I really like to pretend that I have much more control over my personal circumstances than I actually do. I'm probably not alone.
Late in 2019, my wife and I had decided to replace our decade-old minivan with a newest rendition of the same thing. Sure, we wanted a dependable vehicle with a new warranty, but I also coveted a shiny new toy. She drives, I don't, but I still have needs, even if I cannot steer. What do I want in my new car? Apple Car Play? Gotta have it. More USB connectors? A must! We went through the exciting process of ordering a new minivan that would make my iPhone proud.
Personally, we are not picky. We assumed that something that resembles a standard white delivery van would be easy to procure. Our choice was a popular model and we began looking forward to our new set of wheels.
Well, that didn't happen as planned. There wasn't an available white minivan configured the way we wanted, anywhere in the world. We asked the dealership to keep looking, but then we suddenly found ourselves stuck at home in quarantine. It was March of 2020 and we put that little purchase on hold. I think my iPhone was sad.
We got used to driving a lot less, so the pressure for a new car dropped substantially. However, when repair bills began to resemble new car payments, it seemed time to go hunting again.
On April 4 of 2022, we went into a local car dealership and decided that a somewhat smaller, ￼medium-sized SUV would be easier to park, easier to drive and would meet all our needs. We put down money on a 2022 vehicle and waited. However, too many other people were thinking along the same lines. And, significant chip shortages drastically curbed car factory output. What we thought would be a relatively easy purchase turned into months and months of waiting.
Life went on without Car Play. My wife and I temporarily relocated to North Carolina and I kept pondering on what we would do if our new car showed up in Texas before we returned. However, it was getting late in the year, and the 2022 model was slowly nearing extinction. In the middle of the fall, while we were still on the east coast, I got a message from my car salesman indicating that our 2022 SUV order had been cancelled. The factory had retooled and was starting production of the new 2023 models. When you can't buy a car in a world full of cars, you really have a lot less power than you think.
Since I had already left money at the dealership for the car I would never know, I tried to race ahead of the next wave. I asked our salesman to immediately transfer my deposit to the 2023 model and please, please, please put me at the head of the line.
This created a new problem. I was totally clueless about what I had just ordered. I investigated. It turned out that I had just ordered a Hybrid. I've never owned a Hybrid. I knew very little about Hybrids. What I did know is that they involved batteries. And yet, batteries are something I think I know a bit about. My iPhone has a battery and I manage it well. My AirPod Pros have batteries. Also true for my keyboard and MagSafe battery packs. Same for my wife's stuff. We got this covered. I clearly understand batteries! This is going to be great!
After returning to Texas in December, and then taking another trip in January, we finally received word while we were out of town that our new car had arrived in Austin. Sweet! The timing was almost perfect, except that it wasn't. The day after we got home, Austin experienced a rather nasty ice storm -- An ice storm that killed thousands of trees and shut down power to much of the city. Although our new Hybrid vehicle was at the nearby dealership, they didn't have any power. And, neither did we.
Well, I thought I understood batteries. We loaned our one car that week to someone who really needed it, and by doing this, I gave up our only cigarette lighter. I don't smoke, but that handy port in the cart can be used with a special adapter to generate power for a desperate iPhone. So, while the temperature in our house plummeted for days, we relied on a few Apple MagSafe battery packs and an elderly Mophie battery. Our electron supply was severely stressed. As was I. Where was a cigarette lighter when I really needed one? If we ran out of juice at this point, I wouldn't be able to read books, or the news, or write stories, or make emergency phone calls about my freezing to death.
While I still had dwindling iPhone power, I began to research batteries that could help me avoid this conundrum in the future. I asked my younger brother about what he used for battery backup and he said that he had a small emergency battery that could jump start his car should his 12 Volt run dry, but this little reservoir of power also had USB ports on it so that he could get through an ice storm or hurricane. He does live in Houston, which makes that hurricane coverage smart thinking.
I began to plan ahead. I did discover batteries that could be used to jump start a car, but I also found out that the Hybrid we planned to buy would present challenges of its own. I ought not plan on how to jump start a new Hybrid when I don't even know how the batteries work or where they might be located. Best to stay focused on my starving iPhone.
I considered solar-powered battery packs. How cool would that be? Not very if the sky is thick with the kinds of clouds that cause ice storms. Once the sun comes out, the ice melts and the electricity is hopefully restored. Maybe not such a good idea.
I also perused an article about a battery pack that required hand cranking. That's clever and perhaps environmentally thoughtful. Or, maybe it's a dumb idea. Pretend that I just broke my arm after slipping on the ice in the front yard. I guess I wouldn't be cranking that iPhone back to life so that I could make a call for help.
However, after a few days of being seriously chilly, the ice did finally melt, and our home's power was back on line, just hours before our iPhones would have gone cold. Happily, the car dealership opened the day after our own power was back. First, we warmed up and recharged our devices. Next, we decided to celebrate, and go and meet the new car that had taken us more than three years to purchase.
We did buy the car and are happy with our choice. One of the first trips in our new vehicle was to the local Target store. To heck with research. I just need some emergency ice storm batteries for our iPhones. We walked to the back and bought the first two 20,000 MAh batteries we saw. One was the Anker PowerCore Select 20000 and the other was the Belkin BOOST-CHARGE Power Bank 20K. Both are now fully charged and ready to get us through the rest of this winter, or the next.
I may be powerless to influence a lot of things, but I can do better about keeping my iPhone charged up and happy. I now own two spare batteries which ought to give us at least an extra week of emergency power, should we ever need it. I also have the new Hybrid vehicle with lots of USB ports. And, if the car ever needs a jump start, I'll use my fully charged iPhone to call for roadside assistance. And, if there isn't a nearby cell tower to take my call, my wife's powerful iPhone 14 Pro can always send an aid request by satellite. We're not powerless any more.
This is my 29th blog for AppleVis. What a joy! AppleVis is the first Web site I visit every day and my favorite place to learn about what will and won't work for me.
I first fell in love with the iPhone 4 in 2010, and now use my current iPhone 13 mini as my primary computer. With Apple, AppleVis and VoiceOver, I can do nearly anything. It is all rather empowering.
Please do leave your comments below. I would really enjoy hearing of your own battery experiences and just how you use the power of your iPhone to personal advantage.
If you are interested, you can find three of my older blogs at the following links: "In Your Ear, Bud: "What Are You Wearing?", "Think Dainty: The iPhone 12 mini Kicks Butt", and "A Dozen Dozen: Dreaming of iPhone 12 and iOS 14."