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Re: Anyone famous here? Then there's always this guy.
December 01, 2015, 10:51:58 PM
Re: Donate To Wikipedia I used to give $15 whenever it popped up because Wiki got me through law school.
December 05, 2015, 10:05:09 PM
Re: Costa Rica Master Thread Has anyone ordered food from the Chabad takeout in San Jose? Or been to the kosher grocery store?
February 03, 2016, 06:33:34 PM
Re: The School Crisis I forgot... let's pick and choose when we listen to our gedolim.  Because school administrators and the parent body certainly know better.

September 25, 2016, 12:43:44 PM
Re: PSA - Stay Away From The People In Lakewood Who Offer $5000 In One Month
He'd probably even if he had one first hand story but seemingly looks like there really aren't such actual "clear farmers screwing over client" stories. If there were so many of these stories there forsure would've been atleast one person that came forward

This past shabbos a friend told me that a farm ended up getting his existing AmEx accounts shut down, and he never got a dime either.  I'll try to get the whole story and forward to Dan.

September 26, 2016, 09:38:01 AM
Re: Amex Platinum Master Thread
If i had my points clawed back on plat would I be eligible for the bonus offer again being that I never technically got my bonus offer?

The language doesn't mention receiving the bonus, it's about having had the card.

September 29, 2016, 03:16:53 PM
Re: Drones Master Thread
Anyway to find the owner of a drone? Someone flew a Phantom through an open window of my friend's apartment in Brooklyn. Literally he walked in and there was a drone sitting on the floor of the living room.  ???

It's mine. Sorry about that!  Tell him I'll send him a shipping label.

September 30, 2016, 02:06:15 PM
Re: A New Era For Citi Thank You Points JetBlue added as a transfer partner!

1.25 TYP => 1 B6

October 20, 2016, 02:09:49 PM
Re: Extreme Couponing My wife does it and enjoys it.  We have a whole closet full of hygiene products, soaps, shampoos, laundry detergent, cleaners, etc.   Kosher food is definitely more difficult but doable. 
April 02, 2017, 11:40:58 AM
Re: FBI Raids Orthodox Homes and Businesses in Monsey and KJ
I see there are a lot of very righteous members of DDF.

Life is not binary. Life is not black and white. The vast majority of people who apply for benefits while earning more than allowable are doing so because they are desperate. They earn too much to be eligible for benefits, and at the same time do not earn enough to survive. DH, whether you like it or not, said it exactly right. Maybe he shouldn't have aired the dirty laundry of the community, but what he said is true.

I'm curious how many people here that פארקויפן זייער מיילס report it as income. I'm curious how many people here ליגענען וועגן זייער פרנסה to get approved for credit cards.

I'm not G-D forbid saying it's justified. It's not. But those who live in a glass house...

DH's statement - besides being a moronic thing to publicize - is pure BS.  Were these families living with 6 children per bedroom sleeping on mattresses on the floor?  Were they sharing a box of pasta for dinner every night?  No, they weren't.  They wanted their cake and to eat it too.  Pure greed and/or entitlement.

June 28, 2017, 11:02:56 AM
is there one that i can print?

I use this one:

November 02, 2017, 12:32:28 AM
Re: Laptop Deals Master Thread
Dell XPS 13 9360 XPS9360-5203SLV-PUS Laptop $749.00 from Microsoft
Currently showing out of stock online but should be available in-store.

I had my eye on that but my local store is a mall kiosk.  It just came back in stock online thought so I jumped on it.  Thanks!

December 18, 2017, 04:52:22 PM
Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission I'll begin this TR while I have another 25 min at a lounge here in ARN.

A bit of background, about two years ago I made a commitment to myself to visit 30 countries by my 30th birthday.  I had been to about 6 at the time, maybe fewer.  Fast forward nearly two years, and I was 3 months shy of my birthday and sitting pretty at 23 countries.  I always said I would just rail around Europe if I ran out of time, so I planned a quick trip to Vienna, Bratislava, and Prague.  That din't happen for a few reasons so I switched to Scandinavia, as seeing the Northern Lights has been my top bucket list item for 20+ years.

I did a bit of research and found that none of the northern cities in Norway, Sweden, or Finland have flights to each other.  For example, if you want to fly from Tromso in northern Norway to Kittila in northern Finland, you fly down to OSL, over to HEL, then up to Kittila.  So I looked into a one way car rental.  Nope... drop off fees cost upwards of a thousand dollars.

