I’m assuming it gets better

I’m moved in.

My apartment is a mess of “mostly-done” things.

I already have a sink full of dishes.

The quiet is starting to get unnerving.

One day in, and the loneliness is becoming palatable.

I have so much to do, so many things I *could* do…and yet the exhaustion of the move has made it nearly impossible.

I’m looking forward to going to work tomorrow.

I’m assuming it gets better.

The Rum Is Gone

I went to Honduras back in February. On the way home, I bought a bottle of rum at the airport. Tonight, I take my last sip of the bottle.

I didn’t blog about it at the time for a number of reasons. It’s someplace I’d like to go again if I can ever get my Spanish speaking skills to a passable level…but be rather concerned about doing so if I had to plan such a trip on my own.

Honduras is a travel destination that is truly challenging to either recommend, nor dissuade. Getting there was difficult, as the paltry number of flights to Honduras caused issues with my airline with respect to actually getting there. Once there, I never really felt unsafe, but the cultural norm of having armed security at mundane establishments brought a little perspective to how some non-Americans perceive concealed carry. The exterior appearance of homes invariably lacked ‘curb appeal’, but most of the stone work looked like it would have no problem standing firm long after vinyl siding on American homes demands replacement. I doubt there were many people I saw who had extensive investment portfolios or were planning trips to Club Med, but few seemed unhappy, and many seemed to be carrying on conversations with neighbors and ‘strangers’ in a way that seemed more foreign than the Spanish I inconsistently comprehended.

We complain about $5/gallon gasoline we’re currently experiencing in America, but a gallon cost about $4.40 while I was there, keeping in mind that the median income in the country is $2,500/year . Proportional to the median American income, such a number is analogous to paying $79/gallon at the pump. We listened to regular FM Radio, but even that was very different. Hispanic genres were played side-by-side with American top-40 tracks, and in addition to FCC rules not applying to broadcasts (thus making the term ‘clean edit’ an anachronism), commercials were far less frequent – I’ve heard more advertisements on Pandora than any radio station I heard there. This song was frequently played; hearing it already brings back memories. The beaches were beautiful, the mountainous terrain made travel slow but beautiful. While the food took a bit of getting used to, I’d love to have a Honduran breakfast again. Ironically, the drive-thru coffee shop seemed to have trouble making a cup of coffee with milk and sugar; I’d have to use the coffee beans I brought home before I was able to make coffee properly.

The weeks following the trip were difficult, not the least of which because the balmy 79°F days were a pleasant respite from the seemingly-interminable winter weather. I came home with some mixed emotions, which were cemented in the weeks thereafter. I like to say that I was the least successful person to find solace at the bottom of a bottle; a single 50mL pour of the 70-proof Honduran spirit took me three days to finish. While there was one instance I can recall that I’d describe as a “bad night”, I do thank the Lord for His divine protection. The emotional state was there for the beginnings of a battle I’d not like to wage. While I am certain I could have handled it better, it was His protection that prevented that stretch of time from becoming much, much worse. It took some time, but I’d say it was around the beginning of May that I think I managed to get myself back into the proper headspace. I was no longer attempting to suppress my feelings, nor did Bebe Rexha’s 2014 hit “Can’t Stop Drinking About You” resonate.

I wish I could sum up what I learned, but it’s strange because it’s not even particularly quantifiable. Maybe this is what “learning about yourself” is, but if it cannot be meaningfully articulated, does it even count as a ‘lesson’ or ‘learning’?

Maybe it’s a bit like this glass of rum itself. “palette”, “nose”, “mouthfeel”, “finish”…are just some of the words used to describe the flavor of spirits which I am unskilled in leveraging. I can’t meaningfully articulate what this rum tastes like in a way that will reliably impart the experience. However, it doesn’t mean that an experience wasn’t had, or that it isn’t valid. And as I finish consuming this last pour, I draw a line. I am grateful for the experience in all its messiness, having faith that despite the difficulties which stemmed from my adventure, an alternative outcome may not have ultimately panned out as it was envisioned. I look forward to what’s to come, whatever it may be.

Day 16: shopping and logistics

I’ll fill this out later…but we’re going to talk about the happiest child in Disney World right now…

This family of six comes into the restaurant we’re eating at tonight. The staff asks if they were celebrating anything special today. This little girl, who was *maybe* 3, has the biggest smile as she proclaims, “My adoption!!!” Absolute most adorable thing. It made me so happy.

