October 24th, 2014


West Michigan Wins Another Dud

Last week I was told that someone was talking about a solar eclipse Thursday locally at 5:30am. Right. That wouldn't help, especially this side of the equinox. But it turns out we really were scheduled to have a partial solar eclipse today -- starting at 5:40pm. Oh that could work.

A while back I had a list of eclipse dates, but it expired. And frankly I've had my eye on The Big One -- August 2017 total solar eclipse over a wide swath of the country. Never been inside totality.

Today's was said to be about 40% I guess.

But by last night, as usual, it wasn't a done deal. I cannot tell you how many solar and lunar eclipses I haven't been able to see in West Michigan. There was a six hour window for the clouds to roll in.

This morning was foggy. Too bad the eclipse wasn't at 8am, because the sun's disk was just visible through the haze above the Grand Valley. Almost stopped for a picture anyway.

5:20pm, after a bright sunny day, I'm loading up to come home and took a picture of the Sun just disappearing into that cloud bank coming in. 5:20...

As I approached Allendale, there was an orange stain on the horizon. And a flash of an orange ball on the horizon. 6:35... Next time I saw the horizon, it was after 6:40 -- sunset. I would've lived with a sunset eclipse picture.


I tell you -- August 2017 I'm going to be like a tornado chaser with the WiFi hotspot and weather.com...

Dr. Phil

Dear Verizon, Why Not Make It Customer SERVICE?

A long time ago, I bought a cell phone. The 1979 Suburban was getting on, had a lot of miles, and I vowed that if I went back to teaching at Western and the long commute, it was cheaper to get a cell phone and use my AAA, than to fix up everything on the Suburban. (grin)

Motorola MicroTAC flip phone, bought at Office Depot, contract through Century Cellunet. Which begat Centurytel, which begat Alltel and thence Verizon. Over 20+ years, we've only had three phones -- the current Motorola RAZR V3's are over six years old.

The phones are fine.

The service is fine.

Back in the Alltel days we put the account on Autopay. Last month I get a text message saying that the card's expiration date is coming. So I need to input the new date.

Verizon does not make it easy.

The web link they provide asks you for your My Verizon account login. I have one, which I set up for haiku, our Verizon 3G credit card sized WiFi hotspot. But that's pay-as-you-go, not contract, so I guess I have to add the cellphones or create a new account. Login. Oh noes! We have to create a more secure system, so let's play clown car security theatre and have you select one of our canned security questions -- ones which can be easily answered by friends, family or blog readers. But okay, we'll play.

Now my computer is registered.

And... My Verizon is down right now. Okay.

I do try to set up a new account. It wants to send me a text message with a PIN number. To my phone, which is off. And I'm not turning it on with Mrs. Dr. Phil asleep in the next room. Oh, the PIN is good on my for two hours. Disconnect.

Today. Try again. Do clown car security theatre again. My Verizon is STILL down.

Try to find a customer support number. Use My Verizon! It does everything! Check minutes! Cure Ebola! Look ten years younger! If it were working! ... Idiots.

I recall years ago there was a direct way to get to customer service. 611? I Google "Verizon 611", it gets links to *611 and the incredible Android phone *611 experience. What if you don't HAVE an Android phone. Finally I just call *611 -- it rings.

It's a menu system. But first I have to listen to a LONG commercial touting the virtues of the wonderful -- and nonfunctional -- My Verizon. Sigh.

Eventually I was able to update my Autopay.

But man, it was not easy.

Of course, it's probably my fault. I didn't try 0 in the menu and get a human on the other end.

If Verizon employs any in Customer Service...

Dr. Phil