Sardonic nit witticism

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Location: Fort Myers, Florida, United States

People tell me that my sarcasm and cynicism will get me into trouble some day. We'll see.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Health care costs

Many companies are starting to offer health care with low or no premium costs to their employees only, but charging larger premiums to cover spouses and dependents.

It's now cheaper to let your boss cover you, and your wife's boss cover her. But make sure your coverage is comparable.

Scenario: You and your wife are in a collision in your car, and you both suffer head injuries and a broken arm. Your costs are $350 after a $500 deductible, and her costs are $3500 after a $5000 deductible.

"Gee, honey, you should have gotten a better job."

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Toaster oven from hell

I have the toaster oven from hell. Here's the story.

I've got this toaster oven that has a mind of its own. This toaster oven has it in for me. Normally you wouldn't think that a toaster oven would be out to "get" a common user like me, but this one is straight out of Steven King.

The other day, I decide to make "twice baked" potatoes. You know the routine: you bake the potatoes, then slice them in two, scrape out the potato from the skin, mix it with bacon, chives, butter, sour cream, and cheese, and then scoop the mixture back in the potato skins and broil until the tops turn brown. Easy stuff. Good stuff.

Unless, that is, you have the toaster oven from hell.

The toaster oven was fine when I baked the potatoes. It sat there for an hour at 425 degrees F and baked the potatoes, giving no indication whatsoever that it had plans for me. Plans that would cause me to curse the machine like I have never cursed a machine before. (It did not know me very well.)

But once I removed those potatoes and began my preparation for the second part, Part II of my "twice baked" potato creation, it got that evil look that toaster ovens get. That look where it knows what's coming next. It knew I would be back. It knew I would want to ask it to complete this job it had so innocently started an hour ago. It had an hour to prepare its evil plan, and soon it would get its revenge.

The madness started when I opened the front door of this diabolical machine, using an oven mitt, and removed the wire rack to reposition it to the lower slot. So far, so good. I put the tray of "stuffed" potato skins on the wire rack, and tried to close the door. The door would not close all the way. (And by the way, if the door is not fully closed, it will not go on. It "knows" that its door is not fully closed.)

Thinking I just didn't have the wire rack fully seated, I gently pushed a little harder on the door, figuring the pressure would push the wire rack all the way in. What happened next caused me to finally know what sickness this demonic machine possessed.

Rather than to reseat the wire rack, the door broke off its hinge assembly instead. So now, in my oven mitted hand, I have a hot glass door. I found a heat resistant surface on which to place this now severed component of the toaster oven from hell, and returned to figure out how to make all of this work. I removed the tray with my "half baked" potatoes and found another heat resistant surface for that.

I figured since the oven was too stupid to work with the wire rack on the lower slot, I would just put it back onto the upper slot and finish cooking on the level the OVEN wanted. Simple task. Just reposition the wire rack, fit the detached door back onto its hinge, and continue cooking. Right?

Wrong. The toaster oven from hell had a better plan. For whatever reason, I can't seem to pull this rack out of the oven. The oven refused to release it. It hung onto that rack, as if saying, "I will NEVER let you have this rack. This rack is MINE." It turns out that when the glass door slid out of its hinge assembly, the spring loaded hinge snapped shut, trapping the wire rack in place.

By this time, I now have two oven mitts on. I am trying to pull the hinge down, but the spring is very tight. (The spring is designed to be heavy enough to keep the glass door and its metal hardware in the closed position. But with no door, the spring had alligator jaws grip on the wire rack.)

I finally managed to get the hinge down enough to clear the wire rack. But all the tension from that spring caused the rack to become wedged in place and was not prepared to just slide out as easily as it had slid in. So now I had one mitted hand holding down this spring loaded hinge assembly, and one mitted hand yanking on a rack that the oven from hell would not release. But I needed one more mitted hand to hold down the oven to provide enough leverage to get the rack out.

Finally, I was able to wiggle the trapped rack free from the clenched grasp of this devilish device enough to get it out. I repositioned the door onto the hinge, and then began to set the rack onto the upper slot, as the oven had "wanted." But wait, I said to myself. Am I the type of person to let an inanimate object such as a toaster oven tell me how to cook my meals? I am NOT. I am going to cook these potatoes MY way, or not at all. So I lowered the door, and began to slide the rack onto the bottom slot. It wouldn't go in all the way.

Then I found out why. The rack had small wire extensions on the back. I'm not sure what they are for, but apparently I had the rack upside down, and in that position, the extensions prevent the rack from going all the way in, but ONLY when the rack is in the bottom slot. (It can go both ways on the top slot.) I flipped the rack, placed it at the bottom, positioned my potato concoction, closed the door, and broiled my potatoes the rest of the way.

I wonder if the designer of this oven knew that if a user happened to put the rack in upside down in the bottom slot and pushed the door a little too hard that the door would come off the hinge, trapping the upside down rack in place so that one could never remove it, and causing one to want to toss the whole unit out the window. My guess is that they have never tested that particular scenario.

Or HAVE they?