Extraordinary Stories

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Friday, August 31, 2012

The "An Alarming Experience" Story

It was an ordinary day. Same routine as always; brush the teeth, shave, shower and get dressed. I usually am the first one up so I head down to feed the cats. Normally I shut off the alarm system that we installed when our daughter lived with us in the 90s. We were traveling one time and she was scared staying in the house alone, so when we returned, I had an alarm system installed for both her and us. Well, this morning, knowing it is trash day, I grabbed the trash from the kitchen can before turning off the alarm. I grabbed another Costco drawstring kitchen bag and with one quick motion pulled it through the air to open it. Worked, but I set off the alarm! I did the same thing about a year ago, but when I called to give my password to cancel the alarm, they told me that it was impossible to set off the alarm with a trash bag. Something else must have caused it to wake up the neighborhood. When we had the alarm system installed we had a alarm break placed on every door in the house. Also had glass breaks placed in a few places so that the alarm would sound if someone or something broke a window. This time when I called the alarm company I got an entirely different answer. They told me I could very easily set off the alarm with the trash bag. Can even do it by popping a balloon or blowing up a small paper bag and hitting it. Now I feel better knowing it was me and not someone opening a door and fleeing when they heard the alarm the first time. The alarm is a high pitched, ear piercing noise that even with my poor hearing can hear loudly. And, it scares you to death when you set it off. I have quite a bit of practice calling the alarm company since I set off the alarm on a regular basis. One time my parents were house-watching and set off the alarm one day when they arrived and were so unnerved that they couldn't stop the alarm until the police arrived and called the company and they turned it off. Mom and dad never told us about it until the police called and wondered why we didn't have a displayed permit to have the alarm. Pretty hefty fine, but they gave us a week to get one. Oh, the joys of the alarm owner! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The "And, it is not X-rated!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Found something VERY UNUSUAL that I thought may be of interest to SOME people. Hope you're not offended by the link that I have attached. I found it ....... well ..... VERY UNUSUAL. Got a great laugh from it and I really needed that today. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.
The Nude Men Clock
How clever.
I like the way the guys on the minute hand are tapping their foot as they wait for the minute to pass.
Somebody has way too much time on their hands!
Be sure to click on the clock to make it digital .
************************************
It's actually the correct
time even counting the seconds !!!
What
kind of computer engineer mind thinks of these things ? Yikes
And it is NOT X-rated.
This is a masterpiece!!!
This is extremely clever and it does actually work, in BOTH Formats!!!! Digital and Analog. And it's actually on YOUR correct time.
This human clock is fantastic.
Click anywhere in the clock and it becomes digital, another click and
it reverts back to analog. Pretty neat.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The "One of My Favorite Technological Advances" Stories

It was an ordinary day. Phils are playing the Mets after having won 3 straight from their rivals in D.C. Even thought that is a real feat this year, my tale to tell today is about the first professional baseball game ever broadcast on TV. One of my happiest moments ever! I was watching Cliff Lee beat the Nationals on Sunday when Chris Wheeler, one of the Phillies announcers, happened to mention that on August 26 of 1939, the Brooklyn Dodgers hosted the Cincinnati Reds in the very first televised baseball game. There were 33,000 fans at Ebbets field in Brooklyn on that memorable day. The game was broadcast on W2XBS and only two cameras were used for that game, one high above home plate got an extensive view of the field and the other was placed down the thirdbase line to pick up infield throws to first. The camera technology wasn't anything like we have today and it was difficult to capture fast-moving plays. The
motion of the bat looked liked a paper fan and the ball being thrown and hit was just about invisible. Didn't really matter to most since very few people owned television sets. Only about 400 people in the New York area owned one and they had to squint into their black-and-white TV screens to watch that first game. Wasn't until seven years
later that regular network broadcasting became popular. And, it wasn't until the mid-50s that TV sets found their way into more homes in the U.S. Today's game between the Phils and the Nationals featured 7 manned cameras and many others in the broadcast room handling the replays and slow-motion. The announcer for that first ever TV game was Red Barber who called the entire game by himself without the benefit of a monitor. Red called play-by-play for four decades with the Reds, Dodgers and Yankees. He was later inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. At first the baseball owners weren't sure about TV broadcasts, since they feared they would lose customers, but later realized that the revenue
that was produced by the broadcasts more than made up for the loss of customers. Oh yeah, the Reds won the first game that day and the Dodgers won the second game of the first baseball telecast. As for the game I was watching, the Phils, behind Lee won 4-1. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top: Red Barber, Red interviewing Dodgers manager Leo Durocher before the game in front of the
third base camera, and game shots from the third base camera.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The "Signs of the Times" Story

It was an ordinary day. Got a notice from Islands Magazine asking me to vote for my favorite photo in their recent photo contest. They have picked their winners and they now want everyone to pick the "Reader's Choice" winner. Winner will get a week's stay on the island of St. Martin. Wow! If you have been reading my blog, you know just how much I would have liked to have won that prize, but my photo was not one of the ones that I was voting on. Actually, I waited too long to enter the contest this year; one day too long! Well, after voting, I checked out some of the other stuff on their website and found some really neat road signs. Now, if you also get their emails, this won't be new for you, but my guess is that you don't get their emails and might enjoy the signs as much as I did. Here goes.









It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The "Old Fashioned Thing in the Window" Story

