Tuesday, December 06, 2005


My sister Becky has lived in the Middle East for about 14 years. Ever since we were little we have had this desperate need to talk with each other. This was easy for the 17 years or so that we slept in the same bed, but after that things got harder, especially when she moved overseas.

Phone calls have always been possible but expensive, up to $2.00 a minute. We only called on each other's birthdays, or when one of us had a baby, or when her life was in danger from a civil war. So for years we wrote letters, with a two to four week delay between letter and reply.

Then about 9 or 10 years ago we got our first modem and Becky got her first fax machine. The first real fax came through in the middle of the night. For some reason it came through on the computer, upside down, and we ended up turning the whole monitor upside down to read it. But it was still a thrilling experience.

Then we both got email. First it was unreliable but gradually it became dependable, and indispensible. Our empathetic emails got us through many a crisis.

And then came Skype. It's a program that was invented in Luxumbourg or somewhere and lets you talk over the internet. At two specified times a week, I sit down, plug in a headset, and click on the little green phone on my screen. If I'm lucky, she answers on the other end and we can actually visit.

There are still some bugs with the system, such as a half-minute delay which means that I rattle on for a while, then I stop and tell her to talk, so she rattles on for a while. Pretty hard for sisters that are used to listening with all kinds of affirming noises (mm-hmmm, really?, oh dear, hahahahaha, tsk tsk). And this morning we simply couldn't connect. I kept hearing what sounded like a loud tractor on my end.

If Skype keeps improving like faxes and email did, in a few years we can sit down and chat on the phone like we live across town from each other rather than across the globe. Yesss!

Quote of the Day:
"Is there any penalty if I make the kitty throw up?"
--Matt, about Emily's new kitty that she rescued from under the oil tank the other day


  1. Have you tried the new Yahoo Messenger with Voice? My sister has tried it and it worked on her end. Our only problem is that I don't have a mic but I could hear her just fine.

  2. yahoo messenger with voice is wonderful

  3. I'll have to see if the computer guys around here can set up Yahoo Messenger for me.