This past week I reached out to people over a 500 mile radius. If I had done those interviews in person and took those pictures as in the good old days, it would have been some 2,500 miles. I would have been tired beyond belief by Friday night. Besides, I wouldn't have many if any stories written either. As it is, I've got a nice variety and number of stories prepared for you to enjoy when the January issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer kicks off the New Year. And I seldom left the comfort of my office chair each day - except for lunch - lunch is a must!
Where did I go this week? By email, I carried on conversations with Mike Steehoek with the Soy Transportation Coalition in Missouri. At least that's where he's based. He could have been in China for all I know. I talked by phone to Tom Menke in Ohio, some 150 miles away, and then let him read what I wrote, all in a matter of a couple of hours.
I picked Bob Kraft's brain at Indiana Farm Bureau for more than half an hour. Guess what? To do it in person, it would have taken me 35 minutes to drive to Indianapolis to do it. And he's on the seventh floor. I don't like heights!
If I want a picture of any of these guys, I just ask them or their secretaries to send a digital shot. You try to tell whether I really went there and took it or not?
I also reviewed articles for three students at Purdue whose excellent work will introduce you to topics I normally don't write about early next year. They're senior students in ag communications at Purdue, working in Mark Tucker's class. With the push of a button, I could let him see their paper they had sent me, and share my comments with the recipient and him all at the same time. And it's so much easier than three-way calling - I never could get that stuff to work.
I also went to Danville, Ind. At least virtually, referring pictures I took of Mark Lawson with Syngenta in his plots last summer. Just to be safe, I sent the story to Amy Steigman half a country away to make sure every reference to a product was correct. I asked for no editing beyond the facts, and she didn't. That' what you call a good working relationship.
I also went to Tipton to set up a meting for next week, slid down to Owensboro to update a source on when I might see him, and talked to several local people on the phone. I even did a story with Bill Johnson, weed specialist at Purdue, and set up an interview for December with him and his cohorts, all by email, without ever hearing his voice.
I did all this and didn't log one chargeable mile that I need reimbursement for. I did it all through a combination of cell phone, high-speed Internet, email, and land lines, with the digital camera to look at a picture stored from last summer, along with nearly 600 others, on a chip smaller than the slide we used to make for one picture.
It's good I didn't have to drive those miles. Because my kids drive them for me - to Purdue, to Franklin, to Ohio, to Rushville, back to Purdue. If you've got kids, you know what I'm talking about. And son and middle daughter, if you're reading this, you know who I'm talking to! But I love you both just the same.
Virtual travel, time travel- being somewhere else in a matter of seconds? And they said it would never happen. By my definition, it already has.