Monday, November 06, 2006

Rise of the machines

Our microwave oven tried to kill us last night. No, really.

I was in the kitchen trying to cook dinner (meatloaf, and a darned tasty one at that, with mashed garlic butternut squash on the side) when all of a sudden I hear this solitary chirp come from one of our smoke detectors. Our landlords are somewhat monomaniacal when it comes to protecting their property, so instead of just one alarm we actually have two in each designated location: one of the standard battery-operated devices and another hardwired into the electrical system that will notify the local fire department in case of emergency.

At first I think the battery must need changing in the el cheapo detector, but then I remember our landlords telling us that they'd just replaced all of the batteries and tested all the connections over the past week, so that doesn't seem quite right. That's when I smell smoke -- not the good kind of smoke smell you get from an overdone Elios Pizza or putting your chicken breasts too close to the broiler but that smoldering wood smoke stench that makes the reptilian part of your brain scream "Fire!" and start looking for the nearest exits.

That's when I realize the smoke smell is coming out of our microwave. Funny, I wasn't even using it! I guess it had simply decided that it was tired of defrosting meat and popping popcorn for a living and thought it might try cooking something a little more ambitious for a change... like our house. So I unplug the thing and spend the rest of the evening sniffing around the kitchen just in case, alarming my daughter and convincing my wife that I should seek counseling for my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

So crisis (and conflagration) averted. Good thing the other machines ratted the rogue applicance out before it could execute its dastardly plans, but how long before they start colluding on these things, I wonder? Give the kitchen one too many Bluetooth-enabled devices and it's probably only just a matter of time before the revolution comes. In the meantime, I'll be sleeping with one nostril open and an aluminum baseball bat by my side.

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