Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 1, 2013

Electric moments in one’s life

Cathie Shaffer
The Independent

ASHLAND — Sometimes I long for the days of old when one could exist with only one double electrical outlet in a room.

I know that’s how it was once because my house was built in the 1930s and that’s about what I have. I invested in another outlet in my kitchen to bring the total to three, but I only have two in my living room. The bedrooms, dining room and bathroom each have one.

So I have power strips in each room, including a super one in my office that my computer, printer and monitor are plugged into. I use the kind that trips if the load is too great, and I try to be careful about what I plug in where.

The electric company would be proud of me. I plug things in as I use them and unplug them when I’m done. I’d like to say it was a matter of energy conservation, but it’s more a matter of my peace of mind. I figure the less stuff plugged in at any one time, the better.

The electrical system in my house has been upgraded from the old-fashioned glass fuse system to a breaker box. Once in a great while a breaker trips, but that’s a rarity. I’ve learned how to balance the load.

Life would be simpler, though, if all of today’s devices used a common charger. I have one kind for my laptop, another for my e-reader and yet another for my MP3 player.

I have discovered, though, that I can charge my phone while I’m on the laptop by connecting the two with a USB cord. That has become a handy option when I forget to use the charger in the car. Or rather, one of the two chargers in the car. That’s right. My new ride has places in both the front and back to connect all these modern gizmos.

So far I’ve managed to resist the smart phone thing, mostly because I don’t want a phone that’s smarter than me. The cell phone I have lets me make and take calls, text and receive and send pictures.

It will even, if I push the right buttons, connect me to the Internet.

I never push those buttons.

Yes, I love the convenience of hitting a few keys to check my bank balance or see what the pizza place down the street is offering as the week’s special. And I will admit to using social media that lets me connect with family and friends near and far.

But for me, there’s a time and place for that — my house, while I’m half-watching something on TV. I’m pretty sure no one wants moment-by-moment updates on my life.

I know I’d bore myself if I got messages like “Umm, first cup of coffee for the day” or “Had to hang a new roll of toilet paper.”

I suppose I ought to bite the bullet, call an electrician and see how much it would cost to put another outlet or two in each room. My children would think kindly of me after I die and they inherit the house, I’m sure.

But having a limited number of places to plug things in limits the number of things I buy that need to be plugged in. That, I believe, is a good thing because it often keeps me from making questionable decisions.

Like ordering that picture from the catalog that came last week — a light-up version of the famous (or infamous) depiction of dogs playing poker.