Your estimate of how long to reheat the lasagne

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Your estimate of how long to reheat the lasagne was not a good one. In fact, it was probably the worst estimate I have ever seen. In fact, it was probably the worst estimate in the history of estimating.

I'm not sure you even understand the concept of estimating. When you estimate, you're supposed to make an educated guess based on prior experience. You are not supposed to select a completely random number of any size and run with it.

I guess you've learned your lesson. But let's just take a moment to run through all the clues you had that you are a poor estimator.

The microwave beeped the instant you hit start.

In retrospect, I'm sure you would agree that it was not reasonable to believe that your lasagne would be warm within one ten-thousandth of a second. I would be surprised if even one actual microwave came into contact with even one molecule of your meal. I'm actually not sure why your microwave allows you to program in increments of one ten-thousandth of a second, as such increments do not appear to be useful.

In the end, the lasagne was precisely the same temperature as when it went in. And that was bad. But it wasn't nearly as bad as your second attempt.

Your lasagne began to boil.

This, in and of itself, was not necessarily a bad thing. Boiling is nature's way of saying "I am hot. In fact, I am too hot to eat, but if you wait a moment, I will be just right."

I've eaten many microwaved dinners that were allowed to boil for up to thirty seconds. They were approximately as savory as a microwaved dinner can be, which I would describe as "somewhat savory."

Thus, this is the moment you should have revised your estimate and turned off the microwave. Right here.

The lasagne became dry and rubbery.


As the lasagne continued to boil, the water was converted to steam and escaped through the vents in the microwave. At this point, your food had officially become "not very savory." It had acquired a dry and rubbery texture and eventually hardened to the point where penetrating it, even with a fork and knife, was virtually impossible.

When your meal begins to boil, you should stop the microwave. When it stops boiling because the water has been boiled off, you should definitely stop the microwave. You may want to keep this in mind next time you make an estimate.

The room filled up with smoke.

When the room filled up with black, noxious smoke, forcing us both to run outside for some air, that should have been a pretty strong clue that you had overestimated. Frankly, forty minutes is too long to microwave almost anything. Maybe if you were trying to cook a turkey in there; I don't know. I've never tried.

Eventually, you threw a wet handkerchief over your face and went back to rescue your cat, but you still didn't turn off the microwave. Hadn't it occurred to you by then that your estimate was a little on the high side?

The house burnt down.


The sight of your house in flames was also probably a pretty good clue that your estimate had been high. The sight of it imploding into a heap of smoldering ash was another good clue. I'm still surprised that the kitchen counter and the microwave itself, as well as the power lines running to the outlet in the kitchen, remained intact. That was kind of a freak of nature.

But don't you think at this point, you would have reason to doubt your powers of estimation?

You went to sleep.

I realize you'd had a long day. You'd just lost both your home and your dinner to a very, very bad guess. And to fire. But didn't it occur to you that no one ever runs a microwave overnight? That they're not even meant to be run overnight?

Don't you think that before you checked into a hotel, you should have downwardly-revised your estimate of how long it takes to reheat lasagne, and shut the microwave off?

President Obama was re-elected.


Okay, this is where things got a little ridiculous. Unless you're reheating a meal on the evening of the first Tuesday in November on an election year, the length of time to reheat a meal is never "one election cycle." Never.

"Three minutes" would have been a reasonable estimate. "I'll wait to see whether control of the White House passes to the Republicans" is just not reasonable. It was a very, very bad estimate.

The lasagne completely ceased to exist.

Several years later, your lasagne had completely ceased to exist. There was not one molecule of your former lasagne remaining in the microwave. The pile of ash we had grown so accustomed to looking at had entirely disappeared. It had been fully converted into some kind of highly irradiated plasma. There was a team of experimental physicists parked outside the ruins of your house setting up Geiger counters.

How could you think it was wise to go forward with your estimate after this? The lasagne was gone, man. What's the point of microwaving a meal that doesn't exist? There was nothing left to eat.

It was a little perplexing.

A fusion reaction rendered six city blocks uninhabitable for centuries.


I don't think I have to remind you of the spectacular mushroom cloud that arose from your former residence, or of the fact that 2,300 people died of acute radiation poisoning that day, including twelve experimental physicists.

So, I think we both learned something. "One ten-thousandth of a second" is not a reasonable estimate of how long it takes to reheat a lasagne, and neither is "six hundred and thirty-nine years." Actually, that lesson is mostly for you, as I already knew both those things.

But I just have one question:

Why the fuck is the microwave still running?

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