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The Fickle Finger of the Unseen

I wish we could see cell phone coverage the way we can see clouds. It would make my life so much less frustrating.

Sprint screwed me over on their bogus "we'll pay the Verizon termination fee". I may still sue the rep in small claims court, because regardless of what the ads said, he genuinely thought the deal was with no strings, and that's how he sold me on it. But as of 2014, I have to go all the way to central San Jose to file, and to appear when it gets to court. If I'm a contract worker, that's going to be difficult, and would cost me more than the $300 I'm suing for.

I looked on eBay, and the phone I paid $550 for is now only worth about $250. More if it was jailbroken. It may be smarter to just turn it in to Sprint for the refund. If it really is a refund, and not what Verizon pulled on me - they were going to give me a credit only good for accessories, for which I had no use.

Sprint's signal is nowhere near as good or ubiquitous as they claim, so on top of being lied to, I am not getting the service I changed carriers for.

Decided to spend too much money and order an AT&T phone. Not porting my number from Sprint, because I'll run them in parallel for a week before I decide to keep it.  The Sprint phone is new enough that I can sell it for almost what I owe on it.

Also selling my NVidia Shield tablet, now that I know I won't be working for them. It's too heavy, too big and too slow, but gamers love it so I should get a good price. Going back to my old ASUS pre-Nexus tablet. I have a pair of Nexi I may sell, but they have munged USB ports, so maybe not.


Woke up this morning before the 7:30 alarm, feeling well rested. Spook was curled up in the cat tree next to the bed. She slept in.

Got to Mountain View an hour early, which meant I got one of the few parking spots at the Masonic Lodge. I don't think I had ever been inside. It's not as ornate as the Temples, but nice. Foyer, large activity room opens up into a huge auditorium. Beautifully designed for acoustics.

This was for a group called the Silicon Valley S-Un-Day Assembly, which was featuring a talk by Seth Shostak, who basically took the torch from whomever took the torch from Carl Sagan. Probably a guy called Dr. Drake. The Facebook ad made me think this was the MV branch of the Humanists, a group I attended a few sessions of at Stanford, when I was working near there.

But no, the Humanists are bedrock atheists with a light sprinkling of agnostics, and it was an adult meeting group, not trying to be a substitute for church.
SVSA is a Church™®©. Dozens of children in the activity room attended by badged member volunteers with a variety of toys and activity stuff. Mostly couples in the congregation, though there were a few singles too. A token number of seniors.

I went inside 15 minutes before the 10:30 advertised start time to find that they were really starting at 11, but as I chatted with one of the members who was monitoring the semi-functional coffee maker, healthy food stuff started appearing on the table. Not a lot, but enough for those who wanted.

There was a very short welcome message from the MC. Then the band played Manah Manah as lyrics displayed on the screen. We were told to stand and dance if we wanted to, my back said no, but almost everyone else did so. There was an icebreaker - thumb wrestling with anyone near you. I passed. It was tough, the woman sitting next to me, a member, who offered was quite attractive. Another song, Starman, I'm not sure all the lyrics were right, but close enough. Then a trio of short readings by Cupertino's poet laureate, which were actually not so bad.

Finally Seth's talk, which had some serious powerpoint issues but his banter was constant, and he had this act together. Very optimistic that we'll find intelligent life on some other planet in the next 20 years. His numbers left out two major items:
- It's all in the timing
- The longevity of a civilization
His definition of "intelligent life" is life which can build a radio transmitter. Fair enough. I know he can. And I'm also guilty as charged.

Another song, Mr. Spaceman, followed by what Baptists would call a testimonial. A single mom with two daughters on "Doing Your Best". It was an anecdote on how she became a better parent with the help of her youngest daughter. Not much of a speaker, not much of a writer, but she tried.

There was the obligatory Moment of Calm, during which the rear projection screen displayed an animation with a row of tiny different colored flames along the bottom. On closer inspection, it was a recording of a live view of a series of burning chemicals, the chemical formulae were below each flame. Lead oxide, barium nitrate, salt, lithium something, etc.  
Something like this:

Announcements, and then a final song, The Galaxy Song from Monty Python, with apologies to Seth for any inaccuracies. And then they took up a collection, just like in a real Church. Except unlike a real church, they showed the suggested donation by putting a slide up on the screen which showed what it cost to rent the hall, divided by an estimated attendance of 80 people.

I stayed for a few minutes, but instead of there being an opportunity to meet new people, the usual cliques sought each other out.

Home, plugged in the car and did some online research on phones, Facebooked, fired up Tivo to watch PTI, but instead it had some little league game. Looked up the PTI podcast, but it's audio only, and one of the MCs was substituted by someone who needs about 10 more years of experience.

Almost ordered the AT&T phone online, but the instant gratification bug hit, and against my better judgment I drove to the nearest AT&T store which is down the block from Lev's Stadium, and it was about 3:30 pm with a 49er's game kickoff at 4. My GPS routed me away from the closed streets, but there was a not-at-all-regulated militia of people in red & white jerseys (mostly brand new) parking where the signs said not to, and hoofing it through the parking lot in question. And enough of them had detoured to buy a phone that the wait was about an hour, according to the busy guy at the counter.

Plan B, I headed for downtown Starbucks to do the transaction online. But Fry's was along that route, and they sell phones, so I stopped in there just long enough to confirm that none of the phone reps were working, and none of the six employees around the Appliances & Telecommunications desk were going to drag themselves away from whatever flirting they were doing.

On to downtown, played some Ingress, captured some portals, then to a packed Starbucks. Lots of eye candy and a good wi-fi signal at an outdoor table. Ordered the phone, went with the full retail price/no contract/minimum data plan. Asked for a 408 area code instead of the 650 which I have been using since before moving south. Express delivery instead of store pickup.

On my way back to the car I Ingressed some more, saw far fewer Pokemon addicts than last weekend. People have probably started getting their data plan overage notices. 

As usual on a Sunday afternoon, the car got a free charge in the underground garage. Home, plugged it in for the .6 hours it needed for a fill-up. Fired up Tivo, which was still making two recordings of the 49ers game (the wish list one plus the specific NFL Pregame one). After a minute of the nonstop commentary I switched to 1FF which plays slow enough to follow but mutes the audio. Three QBs who are not Colin Pumpernickel played in the game, it woud have been a lot better for them if the receivers lived up to their job title. New job title will be Fumblers. Texas was pretty sucky too, but they won.

Plans for tomorrow:
The usual morning stuff
Interview in the afternoon at Amazon
Bring in the garbage bins
  

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