Category Archives: Life of Marcos

Streaks Appear

After hundreds of scanned photos, I noticed streaks in the photos. I looked at the original prints and the lines weren’t there. Looking at more photos, it became obvious that the issue was in the scanner. Was my fancy toy broken so soon?

My bobe’s 80th birthday party, 1995. The lines are way more obvious in the full resolution images.

No, it turns out that the frequent warnings in the manual and in the software about cleaning the scanner often were legitimate. Turns out that dragging thousands of ancient photos through, many of them with glue residue in the back, gets things dirty.

Surely enough, a bit of wiping with the bundled microfiber cloth made the issue go away.

Pro tip: clean the scanner often.

And now, with a clean scanner.

And now what?… redo all the bad scans or no? It’s about 2000 photos.

I suppose if I don’t do it now, nobody will ever do it. Deep breath, roll sleeves up, and redo the bad scans. At least I’m now getting the hang of it.

The great Scanning project

For several years I watched the thousands of photos stored away in a closet at my parents’ house slowly rot away, the colors of my childhood fading. I wanted to digitize them all, in order to freeze the color decay.

Phase I

About three years ago, Phase I of The Great Scanning Project started: to manually remove the photos one-by-one from those old-school sticky albums so they can be scanned, trasferring any hand-written captions in the process. For this I recruited Griselda who spent about a week working full time on this. And so all the photos went into boxes ready to be scanned.

Boxes full of memories, waiting to be digitized. I estimate about 3000-4000 memories in each.

On a later trip, my parents drove up from Mexico with two giant boxes and two small boxes full of photos, some from my great grandparents and dating all the way back to the 1920s.

Phase II

Phase II of The Great Scanning Project is to get them into a computer. There are several scanning services out there, but I had so many photos that it would cost several thousands of dollars – and even if I wanted to pay it, the photos were too sticky and curled up that they’d just be rejected or damaged. I had to take matters into my own hands.

After much research, I chose the Epson FF-680W. It can scan photos at high resolution at about 1 photo per second, and you can just put a stack of them and let it do its job. But still, it’s a lot of work and who has the time?

Then the COVID-19 Pandemic hit: Stuck working from home, I can feed photos to the scanner in the background while in meetings. I’ll never have a better opportunity. No more excuses.

One of the large boxes, open. Under those two rows of photos there are another two rown of photos. That’s a lot of photos!

I’m about 20% done with 1857 photos scanned at 600 dpi. Some great gems in there so far. Let’s see how long it takes me to finish and how many hard drives I’ll need to buy.

Scanning baby photos of my grandfather. I started with the oldest (and toughest, I think) photos: before the world standardized on 6″ by 4″. Unlike the newer ones, these black and white photos still look great.

Future

The photos are just getting scanned right now. I have yet to deal with fixing rotation, restoring color, adding rough dates, and identifying people. Ideally, in an automated fashion or close as can be. Then, figure out the best way to share with family. I suspect none of this will happen right away.

For now… keep on scanning.

Things that have broken since the pandemic started

In no particular order.

  • One burner of the electric stove
  • Microwave
  • Fridge
  • Garage door opener (door 1)
  • Garage door (door 2)
  • My wife’s car’s AC
  • My wife’s car’s tire, not patchable
  • AC (clogged drain line)
  • My iPhone (water in Face ID and main camera)

Gorditas de harina

As a boy in Monterrey, I grew up eating “gorditas de harina”. This is a regional pastry that is either not known in most of Mexico or whatever they call by this name is very different. For me, there were two gold standards:

First and best, those made by Fernanda at my grandmother’s house, where I’d down them by the dozen (not healthy). She retired around 25 years ago and I never had them again.

Second best were those made by Chelito at the JCC (aka “el Club”). Loving members of my family would bring me large frozen packages of them up until she retired about two years ago.

So I was surprised when my aunt Jenny shared Chelito’s recipe:

In Chelito’s very own handwriting.

They’re easy enough to make even for someone as useless around the kitchen as me (Ilán helped, though). And it seems like baking is the thing to do in a pandemic, and if my aunts can do it so can I. I am capturing it here for posterity.

Gorditas de Chelo

  • 1 kg flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (Rexal)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can of unsweetened evaporated milk (Carnation Clavel)
  • 400 g lard / vegetable shortening (Crisco)

Pour flour, baking powder, sugar in a bowl. Add lard and mix with fingers. Add eggs. Finally, add evaporated milk. Mix well. Let it rest for a few minutes. Make balls and use roller to give the desired shape (~12 inch circle, thick). Cook on a griddle.

Ingredients, adjusted for English system: single 2 pound bag of flower (a bit less) and 2/3 sticks of vegetable shortening (a bit less). This should have made the recipe a tad sweeter but it was fine.

If you make them, let me know! I’ll make more soon, since my batch lasted only two days.

Mohn

A lot of people took some time to write or call me on my pandemic birthday this week. Shlomit made it super special. Thank you!

But a notable mention goes to Debbie and Arturo for sending me my favorite desert: A whole poppy seed strudel.

I ate half for dinner in one sitting. I didn’t sleep well but it was worth it. Too bad I’m socially distancing so I can’t share with you. Too bad.

Want a shout out in The MKX® (who doesn’t)? Give me food I like!

Goodbye, Civic

March 5, 2018

Today. As you can see, neither the car nor I have aged a bit.

Today I sold my red 2008 Honda Civic Coupe EX-L. We had countless adventures together in the span of  over 10 years.  What a great car. I will miss it.

The Civic is in great shape, but it was an extremely tight fit with two car seats in the back. So I had to make a choice: get rid of the car, or get rid of the kids. It was a close one… but I decided to keep the kids.

Voting

Here we go again, voting for a President, although this time it’s Mexico’s. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the whole thing was. Let’s hope I’m pleasantly surprised at the results too.

My little Mexicans

After 3 and 0.25 years (respectively) I’ve finally taken action and ensured that my poor two little kids have a team to root for in the upcoming World Cup.

Last Friday we went to the Mexican Consulate to finalize the process for making them Mexican Citizens. ¡Felicidades!

 

Ilán puts his fingerprint on his naturalization certificate.

Ari was a little bit more suspicious of the process.

I am quite certain that this is the best family photo we have so far. It’s hard to get everyone to look at a camera at the same time.

The moment before Ari’s acceptance speech.

#2

Yesterday morning at 8:08 AM officially marked the end of the few slivers of free time I could hope for when my second boy was born. I am glad to report that I’m mostly doing great, except for being a little bit sleep deprived. Shlomit is also doing amazing, and seems to be a real pro at this whole popping children business. But the kid has us all beat: he is good looking, alert, active, hungry, and well behaved. Takes after his brother.


We might be able convince Ilan to pose with him later.