Wintry Goodness

Bend’s had a low precip winter through January, now finally getting a wave of storms. Over three days we got a good few feet…

Snowy chicken coop
The term ‘cooped up’ might be applied here
Snowy Bend Oregon
Winter wonderland day 1 – view west
backyard chicken coop winter
Fresh powder here, and lots on the mountains
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Do you have feet of snow on your dead-end street that never gets plowed? I’ve the solution for you.
backyard chickens snow
Our gals exploring the snow trenches; photo courtesy of LL

Nasty Tricksey Hobbitses

This is a rant brief analysis – my opinion on the film adaptation of The Hobbit. It comes nearly a month after I saw the movie, so I’ve had time to give it some thought. I’ll also clarify that I saw this film twice; once in a standard theater (with an 11-year-old ward in toe); the second viewing was a full IMAX/3D experience with the (less than entertained) wife.

 

  • The book is jovial, lyrical, filled with exceptional songs and poems, made-up words, heartwarming animism and fairy tale prose. It’s a children’s book foremost, lighthearted and humorous, with Middle-Earth’s grander themes explored without really needing further explanation.
  • The movie is an epic adventure, consuming a mere third of the book (2 more films coming out in the next two years) with decapitatingly bloody battle scenes, weaving plotlines pulled from the appendices and archives of Tolkien’s other writings (or completely fabricated), and a mess of an action movie. It’s clearly a prequel to Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films, with lofty and often misinterpreted themes, endless CGI, and enough violence and noise to weigh it against any modern hollywood blockbuster.

radagast cartoonIf it sounds like I’m being harsh, maybe I am? The film has heart-lifting moments that made me smile, the simple story and underlying theme, beautiful landscapes and good acting all around; but constant, extraneous, and dire excess plagues this movie. It’s too action-oriented, too long, too garish. It’s like Saruman was retelling the story, and the amount of trash tied to the movie and franchise – everything from Hobbit-themed Denny’s meals to Gandalf on my popcorn box, all just screams with the type of consumerism and industrialism that Tolkien adamantly deplored. To see his vision commercialized and pandered like this is a hypocrisy. It could have been far worse, and I do hope to enjoy the future movies, but as someone who’s been so influenced by his writing (since grade school), it was a bit of a disappointment – and a disservice for those who may not have read the book first.

Go see it, but please enjoy it as an interpretation – rather than a faithful retelling. okay?

Surrealpolitik

I’ve generally avoided politics on this blog; a good idea if the peace is to be kept.

 

My interests in politics skews more towards the past and future – rather than day-to-day soundbytes, breaking election coverage, moneyball statistics, and 24/7 ‘newz’… Instead, I enjoy examining the historical aspects of politics, which like history or fiction have uncanny and reliably predictable themes, the same stories retelling with different actors. In this way, politics can be appreciated, predicted, and enjoyed for what it is, as well as providing a curious glimpse into humankind at a higher level.

 

So where was, I? Elections? So yep, Barack won – I’d say he earned it. It’s not an easy job and he’s done well enough, dealing with a lot more shit than most Presidents. I have serious concerns about drones, domestic privacy, education, PAC’s, and myriad other issues, but as I mentioned above, I won’t get into politics on this blog. That’s my election synopsis for now, Political Science BA and all 🙂

…RAAAAAAAAAWR! Mr and Mrs Presidentasaurus 2012 !

 

I’m also incredibly busy with work currently, specifically clients in the Sandy…and now nor’easter… ravaged post-apocalyptic wastelands back East (NJ and surrounds). I’ll try to keep the posts coming, there’s always adventures to be had 😀

 

 

Netflix: Revisited

So, I actually managed to cancel Netflix at long last. It was a process that I ranted about previously, and finally – just the other day – was able to achieve. I just wanted to share a funny feedback/poll that Netflix presented me after I successfully cancelled. It included a detailed and perfectly valid list of why they suck, conveniently aggregated by themselves, to share with outgoing customers. The first questions ask why I cancelled, pointing directly at their own shortcomings in an ironically apt list.

 

The final question basically introduces and recommends varied alternatives to their very own product, encouragingly so. Also, as an aside, I am rather amused that among the list of alternatives/competitors that they are providing, are a list of illegal torrent sites like torrentz, tvlinks and the infamous PirateBay, as well as a option for ‘Bootleg DVD’s’ and direct competitors like Hulu, Amazon OnDemand, iTunes, etc.

So yeah, if you still have Netflix, cancel and they will happily provide a list of better alternatives to themselves 😉

Netflix broke my heart

There are very few products or commercial endeavors that I get behind…ever. Sure, I’ll rave about a brewery or crave TacoBell on rare occasions, but when it comes to companies or services, my capitalist streak is fairly minimal. I have no real loyalty to brands either, and try to shop locally.

There are a handful of companies that I ‘do’ support though, ones that I recommend to friends on occasion; having received unique or above-average experiences with. Some of these include the folks at Newegg.com, REI, ZenniOptical, Blizzard, and up until recently, Netflix. These were corporate ‘entities’ that I enjoyed interacting with and felt comfortable returning to even if perhaps a better deal could be found elsewhere. They treated me well and I felt like I should reciprocate by giving them my hard-earned dollars.

So why has Netflix been removed? Why has it crossed the spectrum to the literal opposite bucket…my ‘shit bucket’ as it were? Let me start by saying that I discovered the service in its relative infancy, when the web service was secondary to the mail-order discs; this is when my loyalty formed. I will now be chronicling its demise.

 

Rather than begin an energetic narrative, I think I should just chronologically list the many reasons:

  •  It began with the obnoxious commercials. Some were humorous but repetative, but most were just blatant and bland; vain and uninspiring product recognition.
  •  Their red ads plagued the Internet. Popups, banner ads, you name it. Everywhere! Aghh!
  •  In an attempt to improve their ‘recommend’ algorithms, they released the rental history of thousands of users, later getting sued for privacy concerns. Boo.
  •  They changed the browsing layouts, removing the ‘new releases this week’ replacing it with a grid layout that had ‘popularity’ as the main metric. This was likely done to throttle the demand for new DVDs. This makes it nearly impossible to see whats new. I feel like I need to visit another site like IMDB or HackingNetflix first, just to see what’s ‘actually’ new, then go hunting for it; only to find Netflix still doesn’t have enough discs in stock.
  • The Qwikster debacle; not only are discs and online totally different products now, but seperately they cost more than before. Fuck. That.
  • The quality of online videos is poor, any claims at it being HD are laughable. Competitors like Hulu, YouTube or Xfinitytv look far better.
  •  For two months now, though arguably somewhat our fault, we did not cancel our subscription in time and got renewed automatically for their web service. Their site offers no way to disable recurring auto renewal, no way to take our credit card off the account, no way to cancel pre-emptively. We must manually cancel the account on a specific day to avoid getting charged. Then on cancelling we lose not only any remaining days in the month, but also our queue gets nuked permanently. How is this a customer-friendly service?
  • They offer tons of deals and discounts and free months to new customers, but the old loyal ones just get screwed. I’ve never received a single thank you, promotion, or discount…for being members for over 5 years.

So go ahead Netflix, take my $7.99 for January. It will be the last.

I couldn't find a good Netflix-related photo, so here's some kind of hairless mole-rat