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    Sunday, December 8, 2019

    MOSTSIM Prepaid U.S. Tourist Cellular Service

    MOSTSIM's prepaid tourist cellular service plans may be the perfect answer for Canadian and other international travellers to the U.S. With unlimited data, is it too good to be true?

    But let's back up a bit to review my experiences over the past 6 or 7 years.

    Cell service in the U.S. was super expensive for this Canuck. If you weren't careful you could easily ring up a roaming bill in the hundreds of dollars - or even higher.

    Some years ago a company called Roam came up with a great $5 a day plan. Initially, I loved it, and recommended it. Rogers, one of the big Canadian provider's, matched their $5 daily rate.

    Using Roam was so simple - you got a SIM that you could reload and you could even keep the same phone number over multiple trips.

    But boy did they fall off a cliff. There are so many stories out there every day about people who can't get their service activated in the US and in fact never get it activated at all during their trip.

    I was one of those people.

    The Rogers Roam Like Home plan was pretty good at $5 a day. For five bucks, you got to use the plan you had in Canada, but in the U.S. It was easy to turn on, and the cost just showed up on your regular monthly bill. There was no reason to look at a third-party provider any longer.

    But then Roam Like Home went up to $6 a day.

    Then it was $7 a day. And I was paying 13% tax on top.

    So what's a traveling type person to do?

    With these international plans, there is always the '$10,000 cell phone bill in the news' worry. You do something wrong, or some kid gets ahold of your phone and spends 28 hours streaming Korean K-Pop videos, going over your prepaid limit and using swaths of expensive by-the-megabyte cellular data, and you're in the poorhouse.

    You also have to factor in that some hotels charge exorbitant fees for internet service, if it isn't already rolled into a resort fee, or if you aren't paying a resort fee - if your room is comped, for example.

    I hunted around to see if there was a better option.

    After much research - there are so many different plans and companies out there - I was just about to pull the trigger on a T-Mobile tourist plan, now marketed through Ultra Mobile.

    It looked good. Reasonable prices. International calling (limited to 100 minutes) and international texting. And super important for me, LTE data speeds.

    And then I noticed something - you get 2GB of LTE data, and then you're throttled down to 3G. And if you use tons of data, they can choke you down as low as 64kbps. If you want to top up your LTE data... you can't.

    Not only that, it looked like I'd have to get to a T-Mobile location in the U.S. to buy the plan.

    I kept looking and came across MOSTSIM, which also resells T-Mobile service.

    You can buy a MOSTSIM sim and service plan on Amazon. You're sent a SIM card and instructions on how to pre-register the SIM card for your trip. This is done on the MOSTSIM activation website.

    Just before your trip starts, MOSTSIM sends an email with your temporary U.S. phone number and some instructions. Seems reasonable.

    This card doesn't include international texting, which is a bit of a drag, but here's the best part - along with unlimited U.S. calls and texts, it gives you unlimited 4G/LTE data.

    And, the SIM card can be re-used up to 45 days after your trip by purchasing a new plan. And, you can add days onto your plan during your trip if you contact MOSTSIM 48 hours ahead - helpful when there are severe flight disruptions or changes in your travel plans.

    And, unlike some SIM cards, this one supports tethering, albeit at a reduced speed. But this should easily be enough to provide internet connectivity in cases where WIFI is unavailable or expensive.

    I went for it and ordered a 12-day plan for $44.99 CAD. This works out to $3.75 a day, which is half of what Rogers' Roam Like Home plan would be. It would be totally worth it if it works well, and if it could save me a single resort fee or WIFI charge, it would be fantastic.

    In my case, I was staying at Wynn for part of the trip. There's no resort fee on my reservation (thank you Wynn Slots app!!!) but I also don't get any WIFI. Want WIFI? That'll be $20 a day PER DEVICE. No thanks. Hopefully my MOSTSIM service would provide all the internet service I'd need by tethering my devices to my smartphone.

    The SIM arrived very quickly from Amazon, nicely packaged along with a sturdy SIM removal tool.

    The MOSTSIM prepaid SIM card comes with a very chic SIM removal tool. Much more fashionable then the bent up paperclip I usually use.

    The SIM card is one of those three-sizes-in-one cards, where you just break out the size you need. I put it in my phone to make sure it was compatible (turning off cell service first - you don't want to connect in Canada with the MOSTSIM SIM in because... I'm told that it would be bad.)

    The card was recognized as a valid SIM and I was ready to rock.

    Then I did the registration process on their website, which was easy and quick. I entered my phone's details (IMEI and so on), a secret password emblazoned on the SIM card, and the date I wanted service to start.

    The morning of my trip, I got an email from MOSTSIM telling me what my U.S. phone number was, and giving detailed instructions on how to get the thing up and running when I got to Las Vegas.

    So how did the MOSTSIM service actually work? And how about activating it on the T-Mobile network?

    Sunday, September 15, 2019

    Apollo Yo-Leven Post-Trip Reckoning and Accounting Spin

    Let's cut to the chase. This trip was not a winning trip. That is, if you measure my bankroll before the trip and after the trip. However... this trip was a huge success in so many ways.

    First of all, I was the first man to land on the Moonar surface, and catch a Lyft there as well.

    Secondly, I had an absolute blast.

    Thirdly, I managed to keep the live posting going during the trip without falling behind.

    Finally, the total cost of the trip came with a huge discount, based on comps, freeplay, and goodies.

    The most amazing thing of this trip was the continued, improbable, and ridiculous good luck I had with video keno. I felt like I was doing something illegal, winning that often.

    Just remember, the house edge on video keno starts at 95% goes down, way down, from there. Video keno is a terrible game, and you shouldn't play it.

