999, and at the time of writing,  that is two summers ago.

But it was hard to believe that  crash-and-burn victims  of the Internet bubble were actually living in  rat-infested  flophouses with winos, junkies, and fugitives from insane asylums.

Much as the general public wanted to believe that the high and mighty ultimately got their just deserts, the story did not ring true.

But then, as one  high-profile  Internet  start-up after another went belly-up, I bean to think differently. One day a friend called from Pacific Palisades and said he'd had his windshield wipers torn-off by:

Two young men wearing Pets.com T-shirts. Another said  he'd read about nerdy-looking people selling  blood  at a hospital  in San Francisco's Tenderloin. And all of them had  PalmPilots.

And a third said that somebody looked like, Dr. C. Everrett Koop had been seen hunting the gin mills of the Mission District. My interest piqued. I headed out to San Francisco to see just how wide-reaching the fallout from the dotcom implosion had been.

"'As soon as I arrived at the Shangri-La Hotel, located  50 yards west of Taylor Street, it was clear that the Internet bust had hit Frisco big-time. On a sign outside the down-at-the-heels hotel:

 Where both Jack London and Grace Slick had briefly lived when they first arrived in California, were these words:

After climbing the filthy stairs, narrowly avoiding two elderly derelicts, I plopped down my bags in front of the registration desk. Gently tapping a spittle-caked bell, I waited a few minutes until I was joined by an elderly, leathery desk clerk who introduced himself as Truman Roosevelt.

"Dot-comer?" he inquired suspiciously, eyeing my  ThinkPad.

"Why, yes," I lied. "Is that a problem?"

"Won't be if you keep your mouth shut and your  *synchronous-code-division-multiple-access*  bullshit to yourself,"   he replied.

"We take dot-commers here because we take anybody. But the old winos don't want to listen to your damned cell phones and pagers and beepers in the middle of the night when they are trying to work off a snootful:

And they sure as hell don't want to hear how you lost your shirt because your dream of  unlimited-network-server availability came to pass. A word to the wise, campadre: You lock that door tight when you go to bed at night.

We had a gut in here who used to design  *virtual-search software for boo.com. By the time  Stretch and Six thumbs Davis finished carving him up in the back room, there wasn't enough of him left to fit inside a  Floppy drive."

I nodded obligingly, paid a week's rent in advance and began carrying my meagre belongings all the way up to the  "penthouse" on the eighth floor.

As I made my way up the narrow staircase, kicking dead rats out of the way as I proceeded, I detected the signs of  dot-com invasion everywhere.

In a corner of the stairwell lay a man wearing a vomit-stained T-shirt reading:
A few feet away, a man chugging a can of Sterno was trying to place a wireless OTC trade.

Arriving in my room, I found a filthy cot, a filthy washbasin and a filthy toilet: all standard-issue skid row accoutrements. But way over there, right atop the cruddy nightstand, I spotted both a cable modem and a DSL line.

And, in the corner, I couldn't help but notice a beat-up but functional  Aeron chair.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I dropped off my bags, locked the door and hit the street. A few yards down the road sat the Tainted Ladies Lounge & Bistro.  I sidled inside, pulled up a seat at the bar. Through the haze of a parlous smoke, it was possible to see a few old gin monkeys each nursing a single beer at the end of the bar.

Beside them sat a cadaverous barfly who looked old enough to have given Jack Dempsey a run. A few feet to my right stood a disintegrating booth. Inside it sat a tall, gangly intense-looking man. He couldn't have been more than 35.

He looked forlorn, wasted and zonked. He was wearing a lime green polyster shirt emblazoned with a photo of  ABBA, stained bag  Gap  Khakis and a massive jet-black  Clark Kent  eyeglasses.

He looked the way the young Elvis Costello might have looked after a short, unexpected stint at  San Quentin. He must have noticed me staring at him, because all of sudden he looked up belligerently.

"Buy me a drink and I'll tell you what I saw at the technological revolution," he said,  his voice dripping with glacial irony.

I obligingly bought him a thirty-five cent beer.

"So what's your story?"  he inquired, not even bothering to make eye contact. "Mylackey.com   put all you   microserfs  out on the street?"

I ignored the insult and explained  how I'd ended up in a crummy drive like this with a crummy guy like him.

I had made up a  "story"   sufficiently  generic  to pass for the truth.

A year ago, I said,  I'd been designing  *encrypted data-retrieval  software*  for a high profile manufacturer of   network archival  systems  based in Lowell Massachusetts.

One day I got a call from a Cypress Hills, California start-up that provided a digital imaging for the leading retailer of Asian satellite based global navigation systems

They wanted to know if I'd be the point man on their skunk-works team that was designing their Micronesian interface.

They were offering only  $335,000 in base pay, about what I was making at my present job,  but once my options kicked in,  I could be looking at a $45 million payout  five years down the road.

So I bit.

Then the crash came, the company went into the tank, my wife left me, my landlord kicked me out,  my Humvee got repossessed. So now I was down-and- out on  skid  row.  Just like him.

"'I doubt he heard a single word I said.""

The Honour and this delightful Post continue. Don't miss the next run>

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Technology and Engineering. See Ya all on  !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

"'Discover Perspective"'

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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