It was an ordinary day. Our daughter Brynn, who lives in Maryland, was on the phone with my wife. All of a sudden my wife broke out in laughter. I'm sitting across from her in the family room and I said, "What's so funny." After another round of laughter she told me that Brynn's central air conditioner isn't working again and the girls, my granddaughters, were going to sleep in her bedroom tonight, since she had borrowed a window air conditioner from a neighbor and it would be the only cool place in the house to sleep. Brynn said that Courtney, one of my granddaughters, said to one of her friends that her mom put one of these old fashioned things in the bedroom window. Old fashioned? Then Brynn went on to remind my wife that she used to sleep on the floor in our bedroom on hot nights when she was growing up on Janet Ave. Actually, she slept on the floor in our bedroom until 7th grade, because her bedroom had no old fashioned thing in the window. We lived in an English Tudor style house which had three bedrooms and no central air. When our first child, Derek, was born, he slept in the "baby's room' which was an extremely small room next to our bedroom. Maybe 10' by 15' in size. We put a screen door on the room so the cats wouldn't get in the room and suck the breath out of Derek while he slept. Yep, that's what people thought back then! Including us! When Brynn was born we moved Derek to the rear bedroom, which was about twice the size, and she got the baby's room. Hey, she was a baby. Then when Tad, our third, was born he got the baby's room and Brynn shared the back room with Derek. They had a bunkbed with Derek on the top and Brynn on the bottom. The rear bedroom had an old fashioned thing in the window as did our bedroom. When Tad was maybe four years old, we moved him to the rear bedroom with Derek and I built a bed for Brynn with the sleeping quarters on the top and storage and a desk on the bottom. Pretty neat and she loved it. We placed that in the baby's room which seemed about the size of some people's closets. She never complained except on warm evenings when the fan wasn't enough to cool the room. Eventually I made a bedroom in the third floor for the boys and she got the rear bedroom back again. Now every bedroom where someone slept had an old fashioned thing in the window. Carol and I look back on those good old days and wonder how we ever accomplished what we did. Today we watch "House Hunters" on HGTV and listen to the spoiled younger generation say how they couldn't possibly live without three bedrooms and two or three bathrooms with two bowls in each, a walk-in closet the size of our baby's room and central air units on both floors. Wow, how could they have functioned during the years when Carol and I were raising our family with those old fashioned things in the window? They can't; that's why so many buy the big houses and suffer foreclosure or bankrupcy. Oh, for the good old days! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - Photo shows Derek, Arnold (our dog), Brynn and Tad.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The "Bankrupt for Life!" Story

It was an ordinary day. My wife and I are talking about a friend we know who is 63 years old and has no health insurance because she can't afford it. She owns a small art gallery in a town in Maryland where she sells some of my photography. I hobbled into her shop this morning, still suffering from the shingles I have in my left leg. We got to talking and she told us she can't wait until she turns 65 and is covered by Medicare. She said last year she had to have some kind of procedure that cost her $10,000 and she's still paying for that. Wow, we then realized how much we appreciate the health insurance we have. I am covered by Medicare and a supplemental policy that I have through a teacher's group while Carol is in her last year of Cobra coverage and then will be covered by my teacher's plan until she is 65. My costs are very reasonable, but we pay over $600 for Carol right now and next year it will be about $700. And, that's per month! But, we figure we have to have it since one surgery or major procedure could bankrupt us for the rest of our lives. And we can't afford to gamble with our health. We feel for our friend and the fact that she can't afford the costly premiums that she would have to pay for her insurance, being she has a pre-existing condition. But what are her alternatives. None! Recently I inquired with my supplemental plan as to what is paid by both my Medicare and their plan when Carol and I travel out of the country; to say the Caribbean. Medicare will cover nothing! But, my supplemental will cover approximately 80% of my costs, after I pay the initial deductible. I must pay the bill I incur, get a statement from the provider converted into US dollars, and supply them with a current published conversion chart, validating the conversion from the foreign country's currency into US dollars. Wow! Carol and I will be traveling soon to the Caribbean. When we booked the resort and airfare, we bought the travel agency's standard protection insurance plan that they offer. Does cover quite a bit but they also offer a deluxe protection plan that covers more, especially when it comes to airlifting service back to the states. What to do? I hate to pay for too much protection, but with the cost of health care today, I don't want to buy insurance that means nothing. I also read a few travel forums who allow you to ask questions and I have asked what other people do for health coverage when traveling. As you would expect, I get all types of answers. Some even say that they wouldn't hesitate to travel out of country to get surgeries that are more costly in the US. Lasik surgery in the US costs approximately $4,400 for both eyes while in India it costs $500. In Mexico you can get a colonoscopy for $800 instead of the average $3,080 in the US. Heart bypass surgery in the US costs $144,000 while in India it costs $5,200. I can see where people who have no or very little coverage would opt to have their surgeries done in a foreign country, but for me the risks of traveling for a major surgery are too great. And, we all know that health care costs are never going down. As for Carol and me, we are hoping the new health care plan that is starting to take effect will help with health costs. That is unless it is repealed. Here's hoping our friend can soon afford her insurance. Before she has another major catastrophe. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The "If It Scares You, It Might Be A Good Thing To Try" Story

It was an ordinary day. Trying to come up with a story title that would express what my story is about today. Have you ever gone outside your comfort zone? Doing something different. Something as simple as taking a different route to work in the morning. Stepping out of your comfort zone can make you healthier and happier. Risk-taking diminishes once you reach 50, so you better do it soon. Whatever scares you, it might be a good thing to try. You know, if you don't, you will continue with the same boring routines you have done all your life. And, boredom kills! Too much tedium can increase health dangers the same as smoking or drinking too much can. So, you can literally be bored to death. How about changing your routine by following a few new behaviors that will guide you on your way.

#1. Quit being sorry. Life only lasts so long and you need to make a difference. What have you done in your life that really matters. When my dad died, so many people told me that they just loved his voice. At times he could make them cry with his music. Wow! I thought I was the only one that was affected by his music. On Good Friday dad would sing, acapella, "Were You There" which is a song describing the death Jesus. Just typing this brings tears to my eyes. For dad, his music and voice is his legacy to so many people. What will I be remembered for when I die? Kinda scary thinking about it. The average life lasts just 650,000 hours, so don't waste a single hour of your time. Step out of your comfort zone now and do something that will matter in the end.

#2. Feeling uneasy can lead to happiness. All experiences have results, even bad experiences. I remember giving a demonstration on how to run the offset press to my high school class when I got my finger caught in the press. Hurt like hell, but I tried not to react that way. I managed to extract the finger, wrapped it in a rag, told the class I'd be right back, and hurried to the nurse. You better believe that demo had huge results. And, I would guess that to this day, when some of those students think back over their high school career, at least one of them will remember LDub getting his finger caught in the printing press. We own our experiences. But, you have to get going and have some experiences. Yeah, I know you have experienced many things already. Any of them worth remembering?

#3. Try something challenging. Break your habits. Get out of bed on a different side. Eat your breakfast with the other hand. Get in the passenger's side of the car and slide across. Better believe it will challenge your brain. Bound to add a few hours onto your life just laughing at yourself after trying something new.

#4. New is the word. Ever been married? Get bored sometimes with the same routines you have in your marriage. Make a date! You can have a date even though your married. Go to the movies. Head to an art show over the weekend. How about traveling to an exotic destination. I have friends that consider traveling 5 miles to be a chore. Don't need to change the routine. Afraid that something will go wrong. So what! When you try new things you share new experiences together and strengthen your marriage. Like getting to know your mate all over again. Has to add a few more hours onto your life.

