Cover Fire

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2020 has to be the weirdest year ever. As one TV pundit put it, “It’s like we’re living through the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, the 1929 Great Depression, and the 1968 social unrest… all at the same time.”

Yesterday, in our quaint little community of Mount Dora, we were placed under curfew in response to the rioting taking place across the country. The word curfew is of French origin, derived from an Old French phrase “couvre-feu” which literally means “cover fire.” It was in reference to a 11th century law enacted by William the Conqueror which instructed people to cover or put out lights and fires at 8pm to help prevent the threat of spreading flames within and between the wooden buildings of their communities.

The flames that are currently burning in the hearts of so many; flames that are resulting in the wanton destruction of property and the putting of innocents in harms way – it is hard to imagine they would ever spread to my little town but I suppose stranger things have happened.

I understand the anger and the distrust so many feel. I don’t understand the violence and destruction taking place. I simply don’t see how that helps anybody’s case. True change, if that’s what people are seeking, will never come from external forces or pressure. It can only start from within. We must change ourselves first. Change the way we act; change the way we react; change the way we view people. We look in the mirror and make the deliberate choice to become the person we want others to be. If enough of us do that and, by leading from example, encourage others to follow, perhaps we’d be on the way to building a world that doesn’t provide us with so many cringe-worthy or heartbreaking moments.

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 Sixteen

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April 18, 2020

A friend of mine is spending some of his safer-at-home time in the kitchen, creating little culinary masterpieces for he and his wife. He posts pictures of his dinner plates nightly, challenging others to do the same. It’s a fun little game and one way to stay connected with others. Last night, I posted a picture of our meal but I cheated.

My wife and I have made the decision to add our support to the local restaurants of our little town by purchasing take-out meals from them. If enough of us add our patronage to their businesses, they stand a better chance of surviving this time of social distancing.

Our picturesque town of Mount Dora, especially our charming downtown area, could be America’s poster town for small business. You won’t find national chain stores along our tree-lined streets. What you will find are mom and pop shops providing unique wares and services to our community and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each year to enjoy what we’ve managed to build upon over the last 140 years.

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As the glue that holds our small businesses together, our restaurants provide our visitors with a wide choice of dining options from which to choose as they spend their day exploring our town. Food from around the world: Asian, Indian, Thai, Mexican, German, Italian, Cuban, English, Peruvian and American specialties among others offered in just as many varied settings from casual to fine dining can all be enjoyed here. And it wasn’t unusual to see our sidewalks, stores and restaurants filled with just as wide an assortment of people who have come to Mount Dora to shop, play, and eat.

Coronavirus has temporarily put a stop to that. Our little town is on hold right now. And because mom and pop shops are not known for having deep pockets, this time is especially hard on them.

Anything we can do to help support them during this time would be most appreciated. An easy support is to purchase meals from the restaurants who have converted their business models to a takeout and delivery service. Dining in will eventually return but until then, this brings them a revenue stream to keep them going.

Last night’s meal was purchased from Copacabana Cuban Cafe. Delicious and made for an attractive place setting. We treated it as a “stay at home date night.” We encourage others to do the same.

Here’s a list of Mount Dora restaurants who could use your support. You’ll see some chain restaurants on this list which are located outside of the quaint downtown area.

https://www.restaurantji.com/fl/mount-dora/

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 Fourteen

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April 16, 2020

Like millions of other small business owners affected by the coronavirus pandemic, I dutifully filled out the forms provided by the banks and government to apply for the PPP forgivable loan. And like most others, have been waiting for the arrival of the financial help that was promised.

It turns out that, for me, the old adage proves true: “There’s no such thing as free money.” I’ve learned that we are not eligible for the small business stimulus program because my wife and I (as co-owners and the only employees of our business) do not draw a salary from our studio. Most of our profits are reinvested into our company. Over the year, we do take out a modest sum via a shareholder distribution but we’ve learned this is not eligible for the PPP.

We have submitted for the EIDL which is another government sponsored program but even less information is available on the status of that application and I’m not holding my breath for it. But I’m not concerned and I’m sure you might ask me why.

