Sunday 2 February 2003

Electric Cocktail Blini's ate my toaster!

Interesting factoid: Cocktail Blini's are excellent conductors of electricity.

Periodically on nz.general, a Usenet newsgroup I have periodically frequented over the last 10 years, someone intending to visit the country will ask a question about our electricity supply, and what sort
of adapter they need to bring with them. Inevitably, some helpful soul calling himself "Newsman", or "The BILL" will pipe in with a rant about how superior the UK's 13A fused plugs are, compared with New Zealand's plugs and sockets.

But the reality I have come to know over the last four years is very different. Plugs in the UK are so damn big and heavy, and the holes in the sockets for the pins so big and sloppy, that they have a tendency to pull themselves out of the wall. I discovered this shortly after arriving in this country, and have been constantly annoyed by it ever since, on one occasion losing an entire fridge/freezer full of food to the phenomenum.

I might have been willing to concede that the idea of a fuse in the plug had some merit, until a russian miniature pancake snack proved beyond doubt tonight, that it is all just a placebo.

The scenario: Sunday night, and I'm a little peckish. Staring right at me from the relative safety of the fridge shelf is a packet of delicious looking cocktail blinis, that look like they'd go well with that tub of Smoked Salmon Taramasalata sitting there next to them. So I grab four and put them in the toaster. Like little toddlers they squirm around in a futile tantrum trying to resist the downward motion as I lower the lever on the toaster. One cunning
little bastard manages to squeeze his way between the iron bars, intended to keep the toast central where toasting conditions are at their optimal. Suddenly, there is darkness. The little bugger has successfully shorted the elements in the toaster, and not the fuse inside the plug, nor even the circuit breaker for that loop of sockets, but the main circuit breaker for the entire flat is tripped.

After a fumble around in the dark for a cigarette lighter that doesn't work, the lights are restored, and I can now get on with the job of extracting the cocktail blini from the toaster. Did you know, that a cocktail blini fits perfectly across the gap between the elements inside the toaster, and is capable of getting into that position unassisted, but the only way it will come out is if it is cut in half by specialized rescue equipment which luckily I just happened to have lying around?

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