#5. Get stupid. Now this one I'm good at!! Sometimes my brain works faster than my mouth and when I try to speak, the words that come out aren't always the ones that I want them to be. Makes for some rather hilarious statements on my part, but then we all laugh and that has to be good for you! I cherish my stupidity. When ever I feel stupid I feel as if I'm learning something, since I have evidently said something that is outside my comfort zone. Do you ever worry that you will make a mistake. So what! Don't let that prevent you from doing something new. I know, it's easy for me to say that, since you are the one that will feel stupid. Let me tell you, after you do it enough of times, it starts to feel right. Embrace every opportunity to be stupid. I certainly do. Just ask my wife!

And that's that. I wrote this story today because I often wonder what my legacy will be when I die. And I have come to the conclusion that I haven't done enough yet to have a legacy. And, since I'm getting older rather than younger, I better get busy and try some of the things that I have just written about. I hope you will also. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - for example: today I was running the vacuum and twisted the wrong way. Got these terrible shooting pains in both my legs. Thought I was having a heart attack. Stretched out on the bed and thought about calling 911. Instead I called my lovely wife who reasoned with me that my heart isn't in the lower half of my body, so I wasn't having a heart attack. Talk about feeling stupid. But, I will always remember that. And, luckily I didn't call 911.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The "Favorite Beach Activities" Story

It was an ordinary day. Trying to make a ticker for my home pages on TravelTalkOnline and SXM Travel Forum so that people who read the two websites will see where we are headed next and when we arrive at our destination and will know when they can get some updates on our island of choice. TickerFactory.com is a great place to make a ticker. You follow the instructions and select a design, title and date and a URL address that you can copy and paste where ever you need it. Check the end of the story to see the ticker I created for our upcoming vacation. I try to give tips sometimes on places to snorkel, beaches that have the best sand, water temperature, weather conditions and so forth. I just ran into a story online about items that I usually convey to readers of other sites. Gives the best places to snorkel, surf and a variety of other beach activities. Thought I would pick out a few and let you know where you should plan your next vacation if you enjoy any of the activities that are listed.Best Wind Sports can be found in Barbados at Silver Sand. Silver Sand is home to the former Olympic windsurfer Brian Talma. He can be found at deAction Beach Shop on Silver Sand.Best Snorkeling will be at No-Name Beach, Klein Bonaire. It is an unpopulated isle that you can reach by renting a boat or taking a water taxi to it from the island of Bonaire. Here you will find rays, school of various colorful fish and beautiful coral formations. I have never been to this island, but sounds like I may want to try a visit sometime. Best Surfing is at Chatarra Beach, San Juan, Puerto Rico. I Googled the beach name and found a comment that stated: One of the best and most consistent surf areas is located on the north shore of Puerto Rico; great tubes mostly lefts, for experienced surfers only. For me, I probably will never visit the location since I'm not that good a swimmer that I can attempt to surf. Best Skinny Dippin' will be found on Orient Beach in St. Martin. This beach is the most celebrated clothing-optional beach in the Caribbean. The south end of the beach is occupied by Club Orient which is a naturist resort. People Watching is best anywhere according to me, but according to the site I was reading, Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos is the place you want to go. This beach is located in Provo and the beach is the most picturesque in the Caribbean with 12 miles of pure-white sand to stroll. And ..... we tried to stroll most of the beach in one day and almost died doing it. Will have better sense this time around. These are the main categories that the site I read said are the reasons what people travel to the Caribbean. You may have other preferences for choosing a vacation spot such as food, drink, geography or history of an island, but you'll have to find those spots on your own. Good Luck! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - if you check back to see this story any time during the next couple of weeks, you'll notice that the ticker below is updated daily. Pretty neat!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The "One of My Favorite Memories" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just finished the summer printing for Manheim Township School District where I used to teach. During the summer my friend Mike and I do all the in-house printing for the district. Items such as hall passes, library passes, stationery, envelopes, etc. are printed on the two AB Dick offset presses that I had ordered years and years ago for my classroom when I taught graphics and photography. I have been doing the in-house printing in the summer since 1968 and Mike joined me in 1972. After I retired in 1999 from teaching the new teacher who tool over for me didn't want to be tied down in the summer so the school asked if I would continue with the printing. I'll tell you, when you walk in the print shop in the morning and smell the odor of ink in the room, it's like heaven. I know you think I'm nuts, but if you've ever had that experience you would know what I mean. Well, when I was ready to leave today I walked into the high school office to say good-bye to Dona, the secretary. Standing with her was the Head of Security for the school district and a recently retired Manheim Township municipal policeman. I said Hi to Dona and Doug and grabbed the box of items I had with me that had to be delivered to another school. Dona asked it it was for her and I showed her the box of excuse cards for one of the elementary schools. Doug looked at her and said, "You know I could give you a better deal than he does for this printing." She looked at him, then at me, and I had a smile on my face. Then he said, "I had LDub for printing when I went to school here, many years ago. I bet I could still do some of that stuff since he taught me so well." I said, "Maybe in a few years you can help Mike with the printing over the summer so I can officially retire." "What are you going to do with your name tag if you retire," he said. I looked at the ragged old tag that I'm required to wear when on the school premises and it brought back many memories. I actually had quite a bit of hair when it was taken. The big glasses and patterned shirt are extremely outdated. But, the tag has gone through years and years of service, both in the classroom and while doing the school printing. A good reminder of my time spent at one of my favorite places. Gonna be tough taking it off for the final time! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The "LDub and the Second Admendment" Story

It was an ordinary day. Checking out the letter to the editor of the Lancaster newspaper which was written by Samuel B. Nelson of Mount Joy, Lancaster County, PA. He had many points to make about gun control and the Second Amendment, some of which I agree with, but also some which I don't agree with. Seems to be how most people feel today. Being either for or against gun control is no longer the issue, but more to the point is how much gun control should be allowed. I believe that most would agree as I do that there is no reason at all to own any type of assault rifle or assult handgun or to own a 100-round magazine. I don't believe that when our founding fathers wrote the Second Amendment they had any idea that the weaponry that is available today would ever exist. I think that the reason for the Second Amendment, as did Mr. Nelson, had nothing to do with hunting, target shooting and only slightly to do with personal protection. I believe that their primary concern was to ensure that the people had the ability to overthrow a tyrannical government. They wanted the citizens of the USA to have access to weapons to defend their liberty. I don't believe that reasonable gun control would effect that in the slightest. When I taught school, I was the coach of the high school rifle team for 5 years and was also a member of the NRA. The rifles which we used were .22 caliber rifles and we used them to shoot at targets. The same type of rifle can be used for small game hunting. But, what is the reason for allowing people to buy automatic weapons that can discharge ammo in such a rapid amount. NONE! Certainly not for the sport of hunting. I can see how our armed services need weapons such as that to defend out country, but the average citizen should have no need for them. Maybe if they were outlawed or extremely to hard to come by it might have saved the mass destruction of human life that has happened so often in the last few years. Some will argue that it isn't the gun that killed the people, but the person with the gun. I agree, but if he didn't have access to the assault weapon I doubt that he could have killed as many with a knife or club. Mr. Nelson is a true conservative. He says that if guns cause crime, then pencils misspell words, cars commit accidents and spoons make us fat. Come on Mr. Nelson. Pencils do misspell words when used by a poor speller and cars do cause accidents when driven by someone texting. Same as guns cause crime when used by crazy people and if the gun happens to discharge 100 bullets in rapid action it leads to mass murders. I feel there has to be some reasonable gun control to eliminate this huge loss of life. I hope you agree and I hope our state government does something about it before we have another tradegy. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The "Grandfather of the Red Sox" Story

