For about the past decade-and-a-half, I have been engaged in a perpetual, low-level war with the common or household toaster.
They'd turned evil on me, with the same setting producing wildly varying results, with the second run of toast popping up burned, etc. etc.; it had all started when I switched from a battered old warhorse of a toaster to a shiny modern device touted as "The Toaster With A Brain." It had a brain, all right -- the brain of a malevolent fire worshipper. The blame thing was out to get me and very nearly succeeded.
So this morning, the current super-duper toaster calmly and quietly burned my bagel black. I was, as they say, a little crestfallen at this eventuation:
RX: "Oh shucks! Gee-golly! Spit! This miserable son of a seacook has ruined my bagel!
Tam: "It does that when it's hot. Careful, the next one will be even more burned unless you turn it down."
RX, outraged that physics has been undermined: "What? That's impossible! The thermostatic timer should cut off even sooner!"
Tam: "That's not how it works!"
RX: "Oh, tut-tut!" --And I would have been right, too -- in 1937. Or even '67.
In modern toasters, instead of a nifty bimetallic-thermostatic timer, which automagically compensates for toaster heat (albeit imperfectly, and ditto room temperature; but at least the better ones tried), there's a sloppy little resistance-capacitance timer, a crummy "one-shot," the circuit that is a hallmark of lousy dedicated-logic design, in this case as executed by Red Chinese engineers with a budget of negative renminbi. It tends to react to heat in a way opposite to the old-fashioned approach: heat it up and it runs for a longer time. Likewise, if the kitchen is a little warm (we can't keep chocolate out 'cos it puddles), the toast makes a Great Leap Forward in toasting duration.
Meanwhile, my retrotechnophile brain, running on autopilot in the morning, treats all toasters as if they were the chrome-plated wonders of my halcyon youth (gak), which means they behave pretty much exactly contrary to my expectations.
Luckily, we had two more bagels left. I reset the control and watched the sneaky little automaton until my breakfast was ready, just in case it was out to burn it again.
3 months ago