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Re: BOGO Tuition Scam
My personal opinion is that with this fiasco he killed his loyalty program, which seems like a legitimate business which might or might have not worked, before even getting to try it. If it is to have any chance he will have to take some radical steps (such as renaming it, and removing himself from the business, and only collecting royalties if indeed it ever works out. My guess is that he wouldn't take those steps).
I don't understand something. Once it's pretty clear to you that this guy was and is involved in some shady things, shouldn't it not matter that on a separate proposal he had a nice idea? Shouldn't you say, I better stay away from this guy - the idea sounds good but I'm not going anywhere near it with this guy involved?

September 08, 2016, 12:30:10 PM
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Savannah TR on JetBlue promo Here we go, my first large trip report (Ive done a few small things here and there, but this is my first full trip recap effort). There's next to nothing about Savannah on DDF, and we really enjoyed our trip, so I figured I'd put as much detail (and photos) as I could.

NOTE: I obviously set up the pictures and captions on my desktop, and I'm reasonably certain some of my formatting won't work well on a phone or tapa, and possibly even on some desktop's depending on screen size. I'd love to hear feedback from people as to whether the layout worked well from whatever device they viewed it from.

Planning
Having enrolled myself and my wife in the JetBlue Points Match promo (not enough SPG points to do the kids too), we had to decide where to go and for how long. Last resort would be the in-and-outs that many DDFers seem to have done, to wherever the cheapest option would be, but we much preferred an actual trip where we could visit a city. But, since we were leaving our other 2 children with my in-laws, we couldn't be away for too long. We actually booked Charleston first, but quickly decided to switch to Savannah for a number of reasons. As far as timing, we would fly flew in Tuesday morning and out Wednesday evening basically giving us 2 days and 1 night. I booked window and aisle for both flights, hoping to bring the infant car seat on the plane. Our flights were as follows:

8/23 7:05AM JFK-SAV
8/24 5:50PM SAV-JFK

Flight and Arrival in Savannah
Tuesday morning we were up and out nice and early for our 7:05 AM flight, taking an Uber to JFK for free with a referral credit I discovered I still had. Unfortunately, we forgot the cooler bag with what was supposed to be that days lunch at home. Instead, we picked up a sandwich and a salad from Fresko at the CIBO in T5 right after security. Im curious if they might have had other choices at the other CIBOs, because I did not like the selection. It was a rip-off, but I guess thats what happens when you have to buy food at the airport.

The flight was full, so no extra seat for baby, but bh he was extremely well behaved. After a short flight, we arrived at SAV. Its a nice little airport with some local character. All the rental companies have the cars on-site, so we proceeded to the Dollar desk, where I had reserved the cheapest option - under $40 for 2 days. The woman at the desk was trying to get everyone to upgrade, and not to a level above, but to the biggest thing she could sell you on. She said theres no trunk in the car youre getting, how about a Jeep instead. That sounded bad enough to upgrade, but we figured, lets go out and see what it is, and come back if we cant squeeze in. Lo and behold its a Chevy Cruze (thats a compact, the category of the Civic, Corolla, etc. not even Chevys smallest car), with plenty of room in the trunk for all our stuff. It was also extremely well equipped for such a budget car (and such a budget rental price!).

Forsyth Park
We had some time to kill before the first real item on our itinerary, so we stopped at Publix by the airport for some snacks and headed into Savannah to squeeze in Forsyth Park. Its a nice little park, and you immediately get a sense of the type of city youre in. This is not NYC, it's got a very southern feel and an air of history about it. Especially striking are the colorful houses facing the park, something that can be found all over the historic parts of Savannah. Having said that, theres not much to do or see there, and the trolley tours (more on that later) usually cover it too. It was nice to stop by given our schedule, but not a must see attraction. The northern half of the park is covered with live oaks (the state tree), with paths surrounding a very pretty fountain. The southern half is mostly open fields, with a really tall confederate memorial smack in the middle, and a memorial for the Spanish-American War at the southern tip. In between, there's a playground, a 'fragrant garden' and a cafe. After 15-20 minutes, wed seen the sight and moved on to the next attraction.

(L)Plaque commemorating the naming of the park, right in front of (R)the big fountain featured in the northern portion of the park.

   

(L)Crepe myrtle with a few flowers, dwarfed by live oak, covered in Spanish moss (which seemed to cover nearly every tree). (R)Walled 'fragrant' garden

   

(L)Little bird pond/fountain in the middle of the fragrant garden. Not much there in the heat of summer's end, but I did find this one (R)rose.

