Mystery Date

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One of the iconic board games of the 60s was Milton Bradley’s Mystery Date. Targeted to girls aged 6-14, the game had players collecting fashion cards on their turns. When they assembled a complete matching ensemble, they could open the door to reveal the date. If he was dressed in similar attire, a winner was declared. The mystery dates included: the formal dance dude, the surfer dude, the skier, the bowler, and the dud.

I barely remember the game (I was much more interested in Battleship at that time.) But my sister had it and may have tricked me into playing Mystery Date once or twice. I seem to have a faint recall of getting the dud date but have managed to block out most of those details from my memory.

However, I do get faced with “mystery tapes” on almost a daily basis. You know the ones I mean. The VHS, VHS-C or 8mm tapes that were tossed in a drawer or shoebox. Quickly forgotten until discovered on a spring cleaning day decades later. But now, with no label on the tape and no way to play it to find out if it is something worth keeping, it goes back into the drawer until someone finds it next time a cleaning day rolls around.

I get asked on a regular basis if I can play a mystery tape in my studio so the prospective client can see what’s on it. Unfortunately, during normal business days, the equipment in my studio is busy performing transfer services and can’t be interrupted to satisfy a curiosity.

Except for one day a year. On Saturday, October 20th in honor of Home Movie Day (yes, that’s a real thing), we will suspend all normal operation and open our equipment up to the community so they can finally see what they’ve been holding onto all these years.

So, from 10 am until 4pm on Saturday October 20th, bring your unlabeled tapes to Home Video Studio and we’ll help you see your mystery tape. Hopefully, it won’t be a dud. If, after seeing what memories the tapes hold, you would like to protect and preserve them, we’ll also be offering our transfer services at discounted rates.

Even if you have no tapes to bring, stop on by anyway. We’ll have a good time reliving old memories with friends and neighbors. We’ll have the popcorn ready. Happy Home Movie Day.

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

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The Bells of Mount Dora

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When you live in a small town, like I do, you are often challenged to change perspectives. After all, by now most of us are “plugged in.” We co-exist amid a tangled web of online communities forever pushing us into having global awareness. We have mass media feeding us nonstop information about the world and the multitude of problems facing every corner of our globe. Being thus inundated, we sometimes overlook the mundane, everyday challenges that can exist in our own backyard. In fact, they can seem downright minuscule when compared to the world and the mess to be found there.

Case in point:

Mount Dora’s First Congregational Church, which has faithfully served our local community for 135 years, has a bell tower badly in need of repair. They are trying to raise the funds to make the needed repairs so the bell can continue to ring out – calling its parishioners to worship or signifying to the community a special occasion or event.

Maybe it is because my family has been binge watching The Waltons (we’re up to season 3) but I find that there’s something refreshingly wholesome about a small town banding together to restore a historical landmark that serves as a spiritual center. Call me John-Boy but this is a cause I can rally around. I’m not a member of the congregation. I’m not affiliated with the church. But I am a resident of Mount Dora and I’d love to hear those church bells chime again.

I hope you will consider making a small contribution to the effort. The church leaders have started a gofundme page and have gotten a commitment from the Community Trust to match whatever funds are able to be raised, The link is listed below.

https://www.gofundme.com/save-the-1887-bell-tower

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

Once A Shellback, Always a Shellback

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A Shellback walked into my studio today… not that I would have noticed. I had never heard of one before. Fortunately for me, he decided to tell me his story. 

He came in to have a series of 35mm slides transferred. They were taken during his Navy days  and as he related his tale, I learned how and when he became a Shellback. It is a designation given to seaman who cross the equator (which can be found at 0 degrees latitude.)

But he was no ordinary Shellback. He achieved the rarified status of Emerald Shellback which is reserved for the few who managed to cross the equator precisely where it intersects with the Prime Meridian.  In other words, he passed through the intersection of 0 degrees latitude and 0 degrees longitude. There aren’t that many who can lay claim to that status. But my client is one of them.

In doing a little research, I’ve found that there is a strange little shipboard ritual that takes place during the Shellback initiation that dates back centuries. On that my client was a little close-mouthed. But apparently Neptune makes an appearance, there’s a bit of hazing that goes on, and an embarrassing time is generally had by all… or at least by those slimy Polywogs who are undergoing the initiation into trusted Shellback status.

After reading some of the descriptions of the rituals, I’ve come to the mindset that it is probably a good thing that they happen at sea.  I think it’s kind of like Fight Club… The first rule of the Shellback ritual is… you don’t talk about the Shellback ritual.

But I found a few photos…

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Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more info, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website. Reminder: our Fall Food Drive continues through Oct 15. Bring in an order along with a food donation and receive a 30% discount. Food donations will be given to Lake Cares Food Pantry.

