SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY

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May 2, 2020

Thirty days.  You’d think I’d be climbing the walls by now. And who knows…some of you may be…

In all honesty, this distancing we’ve been asked to do has been manageable for us. What does that meme say: you realize how anti-social you are when the world goes on lock down and you hardly notice.

Believe me, we’ve noticed. But we’ve also found ways to accommodate whatever it is we’ve had to do without.

Eating out:  We used to frequent local restaurants once or twice a week; for date nights or just to avoid having to cook. So for the past thirty days, we’ve had our date nights at home and we’ve still managed to support our local eateries by ordering takeout and plating it ourselves at our dining room table.

Live entertainment: No theater, no concerts, no movie house experiences, that’s true… but there has been more network and streaming entertainment made available than could ever be consumed in a thousand pandemics.

Family gatherings: This has been the toughest part. My mom (91) lives in an assisted living facility which has blocked visitation for over a month now. My mother-in-law (92) has been sheltering in place in her home with a full-time caregiver.  We get by with daily calls, care packages. In some ways, we’re more connected now than before and we take comfort in knowing that the lockdown, in a large part, was designed to protect them from this virus.

On the plus side, our house has received a thorough cleaning, we’ve been able to catch up on some reading, we’re healthy and in a position to bounce back quickly once we receive the go-ahead from our health officials.  I hope all of you have found your way of enduring this unusual time. Just remember, this too shall pass. Keep yourselves safe and know that while it may seem like you’re going through this alone, we’re all in this together.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

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SAFER AT HOME – DAY TWENTY-NINE

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May 1, 2020

If you’re a baby boomer like me, there’s something strangely familiar and comfortable about the Zoom teleconferencing platform. Let’s face it, at some point didn’t we all envision ourselves as part of that Brady Bunch?

In most of my Zoom conferences, I seem to always get seated in the Carol Brady spot.

Here’s a little Brady Bunch trivia, courtesy of IMDb:

Even though Greg dated a lot, we never actually see him kiss anyone of the dates he went out with. The only Brady kid that had a kissing scene was Bobby, kissing Melissa Sue Anderson in The Brady Bunch: Never Too Young (1973).

Show creator Sherwood Schwartz originally wanted Gene Hackman for the role of Mike Brady, but Hackman wasn’t considered well-known enough at the time.

The family dog “Tiger” was killed by a car in season one of the show before the filming of episode five was completed. A replacement dog proved to be unworkable. Tiger’s doghouse remained on the set, though, because one of the studio lights fell and burned a hole through the astroturf, and the doghouse was used to hide the burned spot.

When Florence Henderson arrived to do her screen test, there was no one on staff to do her make-up, so she went over to the adjoining studio where Star Trek: The Original Series (1966) was filmed, and she found herself seated in a make-up chair between William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, being made up for their day’s work on one of the last episodes of “Trek”. Henderson recalls that both actors completely ignored her.

Every day since September 1975 (the start of its syndication), an episode has aired somewhere in the world.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Safer at Home – Day Twenty-Eight

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April 29, 2020

We listened to our governor’s address today as he explained the steps Florida is taking to “re-open” our economy. In phase one, not much has changed.

Our restaurants seem to have been given the biggest consideration, allowing them to offer outside dining (tables separated by the 6 foot social distancing parameters) as well as inside dining (as long as it does not exceed 25% of capacity.) In other words, let’s keep on ordering take-out to support our local dining establishments.

Assisted living facilities are still on lock down as well as bars, hair stylists, nail salons, and most other personal services. Non-essential retail establishments can begin to open but they are also under a 25% capacity rule along with masking requirements and the other CDC guidelines.

While we are a small business hybrid which is not under specific closure guidelines, we have chosen to err on the side of caution. We will continue to meet with people on an appointment basis. Call us and we will discuss your potential project. If you decided to move forward, we will schedule a day and time for you to bring us your source material. We will meet you at the studio for a drop off transfer. We’ll take your material, draw up an invoice which we will send to you via email. You can put down a deposit via electronic link. We’ll process the order; notify you when it is completed and you can pay any balance due electronically while scheduling a time to pick up the finished order.

This has proven to be a safe and effective way to conduct our business during the pandemic. Thank you for your understanding. We’re actually doing it to protect you as well as us while not interrupting the service we can provide to you.