   

(L)Confederate memorial. (R)Spanish-American war memorial.

   

Just to give you a sense of the very different vibe of the area, here are some of the houses lining the park:

      

Dolphin Boat Tour

Our next stop was a dolphin boat tour. Savannah is situated on the Savannah River, but fairly close to the mouth where it flows into the Atlantic. As a result, there are Atlantic bottlenose dolphins that hang out downriver of the city. I had first seen a company that operates out of Savannah proper, but it was twice the price of all the other companies I eventually found, which launch from Tybee Island. If Hilton Head is Savannah's nearby resort town, Tybee is its nearby beach town - no fancy chain hotels, no fancy vacation communities. We were planning on visiting Tybee anyway, so it was a no-brainer to drive out that way for the dolphin tour as well. We booked an 11:30 tour with Captain Derek's Dolphin Adventure - $16/person after tax for a 60-90 minute ride. They let us bring the stroller on without a problem, though I had to carry it to where we sat as the boat is not quite big enough for maneuvering the stroller.

They operate with a captain piloting the boat, and another guy who basically attempts to entertain with jokes, and points out the dolphins when they start appearing. We saw a good number of dolphins at a distance, until finally a pair of them decided to come right up to the boat and say hi. They also speed the boat up at one point to make waves, hoping to have the dolphins 'surf' in the wake, but they were unsuccessful getting the dolphins to do that on our tour. It's a nice ride providing some relief from the heat and humidity, and it was definitely cool to see the dolphins up close. If I were to do something like this again though, I'd make sure to bring something faster than my point and shoot, as you have to be quick to catch the dolphins in frame.

As we were boarding the tour, we saw (L)this dredging vessel coming upriver, followed by (R)a container ship. The guide later told us that they're doing dredging work to deepen the channel for even bigger container ships, and when there's a storm coming, they bring all the ships into the relative come of the river a day or two before.

   

(L)Our first dolphin sighting! After getting a bunch of not too great shots from distance, (R)eventually they decided to come hang out near the boat for a few minutes.

   

Fort Pulaski, built after the War of 1812 as part of the US coastal defense system, saw significant fighting in the civil war (that's why the walls are so scarred, you can zoom in to see).



(L)Cockpur Island Lighthouse, the smallest lighthouse in Georgia. At low tide you can walk from the fort, but as you can see it's covered by water in the middle of the day. (R)Tybee Island Lighthouse, the largest lighthouse in Georgia, and one of seven colonial era lighthouses still standing today.

        

(L)Just a nice shot from the marina looking back over the marshes at a storm that thankfully never hit us. (R)Someone on the boat pointed out a rainbow in the cloud and this was the best shot I was able to get.

   

Tybee Island

After the tour, we continued on to the rest of Tybee Island. We stopped at the North Beach parking lot, where my wife went to check on the conditions on the beach. It was too hot for the baby, and too not-deserted for me, but she did see a sign that made us realize we'd seen Tybee Island in nature shows, as it's a significant nesting site for sea turtles. The lighthouse is right by that lot, as is a museum in an old fort (Fort Scriven), but neither were open, so we moved on. I had seen something about a pier and pavilion at Tybee's South Beach, so we headed that way to check it out. Parking is $2/hour, but we didn't have quarters, so I ended up paying the $4 cc minimum. We thought we'd get our money's worth by also visiting the marine science center, which is right next to the pavilion, but we ended up deciding to skip it in the interest of time. The pier and pavilion were worthwhile in their own right.

(L)Food court under the pavilion. (R)Fishing pier past the pavilion, stretching out into the ocean.

   

Semi-panoramic view from the fishing pier of the pavilion, the beach, and the resorts in the background.

      

We took in the views and sea breeze for a half hour or so before heading back to the car and back into Savannah.

Congregation Mickve Israel
Next stop was Congregation Mickve Israel, the 3rd oldest Jewish congregation in America (after Spanish and Portuguese in NY, and Touro in RI). They have tours that last around 30-45 minutes, with a $7/person suggested donation (they made it seem mandatory though, which was fine by me as I was planning to pay that amount anyway). The tour takes you into the shul and then to a single room museum they made in a relatively modern part of the building that also houses the office, gift shop, meeting rooms, etc. I did not realize this beforehand, but it may be halachically problematic to enter the shul itself (my Rov told me after that I shouldn't have gone in), so AYLOR beforehand if you plan to go. They seat you in the shul while the tour guide talks about the history of Jews in Savannah and the congregation itself. Then you go up by the aron and where they open it to show the sifrei torah. Finally they bring you up to the museum room to see all the historical artifacts they have curated for tourists.