Up In Smoke

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One of our clients told us the saddest story yesterday. A friend of theirs was taking a family vacation aboard a cruise ship and while gone, they received a message from a neighbor saying that their home had burnt to the ground overnight. There was a problem with the home’s electrical wiring.

I can certainly relate on multiple levels. Bad news seems inevitably to follow me on vacations. I’ve had two companies sold out from under me while I was off sightseeing other lands. I returned home only to find I’d been downsized by the new management. And still my wife wonders why I don’t much care for vacations…

But my experiences can’t compare to hearing the news that everything you once owned is now in ashes. While it was a blessing that everyone, including their pets, were away when the fire broke out, and so no lives were at risk, it is heartbreaking to face the reality that all of one’s possessions – including the recorded memories taken over a lifetime – were now gone… just like that.

It is one reason we are passionate about the business we are in. By updating family memories to a digital form, it is easier to make a back up copy of all your family memories (film, videotape, photos, slides, audio recordings, etc) and store that copy in an off-site safe deposit box in the case that, should a tragedy occur, the memories will not be irretrievably lost.

Our prayer is that no one ever face the devastating loss that fire, flood, hurricanes, etc can bring. But while we continue to believe for the best, it is wise to prepare for the worst. Insurance can help you replace things. Memories cannot be insured – but they can be protected. Call us and ask us how.

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.

I’m Flying

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My eldest son recently completed his first solo flight. I’m sure it was an exhilarating moment for him. Not being particularly fond of flying myself, I never had the desire to put myself in the cockpit. It’s all I can do to strap myself into coach.

But I try to find things in my past that I can use to relate to the experiences others have. So I dug into the recesses of my mind and thought about the last time that I had the sensation of being free and unencumbered by gravity… soaring like a bird resting on invisible currents of air.

I came up with this image.

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In the fifties and sixties, hands-free had nothing to do with cell phones or wi-fi… in fact we didn’t have those.  We did have hi-fi which stood for high fidelity – the trademark of a good stereo cabinet or transistor radio. But that’s another story.

To be hands free in my day meant coasting down a neighborhood street, preferably one with a steep hill and letting go of the handlebars of your trusty Schwin. Where do you think the expression, “Look Ma, no hands” came from? Leaning back in the banana seat, arms thrust outward, head back to let the wind rip through your closely cropped hair.  (Bike helmets were not yet invented. ) The only sound to be heard was the familiar tic-tic-tic-tic-tic of a Sandy Koufax playing card clothespinned to the spokes of the rear wheel.  I was flying.

So I get it. I understand the feeling of solo flight. I’ve been there in my mind. I just prefer to experience it on a bike. It’s way closer to the ground.

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.

And remember, special discounts available through Oct 15th with a donation of canned or dry packaged food items during our Fall Food Drive. All donations to go to Lake Cares Food Pantry.

Celebrate!

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Today is my birthday.  And while I celebrate the occasion with my family and friends I like to take a look at what other celebrations are taking place around the world that will be sharing the day with me.

In the Czech Republic, people there will be celebrating St Wenceslaus Day – in commemoration of the assassination of Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia. His martyrdom and eventual canonization cements his place in history as a key figure in the emancipation of the Czech state. And yes, he is the good king Wenceslaus mentioned in the popular Christmas carol that bears his name. Even though he was only a duke when he was murdered, he was granted the regal title posthumously by the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I.

Those in healthcare may be recognizing today because it happens to be World Rabies Day. Not that they are celebrating rabies. Just bringing increased awareness to the disease. This year’s theme is “Spread the Message; Save a Life.”

If rabies doesn’t put you in a holiday mood, you can always join in some community revelry by celebrating Good Neighbor Day which has been an American National holiday since 1978. Some suggestions for celebrants: Be nice to your neighbor; if you don’t really know them, go strike up a conversation with them; or just bake them some goodies. Perhaps our congressional leaders should practice this holiday a little bit more.  Spread the Message; Save the Senate.

If your neighbor happens to be a vegetarian, you can kill two birds with one stone. Today also happens to be National Hug a Vegan Day.

In Taiwan, they’ll be celebrating Teachers’ Day which was originally set to commemorate the birthday of Confucius who is considered to be model master educator in ancient China. These days it marks a time for students to show their gratitude and appreciation to their teachers.

And of course, no September 28 would be complete without a nod to National Ask A Stupid Question Day. Here’s mine: How do you celebrate National Ask A Stupid Question Day? (pause) Do you want another example?

And it can’t be an accident that National Ask A Stupid Question Day falls on the same day as National Drink A Beer Day.   But however you celebrate today and for whatever reason, know that I’ll be out there celebrating right along with you. Happy birthday to me.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio 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.

