LJ was gone by the time i woke up. immediately i noticed something was off in the kitchen. the clock on the microwave was dead. did the kitchen circuit breaker switch off? that occasionally happens when there are too many kitchen appliances running simultaneously. or was it a general blackout? i looked around and saw that the clock was still working in the living room. so maybe that meant it was just isolated to the kitchen. but when i looked at my stereo above the cabinet, it was still on. that had me confused. so i took a closer look to see why the microwave wasn't working. i saw that it was unplugged. not just the microwave, but the whole power strip, which also runs the filter for one of my fish tanks. when i plugged it back it, that's when i noticed something weird: the microwave turned on on its own! when i hit the door button to make it stop, the button didn't work. in fact, it felt loose, like it was broken. i unplugged the microwave. i tried to pry open the door, but microwaves are built so you can't do that (wouldn't want to microwave with the door open). that when i noticed a plastic bracket on the table, probably some part of the door that broke off.
something catastrophic must've happened in the kitchen, centering around the microwave. that must've been what that loud bang sound was this morning. what angered me was my roommate didn't even bother leaving a note explaining what happened. you break an appliance, you say something, right? so i wrote her a terse e-mail asking her about the microwave. shortly afterwards i received a response. apparently she was microwaving an egg this morning when it exploded. that explained all the dried yellow goo that was on the carpet that she failed to clean up. she apologized and said she'd try to fix the microwave when she got back.
i knew these chinese astrophysicists are supposed to be smart, but even LJ's expertise can't fix my microwave. it's actually kind of funny except i'm the victim of this tragicomedy. even if we did manage to get the door open, there's still the problem of the microwaving turning itself on when plugged it. that was a great microwave oven too, the samsung MW830WA, 800 watts 0.8 cubic ft with a button-activated door release and a handy 1-minute instant cook button. i didn't think i had any sentimental attachment to this microwave, but samsung doesn't make these anymore (go figure, they're spending their R&D money on fancy phones and flat screen televisions), and now that it's gone, i'm kind of sad. this microwave survived 10 years without mishap; LJ hasn't even been here for a week but that was enough time for her to kill it. what will she destroy next? i definitely don't regret charging her a little more in rent, but that small addition won't cover the cost of a brand new microwave (not a good one anyway; i'll have to buy used or go for a cheap one).
i briefly toyed with the idea of kicking out LJ. it wasn't the fact that she destroyed my microwave - honest accident, apparently she has very little cooking skills - but the fact that she didn't think it was important enough for her to tell me about it, to own up to what she did until i confronted her.
the rest of the day that i spent in the house there was this mildly foul smell, the odor of exploded egg. i tried to see if i could open up the microwave and possibly fix the door at least, but microwaves are designed so they're hard to open by ordinary people (things like tamper-proof torx screws that i can't open with my normal screwdrivers). besides, i read online that even when turned off, microwaves can still carry a live charge that can damage or even kill somebody. better not to mess with it.
around noontime i rode the motorcycle to belmont, where i had the whole back lawn to mow. i strapped the empty gas container to the back of my motorcycle and went to the belmont library to get a knitting book for my mother. i parked out on the street because i didn't want anyone to get nervous with the gas can on my motorcycle. across the street was a self-service mobile gas station and i bought a gallon of gasoline.
back in belmont, i changed into my shorts and a crappy t-shirt. after i did some preliminary weeding i began mowing. i thought there'd be more grass clippings but i only filled a single bin. i dumped the grass into the compost bin, adding some old compost in between 2 layers of clippings.
sweaty with my face covered in dirt, i came back into the hous and took a hot shower before relaxing with a cold can of seltzer. i spent some time looking up microwaves, from used (via craig's list) to new. i basically just want to match my old samsung as closely as possible: white, small (the samsung was WxHxD 19.25" x 10.8" x 13.8"), around 0.8 cu.ft, spinning tray, door-release button, 1-minute instant cooking interval. apparently 0.8 cu.ft is not a common size; ovens either come smaller (compact, 0.6-0.7 cu.ft) or much larger (1.0+ cu.ft). GE sells a particular compact model that looks promising, and several used ones are on sale online. it's a bit smaller (0.7 cu.ft) which isn't a bad thing (as long as i can fit my steamer container), but it's fast cooking interval is 30 seconds, which might be a deal breaker. that's the one convenient feature i use the most.
