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Trip Reports / NY'er Nights in Nawlins - A Crescent City TR:
« on: April 05, 2019, 04:17:20 PM »
Between my kids' yeshiva schedule and my wife's public school work schedule, we rarely have the opportunity to take vacations outside the time period between camp and yeshiva, except during peak (ie expensive) travel times. But with my wife on maternity leave (thanks NYC DOE, for finally enacting paid maternity leave!) we were on the hunt for a nice little getaway with just the new baby - primarily someplace warm. I had looked at San Diego, but decided I would actually rather do that with all my kids at some point. Then I looked into the Caribbean - focusing on Puerto Rico so we wouldn't have to deal with a passport for the baby on short notice - but ultimately sided we'd prefer something closer, cheaper, and more urban. We finally settled on New Orleans, having heard great things about it from a friend that had been recently.

I preferred to use JetBlue, having some points stored up from the post-Virgin America sale promo. I found what seemed like good enough prices at 16,100 points per person, which was something like 1.45 ppm compared to the cash prices - I was told anything above 1.35 is good enough to use points. We had a relative with Mosaic book us in case we needed to cancel (coverage for our other kids was up in the air even late in the game):

3/24 7:54AM JFK-MSY
3/27 4:50PM MSY-JFK

We planned on doing a fair amount of driving (plantations, minyan, food, swamp, etc.), so I booked a car rental and set up Autoslash to monitor prices. The final booking was with Hertz, through Priceline, for a category '(C) Mazda 3 4-door or Similar'. Total price for 4 days was $133.94, pay at the counter.

Choosing a hotel was a little trickier. There are lots of hotels, running a pretty wide price and hotel type variety, in both the French Quarter and the neighboring CBD. However, based on our itinerary, the need to factor in free vs paid parking, and trying to keep the cost down, we settled on the Best Western St Charles. Total for 3 nights was $420.87, prepaid via Priceline (with $17.19 ebates cashback), but with full refund cancellation until just before the trip. Looking back, I don't regret not staying 'closer to the action', though I might have chosen to either save even more via a cheap airbnb or go slightly more upscale if I had to do it again.

Flight and Arrival in New Orleans
Due to a late change in who was watching our kids, and Purim having just passed on Thursday, Motzei Shabbos was a mad scramble to drop off our kids by our siblings and finish getting ourselves packed and ready. Sunday morning we were up and out nice and early for our flight. I had tried to use UBERAMEX with a new Uber account for a free ride to the airport, but they must be wise to that trick because I couldn't get it to request a ride at all (with any payment method). Instead, I quickly downloaded Lyft and used that to get us to JFK ($25). We had TSA Pre from Global Entry. JetBlue gives you the option to get a text message with a link to one boarding pass for the whole group, but the person manning the start of the Pre line made us print separate passes so she could confirm we were all marked as Pre. The lines were short, but as relatively inexperienced travelers, we always end up with something in our bags that they then take forever to check. This time it was my wife's lunch - guacamole - which they made us throw out. We made our way to the gate, where they had just started boarding. I had hoped to daven before boarding, but since I didn't want to risk having them check our carry-ons due to lack of space, we boarded right away. We gate-checked the car seat/stroller and settled in.

They had the flight boarded and pushed back super quickly, and we arrived a half hour early. For car rentals at MSY, the car rental building is a short walk on a covered walkway from the edge of concourse D. With nice weather greeting us, we didn't mind the trek. The rental counters are all on the first floor, and then you take an elevator up to the second or third floor to get your car. I didn't realize this until later, but I probably could've cut my wait time by going straight upstairs, where they have a separate Gold counter. The rep asked for my AAA ID - claiming my rate had the AAA discount, which was weird since I booked with Priceline. Eventually I showed her the email from Priceline showing the same booking number, so she honored the price shown. We went upstairs and picked out a Sentra from our section (other options were a Corolla, Kia Soul, and some Chevy Cruzes), which we ended up being happy with. With that, we were on our way to our first activity...

Deals/Deal Requests / Project Fi BF Sale (Moto G6 $99, X4 $149)
« on: November 23, 2018, 09:19:17 AM »
Project Fi has really good sales on the G6 and X4. I had initially ordered the G6 from Fry's for $159 and the X4 from Amazon for $179+tax, but this beats both, even if I have to pay for one month of service. Reports elsewhere indicate that the Fi service can be activated and then canceled right away, still keeping the sale price.

There are sales on the higher end devices too, but I never really stay up to date on prices in that market segment, so don't know if they're any good.

Deals/Deal Requests / ISO of deal on Ner Mitzva glass candles:
« on: November 08, 2018, 04:28:57 PM »
Anyone know of a place (either online or NYC area) that sells these for cheap:

The judaica stores near me have them for list price or more.

General Discussion / Custom Window Screens:
« on: May 09, 2018, 11:15:12 PM »
Anyone have experience with a place that can make custom window screens in the NY area? My standard screens for double hung windows (where they only cover one half at a time) are in tatters and I'd prefer to replace them with a stronger material, but also with a non-sliding style that covers the whole window. Any leads are appreciated.

Deals/Deal Requests / Looking for tiered matzoh stand for cheap
« on: April 03, 2017, 03:44:08 PM »
Anyone know where to find something like this:
for cheap? I would be interested at $25 or lower - $45, not so much.

I'm in KGH, so if anyone knows of a store that sells it cheaply, let me know.

