Long Live LaserDisc

And now I’ll post randomly about my latest, ridiculously dorky, hobby. Complete with shakycam videos!
While most of the masses were watching movies on VHS tapes, that you had to rewind and fast-forward around, the well-off and the technically inclined were quietly enjoying something far, far superior…
LaserDiscs could do 400 lines of resolution (in NTSC) while VHS could do only 250. It offered multiple audio tracks, including the capability for digital surround sound (5.1 channel DTS or AC-3, if you have a decoder — which, of course, I do), while VHS was analog stereo only. Most of the later discs were Widescreen, while most VHS were Pan-and-Scan.
DVD, by comparison, can do 500 lines of resolution, although it uses digital compression on the video which creates some artifacts, most DVDs still look sharper than analog LaserDiscs subject to noise over the composite (or s-video connection) particularly if you’re using component cable with your DVD player. DVDs support up to 8 tracks of audio at up to 96khz (typically 48kh), while LaserDiscs have 3 tracks (but accomplish up to 4 by using seperating the two analog stereo channels for different purposes, like a director’s commentary) with the digital audio track at 44khz.
LaserDiscs were the first to offer advanced features like chapters, freeze frame, frame-by-frame and special features, although many of these features were only available on CAV discs (or some on CLV on a newer player) which provided only about a half-hour of video on each side of the disc. CLV discs were an hour per side. Most recent LaserDisc players had two-side play, which meant you only had to change discs for longer movies. DVDs of course, hold up to 2 hours per side — and yes, they did make some two-sided DVDs.
In my experience, when run through an up-converter and audio decoder to a modern home theater, LaserDiscs sound incredible, look good compared to DVD (although obviously not compared to BluRay — or HD-DVD) and are fun to watch and collect. They offer one distinct advantage: they defy revisionist history. You get to see the movie as it was originally made, not the horrific after-thought editing that’s been applied to some of the classics.
Here are three crudely shot videos (moved to still pictures for long-term archiving) that illustrate the difference. Unfortunately shot on two different TVs, one a plasma with a pretty high gloss, the comparison isn’t entirely fair: the DVD is a remastered version, and the VHS is a 4:3 pan-and-scan. The LaserDisc is an ultimate collectors edition, unaltered from the original release. Guess which format my son will see Star Wars on first? The one where Han shot first

The Atomic Family

One of the obvious challenges of a big move is the lack of relationships around your new home. There’s really no way to directly control this one: no amount of prep time, budgeting or planning can cause friendships to occur. You just have to keep showing up, putting in the time, and be patient. I know from experience that friendship are natural and organic — you’d have to work to avoid them.
That said, we sure see a lot of value in having a self-contained, atomic family unit. Within our (figurative) four walls, we can provide a lot for each other. Our kids are an endless source of delight, wonder and joy. Nicole and I compliment each other well, both in skills/natural strengths and weaknesses and in function. As fast as I was required to get up to speed on my new job, Nicole has been required to establish a home and stable place of safety and peace for the family. She has done so very successfully, and we were able to launch our two oldest kids into schooling experiences that they are thriving in, in the short time we had to solve that. And the new part of the world we call home offers lots of wonderful things to see and discover as a family. Two weekends ago, we rode the ferry to Bainbridge Island, had a picnic and explored together. This past weekend, we hiked in the woods near a waterfall, and rode the Snoqualmie Railroad to some breathtaking views.
Being a part of a church helps too, and reminds us that we are a part of a larger family: one that spans the globe and gives us something instantly in common with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Last week we became members at a little church plant, where we will get to serve along-side fellow believers from various backgrounds and with different stories to learn and learn from. This time, though, we have to be little more inward in our service — as much as we’ve loved serving long and often at the churches we’ve been a part of in the past, our primary ministry right now is to our young kids, and with the severely limited free time my job offers, we are doing our best to keep their growing spiritual lives in focus.
And even with church and small group and folks we’ve met in our day-to-day routines, it is still lonely being somewhere new. We have great neighbours, and I have great co-workers that have been welcoming and kind, but at the end of the day (literally) its just the 5 of us right now, and sometimes it would be nice to have some of our friends from back home here with us — someone to sit in the hot tub and chat with late into the night!!
That’s why we’re delighted that my brother, sister and brother-in-law are coming next weekend for a Thanksgiving visit! We’re looking forward to catching up and showing them around. We’ve also scraped together enough funds to ship all 5 of us back home at the start of November to visit friends and family there — a brief trip for me, but a nice re-grouping time for Nic and the kids. We are incredibly blessed to have a beautiful new home to grow into, and I know we’ll develop some great friendships here eventually. But we are even more blessed to have such wonderful and supportive families and friends back home, and around the world, who can always walk through life with us.