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Column: Left To My Own Devices

And a lot of good it’s doing me. I may be able to do what I want, but I don’t really have a clue as to what it is I want to do – or can do. What I am referring to, specifically, are the various electrical “chargers” we now have in our house: for cell phones (smart and stupid), Bluetooth, Kindle, miscellaneous computers (laptop, tablet), etc.; they’re almost as much of a nuisance as the stink bugs which every day it seems, still manage to find ways to get into the house. To me, all the cords look alike and, to compound the problem, most of the devices are plugged into the same outlet – for semi-convenience sake. As a result of this convergence, determining – without bending over, which male goes into which female (euphemistically speaking) is becoming increasingly more challenging – and frustrating.

Not that we’re splitting the atom here, but more and more, part of our daily routine involves recharging devices and matching up those same devices with their respective male/female counterparts. It’s a process that, though not particularly complicated, is nonetheless becoming anything but routine. To further complicate this technological two-step (or three- or four-step – for me), is the fact that the cords are all the same color. In addition to appearing relatively similar, some even fit multiple devices; although not always recharging as we anticipate, leading to a false sense of power security. “Universal” it’s not. Moreover, since the cords are generally confined to one electrical outlet (to avoid multiple-outlet clutter), they’re often tangled up in black (their color) and not so easily retrieved. To find the matching cord and then to extricate it from its electrical connection on the first attempt without further ado, is much easier said than actually done.

It’s almost as if we need a confined, pantry-like area in-home in which to store and stow all the chargers; labeled and slotted on specific shelves. Presently, in my home anyway, when connecting or disconnecting any of these devices/cords, a “tip-toe through the tulips” it’s not; it’s more like a minefield. If an accidental step or grab is made, there won’t be any explosions or loss of life (for perspective), but there still might be some screaming and/or loss of important assets with significant replacement cost to follow. Not to mention data lost – potentially, and lifestyle and/or work complications that together might cause an emotional upheaval the likes of which you’ve been anticipating and dreading since this 24/7 accessibility/timeline took over and made us all victims of our own electronic devices. Hal from “2001 Space Odyssey” it’s not, but we’re getting there.

I wish I could suggest an alternative or devise some sort of preemptive pursuit to prevent this inevitable meltdown of man and/or machinery. However, I know so little – as usual, of what I’m theorizing that I’m hardly qualified to offer an opinion. In fact, I probably should be disqualified. However, given the underlying fact that I am an actual victim of these circumstances, perhaps I’m able to think outside the box (from the mouths of babes, so to speak) and arrive at a Seinfeldian-type of solution similar to Jerry’s riff on parking garages: colors and numbers are too easily forgettable, he observed on one episode; maybe identifying the areas with more unforgettable phrases/descriptions like “Your mother’s a whore or your father was an abusive alcoholic” might help weary shoppers locate their vehicles. My suggestion is less perverse and more sensible, actually. Why not color-code the cords to match a specific device the same way Miss Utility marks respectively, the “underground facilities: buried power, sewer, gas and water” to avoid the inevitable confusion. And of course, “It’s The Law. Dig with CARE.” Red, blue, yellow, green, etc. would equate with a specific device and its cord. All color coordinated – for dummies, like me.

As I sift through the cords and devices now, trying to patiently find a match; while considering adding new devices – with their chargers/cords, as technology imposes its inexorable will on me – and society, a solution better be forthcoming. Otherwise, I’ll be left powerless – and helpless. Remember, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Kenny Lourie is an Advertising Representative for The Potomac Almanac & The Connection Newspapers.