HAE logo HAE's Hall of FAME


  • JB's Scout Jackknife
    and Knife/Fork/Spoon
  • Big Leather Boots
  • Orange Metal Jug
  • He-Man Leather Gloves
  • Real Apple Cider
  • Tim's Brush Ax
  • Candle Lantern
  • Big Top Tent
  • Wooden Snowshoes
  • Halogen Flashlights
  • 35mm Camera

  • JB's Cub Scout Jackknife and
    Boy Scout Knife/Fork/Spoon

    jack knifeThe fact that these two highly prized artifacts made it to the modern day untouched is a testimony to their influence in the early years of HAE founding member JB. The other reasons are more pragmatic, the knife was kept in various electronic and bike related tool boxes, thus avoiding the endless purges of useless junk in the camping box, and the knife/fork/spoon was used by JB all the way into the late eighties. At that time the fact that one plastic spoon weighed a whole lot less than the ancient cutlery set finally persuaded JB to make the swap out. "Well you know," says JB."I got this cub scout knife that I took along on my very first camping trips, overnights in the summer. But a couple of years later when I moved to boy scouts I got the boy scout knife, which worked much better. Then when I was 12 years old boy scout I went on my first winter trip, bringing along that boy scout knife, which I used until I got the first of several 4" sheath knifes in the early '80's. Then somehow the boy scout knife got lost because I was using it all the time for something else, or maybe it got tossed during one of my irregularly scheduled purges of junk. So the cub scout knife really represents the knife that I used before my first winter camping knife which was that boy scout jack knife."

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    Bring Back Leather Boots

    leather bootsWell if there ever was an item that I thought the paper work was screwed up on," said a be-spectacled HAE intern looking up from some dust coated basement records at the historical society archive, "is when leather boots were inducted into the Hall of Fame." "I thought for sure that the agreement made by the ad-hoc committee was that they were to be nominated for the Hall of Shame!" he finished, looking pleased to have used knowledge of the inner workings of the HAE research and preservation sub-panel in yet another cheesy pun. And indeed, what member of HAE has fond memories of leather boots, because woah buddy woah!....were they ever a pain in the ass of the very first kind.

    To start with, the unfortunate leather boot owner had to spend hours before the hike buffing them up with smelly cleaning chemicals and sealants. Then when the inevitable wet boots were pulled off at the end of the days hiking, a huge fire was needed to dry them out. Nothing is more panic central than dropping back off a tough mountain summit climb with totally frozen feet only to realize that little, if any, daylight is available to gather the large amount of firewood needed to dry out your leather boots in the delightfully wind whipped 5 degrees below zero air. Gathering firewood at night ranked right up there with leaving water in plastic as an all time HAE survival blunder back in those days, because without modern day flashlight technology, a good foot-tripping, snow coated eye-poking stumble was the guarantied result, delivered courtesy of the surrounding dense ice-coated brush, all while freezing your ass off. But attempting to dry a pair of leather boots by a red hot fire essentially destroys them rapidly, so more cleaning and sealing is needed, and the whole vicious cycle repeats....like every 24 hours until the trip ends. And we always did wonder if all those expensive, time consuming sealants were sealing water out of the boot....or sealing the moisture in.

    Woe is the hiker who did not pull his rock solid frozen leather boots into his sleeping system to warm it them up on a crisp -20 below morning. They are rock solid frozen because there is no such thing as dry leather boot on a hike, even after the hours spent in front of a fire last night, there is still plenty of moisture to harden them up. And then you had to strap on the snowshoes and directly gather enough wood for a morning fire, keeping the feet warm enough in them stinking leather boots to stand around camp doing stuff, like say, eating breakfast.

    Yes dear readers, HAE truely misses that meat locker feeling of leather boots, so please, please, bring them back.

    The final years of leather boot hiking by HAE saw increasingly sophisticated methods to deal with their insidious problems, like bringing along another pair of boots, not to mention building ever bigger fires. But bringing along extra hiking footwear is an overly heavy concept for weight conscience hikers, so the standard method was then to shuffle around camp in your down boots, or more often, sit around camp in the down boots. Net result, a thrashed pair of down boots to go along with the ever-ice cold pair of leather ones. Some wear and tear on the down boot was subsequently saved when JB invented the Bigelow Boot (Check out JB operating his ham radio in INTO BIG MAINE). Essentially a foot sized piece of foam lashed to the bottom of the down boot with rope, it allowed walking around without damaging the bottom of the down boot.

