Friday, April 16, 2010

Slide show mania

We are parked at the Monterey Elks Lodge (map), on a hill overlooking Monterey Bay. Unlike our last visit a few weeks ago, the lodge was crowded when we arrived yesterday afternoon, and we squeezed in to one of the last three spaces, and the only one long enough for us.

Before we left the bay area, I had a quick trip down memory lane as I dropped off a set of blueprints at Covad Communications. It was my first time setting foot back in the building since I left the company a decade ago, and I was surprised at how little some things had changed. The building was built as a Network Operations Center (NOC), with a mission-control-like room as its centerpiece. The NOC has since been moved to India, and the control room has been dismantled. I'm not sure why I kept the blueprints all these years, other than that I poured a lot of my energy into that building.

We also dropped off a four-wheel furniture dolly at a friend's house in Redwood City, then picked up a Crock Pot from a different friend across town before dropping off the car and visiting with our friend who lent it to us. It felt a bit frantic closing out all the errands before leaving town, but we're glad to be rid of most of the "stuff." I have a few things left to list on eBay, and I am still trying to find a taker for the Freon.

I'm typing this at my father-in-law's; as I type, he and Louise are staring intently into the slide projector, going through dozens of their old family slides. He's got a projector, too, but mine has a fancy pop-out screen that makes scanning through slides easy, with no need to set up a screen, darken the room, or adjust a lens. I've also got a "stack loader" for the slides not already in carousels. I just went through this process myself a few days ago, culling thousands of slides down to less than a hundred I really wanted to keep.

It's amazing how the Internet has changed everything; 30 years ago it seemed like a good idea to have half a dozen photos of the Firth of Forth railroad bridge, or the QE2 steaming out of port. After all, who knew when I would be back? Now, of course, we can download photos of places, monuments, artifacts, and things in general, current or historical, any time we want. I elected to keep only slides featuring people I knew, or events I attended. Everything else went into the trash. For example, I must have tossed half a dozen photos of the inside of the chapel at the Air Force Academy, and my father-in-law just ran through a half dozen photos in his collection that looked identical to mine -- one wonders just how many identical photos are gathering dust in storage closets around the country.

Back when I was taking all those photos, I bought a projector to last a lifetime. Shunning the consumer-grade "Carousel" brand projectors, I went right to the top-of-the-line professional Ektagraphic projector, which looked similar but weighed twice as much. It's been rendered completely obsolete by digital photography, and I will be lucky to get $40 for it on eBay. Too bad there is no way to convert it to a digital projector, which I could actually use. My own slide-sorting is done, and as soon as Louise and her dad finish with his, sometime today, the projector will be ready to list. The slides we've decided to keep will be sent off to be scanned digitally.

Tomorrow we will head inland to Los Banos. where we plan to have dinner at the M&M Italian Restaurant, started by friends who used to work at Original Joe's in San Jose. We've been saying for nearly three years that we would get there, but it has never fit into our travel plans. We've committed to meet friends at a ski area west of Lake Tahoe mid-day on Sunday, so we'll be getting an early morning start up the hill.


  1. Digital slide scanners can be had for less than $100. Is a service better?

    I am currently processing a lot of old (1850's through 1975) family photos I scanned when recently visiting my family. I am glad to get these into a format that can easily be copied, transfered, and stored in many locations for safety and security.

    I have hundreds of slides from around 1980 to 1995 to process, but haven't yet started that project.

    Congratulations on finishing your storage project. I see you are just a bit south of my home here in Felton. Thanks for sharing your adventure.


  2. if your slide projector is only worth $40, but is better than your father in laws, then why dont you give it to him and let him ebay or donate his inferior unit?

  3. @Mike: What we have heard about inexpensive slide scanners is that they do a terrible job. Also, the big trick in getting slides to scan cleanly is in how the slides are cleaned first, a painstaking and tedious process without the right equipment. All the advice we've gotten has been to have a service do it.

    @Anonymous: He doesn't need a projector either. We have all the slides, which we are going to be sending to be converted to digital format. We also now have both projectors, and I will be fixing the other one up so that it, too, can be sold. It turned out to also have a slide advance problem.


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