My Portable Office

Some days, I really feel like I’m living in the future.

In May last year I went looking for a new back to replace my Czech map case. I like the case — it had a lot of character — but I wanted something that would be able to carry a three-ring binder. I looked at some messenger bags and a few other options in stores, but nothing really struck the right balance with me. I poked around on Amazon for a while, and ultimately decided to pick up the M-51 Engineer’s Field bag (pictured at right).

I pretty much fell in love with this thing as soon as I got it. While it didn’t have a couple of specific pockets I was looking for (basically a moderately-sized pocket with a flap to dump loose stuff in), there’s so much else that’s perfect with this bag that I can’t imagine going without it.

But what really struck me recently was how much technology has evolved to be more portable and more powerful, making the idea of "bag as portable office" very real. I was prepared to spend an afternoon in a car dealership today[1], and it was comforting to know that I could continue to do quite a bit of my work with just the contents of my bag (and even more if I can find a wi-fi network connection). Let’s take a look at what I’ve had in my bag today to demonstrate.

Front Flap Outside Pocket: Cords for my netbook.

Front Flap Inside Pocket: Character sheet for my Requiem LARP character (Vitya).

Back Outside Pocket: Netbook (inside of a soft sleeve to absorb minor shocks) — I’ll do a separate entry on my netbook setup in future.

Left Side Pocket: Business card case with a small stack of my business cards; 80GB iPod Video mostly full with podcasts, audiobooks, and music.

Right Side Pocket: iPod sync cable; iPhone earbuds; Sony retractable clip-on headphones.

Inside Left Pocket: Drawstring bag with complete set of polyhedral dice; small tube of 0.7 pencil lead for my mechanical pencils; 1GB flash drive; eraser; outlet converter for sync cable (so I can plug my iPhone into a wall to recharge it).

Inside Right Pocket: Red pen; black pen; two mechanical pencils; Sharpie marker; green highlighter; deck of playing cards; Flip MinoHD.

Inside Bottom Pocket: My moleskine notebook.

Inside Main Pocket: Two short stories I really should revise; my D&D character sheet; two character sheets from my Mutant Future game; two manuscripts from work that I’m working on; my Mazda’s owner’s manual; the first three "John Carter of Mars" novels.

That’s a complete set of writing tools, a library of books and RPGs, a rudimentary recording studio (audio and video), and materials for most of the regular games I play all in one bag.

And that’s not even counting what my fucking phone can do.

[Footnote 1] Long story short, my car’s engine chose today to go "You know what? Fuck this. I’m done" and quit. I thought I was going to have to drive it in, but even that was too difficult, so it had to be towed in and Michelle had to come get me. But that’s why I was preparing to work from a car dealership.

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