Memorial Day

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In observance of Memorial Day, we’re taking a few days off to reflect upon those who served and those we’ve lost.  We’ll be back in the studio on Tuesday. Until then, here’s a repost of a blog from last year about some of the military men in my family:

From left to right:

My father, Edward J. Ondrasik, who, with the Eighth Air Force, flew 24 missions over Germany as a bombardier during WWII. We learned afterwards that he flew each of those 24 missions without a parachute as he could not fit into the bombardier compartment with it on. He died in 2009.

My uncle, Charles C. Parish, served as Lt. Commander in the US Navy. Was a pilot of a #2 F-4J (Phantom) during the Vietnam War. He was shot down over North Vietnam and declared Missing in Action in 1968. His status was changed to Killed in Action in 1973. His name is among the tens of thousands engraved on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington DC.

My maternal grandfather, Herman O. Parish, who, as captain and commanding officer received the Navy Cross and the Legion of Merit for services rendered during WWII. He retired as a US Navy Rear Admiral. He died in 1989.

We honor their memory and thank them for their service and sacrifice. As we do all who have given service to our country.

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

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SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY-EIGHT

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May 10, 2020

One of the benefits to owning a video transfer business is the opportunity we have to see and hear the experiences many of our clients took the time to record. We’ve learned to recognize the many scenes that repeatedly appear in a lot of the video we handle: Chuckee Cheese Birthday parties, trips to Hawaii or the Grand Canyon, visits to Disneyland, Sea World, Marineland, and more. But there’s one scene that keeps popping up in various films or tapes we handle which we could not identify.

I finally learned of its source. In 1957, a theme park in North Carolina was launched, supposedly the first in the state and one of the first in the nation. It’s called Tweetsie Railroad and it is still operating today (although it is currently closed awaiting the end of the Covid-19 pandemic).

It is home to two narrow gauge steam locomotives (No. 12 “Tweetsie”, and No. 190, “Yukon Queen”) which pull visitors along a 3 mile loop around a mountain near Blowing Rock, NC. Other rides, events, and family attractions were added over the years to make Tweetsie Railroad a perennial favorite among tourists and railroad enthusiasts or “foamers” as some call themselves.

The scene which keeps appearing in the videos of my clients is apparently filmed during the train ride. As the 100 year old steam locomotive pulls its cars around a bend, it stops in front of a lovingly recreated wild west town where cast members enact a brazen and entertaining train robbery/shootout. It’s nice to finally know where to go to see it live. It is just one more item to added to the bucket list.

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 THIRTY-ONE

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May 3, 2020

I try not to obsess over possessions… after all they are just things and all things can be replaced. But even I recognize the comfort that comes from being surrounded by the familiar items one has collected over a lifetime.

The above picture is the view from my reading chair, something which I have gotten quite a bit of use from over the past month. And I am struck at how much the various objects I can see from this vantage point brings me pleasure because I can recall where and how they were acquired.

My wife and I have pieced our furnishings together over many years, surprising even ourselves sometimes at how well they seem to fit, as if they were purchased at the same time.

The two buffets which are placed on opposite walls were bought at separate antique stores 3 or 4 years apart but give the impression that they are a matched set because of the intricate carving of the doors.

The settee in the foreground took us a long time to find as we were careful not to buy something that would overwhelm the space. We found it by chance one day while visiting the shops of Winter Park. We made the shop owner break up a 3 piece set because we did not want to part with the wingback chairs we use for our reading area and surprisingly, as unusual as the settee’s fabric is, the colors blend perfectly with the wingbacks we find so comfortable.

The table and chairs (partially hidden by the settee) was an auction find that still causes some controversy in our house. I overruled Kate’s uncertainty and bid $100 for the antique set (dining table and six chairs). No one else bid against us so we brought it home. It still garners the most compliments from guests and visitors (much to Kate’s chagrin.)

Even the knick knacks and decorative items on surfaces or shelves can make me smile as each one has its own story as to how it arrived to find a place in our home. That has been the secret key to our decorative style. We never buy anything for the sake of buying it. We look for things that will have meaning – something that can represent an event or time in our lives. So I guess that makes them more than mere possessions. They are memories… and memories are precious.

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 Twelve

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April 14, 2020

Maybe it is us, but a dozen days in “isolation” has flown by. Of course, we don’t have the parenting responsibilities to deal with as our kids are grown and out on their own which I’m sure makes it easier for us. We can focus on things we like or want to do.

