Extraordinary Stories

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Thursday, May 31, 2012

The "Bloggin' A Story" Story

It was an ordinary day. Talking with a friend who reads my blog and he asked where I get my stories to write every day and how long does it take to write them. Told him it's kind of like the one episode on the Seifeld show when Jerry says, "What'd you do today," and when the reply was, 'I got up and went to work,' Jerry replied, "That's a story."  Kinda like what I do.  Head to the Chesapeake Bay for lunch and ...... well, that's a story.  Take a day excursion with one of my grandkids,  that's another story.  Well, first of all I enjoy typing stories more than I enjoy watching TV, except when the Phillies or Dancing With The Stars is on.  Some days I type a few stories and keep them 'on ice' until I need one on a day I don't feel like typing. As far as how long it takes to type one, it all depends on what I am typing. When I get items from friends as emails that are interesting and entertaining, I sometimes just turn them right around and use them for a story. They may take a half hour to complete. Then there are some stories that I may take a few days to write. Couple of years ago I did a story on baseball in the Dominican Republic. Took some time to research articles and stats online for that one. Then the one I wrote on Oyster Pond Yacht Club in Sint Maarten a few years ago took several weeks to complete. I made numerous phone calls, sent numerous emails and even wrote a few snail mail letters to people who had some first hand knowledge about the place and had no email address. When our family gets together for a picnic or a party, I usually have my camera ready and take notes when the stories start to fly about ...."do you remember when we did ...". Then I have to go through boxes of old photos to see if I have any that would help tell the story better. I once had someone tell me that they like my blog stories so much better when I put photos in them. I now have a story 'on ice' that I wrote in March of 2011. At the time I was running out of ideas and wrote a farewell story to end the blog. Luckily didn't have to use it yet. As of this moment, I have maybe two dozen stories typed with photos 'on ice', ready for publication. So I could go on vacation for close to a month and not have to do any typing except for adding a new "old" story daily. I do have to make sure that the stories that have a specific date for them are published in a timely manner, or they make no sense at all. So, if I question you from time to time in person about .... "do you remember when" .... I'm probably going to write a story about that, so watch what you say! I also bought a small digital tape recorder that fits in my pocket so I don't have to take notes or try to remember what people mention to me.  So, hang on, since I haven't run out of ideas and stories yet!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - this story took 12 minutes to write, and I have no photos to put with it.  Sorry!

The "Flying Through The Eye Of The Storm" Story

It was an ordinary day. There was a really big plane that landed at Princes Juliana International Airport (PJIA) in Sint Maarten the other day. A US Airforce C-130. The C-130 is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport aircraft. The versatile airframe has found uses in a variety of other roles, including as a gunship for airborne assault, search and rescue, scientific research support, weather reconnaissance, aerial refueling, maritime patrol and aerial firefighting. The reason it landed at PJIA was to allow school children a first-hand look at the aircraft which is now being used to hunt hurricanes. How impressive would that be if you were a school student of any age. Walking into the belly of this massive plane would impress anyone no matter what age. The 25-man crew arrived in Sint Maarten as part of a USA-Caribbean Hurricane Awareness Tour. The tour will hopefully build a bond between the meteorological Department of St. Maarten and the USA National hurricane Center. They hope to let everyone know what the "Hurricane Hunter" does and the different services that they can provide as they fly through a storm. The data that is gathered during their hurricane reconnaissance will allow St. Maarten, and all the islands throughout the Caribbean, to learn the strength and direction that it is traveling. The members of the "Hurricane Hunter" explained that only five people - two pilots, a navigator, weather officer and a weather loadmaster - are needed for a standard reconnaissance when investigating storms. If the mission would take more than eight hours, an extra pilot would be included. The US Airforce has ten "Hurricane Hunter" C-130s that can be deployed when a storm is beginning to form. The National Hurricane Center will send the C-130 to investigate whether the winds are blowing in a counterclockwise rotation therefore indicating a “closed system”. This mission is flown from 500 - 1500 feet above the ocean surface; the plane will constantly monitor the ocean waves in order to determine the wind speed and direction from the sea state. The low-level wind and pressure fields will provide an accurate snapshot for the Hurricane Center Forecasters. This particular plane that landed at PJIA departed from Mississippi, landing in Miami to pick up personnel from the National Hurricane Center, then stopped in Mexico and Costa Rica before arriving in Sint Maarten. The planes stop on different islands each year to build hurricane awareness throughout the Caribbean. I am amazed that a plane as large as the C-130 can penetrate a tropical storm or hurricane, or even land on some of the Caribbean runways. Here's hoping that they can alert any island that may be in the path of a tropical storm or hurricane before life is in danger. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The "Heading Back to the Future" Story

