See likes

See likes given/taken


Your posts liked by others

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 5 6 7 8 ... 44
Post info No. of Likes
Re: Funny Tweets https://mobile.twitter.com/HerringWSJ/status/609410457468837888
June 12, 2015, 05:54:12 PM
1
Aurora, Storms, and Snowpants: An Icelandic Saga by Something Fishy, whYME, and ChAiM'l
August 01, 2015, 11:57:21 PM
3
Re: Best of DDF Oldie but goodie... Still my all-time favorite DDF anecdote.

Suave, in his Cambodia TR:

I bribed the Guard $1 at the Anti-Corruption Unit to let me into the building - Just for the novelty.

December 16, 2015, 11:32:04 PM
1
Re: A Glimpse of Patagonia: Joe's El Calafate Trip Report Awesome so far, looking forward to the rest. Patagonia has been on my bucket list for a long time.

My favorite part so far - around 1.5 seconds in, I see that you were planning this trip report already ;D ;D ;D:



December 22, 2015, 11:58:23 PM
1
Re: Aurora, Storms, and Snowpants: An Icelandic Saga by Something Fishy, whYME, and ChAiM'l [Something Fishy] We had been on the road to Jokulsarlon for only a couple of minutes, when it started to snow >:(. If we weren't annoyed enough at the Icelandic weather, we definitely were now... The road was very well marked, with evenly spaced reflectors along both sides, but our progress slowed considerably.

Luckily, after about half an hour, we passed the area of bad weather and left the snow behind completely.

whYME was driving at the time,
([whYME] naturally :D) while I was in the passenger seat gloomily watching the sky for the aurora I knew was not coming. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a point of light. It took me a couple of seconds to realize what it was - a star! This can't be right... the entire country is cloudy! whYME slammed on the brakes, turned off the lights, and I jumped out to investigate.

Thousands of stars were twinkling at me. Here and there a small patch of clouds still hung, but unbelievably, the sky had cleared!

Adrenaline pumping with excitement, we hit the road again, this time all three of us watching the sky intently. Not ten minutes later, I shouted for whYME to stop. Unless I was very much mistaken, I had just seen the faintest glimmer of green in the sky.

Again I jumped out of the van, rested my camera on the hood, and pointed it in the general direction. Lo and behold, there it was! While incredibly faint, there was no doubt about it. Even though it was hardly visible to us, my camera's long exposure had seen it clearly:




Like maniacs, we threw on whatever layers we could find, grabbed our cameras and tripods, and ran (literally) out into the night. We parked the van on a little outcropping of road, turned off all the lights, and sprinted to the other side of the road for a better composition.

We were a sight to behold. Three nutjobs, running and slipping across a frozen field, shouting instructions and tips over the wailing wind, trying to take a picture of what was really the lousiest aurora display you could imagine. Two minutes later the display brightened up a drop, and we had our primary objective for the trip completed: a picture of a real, live aurora. Sure, it was as meh a picture as I ever took, but at least we had seen something:






Let me digress for a moment and address the elephant in the room: the vast majority of the time, the aurora doesn't look as bright or as colorful as you see in all the pictures and time-lapse videos. Often, there is a lot of Photoshop put into each picture to bring out the aurora and show it the way people want to see it. Additionally, since a long exposure is needed to properly capture the lights, there are no videos to be had, only time-lapses (this has since changed with the introduction of the incredible Sony A7r camera). This means that the quick "dancing" we're used to seeing does not exist at all; reality is more like a shimmer, or a quick-moving cloud. Mercilessly, I kept on reminding Chaim'l and whYME about these facts; we must be prepared and not have our expectations exceed reality.

[whYME] Although I heard Something Fishy's warnings, it never quite registered with me because even though I knew not to expect it to look quite like the time lapses, I wasn't expecting it to be that bad.

[Something Fishy] As we were bundling back in the van, I mentioned this yet again. We were of course hoping that this display was just a teaser, but we know that it won't look like the videos we had seen ahead of time.

The above pictures are pretty much exactly the way we saw it in real life; as a demonstration, here's what they look like after some Photoshop wizardry:





 
Heading back to the van Chaim'l continued his clothing-losing streak, when his glove blew away into a pitch-dark, fenced-in field. From my end, my memory-card-losing trend appeared to be over, thankfully.