Software Tribalism

Growing up, I did lyrics projection at my church. While I’m sure most of you are familiar with PowerPoint, there’s actually a cottage industry of software expressly catering to churches. Songshow Plus was one of the more popular titles for the task, with EasyWorship having its fans. Songbase and Sunday Plus had their niche fans, and it wasn’t long before ProPresenter gave everyone a run for their money.

But my allegiance was with Mediashout. It was an absolutely fantastic piece of software all around – easy to pick up for runners, while having plenty of buttons and knobs for people like me who enjoyed customizing scripts and slides to perfection. I started on version 2.5, then 3 was a massive improvement, and even 3.5 was a model service pack. The v4 interface took a little time to grow on me, but it ultimately was the peak. V5 regressed a bit with its removal of text labels and less-customizable layout, while v6 and v7 were total overhauls that seemed to focus on users of PowerPoint and ProPresenter at the expense of seasoned Mediashout veterans like myself. Seeing three consecutive regressions in usability, I decided to reach out and ask if I could buy a license for an older version. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it didn’t go well. I have fond memories of the glory days of Mediashout, but my inability to procure the good version has left me in a strange state of mind.

I should have no problem getting a copy of ProPresenter. But I can’t bring myself to do it. I got in countless forum battles with the ProPresenter users back in the day; getting a license is the ultimate admission of defeat…besides, if I wanted their Fisher Price UI centered around simplicity instead of raw power, that’s what my complaint is with the current version of Mediashout is, right? So, why wouldn’t I just get Mediashout?

I could get Songbase…it’s ancient, but that means it’s tightly coded and super stable, no doubt…right? Songshow is still solid and keeps its super powerful UI that still has a few niche functions Mediashout never got, so I should get that one! If I’m going to give up on Mediashout, shouldn’t I do so using a program that I would consider to be better?

Or…or…or…let’s take a bunch of steps back and ask some more fundamental questions…for example, why do I even care? I haven’t been in charge of projecting lyrics in nearly a decade. I don’t project lyrics personally…or much of anything else, for that matter. I don’t get up in front of audiences to give keynote addresses, and the handful I’ve done over the past five years, I’ve been served just fine with PowerPoint. …and even if I found myself in a scenario where I was going to do lyrics projection or even a video-centric presentation, the free, open source, cross-platform OpenLP is rock solid, effective, free, and wasn’t even close to being an option back in the year 2000 when i started.

There is clearly no reason whatsoever for me to consider buying or using any of these things…but I find myself loyal to Mediashout for no rational reason, nor for my own benefit, nor for the benefit of anyone around me. That’s not the sort of loyalty worth having. That’s not the sort of loyalty worth retaining. And it’s certainly not the sort of loyalty worth spending money to validate. It is tribalism. I am, apparently, from the tribe of Mediashout….and if there has ever been a sentence warranting introspection, it’s that one. It’s so depressing, it’s comical that I let my affinity for a software program I haven’t used in a decade live rent free in my head like this.

I’m leaving that tribe. If you’re in a tribe of some kind, make sure it’s a tribe you really want to be in.I’ll tell you this much: my tribe won’t miss me.

Stuck

I was scrolling through today’s Instagram stories from the handful of people I follow. Nothing surprising; my hairstylist friends posted hair styles, half of them posted photos of their kids, the one getting married posted a photo with her fiancee, my politically-oriented friends posted their political memes, and my DJ friends posted their decks and their crowds.

What struck me, however, was how basically everyone had some sort of effect. There was glitter, there were song lyrics, there were animated stickers and skin smoothing makeup filters. I’ve never used any of these. Part of the reason is that many of these functions are only available on the “stories” interface. I’ve already established that I have trouble with transient photo taking…as far as I’m concerned, if it’s worth photographing, it’s worth keeping the photo for longer than a day.

But that’s what hit me: how few photo-deserving things I do anymore. There are eleven photos between my most recent one and the one I posted from Bermuda nearly two years ago. Only a dozen more before the first photo of my most recent Origin laptop; itself nearly four years old.

Now, I’m not saying that one’s life should be defined by one’s Instagram…far from it. I’m not saying that I’m basing any level of my happiness with my life on a comparison with people who have more photos. Some people have lifestyles that naturally lend themselves to photographing, and I’m happy for them. No, the point of this blog post is me lamenting the fact that I’ve never used the fun toys in Instagram or Snapchat because I’ve never been there. I’ve never been in the sort of situation where I felt like the situation justified trying those things out.

