Digitizing Slides: A Personal Approach And Solution

The old slides in our carousels are basically dead elephants unless we digitize them.
In the old days they offered the best quality to print from and gave us the opportunity to blow them up on a wall.
Today we can enjoy their slide shows more easily on a computer or a large TV. How large a TV? Not really sure but when scanned, the more mega pixels will yield a bigger clearer picture and the actual slides have a lot of quality to offer for that.
In my experience the digitized slides scanned at 5 mega pixels seemed to show fine on a 32” TV.

I could have sent the slides to professionals to digitize, yet that process can be very expensive and in my uneducated view, it might not have been done as well as doing it myself.
I am saying not as good because no matter how careful a person is, film attracts dust and I am convinced that the digitized slides would have come back with at least one unacceptable dust spot.

Depending on your passion, scanning is really not too bad and relatively fast but the final ‘cleaning’ of dust spots off the digitized pictures is much more consuming.
It is a test of patience and nerves.
3,500 slides were scanned and dust spots removed. It took nearly six months of free time here and there but they turned out perfect. Watching TV and listening to the History Channel while working the slides helped time go by.
The overall as a level of complexity was a 3 on the scale of 10.

Start with your favorites or most important.
‘Save as’ until you get comfortable in what you are doing.
Save the work done to an external drive.
Work from the easiest to fix to the hardest to build momentum.

Film/slide scanner. VuPoint 5 mega pixels quality images. It gave me no problems. $100 at Bed Bath and Beyond about a year ago but saw it for $40 for a day only sale on the web the other day.
If you can get hold of a higher mega pixel scanner, it would be wonderful but at 5 mega pixels the slides produce humongous pictures.
Static master. Mine had expired years ago. They are sold at photography stores and their purchase is highly recommended to brush off dust. A fine bristle paint brush works also but not as well.
Air duster in a can. Costco had the better deals. I believe I used at least 6 cans in all.
Photoshop. My knowledge of this complex program was zero. Not to worry you will need to know about 5 commands or so total and one of them will use 99% of the time.

How I did it:
• The slides were loaded 3 at the time on the slide tray provided.
• They were brushed and air dusted.
• Scanned.
If you do not care about dust then you are done. Otherwise…
• Each slide was then opened in Photoshop.
• Learned to use the ‘navigator’ to get around the picture.
• Learned to use the ‘heal’ command with an appropriate size brush and used it 99% of the time.
The icon for ‘heal’ is a band aid. It is miraculous and almost unbelievable to the eyes!
It blends easily and can be used to also copy and paste.
• When done, I used ‘auto color’ and ‘auto contrast’ under the Image/Adjustments Tab.
• In the Image Tab I sometimes used ‘rotate’ to straighten the picture a couple of hairs.
• All the steps taken showed on the ‘history’ window on the side and undo was a click away.
If the shadows of some of your digitized pictures are bluish go to ‘mode’ in the Image
Tab. Notice RGB is checked. Check CMYK and save as.
Easily explained, RGB and CMYK have to do with colors. After comparing the same slides in RGB and CMYK, most of my slides have been saved in CMYK because they looked better.

• The Alt on the keyboard is a very important key to get commands to work in Photoshop.
Your left hand will be on it most of the time.
• Slides in plastic mounts will have much less dust.

My slides were very important to me and I am extremely happy of the outcome.
The actual slides have been retired to plastic inserts and filed away in binders.
The digitized pictures can now be easily burned on CDs as slide shows with Microsoft Windows and then watched on the TV.

Dish Soap Dispenser

Is the built in dish soap dispenser at your sink broken?
Are you still reaching under the sink for the bottle?

The little contraption shown below has been pumping for 10 years. It has been performing flawlessly, precisely and consistently delivering from a tiny drop to a mother load.

The contraption is an old Colgate bottle crossed with a pump from some of the Costco brand toiletries.
dish soap dispenserThe hero here is the pump.
The pump has a large, long and strong straw which makes it nice when cut to size.
The only inconvenience is to find a bottle that will screw into the pump.

Shown are a couple of bottle alternatives that will work until you find one you are comfortable with.
On the other hand, Scope mouth wash has a very nice feminine bottle that almost looks like a faucet but alas, the pump is a little small. Oh well!some bottle alternatives
The labels peel off and clean easily with paint thinner, therefore making the clear bottles the preferred ones.
Pour different color dish soaps slowly to acquire the shown mix.

