MAX Blog Challenge

Allow me to explanationize myself.

I spend a lot of time during my commute with no responsibilities concerning paying attention to anything.  Unlike you driving-type people.  I ride the MAX, which is the light rail train here in Portland, OR, for those of you from not around here.  In case it ever comes up in a pub trivia, it stands for Metropolitan Area Express.

See how clever us Oregonians are?

Ever moreso than our big sister city counterparts up north, not only because our light rail name is way cooler than their Link Light Rail.

<yawn>

But also because we had the good sense as a city back in the late 70s-early 80s to say “Yes, please” to the federal money offered to us for light rail.

Seattle – apparently – said, “Nah.  We cool.  Look at this major freeway running through downtown and our floating bridges!  Trains are old school.  Did we mention our freeway has a park over it?!?”

Alas.

Anyway, our MAX gets me to and from work on the daily and that leaves me with some downtime where I don’t have to worry about silly things like steering and not hitting other vehicles.

So, what do I do?

I watch a lot of cat videos.

And the Facebook.

And the Words With Friends.

And the Instagram.

Until my brain is pretty much dripping out both ears.

Ergo, the purpose of this little MAX Blog Challenge is to use my 35-ish minutes to toss off a few brief blog entries.  Such as this or this.  Just something to keep the old bean nimble.

It’s especially helpful when waking up my little gray matter for my early work mornings, I can tap out a quickie on the way to work and be quasi-alert upon my arrival.  Plus, my post numbers are way up.  Win!

On the Sunday morning that I started thinking about this self imposed challenge, I was flashing back to the leisurely Saturday morning the previous day.  I’d hit my favorite local coffee roastery for my weekly treat and instead of my usual Iced Hazelnut Latte, I was feeling like an Iced Mocha.

I was tres conflicted.

One of the coolest baristas in Portland noticed my uncertainty when I was asked if I wanted my usual and asked what was wrong.

Or if I wanted-slash-needed a quad shot.

I told her about the source of my conflict and she immediately offered to do a mocha with hazelnut syrup for sweetener instead of the normal vanilla.

“A Nutella Latte?” I ejaculated.

Sure, she responded, chuckling uncertainly.

How could I not?

I mean, really.

So there I am, 16 ounces of iced latte magic in hand, walking down NW 13th, happy as a pig in chocolate and hazelnut syrup.  I have a literal pep in my step.

Oh, yeah…I went with the quad shot, too.

Then it happened.  The Latte Song just happened.  Popped right into my head, it did.  The music it was set to was Rainbow Connection from The Muppet Movie.

And, it’s official.  I’m the biggest dork on the planet.

But, a well-caffeinated dork.

That was the story that I wanted to write for my first official MAX Blog Challenge.

But I couldn’t.

As soon as I started, my phone vibrated to let me know I had an incoming text.

T-Mobile.

I’d used all my high speed data for my billing cycle.  No biggie.  I usually have a couple of gigs in my data stash.  Then I saw it – the dreaded LTE in the upper left hand corner of my phone screen.

And it wasn’t going away.

Another text from T-Mobile, which usually follows telling me that I was going to switch to my stash.

I’m awash in relief.

“You have used all of the 3GB high speed data in your T-Mobile monthly data plan.  You will continue to experience slower speeds up to 128 kpbs until 05/05/2017…”

khan

kpbs…what type of actual BS tech is that anymore, anyway?  Could I also get a couple of tin cans and a string, please?

Being fairly easy going – shut up, everyone I know – I decided to just roll with it and keep typing along.  Then my mind started churning on the low speed data thing.  When I went to save or post this blog entry, it was gonna take a year and a half to update and complete.

Hard pass.

I could tough this out.

It was only…seventeen days.

Seven-fucking-teen days?!?!

Harder pass.

How was I going to make it?  I needed to get me to a T-Mobile to add a free range gig of data to get me through.

But how did this happen?  I never burn through both my 3 GB of high speed data and my stash.  Never.  It’s how I end up having a stash of data in the first place.

Rib.

He and his boyfriend had popped into town two weeks prior for a real fun weekend and had been talking – over our three bottles of wine before The Silver Fox and I split for an evening of Lauren Weedman fantasticness.  Well, it was supposed to be fantasticness, but not every slugger hits a home run every time at bat, right?

Whoa.  Sorry about that last paragraph.  It was very Weedman of me!

Nevertheless, during our full evening of fun packed into a 90 minute pre-funk conversation, they were mentioning the podcast they had listened to on their drive down from Seattle.

S-Town.

s-townIt sounded good.  Entertaining and thought provoking at the same time.  They had mentioned their podcast listening on previous trips down, so on the Sunday after their visit, I opened up my podcast app and started the seven episode series.

And finished it in four days.

Which apparently takes a lot of data.

Who friggin’ knew?

Who.

Friggin’.

Knew?

Ok, it was totally worth it.  But that’s a different blog.  Maybe.  If I remember.

Today I finally get to walk into a T-Mobile for that free range gig of data.

Which they no longer offer, because this is my life.  Gone are the days of a $9.99 gig fix for the data poor.