At the same time I heard about the original IceHotel out side of Kiruna, Sweden, and decided I needed to do it for the story.  Shortly thereafter a popular FB video ( caught my eye about a hotel called the Northern Lights Ranch in northern Finland.  Google maps said it was about a 3.5-4 hour drive from Kiruna.  Booked.

The city of Narvik in Norway was about a 2.5 hour drive, so Kiruna became my hub to visit all three countries.  After reading up a bit, I booked a rental car, the hotels, and moved to the flights.

I booked EWR-ARN-KRN in J on SAS for 70k UA exactly 22 days out, but in retrospect I should have used AC.  Oh well.  I wasn't sure how I was getting home, but was trying to fly through MUC to visit Dachau.  That didn't happen and at the last minute a seat on the LH flight from FRA to IAD on the Queen opened in F, and I grabbed it (70k AC) with a connection from ARN on LH as well.  The connecting flight from KRN wasn't at a good time, so I booked a Norwegian flight Rev from KRN down to ARN.

Now to the actual trip.  Last Wednesday I hopped on a train from Baltimore to EWR, and hopped on the direct flight to ARN.  I only had a 50 hour layover, which was shortened to 35 due to a late arrival, but made in to the next terminal and through passport control and security in about 10-15 minutes.  ARN is beautiful, btw.

Landed in KRN in the morning and picked up my car, which was obviously outfitted in studded snow tires.  I splurged on an automatic with AWD to make myself a bit more comfortable with the amount of driving I was doing.

I need to go catch my flight to FRA, but here are some teaser pics of the first hotel, the Northern Lights Ranch.

January 14, 2018, 12:05:14 PM
Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission After I went through the SnowVillage, even freezing my butt on the kiddie ice slide, I made the way up past the ski resort at Levi, to the Northern Lights Ranch.  Google Maps/Waze are off by about a mile, but a quick phone call and they guided me right there.

A quick note before I forget, those cars handle ridiculously well, even on the many roads that look like this:

So when Waze says something will take 4 hours, in the states you may beat it by a few.  In Lapland, you can easily shave an hour off.

Back on topic, I arrived, and the check in process was simple and painless, they walked me to my cabin, informed me I had been upgraded, and showed me all the features.  A pair of snowshoes hand outside, all the floors a heated (which is awesome), water pressure and temperature was great, and a large selection of toiletries.

Well it was starting to get dark so I got to taking pictures.  At one point, my Mavic froze and started descending onto a tree, when finally the connection came back and I was able to bring it home with only one propeller damaged.  Anyway... I am far from a professional so I played around with different settings on my mirrorless, used my GoPro a bit, and my phone as well.  IIRC, that pic in the first post was taken with my GoPro.

I had been keeping an eye on the weather and KP index (I have no clue what it is, but I know what to look for, kinda like Bitcoin).  It was going to be a cloudy afternoon/evening, with them parting in the early night.  Hopefully.  Another hiccup was a predicted KP of 1.33-1.67, max.  In short, you want 2+, preferably 4+ at that latitude.

After taking a few hundred pics, I decided to get some work done and wait for the clouds to clear.  And clear they did!  I think it was about 10 when I finally looked up and saw them.  It was weird, because at that weakness they disappear if you look directly at them, but they're clear as day in your periphery.  But I immediately whipped out the camera and that's where my lack of skills became apparent.  I could not get them on "film" through the glass.  I think it was due to some ambient light coming in from outside causing the reflection to amplify with the long exposure.  But what do I know.  So at that point I cheated. I took some clean inside pics, then went outside and got some more, and then merged them into this composite:

I know it's cheating, but I'm happy ;D

I then fell asleep and woke up at 5am with the big dipper framed perfectly in one of the panels above my head.  The whole thing was so mesmerizing.  I got up a little later as it began to get light, took a few more pictures in and out, including the drone pic in the first post, then got ready to check out. 

At that point I remembered that they had mentioned a snow chapel and some baby reindeer, so I went to inquire.  One of the employees showed me to the chapel, which I thought was incredible (for 2 days...), then they let me feed the reindeer some treats.  Adorable little things.

