Monday, July 27, 2015

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ― Arthur C. Clarke

Some of you know that I have been a big Formula One racing fan since I was a teenager living in Midland, Texas.  I have watched them on television, read about them in newspapers and books (long before there was an internet) and was able to attend one in person in Los Angeles in the early seventies.  I remember it very well because I took my wife, Karen, and the noise bothered her so much, she spent the entire race in the ladies room with her hands over her ears.  My oldest son, Chris, has shared my enthusiasm and interest over the years as well, and we still write each other often about one aspect or another.  We are both big fans of Lewis Hamilton, the first black formula one driver (he’s British), and the first world champion (two times).  So, yesterday, with Hamilton leading the world championship race, Chris and I were watching the Hungarian Grand Prix—Chris in New York and me here in East Africa.  The weird thing is that we were watching it together.  Through the magic of something called Google Hangouts, Chris was in my living room with me while actually being in his living room 12,000 miles away.  On a wireless iPad, Chris and I could watch the race live and talk to each other about it with his voice coming through our speaker system (John helped with that) and both Karen and John could talk as well.  This is kind of like Skype but without any cost or any delays, so much nicer, quicker, and with high quality sound.  Of course, Chris was watching on American television which kept cutting away to commercials while we watched without that annoyance.  In fact, we would be telling Chris what was happening while he was watching commercials.  Chris’s wife, Brenda, also came in and we talked as well.  If I tell people here what we were doing, they would claim it was “uchawi” or black magic—and it is magic to me.  This went on for almost two hours.  The race was exciting and lots of unexpected things happened.  Our man, Lewis Hamilton, didn’t win or even finish in the top five, but he still managed to extend his lead in the World Championship standings.  At the end of the race there are interviews with the winners and others, but American television stopped broadcasting and went to something else.  So, John put the iPad so that Chris could see our television and see and hear the interviews that were showing in our living room in equatorial East Africa while he was in New York.  Does this sound a little weird to you?  It was really nice to be watching the race together (three pm our time and eight am his time), talking, joking, and being a family.  We found out that my sister, Penny, may be coming with Chris and Brenda to Tanzania next year, and we were thrilled.  Outside our windows, while all this was going on, women were walking by with things on their heads and herds of cattle and goats were being driven to water.  We were seeing Africa out our windows while Chris was seeing New York out of his.  We truly live in interesting times, do we not?  I love it.
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