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.

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Finding the Key

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As you may know, Kate and I recently returned from a vacation in the UK with our granddaughter. We arrived in London on a Monday morning but could not check into our flat until late afternoon. With nothing scheduled for the day, we dropped our suitcases off at a holding station and looked for something to entertain us.

We walked past the British Museum which was not on our list of sites to visit during our stay so we entered on a whim – without knowing what was contained in their exhibits. It turned out to be a  delightful surprise; especially for someone who makes his living preserving memories.

As we walked through room after room, we became fascinated with the many items of antiquity that were displayed and then we turned the corner to find a rock encased in a glass box. We had rediscovered the Rosetta Stone.

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The stone was originally discovered in 1795 but dates back to 196 BC (nearly 2 centuries before Christ). Engraved on the stone were words from an ancient language… 3 languages to be precise which is what made the discovery so significant. The engraved texts spoke of a decree issued during the reign of Ptolemy V Epiphranes. While the decree was nothing extraordinary, the fact that the same decree was engraved in ancient hieroglyphics, ancient demotic script, as well as ancient Greek gave researchers the ability to finally decipher the lost language of hieroglyphic symbols thereby increasing our understanding of ancient Eygptian life.

History is all around us. You never know where it will turn up. Although, come to think of it, museums would be a fairly obvious place to look.

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.

Globetrotting

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Back when my wife and I were raising children, we had the benefit of having her mom and dad living in the same city as us. Every day after school and every Sunday afternoon our sons could be found at their NanNan and Grandpa’s house. As a result, our boys developed a close and loving bond with their grandparents.

We certainly desired to have a similar relationship with our grandchildren but, like so many other families in today’s world, we were separated from them geographically. We did not have the opportunity of constant or regular contact. So we decided to invent a new family tradition. We asked permission of our kids to be allowed to take their children, one at a time, on a cultural adventure. When a grandchild of ours turns twelve but before they become thirteen, we promised that we would take them on a trip outside of the United States and introduce them to another country and culture of their choosing… a special Papa and Nana trip.

Our eldest grandchild, Morgan, opted for Italy. We spent a glorious fall with her, walking throughout Rome, enjoying paninis and gelato amidst one of the most amazing cities in the world. It was an experience shared just between us and one that we will always treasure.

And now the time has come for her sister, Elle, to have her special trip. She, perhaps influenced by the Harry Potter books she’s been reading, decided that she’d like to see what London is like. So we’re closing our studio for the next ten days while we jaunt off to jolly old England with a side trip to wee bonnie Scotland.

So hold onto your memories until we return. We’ll be back to help you preserve them on August 15th. We’re sure to have some new memories to share with you when we do.

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.

It’s Too Darn Hot

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Summers in Florida have always been unbearable to the uninitiated. Whenever some visitor comes into the studio and makes the statement that he/she is thinking of moving here, I always tell them not to make a final decision until they come back and spend a little time here in August.  That’s the unofficial state residence test… If you can make it through August, Florida is a fine place to live.

But the weather can admittedly be hard to handle which is why I am glad that I have an excuse to leave the state during the summer every year, even if just for a week. The Home Video Studio corporation holds its annual getaway for all the studios operating under their brand in July and August… which are the two hottest and most uncomfortable months of the year here in Florida. So it is often a relief to get away from the Sunshine State for a brief respite during this time.  This year our destination is… Tucson Arizona.

I checked the forecast today. 117 degrees. D’oh!

Good thing it’s a dry heat. If there were any humidity we’d get a third degree burn just walking through the steam in the atmosphere.

In any case, it is sure to be a grand time (spent primarily indoors in the manufactured cool air of the hotel). This post is intended simply to inform that our studio will be closed for a week while we attend our getaway. We’ll try to post any items of interest that may come to our attention during our week away.  Until then, delight yourself with this blast from the past:  Ann Miller singing and dancing to It’s Too Darn Hot from Kiss Me Kate.

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. Please note, we will be closed from July 23 through July 29. We will reopen on Monday July 30.

How To Plan a Successful Family Reunion

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It is that time of year… a lot of families are planning events or joint vacations in order to touch base with their relatives. I have heard many heartwarming stories about events like these but I have also heard some heart wrenching ones.