LDub's "Kodak Moment
It was an ordinary day.  Getting my camera ready for a "Kodak Moment" I'm taking this weekend of my Aunt Lois and Uncle John and their family for a 50th anniversary gift.  Have an extra battery ready for the camera, have the polarizing filter ready in case I need it, have the tripod ready in case I need a steady support and have my auxiliary flash ready in case my built-in flash isn't enough to light the portraiture.  Photography has certainly come a long way since February 1900 when Kodak declared "Any school-boy or girl can make good pictures."  This was part of an ad for the Brownie box camera they were selling.  Quite a claim for the unwieldy equipment, arcane chemistry, and extravagant expense of 19th century photography.  Granted, the camera sold for only $1 and was preloaded with film, but could certainly come no where close to the professional equipment and quality of today.  What Kodak did manage to do was nurture photography as a social activity.  They sold 150,000 Brownies in that first year and within a decade nearly a third of Americans owned a camera.  The Kodak mania only intensified when they introduced a folding pocket model that could print photos directly onto penny postcards.  More than 677 million postcards were mailed in 1907.  Shared experiences no longer had to be experienced together.  Pretty neat, huh.  The world today is going through another "Kodak Moment" with the cell phone camera.  The quality you can achieve with the iPhone camera certainly isn't as good as my DSLR camera, but that is secondary to the social aspect of instant communication much the same way as it was in the early 1900s with the Brownie.  The free app Instagram doubled its audience to 27 million users in the first three months of 2012, thus facilitating effortless sharing of images.  Instagram is a full-fledged social network with users sharing and commenting on one another's images.  Photos are the quickest way to grasp information and I suspect George Eastman realized that when he developed the Brownie camera.  It's been said that our brains have evolved to be more than 30% visual cortex.  Even in Afghanistan, our soldiers are using smartphone photography to communicate memories back home.  Do you think Eastman had any idea that photography would be as social as it is today?  In 1975 a Kodak engineer by the name of Steve Sasson build the world's first portable digital camera by using parts from a Super-8 movie camera and a cassette player.  Colleagues wondered who would want to look at photos on a TV.  That was as far as Kodak progressed in the photography field.  The company that was an innovator for over a century got stuck in the status quo and today stands for nostalgia.  My gosh, there is even an app that can take digital photos and make them look like they were shot with a Brownie.  Taking us back to the the future!  Will it never end?  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The "Happy Trails to You" Story

