"how cool is THAT?"

And that's just what's so cool about the Internet...

I started this blog a little over two and a half years ago, because my friend Colleen inspired me to do so. A few months later, Colleen also suggested that I check out another cool blog she had found, hosted by Kelly. At the time, Kelly was a daily poster, and in her years of blogging she had gathered an amazing community of on-line friends, of which I somehow, over time, became a part. Despite the fact that Kelly is currently on an indefinite hiatus, many of the people I met at her place are now on my blog roll, and some have become on-line friends.

Aakanksha was one of those that I met at Kelly Well's. Hailing from Calcutta, she was a student at an Australian university when I met her, finishing up a degree in robotics engineering (so THAT wasn't intimidating at all!) We went from commenting on each other's comments on Kelly's (and Colleen's!) blogs, to commenting on each other's blogs, to chatting over Google Talk, to being on each other's Facebook friends, to sending each other lengthy e-mails about life, the universe, and everything. In the process, she moved to London to start a new job and got engaged. (I tried to get her to play hostess to my brother when he was over there, but that didn't work out. I'm kinda glad, actually--I would have been a little jealous if Logan got to meet her before I did!)

This past weekend, Aakanksha had to present a paper at a conference in Vancouver, B.C. Wouldn't it have been lovely if we weren't all "up in the air" about a move, so I could have driven out to meet her? 'Twas not to be, though.

However, imagine my surprise when she called me out of the blue on Saturday evening! I got to hear her lovely Calcuttan/Aussie/British/mixed-up accent for the first time, in her sweet voice. So. cool.

But that was not half as cool as the fact that after signing up for Skype on Monday, Aakanksha was my first Skype conversation today. Since she has a webcam, I got to see her talking to me in real time. And Mark, too. And they blew bubbles at me in celebration of our counter-offer being accepted on the house!

When we finished, I immediately called Jason and said, "Please order me a webcam!"

Free worldwide video-phone calls? There goes productivity!

I feel like I'm in Star Trek! :-)

I Should Have Known Better

I should have known that any friend of Colleen's would be wonderful. I should have been prepared. I should have known that two friends of hers would be twice as wonderful.

Yet, somehow, I was still caught by surprise.

Mindy and Cheryl showed up at my door at 10:30 last night, road-worn, but not too much--because somehow we managed to stay up talking until 1:30 a.m! I had never met them before, my only previous experience having been seeing their names on comments on Colleen's blog. But Colleen is one of those types of girls that when you know her, you would do anything for her, so when she asked me to host her friends as they were passing through, of course I said yes.

They are single, I married with children. But other than that, we have so many things in common--all musicians, Mindy is going into missions, all with a love for Jesus, and all friends of Colleen! Our conversation last night brought me some badly needed encouragement. We laughed, we shared, we imbibed hot beverages. And then we exchanged text messages at 1:30 a.m. while we were waiting for the caffeine to wear off! :-)

When they came last night, they were Colleen's friends. When they left this morning, they were my friends, too.

Thank you, Lord, for the love you give that binds us together in unity.

As if I needed more justification, this article on Dr. Mercola today gave even more of an excuse for me to hang on to my tea habit! From the article:

A four-year study has found that tea slows down brain-cell degeneration, and thereby keeps your mind sharp into old age.

Catechins, a natural compound in tea, protect brain cells from damaging protein build-up over the years, maintaining your brain's cognitive capability.

In addition, the caffeine in tea, unlike that in coffee, contains the natural protein theanine, which counters the normal side effects of caffeine such as raised blood pressure, headaches and tiredness.

Researchers studied the tea-drinking habits of over 2,500 Chinese aged 55 and older and gave them memory tests.

While two-thirds of the tea-drinkers maintained their memory test scores two years later, 35 percent of non-tea-drinkers had a decline in their memory test scores, which indicates cognitive decline.

Buddy, Don't You Backtalk Me!

I can picture the scene now: Little Buddy pelts out through the porch, the screen-door slamming behind him on rusty hinges. Suddenly he hears his mother's shrill voice pierce the air:

"Buddy, did you practice your harmonica? You know you can't go play with your friends until you've practiced!"

"Aw, Ma, do I have to? None of my friends have to practice the harmonica. And Billy says that the mouth harp is only for old fogies."

She comes and peers at him through the screen door with piercing eyes.

"Don't you backtalk me, boy! You know you'll never get to play Carnegie Hall if you don't practice. Now, git!" as she swats his backside with her wooden spoon on the way by.

Well, chances are, it didn't go down like that.

But I bet you never thought you'd see a harmonica player bringing down the house at Carnegie Hall, either.

Have You Heard Hee Ah Lee?

This is an amazing story about a Korean pianist. She is twenty years old. At the beginning of the clip, she plays Chopin's Ballade in G Minor beautifully. She has no legs below the knee. And only two fingers on each hand.

It takes ten minutes, but this video is worth the watch. Tell ya, it gives me hope! (Amazing what hard work and determination can do!)

Edit: My college buddy Frank, pianist extraordinaire, has corrected me: She is not playing the Ballade, but is actually playing Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu. At least I got the Chopin part right!

I Heart The Internet

Over the past year, I've had some really cool things happen because of blogging, things that would not have been possible through simply keeping a journal in the days pre-internet:
  • I have been able to keep those friends and family that are interested in touch with our daily lives in this somewhat "removed" location.
  • I have developed closer relationships with existing friends and family that keep blogs of their own.
  • I have made some great new friends and acquaintances from around the world.
  • I have found some wonderful sources of on-line news, unbiased by the money controlling major media corporations.
  • I "met" successful Christian singer-songwriter Shaun Groves through his blog, exchanging a few words of on-line conversation.
  • I got an e-mail from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, knit-blogger and published knitting author extraordinaire, after asking her a question about a knitting dilemma. (I got to ask a famous knitter for help! How cool is that?)
Now, I get to add one more thing to the list of coolnesses. Yesterday, after using a few lyrics from her song in my post, one of the co-writers of Even If My Heart Would Break ACTUALLY LEFT A COMMENT ON MY BLOG!!

How COOL is that?!!

So...What is the coolest thing that the internet and/or blogging has allowed to happen in your life?