It was an ordinary day. Was reading the sports section of the morning paper when I noticed a small article about the death of Johnny Pesky who was a pro baseball player. May not mean much to you, but I remember Johnny from when I was a kid. Johnny was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1940 and made his major league debut on April 14, 1942. Played shortstop and third base for the Red Sox. Was a teammate of some pretty good players; Ted Williams, Boggy Doerr and Dom Dimaggio. In his rookie season he hit .331 which would usually be good enough for a batting title except for the fact that his teammate, Ted Williams, batted .356. World War II came and Johnny entered the service for those years. When he returned to the Red Sox in 1946 he batted .335. He ended his career with a .307 career batting average. In 1946 he was voted to the American League All-Star team as the starting Shortstop. On June 3, 1952 he was traded to the Detroit Tigers and then on June 14, 1954 he was traded to the Washington Senators. The Senators released him later that year and the Orioles picked him up in December of 1954. Finally, on April 14, he was released by the Orioles. Even though he was traded by the Red Sox, his love and loyalty remained with Boston. I remember him as the coach of the Lancaster Red Roses which was a Class "B" team for the Detroit Tigers who played their games about two blocks from my house when I was a young boy. Johnny only coached one year in Lancaster, 1958, but I remember him as a pretty neat guy. My friends Kenny H. and Dave G. and I would walk over the railroad bridge on the Manheim Pike to get to the field. Field was fantastic, at least to a young boy in the 50s. The stadium was build right along the Fruitville Pike with the 1st base side having maybe 20 rows of seats before it reached the road. Directly across from the ball field on the Fruitville Pike was the Southern Manheim Township Fire Company which had many a foul ball land on their roof. The bleachers on the 3rd base side were under cover until it reached 3rd base where the remainder were not protected from the elements. No seating in the outfield at all. Scoreboard was hand operated and was in dead center field. The backstop area was really small and it was tough for a runner to score on a passed ball or wild pitch. Quite a few games had to be halted after the 1st or 2nd inning so the sun could set behind the left field wall. Sun was a killer for the batters, catcher and umpire. I can still remember the concessions stand and the great hot dogs they had. My friends and I would head out behind the outfield wall when the teams would take batting practice. If we could get a ball that was hit over the wall, we would take it to the ticket box and they would let us into the game for free. Another ball would give us a free hotdog and drink. One day the guy in the ticket window was giving us a hard time and Mr. Pesky, who was returning to the Roses locker room walked over and helped us get into the game. Introduced himself and told us we were doing a good job retrieving the balls in the outfield. Pretty neat for kids in their early teens to get to meet the manager of the Red Roses. Well, Johnny Pesky eventually worked his way up the Boston ladder and became a coach, manager and eventually provided color commentary for the team. He was one of the team's most loved figures and the right-field foul pole at Fenway Park in Boston was given the name "Pesky's Pole" for it's short distance from home plate where many of Johnny's homeruns ended in the seats. The Grandfather of the Red Sox died August 13 at the age of 92. Many in baseball will remember him for his baseball skill and knowledge of the game, while my friends and I will remember him for his kindness and love of the youth in Lancaster that one year while managing our beloved "Red Roses." It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - pixs from the top are: baseball card from Johnny's playing days, recent photo, a program from the 1959 season and a recent view of what is left of Stumpf Field in Lancaster. Notice how close the 1st base path is to the road.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The "The 'Duck' Tape" Story

It was an ordinary day. My granddaughters came to visit over the weekend and brought with them roll after roll of "Duck" tape. No, I didn't type that wrong. It is called "Duck" tape. Looks like and works like regular duct tape, but comes in all colors, plaids, patterns, etc. On August 9th I published astory about extraordinary uses of ordinary things and put duct tape on that list. Strange that only a few days later the girls would arrive with the rolls of tape to show me how and what they can make. They both have made head bands to hold their hair in place, wrist bands and necklaces. Actually they are pretty neat and certainly colorful. I even had the experience of watching them do some braiding. Just like in the old days! The youngest granddaughter covered the front and back of her newly purchased school notebook with tape that looked like denim. What a good time we had. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photos from the top are: some "Duck" tape varities, Camille covering her notebook, samples of braided pieces the girls made.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The "My Pick of Islands Magazine 101 Best Reader's Photos" Story

It was an ordinary day. Just viewed the Islands Magazine's 101 Best Reader Photos ever. I have been a subscriber of Islands and Caribbean Travel and Life for many years. Goes way back to when I retired from teaching in 1999 and began traveling. Carol and I have traveled to a large number of the Caribbean islands as well as Hawaii. We also made a voyage to Italy a few years ago and just fell in love with the country and the island Venice. Well, Islands magazine started their photo contest about 20 years ago and just published 101 of the best photos that were submitted to their annual photo contest by readers from those years. I entered quite a few, but none of mine appeared among the 101. That's OK though because the photos that were presented were fantastic. I picked out my 19 favorite photos and would like to share them with you. Three are from the island that we will hopefully travel to soon with our friends Jerry and Just Sue.Even if you have never traveled, you will have to just love these photographs. They are stunning! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

2000 - Grand Prize; Island of Kauai (Hawaii)

2010 - Honorable Mention; Margarita Island

2009 - Honorable Mention; Island of Borneo

2010 - Grand Prize; Island of Zanzibar

2011 - Honorable Mention; Islands of Turks and Caicos

2010 - Honorable Mention; Islands of Turks and Caicos

2012 - Honorable Mention; Island of Sicily

2011 - Honorable Mention; Island of Kauai (Hawaii)

