The New Normal?

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As the country inexorably moves towards “reopening,” pundits everywhere are offering their opinions on what our new normal will look like. The bottom line… no one really knows.  It will be dependent upon which way the wind blows (and what may be in that wind as it’s blowing.)

At Home Video Studio Mount Dora, we certainly altered our operational protocol to reduce the amount of physical interaction needed to take place while the coronavirus threat was so strong. And in many ways, the changes we developed made us more efficient and allowed us to maximize our time management to a higher degree. So, speaking for ourselves, our new normal will be a continuation of the processes we put in place to keep everyone safe while we continued serving the community during this time.

We are in the studio 6 days a week from 9:30am until 5:00pm but we request that our clients call us to schedule an appointment so we can be sure as to manage the traffic flow in and out of our studio.

Simple drop off and pick up of orders can be conducted curbside. More complex transactions will be handled inside our sanitized studio which will be re-sanitized after every visitor. We will be wearing masks during all face to face interactions and ask all to do the same.

We’ve been doing the above for the past month and have been able to operate without a hiccup. We’re thrilled to be able to continue providing the services that allow our customers to preserve and protect their memories from loss or damage and look forward to the time that we can help you with your next project.

The individual pictured above is famous for saying: “What, me worry?” Like him, we have no reason to be worried. We’re getting through this in fine shape.

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-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-One

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April 22, 2020

It took 21 days but I finally looked into where we got the name quarantine.

Socially distancing contagious people has been around for a long time. There are records in the Bible of people with contagious infections forced to stay outside the city gates. People affected with leprosy, arguably the oldest of human infections, were kept segregated from the rest of the population, in colonies established on remote islands or on mountaintops.

The word itself was coined in the mid 14th century. The bubonic plague, aka The Black Plague, managed to kill one-third of the European population in the space of 3 years. During this time, a law was passed in the Venetian controlled port city of Ragusa (now in Croatia). Called trentino, which means thirty days, this law established a thirty day isolation period for any ship arriving from a plague afflicted area. No one was to board or disembark for those thirty days.

The law was quickly adopted by other cities and within the next hundred years, an additional ten days was added to the isolation and the practice went from trentino to quarantino, hence our English word quarantine.

The United States Congress, in 1878, passed the National Quarantine Act permitting the federal government to act during an outbreak of yellow fever. By 1921, the quarantine system was completely nationalized.

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 Nineteen

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April 21, 2020

You can tell that the days are blurring together. Two days without updating a post and I didn’t even notice. (So if you’re looking for days seventeen and eighteen, they aren’t there.)

But on day nineteen under our stay at home order, we are looking more closely to what our “new normal” will be when our governor lifts the ban and allows us to once again light up our OPEN sign. Here’s what our plan will look like.

Right now, we are going to the studio at the times when someone has made an appointment just to receive or deliver their order. When the stay at home order has been lifted, we will resume our normal operating hours of 9:30 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Saturday. But we will continue to encourage our customers to set appointments so we can better control the flow of people in and out of our studio to avoid people arriving at the same time and having to share our space in close proximity.

Right now, we maintain a six feet distance from people and will continue to do so until signs of the virus are no longer present. We are currently wearing masks while dealing with the public and will continue to do so for their safety and ours.

We still have and will use sanitizing products to keep our studio germ free. Please don’t be offended if you see us wiping down doorknobs and surfaces as you leave. It has become a habit for us and we’re doing it for everyone’s safety.

We hope there will come a day when these stringent health precautions will not be as needed but for right now, it just makes common sense to continue to employ them. I read a meme on Facebook the other day that summed it up. Abandoning safe practices now just because we’ve flattened the curve of the spread is like saying, “Look, the parachute has slowed my descent… guess I don’t need it anymore.”

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 – 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.