Trina Machacek: Battery power

I have such a small amount of knowledge and less of an idea of how electricity works that Edison and Tesla would still be laughing at my explanation of how water or coal or sunshine or that nuclear stuff makes the lights come on when I flip the switch. I know enough to know that I don’t know enough. What I do know is that electricity bites. Since getting bit is not something that I desire I don’t fiddle with electric stuff. Oh there are exceptions to nearly all rules...

It’s a mystery to me how water running through a dam then some turbines and some other big shiny stuff can turn my blender on when I want to mix up a – smoothie. Yes, yes a smoothie. HAHA Parts of electricity I can come to terms with because I have AC and DC kinda figured out, but. Yes a spark throwing “but.” But how in the world do they get that power into a battery? Here’s a funny story.

Christmas is a battery eating time of the year. Toys, electronics, Santa sneaking around with his flashlight looking for cookies! All these take batteries and in the excitement of the season these same items get left on draining batteries. Well I have something that I have had for, if memory serves me right, about seventeen years. It’s pulled out of the Christmas ornament stash and giggled at for about 3 minutes per year. It’s a set of reindeer antlers on a head band and of course they light up blinking merrily when you push a little button in the center of the band. Cute right? Well they were before I turned forty something. However, yearly as I get older and can get away with being sillier they’re still kinda cute.

This year I wasn’t going to get them out. The season was on the wane and so was I. Until I actually saw them in the box. How could I not be my Christmas-y self? I couldn’t. So out they came and instantly I pushed the button and — nothing! First time in all those years the antlers didn’t blink and wink at me. Funny that up until that time I had never even thought about how they worked. Just push and go, push and go, merrily on my way year after year. But now I was faced with finding and changing batteries. Not a problem, probably like a double or even a triple A battery. Easy peasy.

OK. First I found the battery place. Right under where the button is and there’s an on and off switch too. Who knew I was supposed to turn the little antlers off! Moved on and there was a teeny tiny screw to unscrew to get to the battery. Uh batteries. Three little rusty kinda corroded button batteries. Three. Now if I lived in or near a town this wouldn’t be a problem. I however live a number of miles away from town. A little secret though. After living out here for more than a few years I have built up a supply of things. Like toilet paper, hamburger and yes, batteries. You know, the essentials. So after putting my glasses on holding the little buttons at just the right angle under a bright light I read the tiny numbers 1156 and went to my battery stash and low and behold there were three 1158s in a little package. Close enough I thought.

As I began the replacement process I wondered just how those little batteries could hold enough energy for all those years to light up my antlers. (Well that sounded funny. HAHA) Coming out of the box, twinkle some then back in the box, repeat annually. Just how does that electricity stay in that little shiny button case? I thought about that as I tried to line up the three tiny batteries in the plastic holder, in the right direction. Finally all things lined up, the cover back on and the tiny screw screwed in the tiny hole. Push – no twinkle. There was grumbling at this point. Turned the on and off switch a few times. You know giving it some Trina magic. Nope. So here’s what this farmer, country, use your brain girl did. I took the old batteries wiped off the rust and corrosion, vigorously rubbed them on my pants, cleaned out the battery holder by blowing in it, replaced the seventeen year old buttons, buttoned it all back up and ta-da! Yep I twinkled my way through Christmas 2019.

Still don’t know how batteries work, but I know how to coax another year out of some old ones.

Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Find her on Facebook, Instagram or at


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