Living half-way around the world from your roots requires adaptation to the local culture and economy. Nevertheless, you do not have to leave everything you are accustomed to behind. Here are the joys of modern technology that bring my roots to me as needed:
1. Using Skype, I keep in touch with my business partner in the USA every day. The easy conferencing ability of Skype allows us to bring in other parties as necessary. We talk with my inlaws in China and L.A. almost everyday, using the Skype conferencing ability. I am still working on my side of the family to get on Skype.
2. Using AIM and MSN Messenger, I chat with my younger daughter daily, friends in Bahrain and China, as well as some local Vietnamese business people who are more comfortable typing in English than speaking over the phone.
3. Using iChat, we do video conferences with my older daughter in Washington, D.C.
4. Using my IPod + iTunes, I keep up with my favorite musicians.
5. Using online radio streaming, I listen to my favorite world music broadcasts weekly -- Tangents on San Francisco KALW 91.7 every Saturday night 8:00 pm to midnight Pacific Daylight Time. (Sunday morning my time), and Charlie Gillett's Sounds of the World every Saturday night 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm British Summer Time on BBC London (I can listen anytime because they archive each weekly show right away).
6. I don't miss my favorite daily and Sunday morning comic strips because I can reach them every day on the internet. I also keep up with my favorite newspapers daily, as well as English-language Vietnamese papers. I get Newsweek Magazine weekly online.
7. I can make sure I stay financially solvent back in the USA through on-line banking and brokerage.
8. I indulge in what my wife calls my need to brag daily through my TypePad blog, and post my latest photos on the blog as well as Flickr.
I know that my blogger friends will find the above rather commonplace, but all of this thrills me every day, considering I went to school in the pre-calculator days of the world. And of course all of these technologies are heavily used by young Vietnamese every day with the possible exception of online banking and publicly accessible blogs.