I loaded Skype a few days ago, and today put it to its first real test. I spoke for an hour and a half to an old West Point friend--she lives in Stuttgart, Germany, with her husband and two kids. She and I kinda dated and kinda considered marriage many years ago, and now she's married to a colonel whom I first met when he was a 2LT and I was a cadet assigned to an air defense unit in Germany in 1985. She and I have stayed in touch via email--often talking about our kids!--for a very long time now, but today was the first time we'd heard each other's voice in a dozen years or more.
When that call ended I was so excited that I skyped a former student of mine. She's a graduate of Smith College, and has been living in Italy for awhile--teaching English and learning about winemaking. Her goal is to return to California some day and open her own winery. We talked for just under half an hour, but what a kick it was! Tentatively my Summer 2012 travel plans have me in Rome and Venice, so we're definitely going to stay in touch and see if we might be able to meet up for a day or something.
Video-phones. When I was a kid they were the stuff of science fiction, but stuff we knew would exist in the very near future. And today, with no additional out-of-pocket costs, I had video calls with two friends in Europe.
In a couple weeks, at the May staff meeting at school, I'm supposed to give a Student of the Month Award to one of my students. Clearly I can't go to the meeting, but the principal and I have already arranged for me to present the award via Skype.
Skype is my new favorite toy!