2010 - Honorable Mention; Island of Bali

2011 - Reader's Choice; Island of Tahiti

2010 - Honorable Mention; Islands of Turks and Caicos

2011 - Honorable Mention; Island of Oahu (Hawaii)

2011 - Artistic Merit; Great Barrier Reef, Australia

2012 - 3rd Place; Island of Venice

2011 - 3rd Place; Island of Kauai (Hawaii)

2011 - Grand Prize; taken on island off the coast of Mozambique

1992 - Grand Prize; Island of Bora Bora

2012 - 2nd Place; Island of Maldives

2009 - 1st Place; Island of Jamaica

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The "You're having Supper at what time?!!" Story

It was an ordinary day. 6:30 and getting ready to eat supper. Carol is supposed to work until 3:00, but always donates an extra hour or so to the Parish Resource Center where she works so she usually pulls into the garage about 4:30 or so, depending on the traffic. I usually try to quit work at noon at the gallery or at school when I happen to be there printing. My afternoons are for working around the house or making photos in my basement workshop for sale at the couple of stores that sell my photos. So, until we sit down and talk about our days and any other important items, it usually is around 6:30 before we have a chance to get supper. Sometimes I prepare the evening meal and sometimes Carol will take on that chore. It is usually around this same time that my mom calls to see what is happening at our house. When I tell her we are getting supper ready she can't believe we haven't already eaten our meal. She is a resident of the retirement home called Moravian Manor in nearby Lititz, PA and they sit down to eat their evening meal at 4:45. Most of the residents are older and probably have gotten used to eating at home or in restaurants where the "Early Bird Special" gave them a better price for their meal. I can remember when I was a child we would eat as soon as my dad would walk in the door from work. He quit work at 5:00 and until he would walk home it would be 5:30. She would call for me out the back door and I would hustle home for supper. That's when the woman in the family was a housewife wearing pearls around her neck and a dress or nice blouse and skirt almost every day. No shorts or old clothes allowed. Just like on "Leave it to Beaver." If you were still eating after 6:00 or 6:30 there must have been some special reason for that. When Carol and I travel to St. Martin each spring for our annual dose of sunshine and rum we usually return from the beach late in the afternoon, shower and head out to eat about 6:00. Can't go any earlier, since most places don't open until 6:00. We are usually one of the first couples to arrive at whatever restaurant we might be going to that evening and I don't believe we have every had to make reservations because of our early arrival. We enjoy that time of day for our evening meal because we almost always chose open beachfront restaurants and we can watch the sunset as we share our meal. One of the most beautiful times of the day to share a great meal. At times we inquire as to the most popular times for dining and anywhere from 7:30 to 9:00 seems to be a logical time for most. We often wonder what people do until 9:00. I probably have a few guesses, but not for here. The late dining crowd probably heads to the clubs or casinos after their meal, while Carol and I head home for a dip in the pool, another shower, some reading time, then bed. Heck, we sometimes are in bed by 9:00. What time do you eat your evening meal? When I tell my mom that some people don't eat until 9:00 she doesn't believe me. "No one eats that late. They would have to go to bed on a full stomach and that's not good for you," she tells me. People who were born in the pre-WWII era almost always ate by 5:00. They had no TV so it was early to bed. Times have changed so much as to when it is expected that you eat your evening meal. For me, there is no right or wrong time. Eat when you are hungry is a good motto for me, or no later than 6:30! You know you shouldn't go to bed with a full stomach, right! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. PS - photo shows me with my mom waiting for dad to come home for supper. Notice the skirt and blouse she has on. How about the neat white dog ash tray next to us. Both my mom and dad were smokers. Back in the 50s it was fashionable for adults to smoke.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The "We're Too Young to be This Old - Class Reunion Time!!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Looking over some of the notes that Bill, one of my classmates from high school, has added to his on-going list of memories that other classmates are sharing for our upcoming high school reunion in early September. Hey, this isn't just any reunion, but the big 5-0. Fifty years!! Hard to believe that I graduated from Manheim Township High School in 1962. I was a tall, skinny kid, weighing about 140 pounds. Did try to play football in 9th grade, but got beat up pretty bad so I gave that up. Baseball was my game and I was good at it even though I didn't play ball after 10th grade. Got a job! Too busy working so I could keep gas in my car. Academically, I took the college prep courses, but wasn't sure why. My parents wanted me to go to college which I did. I was a "B" student in high school, but had a high "B" average in college. Well, enough about me for now. As I read the comments from my classmates, it brings back a flood of memories, some good and some bad. If I share some with you you will be able to see what life was like in the late 50s and early 60s. Read one, a few, or all to get an idea what high school was like during that time period. I have not edited any, including spelling, so you will have to figure out what is being said. Here goes:

