I came face to face with my mortality a few weeks ago.
No, not a life threatening situation, but reality that I simply can't do the things that I used to be able to do.
About three weeks ago, I finally go my first pair of bifocals. At 44, I'm maybe slightly on the young side for them, but I'd gotten annoyed enough at having to take off my glasses to read close up that I decided to go for them. They do take some getting used to, especially when I was accustomed to looking out of the corner of my eye at things and I find I can no longer do that with bifocals (the distortion really messes with your head).
However, that wasn't the source of my frustration.
No, it had to do with the Kindle Fire.
Apparently our Fire, which is out of warranty, is one of those that have USB port problems; the USB port is loose and/or disconnected from the motherboard, and the Fire becomes impossible to recharge. It's apparently a common enough problem out there, and given my background in electronics, I figured it was one I could easily fix.
I removed the cover and removed the motherboard to find that yes indeed, the USB port had a few issues. When you're holding the motherboard and the port is sitting there on the kitchen table, you know it wasn't connected well. The USB port has five data pins that are soldered to the motherboard, and the port itself has two other pins that were to be soldered to the motherboard to act as support. What I observed, however, was that the two support pins weren't soldered properly to the motherboard, meaning that the entire weight of the port was borne by the 5 data pins, something that they were not meant to handle. Three of the pins weren't soldered well at all either, and popped out from their solder joint completely. The other two pins had snapped in two, half in the solder and half on the port.
Looking at things, I felt that I could possibly fix it, I'd just need to make sure things were soldered properly. But I didn't reckon that my eyes had different ideas.
I simply couldn't focus in on the details that I needed to see to get the job done. It's not like I couldn't hold my hand still to perform the soldering, but my eyes wouldn't focus. I'm nearsighted, so I'm used to not seeing anything far away, but close up like this had never been a problem before. Now, suddenly, it was. Even a magnifying glass couldn't help very much.
Frustration set in. Unlike, say, other forms of physical labor that could be corrected my exercising more --like working on the deck with heavy beams-- this is strictly a limitation due to my eyes aging. I was able to solder things back together, but after reinstalling the motherboard I couldn't get the port to work properly.
I'm sure that if I had a replacement USB port, and if this were even 5 years ago, I could have fixed the Fire without a problem. But now it is simply beyond my skill to repair. It's a hard thing to accept, particularly since this summer I'd replaced a toilet, a faucet, and built and installed a window box. But one of the things I loved, puttering around electronics, is starting to recede from me.