It is because, unlike Blanche DuBois from The Streetcar Named Desire, I’ve never depended on the kindness of strangers. In fact, I find they disappoint more often than not. Instead, I trust in God and find support from the friends and community to which I’m connected. And they’ve been stepping up big time.

Throughout the week, I have heard from customers for whom I’ve done work in the past who have let me know of films, videos and slides they have discovered during their time “staying-at-home” and they have gone out of their way to drop them by the studio, providing us with enough revenue to cover our expenses; and enough work to keep us occupied during this unusual time. I remind myself that they didn’t “need” to find work for us. They didn’t need to spend money with us at this time converting old memories to a digital form. I’d like to think that they wanted to. They wanted to support our small enterprise and we are very thankful.

At the end of the day, our government is not what is going to help small businesses survive this economic pandemic. It’s going to come from the communities which they serve. We’ll get by with a little help from our friends.

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

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.

Bombs Away!

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I enjoy where I live. It’s a modest but inviting home situated atop an elevated plain overlooking the rolling hills of a conservation area (unusual to find in the normally flat landscape of Florida). The rolling hills are to my east which give me some spectacular sunrises. There’s a wooded area to the north so it gives the illusion of solitude within the confines of a middle class community. It could be darn near perfect… if it wasn’t for the howitzers and machine gun fire.

I should explain. On the other side of that wooded area is a large plot of land owned by an antique center. On their property, along with the antiques and flea markets they operate, they feature various events of interest to a select crowd. This weekend it was the WWII arms and ammunition show. At eight this morning we were greeting by a barrage of incoming fire that would put Patton to shame.

And that isn’t the only event that features assault weapons. They hold an annual Civil War reenactment of the fictitious battle of Townsend’s Plantation. And I learned something… 19th century cannon fire is every bit as loud as the 20th century guns of WWII.

But just when I have gotten used to the firepower, from those rolling hills comes the unmistakable war chants of an Indian tribe. That would mean it’s time for the Thundering Spirit Family Pow Wow. Those chants last all day for three days. Or so it would seem.

Most of the other events that are scattered throughout the years aren’t as audibly invasive – The Steampunk Show, the Cars and Guitars Swap meet, the RV and Antique Cars Show. There’s a certain charm to these events and it is nice to see people share their interests. I only wish they could do it a few dozen decibels lower.

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, visit our website, or stop by our studio now located at 930 N Donnelly St Mount Dora FL 32757.

The Bells Are Ringing

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Church bells ring for all sorts of reasons: Call to worship; special celebrations; or alarms to alert citizens of impending storms or attacks. Church bells have been rung both to commemorate a marital union as well as to ward off devilish attacks. The first record of a church bell used in such fashion took place in AD 400 (some 1620 years ago) and it has grown in popularity ever since.

Suffice it to say that residents of any small town with a church possessing a bell tower have become accustomed to hearing the regular chime of its tones. So whenever a small town’s bells become silent, people take notice.

When the First Congregational Church in Mount Dora (which is the oldest structure in our downtown area, having been built in 1883) discovered its bell tower was in such a state of disrepair that it required the discontinuation of its ringing, the church leaders immediately put out a call to action. Setting up a GoFundMe site, it requested the help of the community it served to try to raise the funds needed to repair the bell tower.

Our small town community responded in spades. Aided by a matching grant from our local Community Trust, we were able to quickly raise the funds needed to effect the repairs and get our bell ringing again.

There are small stories and there are big stories. But small stories can often make a big impact. The chiming of a neighborhood church bell is no small matter. We sometimes don’t realize how important it is until we no longer hear it. Because it can  and does serve as a unifying force. It reminds us that we are all part of the same community. This may sound corny but it is a message we would all do well to heed. We need to keep the bells ringing… not only in Mount Dora… but also in our own hearts.

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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 information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

AARRRrrrr!

 

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It’s Pirate Week in Mount Dora.  This is a relatively new thing – a town promotion attaching itself to the success of our popular Seafood Festival, now entering its 3rd year. 

I’m finding that one of the unwritten laws of being a merchant in a small town, you kinda have to go with the flow.  It’s Pirate week… so guess who’s dressing up as a pirate? Hint: It’s not my wife.