If you have been saddled with the weighty responsibility of organizing a get-together for your relatives, here are 10 tips on how to plan a successful family reunion from familytreemagazine.com:

  1. Make a plan.  Start by picking a date and location.
  2. Recruit and delegate. No one person can manage all aspects of a family reunion. Surround yourself with capable and enthusiastic committee members.
  3. Create a command center. Keep your records organized. You’ll refer to them often.
  4. Build a budget. Keep your costs down or try to give the family plenty of lead time to budget. Give an idea of the price in the first mailing.
  5. Prepare a back up plan. If it is organized as an outdoor event, know what you will do in case of inclement weather.
  6. Get the word out. Flyers, emails, websites or all of the above. Try to build engagement and a sense of enthusiasm.
  7. Offer something for everyone. Offer a range of activities to meet varied ages and interests.
  8. Start with a bang. Getting everyone involved as they arrive is essential to setting the right    tone.
  9. Share your family’s story. Use the opportunity to make a family photo album (everyone brings pictures and create a page), a book of family stories, a video of reunion footage, or a family recipe book.
  10. Maintain the momentum. After the reunion, plan to keep in touch until the next one.

This blog post idea stemmed from a client who needed me to convert video footage of her family’s home movies so they could be played at their semi-annual family reunion. They have found that their “movie night” is the most popular segment of their time together.  There are now up to 40 family members who attend their reunions regularly and they have home movies that date back 50 or 60 years. Watching them as a group experience brings a certain hilarity that cannot be found anywhere else.

My client plans to purchase paper popcorn sleeves and make a grand time of it. I envy her. Nothing, absolutely nothing, brings a family closer together than the memories they share.

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.

Frozen In Our Tracks

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Now that spring has arrived, I don’t mind telling you that this has been one heck of a winter. Not that I experienced it first hand mind you… I am in Florida after all. But I do have television and access to the Internet so I know what you Northerners have been going through.

I am no stranger to the cold. I grew up in Maryland, just outside of the DC area, and I have seen my share of winter storms. I think the coldest I have ever been in my life was during a father son trip through Pennsylvania and Ohio. I was a junior in high school and needed to narrow down my college choices. My dad and I decided that during my spring break, we would do a road trip and visit nine of the campuses I had picked out as the leading contenders.

To save money, we were determined to camp along the way. We packed the family tent along with some clothes and looked forward to a great bonding time between us.  In retrospect, we probably should have checked the weather forecast.

Somewhere outside of Lewisburg PA where I visited Bucknell University, we decided to make camp. We set up the tent poles, erected the tent, rolled out our sleeping bags and promptly fell asleep. The next morning we awoke, freezing where we lay. The temperature must have dropped some 40 degrees overnight.

There was frost everywhere. In order to get on the road again and back into the warm confines of our Ford Fairlaine station wagon which was our sole means of transport, we had to break camp… which meant collapsing the tent and it’s metal tent poles.

The problem was that, overnight, the metal poles became solidly encased in ice and, due to our lack of foresight, gloves, heavy coats, and a chisel were not among our provisions. We took turns tag-teaming on the poles and then sitting in our car which was running with the heater on.  I must admit, I spent more time in the car than outside of it. Sorry about that Dad.

We finally got the poles collapsed and threw them into the back of the wagon. The next night, after visiting the campuses scheduled for that day, my dad nosed the Fairlaine into the parking lot of a Motel 6. No words were spoken between us. We both just knew… our camping days were over.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio cassettes, los and slides. For more information call 352-735-8559 or visit our website.

 

This do ye, in remembrance of me.

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Trying to remember key events or special moments is nothing new. Regardless of one’s faith, we can all agree that the Bible, which in one form or another, has been around for millennia, always taught that we ought to remember what is important.

In the days of Moses, fathers were exhorted to teach their children the things of God, “speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” In other words, keep on teaching them… always. Why? So their children would learn and, most importantly, remember them.

Jesus took great pains to instruct his followers to use the practice we now know as communion in order to remember his sacrifice and what was accomplished through it. It is a practice that has continued uninterrupted in Christian religions for the last 2,000 years.

