Sunday, December 19, 2010 (Greeting Card Photo by Tanjie Nash Schrimsher)

Netflix lies to me. But in a good way. This time it was Love Actually, a Christmas movie, that quoted "Long Wait" but then auto-e-mailed me that the movie would be arriving in only two days (discounting Sunday). "To the cloud!" rallies Microsoft TV commercials (quickly banned in my household - the MS ads, not cloud computing). Everything is moving "online". Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, is Time's "Person of the Year" (hey, a live human being for a change). And as a bit of a geek myself (my daughter still says "nerd", or more precisely calls me "such-a-nerd", like yesterday when I told her I'd borrowed her Guitar Hero USB microphone to experiment with podcasting: "Dad, you are SUCH-A-NERD!") I'm near the front of all this stuff and sometimes I feel like my whole life has moved into the internet and I'm just waiting until they can upload my consciousness so I can be finished with my corporeal self.

Like all my emotional relationships are already out there on Facebook. Okay, well not quite. I put some fun events and some politics out there (we're sending a new Congressman to Washington, my ping pong pal Mo Brooks), but none of it replaces hugs from an overtired Caralyn (2 finals, soccer practice, and out-of-town guests all in one day tuckered her out - good for me: few hugs when she's full-steam), nor clipping coupons from the Sunday paper on a couch shared with Madelyn, or even watching zombies get, one by one, shot in the head on TV late that same Sunday evening with Caralyn on "The Walking Dead".

And I can do all my important financial transactions online now, like paying bills and shopping. Oh, except when Nathaniel was shopping for an apartment to move off- campus this Fall. I really needed to be there to co-sign a lease and make sure the terms and accommodations were suitable. He doesn't need a lot of help these days, but nice to get there when he can use a bit.

I love keeping (and getting back) in touch with high school and college and work friends through "social media" - and plain old e-mail, but then again I wouldn't trade the impromptu mini-30th high school reunion that Sam, Mark, Tim and I had at Webb's one evening this past July. And of course I was up there for another thing that's tough to do via telepresence, even with broadband: be at my niece's wedding, the first for that generation on my side of the family. Silica married Ian McMeans, of the Pittsburgh McMeans. Nathaniel missed it, he was Camp War Eagle counseling, but all the rest of my parents' grandkids made it, nothing "virtual" about it.

I keep up with my favorite authors online, through Twitter and blogs. Still, when Neil Gaiman scheduled a reading in Alabama last February, I made sure to get a free ticket and went for the "presence" at the old Bama Theater in Tuscaloosa. And when Cory Doctorow asked, in a tweet, who wanted a physical copy of his new book, For the Win, to write a review, I e-mailed: "me, me!" and had my review published in the print of The Decatur Daily newspaper. And when I composed the first real fiction short story that I've written in years, I put pencil to Moleskine notebook ("Marvin's View").

Madelyn also has some of her life on-line, but I think she still enjoys face-to-face contact as much as Facebook contacts. She continues to work 3 mornings a week in Bruegger's bagelry, it's certainly not for the money. And as a substitute school nurse. And she runs. On the Fleet Feet team with Nike sponsorship. She ran two marathons this year, one in Corning, NY on her own where she BQ'ed (qualified for the Boston Marathon), except that my parents went over to cheer her on and drive her after the race. I know she really appreciated it (because she said so and because she so appreciated my support at the local Huntsville Rocket City marathon a couple weeks ago).

Caralyn, as a freshman, of course is comfortable with texting and Facebook. But soccer and high school are high-touch activities. As are shopping with friends at Bridgestreet, and Beta Club bake sales. Nathaniel, too, has feet in both the real and techno-built worlds, but he's a-college so who knows what he does (a year and a half to go at Auburn).

It's all a little disorienting but I'm pretty sure that the zombies, falling one by one, aren't real; and the snowflakes that Madelyn and I ran through last week, also falling one by one, were very real. Here's hoping that whatever falls your way, real or computer generated, brings you a great Christmas and continues through the new year, lying (good lies) all the way.

- Chip, Madelyn, Caralyn and Nathaniel crpatton "at"