There are a handful of photos on my Instagram that have been edited, but that’s from when photo editing on Instagram was limited to a handful of color filters (“Valencia”, anyone?), while more elaborate effects remained the purview of Pixlr and PicSay. Perhaps this is the result of spending my adolescence in an era when cameras, computers, and sharing solutions were three different things. Maybe I can place the blame on the applications who limit these functions. Maybe I can split the difference and chalk it up to these features catering to those who perceive transient photo sharing as a hobby in itself, while I’m still hopelessly stuck viewing photography as documentation.

Perhaps, instead, the issue isn’t technical. Maybe I don’t post Snaps on Snapchat or Stories on Facebook or Instagram because I feel a need to be sufficiently entertaining to my followers, as if I am tasked with being entertaining for my dozen friends on Snapchat or 130ish Instagram followers, failing if I make merely a “meh” post. I can simultaneously have the awareness that “likes” aren’t reflective of social acceptance and also remember feeling negative emotions when I tried the “ask me a question” box and got zero responses. My noggin is aware that there are zero instances where Instagram is a positive basis for anything, yet “lizard brain” seems to distort all of it.

As I sit at an airport right now, waiting for a passenger to arrive, I wonder what would happen if I made the most random transient photos – Wiz Kalifah thumping over a photo of the tarmac and concrete barricades, maybe a close-up of the carpet I vacuumed today with an animated sticker, or a mirror selfie that focuses on my hand holding up a towel with ooglie eyes until I can fool the facial recognition to let me make the towel look like a sheep. Maybe this is the way to handle the lizard brain – intentionally mess with people’s stories until they either get the joke or unfollow me, rinse and repeat until lizard brain figures out that the entire point of such an exercise is self-awareness, rather than self-centeredness.

Everyplate: What I like and what I don’t

About two months ago, a Facebook friend said they had a voucher to get a free box from EveryPlate. I took him up on it, and I’ve stuck with it thus far. Every Friday, I get a box with enough ingredients to make three different meals, with approximately two servings per meal. I pay about $38 per box, shipped.

It’s important to know what one is paying for, and what one isn’t. If you’re looking at it as a replacement for grocery shopping or grocery deliveries…yeah, you’re going to be unhappy, because there is maybe $12 in groceries each box. By that metric, it’s definitely overpriced and you won’t be happy. If you’re looking for something that’s one step above TV Dinners, where the instructions are “throw this half in a pot, wait ten minutes, throw that half into the pot, wait two minutes and eat”, yeah, you’re not going to like it, either. You’ll still be washing and peeling, dicing and mixing: vegetables are delivered whole. So, with those disclaimers in mind, here’s what I like, and what I don’t…

Like: New Recipes.

I’ve been cooking for quite some time, and while I can do a good amount of cooking, I like being exposed to new recipes. I’ve got a folder full of things I’ve saved from Facebook that seem amazing, but I’ve never tried them. I haven’t loved, ehm, every plate, but being exposed to different food combinations is already a positive experience. The fact that I have a box full of stuff that will spoil if I don’t cook them gives me a reason to prioritize cooking them.

Dislike: Recipes are a bit confusing.

This may well be a personal preference, but I am not a fan of how the recipes are written. Now, to be fair, after doing a few, I see that they are indeed written to optimize for all components of the meal to be finished cooking at the same time. This is very understandable as an outcome, but the process ends up being very confusing. This makes it difficult to assess what things to substitute.

For example, one recipe had me preheating my oven to 425F…to toast two rolls. I could have done this in the toaster oven, but it wasn’t clear until three steps later that that’s all I was doing.

In another scenario, a single step involved mixing two separate things in two separate bowls…but the fact that it was two bowls was super unclear until several steps later when only a subset of the ingredients was referenced.

Overall, the recipes are clearly written in such a way that they fit in a very specific amount of space, as the recipe cards are attractively designed and obviously intended to be kept. I can appreciate wanting an attractive layout, but the number of times I had to read the same paragraph four times to figure out all six actions in that single ‘step’ is the sort of thing that makes it clear that EveryPlate optimizes for form over function.

Like: Variety

EveryPlate gives me the ability to order three new recipes every week. I can re-order things I’ve had already if I want, but the ability to try new things is part of the draw. While there are premium ‘plates’ that have more expensive cuts of beef or some such, there are always enough bundled options to ensure that my box always has something new.

