My world runs on batteries. Mostly rechargeable batteries. Three laptops, two Kindles, two cellphones, three cameras, four mouses (mice have fur and make squeaky noises, mouses attach to your computer using USB transmission), two wireless keyboards, GPS, various clocks, flashlights, who-knows-how-many remote controls, electric razors, tooth cleaning machines, and a mind-numbing array of miscellaneous devices I can’t remember off-hand.

To keep the world running, I have to charge things that recharge and keep a stack of AAA and AA rechargeable batteries ready to go.

I have never lived in a house that had enough electrical outlets for things like lamps and televisions, but with all these chargers to accommodate, I own dozens of power strips. Everywhere you look, and in many places you would never think to look, in every room, power strips keep the chargers charging and other electrical devices functioning. The strips range from high-end hubs with surge protection to whatever was on sale at Walmart when I needed another strip. Every one of them is full. Or, more accurately, as full as the size and shape the chargers allow.

Power strips are designed by people who don’t use them. I have come to this conclusion based on the stupid design that presumes you will never have anything larger than a lamp plug that needs a socket. Not even a vacuum cleaner cord fits properly, much less a laptop power supply.

No room is left on either side that would make it possible to fit more than two or three chargers in a strip theoretically designed for half a dozen plugs. There’s no allowance for odd-shaped power supplies that will use half a strip.

I don’t understand why chargers have to be so inconveniently shaped, or why they can never make a 3-pronged plug that will fit into an outlet without a fight. Why do most chargers require that you insert them at the end of the strip. No one ever seems to consider that there are only two “ends” and only one without a cord in the way. There’s some kind of Murphy’s Law that say if you are going to need two wall outlets, both devices will need to be on top or on the bottom.

I have 2 electrical sockets in the bathroom and 2 devices that require electricity. Only one can fit. The other socket is always unusable. The one charger blocks both outlets. Always.

The first day we moved into this house, two events occurred that have since defined our lives in the Blackstone Valley. The toilets backed up and the power went out. The toilets backed up because the crooks who sold us this house backed their moving van over the pipe that runs from the house to the septic system and crushed it. The power went out for the usual reason: heavy rain, high wind, and lightning. Getting to know my neighbors meant figuring out how to find an electrician and plumber before I’d unpacked.

I don’t notice how dependent we are on batteries until I’m packing for a vacation. Half a carry-on is allocated to chargers … just for things we use while we travel: laptops, accessories, a pair of Kindles, his and her cell phones, mouses, portable speakers and more. I used to pack this stuff carefully. Now I just shove the chargers and wires in a bag and untangle as needed.

If you think our civilization will endure, remember: We are entirely dependent on devices that run on batteries, most of which need to be recharged from an electrical outlet. Without electricity and batteries, life as we know it would end in about two weeks. A month maximum. After that?

Our world will be a jungle in which every man, woman, and child will fight to the death for a working AA battery.


I’m reading comments on this blog and suddenly I remember that Garry’s Kindle is still waiting to be charged and is probably flat by now. And that the “land line” phone is still charging and I need to take it out of the cradle, and that my cell phone is still charging and shouldn’t be. So many batteries, so few outlets.

Categories: Cameras, Computers, Humor, Life, Technology, Travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. It displays properly on Chrome and 99% on IE. My daughter in law says it looks fine on her monitor using Firefox. So I suspect it’s a settings thing. I had to adjust my laptop to reduce the image size because it had reset itself to 125%. Maybe that’s the difference between the wide screen in my office and my laptop (much smaller, lower res) screen. But yes, a few people, mostly with older monitors that are not wide screen, have reported having the end of sentences clipped, but that’s a very few people with no consistency as to what browser they are using (mostly IE, however … you’re the first FF user I’ve heard from). FYI, I work in Chrome.


  2. OH! Did you ever hit home with this one! The only thing left out is all the chargers still ‘hanging around’ that cannot be identified! Why is it there are always more chargers that ‘apparati’ that need charging?


  3. Just settin’ around on a Saturday afternoon and reading your blogs. Using my laptop of course., Whilst my Kindle Fire is charging. And my cell phone is charging. And my iPod Touch is charging. Hmm. Lotsa chargers.


    • I sometimes forget where I plugged each thing in and then I wander the house looking for my cellphone or one of the Kindles or the camera batteries. It’s ridiculous. There’s got to be a better way. If there isn’t, can someone please invent one?


  4. I’m reminded of an old “NCIS” episode where the team has to deal with a blackout. The computer generation staff is befuddled. Gibbs has to show them how to do things “the old-fashion” way. We’ve had similar real life episodes here. My Wife, Marilyn, is our Gibbs. Thanks, Boss!!


  5. I have a precious image of two rag wearing people armed with clubs fighting to the death for an Eveready AA battery. Brilliant post! 🙂


  6. Your post has a connection to a book I just finished, S.M. Stirlings’s “Dies The Fire: A Novel Of The Change” in which the Earth is cast into a past age due to a mysterious pulse that eliminates all things electrical.

    All communications, all government, all law & order is suddenly gone. Mankind is left to survive without electricity and return to physical, manual methods of living. This same theme is being copied in a new TV series in September: “Revolution”.

    When I think about the possibility I must question if we’d be better off returning to that era. We certainly would have to stop polluting our planet and relying on our own personal relationships to survive in a society where the weak perish.

    In my opinion we’ve become too dependent on technology to live. Children can’t do simple math in their heads or even on paper. Without TV, the internet or cellphones, how many would go mad in an attempt to cope and fight off boredom? In a post apocalyptic era we’d have to revert to hard physical labor just to feed ourselves.

    Let’s hope that in the near future we come to a compromise of both worlds.


    • If you haven’t read “Earth Abides,” by George R. Stewart (1949), it’s surprisingly relevant, and it’s the original version of that story. I just reread it for the umpteenth time. Earth would be better off without us, but I doubt we’d be better off — or even alive — if we were forced back to our hunter-gatherer roots, We no doubt are overly-dependent on technology for entertainment, but we also depend on for survival. We live a lot longer because of it. Take it away? All our medication, hospitals, freezers, plumbing, dentists? I for one would be dead in short order. In the old days, you were old before 30. Without our support systems, most of us would be goners before adulthood much less old age. Catch-22? I, for one, am NOT hardy.


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