January 14, 2018, 06:32:52 PM
Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission I'm going to skip shabbos and go straight to Saturday night.  Shabbos isn't easy, so make sure to consult your LOR.  Originally I was thinking about being farther north, but everyone I spoke to said it's too complicated if there's no sunrise/sunset.  It's complicated where I was too, because sunrise and sunset both take a really long time.  But I digress.

I had made a pretty last minute booking to take a dogsled trip out to hunt for the aurora.  There are loads of companies that run these tours, as well as snowmobile tours, and they all seem to be well-rated.  I chose the first one I called that had availability, and they picked me up promptly from my hotel and drove me out to their kennel.

They treat their dogs like family, and I was able to help get them harnessed, etc.  They use Alaskan Huskies, which are much smaller than their Siberian cousins.

IT WAS COLD.  They provided a warm jumpsuit, balaclava, mittens, boots, etc., and I was already REALLY layered up, but you still feel it.  You eyes tear and when you blink they freeze shut.  Quite the experience. 


We got out to a pitch black frozen lake, where the guides lit a fire in their teepee, and made tea/coffee and these little pastry things.  It was foggy when we arrived, so low hopes of seeing any activity.  I was sitting inside chatting with one of the guides since everyone else on the tour only spoke Chinese, when the other guide came in and asked if anyone had a decent camera.  My phone had froze, literally, but I had my mirrorless and tripod and we went out.  The fog had cleared and there was a faint glow in the shape of an edge of a sphere, as if the particles were hitting the atmosphere and illuminating.  It was gorgeous, and started to get brighter and brighter, moving and changing as it brightened.  It was much brighter than my first night, and I was legitimately in awe again.  I cannot believe that seeing the lights will ever get old.


January 15, 2018, 06:37:24 PM
Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission
Which site did you follow for forecast, and did you find it to be accurate?

For the weather I would just google the location, and use accuweather or whatever was first.  They were pretty accurate when you're within two to three days.  Any longer, not so much.

For the KP index forecast I used:

Which was VERY accurate, and I will discuss how amazing it was for me in another post.

I also kept an eye on this one, which was pretty accurate as well.

January 15, 2018, 06:40:33 PM
Re: Chasing the Aurora - Aaaron on a mission Now for the main event, my original hospitality goal, the ICEHOTEL.  People say it's in Kiruna, but it's actually about 20 minutes away in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden.  I couldn't pronounce it, but I was told it means "the meeting place by the river/lake."

This was the most I ever spent on a hotel room, but you're not paying for the room, you're paying for the experience.  They have a few different kinds of rooms: 3 or so types of warm rooms, and 4 or so types of cold rooms.  They recommend only one night in a cold room, either your first or last night in the area.  I had to do my last night, just due to logistics and not spending shabbos there.  Also, I chose not to spend any additional nights there as even a warm room costs about $300/night.  The hotel I stayed in Friday night was pretty nice and $100.

I decided on the "cheapest" cold room, I thought it would be a barren and spartan room, but they actually made it pretty nice.  It doesn't compare to the art rooms or the art suites, but I wasn't planning on staying awake to admire the art.

A year or two ago they build another facility next door, called the 365.  As the name implies, it stays open all year.  The main hotel where I stayed melts and gets rebuilt each year.  All the rooms in 365 have doors with locks, while all the rooms in the main hotel have curtains.  I was given a stall at check-in to store all my stuff, change, etc.  The stall is located in the lodge right next door to the hotel, along with a large shower/bathroom/locker room/ sauna facility, and what they call the living room.  Pretty much, you live in the lodge except to sleep.

Shortly after I arrived there was a tour/lesson on how to "sleep cold."  The two main takeaways were don't wear a lot of layers, one is fine.  And don't pee in the room.  They can tell.  After that, I walked around both buildings to take pictures of the suites.  The artists they brings in do an INCREDIBLE job with the detail and themes.  The quality was much higher than the SnowVillage.  Here are a few pics, I have a ton more if people want to see.  Also, my pics truly don't do this place justice.

The main hotel on the right, and 365 on the left:

The ice chapel in the main hotel:

The main hallway:

Some of the art rooms and suites:

And this is outside each of the art rooms:

And my room, by contrast:

I still loved it and will discuss my actual experience in a bit.

January 16, 2018, 09:02:26 AM