LDub in his Roy Rodgers outfit
It was an ordinary day.  The end of an era, since The Roy Rodgers Museum in Branson, MO has closed its doors forever.  Actually the end of an era for quite a few of us who remember the cowboys and cowgirls of yesteryear.  Gene Autrey, Cisco Kid, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Sky King, Hopp-a-long Cassidy, and Roy and Dale Rogers.  I'm sure you could add a few to the list, but I think you get the idea of the era I'm referring to.  It is extremely sad to see the era lost forever to video games and violent movies.  But, I guess you could make a case for the cowboy era as being as violent as the current era.  These were the great heroes of my childhood who I tried to simulate over and over again when I played cowboys with my friends in the neighborhood.  They actually taught morals and made it easier for parents to raise their kids.  I guess I was born at the right time when honor and patriotism were taught by TV heroes and I was able to learn that lying and cheating were bad.  Learned how to suffer through disappointment and failure and work through it with my heroes and my life was drug free.  Oh, for the good ole days.  The Museum I mentioned was closed and the contents sold, since the museum was starting to operate at a loss and Roy told his son if that ever was the case, close it.  Some of the items sold were Roy's 1964 Pontiac Bonneville with the horns coming out of the grill ($254,500), Roy's script book from the January 14, 1953 episode of "This Is Your Life" ($10,000), Trigger's saddle and bridle ($386,000), one of Roy's shirts ($16,250), one of his cowboy hats ($17,500), a set of Roy's boot spurs ($10,625), a signed baseball from Don Larsen to Roy from Don's perfect World Series Game in 1953 ($2,500), Roy and Dale's dinner ware and silverware ($11,875), the Bible they used at dinner every night ($8,750), one of Roy's guitars ($27,500), "Nellybell," the Jeep seen on his shows ($116,500), painting of Roy, Dale, Pat, Buttermilk, Trigger and Bullet ($10,625), a black and white photo of Gene Autry to Roy from Gene ($18,750), stuffed horse Buttermilk which was Dale's horse ($25,000), stuffed Bullet ($35,000), Dale's parade saddle ($104,500), pair of Roy's cowboy boots ($21,250) and a stuffed Trigger ($266,500).  Yep, certainly a sad day for all of us who have only the memories to hold onto anymore.  It was a great ride through our childhood, wasn't it.  HAPPY TRAILS MY FRIENDS.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Roy Roger's Museum in Branson, MO
Roy's Pontiac Bonneville
Signed photo of Roy and Trigger
Nellybelle which appeared in many of the Roy Roger's shows.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The "Time Marches On" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Heading home from the Colemanville United Methodist Church in Southern Lancaster County where I went to pay my respects to the family of a fellow shop teacher, Charlie Graby, who died a few days ago.  Pretty little church tucked into the rolling hills near the Pequea Creek.  Off in the distance is their church cemetery which is meticulous groomed. I visited with the family before the church service so I could get a chance to talk with them.  Last night I called my Uncle John, who lives a few miles from the church in Mt. Nebo to get directions.  He asked me why I was going to the church and I told him about the death of Charlie.  He said, "Oh yeah, I read about that in the paper.  Did you know that Mary Lou was my cousin?"  I had no clue.  "Mary Lou was your cousin?" I responded.  "Yeah, I have lots of cousins throughout the hills down here.  Mary Lou was Charlie's wife.  Well, when I arrived I was shown into the church, signed my name in the remembrance book, and followed the line to the the front of the church where the family was lined across the altar rail, greeting everyone.  I imagine there will be lots and lots of visitors to share their condolences, since Charlie had a big family and was well-liked by many.  I introduced myself first to Charlie's oldest son and shared a story or two about Charlie and me and then followed down the line doing the same with his other two sons and his daughter.  One son told me I looked almost like his dad. Pretty neat compliment, really.  When I finally approached Mary Lou, whom I haven't seen in ages, she said, "Hi Larry.  It was nice of you to come."  "You remembered me?" I said.  She replied, "Sure."  We talked for a short time and then she said to me, "I wasn't ready for him to go, but I had no choice."  I could see the sorrow in her face, but she is a strong woman and with her family and friend's help, she will make it through this ordeal.  Talked with Hal, a friend and former shop teacher, who was with his wife Jeannie and had been waiting for me in a pew nearby, and then we walked to the lower level of the church to view a few of Charlie's wood-working pieces that he had recently made.  I said my good-byes to Hal and Jeannie as we left the parking lot to head home.  Charlie and I started teaching at Manheim Township the same year.  I was hired to teach in the high school while Charlie was hired to teach in the middle school.  We had similar stories to tell about our start in the Manheim Township School District.  I had taught at York Eastern High School and was tired of the long drive every day and had my brother talk to his basketball coach who just happened to be the department chairman of Industrial Arts in the district.  Had the job the next day.  Charlie had taught in Southern Lancaster Co. at Solanco High School  and his father-in-law, Mary Lou's father, was the grounds superintendent at Manheim Township.  He had the job pretty quickly also.  After our first year on the job, we worked together during the summer months doing repairs throughout the district.  Got to know a little bit more about each other that summer.  Charlie told me the story about how he met Mary Lou and their subsequent marriage.  Mary Lou was the secretary in the Industrial Arts office at Millersville State Teacher's College.  Charlie visited the office often to talk to her.  She was engaged at the time to someone different, but Charlie talked her out of marrying the guy and he and Mary Lou eventually married.  He being in the middle school and me in the high school, we didn't get to see much of each other except for department meetings once a month and our annual picnics at the end of the year.  Matter-of-fact, the last time I saw Charlie before he died was at the picnic last year.  Retirees are invited each year and Charlie and I had a chance to catch up on our families.  Charlie was a class act.  Loved his family and life.  Too bad he didn't have a few more years to spend with Mary Lou.  But, you never know, do you.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The "Motivational Book You Won't Want To Miss" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just read about the new book that Jim Abbott has written about his littlest fans - the disabled kids who reminded him what life is all about. Book is titled "Imperfect: An Improbable Life." Jim was a baseball player, but before you dismiss reading the book because of that, you should know that Jim was born with the stub of a pinky finger at the end of his right arm. He was a star pitcher and quarterback for Flint Central High School, was drafted in the 36th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1885 Major League Baseball Draft but didn't sign, was an All-American pitcher at the University of Michigan, won the Sullivan Award in 1987 which is the award for the best amateur athlete in the United States, pitched for the Gold Medal Olympic Team in the 1988 Summer Olympics and was the 1988 Big Ten Athlete of the Year in 1988. All of this with one no right hand! And it continues ...... he was drafted inthe first round of the 1988 Major League Draft by the California Angels with the 8th overall pick. He was in thestarting rotation as a rookie in 1989 without playing a single minor league game and finished fifth in the year's American League Rookie of the Year Award. In 1991 he finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting which is the award for the best pitcher in the American League. On September 4, 1993, Jim Abbott achieved something that few professional pitchers ever have: He pitched a no-hitter while pitching for the New York Yankees. And, did I mention that he did it with just one hand! But, he claims that what he remembers most about his 10-year career in professional baseball were the disabled children who came to watch him play. The article that I just finished reading is an excerpt from his new book that tells of the many letters he gets, the lines of children who try to see him in the doorways of clubhouses all over the US, and the families that would wait for him in the dugout with their own story to tell him. He talked about his parents and how they would make him feel special, but yet treat him like every other kid. The book is about courage and believing in yourself. For year's Jim has worked with The Department of labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy on several initiatives encouraging businesses to hire people with disabilities as well as being a motivational speaker. Being a huge baseball fan, I have followed Jim's career throughout his playing days. Hever got to see him pitch in person, but I watched as many of his games on TV that I could. He has not only been an inspiration to all who have disabilities, but to many, such as me, who appreciate what he has accomplished in his life. After reading the excerpts, and wiping the tears away, I told my wife that I just have to buy his new book. Google the book, "Imperfect: An Improbable Life," by Jim Abbott and Tim Brown and see if you should read it. I'm sure you will be inspired by Jim as much as I have been. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: Jinm as he pitches for the Angels, Jim while pitching his no-hitter for the Yankees, and how he appears today. Check out the Youtube video that was made to promote the book.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The "You are the Bubbles in my Bath" Story