when my parents came home from the cafe, i went with my father to home depot to check out some random orbital sanders for exterior house paint removal usage. my father has a hand-held belt sander, but we needed something with more power. up until a week ago we never even heard of an RO sander before, but that seems to be the tool to get when it comes to paint removal. i like how many come with an attachment that can connect to a large vacuum to collect dust. we saw a lot of different brands - dewalt, makita, ryobi - but we liked the ridgid one the best ($70). besides variable speed, it felt better in the hand than the others. we didn't buy one yet; i wanted to come home and see if i could get a better deal online.
after dinner i went home, where i was kind of dreading what sort of confrontation i'd have with my roommate. she came out of her room and said she was so embarrassed about what happened to the microwave. that seems to be her favorite expression: she was embarrassed when she wasted my time by sending me to harvard square when she was waiting for me at porter square, and she was embarrassed when she smashed the front door in my face when i was trying to teach her to how to use the lock.
she told me what happened this morning in greater detail. it wasn't like she was just simply cooking an egg; she had it in a container of water, although she admitted there wasn't as much water as last time. last time? apparently she's done this before, but just lucky it didn't explode. that may explain why she told me a few days ago that american eggs taste funny. yeah, they taste funny because you're cooking them wrong. she said she'd try to find some place to fix the microwave. i told her it wasn't worth it, since buying a new (cheap) one would only cost $70-100 (hint hint), while fixing it would cost at least $100.
basically i was waiting for her to take responsibility and say she'd buy a new microwave. it doesn't matter if it was an accident, i'm sure she wouldn't have done it had she known the egg would explode; but since she broke the microwave, she has to pay for it. she did mutter something about "maybe i can buy a new one," but it wasn't very forceful or convincing, like she wasn't serious. i think if i let her decide, i'll never get a replacement microwave. sometimes these young chinese astrophysicists have a very poor understanding of propriety, and they need to be told what to do (fascist state style). so basically i'm going to go shopping for a new microwave tomorrow, and if i see one that i like, i'll come back and ask LJ to pay for it, problem solved, no more bad blood. because the longer this situation doesn't get fixed, it's going to fester and make me hate my roommate even more.
later LJ took out the trash. apparently in china with so many people, trash collection is every day so there's notion of the weekly trash pickup. "where do i put it?" she asked. i told her she could just add it to the kitchen trash and i'd take it all tomorrow night. that's when she told me that was the kitchen trash, and she was throwing it out because it was starting to smell (from the food she'd thrown away). i took her outside to show her where to put the garbage, but she was making a beeline across the street, to my neighbor's recycle bin. "no!" i yelled out, "that's for recycling!" i showed her our bins along the side of the house. when we got back inside, she went to her room, but i gently reminded her that she needs to put a new bag in the kitchen trash.
LJ was unusually quiet the rest of the night, even keeping her bedroom door closed which she usually doesn't do. later i heard her getting ready for bed, brushing her teeth for what sounded like minutes. then i heard this incessant squeaking sound coming from the bathroom. LJ has a habit of not often closing the bathroom door, so out of curiosity i walked and saw a terrible sight: LJ was balancing on one leg, washing her other foot in the sink. suddenly things started to clear up. other than that first night, i can't recall ever seeing LJ take another shower. i traded one dirty roommate for another dirty roommate. her feet washing routine in the sink also leaves the bathroom floor sopping wet, and i already took out the bathroom carpet because every night it was drenched. "why don't you wash your feet in the bath tub?" i suggested. "it's less dangerous, and you don't leave the bathroom floor all wet." i told her that was the reason i removed the carpet. her response? "why do you have a carpet in the bathroom anyway?"