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June 08, 2010, 05:31:02 PM
Re: Misc Credit Card Questions
Will product changing (upgrade or downgrade)an AMEX card affect chase 5/24?
Will product changing (upgrade or downgrade) a CHASE card affect chase 5/24?
No. It is not a new card.

May 12, 2019, 11:41:06 PM
Re: Live Antarctica Trip Report Monday, December 17 (Part 1)

Woke up today to this view out my window:

Today was a big day: we were going to finally set foot on the Antarctic continent itself. Truthfully, there's no real difference between the continent and the islands we visited yesterday - without checking a map, you have no way of knowing or differentiating. But for us travel enthusiasts, these details do matter a bit more... For many in our group, this will be their seventh and final continent visited.

And so after an early Shachris and massive breakfast, we were off in the zodiacs once again. We were wearing our standard polar layers, but with a twist. Beneath our parka, waterproof pants, fleech mid layers, and thermal underwear, we were also wearing... our bathing suits.

Our goal? Argentina's Almirante Brown Base in Paradise Harbor- land on the continent and swim in the ocean.

Not that far off, is it? Ha! In Antarctica nothing goes as planned... It would be nearly two hours before we would arrive at the base.

What's that off in the distance? Two black humps, a fountain of spray...

Let's get closer:

Not one, but two massive humpback whales:

These guys were absolutely massive. Just how big? This big:

These gentle giants found us interesting and spent nearly an hour playing with us, constantly circling our zodiacs and diving in and out of the water. And we couldn't get enough of them - the weather was absolutely perfect, the seas calm. The zodiac drivers all turned off their motors and our group of puny little boats drifted silently about amidst these behemoths. The was no sound except the hoarse breathing of the whales, the slaps and splashes of their giant tails, and the excited exclamations of our group.

All of a sudden one of the whales lifted a 20-foot flipper out of the water, as if waving goodbye to his new friends:

And just like that, with the final swish of a tail, they were gone:

We finally set off for land again, as always passing spectacular landscapes and fantastical ice shapes:

Looking back at our ship, dwarfed by a glacier:

We spotted one of the other zodiacs speeding toward land, so our driver decided to race them:

We lost - spectacularly - but wait! Something was spotted on an iceberg off to the right, and our landing plans were summarily canceled.

What have we here?

It's a napping crabeater seal!

He opened a blearly eye,

regarded us imperiously,

and ויישן ויחלום שנית:

Our destination - for real this time:

The approach to the landing site was choked with icebergs, all breaking off the glacier adjacent to the base:

Waiting while the drivers navigate the zodiacs through the ice one at a time:

The happy "anniversary couple":

Made it through the scrum to more open water right at the base - you can see how close it is to that glacier:

Most of the other passengers had arrived before us and were climbing the hill up to the base proper:


Fixed it for them!

A couple of thousand penguins were nesting in cocky crevices spread out all over the mountain, but the vast majority of them were quite far:

Snowy sheathbills were poking around eating whatever the penguins dropped:

Most people decided to hike up to the top of the mountain:

Personally, I decided I was too tired to climb a mountain, so I had a better plan. I dug a little depression in the snow, pulled my hat over my eyes, and went to sleep:

I slept for a good 45 minutes, waking up refreshed and wonderfully warm.

Apparently some people got a kick out of that, such as @Moishebatchy here:

(Photo credit Aderet F.)

But as I found out later, others liked my idea and and my spot turned into something of a rest area (as you can see in the background of the above picture).

What does a chosid do after waking up? Goes to the mikvah of course!

It was time for the Polar Plunge.

Standing in the 35-degree air, knee-deep in snow, I peeled off layer after layer till I got to my bathing suit. I headed down the mountain, waited my turn, and...

(Video credit @LFR)

Holy. Canolli. I have never felt something like this in my life. My entire body went into shock, and I literally had to force myself to breathe - let alone move. I was a chuchem too - most people just jumped into the water right by the rocks, but I took a running leap and now had to swim back 20 or so feet.

I was in 30-degree water (saltwater freezes at a lower temp than fresh), literally surrounded by icebergs, and swimming in Antarctica. It was beyond cold, it was beyond painful, and I would do it again in an instant.

(Photo credit Jason Ransom)

(Photo credit Jason Ransom)

Finally made it to shore, where I was helped back onto the rocks by a crewmember, handed a towel, and sank into knee-deep snow. Ah, warm, warm, snow... It was literally way warmer than the surrounding air.

Here's Dan reconsidering his life's choices - he didn't enjoy it as much as I did:

(Photo credit Jason Ransom)

(Photo credit @Moishebatchy)

@bgfbgfbhgf taking the leap:

(Photo credit Jason Ransom)

@CheskyGold going full Breslov:

(Photo credit Jason Ransom)

The base was unmanned when we visited, so we made ourselves at home, including planting the ship's flag - here's @CheskyGold warming up:

(Just to be clear - the polar plunge was supervised by crew who were trained medical staff. They didn't let you in of you had a heart condition, for example, and made sure that everyone was safe at all times.)

Finally, with two unique accomplishments under out belts (and a bit drier and warmer), we left the base to get back to the ship.

Quick detour to check out the face of a glacier - check out the minuscule zodiacs for scale:

I'll never get tired of cool ice shapes:

This morning's wanderings:

Lunch awaits:

April 23, 2020, 02:39:57 PM
Re: Prison
I made a donation more than a week ago, but it didn't show up yet on the page. I tried using the form, but it wasn't going through. So I sent it via Zelle, with a note to put it on your page.

Don't need/want the credit, just want @hvaces42 to know that your story inspired me to donate.

ETA: Just checked, and it was actually earlier this week, not "more than a week ago".

Thank you and thanks to all who have donated and expressed support, in words, money and action. I hope no one ever has to use the services of this organization. 

October 19, 2020, 11:45:34 AM