How Many Balls Can You Juggle?

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I hate to break the news to all you alpha-type overachievers but there is no such thing as multi-tasking. I know many of us would like to lay claim to that ability but the sad reality is… it doesn’t exist.

It is impossible for the human mind to think two thoughts at the same time. Look it up. Scientific fact. What we think of as multi-tasking is not doing two or more different things at the same time. It is doing two or more different things in quick and ever changing succession. it is the ability to juggle tasks… oftentimes extremely rapidly.

Such is the case during a normal day in my studio.  I go from station to station, checking on works in progress, adding input, correcting errors, and moving on.  At any given time, I can be working on three video transfers, an audio transfer, a slide transfer, a video editing job, answering phone calls, greeting customers who drop in, responding to email requests and so much more… but I have to handle them one task at a time. 

To be effective in what I do, I have to juggle them, giving priority to the task which requires the most immediate attention. If I am working on a video transfer and the front door opens, I leave one task to respond to the more immediate need.

If an audio transfer still has another 15 minutes to go before completion but a slide transfer is ready to move to the next stage, I’ll address the needs of the slide transfer.

Juggling tasks is the proper way to describe what many call multi-tasking. Fortunately for me and my clients, I am an excellent juggler. I learned the skill in high school and once learned, it is never forgotten. Ask me next time you come by. I’ll be happy to demonstrate.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

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Color Me Red-Faced

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I see commonality amongst families. We record the same events; we document the same kind of red-letter dates. And we typically have buried in all the reels of film or boxes of home movie videotapes one singularly embarrassing moment captured by the camera that has over time become a family favorite and the cause of much laughter over the years.

Today, I digitized what I can only assume is one such moment and, out of respect for my clients, will not divulge the specifics. But I am sure that when the family gathers to watch the DVDs I’m producing for them from the videotapes they haven’t been able to watch for years, there’s going to be a considerable amount of laughter and love in the room.

I know from experience. I too have such a moment that was lovingly recorded by my darling parents. A moment that was used to try to cause me great embarrassment in later years by my sibling. In her defense, she had a righteous cause. Earlier, I had found an embarrassing photo of her as a toddler, standing naked in the bathroom, reaching into the toilet but looking back at the camera with a big grin on her face. At the time she was nearing sixteen, (and of dating age), I decided to take that photo and thumbtack it up on the community bulletin board at our local pool where all her friends were sure to see it. What can I say? I was fourteen and to me, it was funny.

She waited a long time to get her revenge. Near the end of the summer the following year, our swim team held an end of season picnic and party where the highlights of our swim season would be shown on a Super 8 projector.  It was a much anticipated and well populated event. My beloved sister decided to take the below family movie clip and somehow managed to splice it into our swim team’s highlight reel for all my friends and their families to see. Embarrassment complete. What comes around goes around.

Well done sis.

What embarrassing moments has your family recorded that you can now look back on and laugh?

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

Downhill Racer

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I’ve been watching some of the ski competitions taking place in this year’s Olympic Games. The skill level, dexterity, and speed being displayed has been enjoyable to see.  Personally, I’ve never been much of a skier. Tried my hand at it once. But, as with so many things, my personality shaped my experience.

The problem is that I’ve never had much patience to learn something before I jump in and try it. So, during my first and last ski outing, I simply strapped on the skis and after an uneventful trip down a rather unremarkable bunny slope, I was ready (I thought) for the ski lift. Lessons were offered and quickly dismissed as unimportant and unneeded. I had always prided myself on my natural athletic abilities.

My first run down the intermediate slope was, to put it kindly, ungainly. But I managed to make it to the bottom in one piece without causing harm to myself or others. And with every subsequent trip I became more and more confident that I had mastered the sport well enough to hold my own. Unfortunately that’s when my friend, an accomplished skier, asked me if I minded if he went up to ski the “blacks.”

“The heck with that,” I countered, “I’m coming with you.” He did his best to dissuade me but I can be obstinate. As we passed the drop off for the intermediate slope and headed up, up, up to the advanced level, I quickly understood why this might not have been such a good idea. The smooth, wide, expanse of the intermediate slopes disappeared and in its stead was a boiling river of snow with mounds and hills and no real clear path to the bottom.

I fell the minute I left the ski lift. Picked myself up, said a prayer and tried to follow my friend down the mountain. I fell again after two feet. Picked myself up, advanced another foot and fell. I then took off my skis and and started walking. I still managed to fall three more times.

I happily returned to the intermediate slope where I promptly hit a patch of ice and went down hard, breaking my collarbone. But, on the upside, I got to ride in one of those stretchers on skis down to the clinic which is an experience not everyone gets to have.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd

Pinball Wizard

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There are some customers with whom I feel a close affinity. Yesterday I had one in my studio. He was about my age, and as we were discussing some of the memories he wanted me to preserve for him, he started triggering some of my own memories.

I honestly don’t remember how this came up in conversation but I shared with him how, when I was in high school, my buddy Gary and I used to climb into one of our cars and, from our home in Rockville Maryland, drive nearly 30 miles to Frederick Maryland. Why you may ask? To go to a bowling alley in order to play a pinball machine.

It made perfect sense to us at the time. In the early 70s, in Rockville, the pinball machines gave you 2 games for a quarter. But in Frederick, at least at this particular bowling alley, a quarter gave you three games. Plus, if you hit high score… you’d get a free game added. And as you accumulated more points, you would be rewarded with more free games.

