Posted by: GeekHiker | March 30, 2011


Okay, now that that’s out of my system, I feel better.  And, it’s warmer lately, too.

So, maybe you read my last post and thought “well, hell, GH: your class ended on Saturday, what about Sunday?  Why didn’t you get out on the trail?”

I would have.  I wanted to get out and do something fun, believe me.  Only fun thing I managed the whole weekend, though, was seeing “Paul” Saturday afternoon (solo, after the friend I was going to go with got sick).  Didn’t even make it out for a hike, and not out of any fear of wet trails (obviously, I don’t have that), but for more practical reasons.

Simply put: I had shit to do.

I had bills to pay.  Taxes to finish.  A house in sore need of cleaning, not much of which got done (my place is starting to look more and more like the stereotypical bachelor pad than I should ever let it become).  And I had to go out shopping for a microwave.

Not that I particularly wanted a new microwave, but my old one had taken on the disturbing habit of finishing the cooking cycle, then turning itself back ON when I went to open the door. This is why all the talk of radiation from Japan didn’t worry me so much; besides the practical science involved in the dissipation of any radioactive material as it crosses 5,000 miles of Pacific Ocean, why worry about radiation from Japan when your own microwave is trying to kill you?

I gotta say: shopping for a microwave is way more complex than it should be, at least for me.  Or maybe I’m just a lousy shopper.  Probably both.

Part of the problem is that whenever I buy big ticket items (or medium-ticket, in this case) I tend to shop the hell out of it.  I do research online.  I go to the library and pick up the latest issue of Consumer Reports and pore over with reviews.  I ponder and compare.  Much like everything else in my life: I over-think the hell out of it.

Early on in the process, though, I realized I had a wrench in the works: remember my old house that has no insulation, built in the 40’s?  Well, my friends, it also has a 1940’s electrical layout which is, needless to say, not exactly geared for our modern gadget-driven world.

The upshot of that?  It means that nearly every outlet in the house is wired through one 20 amp circuit breaker.  The entire house has only two 20-amp breakers total.

And the upshot of that is that when, whilst shopping for a microwave, I have to do a lot of math.

I ‘fuckin hate math.

Allow me to geek-out for a second: when you see a microwave that says its 1200 watts, that’s its output: the amount of energy that will be used to cook the food.  That same microwave’s input (how much power it actually draws), however, is higher: say 1650 watts.  That’s the number that matters, because that’s what the unit will actually be trying to draw from the circuit.

So, rather than simply looking at features and bells & whistles and fun things like that, I’m standing in Sears converting watts to amps and trying to make sure that I can run my microwave and my refrigerator on the same circuit without blowing the breaker.  (This is also why my cold house can’t have a bunch of space heaters running simultaneously: they would overload the circuit in nothing flat.)

Thank God for the calculator function on the cell phone.

Still, hard not to feel pretty un-cool, scribbling down amperage figures on a scrap of paper while other customers are asking how quickly one model vs. another will cook popcorn.

I think I’m going to add a new criteria to my future domicile, wherever that may be: I want insulation in the walls AND modern electrical wiring.

Do I ask too much?


  1. i was given two microwaves when i moved into my house,
    i thought that would be really cool to be able to nuke two things independently!
    no such luck…
    running both blew the fuse to kitchen, which of course included the fridge!

    i actually found your amperage conversion shopping adventure pretty cool =]

  2. My gosh, I never read Consumer Reports when I buy stuff, even though I WORK in a library! Should I feel guilty about that? 🙂

    Okay, you kept referring to your domicile as “house” — are you renting one or do you own one? If you are renting, I’d say “move the hell out of there!” Seriously, I can’t imagine spending that much energy on energy conversion…

    Also, at the risk of sounding like someone paranoid, I think microwaving food is not the healthiest way to go. I have a microwave that I use maybe once a month or less. I bought an electric kettle to boil water, and cook stuff mostly on the range or in the oven. Just a thought…

    So, will you update us when you finally decide on the model? We want to know what you end up picking (is that too much pressure)? Hahaha 😀

  3. this made me laugh GH! the thought of you standing in the microwave aisle sweating and scratching your head converting numbers… that’s so awesome (says my inner geek 🙂

    i’m the same when it comes to shopping to exhaustion. a friend recently commented to me, “you’re nothing but completely thorough.” i can’t stand making decisions without having all the information i can get. a bit of a data-horde, and also burdensome. sometimes i want to just go into a store, make whimsical decisions, pay retail for something big-ticket, and come home without googling anything more about the item.

    oh the things we wish for.

  4. You were standing in Sears converting watts to amps. I want to hug you.

  5. When the wife and I registered for our wedding gifts, we walked into stores with a stack of Consumer Report annuals (The smaller summary versions of the magazine. We ended up with some pretty good stuff. Of course, I didn’t have to worry about blowing fuses.

    I too compare things to death and I think I die a little every time I have to make a shopping choice.

  6. Is a future domicile in your NEAR future? I feel like this isn’t the first time I’ve heard you complain about your place…

  7. Nerd!

    I enjoy you and your storytelling GH.

  8. That’s absolutely NOT asking too much. Once upon a time, when I was lookng for places with my two besties we had a ridiculous list of wants: A bathtub, decent shower pressure, a hot water cupbord capable of handling three females who enjoy super extra long showers on week day mornings, a dishwasher, insulation, a heatpump, carpet, no mold, and three designated bedroom areas (as opposed to one bedroom, a large cupbord, and a lounge that does double duty as both a bedroom and a recreational space.)

    We… ah did not find the dream house.

    In fact, we were luck to find a nicotine-stained mold-pit the day before we had to move out of the old place.

  9. Piper – Well, I’m glad someone found it cool. Now if only some cute girl in the store had been impressed!

    SkyBlueStateOfMind – Nah. It’s just one available tool to research. I rent, but moving isn’t so easy in L.A. since everywhere requires a 1 yr lease, which locks up my life for a year (even though I’ve lived here for years, at least I have options). In terms of microwaving, I don’t really “cook” in it so much as reheat leftovers or do the occasional popcorn. And it’s brilliant at bacon. And, since you’re curious, I went with a Kenmore…

    Seine – Yeah, I can’t help myself. Anything over a hundred bucks, especially. My big thing, though, is that I hate going back-and-forth, endlessly returning & exchanging stuff until I find the right product. I just want to buy once and be DONE.

    Narami – Really? Cute girls go for guys who do electrical conversions at Sears?

    Bruce H – You have modern electrical wiring? *jealous*

    Mel Heth – Sure, right after you volunteer to help me pay the deposit and 1st month’s rent… 😉

    JustAGirl – *ahem* GEEK 🙂

    LeafProbably – Well, that whole list is just crazy-talk. 😉 So are you in the “nicotine-stained mold-pit” currently?

  10. Perhaps we could work out a deal where I “buy” some of your photography. 😉

  11. is there any way that you can have the place rewired? old wiring like that can be dangerous. the house across the street from me caught on fire because of old wiring. luckily no one was hurt and the fire department put it out before it spread to the other floors.

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