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I changed my mobile phone number recently for two reasons: (1) I'm old-fashioned and wanted it to reflect my geographical location: I left California--as all reasonable people do--and moved to South Dakota (2) I wanted a "pretty" number. My new one ends in 4000.

It turns out that my new mobile number was previously assigned to the Santa Claus Hotline.

Because of the onslaught of calls, I've had to set up Google Call Screening for all phone numbers that don't appear in my contact list. This works well most of the time since I took tremendous pains to notify everyone of my new number. Some I had to remind once or twice, but no big deal. So when a new call comes in that's not on Santa's Naughty or Nice list, I either wait for the live transcript or make a quick decision based on area code and time of day.

Prior to setting up the screening service, I was getting little kids in the middle of the night wanting to talk to Santa. I tolerated this for a bit because I selfishly thought this coincidence would make a great lead-generator. Kids will need phone systems one day too.

Fast forward.

This was all very amusing, initially. But then I cursed Verizon for not keeping the number off the market for years like they used to. I cursed the Internet for remembering everything ("Googling" my phone number is how I confirmed that Cyberspace keeps the dream alive that you can somehow talk to Santa over the phone).

But now I'm a little blue. What parent allows their kids to call Santa in the middle of September? Now that I'm past the first week of October, the calls persist unabated. There will not be a quiet Autumnal harvest period as long as there are American children with smartphones suffering from an urgency to express their pre-Halloween wishes. Oh dear, I think I'm going to Hell.

For me? All I want for Christmas is a great call filter. And I got it. Thank you, Santa...er Google.


"Carry others as you climb" -- Tim Alberstein
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Interesting story, Santa. I've got a question for you, where in SD, east, west more north or south? Anywhere near the Black Hills? That's quite a change, how do you like it?


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Years ago. I had a phone number that was ridiculously close to a local radio station's request line- one digit difference in the office code. It wasn't usually a problem until after midnight on the weekends. Any time a phone rings after 10 PM, it's usually a wrong number or bad news. I'd get lots of requests to play this song or that song, usually lots of heavy metal stuff early in the AM. I got to the point where I'd just say 'yeah, sure thing' and go back to bed.

I'd often get calls from the same guy that lived a few towns over. He started to realize he'd dialed the wrong number after learning to recognize my voice. We then starting talking about stuff on his different calls and got to be buddies. I finally invited him and his wife over for a BBQ and we've been friends now for almost 25 years.

I look a lot like Santa these days, so I'd probably revel in the hotline number. I get accused of it in the grocery store by little ones, so I have to just say No-ho-ho ..I'm not Santa. Moms always smile, the kid makes up their own mind and it puts a smile on my heart. Win-win-win.


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This is my fifth year in Sioux Falls and it was about time to change my phone number. My driver's license and vehicle license plates were all done within hours. I couldn't believe it! License plates sat behind a counter and they just scanned and handed me a pair after I payed my fees. At the DMV, I brought some ID, took a 30-question test and they said, "Stand over there". Within a minute, my license came out of a printer.

This was one of my first impressions of how efficiently things are handled here. That would have been six hours at the California DMV and I would have waited for the post office to bring my plates. Of course I didn't have to get a smog check nor deal with vapor recovery nozzles at the pump. Some stations allow you to pump first then pay with a personal check. What? That's so old-fashioned that maybe one day I'll see Doc Brown drive up in a flying DeLorean screaming "What year is it?"

Did I mention that the speed limit in many places is 80 mph? Fun.

The arts are well-supported. There's a sculpture walk and plenty of neat things to see besides the waterfalls that gave the city its name. Summer concerts are free every weekend and they have a movie night in the park during summer. There's a 22 mile bike trail that never, ever crosses city streets, so you can get some exercise pretty safely.

Several homeless shelters exist and there is a place called The Banquet where you can eat twice daily for free. I've volunteered there a few times and it's very satisfying. The homeless/houseless aren't obvious because they have a place to go...especially when it gets cold. Most require their guests to be sober and look for work, but there is a "wet home" for the more troubled people.

The first place I ate at was an old-fashioned diner. A gal named Jessica served me (as she did this last Friday) and I remembered being called "Honey". Back at my old home, someone would have been pulled into HR for using that kind of language. But for me, I like the instant familiarity. Calling someone 'hon' or 'sweetie' is disarming and I love it. That plus I'm from the sticks-and-stones generation and I don't hair-split on pronouns and all that happy horsecrap.

When I was a kid, I couldn't slide through a red light without hearing about it at the dinner table. This city is kinda like that. Everybody knows everybody.

There are plenty of shops out here that are using small systems to keep me busy. That plus I have taken somewhat of a handyman role by servicing POS machines, cabling, access points, rack and stack and all sorts of stuff. It's quite a change from demarc extensions in highrise buildings or being barked at by my picky Hollywood clients.


TLDR (too long didn't read): It's easy living out here and I like it.


"Carry others as you climb" -- Tim Alberstein
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Sounds like you've acclimated well. My first trip through SD was heading to Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City, coming from Michigan. I was driving a mustang and the wind was blowing like crazy, mustangs are lite and I'd go past a guard rail and get pushed one way and past it pushed the other. I don't remember where, but I pulled into a dinner in a little town and sat at the counter. I was sitting next to this old farmer and I asked him if the wind always blew like this. In typical SD fashion he said, no sometimes it blows pretty hard. I started laughing he just smiled and bought my coffee.


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Tim, Glad it's going well for you! Sounds like a lot of fun.

About phone numbers.....

My old phone number was 212-NNX-XXXX.

213-NNX-XXXX was Pan Am lost baggage in LA.

You can only imagine how many calls I got - some of them from Operators ("I have a collect call for you...") - most in the middle of the night.

When I moved the phone company said i could take my number with me. I refused.They were surprised. no one ever refused....

Sam


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Hey, Tim is still alive!

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Arghhhh. I remember when Nicklelodeon accidently published my shop 800 number for a call in contest. Missed their number by 1 digit. A whole weekend of thousands of 5 year olds leaving voice mails- Did I win? Did I win?

Glad you are doing well Tim. I too prefer small town vibe to metro areas. South Dakota is a little too cool for me in the Santa season though.


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Tim, I'm so glad you're still kicking and much closer to Maine. If they ever get another Mod Meet in Maine, I hope you make it.


Scientists say that the universe is made up of Protons, Neutron & Electrons. They forgot "Morons".
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