By Ben |

[posted to the Wheeled Migration Yahoo Group on August 23, 2004]

Hi, folks! I had a great visit with my friends this weekend, in spite of record-low temperatures and a bear on the loose. They let me sleep indoors. ;-)

I'm at a Kinko's in Appleton now on my way toward the Lake Michigan coast. There's a headwind this morning but it's been very easy going so far; I'm going to have to resist the urge to go all the way to Manitowoc today because I don't want to wear myself out like I did after my last day off.

Just a few logistical updates for those of you who like to hear about the challenges of traveling.

Yesterday I went to the AT&T Wireless store about a mile from where I am right now, planning to follow the advice I'd gotten from one of their phone support people last week. He said I could get the same coverage for less money if I bought a newer phone that uses GSM rather than digital service. However, the salesman at the store advised me against it, saying the extent of the GSM coverage would be significantly worse than digital. So no upgrade, I thought; end of story.

After leaving the store, I happened to pass a kiosk selling both AT&T and Verizon service, and I noticed that Verizon's digital coverage was better than AT&T's. I asked about the rates and found that I could save about $20/month by switching, plus I could get a much cooler phone for free (after rebate). The only downside is that since I'm not in the 612 area code, they can't transfer my Minneapolis phone number to the new phone until I've had it for 60 days. If I lost my 612 number I'd have to notify not only friends and family but also my banks, domain name registrars, and so on. Big hassle.

But I sat down and did some calculations and found that even if I have to pay for two cell phones for 60 days in order to keep my number, I'll *still* save money by switching. So I'm doing it. I tell you this not to toot Verizon's horn at all, but because in the past I've recommended AT&T for their rural coverage, and I can't do that anymore. My momma told me, you better shop around.

On the health-insurance front, Blue Cross still says they haven't received the medical records that Abbot Northwestern claims they sent last week, so I still have no insurance. I don't know who's to blame here -- could be either of those faceless bureaucracies or the postal service -- but I suspect Abbot because they failed to send the records at all the first time I requested them, over two months ago. So if any of you in the Twin Cities want to organize a glove-slap posse to go demand satisfaction on my behalf, I'd love to hear about it.

Next time I write, I'll be in Michigan! --Ben