Saturday, February 5, 2011

Let There Be Flashlight

Last weekend I was given a nice little LED flashlight; it's broad and flat, about the size of my hand, with LEDs on the face and magnets on the back. I stuck it onto the side of the toolbox in the trunk of my car.

As I was going through said toolbox looking for another flashlight (a big 4-cell black Maglight, the kind cops use because you can crack someone's skull with it), I came across a little 2-AA stick maglight in a neat little box, a 2-D cell plastic piece of crap that I got for free because it came with the two batteries, and another little light with a little generator in it so that when you shake it (like those shake-weights they sell on tv), the kinetic energy is stored and powers the light for a little while. It's a good light to have if every other flashlight on earth is broken or has dead batteries.

I also came across a 3-AA cell stick LED light that was in the little storage area between the front seats, and a 4-AA cell LED stubby that was in the glove compartment.

That's just in the car.

In my bedroom I've got a 2-AA cell Maglight, a 4-AAA cell stick light, and a big 4-D cell "lantern." And oh, yeah—I've got another flashlight that puts out visible Ultraviolet.

I'm sure there must be at least one or two more in the garage, and who knows how many others scattered around the house.

I've been trying to figure out when our culture became obsessed with battery powered light. A little bit of it is sensible: there could be a natural disaster and I could lose electricity for awhile (hey, I could lose power when a nearby transformer craps out), and having a flashlight makes sense.

But this many?

And it doesn't seem to be going away, it's getting worse. Years ago it seemed like a digital clock was being put into everything; now it's lights. As I type this, I just realized I forgot about keychain lights (mine is moldering in my desk drawer at work because it's useless; sitting next to another (good) flashlight that I want in case the power goes out and we need to exit the building in the dark). And thinking of that reminded me that I've got a tiny light on a faux Swiss Army knife.

What's almost alarming is that I can count on one hand how many of these I bought; the rest just accumulated like old leaves under a tree. I can't even remember where half of them came from and why I have them.

And even though I've got all of these flashlights, the one that I really want, the one that's useful and I've had it for ages, is that big-ass 4 D-cell Maglight, the kind cops use.

And I can't find it.

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