It was an ordinary day.  The rain has finally stopped.  Yesterday afternoon the sky opened and sent buckets of water toward earth.  We were on the beach when the beach boys started going up and down the beach, closing all the yellow umbrellas.  They pointed to the east and said, "The wind is coming."  We could see dark clouds and what looked like rain off in the distance.  So we packed our beach bag and headed toward the car.  Almost made it!  With about 50 yards to go, it started with small raindrops.   Raced for the car and slammed the doors shut just before the heavy rain started.  Not long before we arrived back at Villa Jeluca, our home away from home on the Caribbean island of St. Martin.  Rain on vacation is nothing new to us, since it rained about 75% of our visit last year.  We questioned whether we should ever return to St. Martin again, but it was the first year ever that we had that much rain.  We are back and even though it rains almost every night, the weather during the day has been picture perfect. That was until yesterday.  The roof of the villa is metal and the rain striking it makes it sound like we are in the center of a drum.  It gets so loud at times that you can't talk without yelling and you can forget about listening to the CD player or watching TV.  During the night it sounded like an orchestra with the wind blowing and whistling and the constant beating of the drums on the roof.  But, this morning, after opening the hurricane shutters in the villa, I could see the sun shining and a cloudless sky.  I yelled to Carol the good news and headed down the hill to Orient Village to buy the morning croissants.  Before long we were having our breakfast on the rear deck and soaking up the warmth from the sun.  Then I turned on my computer to look at the local news.  Cars were floating down the streets on the Dutch side of the island and many were without power and water.  We had, on the average, 6-8 inches of rain since yesterday afternoon.  Wow!  After we finished, I took the breakfast glasses to the sink to wash them and ........ no water!  Called the realtor and was told that most of the neighboring area was without water, and probably would be until lunchtime.  No problem.  We packed lunch and headed to the beach.  What a beautiful day!  The air temperature and water temperature were both about 85 degrees.  Read for a while, then mosied into the warm Caribbean water to cool off.  Take a drink and a noodle with you and you are set until you shrivel up.  After afternoon "Happy Hour," we headed back to the villa pool, a shower and a trip to Orient Village for our evening meal.   I turned on the shower and ......... nothing.  "Carol, we still have no water."  I called the realtor again to find out what to do.  Within five minutes, Stephan arrived to see if he could figure out the problem for us.  Seems the water had been restored to the island, but we still had none.  Then he told me that our villa has well water since it is so high up on the mountain.  And the pump has stopped functioning.  He made a call and within 15 minutes a repairman arrived and we were told that it needed a new pump.  Stores were closed now, so we would be without water for the evening.  I asked him if we could take our shower in the villa's swimming pool.  No problem, so we both jumped in to get wet, got out and lathered up, and dove back in to get the suds off of us.  The chlorine smell could be covered up with aftershave or in Carol's part, with body lotion.  We were good to go.  We also used a bucket to get pool water to flush the toilets in the villa.  Next morning the repair man arrived and after returning from the beach for the day, found that everything was back to normal. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

