Did you know that a microwave oven and a toaster oven each use about fifteen amps of power? And that when you run them both at the same time, on the same circuit1, you can overload said circuit and cause it to blow? Neither did I. I nearly ruined my delicious dinner of microwave lasagna and garlic bread thanks to my naivete. Of course, while they were busy cooking away remaining frozen, I was at my desk, checking my email and working on some homework. "It suddenly got really hot in here," I thought to myself. Thinking I had forgotten to turn on the switch for the fan, I ran to the front door to see. On. I flipped it off, then on again. Nothing.
I ran to the kitchen. The microwave, itself an already silent machine2, has no power. Neither does the toaster oven. Neither does the light in the living room. Neither does the light in the bedroom. My computer was fine, luckily. It's such a relief, really, to know that the ENTIRE house isn't on a single circuit. While I was trying to look for the cause of the outage3, I half-expected to find an old and faded paper stating that the series circuit for the place had been hand-signed for approval by Thomas Edison himself.
My landlord very graciously came to my rescue and flipped the switch on the breaker behind the house, since I had no idea where the thing was anyway. He even explained to me how to fix it myself. We'll see how I do next time I forget the rule of thumb of running only one small appliance at a time. I'm clearly far more gifted at breaking things than I am repairing them, so don't be surprised if I suddenly disappear without a trace. It probably just means I completely destroyed all electricity in the vicinity.
1I had no idea they shared the same circuit. Hello, learning by trial and error!
2Even when I'm right next to the thing, I can barely hear it cooking away. I have the most bitchin' microwave ever.
3Because, you know, I know SO MUCH about electricity and all.