So Daughter lost her phone. It doesn’t show up on the network, which means it was turned off, or the battery ran down. Highly unlikely someone found it, popped the SIMM, reprogrammed it and uploaded something mally that obscured it from the network, all in three hours. But where is it? Somewhere. It might turn up. It might not.

Somehow, six hours later, I ended up with a new phone.

Let me explain. Daughter said, with touching faith, that surely insurance would replace the phone. Yes, just like insurance covered medicine for the hamster. NO THERE IS NO INSURANCE. You have to buy insurance. It doesn’t just descend like a gossamer rainment from the sky. Last time I had to replace a phone - this would be oh, two months ago, when my wife’s phone was endanmpenated and the power plugs corroded, meaning it couldn’t charge again ever and everything on it was lost, I went to the AT&T store and was told I’d have to buy one outright at the new and improved ruinous cost, because they weren’t subsidizing them anymore.

Of course, they never did. They built the cost of the phone into the contract. So my wife got an old phone from an era when Steve Jobs drew breath, and she’s fine with it.

I didn’t know what to expect at this point, but I was curious what options we might have. You might say: well, AT&T, there’s your problem. The Giant Swede was telling me he’d got a great deal by paying off his contract and going to Verizon which gave everyone new phones and 14 TB of data per day and so on, and I’m glad he’s happy. But I could not get that deal, because no two people in America have the same plan. Everyone has a different plan. They make it all up anew for everyone who walks in the door. There is nothing more opaque and eye-crossingly complex than cellphone contracts, and you have to pay attention, because you will hear things like this:

Your bill is waaaay too high. I can get this down for you.

I’m sorry, what? You, a representative of the company, will endeavor to reduce the amount of money I am handing over?



He grinned: I love doing this. Okay. Let’s see. And sure enough, after some tapping on the tablet and scrolling and tapping and scowling, he had this . . . this marvelous plan wherein my bill would be reduced by 35% and my monthly data almost doubled.

What’s the catch? A ninety-year contract? No, but here, let’s look at your upgrade options for the phone.

By now I was so entranced by lower bills I was already shifting into the perilous mindset that would permit me to upgrade my phone, which I DO NOT NEED TO DO. AT ALL.

Except that the new one shoots 4K video.

And daughter’s phone is probably gone for good.

And heck, I’m already saving money here.

He showed me this plan where I would pay them every month for the phone and then at the end of this period it was mine except if I wanted to change phones before I could do that but pay something and then pay something more for the Transition Charge and then adjust the next 20 months of the 36-month agreement unless I went with the 48-month own-to-rollover / upgrade option that included a bucket of oysters delivered by Russian strippers IF I declined the option to lock in my text-message rate but let it float.

I agreed to something. I pointed at the row of numbers whose sum was the smallest and said THAT ONE MONGO WANT THAT and he gave me a piece of paper to take to the Apple store. Because they didn’t have the phone I wanted.

I wanted Space Grey. My laptop is Space Grey. It goes without saying my phone must be Space Grey.

Off to the Apple Store; I showed the first guy we met - he was wearing a Space Grey T-Shirt - and I pointed to the numbers and said MONGO WANT. He understood, but why would I want to buy the phone from AT&T when I could buy it from Apple and get AppleCare? Hmm? But - but this would interfere with the sacred pact I just made back at the AT&T store. He didn’t know about that, but he put my name in the system to talk to a salesperson, and we waited.

The nice salesperson was unsure whether buying from them would scotch the deal I just made, so I ran back to the AT&T store. (Daughter, by the way, is along for all this, and she’s having a ball, playing with the phones and iPads. She even went to get Americanos while I was waiting.) Long story short, I can buy the phone from a hairy lunatic in the parking ramp if I want. As far as AT&T is concerned, they don’t care where I buy the car. They sell the gas.

So I walk away with my phone bill slashed, but half of the savings now goes to a new phone. On the other hand: incrementally better phone that’s aesthetically indistinguishable from the last one! Except for the video, which is 4K!

Do I have a 4K TV? Oh, of course not. But I might have to get one.

Because Daughter lost her phone.

UPDATE: Daughter, of course, found her phone.

Flavors can't be other flavors.

I mean, you can buy things that are Candy-Corn Flavored, which would seem to suggest it's a discrete taste profile. I don't know what it is, and I suspect a great deal of what we call "the Candy Corn Experience" is due to its texture, and the way it resists the bite at first but soon gives way.

Adding Pumpkin Spice to Candy Corn is like saying Red Licorice is Licorice. It isn't. But this is the season of abominations, I suppose.




Look, Jay, we know you just painted the sign, but the switch boxes have to go here and that's that.


Look on the bright side - your sign's still doing better than the others.

Whenever I return to these pictures - I clip the pix weeks, or sometimes months, in advance - I wonder why I was drawn to particular buildings. In this case it was the symmetry, the blankness of the upper area, and the wire-frame awnings, waiting for the computer-generated artist to add fabric.

A window on the top level, a foot or two off to the side, would have driven some people in town mad with frustration. They wouldn't have been able to look at it.

I know why I chose this one: the Christmas-like sign that seems to be something from a Walking Dead ep, inasmuch as nothing else looks like Christmas; the surreptitious look at the all-seeing Google car, and a place can only assume is called Break-neck Alley.

"Let's just step in here and walk down the alley to talk, and AUUUUUGGIEEeeeeees"

A ghost ad so strong it seems to burn through all attempts to cover it


The force of the ad's ancient strength has pushed the bricks away from the facade! Curious entrance there, by the way - the original glass over the door, but the angled doorway of the 50s. Unless the original looked like that. It's possible; they did do that here and there, but the area by the indentation looks like fresh concrete. The doorway area has tile that could be from the 70s or the 80s.

People are always doing something.


After a hard day of asking travelers about the flight of a fully-laden European swallow, the troll went back to his house:


"Well, this fellow, called himself Michael Graves, he came through town, had lunch down there at Pat's place, and he was talkin' to Harry, you know Harry from the bank, and Harry said they were thinking of remodeling, and this Graves fellow, he just drew something on the napkin and told Harry to get in touch with his office if he's like some plans for it."

"Ol' Harry, he just used the napkin."

You'd think it would be easier to match brick.

That assumes you care about matching brick.


Another look at the same building. This was a Barbershop. I was curious about that square air conditioner, and looked closer - it has a custom arch. It had to have been a window. And then they found an air conditioner that matched the hole exactly? This town is baffling.

Well, surely that's the end of the puzzlers and oddities.

I take that back.

How not to pretend it's three buildings:


You know it was either an opera house or a Masonic temple. Take a guess.

Right! Opera. If that's what you said. Now a Family Center.

Take a look inside. If you dare.

And that concludes today - at least for this; I assume your day is just beginning, or is underway with much more to come. Thanks for the visit; see you around.


blog comments powered by Disqus