Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hello Netflix Streaming and Goodbye Productivity!

I’m using this blog entry as a head’s up to regular readers of this blog (yes, all eight of you) that my already infrequent output is likely going to become much more infrequenter. (As is my caring about the English language, as evidenced by that last sentence.)

As astute observers of headlines have clearly figured out, I recently subscribed to Netflix Streaming. Yes, my wife and I are among the millions of Arrested Development fans who could not live with the thought of missing new episodes and were forced to sign up for this service. We already had a subscription to their DVD service, but since the brand new escapades of the Bluth family are only available via streaming, we had no choice but to bite that $7.99 per month bullet.

Originally our plan was to subscribe to the service, watch the 14 new episodes of what is arguably the funniest show of this millennium, and then cancel the service. But, of course, plans are like ice sculptures—they look fantastic the moment after they’re made, but after a few hours in the hot sun they’re nothing more than a giant puddle soaking through your sneakers.

The moment that I logged into my new Netflix streaming account I realized that I was a dead man. As I scrolled through the plethora of movies and television shows that I can now watch anywhere, anytime from my laptop, I knew that there was no way that I would be cancelling this service. And I’m sure this was Netfilix CEO, Reed Hastings’ evil little plan along. Force legions of rabid Arrested Development fans to subscribe to their streaming service and then see how many of them get reeled in hook, line and sinker. I’ll admit that they caught this fish.

And now I sense that the vast majority of my spare time will be spent staring at my laptop watching all those television series I’ve wanted to see that I’ve just been too busy to check out—The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, American Horror Story…the lists goes on and on. Because now I can watch these instantly! (I know, I know—the ability to watch things instantly is nothing new. No, I’ve not been locked in a cryogenic chamber; I’m just a late bloomer on the technology front.)

So certain things will surely fall by the wayside—writing this blog, balancing my checkbook, and basic hygiene, just to name a few. But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop writing altogether, just that I’ll be writing less frequently. Instead of seeing something from me every two weeks you might see something every two months…or quarters…or perhaps, years. Only time will tell. But if you want to lodge a complaint about my reduced output, don’t bother sending it to me, because I’ll be too busy watching something that everyone else already saw three years ago; instead send your missive directly to Reed Hastings. As if he cares!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

F-A-R-M! Farm! Farm! Farm!

Growing up on the hard concrete streets of Brooklyn, farm life was as alien to me and my family as winning football is to the New York Jets. (Ooh, ouch. Sorry Jets fans.) I do have some hazy recollections of having visited a farm on some long ago family trips, but I could be confusing that with assorted episodes of “Little House on the Prairie.” Tough to say.

The point is that the Schwartzbergs, as a group, are not a farming people. And while it is true that I moved from New York to Arizona about 18 years ago, this geographic shift did not put me any closer to a farming lifestyle than releasing Tim Tebow puts the Jets to fielding a winning football team. (Ouch again! Why am I doing this? I have no ill will toward the Jets.)

And so it is that living in a suburb of Phoenix, my two young sons have continued the Schwartzberg tradition of non-farm living. Although my sons do have rocking horses, so I suppose they’re slightly closer to farm living than I ever was.

But this past weekend we decided to give the boys just a smidgeon of a taste of farm life. So we piled the family into the minivan and made the arduous 25-minute journey to Superstition Farm in far, far, far (okay, maybe not that far) east Mesa.

Superstition Farm is a dairy farm with over 2,000 head of cattle. They also have a small selection of other farm animals like sheep, goats, turkeys, roosters, bunnies (are they technically farm animals?) and one donkey with an enormously large head. Our boys were eager to pet the bunnies, brush the goats, and throw feed at the sheep.

FYI—the throwing of the feed was not out of malicious intent, but out of squeamishness. The workers instructed us to hold the feed and have the animals eat right out of our hands. My wife and I did this and quickly had a handful of saliva courtesy of the gigantic tongues and lips slobbering all over us to get at the food. Our sons, with their distinctly non-farm blood, would have no part of this activity. Try as we might to convince them to let the animals eat out of their hands, they would not go near those enormous ungulate mouths. (And really, who could blame them?) So instead, they stood back about ten inches and pelted them with feed.

In addition to getting to interact with some of the animals, we got to hear all about life on the dairy farm from Farmer Larry. For me, this was the highlight, because Farmer Larry was a really nice guy who peppered us with a plethora of interesting facts about cows. For example, did you know that dairy cows eat 50 to 70 pounds of food per day? Or that milk from a Jersey cow is creamier than milk from a Holstein cow? Or that all cows are made to swallow magnets?

Ah-ha! I bet it’s that last fact that made you raise an eyebrow. When Farmer Larry told us this it made me raise an eyebrow too. It also made my jaw go a bit slack. Although what made my jaw go even slacker was the exchange that immediately followed.

Farmer Larry: Does anyone know why we make the cows swallow magnets? (My six-year-old son then raised his hand making me arch my eyebrow slightly higher.) Yes, you?

Son: In case there are any nails or metal on the ground.

Farmer Larry: (Seeming slightly surprised.) Yes, that’s exactly right. With all the hay that they eat sometimes nails and other metal can accidentally get mixed in and the magnet catches these things so they don’t rip holes in the cow’s stomach and cause infection.

Hours later when we were back home and I was able to successfully unslacken my jaw, I asked my son (he of the non-farm blood) how he possibly knew the answer to Farmer Larry’s question. “I don’t know. I just knew,” he said, matter-of-factly.

Hmmm…if a son of mine can conjure up arcane farm knowledge out of nowhere maybe there is hope for the Jets after all.

                                          My boys brushing a goat...cautiously.