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This post brought to you by the letter F

Where am I?

  • Pas de Chat: We’re on chapter 43. Not much left.
  •  "Reviews" of Q’s Legacy and Doomsday Book over at Reading Notes.

Free & Legal
In a fit of pique, I canceled Netflix instant on Tuesday. As soon as I did, I remembered that all the Star Treks were coming to Instant View. Oh well. By Thursday morning, I experienced the strange sense of relief that comes from having fewer choices. Time to restock my Hulu queue, browse what’s available from channel websites, and watch some tennis. There is a plethora of free and legal TV out there. Also, coincidentally I received an invite to Zediva, which is not free, but cheap, and…currently legal. Skirting a gray area, if you will.

Had lunch with Betsy on Wednesday at Beaver Choice. She wanted to give their GF menu a go before she departs AZ. I decided to have the haddock in cream sauce. When did I start liking fish? When did I start liking cream sauce? I will admit that I have quite a bit of faith in Beaver Choice to serve me good food, but this wasn’t having a little taste of someone else’s fish and deciding I liked it. This was ordering it for myself, and thinking it was a good idea from the start. Actually, I’ve been watching quite a few food shows via Hulu and I often find myself looking at a dish and thinking, "I’d try that," even if it involves things I don’t particularly like. (The exception, it would seem, being rice…)

Sony Online has been having some problems. As a subscriber, I’ve been trying not to freakout and have taken some precautions to secure my credit account. EverQuest 2 has been down since the 2nd, curtailing my aether racing and house decorating. I’m not the sort to get twitchy when I don’t get my MMO fix, so the outage isn’t a big deal. Eric, seeking relief from finals week, decided to try Allods last night. I noted the fact and continued watching Hugh Jackman singing and dancing (a little) in Oklahoma!. On my way to get a soda from the fridge, I checked on Eric’s game and saw these:

A playable race of fuzzy critters named gibberlings. Yep. Had to play. And you don’t just play one gibberling. No, no, you play a group of three. And if you’re the equivalent of a druid, you have a vicious squirrel pet too. I can’t resist the fuzzies…

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Anecdote: DVD Subscriptions

Netflix 4Q Profit Up 45 Percent –
It doesn’t hurt that Blockbuster has pretty much dropped the ball with their online service.

I’m a Netflix re-convert. I joined them back in December of 2005, dropped them in February of the next year when the throttling got to be too much and joined Blockbuster Online.

When I started, Blockbuster offered a free in-store rental each month, which was a nice perk. Then for a while in 2007 they had a ridiculous deal going on. As an online subscriber, you could return any mailed DVD in-store for another. With the 3-at-a-time plan, I was getting 6-slightly-staggered. They started losing money on that because, while a once a month coupon might entice a customer into the store to rent or buy something else while they were there, turning in three movies for three more doesn’t do that. When they raised the price of their subscriptions, I dropped them for a while. Not really because of the price increase (which was minor at that time), but because I had run out of things I wanted to rent.

When I was interested in their service again (April of last year), Blockbuster had changed their subscription structure entirely. In-store trade-ins were now a premium. Since I favor that $15 price point (and I have a feeling many other people do as well), I went for the plain old 3-at-a-time subscription. They were still better than Netflix, I figured. Things were good for a while. Blockbuster doesn’t throttle; they ship on weekends. But gradually, I ran out of movies that were available. Everything in a queue that included old and new, cult and mainstream, was at least on a short wait. Screw that, I thought. And I certainly wasn’t going to go to a Blockbuster store to rent movies while I was paying $15 a month to have a queue of on-hold movies.  So I went back to Netflix.

It’s only been two months, but so far Netflix has impressed me. The instant downloads are handy, especially since I like to have a movie going in the background while I work. I watch them on my laptop and generally the quality is good. They’ve changed their policy about damaged discs; they now immediately send a replacement or next disc instead of waiting for the other one to be returned. And surprisingly, when one of my discs needed longer for shipping, the sent the next quickly-available disc as well. Maybe Netflix is trying too hard now, but it’s working for them.  For the moment, it’s working for me too.

