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.

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Safer at Home – Day Fifteen

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April 17, 2020

One of the orders that was dropped off to my studio today was a large crate filled with U-Matic videotapes.

The U-Matic 3/4 inch videotape cassette, made by Sony, was the very first video format to contain the tape within a cassette. Prior to its creation, all videotapes were designed as an open reel or reel to reel format.

Originally planned for consumer use, it did not prove popular in that market due to its high manufacturing cost which resulted in expensive retail equipment. However, industrial and institutional customers had budgets that could afford this new technology so Sony quickly shifted their marketing to target the industrial, professional and educational sectors where it found widespread popularity.

During the 1970s, most local TV news stations adopted them as a time saving replacement for the 16mm film cameras which were being used for on-location news gathering. Since the videotape had immediate playback capabilities as opposed to 16mm film which required development, news stations were able to broadcast their breaking news stories much faster.

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.

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 – Day Thirteen

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April 15, 2020

If one has the time… and these days that is probably the safest assumption one can make… it might be beneficial to do a little light reading by studying what has been written about the closest historical event that compares to our current reality: the Spanish Influenza of 1918.

George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Kurt Vonnegut retorted, “I’ve got news for Mr. Santayana: we’re doomed to repeat the past no matter what. That’s what it means to be alive.”  But perhaps Mark Twain had the best take on this philosophical debate when he explained, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

I’d like to believe that we can learn from the past and take actions to prevent a reoccurrence but, on the other hand, we can certainly see that we, as a species, do tend to make the same mistakes over and over again.

The reports of the Spanish Flu are indeed sobering and as we hear of contemporary reports of officials making plans to “reopen” our country it should give us pause to consider that the second wave of the influenza of 1918 proved to be far deadlier than the first.

Here’s an article from the Smithsonian Magazine that provides a decent overview of the events of that time.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/journal-plague-year-180965222/

100 years from now, when people are reading about this time in history, I pray that they will find comfort and strength in the stories that will be written about how we dealt with it.

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 Ten

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April 12, 2020

The world was given a gift this Easter Sunday, compliments of Andrea Bocelli and YouTube. Kate and I, along with apparently 3.5 million others, watched as the internationally known Italian singer live-streamed a mini-concert from the incomparable setting of the Duomo di Milano.

In the concert, dubbed #MusicforHope, Bocelli sang a series of well known classical religious songs including Ave Maria, Sancta Maria, and Domine Deus standing near the altar of the empty cathedral. While he was singing, the camera often would cut away to street scenes from Milan, London, New York among others. Normally teeming with humanity, these cities showed streets virtually devoid of human life as the corona virus has forced people around the world to change their daily habits.

For his last song, Bocelli ventured out in front of the magnificent facade to sing Amazing Grace to a cathedral square where thousands would normally have been found.  This day, he was alone. And yet his voice was heard by millions who were touched and moved. It just goes to show… one man can make an impact… and a difference.

The Andrea Bocelli Fund is using this concert to help raise money for hospital emergency resources and protective gear. Italy has lost 19,500 citizens to this virus with over 150,000 confirmed cases.

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 Nine

April 11, 2020

Sometimes, it is just the little things. Small gestures of appreciation that touch the heart and lift the spirit.

At some point during the day, Kate and I noticed a box sitting on our front porch. We weren’t notified as to its arrival… we had no idea it was there nor who had send it… we certainly weren’t expecting it.

After scrubbing the box down with every cleanser known to man, we finally opened it. Here’s what we found:

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It was a box of customized cookies from a vendor to just say thank you for our business during this global pandemic. I can’t imagine it cost more that a few dollars for that vendor to send but the cleverness of the design… the thoughtfulness of the gift… and the tastiness of the cookie… it was a priceless gift. Kudos to the sender. We are thankful and look forward to a long and profitable relationship. Not because of the cookies but because of the thought behind them.

It is certainly a lesson for the rest of us. The little things that we do can often leave a big impression in the hearts of those we meet.

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 Eight

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April 8, 2020

We stream watched an excellent movie last night. 1917, directed by Sam Mendes, won a number of Oscars including Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins…and deservedly so.

It is rather a simple tale of two soldiers who must cross enemy territory in order to prevent an attack which would result in a massacre of allied forces. But it isn’t just the riveting story line that makes this film so immensely watchable. The manner in which the film was shot is just as important if not more so. Envisioned by Mendes and executed by Deakins, 1917 tells its narrative as a single continuous shot. Opening on the two soldiers, Blake and Schofield, the camera stays on them relentlessly as it follows them through the WWI hell they traverse in order to deliver their life-saving message.

By using this method, Mendes ratchets up the tension and sense of urgency by giving the audience an immersive experience. We get the sense of walking through no man’s land with them, seeing only what they can see, not knowing what dangers lie around the corner or over the hillside until they cross that threshold. Their only response to the horrors they view and the challenges they meet is to keep forging ahead toward their ultimate goal.

It’s a great reminder as we continue to wage our current battle against this invisible viral enemy we are facing.  Watching the death toll that keeps mounting; hearing of the heart-wrenching struggles of those afflicted and their families; feeling the increasing boredom of isolation; knowing the growing fatigue and frustration of the healthcare workers… it is all real and is impacting each of us as we navigate through this time. But there is only one response we can have. To keep moving forward, looking to the future and the victory that will await us there.

“One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13b-14 (Amplified Bible)

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.