I finally figured out a (hopefully) diplomatic way of asking whether he was throwing away the wood -- and if he was, perhaps I could have it? He was (or rather, he was just going to burn it as scrap) -- and yes, I could.
Above is the "before" picture. After we got home I couldn't help but spread the wood out to assess the situation. As you can see, it appears to have been some sort of packing framework -- maybe from some appliance? Various staples and nails are holding many of the pieces together: they need removing.
This next shot shows four additional pieces. Luckily, they don't have any nails for me to remove.
Here's the "after" picture: I spent maybe a half hour (I forgot to keep track) that evening, removing the staples and nails. In the photo, I've laid out some of the tools from my nail-removing kit, which I used for this session. Yes, I have a dedicated kit, collected in a tool tote, for removing nails from pallets and such.
This kit includes nail-sets and a hefty hammer (for driving nails back out of the hole), a "cat's paw" prybar for getting between pieces and prying them apart; and a pair of pliers to straighten bent-over nails, so that I can drive them back out; I also sometime hold the nail with the pliers, during the "driving out", to provide some extra rigidity, so the nail doesn't collapse.
Oh: and a crummy margerine tub, for holding the discarded, bent nails.
As you can see, it's a pretty decent haul of wood for "free" -- if you disregard my labor. I have a few ideas for what I'll build from at least some of this wood -- although it'll have to join the queue: I have a backlog of projects (which I guess means that I won't get bored!).
Four of the pieces of wood got damaged in the process of separating them. So today I glued them back together.
Then -- as usual -- I labelled each piece with the source (i.e. "the guy's house") and the date I got them. I just wrote directly on them with a permanent marker.
As I think I've mentioned, I generally try to make my projects out of pieces from the same source. Part of the design -- and engineering -- challenge, for me, is to figure out how to accomplish my design goals while using the available materials.