Dislike: Portion Sizes

I’m one dude. This works out well, because I can almost finish both servings of a meal by myself. Some have this issue more egregious than others; some I’ve genuinely had to come back to in order to finish everything, others I’ve eaten something else after I’ve eaten all the EvetyPlate things. Perhaps it’s a bit healthier to eat a bit less each meal, and that’s fine…but I feel like there’s a happy medium between what EveryPlate ships and “the appetizers at Applebee’s which are two meals by themselves”.

Like: What Ships

The boxes come with insulating wrap and three ice packs, all of which are reusable. If you have a cat, I am certain the box is the perfect size for your cat. I’ve had the box sit outside for six hours and the ice is still solid. It’s a well done shipping solution.

Likewise, the produce is always fresh. Every pepper is clean, every tomato is perfectly red. Meat and poultry is shipped in thick, vacuum-packed plastic. It lasts for days in the refrigerator, and is always cleaned beforehand.

Dislike: Sometimes…What Ships

If you grew up in a similar household to me, you know that garlic is measured with your heart, not your measuring cup. If two recipes call for half a bulb of garlic, I get one bulb of garlic. My dude…first off, not every clove is fit to cut and chop; you can’t assume that. Second, if a recipe calls for three cloves of finely chopped garlic, it needs five. I have run out of garlic every single time I get a box. It’s cheap, but if you’re going to be that way about it, at least give me the option to add an extra bulb the way I can add extra chicken.

One recipe I had gave me the option to pickle an onion using lime juice. This seemed interesting, but I got a single, tiny lime whose juice could barely wet the bottom of the bowl. I made it work, but again, I feel like a second lime could have been helpful since not every lime juices the same.

Like I said in the beginning, it’s maybe $12 in groceries. I feel like ‘just a bit extra’ would make me feel far happier with what I receive every Friday.

Like: Habits

This certainly isn’t the sort of thing that EveryPlate explicitly sells, but EveryPlate has given me motivation to cook instead of grabbing Chipotle on the way home. Even assuming I eat both ‘servings’ and the amount ends up being $12/meal, it’s not out of line with what a barbacoa bowl ends up costing. I have done other shopping in terms of making things a bit differently than I used to, and recognize more things I can potentially make. This is helping me improve some overall habits I’ve had for some time.

Dislike: Dishes

Many of the things I cook are optimized for a single pan, a cutting board, and maybe three utensils. I hate dishes. EveryPlate meals seem to assume I have a dishwasher, apparently. It’s common for a meal to involve a frying pan, a pot, a baking pan, a cutting board, two bowls, and five utensils, in addition to the actual forks and plates used for consumption. There’s a sink full of dishes after I finish, and it’d be far easier to not-mind them if the recipes had time for simmering or something similar where I could wash dishes in between…but alas, they do not.

So, that’s my summary of being an EveryPlate subscriber. Will I keep it for now? Yeah, probably. Will I keep it for a year? Ehhh…jury’s out. We’ll see.

Parenting

Tonight, I had trouble sleeping. Partially because I had four cups of coffee today, the most recent was around 9. It’s almost 2, and I’m still up. I just finished watching this week’s episode of The Rookie. The protagonist had his son going into open heart surgery.

A client at work called me today. Their server has just enough extra CPU activity to cause more noise than they’re used to. Everything looks fine, but I just checked it again to see if there were any signs of ransomware.

I’ve joked around in the past that “my networks are my children”. Maybe I’m just oversensitive, but I’m worried. Irrationally so, most likely. Somewhat like a parent has that underlying worry about the well-being of their children.

If this is what being a parent is like, even a little bit, then I seem to have a hard time believing it’s something I would want. I wish it wasn’t so terrifying.

Journeyman: My headcanon for the remainder of the series

Journeyman was a series that debuted alongside Chuck and Heroes back in 2007 on NBC. Its late time slot, low marketing push, and coincidental timing with the WGA strike of 2007 meant that the show was destined to be canceled after just thirteen episodes. However, having re-watched the series, I thought through how I would make the series continue, had it been up to me. If you haven’t seen the show, go watch it, because reading this blog post won’t make much sense.

 

Creator Kevin Falls indicated that the ‘back nine’ episodes of Season 1 would include a few notable things: Katie and Zach living elsewhere for a while, and Dan and Jack becoming roommates. Olivia was going to die in episode 20, with Dan bringing her back in episode 21. This would, however, mean that Dan lost Katie and Zach, with no idea how to get them back. Since he’s the creator of the series, we’ll go with that, and pick up with that in Season 2.