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It’s D-day for NetFlix. Has my DVD reached them? Have they given me an seven days as they said they would over the weekend? These things are unknown to me because my account look-up reflects neither. They did give me an unasked for credit for the upgrade I made shortly before I canceled.

Went to Blockbuster instead on Sunday and rented Lord of War, an overlooked movie with Nicolas Cage. It’s very good. I expected a dark comedy, but it really wasn’t that. It’s a very serious movie that allows moments of comedy to come through in some pretty dark moments. I haven’t seen any of the Best Picture nominations, but I’d be surprised if they can stand up to this movie.

Coughing, sneezing, generally tired. Claratin isn’t doing much, if anything.

Eric’s going to go out to Intel disc tonight to scout some unknown talent. I’m going to be sick and watch the Olympics. Btw, wouldn’t it be nice if they had a spoiler-free Olympic webpage? I want to go over to NBC’s and check on some features, but I don’t want to know results I’ll see tonight.

Writing and a little cleaning in tap for this afternoon. And maybe a little nap…

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Still with the NetFlix stress. I’ve had no reply to the note I sent them Tuesday. I suspect I will get a DVD in the mail tomorrow. My mail has been arriving early the last few days so maybe I can get it back into the mail before 3:30 pick-up.

Now with the router stress. We’ve burnt-out (?) three wireless routers since…September or October? Just nuts. And slightly expensive. And very annoying.

So, I had no internet this morning. And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Maybe I’ll try not going on-line until after noon because thus far today:

Writing: 500 words and some discussion with Eric.

Food: Bowl of oatmeal, turkey pot-pie, coffee beverage, lebkuechen.

Exercise: Ran to the soccer field, 10 times around (with short breaks every two laps), walked back.

Other: Dishes & tidied.

Fun: 20 min nap.

I wasn’t feeling too hot this morning, but the nap and exercise helped. And Eric coming home for lunch helped too. So, time to refocus (Stay on Target!), get more writing done and maybe some more housecleaning.

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Netflix pt. 2:

I was notified this afternoon that the movie that was listed as “Shipping” last night when I canceled, with no “arriving by” date attached to it, will arrive Friday, Feb. 10th. Which is a very long turn around time. Of course, “Please return by 02/13/2006 to prevent your credit card from being charged” applies to this movie as well. They don’t receive on Saturdays and Sundays. I wonder if this isn’t a deliberate delay.

I’ve contacted my credit card company to see if there’s anyway of heading it off. Awaiting reply.

I need to get some work done now.

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So we’ve canceled Netflix. The delay between discs was getting longer. It seems I fall under this area of their TOS:

“In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service. As a result, those subscribers who receive the most movies may experience that (i) the shipment of their next available DVD occurs at least one business day following return of their previously viewed movie,”

In other words, if I make best use of my subscription, I’m going to get dinked by them. Add to that the poor quality of discs I’ve been receiving lately. We’ve had two discs that have been unreadable and several others that have been quite scratched up and gave us more minor problems.

As much as I enjoyed other aspects of the service, those things were getting o-l-d. I’ve returned the movies I had out, and I hope there’s no problems with that. [Edit: I spoke too soon. The headache continues.] Don’t know if I want to try Blockbuster’s service. We suspect that many of the ‘bad’ discs are caused by shipping as much as over-use.

Last two movies we watched:
Transporter 2: All I expected were a couple of good action scenes. I didn’t get even those. Major suckage.
City of God: Great movie. Beautifully shot. And it puts all those other “I need to get out of here and not become a hood” movies to utter, utter shame.
I am bummed that we’re leaving off The Sopranos in Season 1, Disc 2.

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Oh, and another newish movie we ‘rented’ from NetFlix that I haven’t mentioned: The Brother’s Grimm. I liked it in the way that I like Sleepy Hallow. It’s cool looking, it has actors I like, it’s a genre I like, but in the end it wasn’t a great movie. There was just too much stuff to it. The writers heaped on nods to just about every faerie tale they could think of without the tales becoming a solid whole. Eric’s comment was that it felt like D&D adventure module based on faerie tales. But, if gamers had gone through this movie it would have ended about 20 minutes earlier.

So, I should probably get some work done, huh? Hope the laundry room is free.