    The introduction of reasonably priced but high performance Sorrel rubber boots into the American market, probably riding on the skiing or snowmobile boom of the 70's, put an thankful end to the era of leather boots. Although to this day the rubber boot doesn't grip anywhere nearly as well as leather soles, especially on icy patches, and ankle support is minimal, the shear comfort level and ease of use is so compelling that one quickly gets used to the compromise, and learns to enjoy sliding around a bit more, or just staying in the snowshoes.

    Somehow, through all the moves and dumping of thrashed equipment, JB managed to save his first (and only) pair of leather Oslo Sports. They are preserved here in all their glory via the wondrous resolution of digital photography. They have survived probably because he relegated them to summer hiking only after removing them from the winter camping equipment list. If there ever will be a time for horns to blare pomp and circumstance, rolling these out from the archives is certainly one of them. After extensive examination of the archeological record, including old writings and photo's, the HAE committee for the preservation of historical artifacts has indeed certified that these are JB's first (and only) pair of real leather hiking boots, with the record showing that previous footwear consisted of the usual cheap stuff for kids found at large discount retailers.

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    Metal Orange Jug

    backwoods boilerHere's a classic remnant from the old days of HAE's thrash and burn culture. The orange metal jug's haeday corresponds to the days of JB's He-Man leather gloves used for "forest management," (see below) and Mark's single thick rubber glove for getting water. Ah yes the eighties. Filled with water, or often real apple cider, the German fuel bottle turned boiler was placed on some hot coals, directly in the fire, on top of the Big Top stove, you name it. Where there was smoke there was fire, and where there was fire there was the orange metal jug. With a loose cap, steam would billow out signaling that happy hour hot toddies were about to be poured. But hold it! Slow up there eager camper, go get a leather glove first, cuz that's one hot bottle in one hot fire. Needless to say, HAE historians were flabbergasted when Tim Novak revealed that he recently recovered an unused orange jug while on a fact finding archaeological expedition in the depth's of his old cellar. What a rare find!

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    He-Man Leather Gloves

    He-Man Leather GlovesHAE has always been famous for thrashing about in the woods leaving behind a swath of destruction and a carpet of wood chips. That swath has grown smaller and the wood chip carpet is much thinnier since HAE has adopted lower impact camping techniques. As a result, many tried and true pieces of gear have been retired simply because we didn't need them anymore and not because they were inferior. HAE blazes were for survival, therefor, a fire was always on. That meant lots of wood to burn which meant lots of thrashing in the forest in lumbering mode. He-Man Leather Gloves got the job done with the intensity of a bulldozer.

    Actually welding gloves, He-Man Leather Gloves are made of armor-thick leather that extends nearly to the elbow. Much more than just protection from the hazards of forest reduction, the gloves offered a whole new attitude. When JB slipped on those fearful gauntlets, the rest of HAE team knew trees were going to fall. The He-Man Leather gloves seemed to say: "Take a step back and you won't get hurt." If JB disappeared into the woods with his He-Man Leather Gloves on, you can be sure he was coming back with wood to burn.

    Alas, HAE's fire needs are merely a camp luxury. These days a fire is more a nuisance, burning unnecessary calories during the lumbering, filling camp with a debilitating smoke screen and covering the campsite with soot and ash. The need to clear-cut the forest has ended and the He Man Leather Gloves have been struck from the packlist forever. The gloves are not completely retired, however, as they continue to serve as Skateluge gloves!

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    Real Apple Cider

    apple ciderIf there is one thing that symbolizes HAE of the eighties, it would be hikers sitting around a blazing fire on the side of an ice cold wind swept mountain, drinking hot toddies and firing up a haebar. The recipe was easy, heat up apple cider, toss in rum and drink, but the result was magnificent in the surroundings. Maybe it was Mt Hale on New Years Eve, across the notch of an awe-inspiring Mt. Washington beaming in all it's snow capped splendor. Or perhaps it was the sound of trees booming, exploding as a result of the intense cold. Could it have been the laughter around camp continuing from the Giardia jokes told earlier at the watering hole? Whatever it was, there was no drink better than hot toddies served up at the HAE campsite.

