31 May 2012


I find the industry of beavers endlessly fascinating. The tree in this photo is a huge birch. I should think birch, being a harder wood, are much more difficult to gnaw through than cottonwoods or aspen. It almost looks like this project has been abandoned. I'll have to check back to see if anyone is still working on it.

Beaver work on a birch tree

©Kinsey Barnard

28 May 2012


For a very long time I have had a mostly hate relationship with Dish TV. The price continually rises and the things I want to watch continually decrease assuming I can even find them in the maze of useless stations. I had to buying hundreds of unwanted stations in order to get a few channels I like.

My last billing came last week with an increase to over $90.00 per month. That's over $1,080.00 per year. That's just nuts! A value truly for the more money than brains crowd IMO. That was the bill that broke the camel's back. I signed up for the free Netflix trial.

I'd been thinking about making the change for some time but old habits die hard. I had even gone so far as to purchase Apple TV with my new iMac back in November but the thing was such a pain to get set up I just lost interest, until I got that last Dish bill. It made me so mad I called Apple Care and even though I was well past my free tech support period they helped me anyway for no charge. Way to go Apple.

 I immediately went online and signed up for the Netflix free trail. One of the first things I found was a TV series I had never heard of called Lillyhammer.  I think it may be a Netflix original series. Anyway, it's a real hoot and I have already enjoyed the first season. With television series you can go to the first episode and work you way chronologically all the way through. Netflix keeps track of what you are watching and where you are in the "Recently Viewed" section. You can easily watch what you want when you want with just a couple of clicks. For example, I might watch an episode of Nip Tuck, which can be very intense, and then lighten up with the next episode of 30 Rock.  I am in control of my programing. All without commercial interruption.

There is a "New Releases" category which does the obvious, display new releases. Over at Dish their movie channels all play the same movies just at different times. But, in order to get the channels you watch all the time you have to buy a bunch of different packages. It's a total ripoff IMO. What I'm finding at Netflix is that new movies are showing up much sooner than on any Dish movie channel.  One thing I will miss, but not too much, are the HBO series, like Boardwalk Empire. NCIS doesn't seem to be available but I can live without that too. They've run those on Dish until I'm dizzy. Bones is offered.

Netflix also has an incredible library of documentaries. This section alone could keep me busy for a very long time. Last night I watched "The Buddha" narrated by Richard Gere. Very good. They also have a just for kids section.

You won't get any local programing if you don't stay with one of the providers but I really could care less about that. Any news I want I can get on line. For those that need the local stations you can probably get those for under $30.00 per month. With Netflix at only $8.00 per month that's still a pretty hefty savings and you get so much more!

Another big plus is the audio is ten times better than with Dish. It's theater quality now. I think this is because it's all digital. Something I didn't get at Dish for $90 per month.

When I called Dish to cancel they tried to change my mind six ways to Sunday. I just said no!

Here's part of an e-mail they sent me:

"We are willing to do almost anything to get you back. We belong together, and we want to prove our commitment to you. We have had a lot of great times and we want to continue to show you how much you mean to DISH. We will welcome you back with over $400 in savings: $120 off your programming package, HD programming FREE for life (requires 24-month agreement and AutoPay with Paperless Billing) and 9 premium movie channels of Showtime® FREE for 3 months. We have been through a lot together and you deserve it. In addition to these great savings, you also have access to great extras for free with DISH Perks. Look for amazing sweepstakes, exclusive free shows, monthly free previews and DISH Online content where you can enjoy all your favorite programming everywhere you go, on your computer. These are just a few of the amazing extras you can experience just for being a DISH customer."

They should have offered me deals before I quit. But, apparently the rules of engagement are that you have to threaten to leave to get a better deal. That doesn't cut it with me. I don't appreciate these kind of games and have much better things to do with my time.

 I have experienced a couple of glitches. 1) I lost audio whilst watching Brothers and Sisters but a call to Netflix customer service got it fixed in no time. They had to "boost" something. That the tech was service oriented was to say the least. I feel like Netflix really wants and appreciates my business. 2) Sometimes the audio loses its sync. I just back out of the program and reload it. It takes two seconds. It's so insignificant to me that I have not bothered to call to find out if there is a fix.

 My initial concern about Netflix was the streaming quality. So far, for me, it has been seamless. And, I worried that I might run out of things to watch. After browsing the site I think if I sat in front of my television 24/7 I wouldn't run out in this lifetime. I highly recommend everyone give Netflix a try. It certainly meets and exceeds my needs whilst saving me nearly $1,000 per year. There is a one month free trial so give Netflix a whirl there's nothing to loose.

©Kinsey Barnard