As I write this missive, it is Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, and I was just reminded by my 17-year-old son that I am 59 years old today.
He seems to take great pleasure pointing out how old that is, from his perspective.
I guess 59 does seem old to a teenager, but in my mind I am just getting started.
In 1953, things were so much simpler than the world my son faces. Growing up on a Wisconsin farm was about as simple a life as one can imagine; labor-intensive, all consuming, but simple.
TV, if you had one, was mostly still black-and-white. And so was life on the farm.
Gas was about 20 cents a gallon; less if competing gas stations had “gas wars.” A gas station attendant pumped the gas for you, cleaned your windows, checked your oil and tire pressure, and carried on friendly conversation, too.
A weekly run to the grocery store cost about $40 to supply our family of six with the few things we didn’t grow or raise on the farm. We never went hungry or wondered where our next meal was coming from.
Eight-track cassettes (younger readers will want to Google that in case you don’t know what it is) weren’t even invented yet; vinyl records were still the rage.
We still had party-line phones where your conversations could be heard by all the neighbors on the same line.
Satellites hadn’t been launched yet and there were no global positioning digital devices, so paper maps, dead reckoning or asking directions from locals were the ways to find places when away from home.
I guess my simple, low-tech history is why I marvel at things such as the new Parks and Rec Business mobile app at ParksNReviews.com.
The new “app” (short for application) will allow anyone with a smart phone or other smart mobile device to find parks and recreation facilities wherever they are in the world.
It will also give parks professionals a free method of promoting their parks, facilities and events.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to say right up front that I am not a techno-geek; I don’t worship at the altar of technology.
But neither am I a technophobe; I do not fear technology (although I do question what mankind does with it sometimes).
I think there is room in the world for man and machines, as long as the machines remember that mankind is the boss of them.
I don’t know exactly, scientifically, how apps work; but I don’t know scientifically how this laptop upon which I am scribing this blog works, yet here I am blogging.
Technology in all its forms is just another tool for those of us with opposable thumbs: Use a hammer to drive a nail, use a computer or digital device to find information about the hammer and communicate it to others who have a common interest in hammers.
So it is with the cutting-edge technological wonder that Parks and Rec Business is bringing to the table, the Mobile App for parks and recreation facilities.
Not only will it locate parks and facilities, it will give as much information as the parks and recreation department wants to provide–photos, videos, activities, schedules, hours, customers’ comments, whatever.
This tool will be launched later this year and will be a one-stop source for information about local parks.
Publisher Rodney Auth stresses to parks directors or marketing managers that “it’s important to load your park and facility data into our ParksNReviews.com database before the app launches because most of the excitement (ie: downloads) typically happen early in the launch phase.”
To load their parks to the system, directors simply need to log in to their PRB Insider account (or call 866-444-4216 to get a login) and fill out an online form for each of their locations. If they don’t want to bother logging in, they can fill out and fax back the form or email an Excel file. It’s pretty painless.
Listings are really free.
“My goal is to simply have a great online and mobile database that helps the general public find great parks and recreation facilities wherever they might live or travel,” Auth explained.
If you have questions, contact Rodney J. Auth, Publisher, at 866-444-4216 x226, Fax 330-723-6598, or email at email@example.com
So ultimately, who will this new app serve?
Say for instance a family–Mom, Dad, two kids and a dog–is traveling cross-country to visit Gramma and Grampa. They are taking their time and want to explore low-cost activities along the way.
So Mom pulls out her smart-phone and clicks the PRB app icon. Mom is looking for a handicap-accessible playground (one of her children is disabled) that allow pets.
If the parks department in “Anytown” wisely put their info on the PRB site, it will pop up, and if the information and pictures are enticing, the family will head for the exit. Anytown now enjoys the benefit of their visit; they play, they eat, they buy gas and supplies.
It’ll be hard to keep ‘em back on the farm after they’ve seen this app…
Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine, who also served until recently in municipal parks and recreation, lives in Peachtree City, Ga., and can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.