    The days of enjoying real apple cider do conjure up images of dusty, silvered black and white photos in innately carved wood frames, canvas bags and wool blankets. But even as one goes off the deep end of glorified sentimentality, the final fate of real apple cider was a shocking dose of reality. It was unceremoniously switched to a powder (which can also be mixed with cold water) during the ruthless weight reduction era of the '90's. In a sense, maybe only JB has carried on the tradition, because he has found that he must carry real orange juice to keep his nose happy. Mixed with booze we have the backwoods screwdriver, very tasty, but not quite the impact delivered by steaming hot cup of rum laced apple cider with cinnamon powder swirling around on top.

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    Tim's Brush Ax

    brush axDubbed the "Ed Gein" for it's amazing hacking power, hardly a day in the woods went by without the sounds of Tim singing while thrashing away with this tool. The axe has a sinister, imposing shape that encourages one to go and get medieval on the work piece's ass. Held in its massive metal sheath, the axe can be found in numerous photos from early trips. Purchased at LL Bean in the early eighties, Ed Gein was introduced to winter hiking during the ground breaking Gordon Pond trip of 1985. The brush ax served for many years not only for forest reduction but also as a icon of HAE's thrash and hack camp style.

    But one day while looking around the Natick Outdoor store, JB found a light weight 12" long brush machete made by Barteaux & Sons, a Portland Oregon outfit. We gave that a field trial, bringing along both Tim's axe and the new light weight version. Too bad for Tim's axe, the new metal worked nearly, but not quite as well, weighed a whole lot less, and was much easier to pack. So the following year, after much discussion as to the relative merits of both tools, Tim's Brush Machete was retired, and the new one brought into service, were it remains to this day. Once again, thanks to Tim for saving this priceless piece of half-assed history.

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    Candle Lantern

    Setting up camp after a exhausting hike, the lighting of the candle lantern at the end of the day always signified that the wilderness had been beaten back just enough to allow for one of the small creature comforts of sub-zero life on the trail, a light that will last the entire evening. Although using the same technology that the Gregorian monks had, you can be sure that the HAE crew was not adhering to any austere and devoted life-style, with all that forest destruction, swearing and a cussing, drinking, smoking and rabble-rousing going on. It was the candle lantern that enabled HAE once the sun was gone. Often it swung in the wind until the glass window was coated with soot, dimming the light to a fraction of a candle power, the lantern was sole sentry that looked out and gaurded the entire camp.

    Tim carried the lantern, but almost always relied on Fife to carry the spare candles. Solid and reliable, the temperature seemed to go up a couple of degree's when it was lit, hot toddies flowed, and the camp bustled with lots of evening activities. Under a pulled down tarp, or the hanging in the middle of Big Top, a burned down and badly flickering candle lantern meant that the end of the eveining was near. But wait! Maybe there still was some hope that one more hot toddie was left in the orange jug, maybe somebody still has a haebar left in 'em, hae you guys whatta yah mean your all crashed out?

    The amazing thing about the candle lantern era was that it lasted so long. It started when we could afford to buy them as teenagers, and was not blown out until we were blown away by the LED revolution. "So hear hear! Listen up everyone! Thank you. It's time to hoist a cup in celebration of Mr. Candle Lantern. We want to say so many thanks for the many years that you have shown us the light, and let us wish you a very happy and joyous retirement, and it is errr...psst, yo Fife you got the plaque? It is with great pleasure and by the honor of all the power vested in me as a card carrying member of HAE, and also from the committee members and chair of the Historical Society, that I present you with this handsome plaque commemorating your long service in the winter woods and induction into the HAE Hall of Fame!"

    Woah...! What's this...? Mark cannot be silent any longer. Seems Mark doesn't agree with JB on this one. Mark, put down Ed Gein and tell us what's on your mind...

