My Modular Life…

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 | Life

…in which I talk about the hot swappable, interchangeable nature of modern world living.

If my memory of American and industrial history serves me well, it was Colt that developed the first true interchangeable design, wherein every part is fully replaceable. As I look at my life in the 21st century, I can think about how far that concept of fully compatible individual components has come. There is almost nothing in my world around me that can’t be altered, changed, upgraded  (or downgraded) by the simple removal and replacement of key components.

Of course the more this kind of philosophy integrates with our modern lives, the more I wish there were things in my habitual lifestyle that could be modularly replaced or exchanged.

IMG_2794
A photo of me taking a photo, it’s kind of like Inception.

I started thinking about this on the ride home. As I mentioned last week, I’m looking to upgrade and replace some of the components of my bike. When I finished my research and consideration, I finally settled on the butterfly bars. I actually placed an order for a pair early this week, only to discover almost immediately, that they were sold out and on back order until late July or early August. While I could keep riding with my bike as is, it does need some service and tuning. Unfortunately, if I get that done now, it will just need to be done again after I replace the handlebars (at additional cost), so I’d rather get it all done at once. So I canceled my order for the original bars, and placed a new order for some that are virtually identical. It was no big deal, drop one and pop in the other.

Similarly, I’ve upgraded my phone OS this week, at least three times. I had it rooted already when Sprint came out with the upgrade from “Froyo” to “Gingerbread.” Unfortunately, having rooted my phone (the Android equivalent to jailbreaking the iPhone), I couldn’t do a straight upgrade to Sprint’s new version, lest I lose the advantage of having root access to begin with. I started looking around for alternatives and found a custom “ROM” called CyanogenMod. I made multiple backups, archived as much data as possible, and flashed the phone. After a couple of hours, I had my phone up and running again almost exactly the same as before, with some minor improvements here and there.

Unfortunately, over the next few hours, I noticed distinct failings, as well. After 12 hours, I decided that the pros did not outweigh the cons and started looking for another alternative. I was on the verge of giving up my root access and going to the official Sprint ROM when I discovered that FreshRom had a “Gingerbread” version that was based on the original Sprint OS, with the root access I’ve come to appreciate. FreshRom is what I used on my previous phone and I was quite happy with it, so I had no problem flashing the phone again and restoring all of my data. The second rebuild took less time than the first, and I still backed up the CyanogenMod in case I wanted to go back again. It was pretty much just drop in, drop out, and drop in.

These are just a few examples of modularity in life, but there are places that it just doesn’t work. I walked out into the afternoon air for my commute home and was gob struck by the oppressive Texas heat. It’s not even summer yet and it’s already borderline unbearable. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in the coming months. I say this, in spite of the fact that I’ve lived in Texas for nearly 20 years, because apparently my brain forgets what a Texas summer feels like. I seem to be caught completely off guard every year when the summer months hit. I mean, just a few seconds out there, today, and I felt like I was living in Satan’s satin panties.

In a month or so, we’re considering a “quick trip” up to Connecticut. It’s my 20 year high school reunion and we’ve been toying with the idea of actually going. I haven’t been to a reunion yet, and to be honest, I hadn’t given this one much thought, either, until recently. See, for the most part, my friends in high school were either the grade above me or the grade below me. I had very few friends in my own class. So really, I hadn’t thought about it much more than just passingly, but then on FaceBook, someone from my class asked me directly if I was going, and there was a bit of an anticipatory nature to the question. I all of a sudden felt guilty for considering skipping this one, too, now that someone was expecting me to be there.

Of course, we have to make some pretty serious plans to get up there, but now, in addition to the reunion, I’m itching to go. Ever since the last visit to Connecticut, in April of 2009, I’ve been dreaming of going back. And not just visiting, but moving. This is a frightful prospect, though. There’s really no reason or motivation to move, beyond the fact that I just feel more at home in the northern states. I’ve got a good life here, I love the friends I have around me, my house is pretty near perfect, and I’ve got a good job. There’s no driving force to leaving all of this behind, aside from the fact that I’ve grown to hate these summers on the surface of the sun!

There have been times that I’ve seriously considered investigating jobs at equivalent universities, in more temperate climates. Pennsylvania, perfect example. I’d be closer to all of my family, I’d be able to enjoy four seasons again, and, they say, sometimes turning your life upside down can give you a new appreciation for life. But my life is not modular like a pair of handlebars or an operating system. To swap something out of that nature is a massive undertaking with overwhelming consequences. Ask my brother. Nevertheless, we are going to try to head up there, and the call of the north will once again get its hooks in me. The hills and the trees will envelop me with a sense of nostalgia that will be difficult to shake, and when I return to America’s sweaty crotch, I’ll be thinking of how much nicer it was back “home.”

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