Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cheap power tools are fun!

Having been getting a little into the D.I.Y. stuff recently, I'm coming to a deep appreciation of low-quality tools. You can get incredibly cheap knockoffs of virtually every power tool known to man, meaning that for under $50 you you can get just about anything that buzzes, cuts, nails, staples, or drills.

The obvious good thing about tools like this is the simple fact that they're available. I need to cut a tree down, I can either spend 5 hours hacking at it with an axe, or I can plonk down $99 and pick myself up a chainsaw. :D Sure, you could go and spend $600 on a STIHL that's virtually identical, but for me, the $99 one is better.

The less obvious good thing, and the reason that in my opinion it's even better is that, while the two probably do similar jobs of actually cutting wood, the STIHL won't break down. This is a bad thing, you say? Not if (like me) you like doing DIY stuff, and you like learning about how things work. I don't think I've owned a single China brand tool that hasn't broken at least once. In each case, I've taken the thing apart, learned exactly how it works, fixed it (cheap generally implies simple, so they're easy to fix) and put it back together. Ever afterwards, I'll not only have the power tool, but I'll understand it.

If money's no object, you just want a tool to get the job done and you don't care how, then by all means get the expensive version. But you'll learn a lot more by using and fixing the cheap one, and honestly, it'll be more fun. :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Damn microwaves and frozen food

Remember back in the day, when microwave ovens focussed the microwaves at the center of the oven? And when you put that bowl of frozen soup in, you ended up with a little boiling pool of soup in the middle and frozen soup around the outside? Yeah, that was annoying when it was something solid you were heating and it was all uneven, but it was a damn sight better at thawing frozen soup than modern microwaves. I've had frozen soup for the last two days for lunch, and while it's delicious soup, it's really highlighting this shortfall for me.

What we need is a microwave with two different microwave channels. One does the modern, well dispersed microwave pattern, and a second one (with adjustable power compared to the first) just nukes the hell out of the central 2 inches of the platter. That way we can have food heated evenly and the world will be a happy place and hugs and puppies and lollipops and a rainbow and a chocolate fountain!

*sigh* Off to re-microwave my half boiling half frozen soup.