    "Set the Candle Lantern out to pasture? NO WAY!!! LED Revolution my ass! I have actually boiled a sierra cup full of water over a candle lantern! Try that with your LED ... good luck, I hope you have a lot of batteries. You may never need to, but if you're holed up in the rain, with no stove and surrounded by water-logged wood that just won't burn, it may be the only way to get something hot to drink. Lets see you lubricate a cranky zipper with your LED light! A few swipes with the end of the candle will fix it right up. Cloth can be made quite water-repellant by rubbing it with a candle, I've done it. No amount of photons from an LED can do that. Hey, you can even use it as a light source!

    The incandesent bulbs used in standard flashlights make better heaters than light generators. LEDs are much more efficient, so I now have one. However, there is no way a LED light can replace the survival power of a candle so I will always carry one when in the wilderness, it may never be used on a trip but its well worth the weight."

    "Dr Bellan-beanhole can use all the fancy-ass words he wants but I remember the 5+ lb. incandesent monster he brought up Bigelow ... 'nuff said."

    "The Candle Lantern does indeed belong in HAE's HALL of FAME, but retired?, I SAY NEVER!" - Mark N

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    The Big Top Tent

    Bigtop tentSome experts consider the age of the big top tent to be the zenith of the HAE winter camping ideal. Found by Tim in a mail order catalog, the Mountainsmith 15 foot umbrella tent was purchased shortly before the North Twin Mountain trip, to address a growing need within the group. There were four members now, and it was getting difficult to get all 4 in the same place at once to enjoy a hot toddie and haebar, without resorting to piling into a Appalachian Trail lean-to, or breaking in ... uh, err, staying in a cabin.

    "We looked at this tent in the catalog," Tim's explains emphatically, "and imagined that it would work way better than stringing up a couple of tarps and JB's tent, or spending two days building a snow fort during trips lucky enough to have enough snow." Plus everyone was intrigued by the portable, backpacking wood stove that sat right in the middle of the tent. It burned a fraction of the wood needed to maintain an open pit fire, and the smoke went right up the backpacking chimney, instead of in the hikers face as so often was the case out in the open.

    It's inaugural trip, to the slopes of North Twin Mountain, convinced everyone that the Big Top was an amazing piece of survival gear. The crew arrived in heavy rain and 35 oF temperatures. And it rained hard for days. The ground was frozen solid, so a sheet of water was flowing over everything. Logs were rolled in to keep the hikers off the flowing water and the stove was run continuously to keep dripping water from soaking the hikers. Later the temperature dropped below zero and Big Top again performed flawlessly. Year after year the Big Top was a lifesaver, and the best way to party on while a storm raged all about. A whole culture developed around it, and protocol to keep it running. The memories of surviving in Big Top on a wind-swept sub-zero mountainside, or maybe a deep river notch, enjoying the hot toddies, the haebars and the laughter of the company, could bring a tear of longing and remorse to HAE members sitting around this years campfire.

    But alas, time topples even the almighty. The stove was finicky, requiring constant repair to the welds that held it together, and processing wood for the stove was quite a chore not evenly shared by all the members of the crew. The tent degraded and required numerous repairs, as it was quite a large piece of umbrella shaped nylon. The stove pipe pass thru even caught on fire once. But it was the changing nature of HAE expeditions, from sedentary and heavily equipped, to light and mobile, that really spelled the beginning of the end for 20 lb. Big Top.

    And the disastrous trip to Old Speck Mountain sealed it's fate.

    There, in true half-assed fashion, the crew definitely mixed up the difference between sitting around in Big Top, being mountain trash that is, and snow shoeing straight up a mountian in deep snow with heavy backpacks, a near olympic event. At the top of the mountain, in a howling storm, the crew got separated when Tim and Mark disappeared down a cliff lined piece of trail on the backside of the peak. Fife and JB balked at the top of that drop. "An arctic storm raged for days," Mark recalls, only to be cleared out in favor of a hell ass nasty sub-zero cold spell. JB and Fife had the umbrella tent, but no stove, over on the west side of the mountain. They froze their proverbial asses off. Tim and Mark had the stove, but no tent, over on the east side of the mountain, and during their desperate journey out of the woods. They froze their asses off too. The lesson was clear and unambiguous: leaving personal survival gear like warm clothes off the pack list because you are carrying 25 or 50% of a very heavy, but very excellent survival system doesn't do anybody any good when the half-assed action and chaos starts.

