May 21, 2013

Video Connections: Are You Interested?

Maybe I'm just a little slow to notice the obvious, but I just downloaded Skype last week. I know a lot of folks use it to make free phone calls to other Skype-equipped friends and family anywhere in the country or world.  But, since my family lives here and any friends we call are easily reached by cellphone the whole phone-call-over-Internet thing didn't seem important to me.

Then I had an e-mail back-and-forth exchange with blogging friend, Galen Pearl. We discussed things we could do to stay fresh with our blogging activities. Suddenly, I remembered that Skype also has the ability to engage in video exchanges, too. It is very easy, and also free, to have a chat with someone and do it on camera so you can see and hear each other. 

He has an idea!

Wow...brainstorm...idea time!  Maybe some readers of this blog would like to connect with me or other readers in this way. Since most recent computers come with a built-in web cam and microphone the process is painless. For older computers, adding a $10 web cam and microphone is super simple. 

One of the neatest things about blogging is the opportunity to make new friends. Last August, Betty and I traveled to Portland, Oregon. We spent face time with Galen and Barbara Torris and her husband, Earl,  and became real friends, not just blogging buddies. In January we drove the two hours to Tucson to meet Linda Myers, author of another blog I read regularly, and her husband, Art. That also gave us a chance to reconnect with Barbara and Earl who spend the winter in southern Arizona.

This August we are going back to the Portland area to have more time with Galen and Barbara and Earl. In a totally serendipitous occurrence, Early Retirement Tamara and her hubby, Mike, will be in the area at the same time and want to meet for lunch. Then, comes word that Retired Syd and Doug might be in Portland. too. Finally, add to the mix that Linda and Art Myers may be driving down from Seattle to see us all and we have the makings of a blogging convention!

We may have the unique opportunity to make new friends in person with Tamara, Mike, Sydney and Doug, while strengthening our bonds with Galen, Barbara, Earl, Linda, and Art.

The connections I have made and will continue to make through blogging, are very gratifying. For a variety of reasons making new friends as we age is often difficult. I never expected blogging to be the vehicle to help Betty and me establish important friendships in other parts of the country, but it has.

In addition to the above folks, we hope to meet regular reader Pam in California when we are there in the fall, as well as Sonia Marsh. RJ Walters, the focus of a profile I wrote a month or so ago, is definitely on our radar when we get to the Midwest. Regular reader and commenter, Chuck in Tennessee, has invited us to his place when we are in the Smoky Mountain region.

Video Calls

All this leads me back to where I started: video calls. This may be an excellent way to expand relationships. So, I am wondering, would you ever want to hook up by camera and get to know each other better? Would you like the opportunity to ask me some questions about retirement, or just chat about our lives?

I am willing undergo an experiment to see if this fills a need and opens new doors. If you'd like to connect via a Skype video call, e-mail with your interest at this address: We'll pick a day and time that works for both of us and see what happens.

If this seems to be fun and productive, there is a way to actually put together a conference call with several of us at the same time. Maybe we'd have a round table on when it is best to start Social Security, or what are we doing to plan for the time when we need help with daily tasks. Maybe something a little more fun: best RV parks we've been to or where to go on a summer vacation.

I don't know if video calls will work for a blog like Satisfying Retirement but when do I shy away from trying something new? I'll wait to see what the e-mail response is like. I may get none or I may be overwhelmed. Either scenario is fine; nothing ventured nothing gained. 

Remember, you must have Skype installed on the computer you will be using and have a decent high speed connection. It is free, totally secure, and takes about 5 minutes to set everything up. Click the name Skype to go directly to their web site. While you can pay for the ability to call land lines and cell phones, none of that is necessary for the video calls.

In some experimentation I have done, there is an occasional tendency for the Internet connection to be lost in the middle of a video chat. There are some issues with a newer version of the software that we may have to deal with.  In that case, we could continue by phone if there is more to say. But, that isn't a reason to not consider doing it.

In the meantime I'll have a comb and clean T-shirt handy to make myself presentable on short notice!


