Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
2005-09-03
  Little children will eat your batteries
Back before kids (which seems like another life), my battery consuption was limited to replacing the batteries in the remote control and occasionally remembering that there were batteries in the emergency light and hoping that the old ones hadn't died and gone and leaked acid all over the inside (I've lost more flashlights that way). There was a battery in the cordless phone and my laptop, but those were rechargeable and usually lasted a couple of years.

Max changed a great many things in our life, including our use of batteries. Babies don't run on AA directly, but they might as well. Within a couple of months I had collected quite a pile of dead batteries ( don't ask why I was saving them ) from flashlights, baby monitors and walkie talkies (how I coordinated shopping trips with my wife before we each got cell phones ).

I went from letting my wife buy the name brand batteries (at fourty to eighty cents a piece), to picking up the 24 packs of off-brand ones (which were closer to twenty cents), but that was just a temporary stop gap. After searching around a bit, I found a cachet of rechargable AA and AAA at sears in the tool section ( they were Craftsman brand after all ), and thought I was on the right path to stemming the tide.

Unfortunately we were accumulating devices at a faster rate then the occasional additional four-pack from sears could keep up with. The technology was also moving forward, but the capacities of the Craftsman brand were not keeping up. I had to take it to the next level.

Looking for batteries on the web is a little bit of a trick. Sticking AA into the google search bar isn't going to be exactly what you're looking for ( and searching for a C or D battery is worse ). Froogle wasn't online yet, and the other price comparison sites weren't very good when wandering too far from consumer electronics and computer parts, so I was pretty much on my own. I managed to gather a fair list, and then set about trying to compare apples and pomegranates. Did I want to buy 24 AA @ 2250mAH a piece for $30 or 18 AA @ 1850 for $19, and shipping just added another dimension to the problem. Finally I made up my mind and ordered a 24 pack of AAs plus some AAAs for the little stuff.

It took about a week, and the drawer of charged batteries was down to crumbs again. The digital camera took four AAs, the play center another 3. The remote control car took 6 and the transmitter took a 9v. We were quickly accumulating closets full of noisy and blinking devices that demanded to be fed. I picked up another 10pak of batteries at Fry's on my next trip to California but that didn't even make a blip.

Seeing where this was going, and also dealing with the new headache of trying to keep batteries straight when loading a device or charging ( its not good to mix a 1350 mAH battery with a 2100 mAH battery ), I decided to bulk up some more and maybe weed out some of the older low power devices. Perusing the deals at Only Batteries.com I ended up with another 48 AA and 16 AAA. Thankfully that stemmed the tide for a while, but I still had to scrounge around to get batteries for a new device, and some units still had older batteries or even non-rechargables in them.

Finally this year I decided to take care of the problem once and for all. Through the magic of eBay I located a seller with an extensive stock of batteries and good deals on larger quantities. I ordered 96 more AA rechargables, another 32 AAA, some misc C and Ds and a rapid recharger to help keep up with everything. Things were looking up.

At least until Max's birthday. Max had talked grandma into getting him a Rokenbok set. Its a bunch of plastic building pieces, and remote control vehicles that zoom around pushing red and blue balls into hoppers. The controller can select one of 10 devices, all of which sit around waiting for direction. Powered of course by AA batteries. Typically three to four for each vehicle. There goes another 25 batteries.

We're back to having three or four changed batteries in the battery drawer and I'm wondering if there's ever going to be an end to all of this. We got another toy the other day and it took 4 D batteries plus 5 C. Given what a rechargable D battery cost, I think we doubled the price of the toy. And oscar isn't even old enough to notice the infant toys that have been sitting idle since Zakary got up and walked on to bigger and better things (usually grabbing toys from his bigger brother).

So the question now is another 96, or should I double it and just go for 192. I can always dream about cleaning out the closets and taking a truckload of un-played-with toys to the thrift shop, but knowing my luck, I'd forget to take the batteries out. And besides, they'd just get more ( give the unavoidable reality of grandparents ).

 
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