Tag Archives: cell phone

Lord Acton Said it Best

June 25, 2015 by


I’ve never owned a video camera of any kind. Okay, so I’ve just been reminded that my cell phone gizmo has such a device, but having never used it I still qualify as a video virgin.

Sony introduced the first consumer camcorder in 1983, the year my youngest child was born. This made our family a prime target for being an early adapter in what became something of a video mania. Almost overnight a populist paparazzi were born where every dad (Why was it always the dads?) at every kindergarten holiday program was armed with a cinder-block-sized camera that instantly made him some kind of Fellini wanna-be.

I refused to join the Betamax Age because my makeup is one where I want to remember things the way I want to remember things—not necessarily how they actually happened.

Ample video of my kids’ childhood years exists from the cameras of extended family members, and a couple of clan get-togethers have been marred when some idiot got the bright idea that we should all watch old videos together. I’m sure any good shrink would have a field day getting inside my head, but the experience of viewing those picnics and parties and plays unfold on screen was…well, “disturbing” is not at all too powerful a word.

It’s not that I am a dispassionate stoic. For whatever weird reason, being confronted with a filmed retelling of events rearranges my mental furniture in an unsettling, almost visceral way.

That tyranny of memory has only grown over the years, and we’ve all witnessed the rise of the camera-obsessed malady I’ll call the Fear of Missing Out Syndrome. In a sickness typified by living vicariously through a viewfinder, it’s as if film, and only film, is capable of proving, even to ourselves, the existential reality of a person, place, or thing.

“I saw Pope Francis!” “I saw President Obama!” “I saw Garth Brooks!” people exclaim.

No, you didn’t. You saw only mere pixels while struggling to center a celebrity’s image on your camera. You had exactly the same experience I had when I saw almost identical footage on CNN or the local news, except that my experience was better in that it was rendered by seasoned videographers on professional equipment. You were there, but you weren’t there.

Just check out the June 15 Sports Illustrated cover online. Get my point?

Our society has become one of dim imaginations reflected in the even dimmer glows of electronic gadgets.

As some dude named Lord Acton once claimed, “History is not a burden on the memory, but an illumination of the soul.” I kinda dig that Lord Acton guy, even if his name sounds like a super-classy moniker for a faux-British-bad-guy rassler on WWE.

At least according to his lordship, I don’t have an almost pathological relationship with memory. I have an illuminated soul.

Grandpa Chronicles 1

Dang Smart Phones!

April 30, 2015 by

My kids have nicer phones than me. They also have more rules to follow.

Quite frankly if it weren’t for the Bluetooth that plays my music and podcasts in the car, I think I could live with a flip phone.

“But why, Mom? Why would you even think of something so horrific?”

Suddenly the simplicity of not letting my phone be the only thing I see all day sounds delightful. But the kids don’t hear me respond, they’re busy checking texts and Clash of Clans. Whatever that is.

My kids are staring at their phones because they’ve been watching me do it for years.

How many times has little Bobby asked you a question and you actually uttered the words, “I dunno, honey. Let’s Google it.” Or how many times have you actually told your kid to hold that thought or temper tantrum because you’re reading your high school science lab partner’s updated status about her dog’s very funny howling? I mean, hold on kid, this dog actually sounds like he’s talking!

From the minute we handed the kids a phone, Chris and I established very responsible rules for them. It seems that maybe my kids Googled how to bend said rules. So, I made some more.

“Look, if you’re going to find a way around my rules, then I’m just going to make more rules. You cool with that?”

And before either can answer, I shove a homemade chocolate peanut butter cookie (I found the recipe on Pinterest) in their faces and text them a bunch of cheery emoticons.

And so it seems with every IOS upgrade, we upgrade and refresh our family cell phone rules—for both the kids and adults. But if you can’t beat them, play their game better. I text the kids their chores list.


Omaha in the Palm of Your Hand

October 24, 2014 by

Think how many times you used your cell phone today. According to research from the Pew Institute, 90 percent of all Americans own a cell phone and 44 percent of us sleep with it next to our beds so we don’t miss any calls, texts, or emails.

So it’s no surprise to hear that more than 40 million consumers have used their phone to figure out and plan their next vacation.

The VisitOmaha mobile site has seen explosive growth in just the last two years. In 2011, a little more than 11,000 visited the mobile site. Last year that number grew nine-fold to almost 200,000.

To answer the growing mobile demand, the VisitOmaha site is now enhanced with new user-friendly features including:

  • Yelp reviews providing the visitor access to independent restaurant recommendations.
  • Intuitive mapping features that allow visitors to search for what’s nearby.
  • A comprehensive calendar of events making it easy for users to find out what’s going on in Omaha.
  • An online booking engine, which provides visitors the ability to search a variety of Omaha hotel options all at once and then book directly with the hotel of their choice. This feature also allows users to view hotel availability two months at a time so they can compare rates surrounding their selected dates—all from their cell phone.
  • The VisitOmaha mobile site is also a great resource for locals, providing them with an easy way to find new places to eat and different things to do.

Despite our mobile society and our desire to have instant access to information, you may find it interesting that, in addition to the growth of the VisitOmaha mobile site, requests for the printed Omaha Visitor Guide are up more than 9 percent over last year. The visitor still values that printed brochure. Mobile or print, as long as visitors are holding Omaha in the palm of their hand, we’re happy.

Dana Markel is Executive Director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau. Questions or comments? Email the Omaha CVB at info@visitomaha.com