I have been wracking my brain searching for pirate memories that I might use for this blog but I keep coming up empty. Is it possible that I’ve never, in my life, had a pirate experience that was strong enough to create a recallable memory?

I don’t remember ever dressing up as a pirate for Halloween. Cowboys, yes. Hobos… done that. But I’ve never been a pirate.

I’ve acted in over 50 different theatrical productions and have played various characters originating from many different cultures: a Chinese grandfather, an Indian warrior, Frankenstein’s monster, a WWII fighter pilot, even a Star Fleet captain… but never a pirate.

But merchant responsibilities being what they are, I begrudgingly agreed to put on the eye patch.

I have to tell you… I can feel the pirate swagger. Maybe it’s the clip on earring… or perhaps it’s the Seinfeld puffy shirt… but whatever the cause… there’s definitely a vibe happening.

If you happen to be in the Mount Dora area this weekend, I hope you’ll enjoy all the activities at our Seafood Festival and please drop by the studio for a quick selfie with Captain Mike.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of 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.

Forever Lighting The Way

Today’s blog is a repost taken from The Real Estate Reporter and ERA Grizzard Real Estate. Thanks for the history reminder.

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Set against the backdrop of the Harris Chain of Lakes, Mount Dora is a historical city that dates back to 1846. Nestled along the shores of its namesake lake is arguably the city’s most iconic landmark, the Mount Dora Lighthouse. 

The Mount Dora Lighthouse was built to serve as a navigational aid for boaters and water enthusiasts. Sitting along the edge of Lake Dora on Grantham Point, the lighthouse guides boaters along the shoreline to local boat ramps at Gilbert Park and Simpson’s Cove as well as the Mount Dora Marina.

Those who call Mount Dora home have grown to know the lighthouse as one the most recognizable and beloved landmarks in the city. 

The Story Behind the Lighthouse

Boasting some of the largest lakes in Florida, the Harris Chain of Lakes is an area treasured for its natural beauty as well as the ideal destination for boating and fishing. This chain includes Lake Dora – the lighthouse’s home.

These interconnected lakes were an important draw for the area’s first settlers and remain a fisherman and boater’s paradise today. Encompassing 4,475 acres, Lake Dora is one of the largest bodies of water in the area and therefore has become a prime location for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year. 

Its origins  stem from local fisherman and boaters who were finding it difficult to travel from nearby Tavares to Mount Dora in the dark. Civic leaders and members of the community took this need to heart and began researching ways to alleviate this issue. 

With an appeal to members of the community, over $3,000 was raised to erect this 35-foot lighthouse that stands watch over the Port of Mount Dora. Open since March 25, 1988, the Mount Dora Lighthouse was built using a brick base and a stucco outer surface.

Powered by a 750-watt photocell, the lighthouse utilizes a blue pulsator to help guide boaters around Lake Dora after dusk and stands as the only inland freshwater lighthouse in Florida today. Its trademark look was created using alternating stripes of red and white paint as well as a white hexagonal lantern. 

Today’s Beloved Icon

Visitors are encouraged to walk along Grantham Point and enjoy its spectacular views. Referred by locals as “Lighthouse Park,” this area is a short walk from the quaint streets of downtown Mount Dora and is ideally situated next to Gilbert Park and Simpson’s Cove.

Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll around the point and follow a pathway to the nearby Palm Island Park Boardwalk. This stretch of boardwalk offers picturesque views back to the lighthouse, particularly when the sun is setting.

Residents of Mount Dora treasure their beloved lighthouse and celebrate its history and beauty with events held during the year. A boat parade kicks off the holiday season with local boat owners displaying an array of lights and decor as they cruise along Grantham Point and the Mount Dora Lighthouse.

On New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July, the Mount Dora Lighthouse comes alive as fireworks light up the sky along Grantham Point. Regattas and boat races are also a regular event along the waters of Grantham Point, offering scenic vistas of the sailboats as they pass this iconic lighthouse.

From reminding us of the city’s historic past to holding a special place in our hearts today, the Mount Dora lighthouse is just one piece of what makes calling this city home so special. 

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of 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.