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Current location: Apartment, Boquete, Panama

08.01.11

Price of beer in a bar: US$0.75 at “Tika’s” down the street
Song currently stuck in my head: Joyride (Roxette)

Right off the bat, this exists.  “Singapore” is shooting a little high, I think, but I understand the basis for comparison.

The Girlfriend and I continue to while away the hours here in John Wayne’s favorite mountain retreat.  Netflix announced that they’re expanding their streaming service to include a lot of Latin America.  That would excite me more except 1) I run Linux, which Netflix does not run on unless you buy special hardware and 2) I’ll probably be back in The States by the time the service gets rolled out.  I’ve heard of people proxying into the US in order to receive Netflix internationally, but you might end up paying for the proxy service on top of Netflix, and at that point you might has well just look for a guy on the corner with a duffel bag of pirate discs.  His selection won’t be as good, but at least the quality will be horrible and the diaglog will be dubbed in Spanish… wait, that didn’t really come together like I’d planned.

Netflix works well into the larger digitization of my life.  I’m old enough to have used answering machines, cassette tapes, Laser discs, paper books, and magazine-based pornography.  I’m smart enough to have almost none of those things now.  I ditched my CDs for MP3 in 1998, about as early as possible.  My friends used to protest that they could never make that switch because they needed “something to hold”.  Now they’re music is all on a hard drive (or 3) and they make the same protests about paper books.  I’ve never felt more free than when I divested myself of the contents of my bookcase just before we left for this trip.  I found digital copies of many of the more popular books and comforted myself knowing that if I ever need a copy of Blood Letters and Bad Men, half.com had me covered.  I’ll miss having those books, but they were just decoration.  I didn’t use them for anything.  Collectively they were by far the heaviest thing I owned and had been hauled up far more stairs and truck ramps than they should have.  In the end, they weren’t earning their keep; they were just beautiful clutter.

After the books went there was no sentimentality left.  Everything else made of paper was either trash or something to be converted to PDF (and then trash).  This allows me a level of mobility that I had previously only dreamed of.  I have a solid collection of movies, music and books with me and I haven’t added an ounce to my pack (or my next moving van or attic or what have you).  I ditched the phone years ago and went with skype (using the “phone number,” “skype out,” and voicemail services).   I used to own a TV but it got muscled out by the computer monitor and a TV tuner card long ago and I ended up just giving it away.  I can’t even figure out what stereos are for anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, I use an amp, but I stare at all the buttons on a Sony head unit and can’t figure out why you’d need a big, hot dedicated box for these functions.  Are they for people who don’t have computers?

I’m always amazed when I meet expats that complain about the lack of English language books available in their area, but when I ask if they’ve thought about getting an ereader they don’t know what I’m talking about.  Bruce Schneier calls the internet “The biggest generation gap since rock and roll.”  It’s hard to disagree  and it’s often baffling since I’m right on the cusp of that gap myself.

Digitizing as much stuff as possible scares a lot of people, but with cheap media and/or online backup services it shouldn’t.  Personally I try to keep the bulk of my data backed up to two addresses (preferably in different towns).  That should protect against fire or burglar as well as more mundane threats such as beverages.

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2 Responses to “Current location: Apartment, Boquete, Panama”

  1. oldsalt1942 Says:

    Hooray for the digital revolution! When I decided to move to Panama I was confronted with the decision of what to do with so much “stuff.” Did I really want to lug it around with me any more? The answer was a resounding NO!

    I spent hours digitizing my photo collection and then backing it up on CDs, dedicated thumb drives and a remote hard drive.

    Books? Damn but I love to read, but like you said, they’re heavy and bulky, too. For years I’d lived on boats where space was limited so I frequented used book stores where I could get credits for returned books and thus kept my inventory down. But when I was ready to move I still found I had three boxes of books. The used book store wouldn’t buy them so I simply put them out on the front lawn where I’d been staying and they were gone within an hour. I brought exactly NINE books with me to Panama.

    I haven’t bought an e-reader yet but I have the Kindle for PC app on my notebook and that works for the moment. I also subscribe to Audible.com and have dozens of books on my iPod. I listen to those when I’m riding the bus to and from David to Potrerillos Arriba.

    And the iPod is filled with nearly 3,000 songs as well. When Napster was going strong and free I downloaded a ton of music and I still have those CDs tucked away as backup.

    So, pretty much all of my entertainment needs are fulfilled digitally.


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