• Remember when Penny Loafers where all the rage along with the Saddle Shoes & Socks Era
• Of course, everyone remembers the poodle skirts
• Rushing home after school to listen to Band Stand and practicing the new dancesI
• One afternoon I cut class with a bunch of friends to go to a movie. We lied about our age to get the cheapest tickets. However, David Hall foiled these plans when he told the ticket taker we were old enough to pay the adult rate. His input was not appreciated! Then I saw my father in the movie theater. He had also taken the afternoon off!
• Does anyone remember driver's ed with Mr. Cushman ? the man drove home a point (no pun intended ) regarding safety. Found myself thinking about him and also the physics teacher.... no two atoms can occupy the same space at the same time. Hmmmm is it atoms or molecules ? anyway the X generation seems fairly distracted and could use a good, driver's ed coach ( teacher ).
Does anyone remember someone throwing pennies up against the blackboard while the teacher had his back turned...I'm thinking it was Mr.Kreider (science)??? I remember Mr. Wills, driver eduction teacher made me back the whole way from Rt. 501 to the school building...needless to say I'm pretty good at backing ever since. I too remember those dumb swimsuits and how we had just like hand dryers to dry our hair to get to our next class and everyone would make fun of us for having wet hair. Miss Hauck used to throw an eraser at people to have them quit talking.
• i recall tenth grade burkholder and epler creating their own version of pig latin, a remarkable bit of nonsense they labeled Op Talk. my name, for instance, became n-op-ick op-and-op-es. epler was d-op-ick op-epl-op-er, or something like that. that blather enabled us to talk so that we were not understood (which just so happened to be the way we normally came across), but we got in trouble anyway because, Op Talk, Ancient Greek or Lithuanian, we were TALKING in class, understood or not. also recall 10th grade beatnik day, a gala for which many of us donned beatnik attire and were promptly sent home from school to change clothing. personally, i also recall school dances, at which i was quite possibly the worst dancer on the face of the earth, boogie-ing like a demented Pee Wee Herman. the word embarrassing comes to mind. then there was the first football game senior year, under the lights at lancaster catholic, a game jody et al won handily, much to everyone's surprise and delight. the undefeated season had begun! and all the pretty girls. oh, yes, i remember them.
• Miss Hauck throwing erasers? Funny, I don't remember that but I do remember the object she had hanging ominously on the front wall of her room which she occasionaly referred to - her shillelagh. Did she ever actually put it into action? She sure had me fooled (and scared). To her credit, she was a good algebra teacher; many years later when I was subbing at M.T. some of her contemporaries - still teaching - told me she was a great gal and lots of fun in the faculty room.
• As to Mr. Kreider - looking back, we were a cruel, bullying bunch. He was a nice enough man and sincere, just could not control the teenage hormones raging within his classroom walls. Does anyone else remember the ONE time when we were taking one of those easy multiple choice/guess tests, we waited until he turned his back and then the rows switched papers, we checked each other's answers and then turned the tests in. Oh, how smart we thought we were! (Could anyone still be prosecuted for past misdeeds or get detention for these "confessions?"
• I was always so pleased with my French from Miss Nolan until I got to college and then to France and realized that it was a Pennsylvania Dutch French! Oh well, bonjour!
• i recall the movie frankenstein, in which igor rounds up body parts for the good doctor to use in assembling his 'monster' creation. i am reminded of that story because it seems somehow analogous to memory of mr anderson and his remarkable, long, black hearse, itself a feat of automotive engineering largely assembled by mechanic anderson with parts secured far and wide, typically in the dark of night with flashlights, power tools and hessen at his side. the hearse ended up running a lot better than frankenstein, and i am glad none of those parts had serial numbers.
• Another great teacher : Mr. Lewis, math(later a guidance counselor). He came our junior year. I actually enjoyed math for the first time, even took it senior year just to get him again, and joined the math club. A very dedicated man.
• I remember Katie Kuhl (Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres.) Mr Livingood's Chemical Bond Approach (CBA) chemistry class gave me valuable insights in a later career (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrascopy) and my favorite Mabel Murray " It doesn't matter how smart you are, if you can't communicate no one will ever know".
• A side note!! Do you all remember where our Senior Prom was held?? Well, it was held at the new Host Inn on Keller Ave near the train station. We have lasted longer than the Host!! Our prom was in June 1962 and the Host was leveled in June 2012 to make room for who knows what?? Probably another shopping mall or office/business complex!! Progress?? Free Market Capitalism at its best??
• Does anyone remember the terror one felt in being assigned to Mr. Robinson and Mr. (Hughie) Miller? I do! I remember a so called "contest" between them to see how many students they could paddle. As I remember, their rooms were in the basement, bad enough, and the crack of that paddle would echo throughout the halls. Did you ever look at that paddle? I did, thick handle, solid wood, with several holes drilled at different angles, enabling it to move swiftly through the air maximizing impact. Could that have been inspired by some medieval device? Then again, maybe it could solve some of our problems today!
• Have thoroughly enjoyed all the great and small stories of the past. Don't mean to throw a wet blanket on this exchange but would like us to take a moment to remember a class mate who gave his life in service to our country. Norm Billipp a team mate and neighborhood friend while he was in Lancaster. This link will take you to a site that tells his story:http://www.virtualwall.org/db/BillippNK01a.htm He went MIA while on a voluntary mission during May of 1969. His remains were recovered and repatriated in March of 1996. His name is on the memorial wall in DC. A sad loss we must always remember and give thanks to him and his comrades in arms for keeping the country safe. Their sacrifices must be honored. Politics aside, he did what his government asked him to do and paid the ultimate price!
• Yes, thanks to Dick for remembering a fallen classmate and, in my case, a fallen comrade. I was an Army Air Traffic Controller in Vietnam from Dec 1966 to Dec.1967.And, I know first hand the risks that the Forward Air Contollers (FAC Pilots) took every day. We had several based out of our airfield in DaLat, Vietnam and one of our FAC pilots was shot down and killed in Sept.1967. Things were beginning to heat-up by this time for the big "TET" offensive in February 1968. Another pack of lies that got us into another wrong war like the two we are still engaged in, Iraq and Afghanistan. Needless wars, needless death, needles pain and suffering, and on and on. Anyone remember the song "Where Have All The Flowers Gone"?? The lyrics are wonderful, especially; "when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?" The answer is obvious, we never learn!!!!!! Yea, baby! Remember "W" and Mission Accomplished in full "Bomber Jacket" attire on the aircraft carrier!! What mission was that???? The mission to fool the American Public with yellow cake and all the rest!!!!!!!! You may not want to print this one because it is not "PC" for some of our classmates!! David Knapp, not ashamed to tell it like it is!!!
• I remember Gino's? you bet i do. i worked at Gino's! actually was told by Gino (Marchetti) and Alan Amechi, Baltimore Colts of Hall of Fame fame and who were partners in the biz), told to get down off a counter while i was cleaning one of those big windows. i apologized, but Gino said, "No, no need for that; good job; but somebody else will do it." i thus became a devout Colts fan. i might add that after a week or two working there, i lost my taste for burgers, fries and cola for years, due in toto to my over-indulgence early on.
• It is so great to hear from so many classmates. I smile seeing your names and reading the memories. What a great idea this is...being in touch after all the years. Wanted to share that I was working in ICU at LGH when Joe Cass died there either in 1970 or 1971. I was his nurse! Really tough.
• On a happier note...I love to remember choir and Mr S...and our shows and plays. And remember singing the Battle Hymn! Truth is marching! So many memories ...we're too young to be this old!

