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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Dear Annie 1/21

By Annie Lane Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: Throughout the pandemic, I’ve noted some things that make for a successful video call. Perhaps these suggestions will be of use to your readers.

1. Look at yourself on your screen. What you see is what others will see.

2. Do not sit with a window or other bright light behind you. You will be a dark silhouette.

3. Have the light or window facing you from higher, beyond the laptop or up to 45 degrees off to the side.

4. Incandescent lights are warmer and make you look more alive. Natural window light alone, particularly if snow is on the ground, can make you look ghostly pale blue.

5. Place your laptop on a table to keep it from moving around to dizzy others. TV tray tables work.

6. Sit close enough so your head nearly fills the screen and you are recognizable.

7. Adjust the screen/camera angle to include your full face, preferably from nearly the same level to eliminate facial distortions and dominant ceilings. Sitting on extra cushions can sometimes help.

8. If there are two of you making the call together from one device, sit close enough so both faces show equally.

9. Check your background for distracting clutter. – Harvey V.

Dear Harvey: Video conferencing has been so important during this past year, and I hope people will continue to make use of the technology even after the pandemic ends. Thanks for the tips on Zooming like a pro.

Dear Annie: We have two grown sons, whom I will call “Tim” and “Tom.” One is our biological son and the other is adopted. They are a few years apart and live just a few miles apart.

When they were growing up, they were somewhat close, but they have been estranged for a number of years. There was never really a falling out or major disagreement between them or anything like that.

Tim has expressed that he’s worried that Tom will take advantage of him in looking for job connections. Tom says he doesn’t want to make the first move because he says he always has to make the first move in communicating. So nothing happens. They have never communicated the reasons to each other. It was very awkward on Christmas when we did a video call together.

I’m very hurt because of this. My one desire is for them to be close. This bothers me a lot. Should I make some effort to get them together? – Mom with a Last Wish

Dear Last Wish: I feel for you. Every parent wishes for their children to have special lifelong bonds with their siblings. But your sons are adult men with their own lives and beliefs. You can’t force them to be closer. And trying to do so will only drive them further from you. Continue to create spaces to gather as a family, even if it’s just virtual for now, and even if it’s awkward. In time, let’s hope that ice will thaw a bit. In the meantime, focus on your relationships with each of them individually.

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