I can say that our house has never been cleaner. Kate has wiped down, scrubbed, or polished just about every surface within her reach. And she still has time to study her Italian, read up on George Washington (one of her favorite historical figures), get in her 40 minutes of cardio, and stay connected with our family and friends while continuing to look as sharp and beautiful as she has always been, even though I’m the only one who gets to enjoy that now.

On the other hand, I spend most of my days writing out these blog posts, and working on some video projects that people dropped off. Right now, I’m working on a lovely wedding video that is being pieced together from multiple cameras that captured just about every moment of the ceremony and celebration. I’m pulling clips from each camera and editing them together so it depicts the event as it unfolded. When done, the newlyweds will have a wonderful detailed record of their special day. I think they’ll be pleased. What can I say, I like what I do… and time flies while I’m doing it.

No one really knows what our lives are going to be like as we move forward. But I have to say that I loved the life we had before… I’m loving the life we’re living now… so maybe it isn’t circumstances that control our happiness? As a wise person once said, “You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can always choose how you react to it.” I hope we can all learn to make good choices.

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 Eleven

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April 13, 2020

We announced our Savers of the Family Archives sale today. Big discounts are available on all the services we offer. This sale, which runs until the end of April, highlights a benefit that isn’t discussed as much as it probably should. Namely, we can save people tons of space.

Cans of film, boxes of videotapes, whole shelves filled with photo albums or slide carousels all take up room. Early in our marriage, I asked my wife a question to start a conversation that I think most people have at some point. “If there were a fire in the house, what one thing do you want me to grab on my way out?” Her answer was immediate: “My photos.”

So I took a look around in order to come up with a plan to sweep through the house collecting all the family photos she has displayed in every room. It was not going to be an easy task at any time but during an inferno it was going to be near impossible. Still, my bride asked me to make sure I saved her photos so I was committed to try.

Until I discovered that not all her photos are on display. In our master bedroom closet sits a six foot cedar chest packed to the brim with photo album after photo album. It must weigh 300 pounds. So I went to my wife and said, “Bad news, hon. I’m going to be going up in flames with the house.”

Having a digital backup of one’s family history – stored on a hard drive that can be kept in a safe deposit box or easily carried in one hand – eliminates the need for self-sacrifice, and insures that the irreplaceable memories of life can always be saved to be re-lived and enjoyed another 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 SEVEN

April 9, 2020

I stumbled upon an innocuous Facebook challenge today. Seeing no harm, I accepted it. Basically, an old friend was asking people to post their senior year high school yearbook photos to support and applaud the graduating class of 2020. So I did.

Now I’m usually not a conspiracy theorist, but I have no other explanation for the hair and outfits I was wearing during my high school years. It had to be a devious plot (50 years in the making) to completely embarass those of us who lived in that time.

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I mean, seriously? This was a picture day which means I chose that outfit knowing I’d be photographed. This is in my yearbook in one of the group photos in which I posed. I have no idea what I was thinking. Did fashion not exist back then? When were mirrors invented anyway?

Paisley shirts with Peter Pan collars and a “dickey?” Coupled with bell bottom jeans and half boots that zippered up? And could I not have chosen a wider watch band? It’s no wonder I never got any dates in high school.

Now, my hair I can explain. That was straight up rebellion. My father (a straight-laced middle school gym teacher) is the one who took me to get my hair cut as a child. He dragged me to his barber shop – run by a bunch of guys from Jersey who he met at the track. Not only did they practice the bowl cut, I think they invented it. Razor cut on the side, scissor cut up top. And they used a grease stick to make the bangs stick straight up. Hated it.

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So when I became a teen, I decided to skip the haircuts. And for some reason, my parents let me have my way. Hence the long locks in the first picture. It was unkempt, uncomfortable, unattractive and deep down I knew it but was too stubborn to admit I was wrong. However, when senior picture day was approaching I decided it was time to do something about it. Instead of visiting Vinnie and the bowl cut gang, I opted to spend the big bucks and go to a high class “salon.” I still remember the name. It was dubbed “Rape of the Lock.” Why that didn’t send up a red flag, I’ll never know.

So, I went with my tangled mop of hair and told them to give me a cut suitable for my high school senior photo.  I paid for it with my own money. Here’s what they gave me:

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Only one word for it… shagerific!

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 Four

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Day Four – April 6, 2020

We all know this is a scary time we’re living through… But that doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of what we’re being asked to do. It turns out that there just might be a silver lining in all this.

