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JANUARY 20, 2008     More below: NETFLIX

Squeaky snow

Footprints on a snowy sidewalkIf you live somewhere that has real winter, like Cleveland, Ohio, you learn that if the snow squeaks when you walk on it, it's darn cold outside.

I tried googling the question to find out at exactly what temperature snow starts to squeak, but surprisingly the answer wasn't easy to find. My memory is that this happens at around 15 degrees F (-9 C), which was about the temperature this afternoon when I went for a walk.

Walking briskly—the only way to stay warm—sounded like this:

I walked down Franklin hill to the Flats, back up via Columbus Road, then west on Monroe to W. 32nd, which I followed home. My $40 boots from Target plus SmartWool socks kept my feet toasty, but my fingers were getting numb in my thrift-store gloves. Next time I'll put on two layers of gloves.

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Netflix vs. the Dish

For my birthday Joanne was going to give me a Netflix subscription, but I wasn't sure if it would be worthwhile, since I don't watch movies on TV very often. I much prefer the experience of being in a dark movie theater with a big screen. Truth is I often fall asleep watching in the comfort of my own home since the film grabs a lot less of my attention. So I wasn't thrilled with the Netflix idea.

But then at Christmas I sort of modified the idea and gave Joanne a certificate for a Dish Network installation for our house. She always raves about the History Channel when she's babysitting at Danny's—it's her constant companion there. Since she's got a chronic case of insomnia and often is up at 4 or 5 a.m., seems like having the History Channel to watch would be a good investment.

I did some checking online and found that it would cost about $40/month to get 100 channels—the smallest package they offer—plus our local stations. I was all set to order it when I got uneasy about not finding the actual contract anywhere on the website. Reading the fine print wherever I could find it, there was no reference to what happens if you cancel your subscription. There was a mention of paying to ship back the actual satellite dish (which remains the property of Dish Network). So while they offered "Free Installation" it seemed possible, likely even, that there would be a fee to un-install the dish when you quit.

Screenshot of our Netflix queueBeing a wise consumer, I emailed this question via the handy online form. And never heard a thing.

So today we were talking about our respective video gifts, and came up with what seems like the perfect solution: we'll get the Netflix subscription that lets you get two DVDs at a time for about $15 a month. A lot less than Dish Network, and no cancellation fee.

This also relieves Joanne's fear that if we had satellite TV she'd watch too much of it. The combined gift solution will save us money and let us watch better stuff on TV, but not overdose on it.

Setting up our "queue" was fun—we alternated choices. It may be some indication of our taste in film/video that all of our choices are immediately available. Not a great deal of demand for them, I guess.

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