The "Church Humor" Story

It was an ordinary day. Getting a good chuckle from an email that someone sent to me. This guy calls himself a good Republican and considers himself a righteous person, so when he sends me an email with biblical jokes, I know they can't be too bad or he wouldn't have passed them along. Anyway, I found them pretty funny, so I have attached them for you to enjoy. My favorite is the shadow puppet one. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The "Ventures" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just heard one of my all time favorite instrumentals on my car's Oldies station.  Played by four guys known as the Ventures.  Ever hear of them?  They came from the same musical era as Duane Eddy and his twanging guitar, another one of my favorite instrumental musicians.  Matter-of-fact, I bought a guitar in the late 50s with the hope of becoming the next Duane Eddy.  Even named my guitar "The Little Twanger" and had that painted on it.  Pretty cool, huh.  Well, the Ventures were formed in 1959 in Tacoma, Washington by friends Don Wilson and Bob Bogle.  They first met when Bob was looking for a used car and wondered into Don's dad's dealership.  The two got to talking and realized they both had an interest in guitars and before long decided they formed a band.  The duo originally called themselves the Versatones and played in small clubs, bars, and private parties.  They practiced at times in Bob's sister's home and she told them that a neighbor's son was a pretty good drummer.  They hooked up with him and George Babbitt became the third member of the group.  Don was 26 and on rhythm guitar, Bob was 25 and lead guitarist, and George, a high school marching band member, was 17 and the drummer.  In 1959, Earl Herbert joined the group as bass guitarist and the Ventures were born.  Just before the band gained fame with their huge hit "Walk Don't Run" Babbitt had to drop out because he wasn't old enough to play the night clubs and bars that the band frequented.  Skip Moore joined the group on drums, but soon opted out of the group to work at his family's gas station.  At the same time, Nokie Edwards replaced Earl on bass guitar and Howie Johnson joined the band as the new drummer and the group stayed intact until 1962.  In late '62, Mel Taylor joined the Ventures  to replace Howie as the drummer.  Over the next 10 years several other changes were made in band members, but Don and Bob continued as the mainstays of the group.  Other songs you may recognize that they wrote and performed were Perfidia, Hawaii Five-O, Sleep Walk, Pipeline, and my favorite Wipe Out.  On March 10, 2008, the Ventures were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with original band members Don Wilson and Nokie Edwards in attendance as well as current band members Bob Spalding and Leon Taylor.  They still perform today and I have included a 1998 YouTube video when the four original members played together.  George Babbitt was a 4-Star General in 1998 when he performed Walk Don't Run with the group.  The second video is my favorite Ventures song, Wipe Out.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The "Learning The Windmill" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Heading east on MD RT80 to watch our granddaughter, Courtney, play softball.  It is her 3rd year of playing softball for Urbana, and every year she gets better.  This year the girls are allowed to pitch instead of their coaches pitching for them.  And, just not any style of pitching; the windmill style of pitching.  Same as the girls in high school, college and the Olympics use where they start with both feet touching the rubber, rock back, bring their arm around in a clockwise rotation behind their body, and let it fly.  For all of the girls it is their first time at trying to pitch using the windmill windup, so some have extreme difficulty with it.  The league allows the offensive team girls to draw walks from the pitcher for four balls, but after two consecutive walks, the offensive teams coach has to throw 3 pitches to his own player if they would also draw a walk.  If they fail to hit a pitch fair after 3 pitches, they are mercifully out.  Make any sense to you?  Took me a while to understand it, but it makes for a quicker game.  Sometimes!  At least the games are limited to two hours for 6 innings!!  A few of the girls from both teams got very few balls across the plate.  At times I though I was watching bowling instead of softball, as the girls did not have the strength to throw the ball across the plate from the pitchers circle.  But, they have to try it to see if they can do it.  And this is the level where they learn.  Courtney's team had three girls that did a good job with the windmill delivery.  One girl, a lefty, really impressed me with her delivery.  More than 75% of the pitches were right down the center and with better than average speed.  Found out later that her mother was a softball pitcher in college and had been working with her for a few years.  Does make a difference.  Courtney, who is very shy about trying to pitch since she doesn't like drawing attention to herself, struck the first batter out that she pitched to on four pitches.  Great start.  She did walk a few, but managed to strike out two other batters in her inning of work without allowing a run.  Great job hon!  One of the best performances of the day.  The other team was much the same with a few good pitchers as well as a few who you can tell felt were so uncomfortable standing on the pitching rubber.  Game lasted two hours with Courtney's Urbana Purple beating the home team, 10-6.  I can see promise in quite a few of the girls, Courtney included.  If Courtney would continue to pitch in the future, she would develop into a good high school pitcher.  Whatever position she chooses for her future softball experiences, she will be one of the better players on the field.  Did get to see her bat a half dozen times and she reached base every one of them, most with hits that went over the infield.  My other granddaughter, Camille, Courtney's sister, helped me document the game with my camera.  You just knew that would happen, didn't you.  And the results follow.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