  1. You could always stop by us on your way to see RJ?
    Skype idea sounds like a good one.

    1. Yes, we would most likely be heading through Kansas. I have a brother in the KC area so that all makes sense. I don't expect it to happen before next year, but I'll stay in touch.

      I've had several responses by e-mail to the Skype idea (plus a few comments here). I'm likely to give it a shot.

  2. I use skype fairly regularly to connect with my friend and web designer. I love that you can work on something on the computer at the same time you're chatting. We also use it to stay in touch with our grandson.

    I'm trying to put together a mini blog confab at my beach house this summer. We are on opposite coasts, but skype could be the connection. I'll have to work out the kinks and let you know.

    1. Have you had any problems with video dropouts? I've read some stuff on the Internet that their latest software may have some bugs. I've made a few adjustments to some of the settings in the program, but drop outs still occur, after about 10 minutes. I have a high speed connection (max MB download) so that isn't the issue.

      I'd love to take part in a bi-coastal exchange at some point. Please keep me in mind.

  3. Bob, this is a neat idea. When our daughter was studying in Spain for 5 months we Skyped her once a week at a designated time. It always worked great.

    I think the idea of a conference (topic driven) would be fun. Let me know if you make it happen and I will install Skype on my new lap top.

    1. Will do, Suzanne. There are several topics concerning retirement that seem to be hot button topics for many.

  4. Bob - I've used Skype for several years now to chat with former colleagues as well as friends who have relocated to other states. It seems to work pretty well and as you say is quite easy to set up and use. It is really quite nice to be able to see the person and hear their voice. Good luck with your experiment! I'm sure you will have MANY takers.


    1. There has been a good response and interest. In fact, I have the first call today. We will see how it goes.

  5. You haven't said in any of the blogs I've read, but you strike me as an off-the-charts extrovert. I'm close to an off-the-charts introvert. I've had skype for a couple of years and it just doesn't resonate with me. I'll be intrigued how it develops for you.

    1. Actually, I'm much more of an introvert, hence my career in radio. Sitting in a studio, alone, talking only to a microphone, is the introvert's choic. An Extrovert chooses TV with much more fame and money!

      I don't know how the video calls will pan out, but I'm losing nothing by trying!

  6. Wow! This amazing post really opened doors for me. At first, I thought it was a great idea. THEN I got to thinking that if I went on Skype, you all might not like me; other folks might discover I am the emperor with no clothes. When I read you & Betty might come visit us, I thought.....what happens if you are disappointed? Now, mind you, when I issued the invitation I was totally excited to meet both of you. It was just when it came to reality, actually reality, my insecurities surfaced. How interesting (once I calmed down) to see that I still have that fear of failure. I was thinking that you might criticize my weight (always a handy excuse for me to hide behind) & it has opened up a whole new area of exploration. I also realized I'd have to figure out Skype, which definitely takes me out of another comfort zone.

    Having taken a deep breath (or six!) I am back to my original feeling; it's a great idea to Skype & it's exciting that you might visit. Now I have that realization with a whole new awareness & some issues to be aware of. (I may need more than a comb & a new t-shirt for videoconferencing, but I'll figure it out.


    1. I was in radio instead of TV for a reason: I had a "face" for radio, as some friends told me!

      You absolutely don't have to worry about any of the issues you mention, and I'm glad you have come to the same conclusion! Insecurity can be a terrible taskmaster, but usually turns out that IT is the emporer with no clothes.

      When you are ready to take a shot at a SKYPE video call just drop me an email. I can promise you a good experience and a fun (and painless) way to expand that too-tight comfort zone!

      In terms of the visit, we'll communicate more by e-mail over the next few months. Our specific plans for October are non-existent at the moment, except that we are coming for 2-3 weeks. Where we go and what we see are part of the planning adventure!

  7. I use Skype for my sessions with a postural therapist in Portland. Works great!

    1. It is quite simple. I have had three calls with readers so far with no problems.


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