We start Season 2 with Dan hitting the bottle, hard. Jack tries to give him some moral support, but is simply unable to console him – he doesn’t even remember Katie. Olivia travels forward in time again, and joins Dan in being upset, as she has found out that Henry died storming the beaches of Normandy. They read Evan’s journal and read how many things could have happened, had Evan not intervened…and they decide to work through their grief and continue traveling. They end up traveling together to the past to help someone, and end up being successful, and they part ways and go back to their own time.

The next episode involves Dan getting let go from the paper. Hugh feels bad about it, but more cuts means that it’s just been impossible for Hugh to keep covering for him. Dan travels to the past, and his job is to win the lottery…just enough money to sit in a bank and compound some interest, so that he can spend the rest of the show living off the interest of his winnings when he returns to the present. In this episode, Theresa has her baby. The episode ends with Dan running into an elderly Olivia.

In Episode 3, Dan and elderly Olivia interact for a bit. She tells him a few stories regarding what else she learned over the course of her life, though she laments that the last time she and Dan interacted before then was the time she needed to go on. However, on this visit, the two of them go on one last mission together to get Katie back. They are successful, but they both return to the present. Katie and Zach are back, remembering everything. Katie and Olivia see each other and speak briefly, but then, Olivia dies.

Episode 4 begins with Olivia’s funeral, where Dan meets one of Olivia’s siblings. Dan then tells him about Olivia’s life and her traveling to the future and so forth; he shares details about Olivia’s life in the past. Dan travels back to help somebody and does his thing. The episode ends with Theresa traveling for the first time.

In an echo to Olivia’s direction of travel, Theresa only travels to the future. In an inverse symmetry to Dan and Olivia who only interact when Olivia is on a mission, Dan and Theresa only interact between missions, giving her advice for the next one. In episode 5, Jack and Katie bond over their feelings of helplessness while their respective spouses are on-mission, while Dan and Theresa get closer over their experiences as time travelers. Nobody cheats on anybody, but throughout the series these dynamics come up from time to time. We don’t see Theresa’s missions to the future; we only hear about them through dialog.

Throughout the rest of the season, those are the major ingredients that drive the plot: Dan goes on his missions,  Theresa on hers, sometimes they are linked and Dan’s job is to give info to Theresa or vice versa, Katie and Jack decide that the six of them should share living space to help each other out during mission times. Over the next several episodes, this all settles in, but toward the end, Olivia’s sibling tries to go public with his sister’s story, which garners the sort of attention Elliot Langley warns them about. Langley meets up with Dan to give him a flash drive with all of the information he’s compiled, and burns everything else. Langley dies enabling Dan to escape. The season finale ends with Dan, Katie, and Zach huddled together, and Jack, Theresa, and the baby huddled as well. Dan’s family all travels to the past, while Jack’s family moves to the future.

Season 3 involves the usual set of missions, but with a ‘new present’ to which they return. Each side works to deal with the shift; Zach grows up as an 80’s kid while Jack’s child ends up beginning her life in 2030. A few attempts are made to make contact between the families, but Dan isn’t terribly successful. A slightly-younger Langley runs into Dan, who in turn helps him try to communicate with his brother. Through something reminiscent of Frequency, Langley conjures up a radio device that allows Jack and Dan to communicate through time – one of Dan’s eventual missions involves getting the plans to a protege of Langley’s who will eventually meet up with Jack and make this possible. Between the two of them, they are able to figure out a way to find enough leverage to keep the ‘powerful people’ at bay, at which point both return home to the present. One idea I had for this was that they demonstrate the power to cause some sort of tragedy and they deal with the possibility of having to become de facto terrorists to survive. Another idea would be a full-blown underground/off-grid lifestyle, though the need for money and resources to research their mission targets becomes a problem.

Season 4 is the last season, and Dan and Theresa continue their missions as usual, in their ‘new normal’ of a house of six, living off Dan’s lottery winnings, helping people here-and-there. In some cases, they run into people who were mission subjects in the past who remember them. The season ends with Dan and Theresa meeting God, as played by Morgan Freeman, who informs them that this is a calling, and that it is all orchestrated in this way because our lives are a matter of one interaction – one missed elevator or one bad day at work is all it takes to alter someone’s life, and they are proof of that. Dan and Theresa, and Olivia and Evan (both of whom are present, along with a number of extras from earlier points in time) are God’s way of helping humanity be its best.

So, that’s how I’m figuring Journeyman would go.

