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."
Thank you for activating my FOMO!!! 🤣
Good morning Morgan. Such a delight to hear from you again. Of course, technically, you did not activate my fear of missing out, but my severe paranoia, about having no power. 😝 meaning that it is such not a good thing to experience, no power, very shallow battery life available, on my most beloved device. It's bad enough not having any power in the house, but no power on the phone? That is simply, not, ever, acceptable!!! I was feeling your frustration through the whole story, and very glad that the power is on, presently, even though it's pouring outside. it's amazing how much power we actually consume in our modern day lives, isn't it? I am so glad that you managed to get through all of those low power times, and, happily, that you guys also got yourself a nice new vehicle. Personally, I would not have chosen a hybrid vehicle, but things change, rather we want them to or not, right? I'm also glad that you got yourself more portable battery power, for those most inconvenient, paranoid inducing times, when our 21st-century lifestyle drops out from underneath of us. Long live the battery packs!
Not a Power Outage But...
Great to hear from you again Morgan. I recently moved to another apartment in the same building as my previous 2 apartments, and the wi-fi jack that was in here didn't work and had to be replaced. My power upstairs had been totally shut off, so for a brief period I couldn't use my trusty iPhone 7 that much. But a technician quickly solved the issue, and I am now fully back online. Yes I still have an iPhone 7 and it hasn't given up on me yet. But sooner or later I'll have to ditch this one for a newer one, which makes me kinda sad in a way. I'm very excited though, to try out iOS 16 and all the latest and greatest that the good folks out in Cupertino have to offer. Thanks once again for an excellent post, and please keep them coming!
Get a hourse. No battery needed.
Get a hourse
I thought the only reason folk take trips to the target store these days is to buy gift cards with which to pay the IRS so as to avoid Officer Bill Smith sending someone around to have them arrested within the hour. Do you want to settle this in the courthouse or outside of the courthouse, Sir?
My wife and I both regard any of my blogs as a success when we hear from you. We always enjoy your notes and, as you know, we are big fans of your home town. Your note made us smile. Thank you!
As you suggest, there is nothing quite as disconcerting as losing power to our iPhones. Ugh! We were stretching electrons as thin as we could, but it was starting to look pretty grim. Fortunately, we did get our electricity restored just when I was getting seriously concern that we would disappear from the grid.
We are pleased that we did go out and buy to 20K mAh, batteries before we saw yet another storm, but I was reminded by an article on the Macrumors site yesterday that it pays to be vigilant about our battery choices. Although the Anker battery I referenced in my blog, was not listed as a problem, I did note in the Macrumors article that a different Anker 20K mAh battery,, was being recalled as a potential fire hazard. Batteries are great, but on rare occasion, they can present problems of their own.
Roxann, you mentioned that you would not likely go with a Hybrid vehicle. I felt much the same way. My wife and I are at a time in our lives where changing our world view sometimes feels like such an effort. Both the first minivan and the first mid-sized SUV that we recently tried to order were not Hybrids. However, when I suddenly had time for extra research after the cancellation of my 2022 model, I did discover that a tremendous number of online car reviewers were becoming increasingly enamored with Hybrids, and many folks were moving straight to full Electric or Plug-In cars. In Texas, distances can be rather daunting between potential charging sites, but the idea of a Hybrid was increasingly tempting. First, a Hybrid is somewhat more responsible as it does burn less gas. It also has the potential to save us some money. And,, with what I had been reading, it did take on a bit of an adventure quality. So, we didn't try to change our last order to that of a traditional gas vehicle and stayed with the new Hybrid. And, frankly, we are really pleased with it. Now, we'll see how well it works over the years and how much trouble it is to maintain and service. I do know that I hope to never need to jump start it. I will call Triple-A when that time comes.
Roxann, it is always a pleasure to hear from you. Take care of yourself and stay empowered!
RE: Howdy Roxann!
My friend, you have just cracked me up! When you began talking about the hybrid vehicle, and how it seems to be more and more difficult to adapt to the changes... Boy do I relate to that one. It just seems like things are going more and more crazy,more new stuff, and quite frankly, ***, makes me feel old!!! This sounds strange even writing this, but it seems like the more new things that become available, the lazier we get, more greedy, the more dissatisfied, the more passive we become in everyday life. Now please don't misunderstand me here, I love my technology. I can't state that strongly enough. But, yet, it still seems to be a struggle sometimes to find a balance between More, better tech, which truly will make living easier, but yet, maybe waiting it out, being content with what you have, because in just maybe two years, the tech that you want right now will be much, much better, even still. It's a struggle. Anybody got more cash? 🤣 Apple Watch Ultra, I am looking at you!
Wonderful to hear from you again!