On a positive note, we have decided to extend our “quarantine sale” at least until we reach phase two of the Florida plan. So, if you are still stuck at home, now is a good time to go through those closets and find all those home movies/videos/slides that need to be digitally transferred.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information call 352-735-8550 or call our website.

Safer at Home – Day Twenty-Six

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April 27, 2020

I have a website that I wanted to share with you all. Well, not a website per se… it is a Facebook group that currently has over 2 million members. It’s designed around a simple concept. Since most of us, and I am talking globally here, are confined within our homes, the only real views we have to cast our eyes upon are the ones we see out our windows.

The Facebook group “The View From My Window” simply asks people to share the view they are spending their days watching. And it is mesmerizing. Who knew that people lived in areas that afforded such lovely vistas?

And as more and more people add their views to the group’s photo collection, members have an opportunity to “travel the world” from the comfort of their living room. I’ve got to say, there are worse ways to spend one’s time during the lockdown.

And for what it’s worth, the picture accompanying this post is indeed the view from my window overlooking one of the conservation areas found in picturesque Mount Dora. And it is one that, along with a glass of wine, continues to provide me with a peaceful and relaxing way to end my day.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Safer at Home – Day Twenty-Five

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April 26, 2020

As we venture out to perform our essential duties, we follow the CDC guidelines and always wear our face mask while in public. And because of this we are finding out about a problem that is all too common among people in our age group. Our breath fogs up our glasses.

Fortunately, AARP has some answers for us. The following are quotes from their article.

“The Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England published an article in 2011 that offered a simple method to prevent fogging, suggesting that, just before wearing a face mask, people wash their spectacles with soapy water, shake off the excess and then allow the lenses to air-dry.

“Washing the spectacles with soapy water leaves behind a thin surfactant film that reduces this surface tension and causes the water molecules to spread out evenly into a transparent layer,” the article reveals. “This ‘surfactant effect’ is widely utilized to prevent misting of surfaces in many everyday situations.” Anti-fogging solutions used for scuba masks or ski goggles also accomplish this.

Another tactic is to consider the fit of your face mask, to prevent your exhaled breath from reaching your glasses. An easy hack is to place a folded tissue between your mouth and the mask. The tissue will absorb the warm, moist air, preventing it from reaching your glasses. Also, make sure the top of your mask is tight and the bottom looser, to help direct your exhaled breath away from your eyes.”

Hope this helps someone.  Me, I think I’m going to try fitting a snorkel under my mask.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Safer at Home – Day Twenty-Four

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April 25, 2020

Transferring other people’s video and film has given me a great opportunity to witness the customs and traditions of families from various cultures. There’s a practice that is often repeated by families celebrating the first birthday of a child: the smash cake.

I don’t recall it as a custom when I was growing up but it has certainly gained in popularity since then. I was surprised to learn that it may have its origins south of the border. Mexican families will gather around the birthday child singing Mordida! Mordida! Mordida! (Bite, bite, bite). Then, after the candles are blown out (and hopefully removed) one of the parents will approach from behind and gently shove the kid’s face in the cake. This is followed by much laughter and picture taking.

The US version of the smash cake typically will be a second, smaller size version of the birthday cake set in front of the 1 year old. While the adults enjoy their neatly sliced pieces of cake, the child, without the benefits of utensils, will eventually begin to dig his hands into the dessert and even manage to get some of the sugary goodness into his or her mouth. This, once again, is followed by much laughter and picture taking. 

I can’t say I understand the rationale behind the tradition. The child is too young to remember it and there will be some major cleanup to do afterwards. Why does this make me think it was all probably started by some dad’s idea of a joke?

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Safer at Home – Day Twenty-Three

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April 24, 2020

I spent much of the day running some 8mm and Super 8 film for a client in order to convert it to a digital form so it can be put on a DVD or USB flash drive. I would say that 95% of the film I receive in our studio is silent. The video cameras of the 1970s and 1980s that included a built in microphone were a bit pricey and most families opted for the more reasonable silent film option.

Which leads me to today’s topic… What is my favorite silent film?

There’s a lot to choose from. My favorite happens to rank #11 on the best silent film list on IMDB.com (international Movie Database). Not surprisingly, Charlie Chaplin directed three of the top four films. But my favorite was not a Chaplin film, although they are all worthy. Instead my choice goes to one of his contemporaries.

