SAFER AT HOME – DAY THIRTY-FIVE

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May 7, 2020

We are living during some rather unbelievable times… but nothing that is unique to mankind. I’m not sure who wrote the following, but these words certainly provide a perspective that should give us all pause…

“We probably all think that it’s a mess out there now. Hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.  Many would think that that was a pretty simple time of life. Then on your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war, including many of your friends who volunteered to defend freedom in Europe. 

Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million. On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 38. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.   If you were lucky, you had a job that paid $300 a year, a dollar a day. 

When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet, but don’t try to catch your breath.  If you lived in London, England or most of continental Europe, bombing of your neighborhood, or invasion of your country by foreign soldiers along with their tank and artillery was a daily event.  Thousands of Canadian young men joined the army to defend liberty with their lives.  Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war. 

At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict. On your 62nd birthday there is the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could have ended.  Sensible leaders prevented that from happening. 

In 2020, we have the COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands have died; it feels pretty dangerous; and it is. Now think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you think they survived all of the above?  When you were a kid in 1965, you didn’t think your 65-year-old grandparents understood how hard school was, and how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above. Perspective is an amazing art. Refined as time goes on, and very enlightening. So, let’s try and keep things in perspective.”

Keep your chin up, your mind sharp and remember… we’ve gotten through worse times than this.

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 THIRTY-TWO

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May 4, 2020

There’s a challenge trending on Facebook where people are asked to post the ten most influential albums they listened to growing up. I’m seeing lots of variety but none of the albums that most influenced me.  See, I was never all that into collecting music or developing a musical style or taste. My vinyl influences were of a different genre but they nevertheless greatly helped to shape my personality.  So without further ado…

Number 10: That Was The Year That Was – Tom Lehrer.

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It was a live album recorded at the hungry i in San Francisco, containing performances by Tom Lehrer of satiric topical songs he originally wrote for the NBC television series That Was The Week That Was. I can still remember all the words to “New Math.”

Number 9: An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May.

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A Grammy award winning album that features selected pieces from their Broadway show of the same name. Nichols went on to become an acclaimed Hollywood director (The Graduate, Catch-22. The Birdcage). I performed one of their skits in high school.

Number 8: The Wonderful World of Jonathan Winters.

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Wildly inventive, utilizing improvisational humor, Winters was the Robin Williams of his day. Williams may have been better, but Winters was first.

Number 7: The First Family.

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A good-natured parody of then-President John F. Kennedy. Issued by Cadence Records, The First Family became the “largest and fastest selling record in the history of the record industry. This and Tom Lehrer’s album were my introduction into political humor.

Number 6: My Son, the Nut – Alan Sherman.

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 My Son, the Nut was the last comedy album to hit #1 on the Billboard 200 for over half a century, until “Weird Al” Yankovic’s Mandatory Fun in 2014. The classic “Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah: A Letter From Camp” was cut one on side two.

Number 5: Class Clown – George Carlin.

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 With the Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television, Carlin brilliantly demonstrated how humor can be used to deliver a powerful social message.

Number 4: Pardon my Blooper! – Kermit Shafer.

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 A collection of live radio and television mistakes, usually of an embarrassing nature. A guilty pleasure, it never failed to have me doubled up in laughter, no matter how many times I heard it.

Number 3: To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With – Bill Cosby.

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Regardless of the reprehensible choices he made in his personal life, there is no denying that as a comedic storyteller, there were few in his league.  Spin Magazine once chose this 1968 recording as the greatest comedy album of all time.

Number 2: Mom Always Liked You Best – The Smothers Brothers.

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 The personalities, the banter, the musical talent, they were one of my favorite comedic acts. I loved their TV show as well.

Number 1: The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart.

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This recording won Album of the Year at the 1961 Grammy Awards, where Newhart was named Best New Artist; it was the first comedy album to win Album of the Year and the only time a comedian had won Best New Artist. His delivery probably did more to shape my humor than any other influence. 

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 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.

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.