thankful for: batteries **updated

When I was a child, there was an ad campaign in Canada dedicated to energy conservation.  It was put out by Energy Canada or the electric utility, I think.

There was a cartoon character called Watt or Mr. Watt or Captain Watt or something like that. I want to say his name was Kill-a-Watt, but that sounds more like an Uma Thurman movie.

He was an anthropomorphic lightbulb.  His role was to get kids on board with nagging encouraging their parents to turn the lights/television/radio off and his commercials showed up in the middle of cartoons.

We even had Mr. Watt colouring books, which it was our duty to fill with green and yellow scribbles.

(I could not make this up.)

Earlier this week, the sun dropped below the rough edge of all-day clouds and hung there for just a moment before slamming into the horizon.

Everything in sight – trees, flowers, pedestrians, firetrucks, dogs – turned to the glow, basking in the unexpected slice of light.

I scrambled for the small point-and-shoot at the bottom of my purse.  It doesn’t do what my SLR does, but it is more likely to always be with me.  (On a related note, my epiphanie bag is supposed to ship tomorrow!)

When I turned the camera on, the battery icon pulsed a few times before the screen went blank.  Curses.  I reached for my cell phone, composed a few shots, and sent one I liked to the posterous site.  Which is what it’s there for, after all.

Today I remembered the flat battery.  I retrieved the tiny square from the camera, fit it to the wall charger, and plugged it into the socket.  An hour or two later, the battery – and camera – are ready to go.  For another few weeks or months of occasional easy-to-pocket use.

I’m always glad to have it.  And it is almost always ready and waiting for me.

Because of the battery.

This is magic.

Think about it: a tiny, flat battery, smaller than a packet of sugar, carries everything the camera needs to run.  For months.

When it runs out of juice, I can plug it into the wall, and recharge it.  Again and again and again.

My cell phone, laptop, nook, mp3 player, DSLR – all of them, powered by juice from the wall stored in these tiny packages of power.

Batteries are magic, I tell you.

Even when I understand the science of something, I think it can be magic.

In fact, it might be better when I understand the science, because then the question of faith doesn’t enter the conversation.  Magic and wonder and science, oh my.

Today I am grateful for batteries, that simple bit of modern magic.

I wonder what Watt would have to say about it.

**Update: the cartoon character was Reddy Kilowatt, and apparently, Energy Canada didn’t invent him.  It might not have been an Energy Canada ad-spot at all.  We probably encountered Reddy during shows broadcast from American stations.  (At least I didn’t make it up completely.)


  • I know the chemical reactions at the cellular level but still find the emergence of new growth and flowers in the spring to be totally and completely magical.

    • Oh yes, another fine example of magic in the air. Now, what about sunshine? That’s the wonder I’m waiting on.

      I also love the rainbows on puddles. And the whorls of a nautilus. And fiddleheads (the starts to ferns.)

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