Well, hope you enjoyed reading a few of the memories that my class has been sharing with each other. I realize that they mean more to me than to you, but you can at least see what high schol life was like 50 years ago. Oh, yeah, I do remember being paddled by Mr. Miller, and it did echo through the halls. Hurt? You bet! Those holes in it made for less wind resistance. Didn't throw spit balls after that, at least not in homeroom. And, Mr. Robinson is one of my monthly breakfast companions, since I went back to teach and eventually retire at my alma mater, and the retired teachers have breakfast together once a month. Oh, the memories! It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The "Please, add some more whipped cream!" Story

It was an ordinary day. Even though I still feel the effects of my shingles that I have had for four months, I still can eat some of my favorite foods. Those who know me know that I like ice cream. Matter-of-fact, a few times when we have been traveling with our friends Jerry and Just Sue, Jerry and I will have ice cream as our main meal when we go out to eat. Nothing wrong with that! Well, today, while sitting in my lounge chair that has become my home for the last week, and after thinking and thinking about what I will have for lunch, I decided to eat chocolate marshmallow ice cream. The Vicodin that I am on daily right now tend to make me "goofy", as the doctor says, and I don't feel at all like eating, but I know that I have to eat to keep up some sort of strength to fight the disease. Why not ice cream? And, if I'm still hungry I'll have one of the Whoopie Pies that my friend Pat dropped off yesterday. My longtime friend Bill from Arizona, who knows how much I like ice cream, emailed me a letter yesterday that I thought was quite appropriate. Actually, that's why I have chosen the chocolate marshmallow ice cream for lunch. I will not claim credit for what follows, but I think you will enjoy it and for my older friends and readers, make sure you follow the advice. I must admit I cried a few tears while reading it, but then added whipped cream to the grocery list. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

One day I had lunch with some friends. Jim , a short, balding golfer type about 80 years old, came along with them---all in all, a pleasant bunch.

When the menus were presented, we ordered salads, sandwiches, and soups, except for Jim who said, "Ice Cream, please. Two scoops, chocolate.

I wasn't sure my ears heard right, and the others were aghast. "Along with heated apple pie," Jim added, completely unabashed.

We tried to act quite nonchalant, as if people did this all the time but when our orders were brought out, I didn't enjoy mine.

I couldn't take my eyes off Jim as his pie a-la-mode went down. The other guys couldn't believe it. They ate their lunches silently and grinned.

The next time I went out to eat, I called and invited Jim. I lunched on white meat tuna. He ordered a parfait.

I smiled. He asked if he amused me and I answered, "Yes, you do, but also you confuse me.

How come you order rich desserts, while I feel I must be sensible? He laughed and said "I'm tasting all that is possible.

I try to eat the food I need, and do the things I should. But life's so short, my friend, I hate missing out on something good.

This year I realized how old I was. (He grinned) I haven't been this old before." "So, before I die, I've got to try those things that for years I had ignored. I haven't smelled all the flowers yet. There are too many trout streams I haven't fished. There's more fudge sundaes to wolf down and kites to be flown overhead.

There are too many golf courses I haven't played. I've not laughed at all the jokes. I've missed a lot of sporting events and potato chips and cokes.

I want to wade again in water and feel ocean spray on my face. I want to sit in a country church once more and thank God for His grace.

I want peanut butter every day spread on my morning toast. I want un-timed long distance calls to the folks I love the most.

I haven't cried at all the movies yet, or walked in the morning rain. I need to feel wind on my face. I want to be in love again.

So, if I choose to have dessert, instead of having dinner, then should I die before night fall, I'd say I died a winner, because I missed out on nothing. I filled my heart's desire. I had that final chocolate mousse before my life expired."

With that, I called the waitress over. "I've changed my mind," I said. "I want what he is having, only add some more whipped cream!"

Be mindful that happiness isn't based on possessions, power, or prestige, but on relationships with people we like and respect. Remember that while money talks, CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SINGS!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The "Doing the 'Wave'" Story

It was an ordinary day. Watching a show on Home and Garden Channel and just before they went to a commercial they had a trivia question. Who invented the waterbed? Answers were: (A) The Romans; (B) The Ancient Persians; (C) The Egyptians. OK, have you made you guess? Answer: The Ancient Persians. The first water-filled beds were goatskins filled with water, used in Persia more then 3,600 years ago to conduct fertility rites. And in 1873 a different version of the waterbed was used for the treatment and prevention of bed sores. In 1895 the British store Harrod's sold beds that looked like a very large hot water bottle. But the modern day waterbed was invented by Charles Hall in San Francisco in 1969. So what, you say! Well, I say because I have a story to tell you about the waterbed that we had for years. In the mid-70s, while living in the Grandview area of Lancaster, we needed a new mattress for our bed. While looking for it we came upon the waterbed. Pretty neat! "We bought a bed frame made for them and them purchased a "waveless" waterbed. The "waveless" had chambers built into it so there was less wave motion. I tended to get motion sick so the last thing I wanted when I conducted our fertility rites was to get sick. Boy was it great. Hop in bed on a cold winter night and it was warm to the touch. We filled the bed by running the hose from our outside faucet up the side of the house, into the bedroom, and then into the waterbed receptacle. Had to put special chemicals into the water when you filled it, but I can't remember why. The waterbed was made of polyvinyl chloride and it smelled for quite some time. Before we filled the waterbed, we placed a special heating pad under it so we could control the temperature of the water by means of a thermostat. Found that the temperature is pretty critical. Don't want to lower or raise the body temperature, which can happen if you are not careful. I remember the time Carol and I went out for the evening and our daughter layed on the waterbed for some time watching TV. She turned the temperature up and forgot to turn it back down when she went to bed. The next morning I awoke and told Carol I felt sick. I was sweating and felt really warm. I showered and started to feel better after getting out of the shower. As I left the bedroom to head to work, she told me she was also sweating and thought she had a fever. Ah, Ha!! We checked the thermostat and found the reason for our illness. We were lucky, since it can really make you ill. One time our pet cat was trying to escape our pet dog and bounded on the bed and put a hole in the mattress with her claw. Wow, what a mess. had to drain it, patch it, and get out the hose again. I must admit that we had many nights of restful sleep on that waterbed. Research has proven that when sleeping on water there are less pressure points on your body, which means you don't have to toss and turn as much. Gives you a deeper sleep, therefore you need less sleep. Eventually our youngest son bought a waterbed with his own money and set up the frame and mattress in his room which was on our third floor. Biggest problem was getting enough water pressure through the new, longer hose we had to buy. Both have gone by the wayside, but did give us some wonderful memories. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The "Oh No! They're Back!!" Story