In 1926, the incomparable Buster Keaton starred in a Civil War comedy/action/drama called The General. It has long been recognized as a masterful example of its form. A mere 67 minutes long, it tells the story of a train engineer who tried to join the Confederate Army when the war broke out only to be rejected because he was too valuable in his job. But his sweetheart, Annabelle Lee, thinks him to be a coward. When his beloved train, “The General,” is stolen by Union spies with Annabelle Lee on board, he must move heaven and earth to rescue both.

Keaton is at his best here with his deadpan delivery making the amazing stunts and action sequences more humorous than we might expect. I heartily recommend it if you haven’t seen it. After all, being told to stay at home can have its advantages.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Safer at Home – Day Twenty-Two

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April 23, 2020

While many businesses and industries are struggling to hold on during the pandemic that has shuttered so many doors, there are a few success stories. Certainly the popularity of Zoom has never been higher. The teleconferencing platform has risen to become the method of choice to connect the disconnected.

But I am reminded that people were Zooming long before the coronavirus. In the early 70s, kids in the US were invited to “Come on and zoom, zoom, zoom-a-zoom” as they turned on their televisions to the local PBS station. Zoom was touted as being a show for kids, made by kids. Airing in 1972 and lasting for six seasons, it featured a rotating cast of kid hosts, offered regular and random activities such as comedy sketches, science experiments, interviews of other kids, jokes, songs, and just general silliness.

Part of its success was found in its premise that all content came from its young audience who would be encouraged to mail in their ideas and suggestions. Some 20,000 letters poured in each week and from those a show would be crafted as the young hosts would act them out.

Never an overly polished series, it was nonetheless refreshingly authentic and filled with a youthful energy that attracted a wide and devoted fan base.  The series was remade in 1999 and ran for an additional seven seasons.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Safer at Home – Day Twenty-One

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April 22, 2020

It took 21 days but I finally looked into where we got the name quarantine.

Socially distancing contagious people has been around for a long time. There are records in the Bible of people with contagious infections forced to stay outside the city gates. People affected with leprosy, arguably the oldest of human infections, were kept segregated from the rest of the population, in colonies established on remote islands or on mountaintops.

The word itself was coined in the mid 14th century. The bubonic plague, aka The Black Plague, managed to kill one-third of the European population in the space of 3 years. During this time, a law was passed in the Venetian controlled port city of Ragusa (now in Croatia). Called trentino, which means thirty days, this law established a thirty day isolation period for any ship arriving from a plague afflicted area. No one was to board or disembark for those thirty days.

The law was quickly adopted by other cities and within the next hundred years, an additional ten days was added to the isolation and the practice went from trentino to quarantino, hence our English word quarantine.

The United States Congress, in 1878, passed the National Quarantine Act permitting the federal government to act during an outbreak of yellow fever. By 1921, the quarantine system was completely nationalized.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Safer at Home – Day Twenty

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April 21, 2020

One of the casualties of the Coronavirus pandemic are the “red letter” events in our lives that show a rite of passage or mark of achievement. Recently, actor John Krasinski held a virtual prom for 2020 seniors who had to cancel their dances due to the need for social distancing.

Likewise, schools will most likely forego the graduation ceremonies that for centuries have marked the launching of a next phase of life for students – one that is witnessed (or endured) by their friends and family. I still remember (vaguely) my college graduation.

In an unusual scheduling decision, our ceremony took place 5 days after the last class of the year. Most of us had to remain on campus where there was little else to do except visit the fraternity drinking parties that were being held pretty much around the clock. Poor choices were made and made repeatedly.

The ceremony itself was rather a blur. I remember we were grouped by the type of degrees we were receiving with the honor students always being announced first. Direction was clearly given to the audience to hold their applause until the end. Bachelor of Science graduates went first, with honor students leading the way followed by the other graduates. The dean then invited audience response by saying, “Let’s hear it for the honor students!”

Each discipline was given the same treatment. Honors first, everyone else next and then, “Let’s hear it for the honor students!”

Finally, it became our turn and the same thing happened. As I was taking my seat after receiving my diploma, I heard the dean say, “Let’s hear it for the honor students!” Without thinking, I blurted out, “What about us dummies in the back?”  It received the loudest applause of all.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.