In Which I Join You In the 21st Century


I have a confession to make. Compared to most GeekDads, I’m kind of a Luddite. I don’t have a video game console, or a TV to plug it into. I play games with cards and boards, not on the computer. My pets are biological, not robotic. Heck, I don’t even have a microwave. It’s not that I’m opposed to technology, of course, it just tends to get in the way of my life and family.

So I felt odd having a "2001" technology moment this month.


You know the scene, that videophone call Heywood Floyd makes to his daughter back on Earth. It never made sense to me: he steps off a frickin’ spaceplane onto a frickin’ space station on his way to the frickin’ Moon, and the first thing he does is hop into a phone booth to have a chat with a nearly-incoherent five-year-old who doesn’t care about what he’s doing as long as he brings back a present. ("Way to move the plot along," I always thought, followed by, "What’s a bush baby?")

And now I get it, because I’ve done the same thing. Well, substitute a city bus for the spaceplane and my kitchen for the orbiting Hilton, but the rest is spot on. See, the Geeklet and Mrs. Geek are visiting friends for the entire month of August, and due to a bit of bad planning I won’t be joining them until the very end of their trip. I call every day, but to the Geeklet phones are just instruments for saying "Hello" and "Goodbye" to disembodied voices with familiar names. After a few days, he refused to talk to me at all. So I reluctantly did what any GeekDad probably would have started with: I set up a video chat.

VideochatVideochatIt worked immediately; he was fascinated. It was novel. It was exciting. And best of all, it was really me. I wasn’t some crazy voice to be awkward with, I was on the other side of a window. He asks to see the same list of things each call: each cat in turn, my "purring phone", selected stuffed animals, and "Daddy on the Moon". (Yes, I’m using iChat.) He even asks if anyone is visiting me, on the off chance there might be someone more interesting than Daddy around.

We don’t really talk about anything much, but that’s not the point. He sees me, and he looks forward to seeing me the next day. That’s priceless, and it required every bit of the technology in hand to make it happen. Now if we could just get decent Internet bandwidth in the US like the rest of the world, I could (reliably) do a two-way chat. But that’s a rant for another day.

How has technology helped you be a better GeekDad, or even just a better dad?

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