I sympathize with your being incommunicado while the ethernet jack was being fixed. When our Wi-Fi goes down, it makes me a little crazy waiting for its return. Thankfully, we are close enough to a cell tower that we are almost always connected.
I can understand why you would be excited about moving on from your iPhone 7. Although I never owned that model, I remember it as being the first with out a mechanical Home button. I loved the haptic feedback with that phone. My own most recent upgrade was to the iPhone 13 mini, solely because I love the smaller footprint. I have absolutely no need for larger screens and I must confess that I hope Apple reintroduces smaller and more powerful phones one of these days. I guess i could get used to a larger phone again, but I'd really prefer to think small.
Keep me posted of your move towards a new iPhone. I'm sure you will enjoy it! I am excited for you!
Have you considered a natural gas or propane generator?
Depending on your budget and if you own the house you live in have you considered either a generator that will automatically power your entire house during a power outage or a generator that you can manually start that will be wired in such a way that it can run critical loads? I got a standby generator that will automatically power the entire house with out me doing anything if power is out for more then ten seconds. It was expensive and the only reason I did it was because if our sump pump stops running for more then four hours we start to get flooding.
It is always a pleasure to hear from you. Thanks!
I agree with you that a horse might be a great substitute for the car I finally purchased. And, not only do they not need batteries, they come with their own gas.
As a guide dog partner, I deeply appreciate working along with another living soul, however I must have aged considerably before the last time I went out on a horse. I only remember that it took days for parts of me to quit hurting. I had no idea that I could strain every strand of muscle tissue in my body and feel many decades older and surprisingly fragile after that last rugged ride. Still, the love and freedom of a great horse would be most welcome.
Take care, and I look forward to our next communication,
that austin ice storm
I'm in austin too. That ice storm was... something.
Anyway I use a rav power 30k battery bank which got me through the worst of whatever that was that killed our power.
Thanks for your amusing comment about Target stores. What is rather sad is that apparently some folks have fallen for that scam. Or, I have fallen for another urban legend...
I must admit that racing into Target recently was fun. I had gotten so used to infrequent trips into brick and mortar stores, a side effect of the pandemic, but with the new car, it has given us an excuse to visit more of them again. And, the experience has been fun! Simple pleasures are grand!
Thanks for writing,
Re2: Howdy Roxann!
I also must admit that I have a severe weakness for certain tech, but I choose to accept that as my personal weakness and just follow it along. I do like it when I get a new iPhone that is faster and cooler, but I don't think I ever really get to take advantage of all the fancy new features. For the most part, what I care about on my iPhone is the ability to read audio books, which has not changed radically in years. I also like to listen to Old Time Radio shows, and that hasn't changed much either. I like simple text editors, and they have been a tad stagnant for some time, and I love to research, and that is not significantly different either. Still, I love my iPhone 13 mini for its size, its speed, its battery and the fact that it works with MagSafe. And, I have a weakness for headphones and AirPods, keyboards, and gadgets to keep everything powered up. Fortunately, my wife and I are naturally pretty frugal. Outside of the Apple addiction, I have been quite content with a bit of Cabernet wine, a nice mandolin and the new car that has finally replaced the one we bought more than a decade ago. And, I mention all of this because I know that as the new iPhone rumors pick up, and talk about the next Apple Watch hits the press, I will start finding myself wanting the new stuff all over again.
Roxann, it is always wonderful to hear from you!
Warm wishes from Texas,
Thank you for the very thoughtful note about natural gas and propane generators. I have considered such a move, but about the time the thought begins to flower, so does the lawn. Generally, our electrical power is quite consistent all year. Losing power during the summer would likely be caused by a nearby lightning strike and those problems are usually repaired rather quickly. And, we really have not had problems with winter or the associated winter electrical outages until these last three years. Even so, I do own the house and could have a generator hooked up to natural gas so I might yet go down that route. It's a great suggestion!
Of course, yesterday February 20, the outside temperature here got up to 84 degrees and sitting on the porch with a mandolin took up all the available brain space where I generally consider good ideas. Still, your message was a great reminder that I do have worthy options available if I am tired of getting really cold every now and then.
I do have a good friend in Fort Worth with a generator like the one you suggested. I think I'll call him about the cost and maintenance of such a system. You got me thinking...
Thanks for your kind and useful comment,
Ah, another Austinite who has discovered that our central Texas location has become occasionally prone to water and electricity interruptions. I choose to be very hopeful that our city upgrades and updates some of our critical infrastructure. Soon would be nice. These outages don't happen often, but when they do, they are rather frustrating.
Thanks for sharing the make and model of your own battery pack. I'm really glad it worked out for you!
I hope your own home's power was restored quickly. Going without my coffee maker and not daring to open the refrigerator were two major hassles after the ice storm. The potential of losing power to my iPhone was much more nerve-wracking.
Good luck this summer, and may we get through this current month without any more ice,