Concrete Light House

This composition is called the Power Point Observatory and Light House.
It has been achieved by composite construction and it is part of a larger whimsical garden theme.
power point observatory and light house

Part 1:  How to make:  The Cone Head

  • The square bottom of a basic orange safety cone was cut off.  This safety cone could have been lifted off our highways but it was purchased instead at Home Depot for $ 10.00.
    Studies of the cones at Home depot proved that the dimensions of the cone would have worked well in the grand scheme of things.
  • The base of the cone was cut off carefully so that eventually the conical form would stand up as straight as possible.  The texture of the cone shown was achieved by spraying a lot of the release agent which consisted of a butter flavor cooking spray and the spraying was not a fine mist but rather sporadic and chunky.
  • A doubled up plastic bag was wrapped around the smaller hole and fastened with rubber bands.
  • The cone was placed in a deep container, small hole down, and towels used on the side to hold the cone up straight while the concrete was poured.
    A slender classic white plastic waste basket worked fine.
  • The cone was filled with ready mix concrete.  When almost to the top of the base, a flat bowl was placed on the top of the safety cone base to just about cover the big opening.
    The flat bowl placed around the cone base fit just right and when the cone was eventually flipped with wet concrete, it helped stop the migration of water.
  • Holding the bottom of the waste basket with one hand and holding the bowl over the bigger opening over the cone with the other hand, the cone full of concrete was flipped.  Then the waste basket as well as the plastic over the small hole was removed.
  • The square bottom of the cone that was cut off earlier, with teeth up, was pushed down from the top over the cone all the way down to the flat bowl.
    The idea was to hold the cone from migrating upward.

I was able to find a thick and tough Tupperware lid from the old days which was used at the base of the cone.  This prevented the concrete at the bottom from running everywhere.  Small bungee cords were wrapped around the base of the cone in and out of the teeth of the loose cutout square base and were hooked to the Tupperware lid.

  • When secured, more concrete was poured from the top into the small hole.  As the cone was shaken gently to let the concrete inside stack, the cone migrated upward releasing some concrete at the bottom on the bowl.  More concrete was gently poured through the small hole at the top but the concrete sunk again. It was a give and take situation but the cone was topped off in the end.  The total migration of the plastic cone upward was probably about an inch at the base but that was ok because it was to be used to anchor the cone to the next piece of the project.
    a crystal ball would be a wonderful option
  • A large marble was inserted on the top and tapped down gently until it submerged about a hair beyond the equator.  This was to be the light of the light house.
  • Since the cone had very minimal surface area from which to release its moisture, it was left to cure for 2 days.
  • With a lid remover for one gallon paint cans, the bottom was pried gently all the way around.  The cone slid off easily once the seal at the bottom was released.
    The concrete cone head was left in the sun to dry but misted with water every couple of hours.
    The making of the cone head sounds like a big job but it is all about planning your moves.

Part 2:  How to make: The Light House

  • The concrete cone was placed in a flower pot saucer but before that the base was soaked with water for a little bit.
  • This prevented the cone from rapidly absorbing too rapidly the water from the concrete that was to be poured.  Attention was also paid so that the saucer and the concrete cone were level.base curing
  • The saucer had previously been sprayed with a release agent.
  • A bit of concrete was poured under the cone and then all around its base.  Given the situation, the round cap of a detergent jug leveled and compacted the concrete around the saucer in a flash.done!
  • With a credit type card, indentations all the way around the cone were made to resemble water.
  • With a trowel more concrete was delivered around the base of the cone to symbolize rubble.
  • Marbles were placed as desired and tapped gently down a hair above their equator.
    clear marbles catch the light best
  • The composition was left to dry and the saucer mold removed 24 hours later while paying great attention to corner edges. Depending on the job you might want to use binding compounds to ease the adherence of dry to wet concrete.
    over looking the bay of pirates to the right

The cone heads by themselves with crystal balls embedded at the tip would capture incredible reflections and make very interesting unique garden sculptures when dispersed tastefully in the garden.
The sun’s rays will penetrate the crystal balls making them look like they are on fire and their light would seem to be coming from down deep within the cones.  Guaranteed!

Safety cones come in different sizes and proportions.  Some, like the ones on the highway, are really pointed and part of the tip with the small hole might have to be tailored.

The Gancio

Not necessarily a new idea, this is a silly little tool born out of necessity.  It consists of a serious handle from an old tool such as a shovel and a sturdy hook at the end of it.

magnificent handling through tight spacesIts purpose is to be maneuvered through the tight turns of twigs and branches to knock down fruits such as lemons from a tree.Gancio grande
It is also very effective in knocking down dead branches from high places in trees that produce zillions of dead little twigs such as the Camellia.
It works well for raking the fallen branches because hooking one branch will pull the others.
It actually removes and pulls to your side dead branches that hang over the neighbor’s yard.
It eliminates using a ladder in most cases.

By using a different or ‘modified’ type of hook it can be used in garages to hang items up high and out of the way.
The sturdier it is the better.
Pre drill the hole.