    I left one thing hanging in one of the posts about Luxor - I spotted a guy with a 6" hunting knife in a cheap, plastic sheath strapped to his belt, hanging in plain view. I stopped by the security desk and let them know. Because, you should always use a leather sheath.

    Now, let's look at hard expenses first.

    The biggest expense item was gambling, from which I sustained a $900 loss. I have ways of making this look much, much better. Keep reading.

    Apollo Yo-Leven Expense Item Cost
    Airfare $134
    Rouge Plus Upgrade $334
    Lyft (5 rides) $66
    MostSim $34
    Wynn Slots $26
    Bar tips $5
    Buffalo Trace $15
    Tips $14
    Amazon Prime $47
    Tips $8
    Car Rental $151
    BTS Korean $20
    KJ Kitchen lunch $10
    Tips $10
    Tacos El Gordo $15
    Tips $4
    White Castle $9
    Tips $6
    Tips $14
    Tips $15
    Starbucks airport $10
    VIA $90
    Total $1,037

    And now, let's look at the comp side.

    Apollo Yo-Leven Comp Value
    Luxor Suite 4 nights $689
    Luxor FP $75
    Luxor Food ($100) $100
    Magnolias CTUG $14
    Cal Noodle House points $15
    FQ Freeplay $60
    Wynn 3 nights (Wynn Slots) $592
    MSS Freeplay $20
    MSS Buffet $16.00
    Cal 3 nights $180.00
    Cal MSC Korean Rib $17.00
    Magnolias CTUG $14.00
    Fremont Buffet $16.00
    Tournament dinner $15.00
    Luxor Suite 2 nights $344
    Luxor FP $75
    Luxor Food ($100) $100
    Cal Hawaiian Hamburg Steak $14
    Breakfast Buffet $18
    Total $2,374

    So, the total out of pocket cost for this trip was $1,937.

    Total comps received was $2,374.

    Let's unpack this a bit and look at some fun facts.

    • For a 12 night trip, my total cost for accomodations was $27. This is why I can't afford to vacation anywhere but Las Vegas.
    • For a 12 night trip, I paid for four meals. Four. One, two, three four. The rest were comped.
    • Gambling cost $75 per day. We have a rough historical average of $150 to $175 each day. This is why I can't afford new shoes.
    • Total value of the trip was $4,311 (costs plus comps plus gambling loss). Why did I include gambling loss? Because that's my entertainment and it lasts all day and night every day and night. More or less. Based on all that, I got this trip at a 45% discount - even more if you were to look at the full rack rate that first time Vegaser Gawking Johnny Fannypack and his wife Idawana Nofun would have had to pay for the 6 nights in a suite, and the 3 nights at Wynn.

    Thanks to all of you for reading along and thank you to the generous folks who donate to keep the blog rolling. It takes about three hours a day to keep up with a live trip report, and it's nice to see that people value it that much so as to contribute to the upkeep of the HTML and JavaScope and MySpace Server RAM crap that Jimmy Poon keeps a-hummin'.

    So what's next for Royal Flusher and the Quad Queen?

    I can't tell you. But it's going to be fun.

    Stay savvy, and remember, where there are credits, there are hope.

    Tuesday, September 3, 2019

    VIA Butler Class Service

    As mentioned, I'd found an Air FU Canada agent, and dealt with the fact that I wouldn't be on the last flight to Flusherville, all business, just the facts - just after I asked if she knew my cousin from Regina.

    I made my way to Union Station and partook of the Via business class lounge, which was surprisingly empty for an early evening train leaving Toronto.

    After stashing as many apples and cans of Clamato as would fit in my carry-on backpack, I made my way down to the departures level and joined the long line of trainees waiting to board.

    (See what I did there?)

    One of the staff made their way along the snaking line of stinking rail-bound humanity, checking tickets, and making sure shoes were tied and the like.

    When she scanned my ticket, one eyebrow lifted. This was because she had tilted her head sideways, but no matter.

    "Commander Flusher! There you are - come with me please," and with that, she turned on her heel and walked away. The way she accomplished this was to lift her right leg high in the air, and lift the toes on her left foot, leaving the heel as a fulcrum. A series of flapping movements with her rather heavy-set arms, accompanied by grunts and wheezes, caused enough inertia for her to spin bit by bit on her heel.

    It was... dare I say - majestic.

    She took me past all the other people in line to the foot of some stairs that lead up to the tracks. I was handed off from staff member to staff member, one at the top of the stairs, and another one at each of the seven rail cars, before I got to the very first car. This one was the one I was to board.

    I did so, stashed my suitcase, and searched for my seat, carefully comparing my ticket information to the somewhat complex seat numbering system used aboard such rolling stock.

    "Am I 13A, B, or C..." I muttered to myself. "A, I think - and there it is."

    And I settled in, happy to be on the final leg of my long, long journey.

    It was nice and quiet in the business class car, I'd hardly seen anyone else board. And before too long, with a little jerk and squeak, the train began to move.

    And that's when I realized the truth. I'd been duped. I was a guinea pig, a microbe in a test tube, a crash test dummy... for Via's experimental Butler Class.

    The butler - let's call him Guy - came by and greeted me. He asked if I was comfortable handling the emergency exit duties.

    I asked Guy for a bourbon rocks.

    Because I was the only eligible passenger, Guy insisted on showing me all the tricks of the trainwreck escape trade - the little hammer with which to break the window, the shoving motion one should use when pushing the shattered glass outward, or for corralling disobedient five year olds running up and down the aisle, should that come to pass. Not that it would. This was Butler Class, after all.

    Then we moved on to "how to operate a door".

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