Monday, May 3, 2010

One Must Have Standards

When I am Grand Vizier of Creation, things will be different. Not necessarily better, but certainly different.

Among my many edicts will be a demand that manufacturers of common household appliances get together and standardize them. I'm not talking about having everything have the same features or colors. Hey - you want your fuchsia toaster to provide real-time updates to your Facebook account and you're willing to pay for the technology and take the chance that your bagel will start playing Mafia Wars and bump you off, you go right ahead and do that. No, my edict will be about more mundane aspects.

Common household appliances will come in a standard array of easily differentiable sizes, for example. Refrigerators will come in maybe three heights and three widths, each no less than six inches different from the one above or below so you can tell in the store which one you're looking at. Toaster ovens? Large, Medium, and, well, that's it. There is no point to having a Small toaster oven.

Don't even get me started on charging devices for portable electronic gizmos.

Further, anything that has to be screwed into the wall will have a standard placement of holes, both on the bracket holding them to the wall and the appliance itself, so that once a bracket is in place it need not ever be removed. You can just remove the appliance and put a new one in its place. Nor will manufacturers be allowed to put holes in places other than those already specified. No new holes will have to be drilled into cabinetry to accommodate dimensions that vary by less than two inches.

And while I'm at it, they can all use the same size and thread for bolts and screws, too.

We finally got all of our technology straightened out here, and not a moment too soon. I have no doubt that the recent uptick in the stock market was solely due to us replacing our router, DVD player, electric teakettle and microwave oven, all of which died in the space of about four hours. It was an expensive week.

The router wasn't all that hard to replace, even if our security code for access jumped from a manageable 384 digits to an unwieldy 1,938,830 digits, all of which have to be entered by hand into each device we want to connect to the internet. It's a bit unwieldy, true, but on the plus side, we figure this will slow down an enterprising hacker by almost half an hour, giving us time to get rid of the really juicy stuff on our computers like saved Internet memes that were funny in 2003. Because you never know when those things will come back.

The DVD player was a bit tougher, as the model we wanted - the one that had enough buttons on the actual machine that you could conceivably operate it without a remote - was not available in this year's version. Apparently that was too convenient, so the manufacturer did away with it. I kid you not. So now we have another remote.

The teakettle was even more of a trick, since electric teakettles are hard to find on this side of the Atlantic apparently. I have no idea why, since they are convenient, cheap and useful. Or maybe that's it, I don't know. But we found one, and it is all shiny and new and it boils water in a most expeditious manner and that, as they say, is that.

Which brings us to the microwave.

We went shopping for one of these last week - a process that basically amounted to walking into the local Sears and saying, "That one, please" when we found a model with a price we could afford. There really aren't a whole lot of choices when it comes to microwaves. There are countertop ones, which are small and come in a wide variety of black and white colors, and there are under-cabinet ones, which are larger and come in black, white, and stainless steel. So, to that point, the standardization thing seemed to be working in our favor. We picked out one of the under-cabinet ones - a white one, since a) the one we already had was white and it just made sense, b) black would make the whole kitchen look dark, and c) stainless steel doubles the cost - and they told us we could have it on Tuesday.

I got it home Tuesday evening, and it sat in its box until the weekend, when we had time to deal with it.

When we pulled it out of the box (which has since gone on to lead a productive second life as a lemonade stand, so if you are thirsty you need to stop by our driveway and see Tabitha and Lauren about a glass of something), we measured it against our old one.

On the one hand, it is exactly the same size as our old one, only a little deeper since the vent is on the top facing up rather than facing out. So it fit nicely into the space being vacated.

On the other hand, the screw holes on the top where you fasten it to the cabinet were off. Well, the left one was exactly where it should have been, and there was a hole in the microwave where the right bolt needed to go, except that this hole had no threads for a bolt to use. I am not sure why there was a hole there, in that case, other than to mess with our heads, but the functional hole was another inch and a quarter to the right, which was exactly where the jamb of the cabinet began. This made drilling a new hole in the cabinet somewhat problematic.

And the bracket was wrong.

Now, I'm used to brackets being wrong - it's how I spend my March every year. But in this case, it was a crashing nuisance since putting the new one up meant drilling through the tile backsplash that Kim put up during a romantic weekend of home repair one fall shortly after Tabitha was born.

Fortunately Grandpa was down to see the girls do their concerts, so he took over. He shaved off some of the cabinet jamb and - after an emergency trip the hardware store for some anchors and a tile bit - managed to get the bracket up with only a minor cloud of tile dust circling the kitchen. And now we have a nice new microwave, ready to go.

We figure we're good for technology now, at least until the next cycle starts.

Wait, what was that noise?

1 comment:

Tria said...

Oh, no. Not again.