Our low spirits were now very definitely gone.


[whYME] Um, what? I guess SF and Chaim'l were happier, but me? That was quite another story.

Uch, such a disappointment. At this point, in a sense, I was even more disheartened and dejected than when we were looking at total cloud cover. And SF's insistence that this is how it often is didn't help matters. At least beforehand there was hope for the clouds to clear and we'd still see something, but now you're telling me that it's all a bunch of BS and I won't actually see the aurora looking anything like they appear in the pictures and videos?

Of course on one hand I was excited to have at least seen something, and was certainly hopeful and optimistic that we'd still get somewhat better views. On the other hand, with the full reality of Something Fishy's dire warnings setting in, I couldn't help but think "Really? that's what the fuss is all about? What a bummer."

Little did I know...


[Something Fishy] Back on the road, we got into the real hunting mode. We layered up everything we owned, from balaclavas to ice spikes for our boots. We set our cameras to manual mode, ISO 400, f/2.8, and 8 seconds (a good exposure starting point). We manually focused our lenses to infinity, and taped them down in that position. Bubble level in the hot shoe, wireless remotes receivers plugged in and set. We put our cameras on our tripods, fully extended legs their legs, and put those on our laps. The point of all this was simple: if the aurora appears again, we're ready to shoot in two seconds flat.

Turning off the car's heat so that we don't melt, we hit the road again. I don't remember who it was, but at this point someone pointed out that we must look like the yidden eating the korban pesach for the very first time - מָתְנֵיכֶ֣ם חֲגֻרִ֔ים נַֽעֲלֵיכֶם֙ בְּרַגְלֵיכֶ֔ם וּמַקֶּלְכֶ֖ם בְּיֶדְכֶ֑ם  ;D ;D ;D.

It was around half an hour later when the sky EXPLODED. We ran out into an otherworldly scene, one whose intensity took our breaths away. Auroras stretching from horizon to horizon; curtains of green, pink, and purple twisting, dancing in a cosmic dance. A thick green line drops, stretches, expands in all directions. It spreads into the vertical, the upper reaches changing from green to pink to purple. The dark, black landscape is transformed: the brightness of the aurora lights up even distant mountains; every patch of ice and snow glows eerily green. The silence was absolute; nothing could be heard but the melancholy wail of the wind.

Pictures? Who could think about pictures now.

We did however take some ;D. After drinking deeply of the incredible phenomenon before us, we now tried to capture it in camera. I should point out that these pictures are pretty much as we say it; other than the typical RAW adjustments (sharpness, contrast, etc.), these pictures are barely edited. We were truly luck to catch an exceptionally powerful display:




Photo by Chaim'l:



Photo by whYME:



Photo by Something Fishy:



Photo by Chaim'l:



Photo by Something Fishy:



Photo by Something Fishy:



Photo by whYME:



Photo by whYME:



Photo by Chaim'l:



Photo by Something Fishy:



[Something Fishy] For a couple of seconds, we even even lucky enough to see a somewhat rare coronal aurora, where the rays all appear to emanate from one point directly overhead:



Photo by whYME:



Photo by whYME:



Photo by whYME:



[Something Fishy] Once we had our shots, we put the cameras down and just watched.

In my opinion, this is something that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. There's something spiritual about it; words cannot begin to describe the feeling of lying on the ice, in the middle of nowhere, in the freezing cold, and watching the spectacular display of Hashem's work. I don't think I've ever made as heartfelt a birchas Osah Massai Bereishis as I did that night.


[Chaim’l] There isn’t much I could add to SF’s excellent oratory. It was a most amazing experience, lying on the snowy ground beside my tripod in the stillness of the night, watching the most awesome display of dancing colours across the sky. At that moment you cannot help forgetting about lost gloves and any other trivialities. This was Nifla’os HaBorei at its best.

[whYME] Wow! Just wow.
There's not much for me to add other than after thinking of Something Fishy's earlier dire warnings, I've never in my life been so glad to be able to tell someone "Ha! you were wrong!"


[Chaim’l] I took the opportunity to capture some pictures of SF and whYME lying on the ground spellbound by the show.