Am I insulating myself?

I continue to use my phone without Google services, and I like it. I finally feel free. But now I’ve started to wonder.

I remember watching “The Matrix” for the first time back when I was 15 or so…and I remember thinking about the nature of what motivated the characters and why. “Freedom” is a word that gets thrown around alot, but there is a part of me that, even back then, seemed to resonate with Cypher, the one who negotiated with Agent Smith to get plugged back into The Matrix in exchange for giving up Morpheus. Now sure, the betrayal part wasn’t cool, but wanting to get plugged back into The Matrix? That made a whole lot of sense to me.

Cypher was having a steak dinner. Not really, but it was real to him. What was everyone else having? One nutritional supplement. That’s it. For the rest of your life. Neo found love in Trinity, but Morpheus never did. If Cypher was looking for female companionship, there were no options on the ship after Switch died. They spent their days constantly on the run from the Sentinels, they never saw daylight, there was nothing they got to truly own…the list of drawbacks continues, while the list of advantages of not-being in The Matrix doesn’t. We root for Morpheus and Neo and Trinity because they’re fighting the good fight…but in practice, was Cypher really so off base for wanting to live out his life back in The Matrix? I don’t think so.

It’s been about a month since I’ve been using this phone completely Google-free. I can take pictures, but not nearly as good as the photos I can get using the Camera app from OnePlus. SwiftKey is still inferior to Swype. Visual Voicemail barely works. Frost, my Facebook replacement, acts strange and has trouble loading pictures sometimes. I can’t be sure that it’s truly software related, but my 5G performance is generally worse than LTE…and that’s just the things I know.

I don’t use TikTok.
I don’t use Craigslist.
I don’t use Snapchat.
I don’t use  Youtube (except in a browser).
I don’t use SoundCloud.
I don’t use Twitch.
I don’t use Office.
I don’t use a Fitbit or other fitness band.
I don’t use Teams or Slack or Monday.
I don’t use CashApp or Zelle…though I do use Venmo and it works.
I dont use Discord.
I dont use Spotify.
I don’t use Pinterest.
I don’t use Walmart or Target or pretty much any shopping apps.
I don’t use Google Docs or do much in the way of document editing on my phone, unless you count this blog.
I don’t use Uber Eats or Doordash or pretty much any food ordering app.
I don’t use Alexa or Google Assistant or Siri.
I don’t use Ring or a security DVR.
I don’t use Neighborhood or Next door or Everyblock.


The list goes on and on…and I’m starting to wonder if the experiences I eschew to spend my days on a command line on my desktop are worth it. People are finding things they like, buying and selling things amongst local people, ordering new foods, chatting with the people it’s been a social taboo to meet, and I’m sure there are hundreds of other things that mobile apps are doing, but I’m not.


There is most definitely a part of me that feels a bit like Ariel… Wanting to be where the people are and finding myself  wondering if my aversion to echo chambers and endless online accounts means that I have simply made an echo chamber of my own. I sit, wondering whether the nuance of the liberty I feel is a technicality in that I spent a massive amount of time and effort to simply custom build my own prison.

Google collects a metric truckton of data from everyone, and yet, the world turns. Nobody else gets concerned if Google has all their contacts; nobody in my contacts list isn’t in someone else’s phone that is uploaded. My texts are synced on someone else’s phone, and even if my location is only partially traceable based on the amount of disabling I have implemented, my work phone remains on my person with far fewer limitations.

Why am I fighting this battle? What am I fighting for? “because I can”? Because I’m somehow sticking it to “Big Tech”? Because I’m worried about my data being accumulated and monetized while also using Facebook and doing nearly all my shopping with a credit card?

Maybe all of this effort is just me spiting myself. If Google turns on the billion people that already have Android phones and somewhat-consensually sync all their data, then I’m very unlikely to be “spared” from whatever happens. I’ve got friends who expressly opt into giving Google data in pretty much every possible way… And they seem happy.

Betrayal aside, maybe Cypher was right: the steak he ate wasn’t real, but the experience of eating it was, and it was an experience he could have inside The Matrix that he would never experience as long as he was “free”. Maybe my quest for a Google-free phone is little more than a quixotic waste of time, and I’d achieve greater happiness by going back to the phone’s original software from the manufacturer, leaving my phone modding days in the golden age of the HTC HD2 or Galaxy S3.

Or maybe, freedom is ownership…and even if “freedom” boils down to constructing my own prison, at least it’s mine.