August 19th, 2001


Ralph and Lori vs. the Decepticons

Some weeks ago, Lori opened a set of coupons, scratched off some stuff on a game card, and found that by attending a sales presentation at a resort in the Laurel Highlands, we could get a free computer. It would have been really nice to get a free computer for Lori's parents; I'll let Lori explain the whys and wherefores.

So, we went out yesterday and saw the presentation of how for several thousand dollars, we could save on lots of travel and vacationing forever. We declined, because it's not in our financial cards right now. They pointed out that this was a one-time offer, and we still inclined, and we went off to get our prizes.

It turns out that the computer is really wimpy (no great surprise there), and requires signing up for an internet service for three years at $29.95 a month. I'm very skeptical that this is a good deal--certainly, it's not much better than a neutral deal. I'm irritated. Lori was very disappointed.

And the more I think about the whole thing, the more irritated I get.
- They talked a lot about how they weren't going to give a hard sell, but all this really meant was that they were more subtle about their hard sell, with the tricks like the 'one-time only offer', which they said was mandated for them by the realtor's association. I do not believe it was so mandated. Certainly, this sort of deal--with no time to consider it, no chance to talk with other users about their experiences, and so forth--this is not the sort of deal that would be offered by someone who feels that their product is a good deal on its own merits.
- Now that I think about it, I remember that they said that we were specially selected for this offer--but if I recall correctly, it came from the Val-Pak coupon pack. That's not very selective.

So. I believe that the whole offer was just as attractive-but-dubious as the computer itself. Feh. I'm glad we didn't fall for it. I don't want to go to any more such presentations.

But we were out in the Laurel Highlands on a pleasant day, so we decided not to take the Turnpike back but have a pleasant trip driving back along back roads. It was indeed very pleasant to drive and see the views.

We ended up eating at a roadside place on route 30 called "The Hollow Tavern". (Their motto is "The Hollow Isn't Sleepy Anymore.) The atmosphere was very pleasant; there was a great view of the creek flowing alongside, and it was a very pleasant place.

The menu was somewhat unusual. It actually provided a fairly precise calibration of my appetite for culinary adventure: I was eager to try the deep-fried pickles, but I quailed at the "Elvis Burger" (hamburger topped with creamy peanut butter and bacon).

Besides the deep fried pickle spears (based on my limited experience, I think fried pickle slices are better than fried pickle spears; the juiciness of the pickle spears meant that the tastes of the batter and the pickle were somewhat disconnected), I had the "Mountain Beefy BBQ" sandwich (roast beef, tomato, pickle, horseradish sauce and hot wing sauce), and Lori had the "Big Mama" sandwich.(sausage, chicken and meatballs in spaghetti sauce; she had to eat it with a fork).
For dessert, then, we had the "Gob Sundae". I don't really know how to describe a gob to those who have never experienced one. It's two rounded cake-like cookies, stuck together with creamy filling into a cross between an Oreo and a flying saucer. This dessert, then, was one of those gobs topped with vanilla and strawberry ice cream and a hot fudge sauce that was probably home-made. Darn tasty.
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