Photo by Chaim'l:




Photo by whYME:



[Something Fishy] After 35 minutes, the show began winding down. With a final burst of pale green and pink, the display came to a close:



Absolutely exhilarated, we got back in the van. After such a disappointing weather forecast, to be witness to such a spectacle, was just beyond our wildest dreams.

Once again, we headed to Jokulsarlon.

Except that we didn't. Fourteen minutes into the journey we, once again, hightailed it off the road. That sky!




Photo by Chaim'l:



Photo by whYME:



[Something Fishy] This video I took - while absolutely abysmal in quality - allows you to get an idea how the aurora dances, shifts, and fades in real-time:



This display was quite short; after 11 minutes, this one, too, faded to black:



This was turning into a pattern, and no sir, we did not mind one little bit ;D. Back in the car, drive a couple of minutes, screech onto the side of the road, and see display after marvelous display:



Photo by Chaim'l:



[Something Fishy] Sometimes we didn't bother taking pictures. For example, at one point in this weird and wonderful night, there was no aurora to be seen save for single, thick, bright green stripe stretching from horizon to horizon. Like a giant celestial snake, just hanging there, overhead; sometimes still, sometimes hypnotically waving from side to side. No way a camera could capture this otherworldly apparition. But we stood there, spellbound, until it faded into a memory.

[whYME] Perhaps there was no way for a camera to capture it, but I was still willing to give it a try :):





Meanwhile Chaim'l and Something Fishy just enjoyed the show:



[Something Fishy] As the hours passed, something incredible happened. Unbelievably, we were getting aurora fatigue. Spoiled by utterly epic displays, we'd see a medium-sized aurora and say, "Eh, not worth stopping for. We've seen better than that". I think that's the only reason we actually made it to Jokulsarlon in the end, by forging on and ignoring multiple "lesser" displays.

[whYME] Some lessons learned while driving that night:

1. If you're the one driving, try and leave the sky-watching to the passengers. I know it's important to know if there's any new aurora displays, but it's more important to pay attention to the road.
2. When disobeying rule #1, if you're approaching a one-lane bridge, be extra cautious and make sure you're not about to hit a tractor trailer head-on.
3. When disobeying rule #2, you darn well better hope the tractor trailer flashes his high beams and honks his air horn at you to get your attention with enough time for you to stop before the bridge...


[Something Fishy] At around 3:00 AM, we finally pulled into the parking lot at Jokulsarlon. The weather had turned overcast again and the parking lot was deserted, save for two cars whose occupants were fast asleep. Our goal now was simple - get some sleep ourselves. Other than a 2-hour nap on the plane, we had all been up for 40-something hours at this point; we were running on pure adrenaline.

Now the real fun started. While the camper supposedly sleeps five, it only really fits three adults - on two beds. The bottom bunk was not bad: there was plenty of room for two, and a camera bag divider did a nice job of maintaining, uh, a secure Demarcation Line. The top bunk, on the other hand, while being plenty wide, only had a clearance of twelve inches or so :o. I volunteered to climb up and be the guinea pig.

Oh. My. Flipptin'. Felusa. You have never felt something as claustrophobic as this. Once I was in, my fate was sealed; no way I'm getting out of there without some major gymnastics. I couldn't roll over; I couldn't bring my arms up or down. In fact I woke up at one point in the middle of the night freezing cold, as my blanket had fallen down and there was simply no way for me to retrieve it.

And it goes without saying that the bed (shelf?) was not exactly long enough. Chaim'l and whYME were laughing for half an hour straight when they caught sight of this:




[Chaim’l] This was probably the most comical turn-ins I've ever experienced. Due to the cramped space inside and ferocious winds outside, it was nigh on impossible to get undressed properly. We went to sleep almost fully clothed save for our snow boots and mid-layer tops. Although not the most comfortable sleepwear, it kept us warm and meant that when we awoke we were almost ready to go.

On the note of ferocious winds, it is recommended to check the wind’s direction before answering nature’s call outdoors in these conditions. An airfield windsock attached to the vehicle would do nicely.


[whYME] Indeed, the wind can be a bit of an issue when standing at the edge of the water and aiming for an iceberg, but with a little effort it's doable :D.

[Something Fishy] Sunrise was scheduled for 8:54. That meant we wanted to be ready to shoot by 7 o'clock, the latest. By the time we had settled down it was 4:00; we had two whole hours to sleep before our alarms went off at 6:00.

