BOFH: Come on down to the dunge– erm … basement

An infinite pile of retro tat has an infinite mass and infinite gravity. The universe, the tat, and the Company hurtle towards the singularity

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 10 "And what was it you wanted to show me?" the Boss asks.

"It's just round this corner," I reply, listening to him wheezing his way behind me. "And then down a short passageway."

In horror-movie-land, this is just the sort of poorly lit alcove where all the eviscerations would occur, and I can tell the Boss isn't overly happy being here.

"Look, where are we going?" he gasps, as I slow down.

"We're here!" I declare happily, pulling a key out of my pocket and inserting it into a door lock.

"Surely there was a quicker way?"

"Ah, connectedness of things, life's rich tapestry, smelling the roses …"


"ANYWAY!" I interject. "We're here!"

"It's a pile of junk!" the Boss says, once I switch the light on.

"No, it's lots of piles – of not-junk!" I argue.

"It's junk." he continues, unconvinced. "And someone told me that you got rid of it all years ago."

"Oh well that was junk. But this, this is chemistry."


"Yes. This is a visible manifestation of an extremely common, but as yet undocumented, chemical element."


"Hoardinium. An ignoble metal with an infinite atomic mass."

"I did chemistry," the Boss counters. "There's no such thing as an infinite atomic mass."

"Sure there is. Hoardinium has it – because it's ever increasing – and it's all protons."

"And where is it?" he asks, looking around.

"Well you can't see it, obviously. But you can see its effects. Like that pile of 8″ floppies over there."

"And what's the effect?"

"Well it's sort of a cross between magnetism, gravity and infinite valence."


"And yet here we are, with a roomful of stuff I can't part with," I observe, proudly.

"Sure you can. You could just read the data off those floppies."

"No, I can't – I don't have an 8″ floppy drive."

"So, they're junk."

"No, they've got saved games of Dungeon that I was playing 30 years ago. I've killed the thief, mapped the maze, and I'm only a few pieces of treasure away from winning."

"I don't know what any of that means, but you should just find a floppy drive and read the disk."

"I can't. The glue that holds the magnetic substrate on the disk has aged so poorly that the read heads would scrape the data off the plastic."

"So, they're junk."

"No. Don't you see? This is Schrodinger's data. It is both there and not there! I have both won the game and am still playing the game. The possibilities are enormous. Possibilities brought about by Hoardinium."

"I …" the Boss begins, struggling for words. "Well what about that over there?"

"That's a MicroVax tower – but it's special because it has an aftermarket memory upgrade, and it runs one of the few TCP/IP stacks that doesn't crash the machine every week or two."

"And that?"

"A ZX Spectrum – in its original box – with a third-party disk drive, extra RAM, plus the original monitor. In running condition."

"And what do you use it for?"

"You don't use it, it's computer history!"

"What about this? This is obviously a pile of junk."

"Those are: serial cards for a Vax 11/780, some memory controller cards for the 780, and some CI-Bus components – for the Vax 11/780."

"And do you have a Vax 11/780?"

"Not at this precise moment, no …"

"So it's junk."

"Nothing is junk if it has potential. And nothing has potential like an infinite number of protons."

"And that's junk too," the Boss snaps.

"Next you'll be saying that my bookshelf full of Vax manuals is junk too."

"It is junk."

"It's not – it has massive potential. Look, there's Fortran, Pascal and  Macro manuals, there's the runtime library manuals, system calls – everything you'd need to build a working Vax development environment."

"Couldn't you just do it on a simulator? With all the manuals on a USB stick or something?"

"WASH YOUR MOUTH OUT! The Hoardinium effect demands the real thing – preferably several identical copies of the real thing. See that bunch of keys there?"


"They're all the same key: the 11/780 key switch key. I've got about 30 of them."


"You may as well ask me why I have 30 11/780 5-position switches."

"Why do you have 30 … err … switches?"

"Because they're great. That's the power of Hoardinium."

"There's no such thing as Hoardinium. If it had infinite mass it would have infinite gravity and implode the universe."

"That's the thing about ignoble metals."

"There's no such thing," the Boss counters

"There is. And their effects are precise and laser-like. Even now, I can feel the Hoardinium pulling things ever closer to me."

"Nonsense," the Boss huffs. "I think I'm done here."

"Are you sure?"

"I don't even know why you brought me here. I can't fix any of this."

"Oh, I didn't want you to fix any of this."

"Then why did you bring me here?"

"Oh, I just needed you out of your office while the PFY took delivery of two Vax 11/780s. One of them has a memory expansion! I think there's still room in there for your desk and chair though …"

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