Friday, January 22, 2010

mexican revolution vs cartel wars

I usually prefer talking about the positives of the el paso - juarez region, and so it may come off like I'm ignoring the elephant in the room. Media coverage on the drug cartel wars taking place in our sister city of Cd Juarez are nothing new. It is no exaggeration the wave of crushing violence that has plagued Juarez for the past two years. Most people are completely taken aback to learn that el paso is one of the safest large cities in the country. I don't get it either, but I hope we keep that designation.

El Paso fueled much national interest 100 years ago during the mexican revolution of 1910. It was not uncommon to find tourists observing the war taking place literally a mile or so from the tops of their downtown hotel. There is much intrigue to that era of our history. The current war takes on a much different feel. The high ideals of the revolution have been replaced with unsympathetic violence, seemingly without much thought or care for the innocent.

I came across an article in today's paper about the difference in loss of life between the revolution and the current cartel war. I think it helps put things in perspective about the severity of the violence.

100th anniversary: Mexican Revolution not even as deadly as Juárez now
By Daniel Borunda / El Paso TimesPosted: 01/22/2010 12:00:00 AM MST

Juárez is deadlier now than during the Mexican Revolution, a border history expert said Thursday. Oscar Martinez, a history professor at the University of Arizona, gave the first in a series of lectures at the El Paso Museum of History marking the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution. Martinez said he is often asked about casualties in Juárez during the revolution compared with the current violence. The conservative estimate is that about 300 people died in battles in Juárez during the entire Mexican Revolution of 1910, he said.

"The important thing is the total number is only a fraction of the people killed in the last three years in Juárez," Martinez told an audience of more than 70 people at the museum. "It's a catastrophe. And that is no revolution going on. It is a civil war between cartels." About 4,000 people have been killed in Juárez since 2008. Law enforcement officials have said that current violence in Juárez is part of a war between the Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels for control of a lucrative smuggling routes into the United States.
Martinez, an El Paso native, teaches courses on the history of Mexico, the history of Mexican-Americans and the border. He has written several books. Martinez's lecture on Thursday was an over view of the revolution.

Sue Taylor, senior education curator at the museum, said more events linked to the Mexican Revolution would take place at the museum throughout the year. The lectures are sponsored by a grant from Humanities Texas. Martinez said cities on the U.S.-Mexico border like El Paso played an important role during the revolution, which altered Mexico politically, socially and culturally. And no city was more important than Juárez. "Ciudad Juárez was always on center stage in that decade. Ciudad Juárez was the prize city on the border," Martinez said.

The revolution was fueled by several factors, including resentment of the masses toward a corrupt elite that dominated Mexico. The revolution gave rise to changes that bore fruit decades later, Martinez said.
The next lecture, on Feb. 18, will focus on the African-American experience during the Mexican Revolution.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I'm with coco!

I know this doesn't have anything to do with old houses, but dammit -- I'm with coco!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

pic of the day

lone row house

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

window restoration, misc thoughts

I know there has been a dearth of content lately. Rest assured, I'm working on my windows slowly but surely. One nice thing about el paso is the climate -- working exterior projects through december is usually met with 60+ degree weather. I had planned to finish off the western wall I'd been working on as well as the front windows and door trim. Hopefully I can squeeze that in to the next two months before exterior project season officially picks up again (60+ degree weather). Hopefully the weather complies.

So what have I learned from all this window craziness?

1. It takes longer than I thought.
Best thing I can say is suck it up and know that after you're done, you won't need to worry about them for a while. One, you're saving money by maintaining them and not having to replace them with new windows. And two, it is just the cool thing to do to up your DIY cred. :)

2. Should I not cheap out and actually restore these to fully working order?
I've thought alot about this. Aside from the peace of mind that I completely restored the windows, I'm not sure that future owners of this home will appreciate the amount of work I put into them. I mean this is already taking forever -- I can't imagine taking the sash out, heatgunning all the glaze and paint off. Removing glass without breaking it. Reglazing and repainting? Ouch. I have a day job you know? I'd like to finish these sometime in my lifetime. This is why I've decided to keep the downstairs windows inoperable. Several windows have the sash cords and/or weights removed. However as I complete each window I take great pains to really scrape the heck out of the border between sash and frame. Meaning they are superficially painted shut. It shouldn't be too hard to unstick them if you wanted to. At some point far in the future I may decide to do this, but right now it's just not in the cards. I think I will have my work cut out for me by taking on the top floor windows. The monster windows in the office (sun room) scare me, but it needs to be done.

3. Should these windows be fully stripped down to bare wood?
I don't think it's completely necessary, I'm hoping that if you're having a hard time getting it off, it's still good. At least for a while. Over time as you scrape and repaint it will most likely be to the parts that were not scraped down all the way. I don't think that's too big a deal though.

4. Can I apply the primer over non-bare wood?
I conveniently sidestepped this issue when I redid the dining room windows on the rear of the house. The paint was mostly already off and what was left was seriously flaking. I easily took these down to 90% wood at least. I don't believe these had been recently painted as those on the other side of the room so there were no issues with latex paint. I hadn't really thought about this until after the fact. I believe the standard is latex over oil but never the other way around. When you get down to bare wood you don't have to worry about this. Just primer the whole thing, then give two coats latex. But what if you're windows have a coat of latex that you weren't able to completely get off? You then put an oil based primer over it and proceeded with another layer of latex. Depending on how much we're talking about this could be an issue with the paint flaking up prematurely. I've chalked this up to experience and will keep an eye on my recently completed windows to see if this does indeed prove to have been a mistake. On future windows that do have significant amounts of latex still there after the scraping/sanding phase I will apply primer to only the exposed wood. Hopefully in 10 years there will be no difference between the two. Or I could be at it again on the windows in question in 2 - 3 years. I hope I'm being overly paranoid.

Needless to say, I've decided to invest in a book I recently found out about. It's called "Working Windows". I'm hoping the experts will guide me through the many questions I will eventually endure when I start tackling the upstairs windows. Until then I shall restore in ignorant bliss.