DEAR SUN SPOTS: We have 10 new VHS tapes (Maxell or Sony) in their original packaging to give to anyone who can use them. Call 353-6971.

— Irene, no town

DEAR SUN SPOTS: A while back, there was a story in the newspaper that featured tree houses. One had a whirlpool tub overlooking a river. I misplaced it and am hoping you can locate the name and phone number of the place.

— No name, New Sharon

ANSWER: The story about the Josh Ring family living in a treehouse they built on the border of the White Mountain National Forest in Stoneham was written by Christopher Cross and published July 19, 2015. Here is a link if you want to read it in its entirety: Since that time, they have built three tree houses, from quite grand to rustic, and a disc golf course. The Grand Oak sleeps eight and has a Jacuzzi tub. You can reach them at TimberStone Adventures Inc., 859 Maine St., Stoneham, Maine 04231. Telephone number: 928-2110, and website is

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Do you know an address where I can write to order motion pictures? I have a nephew who adores Charlie Chaplin. I would like to order his black-and-white, silent films or the recent color film of his life. Thank you. You provide a wonderful service for the community.

— No name, Lewiston

ANSWER: Charlie Chaplin created more than 80 movies. Many have been restored and can be seen free on YouTube, including “Triple Trouble,” “The Vagabond,” “The Fireman” and “The Kid.” The easiest way to buy the movies is to order DVD sets and the documentary “Charlie Chaplin: His Life and Work” through Amazon. If you do not have access to a computer or the Internet, ask a friend or relative to help you with this. There is a list of movies from which you can choose

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Why is closed captioning so garbled up? Where does it originate?

— No name, Waterford

ANSWER: I have often wondered where closed captioning comes from. Since the early 1970s, closed captioning has helped those with hearing impairments enjoy movies and television. In a perfect world, skilled caption writers transcribe, time and place a program’s entire script into a special computer using special software. Editors add or change information to give viewers a full sense of the events occurring on screen. Finally, as the last step in a complicated process that can take up to 30 hours for a one-hour program, the captions are encoded as data into the program’s video.

With a live broadcast, the skills of a stenographer are paired with computer technology. Stenographers type words as they are spoken, producing captions that are broadcast simultaneously with the program. Some news programs use automated electronic newsroom systems to create captions, which is less expensive than using stenographers.

 Unfortunately, more computer translation is being used for today’s closed captioning. This method lacks the human touch and does not keep up with rapid speech or understand accents, so more mistakes are made. There is a demand for better closed captioning and improvements are in the works.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we will not use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]

the imaginative conservative photo

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.