Well my friends, 48 hours after starting this journey, I'm thrilled to report that at 9:02 PM (while I was on hold with AT&T business services no less) I received an e-mail from the iTunes store informing me that my iPhone activation was now complete. Wooo Hooo!!! The phone is happily syncing my music right now and I'll shortly start playing with it. If I can pull myself away from it, I'll even write up a review.
For now, I'm a happy camper.