Invalid Tweet ID
Some comments at OMAAT saying this will apply to all flights on all carriers from the Middle East to the US.
Quote from:
According to a reliable US source, this will happen on all Middle East airlines flights that do NOT go through a US pre-clearance facility. It will be announced tomorrow – looks like Royal Jordanian announced before they were supposed to. Not a joke.

I don't get it. It says he's made the trip 50 times since '08. So that means they only go on certain occasions? Or they normally sleep there and walk when they have to?

Also, I'm very curious about the less than optimal route (says he took the Williamsburg Bridge and then 1st Ave all the way through Manhattan). Is that to avoid tchum issues?

Goods For Sale/Trade / Fitbit Flex 2 for sale $75
« on: December 07, 2016, 12:45:22 PM »
I have a brand new, sealed in box, Fitbit Flex 2 in navy. This is Fitbit's first fully waterproof offering. That's why we bought it originally, for swimming, but then my wife realized she wanted one with a clock function.

This currently sells for the full retail price of $100 (and generally plus tax) at all the major online retailers, including Amazon. Asking $75, plus either pick up in KGH or pay shipping (whatever method you request).

Ask any questions about the product here, PM if you're interested in buying.

Trip Reports / Savannah TR on JetBlue promo
« on: September 12, 2016, 04:49:11 PM »
Here we go, my first large trip report (I’ve 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.

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 DDF’ers 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 day’s lunch at home. Instead, we picked up a sandwich and a salad from Fresko at the CIBO in T5 right after security. I’m curious if they might have had other choices at the other CIBO’s, because I did not like the selection. It was a rip-off, but I guess that’s what happens when you have to buy food at the airport.

The flight was full, so no extra seat for baby, but b”h he was extremely well behaved. After a short flight, we arrived at SAV. It’s 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 “there’s no trunk in the car you’re getting, how about a Jeep instead.” That sounded bad enough to upgrade, but we figured, let’s go out and see what it is, and come back if we can’t squeeze in. Lo and behold it’s a Chevy Cruze (that’s a compact, the category of the Civic, Corolla, etc. – not even Chevy’s 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. It’s a nice little park, and you immediately get a sense of the type of city you’re 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, there’s 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, we’d 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.

Convenient way to make cold brew, with a removeable/reusable filter. Reports indicate that it can be pretty easily used for iced tead as well (it's actually listed as #1 best seller for Iced Tea Pitchers - I don't think there's a Cold Brew Pitchers category). It normally sells for $25, though it's been on sale before a bunch of times at $20 or $17. $15 is its lowest price ever.

Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
ETA: Bestbuy Link
Taste the difference with TAKEYA's Cold Brew Coffee Maker. The traditional hot brewing process releases undesirable acids and oils, resulting in bitter flavor and acidity that is intolerable to many. With cold brewing, only the naturally delicious coffee flavors are extracted, leaving behind the bitter oils and fatty acids, creating a perfectly balanced, smooth extraction of concentrated coffee. Once brewed, concentrated coffee can be kept fresh in the TAKEYA airtight Cold Brew Coffee Maker for up to 2 weeks and used for both hot and iced coffees.

General Discussion / Entry/Security/Storm/Screen Doors
« on: June 06, 2016, 02:33:35 PM »
I'm looking to redo the entrance to my house. So far I've done some very preliminary research into the different types of exterior/entry doors and security/storm/screen doors, but I'd love to hear from someone who has done this already. How did you select which type (other than aesthetics)? Did you buy from a place that installs it, install it yourself, or have a separate contractor/handyman install it?

Deals/Deal Requests / Toter 48 gal. Green Wheeled Trash Can - 25% Off
« on: June 24, 2015, 12:52:50 PM »

Came out to $53.07 (including NY tax) with free Ship to Store.

These are basically the best trash cans you can buy. The reviews for most trash cans on HD are garbage (pun intended ;D) - by contrast these have a 4.9/5 with over 100 reviews. They're normally several times the price of those cheaper ones though, so this discount helps a lot. Today is the last day for that sale price.

Deals/Deal Requests / Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee Mondays
« on: January 02, 2015, 10:24:08 AM »
Just received one of these coupons in the mail:

This is the second year in a row I received it. Anyone know how you become eligible for these? I'd love to be able to get another one, one for me and one for my wife.

On the one hand I'm not so into the whole iced coffee in the dead of winter thing (kind of like the free slurpee from this week - lines are a bit shorter for that in December than when they do it in July ;). But hey, free coffee is free coffee, right?

On The Road / Glass Repair in Queens:
« on: December 16, 2014, 01:25:50 PM »
Does anyone have a recommendation for glass repair/replacement in Queens? A fairly large crack (scratch?) has appeared in my windshield, and from reading the other 2 threads on this topic (both too old to post in) it sounds like Safelite or any other major operation will probably be way overpriced - local is the way to go. I have no idea yet whether it can be repaired or needs to be replaced. This is a leased car and the deductible is too high to make insurance an option (no special glass policy).


Credit Cards / LoopPay
« on: November 17, 2014, 11:05:56 AM »
Yet another mobile payments option, but this one works with just about every type of payment and processing system in place today. That means it works in places where you currently must swipe! Biggest downside is that it's not built into your phone, you have to pay for a case or fob that has the necessary technology in it.

ETA: Haven't bought or tried it, and don't plan to - just thought it was an interesting idea people might like to hear about.

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