There were times when Gary and I would play that pinball machine all night long on just one quarter.  Our trips to Frederick became more and more frequent. Because we were both athletes, Gary had the bright idea one day that instead of spending the gas to drive up to Frederick, we should simply run up there. After all, it was just a little more than a marathon (which, by the way, neither of us had ever attempted). Being a teenager and therefore devoid of common sense, I quickly agreed and we made plans to leave early the next Saturday morning.

That Saturday I was waiting on the designated corner that was to be our meeting place. No Gary. I found out later that his parents had planned a family outing that he couldn’t get out of. There were no cell phones at that time so he couldn’t call me.

So I set off without him. Three hours into the “run” I realized that I had made a huge mistake but I was too stubborn to quit. I settled into a “run for a while, walk for a while” strategy. Nearly 8 hours later I arrived at the bowling alley. I played one game of pinball just so I could say I did and then prepared to head back.

Only then did it hit me that a marathon ends after 26.2 miles. I, however, was only halfway there. I still had 30 miles in front of me to go in order to get home.

Thank goodness I grew up in a time when hitchhiking was a tad bit safer than it is now.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

How Are Things in Bora Bora?

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I spent much of the day marveling at some remarkable underwater images that I was transferring from 35mm slides to a digital form for a customer. The colors of the tropical fish, coral reefs and other marine life that she captured were dazzling. Makes me wish I had spent more time underwater.

I did do some snorkeling once back in the 70s… in Bora Bora of all places. My employer at that time rewarded me with a paid vacation to a destination of my choice. Being in my 20s, I choose the remotest place I could think of; a location that I would probably never have a chance to revisit. In hindsight, I should have done a bit more research. There’s not a lot to do in Bora Bora. I quickly fell into a pattern.

I woke up, had coffee on the deck of my thatched hut overlooking the lagoon; then I got into a dugout canoe and paddled myself through what I found out later to be shark infested waters (which is a story for another time) out to a neighboring uninhabited atoll. I sat on a rock, read the paperback I brought with me, and then paddled back to the main island in time for dinner.

I did that for 4 days straight.  I think the other people where I was staying took notice because on the fourth day as I canoed up to my atoll (in my mind, I took possession of it), one of the other guests was already sitting on my rock. Being an astute observer, I couldn’t help but notice that she was female and topless. She waved and held a snorkel high above her head.

“Do you know how to use this?” she shouted out. “Not really,” I replied, “But I’m a quick learner.”

Then, in what remains as my most clueless moment ever, I took the snorkel from her and went swimming. When I came back to the atoll, she was gone.  But the fish sure were pretty.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

The Music Box

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I had a client in my office yesterday who presented me with an audio cassette containing his father showcasing one of his passions of life. He collected music boxes. The audio cassette had him playing each music box one by one and afterwards he would explain how he acquired it and what it meant to him. His son said that by the end of his life he had acquired a collection of more than 200 music boxes of all kinds.

It brought to my mind the very first gift I bought for the woman who eventually agreed to become my wife. It was a musical jewelry box.  I bought the box because, at the time, I couldn’t afford the jewelry. I figured it would count as a promissory note.

By this time I had learned enough about her to know that her favorite piece of music was Rachmaninoff’s Variation on a Theme by Paganini. What I didn’t know is that it wasn’t a commonly used piece of music for a music box.  I could have easily gotten her the theme to Love Story, or Mozart’s Eine Klein Nachtmusik which could be found in abundance but instead I spent weeks looking for the Rachmaninoff piece because she loved it so. (This was before online ordering took all the challenge out of shopping.)

I finally found one in a discount store, bought it, put a small trinket in it (because even then I knew you couldn’t give someone an empty jewelry box), and wrapped it up.  I guess she liked it. After all she married me. And the box is still sitting on her nightstand some 26 years later.

Pretty tune too.

 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

 

Have Gun Won’t Travel

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According to the podiatrist, I have a heel spur in my left foot that is causing the pain and discomfort that I am experiencing. It is something that is manageable and treatable without surgery.

That is good news. I love it when the body shows itself capable of making the corrections needed to fix whatever pain is being caused. The bad news is that for the time being, I’ve got a little hitch in my gitalong. I’m moving around like Chester from Gunsmoke.

Gunsmoke was an iconic radio and TV show. It was conceived as a radio program in 1952 where it ran until 1961 starring Bill Conrad as Marshall Matt Dillon. In the 60s it made the transition to television with James Arness as the star. There it ran for another 20 years making it the longest running American made television program in US history. (The Simpsons is poised to finally break that record sometime in 2019.)

Here are a few trivia facts:

  • Gunsmoke produced a total of 635 television episodes during its span, not to mention a few reunion shows that aired after its cancellation.
  • The first episode was introduced by legendary cowboy star John Wayne who encouraged viewers to “get used” to this 6’ 7” newcomer James Arness as he was going to become a big star.
  • Chester’s limp was devised by Dennis Weaver who played him. He thought it would help identify him to audiences as the “sidekick.”
  • The phrase “Get the hell out of Dodge” was said to have been popularized by the show. Gunsmoke was set in Dodge City.
  • The gunfight scene that opened the show during the credits (pictured above) was shot on the same street used in the movie High Noon.
  • Gunsmoke was almost cancelled in 1967 but because CBS president William Paley and his wife were fans of the show, it was moved to a different time slot instead. The show that got abruptly cancelled as a result? Gilligan’s Island.
  • Ken Curtis, who played Festus, was an accomplished singer who once succeeded Sinatra as vocalist for the Tommy Dorsey orchestra.
  • The cast was not told that the show was being cancelled after 20 years. They found out by reading about it in the trade publications.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.