We were asleep in seconds.

December 27, 2015, 03:43:12 AM
1
Re: Good Shabbos! Good Shabbos from the Lofoten DO.
March 11, 2016, 10:56:09 AM
1
Re: What Do You Do For Kosher Food While Traveling?
That's it? Has no one taken these on a road trip in a cooler box in the back of the car?
I'm planning a 3 week road trip and I'm hoping that I can use these for the first week.

As long as you keep on changing the ice in the cooler it should stay cold and fresh.

August 10, 2016, 07:43:16 AM
1
Viva La Revolución! Time-traveling to Cuba with Something Fishy, whYME, and CITH This trip report will be in a similar format as the recent Icelandic one, with me doing the bulk of the writing and whYME and Cat In The Hat adding their thoughts, pictures, and commentary. As with Iceland, color coding will help maintain an easy flow.

So without further ado, here it goes.


Photo by Something Fishy:




Photo by whYME:




Photo by Cat In The Hat:


August 15, 2016, 02:04:50 AM
6
Re: Viva La Revolución! Time-traveling to Cuba with Something Fishy, whYME, and CITH [Something Fishy] Like many, I've always had a powerful urge to document and photograph that forbidden and mysterious island, Cuba. So close, yet so far. A mere 90 miles from the United States, Cuba has been off-limits to US citizens since President Kennedy imposed a complete trade embargo in 1960. While non-Americans have always been able to visit, for U.S. citizens it's always been an out of reach dream. Technically, the issue is not traveling; that's allowed. The problem is spending money there. The Treasury Department - whose responsibility it is to enforce the embargo - (rightfully) claims that it's impossible to go to Cuba and not spend money, ergo you may not travel there.

For many years now there has been a list of 12 allowed categories, which allowed you to visit Cuba if you fit into one of them. For example, visiting immediate family in Cuba, doing research, humanitarian, or journalistic work, and so on. The loophole that allowed ultra-expensive group tours to go was the "People-to-People" cultural exchange category. In such a case, you must remain with the tour group at all times, and you were only allowed to do "approved cultural activities" - take a salsa class, meet schoolchildren, and so on. For decades, this was the only legal way to visit Cuba as a tourist.

But by early 2015, big changes were afoot. In January, it was announced that travel restrictions will be somewhat eased; in July, President Obama would announce the renewal of diplomatic relationships with Cuba and the imminent mutual opening of embassies. The important part - for me - was the news that going forward, U.S. citizens could self-certify an affidavit that they belong to one of the 12 categories, throwing the journalistic window wide open. In the past you needed to have a legitimate press card, assignment, and Treasury Department approval to get the waiver. Now, you could sign a piece of paper and be good to go.

I instantly bestowed upon myself the title of DDF Travel Writer, declared that I'll be writing a trip report, and began planning this trip ;D.

With restrictions easing, I know it was just a matter of time before direct flights from the U.S. were announced, and business opportunities opened. It wouldn't take long before there was a McDonalds and Starbucks on every corner, and the last vestiges of the Cuban time capsule were erased. Unquestionably, the time to go was now.

Not all was smooth sailing, though. I discovered a more formidable foe than the U.S. Government, in the form of my wife ;D. She absolutely, flat-out, refused to go to Cuba. It didn't interest her as a destination, it was kinda dangerous (Alan Gross had just been released after being held for five years in a Cuban prison), and the fact that the trip was only quasi-legal didn't help either.

That Shabbos, we were invited for a meal by Cat In The Hat. CITH is a good friend of mine, who has come with me on multiple photography trips (see my Wyoming and Maine TRs for example). I convinced him to create an account before this trip, but he's not very active here on DDF. Like me, he'd harbored a long burning Cuba bug, and was mightily excited about the recent news. During this Shabbos meal, we were discussing the fact that neither of our wives are remotely interested in going, when the ladies exchanged an exasperated look and said in unison, "If you two want to go so badly then go together! Just leave us out of this."

And just like that, the trip was on ;D.

I can neither confirm nor deny that this Shabbos meal was all collusion between CITH and I :-X.

As soon as Shabbos was over, I called whYME - who I knew was itching to go to Cuba as well - with the good news that the trip is likely a reality. It didn't take ten seconds and I had him - once again - hooked on a Photo DO :D.