Not Yet Forgotten Food Memories

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My wife and I have for years adhered to a grain-free/gluten-free diet. And while we have noticed an improvement in our overall health as a result, there are still times when I get nostalgic for those innocent college days when I could eat whatever I wanted based solely on two important factors: taste and cost.

Finding delicacies on a limited budget was never easy but I was nothing but resourceful in those days and, in time, able to discover two places close to campus that became culinary staples for me.

My favorite go-to spot in those days was Coney Island’s in New Castle PA. In the 70s it was an unassuming, small, hole-in-the-wall place run by a Greek family, but they made the most incredible chili dogs that appealed to starving and oftentimes hungover college students. I haven’t been there in over 40 years but I can still taste those dogs (which, if you think about it, probably isn’t such a good thing.)

Halfway between the campus and Coney’s, sat a small Italian restaurant that on certain days would advertise their sausage subs coated with marinara and mozzarella. Oh my, were they good. And on those special discount days, affordable. When paired with a side of deep-fried, batter-dipped mushrooms… it was ambrosia to our still developing taste buds.

Those two finds supplied the bulk of my “nutritional” supplements for the four years of academic study. And it is with a tinge of wistfulness that I look back on those carefree years. Now please pass the broccoli as I wipe away a tear.

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

 

Memory Town

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It turns out that reflecting on memories can have a therapeutic effect on a person. It’s something that I think we all recognize intuitively at some level.  I was fascinated to read the attached article about the development of “Memory Towns” that cater specifically to dementia or Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Quoting from the article by Amanda Kolson Hurley, “Studies have shown that reminiscence therapy has positive effects on the mood, cognition, and communication level of dementia patients.” Borrowing from an experiment that took place in the Netherlands, the George G. Glenner Alzheimer’s Family Center designed and built a fake city they call Town Square. Built to resemble a typical small town circa 1953-1960, it is fashioned to evoke the memories that tend to be the strongest within us.

Built inside a 9,000 square foot industrial warehouse, the first Town Square opened in San Diego, California and a second is scheduled to open in White Marsh, Maryland near Baltimore. Organizers are optimistic that more and more locations will be rolling out in the near future.

It’s what I have always said… “Memories Matter.” Take the step to preserve yours today.

For the full article about Memory Town, click here.

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

Go Tell It On The Mountain

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Good night John-Boy.

That phrase still brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it… and I’ve been hearing it quite a bit of late.

In our household, we’ve had a bit of a shift in television habits over the last couple of weeks since we cut the cable cord. The most recent development comes from my 90 year old mother-in-law who has decided that she wants to binge watch The Waltons. Every season… every episode…every night… and dang if she hasn’t drawn the rest of us in.

I can remember watching The Waltons back when it first aired. I was in high school when it first began and enjoyed it, but back then I don’t think I fully recognized or appreciated the purity of the family values it espoused. Watching it now, while I’m living in the current cultural climate that we are in… it has brought such a breath of fresh air to what has become a continually poisoned atmosphere.

I actually look forward to our Walton time. Watching a show where family love trumps all?  Seeing that while problems may exist, they can be handled within the context of a loving atmosphere has been so much more edifying than hearing or seeing the problems of this divisive world repeated ad infinitum across multiple TV channels every night with no hope in sight.

Give me some Waltons. Any day. And hand me a Kleenex.

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

Film or Videotape?

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I had an interesting conversation with a prospective client the other day. He came into my office with a videotape and some reels of film and told me that some fifty years ago his father had already had the film transferred and put on the VHS videotape he was holding. He then asked what would be better – transferring the VHS to a digital form or using the original reels of film to do the transfer?

As I thought about my response it made me realize that it is a complex question with multiple issues to consider:

Cost: The cost to transfer a VHS tape up to two hours is considerably less than the cost to transfer 1700 feet of film (which would equate to approximately two hours of footage.)

Condition: Both videotape and film will degrade over time. But what degrades faster? A lot would depend on how they were stored and how often they were played or viewed. Most condition issues that I see in the studio comes from neglect or from faulty equipment that caused damage during playback.

Quality: Here’s the kicker – our technology has advanced exponentially over the last five decades. The methods used to transfer film to video back in the day now seem rather primitive by today’s standards. Even though his film has aged an additional fifty years since his father had it converted to VHS, converting those same film reels again using current technologies may produce a far superior result whereas converting from the VHS tape can only capture the quality of the tape as it exists today… it cannot improve upon it.

Our film transfer process is top of the line. We use a frame-by-frame image capture device which enables us to control or correct color issues, as well as film “noise” issues which can cause a movie to look “grainy.”  For more information, visit this link.

Bottom line, my prospective client has choices. And we’re happy to present him with all the available options and help him to reach the decision that best suits his purposes. And we can do the same for you.

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