Why is it that cultures will build monuments or statues of influential leaders? It is done so future generations might recognize and respect the life and accomplishments of the one being honored. It is done so that others will remember.

Your memories are worthy of remembrance as well. Maybe you didn’t change the world but I can guarantee that the impact of your life reaches well beyond you. And therefore, your memories matter… to someone. They deserve to live on after you are gone.

We can help you with that. Give us a call or pay us a visit. Learn what is available and how you can leave your loved ones with a treasured legacy of your life.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of older media like film, videotapes, audio cassettes, photos and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit http://www.homevideostudio.com/mtd.

 

Our Memories Become History

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I had a client come in yesterday with a request. He recently came back from a trip to the holy land and was meeting that evening with other people – some who were on the trip with him and others who wanted to see what they missed.

His request was simple. Take the photos that were taken during the trip and put them into a Powerpoint presentation that could be displayed during his speech. And as we were going through the photos to choose which ones to include in his presentation, the emotional impact the trip had on him shone through. He is a local minister and during his trip he had the opportunity to stand on the same temple steps where Jesus Christ once stood and deliver the same sermon that Jesus once gave to the people who followed him. It was an experience that will now be etched into his memory forever.

And it did not escape me that a main reason the experience had that impact on him is because the memory of what Jesus did was recorded and preserved for over two thousand centuries.

History is nothing more than memories that have been preserved. We know the acts of Jesus because his words and actions were written down. Since then, languages may have changed but, as they did, the original texts were translated into the new languages. The memories themselves did not die. They were preserved for future generations and future cultures.

We have the ability to do the same. We have been able to record the memories of our lives only to find that technology changed while we were living it. That doesn’t mean our memories are suddenly lost. We can convert our older recorded memories to today’s newer technologies. Our memories can still become tomorrow’s history. We just need to take the steps to ensure they will be preserved.

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.

Our Trip to Umbria

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We had a bit of a stressful day yesterday so my wife and I relaxed in our favorite way… by watching an episode of House Hunters International.  OK, so that’s my wife’s favorite way but after 26 years, I’ve learned to go with the flow.  (Just racking up the husband points. I’m sure they’ll come in handy one day.) Last night’s episode was set in the Chianti region of Italy.

It has been a dream of ours to one day own a property in Italy. We are looking at all the options – and there are so many beautiful areas in this country – but right now I favor the Umbria region, just south of Tuscany. Back in 2012, we spent an amazing vacation in Umbria and fell in love with the rolling hills and the quaint towns and villages that populate the area.

Traversing the roads was quite challenging as you might tell from the footage included below but the views you got when you reached your destination always made you forget the risks taken to get there.

The first time I drove up to our rented house, I jokingly asked the innkeeper if anyone had ever driven off the side of the road. I didn’t expect to get an answer in the affirmative. But I did. Because we were to drive that road for the next two weeks, I chose to withhold that information from my wife.

Our time in Umbria remains one of the highlight vacations of our lives. All the charm of Tuscany with 1/3 of the tourists (of course, your mileage may vary.)

Click here to see a small snippet of video we shot while we were there.

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. 

 

Our Roman Holiday

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I transferred a videotape yesterday that showcased a family’s trip to Rome, Italy. These always contain special memories for me as I’ve been to Rome on no less than three separate occasions (it is one of the benefits/drawbacks that comes from being married to an Italian woman.) The last trip was the most special for me. We brought our 12 year old granddaughter with us to introduce her to the many wonders of the region.

It was her first time beyond our American borders and we wanted to expose her to the history and artistic heritage of a culture that dates back multi-millennia.

It was a special time for both us and our granddaughter and we commemorated it in pictures. I then turned those pictures into a photo video keepsake that we gave it to her so she might always remember the time we spent together during that memorable week.

Here’s a snippet of that keepsake. The music is from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons which was my late father-in-law’s favorite piece of music and on our last night there, we were blessed to be able to go to a musical performance of the piece held in one of the most famous piazzas (city squares) in all of Rome – The Piazza Navona which was built in the 1st century AD.

Preserving memories is what we do at Home Video Studio. We’d love to help you preserve the ones you have made during your lifetime.

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.