One of the most common excuses we make for why we haven’t accomplished all the things we would like is that there’s never enough time. We might as well fess up because these days that excuse just isn’t going to fly. If there is one thing we now have in abundance, it’s time. So what are we going to do with this surplus of hours that we always complained was lacking in our life? It will be a missed opportunity if we let the month(s) pass without having something to show for it.

 Ideas:

Write that book, short story or screenplay that you’ve been thinking about.

Start learning a new language.

Experiment with different recipes.

Start painting or sketching.

Skype or FaceTime a friend or relative you haven’t spoken to in over a year. Reconnect.

Go through your closets, attics, or garage with the aim to declutter.

Go through your family photo albums and add captions identifying people, places and times.

Keep a journal – faithfully. Develop the habit of writing your thoughts and experiences down on paper daily.

Learn a new skill. Juggling comes to mind.

Watch a different Ted Talk daily and think how you might put into practice those ideas worth sharing.

The point is, while we are keeping ourselves and each other safe by confining ourselves to our homes, we should concentrate not on what we’re missing but rather on what we can gain.

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. 

Safer at Home – Day One

April 3, 2020

Well, that happened sooner than expected.  It is just the first official day of the Safer at Home – Florida initiative and I’ve already lost track of days and dates.  It unfortunately came to my attention as I was leaving the house (with mask on) to walk down to my 92 year old mother-in-law’s house where she is riding this thing out with her caregiver. I was just checking on some workers who are painting the exterior of her home. As I was almost out the door I hear my wife’s voice behind me, “Happy Anniversary.”

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That’s the look of a man who just got busted.  It’s the first time in 28 years that I’ve forgotten. What makes it worse is that I’m the one who usually has to remind Kate. The one year I forget – she remembers. And I have nothing for her. It’s not like I can sneak out now and pick up some last minute gift that she’d see right through anyway… So what’s a guy to do? It has to be big. Something she will appreciate despite the memory lapse.

There’s only one thing.  It’s time for a promissory note. And as much as it pains me… or will pain me… I know what she wants.  I finally have to bite the bullet and commit to losing those extra 10 pounds I’ve been carrying around the middle for so long. I tell you this much. Lesson learned. I’ll never forget an anniversary again.

So, I was looking on the Internet for a piece of exercise equipment that could be easily used during this time of self-isolation and I immediately turned to my go-to trusted source… the As Seen On TV website. The bottom line: this year, I’ll be wrapping up the Simply Fit Board and Mat purchase receipt as an anniversary gift.

Maybe if I’m lucky, when it arrives, she’ll love it so much, I won’t get a chance to use it.

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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.

Safer at Home

April 2, 2020 – the eve
Our statewide initiative of “safer at home” because of the COVID-19 virus begins at midnight tonight and ends April 30 so I thought I would document our activities for the next 30 days.  We’ll see how long I can keep it up without getting a little buggy. 
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This morning, I “met” with my BNI (Business Networking International) chapter using a Zoom account. It feels good to still be connected to others even while we are preparing to disconnect and operate from home during this time. I have a feeling we will all become teleconferencing experts before this is all over. But meeting with them did give me some ideas as they all began to explain how they were adapting their varied business models during this pandemic.
Kate and I took what might be our last trip (for a while) to the studio today to determine what we might bring back with us that would be helpful.  Other than cleaning supplies, some coffee pods, and an extra roll of toilet paper, we figured that our two stand-alone devices would be the easiest to relocate.  Moving forward, we will have the ability to scan, crop and color correct 35mm slides and be able to capture and transfer 8mm and Super 8 film all from the safety of our home. Those captured files can be converted to a digital format (mp4) that can be stored on a usb drive. So we will obviously be marketing those services during the next month.
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We can accept new orders by mail or overnight carrier to our home address. We will process those jobs at our home and ship them directly back to our clients. Call for more information.
Our videotape and audio tape transfer service requires multiple machines that are interconnected therefore we did not opt to bring those home with us. However, if I read the governor’s instructions properly, there is nothing to prevent me from leaving my home, traveling alone in my car to my empty studio that is five minutes away to process videotape/audiotape orders as long as I do not come into contact with anyone else. We are working up a no-contact dropoff/pickup protocol. Call us at 352-735-8550 for more information.
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On a personal note, while we are in self-isolation, we’ll be looking for TV watching opportunities. We’ve already blown through Picard season one; discovered and finished the third season of Designated Survivor; finished all episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and there’s no more Downton Abbey on the horizon. I’ll let you know what our next TV guilty pleasure is going to be.
Stay safe. I’ll touch in tomorrow.