punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Another icy day, another microwave oven...

Yeah, we had this winter storm that dumped about a quarter inch of ice on everything. They closed schools, I couldn't get to work, etc... becoming a routine.

For the last two days I have had a MAJOR sinus headache. I usually don't get them, but I had this painful one for about two days. It was gone by this morning, right in time for my Windows box to get hosed. Long story short, I fixed it, but I had to reinstall half my network stuff, including my connection to work. Bleah.

I got a new Microwave. Microwaves have been around since I was a wee kid. I think they called them "radar ranges" back then. Not many people had them when I was very young, but in the late 1970s, they started to show up in a few rich people's houses, and then by the early 80s, everyone had one.

Everyone but us.

My father was an electrical engineer, a fellow at IEEE. The irony was he didn't want anything technological in the house, especially if it cost him money. I grew up without a VCR, home computer, microwave, modern stereo, or any of the other stuff most of my friends had. This wasn't so bad, really, because I hated my home life for entirely different reasons.

My high school chum Kate had a microwave. It was old, too; one of the original radar ranges. I am sorry to say I blew it up with an egg experiment Kate and I dreamed up. I don't know which part was mine or hers, but we wondered just what happened to an egg in the microwave. We heard it blew up, and Kate said one of her sisters blew up a potato in the microwave, and that wasn't so bad. We put the egg in a heavy glass casserole dish, and tied the handles on with rubber bands. What we didn't know was that when an egg explodes in the microwave, it's as strong as a small bomb or at least an M80. The explosion was so strong, it ripped apart the rubber bands, and blew the knob of the glass lid right through the microwave ceiling. The outer metal shell was dented outwards. I thought it was a lost cause, so when Kate's dad found out about it, I offered to buy him a new one. The conversation went something like this:

Kate's Dad: You what?
Young Grig: We blew up an egg in the microwave, and destroyed it. I am very sorry.
Kate's Dad: Do you know how much that will cost to fix?
Young Grig: I will buy you a brand new one.
Kate's Dad: [paused incredulously]
Young Grig: I looked in the W. Bell catalog, and found a nice one the same size. I will pay for it.
Kate's dad: Y... you'd better! No, wait! You'll pay for repairs instead!
Young Grig: I think it's a lost cause. Besides, you said you thought it leaked.
Kate's Dad: That doesn't give you the right to destroy it!
Young Grig: I said I was sorry, and I will buy you a brand new one, with new features.
Kate's Dad: No you won't, you'll pay to repair this one!
Young Grig: Okay...?

Kate's dad took it out to be fixed. It cost $140 to replace the fan, and fix the interior shell. According to Kate, the repair guy had to find the rare old parts, which is why it cost so much. She also said she suspected her father wanted it to be repaired instead of replaced because he knew it would cost more. Kate's father gave me the bill, and I gave him a check for $140. He was furious when I handed him the check, and I didn't really know why. Kate later told me that he expected a fight of some kind, and that he was really upset about the whole ordeal, but couldn't do anything because I admitted to it and paid for my mistake without complaint. He probably didn't think I was taking the incident seriously. I was, but I didn't think I had any choice but to fess up and fix the problem. I guess I should have wept, told him I didn't have the money, dickered on the price, and called him an unfair bastard. I just didn't think that was right. You make a mistake, you fix it. Oh, well, he didn't stay mad for long.

The punchline is the new microwave I was planning on getting him was over $200. His stubbornness saved me a lot of money.

Lessons learned: Don't experiment in the microwave, and don't make stubborn decision calls without knowing all the variables.

Another twist in my life was that as a wedding gift, my father gave Christine and me a microwave. He also got us a TV (which still works), and our first cordless phone. Made no sense. I can't figure that man out. For a while, I thought maybe he was trying to make peace with me, but then his normal disgust and lack of family involvement threw that theory out the window. I tried for 12 years to try and make up with him because of those gifts, but in the end, I learned he pretty much hated me and that is that. Bugger all. The cordless phone was broken when we got it, I repaired it, but it kept breaking until we finally threw it out a few years later. The TV still works, though, and sits in the guest room.

The microwave was also cheap. It was a Sharp dorm microwave, with really low wattage, like 300 watts. The timer part was broken (it didn't ring when done), but even though it took a while too cook things, it did eventually cook them, and having its own turntable kept us from following the "rotate halfway through cooking" instructions. That microwave was a godsend for many years, so I thank my father for that gift (and the TV, too).

We got a new microwave when we moved to Cartwright Place in Reston in 1996. It was a whopping 800 watts, it was programmable, and cooked really, really fast. I took the microwave to work, but when I got my first tech job, they already had a microwave, so I took it home and it lay in a closet for many years. It was used sparingly in our guest kitchen when we moved to Fairfax, but when I realized it took 10 minutes to warm a slice of pizza in 2003, I knew that its life was over. I tossed it away, with a dedication and salute.

And last week, when the timer on the other one started putting out random seconds in the readout display, cooked food a lot slower than it used to, had more cold spots than the Ice Capades, and was generally looking run down... we saw a new one at BJ's and got it. A Panasonic. 1300 watts. All kinds of features. It automatically senses what food you have and heats it accordingly. It's more complicated than the old one, and I had to read the booklet that came with it to figure it out. The older one was cleaned out and put in the guest room. I mean, it still cooks food, you just have to warn guests about the cold spots.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000376.html
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