    The next year Big Top was used effectively, by setting it up within a mile of the car, hiking a four day loop, and returning to the Big Top for the last night. That way everybody had their own survival gear, Big Top was actually put in a separate backpack and relayed up. But in following years enthusiasm waned for such a "we got everything to go nowhere, plus we got everything to go anywhere," approach to wintah campin', and now Big Top sits peacefully in the Hall of Fame. It's memories are so great that every year there is talk of resurrecting it. Still in operable condition, says Tim. But the march of progress and time are relentless, and it's likely that Big Top will only be pitched in our memories and in our stories of days gone by.

    And of course, here in the Hall of Fame!.

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    Wooden Snowshoes

    wooden snowshoesIt would be difficult to take a snowshoe hike down memory lane without strapping on a pair of wooden snowshoes with catgut webbing. Replaced decades ago in the stores by anodized aluminum versions bristling with knarly crampon points and neoprene webbing. More than any other piece of equipment, the wooden snowshoe conjures up images of rugged fur trappers working a line deep in the Canadian boreal forest. It's the 70's and the crew is chuffing around on technology undoubtedly first developed ages ago by the ancient snow masters of the great white northern wilderness.

    Hiking in a pair was always an experience that allow the imagination to flow unfettered as each step blended you further into the winter wood. It's twenty five miles to town along the banks and ice choked waters of the Peace River. Leaving your cabin at sun-up the thermometer says 40 below. Time to get some provisions and the months mail. Your name is Nick. The open space of the river give one time to ponder. A skilled outdoorsman, and rugged as the Yukon range in the background. Then why stop to build a fire right under a snow covered tree, like a total gomer? I think I'll try the HAE mountain trash terraforming method instead. Read all about it on their website www.haeadventure.com.

    All the crew owned and operated a pair of these classic shoes. Undoubtedly they went on to be better snowshoers because of that, as the wooden snowshoe took a fair bit of skill. Not only in maintaining and preparing the shoes for hiking, but also in offsetting the complete lack of traction by developing a nimble and balanced stride. However as HAE began to make increasingly difficult ascents, it became apparent that sliding backwards was no way to go forward.

    So one by one, everybody eventually switched over to the new stuff in the 80's. Tim was first, getting a pair of Sherpas that he still has today. Fife followed suit with the then recently introduced MSR Denali. A couple of years later, JB showed up with an enormous pair of Tubbs, later scaling back to smaller pair for weight savings. The last hold out was Mark. His wooden snow shoes, the longest lasting pair, have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, a tribute to the snow shoeing skill of it's owner, and the legacy established by one of the most majestic pieces of HAE gear in the archives. Photo evidence, in fact, shows that Mark was still operating his wooden pair even in the mid 90's. Here in the Hall of Fame we have placed an HAE photo classic, shot by JB during MAINE VACATIONLAND, of Markus demonstrating impeccable technique while using wooden snowshoes to negotiate a tough stream crossing.

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    Anybody for some Halogen?

    flashlightsIf there is one thing that tops everybody's "gotta have it" list for camping, it's the flashlight. But who would ever pine for the days of flickering bulbs, dim yellowish light, and heavy batteries that needed changing out every night? Not this HAE backpacking historian.

    Each year at camp there was the endless parade of lights, lights of all different sizes and shapes. After the handheld light era of the 70's, although actually they mostly seemed to be held in one's mouth, the headband lights appeared. Mark and Fife both used Petzl brand headband lights that ran on three AA batteries and garden variety bayonet style bulbs. What HAE team member could ever forget the beam from that Penzal light on the top of Fife's head as he looked up from shoveling snow? A photo of that classic Penzal light is included here, this particular flashlight is one that JB bought when he saw how good Fife's worked. But then JB carried it only for that one trip because he realized how much the dang thing weighed. Our historians are also researching old photos for other lights of this era, there were plenty, so stay tuned.

