So, a minor issue: the clothes dryer burned out a while ago. Since I pretty much never buy anything new, I found a used one I could buy off a guy who didn't need it any more because he'd bought a better one. When I got it home, I found it had a four-prong plug instead of the older-style three-prong plug. No problem: the junker has the right kind of plug. I stripped it off the old one, wired it up to the new one, and plugged it in.
The dryer ran really loud, really hot, and quit after ten seconds.
Now at first I thought I had just been sold a lemon by a guy who had 'bought a better dryer' because the old one didn't work. After all, I'd wired it up correctly according to the diagram: white ground wire on the center, two hot wires on the sides.
After a little internet research, however, I found out that this is a common problem if the dryer is wired wrongly, i.e., if you get the ground on the wrong attachment. So I went down into the basement and snooped around, and found out that the previous owner of the house apparently did the dryer wiring themselves as an aftermarket. It's a rather amazing job -- not up to code, and somewhat more resembling a spider web than a professional installation. Still, it worked for two years, so I figured it probably still worked -- it just wasn't wired right according to code.
Once I sorted that out, I found the true ground and swapped the wires around, and the dryer works perfectly now. I kind of wish the previous owner of the house had mentioned his little adventures in electricity, though; but I suppose he would have believed that it would have lowered my offering price for the house. (He would have been right, too.)