[whYME] Well I was hooked in seconds, but let's just say my discussion about it with my wife didn't go quite as planned. "CUBA?! No, not Cuba. Anywhere but Cuba!" Apparently she had also been reading about Alan Gross and was convinced that if I went to Cuba I would be spending the next ten years in a Gulag. And thus began a convince-my-wife-that-Cuba-is-safe campaign. One morning during this time my wife showed me a news story, that there had been a stabbing not 200 feet from our front door during the night.She looked at me strangely when I burst out laughing at this news, so I showed her a Whatsapp Something Fishy had sent me the night before that I needed to tell her that Cuba is safer than Crown Heights . Eventually she was convinced that Cuba is safe enough (well, as long as you're not smuggling in illegal telecommunication devices) and I was given the OK to go.

To this day I wonder if maybe instead of pushing Cuba I should've taken advantage of "anywhere but cuba" and leveraged it for something bigger. Like maybe Antarctica? .


[Something Fishy] With the group finalized, it was time to find flights. At the time there were no flights between the U.S. and Cuba, save for a few uber-expensive charters. We needed to find a roundabout routing, preferably using miles. After a ton of research, it seemed that the best available options were on Aeromexico via MEX or CUN using DL miles, AC via YYZ in rev (AC does not allow point redemptions on that flight), or Copa (CM) via PTY using *A miles. With DL wanting around a trillion miles plus one (1) firstborn son, and AC wanting real, actual money (horrors!), CM was looking the most attractive.

Right away though we began hitting roadblocks. United.poop wasn't showing a single flight to Havana - even on partners -, likely because they themselves weren't allowed to fly there. On the phone, every agent insisted that even though they can see the availability, they cannot book it. Trying United's Mexican office, they were able to book it, but not on points. After a whole lot of trial and error, we discovered that if you manually select to show only Copa flights on Avianca's Lifemiles site, you could force it to show availability. Once we found the flights we wanted, we discovered that SQ will be more than happy to issue the tickets for us.

So after a week of headaches, CITH and I had the following in hand for 60K SQ + $86.48 in J:

Sun., 8/16: CM831 JFK-PTY, 3:05p – 7:37p
--- 1:58 connection ---
Sun., 8/16: CM230 PTY-HAV, 9:35p – 1:10a, +1
 
Thu., 8/20: CM321 HAV-PTY, 8:47a – 10:26a
--- 11:08 connection ---
Thu., 8/20: CM808 PTY-JFK, 9:34p – 3:45a, +1

[whYME] I had a bit more trouble here. I was unsure whether I would want to fly from BOS or JFK, so I wasn't quite ready to book yet when they were booking. Ultimately I decided I would fly from BOS and return to JFK. But by the time I was ready to book, the PTY-JFK that the other guys were on was no longer available, so I booked one for the following morning hoping that the other flight would open up.

My booking looked like this, for 60K SQ + $91.63 in J:

Sun., 8/16: CM312 BOS-PTY, 9:26a – 2:18p
--- 7:17 connection ---
Sun., 8/16: CM230 PTY-HAV, 9:35p – 1:10a, +1
 
Thu., 8/20: CM321 HAV-PTY, 8:47a – 10:26a
--- 23:06 connection ---
Fri., 8/21: CM830 PTY-JFK, 7:41a – 1:50p

Wed., 4/20/16: UA631 EWR-SFO (threw in the free stopover)

I would be arriving in PTY 5+ hours before the other guys, and if I couldn't get on their flight for the return, spending an extra night there.


[Something Fishy] The final routing (yellow) was slightly bonkers, as we would be going nearly 2.5x the distance as JFK-HAV direct (blue). But if this was the price to pay, so be it. On the upside, this routing gave us a full day to explore Panama on the way home.



With flights sorted and out of the way, it was time to find a place to sleep.

There are two main lodging options in Cuba: hotels or what's called a casa particular. Up until around ten years ago, no Cuban was allowed to engage in any sort of private enterprise; everyone worked in government factories, government groceries, and so on. But the Castros have slowly been opening up limited economic opportunities for citizens, and among the first reforms was that people were now able to rent out their houses or rooms to others. This created a market where private people were able to put up tourists in their homes, which got dubbed casa particulars (Hipster Cuba did vacation rentals before it was cool, apparently).

