Editor's Note: A portal to faraway lands

Richard Wiens, The Triplicate

I came home from work Tuesday evening and walked into the middle of a miracle.

Laura was at the computer, peeking through a portal to Colorado Springs where our 7-month-old grandson was getting a bath, in real time, right then, cooing and splashing the water.

Not only could we see the sights and hear the sounds, when we piped up with grandparental input, Aiden looked up at us!

Later, dried off and sleeper-clad, he crawled across the living room

carpet straight at us as we spouted encouragement. Just as it seemed

he'd burst through the computer screen, his father pulled him back so

the journey could be repeated until he raised a little hand to his face

in an age-old gesture of tiredness.

Aiden graced us with smiles, scowls and bemusement. Who were those

noisy talking heads? Through it all, we conversed with his parents as if

we were all in the same room.

I realize I'm at no risk of laceration from the cutting edge of

techandshy;nology. People have been video-conferencing, or "Skyandshy;ping," for

years. Laura and I finally got around to picking up a $25 video camera

and downloading the software to get in on the action - belatedly, as

usual.

Heck, even Publisher Michele makes regular cyber-appointments to

visit with her granddaughter in Salem. Now that Laura and I are

empowered to practically transport ourselves, you can bet we'll soon be

making similar arrangements with our 2-year-old granddaughter Emma up in

Spokane.

Aiden's parents were good sports, carrying around their wireless

laptop to keep him on-screen. But their amusement came from the reaction

of the old folks out on the coast rather than from wonderment at this

interaction through cyberspace. We were giddy; they were friendly and

patient.

What is this World Wide Web coming to?

Long before the year 2001, there was the movie "2001: A Space

Odyssey." All kinds of futuristic gadgetry was at the astronauts' avail,

including the ability to video-converse with loved ones back on Earth.

That seemed almost as unlikely as the rest of the cosmic storyline.

Sometimes I compartmentalize the past as pre- and post-Internet.

During the "pre-" era, we couldn't fire up a search engine every time a

trivia question arose. In fact, newsrooms used to take calls from people

trying to settle arguments over this or that, often with wagers at

stake. Now they turn to the oracles of Google or Bing for instant

enlightenment.

I feel fortunate to be the keeper of a lifespan long enough to bridge

the eras. Maybe I'll miss out on a holographic future in which 3-D

interaction is possible with faraway grandchildren. But as an, ahem,

older adult, I get to enjoy today's technology with a childlike

appreciation foreign to children of the digital age who take it all for

granted.

My grandparents saw the advent of widespread indoor plumbing and

automobile travel. I have no idea what my grandchildren will live to

see, but it's pretty dang cool that I can now peek in on them anytime I

want from out here on the edge of the continent.

There's no time like the present.

14014619
The Del Norte Triplicate
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