Really, one of the greatest things about modern travel is the ability to do internet voice and video calling. I'm in my hotel in London which (thankfully) has WiFi, and woke up early (like 4:30 a.m.) from jet lag which means it's just about Alex's bedtime back home. That's a perfect opportunity to pull out my webcam and have a chat with my wife and son about their day.
For Ana and I who have been using phones all our lives, it's a nice bonus to see each other, but for Alex who's three and a half, it's essential. His patience on the phone is pretty short, but with video and speakers, it's a completely different experience. It's really like I'm there to him, and honestly, for me too. I chat with both of them at the same time, get to ask about their day, and generally interact at a level that you can't really get with just voice. Also because the connection is free, we can leave it on after the conversation is over. They went off to have a snack before bedtime (Alex didn't eat well today) and left the call open... so I can hear them off in the other rooms of the house doing their thing (eat a sandwich, have some milk, brush his teeth, picking up toys, getting ready for bed, etc). It's great! At one point Alex mentioned my name, and I yelled from the other room that I was still "there" and he came by to show me his sandwich. How cool is that?
Being away for home for almost two weeks sucks, but this definitely makes it much more doable. By the way, I'm using Skype 2.0 - the video is better than Yahoo!'s and it was really easy to set up an "automagic" call where I can call home and the camera automatically turns on, etc. This saves an unbelieveable amount of time not having to go through that annoying four-step invitation process to view webcams and having the other person accept, etc. Pretty much every video conversation using MSN or Yahoo! begins with me yelling "ACCEPT THE INVITE! CLICK YES. YOU HAVE TO CLICK YES. NO IN THE OTHER WINDOW! NO, THERE!" etc. Skype has really done for video calls what it did for voice - made it dead-simple. (I'm not really sure if that's worth $500MM, but I digress...)
Anyways... 6 a.m. Hopefully I can make it through the day without a nap. Coffee. I need coffee. Thank god there's a Starbucks on every corner here. Hmm. I wonder if they deliver?