My mom finds a webcam, and two weeks later, gets a bunch of people to stare at her and my dad.

Hands down, the most fun I've had with a webcam since my day with Frank.

Written in August 1997. To appreciate the entertainment value of this story, cast your mind back to when webcams were novel, and it was still weird that your mom knew what "the Internet" is.

(For those of you with an eight-second attention span, you can go directly to the pretty picture, quick summary version. If you're willing to read the full story, hitting the links below will show you the appropriate pics in another window.)

One day I get e-mail from my mother to the effect of:

Hi there Greg...your dad and I are going to Rehoboth Beach for a week in August, and there's a camera on the web pointed at a certain bench there, so I want you to be at your computer and save the pictures while we hold up a sign that says "hi" to you and debb, okay? Love

So my initial reaction to this is essentially, "Guh?" See, this is the woman who, two years ago, wouldn't have known which side of her monitor she was supposed to look at. So much of my confusion here was because she was telling me about something on the Net that I didn't even know existed, and came up with this whole scheme which, okay, honestly, I wished I had thought of first.

But fine, I get over the shock, and we start organizing general dates. They'll be in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware the week of Aug 10 (1997), and she knows this webcam is pointing at a certain bench, so they'll show up with signs that say "hi greg" and "hi debb", call me when they get there, and hold them up at the camera while I get screen shots. Neat.

I ask her about the signs they'll be making: she tells me they're going to use black marker on this huge roll of brown wrapping paper they have. I have concerns the contrast won't be high enough, but hell, they're all grown up now, so they should know what they're doing.

They're in the area on the 13th, and give me a call, and tell me they're about an hour away from the camera. I take a look at the page and see the boardwalk, tell them it's working fine. They go there, give me another call, and then the beachcam is down. Blah. Oh well, it was overcast there anyway.

On the 14th, I'm at work, but nowhere near my office when I hear my phone ringing. I yell over to bq to pick it up for me, which he does, and then transfers it over to my phone while I'm sprinting towards it. But duh I screwed up and hung up on her.

(Quick background there: my phone rang and I didn't hear it, bq picks it up himself, tells my mom I'm not in the office, and forwards the call to me so she can leave me a message in voice mail. I happen to be going towards my office at the time, and I hear the phone rining this time and ask bq to get it. He gets it again, then forwards it to me, and this time I hang her up accidentally.)

So bq tells me it was my mom. I figure they must be ready to go to the bench soon, so I load up the beachcam page and have a look to see if it's up. Yes, it is, but there's somebody sitting at that bench. (The bench in question is the one in the lower left of the pic.) I think, "damn. Well, hm...knowing dad, he'll probably find some way to get the person off the bench when they get there, so no problem." I do note, though, that the sky's cleared a bit there--enough to throw some sunlight on the area. Good deal.

Dunno where my mom is, so I'm just sitting at my desk waiting for her to call, with beachcam on my screen. Doing something, I don't know what, when suddenly the realization hits me: that's my dad on the bench! My mom must've decided she was having trouble getting through, so she walked back to where he was and planned to wait a few minutes before calling again. With both of them there, I recognized them immediately.

So I start calling people over to my office, explaining to them what's going on. My parents talk or wait or whatever for a few minutes, and finally my mom walks away, presumably towards the phone. Everyone in the office, myself included, is amused to watch her walk off screen.

A minute later, the phone rings. Pandemonium ensues at the office, because there are six or so people huddled around my computer now, and I put my mom on speakerphone. "So are you ready?" she asks. "Yeah yeah!" I reply. "We watched you walk to the phone!" This in the midst of other people yelling "Hi Mrs. Greg!" and "Now I see where he gets it from!", etc. In the meantime, my dad holds down the fort.

My mom walks back. I'm amused all over again. We see them picking up the signs, and someone says what I'm thinking--"Uh oh...we're not going to be able to see it." It's looking like the brightness is going to wash out the lettering. But suddenly, in comes the pic of my dad holding up the sign that says "Hi" and we all bust up laughing.

They spend some time arranging the "greg" part, then my mom switches to the "debb" sign. Then my dad holds up the "hi" part and we all laugh again. A couple more pictures of them holding up the signs, and then they're done. I watch for the third time, fascinated, as my mom walks to the phone to ask me how it went. I didn't get the story of what happened here, but immediately thereafter, some people sat on the bench next to my dad. Wonder if they were nearby and wondered what the heck had been going on.

And here's the lucky bit. I wanted to keep watching to see my mom and dad do the final exit off screen, but two minutes later, the beachcam went down again. Whew.