And that's the least of it. Heaton refers to his style as "extreme telecommuting." It all began in 1994 when he met his future wife, who was about to go to grad school in Seattle. Heaton quit his job - but was offered it back a week later as a telecommuter. Since then, he has pushed his mobility to the max. He and his wife once lived out of a Volkswagen camper for three months while touring the United States and Canada. Then they went to Europe for a year - his wife was studying art - where Heaton continued to telecommute. (He says Italian bidets are better designed than many Italian phone systems.) The couple managed to live in five different countries while she learned about painting and he learned about pay phones, cybercafes, and international electrical adapters. Now the Heatons live in a house in the Sierra Nevadas "with a great view of the forest."

All of this is made possible by the fact that Heaton's job "is fairly nonsensitive to immediate crises." He works for a Silicon Valley manufacturer of computer security products, writing instructional tutorials, help files, and technical manuals. "The deadline for me to deliver is usually three months, and during that time there isn't a need for a lot of contact," he explains. So, some days he works like a maniac. And other days he goes fishing - or to the museum in Bilbao.

Much of Heaton's interaction during the product documentation cycle
is actually with other telecommuters. "There's a guy in New Jersey I've worked with for five years, although we've never 'met' - he's an engineer who develops products that I document. I talk to him on the phone maybe twice a week and by e-mail once a day." Although most of the employees of his firm work at the home office, he explains, "the job market in the Bay Area is competitive, and letting people telecommute is good business."