Looking at hotels, we found an incredibly limited selection, split pretty evenly between $150/night hole-in-the-walls and $500/night ultra-fancy places. With neither option being very appealing, we decided to take a casa. Luckily for us, Airbnb had just announced that they're beginning operations in Cuba, with over 1000 casas available from the get-go.

It didn't take long and we found an ideal place: it was in the heart of Old Havana, all of 100 feet from the national capitol building ("El Capitolio"), it looked nice and clean, and most importantly, it had AC. The listing even claimed that there was Wi-Fi, a true rarity in Cuba. It cost $39/night, which worked out to the princely sum of $13 per person. The booking process was a little different than usual, as Airbnb would not confirm the stay until everyone in the party filled out the affidavit through a special link they sent us. Other than that, the booking was perfectly painless; it was just like booking a place in the U.S.

The food situation was more complicated. Officially, the only food allowed in (other than dry goods, like bread, crackers, and the like) was "canned tuna from a recognized national brand". We never did figure out who decides what's well known and what isn't, but we did know that we're not taking any chances smuggling forbidden items into a totalitarian communist dictatorship...

The big question was what - if anything - could be bought locally. Obviously, there would be zero kosher food, but we were hoping to be able to drink something other than water and maybe get some local produce as well. The problem was that when searching online, half the internet claimed that there were fruit and vegetable carts all over town, while the other half insisted that they weren't able to find a single piece of produce.

Turns out a colleague of mine had gone to Cuba a year before on a cultural exchange program, so I want downstairs to find out what I could expect to buy locally. According to him, there was produce easily available, as well as Coke products. Two bits of good news - I just hoped that he was right.

In the end, we brought along rolls and wraps, PB&J, Tradition soups, granola bars, and tons of snacks (rugalech, chocolate, nosh, things like that). For protein, we took a mountain of tuna from Chicken of the Sea, hoping against hope that it was "national brand" enough for Cuban customs :(.
[whYME] I personally was willing to take the risk that the heimishe tuna was"national brand" enough for Cuban customs so I went with that. Supplemented with local fruits and veggies, it wasn't looking too bad after all.

The visa situation was unclear as well. In the U.S., plenty of tour companies are happy to sell you a visa for $85, but only if you fly with them. Flying on our own, it was unclear how and when to obtain it. After much research, it appeared that they sell it at the airport in Panama for all of ten bucks.

Transportation-wise, we would be using taxis. Renting a car is possible, but the cost is exorbitant, the roads in pathetic condition, and the cars garbage. Most importantly, by Cuban law, if you're involved on a motor vehicle accident, you are not allowed to leave the country until the case is settled, which could take months. The fact that the bulk of the taxis are lovely classic American cars didn't hurt that decision either.

Our itinerary for the trip was purposely left very fluid. Even though Cuba is a fairly popular spot for Canadian and European tourists, there was a surprising dearth of practical info available online. Being that the goal of this trip was to photograph and document everyday life in Cuba, our plan consisted of basically wandering around Old Havana, observing, shooting, and interacting with the locals.

Many visitors to Cuba go to more than just Havana. The beaches of Varedero are legendary, but being that we were on a journalistic licence we weren't allowed to go to beaches (and as it turned out, we could've gotten into serious trouble upon return had we taken bathing suits along. But that story will have to wait ;D). Another popular option is to fly to Trinidad de Cuba, but it was too similar to Havana to interest us much, plus the timing simply didn't work out.

In the end I discovered Vinales. Supposedly a two-hour drive from Havana, this is real, rural Cuba. This is prime tobacco-growing country, and of astounding natural beauty. Hopefully, we'll find a taxi driver who could take us there for the day for a change of pace and scenery.

Finally, the plans were made, the paperwork filled out in triplicate, and I promised my wife - again - to try and stay out of trouble and out of jail.

We were ready to travel back in time.

August 15, 2016, 02:05:39 AM
1
Re: Digital Camera Deals Master Thread Great deal on a great bag for a basic DSLR and some accessories - the Tamrac 5531 Adventure Messenger 1 is currently $9 instead of the usual $30.

Kinda no-brainer if you have a DLSR+kit lens.

August 29, 2016, 03:01:33 PM
1