Great.  Now what?

As it happened, I needed to get me to a T-Mobile today for other reasons.  Namely, my phone contract is on a Jump! plan and on that plan, my traditional 24 month payment plan became an 18 month lease, where I could Jump! to a new phone pretty much whenever.

But I never did jump.

Oh, and did I mention that the 18 month lease ended with a balloon payment for the remaining balance of the phone cost?

Oh, yeah.

Who friggin’ knew?

So, I had also in this data crisis gotten a text saying that I needed to either get to T-Mobile to Jump! to a new phone or I was going to have a $164 balloon payment on my 4/28 bill, in addition to my normal $60-ish phone bill.

Balloon payment.

Does anything strike greater panic into the heart of a senior citizen?

I didn’t know what I was afraid of, it’s just some uncontrollable, throwback panic.

Quite beyond my control.

But, I like my phone fine.  One of the reasons I never Jump!ed in the first place.  Why not just ride it out?

Except.

My phone started giving me that “Storage Almost Full” crap and the “Cannot Take Photo” gas in the interim.

Well, I could use a little larger capacity on my phone…let’s see what the options are.

I head on down to my local T-Mobile.  Leaving myself not enough time to pull the trigger on anything before my 11:00 lunch date with the parental units.

Did I mention that I waited until the day the payment was due to hit my checking account?  No?  Because, I did.  I’m there learning that my free range gig was no longer available, but that there is a comparable unlimited plan available with unlimited data for $70, all taxes included.  Which would make my phone bill about $4 more per month compared to my current unlimited data plan where taxes are extra.

“Unlimited data”, <wink, wink> I say to the sale person, Kristina.  No…unlimited high speed data.  For real, she assures me.

It’s an attractive plan.

But, help me with my storage problem, I beg.  She shows me some external drives that…I stopped listening.  Another device, I don’t need.  I already have a brick of battery life that I think I’ve charged once since I bought it.

Lesson learned:  I don’t use the external tech add ons.

Basically, my options became to buy Cloud storage or buy a new phone.

This, of course, prompted a Grumpy Old Man rant about how I don’t even know what’s currently in my fucking cloud, nor do I know how to remove anything from said cloud.  I’m the victim here!  It’s all a big con.  Now I can’t take pictures.  I hope “they” are happy!

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

I back burner that decision while giving Kristina some whiplash and tell her that I’ve decided to go with the new data plan.  She parries with the information that she can’t set it up until I decide on paying off my old phone or getting a new one.

A few awkward seconds follow where we stare each other down.

The store’s phone rings.

And rings.

And rings some more.

I cock an eyebrow at her and she excuses herself.

like this woman.

My dad texts that they are leaving a bit late and will see me in an hour.  Great.  What Impulsive Xtopher didn’t need was enough time to complete a phone purchase.

When she gets off the phone, I tell her that I’ve decided to get the new phone, but to use the traditional 24 month payment plan versus the Jump! plan, since I didn’t.

Jump!

“The base 32 GB will be fine for you.  I mean, every time your phone updates, it will eat a little bit more of the storage because”…I’ve stopped listening.

“I’ll take the 128 GB”, I say, “Let’s see Apple update me out of that much storage!”

She tells me that I have to pay the $100 price difference up front, and I’m fine with that.  What I’m not fine with happens a few moments later when she realizes that she can’t stop the draft for this month’s payment.  What that boils down to isn’t a big deal, the $160 for the old phone will just appear as a bill credit next month.

It’s important to note that I’ve been short-handing the amount of the balloon payment on my old phone.  The actual amount of the buy off is $163.99.  It’s a shorthand that I now find myself regretting.

Because

She says, “Or, you could just wait and trade this phone in after the bill clears your account tonight” going on to elaborate – after my encouragement – that my trade in value would be <keyboard tapping> $160.

<Grumpy Old Xtopher to the stage, please>

“So, I lose $4 on the deal?” I manage to grumble and laugh at the same time.

Kristina the Sassy gives me a look that suggests that I’ve had a couple of weeks to complete this transaction that would have pre-empted the draft we are now discussing.

“Or you could just sell it yourself”, she tosses out.

Yeah, right.  My inner voice says.  I’m pretty sure I know what my face is saying to broadcast that thought.

Then my mouth says, “Yeah, I think I’ll do that.”

And I bought a phone.

I know that I don’t have enough time for her to set my new phone up for me, and this should bother me, since I’ve never set up a phone in my lift.

There’s people for that.

Smart people.

Smarter people than I, anyway.

But, here I am.  Backing up my old phone and restoring that data to my new phone while I type out a blog about how this insane adventure all began in the first place.

I can at least take solace in the fact that it only cost me $100.  Well, $100 plus the $4 my phone bill went up when I switched data plans from limited unlimited data to unlimited unlimited data…

On the upshot, I can reset my old phone to factory settings, get it unlocked and then sell it – with the Mophie battery pack that doesn’t fit my new phone – for an easy $250…so, really, I make out ok.

Because I’m a grumpy middle aged white guy and that’s how my shit rolls.

MAX Blog Challenge

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