From XKCD, a swell turn of phrase

As neglected as the nine button on a microwave.


  1. Swear to God . . . I always end microwave cook times with a 9. 2:19 for a cup of coffee, 00:39 (twice, with a stir in between) for the dog’s kibble-and-egg omelet, etcetera. 

    OCD? Who, ME?

    1. My GE microwaves would probably drive you nuts.  Buttons 1 through 5 simply start an automatic cook cycle of 1 to 5 minutes, respectively.  There’s an “Add 30 seconds” button, but if you wanted to start a precise 2-minute 19-second cycle, you’d probably have to RTFM, and who’s the last person who has actually read their microwave’s manual?

      I have a habit of using two-digit entries for times between sixty and ninety-nine seconds, just for the hell of it.  Part of my mind probably still thinks that one of these days, a microwave will get confused by a time entered as :86 instead of 1:26.  And that would, for some reason, be fun.  I guess.

      EDIT: Yes, I said “microwaves” in the plural. My built-in microwave, the one over the stove with the built-in fan and stove light, doesn’t work any more. It lights up and spins and makes a louder-than-usual sound, but nothing gets hot anymore. I couldn’t bring myself to junk it, since a new built-in costs around twice as much as a countertop one, and dammit, I can’t help thinking that something like this oughta be fixable. My $75 countertop GE microwave keeps me in burritos and cocoa for the time being, but do any of you guys know if microwaves are as user-serviceable as, say, gas ovens, dishwashers, washing machines, and other appliances with “NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS INSIDE”? Or do they rely on chunks of Kryptonite or plutonium or some similar magical burrito-zapping substance that keeps their repair safely within the realm of the Licensed Atomic Appliance Contractor?

      1. It sounds like the magnetron is broke or isn’t getting power. If it is just the magnetron, you probably won’t have much difficulty finding a part. Things like the high voltage power supply, electronics, or the waveguide may be beyond reasonable repair or replacement.

        1. Thanks!  Knowing what it’s called allowed me to look up the part in question.  Whether or not I can fix it, I feel better knowing that it’s a pretty straightforward arrangement of solidly 20th-century technology.

          1. Most of it is 20th century technology. But to be fair, you’ll want to verify that your Chamber’s coil isn’t overloading and that your inertial dampening field is disengaged. Once that is done, the access to the replicator is pretty easy and you should be able to reverse the bio-matter re-sequencer and replace the magnetron. Practice it in the holodeck if you haven’t done it before.

          2. You should be aware that, like CRT tubes, microwave magnetrons can contain extremely death-inducing amounts of zap while seemingly inert. 

            Make sure you know what the hell you’re doing if you attempt a repair/part-swap.

          3. Thanks, guys.  I am cautious and aware of my own limitations, but if I ever get around to attempting this and nobody on BB ever hears from me again, I hereby hold y’all free from any liability.  Holodeck jokes notwithstanding, I’ll go to hell in my own way.

      2.  I have fixed two microwaves using the manual taped inside the housing.  I am not an electrical engineer.

        If you get it wrong it can kill you, though, just like a gas water heater, range or dryer can.  Only quicker.

  2. I’ve got one of those microwaves without any kind of “quick cook” feature, where you press “1” by itself and it turns right on with a minute on the timer, so the absolute fastest way to start heating something up just a little is hitting “9, start” to do it for nine seconds. It’s probably the MOST used button for me.

  3. I use the 9 button to start cooking for 99 seconds, which is much faster than typing in 1-2-9 or even 1-3-0. Of course, if you have an “add 30 seconds” button, you can just press that 4 times and spare yourself the trouble of navigating around the keypad. Ok, now I feel a little dirty.

    1. I use 99 all the time. It’s just the right length of time to heat a cup of yesterday’s coffee, it optimizes the keypresses to heating time ratio, and it amuses me to type in a time that makes no sense to most people. Oh, and reheating yesterday’s coffee also offends the coffee nerds, which is a nice side effect.

  4. I regularly cook stuff for “90” seconds (my MW turns that into 1:30 quite happily) – but I would say the same thing about the “8” button

  5. I also microwave only in times which use a single numeral.  I don’t remember pushing the 0 button in years.  

  6. At work, we have a microwave with a rotary dial for setting the time, but it’s highly non-linear. It goes 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, oneminutetwominutestenminutesathousandyears!!!1 in a way that reminds me of the left part of this chart :

    I recently discovered that it also has an “add one minute” button, so that’s what I use now.

  7. You know neglected my microwave’s 9 key is? The manufacturers neglected to even include one! I’ve got “1 min” “10min” “1 sec” and “10 sec” buttons only.

  8. I nearly always punch in weird times like :38 or 3:27 or 4:52. Whenever the cooking instructions specify a range (“cook on high 2½ to 3 minutes”) or if I’m reheating something, I just press whatever number comes to mind first within a range suitable for the task.

    I certainly use the 9 button as often as any other.

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