My Dad turns 81 in May and we manage to have coffee together 3 or 4 times a week. He lives in Calgary and I live in Victoria.
Dad and his lovely wife, Ida bought a laptop about 3 years ago. I had great visions of being connected via email. It just didn’t pan out. The computer turned out to be intimidating and there were too many steps and processes for my Dad to regularly and comfortably reach their email account. Then there was the unmitigated joy of typing to contend with. Dad’s verdict was, “Let’s stick with the phone.”
We chatted about the joys and benefits of lifelong learning, or to be totally honest and accurate, I expounded on those benefits. My dad’s response was, “ I don’t think the Flames will get past the first round of the playoffs this year.” I smiled ruefully and agreed to continue regular phone contact.
Shortly after that visit to Calgary, I purchased a new Macbook and discovered iChat. I was amazed and delighted to be able to videoconference with fellow Mac owners. Admittedly, I never viewed the phone as a tool for meaningful dialogue. I primarily used it as a tool for short conversations and to set up meetings. I enjoy eye contact and seeing each other’s facial expressions and have always viewed the phone as a limited communication tool.
iChat worked well with other Mac owners, but many other people in my life used PCs. Then I discovered Skype! All that was required was a quick and easy download and a camera for each computer and voila, free video calls with family and friends. Shortly after the Skype revelation, I decided to suggest using this technology with 2 people I was coaching in Vancouver. I was going over there on a biweekly basis and brought up the notion of video conferencing as both an experiment and a cost-cutting measure. It was a very positive outcome in both cases and a new component was added to my small coaching practice.
On my next trip to Calgary, we purchased a camera for Dad and Ida’s Toshiba and right in the kitchen of their condo, Dad and I had our first Skype call together.
We both enjoy our morning coffees together and face-to-face discussions about the Flames, Stephen Harper, the general state of the world and who presently has the most grey hair. I lead in that category, but he has a considerable pink component up top.