    Next, head mounted lights started getting smaller and increasingly used halogen bulbs. The headband for Mag-Lites showed up on the scene, allowing for a small light to be mounted, without the weight of the classic headband light. For many years Tim used a Halogen light with a fancy N-sized Lithium battery, most likely because he felt the need to be relieved of at least $8 when buying a replacement. Tim was the first to use the cold resistant Lithium batteries and they have since become the power source of choice. JB eventually settled on using the Solitaire, a single AAA powered halogen light in the headband.

    Despite the endless variety of flashlights, they all had one thing in common, they all kinda' sucked. Too heavy and too short run times before the battery needed changing. HAE hikers had resigned themselves to a lifetime of sucky flashlights when the LED revolution hit them full force. JB carried both a Pelican LED light and Solitaire halogen light for a couple of years before switching over to all LED. Tim didn't even bother with the field comparison, he went right to all LED.

    The Halogen lights inducted into the Hall of Fame are the last of a generation. They were carried by JB for many years, first the double AAA celled Maglite. Later the single AAA celled Solitaire, the switch occurring one year shortly after a "my flashlight weighs less than your flashlight," taunt was hurled across the campfire. There were no official Hall of Fame candidates being considered amongst the short lived flashlights carried by the team, that is, not until the LED revolution left us so dumbfounded that we voted in the halogen bulb, et al, wondering at the marvel of it all, and what would be next.

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    The 35mm Camera (Olympus Stylus)

    we don't need no steenking film...Ansel Adams is gonna flip in his grave over this one. If the LED revolution left the team scratching their noggins over what would be next, the emergence of digital camera technology has shaken our faith in the tried and true right down to the very core. Who would of dreamed that the stalwart of every HAE trip, not to mention everybody else on the planet's trip, the 35 mm camera, would ever become totally obsolete? With their sleek, light-weight looks, auto-focus, and astounding ease of use, the modern day 35mm camera looked like an institution that was here to stay.

    So it's no surprise that from what seems like the beginning of time, HAE photographers have used an Olympus Stylus 35 mm camera to document expeditions, attracted to it's reasonable price, small size, and point-and-shoot operation. The first one was owned by Tim, who took zillions of photos with it over the years, including his Georgia to Maine AT hike, and of course, the early Winter Expeditions. The one preserved here in the Hall of Fame was purchased by JB in the mid-eighties, when Tim's Stylus, after many years of great photography, gave it up for good. It has been carried by all the hikers at one time or another, usually one of the team members was the designated photographer for that trip.

    Just a couple of years ago it looked like the status of our legendary Olympus Stylus camera would never be challenged. Tim had brought along a newfangled gadget to the Wolf Mountain/Gorden Pond trip, a digital camera. It was quite big, and the picture resolution wasn't so great. None the less the entire campout was filmed using it, and some of those photos have been put up here at haeadventure.com, with the story line to follow when we get around to it. But the large sized heavy gadget that kept needing something changed out didn't really strike any of the team members as something they would care to carry next year, as such we expected to be doing little more than writing up a field test report. And switching back to the trusty ole' Stylus.

    Cut to several years later when the team shows up in the woods sporting a Cannon S200 Digital Elph camera with 2.0 Megapixel CCD, 35-70mm f / 2.8-4.0 optical zoom lens and movie mode with audio. The hae team is absolutely staggered. In the words of one HAE photographer, 'un..fuckin...believable!" The oohs and aahs, and "check this out....cool!" never seemed to end, as this camera was taken through the paces with ease. Picture quality was incredible, everybody was absolutely amazed how this camera made them look like a pro. High resolution photos, just point and shoot. Pics could be reviewed right on the spot and deleted, saving memory space. A whole bunch of shots went on one $30 memory pack, not even one close to the largest size available. But the real kicker was when we got home. The pic's are on the computer in less than 10 minutes, compared to all the time and cost of getting film developed. Wow.

    Returning from that winter campout, HAE's general quarters register needed some documentation revision. The official equipment list is updated with the Digital Elph, while the last known address for the ubiquitous 35 mm might as well be a Florida retirement community. Like a girlfriend suddenly dumped for a new flame, the Olympus camera is now sitting on the shelf, probably wondering what in the heck happened.

    Well here's what's happened my trustworthy Olympic Stylus camera. You have just been inducted into the HAE Hall of Fame! Congratulations!

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    Copyright 2003 Tim Novak and HAE