It was an ordinary day. 5:00 AM, August 14th and it's raining. And, I feel like crap. My shingles have returned to create havoc again. I spent yesterday morning in the ER, trying to figure what I can do to walk again. My left leg feels like it is on fire and I am having trouble walking and laying down, trying to sleep. The plan of attack this time is 500mg of a strong pain-killer every 6 hours and the start of the drug Gabipentin to help with the shingles. The drug Gabipentin was originally developed for epilepsy, but is now used to also help with neuropathic pain. I started with one dose yesterday, will take two doses today and three doses thereafter. Not sure for how long, but maybe for life, since the singles virus will always remain in my body and can flair up at any time. The pain returned last Friday afternoon, after I returned from visiting with my mom. While walking back to my car after the visit, I felt a burning sensation in my left leg. Within an hour it was a full-blown return of the shingles that I first developed last April while on vacation in St. Martin. How depressing to know that I'm going to have to battle this disease once again. My family doctor is not open over the weekend so I opted to take the pain medicine Tramadol and wait until Monday morning before calling for help. Sunday night was terrible with trying to find a comfortable position to sleep, all the while keeping my wife from getting her sleep. About 3:00 AM I headed to my easy-chair in the family room, which is about the only way I can get any relief. 8:00 AM I was on the phone, but found that none of the doctors at Lancaster Internal Medicine were going to be in the office. Now what? Carol told me of an infectious disease doctor who helped one of her friends so I placed a call to her practice. Told that the earliest appointment they had was in October. Holy s*#t! They did tell me that they have three doctors and one of them is always on call at the General Health Hospital or Campus. OK, now I know what to do. Carol and I hopped in the car an headed to the Lancaster General Hospital ER. Actually, she hopped in the car after helping push me into the passenger side. She dropped me off and I struggled to the ER desk. They saw me coming and grabbed a wheel chair for me. I told them I had shingles and they took me right away into a waiting ER room and closed the door. Wow! Within a few minutes an ER doctor opened the door and entered. After a quick discussion and an examination of the scarring from my spine to below my left knee he left. Returned with two choices. Medication or a patch to help relieve the pain. We both decided that the scars and pain were too widespread for the patch so he gave me the medicine options. I could try what I chose or I could take the strong pain killer and a depression medicine. Hey, anyone who has shingles has to be depressed, but I chose the Gabipentin. I got my prescriptions and headed to the pharmacy. After walking in the house, plopping in my easy-chair and turning on the TV, wouldn't you know that on the screen was an ad about shingles. 1 in 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetime. If I had only seen the ad months ago and heeded their advice to get the vaccine, not of this would be happening. Let me tell you, you don't want this disease. It is HELL!! Feel like I'm being punished for every sin or bad word I ever said or every bad thought that ever came into my mind. If only I could have my leg cut off and still be able to walk I would do it. Need I say more to influence you to get the vaccine if you have ever had chicken pox and have never developed shingles yet. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The "One Magazine's Top Islands" Story

It was an ordinary day. Killing time by reading a few magazines online. Pulled up Budget Travel Magazine and saw an interesting article about the most popular islands in the Caribbean for travel. Naturally had to click on it and saw that the top island was St. Martin. I should have known that, since St. Martin is my favorite island, but kind of hoping it wasn't the top one. Probably the reason why the roads get so congested at times and the beaches are so filled most days. But, it still wouldn't keep us away from the place. I'll list the top-ten islands and give you the low-down on what Budget Travel, as well as LDub, thinks are the reasons for traveling to all the different islands. It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

St. Martin/Sint Maarten - What more can I say about this French/Dutch island than I have already said. When you assess my blog, click on St. Martin/Sint Maarten in the index and you can read all about the island of choice for Carol and me. Below is Great Bay Beach in Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch side.
Aruba - We made a stop in Aruba in 2010 while on a cruise through the Panama Canal. Wasn't impressed, but that was because we went to Palm Beach and the day we visited, the water was cloudy and dirty. Most of the great resorts are located on the western side of the Dutch island for one reason: spectacular sunsets. We missed that! We have talked to many friends who just love this island. Photo below is from Palm Beach.

Bahamas - Heard of Nassau? Well, Cat Island is just 45 minutes from Nassau. It is a 48-mile-long coral outcrop just 265 miles east of Florida. Last year there were over 5 million travelers that ventured to the Bahamas, but only a fraction made a call on Cat. Cat island features empty pink-sand beaches, great diving and thatch-roof beach bars. What else could you want?
US Virgin Islands - St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John combine to form the USVI. St. Croix is the largest at 82 square miles, yet gets the least amount of tourists. We have traveled to all three of the islands twice. Our favorite, St. Thomas. Still remember the first time we visited Magen's Bay Beach. Unbelievable! Ranked as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by several magazines. Trunk Bay Beach, shown in the background of the photo below behind my wife and me, is on St. John's and is a National Park. I tried to take a small tree pod with me when I left and was made to put it back, since you may not remove anything from a US National Park.
Puerto Rico - Old San Juan is still numero uno in Puerto Rico, but tourists have started to explore about 40 miles to the east, to Vieques. The US Navy used to use Vieques as a target-practice center until 2003. A few of the beaches on Vieques have gained exposure on the worldwide top-10 list.
Bermuda - Sitting all alone in the Atlantic Ocean 650 miles east of north Carolina, Bermuda is a beauty. It's really not in the Caribbean, but always seems to be associated with all the other islands that are near and are in the Caribbean. The peak seasonb runs from spring to fall. In 2012 the island will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the settlement of St. George's Town, the 350 anniversary of Warwick Academy which is the oldest school in the western hemisphere, and the 200th anniversary of the Bermuda post Office which culminates with an April exhibition of stamps from Queen Elizabeth II's private collection
Cayman Islands - The Caymans are synonymous with deep-sea diving and offshore banking. We traveled to Grand Cayman in 2007 and found the island to be very expensive. Stopped for lunch and paid $12 for a burger. We did have a fantastic time swimming with the stingrays. We did this shortly after Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray. Still didn't stop us from adventuring in the water with these beautiful creatures. The Caymans are famous for their Seven Mile Beach. The photo below shows the many boats that have stopped to allow tourists the chance to swim with the stingrays.
Dominican Republic - This is a great place to find affordable all-inclusives, particularly in Punta Cana, on the island's east coast. The monkey jungle Dominicana, located between Cabarete and Sosua, features a zip line and suspension bridge tour which gives the profits to the free on-site medical and dental clinic, which is staffed by volunteers and treats patients who cannot not afford health care. Photo below is from Las Terrenas.
Jamaica - East to get to and they have numerous resorts to stay at. Many of the resorts are all-inclusive which makes it easy to travel to your resort and stay at the same location throughout your visit. I took the photo below when we visited Jamiaca. It is the raft station at the Martha Brae River. You ride a raft leisurely down the river toward the ocean while your guide points out the features of the island along the banks of the river. We traveled to Jamaica one time and will not return, since we didn't feel safe other than on our resort.
Trinidad & Tobago - Trinidad is the island that has restuarants, nightclubs and 96% of the countries population, while Tobago is a 116-square-mile haven that has empty beaches, calm bays and spectacular brain-coral reefs.