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.

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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.

 

I Work In a Time Machine

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One of the best things about my business is the environment in which I work. It is kind of like stepping into a time capsule every day. Our studio may not be as snappy as a modified DeLorean fitted with a working  flux capacitor, but it often provides the same effect… we constantly find ourselves going “back to the future.”

This past week we spent a lot of time converting old audio recordings to CDs and mp3s. It was a blast from the past hearing a high school graduation ceremony – class of ’63. The students who graduated that year will be celebrating at their 55th reunion this year. I’m sure they would be mesmerized to hear their thoughts and dreams for the future (now the past) expressed on audiotape so many years ago. Thanks to our work, they’ll be able to.

I also had the pleasure of listening to one of my client’s parents encouraging her to talk while she was just a babe. She now has children of her own and will be going through that process again, this time taking the role of the parent teaching the child.

Time is a treasured commodity at Home Video Studio and a day doesn’t go by that we don’t recognize the importance of the many moments that have been recorded for posterity. There’s a reason we, as a people, do it. And there’s a reason we all keep schlepping boxes of these treasured memories around with us from house to house… even when we no longer have the equipment that can play them.

As the title of my blog says… Memories Matter. And because they do, we stand ready to help you ensure that your recorded memories can stand against the test of time. So instead of keeping all those memories locked away on archaic media that can no longer be accessed, bring them to us and give us the opportunity to deliver your past back to the future.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of 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.

Natural Enemies

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Oil vs Water.

Captain Kirk vs Khan.

Your videotapes or film vs a flood or hurricane.

Some things will never go together.

With hurricane season upon us, we should ask ourselves what, among our possessions, do we want to prioritize should evacuation become necessary? We accumulate a lot of things over a lifetime. What among them could not be replaced should they be damaged by natural forces?

We can build or buy another house, We can buy or lease another car. We can replace most things. We cannot replace two things: The lives of the ones we love; and the memories we have recorded over time. Those two things, which for most of us represent all that is of primary importance in our lives, are irreplaceable.

Most will put the preservation of life as paramount on the “what to save” list. Most of us will also put photo albums, videotape collections, home movies, etc. as a close second. But the reality is… when disaster strikes, there won’t be time to drag 200 pounds of photos, slides, videos, film, etc out of the house. We’d be risking our primary goal (the saving of life) to try to save our secondary goal (the saving of our recorded memories.) As I told my wife, who pointed to a 6 foot cedar chest filled to the brim with slides and photos when I asked her what I should save in case of a fire, “You do realize that this means I’ll be going up with the house…”

There is a better way. We have been blessed to have grown up in an age that allowed us to capture key moments on film or video and to be able to play them back in years to come in order to bring those memories into focus. But the media that was used when we were growing up had limitations – among them the amount of space they took up.

A 1 terabyte hard drive can hold a family’s entire picture history, film history, AND videotape history. And it can fit into someone’s back pocket, allowing the family to save other items in an emergency, like Aunt Sally’s tri-colored comforter or Grandma Betty’s collection of handmade tea cozies.

The reality is this. We don’t know when or if a disaster will strike. But the time to take action is before it arrives. Home Video Studio has a Savers of the Family Archives service that will scan or transfer your precious memories and deliver them back to you on a digital device that can be stored in a safe deposit box or up in the cloud. Should anything ever happen to your original memories, you can rest assured that your digital backup can replicate those memories – sometimes in a better condition than when we first got them.

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.

Mnemonic Me This

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“In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

If you attended school around the same time I did, no doubt you recited that little poem more than once to help your memory during history quizzes.  It’s an example of a mnemonic which is an aide to help bring something to mind. I call them memory pegs or memory triggers. And it is a little embarrassing how many I still use.

Except for February, I simply can’t bring myself to remember how many days are in a particular month unless I first count them down on my knuckles. With your two fists extended in front of you, side by side, start reciting the months. When a month falls on a knuckle, it has 31 days. if it falls between knuckles, it has 30 (or 28).

We probably all use the old “Spring Forward; Fall Back Trick” when it comes time to reset our clocks for Daylight Savings Time.  At least I still do and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

I could never remember which was which – stalagmite or stalactite until I learned this little trick: Stalagmite has a “g” in it because it comes out of the ground. Stalactite has a “c” in it because it hangs from the ceiling.

And finally, I would be incapable of setting a proper table without knowing that utensils with four letters (like fork) are placed to the left (four letters) of the plate while utensils with five letters (spoon, knife) are placed on the right (five letters.)

Our minds being what they are, we would have a hard time remembering anything if it weren’t for these little tricks or memory triggers.  And really, isn’t that why we keep photos, slides, videos and film?  Because they contain the images of memories we don’t want to forget.

Thanks to Home Video Studio, we don’t have to. The obsolete media once used to store memorable images can be transferred to a more current format, bringing your memories into the digital age. 

What mnemonic do you use? Share them here. Something tells me I’ll need all the memory pegs I can find as the years go by.

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.

History Erased… Just Like That

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We had a charming couple from Brazil in the studio yesterday and, as we were chatting, discussion eventually turned to the current events from their homeland. I don’t know if you heard but recently Brazil’s National Museum had a fire and the potential loss of historical artifacts is heartbreaking.

Among the artifacts thought to have been lost include Eygptian mummies, frescoes from Pompeii, and an 11,500 year old skeleton of “Luzia” which was said to have been the oldest human remains in existence from the Americas.

It is hard to capsulate the enormity of the loss of such history except to personalize it. What if it was your house that was on fire? What if there were no time to recover your photo albums, your videotapes or your home movies? What if they were lost in that fire? How much emotional pain would that cause you and your family?

Unfortunately, such things do happen. Which is why we offer the services we do. We make digital copies of the family archives – photos, negatives, slides, videos, film, audio recordings, etc… all can be scanned or transferred to a digital form and stored on a flash drive, a hard drive, a disk, or even a cloud server. So no matter what happens to the original source, there remains a digital back up that can replicate what was lost so future generations can continue to look at, study, and enjoy the images of the past.

What happened to Brazil’s historical past does not have to happen to you or your family. I urge you to consider taking steps that will help you preserve the memories you worked so hard to build.

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.