CHARGE! – Marilyn Armstrong

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.


My world — the entire world and now, my heart too — runs on batteries. Mostly rechargeable batteries, except for my pacemaker which needs new batteries every 4 or 5 years (I think) and I do hope the batteries are very high quality.

Add 3 laptops, 2 Kindles, a couple of tablets, cellphones, 5 (6?) cameras, voice recorders, mouses (mice have fur and make squeaky noises, mouses attach to your computer), a wireless keyboard, a 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.

I have never lived in a house that had enough electrical outlets for things like lamps and televisions, much less a way to accommodate these chargers. So, I own power strips.

They are everywhere, snaking around corners, between dressers, behind the sofa, on each side of the bed and of course near each computer. They are also hiding in a lot of places you might never think to look. Throughout the house, in every room, power strips keep chargers charging and electrical devices functioning. From high-end hubs with surge protection to whatever was on sale at Walmart that day, every one is full or nearly so.


Most power strips are designed by people who don’t use them. I have reached this conclusion based on the 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 power supply.

Typically, power strips don’t leave room to fit more than 2 or 3 chargers in a strip 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 parked their van on the septic system’s outflow pipe 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.

High tension wire, golden maple leaves framed by an azure sky.

If you think our civilization can survive anything, ponder this. All our stuff depends on batteries and electricity. Without electricity and batteries, life as we know it would end in about a week or two, at least in cities. It might go on a little longer in rural areas. After that?

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


9 thoughts on “CHARGE! – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. what a fun post – and the pictures of all those plugs and chargers – well they say it all! I also like the ending photo – of the lines in the sky – we live in a newer neighborhood where the line safe buried – well somewhat new – 12 years is not so new – but still underground wires – however, we still have power outages because we are part of the bigger grids that are still above ground. and you make a great point about the dependency – and also when we see shiny computers and gadgets – we forget the essentials – kind of like seeing a plate of eggs Benedict on the table – with the perfect Hollandaise sauce drizzled on – to then go back into the kitchen and the prep dishes and stuff it took to create this dish. Seeing the cords was like that to me 😉

    And I laughed when you said you now just cram the cords in the bag – ha! Me too.


    1. Living in the country, I think we are a little more aware of the fragility of our infrastructure. Heavy snow, wind, ice …. they all bring down the power and not always in our town, but an outage in an adjacent down can pretty effective bring us to our knees.Every winter when the storms come, I wonder if we are going to make it through with power intact. We are SO dependent on our machines!


  2. Love this post – it really resonated with me.

    Do you have kids? I do – and my AA battery requirement has gone through the roof! We use rechargeable batteries and are permanently charging the AA’s for musical trains, dancing barnyard animals, electronic kiddies musical instruments and baby monitors!


  3. The best charger I ever had was the one that came with my first Kindle. It was literally just like a regular plug-in, no strange shape. The new ones take up two spots on a power strip (as you well know). I think the charger people are in line with the power strip people. Just a theory!


  4. That is a bit of a fire hazard. I should send one of sons, or my younger daughter down to sort out your electrical situation.
    But you are right on. Our lives are very dependant upon a good supply electricity.


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