Lightening the load

So last week during the April heat wave – which doesn’t leave me sanguine about summer – I walked by the Old Knickerbocker Tobacco Company in Menlo Park, close to the train station and in back of the British Bankers Club. It was about 95 degrees outside, and as soon as I walked in, it was 70 degrees and the air was thick with the scent of stacked cured tobacco…and if I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine I was back in the old shop in DC where I spent so many hours getting educated in finance and politics and army pranks. And smoking, of course.

Obviously, living in California, I barely smoke anymore – there’s nowhere TO smoke except in your own house (fat chance of the wife signing off on that) or out in a field somewhere (good luck finding THAT) or in your car (not since Danny went to his reward after 200K+ faithful miles). But in retrospect, one of the biggest benefits of not smoking the pipe on a routine basis has been that I don’t have to carry around all the S that goes with smoking a pipe. You have to have a pipe (duh), some tobacco (duh), a source of flame (ideally a Zippo), some sort of tool to knock out the dottle and ideally at least one or two pipe cleaners. Not a small amount of accoutrement.

To make matters worse, back in the old days, not only did I carry all that but I also packed a cell phone, a pager, an iPod, a Leatherman or Swiss Army Cybertool, and occasionally even a PDA of some sort. Adds up to quite the heavy load, especially if you don’t have the Dockers with the concealed extra pockets. For me, that was the pull of the smartphone – and now, people as far-flung as DJs in London acknowledge that if you didn’t have an iPhone, you’d need to go everywhere carrying a phone, an iPod, a camera, a laptop, a beeper and a pint of beer.*

All this leads me back to the notion of cloud computing, which is damn near a necessity if you’re really going to live the digital nomad lifestyle. There’s nowhere to keep all your stuff on most netbooks – certainly not on your smartphone – so some sort of secure online storage with browser-based editing tools becomes essential if you really want to live light and go anywhere. Given that I’m about to go over to a new work laptop full-time, but don’t want to have my personal stuff stored on there (or taking up space in my work backup), having things safely cloud-based has become more important. Of course, when your iTunes folder is 104 GB, online storage suddenly becomes a hell of a lot less practical…

* You know damn well you downloaded the iPint app, don’t front.

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