The Extreme Frugalista

It might be safe to say that when people have more they will waste more. It might be also safe to say that if everyone was extremely frugal, the big companies would have fewer profits and therefore offer less job opportunities. It is a push and pull situation.

Creative frugality might usually stem from the need to accomplish something while lacking sufficient means such as money or resources.
The Sears catalog generated the idea for the toilet paper invention. Frugal peasant cuisine has proven to be some of the best on this planet.
The extreme frugalista might be a person that practices what is not commonly viewed nor accepted as status quo in their contemporary time frame nor within the culture they live in.
We are from all walks of life and live under different conditions, under different needs, under different cultures, under different believes and under different values.
Let us appreciate and learn from one another or disregard with respect.

Down below there is a list of somewhat non offensive ways some people stretch their dollar and that some of us might consider extreme and not acceptable.
Interestingly enough, these ways help protect the planet.
But then, what is pride for some people is an embarrassment for others.

If you have a suggestion that might help others, please feel free to leave
a non offensive comment.

Mayonnaise when nothing else is available it is a wonderful sun screen and sun tanning solution.  This might not sound good being in the comfort of our homes but if stranded in the woods for days it is a welcome solution.
Mayonnaise is also known to be good for the skin.
Dental floss. Some people wash it for reuse.  Is that any different than reusing our toothbrushes daily?
Used bars of soap at garage sales, even the tiny ones, will sell because some people melt them and make new bars of soap.
Hair conditioner in the lack of shaving cream will shave very nicely.
Paper towels. Most of the time we do not need a whole paper towel no matter how small the manufacturer makes it.  A good practice is to rip it in half and often in quarters.
Some people use paper towels to wipe clean spills such as water or to dry their hands.  They will then let the paper towel dry and later reuse it for a dirtier spill.  A reused paper towel seems to have more absorption.
Lint. Some people collect it from their clothes dryer to easily start fires in their fireplaces.  Some other people collect lint from friends and use it for stuffing things.  The same is true with animal hair.
Insects, as the Travel Channel will point out, are widely used as a delicacy as well as a staple for survival in some cultures.
Toilet flushing. Some people flush once a day.  Some people flush overnight deposits in the morning. Some people flush by pouring recycled water rather than using the toilet tank lever.
Not so nice. Going on dinner dates just to get a free meal.  That crosses over the line of frugality.
Old socks and old T shirts can be reused for dirty jobs in the garage.
• Many ladies will cut open their lotion bottles to discover that they still contain enough to go on for weeks.  Often the pump is not even close to reaching the bottom of the bottle.
• Daily shampooing of the hair is not healthy because it removes natural protective oils from the hair. Some people dilute their shampoo a little bit.
• Take a few things to the dump and see what your creative mind can bring home.
Sticking zipper.  Rub some candle wax or a bar of soap over the zipper.
Saliva. Cleaning with saliva might sound disgusting yet those famous ‘spit shine’ words are true.  Saliva contains natural mild proteins that make cleaning safe and easy.  It is so mild and efficient that it is used throughout the world to clean famous paintings with no damage.
Bows.  Some people save bows from presents they receive and very carefully unwrap the presents to also save the paper.  Why not refrain from waste and save the beautiful bows that can be circulated until they get badly out of shape?
Personally, I will reuse any bows that make sense and then I will enhance them in my unusual way;  sometimes by adding long spiral pig tails or altering the bows themselves.  In my view it is the bow that celebrates and announces the present, and in my case, they become my signature.
At Christmas time the bows go in one bag and the paper in a recycle bag.
Baggies, ziploc bags and plastic bags. Many people wash them over and over for reuse, especially the ziploc and freezer bags.
Some plastic bags from certain stores such as CVS and especially Target work very well for smaller garbage cans in the kitchen provided your household is not a large one and you recycle.  The bags are easy to tie and being small, they need to be tossed more often than the larger ones thus keeping the infectious garbage out of the house.
easily separatedBags from the produce section at the supermarket are good enough to freeze food. They are convenient, on hand, get a second life and save on using brand new bags.

• If we were to wash plastic ware such as forks, knives and spoons after a party, especially if they were the real nice kind say, would that be frugal? Cheap? Convenient? Eco friendly?  Intelligent?
Vacuum cleaners come and go in this household but before departure the attachments are sequestered and the cord cut off if it is a nice one.he gets into everything!
Attachments are usually of standard sizes and therefore can be used on the new vacuum.  No vacuum will offer all the ‘perfect’ attachments and so it is good to have a variety.
The cord is usually strong and provides an extra extension cord just by adding the plug end to it.

Credit Cards: They Keep The Interest

Credit cards can be very convenient when paid promptly.
Living on credit cards not only is living on false riches but it contributes to impoverishing to deeper and deeper levels because purchases through credit cards if not paid promptly will cost ten fold.

