Facing a daunting nine-hour drive, I figured at the very least, I deserved a decent punch, and no, I’m not talking about that dope-slap from the wife person who was sitting across the front seat from me in our Volvo wagon.
We recently completed an epic 2,000-mile+ road trip, driving from our home in California. I say “epic” because we made it through two weeks without my wife wanting to kill me as a result of me driving her crazy.
Unfortunately, the trip lasted two and a half weeks.
* * * * *
We traversed the seemingly never-ending flat, arrow-straight roads across the Nevada desert, along the craggy peaks of Idaho, dipping into western Montana, then down into the open spaces of Utah, and finally back across Nevada and into California.
The journey began once we departed Lake Tahoe, where we left the family pooch at my daughter’s, as we headed east across Nevada. As we expected to make Winnemucca, or maybe even Elko, around lunch time, before we even left home I got online and checked out Basque restaurants in those towns.
My wife is a spirited Spanish Basque, which partially explains her frequent desire to do violence upon my head and body.
The other explanation may have something to do with me being a jerk…occasionally.
Beyond both of us just appreciating Basque cuisine, I also enjoy the very unique and unusual Basque drink known as a Picon Punch.
A while back, Atlantic Magazine did a whole piece on this special drink.
“The early history of the drink remains murky, but it appears to be a Basque-American concoction, without antecedent in the old country. The punch has some variants within its broad range. But it’s usually made with grenadine, club soda, a float of brandy, and Amer Picon, a bitter French aperitif made with herbs and burnt orange peel.”
As to our foodie interests, I found websites that indicate that Basque restaurants are almost ubiquitous in Nevada. There are eight listed just in Elko and Winnemucca.
A thorough explanation of this phenomenon will have to wait for me to prepare an extensive historical analysis and comprehensive story of early settlement activities in that area, which I am sure will be riveting to read.
By going online to check out our dining choices I meant, of course, I Googled it.
(Can any of you remember a time when Google was not a verb?)
The predominant online site which offers reviews for restaurants, lodging, flights, and "more,” is, say it with me,
Even if you regularly utilize this service, the sovereignty of this site may surprise you.
“TripAdvisor-branded sites alone make up the largest travel community in the world, with more than 50 million unique monthly visitors, 20 million members, and over 50 million reviews and opinions. The sites operate in 30 countries worldwide, including China.”
Of course, there are many other online sites that offer restaurant, and other reviews, such as Yahoo, Urban Spoon, Yelp, and Zagat.
Hell, even Amazon posts comments on their gazabillion products, whether positive or not.
So, how do you best use that preponderance of information without worrying that all the good reviews are from the owners of the business and all the bad ones are from competing businesses or disgruntled employees?
Just this week, a story in the New York Times told of businesses that get listed on a site called Google Places that somehow show up as “permanently closed,” even when they are not, after “people” tag the place on Google as being no longer open. The story stated that,
“When Google created Places it had an eminently sensible type of crowd-sourcing in mind.”
But, apparently it takes much less than a mob of individuals to virtually put a competitor out-of-business.
That takes us back to my search for a good Basque restaurant in Winnemucca or Elko.
As is typical for an online review of any place or product, there is, let’s just call it, a “range of ratings.”
Here is the chart shown on the top of the list of the Trip Advisor review for this place:
And here are a few of the specific comments that contributed to the range shown above.
“Delicious high quality basque style restaurant with excellent food and bar.” – by RPM1180
“This is the best lunch deal in town.” – by Ihorow116
“Delicious, well prepared Basque meals at very reasonable prices” – by wildlife
" Worst food ever tasted …Super salty…Horrible Taste ….Big attitudes too.” – by goourmett
“We looked forward to good Basque cooking. But how disappointed we were!” by OD
“I do not intend on going to this place again. Usually I would encourage you to go to a Basque Dinner House, and do visit one, just not this one.” - by Trpster
First off, I have to assume those are not their real names.
Second, what is a person to do with this disparate data? Remember, there is a decent lunch on the line here.
So, as a public service, I am going to provide a scientifically strategized method of survey analysis
that truth be told, I pulled out of my ass as the words were going on the screen.
1. Start by calculating the simple average of the scores. This is only simple if you have half a clue as to the mathematical formula to come up with an average rating score. If you don’t, then just use the number 12.
2. Next, you weigh the value you have so far calculated by the recency of the evaluation. Use the cardinal order of the month as the denominator of the fraction, or simply add the diastolic equivalent (or maybe it is the systolic, I always get those reversed).
3. Then subtract a logarithmic factor for any year previous to the current year that the comment was made. Any reviews listed for a year yet to occur becomes the primary numerical basis for stocks containing breakfast futures.
4. You should have known to begin this drill by eliminating the best and worst reviews, unless you like the penmanship of the submitter.
2. Since I am a math expert, any deviance from this method will result in an outcome outside the bell curve, which may skew the results and cause severe heartburn. You must still leave a 15% tip (unless you are in a party of six or more).
17. Extra points may be added based on the quality, creativeness, and artistic merit of the commenter’s avatar.
7. Clearly, there is no way you can guarantee that any analysis of the gamut of online reviews will accurately reflect on your specific experience, as all it takes is one waitress having a really bad day or one pissed-off line cook set on “seasoning” your food in a particularly nasty fashion, to undermine even the highest overall rating.
The conclusion to this creatively crafted online review review (no, M.S. Word, that is NOT an unintended “repeated word”) is to remember that medical experts worldwide utilize copious amounts of alcohol to sterilize infectious materials.
In other words, I think I’ll have another Picon Punch and hope for the best.