Poor Design // a lesson in reheating

I really love the idea of a microwave. I believe it offers convenience in a time crunch, and the technology which makes it work is fascinating. Upon moving into my new home for this year, though, I’ve found myself often puzzled by the 1987 GE Spacemaker Microwave which came with the place.

IMG_2145It clearly has myriad of features, but to access them becomes a nightmare. My first gripe comes form TIME COOK I and II. What is the difference between these modes? Is one a sequel from another? I’m already lost. While buttons such as CLOCK and POWER LEVEL are easy enough to understand, I find myself confused again with AUTO ROAST & DEFROST.

By definition, automatic implies “working by itself with… no direct human control.” Interestingly enough, however, these auto modes come with a foot note: “See chart behind door for automatic cooking instructions.” Huh. I was hoping automatic would be just that – I’d push a button and be done with it. Despite my hopes, I am redirected to another chart of unintelligible information:

IMG_2143

After hunting through my junk drawer for a magnifying glass to read this text, I’m prompted to enter codes depending on what I’m cooking. I also have to know what weight the food is? Was there a scale that came with this microwave which I misplaced? All I want in life is to heat up my supper.


I would argue that this frustrating piece of technology fulfills characteristics of eudamonia. To cook or reheat food successfully with this tool can provide a sense of fulfillment within the individual, and represents a stride towards wellness and betterment. In the case of my roommates and I, it also provides vitality for a collection of people who live in a group!

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