Lured by incentives such as low rates one can easily be swayed their direction. And once the balance reaches a certain amount the rates will change, administering a vicious long term blood siphoning grip.
In simple words, credit cards offer the ecstasy cheap to get us hooked and to later keep us financially strapped to their higher insatiable demand.

“You did it to yourself” they might say. The answer is true yet very questionable.
A proverb from the old country says:
Opportunity makes the thief.

The most depressing day of my life was when I finally realized that in my life time I would not have been able to repay my debt. Transferring continually to lower balances, calling the banks, consistently paying much more than the minimum payment and even not spending made no significant changes.
What quelled the problem was to sell the house.

I have been cards free for ten years. Do not carry cash, keep some change in the car for the parking meter and live instead off the Debit Card.
Having cash on hand feels easy to spend and makes us momentarily forget how hard it is to make.

The debit card gives me the flexibility of the credit card and it is used only for expenses that are needed.
I keep the amount in the debit card low and if I cannot cover the purchase today, oh well, another day.
Once used to it, it is really no pain at all.

It might be fair to say that credit card rates should match the feeble rates the banks offer for savings or CD accounts but this would not be sufficient to cover their waste nor their greed.

‘Straight’ Edge For Free Hand Drawing

The triangle shown can draw perfect free hand lines from point A to an exact point B.
It has been beaten against some hard surfaces and at times shaven a bit with a utility knife.
The free hand edge offers speed, consistency and accuracy.isn't he cute?

By shaping the edge and by the line weights applied, the level of the free hand look is custom managed by the user.free hand edge
The triangle is easily portable and when used with a T-square that has also been altered to look free hand, will speed up the sketching process by reducing the erasing of some lines.
These are handy tools for textures such as shingles that require repetitive lines.
The edges of an adjustable triangle treated this way would speed up free hand isometrics.

A wooden ruler altered as a free hand edge would be a nice portable tool but not offer the versatility of the triangle and T-square. Being softer however, it would probably generate more pronounced squiggles.

A few of these free hand edges on hand, maneuvering the pencil and line weight would help not making these lines look totally alike.

India Ink Refill

The Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball writing instrument available in different ball sizes, can be refilled with water proof India ink and with no mess.

notice empty barrel

Use it to write in distinguishable jet black ink or use it to sketch.

• Pliers
• India ink
• The pen

How to do it:
• With the pliers grab the nib as close as possible to the barrel.
• A gentle twisting and pulling action will remove the nib and the inner core which are attached.
• It will leave the barrel ready to be filled with ink.
• Wash away with water the ink that came with the pen.
• Use the eye dropper to fill with ink.
• Return the nib and core back to the barrel.
• Wipe nib with a small piece of paper towel.
• Done!done!

Create this India ink pen in about 10 minutes or so.


• These pens have proven not to clog easily but if abandoned
for a long time clogging may occur.
Next time you buy India ink, try Pelikan Fount India which
does not contain the shellac that causes the clogging.
• Red pen and black ink?


white toothpaste

A small amount of white toothpaste gently applied with a damp cloth
or a soft toothbrush can:

  • Remove some scratches on CDs and DVDs
  • Remove some scratches from plastic eye glasses
  • Deep clean a whiteboard
  • Dramatically polish metal and stone jewelry as well as silver
  • Clean and luster metals such as chrome
  • Cleanse skin such as the face
  • Cleanse pimples and it will also dehydrate them when a small dab is left over night
  • Clean and take odors away from hands and bathroom fixtures
  • Take certain stains off of clothes and carpet
  • Remove crayon from some surfaces
  • Fill tiny holes in your walls

The beauty of this light abrasive is that it is multipurpose and avoids us to purchase items for a sole specific aim.  It saves on money and clutter providing convenience.

Cabinet Pulls And Knobs

some plumbing washersIn some cases, rubber plumbing washers can enhance cabinet pulls and knobs by providing better bearing on the cabinet, provide more finger space, dramatically reduce scratches due to finger nails and add a splash of color.
When used one cannot tell they are plumbing washers.
furniturebasic black washer

Most of the plumbing washers are black but salmon, baby blue and reddish are easily found.
The washers can be flat or beveled, come in different sizes and some of them will buff to a luster easily with a small rag.beveled salmonbeveled salmon + flat black washers
Using these washers will require a longer screw to make up for the added depth.
They can be used singly or as a stack of multiple sizes for a pyramidal effect.kitchenpyramidal

Electrical Tip:
These rubber plumbing washers can also be extensively beneficial when used to bring forward a light switch or a plug in the wall so that they can be as flush as possible to the wall surface to receive the decorative plate.
This problem usually happens when the existing wall gets a “new face” and a new thickness added onto it, thus leaving the electrical boxes further back.
Replace the screws on the outlet with longer ones and impale the washers as needed.
It works!