I usually get up very early, around 5:30 AM most mornings. My biological clock no longer distinguishes week-ends, something I attribute to the fact that our kids woke up multiple times throughout the night when they were very little, frying the circuitry in my Reticular Activating System (the part of the brain that wakes you up in response to external and internal stimuli – like what day of the week it is!).
When I wake up that early on a Saturday or Sunday it’s tough to wander around the house making all kinds of noise doing the things on my to-do list that day. So, I’ll usually take that time to write my blog or surf the net.
A few years ago, on a whim, I entered my family name on Google, just to see what would come up. The usual stuff popped up – journal articles I had published, photography sites showing my stuff, and references to my wife’s or kids’ activities in Girl Guides, sailing, etc, from years before. There was also a reference to an award that a schoolboy with the same last name had won at an elementary school in a small town in Massachusetts. Our family name is extremely uncommon – we were never prolific reproducers – hence my cousins around the globe number in a small handful, and I thought I knew them all.
I went to the 411 web guide for the town mentioned in the Google search and lo and behold a family popped up with same name. I waited till later in the morning, placed the call, hurriedly explaining to the lady who answered that this was neither a crank call nor some telemarketing gimmick. I told her who I was and how I had found them. She passed me on to her husband, who, it turns out, is a long-lost cousin who emigrated to America in the ’60′s.
In the intervening five years since that call we have become quite close, visiting each others homes on a number of occasions, and keeping in touch by phone. We bear a striking family resemblance, and even some personality traits.
Yesterday, while visiting Toronto, I had diner with my on-line friend, Peter Minakis, also known as Kalofagas, the author of one of the best food blogs on the net. Peter specializes in Greek cuisine and has a knack for jazzing up traditional recipes while staying close to their roots. We’ve communicated via email and phone for about a year, but had never met face-to-face.
All this to say that technology is what you choose to make it. Many rant about how we’ve become fat and lazy, interacting only with a virtual world of people and activities, while missing out on real human contact. Nonsense! At least in my experience, technology has made it possible to be independently employed for the last 15 years, attend graduate school while working, meet long-lost relatives, and make new friends with similar interests – not to mention load up my shaving cabinet with all kinds of gear I never knew existed.