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Ramblin’ Man

By David Porter
I’m not sure what the greatest invention in the world is. At least not since 1928. Then, apparently, it was sliced bread because every cool thing since then is referred to as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

I’d be hard pressed, though, to come up with anything that has made life easier than the battery. The first battery was invented in 1800 although the word was coined in 1749 during experiments with capacitors. 

Battery has since been assigned many definitions. In law, hitting someone is committing battery. In the military, it’s an embankment for heavy artillery. In baseball, it’s the pitcher and catcher as a unit. And it’s also a group of things, such as a battery of tests.

But the batteries I’m most fond of are those little and not-so-little containers of stored energy. They can power just about anything from cars to houses to portable radios to wristwatches to phones and on and on.

I suppose there are inventions that one could say have made life easier and easier but many of them are powered by batteries. Batteries give us the ability to be more mobile as well as the ability to be less mobile. 

While I don’t hate the more mobile, the less mobile is even better, I think. From the comfort of my chair, I have a battery of remote controls that support my sedentary lifestyle. I can turn on the TV and change channels. I can dim the lights. I could even start a fire in the fireplace if I had a fireplace.

There’s a fan in the window in our den since I smoke cigars in my chair. It’s operated with a remote control. It would take way too much effort to walk over to the window 10 feet away to switch the fan on and off. That would be like having to stand up to change channels. 

I guarantee, if we didn’t have a remote for the TV, we’d be watching a lot more commercials and a lot fewer stations.

In my house, I am the keeper of the controller. It’s not a misogynistic thing. Whoever has the remote has to decide what we’re watching, and neither one of us really wants that responsibility. It’s not a prize.

We have a similar rule about where to go for dinner. Whoever is driving has to decide. It’s kind of a way to break the stalemate.

Last night, I was ready for bed and clicked the button on the remote to turn the fan off. But the fan didn’t go off. I thought maybe the battery was dead.

It’s like that moment when the battery in your car’s key fob dies and you momentarily forget that the key itself will unlock the door. I didn’t know what to do.

Of course, I could have taken the few steps over to the fan and switched it off at the unit, but that would be so 1970s. It’s primitive. It’s barbarian.

No, I stood there and pressed the button again. And again and again, pressing harder with each attempt. Praying for one last spark from the decade-old battery.

After about 10 tries, I realized I was trying to turn the fan off with the TV remote. Never mind that the two remotes are different sizes and colors. 

I switched remotes and was instantly back in the year 2022. Now if only I could press a button to be instantly transported to the bed. I don’t know whether we’ll ever get that lazy, but we’re close.

© Copyright 2022 by David Porter who can be reached at There’s a remote chance I’ll be buying new batteries this week just in case.

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