[ House Rivalry ] Message #196 Wed Mar 7, 1990 11:13pm
Subject: It was Glorious
It was raining last Sunday afternoon so we couldn't go on our Scotts
Valley rocket launch. As per previous plan, we decided to head over the
hill to try hobby shops for rocket materiel and electronics stores for a few
items I wanted. Irene gave me a VCR for my birthday, but it didn't have stereo
sound or Hi-Fi which Steve convinced me I wanted, so I was going to get another
and return the original. Of course I would also need an amp and some speakers
to take advantage of its features.
Ford, Qarin, Irene and I piled into Dave's car for the trip over 17.
Fortunately Dave's car is up to the task of navigating 17 with a carload of
people in the rain.
We first stopped at D&J Hobbies. All I had on my list was engine blocks
and tube adapters. It appeared that D&J had no better selection than the
pitiful stock carried by the Santa Cruz stores. But, it turned out that behind
the counter they had a full selection of Flight Systems and Aerotech engines
(well, at least a fair selection; they had no G's). I was pleased to find that
the prices of those engines hadn't risen in the 5 years since I had last bought
them. Also, in the *back* of the store, they had a few cardboard boxes filled
with a motley assortment of old Flight Systems and other manufacturers'
hardware. They didn't have the parts I actually wanted, but I bought some
other adapters and such that looked useful, along with some E and F engines.
After stopping for food at the Emporium, we filed into the Good Guys
which had been recommended to me. They seemed to have a pretty good selection.
I looked at VCRs first since that was my main target, and eventually narrowed
down my selection to two models (a Mitsubishi and a Sony) that were both the
same price ($550) and seemed to have the features I wanted. The Mitusubishi
had a much better still frame, and a nicer style, but a fast-forward that
looked terrible. It was odd because the *reverse* looked just fine! We
thought it might be the tape, which had just been made on another machine, and
asked for a prerecorded one to try. After a bit of searching by the salesman,
it turned out that they had no prerecorded SP (standard play) tapes to try the
machines with! Give me a break...
Finally, we found another SP tape that was in good enough condition that
it seemed the Mitsubishi really did have a problem with fast forward. I was
trying to decide, and about to go with the Sony, when another salesman
overheard me referring to the Mitsubishi's fast-forward as "wretched". "What
do you mean, wretched?" he asked in a rather testy manner. I showed him. "Oh,
well that's just because it was returned by a customer who had damaged it."
His tone made it sound like I was a fool for not knowing that. I asked to try
another one, which he refused(!), since he said the other Mitsubishis used the
same mechanism, but he eventually convinced me that Mitsubishis didn't really
have problems. But, what did they have a known broken machine out on the floor
for?! And the other salesman hadn't even known about it.
After deciding on the VCR, it was time to look at amps. I narrowed it
down to a nice Technics machine with a tuner and surround sound. The next
step up had an electronicly set equalizer; I liked the manual type better. It
also had a control output that let you use its remote control to control other
Technics components that don't have their own remotes. And yes, Alex, it has
the type of remote volume that actually rotates a volume knob (ooh!)
Next, a set of speakers (4, for the surround sound)... and I decided to
go for a cassette deck, since that's the one form of prerecorded music I own.
I got a Technics deck in part so it could be controlled by the receiver/amp.
Then I decided to look at CD players since I eventually intended to buy one.
Around this time Dave decided that he really liked that Mitsubishi VCR a lot,
so he went to apply for credit. I decided I liked the same CD player Dave
owned (which shuffle-plays 5 CD's). Of course, once I had picked out a model,
I *wanted* it. I briefly considered stealing Dave's, but eventually ended up
just adding it on to my planned purchases for the day.
I went back to the video section and Dave and I had the salesman enter our
purchases. He seemed glad to have gotten two commisions for the prices of one.
Previous to this, Qarin had said to me, "You know of course not to buy the
extended service plan, since they'll give it to you anyway." Well, I knew it
after she told me. I turned it down when he offered to sell it to me, and
indeed he said "Oh well, I'll give it to you anyway."
Then I went over to the audio section. There wasn't any free service
there. After entering all of my purchases, the salesman tried to interest me
in various service plans. I kept turning him down, but he was not to be
dissuaded. I eventually told him that I was an electronics technician, and
even that didn't stop him. "Well, you don't want to have to work on it
yourself do you?" He did eventually give up. I'll probably regret it... :-)
Then it was up to the front desk to pay. I had my checkbook with me,
since I didn't want to put it on my Visa card. It would put me within $1K of
the limit on the card, which my father uses also. I could imagine him trying
to make some large purchase and being shocked when it was denied. He didn't
want me to be using the card much anyway; he was about to cancel it. I wrote
out the check and gave it to the clerk. She asked me for my ID. I showed her
my (expired) temporary permit, which I had since my license was repossessed,
and my photo student ID (also expired). This combination had been fine for
other purchases, and had worked to get me alcohol, but the senior clerk flat-
out rejected it. I offered them my VISA number as insurance, but she wouldn't
take that either.
I was thinking of going and getting the salesmen who stood to lose some
rather large commissions when I noticed Qarin getting out *her* credit card.
Yes, that's right... she offered to pay for my system, in exchange for a check
from me. They checked her credit and approved it. 'Twas very nice of her; I
guess she trusts me. Well, pretty much... "Uh, this *will* clear, right John?"
Throughout all of this, Dave had been sure that there was no way we'd get
it all in his car, since it was technically filled to begin with just with the
five passengers. Qarin makes the trip over the hill every weekday, so she
could have picked some of it up the next day. But, I wanted it all THEN! The
rest of us were willing to try it, and it wasn't like it was Dave's car or
anything, or at least, well nevermind. We had the stock personnel wheel it
all out to see what we could fit in. The large front speakers couldn't fit
in the trunk, so we placed them to fill one of the back seats. A couple of
the components went in the trunk. We fit another into a gap between the
speakers and the door. Another went under Ford's feet in the front passenger
seat, and he consented to have another on his lap (at least, that's how I
recall the placement). Arranging all this was much less straightforward than
This left about half of the back seat for Qarin, Irene and myself. Qarin
squished herself down to about 8" wide and sat in the middle, and Irene sat
on my lap. Dave stood by watching all this rather dubiously but finally came
to terms with it. After all, we weren't trying to do anything more than drive
back over 17 during late rush hour at night in the rain with the rear view
mirror and right rear view blocked and 5 people-masses plus much cargo-mass in
the vehicle and 5 people-values and $2500 in equipment in the car ready to be
damaged by the slightest accident.
The return home was uneventful.
And ever since then I've been trying to set the friggin' stuff up, but
that's a story for another day.
I eventually returned the original VCR to Burdick's. The salesman was
displeased. He first told me that he would not accept it back, since 11 days
had passed and they have a 10-day return period. I reminded him that, in fact,
February has 28 days and only 9 days had passed. Then he started talking about
the "scuff- marks" on the machine that it had acquired from the styrofoam
packing blocks. Then he suggested that I exchange it for something else. But,
he ended up taking it back. He said they'd send a refund check in 5 days.
Irene paid in cash, so it seemed like I should get cash back, but we'll see.
And so it was... Now all I need is a 200" projection TV.