The history is remarkable, as the Jewish presence in Georgia dates back nearly to the founding of the colony. This congregation didn't officially become reform until 1904, though it seems like it was fairly progressive as time went on, and very integrated into it's surroundings. The building itself highlights this with its Gothic style, more reminiscent of a church than a shul, and artifacts in the museum that show the role of congregants in Savannah, and more generally American, society.

Not my photo, but I wanted to highlight just how church-like the building is from the outside (you can click through to see the photographer's flickr page).

     

(L)Sefer torah which was brought over by the first Jews to come to Georgia in 1733. (R)Note from Robert E. Lee to one of the congregants.

   

(L)Front of the shul, including aron and bimah. (C)Looking back from near the aron on the rest of the shul. Note the organ above the doors in the back. (R) One of the 8 large stained glass windows covering the sides of the building.

       

(L)Shofar, havdalah set, haggadah, shabbos lamp, siddurim, and megillah. (C)Ceremonial helmet of Rabbi George Solomon, who was the Rabbi of Mickve Israel from 1903-1945, and served as a chaplain in both world wars. (R)Menorah at middle right and mohel's set (which was brought over on the boat with the Torah above) at bottom left.

      

It was now late enough to check-in, so we headed to the hotel to get settled before mincha/maariv and dinner.

Part 2 will cover the hotel, kosher food and minyan, trolley tour and City Market.

September 12, 2016, 04:49:11 PM
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Re: The funny/strange/interesting video thread...

September 14, 2016, 10:48:45 AM
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Re: The Pros And Cons Of Where You Live
What are you guys talking about? My re tax is ~5k as is many/most of my friends in the neighborhood. Obviously it depends on size if house, size of property, etc. But I don't think any of us are paying 10k. Also, a major factor is location. Those in Lawrence and cedarhurst are in an incorporated Town so there is another layer of government which obviously means more taxes.
The trade-off between NYC and elsewhere is that NYC has lower RE taxes, but adds an extra layer of income tax. You may pay double the RE tax in 5T, but you don't pay the extra income tax that comes from residing in the city. It just depends which is larger - the increase in RE tax or the increase in NYC income tax.

ETA: Just to be clear, I'm pointing out that all else equal, RE tax is basically guaranteed to be higher outside NYC. You may find specific places where it's low enough to be a no-brainer relative to NYC income tax, but it's still the same equation.

November 30, 2016, 09:27:06 AM
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Re: Excel Problem
Next level vlookup is index match... Giyf

What's next level pivot? Power pivot? Stay away from that imho... Scary stuff :)
I have a relative who got into power pivot... never heard from him again.

Which is to say that when he starts talking my ear off about power pivot I'm forced to tune him out. ;D

December 11, 2016, 11:28:39 AM
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Re: Boston Master Thread
Any ideas of any really beautiful hotels within 15/20 minutes of the jewish community (shuls, food). I am looking for something away from it all with grounds and not a hyatt in the center of downtown.
Then Boston is not the city for you.

December 14, 2016, 12:19:20 PM
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Re: Interesting Articles...
Note the date of the article.  His position has evolved significantly since then.   He was the primary target of the recent OU letter.  I guess it shows that they were squarely outside the future OU letter almost 20 years ago.
Ah... originally assumed it was current and that he was attempting to scoot back within the OU's line. If you're posting an old article, you should probably mention that in the post.

February 16, 2017, 02:25:42 PM
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Re: RJ (ETA: and others) banning electronics in cabin on flights to US
March 23, 2017, 11:47:31 AM
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Re: RJ (ETA: and others) banning electronics in cabin on flights to US
Now watch the number of midair disturbances go up up.
Lol, good point.

March 23, 2017, 11:57:41 AM
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Re: Is It Ethical?
Ethical.
You did your brother a favor by picking up VGCs for him.  You paid with your credit card. Eventually he gifts the whole thing back to you.
That has nothing to do with whether the actual scenario is ethical. You're just constructing an ethical hypothetical that's functionally equivalent.

May 10, 2017, 01:47:41 PM
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