Courtney #18 in her uniform.
The coach preparing the pitching rubber.
Courtney talking with her teammates.  Notice the bags lined up on the fence.  Most girls have these bags to hold their bat, gloves, snacks and helmets.  The girls have their own helmets to eliminate the problem of lice transfering from one member to another.  Yep, it really does happen!
Another drive to the outfield by Courtney.
Courtney scoring one of her 3 runs on the day.
Courtney making a delivery.  Look hard and you can see the ball just leaving her hand. 
Courtney pushing off the rubber, coming out of the windmill delivery.
Camille catches Courtney after she gets one of her hits
The traditional greeting after the game
Camille caught Tampah relaxing between innings.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The "Color and Flair of the Caribbean: Part 4" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Final day of photos from my recent vacation to St. Martin.  I lost 2 cameras this year while taking photos.  First was my real small red Kodak underwater camera that I had for about 3 years.  Had just charged it and when I took it in the water the first time I noticed that I couldn't see the photo from the back of the camera.  Upon further examination, I noticed that there was water in the lens opening.  Not Good, I thought!  Yep, it bit the dust and I purchased it too long ago to try to get my money back or a replacement for it.  My second camera was a Nikon Cool Pix that I used for quite a few of the photos you have been looking at the last four days.  When I got home from vacation I was taking the SD card out of it to download the photos on it and noticed that the lens cover was not across the lens.  Then I realized that the entire camera was without power.  Recharged it, but to no avail.  #2 camera shot.  I may replace them both with one camera that can do both features and then by an extended warranty for it so if it happens again, I can get a replacement.  I take lots and lots of photos, so it may pay to do it that way.  Oh, well, here are the last for you to enjoy.  Hope you found at least one that you liked.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.