So I got home. The large box was there; inside, was a smaller box, with my new phone in it. I hoped dearly there'd be nothing complicated to do to get it started because I didn't have time.
The logic had been set long ago: I wanted to get to Chicago before noon; the flights I could find which got there before noon and left from Newark were, inexplicably, excessively expensive or went through Minneapolis/Saint Paul. The best flight would leave Newark at 6 am. This implied getting to Newark by 5 am. This implied getting on the road before 4 am. This implied getting up about 3 am. This implied getting to sleep before midnight. I'm not good getting to sleep before midnight, and that hour was approaching fast. The phone was in fine shape physically, but had no battery charge. It had a plug. The plug wouldn't fit my surge protector/outlet thingy until I rearranged the things plugged into it. Hopefully the phone was something I could activate at 3 am after a very short sleep stretch and it might be charged in about four hours.
In almost no time and at an hour I'd normally be thinking of getting to bed (on my new schedule) I got up and the phone reported its charge was full. I called the number to activate it and after what seemed like a lot of button-pressing it reported that I had gone through the activation system. I checked that I had written down phone numbers I thought likely to be important in the coming week, specifically, those of bunny_hugger, skylerbunny, and my father. I also had what I thought was my mother's, and my sister-in-law's, and her husband's. I set out with my new messenger bag, which I hadn't really used since that interview back in July, but I was delighted to find it had a little interior pocket for hand phones on top of this sleeve for ``fast security scanning'' of my laptop, at the airport.
I drove myself, by the way, in my car, because my father felt he wasn't going to be awake enough at that hour to drive but was getting there by 5 am. Also we went in my car because, he noted, his car is the older Jeep Something and the heater's not very good and I can't drive stick (well, I know the theory) and he was going to feel very sleepy and I'm sure he wasn't looking for excuses to drive my car. Really. But he was planning to drive to my brother and his wife's place to nap at a convenient-ish midpoint on the way home. I hoped he wasn't going to use my car for all his driving purposes, since he moves a lot of tools and caulk-like substances around for his job.
Meanwhile at the airport I heard a beeping from my phone and saw that it was reporting text messages. I've heard about text-message spam but getting it under two hours after activating my phone seemed excessive, not to mention very offensive as they cost me a nickel per. (It might even cost me a per diem charge, although it turns out it doesn't; this was something I wasn't sure of about the phone plans since I figured text messaging was a low priority.) When I had some time to deal with this I would be ready with some really snotty responses to all this. In the meanwhile, I had to get to my flight and be whisked off to the magical land known as Minnesota.
I can't say that Minnesota struck me as particularly magical, although I was quite happy to see a statue of Snoopy in aviator's gear just standing there outside the gate I arrived at. I took some pictures which could have turned out better, but it also turned out that I had to get going because it turns out my connecting flight was at the far end of the airport, located somewhere around Rochester, by which I mean the one in upstate New York. Oh, and I'd packed everything for the week into my messenger bag and one bag that actually fits as carry-on if the gate attendant isn't checking too closely. (I ended up gate-checking it for the other two flights of this expedition, but it is nice to fly unchecked.) Though I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to get to my new gate, I was able to take the time to visit a convenience store and have my first Zagnut bar. I'd like more. My phone beeped again with more text messages. Who had time for that?
On to Chicago, which was more familiar since I'd flown through it on ways to and from Singapore. bunny_hugger and skylerbunny were waiting for me outside. As I strode briskly toward the parking lots ... and turned around ... and strode briskly the other direction and ... looked for the baggage claim area and ... I came to a horrified realization: I'd never actually gone from inside O'Hare airport to the outside before. I had no idea how to get out.
I could do something useful, though, and took out my New Phone to call bunny_hugger, report my location, verify where we were meeting up and ... uh ... the phone rang a reasonable while, and picked up, and then there was nothing. I tried again and got her voice mail, which made for a successful call and yet strange to get. Maybe she was still driving in. So I made my next call, to my father, to report my safe arrival. He advised that I could get out by following the signs marked 'exit'. I had tumbled onto this strategy yet it didn't seem to be getting me anywhere. I considered asking a Travellers' Aid station, if I could find a Traveller's Aid station. And then I had my next great idea: skylerbunny would almost certainly be with bunny_hugger. I called him, and made contact.
I also managed eventually to get out of the Security Theater Quarrantine area and while I found Baggage Claim I didn't find the monorail supposed to lead to the parking lot they were in. But the woman attempting to leave the Hertz counter was able to guide me to the monorail and while the little station there was not as explicit as I'd like about which way to go, I either got the correct direction or I got lucky because I got to the lot and was very swiftly reunited with both bunny_hugger and skylerbunny, who was driving her car. (I wasn't surprised. He has a bit of a project-manager attitude toward taking over in situations, which is an excellent trait when catastrophes are breaking out, and more generally amusing when there are problems finding a restaurant instead.)
The six text messages that my phone had acquired so far turned out to be from Verizon, begging me to make a phone call so as to complete my activation.
Trivia: Gemini VI turned on its acquisition radar, to detect Gemini VII already in orbit, at three hours seven minutes after launch. It locked on Gemini VII at three hours ten minutes after launch. Source: Gemini 6: The NASA Mission Reports, Editor Robert Godwin. (Technical Debriefing, 20 December 1965.)
Currently Reading: Call Of The Mall, Paco Underhill. Now on the one hand, it's fun reading about what malls do right and wrong from a guy who likes them. On the other, a lot of what he dislikes is spots where things in malls could be used to advertise other things, and I'm tired of every surface being an advertisement. He's got a point about the storefronts being painfully dull, though.